Monday, February 28, 2011


Feb 26, 2011

So I bought an old violin.  I had always wanted one.  The good news is there are so many on the market I just had to wait until one popped up for a good price.  Well, one guy in New Port Richey was selling one for a hundred bucks.  It’s old and in bad shape so that’s why he had it marked down as low as he did.  He had gotten it along with a Telecaster when he traded with someone. 

The first thing I was concerned about is if it was a counterfeit.  But after I saw all the cracks, repairs, worn edges, and rosin buildup, it looked to be real.  So I took a chance on it.  The inside read:

Vuillaume a Paris, Rue Croix des Petits Champs 46

It is a copy of a Jean Baptiste Vuillaume.  There are about 35 or more manufactures that have used the Jean Baptiste name over the years.  This model was actually made in Dresden, Germany.  It is a factory made violin produced sometime during the years of 1880 and 1900. 

There is a repair mark inside the violin marked, Repaired in Albany, New York by W.C. Goomph, 1914. 

One on Ebay that was in good condition just sold for $1100, so I believe I got a fair deal on it.  It still needs a lot of work.  Namely, a soundpost, bridge, tuning holes filled and drilled, possiblely new tuners, and cracks repaired.  Oh, and new strings without question.

So I finally got my violin.  I am happy that I got one, but this needs a lot of work.  I hope I have enough time to repair in sometime in the future. 


Feb 3, 2010

I haven’t written a blog entry in a while.  A lot has happened in the 24 days since my last post.  But one thing that I would consider a major event happened.  I was at the Covenant terminal in Hutchins, Texas when I found out that a friend of mine from high school had passed away. 
I learned that Shelby Williford, who I knew from Chamberlain High School had passed away from a stroke.  It seems that a blood clot passed into his brain, and that caused his stroke.  He passed away on January 15th. 
When I first met Shelby, to say he stood out was an understatement.  He had a Mohawk, and was a bit out there.  But he was hilarious.  That, and he liked to set things on fire.  He was one grade above me, so we didn’t have any classes together, or the same lunchtime.  So I never got to talk to him too much. 
I did have the opportunity to talk to him when we went to the Kiss convention together.  He decided that it would be a great idea to moon a group of black women in the car next to us.  We were of course driving 55 MPH down the interstate.  The women’s reaction was priceless.  At the Kiss convention, the plan was for Shelby to go up to former Kiss drummer Peter Kriss and yell, “Dad!” 
I’m glad I made it down for the memorial service.  I wasn’t sure I would be able to make it.  Since I have the odd talent of being a good public speaker, I thought I should get up and speak at the service.  I knew others would speak of Shelby’s amazing musical ability, so I decided to speak about his amazing sense of humor.  Everyone was really appreciative of my words, especially his parents.  I wanted to do a good job, and I think I came through.

It just makes me think of what my friend Chuck said to me.  “We’re 35.  We’re too young to be dying.”  I completely agreed with him.  It’s just too tough to go through this type of loss so young.  I know I went through the five stages of grief.  In fact, I think I am still going through it.  Just when I take a step forward, I take a few steps back.  Lately, I have been very angry.  It just makes no sense.  I know as long as I live I will never be as good of a guitarist was he was.  And now he’s passed on.  It just doesn’t seem right.  Mmmm, maybe I’m at bargaining now.

True Grit

Jan 10, 2010

So I saw the movie True Grit today.  It got me to thinking about hunting and the outdoors.  I missed hunting season this past year, and wish I could have gone.  To make up for it I try to watch outdoor hunting shows.  For those who don’t know, a lot of the hunting shows are sponsored by ranches where you can pay to go on a hunting vacation there.  You get to stay at a nice lodge at the ranch.  They cook good home cooked meals for you.  Then, they provide a hunting guide and hunting supplies for you.  A lot of this includes the use of all terrain vehicles and four wheel drives. 
However, sometimes I think some of these ranches do things a bit underhanded.  I remember seeing one ranch that was located in Africa. that offered a hunting package for various African game.  However, what they basically had was a man made water trough.  The visiting hunter would then hide in a blind that was positioned for a clear shot at the water trough.  Then various animals from the area would come drink from the water, and that’s when the hunter would shoot them.  The water trough was located very close to the ranch.  To me, it just seemed like a canned hunt. 
Some of the American ranches out west use a lot of equipment to help in hunting.  The guide will transport you by a four wheel drive or a specialized ATV.  He will take you to a deer blind that looks like a very nice shed built fifteen feet off the ground.  The blind will face a field where they plant food for the deer.  Then it’s sit and wait for a large number of deer to come in.  After that, you can take your pick of what deer you want to shoot.  Once you shoot a deer you don’t have to do that much.  The guide will call in a vehicle to come pick you and the deer up.  Then someone else will skin it out.  If you want they will even hand the head over to their taxidermist to mount it for you.

Every single one of these places makes it as comfortable and relaxing as can be.  They truly make it a vacation.  From a business point of view it’s a good idea.  Make it a vacation and a lot of fun.  There are also a lot of activities that go on every night.  It’s all about having a good time.
But still, something doesn’t sit right with me.  I think back to the movie True Grit.  Maddie asks Rooster Cogburn if he has true grit.  I think a true hunting adventure should be about true grit.  It should be done on horseback.  You can only take what you and your horses can carry.  If there are enough hunters traveling together I think a chuck wagon would be fair to bring along.  No scopes on rifles would be allowed.  Only old time rifles would be allowed.  I’m talking about Henry, Sharps, and 1872 Winchester rifles would be allowed.  I believe in chasing the herd for days.  I believe campfires are mandatory, and hunters should sleep on the ground.  No modern electronics would be allowed except an emergency phone.  All things should be done as they would have been in the late 1800’s. 
I think that’s what a true hunting adventure should be like.  However, I think what my Dad would say about that.  As soon as he would hear about horses and sleeping on the ground he would be out.  I can’t get Dad to sleep in a tent, much less sleep out under the stars on the ground.  I’d tell him it’s all about true grit, but I’m sure he would tell me that I could have his share of true grit. 

That Beautiful Beauville Sound

Jan 10, 2010

So I climbed the mountain.  I was going to see the great sage to record a song I had just written.  However, I didn’t want just anyone to record this song.  Not to mention I wanted my song to have a certain sound to it.  Not just any sound.  The Beauville sound.

To get this sound I had to climb the mountain with all my music equipment in tow.  I had to see the sage, Mr. Beauville himself, T. Shawn Kyle Beauville.  Only he could get that sound that I so desperately needed. 

I said, “Sage, tell me how to get to that great Beauville sound.  What guitar do I need?”

He told me, “Move the cat, and have a seat.  First, it doesn’t matter what guitar you have.  It doesn’t even matter if it has six strings on it.  It’s all about heart.  And timing, but mostly heart. 

I said, “Well that’s good.  I have a few guitars, and they are all strung up, and in tune.”

The sage told me, “Second, you need an old ....Marshall.... amp.  It doesn’t have to have all its parts, but it has to work for at least thirty minutes.  Then you need to play through some old speakers.  It doesn’t matter what kind, or how many of them.  They just need to be old.”

I said, “Well I think all of that is do-able.  But anyone can do that.  How do I get that great Beauville sound?”

The sage petted his really hot girlfriend/ fiancĂ©, and told me, “First you must put the gain to where it’s just over the edge, and turn the reverb up to ten.”

“Ok, check.”

“Next you have to run a couple of pedals in-between your guitar and amp.”

“Ok, check.”

“The first pedal you want is an Electro Harmonix Holy Grail Reverb.  Turn it up to ten.”


“Next in the chain you want a Guyatone Reverb pedal.  Make sure to turn it up to ten.”


“Then, you want to run it into a Boss Reverb pedal, and turn it up to ten.”

“Um, that seems like an awful lot of reverb.”  I said.

“Silence!”  He yelled.  “You must not question the sage!”  He then threw a beer bottle at me.  His cat took off running.  “Finally, you must move your entire rig into an empty bathroom.”

“Ok, I’ll bite.  Why would I do that?”

The sage smiled.  “Because.”  He said.  “It adds a natural reverb to your sound.”

I just stared at the sage.  It was then that I made the decision, the greatest decision of my life.  I said, “Ok, when do we start recording?”

Adrian Annoys Satanists Like He Does Everyone Else

Jan 10, 2010

The following absolutely never happened.  Do not believe anything that is written.  It is merely Adrian’s need for ridiculous storytelling and need for attention.
So I was bored one day and browsing the web when something funny struck me.  I had nothing to do that night, and needed to find something to cure my boredom.  I put Tampa meet-up in the search engine, and low and behold what should pop up but a meeting for a satanic group meet-up.  This was perfect.  There was just so much that I had to know.
The meet-up was being held that night at the local Jamba Juice.  I went, not knowing what to expect.  Boy was I happy I went.  It looked like the rejects from, well just rejects.  The group leader was called Kain.  I don’t know what his real name was.  He was an older guy with long, thinning hair and dressing in complete black.  He was just plain creepy and slightly full of himself.
So I started asking him a few questions about Satanism.  “First, what is it that you actually believe?” 
With a glaring look in his eye he said, “We believe in the Bible, but we believe that we have the ability to be more than God.” 
“Um, doesn’t that just make you all a bunch that is just really mad at their Dad?  Like, I don’t like you, and your rules.  So I am going to hang out at the mall?”
He just kind of glared at me some more.  I’m guessing he thought that I was some sort of pain in the ass because he turned me over to his assistant.  His assistant, for lack of a better word, was an eighteen year old named Kaleb.  Although he looked like he was fourteen, and he was really into arguing with me.  I really liked him for that.

He started off, standing a bit too close to me if you know what I mean.  He said, “Hey man, God hates us all.  We can do whatever we want.”
“So you just stole your first line from a Slayer song, and the next one from every Maury episode.”
That kind of upset him.  “You don’t know man.  I’ve seen things.  I have true power.  Hail Satan!”
That’s when the bunch around him also yelled, “Hail Satan!”
I just kind of looked at him and asked, “So when do we turn up the ..Danzig.., and start the de-flowering?”
“Oh, nevermind.  Say, what is the purpose of this get-together?  I mean, isn’t this kind of like hermits unite?” 
He moved just a little bit closer and said, “We need to band together.  Together our powers can not be stopped.  Not by any church or authority.”
“Yeah about that.  Isn’t this more like daddy issues anonymous?  I mean, look at that chick.  She looks like a he, trying to look like a she.  She, I think it’s a she, she could just be really fat, has more make-up on than Tammy Faye Baker.  She has more holes in her body than she was born with, and not just a few.  And she also looks as white as a ghost, is she a diabetic?  Since we are at Jamba Juice should I get her an orange smoothie?  I don’t want her going into diabetic shock.”

Kaleb didn’t exactly know what to say to that.  “Dude!  Raven is a girl.  Don’t be a dick.  She’s just expressing herself the way she wants to.  She’s not bending herself to society or God’s laws.”
“Well she could have started with a better tattoo artist.  Is that a skull or the flying spaghetti monster?  And why is everything upside down?”
Kaleb was clearly getting frustrated.  “What do you mean upside down?”
“Well, everyone’s necklaces for starters.  Those wearing crosses have them upside down, and those wearing stars have them upside down.”
“Dude, we wear the pentagram to show our allegance to Satan.  Hail Satan!”
The rest yell, “Hail Satan!” in the background.
“We wear upside down crosses to show we won’t bow down to the false God.”
I thought about it, and asked this, “So you think God is false, but you believe in Satan?  But isn’t that a paradox?  I mean, the whole Satan thing came from the bible which started with God, but if you don’t believe in God, then how can you believe in Satan?”
“What’s a paradox?”
I just kind of smiled, “It’s one of those things they deal with on every other episode of Star Trek.”
Kaleb then gave me a surprising response.  “Fuck Star Trek!  Star Wars is so much better.”

I just kind of smiled.  “Ok, ok.  Let me just kind of get the dynamic of this group.  I see the old guy, Kain right?  I see the damaged girl with daddy issues.  Then I see a bunch of D and D types.  Is this a get-together so you all can smoke cigarettes out in the parking lot so no one can bother you?”
Kaleb just said, “What?”
“So really, what is your favorite Danzig album?”
Kaleb was clearly getting more upset.  “I don’t’ listen to that crap.  I listen to Slayer.”
“But everyone else listens to Danzig right?  The chicks and the guys who look like chicks listen to them right?”
Kaleb had had enough.  “What did you come here for?  All’s you’ve done is talk shit, and be a dick.”
“Well, I was bored originally.  But then, I really wanted a chocolate peanut butter smoothie with sprinkles.  But then I felt a higher calling.  I wanted to help you Kaleb.  I wanted to help you avoid getting de-flowered by that old bastard.  At first I thought he was in it for the chicks, but now I’m not so sure.  The more I hang around here, the more I think he’s going to try and put something very uncomfortable inside you.”
At first I thought Kaleb might actually take a swing at me.  But then, the weirdest thing happened.  He just kind of looked at me.  He didn’t say anything, for like thirty seconds. 
“That’s it!”  I yelled.  “He took your buh-hymen didn’t he?”

And that’s when Kaleb ran away crying.
That’s when Kain ran up with anger flashing.  “Be gone from this place!  I shall surely curse you if you do not leave at once!”
“Does this curse have anything to do with putting things up my butt?”
That’s when one of the Jamba Juice employees came up and said, “Can you guys keep it down?  Some customers are starting to complain.”
I turned to him and said, “Darn right they are.  There’s illegal sodomy going on, and that’s just not right.”
Silence.  From everyone. 
“Yeah, I’m going to go.  I hear there’s a “womyn born womyn” only meeting at Starbucks.  I want to sit in on it.  Hail Satan!” I yelled.
Just by instinct some of the group yelled, “Hail Satan!”
That’s when the manager turned the corner, and yelled, “Ok that’s it!  I’ve had enough of you weirdos.  Get out!”
As we all walked out to the parking lot, I yelled at Kaleb, “Don’t get in his van Kaleb!”
Wouldn’t you know it?  Kain actually owned a van.  Yeah, that was one creepy fucker.

Dad's Retirement Speech

Jan 6, 2011

I wrote this speech for my Dad's retirement party.  However, I was not able to attend.  But since I think it's one of my best written works I thought I would post it.  I'll take even odds if Dad cries reading this.

Hello there, my name is Adrian Ray Long, and as you’ve probably already guessed, I am the proud son of John Long.  I am very thankful to be here, and am grateful for the opportunity to speak.  For me personally, I had to be here, not only to recognize the importance of what my Dad has accomplished, but to thank so many that made it possible along the way.
In preparing this speech I watched a lot of NFL Hall of Fame induction speeches.  Upon watching them I decided that I didn’t want to have a speech like Michael Irvin where he cried through the entire hour of his speech. 
            Instead I wanted to keep this a happy occasion, like the speeches given by Gale Sayers and Terry Bradshaw.  Because you never know, this could be the happiest day of your life.  If could definitely be the happiest day of my Dad’s life.
            My Dad was born in the backwoods of West Virginia.  I can only imagine what it was like.  When I think of it I picture the novel “Where the Red Fern Grows.”  It’s where a boy grows up in a time where what is right and wrong is simpler, but the living could be very hard.  Where a boy could hunt, fish, and run all over the back hills with his beagles, help plant the garden, all the while learning everything he could in school to prepare for a world that was changing very fast.

           I am thankful for my Grandparents John M. (Ray) Long, and Betty Long.  They raised three children during tough times, and always strived to make a better life for them.  While parents are never perfect, I admire the fact that they personally worked to learn and grow to be better parents and human beings.  Truthfully, I couldn’t have asked for better Grandparents, and that’s the truth.
            Growing up my Dad always had the company of four trusted friends Red Dean, Adrian Vance, for whom I am named after, and his cousins Dennis and Darrell Skeens.  This is the point where I would normally tell an embarrassing story from his past, but even after all these years I still can’t get a story out of anyone.  The only answer I ever got was from Darrell, and he said that any story that would implicate Dad would twice over implicate himself. 
            My Dad always had goals in his life.  The first one that he set for himself in his adult life was to be his own man, to stand on his own two feet, and to serve his country with honor.  He joined the U.S. Air Force at 18, and proudly served 4 years in the service of our country, including 1 year, and 3 days in Vietnam. 
            While in the Air Force, my Dad met an amazing woman, Carolan Overacker.  It was the 60’s at that time, but I picture more like an 80’s movie.  Rob Lowe would play the young Sgt. Long assigned to Communications at Andrews Air Force Base in Washington D.C.  Demi Moore would play Sgt. Overacker, the young, wild woman from Pennsylvania with an independent streak, and a heart of gold. 
            Truly, if you picture this like an 80’s movie it makes a lot more sense.  I figured it was something like this.
            He first noticed the pretty brunette wearing her Air Force uniform and white jogging shoes.  She noticed his blue eyes, and smile in his voice when he talked.  They were perfect for each other.
Their love was intense, but could it survive so many obstacles?  First, it was the 60’s.  America had changed more in ten years than it had in the past 200.  New concepts and new opinions had changed the face of our country.  Second, navigating the Beltway.  Have you ever tried to get around Washington D.C.  It’s a complete nightmare.  Just getting from one place to another is impossible. 
            Then came the ultimate test, being transferred.  My Mom was transferred to England, while Dad went to Vietnam.  Separation is tough, but so are 122 rockets.  The North Vietnamese tried their best, but between being a crack shot, and being able to run really fast they never did manage to get Dad.
            However, it wasn’t all warfare over there.  There was also a lot of drinking and gambling.  While I don’t condone either, it was over one particular 48 hour period that something amazing happened.  While gambling over there, Dad said you usually won or lost about 5 bucks.  However, armed with only a deck of cards and a bottle of something, he destroyed, not won, but destroyed everyone, and took in $500 over a 48 hour period.  Now you have to remember that this was $500 40 years ago.  He took this money, along with what he had already saved up, and went to the Air Force BX.  It was there that he bought a humongous African blue diamond ring.  He mailed it to England (insured of course) with a note that said, “Marry me Demi Moore, err Carolan.”  Really Mom, show that rock to everyone.  You can cut glass with that thing. 
            Then came the part of his life that if they made a movie about, no one would believe.  But for the purposes of our story, imagine that young Rob Lowe playing Sgt. Long.  He’s tired, frustrated, and angry.  He’s just been told that even though he’s spent his year’s service in Vietnam, he wouldn’t be able to leave the country for another two weeks.  Since he was not an officer, and thereby not a gentleman, he ripped the superior officer’s phone out of the socket, and sent it flying out a window.  He let the officer know that he was supposed to be attending his own wedding, and that he kind of wanted to be there.
           Instead of two weeks, he was delayed by three days.  He went from Vietnam to Hawaii to California to West Virginia to Pennsylvania.  After being awake for a few days he finally got some sleep at the airport in Pennsylvania.  It was here where that my uncle James (Jimmy) Overacker was to pick my Dad up.  To hear my Uncle Jimmy tell it is very funny.  He shows up at the airport, and is looking around for a guy he’s never met.  He happens to see a guy sleeping in the corner wearing Military fatigues.  Going through his head is, “I need to find John, but do I dare wake this guy who may or may not be John?”  Well, the good news is that it was my Dad, and they hit the road.  Uncle Jimmy and my Dad drove to the county courthouse, to meet my Mom.  With her independent streak and a heart of gold, she personally typed up the marriage license.  That’s one way to get your man isn’t it?  So everyone was only one hour late to the wedding.  So with no practice, no pre-wedding preparations, my Mom and Dad were married. 
            Inheriting a family is always tricky, but Dad was always thankful for the family he inherited.  My Grandparents Rex and Joyce Overecker were very gracious in welcoming my Dad to their family.  I’d also like to thank Jimmy and Lynn Overecker, Gary and Lisa Overecker, and Margot Lloyd for being such a wonderful family to us all. 
            Then came the next phase of my Dad’s life; he was finishing up his service in the U.S. Air Force and preparing for civilian life.  He was stationed at MacDill Air Force Base when a new Military Veteran’s hospital was opening in Tampa.  My Dad worked the opening day at James A. Haley Veteran’s hospital.  It was here he was able to complete a lot of his goals.
       He had the wife.  He got the bank loan, and got the house.  Then came a very important goal and one reason to live in Florida.  He was able to get a lot of hunting and fishing in.  That’s right, freshwater, saltwater, brackish water, shallow water, river, sand flats, mud flats, deep water, deep sea, under bridges, and off the pier, there is a lot of fishing to be accomplished.  Here’s a true story, all the relatives said that Dad’s fishing days where over now that he got married.  Well, my Mom told them “No they weren’t, and that she would go with him.”  Armed with a fishing pole, fishing license and the smallest blue bikini that may or may not have been legal at the time, my Mom always went fishing with my Dad.  That’s a true story, and here’s another.  In all the years of fishing, my parents were only stopped by the marine patrol once, and that was when Mom was wearing that blue bikini.  Let’s be honest, the marine patrol only has an hour’s worth of work to do a day, and has to kill the other seven hours doing something else.  Who can blame them?
            My Dad had a lot of hunting and fishing buddies he met at the V.A.  I’d like to thank John Wease, Tom Amerson, Tony Poole, Ron the great duck caller, Tom Tackett, and great bosses Jim Carroll and Lloyd Pollard.  I’d also like to thank our neighbors down the street Mel and Ann Sharpless, their sons Mel Jr. and Mark, as well as neighbors Mr. and Mrs. Lippy, Mr. and Mrs. Larsen, Mr. and Mrs. Barker, and longtime friend of the family Claude Monse. 
            Up till now I have told you stories of what other people had told me.  I’d now like to tell you some of what I know firsthand about my Dad.  I was almost three years old when my Dad turned thirty.  Now that I’m 32, I look back and see all the responsibility he had, and how he made life so wonderful for me as a child. 

          There was adventure.  I remember him taking me to a swamp that looked like something Indiana Jones would only dare into.  Truthfully, I was only five or six, and we went fishing down the Hillsborough River.  But remember, to a kid it was an amazing adventure.  I remember Dad driving his Army type Jeep in a huge forest.  In actuality, he had a short bed Ford pickup truck that was green, but to me it was Jeep.  That huge forest was actually Croom Wildlife Management Area.  In that amazing adventure we had somewhere between 10-12 deer (all does) walk right out in front of the truck, and just stare at us for a good two minutes.  Again, I was about six, and had an orange toy ray gun. I managed to shoot every one of those deer many times over.  I was just a very young kid, but I shot a dozen deer that day. 
            He was also a humanitarian while out in nature.  We were fishing in December during a winter that was very rough on a lot of the seabirds.  A lot of the conservation groups went out and fed the pelicans to keep them alive during this particularly harsh winter.  Well, we had caught a couple of pinfish, and were having a good time out at Cockroach Bay when a pelican came up to us.  The pelican had just noticed that I had caught a fish.  Dad said something like the pelican could use the pinfish more than us, and I could give it to him if I wanted.  So we gave the pelican the pinfish, and he was happy.  So happy he flew out about 100 yards, and just hung out there.  After a few minutes a few of his friends showed up, and we had three pelicans out about a hundred yards from the boat.  Then a few more showed up.  Like about 400 more pelicans.  If you can imagine a complete circle of pelicans surrounding the boat, that’s what happened.  Every time one of us would catch a fish we would hold it up, and here they came.  If you thought a group of bats was scary, try being bombarded by 400 hungry pelicans.  They don’t play around.

         When I look back in my life, there are two days that I can clearly say were the greatest days of my life.  I never went out, and planned for them to be great.  They just were.  If you remember what I said at the beginning of this speech, this could be the greatest day of your life.  You don’t plan for it, it just happens.  Well the one day I can’t tell you about… for personal reasons, but the other day was when I was fourteen.  Dad, myself, and our friend John Wease went fishing at Tarpon Springs.  It didn’t start out as a great day.  The waves were three feet high, and I already felt like puking.  However, after an hour the water became like glass.  What made this fishing trip special was that the Spanish mackerel were passing through Tarpon Springs.  We were all doing pretty well fishing, but I was having real good luck in particular.  As the sun came up, both Dad and I kept noticing a big black shadow swimming underneath the boat.  There was one cast that I kind of screwed up, and started reeling it in.  That’s when I saw the shadow.  I just let my lure sink underneath the boat.  It was then my rod completely bent over, I set the hook, and two foot of line got dragged out.  Dad immediately yelled, “Let him take it…”  However, I had other ideas.  I turned my reel twice, and jerked as hard as I could on the rod.  It was then that a giant Spanish mackerel came flying out of the water, went ten foot high, and landed in the boat.  All of this happened in less than two seconds.  Actually, I think the fish spent more time in the air than in the water.  It got some good hang time.  Well, my Dad gave me that irritated kind of look, and said, “Well, didn’t feel like giving him much of a fighting chance did you?”  I couldn’t blame him for being irritated.  I mean, he did almost get hit with a flying Spanish mackerel.  For the record, I did get nine mackerel, many trout, and a couple of black sea bass that day.  That’s a good day.  Correction, that was the greatest day.

         There are those people who wear the t-shirts that say, proud parent.  Well, my Dad didn’t wear the shirt, because he proved it by his actions.  He never said, “Get good grades or else!”  No, he just went down to the school, and talked to the teachers and principals.  He would ask them, “Adrian needs improvement here.  What can we do, and what can he do to improve?”  He took an active role in parenting.  He also did something that only a true proud parent t-shirt wearer could do.  He attended every single one of my football games, and track meets.  He also made all the important orchestra concerts that I was in.  Think about that, that’s dedication.
            But it wasn’t all fun and games.  There was a period there from about 1990-1994 when his hair went gray.  I’m not proud to say it, but that was my fault.  It’s easy to be a proud parent when you’ve got a son who is Mr. Wonderful.  It’s not so easy to be a parent when your son is Mr. I know your Vice Principal on a first name basis, and our number is in their rolodex.  What makes my Dad a true parent is that, he never gave up on me.  He didn’t say, “Screw it, he’ll be eighteen soon, and he’s his own problem after that.”  Instead, he always helped me along, and never stopped teaching me.  On a happy note, in 1995 a lot of his hair turned blond again.  
            As I grew up, I noticed I could tell a lot about a person because of how they reacted to my Dad.  Let me explain.  If a complete stranger talked to my Dad kindly, most likely, they were a good person.  However, if someone was belligerent to my Dad, I could tell they were someone who was no good.  It’s like my Dad is the ultimate mood ring.  I can’t explain it, but it’s true. 
            Here’s yet another true story.  I was about 14, and we were walking in Home Depot.  My Dad comes up behind an older man, and says, “Hello Mr. So and So.”  The man literally snorts at my Dad and walks off disgusted.  I had never seen anyone react that way to Dad.  I was shocked to say the least.  I could only ask, “Who was that?”  Dad said, “That was one of the customers on my route.  He thinks I’m the worst mailman that ever existed.”  I could only describe the snorter with one word, miserable.  He was just miserable.  It was at that time that I could notice that you could judge the content of someone’s character by how they talked to my Dad.
            When you talk about people being smart, it’s not exactly a matter of IQ.  My Dad is smart, and it’s because of his ability to learn.  I figure a few people here have taken the Post Office Entrance Exam?  Well, Dad’s not afraid to say that he took it ten times.  Each time he learned a little bit more about taking this test.  It was in this way he was able to join the Post Office in 1985.  It was a better paying job than he had at the V.A., and it helped our family a lot.  I always thought it was great that when Dad started at the Post Office, he got to deliver his own zip code.  We lived on 15th street, and he had to drive a whole mile and a half to get to work. 

            As I’m sure you know, my Dad is a real people person.  I think that’s one reason the customers on his route like him so much.  There are so many great people that my Dad has had the opportunity to deliver mail to.  Some have passed, and some have moved away, but they all have an important place in my Dad’s everyday life.  I’d like to thank Mr. and Mrs. Davis who have given so much to not only our family, but their community.  I’d like to thank Mr. Bodycott and his partner for their help in growing plants and trees.  Also thanks to Mr. Michael Bright for his paintings, and point of view on life. 

           As my Dad has been here at the Post Office for almost 25 years, there are a lot of co-workers who have been great friends or made life a little bit easier along the way for him.
I’d like to thank our original mailman Larry Downs, a great and caring friend.
Ron Cormier, a friend to all.
The man who rocks even harder than me, Johnny Durosa.
A great supporter of single moms, Jeff Douse.
Longtime friend, Frank Widgeon.
The man with perfect hair, Ron Mongomery.
The greatest e-mailer in the world, Warren Sumlin.
Ron Biggs, always a good friend of the family.
A friend who we won’t forget Joel Brooks.
Lover of all things football and Christmas, Dennis Lumberg
Everyone’s favorite disgruntled elf, Sam Barnhart.
A fellow outdoor enthusiast Jim Neeley.
Hoo-Yah, John Greenleaf, our favorite Marine.
Even though the next two may not be popular, they have helped our family out.
John Watts, there are a number of things he did to help out our family, and for that I will be forever grateful.
Union President Lenny Perez, from whom I learned more about dirty politics in 15 minutes talking to him, than I ever learned in school, the news, or elsewhere combined.
I’d like to thank great friends Benny and Kenny.  We won’t ask if you won’t tell.
Jamo, a longtime friend, and eater of things I would rather not know about.
Robert Sanchez, who will give you hug whether you needed one or not.  A great longtime friend.

            My Dad always had goals in life.  One of the earliest goals was to get a move on with his life, and join the military.  With the below average pay, adequate housing, and job training it was a great start for my Dad.  His next goal was to get out of the military alive.  Check.  His next goal was the wife and house.  Check.  Next came hunting and fishing.  Check.  After that he wanted successful children.  I’m proud to say that my sister has fulfilled that goal for him.  He had a goal to live to 50.  When he fulfilled that, he said, “Better make it 60.”  I think his next age goal should be to beat his Grandmother Ethel who made it to 92.  He fulfilled a goal of having over 40 years of government service.  He also has over 20 years of avoiding preventable accidents.  It would have been 20 years of no accidents, but some moron took off his left hand side mirror while he was stopped at a mailbox.  He also made it a policy, not necessary a goal to have lots of friends along the way.  I think everyone here knows that’s true.  He also wanted someone to give a decent speech at his retirement party, and I hope I’ve fulfilled that goal.  Thank you, I appreciate everyone being here.  Take care.

Catch and Release

Jan 6, 2011

When I was a young boy times were much simpler.  It was the eighties, and life moved a lot slower back then.  My father liked to take us fishing on weekends.  It was good wholesome fun.  One weekend my father decided for me and him to have a father and son fishing day out at Cockroach Bay in Ruskin, Florida.
Cockroach Bay is a beautiful estuary that has many types of fish, birds, and other creatures including many rare and endangered species.  The water in the shallow part of the bay ranges only one to ten foot.  Most of the time the water depth is about four feet deep.  It makes it the perfect place to navigate a john boat for a father and son.
I was seven years old at the time, and was fishing mainly for pinfish.  I had a very simple set-up.  It was a standard push-button rod and reel, and I was using a small hook with cut up shrimp for bait.  Despite being seven I had been fishing for a few years, and kind of had the hang of how this fishing thing worked.  I had caught a few pinfish and smaller trout when something great happened.
I felt something on the line, and started reeling in.  However, I knew something felt strange.  I felt the pull of something on the line, but I didn’t feel the fight.  I let my father know that something was odd, and that the pull didn’t feel right.  My dad was good, and had the net ready.  He then netted my first and only starfish.
That’s right.  Due to the shallow water my bait had been dragging the bottom of the water.  The starfish was quick and grabbed my bait, and wrapped himself up in the line.  When I say he wrapped himself up in my line, I really mean it.  Dad had to spend a good minute getting the starfish untangled from the bait and line.

Then he asked me the question, “Do you want to keep it?”  I had always watched Bill Dance’s fishing program and noticed how he practiced catch and release.  I asked dad about this and he told me that if he kept all the bass he caught he could wipe out a lake.  Well, this wasn’t a bass.  It was better than a bass.  It was also much rarer.  This starfish only existed in the realm of unicorns and dinosaurs.  Hey, I said I was seven at the time. 
I had to do what Bill Dance would want me to do.  I immediately told dad we had to release it.  He did ask if I wanted to handle it, and put it back into the water, but I told him, “No, it had all these weird little feet on it.”  It’s true, if you ever look at the underside of a starfish they have all these weird feet type thingies. 
But here’s something I didn’t find out until years later.  As in, I was in high school, and found out.  It turns out there is an abundance of starfish.  They also eat a ton of clams.  One starfish can eat ten clams a day.  Not only that, but if the population of starfish gets too high it puts the clam population in danger. 
Here’s a true story.  The calm fishermen were so upset with the starfish wiping out their clams that they went out, and cut up a bunch of starfish.  Unfortunately, the starfish population went up.  Why?  Well, because starfish breed by splitting apart.  They didn’t cut the starfish up fine enough, and all they did was create new starfish.
But back to me, and my unicorn starfish.  It seems that I would have actually helped the environment if I had kept the starfish.  But hey, I only knew one thing, and that was, what would Bill Dance do? 

Divided Highway, Part 2

Jan 5, 2010

So I was thinking about the title of the album for my band Possum Apple, of whom I am currently the only member.  It seems that the title, Divided Highway was already taken.  This has left a bitter taste in my mouth as I really like the title.  Then it occurred to me.  Why not name my album, “The Divided Highway.”
It is what I wanted to name the album, only with a “the” on the front of it.  As I think about it, I like both titles equally.  I’ve decided that I want to get a picture of me standing in front of a divided highway sign somewhere out on the road.  It should be in black or white, or sepia.  All in all I think I have a pretty good start on this. 

Divided Highway

Jan 1, 2011

So I’ve been on the road for a while driving my big rig across Americas' highways and byways.  It gives me a lot of time to think about various things in my life.  One of my major loves in this life is music.  Ever since I have been playing at Sacred Grounds Coffeehouse I have had this idea of putting together an Americana type music band called Possum Apple. 
I was driving out of a truck stop and saw a sign.  No really, I saw a sign.  It said Divided Highway.  It immediately hit me.  That’s going to be the name of Possum Apple’s first album.  I told my Dad about it, and he said he thought that Divided Highway was already taken as an album name.  He was right.  It’s the name of an album by the Doobie Brothers.  However, I feel that the name is right.  Especially since I am a truck driver, and I see Divided Highway signs quite a bit.  So I’ve decided that I am going to keep it as the name of the album, at least until I get sued by the Doobie Brothers.
I have a good friend in Shawn Kyle.  His band The Beauvilles are absolutely amazing.  He produced my first song Secret Path.  Once I get off the road I definitely want to work with him again to produce the rest of my songs. The good news is that I already have the album written.  I may not have music to all the songs, but I have an idea of where they should go.  Here’s the song list as it stands now.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough
Crevasses and Glaciers
Everyday People
Capri Pants
The Road (Get your beagle out the road)
The Bride Wore Sneakers
Dark Horizons
West Virginia Blues
Secret Path
I have three songs that I also hope will make the album but need more work.
Outta Here
Pale Horse
So I feel good about it.  It reminds me of an old music saying, you have ten years to write your first album and three months to write your second.  I only wish I could have that problem.  Let’s see, touring musician or traveling truck driver?  Yeah, I totally want to rock and roll.