Category Archives: I Need Your Feedback

Reflective Retrospective Recollective


AiXeLsyD 🎸 Gasoline Dion 🎸 Ernie and the BertsSo, recently turning 40 has me reflecting on life in general (which is pretty damn great) & on my accomplishments as a “musician” even though I’m not actively gigging right now.

I’m pretty self-deprecating of my musical talents, but I am proud of the major part of the aural art that I helped create.  I compiled and uploaded a few of my favorites after using Audacity to clip out some silence and mp3Gain to try to get all the volume levels somewhat similar.

If you’ll indulge me I’d like to give my thoughts & memories on each of these songs that I was proud to be a part of with AiXeLsyD, Gasoline Dion, & Ernie and the Berts.  If I have any of the stories, names, etc. wrong, please correct me in the comments.  Being that these are punk rock(ish) bands, you may find the content explicit and/or objectionable.  Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

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  1. Gasoline Dion – “Shameless Plug”

    [SoundCloud/YouTube] | Tommy came up with this cool shuffling progression and I played a super easy solo over it.  I believe we kept the first take of the solo even though at the time I thought I could do better.  It’s not perfect, but it’s fun.  It was cool to open shows with this then rip into something completely different. It was called “Tommy’s Jam” until an inside joke on a local message board inspired the new name.

  2. AiXeLsyD – “Wait”

    [SoundCloud/YouTube] | Probably the first song that I wrote that I liked, and probably the first original that we worked on in the band.  We dug on this & recorded it a million times.  It morphed a bit, but was basically the same simple jam.  Ben doubling the vocals an octave lower and the guitar part at the end really fills it out.

  3. Gasoline Dion – “Pickle Farm”

    [SoundCloud/YouTube] | Tommy had recorded this song solo, and it contributed to the itch that I needed to scratch when we formed Gasoline Dion.  I really liked the melody.  I think he stole the lyrics from Space Ghost or Brak.  This song to me is about not being a square peg that’s forced into a round hole.  I liked singing background vocals & playing guitar.

  4. Ernie and the Berts – “Toybox”

    [SoundCloud/YouTube] | Erin wanted to start a band to play rocked-out Willy Wonka covers.  That never happened.  This did.  It was the first original that stuck, and an early recording became the soundtrack to a friend’s video project.  Dave learned to play drums in/for this band.  This is a nice simple driving groove and is the perfect vehicle for the introduction of Erin’s gnarly gravelly voice.

  5. AiXeLsyD – “Hopeless & Heartless”

    [SoundCloud/YouTube] | I wrote this on the outside of seeing someone with a broken heart.  I thought it was pretty catchy.  The “whoa-oh’s” are overkill but oddly necessary in my humble opinion. I think An-Die, Ben, & I are all singing on multiple tracks here.

  6. Gasoline Dion – “Cold”

    [SoundCloud/YouTube] | This riff was a leftover AiXeLsyD riff that almost became part of two songs but never really went anywhere.  Mike had some leftover Who’s.Keeping.Score? lyrics that Dave & I re-arranged.  Dave & I work really well on arranging musical parts & lyrics. I really really dig Tommy & I singing together on this one.

  7. Ernie and the Berts – “Fred Rogers”

    [SoundCloud/YouTube] | Erin supposed that a local hero may not really be a hero on this one.  Maybe he read that weird urban legend.  I really like the guitar part here, although it’s missing some kind of effect in my head.  Wah?  Phaser?  Not sure.  Erin let me just go goofy with background vocals here.  I felt like Danzig or that Not-Danzig guy in the Cult.  I love how this song builds into chaos.

  8. AiXeLsyD – “Stand Up”

    [SoundCloud/YouTube] | This is where it all pulled together, and it was the last proper thing we recorded.  Ha ha. An-Die wrote the riff & lyrics, I arranged them.  Ben came up with the guitar noodling& octaves riff. I think I came up with the stupid  guitar part for the verse. I really dig my guitar solo here,even though I went too long.  (Oddly, this sounds a lot like “Anything, Anything (I’ll Give You)” by Dramarama as played by Buckcherry.)

  9. Gasoline Dion – “Political Songs (With Deep Meaning)”

    [SoundCloud/YouTube] | I was listening to a lot of the Unseen, I think.  I don’t really write political stuff that often.  This was taking the piss out of that genre.  Dave sounded better on it with vocals.  I scream “feet” in the background and give the creepy laugh at the end.  We lost the original lyrics, so Dave used what he remembered and made the rest up on the fly.  I don’t really think any one ever tried to intemperate a deeper meaning. If they did, they didn’t tell us.

  10. Ernie and the Berts – “Don’t Fuck With Ernie”

    [SoundCloud/YouTube] | It was hard to tell if Erin was serious or joking a lot of the time. He had a deadpan delivery, and it was hilarious. To deliver this ridiculousness so seriously is hilarious to me.  I think I sort of came up with this riff over top of his bass line.

  11. AiXeLsyD – “Dave Ugly’s Girlfriend”

    [SoundCloud/YouTube] | It’s “Dave Ugly’s Girlfriend”, not “Dave’s Ugly Girlfriend.”  People always seemed to get that wrong.  Dave Ugly played bass & sang for one of our favorite local bands, Useless Torment.  I don’t tell the story as well as An-Die, but Dave was apparently saying he loved him, and An-Die was playing the “even if…” game, and arrived at this.  I remember being “mad” when Sum 41 came out as a punk band rapping.  I think Boner played guitar on this one and Ben played Drums?

  12. Gasoline Dion – “Bitch Pants Opera”

    [SoundCloud/YouTube] | I don’t know if we could do this one today.  People seem so easily offended.  It’s just a joke.  We don’t really care if you wear girl pants.  We’re not insinuating or implying anything.  We look ridiculous too.  Another Dave vocals song, I am screaming the high parts.  All of us are in the beginning. I think the breakdown was inspired by hardcore /screamo kids in skinny jeans doing the windmill and Peelander-Z’s “S.T.E.A.K.”

  13. Ernie and the Berts – “Ikea”

    [SoundCloud/YouTube] | Dave suggested I try a little more dynamics with space and clean.  Dave is usually right.  You can do a lot with the same 3 chords over & over. This was a slice of Erin’s life, full of his observations.  We almost got permission to go in & shoot a video there.  Somebody must have really listened to the lyrics.  He had “nicer” ones prepared just in case we needed to sell out.

  14. AiXeLsyD – “Love, Hopes, Dreams, & Smiles”

    [SoundCloud/YouTube] |I think An-Die hated this one.  I liked the noodling& the melody.  The lyrics are super dumb & trite.  The song was made infinitely cooler when Ben put in that volume swell in the final mix.  That was never there, then we started doing it live after he did that to the recording.  This could probably be punched-up a little bit more.

  15. Gasoline Dion – “Two of a Kind”

    [SoundCloud/YouTube] | Tommy sings like an angel.  I have no idea what in the hell he’s talking about here.  I think Dave & Mike made this honky-tonk-ish.  I played a little solo under Tommy’s vocals at the end because nobody ever told me not to.  The end sounds like the Misfits’ “NY Ranger.”

  16. Ernie and the Berts – “I Don’t Wanna”

    [SoundCloud/YouTube] | Erin stole this one from a band called Suck-Your-Brains-A-Go-Go.  I don’t know if they ever recorded it.  I should ask the man who wrote it some time.  We made it ours. I think Bengt punched-up some of the guitar & added a bit of harmonies during the recording process.

  17. Gasoline Dion – “Shameless Plug (Reprise)”

    [SoundCloud/YouTube] | Same thing as the first track, second solo take by me with a wah pedal this time. Dave is also on guitar making crazy noises and soloing in between all of my notes.  Ha ha.  If you don’t “get” the speaking part, watch the Josie and the Pussycats movie some time.

I’d love to know what you think, or to read/see/hear your own memories about these bands or in any bands or projects in which you have participated.   Did I miss a song or two that you may have remembered or liked?  Comments (or likes or whatever is deemed social-media-appropriate) on the songs on SoundCloud or YouTube would be awesome and greatly appreciated, too.

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Check out the playlist on SoundCloud:

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Check out the playlist on YouTube:

Can you Dig it?

I think you should be able to download a zip of the collection on Google Drive or SendSpace if you’re so inclined.  If you can’t get it there, let me know and I can email it to you.

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The AiXeLsyD stuff:

The Gasoline Dion stuff:

The Ernie and the Berts Stuff:

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Check out some related posts:

NOTE:  Edited to correct links to YouTube videos, made new ones for some slideshows that were too short.  Also, check the comments!

Caption This! Butterscotch in the Christmas Tree. 🐱🎄


My wife got a great shot of our cat Butterscotch in the Christmas tree.  I know some amusing people.  Let’s have a caption contest in the comments!

Butterscotch in the Christmas Tree

Caption this in the comments!

I got some funny ones too, but Bethany‘s shot takes the cake:

#JingleTails?

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>^.^<

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It's actually a pretty good seat. #CatsOfInstagram

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Do you see it? #CatsOfInstagram

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We might have to leave the tree up all year, just for #Butterscotch. 🎄

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#Scutterbotch.

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Are You Serving #Cookies or #Dookies? Click to not break your guests’ hearts.


Nothing kills holiday cheer faster than when someone offers you Christmas cookies; you gleefully accept and are presented with a tray covered in little jelly-filled things, lemon bars, and crap with nuts or coconuts all over it.

“Cookies” implies deliciousness, like chocolate chip, Hershey’s Kiss or Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup cookies, peanut butter cookies (fork-pressed cross-hatches with no chunks of nuts), Rice Krispies treats (in any iteration including chocolate and peanut butter shenanigans), Christmas wreaths, or even lady-locks or lady-fingers (or whatever you call them).  I’ll even give you buckeyes.

“Cookies” does not include anything with jelly in the middle, anything with nuts on or in it, lemon squares, Fig Newtons, anything with coconut shavings or flavoring.  These are (in a term coined by my friend Saurav I believe) in fact “Dookies.”

Cookies vs. Dookies

Sugar cookies and shortbread are barely passable as cookies. (Sorry, Eat n’ Park.)

Pizelles can be tricky.  Some of them are delicious, and some taste like what I imagine licking the inside of a dumpster in August would be like.  If you use a spice called annis that sounds almost like anus, you get what you deserve.

Chocolate covered pretzels, Oreos, peanut butter crackers, etc. are acceptable.

Red licorice is OK, black licorice is not.

Thumbprints can be tricky too.  If they have chocolate icing, usually only the icing is edible.  The rest is tasteless powder formed into a cup of lies.

Do we need someone to make a flow chart?  Are you getting this?  Don’t ruin someone’s Christmas by offering cookies when you’re presenting dookies.

Please, sort it out in the comments.

Guitarobatics 🎸


I’m on a few super gear-nerdy and G.A.S.-educing groups on Facebook.  To the Awesome Cheap Guitars group, I recently posed this question:

So,what awesome cheap guitar moves have you pulled on stage? I’m a horrible guitar player, but I can wow a crowd with some flash, flair, and goofy-looking guitars. I’m guilty of the checked following…

Dancing E.

Dancing E.

☑ Playing behind the head.
☑ Playing while squatting with guitar in between knees, reaching arm through legs from behind.
☑ Playing while falling/laying down.
☑ Dropping-trou and continuing to play.
☑ Playing on knees bending back until head almost touches the ground.
Sad 80’s dance move with shuffling feet while playing.
☑ Playing on chairs.
☑ Playing on tables.
☐ Playing on the bar.
☑ Walking outside & in another door if possible with a wireless.
☑ Sitting in a seat with a wireless.
☑ Stage-diving.
☑ The Chuck Berry/Angus Young walk.
☑ Switching instruments mid song.
☐ Using a beer bottle as a slide.
☑ Using a mic stand as a slide.
☐ Blowing bubblegum bubbles. (Like Doyle.)
☑ Drinking mid song.
☑ Injuring a band mate by accident. (I chipped the lead-singer/bass player’s tooth.)
☐ Injuring a band mate on purpose.
☑ Improvising a mic stand out of duct tape, a hockey stick, & gatorade bottles. (Hey, we were playing at a dek-hockey rink.)
☐ Playing on someone’s shoulders.
☐ Playing while someone is on your shoulders.
☑ Playing from behind a wooden bear statue with the guitar on the front of the bear.
☐ Putting a lit cigarette under the strings in the headstock.
☐ The amp-hump. (Like Jimi.)
☑ The guitar-as-a-phallic-symbol air-hump. (Like Rex from the Lone Rangers  in Airheads.) 
☐ The guitar toss – Badass edition. (Like Prince – also, check out the falling into the crowd move!!!)
☐ The guitar toss – Oops edition. (Like Prince with the borrowed Epiphone or Krist Novoselic on MTV.)
☐ The guitar toss – Someone else catches & starts playing.
☐ Smoke-bombs. (Like Ace Frehley.)
☐ Set Fire to the guitar. (Like Jimi.)
☐ The windmill. (Like Pete.)
☑ The powerslide.
☑ The failed powerslide.
☐ Swinging from the rafters. (Hard to do while actually playing? This dude did it.)
☐ The “‘round the world” spin.
☐ The failed “round the world” spin.
☑ Yelling out a second story window mid-set for people to come into the bar.
☐ The “nyah-nyah you can’t see me” EVH turn-around.
☐ The flying karate kick.
☑ On the knees.
☐ On top of a piano. (Like Slash.)
☑ Dancing with the crowd.
☑ Duel of the Fates – using another musician’s fretboard as a slide.
 The salute – All in the air.
☑ The Poison-ish choreographed lean.
☑ Lean on a bandmate.
☑ Lean into a bandmate.

I know there are more.  I know photos & videos exist of some of these with me.   I know this post can get goofy. Please, I implore you to share your moves, including videos, animated gifs, and photos in the comments!  This kind of stuff is hilariously entertaining to me.

What’s your favorite to do?  What’s your favorite to watch?  What have you copied?  What have you invented?  What did I miss on this list?  Share your stories and images and favorite stuff from your favorite performers!

Now, for the self-indulgence:

Anchorhead vs. Galactic Empire


Anchorhead vs. Galactic Empire

Anchorhead vs. Galactic Empire

I have seen Galactic Empire blowing up lately, and I love it… but it makes me wonder what happened to Anchorhead, who was doing it first.  (Yes, I know scores of metal versions of Star Wars songs are all over the Innerwebs, but these guys are the best.)

Here’s some side-by-side comparisons…

Anchorhead:

…and check out this incredible entire live show!  Apparently all these cats ever left was one EP & a handful of performances.  Their guitars have so many strings, it takes 12 parsecs for any non-force user to make their way across the fretboard.

I did download all I could form MySpace, but all I could get of some of the stuff was some snippets of songs.  Their interpretations are proggy, masterful, eerie, and dark.  I would love to get my hands on the EP.

Galactic Empire:

Obviously, these scruffy-looking Nerf Herders rock too.  The costumes and video production are all-out.  The metal seems happier if that’s even a thing.  They used kickstarter to fund their eventual takeover of the galaxy.  Galactic credits go far with the Empire.  I’m anxious for their full-length album, too.

It looks like of the two, these guys are the only ones currently in existence.

Vote for Your Favorite:

I would love to see a fan mix of the movies using either of these guys to score the entire thing.  I don’t think Disney would go for it, unless like Darth Lucas they realize they can make more money by selling the movies again to the same people that already own all possible formats & variations.

Bonus:  Check out Sarlacc!

Honey Mustard BBQ Sauce, or Honey BBQ Mustard?


Today, I was so excited/inquisitive, that I forgot an “l” in this tweet;

Then I got an answer:

Tonight I Googled Honey Mustard BBQ Sauce & Honey BBQ Mustard:

I need to start looking for this stuff.

Audio

Food Allergy Walk Pittsburgh 2016 (Asking for a $10 donation.)


It’s almost time for the FARE food allergy walk in Pittsburgh again this year.  Each year, I ask for your help before the walk in raising money for food allergy research & awareness/education.  This year the walk will be on Sunday October 2nd at the Pittsburgh Zoo.

I know money is tight.  I know there are a million causes worth donating to.  I know there are walks for everything these days.  So, I understand what I’m asking when I ask you to consider a donation to FARE in support of our walk.

My shellfish allergy is pretty severe, but I have learned to navigate life successfully with it.  It would be nice for people to not have to worry about these things some day.  Molly has recently outgrown an allergy to eggs, greatly in part to incredible pediatricians, local allergists involved in the FARE walk, and their advice as it is informed by the latest research and techniques.  There is still a chance that either of my kids could develop allergies later.  My shellfish allergy didn’t really manifest until I was in 3rd or 4th grade.

My plea isn’t the standard. I know not everyone has $50 or even $25 to give to a cause that may not even affect their lives directly.  I’m asking for $10 to go to FARE (Food Allergy Research & Education).  I’d rather get a bunch of small donations from a whole lot of people.

This is how my friends/followers/whatever break down on social media, and what the total would amount to if everyone managed to donate $10:

All of those except Tumblr are well over our team goal of $600.  All of them total would be $28,570.00.  I know there’s some obvious overlap, so that’s not a real number if everyone only donated $10, but it’s also not ridiculous.

Donations are tax deductible, you can opt for a receipt when you donate online, and you can read about what your donation will be used for.

If you’re reading this and don’t have $10 to spare, or your donation money is going to a cause closer to your heart, that’s cool too.  Just reading raises awareness and that is also extremely important.  You can find all kinds of food-allergy related rants and information here on my blog.  Sharing on your social media platform of choice would be really cool too.

FARE Walk For Food Allergy 2016 - Carroll Family Team Page

FARE Walk For Food Allergy 2016 – Carroll Family Team Page

Thank you for your time and your consideration.

We finally hung the sign on our #BeanHouse. 🌱


Did you read about our #BeanHouse?

I was able to get some matte clear-coat spray this week and hit the sign a few times, although this stuff seemed to soak up the paint like a sponge.  We just used some particleboard from an old dresser drawer.  It was the perfect size.  I did the marker & colored the beans, the rest was all Molly.

Molly also got a tomato plant  from her Grandma BB, so we planted it right out front.  We tried the fork trick there too to deter bunnies, but if I remember right they’re not huge fans of tomatoes.  You never know what else is out & around either.

We also put out some organic bloodmeal to provide nutrients and hopefully deter critters.   Molly reminded me to put down grass clippings because they hold moisture.

I was thinking about putting out some cinnamon to keep the rabbits away too.  I just saw that coffee grounds keep away snails.  Do you have any other tips & tricks that seem to have worked for you in the past?  We did use garlic clips last year.  They seemed to work, but we did have a few incidents of snacking on our peppers.

No beans sprouting yet, but our Spanish onions just popped from seeds we planted a while ago.

Discovering New Music?


Ask A Pittsburgh Expert: Best Ways To Discover New Music

Ask A Pittsburgh Expert: Best Ways To Discover New Music

I was recently asked to put together some thoughts on discovering new music for an article on CBS Local Pittsburgh.  The article is now up!

Please take the time to check out the article by local blogger Jennifer Stockdale and share your thoughts here (or on the Facebook link) on how you discover new music:

Comments aren’t available on the CBS Local article for some reason, but please share your ways of discovering new music here, or share a link to the main article on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest, or whatever to start your own discussion amongst your friends and peers.

Most importantly, the take-away is that I may now be considered an expert for all of your musical discovery needs.

What’s the worst Misfits related album out there? [#FiendClub]


I love the Misfits.  You may or may not love the Misfits. They have some great songs.  They have some really great songs beyond the confines of the Misfits.  There also exists many terrible terrible things under the Fiend Club umbrella.

We’re going to play a game.

Which is the worst?

Please, spill some fanboy tears and discuss.  I’d love you to elaborate on your answers, and maybe even point out something I’ve missed.

What's the Worst Misfits-Related album?

What’s the Worst Misfits-Related album?

☠💀