Am I the only one who was worried about Guns N’ Roses?

I saw Gun N’ Roses in concert this week. I wasn’t sure what to expect when they walked onto the stage. To be honest, I was a little worried. I expected Slash to kick ass, but I worried Axl’s voice had waned. I was worried the arrangement of the band would be sloppy and unpracticed. I was worried that the show would rely heavily on unnecessary theatrics.guns-n-roses

I was pleasantly surprised that none of these fears came true. Axl kicked ass. The band kicked ass. The show was carefully orchestrated to near perfection. Even the set list was astonishing. And yes, Slash kicked some serious ass.

I think it was quite fitting that they opened with “It’s so easy.” They certainly made it look easy. As the evening progressed, they seemed to keep getting better. I honestly believe Axl’s voice was strongest as they closed the encore with “Paradise City.”

I have seen over 175 live shows (not counting local bands). I have seen shows in at least 11 different states. I have seen small club shows, amphitheater shows, stadium shows, and quite a few festivals. I have seen shows by arguably some of the greatest bands ever: Pink Floyd, The Eagles, Van Halen (with each of the three singers), Bon Jovi, Dave Matthews, Metallica, U2. Even Third Eye Blind, Hurt, Sick Puppies, Matt Nathanson, and Staind have impressed me in smaller venues. The list goes on. I consider these as some of the best shows ever.

Guns N’ Roses somehow managed to surpass them all. Seriously. They were that good.

Random musings from this week:

  • I am too old to function properly on only three hours sleep.
  • I like the scratch of my new fountain pen. It’s like I am carving the words into the page.
  • I am seriously behind on my reading and writing goals for the summer.
  • Golf still sucks.

Vegas Marathon

Spent four days in Vegas over the holiday weekend. Traversed 33.3 miles of casinos and bars and flashing lights. The average temperature was 101 degrees. I didn’t read nearly as much as I planned, so my reviews of “New Hope” by Steve Hobbs and “The Bull” by Erica Crockett will be delayed. Although, I can assure you both books are quite good.IMG_20160703_171230716_HDR

Random musings about Sin City:

  • I’ve decided that IPA actually stands for India Potent Alcohol and not India Pale Ale (as they claim).
  • I watched a girl at the pool take selfies for over an hour straight. It was sad.
  • I met a guy named Crash from Tennessee. He will definitely become a character in a story.
  • A waitress at the Hard Rock Casino saw me drinking water instead of my beer. She said, “You’re doing it wrong.”
  • Best quote of the weekend came from a bartender at Sin City Brewing Company. During a discussion about a young couple expecting their first child and planning a wedding while living at his parent’s house she stated, “Life is going to bitch-slap them.”
  • Everyone is nice. The bartenders, the waiters, the cab drivers, the dealers. Almost all of them are genuinely friendly and happy people.
  • I can’t wait to go back.

What is your favorite first line?

I enjoy analyzing first lines. They open doors to new worlds. They introduce characters. They establish narrators. They set the time and tone of the story. Here are just a few of my favorites.

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“This is a story a young girl gathers in a car during the early hours of the morning.”

—Michael Ondaatje, In the Skin of a Lion

“He was an old man who fished alone in a skiff in the Gulf Stream and he had gone eighty-four days now without taking a fish.”

—Ernest Hemingway, The Old Man and the Sea

“Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins.”

—Vladimir Nabokov, Lolita

“Shadow had done three years in prison.”

—Neil Gaiman, American Gods

“First Lieutenant Jimmy Cross carried letters from a girl name Martha, a junior at Mount Sebastian College in New Jersey.”

—Tim O’Brien, The Thing They Carried

“You’ll probably think I’m making a lot of this up just to make me sound better than I really am or smarter or even luckier but I’m not.”

—Russell Banks, Rule of the Bone

“I’m pretty much fucked.”

—Andy Weir, The Martian

“When Lauren was a small girl, she would stand in the Kansan fields and call the cats.”

—Steve Erickson, Days Between Stations

“If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you’ll probably want to know is where I was born, and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied and all before they had me, and all that David Copperfield kind of crap, but I don’t feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth.”

—J. D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye

Last, but not least…

“For the most wild yet most homely narrative which I am about to pen, I neither expect nor solicit belief.”

—Edgar Allan Poe, The Black Cat

22 of the Best Single Sentences on Writing

If good writing is succinct and concise, then shouldn’t the same be true of writing advice?

Source: 22 of the Best Single Sentences on Writing | LitReactor

Am I addicted to sports?

It has been a week since the Penguins clinched the Stanley Cup. I certainly enjoyed the excitement of the game, and I have enjoyed the highlights and the interviews ever since. But now I feel as though I am going through withdrawal. There is a void.  For the past several months, my schedule has revolved around Penguin games. Games I attended. sid-cupGames I watched. Games I taped and watched later. Rarely did three days pass without having a fix. I am now on day seven and I feel like I need to check myself into rehab. With the Pirates in a slump, baseball hasn’t helped much. I even tried watching golf yesterday. Golf! I am more than a little worried I will be forced to watch the basketball finals tonight. I hate basketball. I am from Pittsburgh, so I am programmed from birth to dislike anything from Cleveland. I don’t think I can endure seeing Cleveland celebrate a victory.

Random musings from this weekend:

  • Only two episodes of Game of Thrones remain. The wait is so long, and the series goes so fast.
  • It is the season for car wash fundraisers. A note to parents: please do not let your children meander through traffic on a four lane highway to collect donations and wave signs. I know the light is red, but it turns green before you know it and trucks speed by at 50 MPH.
  • I have been mildly productive at writing this weekend. Almost two thousand words. Some of them are even good.

Why can’t stories wait their turn?

I spent all day Saturday in a pool hall. Pool tournaments make great places to watch very different people interacting with each other. College students with retirees, farmers with mechanical engineers, rappers with metal heads, volunteer firefighters with soccer moms, writers with, well, everyone. It was cultural chaos. That, and I have never heard such an eclectic slurry of music on the juke box: country, dance, hip-hop, pop, puke rock (as my wife calls bands such as Nickelback), metal, thrash, punk, reggae…write

Of course I took a lot of notes. That’s just what writers do. I have been desperately trying to finish no less than two novels and three short stories. I had hoped to make that final push on at least one of them this weekend. Unfortunately, the stories did not cooperate. As I compiled my notes at 3 A.M., instead of putting finishing touches on final scenes, I found myself writing an entirely different story, one in stark contrast with the others, almost like those sordid characters in the pool hall. The new story kept me up most of the night pondering the endless possibilities and feverishly typing notes for scenes and themes.

In the end, my team lost the tournament and I didn’t play particularly well. But at least I met some new characters and I am enjoying piecing their story together.

Other random musings from this weekend:

  • I consumed 13 shots of espresso on Friday. That might be a personal record.
  • The Penguins better win tonight. And yes, I will be missing Game of Thrones to watch, so don’t spoil anything for me tomorrow.

Why is golf a thing?

Many years ago I lost all patience for chasing a tiny ball around an unnecessarily large field. My complete lack of skill and aptitude combined with the sunburn and insect bites finally took its toll. I vowed never to swing a club again. But after taking a few years off, the memories of the pain and suffering faded and I decided to give it another try. I never do anything halfway, so I invested in new clubs, a new bag, and a bunch of accessories that I’ll probably never need. I still suck at golf; that was confirmed today.End of Suffering

Random musings about today’s charity golf scramble:

  • Drinking a beer before noon is generally a bad idea.
  • I had about three decent shots all day.
  • I lost approximately 11 golf balls.
  • If there was an official statistic for divot distance, I would hold a record.
  • Golf carts should have seatbelts and doors.
  • Golf was invented by some drunk guys in Scotland. They would have been proud to see the calamity that ensues when a bunch of drunk golfers decide to play bumper cars with the carts.
  • I should really take some lessons.
  • I now refer to the 18th hole as The End of Suffering.

Starbucks introduces nitro cold brew at 500 locations this summer

Dear Starbucks, Please let Pittsburgh be one of these locations…

 

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The Seattle coffee giant is hopping on the hot cold coffee trend of freshly tapped, frothy joe.

Source: Starbucks introduces nitro cold brew at 500 locations this summer

Random Musings on Memorial Day Weekend

“We cover a small table with a white cloth to honor a soldier’s pure heart when he answers his country’s call to duty. We place a lemon slice and grains of salt on a plate to show a captive soldier’s bitter fate and tears of families waiting for loved ones to return. We push an empty chair to the table for the missing soliders who are not here. We lay a black napkin for the sorrow of captivity, and turn over the glass for the meal that won’t be eaten. We place a white candle for peace. And finally a red rose in a vase tied with a red ribbon for the hope that all our missing will return someday. You are not forgotten so long as there is one left in whom your memory remains.”052916_chickfila

How can I (legally) stop someone from texting and driving?

On my way home from Starbucks this morning, I was cut off and nearly killed by a young girl in a Prius. She was texting as she merged onto the four-lane highway. She continued to text throughout the event that nearly killed us both. I honestly don’t think she noticed what had happened. I was going about 35 MPH when her Prius nearly took off the nose of my Jeep. I slammed on the brakes, checked my side mstoptextinganddrivingirror, and swerved into the fast lane. There was about two car lengths open in front of a truck. He had to brake to avoid me, but I was able to quickly dodge back into the slow lane. After that amount of adrenaline so early in the morning, I almost didn’t need coffee anymore. Almost.

I was following the girl in the Prius, watching her continue to text. Her eyes were mostly on the phone. I could see them through her rear-view mirror. Only occasionally did she glance up at the road. As we approached the next intersection, the light turned yellow. The girl in the Prius had no idea, so I blew my horn to get her attention. She looked up at the light as it turned red, slammed on her brakes, looked back at me, and then flipped me the middle finger. Of course she quickly directed her attention back to the phone.

I don’t believe I have ever felt such road rage. I wanted to tromp on the gas and ram my Jeep into her cute little Prius. I wanted to get out of the Jeep, walk up to her Prius, smash the window, and slap her silly. I wanted to take a baseball bat and demolish that little red Prius. Of course, if I did any of those things, I would have probably wound up in jail. So I just took two deep breaths, changed lanes and sped past her.

Here is my moral dilemma: That menace of a girl will probably end up causing an accident. Maybe not today. Maybe not tomorrow. But some day. The odds are not in her favor. She probably won’t kill herself either; she will probably take out a family of four. Would a few days in jail and some fines be worth it to prevent a future tragedy that may cost lives?

There are a lot of depressing facts about texting and driving here: http://stoptextsstopwrecks.org. Unfortunately, their tips are focused on the texters (is that a word?).

Random musings from this week:

  • Disappointed my 9-ball team did not advance to the Local Team Championships.
  • The Penguins better win tonight since I will be missing Game of Thrones to attend the game.
  • Still reading Trigger Warning by Neil Gaiman. Still loving it too.
  • The series finale of Banshee was phenomenal. I will truly miss that show.
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