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OCTOBER ARCHIVE

  • 12 NOV - In regards to my October 22nd post. To my friends...directly relating my comments to CG graduates was in poor taste. I got carried away with what I thought was a humorous blog and did not take into account the sensitive nature of what I wrote or how my friends - mostly CG graduates - might perceive its content. I apologize for any feelings that I have hurt. Unlike Kerry, I know when I have failed to express myself accurately. Please excuse me and rest assured that not one word of what I wrote was done so with anyone that I know in mind. My friends are ambitious and wonderful people that I look up to. They are creative and thoughtful, interesting and adventurous. At the time, I didn't see how any of my friends could have possibly believed I was speaking directly about them. After reading again, I have now realized that noting a love for Budweiser was a poor choice in beer. All of my friends love the bud. I too love Budweiser, especially in a can. When it comes down to it, my friends have not changed and have always been very aware of the world and its ways. I was not attempting to express any form of superiority either...believe me, I know better and am far too insecure to consider myself superior to anyone. No, my comments were meant only to work on the stereotypes of midwestern peoples and how I was surprised at how many people that are alumni of my school fit the bill. You have to realize that I am speaking of people that have changed so drastically that I didn't recognize them until I saw the name...that my friend is none of you. All of my friends have maintained! So, with that said, I apologize again. Let me reiterate that I am in no way trying to say I am better than anyone but am only trying to express my concern for the health and welfare of my fellow humans. We are the fattest nation in the world and are plagued with heart disease. I've read Fast Food Nation; I've seen Super Size Me; I've done research on line and I have deep - obviously misdirected or poorly explained - concern for my people. I am a little sensitive to it because I've spent the last year defending the midwest against the evil East Coasters that to this day consider the midwest a lackluster haven for mediocre Americans. It was just too frustrating for me to come home to and find out that every one of us isn't doing our part to take our health seriously. I'm probably digging the hole deeper, as I've never known when to shut up and I always over-explain myself. Listen, I want us all to live as long as we can. I want us to live happy, healthy and loving lives. Please understand that I in no way meant to direct any negative energy toward anyone that I consider or who considers (ed) me a friend. As far as placing my own stereotypes on NASCAR fans. I should have left you alone, it's just that I find you all to be very easy targets. Sorry, I just cannot understand 4000 left turns. The wheels on the bus go round and round. I'm sure that there are plenty of NASCAR fans that take their health very seriously and that aren't driving the cars. You do have to admit that some of it was pretty funny. The colon thing? Classic. Then again, I'm easily amused. I can take a joke and believe me, I make fun of myself more than anyone I know and believe me, with all the crap I take - you know what crap I speak of - if anyone take take a joke based on stereotypes, it's me. How long have I been the gay/metrosexual/yuppie guy that cares too much about what he looks like and is amazingly insecure about it at the same time. Forgive me...

  • 03 Nov - Hours 61-72 have begun. I think I've paced myself perfectly. I probably shouldn't have stayed up until midnight last night to watch "Kicking and Screaming" but the movie - while for kids - is classic Will Farrell and so funny. Plus, as a Chicagoan...I think I am bound by loyalty to never turn off anything involving Mike Ditka. Speaking of Ditka...let's hope that the Bears don't let their undefeated season run be ended again by the Dolphins. Welcome to Chicago Miami...it's COLD!!! The temperature is 31 degrees right now. I've been thinking about New York City and reflecting on being back in Chicago. I'm pretty torn right now...don't get me wrong, I can't stand New York City but regardless of the disgusting downsides of that city (The rats, cockroaches, humidity and the smell of trash, crap - both dog and human - and urine) it's still New York f'n New York. The place is like no other in the world. And while it seemed that there is nothing to do there but eat and shop - both things I could barely afford to do - the convenience of everything and the compressed nature of the lifestyle is what makes New York City special. Regardless of the convenience and unique quality of what New York has to offer in its food and bars, what I really miss is the bridges. New York City has huge, beautiful bridges that tie in each of the Burroughs...one of which is the world famous Brooklyn Bridge. New York is a cool city and I hate it there but I'm still sad to have left. If only they could take the best of Chicago: it's blue collar food - the pizza, the dogs, the salads and beefs; the cleanliness - in the four years I've lived here, I've seen one rat, no roaches and the only smells I've taken in are from food and the Blommer Chocolate factory. New York has two wonderful teams...one of which is known around the universe and doesn't even need to be named but after a year in that city, I can categorically say that New York City is NOT a baseball town...no really, there is no energy there whatsoever. Maybe there is energy in the boogie down Bronx but that borough blows and there is no reason to ever go there but for a Yankees game and believe me, there is no reason to EVER go to "historic...phhhft" Yankee stadium. That place is a dump and the amenities are horrible. I have never been to a worse park. I would rather hang out in the Wrigley bleacher seat bathroom for an entire game than ever go to another Yankees game. Plus, get this, the so-called Yankee fans booed their team with almost every offensive out. Ridiculous. No wonder they have been choking in the playoffs for the last six years, there is no support and no energy. Everyone but Jeter plays angry and looks annoyed. I mean no disrespect to Lidle...even if it was a terrible and not surprising arrogant decision on his part to fly where he did but Yankee stadium and the fans are so lame in New York I wouldn't be surprised if Lidle intentionally crashed his plane to avoid having to play another game under such embarrassing conditions.

    On a very serious note…scientists report that the WORLD is estimated to run out of seafood by 2048. I’m sure glad that no one is taking the environment issues seriously – I mean, that’s definitely not a sign that we need a massive overhaul on the regulations that affect our air and water. Go ahead, keep building trucks the size of small villages for these pretentious urban soccer moms that don’t understand fuel consumption. I’m sure that these so-called “scientists” have no idea what they are talking about and did absolutely no research when making this claims. I’m sure that they are completely unsubstantiated and that there is nothing to worry about. I mean…who is really going to believe that living in most large cities is the equivalent of smoking nearly a pack of cigarettes a day. Yeah…oooookay! I’m sure we’re going to find some of the fabled WMD’s soon as well. So anyway…I really miss the bridges in NYC. They are just gorgeous, awe-inspiring examples of what humans are capable of. And I won’t be negative any longer with this blog by getting into all of the other examples of what humans are capable of. There is a reason for the saying, “Ignorance is bliss!” What else can I say? Let’s see…work, check, baseball, check, propaganda, checked…ummm…guess that’s it for the day. Vote revolution – forget about the politics!

    HAPPY 30TH BIRTHDAY TO NATHAN SHUGART...two days early but I won't be around to say it on the day! You're gettin old man!

    A response to my response on Kerry from Erik Owens...I don't want to keep this going though. Politics are too depressing and far too...well...let's just say that political arguments or discussions are pointless, get my blood-pressure up and when you consider that our leaders continue to make asses out of themselves on both sides of the tie...it gets pretty obvious that red or blue...they're all jackasses! So here it is...another entry - one that I generally agree with - from a man that I have much respect and high regard for Erik Owens...everyone clap...CLAP! Now clap because I am choosing not to respond to his entry as a sign that I don't want the last word on anything...enjoy:

    Wow, political speak on my favorite web site. I guess I will have to stop reading it. My take, not that you asked or care but I’m bored and this will pass some time. I think all politicians say what they think will help them or their parties win victories (no secret). As you can tell by all the negative campaign ads, most of them are so out of touch with real America they can’t even give a speech that doesn’t get them into some type of trouble. Kerry is a freaking moron and should never be any kind of representative for the people. I am a fan of our President, though not for the reason most people have a W bumper sticker. (O no how could you like our President and admit it out loud, or in writing?) I will tell you! He tries really hard, no just kidding. I think with all of the bad press and spun information hitting the airwaves he has done a good job. Like your advice for Kerry, don’t apologize, just explain yourself. The liberals and Democrats (synonymous in my opinion) have wanted Bush to say he was sorry for misleading us or lying to us about the war in Iraq. He has not, because he does explain why he thought what the U.S government did was the right action for the information we where given. Just in case you forgot the U.S government is run with a great check and balances plan. We went to Iraq with unbelievable support for doing so (among the Dems and Reps). If you can be honest with yourself you can remember back when everybody here thought it was the best thing to do. Not because the President told us so, but because faced with an arrogant regime that thought they could snub there noses at the UN and the U.S., we all thought that it should be brought down, or at least put in check! Because of politicians being too damn political we have lost our own thoughts and let garbage flow freely from our mouths before we look at all aspects. Do I think the war in Iraq is just or going well? Hell no! I think that we made an obligation when we thought it was the right thing to do and now need to live with the consequences together. Not by blaming people that are strong enough to stick with the mistake and continue to try to fix it. If you want to help the US in the war or get out of Iraq come up with some plans. You know we can’t just leave Iraq; it would be total lack of trust if we did. To me, the bottom line is that we need to start looking at our elected officials and get rid of most of them. I don’t care if we vote republican or democrat or hell if you want to throw your vote away independent. What I care about is getting some good members to serve the people. Yes we all have different wants and wishes, but I will agree and support any Politician that I feel is looking to truly support America. If I don’t agree with him/her on every vote I have to look at why. If I think it is just for political gain or monetary gain screw um, but if it is just a different view from my own, still trying to do the best for my fellow Americans, support him/her to my grave. No loyalty and voting for the nicest looking, best speaking, best joking, best story spinner, best ketchup, is not leading us to the road I want my kids on. I hate many of the policies that are currently in place. I think many of them are for the wrong reasons. Change will come, and swiftly. In my opinion it won’t start with the politicians but the PEOPLE that vote them in.

    Kerry should explain himself, and tell us what he was trying to say. He could even get me on his side if he showed some true American colors and got rid of his damn political speak. It doesn’t take a genius to represent us well; it only takes an honest and dedicated person. It seems easier to find a genius than an honest person these days. O well back to work

  • 01 Nov - Continued :: I received the following email from my college friend, Eric M. I thought it was an interesting subject and decided to share. It's not often that people ask my opinion...so here it is.

    The Message: What up man? Being a person of the military what are your thoughts on this. I can’t believe kerry actually said that. I don’t support bush, but I really don’t like kerry. My favorite part was kerry’s comments afterwards not even mentioning the part about the milary but saying that he wasn’t going to apolize for bush’s bad policies

    My response: Kerry (Aka the model for the mask from Scream) can kiss my ass! I read what he was supposed to say....seen below:

    Kerry was supposed to say, "I can't overstress the importance of a great education. Do you know where you end up if you don't study, if you aren't smart, if you're intellectually lazy? You end up getting us stuck in a war in Iraq."

    Dude...the Red ties get to laugh about this one for the next century. Talk about foot in mouth. Kerry is a moron. He gets so caught up in trying to sound pissed and not fold like the stereotypical democrate that he doesn't focus and ends up adding fuel to the Republican fire.... I wish he would back off and stop diminishing what is actually starting to become a stong Liberal front. They were finally starting to make some headway and needed all the help they could get with all the positive media coverage that the Conservative side is getting for the economic upswing that we are supposedly experiencing. On the other hand...I don't believe a word of the democratic rebuttle. I have to think that Kerry went freestyle to try and be funny....and what he meant to say is what was written in response to try and cover up the mistake or repair the damage. Oh well...one step forward, two steps back. It's just too bad that Bush is best when debating and taking advantage of his opponents weaknesses. It's the only time that he can sound like he has a slightly above less than mediocre edubuckation! How you doing?

    I just realized that I didn't answer his base question. My answer as a "former" Military person is this: Kerry cannot apologize to the soldiers but he should explain himself better to the soldiers as a form of apology for any offensive comments that he made, accidental or not. He isn't taking into account that regardless of the intent of his words, it is what he said that matters and what he said...in translation is that if you're a moron like the rest of the soldiers in Iraq, you'll get stuck there to...so study hard and don't be dumb. Unfortunately, his comments point directly back to himself....so he, in turn called himself a moron...which now, thanks to his "mistake" most Americans (both liberal and conservative" would agree. In a long-winded conclusion. No, Kerry should not apologize but he should clarify and address the issue directly by explaining himself clearly and addressing his support of the soldiers rather than trying to misdirect his anger towards the Republicans. He should also do some research and throw some facts in there. I don't agree with Bush very often but our soldiers are as Bush stated, "plenty smart". The facts are out there; soldiers today test higher than most college students on almost every level. So to that I say, "HOOOAH!"

  • 01 Nov - What happened to this year? I can't believe it's the holiday season again! This just in....Bob Barker is retiring! It's the end of an era! Okay...below is a response (Yes, an actual response to something I have written...it's about time!) Thank you Erik for your passionate rebuttle to my journal. I was starting to think that no one else is bothered by anything I say. Then again, as far as I know, this website may as well be called, "Letter's to Erik". I have no idea if anyone else is still checking this site. So here it is...the following is a response to my rant on the Cardinals. Erik called me on my comments for what they are...jealousy and the strong hope that Cardinal fans are not so much like Yankee fans that the good times and feelings don't end with the game. Thanks Erik...I cannot dispute anything you have written. I still think the Tigers collapsed but you are right, that's baseball. Detroit blew and the Cardinals made them pay for their mistakes. GOOD SHOW!

    Rebuttle message from Erik (Cardinals Fan): So I read your horrible post on your web page! Don't be so bitter. LaRussa is a competitor and an individual that shows emotions his own way. Maybe if the Cubbies had a manager that could disconnect emotionally and think situations out the way the two times World Series champion manager La Russia does, you might be able to win a game or two. To hint at St. Louis fans being any less caught up in the thrill of winning a world series as a Cub fan cheering at the last game of another losing season is ridicules. I would cheer for my team in the worst of situations, St. Louis fans are not New York fans! Just because we win A LOT more games than your team doesn't mean we are somehow less of fans. It just means we have helluva much better team, in fact the best team in all of baseball. You try to put our winning the series in the ballpark of a 'lucky' or 'undeserved' win. The Tigers didn't lose the games, we WON the games. When the Red Sox beat us we didn't say uh uh it was because we let them win or we are the better team we just didn't show up? What kind of psycho babble is that? We were the best team when it counted, in October. Hell the Cubs might someday show you what I mean, if they can ever get to playing in October. Hmm speaking of psycho babble, maybe the Cubs should try to start their season in September; that might be when they could win. Because you know March - Aug isn't working for them. Okay you know mostly I am kidding! I love the Cubs and hope they do win. It's hard not to love the perpetual underdog:) GO CARDS! P.S. I think for Russ you wear the hat for me you wear a Pujoles jersey!

  • 31 Oct - Happy Halloween!

    "I'm tired" Pete said to himself. He was holding his gut and looking at himself in the mirror. The tire of fat around his waste has been become swollen to the point that he can no longer fit into his jeans. With his next paycheck, he will swallow his pride and for the first time in his 30 years existence buy a pair of jeans wider than they are long. What is happening to me? At five-foot-ten and 215 pounds something has to change. It was only six months ago during his last physical that Pete weighed 175 pounds and as far as he can remember his lifestyle has not changed. In the mirror Pete is moving the fat around with his hands. The pale skin sack that used to stretch tight against his body now sags and resembles a mound of dough. Pete coughs and it smells like beer and pizza. He had gotten a little drunk watching Monday night football, thoroughly enjoying the pounding that the Patriots had put on the Vikings. Pete slips on a tee-shirt, the pits stains a strange yellow and orange. He sniffs the pit and nods to accept the slight smell of mildew and sweat as acceptable. He stretches the shirt, a medium, pulling it down over his gut only to watch it pull back up over his belly button. Frustrated Pete grips the tee-shirt at the neck and pulls. The shirt stretches and leaves the shirt loose at the neck but doesn't tear. Pete pulls again, yanking fast and so hard that his cheeks turn purple. He struggles and jerks his arms wildly up and down but the tee-shirt only makes a slight popping noise as the seam stretches a little further. Breathing heavy now, coughing and furious Pete jerks down hard and with all the weight of his body. He pulls but the tee-shirt only stretches further and doesn't give. The gaping loop created from his efforts has exposed his left nipple and at the site of it Pete screamed letting out a phlegmy roar that gurgled, cracked and burned his throat. He slammed his closet door, shaking the walls hard enough to knock the mirror off of the wall and to the floor where the glass shattered and added more fuel to Pete’s rage. He curled his fingers into a fist and with his thumb wrapped inside his right fist reared back, growled and shifted his weight to punches the wall. The haymaker landed dead center on the dark spot of the wall left unbleached by the sun where the mirror had been hanging. Pete’s fist bounced off of the drywall, leaving a shallow dent in the wall. His thumb popped and Pete knew immediately that he had broken the finger. The pain shot up his arm causing him to wince and let out a yelp like a dog that had been kicked by a horse. “SON OF A BITCH” Pete screamed pulling the hand, swelling already, into his gut and throwing his left arm across the right to secure it. Pete turned to leave the shrinking confines of his room, his anger gone, replaced by the pulsing feeling of his broken thumb. He turned into the hallway and walked quickly but gingerly toward the bathroom. Earlier this morning Pete had forgotten his towel in the bedroom and after his shower he walked naked, cold and dripping wet to his room to dry off. At the bathroom he turned on his right foot and with his left foot still in the air slipped on a small puddle that had collected at the door. Pete’s right foot slipped outward and in the direction of travel, his left foot lifted in the opposite direction and up causing his body to twist. The change in momentum and in the weight of his body lifted him entirely from the ground, his left foot now above his head, his arms still braced across his chest he hit the ground shoulders first which caused the muscles in his neck to go loose. Pete’s head hit the floor with the concussive force of a 215 pound man coming to an abrupt stop in an unprotected fall. He saw light and heard the crack of his skull against the wood but felt no pain as his brain ricochets off of the side of his skull, bruising and causing internal bleeding and swelling that would go unattended as he lay unconscious on the floor. Pete wouldn’t wake up again. The moral of the story? What do you think it is…e-mail me at jeremybrizzi@hotmail.com

  • 29 Ocotber - As much as it hurts me to say...as much as I still can't believe how bad the Tigers played and basically handed the series to them, congratulations is due! So...here it is...Congratulations to the Cardinals. What question though?!~ Does LaRussa know how to smile? The man looks as if he has an impacted colon every time I see him. It's strange, almost inhuman, for a person to have no emotions come through after a pinnacle achievement such as a World Series Championship win. IF the Cubs ever win the world series again...not only will hospitals be flooded with failing hearts and livers but people afraid that the smiles will become permanent. I'm tired of watching teams go through the motions, of watching fans scream during the game and then go home with no lasting effect of the experience. Yes, it's over...the 2006 season has ended but for the people in St. Louis, I hope that the party has not ended. I hope that Cardinals fans are able to enjoy this time with the intensity that Cubs fan carried with them during the playoffs in 2003. to bring things into perspective, the Cubs just completed one of their worst seasons EVER and their faithful fans stood singing in the stands long after the game was over. "GO CUBS GO..." ~ you know the tune! You'll see...enjoy it now Cardinals because 2006 is all you get. 2007 may be the year of the Pig in China but in Chicago it will be the Year of the Cubs! As for the bets that I lost...well Russell, I'll let you know when I have your ticket to opening day and my Cardinals hat in hand. Erik, you remind me that I made a bet with you but I can't remember the stakes (Likely $50) but I'm sure you'd enjoy to see me wear a Cardinals hat to opening day as much as Russ...so when I get your ticket, I'll let you know. GO BEARS! I know my thoughts are fractured in this message but my heart hurts and I'm feeling a little sick right now...

  • 24 October - Okay, I learned something new today. Yes, that's right, the boy can be taught. This is actually a tool that is life changing...simple, yet amazing. Seriously, check it out, stop reading right now, click the link below and be prepared to be aamazed. It'll blow your mind and better yet, it's no trick - it actually works!

    Fold Your Shirt

    I've watched it like ten times. I can't wait to go home and practice. What else...work is good. Weather is cold. The hated Cardinals are up 2 games to 1, with another home game tonight. Kira gets in to town tonight for a visit. Looking forward to that. Life is good. For all you on-line gamblers, our beloathed tyrant, President Bush has signed a bill making online gambling illegal. Whatever will Pete Rose do with his time? All music writing is on hold for now until I retrieve my gear from New York. However, when I do finally get my stuff, I will not only have much more time to write and record but I can also record at home...so production WILL be at an all time high. I plan to mail my gear home soon and should have another song recorded by January. Sounds like a timeline for Iraq has been agreed to...kinda makes me wonder what sort of timeline we have for Bosnia and Korea. We have only begun over the last two year to shut down camps opened in Germany after WWII. If you can't tell, I'm watching the news while I write. For those of you aware of Illinois politics and for those that are literate and aware of National Best Selling Novels - We have a little politician named Barak Obama here that is "considering" running for President. Most would agree as do I that while we would love to see this man in office, it is far too soon for this him to run. However, with Hillary "She-Devil" Clinton making a go of it for 2008 and being the odds on favorite until he steps in, I think that the best career move for him would be to join forces with Hillary as her Vice-President. You will be hard pressed to find a Republican nominee able to stand up against the power of that combination. Plug in Bill Clinton as...uh...the first man (?) to the equation and what you have is a landslide victory. Then again...you just never know what middle-America is going to vote for. I do have to hand it to George...the DOW sure does seem to be thriving...broken records and all. Sometimes it is hard to be a libra...to be well-balanced in some aspects can be great but to always weigh out the good and the bad can be a crutch. I tend to give people the benefit over doubt far too often. I'm not falling for it this time. I cannot wait until 2008. I'm not getting into this. I get too angry. All I can say is that Republicans can not afford to ignore the environment any longer! Drastic measures must be taken go green in this nation.

  • 22 October cont'd - Still at work and I'm on MySpace looking at my High School Alumni...WHAT HAPPENED? Seriously...who are these people and when did the Northwest Suburbs turn into a breeding ground for Budweiser swilling, NASCAR loving rednecks? Maybe I'm being a judgemental prick but at what point did these people lose all self-respect for themselves to the point that their only goals they have achieved in life is to add another inch to the waste (spelled incorrectly intentionally) line. I apologize for being crass but COME ON...put down the donut and talk a walk. Help me out here. Did the culture of Indiana make a movement into Illinois after I left town? Holy crap. At a time when the rest of the world is focusing on living a healthy lifestyle and chips and soda have gone organic...my fellow CG alumni have head north to Wisconsin to suck down cheese curd and saturated fat by the gallon. Here's a thought...put down the poison packaged in that pretty aluminum can you call your life, turn off Dick Trickle and Rusty Whoever, pack up the 16 kids in your usually broken down muscle car, go to the grocery store...stay with me, I know that the Big yellow M that gets your colon all aquiver with anticipation is the only place you though "food" is available but in reality the FDA doesn't even recognize McDonalds as containing any form of nutrition that could actually amount to anything to be considered food. Anyway, a while back, some people got together and started putting up buildings that they filled with vegetables, fruit and healthy meats. If it makes you more comfortable, find a Piggly Wiggly to shop in until you get the hang of it. This is where is gets tricky. Rather than loading your shelves with Chef Boy Rd and Lucky Charms...take a look at the side of the package and read -- you went to Cary-Grove, at the least you can still do that -- the Nutrition information. Look for and you may want to sit down - what am I saying, you're definitely sitting - that are LOW in fat content, primarily Saturated fat but high in fiber. Don't worry so much about carbs and protein. Focus on eating a well balanced diet and stick to a real program of exercise and you too can eventually have a waist line that doesn't require special stores. Good luck and go trojans...ppfffhhhhttt. Take seriously, only if you look in the mirror and have crumbs hanging from your chin or have crushed a beer can on your forehead in the last 5-10 years.

  • 22 October - I'm at work watching the Chicago marathon from my office window. I'm right at mile marker 13 and it's amazing to watch the elite runners glide down the road. The pace is unbelievable. It's 40000 people running today and only about 20 are actually competitors. It's all very inspiring as I sit on my ass watching them bust theres. The lead 6 men, a good mile in front of EVERYONE else are averaging well under 5 minutes per mile. I like to think that I run pretty fast and at my best I barely broke the barrier between 5 and 6 minutes. Now factor in that I was only able to hold that pace for 3 miles. For those that don't know...a marathon is 50K or 26.2 miles. Good luck to Lisa Dragotto as she runs this cold and windy Chicago morning.

  • 20 October - Okay, so last night was a heartbreaker. I made a bet back in Iraq with my Cardinal fan friend Russell. The bet? That the Cardinals would not make it to the World Series. They don't have to win - they won't - they only have to get there. So...I lost! The stakes? Loser wears the hated teams hat to the home opener. Looks like I'll be buying two Cubs opening day tickets and a Cardinals hat. Laugh all you want Cardinals fan - I can't say a word! I spent the entire day moving the rest of my junk into my new place and it would figure that after two years...all of the stuf I was looking forward to using again (Coffee cups and Frying pan) are MIA. The Shugart's bought the best housewarming gift a guy could want. Thanks to them, this house will be brewing plenty of peets coffee and espresso. That's right they got us the coolest two-in-one coffee machine and this house smells glorious! GLORIOUS I SAY!!! GO DETROIT! That's right, spiteful to the end.

  • 16 October - Erik, what's up man? Just got your message and thought I would send out a website shout....see if I can make you blush.

  • 15 October - Ahhh....my first 12-hour weekend shift. I have nothing coming off of the board, so I've been watching football all afternoon. Since my return to Chicago, I have ingested nearly all of my favorite grub: Chicago Style Pizza from Giordano's - not the best in the city but better than NYC (slop) could ever hope to offer; Italian Beef with Gardiniera and Mozzarella - It wasn't Kojak's or Mangino's but since Chicago is the only place on earth that makes this staple of my existence...I'll take it!; I just consumed two very edible Chicago Style hotdogs - another staple of my being and one of the many reasons my heart beats (even if it has to work a little harder). However, the best Dogs in the city and I think most would agree come from Wrigleyville dogs....oh man, they are soooo good. All you sad sad Yankee's fan that know no better and accept your NYshitty, dirty water dogs w/ mustard only!!?!?!? - I'll never understand that - as "the best" are only projecting your naive ability to accept a lower standard of living. SWEET HOME CHICAGO. Don't get me wrong, NYC is cool but if you don't make six figures...don't move there because you can't live (Well, at least not like you can in the greatest city on earth.) Maybe it's just me; maybe I'm a caveman that should be happy to live in a place where I couldn't even save quarters to do laundry. Maybe it's the old grudge living in me that Chicagoans have always had for New Yorkers. A justifiably sarcastic grudge that is only a response to the stereotypes and criticism New York slung at us. See, the things is that old New York - before Chicago gave the world architecture - considered Chicagoans to be uncivilized, blue-collar, blood thirsty beasts, with unrefined pallets. I’ll admit, New Yorker’s know good food and I can appreciate that. In fact, I learned more about food in the one year that I lived there than I did in the entire 28 years that preceded it. The problem is that unless you are willing to blow a hundred bones on dinner for two every time you go out to there, there is no happy medium. New York does not have GOOD food for the common man. I don’t believe that I ever spent less than $10 on a meal the entire time I lived there and that includes breakfast – a meal that is supposed to be cheap. So, let me get off my rant…New York is cool and it was fun and I can see how someone can easily fall in love with it. What I don’t see happening is someone leaving Chicago to live in New York and ever thinking that New York is the greater city. New York is grimy, rancid and ridiculous with fenced in cement for Parks and 8 million unenthusiastic people all stumbling through a grid of stench, completely oblivious to the existence of every other person walking in front of or around them. Nope, Chicago for me is heaven on earth. It doesn’t seem like a “city” after living within the borders of Manhattan but it is a gorgeous and CLEAN place to live with reasonably priced housing, humungous GREEN parks with actual trees and grass and AMAZING food and culture. Chicago is my home, my heaven, a beacon of energy and hope. I wouldn’t leave this city again unless I was going to live in a true European city and not the failed emulation that NYC has tried to impersonate since the first of its 64 millions rats sipped from the urine of its trash lined streets. Goodbye to the cockroaches and random masses fecal matter that line the sidewalks. Goodbye to the anonymous many that have no passion. Hello to sidewalks I would eat off of, to have never seen a cockroach and to Cubs fans! I can’t say that I love my new apartment but it will suffice for the year. I can’t complain too much. After all, it does have a great kitchen and I live in a PRIME location, directly behind the Full Schilling, the Metro and the best Argentinean steak joint in the city. I’m a five minutes walk from Wrigley and my apartment is on a quiet, tree-lined street (I heard leaves blow.) and has a huge backyard. You could fit a live band and have a BBQ with up to 50 people comfortably. What else, not much. Work is good, same old job I had before, just busier – which is also good news. I have a couple roommates, my college friends, Brian and JT. I think I’ve said enough for now, if not too much. As for my friends and family in New York; if it weren’t for all of you, I never would have survived my year there. I was lucky enough to meet the only sane people in the city…which only convinces me that each and every single one of them should be living in Chicago as well. You are all the exception and I hope to see you very soon. Okay, back to my game. Have a good one or more.

  • 08 October - Well Happy Birthday to me. Thirty years old. It's been a big weekend for me. Friday was my last day at Evergreene and by Saturday evening - one year to the day that Erik and I boarded a plane in Iraq and headed to Kuwait, I boarded a plane in New York and a few hours later was sitting in a bar in Chicago, drinking some one's with a few of my friends from college. Tomorrow is day one back at my old job and I'm looking forward to it. Same old stuff I was doing before Iraq, Support Engineer for Network Operations. It's a great job with a great crew for a company reborn and raised from the ashes of bankruptcy. Things are looking good. Kira is going to stay out in NYC for the year and we'll both be travelling back and forth until the wedding. The search for a home begins today. Until we find a place, I'll be living like a nomad. So best wishes from Chicago. Erik man, I guess you know me better than I know myself - I should have listened to you more often. I'm raising a hot cup of Peets to you my friend! Hope to see you soon. So anyway, GO BEARS!

  • 05 September - I've finally finished a song, the first since returning from Iraq. The song lyrics are written by my brother and the music by me... Check it out on MYSPACE - AMAZING LOVE

  • 21 August - I've restored the website. I'm still writing and recording. Below is a new link to photos of Caitlyn's first visit to New York City. We had a great time! Hope you are all well.

  • 18 Jun - Happy Father's Day. The book is developing nicely. I have a lot of research and planning to do but the story is really beginning to take form, mostly in my head but I'm really enjoying myself. Recording on the other hand is not moving along very well. I haven't been able to find the sound or rhythm. I'm being far tougher on myself this time around with the sound I'm trying to create than while I was in Iraq. I'm sure I'll find it but it's going to take some time. I'm disappointed but excited at the same time.

  • 27 MAY - It's only 75 degrees today and I'm uncomfortable already. I've never been much for sweating but at room temperature, you would think I would be comfortable, wouldn't you? Anyway, it's Memorial day weekend. Everything is about as normal for me as it can be. We never seem to be able to get off our butts to actually do anything but I'd like to go wander through Brooklyn and hit Central Park this weekend. We'll see, I never count on actually getting anything done anymore. I need to change that.

  • 20 MAY - Wow, is it really May already? I can't believe how long it has been since I last wrote. Okay, so here is the news. I have finally and honestly found inspiration for my new novel. I've been digging around in this little brain of mine and somewhere in the air between Chicago and New York, I found what I was looking for. The entire story opened itself before me and I couldn't write fast enough. Outside of that, I mailed my recording gear and all of my instruments back to New York. I couldn't be more excited to begin recording again. It's been far too long. With that said, I am going or at least planning to revamp this site soon. I'll be setting it up to play music and provide downloads. Everything is going well. I couldn't be much happier. Keep an ear out for new tunes...give me about a month, maybe less and I'm going to start kicking them out. Can't wait...it's going to be all of the stuff I've written over the years, as well as new stuff that I'm writing now. Added up, I have well over a hundred songs and I can't wait to share them. Hope all is well with all ya'all!!!!

  • 29 MAR - I'm writing from work. The day is over and I just realized that this month is practically over too. It's rediculous how fast time is passing here. It's almost time to pay the taxman. I'll be happy to have that over with and be in a position where I actually know how to live with my income. Who knows - maybe next year I'll actually get some money back. This paying stuff sucks! Not much else to report. Looks like I might be playing Rugby at Central Park soon and my deadline for playing open mic nights is only a week away. I guess I should learn a couple songs and actually prepare for it. The picture is a sample of some of the work I'm involved with... As soon as I actually take some time to take pictures, I'll show you where I work. I love this place.


  • 18 MAR - Is anything ever as good in reality as it is in your head? Everything seems a little darker, a little more tarnished, a little less recognizable, a lot less what you expected, wanted or hoped for. Then again, I'll take the reality and the pain over the fantasy any day! Or maybe that's just me trying to convince myself of something...is there a way to know for sure. Is anything definite? Would I want it to be if it were or is it better to hurt within the mystery and the let down? What goes up must come down but when I'm up, I'm up!!!!

  • 27 FEB - Ummmm...what happened to February? I spent the weekend before last vomiting out of both ends of my body for three days straight. For three days after that I was still having trouble walking. IT WAS AWESOME!!!! No...no it wasn't. I missed Rollins doing his spoken word again!!!! At least the tickets I had in November went to Nate and didn't go to waste. Work is getting better and better every day. I'm still busting my hump...my hump, my hump, my hump but it's such a cool job on every level. Kira and I went to a black tie charity casino night for big brothers and sisters. It was a good time, even if I didn't get to gamble. We snuck up into the VIP seating and our little group of people hung out and BS'd most of the night. What else? Baseball season is almost upon us again!!! Finally! Nothing planned, nothing else to report. Later!

  • 6 FEB - New Year's and some photographs of New York that my buddy Russell took. Had I known I would somehow end up looking like I have Lyle Lovett hair that night, I would have shaved my head. Lucky for me, the skull is shaved now and there are no worries. Still loving the new job, still haven't had any snow...still nothing new to report.

  • 31 JAN - I found myself trying to character build on the train yesterday, trying to form some story behind the faces standing across from me, swaying all around me. One man stood about six-foot five, was wearing a full beard and long shaggy brown hair. He looked like a mix between David Groel and Jim Carrey as Joel in "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind". I watched his eyes study the woman all around us and sensed a deep loneliness coming from him. His lips weren't pouting but his his eyes were. In my head he was searching the train for a another pair of eyes that might be noticing him. He only wants to be wanted. In my head, he was so sad. In my head, he isn't alone, he has friends outside of this train, he loves outside of this train but right now, on this train, he's tired, alone and craving something to make him feel alive. I guess it can be easy to forget what you have when you're under ground and everyone around you feels like a ghost.

  • 29 JAN - Saw Ethan Hawke tonight, just standing out on the street talking on his cel. I walked by him once, heard the voice and recognized him immediately. By what he was saying, he's going to start shooting a movie tomorrow. I'm pretty sure that I saw Denzel walking a dog through the park a few months ago. I call them parks but New York doesn't really have any parks outside of Central. I placed an ad on MySpace and am going to test the waters, see about putting a band together. I have to do something before I lose it. The music bug has been biting for a few weeks now. Nothing in mind to tell as far as stories go. Hope you're at least enjoying them. To my Chicago crew...miss you guys! Missing you all a lot!

  • 26 JAN - Today Terez is awake and by awake, I mean, two grande red-eye from Starbucks by nine in the morning. He's a little nervous today too, not because of anything special...everything but - today is just another day. This morning Terez woke up and decided that today is time to make every red light action in his life a green light go...no more being too tired for the gym, no more holding back on what he wants to say, no more wasting time better spent playing guitar and working on the vision in his mind - Okay, so maybe today is different but nothing has changed, not really and not for anyone else - truth is that Terez doesn't fully trust himself to follow through anyway and with that, despite all of his irritating sputter, all has stayed the same but intent. So...period, end sentence and on with the thought. Did Terez make it to the gym today? No, maybe, does it really matter? Does anything Terez does really matter? It does to him but where is the proof? To the rest of the world, the 99.9999999% that doesn't know, never has met him, never will know that he breathes, nothing has changed, nothing he does matters, nothing he does will ever make a difference. So what does matter and what's the point? Let's say that Terez kills himself...let's say that he drinks himself to death and it's weeks before the neighbors connect the strange odor in the hallway to the never ending sound of the Television. Terez's mother, father, brother, sister, girlfriend and best friend - the same people that thought it was strange they hadn't heard from him but figured he just wanted to be left alone - all mourn him. Terez's girlfriend had every intent to spend her life with him - that's not going to happen now. Terez's mother and father can't help but feel like they let him down - they'll never get to say goodbye or finally get to tell him that they love him. He always thought they might but it would have been nice to hear at least once while he was growing up. And Terez's best friend? Well, Terez had a lot of friends, so many in fact that most popular bands would be jealous of the attendance to his funeral when compared to the numbers paying to see them live. Where were all these people when he needed them? That same question will be mulled over and kicked around by ever person that didn't miss him when he was alive but misses him when he's dead. At least, that's what he's thinking. He's mad but not doing anything about it and what he doesn't realize, didn't realize is that by taking his own life, all he's done is pissed every one that loves him off. All of them asking why and why and why?

    Okay this is me, I think - just a thought - When you think of it, every death, depending on the music you listen to, has a song...stay with me. Are you with me? {top 40 pop fans need not apply}. Okay, even if you're not, I know Terez, if he were still with us, if he were ever with us....something or someone rest his soul (? - Stop sentence) was writing his song and his song was played in every breathe, every heart beat, every cough, sneeze and cry. It's life man! Where am I going with this? See, okay, here's the deal. Terez was one of the special people, one of the few that feels/felt toooooooooooo much and by all the extra O's, I mean that he hurt, he feels pain to a degree that would make most crumble, he took things personally but also understood when he shouldn't and why. He used to welcome the things that made him different and it made him shine that he could keep going. He couldn't help but feel, that was his thing. So? My point. If you were a friend of Terez and you bit the big one, he would hear your song and believe it or not, you have a song like you have a soul. Some are hot, some a cold, some are dark, bitter, sweet, warm, mellow, etc...but they are there and they have their own individual feel, there own tempo, rhythm and key. It's like a vibe and like a snowflake and like nothing else to anyone else. It's your thing and no one else's and regardless of whether you follow my meaning, regardless of whether you have the slightest clue or think I'm full of shit...truth is, Terez knows and he knows what I mean. Some feel it, some can define it, some can explain it, some live for it and some will never understand but every breathing creature out there has a song and that song is his vibration. In that vibration, you will find the fuel for the world, everything that drives it. Take the music away and it won't stop going round and round but it sure won't be living....you tell me! What do you feel? Someone identify with me...with Terez...with themself...someone feel something and let it be what it is - REAL! At the end of your life is death and at when you're gone, some will remember you for some time. Others will be remembered forever, most for never but is it really that important? This world...this ball of mush, oil and mud is going round, round and around the sun but it's vibration sings a song of destruction. Realize this, if the song is true, if the feeling is real, all the Beatles songs in the world will only be heard by us, all the Marvin Gaye, all the Chopin. All of the art in the world will only be seen by us. All of the movies will only be watched by us and in the undeterminable years to come, after all is said and kabooom...when gravity has reformed and overcome...only then when the slate is clean, when all is undone and (re)begun...only then...will nothing be known, everything be new and meaning unquestioned. Until then - who knows but GOD and even then - who knows? The meaning of life? Questions... This is the life you get, this is your time, it's your song...don't let it suck!

  • 25 JAN - There was supposed to be Thundersnow last night. Harmony sat up waiting for hours and it wasn't until the sun broke the skin open on the horizon that he realized what time it is and that there wasn't a cloud to be found. It's been a strange winter in that it's been so warm, like Fall extended into the Winter months and is refusing to leave. Harmony pulls the covers over his head and let's sleep take him. He's supposed to be at work to spend another day in his cubicle, staring at a screen filled with meaningless text and numbers - text and numbers that fill his head with lead and his heart with pain. These strange magic numbers are never right and they change every day, they tease, taunt and he still hasn't figured out how they do it yet but those damn numbers keep the hands on the clock from moving at the same pace they do on the weekend. Maybe the batteries are dying. It's been quarter to lunch for well over an hour now. He wonders if anyone notices that he's wearing a new shirt? He wonders outloud if anyone in the damn office knows how to do this job beside him. It's then that they notice him and not only because his voice is bouncing off the walls and carrying his words directly into their "ignorant damn heads" but more that he's standing on top of his desk with his pants down, stretching at the crotch and bunched at his ankles, his boxers flapping in the wind, yellow stained patches on the crotch standing eye level for every one to see. He's waiving his hands like a crazed politician, pointing and directing his complaints to specific idiots around the room. He points to Bob from Accounting and accuses that he's a "Dumbass! Simone has her goddamn iPod on, she can't hear me. She's lost on the technological tie between music and corporate hell...Nope, the moron can't hear me but..." and he raises his stapler over his head and pokes it in Evelyn's "confused fat face." "You're always confused, good for nothin..." and walks comically, hands and feet raising high up in the air like a puppet. It's then that he smiles and finds himself standing behind Simone. He sings that "she can't hear me" and it's a crazy man's opera. He conducts the song with the stapler in his left hand and on the last nonsensical note flips the stapler open and with his right hand grabs a handful of Simone's ponytail tied black hair and repeatedely staples her to the desk. "CAN YOU HEAR ME NOW???? CAN...YOU...HEAR...MEEEEE...NOWWWWW!!!!! Can any of you dumb bastards hear anything? Are any of you number crunching idiots really alive?" Simone tears her head from the desk and comes up looking like a maniac, eyes red and teary with anger. Her head came up with paperwork still attached and post-its falling from her like dead leaves. One white bud head phone stuck in her ear and the other dangling at her neck, Prince whispering just loud enough to sound like static. Simone didn't want to react right away, she was still trying to understand and Harmony had moved on in search of his next opinion. And then he stopped moving, looked at the clock and began to cry. "Lunch time again and another tick closer to death. You can eat anything you want to in this world but if you can't swallow the idea of death, you'll never taste life." And with that word, his mouth fell open to release a wet, raspy breathe. He folded up like a wet bag and slopped to the floor. At his feet lay a copy of the office newsletter. His eyes lost focus and went black but he's pretty sure he read something meaningless before he died. Employee of the Month - Harmony Tyse. Harmony woke up to the sound of teeth grinding in his head and he immediately recalled the dream. "Bunch of crap if you ask me...employee of the month - pfffft!"

  • 23 JAN - Once upon a time in a land far away, there was a knucklehead named Franz. Franz had more than most, drank champagne and ate fine cheese but still wasn't satisfied. He searched his mind and heart daily in hopes for an answer to the constant urges, desires and need for more. The lonliness burned so deep in his stomach and hurt his head so badly, he actually considered suicide but most of the time he knew that he'd only be killing himself for attention. Truth is, Franz loves life more than anything and it's this boredom, this feeling that there just has to be more to life than eating, sleeping, working and doubt. He doesn't want to give up but can't help but give in to the feeling that there has to be more, that he just needs more. All the special things in his life, the good things that most crave and would gladly donate a limb for - our good buddy Franz can't help but overlook them, well, not necessarily overlook as much as it is that he cheapens the meaning. It's not that he's self consumed, he just feels so much, too much if you ask him. What he wants, what he feels he needs is the recognition, the attention, the same energy returned to him that he puts into everything he does. Franz goes to sleep and dreams that there is a stick barely visible in the difference and something seems to dangle from the stick - not sure what it is, he reaches for it but can't seem to grab on. The thing dangles, bobs and teases him and he lunges foward, grabs again and falls flat on his face. He stands, brushes off the dirt, wipes some blood from his chin and smiles. Finally, a challenge, his crouches and leaps again, every ounce of his energy goes into the bound but again he falls short. The shiny thing becomes obsession, almost addiction and Franz tries again, time after time, until he is gasping for air and soaking in his own sweat. In the back of his mind, he's thinking that the grass is greener...but he knows that it's not true this time...it's just harder. He knows he's in love and at the same time, he realizes that he can't always have all the things he wants and sometimes the dreams are dreams because they can't be attained, at least not completely. And even then, sometimes, most times, the dream isn't enough. There's always something else. He leaps again and falls flat on his face but not without a bite of hope. He touched it, whatever that thing is...and his heart beat harder, his hopes got stronger and he steadied himself to try again. And again he fell. Each time he fell harder and each time he stood a little slower. Each time the shiny thing got a littler darker, a little uglier but he still wanted it. At the end of the stick, he imagined the devil shaking with laughter and wiggling the stick that holds this unattainable temptation. Franz said, "Fuck it...not this time! I like it here, I love it here, I finally found a home and even if this home sucks...it's still home and I'm going to make the most of what I have, be grateful for what I've achieved and thank that big unknown that all the things that got me here, did just that. Tomorrow, I'll jump again but not before I go over to the dude shaking the stick and kick his ass! This is my world!"

  • 22 JAN - Another day in New York, like every other day, unlike any other day in many other places but similar in it's own fashion, yet different in and of itself, like an educated punk, dirty and unshaven but elegant in speech when tossed into a pack of other human messes that paint pretty faces and claim to be civilized. It's Sunday in New York and I'm bored enough to not care if that sentence is nonsensical or even grammatically correct. When it comes to correct I'm usually a monger, commonly spellchecking for puncuation, grammar and ill formed words but today, sufficient is the goal. I spent my weekend, like most, trying to find a way to stop time so that my time continues to be mine. And like every weekend before this, I am failing miserabely. It's still warm here, 39 degrees right now and that's cold for what we have been experiencing for the last month. It's rediculous to think that in late January, I have yet to see snow. It's fall 2.0 right now. My car has continued the path to it's inevitable destination in the junkyard. Two weeks ago, I tore a hole in the passenger side panel, just behind the door. The hole is about 10 inches long and 2 inches wide, completely rusted already. It still looks brand new on the inside though... Work is great and while I still don't have much of a clue, I love the job and my days have been flying by. I don't feel like typing anymore

  • 19 JAN - Didn't realize this much time has passed since my last update. Not much to write. I've been busy, very very busy. Work has kept me occupied and I love the new job. I have a LOT to learn but it's an awesome company, the people are cool and the work is interesting. I'm so happy to be out of Telecom. Other than that...not much else going on. Haven't really been doing anything but hanging out at home and with a friend here and there. Glad it's Thursday, always looking forward to the next weekend. Hope all is well with all.

  • 8 JAN - The Bodies exhibit while very cool is not one to be viewed on low blood sugar. All of the bodies are real and when we got to the disease section, where actual smokers lungs and kidneys with large stones are displayed, it's a lot to stomach. I was blown away and would recommend it to anyone for the visual experience as well as the educational.

  • 7 JAN - Happy 1/7 boys and goyles. I have some news to share. I have resigned from my position at Paetec Communications to accept a position with Evergreene Painting Studios. I'll being working as a Project Admin to the PM's. The company is very cool and something that I can be proud to work for. They restore and renovate art and old buildings to their original beauty. I'm very excited. I'll also be working with Kira, her Aunt and her Uncle. Her Uncle Jeff owns the company. This is my official departure from Telecommunications and I couldn't be happier to be out of the field. The years have been interesting, fun and I've made a lot of wonderful friends but I've never really had much of an interest in the actual work. I feel like the world has been lifted from my shoulders. Tonight I'm taking Kira to see The Bodies Exhibit> It should be very cool and I'm pretty excited. We may be taking the Subway over to Brooklyn after to meet up with some friends. So, that's that - Cool exhibitions and I start a new job on Monday...I'm happy!!!!

  • 2006 - HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!! - Had a huge update written, ready to save and then I lost connectivity and locked up. All my charm and wit gone and never to be read. Lucky you! Anyway, New Years was fun. Hung out with Russ and Ryan. Didn't get drunk at all, believe it or not, just wasn't feeling the alcohol vibe that night. Had a good time though and made it home in one piece. Didn't do much of anything on New Years Day and I'm itching to get out now. Actually I'm itching to get in my car and just drive off but I gotta work tomorrow...yahoo! So, happy New Year to all. Hope the Malfunktion show was a good time and I really wish I could have been there. I miss you all. Later, Brizz

  • 25 DEC - MERRY CHRISTMAS to EVERYONE! I thought I have a lot to say but changed my mind. To all those in Iraq, I wish the best for you. To all those that were in Iraq with me, I feel strangely sentimental right now and miss you all. To all those that I was lucky enough to spend my holiday with, thank you for welcoming me and to those of you with which I did not get to celebrate, you were missed and I hope that you got to rock some stockings! Miss and love you all!

  • 21 DEC - I can hardly believe it's only four days until Christmas. It's still a shock to me that I'm actually home for the holidays. This Christmas will be my first in New York City and the first with Kira's family. I'm definitely excited and looking forward to celebrating the holidays with them. Of course, I'll miss being back in Chicago with my family but I wish you all the best and warmest holiday wishes...and that goes for the rest of you, spread out around the country and the world. Bring on 2006! I have no solid plans for New Year's Eve. My buddy from Iraq, Russell is supposed to be in town and I'm looking forward to seeing him and...(Just in case he reads this)...laughing at him! Russell and I traveled from Baghdad to Frankfurt, GE together and I can't speak for him but I had a blast. Good times. Other than that...let's see...the friggen MTA strike. What a pain in the ass! I've been with Paetec for a little over a week now and have spent the last two days manning the New York City 2 office in downtown Manhattan, instead of at the Newark office, because no one can get here from Jersey - or - choose to work from home rather than deal with the extreme hassle of getting into the city. There are people actually walking across the bridges to get here. It's crazy. This type of stuff seems to follow me everywhere I go. The strike here, almost getting stuck Canada during the middle of that huge East coast power grid outage in 2004 and so on. Hope all is well with all y'all. Talk to you soon. Erik man, best wishes in Greenland. Russ, see you soon and say hey to everyone that's still there. Tomas, Garcia...Ehrat still there? Dave...so on and you get it. LATA!

  • 13 DEC - Hey all, two days into the new gig and it's been fun but tough. It's not that the work is hard, it's that there is work to do at all. After a year of sitting on my ace with ITT, doing absolutely NOTHING in Iraq but dodging rockets, I actually have a challenging job with an organized company that has its head in the air rather than tucked firmly up the behind. The people I work with are great, the job is a lot to handle but is coming quickly and while a shock to my system, pretty danged refreshing. I can't help but appreciate the cleanliness, work ethic and pride that this company has. That and I've been invited to three parties already...Xmas and others that it has been made very clear to me are just excuses to let loose...AKA mildly (loose on the definition) intoxicated. Other than that, just getting ready for Christmas. Well, I'm all dosed up on a double shot of NyQuil and ready to slam my head against the floor in anticipation of sleep...so...good freakin night!!!!

  • 07 DEC - What's new? I talked to Scashish last week and he's doing well. He's heading to Greenland in January to work with Erik for the year. Had breakfast with Ryan (New York) yesterday and he couldn't be happier to be back in the states. I've never seen someone so excited to be in a restaurant that doesn't involve using plastic utensils, drinking from a cardboard box or having to serve yourself. Today I am getting my haircut for the 3rd time since I've been back. I know it's a shocker but contrary to my year there, I actually do care what I look like. The new job starts on Monday, just sent back all my paperwork and I can't wait to get back to life. Don't get me wrong, the two month vacation was great and if I were rich, I could get used to this. But I'm not, so work is a good thing and I'm stoked! That's about it for the news. Went to an opera with Kira's family last week and saw Carmen performed at the Metropolitan Theatre. It was an awesome experience and I can't wait to see Don Giovanni this Spring. Okay...back to nothing. There is a bowl of cereal and some bad TV calling my name.

  • 01 DEC - It's the last month of 2005 and good riddance. It's been an interesting year, fun at times, crappy at others. All in all, I'm just looking to 2006 as my official new life and fresh start. It's then that I'll start considering myself a New Yorker. Right now, I feel like I'm still the guy from Chicago that just got back from Iraq - At least that's how I've been introducing myself. Once I have my own place or have established where I'm going to continue my existence, then maybe I'll feel completely at home. One thing is for sure though - New York is home to me now.

    I'm in a rut with my music and lately (the last couple months) everything has sounded the same to me. I need a good feel in the guitar part to squeeze out a unique vocal line and everything I've been doing has been done or just bores me. I have come up with a couple tunes though. I'll post the lyrics at the bottom of this update. Unfortunately, I don't know when I'm going to get around to actually recording again. It could be months. I do look forward to laying down the what must be at least 100 tunes I wrote before Iraq. It's time. Who knows, maybe I can start a career selling my music. That would be a dream come modified, especially since while I miss the stage, the whole rockstar desire to has passed. I just want to play and write. Anyway...here they be.

    Still In Between

    Still in between this life, this dream, this everything, this nothing is blank
    I’m waiting here, wading here, fading here, falling away
    Taken by this consciousness, coincidence, I’m holding my breath
    Frozen in this delicate, this decadent, this elegant dance

    What have I become?
    What have I done?

    Everyone is watching, they’re waiting for something So push me to break me and pray I come crashing down
    Down

    These slow motion symptoms of cruel premonition, this haze
    I’m sleeping here, lost in here, wondering what this all means
    I’m counting the moments that slipped from my hands and I pray
    These hopes that elude me, consume me, can save me some day

    What have I become?
    What have I done?

    Everyone is watching, they’re waiting for something So push me to break me and pray I come crashing down
    Down

    This next one I just finished writing about ten minutes ago. It's 2PM, in case you are wondering. It's very Tom Waits in sound. I left the chord changes in, in case anyone is wondering. Even if you're not...this is how I write my stuff, what it looks like on paper and how I play along with it until I've memorized it. If some of it doesn't make sense or sound right, it may be driven by the lyrics or part of what has become my own special way of understanding and writing things (the wrong way that works). This is about four hours of work on the day...give or take 15 minutes

    One Hell Of A Day
    Capo on 1

    F / A7 / Dm / G7 / Bf / A7 / Dm / C
    I saw her in the subway, she was waiting for the train
    Carrying no umbrella and she was dripping from the rain
    She had a broken heal and I could smell her broken heart
    She limped from within like everything in her life had gotten too hard
    She must have spilled her coffee, she was bitching about a stain
    It was when she started laughing, I knew the tears weren’t far away

    C7 / F / E7 / A7 / Bf / A7 / D7 / C
    That’s when she said’
    It’s been a hell of a day
    And even though I’m broke
    The pain at the edge of a smile feels better than the joke
    You can run out of luck and still have hope
    You can’t let it keep you down

    F / A7 / Dm / G7 / Bf / A7 / Dm / C
    She turned to me and shrugged, wiped a black tear from her cheek
    Her bottom lip started trembling and she was shaking in her knees
    She lit a cigarette. And here come the police
    She took a drag and flicked it at the track and the police man let her be
    She sat down on a bench, tossed a quarter at bum
    She said to pay no mind to this soul of mine because I ain’t got it bad as some

    C7 / F / E7 / A7 / Bf / A7 / D7 / C / C7
    It’s been a hell of a day
    And you might want to die
    You’ve been bit by the dog and someone spit in your eye
    You’re feeling cold and bitter, like to lay on the track
    And kiss all your sorrows goodbye

    F / G / Am / F / G / Am / F / G / C-BAG / F / G / C / C7
    You want to kiss all your sorrow, kiss all your sorrow goodbye

    F / E7 / A7 / Bf / A7 / D7 / C / F / E7 / A7 / Bf / A7
    It’s been a hell of a day
    And even if you’re broke
    Just pick up a stick, grunt and give life a poke
    You can run out of luck and still have hope
    You can’t let it keep you down
    It’s been a hell of a day
    Well how you like that shit
    She stood back up and blew me a kiss
    Walk past the yellow line and la dee da,…

  • 30 NOV - Okay...let's see. I've been home a little over a month now and I couldn't be happier. Other than being able to go to the gym whenever I want, I can't say that I miss much else about Iraq. I miss some of the people but other than that, it's like I was never there. In the last month, I've gotten my 2004 taxes done, found a job, been to an Opera, moved all my stuff out of my Mom's and into my Brother's new place, drove from Chicago to New York, flown more times than I have my entire life...and thanks to having the Middle East on my record and a good number of one way tickets, been given everything short of a cavity search every time I've flown. Thanksgiving this year was much better than last. Don't get me wrong, the Indian catering company in Iraq put on a hell of a spread but it's just not the same. It was nice to get some turkey and stuffing and not have to hear, "Good Day sirrrrr"....in that middle eastern twang. My buddy Erik (Smo) Owens is working in Greenland now and other than being separated from his family still is making the best of it and enjoying his new Danish company. I just talked to my friend Mike (2 years) Scache this morning and he's making his time traveling around the US visiting friends and family. It was good to hear his voice. You'd be surprised how close you can get to people after a year. It's about as surprising as it is to find how easy it is to forget the others. To all my friends that are still hanging out in Sandland. Sucks for you! Ha. Garcia, Tom...damn, guess that's it. Everyone else is home already. NICE! I'm sure I have more to say but I'm going to shut up. I've said it before but I'm going to try and keep this thing updated better. I just haven't had much to say. I've been twiddling with the guitar, swilling vodka, coffee and wine. Eating like a king and falling in love with all that is New York. I'll write more as soon I finish pulling my head out of my rectum! Later!

  • 16 NOV - I GOT A JOB!!!! WOOOOHOOOO! I'm really excited to work for this company. I know it's only been a month but it was freaking me out a bit, not finding something. I'll be commuting to Newark for Paetec Communications and will be working as a Switch Tech, starting just after Thanksgiving.

  • 28 OCT - My favorite month is almost over. It's been pretty cold here lately, anywhere between 40-50. Finally took my 2004 tax stuff to a CPA this morning. Can't wait to see how much I owe. Blah! I didn't get the Supervisor position with T-Mobile but am getting hit daily with potential opportunities. I'm hopeful that something decent will come together in the next week or so. I don't like being unemployed and am actually looking forward to getting up for work in the morning. What else... not much. I don't plan to be back in Chicago until the 14th or so. I need to stick around for interviews and stuff but also need to get back in time to move my stuff out of my mother's house, get my car, do the Turkey thing and so on. My 11 year high school reunion is the day after Thanksgiving but I have no desire to attend. I'm still friends with the only people I care to see or remember and see them all the time. No need to suffer through the eleven year histories of people whose names I barely recall. No offense and all... It would be nice to see who has chubbed up and thinned out but I don't need that. I didn't have any enemies back then to require satisfaction from their breakdown. Hope all my buds in Iraq are doing swell. Get the hell out of there when you can...home is much better on the brain.

  • 25 OCT - Back in NYC again. Had a great weekend in Chicago. Malfunktion put on an amazing show at the Waverly. Over the next few weeks, along with trying to find work, a place to live, and so on and on... I'll be migrating this site away from it's Middle Eastern reflection and to the now. I want to get some pics of NY up on here so that I can show you why I've been falling so hard and fast for this city. I'm also going to have to do some downsizing of the site so that I can save some duckets...it ain't cheap. Anyway, that's the news. Time to do taxes and get on with life. It was great seeing everyone that showed this weekend. Love and miss you all.

  • 13 OCT - Here you go all, one last photo album. Enjoy! THE REST OF THE PICS

    ONE YEAR AND OUT!!!!

    What a long, strange trip its been
    You're sick of hangin' around and you'd like to travel
    Get tired of travelin' and you want to settle down
    I guess they can't revoke your soul for tryin'
    Get out of the door and light out and look all around
    Truckin', I'm a goin' home
    Whoa, whoa baby, back where I belong
    Back home, sit down and patch my bones
    And get back truckin' on
    ~Grateful Dead

  • 4 OCT - I was hoping I would have time to put together a grand finale' of photos and stuff but as it stand, I just don't have the time. The way things have come together and with the sun going down about three hours earlier since we changed to DST over here, I just haven't been able to get it done. My apologies. On the bright, my inability to find time to take photos is due to the fact that I am leaving tomorrow morning! This is my last site update from Iraq. One year and out! It's been real and it's been fun but...you know how it goes!

  • 3 OCT - Put all my stuff in the mail today and my bags are packed. Tomorrow morning Erik and I are heading up to the airport to manifest for our flight to Kuwait and from there...it goes how it goes. I don't put much weight into Astrology but think my horoscope for the week is ironic. MSN ~ "Big things are happening for you this week, or at least seeds are being planted which may sprout in a few weeks or months time. There is a Solar Eclipse in your sign on Monday which may bring about events that at first result in chaos. But don't let appearances disturb you, as they will soon change and become your chance for a fresh new start. This Eclipse has a powerful and exciting effect on your life and may bring things to pass that you had not expected at such an early date."

  • 2 OCT - Ran the Army Ten Miler this morning. Knocked 20 minutes off of the time I got when I ran it in 2000 (Bosnia) and managed to keep from throwing up at all, let alone the entire last quarter mile. The run started with AC/DC's, "Shoot to Thrill" on my ipod and I was feeling pretty good. By the time I had rounded the lake behind the palace though, my calves had begun to cramp up and the chunk of meat that I sliced out of the bottom of my foot when I cut it a few days back was biting a bit. I knew I was a bit dehydrated but it didn't hurt bad enough to stop or slow down. There was a water point every mile or so and after tossing half a cup of water up my nose on the first two tries, I stopped at the next one to actually get some of the water down my throat. About half way in to the race my calves loosened up and the bottom of my foot was numb to any pain. I kicked up the pace a little bit and let the Pixies drive. Half way around Lost Lake, I caught myself slowing down. It had to be the music. Willie Nelson's new Reggae tunes had me grooving down the road instead of pushing myself. I changed songs and stopped on the Dropkick Murphies. The uptempo tune and Irish anger got me going again but I was running out of gas and still had a good two miles left to chug out. My knees were starting to ache and shuffle wasn't going to work anymore. I found Rage Against the Machine and let the "Evil Empire" album carry me home. The last mile is always the most fun, mainly because it means the end is coming but also because everyone wants to catch the person in front of him or keep from being caught. A Sergeant Major pulled up along side of me and kept my pace for a minute until I picked it up again. Two minutes later he pulled along side me again and pulled ahead. Once I could actually see the finish line, I kicked up the pace for the final half mile and passed him for good. I usually sprint the last quarter mile but the mob at the end of the race obscured the finish line and I didn't want to blow the last of my energy and not be able to finish strong. I kept a pace just fast enough to keep anyone else from passing and finished in 68 Minutes and 7 Seconds. Since the roads were closed down for the race, I had to walk the two miles back to my trailer and upstream of the rest of the runners. About a half mile up the road the flow of racers was still heavy and there was no end in site. There must have been at least 500 hundred people competing this morning. The Sergeant Major that I played tag with ran up behind me and shook my hand, congratulating me on a good run and then he took off ahead of me and down the road, still running and cheering on his troops. Ten minutes later, there he was again, running back my way and telling me that he forgot his keys. I couldn't imagine having to run anymore that day and he just kept trucking. That was one tough old man. I got back to my trailer, made a protein shake and went to the gym with Mike to do some upper body work. I thought I would have slept like a baby but six hours later, I was up again and couldn't sleep anymore. That was the last run I'll do here. Tomorrow I'm actually going to make it to the post office and mail my stuff home. Tuesday morning will be the last time I go to the gym here and Wednesday, I'M GONE!!!! Hope you are all having a great weekend.

  • 1 OCT - WOOOHOOOOOOO!!!!! First things first, HAPPY BIRTHDAY CHER!!! 4 more days to go and I be gone!!!! Mista Mista, GET...ME....OUT...OF...HERE!!!

    Return to top

    SEPTEMBER ARCHIVE

  • 30 SEP - It's the last day of September. FINALLY! I'm so ready for October to be here and for me not to be [here]. I packed up everything I need to ship home today as well as my bags that I'm carrying with me. All I have to do is survive the weekend here and I'm practically home free. Tuesday I'll head up to the airport and manifest for my flight out and then Weds I'll step onto a C130 for what should be the last time in my life. I'll spend some time in Kuwait and then head back to El Paso. I have a week of demobilization processing to do there and then I'm home free. It's going to be a long and tedious process but when it's done, it is done. It's going to feel so good to be home and not have the idea of having to come back again constantly weighing on my head. It's going to feel nice to relax and not rushed to make the most of my time. Since the day I arrived here, I've been telling people that I came to leave and that's been the case the entire year. I've had one goal among everything I have done here that I have kept as my main focus since the day I left. It's been an interesting experience. I have met some great people and made some friends that I plan to keep in touch with but I am ready for this to be over and I'm more than ready to be home. I'm really looking forward to making my new home in New York City and while I am a bit nervous about starting my life over almost completely...it's just because I'm anxious about the unknown. Will I find a job? Will I find a place to live? And so on... Monday, maybe Tuesday will be the last time I update this site from Iraq. I'll probably discontinue the site when I return home. The $40 a month to run it is worth the cost but not one I will be able to afford, especially unemployed. A lot has to come together when I get home and I'm hoping for the best but right now, the best I can do is get out of here and home so that I can start working on my "unknown".

  • 29 SEP - I went to Purevolume tonight to check my stats and see if I've had any hits. In the last two days I've had 16 downloads. Out of curiosity I did a search of the Top 100 unsigned Folk Rock artists and to my surprise, found that I'm Ranked #30. I don't know how many there are total but when I do a search of Folk Rock artists both signed and unsigned, the results are somewhere in the range of 800. I'll take that.

  • 28 SEP - Had the interview. I'm not happy with how it went and more than likely will not get the position. It sucks that things are determined by BS questions put together by HR, rather than record and performance but I guess that's just how it has to be - it's not like I have a way of proving myself, especially if they don't contact my references. Oh well, guess I keep looking and who knows, maybe I will get it. Can't wait to get out of here. My patience for this place is gone.

  • 25 SEP - Okay, it's official, no more tunes while I'm here. 8 is it! I forced myself to record only what I could come up with here. When I get home, I can start working on new tunes, as well as starting the process of recording the 100+ songs I wrote before I came here. I am mailing everything home in the next couple days and I don't want to rush anymore music. The last three sound sloppy enough. I guess I didn't do too badly with my time this year. I published a website, published my book, recorded 8 tunes, paid off all my debt, saved some money, vacationed in Spain, made some friends, lived in a war-torn country, broke my fastest 5K time by almost 2 minutes, busted my butt in the gym, became the shift lead and when it's all said and done, I'll be moving to a new city to start a new life. I can't complain. All I need is a job to dedicate myself to and I'll have everything a guy could want. I'm hoping things get hectic here over the next couple weeks, so that the time passes quickly. I'm trying to pack my schedule full so that I can break things up. I have my interview Monday; Tuesday I'm mailing my stuff home; Wednesday Erik is leaving; Sunday I'm running the Annual Army 10 Miler and then Weds, October 5th, I start out processing. It's pretty hard to believe that an entire year has passed and that I'm finally coming home. Everything feels like it happened an eternity ago. In my head, looking back, it's hard to imagine feeling the way I have felt for so long. I've seen a lot in these past months, a lot I hope to remember, some I wish I could forget. I can't say that I would do it again if I went back - but for the end result, if I had to do it all again, I wouldn't hesitate. It's a little premature but I want to thank those of you that made my time here so much easier to manage and get through. I won't name names. I don't want to forget anyone. I still have a little time left here and I'll continue to update the site daily but I have the time now and wanted to get this down while it's fresh on my mind. I feel lucky to have the friends and family that I do. If it wasn't for all of your support and e-mail this time but it would have gone so much slower than it did. My mind is an over worker enough as it is but with all the downtime here, my brain was racing at three times the pace it usually does. That's not an easy thing to take and I have to admit that controlling my thoughts was the hardest part of my time away. The bombs, helicopters and constant gunfire were nothing compared to constant struggle to remain calm in my mind. Those of you that know me know what I mean. If I'm anything, I am patient and the harder the challenge, the more relaxed and focused I become but when it comes to learning myself, my conscious and dealing with the stress of my own psychology...this was the hardest fight I've ever endured. Drudgery was my toughest opponent and in the end, I like to think that I know myself better now than I ever thought I would. If anything, regardless of what my future holds, I am a better man for my time here and wiser at that. I'm so excited to get back and start my life in New York City. The closer I get to home, the less I can sleep. I feel like a kid the night before Christmas. Every day that passes, the energy that shoots through me at the thoughts of coming home get stronger and more realistic. By the time I'm sitting on that plane, the smile on my face is going to wrap all the way around my head and past my ears. It's exactly four weeks until I am home and raising my glass to all of you at the party but I want to send you my thanks now as well. Your support never went unappreciated and I thank you ALL.

  • 23 SEP - I'm still smiling and dancing with it. One day closer and that's all I have to say. Just another day...you know the rest.

  • 22 SEP - I received my flight itinerary today. I'm still smiling and chair dancing with it! It's so hard to believe that an entire year has passed. I realized the other night that my welcome home party is on the same night that I had my pre-going away party last year. When midnight hits, my contract will be officially complete! I'm packing up my belongings and getting ready to mail them home and donating most of my clothes from here to the Iraqi's. Can't wait to come home and start the next chapter of my life. See you all soon!

  • 20 SEP - ONE MONTH FROM TODAY I WILL BE KISSING THE GROUND IN CHICAGO! Got a call from T-Mobile recruiting tonight to set up my third interview, this one with the hiring manager at headquarters in Washington. I hope this one goes well and I get the chance to prove myself. I am very hopeful for this opportunity and ready for the responsibility. I couldn't be more excited right now. Fingers are crossed...it's kind of hard to type.

  • 19 SEP - Okay, here's the deal. I sat down tonight and played for about five hours. I went through some old recording, worked on some new ideas and I just wasn't feeling any of them. I was struggling to find the lyrics and when the words don't just flow out of me, I'm stuck. So with only three weeks left until I leave this place for good, I've hit a skid of writer's block and I'm not sure I have the patience right now to work through it. All I can think about is getting out of here and starting the next chapter in my life. I have news jobs, new apartments, new dreams on the horizon and new music, while still fun, just isn't holding my attention right now. I'll continue to play, work and record what I can but I'm pretty sure that if I do manage to squeeze an idea out of me, it'll be my last one before I get settled in at home. I think it has a lot to do with the fact that I don't want to write anymore songs about war, missing home and such. I have blinders on right now.

  • 18 SEP - I've hit writer's block with the music. Nothing is calling to me or standing out and I have to pack all this stuff up and send it home soon. I may not get another tune out before I leave but I'm trying. I won't be ordering anything on-line from here on out because chances are that it may not get here on time for me to leave. That's a very exciting thing for me to say. It's been one hell of an experience and I've enjoyed most of it but I am so ready to come home.

  • 15 SEP / Post interview -I won't say it went well, I don't think it went badly. It's hard to interview over the phone. If I get the job, great. If not, so be it and I'll keep hunting. I would love to work for T-Mobile again and the fast paced environment is something that would be a nice change from the year here. That's about it for my night. No work tonight...well, I'll most likely be in the office anyway but I don't have to come in. Back to the drawing board...time to write some more songs. 4 to go with 3 recording weeks left. This last song was reviewed by my buddy Matt. His words, "What's up Rage Against the Machine meets Steve Miller Band?" Never put those two together in the same sentence before.

  • 15 SEP - Sitting at my desk, waiting on the call for my interview. Getting a little nervous but I'm excited at the opportunity. This is the perfect job for me. I just put up Black Smoke Rising and it's also on Purevolume. The vocals at the end got pretty weak but after a night of recording in the back storage room with no AC and no windows to keep the skeeters out, I just didn't care or want to work on the song anymore. Call it what it is but it's done. That's about it for today. All is well.

  • 13 SEP - Got the call from HR at T-Mobile today and I have my interview with the hiring Manager on Thursday. I'm nervous but I'm excited. The more I look into the position, the more positive I am that it's the right job for me. It will be challenging, secure and I will have a ton of opportunity to advance my career with it. I'd rather be a rock star but we all know that's not going to happen. As far as the music goes. I'll be setting up BackRoom Studios tomorrow in lieu of Colonel's Office studios, not that the locks are changed. I'm a bit behind schedule but with any luck recording tomorrow, I'll be able to get right back on track. Wish me luck!

  • 11 SEP - No recording session tonight. The locks have been changed on the office that I use to record and we don't have a new one yet. I had my first interview tonight. I was with T-Mobile. I did a terrible job. I broke every interview rule there is...at least the ones I consider to be important. Better luck next time but I don't expect I'll be hearing back on this position. It was for a NOC Supervisor position...would have been a perfect for me. I really didn't want this to be my first interview but I guess it is what it is!

  • 10 SEP - It's already 9/11 here. It's hard to believe that's it's been four years. On the first anniversary I did a memorial walk that began at midnight. With my US Flag and staff, I walked from my old house in Woodstock, IL and down the main highway until the time that the first plane hit. When my walk ended, I had traveled a little over 23 miles and found myself, by chance, at the Barrington train station. This year, won't be quite that but I will be running the memorial 5K with a group of friends that I've made here. It's strange now to think of that day and reflect. While this war may have no direct relation, other than our President pairing the two as a make believe excuse to fight here for oil, revenge, "liberation" - whichever the excuse or denial - I can't help but look back and feel that same bite in my gut. So, for 9/11, for the soldiers and for the album, I have posted the lyrics to Black Smoke rising. Being the nice guy that I am, I'll make it easy for you and knock down on your click count. I've posted them below as well...read on. Hey Shay, question for you, George Bush? American or Americon? I think I know your answer, this is dedictated to you as well...oh passionate hater of all that is conservative extreme! Speaking of, and this is my last rant. What's this I hear about New Orleans being used as an excuse to finally let the Republicans go a-drillin in Alaska. The vultures have been waiting on the perfect excuse! Please say it isn't so? Anyway, here's the lyrics:

    Black Smoke Rising

    Soldiers clean their weapons now and kiss their Mom’s goodbye
    The elders kiss their crosses hard and send their kids to die
    The General sips his gasoline and lights one last cigar

    It’s oil, guns and souls tonight
    All watch the black smoke rise

    This hell on earth, this Babylon, the smell of spoiled meat
    My dirty thoughts, my dirty clothes, the stray dog lives in me
    Some teenage warrior takes a breathe and holds the pain inside

    It’s oil, guns and souls tonight
    All watch the black smoke rise

    Some day you’ll see
    You’ll be free
    The moon, the stars, the satellites
    One silver jet roars in the night
    And on the ground the lives on hold
    All watch it passing by
    Frame by frame
    Another day
    One black line closer to home
    The sounds of war that wake you
    The day will come that they’ll be gone
    Some day you’ll see
    You’ll be free

    Soldiers smoke their cigarettes and burn into the night
    A few sand eroded photographs are all that’s left of life
    In the dark, the glowing eyes of coyote in the streets
    They move like ghosts through fog and war and cry like children scream
    Prayers like song rise with the sun and hands begin to shake
    You can set your clocks to the brazen call
    It’s just another day
    This torrid heat, this wall of rust
    At dusk the bats all fly

    It’s oil, guns and souls tonight
    All watch the black smoke rise

  • 9 SEP - Just got done packing up the studio for the night and am happy to report that "Black Smoke Rising" is 75% done. I need to write the lyrics for the bridge and the extended chorus on the last verse, re-record the bass line and guitar...clean up the vocals and BAM!!! It be done! That may sound like a lot but the lyrics should only take a few minutes and each part a few takes to get it down. I played until my fingers turned black and bloody tonight, just getting to know the tune and figure out how I wanted everything done. That's the hard part. I sat in the studio and played for 8 hours straight. I'm feeling it but I'm happy and should be able to finish everything by Monday night. Key an eye out. After that, I have four more weeks to write and record four more tunes. The downside of that is that I'm fresh out of ideas. Fingers crossed and hopes are high. Wish me luck. Hope you like the new stuff I've put out in the last couple weeks. Have a great weekend. UPDATE: Until Morning has been added to the jukebox. My guest musician on the rap has backed out on me and I don't want to wait any longer to upload the tune, so I've decided to finish the tune on my own. I may have Doc come in and play on it after he gets back but for now this is it. Off to breakfast, the gym and then bed. Back to work tonight.

  • 7 SEP - 1/4ish of the way through September and I'm feeling the time sllllooooowwwwwww doooowwwwnnnn. The football season opens tomorrow but it doesn't begin for me until the Cubs have been officially eliminated from the playoffs! Not much to report, big hopes for some major strides in the studio tonight. 5 tunes to go. 5 weeks to get them.


    Gilligan is dead!

  • 6 SEP - Had a pretty busy weekend. I spent most of it working on music. Did some more mixing on Until Morning and it is definitely ready, pending my guest musicians return from vacation. I also threw together a new tune, Black Smoke Risin' and will finish recording that on Weds. I should have it posted that night or Friday night at the latest. It's a pretty basic tune but I like it well enough. Been exercising and painting - keeping busy. Another 6 weeks and I'll be home~!!!

  • 4 SEP - Working on the novel tonight and wrote another half of a chapter. It's been interesting for me and while it's difficult to develop characters while maintaining an interest in the story, it is getting easier. It's also been very exciting for me to feel the story coming together while I write it. The ideas form ahead of me in my mind while my hand tries to keep up, I'm also trying to think of better ways to form the ideas. It's been cool and the more I work on it, the more I wonder where it's going. It's going to take a lot of research, development and rewriting but with the way it is making me feel. I know it's going to be more than worth the effort. 80 hand written pages in I can't wait to dig in deeper.

  • 3 SEP - 38 and a wake up. It's just another weekend for me here. The next tune, Morning Comes is complete from my end. I'll be laying down Ehrat's part on Monday and Doc's as soon as he comes back from vacation. Hopefully the end result will sound like what I hear in my head. In between practice takes with Ehrat last night I was working on ideas for the next tunes and think I may have a couple ideas to play off of. It might sound a little Johnny Cash but what's wrong with Cash...that's right - NOTHING! The following poem was written by my buddy Scott just after I left to come here. He sent it to me this week. I hope you enjoy his writing as much as I do. Thanks brother!

    The swipe of an eye leaves his finger damp with the thoughts of a lonely soldier
    How could a friend so close be so far as the dangerous nights continue growing colder
    An imaginary wire is all he has to hold on to for the ones he loves
    While his dreams get twisted from the unsettled sand of a region in denial
    The lifeless touch of a cold plastic key sends the warmth of his closest friends embrace
    And all we could seem to hope for in return would be to put a smile upon his distant face ~ Scott Coppinger

  • 2 SEP - Well, being September and all, it is time again to focus on baseball. It seems like only yesterday I was pining for Spring training to start and anticipating "the year" the Cubs were going to have. Now, at 63-70, it's hard to believe that it's time to say, "There is always next year!" My hopes for a winning season have not died but they are fading. The wild card race was lost to us at the end of August and with inevitable call ups from the minors to test the talent for next year, I tip my hat to the Cardinals, Astros and yes, even the Brewers for their current position ahead of us in the standings. If only we were in the NL West! With that, I start my bids for the offseason and the way I would love to see things go. At first base is Mr. 2005, D. Lee. Keep Walker at 2nd and if Nomar promises to work on reducing the amount errors he puts out, I have a good feeling he'll be healthy and amazing next year. Maybe it's the 300+ average he toted in August, practically carrying the team. At 3rd is no other than Aramis. Behind the plate is my man Barrett and I think he's only going to get better over the next couple years. Now for the worst outfield in baseball. Lose them all. Has Patterson been practicing with a whiffleball? The only records he is on track to set as a Cub are for most K's. The move to drop Hollandsworthless was dead on. Hairston was a complete waste of time. Macias may have some talent but we'll never know if he keeps getting 1 at bat every three weeks. I have to think he is no better than Neifi and as far as I'm concerned...DROP HIM! Seriously, could Perez bat into any more double plays? Every time there is a man on first, it's a given. Blanco I have a mixed opinion about, mainly because his defense is awesome and he has had some key clutch at bats this year. At the same time, if we can find a second catcher that can put up .270+ and keep the plate safe...I say goodbye to you but thanks a lot for your effort. Okay...pitching. There isn't enough Aspirin in the world. Will Wood be healthy and more importantly reliable next year? I like to think so and I say that he deserves the shot. Prior had a tough year but he still pitched solid once he calmed down behind the plate. I think he needed this season to rebuild his confidence after the injuries. Zambrano is a mule and a charismatic one at that. The three are core to the Cubs pitching and I predict each of them healthy, will have at least 15 wins each next year and half of that in losses. Now...Maddux? Does he have a year left in him. His precision is still keen but accuracy isn't much when velocity is in steady decline. One more year? I hate to say it but no and I have to wonder if his attitude behind the plate didn't hurt our other aces as much as it helped them. He's a legend and an amazing pitcher but let us learn from Michael Jordan and shut the book on that career while the candle is still lit. This being his first season in what, 15 years that he didn't achieve 15 wins and with more losses than wins, as well as leading the team in Home Runs against, it's time to move to the coaching seat. Williams, I haven't decided if he is any good for us or not and if we still had Clemente, I wouldn't even question keeping him. However, I won't think twice if he goes. Rusch on the other hand...I said it before and I'll say it again. He got lucky with run support last year. Wins does not equal great pitching, when you won the game 10-8. It's time to send him packing and thank him for the effort. His luck has run out. And now for the migraine someone falsely calls our relief pitching. In the pen, we have Dempster, Wuertz, Ohman, Williamson, Novoa and Van Buren. While Dempster scares the crap out of me half the time, I have to think that had the opportunity for more saves been available, he could have had a stellar season. The only other pitcher I have a feeling might go somewhere is Ohman. Based on the outings I have read, not seen but read, he seems solid. The others...give or take. Who knows if they have anything special. I don't see any lights out talent coming from anyone in the pen. With our recent trades, all for future pitching prospects, we should have some real cash to go and get some solid players. We can hang on to Burnitz. For some reason, I like him. With the 6-8 cuts I just made from the roster and the added minor league talent that we have to work with, ie: Murton, Pie, Cedeno and McClain, if we can add a catcher that can get on base more often, a force in the outfield and a solid veteran with some speed, I think we can put some energy together and get things rolling. The only real MUST HAVE and we've have all been screaming for this since JoBo got hurt (after his lucky season) is a KILL in the BP. We need that setup machine and closer that would make the likes of Pujols want to skip an at bat. I'm going to be researching the names coming up for free agency next season and putting together a roster. As for Dusty, you lost me when you brought Prior back in to pitch the 8th inning with 118 pitches already under his belt. Remember that one Baker...WE LOST!!!! Even from here, I can tell that the Cubs played sloppy and without any level of consistent aggression. Why? Oh, I don't know. Maybe it has something to do the fact that the roster changed completely EVERY...SINGLE...GAME!!! What was he thinking? I know there have been more than a few injuries but there has to be some consistency despite and making a change every time something didn't seem to be working....obviously didn't work. I think that with some more steady play for the players to calm down and start seeing the stitching on the ball combined with better foresight in the pitching department, we could have a record at least 10 games heavier on the W side. At no point this year did Dusty make a decision, bold or daring that made me think he was in any form or fashion, good at coaching. I'm not saying that we should dump him without looking at the information he is getting from his pitching coaches. Better management of our pitchers, a knock out punch in the bullpen, one more SLUGGER and some speed and it's on! COME ON 2006!!!

  • 1 SEP - Finally! For all intensive purposes, September is my last month here. I'm out of here on October 13th and will be so busy packing and getting stuff together that those 13 days should fly by. I can't explain how excited I am getting to get my life started again. Job offers have been trickling in but I'm still waiting to have that first interview. This will be the first interview I've had in over 4 years and needless to say, I'm a little nervous. Other than that, not much going on. Back into the studio tomorrow to put the finishing touches on Morning Comes and with some luck I'll have another one in the works. We'll see.

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    AUGUST ARCHIVE

    UPDATE: A new song has been uploaded to the jukebox and lyrics added to lyrics. Hope you like it and have a great weekend. The song is also available for download and listening on Pure Volume

  • 30 AUG - Can someone please do some local music research for me and find out why the new Mr. Blotto and the Mark Willer CD's have not been released? I'm getting sick of waiting. Hey Russ, how's it feel to lose to me in basketball? Weren't you up 5-0? Ouch! HAHAHAHA!!!!
    Green Day - "Wake me up when September ends"

  • 29 AUG - Is it just me or should August be over already? Time to set up the studio and work on the next track. I figure that I have to try and pull five more tunes out of my butt before I leave here and that doesn't include this track, so let's hope I get a sudden burst of creative and decent material.

  • 27 AUG - HAPPY BIRTHDAY KIRA!!!

  • 26 AUG - I've been getting plenty of offers in Chicago but nothing in NY has come my way. I really want to have something lined up and start working immediately upon my return. I don't like limbo and I don't like having to wonder if and what my next move might be. I do like surprises and I do like some mystery in my life but this is a bit too serious of a move for me to be having fun with and while I'm not freaking out completely, I can feel the pressure. Good thing for me that I work best under pressure.

  • 25 AUG - I just received an e-mail from payroll letting me know that I am scheduled to leave here on 13 October. I will go from here to Kuwait and from Kuwait to Texas. In Texas I will go through outprocessing, get another physical and then I'm home free. I haven't been sleeping much lately, so I took advantage of the time and added up my days out of country. Turns out, I'll have just cleared the 330 day mark with a few days to spare. Lucky me, I won't have to worry about taxes. I will be landing in Chicago on the 20th of October. The job hunt continues. At the least, I'm registered to take the NYPD exam on the 30th. From there I will have until January to find a job. If January comes and no job, off to the police academy I go.

  • 24 AUG - We (the guys in my office) just spent the last fifteen minutes talking about Bob Ross. I haven't laughed so hard since I've been here as I did talking about the man's hair alone.The impressions went on and on. While I'd love to quote from our conversation, it's just not as funny in print as it is when you see the guys I'm with doing impressions of Bob Ross painting and talking in a gay and permanently stoned voice. With a swipe of the hand and a soft voice saying, "There's no mistake" or "Let's just put a few friends over here" and BAM!!! there's a landscape with trees and a lake with the reflection of a mountain in it. That has been the highlight of my day.
    LOVE THE RED FRO!

  • 23 AUG - ALL RIGHT!!!! I've been here 10 months. Two months to go until the end of my contract. I'm going to try and find out exactly when I'll be getting out of here so that I can let everyone know and start planning the next chapter. I did a lot of good work in the studio and as usual, the writing of the music has taken me different directions that I didn't see coming. This next tune is going to have a couple guest musicians on it and I expect it to be completed in the next two weeks at the latest. After I finish that tune, titled "Until Morning", I'll start work on this next tune, roughly titled, "See Minor". I just finished the lyrics to it last night and you will find them at the end of this sentence.

    SEE MINOR

    If the world is spinning backward
    Would you still believe it’s flat?
    Go and wish upon a star
    And turn to dust at dawn

    Another faded picture
    A rusty soul trapped in a frame
    Is the answer in dead leaves?
    Is there color in your dreams?

    And if life was black and white
    Would the light against a tear
    Still fracture to display
    All the color in its pain

    It’s a sanitary heartbreak
    When your gut is lost to flames
    You burn hot until a storm rains
    And washes all your ash away

    Take this crown of thorns
    And bury it for me
    Will dead flowers grow?
    Is there ever hope

  • 22 AUG - It's Monday again. I'm home in two months. I spent all last night applying for jobs. I have my application to take the NYPD exam in and have to be in NYC for that on October 30th. I've applied for a transfer with ITT, to the New Jersey office. I would love to be able to leave here with a position in hand. I'm dying to have a real job, that I can jump into and bust my butt. I miss doing real work. Other than that, it was a pretty quiet weekend. I didn't do much of anything outside of work. Tonight being my night off, I am trying to work up the motivation to record. That's about all for me. Wish me luck.

  • 20 AUG - I've updated my resume to reflect my time at ITT. Enjoyed my night off and closed it out with some 3 on 3 basketball today. I won't say that I'm getting any better but I couldn't get any worse. I'm still writing and working on tunes. I didn't get to record last night. I hadn't slept in almost three days and I just couldn't gather the energy to come up to the office, set up the studio and focus on playing. As it was, I drank almost an entire pot of coffee just so that I could stay awake to check my e-mail.

  • 16 AUG - Well...this day is over!

    WELCOME HOME DONOVAN!!!! Wish I could be there myself but I'll see you in a couple months. Love you and congratulations!!!!

  • 15 AUG - Back into the studio tonight. With any luck this one will come right together and I'll have it done in the next couple weeks. Have a good week.

  • 14 AUG - Another week down, another boring, clock watching Sunday. Erik, Mike and I should all be getting out of here at about the same time. Right now it's looking like I might not get out of here until November 3rd. There are a lot of factors involved, one being that we want to be sure that we receive our big paychecks in a place that we'll be able to take care of things - here! There haven't been any issues with pay, so I can't foresee any issues coming into play but I have to think that it's worth the extra paycheck to be sure of that. Another factor is that I need to be out of the country for at least 330 days and I didn't actually leave the US until November 1st. I'll figure things out over the next few weeks, see how they go and I hope to be home sooner than later but we'll see. If I can find a job that will let me start on November 1st, I'll be home in October for sure.

    UPDATE:I received my cel bill and I was wrong about incoming calls being free while I'm here. I was charged $3 a minute and my bill is at $800 for the month. Oops. If you need to call, feel free but I'll have to keep it short. Other than that, please send me text messages. Thanks. 646-797-1009

  • 13 AUG - It's the weekend again. I'm at work, waiting for the rest of the staff to show so that we can go to dinner. I slept from 5AM to 7PM today, after a long hard night of doing absolutely nothing on my day off. I did finish writing another song and am heading into the studio Monday to begin recording. It's a touch of Reggae and Gypsy but we'll see how it turns out. Less than two months left until I start outprocessing. I'm doing well since I got back but I'm already over excited about getting out of here. I could be wrong but it might be cooling off around here. It's 102.9 degrees at 8PM but it has been getting as low as 80 at night and that has been so nice.

  • 11 AUG - Played basketball yesterday and accidentally kicked the ball up into the tree. It got stuck at the top and I had to climb up and get it. The tree was caked in dust and covered in bugs. Needless to say, it was nasty and I looked like I'd been rolling in dirt.

  • 10 AUG - Just finished reading Vonnegut's, "Breakfast of Champions". It wasn't my favorite work of his but it was still a good read. I'd recommend "Cat's Cradle" or "Slaughterhouse Five" over it. Not much has been happening. We had a dust storm here that turned the base into Mars for a day. The entire city was a orangish reddish glow that left anyone walking outside with a thin layer of white dust in their hair and coating their lungs. Broke out the instruments and started working on tunes again. I have six or seven tunes in the works and am hoping that they all come together quickly. Time is short.

    NeW YOrK, NY (my review)

    I'll admit that my first, actually my second impression of this city was that of pure disgust. I absolutely hated the place with every grain of my being. I hated the humidity, the heat, the filth, and the trash in the streets...more or less, everything about the place made me sick. I would dry heave while running to the gym because of the smell of trash decomposing in bags and rotting in the sun. The place seemed wretched to me and uninhabitable at first glance. The buildings seemed decayed and unkempt. And yet, I could feel the heart of the city and its independence. The only sign of hope for my future here is that I could feel the pulse of New York beating all around me. The problem I faced was that it wasn’t beating in time with mine but at least I could respect it for that. It's a baseball city and I could love it for that, even if my heart belongs to the Cubs; it's more the sport than anything else. To me baseball is the feeling of eternal youth, freedom and what it is to be an American. It’s not just a sport played by overpaid junkies. I could picture myself volunteering to coach a kids’ team or playing with the guys from work (job required for vision fulfillment). Flying into JFK from Germany, the entire airplane, thick with German accented conversation, spoke in awe of the vast number of baseball diamonds that tattoo the ground.

    For the first half of my visit I was torn and overcome with fear of whether or not moving to this city would destroy me. Could I really be happy living in a place that I can’t stand? I think the question answers itself. With that statement, I’m sure the first thought on everyone’s tongue is to tell me to move back to Chicago. In fact, I must have been urged to do so at least a thousand times while I was home. Why then would I still choose to move to this city? - A place that cost more than twice to live in than Chicago. I spent almost every night there, staring at the ceiling – sleepless and wondering if I would be able to convince myself that it’s okay to lower my standards by half and pay double, just to live here. I was fighting myself, not being myself and pulling for any reason, feeling or sign that I belonged. What possible reason could I have to move to this place beside the obvious?

    I’ve already come clean on my first / second impression but it wasn’t until the final days of my stay in the "Big Apple" that I started to actually feel the city. For the first time after a week of dread this place started to feel like it had when I was there last October. Toward the end of my time in New York, I had finally grown used to the heat and humidity. I spent most of my days walking the streets, sweating, hoping that as I peeled back its layers, block by block, I would discover some beauty, some sort of connection and draw. In the back of my mind, I kept telling myself that anyone can adapt to any situation. If I’m good at anything, it’s adapting. I walked at least ten miles and no less than five hours of the city everyday and searched for something that would inspire me and break through the ugliness. I knew that I had to be completely honest with myself and those that mean the most to me. I couldn’t just turn off the pain I was feeling in my chest and hope I would get over it.

    As the time and days passed, as the blocks and miles added up, I found that I wasn’t just adapting but more that as I learned the streets, neighborhoods and feel of the metropolis, that I was becoming more comfortable and aware in my surroundings. I was actually starting to enjoy this place while I was alone. I was beginning to see. In my mind, (cheesy as it may be) I could hear Frank Sinatra singing, “If I can make it here, I can make it anywhere!” Never, in my life, in any other place have those words rang so true to me. My steps became lighter and I found that I couldn’t wait to see what might be waiting for my eyes on the next block. I could finally see the architecture of this place for what it is. Most of this city has such a gorgeous Rockwell[esque] scenery and feel to it that it finally allowed me to put away my fears that I wouldn’t be able to call Manhattan home...or worse, that I would call it hell. I could finally feel the history, diversity and character that are contained in the structures, architecture, statues, parks and streets. There was suddenly this desire inside me to take everything in and to feel more. I could finally feel the energy that I had felt so strongly my first time here.

    Chicago is a wonderful, clean, energetic and beautiful place. My heart will always belong to it. But for me, it’s too easy and too comfortable. I don’t want to be complacent. I don’t want to be comfortable. I want to be happy and for me, right now, New York is where I need to be to have that. I want to experience the world beyond a television and short vacations. I want to be challenged and I want to open my life to the opportunity to experience life as a whole. New York carries this for me in every aspect. New York is culture, community, history and a side of humanity so engaging and new to me that I can’t help but want to take it in. I found myself sitting outside at a café just watching people stroll by. I take that back. People in New York don’t stroll. There is a purpose in the way they walk, an impressive sense of control and self-confidence that is evident in every step. In their eyes is an appreciation and understanding of what it means to be a New Yorker. I can see now the difference in being able to call yourself a New Yorker. There is a difference and despite the stereotypes, it isn’t arrogance, anger or fear. It’s beyond words. It’s a state of being that only one who has been there and knows the feeling can appreciate.

    The people are independent and diverse. I’ve heard it said that no one in New York speaks English. Sitting at restaurants, cafes, bars and in subway cars, the voices came to me in so many different tongues that I myself felt like an individual – unique, not just a number; not just a person but a soul. The melting pot of this place is warm and full of a lusty energy that I can only compare to jazz. It’s offbeat but melodic. It’s the notes you don’t hear that stand out the most. Just the same, I can see where the opportunity to become consumed by this place is just on the other side of a very sheer line.

    My heart may not be beating in time with New York’s but I’ve found the cities pulse and it is strong. I can feel the difference between the two, each pounding in my chest. Their rhythm thump and drive in me, slightly offbeat of each other but intertwined and accenting each other just the same. With each step I take in this concrete jungle - squeezed so violently, gracefully and beautiful between the Hudson and East river - I find something new in me, my cadence, my New York. In that alone I’ll have found a renewed sense of being, happiness, confidence and appreciation for my life. Some day soon, I’ll be proud to call myself a New Yorker. I hope that doesn’t come off as presumptuous.

    When any of you come to visit me, friends or family, I hope you can see beyond the grit and the grime enough to appreciate the children playing in open hydrants, culture so thick that you can be chair dancing to gypsy music in a French café on one corner and Salsa dancing in the street on the next - neck deep in a community that knows the difference between being Spanish, Mexican, Puerto Rican, Cuban or Filipino and what it actually means to be a Latino. One of my fondest memories of New York, outside of the food and the people I met, was watching a couple dancing on the corner of East 4th St and Avenue C. Spinning and smiling, they danced outside a minivan, all of its doors opened to release the afro-Cuban sounds from the vehicles speakers into the steamy and thick New York City air. Sitting along side the vehicle, laughing and playing along to the music on Latino percussion instruments were three young grade school aged children, two boys and a girl. Sitting next to the children clapping, laughing and singing along with the music were three distinguished older men, gray and wrinkled but young at heart. The old men rocked in their chairs and called out to the couple as they danced. They beat on the congas with the children and encouraged them to enjoy themselves and really get into the moment. When the song ended, they all cheered, hugged and the couple, soaked in sweat but lively and overjoyed went their way, while the children and the old men continued to play, laugh and sing along with the music. That’s the freedom I’m talking about. That’s the New York I was blind to at first. That’s the rhythm my heart races to and the feeling of excitement that is like electricity running through my body. That’s the New York I’ve found and the New York that I’m moving to so that I can find more of myself.

  • 5 AUG - It's official; I still have my position with the company and all is well. 11 weeks and I'll be back in the USA. Things are going well. I've started work on my first novel. I've been scared to try it and convinced that it was too big a task. I started freewriting at the airport in Rhein-Mein, Germany while I was waiting for my flight. 35 pages later, I had a plot, a character and things were developing on their own. I'm going to force myself to stick with it. I've made it 30-40 pages plenty of times already but this time, I'm determined and excited. A big thanks to Ericka for the extra motivation to keep on with my writing. My night vision is crap now. I've been walking into trees, tripping over rocks and banging my shins on barriers all week. It's coming back to me but slowly and painfully. Speaking of painfully...while I was home on vacation and getting to know the New York City streets, I took a ladder to my left eye from out of nowhere. Some guy was carrying it on his shoulder and turned the corner, neither of us paying much attention and then whack. It didn't bruise much but I don't bruise very easily, being that I'm so hard headed and all.

    The Moving Finger writes, and having writ,
    Moves on: Nor all your Piety nor Wit
    Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line
    Nor all your Tears wash out a Word of it. - Vonnegut

  • 4 AUG - The book has been receiving wonderful reviews and I appreciate them all. Thank you so much for your support on the entire process. I was very hesitant to put everything out there like that but the responses received from friends and family have been encouraging and I feel great now that it's done. Back in the desert again, is the same ol' stuff. Not much has changed around here, other than that they are finally enforcing the dress code...no more shorts and t-shirts at work. Not much else to report as of yet. At this point, I'd have to say that no news is good news. I have noticed that the din of gunfire, explosions and helicopters is almost non-existent right now. I'm sure it's only a matter of time before there is a plume of black smoke rising on the other side of the wall but it's been quiet since I've been back and the guys say that it's been quiet for a few weeks now. No noise is good news. Back to my Vonnegut, "Breakfast of Champions". I'm half way through and it's a strange one for sure but he keeps my eyes rolling over the pages. I also just finished another Chuck Palahniuk novel, "Survivor". In classic Chuck, it's insane and completely different than any of his other stories. If you like weird and mildly psychotic reading, check him out...

  • 3 AUG - I've been back for 24 hours now and other than still not knowing if I am to be retained to complete my contract, have settled back in quite nicely. It's good to see everyone again. I won't say that I missed them but I'm glad to have the friends here that I do. After experiencing the humidity of New York City and the painfully scorching heat of Kuwait, being in Iraq is actually comfortable. The nights are mild and slightly above room temperature. The days are still hot but I'm still on night shift and am sleeping then anyway. As soon as I know for sure whether I still have a job, I'll be getting back into the gym and back into writing tunes. Hope all is well with everyone, can't wait to see you all again.

  • 2 AUG - Hey everyone, back in the desert again. It's the final stretch. I'll be writing more later. Right now I have to go check in and make sure everyone that needs to know I'm here, knows I'm here. 12 weeks to go!!!!!!

  • 10 JULY - It's Caitlyn's Birthday and we're all sitting around waiting for people to arrive. Should be a good time. HAPPY BIRTHDAY KID!!!

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    JUNE ARCHIVE

  • 29 JUNE - CORRECTION! I will be updating the site on occasion while I am home and definitely when I receive the books.

  • 29 JUNE - Finally made it into Germany and just in time. I'll be on a plane headed home tomorrow and can't wait. On that note, this will also be my last entry until I return from vacation. Frankfurt is nice and the weather is gorgeous. I forgot what humidity feels like but anything beats 124 degrees and sand! See you all very soon.

  • 27 JUNE - Good to have Prior back on the mound. HAHA WHITE SUX! With any luck I'll be on a plane to Stuttgart, Germany in the next few hours. Once there, I'll need to jump on a bus, train, something and make the voyage to Frankfurt to catch my flight. Fingers crossed that I'm outta here today because if I'm not, then I may not be out of here at all and that's not acceptable.

  • 24 JUNE - Month 9, Day 1!!! I'm slacking lately, no guitar playin, hardly working out, no writing, barely updating the site and now I can't even find it in myself to reply to my e-mail. I'm mentally drained and physically exhausted. Please excuse my lack of ambition but the only patience I have left is fully vested in maintaining my sanity until I am on a plane and crossing an ocean. My every waking thought is saturated with thoughts of coming home, so even if I'm not writing, please know that you are all in my thoughts. I'll have a lot of work to do when I return. I need to average a song, written and recorded, every two weeks to complete this album and that's only ten songs. I had hoped for 12. Maybe vacation will provide some inspiration. Anyway, I should be updating the site through the weekend and then you all won't hear from me until some time toward the end July (unless of course it's in person). Have a good weekend and see you all soon. Wish me luck in my travels. IT'S ON!!!

  • 23 JUNE - Just realized that this is the last week I'll be updating this site for the month and through July. After Sunday, the next time most of you will hear from me is in person.

  • 22 JUNE - All my bags are packed, itineraries printed and requests approved. It's a waiting game now. If you thought I was excited about Spain, you can't imagine how excited I am to come back home. It's going to take every ounce of energy for me not to throw myself on the ground to kiss it. I think my legs have been bouncing for three days now and every time I think about getting on the plane, I get a little buzz in my head. Just got an e-mail from my sales rep at Bookmasters and they are almost done and set for shipment via UPS on July 6th. Should be there on the 8th.

  • 21 JUNE - Woke up in a pool of sweat today. The power was out on our trailer for the fourth time in three days. It's getting rediculous. Instead of fixing the problem, they just flip the breaker and walk away. An hour later, we're back at their door. Ryan's clock has a guage that reads temperature (brain fart on what those are called). This afternoon I woke to soaked sheets and an aluminum over working it's way from 74 degrees to hell. It was only 95 when it was enough to stir me. Ryan had already been up and sitting outside to stay cool, which makes no sense but at least outside there is a breeze and no humidity. All we needed were some rocks and water to toss on them. I just tried to go back to the trailer to relax and watch a movie and sure enough - no power! While I'm at it, isn't it amazing how the catering company hired by the US can charge the government something like $27 for every head that enters the chow hall, whether they are just grabbing an apple or a full meal? Ah...it's no wonder why the deficit is where it is. Enough from me. I'm bringing everyone down. Boo hoo! On the lighter side of things and much more important than frivilous government spending, I'll be on a plane back to the US in 9 days!

  • 20 JUNE - Another weekend down, one more to go and I'm outta here. I can't think about much of anything else and I won't be doing much of anything else but getting ready to go and waiting impatiently but with a smile. That's about it. Quiet weekend. SOS!!!

  • 19 JUNE - HAPPY FATHER'S DAY

  • 17 JUNE - All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. All work and no pla

  • 16 JUNE - Exactly two weeks and 12 hours from today I will be in NYC. I can barely contain my excitment at finally being there and NOT being here. Even if it is only for a short period, at least I know that 10 weeks after I get back this time, I'll be coming home for good. It's been a pretty quiet week here. I've been dealing with a sore throat the last couple days but I think I got it licked. I'm just not a desert person. Not much else to say, so I'm not going to say anything else.

  • 13 JUNE - I just realized that in exactly four months, I will be in Kuwait and outprocessing to head home for good. In the next ten days I will have completed 2/3rds of my contract. It's been an interesting year so far. I have to say that despite the heat, the war and being separated from everything I love but a guitar, I couldn't be happier. I'm heading back into the gym tonight to test out the shoulder. It's been feeling pretty good and I haven't experienced any pain in the last couple days. I knocked out about a 100 pushups this morning before I ran and there wasn't much bite to it at all. I'll try slow and will go a little light today to see how it feels and go from there. After the gym, it's time to bust out Solace (my guitar) and see what happens. I'm hoping that something comes out of nowhere because I don't have anything in my head to lay down. If something does come out, I'll have three more days off of work to try and get it recorded before I leave. Wish me luck. Not much else going on to report. Just biding my time.

  • 12 JUNE - SUNDAY! SUNDAY! SOMEDAY! ~ Another Sunday, another dust storm - yes another one! - and the Cubs haven't played yet. I gotta get some coffee, it's going to be a long night.

  • 11 JUNE - Another Saturday, another dust storm, another Cubs win, another day closer to home. I could have done without the dust but all in all, I'd have to say it was a good day.

  • 10 JUNE - I finally sucked it up and went to the doctor today. I really don't like to bother them but I wanted to make sure I wasn't doing any damage to my shoulder. They try to make it clear to us that they don't appreciate civilians wasting their time and that they are there for the soldiers. There is even a sign on the door that says something to the degree of, "If you're not a soldier, you better be in danger of losing life or limb." It turns out the problem with my shoulder is tendonitis and an inflamed rotator cuff. Of course, being the Army cure for all that ails a person, they gave me aspirin and told me not to lift weights for a month. Being the stubborn mule that I am, I've decided to modify his orders to take it easy in the gym and not do what hurts. He explained that if the muscle around the shoulders builds up too fast that the tendons gets pushed around and rubs the wrong way, causing inflammation and blah, blah, blah... So that's that, at least it's not permanent damage and all will be well soon enough.

  • 9 JUNE - I've removed most of the Malfunktion tunes from the jukebox to make space on the site. I ran short on memory again. BUT, if you want to hear more Malfunktion, their songs are available for download on Download.com. They just finished recording a few tracks in the studio and have made them available, free for your listening pleasure. I just happen to be listening to them right now. "Good Life" has a catchy chorus, is laid back and grooves. "Long Time Comin" is funky. Check them out.

  • 8 JUNE - It's just another day on my end of the world, nothing special about it. I did get a message from my account rep at bookmasters to let me know that everything is looking good with my files and that the order is ahead of schedule. Right now, it looks as if the books will be waiting for me. Haven't gotten any feedback on the new tune. A few people heard it here and said it's my best work yet, which makes me feel good. I have gotten a lot of positive reviews from friends and coworkers, the same people that also felt free to tell me which parts stunk on the songs as well, so at least I know they're being honest. I'd love to hear what you all think of this new one.

  • 7 JUNE - It's an hour until Tuesday hits here but I'm claiming it anyway. The new tune, Waiting On Me has been uploaded and is ready for download. It's six and a half minutes long, so it might takes a while again. It's took 15 minutes to upload and I'm on a 100Mbps connection. The phrasing on the vocals is pretty rough and there are a couple spots where the timing gets a little sloppy but all in all, it's probably my best work as far as recording goes. Hope you like!

  • 6 JUNE - Couldn't sleep today. I've been awake since my last entry. I got off of work this morning, went back to my cage, watched The Aviator and thought it was a good movie even if I had to see Leonardo's skinny bare butt for half of it. I finished the movie, walked back to the office, picked up my mail, a new book - Make Love, The Bruce Campbell Way and went to lunch with my buddy Mike (Dallas, TX) and Russ. We finished lunch and Russ signed out a truck. I rode over to Slayer and Blackhawk with him to pick up some black market DVD's for $4. We came back and I was still wide awake enough that I popped in Adam Sandler and Burt Reynold's remake of, The Longest Yard. Not bad...cross breed Waterboy with the original and there you have it. The movie ended and next thing I know, it's almost 5PM. I take a shower and head up to the office to get a jump on my e-mail and to set up the studio. Of course, now I'm tired but I'm here and I'm finishing the tune. It's dinner, record, post and laundry. Hopefully that will carry me to breakfast and then I'm crashing. Have a good day. THREE WEEKS!!!!!

    Jim Seguin bought the first copy of my book. Thanks brother.

  • 6 JUNE - It's Monday again...about time if you ask me. We have a dust storm finishing up outside. Imagine a brown blizzard of dirt and sand that is so thick and heavy you can smell the dirt from inside the building. Once the wind dies down, the dirt settles slowly back to the ground and leaves a quarter inch layer of dust. It takes hours to settle and looks like a heavy pea soup fog just hanging in the air. Inhale through your nose and you can taste it, breathe through your mouth and your teeth are immediately gritty with dust. It's pretty cool to experience but the resulting cough, white eye brows and dust wig anyone that goes outside ends up wearing gets old fast. That is also the highlight of my weekend....pretty exciting.

  • 4 JUNE - Recording last night went really well. I laid down the guitar parts, the percussion and harmonica. On Monday I'll redo the vocals, add harmonies, put the bass line down and she'll be done. I've also added the lyrics, Waiting On Me to the Lyrics Page. Hope you like them and as promised, the new track will be added on Tuesday. I was surprised at some of the sounds that I got out of the guitar. I never hear them while I'm playing but on playback, some of it's almost spacey - for an acoustic. I'll be interested to hear what you all think of this next tune. Of course, it has its rough spots but if I didn't settle for half ass sometimes, I'd probably never get anything posted. I'm already two months behind and coming up on three. Vacation will put me four months behind...so, I've learned to accept my imperfections...and there are plenty of them. HA!

  • 3 JUNE - Assuming everything goes as planned and the printer doesn't find any issues with the package I sent them, the book will be available for purchase in early July. The picture above is the cover, front and back. I have linked the photo to my publishing page and have set up a way to (pre)order the book through Paypal. The cover was designed by my college buddy and great friend, Brian Weese. CREATIVE RIPPLE is his website and will be launching soon. Thanks for the help brotha. It's my day off and I'll be heading into the studio in a bit to try and get this next tune down. I still plan to have it posted on the site come Tuesday. That's my personal deadline. Have a good weekend everyone.

  • 2 JUNE - The only news I have for you today is about the book. Bookmasters has received my print order, successfully charged me and sent the order to the print department. Fingers crossed that everything is good with the files and stays on schedule. Average turn around time for the books is 25 days, which will put them on my doorstep right in time for my vacation. I have a week to play with if there is a problem with the files but I'm hoping for the best.

  • 1 JUNE - It feels so good to type that date. And yet, in two hours the first will be over and I'll be another day closer to home. I'll be buying my round trip ticket from NY to Chicago tomorrow. As usual, I have my entire months schedule planned out, hours by hour accounted for and put on an excel spreadsheet that I carry with me to stay on track. Yes, I'm mildly obsessive but it's too easy to be lazy here and not get things done. I started reading Nietzsche's "The Anti-Christ" last night and it's a short one, so I should be done with it tonight, maybe tomorrow if it's doesn't keep my interest. After that, I'm going back to "Crime and Punishment" to try and choke more of that down. I'm committing myself to a deadline and will have the next song recorded and posted by Tuesday night. I've been working on it, playing through tracks and with ideas for the last month and I know what I want it to sound like now. Let's hope that the song I hear in my head is the song that gets recorded.

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    MAY ARCHIVE

  • 31 MAY 05 - Ahhh! My last entry in May...FINALLY! I'll end it with a quote stolen from my friend Erin.
    "It is one of the blessings of old friends that you can afford to be stupid with them." -Ralph Waldo Emerson
    How true is this with my crew? See you all very soon.

  • 29 MAY 05 - WOOHOO!!! It's Sunday and the Cubs just took three of four from Colorado. Quiet weekend. Just finished reading Chuck Palahniuk's new book, "HAUNTED". This book is not for the faint of heart or week stomach. I had to stop a number of times, to breathe, relax and keep from getting sick. It's well written, structured and sick! For anyone not familiar with the name, Chuck is also the famed author of "Fight Club". Not much else going on, another day of recording tomorrow, the beginning of another week, another X on someone elses calender, another torn page off the Mensa, another day closer to home and a return to sanity!

  • 28 MAY 05 - Another Saturday night...whooptiefriggendoo!!!!!

  • 26 MAY 05 - Let this be my official notice: If the Cubs do not take three of the four games in this series against the terrible Colorado Rockies, I will no longer support the team until Dusty Baker has been fired. This is the most disgusting display of coaching I have ever witnessed and I am ill with the choices they have made in regards to the players that step onto the field, Jerry Hairston, Neifi Perez, Jose Macias and now Enrique "I was a has been 10 years ago" Wilson? COME ON! Are you kidding me? So, here's the deal, Cubs drop any of the next three games and I will devote my cheers and time to another team, a team better coached team, with a staff picked to win...that's right, I'm sick to my stomach but it has to be done. If they don't pull this off, I'm sorry Ronnie but I have to turn myself over to the Mets. THAT'S RIGHT, THE FRIGGEN METS...what? you thought I was going to say the White Sox? Never in a million years! Or the Yankees? Believe me, I'd rather be a Yankee fan than a Met fan but I have to remain loyal to the National League...plus, it's too fun for me when they fail AND, I'd support Boston long before I ever put on a Jeter, Giambi or Johnson jersey. NO WAY! On the contrary, I would wear a Mantle Jersey any day of the week. I would say Houston because I love Clemens but I'll explain why it can't be them in a minute. The Cardinals are almost as bad as saying you're a White Sox fan. I'll be happy the day California sinks into the ocean, so that excuses the Angels, Dodgers, A's, Padres and however many other teams Arnold's state has. I can't support a Canadian team...not going to happen, even if this was hockey. It is my responsibility to despise the Marlins and anything having to do with Florida after what happened in 2003. Sorry Tampa Bay, don't blame me and you're still a worthless expansion team anyway. I know what you're thinking...the 69' miracle Mets and you're right...I apologize to Santo again. Okay, so the Mets are out. I don't like Pedro that much anyway. Texas is George Bush country and I know the Astros have Clemens...he's just not enough and don't forget about the Rangers...hell, Bush used to own them. All Texas teams are out faster than the lights in a prison after the guard say, "Dead man walking". Hopefully the Rangers will be playing the Angels in Anaheim, LA, Disneyland or whereever they are playing now, when California sinks. Pick a city. Oh, the Giants, that's right, they're the other Cali team. Well, in my opinion, the only thing Giant about that team is Barry Bonds and I'm not talking his playing, I'm talking the size of his head and his ego, which both seem to be fighting for first, more than I can say for his team right now. There is always the Diamondbacks and Rockies but then again, they're expansion teams that have both won the World Series and have since done nothing, nor do they have any energy to their play. Baltimore...Sosa, nope and enough said. Anyone else think he looks slow and by slow I mean retarded in his Orioles hat? How's the foot sneezy? Seattle? They have Ichiro. I love the city, great music and food. Hmmmm...nope, still American League. Minnesota is too close to Canada. Detroit got Pudge and he played for the Marlins in 2003. I was going to go with an Eminem put down but truth is they also gave us the MC5 and Ted Nugent, so the city is okay with me...plus what does Slim Shady have anything to do with Baseball? Nothing. KC couldn't even keep a coach and no offense but that is one lame city...nowhere near as lame as St. Louis but still ranking on a level with Gary, IN. So, let's see...who's left? It's too bad the Indians are in the AL, I could get into them and what a great city. I have respect for the Braves but I lived in Georgia and not only can they not drive but it's too damn hot there, plus we got Maddux back, so the book is closed on them. Phillies? I can't scream that name. No teams with lame names! Good cheesesteak though and who doesn't love Rocky? I'll give them that. Ooh, and the liberty bell. Cool but not enough and again, nothing to do with baseball. The Capitals...a brand new expansion team with a better record than the Cubs and in quite possibly the most boring city I have ever been to. DC bites! It's like a well dressed Kansas City where no one is good looking. Let's not forget that before the Capitals found a home in ours, they were the Expos, that's right Montreal...in CANADUH! Beyond the boring city thing, good for them for having a winning record, it won't last but way to go. I could have been a Pittsburgh fan if they would have stuck with calling themselves Pirates but they had to go and come up with a nickname. Bucs...no, that's a football team in Florida, the cursed state! No nicknames that could qualify as other names...it's a rule somewhere. The Cubs, Cubbies (2nd version of the same, ok), The lovable losers (See? Not a different name, more of a slogan type nickname) Get it right. And then there are the Reds. Ahhh...could it be? I may have found my team? I mean, Pete Rose, good ol' number 14 is from there, Mr. 4192+ hits. They had Eric Davis, Chris Sabo with the funky glasses and Johnny Bench to name a few. And could Pete play and yeah, that guy could cheat but...until Rose is in the HOF, where he belongs and until the fragile Ken Griffey Jr is off the team, can't do it. Sorry, maybe if you weren't in the same division, I'd be able to do it but for now, I can't find the space in my heart to bump the Cubs for another team in the Central. So that's it, that's everyone. After 28 years of loving this sport and the Cubs, you think I would be used to losing by now. It's hard year after year to come so close or be so bad. It's hard to have your heart torn from your chest and your hopes crushed with only five outs left. It's easy to give up. So no, my team, despite having a lot of respect for others and admiration for their players... despite the fact that I'm moving to NYC when my time here is done, I can come up with any excuse not to like another team but no matter what, I can't come up with a real reason not to love the Cubs. I may hate them some times and I may not like the way they are playing or the coaching staff but my heart belongs to them. Ronnie, I owe you one more apology. For a second there, I forgot what it is to be a Cubs fan, to love something despite its faults and failures. I can't give up on them now. It's still so early in the season and while this might not be the year, it could be and if it isn't this year, it's definitely next year. That's the way it goes. I can't imagine calling any other park than Wrigley home.

  • 25 MAY 05 - All around our office, calenders - a large desk calender with various "X"s marked in the box of the previous day; a small complimentary Baird and Warner calender from my mother, with the boxes completely blacked out by someone that's not her son; a Mensa calender that began with 365 pages, each containing a quiz, question or riddle that someone other than me tries each day to answer and is usually so wrong that he gives up and writes something totally nonsensical, perverted or the question is sometimes so difficult that the page is left blank. Regardless, each night at midnight, this is the calender that I ritually tear the page off of the day passed, crinkle and toss to the wastebasket - usually missing by no less than a foot. It's these calenders that keep us sane in this office of wasted hours, minutes and seconds. Each X, rip and total blackout of a day is the only sign that time is actually passing. The clock ticks to the rhythm of hearts so heavy with waiting, expectation, fear, hope, anticipation and boredom. Each second seems to fall like a mallet in the hands of a child that swings with every ounce of his strength to ring the bell on the carnival Tough Man. He hopes that his weak little arms can pound it hard enough but his hands prove capable of only being able to hang on to the handle as gravity yanks it uncontrollably back to earth. With each sloppy swing, the mallet slows, his arms grow tense and weary. He can barely pull the weight from his shoulder to let it fall. His first try found the bell only inches away from success and hope built that the next try would be the one. But with each swing that followed, the mallet slowed, the goal fell further away and despite the fact that the distance never changed; success, no matter the effort suddenly seemed unattainable and out of reach. Lucky for the boy, he kept trying and while the bell always managed to dodge his efforts, the strength in his arms grew, as well did his understanding, patience and knowledge of the game. The distance never changed between the ground and the bell but time eventually got him there. The following lyrics are "Of Course", a song by Jane's Addiction. I listened to this album yesterday, for the first time since High School and found myself smiling and laughing at the way it made me feel. I'd say it was irony but that's not the right word. All I could think of was my big brother and me in the backyard of our old house on 319 Glenwood St, in McHenry, IL. With a BB Gun in his hand, he pointed it at me and told me to run. My choices of action being that he was ten years older than I and I only 5 or 6? Limited at best. So I ran and then the pain of that little silver ball smacked against the top of my hand like I had been stung by a wasp. The time in between being shot and what happened next is fuzzy but at the end of the day, the BB Gun sat in two pieces, the barrel and the stock being separated by two opposing forces. The first force, my fathers hands propelling the weapon down while the second (his knee) came up... The lyrics to this song, this great tune, found me in Iraq with that memory and a smile on my face. With that said, the connection should be pretty obvious. Here is it.

    Of course this land is dangerous!
    All of the animals are capably murderous.
    When I was a boy, my big brother held on to my hands,
    then he made me slap my own face.
    I looked up to him then, and still do.
    He was trying to teach me something.
    Now I know what it was!
    Now I know what he meant!
    Now I know how it is!
    One must eat the other who runs free before him.
    Put them right into his mouth while fantasizing the beauty of his movements.
    A sensation not unlike slapping yourself in the
    face...
    I love you brother! I can't believe you shot me but I love you. Ha!

  • 24 MAY 05 - Just got done following the Cubs, pitch by pitch, on MLB Gameday. Man, do I miss my WGN. I'd about do anything to be able to listen to Santo go on and on about his hair piece right now. So anyway, CUBS WIN! CUBS WIN!!!

  • 23 MAY 05 - In the studio recording tonight. Taking a break from the heat...no A/C in there. Just added a new link to the bands page but you can get it here. This is a guy I've been talking to from NYC. Give his music a listen, it's good stuff...very Leonard Cohen meets Jeff Buckley or something like that. It's basic rock but very unique at the same time. Decide for yourself. Jon Neufeld

  • Worked tonight...didn't play. You know what they say? All work and...you get it. Boring!

  • 22 MAY 05 - One day away from being here 7 months and in my 7th month, I look to be more productive in achieving my goals than in all the previous. This is not, of course, a promise, as I have had a lot of plans here that have fallen though. I just spent the last 4 hours working on the new tune and it's coming together quite nicely. I have to think that it's my favorite to date and I'm having some fun with it. I also have some percussion coming in, not a drum set, but anything is better than what I've been doing with the drum machine. That stuff should be in the next week or so and I'm hoping it all comes together and sounds decent. The order for the book is in the mail and I should know in the next week or two if I've figured things out or if I've screwed up royally. I'll be celebrating my 7 months Iraqi anniversary in the studio and will be doing my best to get the rhythm guitar part down. After that, if my fingers - which are blistered, callused and peeling after tonights session - can handle the pain, I'll start laying down the layers. I should have 3 or 4 guitar parts on this one. Next comes the vocals, and then I wait for the percussion to come in. When I get that stuff, I'll lay down the drum track and then the bass. Yes, I do things a little backward...I work with what I can. So that's it, the music, the book, I'm the shift lead and I'll be back in the USA in 5 weeks. I'd have to think that is enough of an update. I'll probably skip my update tomorrow and I'm going to end this one now and head to breakfast...TIME FOR CHOW...L8er



  • 19 MAY 05 - The Toby Keith show was actually pretty good. He only played an hour but you can't blame him. When he played for us, it was his 6th show, on his 6th base in 30 hours and he had to play live at 5AM for the Country Music Awards that next morning. Crazy. I have a profile on Pure Volume now. Three of my tunes can be downloaded there. It's also a very good site to find local musicians and shows. I've been kind of run down lately and realized yet again that I've been suckered into the sad sap music rut. To remedy that bottomless feeling in my gut, I put Phish into my minidisc and away we go. I've been smiling and feeling damn good all day. There is another entry just below this one.

  • 19 MAY 05 - Just paid off Jinxy. For those of you that don't know, Jinxy is my car. I am debt free and with money in savings for the first time EVA!!! Mike, a different Mike than the one I usually refer to, is from Greece and is making me some coffee on his sterno. This is authentic Greek coffee, a lot like Turkish but supposedly not nearly as bitter. Just tried some and it's really good. It has a nice mild flavor, like a good tea but with one hell of a kick. I'm sitting in the office, obviously in a very good mood. I'm highly caffeinated, renewed and listening to Janes Addictions classic album, "Ritual de lo Habitual". STOP! Two sips of this coffee and my head is BuZziN!!! Next up is the Pixies! Had some crazy dreams last night. I don't remember them all well enough to write about but I'll try to remember what I can.
    The last dream had me running through the woods and chasing a yellow remote control car with black racing stripes and it was moving fast. I ran fast as I could, controller in my hands, trying to steer and run and not crash either myself or the car into a tree. I was racing other people and they were chasing their remote control cars. I was winning and they were grumbling about it. Each footstep a blur, I'm chasing this yellow toy, I dodge a tree and then my car disappeared and I was standing at the edge of a cliff. The controller is gone to and I'm looking at my hands and then over the edge. At the bottom of the cliff was a giant parking lot. Parked in the lot were hundreds of ferris wheels, rides, cotton candy machines, and miscellaneous other carnival and circus things with everything that would make a kid smile or scream painted on the side. Over my left shoulder I see something flash and I turned from the cliff to see the head fall off of a giant float made to look just like a baby, gerber hair curl, diaper and all. The babies body deflated and fell to the ground. Behind me all of the other racers were suddenly threatening to kill me if I couldn't make the babies head fly. What? It made sense in the dream. They had every intention of stopping me from succeeding and so began the next race. At a full sprint we raced towards the babies head as it floated slowly to the ground. I reached the head first, just as it hit the ground, only to witness the top of the skull break free from the face. The face deflated and the skull rolled with an odd wobble like an egg, toward the cliff. I caught the skull and lifted it over my head. The top of the skull was shaped like a helmet but when I picked it up turned blue and took the shape and size of a four person raft and was extremely awkward to carry. I hope this thing can fly are the only words that went through my head as behind me the other racers were arriving and drawing guns. With the skull lifted over my head, I turned to the cliff and ran at full speed, which with the raft was about the same speed as an obese drunk running from the police after getting caught peeing in an alley. At the edge, I launched the skull, turned raft, become glider over and watched as it took flight. It zigged and zagged in the air, much like a kite that is having trouble flying. Convinced that it's bat-like flight pattern was good enough, I turned to everyone and yelled that it's flying and laughed in there faces, only to have my jeers redirected by the muzzle of a gun pointing out to me what I could only assume would be bad news. I looked back over my shoulder to see the skull swoop and then crash into the ground. I considered jumping off the cliff, thinking that my chances of survival were better with that than small mob of angry men shooting bullets at me. Did I forget to mention that they are all wearing colored jump suits that match their car - yes, racing stripes and all - no, I'm wearing jeans and a t-shirt? The gun turned pointer, turned gun again and the thumb attached to the hand holding the gun cocked it, while the pointer finger turned trigger finger. Attached to the hand that held the gun was an arm, which was attached to a body that also held a head and on that head a set of lips that quickly curved into a sinister smile. The smile shared the head and a murderous enthusiasm with a set of eyes that suddenly squinted to take aim at, judging by the direction of the glare were the eyes in my head. Then the shooting began and I ran, jumped, dove, juked and dodged the bullets as they zinged past my ears, ricocheted off of rocks, kicked up dirt and splintered into trees all around me. I don't know if the pounding I heard was gunfire, footsteps or my heart drumming in my throat but before I could figure any of it out, the firing stopped as did the sound of footsteps and the sound of yelling men as they laughed, taunted and chased me. I stopped and found myself hunted, turned confused and in an open field surrounded by blimps, balloons and floats, all of which were being held to the ground by a rope and swaying gently in the air. They bounced off of eachother and were propelled in the other direction, only to bounce off another and so on. We all stood and looked up and stared at the floats. Hundreds of them, as far as the eye could see. And then above them all, a large blue zephyr went up in flames and began to fall. It came down like the Hindenburg and bore a whole through the rest of the floats, taking out a few of the lazy danglers with it. The zephyr crashed into the ground and I was no longer in the field but in a mall. Prey turned confused turned consumer? Still confused and suddenly wearing a tan sport jacket. I'm walking out of a banana republic or something and notice a little girl, about seven years old, curly Blonde Shirley Temple hair and a white and blue dress with frills and bows standing by a sunglass kiosk, holding a balloon and a lollypop. She's sobbing for her mother so heavily that the front of her dress is wet across the chest and stained, pink, blue and green from the tears that had trailed past her lips and through the sticky mess of colored sugar goo left by the giant sucker. I walked over to her and she grabbed onto my legs and hugged me. She told me she lost her Mommy and asked me to help her. I picked her up and we walked hoping someone would see us and claim the kid. Caitlyn walked out of a pet store with Kira and asked whom I was carrying. She seemed jealous until I told her the girl was lost and couldn't find her Mom. I set the girl down and Caitlyn immediately started playing with her. Seconds later the girl was smiling, the tears gone, the stains gone and she looked like little human doll. Caitlyn and the girl both started asking if we could eat. Kira recommended this little french pastry place that had regular food and really good coffee. The pastries are so good, she had been dying to try their regular stuff. The girls recommended McDonalds. All I heard was good coffee and pastries. At the restuarant the servers spoke french and smiled so large it was as if the corners of their lips had been stapled to their ears. We sat down to order and the menu listed our choices as; coffee, eggs, cheese, bacon and so on....just as plain as could be but in a very weird way. We shrugged it off and ordered. Our smile took our order and I ordered everything on the menu. The food came and we were hungry turned confused, slash disgusted. Everything you order, goes into a blender and is cooked into some strange type of omelotte. It's not that it was that bad tasting but more that it looked like fake vomit. Caitlyn was saying that we should have gone to McDonalds. Suddenly all I could see in my head was the Happy Meal toy. The lost girl, turned clean and cute, turned annoying, began whining that her Momma would never cook anything that looked like this and started crying for her again. Kira and I both deflated and asked in a way that didn't need an answer but more to agree at our dissatisfaction, how the pastries and service with a smile could be so good and not the regular food. I never got my coffee, unless of course the coffee was in my omelotte. I woke up - racing turned hunted, turned confused, turned consumer, turned civilian in Iraq.

  • 18 MAY 05 - Well...the book is done. Everything has been checked and double checked. I left a couple grammatical mistakes in there for the simple fact that it's just easier to leave them be than it is to go through the entire PDF process again after I add a missing letter or remove an accidental slash. Consider it my personal touch. I'm no perfectionist. All the files are going out in the mail tomorrow, along with my signed order and we will be on schedule to have the real deal, finished and in hand while I am home in July. We had a lightning storm last night and it was quite a show. We've been lucky with all the storms that have blown in that the black clouds just seem to blow right by and we haven't had much for rain in the last few weeks. I love rain but not here, not ever!

  • 17 MAY 05 - Okay, got everything I need to go to print. I'm going to update my files tonight, preflight everything to make sure the files are good and send everything off to the printer. NICE! The only other news that I have is that I am now the Night Shift Manager. I took over the position today. No raise, no benefits, just more responsibility and maybe, just maybe, I'll actually be able to get my hands dirty and learn something while I'm here. We'll see.

  • 16 MAY 05 - It's Monday again. Good for me, just another week for you. I'm getting used to the heat and it's really not that bad. I don't enjoy it and I definitely don't understand why anyone would ever choose to live in the desert but all in all, it's tolerable. It was 112 by 10AM the other day. I cranked up the AC and crashed this morning so I don't have a clue what the temperature was like to day. Not a whole lot to report. Toby Keith will be here tomorrow. That's about the only excitement that we have going on. Hey Jim, "HOW DO YOU LIKE ME NOW?"

    CONGRATULATIONS TO DAVE HOMUTH AND HIS WIFE ON THE BIRTH OF Audrey Rose Homuth. She weighed in at 6 lbs. 13 ozs and was born on April 26, 2005 at 10:10pm.

  • 14 MAY 05 - Almost half way through May. Everything here is starting to itch and bite. The mosquitos are relentless. The flies are annoying and the sand fleas...oooooh....the sand fleas are the worst. My arms and legs are constantly on fire and you can't itch them or the bites turn into bleeding sores. Oh well, guess I'll get used to it. At least for the next 6 weeks. I stayed up all day again hanging out with some of the guys from work...oops. So much for resetting my clock. I slept until 4AM, missed both dinners but am up in time for breakfast. I have few things to do after breakfast - get my mail, finally change the tube on the bike, go to the gym and then I'm going to try and get some sleep. The plan is to read until I pass out. That's my Saturday! Hope you're all having a good weekend.

  • 13 MAY 05 - Here it comes, another weekend. What used to be the most looked forward days of the week for me are now the most dread. BUT, this weekend I plan to read as much as I can, sleep like a normal person and try to record - so hopefully it will pass quickly. I received my ISBN number for the book today and have nothing remaining but my copyright information. Almost there. I was thinking today about how I used to write so much more than I have in the last couple months. Truth is that all the shine this place had when I got here has wore off. I don't have dreams like I used to and the dreams that I do have aren't worth being put on the site. I'm not getting lazy on you, I just don't have anything interesting going on. My father calls it drudgery and that is a perfect word for daily life here but it's life and time is passing and that's good enough for me. Every week that passes is another week closer to vacation or the next pay check or the end of this parade. I may not have much to say anymore but I'm getting by and I'm happy. I still don't and won't regret coming here. I'm right on schedule for every goal that I planned to achieve before I left and while some of my goals have been changed or realized as a waste of time and erased, the major goals are go. This has been a tough year so far but tolerable and at times enjoyable. We're past the half way mark now and I'll be home in a few weeks. For those of you that have kept in touch by writing, e-mail and IM, I know this is redundant but I can't thank you enough. You all get me through my days, nights and allow me to sleep peacefully at night. As for now, I'm heading back into the office to start work on Track #5, Waiting On Me. I don't know how long it's going to take to get it done but I'm working on it and I have a feeling that it's going to have a much crisper sound. LATER!

  • 12 MAY 05 - I'm going to write now before I fall asleep. I've been up for 24 hours now and should be at 36 before I actually get some shut eye. I hope that dinner will wake me up a bit, which will then be reinforced by some coffee...nay, a four shot chai latte (yeah, that's the stuff). Actually the coffee here is terrible. It's almost worse than the trash they have in Germany. I miss Spain! Anyway, it's time for my sleep deprivation in hope that I can actually get some sleep after work tomorrow. That's about it for now. I'm gonna walk a bit.

  • 11 MAY 05 - Can't stop the rock... Thanks Russell. We figured out how to configure a proxy that allows me not only a backdoor to my site but also to update it. In the words of the great David Chappelle, "I'M BACK B%&$HES!!!" So what's new? Nothing. Let's see. Toby Keith is going to be here on Tuesday. The cover to my book is complete - Thanks Brian. My schedule for home is all set and jam packed. It's going to be a fast week but I'll take what I can get. Um...not much else. Gonna try and get into a room somewhere that quiet enough for me to record my next tune. Another change in direction. Hopefully it turns out all right. Check out Malunktion's website. They have downloads and stuff available now and if you get a chance, head up to the festival they are playing. Should be a great time. That's about it for today. Later!

  • 10 MAY 05 - I'll admit it - this bites. Only getting to update the site every once in a while is no fun. Nothing has changed and I still have a flat. The store here orders bikes and coffee pots and such but not the accessories to go with them. Every bike chain on this base is rusty because the genius running the PX, in all of his infinite wisdom can't seem to get it through his brain that we might need WD40 or any type of lubricant. Let's see...the last week. ITT offered me an extension to stay here until May. I crumpled it up and threw it out and then was told that it still has to be signed. Oops. Seven more weeks until I step down and kiss the ground in the USA. I can't wait. I miss my country. I loved Europe but nothing compares to being HOME. It's definitely hotter than I like here. Been hitting low hundreds and even been in the 90's at night. No bueno! The warmer it gets, the more the critters are running around. They make all sorts of noise, between the growls and the rustling. I've seen cats, dogs and miscellaneous. It's the misc that worry me and have me scared of my shadow. I live like a vampire here and there are bats everywhere to keep my company. And by everywhere, I mean, thick in the sky, flying erratically and sometimes it seems like they are after me but I'm pretty sure it's just a total lack of flight pattern. I fell down the other day while I was walking in the dark. There was a large pile of gravel that wasn't there the night before and I did a face plant when I hit it. May as well remind you all that I'm the same goofy turd I've always been. Guess somethings will never change. I'm officially debt free. The book is almost ready for print. It's done, still waiting on my copyright information. I am officially registered with the Library of Congress now. That's a pretty cool feeling. Hope all you Mothers had a wonderful Mothers day. Thanks for doing all that you do and to mine for loving me. That's about it for now. Time for some coffee and to continue the wait. Later!

  • 3 MAY 05 - Well HELLLLLOOOOOO! Sorry I have been gone so long but I have some bad news. The Army has decided to block the website that I use to update Bulldog7 and I have to make a special trip to the MWR to do any work on it now. I will try to make it over here as often as possible but it's a hike. I do have a bike now but it has a flat tire. I just bought a patch kit and as soon as I have healed the wound, will be able to make over more often. On top of that, the Army has also blocked IM, so you won't see me on there very often either. That's just the way it is. Good news though, I have posted a new tune to the jukebox. My latest effort is called Throwing Stones and the lyrics are posted as well. The lyrics link is above if you didn't know. I hope you like it. It's more like the music that I usually write. I have a couple more tunes in the works and hope to get them recorded quickly. Other than that, it's hot, the food is still mediocre at best, I'm still getting by and I'm feeling much better. I'm finally back in the gym and busting my butt again. I'm counting the weeks and I can't wait to get back to the states. I don't have much time to write tonight but all is well and I'll try to give a better update next time around. Miss you and love you all. ~Brizz

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    APRIL ARCHIVE

  • 26 APR 05 - Does anyone have a good picture of my head that they could e-mail to me? I need a head shot or a decent picture of me for the cover of my book and I don't have one. I could take one of myself here but I don't really feel like doing my hair.

  • 25 APR 05 - Things are rolling. I just sent payment in for pre-publishing of my book and over the next 2-4 weeks everything will be set and ready for print. I'm waiting on my final quote to see how many copies I plan to print and we'll go from there but the ball is rolling and there is no turning back now. I won't be on Instant Messenger anymore. The Army has blocked our access and deemed any further access to Instant Messenger as illegal. So, the website and e-mail from here on out.

  • 24 APR 05 - A special thanks to those that have supported me through this time. The hardest thing to deal with in being here is the boredom. You all have made this so much easier to do and while you may not realize that you are doing anything special, your e-mails, IM and mail have kept a smile on my face and the hair in my head. Maybe I'm just a sentimental punk with far too much time to think about things but being here makes me appreciate what I have. When friends and family continue to show support and keep in touch, it makes me feel good and keeps my head up. All I need is hope and I can deal with anything. You all know who you are and I miss and love you all. I consider myself the luckiest guy alive to have the friends and family that I do.

  • 24 APR 05 - Spinning in my player right now is the new Beck CD: Guero. It's not very often that I recommend a CD to my friends but if you know Beck's work, this is his best since Odelay and I have to think that it's a better album. I give it a strong 4 Stars. Also, a pleasant surprise but something I would prefer you listen to before you buy are; The Faint - Wet From Birth, The Thrills - Let's Bottle Bohemia, The Doves - Some Cities, Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds - Abbatoir Blues / The Lyre of Morpheus, Snow Patrol - Final Straw, The Killers - Hot Fuss.

  • 23 APR 05 - SIX MONTHS!!!! WOOHOO! I'm celebrating my six month Iraqiversary with a 5 Shot Latte'. BOING!!! Let me tell you what I know about Iraq after six months. It's better to not be here but I'm still happy that I am. It's harder to write music here than I thought it would be but the music I've written is far different than any I've written in the past. Spain is WAY nicer than Iraq in every way possible. I prefer drinking milk out of a glass over a cardboard box. I also prefer milk that hasn't been radiated to last for years or that can be left open for up to three days before it goes bad. If our 100 degree Spring days are any indication of what to expect from Summer. Iraq in the Summer sucks. Let's see...what else. I prefer indoor plumbing to walking to a bathroom that may or may not contain hot water but is gauranteed to always stink. No one here is actually here to do what they think they are here to do unless they are using their weapon. And I mean "using" in the literal sense of the word. I am in a place where time moves just as slow as it does fast. This six months has flown by and yet it feels like it has taken forever to get here. Another six months and I'll be home and this time, I am sticking to my promise to never go somewhere that I have to walk on rocks everyday. Upon returning to the United States this October, the next time I use my Passport will be to go on vacation and not to work in a war-torn country. Wars=2, Vacations=1...time to change that up a bit. Well, I'm only half way through my coffee and my fingers are beginning to move faster than my memory can remind them where the letters on the keyboard are...I'll take that as my sign to shut up. Half way through this finally! The hard part is over. I miss you and love you all. Looking forward to raising my glass with all of you when I get back. Peace in the middle east! You didn't really think I could go a whole year here without saying that did you?

  • 22 APR 05 - After a week of coughing, wheezing and not being able to sleep, I gave in and took my broke butt to the doctor. The doctor proceeded to chew me out for not coming in sooner. Turns out that what I thought were allergies weren't and that I had a sinus infection that spread to cause a couple others that eventually made it to my eyes. Yesterday morning when I woke up my eyes were sealed shut. It was pretty gross but after ingesting the bucket of drugs the doctor gave me, I'm beginning to feel much better and should be back to "normal" by Monday. That's all I have for today. Hope all is well with everyone. Oh and I've seen the news reporting that things in Baghdad are getting worse on a daily basis. Yes, it's true but again, this is life in the city and not on the bases. You have to remember that they are separate and the difference is immense.

  • 21 APR 05 - I know, I've been slacking but I haven't slept in two days now and my allergies (not strep) are killing me. My right eye is purple - literally. It's getting better since I started taking my Claritin but I'm having a hard time getting motivated to do much of anything when I feel like this. All I do is cough and weeze all day. My eyes burn and wah wah wah... Hopefully, I'll be able to get some relatively cough free sleep today and in turn my throat will stop hurting. Right now it's so swollen that my neck feels like it's as thick as a tree. Approximately ten weeks from this very moment, I will be on an airplane and working my way back to America. WOOHOO! As soon as I feel better, I have a song finished that I'm ready to start recording and I'll get more pics up. Right now all I want to do is close my eyes and not open them again until Spring is over. Who'd a thunk that you could have allergies in the desert?

  • 18 APR 05 - Another Monday down and that much closer to another paycheck. I'll be debt free by the end of May. FINALLY! For the first time since I was a teen, I'll be debt free, right on schedule and with enough discipline to stay that way. Since I have been back, I've slept almost three days straight and dinner tonight was the first time I've eaten in almost three days. I'm pretty sure that I'm on my way back to being healthy again and then I don't really have a plan. It's hard to get motivated to get back into the gym after taking so much time off. I've really enjoyed my binge eating, drinking and sugar overdose. Everything is going as planned and life is still good. I've hit a few speed bumps with the way things are run here and the way I'm used to living. It might take a while to finish them but I've started writing three new songs since I have been back and lost another one to a decision to keep sleeping. That being said, I'm going listen to some music, catch up on some e-mail and relax a while.

  • 17 APR 05 -Vacation photos- Here you all go. I think this is all of them from Spain. The Germany photos and travel pictures are going to have to wait. I'll add them as soon as I get a chance. I'm off to nurse my ever worsening sore throat. FUN FUN!!! Vacation was absolutely wonderful. The food, the sights, the smells, the architecture, Kira. Everything was, for lack of better adjective, amazing! Being back in Iraq seems like a weird dream now. I'd love to wake up and be back in Sevilla but hey, 11 weeks until I'm back in the states. Hope you enjoy the photo's.


  • 15 APR 05 - I'm not slacking with the pics...I'm having technical issues. I'm actually heading back to my trailer right now to figure things out and to get some sleep. I haven't been feeling very well since getting back. It might be the heat. It might be the detox process. It might be the gallon of coffee I drank to stay awake yesterday. It might be that I went to the gym for the first time in two weeks. Or it might be that air conditioning messing with my sinuses and making me feel like dookie. Either way, not doing so hot right now and I gotta get out of here for a bit. Is it too soon to start the next countdown? Seriously! I didn't miss it here while I was gone.

  • 14 APR 05 - Back in Iraq. Got a flight out of Kuwait last night about 3AM and landed in Iraq at 8AM - Smoothest C130 flight ever. It's been about a 100 degrees here during the day and the nights aren't much cooler. A lot has changed around here in the two weeks I was gone and I have some adjustments to make but I'm hoping to find the time to sit down and load up the lyrics and photo album from Germany and Spain tomorrow. Give me a couple days to get into the swing of things and comfortable again. I also have some 15 second video clips that I took from the helicopter I'm going to try and load up so that you can see the country side. I do have to remove some of the old photo albums to make space for the new but they've been on there six months. If you haven't seen them by now...

  • 13 APR 05 - Stuck in Kuwait. Been here two days now without a shower or change of clothes. My bags already went out on a flight. It's flippin hot here to, so you know I'm loving life. Kuwait can actually make a person miss Iraq! Ha. I was starting to think of a top ten reasons on how to know your no longer on vacation and all I could come up with is. The food sucks and all you have to choose from is chicken and chicken. And then my favorite. You know your vacation is over when the highlight of your days is by trying to think of a top ten reasons on why your day has sucked. I'm actually doing great, just can't wait to get back and start the next countdown.

  • 11 APR 05 - Hey all. I'm sitting in Darmstadt, Germany and am flying out of Rammstein en route to the desert tomorrow. I'll write more then. Plenty of pics and catching up to show and do. I've finally unlocked the song.

    MARCH ARCHIVE

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    Sunrise over Lost Lake

  • 29 MAR 05 - I have arrived in Germany and all is well. I'm keeping a log of everything that's been happening on my laptop and will post it when I return. Frankfurt is amazing!

  • 28 MAR 05 - All right! I'm outta here in four hours. Hope you all have a good couple weeks. Phase I of Iraq is done. If anyone figures out a way to stop time while I'm gone, please do so before the 10th. Good times! Talk to you all soon.

  • 27 MAR 06 - Happy Easter. Let me here it for Peeps, Jordan Almonds and Chocolate Marshmallow eggs. Mmmmmmm. I may or may not have the opportunity to write another update tomorrow. I'm going to be scrambling around trying to make sure I have everything ready to go for Monday morning - you know, laundry, packing, paperwork, confirmations, blah, blah, blah. Saw the hodgys clearing the weeds from the creek bed today. I think it's an attempt to keep the mosquito population down. To do this, one man stands in a rowboat with a weed wacker and scissors, while another stands on the shore and steers the boat by pulling a rope that's tied to it. This place is OSHA's worst nightmare. When the KBR employees put the barricades around the buildings to protect them from mortar attacks. These 10 foot tall cement structures are picked up from the ground with a giant crane. One hodgy stands on top of the cement barricade, attaches the hooks to the steel loops on the barricade and then goes for a ride until it's in place. During all of the rain, the shower trailer roof leaked profusely and in one corner, water came in and flowed over and into the fuse box, which then, led down the wall and formed a puddle on the floor. Safety is number 1...on which list, I don't know. I love this place! The fun never ends. I did record yesterdays prayer but decided that Easter might make for a more interesting recording, so I'm going to head down in a couple hours and try it again. It's strange how much that microphone picks up that our ears don't. Baghdad is a loud city...you'll hear. Okay, prayer is over and I'm still at work, it's going to have to wait.

  • 25 MAR 06 - At breakfast this morning, I went to the cooler and grabbed my two milks, just like I do every day at breakfast. I drank the first milk and poked the straw through the hole of the second, raised the card board box to my lips and sucked in a mouth full of radiated cheese. The milk taste like it had been sitting in the sun for a week before it was packaged. Instead of losing my stomach at the table, I forced my self to swallow the rancid swill. My stomach turned and I immediately lost my appetite. And so began my day. We had planned on hitting the pool today but the temperature dropped to the low 60's and a strong wind kicked up the sand and dirt just enough to put that gritty feeling in my teeth and burn my eyes. A few of us jumped in a truck and head over to Slayer for coffee and to buy some black market DVDs. I purchased Oceans 11 and 12 on the same disc for $4. Good deal, even if the copy of Oceans 12 was some guy with a tripod recording at the movie theatre. On our way to and from Slayer traffic was stopped and we were forced to wait for EOD(Explosive and Ordinance Disposal) to do a controlled IED(Improvised Explosive Device) detonation. Once EOD had blown whatever it is they had found up, the roads opened back up and away we went. We got lost on the back roads to Blackhawk (the section of Slayer with all the hodgy shops) and did some off roading by the guard towers. It was fun, extremely bumpy and the guards were all staring at us like we are nuts. We got back from Slayer and decided to hit up Burger King for some grub. I've only been there one other time before today and went for it, despite my conscience telling me to be good and to stay away from the saturated fat. I knew I shouldn't have. My stomach has been messed up since and I'm breaking out from the grease already. Fast food and soda is nasty. guess that's what I get for cheating on my diet a week before I go on vacation. I justified it by saying I needed to prepare my stomach for regular food but all I'm going to be eating is Tapas and seafood, fresh from the mediterranean. When did I become such a health freak? Growing up, I'd down a two liter bottle of pop and eat a bag of candy bars like it was nothing and now I feel guilty for even looking at them. I can hear the butterfingers calling my name. Today I run six miles instead of my usual four to make up for the burger, fries and soda. It's finally Friday. I will be updating the site through the weekend and if I can get to a connection while I am in Frankfurt. Once I get to Spain, the internet is the last thing on my list of priorities but I do want to get this song to you, so I will find at least five minutes to unlock it. Other than that, from March 28th until April 11, give or take a day, I won't be writing any updates. On the upside of things, I'll have a bunch of pics and stuff to share with you when I do get back and I'm hoping that I'll be refreshed, ready to tackle the 12 weeks before I head back to the states and with some more interesting updates, maybe even some inspiration for tunage. Later!

  • 24 MAR 06 - Okay, this is rediculous. Seriously, could time possibly pass any slower? It's been March 24th already, I know it. I swear it should be the 27th by now. I haven't found a way to prove it yet but time is moving slower. I know it. Anyway, the song is done, it's been preloaded and is waiting. Hopefully some time in the next two weeks, I'll have it posted and ready for your critique. Until then, I'm working on another one that may or may not become something. We'll see. Other than that, I'm just doing what I have to do until I can do something else. Have a good night everyone.

  • 23 MAR 06 - Finalized my plans for vacation as best I could today. As things stand now, I will be jumping on a helicopter, flying fast and low over Baghdad that will take me to Base Camp Anaconda/Balad. Once I get there, I'll get to see my old soldier and friend Aundre Johnson for the first time since I came off of active duty in 2000. I can't wait. The next day I'll be heading to the PAX terminal and manifesting for my Space Available flight into Germany and then it's a waiting game. I'll probably spend a good 10 hours in a plastic chair waiting for my name to be called over an intercom to let me know if I've made my flight. Whichever plane I get on, be it that day or the next, I should pull in to Frankfurt, Germany some time before dawn. I just made reservations at the local military hotel and will be happy to be back in civilization. When I say military hotel, what you have to realize is the rooms are generally nicer than most hotels and only cost is based on rank and for me about $25 a night. It doesn't get any better than that. I'm just glad that I get to use my military rank. Being a Sergeant over a civilian saves me about $25 a night. I'm flying with a coworker and friend, Russel (guy on the right in the pool pic) and we'll have a full day to check out Frankfurt, which will be fun. He said, "Whatever I do or whatever happens, don't let me miss my flight. I don't care how I feel but I have to be on that plane." Should be a good time but I don't plan on drinking...no desire. I haven't missed the alcohol at all, just the times and people around it. After that, I catch my flight to Barcelona on the 31st and it's on! Oh, and today is the 23rd. I'm exactly five months into this. Two weeks after I get back from Spain, I'll be at the half way mark and ten weeks after that, I'll be back in the USA for vacation number two. I will be in Chicago from July 7-14th. It's going to go fast but I'll try to get around and see as many people as I can. It'll be great to see you all, especially my daughter. I've missed her like crazy. She's going to be 7 and I can't miss that birthday. I can hardly wait. She doesn't know I'm coming though, so don't spill the beans.

  • 22 MAR 06 - FINALLY! Tonight was the night. I have a bit of clean up to do but it's {H2O} down and done. The clean up is all vocals and the only thing that I can control. I'm feeling pretty good right now. I've been sitting in this makeshift studio for 8 hours now. This is the third week I've been working on this, maybe the fourth. One more night off and it will be done completely and ready for posting. I'm going to have it sitting in the queue and ready for post when I leave for vacation. All I'll have to do is find a place to check the net for 5 minutes and it will be done. I'll post the lyrics when I get back. Oh and vacation? Yeah, I fly in SIX days!!!!! NOICE!

  • 21 MAR 06 - Yesterday at work, I was sitting and typing at the workstation next to the coffee pot (home) and Tim squeezed by to make a fresh pot. In the process the old filter passed over my head and the bottom gave out, covering me with nasty, wet, day old grounds. My now shaggy hair filled with grounds. The grounds went down my shirt, down my pants and into the keyboard on my laptop. Of course, we laughed about it and that was that but I will be accidentally returning the favor soon enough.


    Me, Ryan and Russel at the Aussie Pool

  • 21 MAR 06 - Had something that felt like a real weekend here. Got off of work this morning, went to the gym, ran another four miles and some other stuff and then met up with Russell and Ryan and hit the pool on the Australian side. All three of us - PURPLE! Three hours in the sun is too much when skin hasn't seen the light of day in half a year. I'm burning a bit and my shower was about as pleasant as it was to sleep laying down. After the pool, we strolled on over to Subway, got a bite and then crashed. And now, I'm at work dealing with the unbelievable lack of organization. I'm actually surprised that this place hasn't crumbled around its hiring process. The hiring process? Submit a resume and get a job - NO INTERVIEW. There are some good technicians here and then there are the large majority of unqualified or improperly placed technicians hired to fill a gap. Even their presence would be something easily handled if there were any sort of structure or process to the way business is done with this company. I swear that the following could have been my resume and I would have gotten a job here:
    ========
    Jeremy Brizzi

    Anserd a tellefone a cupple times and liked it. Pleeze hires me. I quick lernly.
    ========
    The big question is; Do I fix the problem and stick my neck on the stress block or do I float through the next seven months doing my job and only what is expected of me, take my money and run. It's hard to believe that attempting to make a difference here is worth my time and effort but I'm considering it.


    Got this from my Mom today...FLASH BACK! Scary! It's the flyer from a show that we played in High School! ROCK ON!

    GO ILLINI!!!!

  • 20 MAR 06 - The trend has been started. I woke this morning, or actually this evening and my roommate had shaved his beard down to a mustache. He looks like a crossed breeding of Stapp from Creed and Charlie Chaplan. Actually, he would fit in quite well on Reno 911 or Kids In the Hall. Too funny. The run went well and I partially met my goal by finishing in 18:43. I was hoping to finish in 18 flat but am happy that I maintained a pace of just under 6-minute miles. It was a good day. I don't know when the next run is but I'll be trying to get my time down to under 18 minutes. Thought I had something else to tell but I don't, so I'm going back to my Homestar Runner!

  • 19 MAR 06 - It's almost 6AM and I'm getting ready to head over for the 5K, aka: St. Pats was two days ago run. I just want to get it over with so I can go to breakfast. Shaved off the beard today and decided to see how bad I would look with a mustache. As expected, I looked like a late 70's roller disco super pimp. It was quite possibly the funniest thing I have ever seen. So, rather than shave it off and save myself the embarrassment - I decided to share my, what Mike would eventually call a "Pedistache" with everyone. I didn't care much for pedistache and was quickly upgraded to mustafile. You do the math. Anyway...everyone got a good laugh at my expense and I just got back from my trailer, where I removed the porn look from my face and stopped calling myself David Glenwood. I may however, grow the beard back before Halloween next year and make my costume from the mustache, a gold chain, some fake chest hair and a butterfly collar polyestor shirt. I...uh...already have the bell bottoms. Call me Larry, call me David Glenwood, call me a dork... Chances are, I just don't give a damn. It's the weekend again, have a good one.

  • 17 MAR 06 - Okay, so the pic is pretty bad. My favorite St. Pats memory is with the Seguins and the Cranes. Some of the best corned beef and cabbage I've ever had, shared with people that I not only consider to be a few of the best friends a man could want but more like close extended family. I consider myself lucky to have such a great group of friends but to add in that I can show up to any one of their parents doors and be treated like family is something special that I will never take for granted. I miss everyone but today Jim, Jess, Cathy, Bob, and Bonnie - I wish I could be with you all, sharing a Guinness or ten and some of that great Irish food. I wish you all the best and will see you soon. Please tell me you all are skipping Lord of the Dance.

    HAPPY ST. PATRICK'S DAY!!!!

  • 16 MAR 05 - Sitting back relaxing at work and listening to some Nick Cave, such brilliant simplicity. I haven't had caffeine in three days now. The headache is gone but not the cravings. I do have my energy levels back up to normal again, which is great and my stamina in the gym is getting back to where it should be. Leo the Marine is gone back to Oregon, good for him and best wishes. I'm lifting with my roommate now that he's on night shift. Tomorrow night brings another go at H20 and I'm hoping that I get something down this time. Other than that, the only plans I have are to run the St Pats 5K on Saturday. Should be a pretty chill week but what else is new.

  • 15 MAR 05 - Steaming into another week and hope this one goes as quickly as all the others. I'm still amazed at how time can fly and drag simultaneously but it does. I'm sitting in the "studio" right now working on this third tune. It's been quite the challenge and I feel like I'm getting somewhere and nowhere at the same time. I have two weeks left to get this tune done. That's the deadline I set for myself. Keep your fingers crossed that I do.

  • 13 MAR 05 - Sunday Sunday...ah ah ah ah! Happy Birthday Scott! Hope all is well on the home front. Things over here are going well. Just came in to work and passed Colin Quinn doing his stand up comedy USO thing. Sounded pretty funny, a lot of soldiers laughing and that's always good. Putting in my flight request for my helicopter hop to Anaconda tonight. Two more weeks and I'm out of here. Jump from here to Anaconda and then wait in line for a Space Available ride to Germany. I'm hoping I get to Germany sooner than later so I'll have some time to wander around Frankfurt and then it's back on the plane on the 31st and on to Barcelona. I'll be sure to take plenty of pictures to post when I get back. The water is starting to dry up and soak in to the ground. Another couple days and it will all be a memory. I'll be able to put the rubber boots away. I'm not going to day shift anymore. I talked to the day shift supervisor about it and am staying on nights. Can't think of anything else to tell you all. SOS!


    Not helping

  • 11 MAR 05 - Made my way out to the airport today. Imagine 20 miles of unregulated highway free of speed limits and laws. Now imagine those roads are built like a motorcross track. Sections of it are bogged with water that rose up above the frame of the truck and once out the other side the water burned off as white smoke. Of the 20 miles we traveled through Baghdad and to the airport, no more than a quarter mile of the road were actually flat, the rest? are nothing more than the largest potholes, dips and bumps I have ever driven over. In a word. It was fun. The rain finally stopped tonight but only after coming down on us all day. The pics are of my "neighborhood", otherwise known as Dodge South (Wild Wild West). The water, well, that's what we trudge through to go home, to the bathroom, to go anywhere.


    Anyone seen my jetski?


    Funniest quote heard by someone today..."THIS IS BU@LS%&T"


    ANYONE SEEN MOSES?


  • 11 MAR 05 - I know I said before that the book is done but I still had editing and format changes to make. The book is now officially finished and ready for print. The next step is to approve the cover, put all the files on a CD and send it to the printer. I may however decide to forego printing and find a way to release the book on my site but that has yet to be determined. The deciding factor will be whether I really want to spend about 5 grand on a book. I don't think my ego is that hungry.

  • 10 MAR 05 - Heard from my friend Jordan today for the first time in a long time. I wrote her back and decided to head to her old band website, THE MESHES It's been a while since I heard her album and I love it. The only thing missing is their cover of Chris Isaacs, "Wicked Game". Great cover. The album is available for free download on the site. I'm listening to it right now. I miss going to see her shows - they were always a good time. She and Mike are both great people and I always had fun hanging out with them. It was one of those comfortable friendships where you didnt really have to see or know eachother to get along. We just BS'd, hung and relaxed. I hope she keeps playing in some fashion or another. She has a great voice, talent and presence. The rain continues to fall, even harder today than the previous two. I stepped out of my trailer tonight and into ankle deep pools of water that are completely unavoidable. It's annoying and at this point funny at the same time. No point in getting mad. It's pretty clear now that the raining season is in full form and for what I hear I can expect about three weeks of grey skies and scuba to the showers and work. Stellar! My Cubs hat came in the mail today, better known as the fro concealer. My hair is getting huge and starting fall over my ears. The curl is uncontrollable. It hasn't been this long since I had my skater doo Freshmen year in high school. I sure have had some interesting hair over the years.

  • 9 MAR 05 - This little incident with the Italian reporter has been interesting. The Italians have been trying to get the heck out of here. It has been suggested that they purposely ignored the guards at the gate so that we would have no choice but to shoot the vehicle and in turn cause an International incident that would allow the Italians to go home. Putting two and two together, I was wondering why the Italian military would be so excited (the party) about the release of a Communist reporter. Why would they care unless the release of the hostage would put into action a plan that brings them home sooner? Could you have been a little more obvious? It's a conspiracy theory until proven but it makes sense and despite my pride in my Italian heritage, I can see it as something that their government would come up with. Right now, I have to believe that the Italians rushed the gate in hopes that making the sacrifice would seal the deal on backing out of the effort here in Iraq. Maybe we can get Ethiopa on our side if Italy backs out. It's been raining for almost a week straight. I hope it stops soon. If not, I'm going to order a jet ski. I have to think that all the media attention to this base has also reminded the insurgents of our "temporary" residence here. Since she was shot, the sound of explosions has gone from one a week since the elections to a few a day and continues to build. At the same time it is hard to tell what it coming in, what is controlled and what we are sending out. Yesterday shook my trailer like a normal day before the elections and today, well, today I lost count at how many time I woke up. Keep in mind that hearing the explosions and my trailer shaking does not mean that they are landing anywhere near my cage. A bomb is called a bomb because it booms and the concussion has quite a range. All is well.

  • 9 MAR 05 - Okay, I talked to my friend Lyndsy last night and we figured out the problem some people are having with the downloads. Here's the deal. If you are on a dial up connection, let's say 28.8KB. Your download speed will probably be anywhere from 3-12KB a second. The songs on my site are anywhere from 1.5 to 7.5 Megs. If you are downloading Have I Not, a 7+ Meg song at 3KB a second. It will take about 40 minutes to get the tune on to your computer. The good news is that once the song loads, it's there until you clear your Internet memory. Thanks for your patience, I hope the songs are worth the wait.

  • 9 MAR 05 - Nothing new. Send me your MP3's. This week is just another week. I'll be back in the studio tomorrow and am dead set on making progress on tune # 3. Back to my coffee.

  • 8 MAR 05 - Another Monday down. Payday coming on Thursday. I found out today that I am going to day shift next week and until I go on vacation. Apparently I'm the only one here that knows how to use a certain piece of equipment and they want me to refresh on it and then train everyone before I leave. I guess it will help pass the time. Cubs game is on ESPN here tonight and I'm in heaven. It helps that they are winning 9-4 right now. If and when I do go to day shift, I will not be able to access my site to provide updates and may have to resort to coming in on my nights off to do things. I only have two nights off a week and those will also be my recording sessions, so I'll try to make the most of them if things come to that.

  • 7 MAR 05 - I got 9 hours sleep and I feel great. After last nights entry, I don't have much more to say. I did run today and I now feel like someone rammed two broom sticks up my butt and called them legs. Walking...it's an interesting thing today.

  • 6 MAR 05 - Once again it has taken me all night to log into my account. The night is over and I should be out of here in a few minutes. Another day down and another day closer to vacation and home. The closer it gets, the more time seems to slow down. Right now, all I want to do is go to sleep but not until I've run four miles. If I'm going to knock another two minutes off my time on the St. Pats 5K, I can't afford to skip out. I have actually verified the date of the run this time instead of assuming that it's on the holiday. St. Patricks day and no green beer? Whatever will I do? Matt came up last night and we laid down one of his tunes. He has a very inspiring vision and understands that simplicity in music is okay if you can feel it. Unfortunately he has requested that I keep it off the site. Tomorrow night I begin work on H2O, the third track. I have also decided to resurrect another song that I've written here, to see what I can get out of it. It's not all sad and sappy like every thing you have heard. It's definitely not a happy tune either. It's a song about the paranoia of some of the people that are here. 22 Days until I leave for vacation. By midnight tonight I'll be able to say three weeks. It feels good. The only thing I'm looking forward to more is coming home in July and that's for three reasons. I'll have more time, I get to see everyone and it takes me to the final stretch, the last 12 weeks. I cannot wait to close this chapter and begin the next. Don't get me wrong either, I'm so excited about Spain that I've been bouncing off of the walls in anticipation since I arrived here. I'm just going to ramble on for a bit, since I have nothing better to do and I'm trying to stay awake. I have been staying up a little later each day and compromising sleep. It feels good to get out in the sun and the weather - despite the previous days down pour - has been perfect. 70-80 degrees and sunny, how can I not soak it in? Of course, all this extra time spent awake and feeling tired may be the reason I feel like time is moving so much slower. Hmmmmm. I talked to Caitlyn (my daughter) last night for a little while. She has changed her mind and no longer wants piano lessons. I asked her what she wants to play and her response was that she wants to play keyboard instead. I laughed and told her that they are more or less the same thing. She got very excited. The last time we talked about her getting lessons, she asked if she could write songs with me when she gets better. Of course, nothing could have been sweeter to my ears than to have my daughter say that she wants to write music. Anyone thinking of coming over here and doing something like this should take what I'm about to say into consideration if you have kids or are in a relationship. In last nights conversation my daughter also told me that she sometimes forgets that she has a Daddy. With those words I felt like I had been pinned between the Titanic and the iceberg that sunk it. I realized that I haven't been calling or writing enough. It doesn't take much but to call even if she doesn't have anything to say. I will do a better job. It's easy to get self-involved in a place like this and to lose track of time. Funny how focus changes to what is going to make you happy personally when isolated from "the real world". Sometimes all it takes is to make someone else happy to erase the feeling of void from your life. I won't make excuses for myself. I'm just going to do better. If I've learned anything in life, it's to grow and learn from my mistakes. I've made a lot of them and while I am haunted by my failures and sins, I do not hesitate to smile because I will not follow the same course.

    W.R.O.ng

    I only hold on to one thing
    Does that make me dumb, does that make me weak
    If it weren't for you would there even be
    This battle between my dreams and my reality

    And the War Raged On
    Inside my head

    Throw the script away when I hear your voice
    They're coming over the gates
    It doesn't bother me anymore
    If it weren't for you would there even be
    A difference between the fog of war and what I hope to be

  • 5 MAR 05 - Ummmm...well, the Italian hostage that was released is definitely not at the party. I just saw on the BBC that we "accidentally" shot and wounded her and killed an Italian Secret service agent today. She may be on the base but she's definitely not doing any partying tonight. Oops.

  • 4 MAR 05 - This afternoon it rained the hardest I've experienced since arriving here. The aluminum roof on our trailer - theme song to Deliverance goes through my head - was rattling and making sounds that not only woke me but made me wonder if a helicopter was about to crash and land in bed with me. The pinging of rain sounded more like softballs bouncing off of my ceiling than drops of water. I cracked the door open and was met with a harsh wind and a face full of water. Thunder struck and then it hit me. I have to pee. Are you kidding me? Forget about it, I got back in bed and spent the next half hour rolling around trying to ignore the feeling that my stomach was about to explode. The rain finally slowed down and I trampled through the mud, my flip flops quickly collecting mud. With every step I got taller, my feet got heavier and my flips less willing to stay on my feet. The tractor that only comes out when it rains was already busy displacing the growing puddles and pushing the slop around. I got back to bed and drifted like a sinking ship back to sleep. Cubs beat the A's 2-1 in their first outing. I watched Scarface before I went to sleep and am being sure not to walk around saying, "Meng" and "Cockaroacha". The Italians have their compound lit like Christmas, the music blaring and the buzz of alcohol influenced conversation is riding on the air like a wave of energy. I came in to work and learned the Italian hostage was released and the reason behind the exuberance emanating from the compound is a celebration. I wouldn't be surprised if she is there with them right now. Then again, she wrote for a communist paper, she may not be. Off to the studio!

  • 4 MAR 05 - I am watching Spring Training Baseball. The Cubs should be taking the field in Arizona right now. Baseball and music will be the driving force behind what is going to get me through the rest of this time. I'm recording every Mon, Weds and Fri. Now that baseball season is on, I'll be on ESPN and Cubs.com trying to follow every pitch. I would personally like to thank Sports Illistrated for keeping their jinx World Series predictions off of the Cubs this year. In fact, ESPN ranked the Cubs number 7 and if you know me, I couldn't be happier about that. I'm a strange cat but at least I know it.

  • 3 MAR 05 - May have found a new lifting partner at the gym today. Spent about a half hour BSing with a Marine named Leo. He seems like a nice enough guy; born, raised and Marined in San Diego. He's looking to get back in shape over the next month before his next Physical Training test and asked if I would work with him, so I said yeah. And so ends the short-lived 50/30. I'm going to stick with the most of it but if I'm going to work with him, my schedule flip flops and I'm not getting up early to run before work. I already hit the snooze on my phone a good three or four times before I roll out of the rack.

  • THIS JUST IN: doodododdodododdodo - We got a hand dryer in the bathroom! YES!

  • 2 MAR 05 - It took me 7 hours to get into my account but I'm in. Here's the lyrics to "Have I Not". Hope you like them. The February Journal has been archived and as always is available below. Tomorrow night brings another recording session and hopefully track 2 (W.R.O.ng). I'm going to try and create a playlist so that music will keep playing. It didn't work last time I tried but I know it work and I think I'm getting pretty close.

    Have I Not

    I woke up late to this feeling
    That something is different
    I couldn’t put my finger on it
    Just know that something is gone
    This rock in my belly sinks me
    This weight I’ve carried for years
    Feel the lines dig graves in my faith
    I find I’m chasing my fear

    I feel like I’ve been here before

    Someone cried for me but that someone is gone and something is missing from my life
    Somebody waits for me but I am so lost and I feel that I’m losing my mind
    Somebody prays for me to come back home but I’m still doing my time
    My soul is sleeping here
    Am I searching for you
    Have I lost my way

    A faceless procession of wonder
    A house on a beach holds a song
    Snow angels and a red velvet Jesus
    Cold vodka and then you were gone
    I could have lost myself in your eyes
    I could have clung to you in the sheets
    I could have woken my soul on your lips
    Instead I left you my ring

    I should have danced with you in the dark
    All I have now is what if and cash
    All these memories are lost in the tide
    And I’m drowning to bring them back
    Palm trees and sand in my shoes
    Just a blur of what could have been
    Your song is losing volume
    And I am lost in my head

  • 1 MAR 05 - WOOOOOOOOHOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! 29 Days and I'm outta here! I've been in what has been permanently dubbed, "Colonel's Office Studios" and I've been busting my butt to get the next tune recorded. I'm getting close. There is a lot more I can do with this tune as far as layering and the ideas are flowing so it might be about a week before I get it on but it's already sounding better than what you're hearing now. If you are on a dial up connection and not hi-speed, chances are you won't be able to hear the song. I'm still working on compressing the file enough to fit in my blog. I'll try to change the song up every week, so by March 7th or so, you should expect some new tunage either by me or recorded by. My buddy Matt of 238 came by tonight and we started laying down one of his tracks as well. I'm getting more patient now, so while "Have I Not" was thrown together, this next track won't be nearly as sloppy in structure or sound. As soon as I have run out of tunes that I've written here, I'll (re)record "Have I Not". I've had a request for the lyrics and I need to check one thing before I put them up here. Give me a day or so. Thanks for reading, listening and writing. Please e-mail me and give your honest opinion as I automatically like my own songs.

    FEBRUARY ARCHIVES

    Return to top

  • 28 FEB 05 - I've been a little out of the loop the last couple days and access to the site isn't working very well. I hope the tune comes through okay, if not, it shouldn't be long before I get it on to the Last DJ Blog and available for download. The 50/30 has begun and we be rollin. Other than that, SOS DD...more to come. Getting backed up with unexpected obstacles can slow a man down but I'm not out.

  • 24 FEB 05 - I got up this morning, stuffed all my excitement and anticipation into my pockets and head into work. The smile on my face had everything to do with looking forward to setting up my studio and recording at midnight. Midnight came and I went, only to find a locked door and nowhere else to go. WHAT? I couldn't believe it. That door has been wide open since the day I got here and the one night I need it to be open, it's locked up. I'm going hunting for Murphy and when I find him, I'm going to wrap my guitar deprived fingers around his weasly little neck and squeeze... Other than that, things are going pretty well. I'm out to seek new space.

  • 23 FEB 05 - There is a strong possibility that I have run out of interesting things to say. Other than the arrival of my gear, nothing has happened lately. I haven't had much on my mind outside of the already known stuff that I've been blabbing about for weeks now. I haven't had much to say in basic conversation with the people here either, so I'm either on quiet time or my brain has stopped functioning. It's a coin to toss.

  • 22 FEB 05 - Finally! I have all of the gear I need to start recording and every thing is working as it should be. I set it all up tonight and I must say that it (not necessarily I) sounds good. I'm very happy and am working through the first track right now. Once I get the hang of things and have it all set up the way I like...which shouldn't be long, I'll be pumping out tunes as often as possible. Wish me luck.

  • 21 FEB 05 - I've actually been busy at work tonight. I've been taking care of personal business and have also taken a number of calls that actually relate to work. The persistence of the people that call to scrape for answers to their own mistakes is rather annoying. It's funny how mad someone can get at someone else because they are scared to take the heat and responsibility for doing something stupid. This is the most unorganized company I have ever worked for. And now I'm at the point in my night where I just don't feel like typing much of anything else. I need to walk away from the computer for the rest of the evening. I'm going to take a walk, get some fresh air and by then breakfast should be open. As usual, I'm starving. Today I am forcing myself to sleep so I can refuel. I've been saying this for a week now but I'm hoping to be refresh and get back on a solid schedule so that I can roll right in to the 50/30.

  • 20 FEB 05 - The last week of February is here. This weekend has been action packed with hours of fun, to include: Eating, sleeping, the gym and work...aka: drudgery : ) This last month before vacation has brought a challenge to the table. 50 workouts in 30 days (Feb 27 to Mar 28)...total burnout. I am designing the challenge as I type (multi-tasking). It should be a horrible experience and I can't wait to get started. As a celebration for the upcoming, self-inflicted torture, I have been eating dessert this week. The caramel cheese cake was the best thing I've eaten since I left to come here. I even had pancakes and bacon...mmmmm, bacon. I figure that I may as well take two steps back before I completely destroy myself. As things stand now, we have agreed to run 4 miles a day, every day accept the day after legs and to do natural body weight work in the morning after work (abs, push/pull ups and dips). The abs work will be the only weighted exercise. Last week I was doing my decline sit ups and one of the 25 pound plates I hold on my chest slipped, smashed into my bottom lip and pushed my teeth into my lip, making a nice little hole (felt great). Night sessions will be the usual; Sunday - Chest/Tri; Monday - Legs, Tues - Bi/Back; Wednesday - Off; Thursday - Shoulders; Friday - Low weight/hi repetition/full body; Saturday - Off. Eight hours sleep, hydration, mass protein ingestion and stretching before, after and at miscellaneous times during the day is mandatory. I'm looking for a new homepage tune for March...someone needs to suggest or send me something. With any luck, maybe not so much for your ears...but in any case, I'm hoping my memory arrives some time this week. I should be able to get at least one tune recorded a day, depending on how easily the remaining parts form around the guitar and vocals. I'm also looking forward to playing and recording with Matt. His input and talent should prove invaluable. Back to my coffee.


    SPRING TRAINING IS ON!!! Let's go CUBS!!!

  • 19 FEB 05 - Another week down. Five to go and I'm going to be sipping Spanish wine and eating some of the world’s freshest seafood in a restaurant overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. Tapas, Martinis, hiking up Tibidabo, a breathtaking city filled with culture, history and beautiful architecture. All I can do is smile when I think about being there. Have a great weekend everyone. I've been spending the majority of my week here discussing politics and life with Mark. He has been introducing me to a lot of interesting information and sites. It has been refreshing and stimulating talking to him. It's good to have rekindled an old friendship, especially one that has always been such a positive influence for me. He's a good man and his family is good people as well. I'm happy to have him back in my life again. I've missed you brother. I know my writing has been pretty dark the last few days but I'm still in great spirits, am still happy with the way things are going and I do not regret for one second my decision to come here. I have bigger plans for my life than sacrificing one year here. This is nothing in the big picture but a stepping stone that is paving the way to my future. Anticipation of the road ahead gives me butterflies in the stomach.

  • 18 FEB 05 - My mind is a blur tonight. I am not lost in frustration but in content. I am so relaxed with my position in life and the direction that I am headed, I can't help but feel good. Everything is as it should be. Despite intense feelings of being homesick and wanting the future to be here sooner. I have found that this time alone in the desert and in my mind is good for me. This year is going to be a period of substantial personal growth and realization. I am learning with honesty the type of person I am and want to become. I am realizing that some of the dreams I've been carrying with me are not all dreams but a way of avoiding fear. Some of the dreams mask fears of failure, some are of losing my youth, some are of not making my mark with the time I have been given. As time passes, I find that all I want from life is to be happy, live with respect, integrity and passion and to know, love and enjoy my friends and family as much as possible. Following through is never as easy as the realization but I will try to maintain focus and to be a better man, father and friend.

  • 16 FEB 05 - What is it about good music, the kind that can tug on your sleeve and say come with me? I'm sitting somewhere in the middle of the Arabian Desert and by simply pressing a button I am in a world that fills me with a sensation similar to the good feelings that Christmas can bring. I close my eyes and immediately moved to a small, smoky jazz hole, sipping a Ketel One Martini made dirty. I'm swaying to some gritty voiced pianist thumbing out some old big band tunes. I'm in my apartment with the lights turned low, it's snowing outside but I have the windows cracked so that I can smell it. Candles dance in the breeze and cast eerie shadows across the wall while Dinah Washington sweetens each sip of wine and takes the anxious air out of me to replace it with a kiss of complete relaxation and release. Maybe I'm old fashioned, maybe I just love music a little too much but if I can press play and escape to some place inside myself that let's me dance to Aretha or lose my mind to Miles, you can call it what you want, I'm happy and I'll take it. “No, you can’t take that away from me.” – Ella Fitzgerald

  • 15 FEB 05 - Bear with me people...I've been feeling "melancolic". I go through phases here where I am drawn inside and become reclusive. I hit an emotional overload and when I don't have any more storage for my thoughts, I shut down, unable to express myself or speak to anyone. The words flow out of me in ink but the second I try speaking to someone else about how I feel or what I've been thinking, my mind speeds up, I become overwhelmed and feel like I've blown a fuse. I go limp and imagine myself as a puppet, the strings hanging loose and tangled all around me as my feet sway and my head stares blankly at my shoes. I got a shipment of jazz CDs in today and the music has released a lot of the pressure. It’s strange to feel like this. Iraq doesn’t bother me. This place is like a long and redundant vacation. It’s the overtime that my mind does being here that gets to me. This is my reboot, my warm start, my refresh and the jazz is putting everything in line, just the way it should be. Every time I drop and come back up, I become a little more aware, a little more humble and a lot surer of where I want this life to lead. Thanks to Ella, Coltrane, Monk, Aretha, Waits and all the other voices that maintain my sanity and keep the path illuminated for me to follow through the dark times. Thanks to my family and friends for dealing with my solipsistic periods. I’m aware of the self permeated drama but those that know me know that I wouldn’t be me without it. Introspection and music make the rhythm that I flow to and while the waters may get a little rough at times, it’s you all the keep me afloat.

  • UPDATE: Added to the Excellent Local Bands pages is TRANCE FURY RADIO
    This site is run my good buddy Mark Hlobil. Mark lives in Vegas and has been active in the writing of trance music. He is also known as Ghost In the Machine and had a number of songs go to the top of the charts on MP3.com and stay there. If he is airing the music on this Internet radio station, it is guaranteed to be the best trance out there and well worth the listen. Check out the site.


    Yeah, I just woke up...yeah, the mop on my head is out of control.

  • 14 FEB 05 - It's Valentine's Day here, so HAPPY VALENTINE'S EVERYONE. Um...didn't run the 10K, not because I was slacking but because they had it on the 12th and I thought it was actually going to be on the holiday (you would think), since it was called the Valentine's Day 10K. Who knew? So that's that. Love you all.

  • 13 FEB O5 - It's been well over a year since the apartment building fire. My legal participation for my role in the fire ended only days before leaving to come to Iraq. It isn't until recently through telling stories and talking to the guys at work that the fire has come back into my mind. Rather than try to tell them all the story, I have agreed to post the newspaper article on my website. The following is from the Chicago Tribune Archives...best wishes to all that went through that with me.

    --------------------
    1 dead, 10 injured, scores homeless after Uptown fire
    --------------------
    By John Biemer and Carlos Sadovi, Tribune staff reporters. Tribune staff reporter Sabrina Miller contributed to this report
    November 13, 2003
    Two hours before a four-alarm fire ravaged a North Side apartment building killing one and injuring 10 early Wednesday morning, Jeremy Brizzi was watching "The Godfather" with a friend surrounded by lit candles in the third-floor apartment where the blaze apparently began.
    He fears that after he left and returned to his unit in the same building in the 4500 block of North Malden Street in Uptown, the woman may have dozed off without blowing out the candles.
    "There was quite a few candles," he said.
    The fire, which was reported just before 3:30 a.m., left one woman dead, 10 injured--including three firefighters--and perhaps up to 100 tenants homeless in the four-story, E-shaped brick building. Fire officials had not yet determined a cause later Wednesday, but Fire Commissioner James Joyce said investigators were focusing on a rear third-floor apartment as the point where the blaze started.
    In May the building was cited by the city and ordered to correct "minor violations," including recharging fire extinguishers, placing smoke detectors in the hallways, replacing vestibule exit signs and putting a carbon monoxide detector in the building's laundry room, according to Buildings Department Spokesman Jack Beary. The building's annual inspection was conducted in August, and Beary said it appeared the repairs had been made.
    Residents in the 78-unit building awoke Wednesday to the sounds of alarms, breaking glass, shouting and neighbors pounding on their doors, urging them to get out. Many made it out through stairways, a few crawled out through windows and firefighters assisted some others down ladders.
    "It looked like small bombs were going off because fireballs were popping up through the roof," said Keith Survillas, who escaped his third-floor apartment.
    Firefighters found the dead woman in the hallway of the second floor, said Fire Department spokesman Patrick Howe. The Cook County medical examiner's office, which listed her age as between 20 to 30 years old, said she had not been identified as of Wednesday afternoon.
    Seven of the 10 people who were taken to area hospitals were treated and released by Wednesday afternoon. Of the three others, one person was listed in fair condition at Weiss Memorial Hospital; one person was in good condition at Illinois Masonic Hospital and another person was in critical condition at University of Chicago Hospitals.
    Two of the three injured firefighters were part of the Fire Department's rapid-intervention team making their initial attack through a wooden stairwell on the north side of the building, Howe said. It collapsed as they were between the first and second floors, he said. One suffered a twisted ankle and another some burns, Joyce said. The third firefighter was treated for smoke inhalation.
    About 130 firefighters and 10 ambulances in all were called to the scene, Joyce said, as flames shot from the roof. The fire was brought under control shortly after 5 a.m.
    The building was not fitted with sprinklers, nor was it required to be, but it did have smoke alarms that worked properly, Howe said. Some residents, however, said alarms in their individual units did not go off because they had not put in fresh batteries.

    Copyright (c) 2003, Chicago Tribune

  • 13 FEB 05 - Never in my life did I think I would ever look forward to Mondays. Weekends here are the slowest experience in time I have ever had to endure. I've invented new and slower ways to do the little amount of work that I actually have to do, in hope that I might be able to stretch things out for a bit - No such luck. By the time I'm done with the amount of work that I have to do, I still have 12 hours of shift left. Why? Because I don't work - Unless you count brewing coffee and checking e-mail, I haven't done more than an hours work since arriving here. Most people would flip me the bird and play the sarcastic finger violin for me but what they don't get is that I like to work. I enjoy learning. I want to do something that makes me feel useful. I can't handle sitting on my bum bum waiting for my next breath and clicking refresh in hope that one of my friends back home is having a weekend like mine so that I have someone to reply to. It's not the bombs and the gunfire that's going to drive me nuts; it's the sheer boredom of ritual nothingness. My life has become a series of countdowns. Let’s review! Upon arriving at work I start counting the time until midnight chow. After my return from chow, I begin my countdown until breakfast. After breakfast I watch the clock until eight and then I mark another day off of the calendar and that mark brings me one day closer to vacation one, vacation two and the end of my contract. I go to bed. My alarm clock wakes me and I start again. Am I complaining? Surprisingly no, this is not complaining. I’m still happy to be here. Am I venting? Yes sir I am. What’s the difference? I don’t care. Why? Because this is my website and I can say whatever I want. Am I full of it? Most likely. Do I care? Not really. Have I run out of stuff to say? You bet. Is this the end of my update? Yup! Have a good weekend everyone. I can promise nothing new or interesting from mine but I am still alive and doing well and that’s good enough for me. On the contrary, my buddy Mark works weekends as well and we have been talking more. It has been good to catch up with him. He and I have been friends since 5th grade and have kept in touch through the years, despite his move to Las Vegas and my addiction to war torn countries.

  • 11 FEB 05 - Another Friday, another night off, another day closer to vacation and home. I'm coming down with a cold and it promises to put up a decent fight. Of course the chow hall is still out of V8 and my 32 Vitamin Skim milk, so I'm running a little low on ammunition. I'm going to go straight to bed this morning, no second helping of the gym today. Hopefully if I take some cold medicine and crash for a good ten hours, I'll wake up and be better. I have to get my stuff together. I'm running the Valentine's Day 10K on Monday. It's been a while since I've run that far but it shouldn't be a big deal. It's not too late to get the ladies something guys. I'm just sayin is all. After the run, I'm heading over to Camp Slayer to meet with Chad again to down some coffee and baklava at Friends cafe. I can't wait - it's good stuff. Have a good weekend. Get out, do something, have some fun. You only live once. Following my cravings for food that has moisture, flavor and colors that don't make you flinch and say, "never seen anything like that before, wonder what it is?" Here's a recipe from a website that I continually tease myself with, FOOD. If you have never had Baklava, treat yourself. The first time I tried it was like 16 years ago with my Grandma Shirley and I have loved it since.

    Baklava

    12 dried calamyra figs, diced 1/4-inch
    1/2 cup dark rum
    1 1/2 cups toasted walnut pieces, chopped
    1 1/2 cups toasted unblanched almonds, chopped
    1 1/2 cups unsalted butter (3 sticks)
    4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, diced 1/4-inch
    1/3 cup sugar
    1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
    2 teaspoons ground cardamom
    1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
    1 (1 pound) boxes phyllo dough (about 48 sheets)
    Syrup
    1 cup sugar
    1 cup honey (preferably orange blossom), plus more for drizzling
    1/2 cup water
    Juice of 1 large lemon (about 3 tablespoons)

    Soak the diced figs in the rum in a large bowl for at least 30 minutes and up to 2 hours.
    Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
    Spread the walnuts and almonds out on a baking sheet and toast until darkened and fragrant, about 8 to 10 minutes. Cool. Toss the nuts, chocolate, sugar, and spices with the figs and the rum.
    Bring the butter to a simmer over low heat. Skim and discard the foamy solids that rise to the top until the butter is clear, about 8 to 10 minutes.
    Lightly butter a 16 1/2 by 11 1/2-inch sheet pan. Remove the phyllo from the package, unroll and lay it on the counter next to the pan and cover with a kitchen towel. Lay 1 sheet of the phyllo on the pan and brush lightly with butter. Repeat with 11 more sheets of phyllo working quickly and keeping the phyllo covered, as you assemble the baklava. Scatter 1/3 of the nut mixture (about 1 1/2 cups) evenly over the layers of phyllo. Repeat 2 more times and top with the remaining 12 sheets of dough. Carefully, cut 3/4 of the way through the phyllo and nut filling to make about 96 (1 1/2-inch) squares.
    Bake the baklava until light brown and cooked through, about 1 hour. Raise the temperature to 450 degrees F and bake until golden crisp, about 5 to 8 more minutes.
    While the baklava crisps make the syrup: Heat the sugar, honey, and water in a saucepan over high heat until the sugar dissolves. Add the lemon juice and carefully pour the hot syrup over the just baked baklava, making sure to get into all the cuts. Let cool. Complete the pre-made cuts in the baklava and serve with some honey drizzled on top.
    Store the baklava in a sealed container for up to 1 week.

    Copyright (c) 2004 Television Food Network, G.P., All Rights Reserved.

  • 10 FEB 05 - SOS DD! Exactly 7 weeks until vacation. Nice!

  • 9 FEB 05 - Everyday for the last week has been better than the previous. I don't ask for much out of life, just good music, good friends, good food and enough money in my pocket to live life. Today was no exception, even if I did spill hot water in my lap at breakfast (no one saw). SGT Redding or Matt as I know him came over to tell me about an outstanding solo musician that he thought I would enjoy. Actually he made the 15 minute journey because he knew I would enjoy the music and just had to tell me. Like I said it doesn't take much to make my day and the people that know me best are the ones that go out of their way to bring new music into my life. The artist is Rocky Votolato and I must say, Matt was right...this is some pretty good stuff. He sounds a lot like Pete Yorn or a less cheesy Goo Goo Dolls. Rocky used to play in Waxwing. In trade for his recommendation, I enlightened him to the music of Remedy For Ruin and he bit, in turn actually buying me a copy of the CD as thanks for telling him about the band. I can't take credit for Remedy for Ruin though, as they were brought to my attention by Kira. She's friends with the bass player and for what I've heard and the pictures I've seen, they put on a pretty intense show. Remedy for Ruin is a New York City based band that uses well structured harmonies and intricate guitar layering to pump out some intense music that I would describe as hardcore emo. I would love to get them together for a show with Rocky Denis. Check them out. While I'm at it, I want to let everyone know about a band that Matt used to play in, Two Thirty Eight - a Fort Walton, Florida based band that got pretty big and if you hear the music, you'll know why. While I am pimping out Matt's name, I may as well throw in a skim boarding magazine that he is involved with the production of, Forever Skim Magazine. Whether you know anything about the sport or not, this is a free on-line magazine and the publication and photographs are exquisite.

  • 9 FEB 05 - I actually did what I said I was going to do last night and it felt great. After the gym, I hung out in my trailer, watched a movie, at 5:30 had breakfast with boys from work, sat and read at the chow hall until 9AM and then hit the gym again and crashed. My life here is slightly repetitive but the days are passing and I can't help but look forward to everything I have waiting for me at the end of this. I got some unbelievable news, well, not unbelievable but great news from home. Malfunktion, my best friend’s band is opening for Rusted Root at the Rave/Eagle Ballroom in Milwaukee next month. I couldn't believe my eyes when I read the announcement. I couldn't be happier for them but I will admit that it comes to me as bittersweet news with a pinch of jealousy. I wish I could be there guys. You are opening for one of my top ten favorite bands and in Milwaukee’s top independent venue. You better bring it to the stage like I know you can...there's no holding back, leave it all out there - all the passion, sweat and energy. Lay it down hard. I'll be able to feel it from here.


    When you live in the dark...you wake up and think that you may have found God on the other side of the door.

  • 7 FEB 05 - I'm off of work tonight and I'm not staying here very long. Need to get out of the office, already here about 80 hours a week as it is. I'll be relaxing to some Jon Spencer Blues Explosion and reading if anyone needs to find me.

  • 6/7 FEB 05 - It's Superbowl Sunday and I'm working alone so everyone else can get out of here and watch the game. Tonight at dinner, everyone was being offered REAL beer. I couldn't believe my eyes when I walked in the door. The entire facility was packed with soldiers, each with their two beer limit and smiles grown from barley and hops. Bottles of Bud Light and Budweiser clinked, foamed and the empty bottles dominated the table space. The air was thick with the smell of relaxation. The younger soldiers drank their beers as quickly as possible in hopes of catching a little buzz and the older soldiers made them last, sipping from them like they were tasting freedom. Some of the smaller women were obviously feeling the affects by the way they were giggling. The volume of the room grew with noise, energy and a boom box blaring Bruce Springsteen singing "Born In the USA". The chow hall was only cigarette smoke and low level lighting away from feeling like a bar or at the least a VFW. In my head I could hear the Bloodhound Gang singing, "You're Pretty When I'm Drunk." I laughed to myself and filled my tray. Erik and I sat at the table with our regular meal and skipped the beer for Gatorade. I can't stand Gatorade but they are out of skim milk and I'm still pretty dehydrated from yesterday. (If only it were Budwieser in a can) In fact, my liver is pinching pretty badly. Weird. The chow halls have been running pretty low on everything as of late. Everyday the supply gets a little more diminished than the previous. Four days ago I could get my Kashi, my skim milk, a pile of fruit and my egg white omelet with everything. Today we were down to regular eggs. The water supply has been down for the last week. I don't know who orders the stuff that they get or if they found a warehouse full of water from the first war but it taste like moldy cardboard. We finally choked that down and then went about two days with no water at all. I'll never pretend to understand how the Army thinks when they order supplies. On that note, the Army has what is lovingly nicknamed the fat boy program, due to the amount of overweight soldiers. Obesity is a valid issue for the military even more so since it began to utilize the National Guard and Reserve soldiers for regular rotation in the Global Fight Against Terror. Why is it that the dining facilities are stocked full with donuts, ice cream, cakes, fried food and cereals made from sugar? The majority of my meals result in Oatmeal and salad because nothing outside of fried food, sugar and fat are on the menu. I don't mean to sound like Mr. Health Freak but I am an advocate of practicing what you preach and if you are going to scream at soldiers for having some dunlap, stop feeding them bacon cheeseburgers, fried chicken, chocolate shakes, cake and cookies. It's not rocket science.

  • 6 FEB 05 - I want to send an extra special thanks to Brenda Berg and her daughter Tara for sending a very generous box of gifts to me for distribution to the soldiers. I received the package yesterday and the picture below is of myself and the MWR(Morale, Welfare and Recreation) employee that accepted the gifts and will give them to the soldiers. I did give one of the gifts to a soldier that works in the office next to me and he opened it while I was there. It's people with hearts as open and generous as yours that rebuild my confidence in Americans. I couldn't believe the stash that you all put together. His eyes got huge and all he said is, "Holy cow man, this is great!" I looked in the box and you guys really overdid it. So on behalf of the soldiers here...thank you for caring and for the presents. They will definitely make a few soldiers day and spread some smiles.

  • 6 FEB 05 - I indulged today and paid the price. For the first time since arriving here, I went to Subway. To top it off Erik and I engorged ourselves on a bag of Tostitos and Con Queso(I'll bet money Jess is laughing at this). This is also the first time I've had bread (wheat) or chips since getting here. My body revolted and I've spent the last five hours trying to keep my stomach. I've already lost the battle once and I felt like I was going to roll over and die for a while. So that's that. No more crap food for me the rest of the time I'm here and probably ever. I'm trying to imagine living the rest of my life without the junk food and can't imagine not enjoying a Martini or pint of ice cream every once in a while. I'm going to have to reintroduce the poison to my body slowly.

  • 5 FEB 05 - It's the weekend and another day like any other. It rained again today and I now fully understand why it was that Noah needed a boat to get around in the desert. This place is rediculous when wet. I want to wish a very happy Birthday and issue an apology to one of my best friends, Ezra Feger. I didn't mean to miss your birthday brother, I'm just really bad with the dates. Don't take it personally, doesn't mean I love or miss you any less. You'll always be JUICE to the Double D! Ezra is my boy from College, the Army and now. Through it all he's been a great friend and always will be. I've hit another stumbling block along the road to recording. I need more RAM. One of these days I'll get my thing together. Bare with me people! The RAM is on order!

  • UPDATE:SHOP THROUGH ME I am setting up my affiliate programs that allow me to collect a commission on purchases made when using the links built into my site. I currently have Amazon listed and am working with Peets coffee and Musicians friends to list them as well. If you are going to buy on line, please take the extra minute to do so by going to the site through my affiliate links. Thank you and if you have on-line stores that you frequent that you would like me to make available, please e-mail me and I will do so. As this site grows, as does the monthly expense, any commission that I can collect will allow me to grow more and improve on this site. I have also made the site a bit more navigatable. Check the links on this page for changes and also within the Archives. I've also added some new pics to the Miscellaneous Album. There aren't many but some are better than none.

  • UPDATE: Just added is a new link to a coworker, friend and fellow Chicagoin. Meet Dave Gallas

  • UPDATE - Just added to the Excellent Local Bands page is Joan Baby - The Princess of the Blues Joan is a good friend of the recently added Dave Gallas. She's a Chicago Local and the real deal. Take a shot of James Brown, a shot of Eva Cassidy, put it in a shaker and pour. What you'll have is the funkiest, blusiest woman in Chicago and all the land that touches it.

  • UPDATE! Just added to the EXCELLENT LOCAL BANDS page is CREOLE STOMP In the band is Jennifer Hellmuth, an old friend of mine from way back when (uh...5th Grade). She's in the band with her husband and spends about 2/3rds of her year on the road. I'm hoping to get some of their tunes in The Last DJ, until then, check out the site and if you get a chance to see or hear their award winning performances, take it.

  • 4 FEB 05 - I don't have anything worth mentioning today so I'll leave you with the following quote that Jim Seguin sent to me. Thanks buddy.
    Words of wisdom from Cliff Claven:

    “Well ya see Norm, it’s like this… A herd of buffalo can only move as fast as the slowest buffalo. And when the herd is hunted, it is the slowest and weakest ones at the back that are killed first. This natural selection is good for the herd as a whole, because the general speed and health of the whole group keeps improving by the regular killing of the weakest members.”
    “In much the same way, the human brain can only operate as fast as the slowest brain cells. Excessive intake of alcohol, as we all know, kills brain cells, but naturally it attacks the slowest and weakest brain cells first. In this way, regular consumption of beer eliminates the weaker brain cells, making the brain a faster and more efficient machine. That’s why you always feel smarter after a few beers.”

  • 3 FEB 05 - The funniest thing to happen since arriving in Iraq - Terrorists take TOY soldier hostage as act of desperation. Either they are testing our intelligence, obtaining a sense of humor (doubtful) or they actually thought this would work...either way, I haven't stopped laughing and either have any of the soldiers I've talked to that were/are involved in the case. So thank you insurgents, thanks for the laugh...you made my week. GOOOOOO JOE! I haven't seen the footage on the news...but I know they held a plastic gun to his head. Were they at least smart enough to take him out of the box?

  • 3 FEB 05 - Received my bass and my drum machine today. All I need now is my XLR to USB interface gear and I'll be recording as often as possible. Let's just hope it all works the way it's supposed to. Something has to work right around here. I have been extremely clumsy this last couple weeks. I've been dropping, spilling, breaking, falling, tripping, slipping and having a time that would make Murphy say, "Damn, that guy has bad luck!" I'm hoping that this - meaning today - is the last of it, that my coordination comes back to me and that the dominoes stop falling. I live my life by the rule of three. All bad things happen to me in three and well, if you add up all the little stuff with the few big things I'm choosing not to put on the Internet....I think I'm on 9 or 10 for the last two weeks. Once I break this trend, I should (knock on wood) be good for a while. I better be. That's the news of the day. I'm happy to have my equipment and can't wait to get rolling with the new tunes. All the computers but this one are down today, so I'm off to let the others on. Cheers!

  • 2 FEB 05 - HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO MY GOOD FRIEND LYNDSY...LOVE YA AND MISS YOU. SORRY SHELLEEN, HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU TO. LOVE YA!

  • Hey Baker, is the new motto for the Cubs going to be, "It'll be all white, there's always next year?" Hollandsworth, Dubois and now Burnitz....I'm a little nervous...you? I don’t want to make this a racial thing but with Dusty Baker as the coach – referring to Dusty’s flagrant comments on the color of men and their ability to play better in temperate climate – I can’t help but wonder what’s going on. The Cubs are going to have to invest in some more Sun block this year, I know that much. Please, let that be the only way we get burned! Let's hope the Burnitz can get the K's down under a hundred, otherwise he's going to look a lot like Sosa if you locked him in the basement for a couple years - which, personally doesn't sound like a bad idea if you ask me. Okay, before I start sounding like I’m prejudiced, which I’m not, let’s get on to evaluating how my heart is going to fare this coming season.
    How are we really looking? What are our chances at three continuous – being the key word - winning seasons?
    We have this new pickup from the trade...Jerry Hairston Jr. (a south side boy…uh oh)...who shows promise with his speed as a lead off man and should lighten the load for Patterson to not have to change styles. I can see Patterson as a strong guy a little lower in the order...but I really don't know what to think about this. It's a tough line up to set.
    So we have Lee...power, we have Walker and he's solid, we have Nomar and he supposed to be back at 100%, which could mean superstar caliber, we have Aramis...which is God's gift to 3rd base, and we have a great catcher and hitter in Barrett, we have Blanco whom I’m glad to say is providing a much needed comfort zone for the legend that is Greg Maddux. Zambrano is a fireball and has matured quickly. If Woody and Prior are healthy, can stay that way and have been studying with Greg all of the off season...who knows what are starting pitching can accomplish. Hollandsworth looked great until he got hurt...will he be the same 300+ average guy as we saw in those 40+ games that he covered for Sneezy? And then...our closers...Here we go! Guess what...the weakest link(s) to the team isn't looking any better than it did last year. I’m sure Clement was glad to go after having to with the record our closers handed him. Rusch was “reliable but nothing close to stellar and you know as well as I do that he probably just got really, really lucky like Jo Bo did two years ago. I'm hoping what they are saying about Hawkins is true in that he was in too much of a hurry to pitch last year but will he calm down and will it make a difference that wins games this year. The Farns was wild all year and sometimes he was spot on and untouchable. Will he bring his 100+ fastball arm to the mound and...did he make any adjustments to prepare or are we still going to be watching the last three inning of each game with our eyes shut in hope that they don't squander every one run lead that we have. Seriously, if we could get back half of the games that we lost to our relievers last year, we would have had more wins than the Cardinals. Speaking of the Cardinals…GO BOSTON!!!
    So, it's looking like we still have some pretty potent sluggers in Lee and Ramirez. We still have to wonder about our other (potential) sluggers in Burnitz and Patterson. We still have our solid players in Barrett and Walker and then we still have to wonder; will the team stay healthy or will the DL look like our starting line up again? Will our seemingly lucky players prove that the good play from the year before was just that and here no more? Will Maddux be terrible in the first half even with his new catcher? All these questions will begin to form their answer in a few weeks. Scared, nervous, excited...you bet! Hold on to your beer and your foam fingers my friends....the Cubs 2005 season is almost here and it's not looking to be any more relaxing this year than in any of the previous…uh, shall we say 98! LET'S GO CUBS!!!!!

  • 2 FEB 05 - Happy Groundhog's Day...ah, the irony of it all! EVERYDAY IS GROUNDHOG'S DAY. A groundhog comes out of its hole, takes a look around and that's supposed to determine the change of seasons? If you say so. In celebration of this day, I am going to go to the gym a couple times, the chow hall a few times, work, read some and then go back to bed. I'm listening to Miles Davis, Live at the Fillmore and I think my coworkers have had just about enough. It's not exactly easy listening...this is some dirty jazz! I received my Willy Wisely CD in the mail and if any of you like Indie Pop, you'll love this guy. I'll vouch for him. It's tongue in cheek tunes with an upbeat feel, some very skilled composition and a load of gorgeous guitar work. Check his site out for a free listen. Willy is a friend of a friend from LA, a great guy and he puts on a show that overflows with energy and passion for the music he makes! I received my Christmas present from Nate and Deirdre Shugart today. Thanks a lot guys. I love the blanket and believe me I've been freezing my ace off over here.(But it's the desert?) The cookies and "stuff" are going to be shared with everyone in the office. Thanks for everything, I and my coworkers appreciate it all. You two are the best. For those reading that don't know the Shugarts. Shu and Deirdre have been like family to me for the last seven years. Nate was my peer in the Army, my roommate in Bosnia , my neighbor, coworker at Universal Access and more than anything else, he's been like a brother to me always. Bring on the lovefest...it never seems to end. Can't help it if I'm a cheeseball, always have been, guess I always will be but hey, I love you guys. The pics I've around this update are from the new palace I just moved into...you thought my first place in Chicago was small. "Anybody room?" It's comfortable though and I can't explain how good it feels to sleep in a bed again.

  • 1 FEB 05 - The biggest smile I have ever seen spread across the face of PFC (Private First Class) Fay tonight. With flush cheeks and a voice amplified by pure joy he greeted and wished farewell to everyone that he recognized. I met him for the first time this evening at the chow hall. Not long from now, Fay will be on an airplane and headed home. His year here in Iraq has passed and he couldn't be happier. He was practically dancing in line while he received his food. I meet and talk to a lot of people that are leaving but not one of them nearly as ecstatic as he. What makes our brief acquaintance all the more interesting is that he calls Oregon, IL home. I asked him if he hunts and referred my father’s taxidermy shop to him (A Vision Taxidermy) This just happens to be the same town that I spent a lot of my childhood weekends living. This is the town my Dad and Step Mom live in. To stoke the flame a bit, I started rambling off things I know about Oregon, places I have been and things I have seen. The more I talked to him about home, the bigger his smile grew and the brighter his eyes became. The short amount of time I spent getting to know the Private reminded me of what I miss most about the Army. I miss the soldiering aspect. I miss having young Joes under my care and looking to me for advice and leadership. Of course I miss being in charge but more than that, I miss being able to lead and take care of my subordinates. PFC Fay reminded me of PFC Hartung. PFC Craig Hartung was in my section in C Co. 10th Signal BN, Fort Drum. Hartung had that same goofy smile 24 hours a day. I miss that kid. He wasn't the brightest light on our team but he was a good guy. How he managed to bounce 37 checks in two weeks I'll never know but I'm not surprised by any means. His team chief and I worked countless hours on the phone with creditors and accounting departments trying to clear his name. This is also the same kid that I had to rescue from a Cult Religious house that was acting only to steal money from the gullible and the innocent lost few. He had moved in without telling anyone and was giving his entire paycheck to their church. He slept in a room with three other soldiers and the excuse used for their terrible living conditions is that is was Gods will for them to live without. I thought the lady running the house was going to jump on my back and claw my eyes out when we barged into her house and grabbed her newest soul saver. It took us hours of counciling and talking to explain that he was being taken advantage of. I’m not trying to say that Fay is anything like Hartung, just that they are both characters in the movie I call my life. Both have crossed my path and made me smile – maybe not quite as big as theirs but big enough. It’s the good, generous and uplifting people that I meet in this world that allow me to keep my head up and believe that this life is an amazing gift. Thanks to PFC Fay for your service and great attitude. Good luck on your journey home and in your future. You shook my hand twice tonight when you left and that’s all I need to know that you are a genuinely good guy. I could feel it in your grip and see it in your expression. I wish the best to you. Hartung, if you’re out there and you happen to read this…don’t get mad at me man, you know how you were but I also know that you are a great guy and I miss you brother. What’s past is passed and is funny now. Hope you are doing well. Welcome to February 2005.

    How happy is the blameless vestal's lot! The world forgetting, by the world forgot. Eternal sunshine of the spotless mind! Each pray'r accepted, and each wish resign'd ~ Alexander Pope

  • 1 FEB 05 - It's February 1 and what better way to start the month than with a day off. As you can see below, I have made some updates. Check them out. Dave's writing is interesting and well written. With the elections behind us, my mind has allowed for the release of some of the weight I had been carrying. I'm pretty excited about this month, not only because it's short but also because I have been working hard on a few of my projects and things are really beginning to come together. I have just finished writing my fourth song since arriving here and am expecting my recording gear to arrive this week as well. My graphics designer and good friend Brian Weese has notified me that he expects to have the cover completed for the book some time this week and from there we roll through the final, final checks and then it's time to print. I am trying to arrange the printing around my July vacation, so that I can be home for the delivery. So, that's the news...all is well, things are rolling along nicely and you can all expect some music, reading and more from me than ever before in the coming weeks. I don't know how good it's going to be but it's me just the same and it's all I am, so take it or leave it - or humor me, smile and nod. Either way, it's coming.

    JANUARY ARCHIVES

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    31 JAN 05 - All I have to say for today is that I'm glad that midnight tonight is the end of January and that there are only 28 days in February. Bring on March. The elections as most of you probably already know were a success. Congratulations to the Iraqi people and to the soldiers that made its success possible.

    30 JAN 05 - Today is the day. I walk to work in the dark every night but this evening the air felt different. Over the last few nights fog has been forming that hangs on until morning before finally being burned off by the rising sun. In the dark, the fog is a thin white haze that makes passing soldiers on the street feel like walking by ghosts. Everyone is anxious and quiet. The usual greetings given in passing go left unsaid. I couldn’t see the faces of the soldiers I passed, just the outline of the uniform complete with flak jacket, M16 and helmet. It’s a strange feeling. I have to admit that I feel like a prisoner here sometimes but tonight gave me more a feeling that I was lost in a different world or a ghost town. Everyone seems to be overloaded with thoughts of the unknown. Midnight dinner and breakfast are the only hot meals being provided. Sitting at dinner tonight, the volume of the room was a whisper compared to most meals. There is an intense expression of concentration and wait hanging on the faces of everyone. The dining facilities have been closed for lunch and dinner. MREs (Meals Ready to Eat) have been provided. I don’t eat the MREs (had my fill in the Army), not that they don’t taste good but because they are a brown bag loaded with saturated fat, cholesterol and preservatives. At breakfast I stock up on fruit, stabilized milk(radiated to last years) and Kashi (a really good cereal ) It’s a strange and exciting time to be here. The curious part of me wishes I could be downtown to witness the Iraqi people exercising their freedom for the first time. Security, promises and sanity keep me from being able to so. Being on the base is safe but I don’t like the isolated feeling of it all - then again, sometimes I do. I’m only a wall away from a city full of people attempting to rebuild a nation. 18 inches of concrete makes me feel as if I’m thousands of miles away. Right now we are on the edge of history. It’s being written with every second that passes. The general sentiments from the voices of the Americans I’ve listened to here express a wish of good luck and hope to the Iraqi people. For those of you that pray, please keep them in your thoughts this weekend.

    28 JAN 05 - As usual, every time that I predict I won't have time to update the site, are the times I get stuck at work when I'm not supposed to be here and have nothing better to do with my time. I'm actually going to get out of here pretty quick, hit some chow, the gym and then go back to my trailer to study. I had a long conversation with Erick today, had a few reality checks about the economy and what I have to look forward to after this year. Needless to say, I am excited about what the future has in store for me but for the first time in my life I'm scared as well. I've never walked so blindly into the future of my career and I have to admit that it's freaking me out a little. Time will tell. Until then, all I can do is prepare and hope for the best.

    28 JAN 05 - Hey everyone, have two seconds to write...busy night. Want to wish my Dad a happy birthday. Love ya Dad. Probably won't be around much at all this weekend, for real this time. If I can get on to write, I will - If not, talk to you all on Monday or Tuesday. Have a great weekend.

    26 JAN 05 - How could I forget the most important thing to happen to me since I arrived here? I ran into Geraldo Rivera at breakfast this morning. He was in front of me when we were washing hands. I was getting mad because he was taking so long to wash his hands. When he turned around, all I could think is, Holy cow, that's Geraldo. And then he accidentally bumped into me. While we ate I had a line of sight view to him and realized that not so long ago we had kicked him out of the here for reporting the location of our troops during battle. He must have payed someone off or done his time to be here during the elections. I hope he enjoys downtown Baghdad. It's a real nice place to be right now. Every once in a while he would crack a huge smile and I started thinking that he looks like a crossed breeding of Saddam Hussein and Santana. Huh. I don't want to say anything mean about the man. I don't know him. He seems nice enough - Mike on the other hand really wanted to see how he would react if we threw a chair at him. Just for the record, I and none of my coworkers are of any threat to Geraldo or anyone else for that matter.

    26 JAN 05 - Started moving into my trailer today. It's small but a whole lot better than the tent and Erik has cleaned things up pretty nice. Other than forgetting about the banana I had put in my pocket and crushing it with the box I carried over from the tent...today was a good day. Didn't realize that the time didn't keep on my alarm clock even though I have battery back up and was an hour late for work tonight. It didn't make much of a difference. I'm just a fixture on the wall to this place. As Erik put it, we're like pictures that no one notices. If you take us down, some one might get the feeling something is missing but never really be sure what it is. Rip the page off the calender, another day is done.

    25 JAN 05 - HAPPY BIRTHDAY JOE

    25 JAN 05 - In the last two days five new soldiers have moved into my tent. Tomorrow morning after work I will be moving in to my trailer. The buildup of troops has become obvious in the last week. The gym, showers and now the tents are constantly filled with people, most of them new. Some of the people just getting here are coming back for their second or third tour. This isn't just a deployment anymore either, soldiers are now PCSing (Permanent Change of Station) here to fill positions for up to a year and a lot of the time, even longer. I use my military ID as my primary source of identification. Generally, using it instead of my civilian ID makes my life here much easier to live. Yesterday was the first time that it backfired on me. Last night while being checked by the guard for access to the dining facility, the soldier asked if I have any weapons, to which I replied that I do not. "But Sergeant" she says, "You have to have a weapon. I can't let you in without your weapon."
    "I don't have a weapon at all. I don't carry one. I'm in the reserves but am here as a civilian"
    The deer in the headlights stare made it obvious to me that she was totally confused now and didn't know what to do. It's always something different with the new people. Someone always forgets to provide all the exceptions or fill in the grey spaces when briefing the replacements. The way things were looking now, I wasn't going to eat unless I found my way to downtown Baghdad to buy an AK-47. Why do I need a weapon to eat overcooked chicken? I kept the question locked behind my lips and tried again to explain to her that I'm in the reserves but am here as a civilian. Her eyes went completely blank. I waited for her head to tilt sideways to complete the lost puppy transformation and for a cartoon noise like a trombone slide to sound. In my head I could see the light bulb flickering and then going out completely above hers. Her supervisor, a staff sergeant came over to see why the line was no longer moving and to save her from the group of people behind me now voicing there explanation to why it is okay for me not to have a weapon. The Sergeant looked at my ID, looked at me, told me I'm good and then pulled her to the side to fill in the blanks. I choked down the chicken and drank my fat free radiated long life milk. I ate my salad and stared longingly at the cakes, pies and cookies. I shook hands with some of the Indian chow hall employees, shared our broken conversation of smiles and gibberish (complete with translation assisted body language) and returned to work. I am happy to say that I am finally settling in here with the everyday faces. The door greeter and I try to be the first to say good morning, smile, laugh and shake hands. The gentlemen that makes my omelets begins pouring my egg whites the second he sees me now and the floater makes his way to me every meal to say "Good morning Sir." or "Good day sir.", to which I ask how he is today, shake his hand and smile. He replies with a "Very good sir." and then stands and smiles until he can figure out another English phrase to try. Most of what he says comes out like he is talking around a mouth full of marbles but he never loses the smile. Smiling, I nod and say yes to him but have no clue as to what he actually said to me. In return I say something like, "You ever get a day off?" or "Don't work too hard." or "It sure is cold outside today." to which he smiles and eventually says "Very good sir." It took five minutes and three of them for me to find out that they are from India. I came back to work and started searching the Internet for phrases that I could learn and share with them but was halted by a number of dialects and no understanding of the pronunciation. I'm going to find a guy with a better grasp of the English language to see if I can get some information. Until then my days will be, smile, shake and nonsense.

    24 JAN 04 - It has come to my attention that the music playing right now - Malfunktion / Life's a Beach was dedicated to me. To show my appreciation, I am posting "Grace", one of the writings meant to be kept hidden until the release of the book covering my year here...journals, writings, lyrics and so on. Thanks for the dedication and even more for playing the tune. I've been waiting for it and I love it. It hits me like a ton of bricks. Why I enjoy that feeling, I'll never know.

    Grace

    All my friends are spinning winds that wrap around my mind
    They travel all across this land, a home in every sip of whiskey
    I can hear their words blow across this desert
    See their tears fall and make the rain
    A flood is coming to carry me home
    There’s a storm brewing
    The water will soon be raging

    Will you take me up in your thunder and sing me to sleep in your altar
    Hold me until morning and when the gray sky opens, I’ll feel something that I’ve been
    without here
    I’ll be met with roaring laughter and singing
    I’ll return hope given on loan
    When the water recedes and I can breathe again
    I’ll feel your breeze and hang up my coat

    Stale cigarette smoke and floors sticky with beer
    Legs driven by rhythm and wicked with temptation
    Negatives of photographs not yet developed and piles of bottle cap flash marks still fresh
    in our eyes
    We flock to the sounds made by dissipated frustration
    And congregate in only the way that we know to celebrate our luck

    All my friends are dreams that keep me alive
    In all the disappointments, served one heaping spoonful at a time
    I’m returned to them
    Our time together spills over with joy, elapses like a short cut
    Like flipping the pages of a book
    The words staying one page ahead at all times but never a race
    A comfortable perfection, like sustain
    ~Jeremy Brizzi~



    Please welcome Puddy Seguin, the newest member of the Seguin family and definitely(No offense Jess)the custest. Congrats guys, you finally got your Bernie! He's adorable.

    24 JAN 2005 - This week brings the end of January, the elections and another debt defying paycheck. I cannot wait until this month is over. I finished reading, what ended up being a rather disappointing book in Goose Music. The main story was unique, provoked thought and kept my interest but I made the mistake of reading the epilogue and in that totally destroying any validity or value that I had found in the book. Oh well. - Turn 180 degrees - I have two tent mates. You all know Bebe but I have yet to introduce the Major. Steve(The Major) is in the Airforce and is a genuinely nice guy. He has made my stay here more interesting and I admire his dedication to his beliefs, education, family and his country. He is a good man and I am glad to have met him. I'll be sure to get a picture with him before he heads home next month. Steve has been studying for his Masters and is trying to complete his course work before he leaves so that upon his return, can dedicate his time off to his children. He works no less than 12-14 hours a day, everyday, comes back to the tent, studies the Bible and then hits the books. He has unintentionally provided motiviation for me and I appreciate that. I look forward to shaking his hand and wishing him well when he heads home. - Turn 180 degrees - The sky opened today and the ground began to dry. Most of the land is still logged with water and small ponds. The trailer area that I was assigned to last week but have not yet made my way over to is knee deep in water and has showed no signs of receding. Once the land dries and the mud makes its transition back to sand (something we still don't understand), I will start trickling my belonging to the new pad. I'll be sharing the 8X12 space with Erik. Other than that, not much else is new, just counting the days, living and eating right and trying to keep myself busy. Hope all is well on your side of the world. 75% to go!

    23 JAN 2005 - It's official now. I have less than 9 months left in this place! It rained and the wind blew hard all day. When I left my tent to make the walk to work, I couldn't find a path to the street that didn't involve treading through ankle deep mud. Most of the streets and sidewalks weren't much better, either slick with mud or detouring my travel with roadblocks of ankle deep water. The rain has since ceased but the weather channel predicts another sprinkling tomorrow. Another sprinkling and I'll be swimming to work. This rainfall is by no means a down pour but with an 18 inch water table and no drainage, this place turns into a swamp within hours of some light precipitation. The weather may be morose but I am in great spirits. Back to the books, have to get my studying done if I ever expect to be smarted than I is now.

    21 JAN 2005 - With the Iraqi elections quickly approaching (30 JAN), thought some of you might like to know more about how they are being conducted. If so, check this link - BBC ELECTION INFORMATION
    It's been another laid back day. I spent some time over at Slayer base, enjoyed a few Cappuccino with my buddy Chad, had some really good Bachlava and am now struggling through the rest of my shift, fueled by coffee and three hours sleep. Tomorrow is my day off and I'm looking forward to the time away from the office. Have a great weekend everyone.

    21 JAN 2005 - UPDATE - NEW RANDOM PICS

    20 JAN 2005 - It's my short night. I have finally been assigned a trailer and am moving out of the tent tomorrow. I'm looking forward to sleeping in a real bed. I'm also heading over to Slayer to visit a friend from Texas that is here with me. We're going to get some coffee at the cafe' they have there and catch up. He's a good guy, Chad Long from South Dakota. I didn't think anyone actually lives in that state but I've been proven wrong. Bush is getting sworn in to office again some time today and all I have to drown my sorrows in is Non-Alcoholic brew and caffeine. I think I'll spend a couple extra hours in the gym.

    19 JAN 2005 - So it's been quite a bit quieter this week than expected. It's definitely been busy but everyone here is doing what they're supposed to and things are flowing smoothly, which allows me to carry on in my normal manner. We had a wind storm today and I slept like a baby. I'm looking forward to being home. The first chance I get to sit and watch it rain, I'm going to open the windows, make some coffee and just stare at the world outside. I can't imagine anything more relaxing than that right now. When it rains here, I make due by opening the flap to my tent , sitting just inside and playing some guitar for a while before I go to bed. I miss running in the rain. The roads here get too slick from the sand, dirt and dust. Winter here is like Fall back home and I know I've said it before but Fall is my favorite season in Chicago and I can't get enough of it. Being here and feeling like this is a bit of a tease but if I close my eyes and block out the war from my head, I can hear the Cubs fans cheering at Wrigley and see the water crashing over the breakers on Lake Michigan. I can taste Chicago's pizza, Mangino's Italian Beef and a Chicago style Hot Dog with everything on it. I imagine myself sitting at The Bar on Buena with a few good friends and celebrating over nothing in particular to a few of the best Martinis in the city. I can hear Mr. Blotto, Malfunktion, Souls For Rent, Rocky Denis and all of the music made by people that I call my friends perfectly inside my head. Yeah, I'm looking forward to getting home. The lyrics posted after this are from what I have deemed the soundtrack to my time here. Call me introspective, call me a fool but I'll always be me.

    Sitting here in Limbo
    Waiting for the tide turn.
    Yeah, now, sitting here in Limbo,
    So many things I've got to learn.
    Meanwhile, they're putting up a resistance,
    But I know that my faith will lead me on.

    Sitting here in Limbo
    Waiting for the dice to roll.
    Yeah, now, sitting here in Limbo,
    Still got some time to search my soul.
    Meanwhile, they're putting up a resistance,
    But I know that my faith will lead me on.

    I don't know where life will take me,
    But I know where I have been.
    I don't know what life will show me,
    But I know what I have seen.
    Tried my hand at love and friendship,
    That is past and gone.
    And now it's time to move along.

    Sitting here in Limbo
    Like a bird ain't got a song.
    Yeah, I'm sitting here in Limbo
    And I know it won't be long
    'Til I make my getaway, now.
    Meanwhile, they're putting up a resistance,
    But I know that my faith will lead me on.

    I don't know where life will take me,
    But I know where I have been.
    I don't know what life will show me,
    But I know what I have seen.
    Tried my hand at love and friendship,
    That is past and gone.
    And now it's time to move along.

    Gonna lead me on now.
    Meanwhile, they're putting up resistance,
    But I know that my faith will lead me on.
    Sitting in Limbo, Limbo, Limbo.
    Meanwhile, they're putting up a resistance,
    But I know that my faith will lead me on.

    Jimmy Cliff - Sitting In Limbo // The Definitive Collection


    18 JAN 2005 - Quiet day today and decided to try and squeeze in a quick update. It's going to be hectic around here but I'll do what I can to keep things rolling. Stumbled over a couple new Joes that had moved into my tent in the middle of the night. I woke this afternoon to them trying to get ready in the dark. I don't know if they were respecting my sleep or if they couldn't figure out how to turn the lights on...to their credit, the lights here aren't normal. I talked with them for a few minutes. They had just arrived from Fort Bragg. The Private was nervous, young and quiet, didn't seem if he was sure that he was allowed to talk to me and the Sergeant must have just gotten pinned or really loves being a soldier - he answered every question with a "Hooah". I've been there but it's all a little to gung-ho for me these days. At the same time, I wanted to take the Private under my wing and tell him to relax. Just as I lay down in cot, the helicopters began to make their morning runs using the invisible freeway over my tent. As usual, they came low and loud; the private startled awake from his sleep and just about shook out of his bunk. I shot a grin through the dark and closed my eyes. Sleep was good today and when I woke, just as quick as they had come, the two are gone. Good luck guys!


    "You better take care of me, Lord. If you don't you're gonna have me on your hands." - Fear N' Loathing in Las Vegas

    16 JAN 2005 – The middle of January – finally! Today was a very good day, absent of sleep but good. Being off of work last night I stayed in the gym an extra half hour, watched “Collateral” - Tom Cruise and Jamie Foxx – A pretty good movie with a great soundtrack (some pretty funky jazz). Went to 5:30AM chow with everyone from work and then head over to the Martin Luther King Day 5K at 7AM. I finished 10th or 11th, not 100% sure of my placing because I left before results were announced. I also shaved a minute and sixteen seconds off of my last time and came in at 20m 14 sec, not too bad with the way my back muscles were twitching (excuses). All in all it felt pretty good. Not two seconds after I crossed the finish line I left my breakfast in the gravel. Oops. I hit the shower and head back to breakfast for a refill. After breakfast I was still wide awake so I played some guitar which resulted in the second song I’ve written since arriving here. I’m just putting some finishing touches on the lyrics, messing with a bridge and tweaking some chord changes. If the rest of my recording equipment ever arrives, I’ll get the songs recorded and onto the site. After I finished playing, I wrote for a while and then tried to crash. Sleeping has been a challenge as of late and today was no different. My efforts were stunted with obstacle after obstacle of noise. The helicopters I’m used to, the jets and planes I’m used to, the traffic I'm used to, the mortars I'm used to, the man with the bullhorn driving around the base screaming “GO INFANTRY!” and bellowing to every person in passing, “HEY SOLDIER, ARE YOU INFANTRY?” I'm not used to. A reply of “AIRBORNE” is returned, to which the bullhorn blasts, “HOOAH!” “HEY SOLDIER, ARE YOU INFANTRY?” This time a reply of, “NO, BUT I’M AIRBORNE!” was shouted back. “WELL IF YOU AIN’T INFANTRY, YOU AIN’T NOTHING, BUT AIRBORNE WILL HAVE TO DO. THERE’S STILL HOPE FOR YOU!” This went on and around the base for a good fifteen minutes, half hour, I don’t know. Time was lost to me in every way possible. I got to the point in my doze that I couldn’t tell if I was awake, sleeping or trying to convince myself that I was sleeping. And then came the engines roar, like someone laid a brick on the accelerator of a semi and walked off. I kept telling myself that I’m sleeping and that I can’t hear this monster dying outside my tent. And then Bebe started tapping on my bunk. “Hey, Mon, wake up, we got to get out of here.” His Ethiopian gone Italian accent gave off an inflection mixed with sleep and concern. I sat up, put on my flip flops and moseyed out into the late afternoon sun. My eyes snapped shut in the light and I had to peel them open to try and see what was going on. “They putting up cement Mon, they are going to drop it on your head.” Around the corner sat the screaming dinosaur, ill with the wait of the new bunkers being laid out. The screaming is the engine of the machine used to pick up the large concrete structures. The shelter was already on the floor and already disconnected. I stumbled my way over the rocks and back into the tent to make another go at this whole sleeping fad. Almost four o’clock, I closed my eyes and drifted off. An hour later my alarm clock is buzzed and chirped at me. I reached down off of my cot and punched the snooze…ten minutes later, beep, chirp and punch…ten minutes pass…beep chirp and click. I don't remember the click. I can only assume that is when I turned off the clock in my half sleep and bypassed my allotted gym time. At seven I stretched woke naturally, uttered a few choice words under my breath and head to the shower. On my way to the shower tent I passed a group of soldiers grilling steaks and drinking some near beer done Heineken style…mmmmm. The cool night air carried the smell of the grill directly to my nose and the sound of music outside felt like home during a chilly summer night or just about any weekend spent back home with my friend in the fall. I walked unnoticed past them, under cover in the dark and so began my day…just another day in paradise. I can’t complain about the way things are going here and I’m getting by just fine. This is an interesting place filled with intriguing people that like to complain a lot until you find a way to put their minds in a different place, one that gives you a little insight as to whom they are in the real world. Things have been moving pretty quickly around here the last few days and I may not be able to get on the computer to provide an update. If you don’t hear from me much this week, it’s only because I can’t make it to the keys, no other reason. “Life is a pain in the ass but it’s better than the alternative.” – J. Brizzi

    15 JAN 2005 - Will be out of the office today and most of the 14th...update was written in advance. I have the night off and a Martin Luther King 5K to run on Saturday. Have a splendiferous weekend...don't like that word, try splendiferiffic.

    14 JAN 2005 - Let's see...we have a new coffee maker at work. My beard is getting very fuzzy and very annoying but I still like it. Things have been slow lately and while the majority of the time here seems to stand still, the days and weeks have been passing nicely. Things are smooth. My tent has become my home away from home away from home. The food has remained the same but my tolerance to it has finally accepted its bland and moisture free nature. The showers have finally been fixed and are hot almost daily. I haven't been able to find much motivation to take pictures and to be honest, there isn't much left here to take a picture of - the palace is really all that remains and I will get there some day. I've been paying about 4K off of my debt every month and will be debt free by May, if not sooner. Vacation is creeping closer and I am getting more and more excited to get out of here for a while. The gym has become a mild obsession and I'm still in there twice a day most days of the week. I’m still a skinny guy, always will be but I feel great. My friends and family have continued to write, show support and send love to me and that's made being here bittersweet but comfortable. I have been discovering my strengths and weaknesses as they reveal themselves to my tendency to live inside my head. I have been writing a lot in journals, escaping to this site and am getting more excited about goals I grow closer to. My book has hit a delay in that I have decided to seek out a different printer. My music has been suffering in that I don't have much inspiration here, in fact I've only written one song since arriving. I have cut some weak ties and built on connections with those around me and some afar. All in all, I haven’t accomplished as much as I would have liked to in these first three months but I am happy, alive and things are going well. Thanks to everyone for reading and for dealing with my little dose of daily insanity.


    Marblehead everyone, Everyone Marblehead!

    13 JAN 2005 - Had a dream last afternoon (I sleep during the day) that I was at the zoo watching Shay wrestle a bunch of Emporor Penguins. I sat on the other side of the glass, snacking on something and talking to a friend while we watched them roll around and laugh. Apparently Eric and the Penguins go way back and are very good friends. On another note, it's EXACTLY 9 months from today that I get on a C130 to head back to Kuwait, en route to Texas and finally home for good! "Waka Waka" - Eric Shay

    12 JAN 2005 - The coyote are loud tonight!

    12 JAN 2005 - In case anyone is wondering, my cousin Stacey is nothing like the lunatic described in my dream. She is actually very fun-loving, laid back and sweet. Anyone who knows her will ascribe to her being completely lacking in the crazy department...well, she's still a Brizzi. Have a good day.

    11 JAN 2005 - Long-winded yesterday, nothing to say today. All is well.

    10 JAN 2005 - Okay ya’ll, figure this one out. I'm not even going to try to understand what I saw in my head last night.
    The dream starts in a mall and I'm shopping with my cousin Stacey and our Grandma Brizzi. We are just wandering and window shopping, walking along and talking. I remember that we aren't looking for anything specific but I wanted to get something nice for a friend. Stacey points out a soap store and I say "Soap?" She picks up on my derisive tone and tells me to trust her. We walk into the store and it's like a scene out of Willy Wonka but only if the human battery nests from the Matrix had somehow been worked into the set as well. “What is this place?” The cashier and owner of the store reaches across the desk and shakes my hand. He’s an exuberant little man with fingers like sausages and a hair line that gave up on him a long time ago. His smock is fit snugly against his corpulent belly but the way he is dressed shows the stature of a man that also takes great pride in his appearance. Clearly a frequent shopper of the J Crew and LL Bean magazine, I imagine him settling in to a box of zingers and thumbing through the pages of the catalog, fingers sticky with sugary coconut residue, trying to find the perfect sweater vest.
    “Welcome to Make Your Own Soap, where you make your own…”
    “Soap,” I finish for him. He obviously didn’t pick up on the sarcasm and with a delightful smile he says, “You got it.” Stacey has left me to create her own soap and is a little over excited about the mixture of scents being suggested to her by her personal soaping assistant. {Personal Soaping Assistant} It’s right there on the name tag. You have got to be kidding me. The cashier points out that she is now clapping her hands together like a seal and I turn to see her. She’s just too funny and having way too much fun. I decide to try and go with it and force myself to lighten up a little. “What the hell.” I say to the cashier, “whatcha got?” He gets a little over excited himself and pulls out a mixing bowl, some strange wax textured bricks and an entire case of vials that hold all the different scents there are to choose from. He picks up the brick and a cheese grater and begins shaving the mystery substance into the bowl. “What do you like” he asks me and the lost look on my face tells him that picking out scents for soap just isn’t my forte. I add a nuance to my expression to tell him not to push his luck. “Okay man, I’ll help you out but next time you are on your own.” “Do you like Vanilla?”
    “Sure.”
    “Lavender?”
    “Why not.” I turn to see Stacey with her nose buried in the bowl. She picks up her head, buckles her knees to a squat, grabs the PSA by the elbows and practically knocks the bowl out of his hands. “It’s perfect” she squeaks. I turn back to my PSA and he has his sleeves rolled up and is sniffing, then shaving, adding liquid and mixing. I’m actually starting to find myself wondering what this is going to smell like and am even a bit interested in the whole process. I look into the bowl at the shavings and ask what they are. “The shaving are an unscented soap polymer I created that binds to the scents once they are mixed into the bowl. After we are done mixing, I’ll take you to the settling room to finish everything up.”
    “Okay.”
    He began to tell the history of the store and what was once a mild interest in soap quickly faded into boredom and his blubbering began to sound a whole lot like the teachers in the Peanuts cartoons. As he spoke, I realized that he has begun to mix different scents into the bowl. I watched as he added honey and sugar to the mix before I stopped him.
    “Whoa man…just the Lavender and Vanilla will do.”
    I had obviously overstepped my bounds, insulted his genius and quickly found anger in his face, an expression that told me I’m in his world. Here, he is master and I am the ignorant student. “It’ll be perfect.” he grumbled and cast a sneer, tucked the bowl under his arm, turned away from me and continued to add clear liquid after clear liquid into the mix. I no longer knew what he was doing and personally, I don’t think I was in a position to have an opinion – as long as it smells good when it’s done. “Whatever man, do what you do.” A minute or so later he took a deep breath and offered the bowl to my nose. I cast my own sneer back to him and let him know that his world or not, I couldn’t really give a damn about the soap anymore.
    Clearly annoyed and disheartened, he let the air out of his lungs and whined to me that everything is mixed. “Follow me.”
    I followed behind my master and relaxed when I realized that Stacey had just entered the settling room ahead of me. Exit Willy Wonka meets Bed Bath and Beyond - enter the Matrix meets Barbie. Nothing I could have imagined would have painted a picture that looks like the room I just walked into. I felt like I had just entered a lunatic beauty salon. I looked to the walls for melted dolls parts or pictures of torture devices.
    “Sit here sir and we’ll get you hooked up with the others so that we can complete the process.” I could tell that Stacey is still very excited about everything and I sat down so that I could get this over with. Stacey looks at me wide eyed and with a huge open mouthed smile and blurts out, “Isn’t this great?” “It’s interesting” I say and give her an exaggerated thumb up with both hands. Inside my head I was thinking that this is the weirdest experience I have ever had and that I want to go home. All around the room are women sitting in chairs reading magazines and relaxing. In each one of their mouths is a rubber piece like the type used for snorkeling. From the mouthpiece the hose extends to the machine. The machine has one gauge and red light on it. Next to each machine is a stand like the type that holds I.V. bags. The bags are attached to the machine by a hose that leaves out the bottom of the bag and connects to the top of the machine.
    “Okay sir, open wide.” I do as she says and in goes the mouth piece. She starts blabbing about the process and what is going to happen with the soap. The entire lesson is lost to distraction. Stacey is behind her with the mouthpiece inserted but bulging and sticking out a bit. Behind the rubber piece remains the huge smile and she looks like an alien to me. I turn back to the Firming Assistant. It’s on the name tag. Unbelievable. And then I am pulled back to Stacey. She is waving like a speed addicted beauty queen in a parade. The next thing I know she’s pumping her arms up and down and bouncing in her seat. I think to myself that I should be laughing but I just can’t get past how bizarre of an experience this all is. I shoot my best puppy dog look to the F.A. in hope that she can save me but she only realizes that I’m not listening to her, smirks like she’s used to being ignored, finds the source of my distraction and turns her hips to block out my cousin. With my full attention being retained by her butt, she looks me in the eye and sums everything up in one quick breath.
    “The mouthpiece carries the humidity from you to the machine. The bag will collect the moisture and regulate how much is infused into the soap. When the red light comes on either I or another assistant will come out and turn the soap reservoir, measure the solidity, reset the machine and verify that the gauges are correct. The gauge measures the percentage of humidity. There are three red light cycles and then you are done. Please do not take the mouth piece out or your soap may not harden correctly.”
    Around the mouthpiece I mumble “Okay” and wonder how it’s possible to have that much in air the lungs. I also begin to wonder how collecting our spit can harden soap but don’t spend much time on the thought. My F.A. turns, shoots a glare at Stacey and leaves the room. Not one second after the lady is gone from the room Stacey has her mouthpiece out and is trying to talk to me. She’s so excited about the soap and what I think so far that she can’t stand it. I wonder who this lunatic is that took over my cousin’s body and pray that I go deaf for the next hour. Panic enters my brain and I wonder how long this is going to last? The F.A. never said…don’t these people have names?
    Stacey is still talking. I point to the mouthpiece and shrug my shoulders as a way of saying that I can’t talk right now, that I am currently pacified. She whispers loud enough to wake the dead and tells me to blow extra hard until the light turns red so that we can talk until they come in to reset the machine. I tilt my head at her and raise my eyebrows to show that I think she is nuts and that I have no desire to talk. Misreading my body language, she scrunches up her face in anticipation, says okay, takes a deep breathe, puts the mouthpiece back in and starts blowing into the hose so hard that her cheeks turn purple. She nods her head at me in a yes motion and points at her mouthpiece to demonstrate how it’s done and then exhales with all the force she can muster. I can’t help but laugh this time and I let it out through my nose. She’s still smiling and bouncing in her chair as she bears down on the hose, her cheeks puffing out as she strains harder with each effort to over humidify system. Her tiny little cheeks billow out and her entire head takes on a cartoon quality. I watch as the percentage gauge shoots into the red and her light clicks on. Inside my head, I think, “Holy crap, it worked!” Instantly after the light comes on, her eyes get extra big and she pulls out the mouthpiece. She looks just like an overenthusiastic contestant on a 70’s game show. The voice in my head roars, “STACEY BRIZZI, COME ON DOWN!”
    She’s talking again. “See?” “Blow harder.” I ignore her pleas the best I can but she just keeps repeating herself. Every other “Blow harder” she stabs in my name to try and get my attention. “Jeremy...hey…hey, blow harder.” Does she really think I don’t hear her? “Hey, Jeremy…Jer...e…my…Hey….Blow harder!”
    I sigh through my nose and try to find something to focus on. Looking around the room I realize that there is only one other man in the room and he is sleeping. He’s slouching in his chair and his head is teetering and rolling along his collarbone. His greasy hair and red cheeks tell me that he’s really either really drunk or really dirty. One thing for sure, he is really, really out. I’m guessing that he is snoring but can’t hear anything over the hum of the machines, the respiratory wheezing sound of the hoses passing the humidity and the parrot like calling of my deranged cousin. There is a beautiful girl sitting directly across from him, probably in her early twenties and with an outfit like a Catholic school girl. She has long, straight blonde hair and it is tied back, falling just past her shoulders. She is glaring at the drunken man and has her feet up on her chair with her knees tucked to her chest. It’s then that I realize that the man is slowly sliding out of his chair and his legs, half way between his knees to his ankles are under her chair. He moves a little closer with each breathe and in another minute or so and he’ll be completely laid out on the floor. This should be good. I look for the red light on his machine and it isn’t illuminated. There is hope for this day after all. The firming assistant has just reset Stacey’s machine. Stacey is already huffing, puffing and gathering her breathe in preparation for phase two. She is still staring at me, even more determined to get me to talk - especially now that I’m ignoring her. The man has slid down more and is only on the chair by half a butt cheek. The girl catches me staring at her situation and sends a single look that says both, save me and I’ll kill you if you are enjoying this. She kicks her legs over the mans and accidentally taps me with her foot, just as the man’s butt gives way and his lower back takes on the entire weight of his body. His foot caught the back leg of her chair and stopped him from crashing to the floor. A moment later his body jerks and settles to the floor with a thud. He doesn’t wake and is now sitting up right and resting his head against the machine. This is the best thing I have ever seen in my life. I start to wonder if the show is over and then I see that the machine is giving way to the weight of his lean and the wheels are slowly beginning to roll. In my head, I call game on and keep watching. Another minute or so and he’ll be face down on the floor. The girl hates me now and brings her heel down on my ankle to get back at me for taking so much pleasure in her discomfort. I don’t care anymore, this is too funny but it does hurt and I look down at my foot to see if she has left a mark. My shoes and socks are gone. In my head I say, “What the? Where did my shoes go?” As quickly as the thought comes, the pain is gone and my cousin’s red light flicking on regains my attention. I turn to see her eyes bulge and the temporary means to my relaxation unplug her mouth.
    “JEREMY!” she shouts. “I see you looking at her!” she blurts. “PERVERT!” She turns to the girl and says, “Just kidding, he’s really a nice guy.” The girl rolls her eyes to say whatever. Stacey forgets about her, turns back to me and says, “You think she’s cute don’t you? Oooooh.” My eyes are bulging now and I can’t believe this is my cousin. “Who are you? Shut up, please!” I mumble through my mouth piece but it comes out as, “oo r oo muh uhh eez” I look at her machine, praying that the red light is back off and that she’ll have to put the mute plug back in. No such luck. I close my eyes and turn my head to my machine like I am begging for it to end. Again in my head all I can wonder is why this is taking so long. Giving in, I start to blow as hard as I can and watch as my humidity gauge jumps up. Stacey sees this and starts chanting…”Go, go, go!” The red light clicks on and Stacey is bouncing in her chair again. “YEAAAAHHHH” and she is already motioning for me to pull out the piece. As fast as I can, I pull the piece out of my mouth and turn to the girl. “Sorry, I tell her.” And just as quickly, I yell to any of the assistants, “SOAP LADY, I’M DONE WITH PHASE 1!” I turn to Stacey and she’s still smiling, bouncing and shaking her arms like a dancing baby. “Hey psycho.” to which she giggles and says “Yeah?”
    The soap lady walks in and says, “You two are moving along nicely, eh?” I put the mouthpiece back to my face and just before putting it back in I tell Stacey that she needs Ridalin and that making soap sucks. The F.A. looks at me like I’ve made a personal attack on her, and I grumble and tell her to just get it over with. Stacey sticks her tongue out at me, laughs, wiggles her arms like Chris Farley doing the over caffeinated motivational speaker gag, puts her mouth piece back in, already breathing deep and preparing to race through phase three. I shoot a glance back to the girl and she’s gone, the man is lying flat on the floor with the mouthpiece still stuck in his mouth, the hose stretching and pulling his face up sideways leaving only his mop of hair and ear against the tile. The cart is sideways and I’ve missed the end of the show. Another F.A. walks in and steps over the man like he isn’t there. I think to myself that I should have gone to the toy store with Grandma, wonder where she is and the dream ends as the drunk man’s light clicks on, he seemingly wakes up to the sound, rubs his eyes, removes the mouthpiece, wipes his chin, stands and walks out of the room like he was just catching a nap.

    9 JAN 2005 - Another Sunday has passed and so begins another week. January has always seemed to drag on for me and I've been celebrating just being close to the half way mark of this month. Come onnnnn February (the short one)! It's been a weekend of great surprises and terrible football games, more mediocre food and unbelievable chocolate Vosges
    Huge thanks to Kira for the chocolate and everything else. Actually, I want to thank everyone for everything that they have sent - the gifts, letters, e-mails. I appreciate it all. Getting to communicate with everyone is my fuel here. Another week down...another week closer to home. Everything is what it is and I can't complain.

    "You better take care of me, Lord. If you don't you're gonna have me on your hands."

    8 JAN 2005 - The news has been having a field day with talk about how dangerous Iraq is right now. Ladies and Gentlemen, this just in; Iraq is a war zone and it is a dangerous place to be. I can honestly say that I do not feel any more danger now than I did on the day that I arrived. The majority of increased attacks have been outside of the bases and this is openly displayed on television but the words are explaining such are conveniently left unsaid. This is the media game. From within the walls, day to day activity do not seem to be mounting or getting lighter and the media is just playing the fear game by spinning stories brought to light by the "possibility" that things may get worse during the elections. This is not news people, this is common sense. The threat is always present. The same people that are making these "predictions" also foresaw an overwhelming attack on Christmas day. On Christmas day I heard nothing but Christmas carols in Spanish and a whole lot of cheerful celebration among soldiers and civilians alike - nothing more, nothing less. Please take this information with a grain of salt, keep faith in the excellence and preparedness of our troops and know that I will not become complacent or lazy. I do not carry a false sense of security with me and am well aware of the dangers that I am subject to. I'm not saying that an increase in attacks can't happen but I am saying that the media spin cannot be taken as gospel. As always, it's just another beautiful Ground Hog's day in paradise. On a lighter note, I caught myself saying, "Peace in the Middle East." to a friend the other day and in passing shared a rather maniacal chuckle with myself at the irony.

    7 JAN 2005 - I have nothing to say tonight...nothing. I haven't had a dream worth remembering or telling in at least two or three weeks. The holidays are over and things are just rolling. I didn't sleep much today, just lay and stared at the wall for a couple hours before I gave up went to lunch and tried again. The last time I remember looking at the clock, it was two PM and I had five hours until the little black timekeeper starts patronizing me with its flat whining screech. Okay, I did have one dream the other night but it’s nothing like what I’m used to and I don’t understand it as much as I’d rather forget it. It’s also rather disgusting and for me, a little disturbing. If anyone has a clue to what it could mean, please enlighten me.
    The dream started with me walking into a restroom the style of a locker room or like the Men’s John at Wrigley. The room is crowded and surprisingly quiet. I walk up to the trough and just as I get there, my old supervisor starts to wing his wang around the room. As disgusting as it sounds he is, in the crudest manner possible urinating on everyone around him and making sprinkler and siren noises as he does it. I shift to my left to avoid joining the increasing number of soiled restroom patrons and bumped into the guy next to me only to realize that he is trying to talk his little partner into doing its duty. “Come on…you can do it. Go. Go. Go.” This was just too weird and it was going down hill fast. Just as little Johnny started to cooperate with the fellow to my left; I was startled by my obviously wasted and belligerent x-supervisor. He had decided to pick up the drainage grate from the floor and was screaming – WOOOHOOO at the top of his lungs while spinning like a top and picking up speed with an alcoholically induced fervor. Round and round he spun before slipping on what I’ll assume is his own mess and releases the grate into the back of a rather large beast of a man. My old supervisor is not a small man by any means but this man would have made Brian Urlacher turn tail and run. There was a grunt, an indecipherable spurt of adjectives preceded only by the pronoun - you - and then the attack. All I wanted to do is pee is the only thought going through my head. I shifted further left down the trough and tried to handle my business but the scuffle seemed drawn to me. A man larger than the Urlacher clone darted across the restroom from the entry behind me and jumped into the fight. The fight became a brawl and grew into a full blown battle. I edged further left and found myself saying…”Come on little buddy, you can do it. Go. Go now. For the love of…” My thought stopped and I shot a glance over my shoulder to and came to the quick realization that I am by far the smallest man in the room and these inebriated gladiators seemed to be getting consistently larger, more aggressive and for some reason always just a tad bit closer to me. I shift as far left as possible and found the wall. “Go. Please go. NOW! NOW! NOW!” I screamed to myself. “Not going to happen.” taunts the little voice in the back of my head. This time I didn’t have to turn. What appeared to be a casting call for the WWF gone bad, had finally found me and with no trough left to escape to. A monstrous hand gripped my shoulder like a chicken bone and turned me to face the giant at the other end of its meaty limb. He stood glaring at me, Hans and Franz standing by his side and blocking the steroid fueled mosh pit from interrupting what I assumed was going to be the most painful conversation I’ve ever experienced. Inside my head I say, “I guess peeing is the least of my worries” and then the dialogue begins:
    “Why aren’t you fighting?”
    “I just want to pee man.”
    “Everyone else is fighting, what’s wrong with you?”
    “Nothing man, I just really gotta go. You boys have your fun. I’ll just finish up here and be on my way”
    “Too bad brother, get in there and get ya some.”
    With that, I was off of my feet and being hurled like a javelin to the middle of the Battle Royale. I landed on He-Man and used his neck to break my fall and catch myself. I was now standing in the middle of the fight, had just knocked over a man that looks a little too much like one of my favorite childhood superheroes and just as I’m about to take my first swing, I realize that my hands feel like I’m punching through water. The way things always make sense in dreams; this convinces me that I can hold my own. If I can just find a way to punch harder, I may be able to work my way out of here. I swing at Goliath and nothing. I move swing at Hercules and my fists fall to my side like lead weights. Again and again I swing and there is still no power. I get mad and try again and with one last scream of hope, frustration and anger, I wake myself up screaming; “I ONLY WANTED TO PEE!” as my hand finally collides with the cheek of Mr. Olympia.

    6 JAN 2005 - OKAY, I have it. The new quote(If someone gets this I quit) "PANIC MONGERS!" No hints, nothing, that's all you get - Good luck.

    6 JAN 2005 - (an hour later) Still thinking....need more time! Go watch the new StrongBad e-mail while you wait.

    6 JAN 2005 - Okay, so that plan backfired. Ezra Feger has provided the correct answer to the quote; "You better take care of me, Lord. If you don't you're gonna have me on your hands." The correct answer being, "FEAR AND LOATHING IN LAS VEGAS". Okay people one more quote for the month and then, no matter what happens, I am done. Give me a little time to think about it and I'll be back.

    5 JAN 2005 - I forgot to mention the name of the movie belonging to "TALK HARD". The movie is Pump Up the Volume, is one of my all-time favorite flics and has one of the greatest movie soundtracks ever put together. I've had the slower version of the Pixies classic, "Wave of Mutilation" stuck in my head for the last two hours. You'll find the lyrics below. Don't forget that I have listed another quote to guess at, same rules apply, be the first and get a prize.

    Cease to resist, giving my goodbye
    Drive my car into the ocean
    You'll think I'm dead, but I sail away
    On a wave of mutilation
    I've kissed mermaids, rode the el nino
    Walked the sand with the crustaceans
    Could find my way to Mariana
    On a wave of mutilation

    5 JAN 2005 - Got some pics of Malfunktions New Years show from Jim. All photos taken during the show are by Jessica Seguin.... MALFUNKTION PICS NYE!

    5 JAN 2005 - CONGRATULATIONS! to Ryne Sandburg and Wade Boggs for their entry to the baseball Hall of Fame! When are we going to see the same for Pete Rose and Ron Santo? COME ON!

    4 JAN 2005 - Not a half hour after I posted the new quote, Jessica Seguin got to me with the correct answer and then Ezra Feger tonight. I see that I've made these too easy this time. I am going to post one more for the month simply because the answer came too quickly. Here is the new quote. With your permission, I am going to collect all the prizes and bring them home with me to be distributed at my Welcome Home party. I hope you all don't mind but it's not only hard for me to get to the post office but it is going to be rather expensive to mail this stuff every time someone wins. I will however be mailing the school their matching prize. If it's not cool, let me know and I'll suck it up but I'd appreciate the help. The new quote is below.

    4 JAN 2005 - Tonight’s road trip felt like a safari tour of exotic Iraq. Erik and I signed out the truck again and head over to the PX only to find out that the hours have been changed back to their pre-holiday norm {closed when we can go to open while we’re sleeping}. On the way, bouncing down the mud clotted roads, kicking up dust and never really finding a good speed to take over the speed bumps we came upon a coyote running down the middle of the street and directly in front of us. The coyote picked up the paced, cut right and off of the road once the beam from our headlights hit it. Disappearing between two buildings and out of site, we turned our attention back to the direction of travel and continued on. No more than a minute later, Erik slows the truck and turns the wheel toward the passenger side curb. “I keep seeing the big glowing eyes of what looks like a small nocturnal fox.” “I think I just saw one.” But it was gone and we accelerated again and continued to the store. Not ten seconds later a rabbit continued the show and as we caught up, his jagged running pattern became more erratic. He juked left and right incessantly. Just as our illumination overtook him, he stopped completely and let us pass. I found myself wondering if the rabbits here would be good to eat. They are so much larger than what we have in the Midwest and have the large ears that stand straight up like Bugs Bunny. On the way back from our failed trip to the store, we decided to drive around a bit more and blow the rest of the hour we have with the truck. In the time that remained, we saw another rabbit and three more coyote. Other than the rabbits; the fox and coyote that we see running around here always seem to be using the roads. It’s almost as if they know what the roads are for. Day or night, if you walk around here enough, you’ll find some oversized Iraqi version of wildlife walking right down the middle of the street. It’s a strange behavior, almost tame if you ask me. The most eerie of sounds that I have experienced since arriving here is the collective crying of coyote in the night. The sound is piercing and chilling in that it sounds like a group of screaming girls all choking on water. It’s not much of a conclusion to my entry but I have to eat and get the heck out of here for the night. There is much to do before bed time.

    3 JAN 2005 - BEARD GROWTH UPDATE POSTED HERE!!! The quote is posted right next to the pic. That's right. It's two words. The pic is kind of rough but I had just gotten off of shift. I'm putting my shoes back on to head out to play some whiffleball. I hit three home runs today - let's not talk about who won the games. I don't think the beard growth is going to last much longer but I'll keep the quotes coming.

    2 JAN 2005 - I will be posting a new BEARD UPDATE PHOTO tomorrow and will be releasing the January quote. Work has decided to make things a challenge for me this year and have placed a limit to the amount of time that I am allowed to access Angelfire to perform website updates. I will do my best to work around this. "Out in the parking lot across the street from Park Ave., the Roman candles and Black Cats sounded a lot like I'd hope we'd oneday sound - pretty little things all set on fire waiting to get destroyed." - RYAN ADAMS

    2 JAN 2005 - Met a fellow Army guy today and made another friend. He's in the exact same situation that I was in five years ago - getting ready to exit the military and move on to the civilian side of things. We share the same rank, the same job, are both airborne and carry the same desire to do well. I'm going to work on his resume with him and see what I can do to get him on the right path and hopefully he will get as lucky as I did when I got out. One of the hardest transitions for a soldier is learning how to translate the military lingo into a language that civilian employers understand. I want to make something clear. I fear that my negative description of the habits that some of the bad seeds project around here may have come off as all inclusive and contradictory to my intentions above. I, in no way carry negative feelings towards any branch of the military and hold nothing but the utmost respect for every soldier and the voluntary service each has committed to by being here. Essentially, I am still a soldier albeit I am not in uniform. To clarify my comments on the bad seeds, they are a reflection on the poor habits that people, both civilian and military display when faced with a less than enjoyable situation. It just seems to me that wallowing in self pity and making things harder for ones self is a weak and pointless way of expressing discontent. I focused my thoughts on the soldiers primarily because the majority of our population on this base is the soldier and that all negative action I have seen has been born from the hands of soldiers. In addition and conclusion to this statement, civilians have no one to blame but themselves for the situation in which they have been placed. Civilians went in search of this job; the soldiers went in search of a future and found war. Of the civilians that I have spoken with, most are aware of the situation in which they have placed themselves, how the other half lives and knows better than to express a negative attitude. If you have a piece of trash, carry it to the trash can and don’t let your negative attitude or habits overtake your common sense by allowing you to work harder at finding a place to litter. If you don’t write on the walls at home, if you don’t defecate or urinate on the seat of your personal toilet, don’t do it here. It’s not that difficult to understand and your regressive efforts make the quality of life poorer for all that have to deal with your lack of integrity.

    1 JAN 2005 - HEY! HAPPY NEW YEAR! We made it - Another one down. I celebrated my New Year at the gym. Another hour on the elliptical strider, another 1200 calories burned. I think midnight struck while I was showering and unlike other nights filled with automatic gunfire, all I could hear was laughing, cheers and celebration. After midnight chow I made my way up to work to hang out with the crew. Erik and I signed out a truck and head to the PX to blow off some time. We arrived at the PX to find that it is closed for the holidays and decided to drive over to one of the other bases and take a look around. About fifteen minutes into the trip, I hear Erik say, "Where the f%$k are we?" I can't say that is a question I was happy to hear but was relieved shortly after when we arrived at the base. We drove around and found that this base, ISG/Slayer is quite nice and definitely worth coming back to during the day. I'm going to have to plan a trip over to take pictures and check things out. Earlier, about six o’clock yesterday afternoon I was woke to the sound of soldiers running around making siren and animal noises and then screaming Happy New Year at the top of their lungs. Anyone who tells me that alcohol is needed for a good time has obviously never enjoyed the highs achieved by deprivation. I sit and write this update only a few hours before all my friends and family back home either fall to sleep on the couch while waiting for the ball to drop or raise a glass, kiss and dance until the lights come back on. Whichever shoes you are filling tonight, I miss you, wish you all the best and in case you couldn’t hear me, I stood outside at midnight on my edge of the world and joined the others in wishing the stars a Happy New Year as loudly as I possibly could! Stay safe and keep the Ketel 1 on ice for when I get back.

    .

    DECEMBER ARCHIVES

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    31 Dec 04 - Hey Hey! It is New Year's Eve here and I'm more excited than a fat spoiled rich kid in a candy store. The odd years seem strangely fitting to me as the best years. I'm sure we all have our resolutions set and ready to be broken. Here are mine.

  • Eat healthy and work out harder.
  • Run a marathon
  • Get my book printed and launch the publishing company (almost there).
  • Save enough money to accomplish the goals that I have set for my future and remain in the positive financially
  • Complete and set into action all of my business models
  • Be a better and more honest man, both with myself and everyone I know
  • Continue to work on mental, creative, personal and physical growth...which pretty much sums up all of the above.
  • Invest wisely.

    That's all folks...for 2004 at least. Thank you for everything, for visiting the site and supporting me in my endeavors. I hope 2005 is the best year EVA for all of you!

    29 Dec 04 - I have been watching the news and am in awe of the total devastation being televised in Asia. Everyday I wake to another 10,000 or more having been added to the deaths toll. Being in Iraq has left me with a feeling of helplessness and disconnection. All the chaos and destruction in Asia has raised a number of questions, thoughts and emotions in me. With talk of the earth’s rotation and wobble being affected, I can’t help but wonder what the rest of the world has to look forward to and how this is going to affect us all. The disease that is going to spread from this will almost definitely kill tens of thousands more and I fear that number may be a severe miscalculation. I have heard rumors of water level increases up to ten inches in California. I cannot imagine the hysteria scientists all over the world have found themselves in while trying to calculate how much of an effect this is going to have on our environment. If the earth’s rotation has changed, how is that likely to change our weather, our storms, and our futures? We are already overdue for the next ice age. This may sound like an extremely unlikely prediction but at this point and I’m sure you would agree that anything is possible – Mother Nature has proven that time and time again. Has this change put us in harms way? Has the delicate balance of nature or of our universe been affected adversely or is this something that will be isolated to Asia? Hurricanes, Tsunami’s, Earthquakes, War…and the religious are praying feverishly to avoid damnation while trying not to say “I TOLD YOU SO!” All the while, most of the world frowns momentarily and changes the channel to find something less depressing. After all, it’s almost New Years and death is a total downer. There are parties to plan and if the end of the world is coming, there is no sense in wallowing knee deep in depression. I have imagined being here and the destruction not being in Asia but along our East or West coast. I have already dreamed of Chicago collapsing into the earth and have been numb with the idea that I would be unable to do anything but watch as my people are washed away. I will not change the channel. I give you my word - if this world finds a way to bring its terror to your doorstep, I will find my way to you. I will make my way home. Until then, I'm going to do everything I can to enjoy my life, live with what I have, love those that love me and not take for granted what I do have in this world because you just never know when it's going to be gone. Life is good, not always fun and games but it's the only one I have, so I'm not going to waste it. To all those that pray, you sure have been busy but the people of Asia need you now more than I do. Please give them mine.

    29 Dec 04 - Nothing special to add today. It's just another Groundhog's Day. The jaw is feeling much better today and I think I may win this battle after all. If I can just put things off for another ten months, I'll get them all yanked when I get home. That sounds like fun! That much closer to New Years Eve and that much closer to home.

    28 Dec 04 - I had to get a dental screening to come here and was told that all four of my wisdom teeth are impacted. I asked if I need to do anything about it and the dentist assured me that I'll be fine for the year and there is nothing to worry about. For the last three days, the bottom left tooth has been pushing up on the bottom of my other tooth. My jaw feels like it is on fire and I almost always have a headache. I've been eating Advil like they are candy and hoping that the problem will pass after a few days. This isn't the first time I've dealt with this but it usually passes. This time things seem to be getting worse and the pain is getting rather annoying. I know one thing for sure and that is I have no desire to get the work done in Baghdad. No thank you. My only other choice is to fly into Germany or fly home to find a dentist and have them go to town on me. If they don't put me under for this procedure I'll bolt out of the office bib and all before they touch me. I'll run cheeks numb and mumbling through the streets. I can handle a lot of pain but I am not about to have someone shattering my teeth without putting me out first. Hit me with a lead pipe, I don't care just make sure I'm sleeping. I'm going to give things a couple more days to recede and if the pain persists, I may be going away for a few days to get this taken care of. I'll keep you all up to date.

    27 Dec 04 - I want to send a special thanks to Roger and Marty Rathburn for the cookies. They are still fresh and absolutely delicious. I'm trying my best to pawn them off on the others so that I can maintain my girlish figure and they are going quick but I've still found myself cramming them by the fistfull into my mouth. Everyone that works in my office and the offices around me thanks you. In fact, I've met people that I've never seen tonight. They didn't have a reason to talk to me until they heard about the cookies. Amazing. Thank you very much. And the card is perfect. I miss a lot of things here but the city skyline of Chicago is something that I hold dear to me. Funny thing about the card is that the harbor the card was drawn from is probably the harbor I used to walk to when I wanted to relax. I lived right there. I also want to thank all my family and friends that send me cards and gifts this Christmas. It's so nice to get mail here. Thank you all very much for your love and support.

    26 Dec 04 - The sky opened up today and the rain ceased to fall. The roads are still slick with mud and the sandbags on my tent eroded away just enough to start falling in, pushing against the walls. I slept hard and well today after being up for nearly 24 hours straight. I don't even remember falling to sleep. I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday - ONWARD TO NEW YEARS! I usually keep the details of things to myself but I want to share this. I assure you that the danger is a far enough distance from where I stay and that no one should be worried. Tonight while I showered, the booming sound of a few mortars exploding resonated through the tent. To myself I thought, "Not while I'm in the shower." I finished cleaning up and turned off the water. With the sound of the water gone, I could hear automatic gun fire spitting and cracking. Again, I thought to myself, "Not while I'm naked, if I am going to die, please let it be with some dignity." I dried and laughed quietly to myself. I have always been easily amused. I heard the dry launching sound of what I believe may have been shoulder fired rockets and I whispered, "Just let me put some clothes on." I knew this was all outgoing fire at this point. The gunfire continued to tear through the dark until the thundering whir of helicopter rotors drowned it out. And then there was nothing, no small arms fire, no rockets, no mortars, just silence. Silence here is defined as the only sounds heard being large rattling generators and vehicle traffic. As I walked back to my tent to get ready for shift, I found myself whistling the theme to "Hogan's Heroes" and thinking about the soldiers behind the guns. I tried to correlate the young faces of soldiers barely out of there teens, to the grim reality facing the consequences delivered by a piece of lead sent tumbling through the air at speeds up to 3000 feet per second. Almost daily I get e-mails, jokes and comments made, the writer saying that he would love to have a crack at the enemy. Would you? Would you really? Do you think that you could pull the trigger? Imagine yourself, weapon aimed at an enemy soldier, your finger on the trigger, tracer rounds whistling in a stream of light past you as you try to aim. Imagine your heart pounding in your chest, your finger shaking nervously on the trigger, the reality that you are about to take another mans life from him made easier only because he wishes the same for you. Imagine that he carries a photo of his family in his right breast pocket, the same pocket your site is locked to. Imagine that you are justifying his death in place for yours because you fight for a country that has convictions imposed above the convictions of your enemy. Imagine that your enemy is not in a uniform. If it wasn’t for the AK-47 trying to act as his retribution, it might be nearly impossible to tell if you are making the right decision. In this war, death isn’t always the obvious choice. In a split second all of the drama collapses in a flash at the end of your barrel. In the distance the outline of a dark figure falls to the ground. This is the daily possibility soldiers here face. The waiting is sometimes worse than the actual conflict. The constant wonder to why the insurgents continue to attack gnaws at our minds. “Don’t they know that they can’t win?” “Don’t they realize that we don’t want to kill them but only do so because they are attacking us?” I’ve had these questions proposed to me a number of times since we’ve been here and my response is never appreciated. “Don’t you realize that we are in their land, enforcing our law, demanding our politics be the way?” “Don’t you realize the history trampled into the ground in which we tread?” This land has been soaked with blood and ravaged by wars and convictions for thousands of years. We are not new to this place but we are unwelcome and we are the enemy. We are Goliath fighting David in a battle of beliefs that cannot be won. Even if we leave this place, even if we can develop a stable democracy, this land and its people will still remain indignant. Iraq is not America and it never will be. Even after we are gone, the insurgents will persist, terrorism will remain and while a stable democracy will be appreciated by most, it will never be fully accepted by all. Ask yourself this; If war reaches American soil, will you persist with the intensity that our enemy fights us? Will you lay your life on the line and do everything that you can destroy the enemy? If your answer is yes, then you have answered the questions above as well. If the strength of your convictions is worth dying for, then the reality of fear, loss or death is no longer a factor. This is why they continue to resist and this is why we continue to fight and die. This is the world that we maintain and attempt to police. In the end, the questions of taking lives can only be answered by those whom have taken lives. My question doesn't involve the wait or the conflict but the effect an event like this can have on your conscience. The eyes of our youth are propelled forward, driven into a dark corner faster than the speed of a 7.62mm round. Their lives have gone from video games and sports to war and death in a matter of weeks. This world sees America as a hardened and soulless nation. It holds us in contempt for our lack of morals and for our convictions. All the while, we sit at home and say to ourselves that we are good people and that the outside looking in don’t understand us. How can they judge me like this? A day will come when our youth will no longer weep or fear death, when they will no longer feel love. Our actions today paint the picture of our world for tomorrow. If I did not support the liberation of this country, I would not be here. If I did not have hope for our soldier’s souls and hope for them to retain emotion, I would not be here. This war is long from over. Our youth are far from home. We are knee deep in our convictions and the concrete is quickly drying. Please do your best to keep the hearts of your children open. Do your best to support them and to convince them that it is all right to feel. Teach them to think for themselves and to find a balance between logical thought and conscience. From the showers it is one hundred and forty-nine paces to my tent. As my feet guided me over the rocks and through the night, while my lips whistled the tune, these were the thoughts that ran through my head.

    25 Dec 04 - 25 Dec 04 – Another six days until New Years is all I have to say. I cannot wait until 2005. I can’t wait until I can finally say that I have less than 300 days left here (Dec 27th will be 299). About 40 of the remaining days will be spent on vacation, which equates to almost 6 weeks. By the time I get back from my first vacation I will only have 30 weeks left until I am done. Within the 30 weeks, I’ll still have nearly 4 weeks of vacation part 2 left to split things up. Nice. My holiday celebration began yesterday at lunch. Believe it or not I have been avoiding desserts since arriving here. As a gift to myself at dinner yesterday, I ate two pieces of cheesecake, one cherry and one chocolate. I ate and it was good. I went to bed early last night so that I could get up early and make it to lunch to take some pictures today. I rose at 10AM, ran at the gym for an hour (cheesecake guilt), showered and then head to lunch with Erik. With feet slathered in mud and a fine mist falling onto our shoulders, we found ourselves standing in line to gain entry to the building. Greeting everyone outside was the Chaplain, issuing a holiday greeting and a Christmas card from miscellaneous people from the states. My card was from Boy Scout Troop 36. A little Internet research told me that this troop is located in Lincoln, Nebraska (http://www.bsatroop36.org). Thanks guys, we all appreciate your support! As the line slowly migrated forward we made it to the identification check and pat down. About thirty minutes later, we were being served beef tenderloin by three-star General, Lieutenant General Metz. Senior level officers and NCOs (Non-Commissioned Officers – Sergeant through Sergeant Major) serve the meals on holidays as a way of showing appreciation to their soldiers. If I know anything about the military, it’s that I absolutely despise K.P., so I definitely appreciate the gesture. With a tray overflowing with Beef, Turkey, salad, shrimp, hopping john, sweet potatoes, fudge and uh….fat-free milk, I sat down to the best meal I have eaten since leaving the United States. The fudge didn’t compare to Grandma Brizzi’s and the shrimp were nowhere near as tasty as the tray that Dad and Sue get every year but for Baghdad, I’m not complaining and I thoroughly enjoyed every bite and every trip back up for more and then again for thirds. After lunch, we slipped and slid over to the hodgie shop and I picked up Cathy’s prize, as well as the promised duplicate gift for Lyndsy’s class. We kicked off mud, jokingly complained off full bellies and how our flak jackets didn’t seem to fit right anymore, on our way to the office to say hello to the day crew and check for mail. We said hello to the day crew, laughed and told jokes for a bit and then I went back to my tent and played guitar for a couple hours while I watched a couple DVD’s. I should have tried to get some sleep before work but being that I have the night off from the gym and only 8 hours of work tonight, I decided to stay awake and enjoy my time. I’m back at work now. I came in after enjoying another fine meal at the chow hall. Dinner held no comparison to my lunch but it was still satisfying and I am happy to say that I’m full. If I was any more content, I’d have to unbutton my pants and relax Ed Bundy style. Other than the lights, the gifts, the e-mails, the smiles and the holiday greetings being offered all around the base by soldiers, civilians and the base staff, I’d have to say this was just a normal day in Iraq. Thank you all for everything and for making this day a beacon of light that points the way home. Your love and support came shining through the fog of this war and put a smile on this fools face. If I didn’t have so many great friends and family members to thank, I’d thank you all personally, so forgive me from narrowing things down. Merry Christmas Mom, Dad, Joe, Sue and Caitlyn, I love you ALL very much!

    Merry Christmas Dad, a smile with teeth!

    25 Dec 04 - UPDATE! - The photo album has been loaded. Christmas pics
    . You may follow this link or the link in the site directory. Hope everyone has a wonderful holiday. I will be updating more later but for now, here's the pictures. I was hoping that I might be able to call but am locked in at work and don't have time to make the walk over and then wait in line for the phones. Please accept my journal entry as my unpreferred but only method of communication on this day.

    24 Dec 04 - I'm off of work tonight, hitting dinner, the gym and then I'm going to hit the sack and screw up my schedule so that I can get some pictures for the "CHRISTMAS IN BAGHDAD ALBUM". I'll be working on it while you all are dreaming of sugar plum fairies. I've never been funny - why do I try? I will have the pics up no later than noon tomorrow (CST - Chicago). Merry Christmas...everyone! - Dickens

    24 Dec 04 - UPDATE! It should be obvious. I'm not getting the draw I want to the "Last DJ" blog, so I'm bringing the music to you. Please excuse the compression, it would just take too long to load without. I will feature a new song each week as long as I continue to receive new music from artists. If I can convince people to make their way to the Last DJ to listen and review the music, I am also hoping to get them to cast a vote for their favorite song. At the end of each week, the song with the most votes will be played on the homepage. Until then, you all will be subject to my taste. Good luck and please listen. These are some great bands.

    CHRISTMAS NIGHT! - Saturday, Dec 25th @ Durty Nellies is the great MR BLOTTO and it promises to be an amazing show, in an equally amazing venue. Good food, great sound and music that you can feel and dance to. The show starts at 10:30PM but you'll want to get there a little early.

  • Durty Nellies
  • 180 N.Smith, Palatine,IL
  • 847.358.9150

    NEW YEARS EVE! - Come see the funk and groove sounds of local favorite MALFUNKTION on Friday, Dec 31st @ Liquid Blues in the Woodstock square. They'll be going all night (8PM - 1AM) and believe me, you won't want to miss a note. It's going to be a New Years to remember and definitely a great time. If you haven't experienced them, you need to.

  • Liquid Blues
  • 126 N Benton St
  • Woodstock

    24 Dec 04 - It's Christmas Eve here. I'm getting off of work in three hours to run the Christmas 10K. Very exciting. I have tomorrow night off of work and will be making my way around base taking pictures for my Christmas post. I'm sure you are all holding your breath in anticipation. I want to send out a special thanks and holiday greeting to Lyndsy's class. Thank you very much for your letters and gifts. As you can see, I have the tree decorated and proudly displayed here at work. You guys are the best. Happy Holidays everyone. I'll be raising my egg nog to you all tomorrow night. I miss you all and love ya! Brizz~

    22 Dec 04 - It's official. I've finally finished my book. The rough draft has just been sent off to the printer for its initial review and as soon as I get the okay, I will be finalizing the draft, acquiring the cover from Brian (my graphics designer and good friend) and sending the hard copy and file off to the printer for runoff. I'm setting an in hand date of late March and will be upgrading this site to sell copies. I've been working on this book for six years now and have been collecting the writing found on its pages since high school. I'll keep you all informed as to how things are progressing. I'm very excited about this and for the things to follow. As soon as I have completed this project I will be opening the doors to Bulldog7 Publishing and welcome any aspiring writer to join me in getting their work published. If you would like to get the ball rolling or would like information on how, please write me at jeremybrizzi@hotmail.com HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

    21 Dec 04 - WE HAVE A WINNER! Cathy Seguin is the first winner of the Beard Growth Quote Contest. The Quote, "You can't go...all the plants are gonna die." is from Stripes. (Bill Murray). She will be awarded an extra special prize from the hodgy shop. Nice! Two weeks to go until the next quote is posted.

    21 Dec 04 - Hey everyone. I was just made aware of the bombing in Mosul. I am at Camp Victory in Baghdad. All is well here and there is nothing to worry about on my part. As for the troops in Mosul - Good luck, I know my family and friends will be praying for you. There is no greater comfort in war than hope. Sometimes hope is all that you have.

    21 Dec 04 - Another relaxing day down. I got off of work this morning and rearranged my tent by making a couch out of the extra cots. I settled in, played some guitar, watched a movie(Dodgeball)on my laptop, went to lunch and crashed about 3PM. I slept until 10PM, got up, cleaned a little more, checked my e-mail, went to dinner, am currently updating the site and then I'm going to hit the gym for a couple hours and work on some songs. About 6AM I'll hit breakfast and then crash again. Life is good! It's a least better than the alternative.

    20 Dec 04 - Want to get out of the house or need something to do on New Years Eve? Check out these shows.

    20 Dec 04 - My guitar(Martin DMX) has finally arrived. I've been smiling for the last four hours. She sounds perfect. The highs are bright and the lows are deep but tight. The volume it projects is surprisingly loud but doesn't distort. The sustain rings out long and clear. I absolutely love it...all she needs now is a name. My serenity has arrived to carry me until April. Time to start working on my songs. I hope to have something posted on the Last DJ in the next month or so. It rained today. It was so nice to lay half asleep in my bunk and hear the rain coming down on the tent. Most of the people around here think I'm crazy for enjoying the rain and maybe it's just me but I find calm in the storm. Some of my favorite memories and days have been blanketed in rain, cool air, hot coffee and some deep music.

    19 Dec 04 - UPDATE! New Tunes have been added to the Last DJ Blog for your listening pleasure. The Beard Growth Update has also been posted as well as the Week 2 Quote and answer to last weeks. As a disclaimer, we both realize that we are looking pretty rough but neither of us are going to sit around trying to look pretty, that would take way to long. Good luck and I expect to have a holiday photo album posted in the next few days. I also want to send a special thanks to Jim and Aaron for getting me tunes to put on the site. No one else has responded, so thanks for your efforts.

    19 Dec 04 - I think I have finally found my groove. I was walking to my tent from the gym and felt relaxed for the first time in about a month. I knew it was going to come but I didn't know when. I went through the same thing in Bosnia. No doubt about it, being away from home takes its toll but I can honestly say that time is beginning to roll with me. The last couple weeks I have been down pretty low and I was beginning to wonder how long it was going to last. I've found my stride and while I know that none of my time here is going to be easy, I am happy to feel like a weight has been lifted from my mind and the pressure from my chest. I've been having a lot of issues with my internet access here but I'm working on things the best that I can. I am posting photos and tunes as I type this update. Keep an eye out and please listen to the tunes, they are there to be heard and commented on.

    18 Dec 04 - Tonight's dream kept me in Iraq. As far as I can remember it started on a helicopter. I finally received my authorization to move bases and was flying across the desert. I don't remember much of the flight but we had watched Full Metal Jacket the night before and the door gunner from the movie was flying with us. He had the same obnoxious laugh and was still anxious for a kill. The helicopter flight is a blur beyond that and the details really kicked in after we finally landed. We had moved to a multinational base and it had very few Americans living there. We were greeted by an Aussie soldier and escorted around the base. His accent was so heavy that it was hard to understand him. He brought us to a building, stopped and turned. His hand opened the door and he said, "No tents hea...you'll be livin in the dorms." The dorm was more like a hotel than anything else. The halls were lined with red carpets and almost everything else in the building was marble. The dream jumped to the floor we were to live on and our Aussie friend was pointing out our rooms while rattling off the amenities located in the building and around the base. "There are two gyms outside and one in hea. There's an entrance right at the end of the hall but you have to be a memba..." Leaving everyone else to their rooms, I dropped my bags in the hall and parted the group to find the gym. At the end of the hall I came to an opening on the right and found myself at the front desk. "This is no gym, this is a Bally's." The man at the front desk corrected me by saying that it's a "A Support Bally's actually. We are the first to open our doors in support of the troops." I moved to enter the gate and was asked if I am already a member. I am back home but I don't have my ID. He asked me if I have my drivers license and I pulled out two military IDs and my Iraq personnel ID. "That'll do. Let's just see if you are in the computer." "Ah, you still owe $14 on your membership but if you'd like to pay that now, you are in." I handed the man my debit card and sat to take a photo for my new ID. The dream jumps to me walking through the gym. There were three floors, a pool and almost no other members. I wondered why no one would be here and then remembered the Aussie guide telling us that there are two other gyms outside that are free. I would have almost the entire gym to myself. The equipment is brand new. Could this get any better? I was stunned and giddy with excitement. On my way back to the room, I found that they have a juice bar. I said to myself, "It can get better" and then I heard a voice behind me. "What the heck are you doing here Brizzi?" I turned to find Cathy Seguin, one of my friends from home standing behind me drinking a strawberry smoothie. "What the heck am I doing here, what are you doing in Iraq?" She smiled and the dream jumped to me outside walking around the base. All the international soldiers were dressed in jeans, boots, western style shirts and some even wore chaps and spurs. There wasn't a horse in sight but it must be a mental reference to the wild west I keep comparing things to. I started no notice that all the building were built of wood and in the style of the old west as well. There was a saloon, restaurant, sports store, gun shop and everything else is blur. I walked around a bit more and found a few of my buddies from Iraq that had transferred with me. The sun was just breaking the crest of the earth and the light was spreading across the desert. It was nice to experience something new again. We could see for miles but beyond the road was nothing but desert and a water tower. I sat on the hood of a HMMWV and the other two sat on the roof of a shed that the HMMWV was parked next to. We talked and joked for a bit and then I saw what looked like a large delivery truck. It was driving way beyond the posted speed limit and down the road. The dust, sand and dirt kicked up a cloud behind it and I could barely pick up the roar of the engine. I turned to tell the guys to check this out and realized that it's Eric Shay, Scott Coppinger and Jim Seguin, more of my friends from home. Scott said "What the heck is that guy thinking?" and I turned my head back just in time to see the truck jerk and bounce off of the road in the direction of the water tower. "That guys gonna hit the tower." Jim yelled and I jumped up telling them all to start climbing higher. "If that thing comes down, this place is going to flood and were going to drown or be lost in the tow." I leapt from the hood to the top of the shed and turned back just in time to see the truck collide with the base of the tower. A burst of flames and then a moment later the sound of the crash and the explosion hit our ears. We stopped climbing and watched as the tower gave way to the explosion and slowly began to fold over. The huge bulb at the top cracked like an egg when it hit the ground and the site of a huge wall of water rushing from it snapped us back into reality. We all jumped for the ledge of the roof and pulled ourselves up. Scott let out of sigh and said, "Maybe the water won't make it this far." As soon as he stopped speaking the wave swallowed the fence line at the edge of the base and came at us fast. It was roaring and seemed to be getting larger, the closer it came. "Climb higher" I yelled, "It's going to be deeper than I thought." We scrambled to reach the peak of the roof and I felt the rush of the water hit my shoes. In an instant the temperature around us changed and everything seemed to get dark. We stopped and turned again to see that the base had been flooded by at least ten feet of water but we had climbed just high enough. The dream jumps to me standing on the ground. The water had just receded and left behind a lot of debris. We slipped in the mud and it sucked at our shoes. My feet felt like lead weights but I kept moving forward. I saw a large piece of debris sitting in the mess and started to move towards it. I suddenly realized that it was a machine gun of the likes that I had never seen. Looking around at all the other I began to realize that the water had left a treasure of weapons from all of Iraq's past wars. There were swords, knives, spears, bayonettes, machine guns and helmets everywhere. I moved carefully to the gun but as fast as I could. I moved quickly but clumsily through the muck. My eyes searched all around and I noticed someone else discovering the treasure. Our eyes met and he turned to run for the prize. To stake my claim I grabbed bayonnette from the ground and threw it at the weapon. It clanked off of the barrel and the man aborted his quest. I had won. This had become a stange type of scavenger hunt. I made it to the gun and turned to see Scott and Jim both smiling and with pockets full of mud and a variety of stabbing tools. I walked with the weapon and made my way to the gun store. The dream jumped to me standing without the gun and at the top of a set of stairs that led to a baseball card shop. A man that I don't know leaned over and whispered to me, "What about the gun?" I turned to him. This old man was a site I wish that I could forget. He was ancient and wicked looking, with wrinkles so deep that they appeared to sink into his skull. All the was left of his white hair were a patch of knotted and tangled strands. Some of the hairs looked to be stained with urine and feces. He was wretched and beat up. The black bags hanging under his eyes matched the few teeth he had left wrotting in his head. He smelled like burned flesh and gin. All I could manage to get out of my mouth was "Screw the gun, I'd rather have a Pete Rose card." In my head I could see the 1986 Topps Pete Rose baseball card. I walked down the stairs, into the shop and just as everything turned white around me, I realized that I was seeing things from the old mans eyes and that he was smiling. I woke up after that and as bad as I wanted to finish the dream, I knew it was gone and I stepped out of bed to start my day. That was that. Another weird one for you. Have a good weekend everybody.

    17 Dec 04 - It’s my day off of work again and I really needed this one. I’m taking today and escaping from everyone and every thing here. It’s just one of those days I need solitude and space. After the gym I’ll be found sitting in my tent reading, writing and listening to music. I may head up to the MWR to study for a while and work on my Italian but that’s only if the tent is too dark to read in. Things are back to normal tomorrow and I’m going to be hot on getting some new pictures up on the site. It’s also time for a new quote since no one got the last one. I will make this one easier. Anyway, after I’m done hitting refresh on my patience, I’ll be back tomorrow so that I can catch back up to my intentions

    16 Dec 04 - Good evening. The holidays are quickly approaching and things are slowly getting brighter here at beautiful Camp Victory. On my nightly journey to midnight chow I can't help but sing the Christmas classic, known around the world as, "Oh Christmas Palm". Our tactical environment is quickly becoming a wonderland of lights and holiday cheer. Okay, well maybe I’m exaggerating a little. There are lights on two of the palm trees and there is a white reindeer pulling a sleigh sitting on the ground beside one of the trees. A small Christmas tree sits atop the International dining facility roof and a lot of the civilians here have been wearing camouflage Santa hats as well as other miscellaneous holiday garb. Yesterday I saw a small military transport vehicle (aka: green golf cart) with a festive Rudolph antenna ornament. The ornament swayed back and forth, its shiny plastic fur sparkling in the remaining light of the setting sun. I chuckled to myself kept walking. A lot of the buildings have small plastic trees and I could be wrong but I think the PX was playing a Latin Christmas Carol CD yesterday. Yes, things are really jolly in the desert. On a much dimmer note, I have dodged being hit by two trucks and just barely missed being hit by one of the buses. The bus came close and fast enough that as I jump out of the way, my foot actually hit the side paneling just behind the front passenger side wheel. Either the drivers are reading my journal entries and are angry at me or Murphy’s Law applies as much to me here as it does in the states. After coming so close to becoming road kill so many times in one week, you might be asking yourself what I am doing wrong. I swear that it’s not me. There is so much traffic at some of these intersections I have to cross that there is no choice but to hope that the drivers obey the “laws” here and come to a complete stop at the sign. The two trucks rolled the signs and of course they don’t use their turn signals so it’s always a guessing game as to which direction they are going turn. Folks, don’t worry about the mortars, car bombs or rockets…no…worry about the complacency of lazy Americans that can’t take the time to do the right thing and make a complete stop, regardless of the danger they are causing to others. I’m so proud to be an American but sometimes it’s embarrassing. Now that I’m on a rant, I’d like to bring attention to the reason why so many other nations think Americans are wasteful. Every meal that I enjoy here ends in the disposal of a plastic plate and utensils. While I am pouring my trash into the garbage can, I can’t help but notice what remains on the plates of others around me. I’ll remind you again that it’s not everyone but it doesn’t have to be everyone. You all know the saying, “One bad apple can spoil the whole bunch.” I see plates with so much food left on them, I have to wonder if the person carrying the tray even ate. One plate carried chicken cordon blue, some ribs and a chunk of Swiss steak. Not only is that a waste of food but I just cannot comprehend why someone would take so much. I’ll be the first to admit that the food isn’t that good but it’s not that bad. It’s not so bad that it becomes necessary to get one piece of everything on the menu just to make sure you’ll get something you like. There have been many times where I’ve walked up to the line and not had a clue what any of the main dishes are. Your choice tonight is tan slop, red slop or brown slop….what is that? Oh sir, that’s the fried slop. Mmmmmmm. I usually make the mystery slop nights my salad and oatmeal night or go out on a limb and try my luck but I have never been so wasteful to take some of everything with the intent to only eat what I like and dispose of the rest. Back to the bus that almost took me out. I know I had been blaming Americans for the intolerable driving here but the bus drivers are mostly Filipino. All I’m saying is monkey see, monkey do. The driver didn’t even try to stop at the intersection and accelerated through the turn. I had to hightail it past the bumper of the bus so that it wouldn’t clip me at the knees. I’ll admit that I let my anger get the best of me. When I say that my foot hit the side panel, what I should say is that I mule kicked the side of the bus to let him know what had just happened and to vent. If I’m going to find my end here, it’s not going to be because I got hit by a bus, I can tell you that. That’s been my week. Despite the sarcastic undertones in the way I talked about the Holiday décor; it’s actually quite nice, makes things humorous and the environment has been much more enjoyable. A lot of the churches and groups have been sending care packages and stuff for the soldiers. Most of them need phone cards so that they can call home. If anyone would like to take up a collection of items to ship to the soldiers, you may send them to me and I will bring the box to the MWR (Morale, Welfare and Recreation) center. Here’s the address.

  • Jeremy D Brizzi
  • ITT-TAC-SWA
  • Camp Victory, Iraq
  • Building #8
  • APO AE 09342

    16 Dec 04 - I promised myself a more interesting update but it's going to have to wait until tomorrow. I signed on to Instant Messenger and can hardly keep up with the conversations. All is well in my state of bliss. Talk to you all soon.

    15 Dec 04 - Sorry about the delay in updating this thing. I tried to change my webhost and the company (ip01) is terrible. The site has been down for the last day and a half but as you can tell is back up and running. I fixed everything and am back where I belong. It might cost me a little more to stay with Angelfire but at least they know what they are doing. Everything is great. Erik and I may be getting to transfer to another site and we are both pretty excited about it. We're hoping for an International Base in the south - something closer to Kuwait and a whole lot safer. Guess we'll have to wait and see what happens. Robin Williams and John Elway came to visit the soldiers today. We tried to catch the bus over to the show but the bus was overloaded. The drivers here like to take there sweet time and we decided not to wait for another one. If there is ever a chance that Henry Rollins might come back to visit again, I will be camping out over night. Other than that, not much else is new. I haven't gotten very many, okay, I've gotten one guess at the quote and it was nowhere even close to being right. If by Sunday, I don't have a correct answer, the quote will be changed and it will be something a whole lot easier. Has anyone tried that Snickers and Slurpy? Come on people, I need you all to work with me here. Just think, if you're the only one to try it and the only one to write a review, you are gauranteed a genuine, "Slurpy the Camel". You just can't beat that deal! What's not to like, Slurpy - GOOD, Snickers - GOOD. You can't lose. Have a good night.

    13 Dec 04 - Hey. I'm off of work today and I haven't slept in nearly three days. I'm going to dinner, to the gym and then I'm going to bed. I'll write more tomorrow.

    12 Dec 04 - UPDATE! I have added a "SITE DIRECTORY". Everything that could formerly be accessed from the main page is now available in its own link in this section. I will keep up to three days of updates on the Main Page. Journal entries for the current month will be in the "Current Journal" link and all other entries will be archived and available in the "Archived Journals" link.

    12 Dec 04 - UPDATE! I figured out how to compress my music files to make them smaller and have finally posted music to "The Last DJ" Blog. Go to the blog, listen to the song and post your review. Bands and musicians, start sending me your tunes and get them heard by others. If you haven't noticed, I've had over 2000 hits in just under a month and it's spreading faster. Send me the band name, a name of the song and where you are from. The format can be WAV but I prefer MP3. Take note that the files are compressed and some sound quality will be compromised but it won't be bad. More changes coming as I dig deeper. Work with me guys and we could get something really cool going.

    12 Dec 04 - UPDATE! I finally bought my laptop and am one step closer to finishing my book. I now have access to Yahoo Messenger and am on there as PrimoBrizzi (primobrizzi@yahoo.com). JeremyBrizzi@hotmail will remain my primary address but if you would like to Instant Message or send me MP3's, please do so to my yahoo account. MP3's have a 5MB size limit on my website. I am working on getting that changed and will let you know when they do. There is another daily conversation piece underneath this one. Later!

    12 Dec 04 - Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to the Wild West. I'm beginning to believe that this is a lawless land. Every time I cross the street is like playing character in a live military version of "Frogger". Trucks, HMMWV's, service vehicles - it doesn't matter - they all accelerate without caution between the speed bumps and barely tap the breaks when crossing through intersections. You never know when a truck is going to change directions or go off-road and invent a shortcut. You have to remember that there is no illumination on this base at night. We live in a tactical environment. Vehicles use headlights but use no caution when driving. If it wasn't for the speed bumps, I'm sure pedestrians - if you can call us that - would be getting hit more often. I don’t want to make it sound like we are wandering blindly through the streets but you really have to be here to understand what it’s like. There is a constant symphony of gunfire during the day. The M9's, M16's, M249's, 50 Cals and so on, all make their wicked crack against my eardrums while I try to sleep. Every fifteen minutes or so, a couple of helicopters pass over so close that my tent shakes. Service workers walk in and out of the tents during the day, turning on lights and such while we try to sleep. Progress and growth here is so rapid, that buildings disappear from one spot and are replaced by three others all while I sleep. There have been times where I felt lost because things had changed so much in the eight hours after my head touched the pillow. Soldiers and civilians all walk the base, bodies strapped with weapons, semi-automatic rifles draped over their shoulders and I with my flashlight, wondering what might happen if ever a serious fight broke out. The fight at R&B night was pretty bad and a lot of people were hurt but no one pulled a gun. It’s going to happen sooner or later. Sitting in the chow hall eating dinner is like being the gay kid in the locker room. That’s the easiest way to describe what it feels like to be a civilian here. I’m laid back enough that it doesn’t really get to me but I can still feel it. I just keep to myself, watch what I talk about and try not to make the soldiers dislike me any more than they already do. I also try to communicate with soldiers on a friendly level as often as possible. Once they find out that most of us have been there and done that or know what we are here doing and why, the tempers usually deflate. The new soldiers coming in are here with their grudges preinstalled. I can see that this cycle of deflating misconceptions is going to be constant and unending. Some of us are living with up to 13 people, in tents that are designed for 10. I’m lucky to only have four in my tent and cannot complain. I don’t actually mind being here and the majority my time here has been a cakewalk so far. In some cases I’m having fun and enjoying myself. My time here has a lot of promise and the opportunities to enhance the quality of life is abundant. A lot of the soldiers and I’m sure there are civilians guilty of the same, display attitudes and discontent by expressing total disregard for the environment. They write on the walls of the latrines and phone boxes. They spit on their own quarters, leave trash, toilet paper and used tissue where it falls. In many ways I have to assume that many go out of their way to make messes instead of taking half of the effort to clean up after themselves. I don’t want to come off as aggressive against the soldiers. I’m sure it’s just a matter of there being a few bad seeds but things are getting worse and attitudes are growing dissolute. Hopefully the elections will go smoother than I expect them to and the units being involuntarily extended to stay here through the elections will go home once the elections are complete. With the new chain of command in place and space and comfort opened back up to them, things should calm down. Right now the energy in the air is yellow, bitter and strange. I live at night here and miss a lot of the crap but I’ve stayed up many days and felt the pressure that emanates with the clutter. All in all, things here are tolerable and at times enjoyable but never comfortable. I don’t mean comfortable at a physical level either, I speak of conscious and aura. Again, I’m not complaining, I’m just relating what I feel and see here on a daily basis. Please keep these soldiers in your hearts; not a one that I have met wants to be here or seems to fully understand the weight of the burden that each carries for the Iraqi people. And the Iraqi people don’t fully understand or believe that we are really here to help them, which makes our jobs even harder than they already are. We are going to be in this place for a very long time but in the end, things in what will become our history will change and for that blink in time, we might eventually feel like we did something right. The funny thing is that we share their distrust in the United States government. Like the Iraqi’s, most Americans are wary of our presence in Iraq as well. I cannot tell you the intent our government had in coming here but I can tell you that these soldiers, these displaced many are doing the right thing. They are here to help and they are making a difference. We are rebuilding this nation one day at a time and while the media may only reflect the negative aspects of this so-called War, our soldiers are doing work here that you should all be proud of and not skeptical. I may complain that they spit on the floors of the place that houses them and then give them praise but it’s all reflective. The bounds they make in progress are many and I cannot relate my appreciation and respect of their sacrifice and efforts. I may be unable to ignore the reflection shown by the actions that they take when they think no one is looking but please don’t let that supersede the multitude of good that our military and volunteers are creating here. That’s all I have to say about that. Have a great weekend.

    11 Dec 04 - THE BEARD GROWTH COMPETITION has begun. Today is day 0 and Erik and I are both clean shaven. We have both agreed not to shave until we go on vacation in April. There is a photo album link below and the first Quote has been posted as well. Guess the quote and be the first to e-mail me the name of the movie that it's from and you will receive a 100% genuine gift from Iraq. Good luck.

    10 Dec 04 - Okay, I'm almost positive that this guy is nuts but he stands by his word and I have no choice but to turn to my friends for help. My coworker and friend here in Iraq, Erik swears up and down that the next best thing to heaven is the simple combination of a Cherry Slurpy and a Snickers bar. "If eaten together correctly, it just doesn't get any better" he says. I don't eat Snickers but I do think they are good and I don't have access to Cherry slurpies, so I need as many people as I can to take one for the team and try this strange combination. There are two ways to do it, the first being the simplest way but the second being the preferred method. The simple: Take a bite (not too big) of your Snickers bar and then fill the reservoir of your mouth with Cherry slurpy and chew them both together. Do not swallow the slurpy first and then chew. The harder, messier and probably the way I would choose to do while wearing a brand new white tee-shirt is to first fill the pelican portion of your mouth with Cherry Slurpy and then take a bite of snickers (again, not too big). I don't get it and I can't try it but I need some reviews. Is this a tasty little treat, pure heaven or the most disgusting thing you have ever tried in your life? Either way, it's sure to pack some killer brain freeze, a few laughs and one heck of a sugar buzz. Lyndsy, I propose a class field trip to 7-Eleven for a little research project. Let me know guys and please send reviews. The best review for Snack Heaven or Pure Snack Hell will receive a FREE GIFT from yours truly. This gift is dubbed with the name Slurpy, that's right, Slurpy the Camel.

    10 Dec 04 - UPDATE! I have added a new subdirectory and my November Journal Entries are now available in the Site Links section.

    09 Dec 04 - One of our supervisors has been living in one of the guntowers. There is another tower that no one is living in. Erik and I are going to talk to the mayor to see about fixing it up a little bit if we can move in. We won't lose any money because the person who takes it over after us will have to pay us for it and we will be in a much safer place, with a lot better living conditions, a private shower and all the comforts of home. The only thing we'll have to deal with is the scorpions when it gets hot out again. Guess we'll see what happens.

    08 Dec 04 - The two day streak has ended. I had a bad feeling that today was the day when I got to shower tent one and the power was out. Add three thousand troops, subtract one shower tent and what you get is ice cold water. I wonder how many WWII and Vietnam veterans are shaking their head at us complaining about not having a hot shower. WWII vets slept in the snow and lost life and limb to trench foot and frost bite. Vietnam veterans spent days and weeks in a sweltering jungle heat so thick with humidity you could hardly breathe and my biggest complaint is that I didn't get a warm shower. I'm going to quote and follow the words of every Drill Sergeant I ever had, "Suck it up and drive on." Just another day in paradise and I’m doing fine.

    07 Dec 04 - HOT SHOWER!!! TWO DAYS IN A ROW!!! WOOHOO!!! "I think it's going to be some kind of a record!" Thanks for my Christmas stuff Cher. You are the best! I'm happy to report that I have absolutely no news. I was off of work last night. Erik got off of work at midnight. We went the gym and then stayed up all night playing video games to pass the time and stay on schedule. I'm not much for games but it was a nice break from the norm. After we beat the game, we watched Van Helsing and then we crashed. I had some messed up dream about storming an underground Nazi stronghold. There was supposed to be an old Nazi commune populated by a society of crazy fools trying to rebuild the Nazi Army. I have no idea where my brain comes up with this crap. Another guy and I made our way through Europe to an old rusted out service tunnel of some sort. We walked through a barely lit corridor. It was dank, wet and musty. When we finally got to the place where everyone was hiding, it was like a scene out of deliverance. The Nazis had a bunch of farm animals. They had a pig named Hitler and were convinced that his ghost was reincarnate to the pig. You could only enter the lair if the pig opened the gate to let you in. Once inside, we were surrounded by what must have been a hundred kittens. There were around eight or nine redneck Nazis and each looked slightly confused and definitely dumb at our presence. They all spoke with a weird southern twang, had slightly misshapen heads and Zoolander style hair with patches missing. I don't know what was up with this dream. All I can think is that we were playing a WWII era game and earlier that day at the gym, I had been working out to the NASCAR awards show. I can’t stand NASCAR but in Iraq, you take what they give you. All I can say is, "Thank God for headphones." Other than that...I don't have a clue and I think I'd rather forget that one.

    06 Dec 04 - Today, I must say was very interesting. Rather than do the smart thing after work (go to the gym and then to bed), I stayed up half the day hanging out with Erik. The next thing I know it's 3PM, I haven't slept and have to be at work in 5 hours. I used to practice sleep deprivation and have gone nearly three days without a problem but today, I....want.....to....go....to....be...d! My batteries are just a little low. I skipped the gym tonight and have been functioning off of coffee. The first portion of shift everything was funny but now I am sitting in silence like a stone, typing and counting the seconds until breakfast. I must reserve my energy. One of our coworkers is on vacation for the next month and left me the key to his place so that I can get away from the tent. The trailers are like small studio apartments. They have carpet, hard walls, normal lights and a real bed. The power is commercial and there are no generators outside beating their rhythm into my head. It was the best sleep I've had since I left home. When I woke for work I walked like a zombie back to tent city, now brazenly referred to as "The Ghetto", to get ready for work. I walked into my pitch black tent and tripped over a number of obstacles that weren't in the tent when I last left. I fumbled my way to the switch box and turned on the power for the light and then stumbled my way over to the lights and felt around for the lights switch. With the lights finally on, I found the obstacles to be new cots brought to our tent in preparation for the arrival of the incoming soldiers. Reinforcements are being brought in for the elections. The population of our tent is going to go from 4 to 12 people in the next thirty days. The population of our base is going to go from 14,000 to 17,000 in the same. On top of that news, I also found out that civilians are being frozen on the trailer list and soldiers being placed ahead of us. The soldiers deserve the luxury, so that’s cool but after seeing how much better life is in the trailers, I can't help but sour at the thought of spending at least four more months in a tent. At this point, getting to take a shower with warm water is like winning the lottery. The population increase guarantees two months of ice cold water and as I've said, it's not exactly warm here in the winter. I guess it is what it is and I’m still happy to have the opportunity to be here. When the paycheck comes, I’m all smiles!

    05 Dec 04 - I have to admit, this place is pretty lame on a Saturday night. I dreamed that I bought a cafe/bar last night and it turned out that the old owner was a blues legend who was selling it off so that he could head south. The walls were filled with pictures of bands that had played there over the years - Old jazz bands that I have never heard of or seen and long dead blues men whose music I had never heard. Most of the guys in Malfunktion were setting up to test do a sound check while Jim and I wandered around the building. At the end of the hall was a door that led to the liquor room. We smiled and walked in. The room was still fully stocked. Curiously enough, there was a photo on the wall. The picture was nothing special, just the old owner and another guy with their hands on each others back, heads kicked back and laughing about something. Jim noticed that the picture wasn't flush against the wall and I reached up to straighten it. When I did the picture moved away from the wall like it was on hinges and behind the photo was a hole with a key dangling in it. Taking down the key, Jim and I looked at each other and simultaneously blurted, "No way". We turned and frantically started searching for the door. Our search seemed to turn up nothing until I noticed a stack of old whiskey boxes of a brand which I have heard. The boxes were covered with dust and seemed like they had been sitting there since before prohibition. Like I knew what I was doing I walked over and moved the top box. Behind it was the frame of a door. Jim and I moved the boxes as fast as we could and stared at the door, amazed at what we were seeing. The key fit and was a little gritty when we turned it but it turned well enough. The door open with a creek and we both winced like we were doing something wrong. Jim said to me, "What the heck are we freaking out about man, we own this place...let's go." The entry on the other side of the door was dark, damp and cool - of course. I stepped in slow and felt my way with the edge of my foot. "There's a step." and I continued to move forward. The step was the first in many that led down a spiral staircase. At the bottom was another door. I couldn't see Jim but I could feel his energy as I searched for the handle through what seemed like an eternities making in cobwebs. At last my hand found a knob. I twisted and it turned with a click. I pushed the door open and found on the other side a dimly lit room. It was hard to see anything but we made our way around slowly in hopes that we would find a light. As I turned a corner and bumped into what felt like a leather chair, a light clicked on and I turned to see Jim's jaw drop open with awe. The room was immaculate and huge. In the corner on the other side of the room was a large oak bar. The floors were hardwood and there were a number of tables. They were card tables - craps, roullette, poker and so on. It was an underground bar and casino. On the walls were pictures of, not blues men but what appeared to be the who's who of the old organized crime world. If you lived in the 20's through the 50's and were named Bugsy, Al, or had a nickname that was related to something painful...your picture was here. There were bottles of scotch so old that the labels had deteriorated and so much priceless antique memorabilia it was unfathomable. Jim and I couldn't believe what we were seeing, nor did we have a clue what to do or how to proceed from here. This must have been a speakeasy or hideout or something. Do we tell anyone or keep it a secret? Do we try and sell a place that we can hardly afford anyway and try to make a mint off of this treasure or do we; before we could figure anything out, the old Blues man walked in. He smiled and said to us that "This place has been kept secret for over fifty years and I've chosen the two of you to carry on the silence. I just didn't expect that you'd find it so fast." He said that the walls that surround us carry more history than we could ever hope to understand and that it deserves the respect of an owner that understands nostalgia and the true meaning of value. I turned to Jim and back to the old Blues man and before I could try to communicate my confusion, he turned and said. "I chose the two of you because I can see the music in you. Over time you will appreciate this gift for its meaning, more than for its value and the music you make from it will open your soul to a past so thick with the blues and the energy of life that you'll feel like you are about to explode with joy at every note you play. It's hard to understand now but you'll get it." He walked over and poured three shots of Whiskey from an dusty oak bottle that could have belonged to Al Capone himself. "This bottles it almost as old as me" he said with a deep chuckle. "Underneath my shot glass is the deed to the bar and the same letter I received that convinced me to keep the secret. I want to leave this world knowing that this place will be kept a secret. Take this drink with me and the place is yours in full, right now. This shot is my handshake and all I need to know that your word is good." Jim and I looked at each other and could see that we have never agreed on something so much as we did now. This place would hold its secret. The bluesman could rest easy and the deed to this bar would allow us to follow our dreams even more than we than we had hoped. Without the struggle of trying to pay the bills, we could focus on music instead of second jobs and on keeping the soul of this place alive. We raised the glasses to the old man and he smiled when he saw the understanding in our eyes. We left the deed on the table, closed the door behind us and left the room with the Bluesman. Jim joined his crew on the stage and I walked to the bar to speak with the staff. We were opening the doors in two hours and there was still a lot to do. The old Bluesman got into his black convertible Cadillac and offered a wave of his left hand as he drove by the windows. The head bartender turned to me and asked, "What the heck are you so happy about?" "Just excited to open this place up is all...you ready?" - "Don't let your dreams be dreams." - Jack Johnson. NEW PICS ARE UP!

    04 Dec 04 - The crew and I ordered a few wiffle ball bats and a bunch of balls today. Yes, it has come to that already. I'm driving them nuts because I can't stop saying, "I did it like this. I did it like that. I did with a wiffle ball bat. Wellllll!" That's pretty much all the interesting news that I have for the day. I will be posting a lot of new pics tomorrow and am still waiting and hoping for pics from you all. The friends and family album is growing but not as fast as I would like. I have a lot of slackers in my crew! What's up with that? We are having some supply issues here and are in the middle of a water shortage. Apparently the same problem affecting the water is affecting the mail and that has been slowed as well. I hope that doesn't mean my wiffle balls are going to be delayed. Can't have that. It's 4AM on my day off. Another hour and a half until breakfast, then back to the gym again and I'm crashing. HARD! Have a good weekend everyone. Get in some trouble, have some fun but don't hurt anyone. Beard pic will be posting soon enough!

    03 Dec 04 - Oh man...it's not easy being Breezy. A few people here have been calling me "babyface" because I can't really grow a beard. My buddy Erik has to shave twice a day to keep his stubble down and keeps asking me if I'm going to stop messing around and actually grow "that thing". Keep in mind that I haven't shaved my face in three weeks and I haven't used a razor on it in over a month. I'm trying, I really am, and it just doesn't seem to want to happen. This has become my main mission in life. If by the end of this year, I cannot successfully make myself look like Grizzly Adams, I will never try again. I guess I should be grateful that I don't have hairy shoulders or a hairy back. Oh well, we'll see, actually you all will because I am going to provide the new and exciting "BEARD GROWTH UPDATES". Once a month, depending on my progress, I will post a picture with a "BEARD GROWTH UPDATE". Attached to the photo will be a movie quote of my choice...that's right...a movie quote. What's the correlation? There isn't one. What's the point? The first person to correctly guess the name of the movie that I am quoting and send me an e-mail with the name of the movie in the subject line will win a "FREE GIFT" from the Hodgy shop...sent by me. Rules...you must be in the United States to play. If you are here, what's the point, go and get your own crap, I mean, priceless gifts from the hodgy shop. Also...and here's the kicker. If you are not a student of Lyndsy's and you win the prize but would like to donate your winnings to her class, just let me know and I will send it to them but you won’t lose out because I will also send you one! In the words of my mother, "SUCH A DEAL!" The first beard photo will be posted soon. I would like to thank a plethora of extreme boredom and a severely overactive imagination for the previously stated idea.

    02 Dec 04 - I'm alive. That's all for now. Guess no news is good news.

    01 Dec 04 - Ahhhh...finally. I got my Peets coffee in the mail and my protein. My guitar is ordered and life is good. I've been having a heck of a time sleeping these last few days. I get off at midnight tonight, am going to hit the gym and crash early to see if I can get on track again. I've been rolling around in my cot for hours on end, four today alone, just trying to nod off. It doesn't help that my dreams have been totally bizarre and twisted. Last night I dreamed that I bought a house in the suburbs of New York City. Even though I owned the house, there was an old man inside who wouldn't move out. He was rickety, decrepit and evil. Every time I would paint something or make a repair, he would tear it down or spread dirt over the walls. This went on and on until he became homicidal and came after me with a broken shard of glass from a mirror. I'm not sure that I understand the end but his dead wife had slept with his the crazy mans brother and had a child. His wife had actually been the owner of the house and had left it to the child. The child abandoned the house years earlier and left his father behind. Held by a strange feeling he drove by one day when heading through town and stopped because he saw our cars in the driveway. He walked in as the old man was laughing, coughing and wailing curses at me. The old man realized that he couldn't get to me with the glass and took the shard to his cheek. He began to cut through the wrinkles, dirt and dry melanoma flaked skin. The son stopped him and told the story of why his mother had left him the house. The old man had been abusive, alcoholic and cruel to both his wife and the children. The brother had come to her and explained that he wanted to take her away. Over time they fell in love but had died before they could make their escape. At the telling of this story, the old man lost hope and fell weeping to his knees, while the son apologized and told us that we would have no more problems. My dreams have been vivid, consistently deranged and completely unique from each other. There are plenty more where that came from. If I don't have anything else to share, I'll share my dreams...nightmares...whatever you want to call them. I may not get great sleep but at least it's interesting.

    01 Dec 04 - All right ya'll! Yeeha! It's December 1st here and don't care if it's November there still. I'm the one counting...yes, already. I can officially say that one month is down, only eleven to go. Things are great. I think I'm finally all settled in and finding my groove. It's still early but I know the cruise control is bound to kick in here sooner or later and that will be that - at least enough of a wave to ride until I get to Spain. Start thinking about those New Years resolutions now; at least you'll have pondered them longer than it'll have taken you to break them. Come on 2005...the odd ones are always the best. At least that's what I keep telling myself. Huh? What? One big blue eye staring down at me just before it checks on you.

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    NOVEMBER ARCHIVES

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    29 Nov 04 - I'm off tonight but I came in to update the site and check for mail and messages. I have made some pretty obvious changes to the site and will be cleaning them up but please tell me what you think. Also, if you have you business or band linked to my site and would like me to add your logo, please e-mail it to me as a JPEG and it will be done. I was lucky enough to walk into the office just as a fresh pot of Starbucks finished brewing. I've been eating smaller meals at least 5 or 6 times a day and sometimes 7. It sounds like a lot but I feel great and have energy all day. I actually made it a full day without coffee and didn't notice. I'm not sure how I feel about that but it is nice to feel healthy again. I'm actually hungry all of the time but mostly because with so much time on my hands, I've been in the gym twice a day. It's strange here in limbo, how the time flies but doesn't really seem to get anywhere. I've made some good friends here and have been passing the time with them, getting spanked at ping pong but spanking them back at Spades (Thanks Grandma). I laughed when one of the guys said that Ping Pong is a good work out but got pretty worked up when we played. All I could think about while we played was Forrest Gump. Of course I can't do anything and not be dramatic about it, so while he stands still and easily dinks the ball back to me; I'm diving, falling and contorting my body into all sorts of unnecessary positions. I figured that if I can't beat him gracefully, I'll just make him laugh so hard that he has to screw up. It didn't work but it was still a good time and it burns a couple hours off of the night. The cynical and inquisitive person that I am still didn't believe that it was a good workout, so I checked on line and sure enough, 120 minutes of Ping Pong burns on average, almost 700-800 calories. That's a piece of cake and some calories to spare...good deal if you ask me. Tonight is more of the same - eat, gym, e-mail, read, write and sleep...second verse same as the first. Have a good night everyone, it's almost December. I'm off to eat some cake. COME ON NEW YEARS!

    28 Nov 04 - HEEEYYYYY YOOUUUU GUUYYYSSSS! I've added some photos. There are some new "Friends and Family" pics, as well as some new pictures from over here. I've been sleeping in a lot the last few days, so I don't have as many pics as I would like but it's not like I don't have plenty of time left. Hope you like what I did put up. As a reminder, I will be archiving my daily logs for November, on December 1st and will continue do so every two weeks. I had to buy a sweatshirt today. It got down to 28 degrees last night. It was also 100% humidity and you all know what kind of bite that can have when mixed with cold. The Fall Marathon was run this morning. Hundreds of soldiers and civilians braved the cold, most dressed in a t-shirt and shorts to run the distance. I'm hoping there is another one in the spring. If so, I'm in and you can count on that. Last night, at both MWR centers was R&B night. Two full blown brawls broke out at both...soldiers fighting soldiers. I have been to a lot of shows, bars and clubs. Of all the shows I have ever been to, the only problems I ever seem to run into are at R&B style shows. I don't know what the issue is, whether it's tension or the following behind the music and I'm not trying to start any issues but I just don't get it. Maybe my music is too chill or maybe the people at the shows I go to are too "happy" but I have never seen much more than a light argument - Soldiers fighting soldiers over some BS - I love some good R&B (Well...the real stuff) and I can even enjoy what people consider R&B (corporate over produced Pop) these days but I cannot begin to understand the actions of the goons that seem to follow this music. Maybe it's the anxiety built up from time away from home or an overflow of pent up testosterone but it's just not civilized. Another week down...they just seem to be flying by.

    27 Nov 04 - I got my first letter and my first package in the mail. The average time it seems to take for stuff to get here is 7-14 days. Shipping to an APO is no different than mailing something within the US. You only need to use one stamp. Brian man, thanks for the pics and the card. Vegas is a definite must when I get back. PLEASE E-MAIL ME WITH YOUR ADDRESS OR BLOG IT. If I don't get your address, you won't be getting anything for Xmas, so there's your motivation. If I already have your address, ignore me and start giving everyone else a hard time. I've started writing in my second journal; the first is a collection of notes, experiences and random thoughts from the time I stepped on the plain in Chicago to the time I stepped off the plain in Iraq. I have since been caught up in this website but have regained focus and am again working in my journal (Thanks Ma and Joe!). This journal however is leaving the daily accounts for the website and I am only writing whatever it is that my mind tells me to - free writing in a way. I've decided to take my thoughts, uncensored and unfiltered, straight from my head and direct to paper, so if you thought I was hard to understand before; it's only going to get worse with this journal. Why am I telling you this? Most people that know me are aware that I have been working on a book for some time now. The book is done and will be sent to the printer in the next few months. I plan to follow suit with my logs, updates and journals from here as well. For those that don't know me very well, I have established my own publishing company and will be putting out my work and upon my return hope to expand to publish the work of others. I will be archiving my daily updates to save space on this site as of December 1. Hope everyone had a great holiday and is ready for the Christmas rush.

    25 Nov 04 - HAPPY Thanksgiving everybody! Got up this morning at about quarter to six and made my way over to MWR (Morale, Welfare and Recreation) for the annual Victory Base, Thanksgiving 5K Run. As you know I hadn't been feeling very well but I was happy with my time of 21 minutes flat. Take into account (my excuses) that the roads here are terrible and the course was not isolated from traffic for the run. We ran around HMMWV's, trucks, other people, through roads caked with mud, and other roads with globs of hardened asphalt taking its toll on our knees and ankles with every step. As I approached the finish line my direct path was blocked by a caravan of semi trucks and I was forced to run long ways down and around them and then back towards the finish. It was a fun run, despite the lack of organization. My hands were numb from the cold. This place has been getting down to the low 40's and upper 30's at night but I and all the others still found it necessary to run in shorts and a tee-shirt. When I tried to go to chow after the run, I walked into the DFAC (dining facility) and found that the power was out. I head to the next facility, had some grub and then crashed. At dinner, I made my way around the DFAC and took pictures. As soon as things slow down at work, I will post them. On my way back from dinner, I walked past a group of soldiers preparing their trucks for convoy operations. The 50 cal guns jutting out from the roofs made the mood a little heavier when I realized that it's just another day in paradise. For those that pray please give a thought to the soldiers that are working here. They have eaten some turkey, cranberry sauce and drank some sparkling grape juice but their night has just begun. Rather than watching John Madden give turkey legs to the player of the game, hundred of souls will be patrolling the war ravaged streets of Baghdad, Fallujah and hoping that they can get back in time to make a call home to say hello to their husband, wife, son, daughter, father or mother. Tonight is a blessing for many and a pit in the stomach for many others. For the others, I raise my glass to you tonight and say thanks. Happy Thanksgiving.

    24 Nov 04 - I'm pretty tired today so this is going to be short. The internet has been acting up all night and it wasn't until just now 7AM (11 hours into my shift - we work 60 hour weeks) that I've been able to get through. The only interesting note I have to share is the scene I woke up to yesterday afternoon. I was having one my consistently crazy and incomprehensible dreams that started once I got here and was rudely woken up by a tank rolling by on the street just outside my tent. Startled and curious (not a good thing to be in a war zone) I rubbed my eyes and wandered outside in my pajamas to check things out. Just as I thought, there is a tank blocking the road and as my mind catches up to my eyes, I begin to realize that the roads all around my tent are roped off and nobody is being let through. Soldiers in full battle gear are clearing the area and yet here I am standing outside my tent scratching my head like I'm just stepping out to get the milk and the paper. As I go unnoticed, I see a handler come onto the scene with his search dog. At first, I'm like, "Hey look at the cute little puppy" and then I think to myself..."Tank + ropes + body armor + search dog = bomb” Maybe I should go back into the tent and relax behind all my sandbags....NAH! I want to see what's going to happen. The dog is released and with a wave of his handlers hand he obeys, nose kicking up dust as he tries to sniff out the key to obtaining his treat. The brown and white pup scrolls and pans the road left to right and then stops at a black Ford Expedition parked in the lot about 25 meters from my tent. "Maybe I should go back inside my tent now", I think again and again I choose to stay and watch, totally engaged in the situation unfolding before me. It wasn't until the handler and a few of the heavily armored soldiers walked over and opened the truck that I was sure it was just a training mission. If there were actually a bomb inside the truck, no one would have touched it. Just as I was about to lose interest, another of the soldiers watching the perimeter told me to get behind the sandbags. "If that truck explodes you will die " he says to me. Just he is turning to look back at the truck, one of the asian gym employees makes his way past all the guards and decides to check things out himself. He gets right up next to the truck and sticks his face against the glass before three guards start screaming at him to "STEP AWAY FROM THE VEHICLE SIR". He turns with a smile having no idea why these people are screaming at him and is quickly ushered away, being talked to in a quiet but obviously abrasive manner. That was about as funny as it needed to get for me and I stepped back into the tent, settled back into my cot and restarted the engine churning out my consistently twisted dreams. HAVE A GREAT THANKSGIVING!!! GOBBLE GOBBLE!

    21 Nov 04 - Tomorrow is my day off and I am planning on taking a break from the computer to get some reading done. Today was a standard issue day until about 6PM when standing alone in my room, ironing my clothes and getting ready for work, the sound of prayer flooded my tent. The evening prayer began, the voice amplified from the top of a mosque somewhere out in the night. Usually the voice is cracked and muffled because of the cheap and worn speakers that they use but tonight the singing was crisp and the voice was soulful and wet with emotion. I listened deeply while I got ready and was really moved by the amount of energy with which these people, the Muslim conduct life and put into their faith. Prayer isn't just church on Sunday for them; it's everyday and many times a day at that. For some here, the prayer is a noisy nuisance but for me, on this night, I can only compare it to the feeling of what it is like to see Buddy Guy live - to know what it is to feel the blues. It may not sound like the blues. It may not groove like the blues but it sure dose have the feel and for an hour tonight, I identified with these people - not in faith, lifestyle or politics but in the soul, where it matters. I hope there are others here with me as introspective. I'd hate to think that I am alone. I'm reading Walden now and the following quote hit me like a brick. "Could a greater miracle take place than for us to look through each other's eyes for an instant?" Tonight I heard and felt. I cannot say that I understand this place or the actions of its people but being here has helped me to recognize a discernible difference in what it is to be American and what it is to be seen as one. I am a stranger in a strange land but I am where I am meant to be.

    21 Nov 04 - ALERT!!! Please send me your address by either posting to a blog or by sending an e-mail to jeremybrizzi@hotmail.com It's that time of year again.

    20 Nov 04 - I began my last entry by saying that there are practically no lights to speak of on this base. Tonight, in the dark and walking in my flip flops I kicked a rock. It hurt. A lot. Ouch. I started teaching myself Italian yesterday and am pretty excited about the ease at which I seem to be picking it up. It's not that hard of a language and a lot of the words are the same as ours. On the other hand, after an hour of rolling my R's, my tongue goes numb and I lose the ability to say much of anything. I started reading Walden tonight (Henry David Thoreau). My friend Lyndsy got it for me as a going away gift. Actually, she got me the Italian training course as well. Lyndsy...you rock! I will be posting new photos tomorrow and have decided that Sunday will be post day. Every Weds I will also update the blog logs as well, so that they stay easy to read. I'm starting to get pictures from friends and family but would like as many as I can get, so keep them coming. It's nice to see you all. I've also decided that I am going to try and take photos with a soldier from every nation that I can find. There are many. Poland, Georgia, Lithuania, Romania, Turkey, Italy, Britian, Australia and so on. It's been an uneventful couple days here but I'm still having a great time...

    19 Nov 04 - There are practically no lights to speak of on this base. We live in a tactical posture at all times. Lights give away position. My night vision has increased ten fold since arriving and my eyes adjust almost immediately now. Its 5AM and I have just seen the stars like I have never before experienced. The sky is clear for the first time since I've arrived and the black above is so thick that it feels as if it might surround me and swallow me whole. The stars are so bright that it's hard to believe that they are stars at all and not just hundreds of satellites. The light rays cast from the stars in the some of the constellations connect the space in between and outlined in the sky each of the constellations is drawn, the dots connected and lain out for me to see. Staring at the vastness of space made me momentarily dizzy and in my mind I lost all comprehension and understanding of what my meaning is on this earth. I looked at the sky and understood how so many can accept a God. To look at something so unbelievably unfathomable and [universal] is almost as destructive as it is beautiful. A life spent searching for personal meaning and understanding can distort focus if you try to take it all in. I used to spend my days and nights wondering where my place on this earth is, what I was meant for and wondering how I could leave something behind that would be remembered so that my life is not spent in vain. Now I know that it’s not the money, fame or recognition. It’s the friends, family and love I left back in Chicago and New York. I don’t have to search anymore. As long as I have my music, words and you all in my life, I will have everything that I need. I love you all. Enough of that cheesy garbage, I’m going to breakfast.

    18 Nov 04 - Walking back to my tent from breakfast this morning I passed up soldiers from Italy, Australia, Uzbekistan, Lithuania and even from Georgia (The country). I decided that I am going to try and get pictures taken with people from as many countries as possible while I am here. Tomorrow I'm headed out to purchase my laptop. I'm not going to try and order one. The PX is selling a decent Toshiba that a bunch of the guys I work with have bought and like. It takes at least a month for mail to get here anyway and I don't want to wait that long to get started on all the projects I have to work on. I'll be deleting old Blog entries once a week (unless the string is still running). If you are going to mail me tunes for The Last DJ, please do so in an MP3 format. Tomorrow is my day off, so you won't hear from me. I'll be posting the new pics and there are plenty of them by no later than Monday, so check back. If anyone is looking for a good book to read, I strongly recommend "Angels and Demons" by Dan Brown. It's a very strong, fast and extremely interesting read. Well, of to drink more coffee and watch the clock. Love you all! Brizz

    17 Nov 04 - I just realized that it's going to get pretty boring if all I tell you about is what I did each day, rather than what I may have seen or experienced. I will try to provide more interesting updates. Yesterday while walking between the PX (Like Wal-Mart) and my tent; out of the corner of my eye I saw what looked like a Cobra helicopter that was getting ready to crash. Immediately I stopped, turned and watched as the bird did a complete loop. It seemed to stop in mid-air while upside down before completing the circle. Before long I realized that there was another Cobra in front of it and they were playing follow the leader. The lead helicopter banked left, then down hard, rolled right and then headed almost straight up towards the heavens while the other followed and mimicked the moves precisely. I stood and watched for two or three minutes before they both disappeared over the edge of the earth and out of my view. This morning, felt like rain and the sky was black with thick clouds. The winds blew hard and shook my tent, making it hard to sleep with the canvas rustling so loud that the booming and snapping made its way into my dreams. I woke and walked the 1/8th mile journey over a rocky path to the showers and was greeted by a soldier with a heavy accent. He sounded Phillippino but I couldn't be sure. Walking through the door and into the shower area, he says to me, "Bond, James Bond." Obviously confused by his comment, he turned to me and says, "You are 007, no?" I said "No." He laughed, turning back to the mirror to continue shaving and said, "Yes. You are James Bond. You must be. You are a civilian, wearing a beard and you are in Iraq." "You are him." Still confused and not sure if this was a compliment or an insult, I finished brushing my teeth, made a hat tipping motion to him, wished him well and made my way for the showers.

    16 Nov 04 - Back on the night shift! In case anyone is wondering, which I know some of you are. EST is 8 hours behind and CST is 9 hours behind me. My first night shift promises to involve the intake of a lot of coffee. I'm sure you are all hearing about Fallujah and Zarkowee or whatever his name is and his promise to mortar us more often. Well...I can't say much but I can tell you that while mortars may have increased, it is because of the end of Ramadan and while loud, are coming nowhere near the area that I live in. Other than that, another beautiful day in paradise. Back to work I go. Life is good ya'll.

    11/15/2004 - HEY! I was wrong about the BLOG's. Anyone can get on them at anytime, no invitation is required. Remember, the Bar is not for kids, so if you see a black screen with a guitar and the person reading is under 18, smack them upside the head and make them do pushups!

    11/15/2004 - Not much new today. Another beautiful day in Iraq. Learning more about my job and enjoying myself. Almost time for lunch and I'm starving. Last night was Manicotti and it was surprisingly good. The night before was Lasagna and before that was steak and lobster. They are keeping this Italian well fed and happy. As of right now daily life gets me up at 5AM to do an hour of cardio, shower, breakfast, work (8-8), lunch, dinner, back to the gym for an hour of weights, shower and read until 11PM. Exciting!

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