This time of year is full of holidays and reasons to party and be glad.  But for me it  is also a time of reflection — thinking of those I’ve lost and that won’t be partying with me on any of these holidays.

Two close dates mark the beginning and the end of my big brother’s life — bookends that are too close together.

Craig was born on Dec. 4 and died on Dec. 6 — 49 years apart.

It sounds silly to say that we were very close, but I’ve found that not all brothers are.  Craig was very special and he made his two brothers feel very special.  The relationship he had with me was different than the relationship he had with our little brother, Bart, but they were both very strong and special in different ways.

One of the things we three brothers shared was a magical, musical time in the mid-1970s when we played music together professionally.  Looking back, it was a very brief period. But duration really isn’t relevant.  It was magic.

Unfortunately, I don’t think many — if any — recordings survive from that musical partnership.  And I know there aren’t a lot of photos.

I’m starting a special page on this web site to reminisce about my late brother Craig, and am framing it against the backdrop of his — our — musical journey.

I’d like to invite anyone who knew him, or anyone who experienced our music, or just those who are kindred spirits to post comments, photos or whatever else you’d like to share.


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In the past month, I’ve probably seen a dozen local bands/performers and most of them pride themselves on writing their own material.

This is not always a good idea.

Singing cowboy and buffalo

Consider your audience -- especially if I'm in it.

I’m the first one to encourage new talent and to urge budding songwriters to go for it.  But being in the same ballpark as writing poetry, songwriting can get a little self-indulgent sometimes.

There are plenty of good songs out there — people have been writing them since forever.  You can pick and choose among the best.  You could really put together a dynamite set or a whole show and not play a single original.

If you are intending to entertain the public, your first consideration should be to entertain — not bore them to sleep.  Or worse — annoy them.

If you are wanting to try some new material out to see how it’s going, by all means, sprinkle an original or two in your set.  But don’t think that everybody came to hear you (they probably came to drink or pick up a one-night-stand) and don’t think anybody gives the lower portion of a rodent about what you think, feel or have to say.

Most songwriters go about the process intuitively.  That means, they don’t study good songwriting structure, they aren’t concerned with a melody and sometimes don’t even have a reason for writing the song.

I mean, what’s the use of contributing one more “You left me and done me wrong” or “I’m feeling good, so let’s party” to the Great American Songbook?

When you get good enough to play only your own material, you will know it.  People will actually ask you to do so.  They might even pay you to do so.

Meanwhile — learn the craft and develop some artistic sense, and don’t forget to play songs people like when they come to hear you.



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How often does this happen? Well, I guess it would be once every century.


Vets make our country safe for democracyMy father got through college thanks to ROTC. When it was time to graduate, he was just in time for the Korean war. My parents were married in 1951 and actuallly spent their first year together in Japan where my father was assigned to a desk and my mother worked as a civilian clerk/typist for the Army.

Dad was a “lifer” — he transitioned from active duty Army to the National Guard and eventually retired as a Lt. Col.

His military service earned him and my mother medical benefits so they were taken care of in the final years of their lives. They couldn’t have made it any other way, as private insurance would have been out of their financial reach.

My wife also gave the U.S. Army her service, acting as psychiatrist to the 82nd Airborne Div. at Ft. Bragg, NC. Unfortunately, by the time she had need of her service medical benefits, the country had changed the rules and she wasn’t eligible for anything except service-related illnesses.

And so we arrive today with veterans who have served in the continuing Middle Eastern wars suffering injuries and disabilities without any aid from the country they served.

Our government has failed the valiant men and women who served them. The irresponsible incursions into multiple conflicts has ruined our once-strong economy and abandoned the people who have served honorably.

I found these cartoons recently — remnants of an earlier time almost a century ago. Yet they seem relevant today.

Fair weather patriots think they support our troops with empty gestures — flying flags and putting bumper stickers on their vehicles.
War Profiteers Need To Help The Veterans True patriots support our troops by working to get them the benefits they deserve from the country they protected.

Observe Veteran’s Day by actually helping the veterans.


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I thought it would be cute if I made a fake birth announcement to brag about let everybody know that I have a new guitar.

Fender Foto Flame Telecaster******

We joyfully announce the arrival of a modified, customized 1995 Fender Telecaster Deluxe.

Although the new arrival does not yet have a name (any suggestions?) it appeared with a gorgeous Foto Flame finish, carbon graphite Moses Neck, Fishman active pickup mounted in the bridge and a special 5-way toggle switch to get a wide array of sounds from James Burton traditional Tele to Jimi Hendrix Strat to Clapton Les Paul with Marshall Stack to whatever-else.

The new arrival was greeted by his grandfather, a 1956 Gibson ES-125T archtop electric, his parents, a 1975 Kramer G400 electric and a 1975 Lyle dreadnought acoustic, a surly sibling, recent vintage B.C. Rich Warlock and some less reputable acoustic and electric relatives.

The family was grieving over the loss of their favorite uncle, a 1962 Fender Jaguar who went missing several years ago, and this new addition is just what we needed to cheer up everyone.


For those who are interested in technical specs and are dazzled by BS, please continue reading after the jump.

Read more on A New Addition To The (Musical) Family…

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Oct. 20 issue of “San Diego Reader” is the “EAT” issue with lots of restaurant reviews and coupons.  Being a burger conniseur, I scoured the relevant section and decided to try out Daddy-O’s — one of those retro 50s type diners.  I love those kind of places and am satisfied with plain old burger and fries (well, bacon cheese burgers, medium and no pickle or mustard).  Wifey isn’t much on burgers (or meat in general) but loves ice cream — especially milk shakes and malts.

Besides, they had a coupon in the “Reader” — so we braved the rain storm and trundled down to Point Loma for a new burger experience.

Visions of hot rods and the strains of rockabilly music danced in my head.  I couldn’t wait to get there.

Daddy-O's Diner

Daddy-O's Diner -- When People Still Went There

But when I did — it was all dark!  We went up and peeked in the windows.  All the fixtures were there but nobody was home.  Then I noticed a sign on the window.

The restaurant had closed Oct. 30 — ten days after they ran a coupon in the “Reader.”  What the sludge

What could we do?  I was stoked for burgers and she was stoked for milkshakes, so we diverted our Cruisemobile for the Corvette Diner.  Sure, it is over-run with kiddie parties and difficult to get good service at times, but darn it — we were gonna get our Retro on!

The evening turned out OK.  The Corvette came through with good grub and good service. I had the “Blues Brothers” burger (a bacon cheeseburger with bleu cheese) and some onion rings, so the evening wasn’t a total loss.

But seriously, folks — the economy is so bad that even a modest little burger restaurant like Daddy-O’s is shutting its doors.  It’s enough to make James Dean weep.

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It’s time for the big seasonal movies to hit the theaters, and as usual, the major brands are making a showing.

In the past few years, the trend has been to “reboot the franchise” or re-think the origins of some favorite franchises.

The exercise can often result in some radical changes in what some people consider sacred stories.

Three cases in point —

SHERLOCK HOLMES: Arthur Conan Doyle wrote four novels and 56 stories about his hero — the world’s first consulting detective.  He was a man of pure reason, using deduction to unravel seemingly impossible crimes.

This is one of the most durable franchises in history.  Many movies have strayed from the original stories — the World War II era series of films starring Basil Rathbone might find Holmes chasing Nazi spies.  So it’s not unusual to see the stories branch off in new directions.

What purists decry is the way the character is perverted.  Two recent reincarnations of Holmes include a British TV series and American Robert Downey, Jr on the big screen.

Robert Downey, Jr shirtless as Sherlock Holmes in a fist fight

Bare-chested, two-fisted Robert Downey, Jr. makes a macho Sherlock Holmes

Guy Ritchie is the auteur who decided that instead of thinking his way through problems, Holmes should strip off his shirt so we can see his rippling abs and pecs and beat evil-doers to submission with his fists, by swinging a stick or fencing.

In other words, this character was not really Sherlock Holmes — this was Generic action hero with a formula action adventure movie.

However, the first movie in 2009 (cleverly titled “Sherlock Holmes”) made so much money that “Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows” is due out just in time for Christmas.

Read more on Movie Re-Boots For A New Generation…

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On a rare outing of this type, Wifey and I took in the “Local Grooves, Local Brews” night at House Of Blues in San Diego’s Gaslamp quarter Oct. 21.

14 bands, 4 songs each alternating between two stages.  It has to be a logistical nightmare, but SD’s ace promoter Cathryn Beeks pulled it off again.

I couldn’t last all night — I probably couldn’t have even 30 years ago.  The crowd grew thicker, the volume got louder, and it was really a stress-fest as the evening wore on.

I did discover one amazing band — opening group Queen Divas of the Universe had the crowd in the palm of their hands from their first power chords.

Queen Divas Of The Universe

Lady Rockers Queen Divas Of The Universe

Low point? Well, I don’t want to name names, and of course it’s all a matter of opinion, but when a group has nothing better to do than make outer-space sound effects, I think they need a little better career guidance.  Just sayin’ …

Volume is not an artistic achievement.  It’s usually a sign of animmature band or an inexperienced sound engineer.  An amped-up audience isn’t a good guide to good sound.

For somebody who doesn’t like crowds — and who usually doesn’t DO crowds — I think I held in there pretty good.  The bar was filled to the brim with people more interested in making the scene than with music lovers, so I admire all the performers for sticking out their, uh, necks and putting on a bang-up show.

Sign up for Cathryn’s newsletter to get first alerts on the ListenLocal shows and the best of the local talent.


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What better name for a musician and luthier — Keith Medley.

Keith has been obsessed with playing “… the music I heard in my heart.” But six strings wasn’t enough.  What about the 7-string guitar?  Or a 12-string?


A documentary called “Creative Spirit” will cover the building of this instrument and show Keith playing it.

He says it wasn’t so hard building it — but it took him a couple of years to learn to play it.

“Hall Of The Mountain King” Keith Medley and his 27-string Medley Guitar from Jon Grimson on Vimeo.
In the video, Keith plays classical theme “In The Hall Of The Mountain King” from Peer Gynt by Edvard Grieg (1875).

Not quite satisfied yet, Keith is reportedly working on a 34 string guitar.

Thanks to Oddity Central


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You have probably heard of people who collect election buttons — the ones that say things like “I Like Ike” given out during elections by the candidates. But there is a thriving vintage comic pin market.
Collectable pin-back with Popeye advertised in the Evening Ledger The objects are rightly called “pinbacks” since they are basically a picture printed on a button with a pin on the back. Logical, isn’t it?
A voluminous collection of these pinbacks is gathered at a site lovingly compiled by Mark Lansdown. I say “lovingly” because it is a free reference. There are many collector’s guides on the web, but I don’t know if anybody else has taken the time to gather all these pinbacks.
If you are a collector — or want to be — Mark maintains a mailing list and will notify you whenever he updates.

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You see an attractive young lady and you stop to watch her for a moment. Then, you realize something is a little bit — off.
Emily may not be the perfect girl — but she is an example of the closest thing to perfection that Computer Generated Graphics can produce.

Some think that animation that is too close to real-life it gets kinda creepy.


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