Momma’s Halloween Tips

mommaA few years ago, my friend Den and I did a podcast called The Chico Walker Show. One day in October 2010, Momma stopped by to offer some court-ordered Halloween safety tips…

Shazbot

We are all unique. But most of us spend our lives as a cluster of dots on a graph, never entirely overlapping with anyone else, never really drifting free from the crowd.

Then there are the outliers: the folks who offer beauty and fire and sadness and insanity. The flowers in the garden. They reinforce our individuality by emphasizing their own. They take the pavement we give them and shade it with haystacks and sunflowers. They take the road and give it a place to go.

Beyond the outliers was Robin Williams.

1951-2014

1951 – 2014

The world is snow

The world is snow.

It has always been this way, and no one remembers a time when there was no snow. If all the snow were subtracted from the world, there would be nothing. Nothing but a beating heart yearning for snow. Snow is our essence. It is our fiber. It surrounds us, sustains us, mothers us, and overwhelms us. It grants us life. It steals our hopes, our dreams, our desires, and replaces them with snow.

And yet, I shoveled my walk.

TV review: New Girl

I don’t do too many TV reviews, but I watched the premiere of New Girl last night and although I usually find Zooey Deschanel to be cute and entertaining, I didn’t find too much to like in this show. Frankly, I expected better, which is pretty sad because I didn’t expect much, having only found out about the series yesterday.

Zooey is talented, but they didn’t really give her a whole lot to do beyond freak out about her boyfriend dumping her, and let’s face it…that’s not really Zooey’s wheelhouse. Quirky, yes. Stressed and freaking, no. Continue reading

Goodbye Johnny Frigo

I read that Johnny Frigo died this week. He was 90 years old, so I guess it wasn’t unexpected. Don’t worry if you don’t know who he was. I didn’t either, until he showed up to perform for us a couple of years ago in one of my live sound classes at Columbia College.

Johnny played a number of instruments. He was a first-call bass player in Chicago during the ’60s and ’70s. He eventually hung that up because he didn’t feel he could compete with the youngsters anymore. At that time, he returned to his first instrument, the violin, and basically made a whole new name for himself at an age when many of his peers were moving into retirement homes.

When he visited my class, he told a story about performing in a dance hall when he was just a teenager. At that time, he was playing upright bass, and he would carry this giant instrument on the bus to the club where he was working on the north side. If he played well, patrons would tip him by throwing coins in the f-holes of the bass. When he got home, his brothers would help him shake the bass to get the coins out.

One night, someone inserted a bill in the f-hole. Johnny didn’t remember if it was a five or a ten, but either way it was a lot of money for a teenager back in the ’20s. He told us that he and his brothers had a terrible time trying to get the bill to fall out. The next night, when he went back to the club, he told the owner about how someone had given him such a big tip. The owner replied, “Yeah. That was Al Capone!”

Johnny played with just about everyone from his era, including the Dorseys and Chico Marx and Frank Sinatra. When he died, he still had gigs scheduled.

Welcome back my friends, to the site that never ends

The site owner can’t make up his mind. I used WordPress as the software here for a long time, and I had a nice little customization going. Then WordPress demanded to update itself. I allowed it to do so and promptly lost all of my customizations. That was discouraging, so I decided to trade WordPress for Joomla!, which is what I use on my other site, whistleinthewind.com.

I never really did anything with the Joomla! version of the site, until one day, today, when I loaded it in my browser to find that some major catastrophe had occurred and the site was no more. So here I am, full-circle, back in the land of WordPress. I don’t plan on playing the customization game any more, so maybe I’ll find myself toying with the back end less and posting to the site more. We’ll see…

Beware of the blog

I don’t consider myself to be a trendy person. More importantly, no one else considers me to be a trendy person. Yet, here I sit, typing the first words into my new blog. The question begs itself, simply because nobody else is around to do so: Why?

I have finally decided what I want to do when I grow up. I want to be a writer. I say this with some irony, since technically I am a writer, or more precisely, a technical writer. However, that’s not the type of writer I want to be. I want to be the type of writer who lives in Vermont, wears a turtle neck sweater, and smokes a pipe. I’d have a ‘60s-era Corvette in my garage (for the times when my publisher wasn’t sending a limo), and a large stereo in my living room playing classical music to inspire my wordy wisdom.

Scratch that. I have no interest in being that kind of writer either. Except for the Corvette, perhaps. And the stereo. And the limo, I suppose, although it would have to be a small one, because I don’t want to be ostentatious. Usually. Fresh maple syrup aside, I’m much happier in Chicago than I suspect I would be in Vermont, I find turtle neck sweaters uncomfortable, and don’t get me started on pipes.

Which leads me to this blog. After years or months or whatever of viewing such exercises with suspicion, I have finally broken down and find myself on the trailing edge of trendy. Yes, it turns out that I can’t even get trendy right, because the rest of the world has already moved on to podcasting, and I have absolutely no intention of getting involved in that. I have my pride, after all. For now.

So, what does writing a blog have to do with being a professional writer? The me of a few months back would claim almost nothing. I would have said (and probably did say) that if you want to write, great, but if you’re good enough, you’ll get paid and if you’re not good enough, you’ll write a blog.

And I do want to get paid. I’m not quite good enough for that yet, I suppose. Seems that my degree in audio arts and acoustics doesn’t exactly jibe with my goal of a writing career. I also lack a portfolio, or at least much of one. The blog allows me to cover two needs at once–I can practice my intended craft, and perhaps create a large enough pile of chaff to cull a few grains of literary wheat with which to demonstrate my impending greatness.

Pride forces me to mention that I have had a web site for around ten years as of this writing. Honesty forces me to point out that laziness has led to that web site being neglected for long periods of time. Using blog software allows me to now focus on writing instead of markup codes, even as realism forces me to confront the fact that almost no one will read these words.

It doesn’t matter. I have a blog now, and only myself to blame if I can’t keep it updated. I plan to spend a certain percentage of the space here detailing my attempts at jump-starting my writing career. Those who know me can probably guess that I won’t shy away from politics either, although I do not plan to turn this into some sort of rant fest. I have lots of other interests as well, like music, science, history, aikido, photography, coin collecting…well, you get the idea. Many of those things will probably show up here sooner or later, along with the occasional bit of fiction.

As an aside, it occurs to me that, however unlikely, my current employer could end up reading this article. I’d like to point out that, even in the best of circumstances, it could take a very long time for my writing career to take off, and there are no guarantees that I won’t fall on my face. Don’t fire me now, and I’ll try to remember you when I don’t need you anymore.

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Editor’s note: this post originally appeared on one of the earliest versions of BigNoisyBug.com, several years before it became a “blog” in the current sense of the word.

Welcome to Big Noisy Bug–an outlet for various activities I am associated with and projects that lend themselves to publication on the World Wide Web. This is a new site, and as such, is still mostly unfinished. Not that “finished” ever tends to mean anything in internet terms, but with a little luck and brain grease on my part, you should see an ever growing and evolving body of content. With even more luck, what you discover here may actually hold your interest from time to time.

In the righthand column you will find a series of links. These are the various divisions of the site. Cicada Sound is the name I use to refer to my various audio projects. I have recorded musical and theatrical performances, as well as designed canned sound and Foley effects for theatre shows. This area will contain samples of my work, and perhaps some anecdotes about my experiences.

One of my more intense interests in life is Music. I have, at various stages (and on various stages), played guitar and trombone, but the bass guitar has been the focus of most of my adult life. I have played and am a fan of many different types of music. In that spirit, rather than give you a neatly organized collection of musical tidbits, I will be lumping everything together, including samples of my stuff and plugs for music I enjoy.

Moebius Theatre is a non-profit theatre company of which I am lucky (lucky???) enough to be current president. I have hosted the organization’s website for about three years, so of course, here it is.

Finally, the Personal Portal sounds much more exciting than it is. Since every website seems to contain an obligatory “links” section and I’m never one to stand against a trend, I have decided to just post my personal link page. If you bounce between browsers as I sometimes do, you may find it difficult to keep bookmarks in sync. I prefer to write an HTML page of sites I visit, and set that page to load when the browser opens. Feel free to explore–you may figure out some of my interests. I should also give credit where it is due: Although I have written my own link page for years, I swiped the basic look for the current version from John Dvorak of PC Magazine.

Thanks for coming over to play,
Pete Pollack