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Thing of the Week #2: New Song – On the Beach

So…this week, I’m sharing a song that I started working on last month, but have only recently “finished” polishing and rewriting.

I’m fortunate enough to live ten minutes from a lovely beach. On one recent afternoon, I decided to head over there to take a walk and let the sounds of the surf mellow me out. Which I succeeded in doing, but along the way, I started hearing bits of a song chorus about the beach in my head, so I played with it and let it work itself out a bit. And then I started populating the rest of the song.

Some of the bits in the song come from that particular trip – for instance, I did see the “family in the water posing for a picture.” Other bits I had to add from other beach and recreation spots – Englewood Beach doesn’t have a food concession, for one thing, and there’s a rule about bringing alcohol there. But in the end, I think I created a rather nice beach that I hope to find and spend some time on, one of these days. With friends.

The song is titled “On the Beach,” and you can enjoy it here: https://youtu.be/aIdPvs0y_ak

Other than that, I’ve been working on two other songs that aren’t coalescing yet – each of them has about two pages’ worth of lyrics scribbled, but not organized in any coherent way. There’s also a possible short comedy skit on handling telemarketers, and I got a concept for something (and a cool title) that needs lots of fleshing out. Back to the drawing board!

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!

Well, we survived 2017, or at least anyone reading this email did. Some folks didn’t, and while we’ll miss them, they will always be with us in our memories.

My year had its ups and downs. I got an album done and out. I played some shows here and there, all of which were fun. I spent time with friends old and new. I watched a total eclipse of the sun, and ran away from a category 5 hurricane. I went back to the Virgin Islands for the first time since I was in my teens.

Going into 2018, I’ve decided to challenge myself a bit and to put that challenge out there, whether I meet it or not. And what I’m going to do involves changing how I create and put things out into the world.

I’ve got a decent set of creative skills and creative tools. I take decent pictures, I can make good, entertaining videos, I write songs, and I have some clues on how to connect all of those things together. I just need to do more if it.

So here’s my commitment to me and to you. It’s not an original idea; artists like Jonathan Coulton have been here before. I’m committing to creating and delivering a new “thing” each and every week for 2018. It might be a new song. It might be a video of me doing a cover of someone else’s work. It might be an instrumental, a photo collage, a poem, or a video travelog of me somewhere. Or a video apology for not accomplishing what I promised that week. :) Because I’m going to be accountable to you as well as to myself.

What this will hopefully accomplish is to keep me from self-censoring as much, which may be keeping some worthwhile bits from getting the exposure they deserve. It’ll make me exercise my creative “muscles” more regularly. And maybe the more regular communication and creativity will bring us a bit closer together over time.

My commitment is to me, but I’m making myself accountable to you. I would like nothing better than to get so into this with you that if something doesn’t come out when it should, some of you will take the time to ask me about it, hold my feet to the fire to see how I’m keeping my commitments. If I screw up, I’ll be embarrassed. Maybe that’ll be enough to keep me from screwing up. It’s worth a shot.

My plan right now is to deliver my weekly “things” using my blog, which has been grossly underused, and then to let y’all know via these emails, Facebook, and other social media. If the increased frequency of messages from me (going to once a week) is too much for you, you’ll drop off, and that’s okay. Hopefully the new content will entice you to stay.

Here’s my first “thing of the week,” an a capella version of one of my favorite songs:

Loren sings “As Time Goes By”

I’ll still be doing shows – I have two scheduled already, and have been talking to folks about others. But that’s not going to be where I’m focused.

I hope you’ll be joining me on this new adventure!

Blood, Sweat, Tears…and Fireworks

A long time ago, in a lifetime that occasionally seems far away indeed…I lived in upstate NY. And I was able to attend a number of awesome concerts at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center (SPAC). Back in the early 70s, lawn admission was only $2.50, to give you an idea of how long ago this was.


I went to a lot of concerts there in the time span from 1971-76. Among others, I saw James Taylor, Emerson Lake & Palmer, Eric Clapton, Santana, The Who, and many others.


Tonight, sitting out on my lanai, I heard a few fireworks being set off by (likely) kids who just got them at the stands that have now opened up the day after Christmas, getting everyone ready for New Year’s Eve. It’s a Florida thing, really – there are laws about who can set them off and where; they’re mostly ignored unless you’re being stupid about it. And I remembered a Fourth of July in 74, 75, or 76 – I don’t remember which – when I went to see Blood, Sweat, and Tears at SPAC.


People were being well-behaved inside the amphitheater, for the most part. Out on the lawn (what Harry Belafonte once called, in his impeccable island accent, “the shitty seats”), it was more of a war zone – I went up to check it out at intermission, and decided I was happier retreating inside the amphitheater itself. Which was tame until the very end of the show. BS&T was doing their signature song, “You Made Me So Very Happy.” And in the outro, there’s this break…they sing, “I’m so glad you came…” and there’s a pause.

And at this point, some idjit sets off a pack of firecrackers *inside* the amphitheater, for the first time all night.


Up on stage, David Clayton Thomas puts his hands on his hips and gives that part of the audience a dirty look. And says, “I hope you blow your balls off!” To which there was much applause.


When the applause died, he cued the band, and they continued: “Into my life…”


Never gonna forget that one.


Here’s the original song, so you can listen and find the spot where the thing happened. This was decades before cell phone videos and YouTube, or this would have been all over it.

A Moving Experience: An Infestation of Inspectors

M-day Minus 9:

My day is being somewhat disrupted by the buyers’ minions doing their diligence and checking out every square inch of the house, over the house, and under the house. Starting at 8:30 this morning, which is not an hour at which I’m used to having company.

Today it’s the home inspector and the termite inspector. The termite guy is done and gone; it’s now almost 10:30 and the home inspector guy is still doing his thing. OTOH, if they were working for me, I’d be very happy to have someone this thorough. But it’s screwing with my ability to get anything done.

Meanwhile, packing and loading continue. The POD is now half-full, and ready for me to tie that half of the load into place. I’ve been packing out tools, booze, my bike, and my studio gear, emptying cabinets, and figuring out what else I need and want to take.

As we tick down into single digits, the positives of knowing that move-day is getting close are balanced somewhat by the fear that I won’t have everything I need out of here by The Day. I’ve never had a move that’s gone off as planned. Granted, this time I’m not taking furniture, and there’s a bunch of stuff I really don’t need to take. But I’m still a little bit worried.

A Moving Experience: Breakthroughs

M-day Minus 13:

It’s starting to dawn on me that I’ve got less than two weeks to finish up all this packing and loading. I’m being very good about not panicking yet, but I will admit to an increased sense of urgency beginning to upwell in me.

That said, I’ve had a bit of a breakthrough on dealing with my tool shed. I’ve started clearing out those items which were blocking me from getting to other stuff, and which in some ways were blocking me from getting anything *done*. I mean, one of the items was an old bankers box from a previous move, folded down to save space. It’s stained with oil and such and is obviously unsuited to another move, yet I couldn’t bring myself to remove it from the stuff it was in the way of, because part of me was still holding onto it as something I could *use*. But getting rid of that seems to have broken the logjam.

One problem with the goodies I have there is that a lot of them don’t fit neatly into boxes. I’ve done some creative packing, but things like the table saw are just going to have to go as they are. I’ve also got some walking sticks in the house that fit into that “can’t neatly pack them” category, so I’ll just find places for them on top of and in between things.

Another problem with the shed is that it’s at the farthest point on my property from the POD, with my house in between. My choices on getting stuff from points A to B are either to open the side gate and take stuff the long way ’round, or (new idea) to move it in stages – first to the hot tub cover (which is way sturdy), then to my living room, then to the POD. By breaking a big, complicated problem down into manageable steps, I’m making progress again.

Meanwhile…did you know that those big “wardrobe” boxes they sell you at U-Haul come with a metal bar to hang your clothes, that they keep on a different shelf? I do now. Got the box (and some others) yesterday; spaced on even *thinking* that the bar was a separate item, silly me. I just talked to them, and I can pick one up from them this afternoon. Thankfully, I haven’t needed it yet.

The last observation for today: Even two hours’ worth of hard work really tires me out. I crashed by 10 last night and slept really well. I don’t know if anyone’s done studies on the effects of different types of job on how well we sleep, but if they haven’t, they should.

A Moving Experience: More Boxes!!!

M-day Minus 14:

Would you believe I was almost out of boxes again? It’s true. So I made a lunchtime run over to U-Haul and got a bunch more. I may be close to the final number I need, or I may need to get more in about a week. It all depends on how much stuff I’ve got that I ain’t re-discovered yet.

Things being packed yesterday and today: Some of my music gear, my camping gear (what I can find of it), board games, maps, VHS tapes (yes, I’ve still got some), some DVDs, and a box of booze that I won’t be digging into before I move. I’ve also committed some alcohol abuse with things that I’ll never drink or get around to serving others.

Things not being packed yet: my tools. Every time I go out there, I get a bit overwhelmed by the clutter in that particular room. I usually pull a few things out of there, to keep or to trash, so it’s not wasted time. But it’s not terribly productive either.

The clever thing I’m doing is finishing several half-full bottles of different types of rum. It means I don’t have to move them to Florida, and it likewise means I don’t have to buy another handle of St. Elmo’s (the BevMo house brand) for the last two weeks. It’s a pretty good no-name rum, but when I was in FL in June, I rediscovered Ronrico, which my folks loved and which we can’t get out here in CA. It’s only about two bucks per handle more than St. Elmo’s and tastes better. So no St. Elmo’s going to Florida.

Meanwhile, I’m also planning parts of my trip across country, which I’ll probably blog as “2014: A Moving Odyssey.” I’ve been researching New Orleans, which I’ve never been to. I found a pretty good rate for a hotel room in the Quarter for a couple of nights, and I’ll probably do some sightseeing and some resting-up for the last leg of the trip.

A Moving Experience: SOLD!!

M-day Minus 15:

Well, wonder of wonders, one set of buyers who’ve been back and forth with counter- and counter-counter offer have accepted terms I can afford and can live with. Escrow opens this morning, and given they’re bringing their own money, we might actually close on or about M-day. So that drops another piece of the process into place.

I suppose I *could* be a little perturbed that this didn’t happen until *after* I bought plants and a small patio table for the front porch, to spice it up a bit for the open house we’d planned on having this weekend. But at least now I can drop “trim the shrubbery” off my to-do list.

What’s left now is what Spider Robinson calls “days of unending relentless monkey labor,” as I continue to gather up the various accessories to my existence and load them into the Big White Box at the end of the driveway. I keep making progress – areas become emptier, and I have to look further to find stuff needing packing or clearing. But I’m still a long way from done, and I’ve only got two weeks left.

A Moving Experience: Not Sold Yet; Repeat Actions

M-day minus 18:

We’ve now done three open houses, and had people come by a few times to look at the place outside of those hours. We got two offers in our first round, neither of which was attractive. One was worth countering. The buyers on that one are going elsewhere. So it goes. The market is still moving upward and the house will be getting emptier every day from now on. I expect we’ll do an open house this weekend.

I’ve gotten about 60 boxes and one bookcase into the POD so far, and I’ve got about 20 more boxes ready to go down. Taking things downhill to the POD isn’t all that tiring; dragging the hand truck back *up* the hill is a bit tiring. So I’m taking it in small stages so far. I hit a milestone today; all of my CD backstock inventory is now in the POD.

Yesterday I had my friend Jaime over. She loves to garden, and I gave her all the big bags of soil amendments I’d accumulated over the years, plus a few other goodies I’m sure she’ll be very happy with. We also had some delightful conversations. She’s one of the people I’m going to miss.

Today I’ve started a new round of packing and throwing crap out. I’ve made a list of several more areas in the house and sheds where I can pack and clear without getting too far into stuff I may still need over the next two point something weeks.

A Moving Experience: Go, Go PODzilla!

M-day Minus 21:

My POD just arrived earlier today. It’s about 8x8x16 feet, and I’m thankful to say it looks like it will hold everything I want to move to Florida. Heck, there might even be space left over.

It arrived on a truck with this interesting mobile frame called – yes, you guessed it – PODZilla. PODZilla’s job was to lift the POD off the truck and roll it into place, which it did with an expert touch. Here’s some of what it looked like:

IMG_3735 IMG_3737 IMG_3738

Tonight, now that it’s cooled down a bit outside, I’ve started loading boxes (and one bookshelf) into it. I’ve discovered that I’m not as good at this physical labor as I used to be. But I can take a break, drink ice water, and use the time to tell y’all about it. So far, I’ve got a dozen or so boxes and one bookshelf loaded. I figure I can load another ten boxes or so before I feel like calling it a night.

Meanwhile, the “selling the house” part of the move is going a bit less swimmingly than I’d hoped. There’s one offer we’re trying to counter on, and we’re also trying to schedule an open house for this weekend, to try to scare up a slightly better offer just because. However, my realtor is having tire troubles. So I don’t quite know how that’s going to work out yet. But at least we’re getting some activity.

Now that I’m in the same month in which I’m moving, it’s becoming more “real” again, and I can see the light at the end of the proverbial tunnel. And it ain’t an oncoming freight.

A Moving Experience: Cult of No Personality

M-day Minus 24:

(Alternate subtitle: Ghost in the Single-Family Residence)

I’ve decided that it’s a lot more fun to look at homes that other people have cleaned out and cleaned up than to actually clean one up for other people to look at. Duh.

My agent is of the opinion that people don’t want to see *your* stuff in the house; they want to imagine *their* stuff in the house. I’m guessing this is why the furniture and such that professional stagers bring in is so trendy and bland; any whiff of an actual personality might turn someone off.

Perhaps we could call this the Groucho Marx theory of home sales: People don’t want to live in a house that someone else might have wanted to live in.

So every morning as I get ready for work now, I carefully erase the tracks of my progress from the home, in case someone wants to come take a look but doesn’t want to see a house that people have (yuck!) *lived* in. I’ve become a ghost haunting my own home. And I don’t even get to knock the books off the shelves or make stuff fly around the room. Where’s the fun in that?

As a consumer focus group of one, I’d like to challenge this theory of staging. Granted, I’m a statistical outlier in almost every group you want to name, so the ability to extrapolate from my tastes and behaviors to the rest of the world is tenuous at best. But as I only recently was on the other end of the many pages of contracts, here’s how it worked for me:

  • First and most important: The “vibe,” or energetic signature of the house. Does it feel peaceful, joyful, full of ease? The house I live in now and the house I’m moving to both have that feeling about them. Most of the houses I looked at felt neutral to pleasant, and a few felt downright funky. One of them had such a miasma of negativity about it (not to mention a stale smoky taint that suggested that someone had built daily bonfires of cigarettes in each room of the house for a period of years, and then left the butts to “season” for a while) that even my agent wanted a shower afterward. And she’s nowhere near as sensitive as I am to that sort of thing. I realize that some people are so muggle-headblind that they’d miss Jack the Ripper’s hideout or the birthplace of a God. But for me, it’s important.
  • How has the house been treated? Are there any obvious holes in the walls, doors, etc.? Does it look like people had pride of ownership, or like a motorcycle gang had weekly drunken orgies there?
  • Did the house have the right number of rooms, arranged in a way that flow well? I turned down a few houses where there was a big disconnect between the living room, kitchen, and family room, because I want the option of being able to do things that more than ten people can show up for and not feel crowded.
  • Optionally, is there furniture that I might prefer to moving my own, and do I like it?
  • Is there a yard with space for me to garden?

That was the top of my personal list. Nowhere on that list was, “did the owner leave his/her comb out this morning” or “is there a half-full water glass on the counter?” Do people do that sort of thing? People do.

Meanwhile, I haven’t filled any more boxes the past few days, as I’ve been somewhat focused on this open house/showing thing. I’m hoping to get a couple of things boxed up tonight, just to get some momentum going again. And hopefully we’ll get offers in by Thursday’s deadline, and I’ll be able to focus more on packing this weekend.

As I’m going through my cabinets to see what still needs packing, I’m surprised by how much stuff I would have packed before that isn’t going with me this time: Food, pots and pans, cleaning supplies. The food won’t survive the move, for the most part; I’ve already got a fairly good stash of the rest of that already in FL. I’ll invite the neighbors in, the last day or two, to pick out what they can use, and let whomever my agent hires to clean the place out do the rest.

So maybe I’m closer to the packing finish line than I thought.