Observations 2021-12-01

  • Get Back episode three.

Observations 2021-12-02

  • The chickens roosting in the trees near my aunt Debbie’s house.
  • The peacocks roaming in the streets.

Observations 2021-12-03

  • The Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix. Six hours of wide-eyed, wide-eared experience. So fun.
    • The countless folk instruments from hundreds of cultures around the world, often displayed alongside video footage of musicians from that culture playing the very same instrument.
    • The painstaking detail of a tonbak drum made out of thousands of tiny pieces of wood and bone.
    • The massive, carved slot drums.
    • The teeny, funnily shaped proto-violins.
    • The recreations of a Pacific region traditional cymbal forge, a violin luthier shop, a Martin luthier shop, and a Steinway factory.
    • The sensation of hitting a reproduction pow wow drum in the museum’s “experience center.” It’s so wide, and its sound is so low, it really makes you feel something.
    • Overhearing someone ask if a photo of Steve Vai was Neil Young.
    • Doug Clifford’s (of CCR) Camco drums. Hal Blaine’s cymbals. Parts of the “Pictures of Lily” kit Keith Moon played on Smothers Brothers! I was shocked at how emotional it made me to see those things, especially the Moon kit. Watching those drums explode was a formative part of my childhood.
    • The woman playing a shaker in the gift shop saying, proudly, to an employee, “I like noise.”

Observations 2021-12-04

  • Seeing Courtney Barnett in Phoenix.
  • Getting a delightful massage with Casey and Aunt Debbie.
  • The table of deaf folks having a good time on a bar patio.

Observations 2021-12-05

  • Touring Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin West with Aunt Debbie and Casey (which happened to be displaying Chihuly glass sculptures too).
    • The slanted ceilings; the constricting doorways the release into open, airy spaces; the geodesic-looking armchairs; the utter coziness and low tables of the dens.
    • Feeling surprised, disappointed, and encouraged all at the same time about the sometimes shoddy building quality of the property. Not its poor maintenance, but its rickety construction from the get-go. (The guide informed us that much of the campus was constructed by Wright’s students, who weren’t builders but architects.)

Observations 2021-12-06

  • Flying home from Phoenix after a lovely visit with Aunt Debbie, Uncle Jerry, Todd, Val, and the rest of the gang.

Observations 2021-12-07

  • Building acoustical clouds for our studio.

Observations 2021-12-08

Observations 2021-12-09

  • Cleaning years of corrosive gunk off an electrical box.
  • Kurt Vonnegut: “What the computer people don’t realize, or they don’t care, is we’re dancing animals. You know, we love to move around. And it’s like we’re not supposed to dance at all anymore.“ I share this as someone who loves computers.
  • An ingrown hair on my leg so monster-sized I thought it was a bruise.
  • How a “rolling stop” could also fairly be called “not stopping.”

Observations 2021-12-10

  • Discovering a new lead for a problem during my morning semi-sleep state.
  • The dryer exhaust blowing out billowing steam into the courtyard.
  • If you must put something down on your car while you’re doing another task, at least put it on your hood where you’ll see it before you start driving again. If we as a human community have learned anything from movies.

Observations 2021-12-11

  • The cluster of faint, small stars that look like blackheads.
  • Billie Eilish on SNL.
  • Rewatching Blazing Saddles with Dad and Sammy. Holds up, we think!

Observations 2021-12-12

  • Full Bush, Ohmme and Alex Grelle’s tribute show to Kate Bush.
  • Picking up food from a diner after the show. Eavesdropping on the servers’ gossip while we waited twenty minutes for the French fry oil to heat up.
  • The separate, independently made, equally “concerned” comments my family members have made about the landmark pimple on my cheek.

Observations 2021-12-13

  • Researching health insurance for hours.

Observations 2021-12-14

  • Playing with Liam at Cactus Club in Milwaukee, one of our favorite hometown-adjacent venues.
    • Dusk opening the show.
  • Wednesday Baby” by Midnight Sister.

Observations 2021-12-15

  • The Chicago guy water department worker, tracking our pipes through the ground, talking about recording on cassette in the 80s, making a veiled racist comment about rap music.

Observations 2021-12-16

Observations 2021-12-17

  • The Time of the Foxgloves by Michael Hurley.
  • Getting a PCR test at a bizarre, empty, Catholic clinic in an office-y medical building, from a nurse who moments prior had been the maskless receptionist, and who forgot to ask for my contact information after collecting my nose sample. Was it a black market DNA harvesting operation?!?

Observations 2021-12-18

  • Traveling back in time, through the year, through tours, categorizing my credit card transactions.

Observations 2021-12-19

  • The Producers with Sammy and Dad.

Observations 2021-12-20

  • Rehearsing for our Metro shows.

Observations 2021-12-21

  • Rehearsing s’more for our Metro shows.

Observations 2021-12-22

  • Metro night 1. On Sammy’s birthday! It felt so good.
  • If You Ever Find Yourself” by Erika J. Simpson. How, sometimes, reading stories about people who overcome systemic injustice with love can make me momentarily complacent. Like, “Wow, the problems that caused Erika’s suffering are so deep and so pervasive, but I guess I don’t have to do anything about them because she had love and she ended up OK.” But that’s not how it works. Just because Erika made the best of things and found support doesn’t mean that the systems that were stacked against her are tolerable.

Observations 2021-12-23

  • Metro night 2!

Observations 2021-12-24

  • At a rural gas station, around dinner time on Christmas Eve, a gruff- but young-looking dad waiting to drop his daughter off with her mom.
  • Neil Young talking about building train diorama mountain ranges out of live wood and moss on Broken Record.

Observations 2021-12-25

  • Christmas Day with Casey and her family :)

Observations 2021-12-26

  • David French and Sean Illing talking about masculinity.

Observations 2021-12-27

  • Routing more audio snakes at the studio.

Observations 2021-12-28

  • Melting my mind listening to cymbal samples on MyCymbal.

Observations 2021-12-29

  • Watching Crock of Gold with Dad and Sammy, growing to love Shane MacGowan. Also, nearly crying at the intensity and earnestness of Irish traditional music and the early Pogues footage.

Observations 2021-12-30

  • The new season of pen15. The best.

Observations 2021-12-31

  • Casey’s and my fourth anniversary!
  • Jim Belushi and Dan Aykroyd on Chicago’s Channel 5 New Year’s Eve countdown.