Category Archives: Pittsburgh

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!

Thank you to our #FoodAllergy allies!


I’d like to once again say thank you from the whole family to everyone who took the time to spread the word, and especially those who were able to make a donation to support us in the Pittsburgh FARE Walk for Food Allergy this year!

FARE Walk for Food Allergy 2016 - Pittsburgh, PA

FARE Walk for Food Allergy 2016 – Pittsburgh, PA

We had a great day with so many others affected in some way by a food allergy or multiple food allergies.  It’s really nice to know that we’re not alone, and that we all have the support of family and friends to enable us to get to the walk and work to make a difference in all of our lives.

Upon arrival, we did many things in a special event tent before the opening ceremony.  Several “top-8-free” food samples & small toys were handed out.  The kids colored some food allergy related pictures, decorated some foam teal pumpkins, made a beaded necklace & bracelet (Ian even threaded some beads all by himself!), danced with a DJ, played with masks in a photo booth, and just mingled with people who “get” it.

Molly also had an EMT help her wrap “Miss Daisy” (a stuffed bunny/dog/thing that was Bethany’s when she was little) in some gauze bandages, apply  a regular band-aid, and administer a practice EpiPen auto-injector with the Teddy Bear Clinic.  She did really good!  She may need to help me or any of her friends some day.

We listened to a speech by that very same brave young lady about her struggles she has had as someone with 15 allergies that can all lead to anaphylaxis.  More important than the struggles are the many things she has learned to overcome, the incredible friends she has made, and how well she has learned to adapt while moving away from home and going to school at Pitt.  She has used an EpiPen, and it has saved her life.  She leads a normal active life and is dedicating it to service to others by being an EMT!

Along our walk, there were many food allergy facts on signs throughout the zoo.  We used them to start conversations with the kids about how Molly has outgrown her allergy to eggs, how I will not outgrow mine, and how they will probably have a few friends in school with food allergies and that they need to be good friends to those kids and help them avoid their allergens and get the proper help quickly if needed!

It’s amazing that last year Molly knew at 2 years old to ask if a food item contained things like eggs, mayonnaise, or ranch dressing.  She understands now that daddy can’t eat shellfish.  She even pointed out the (incredibly creepy spiny) lobsters in the aquarium & said “You can’t eat that.”  I know Ian is a bit young to understand, but I don’t think it hurts to throw all the information out there and see what eventually sticks.

In the zoo, we had the incredible opportunity to get a photo with Victoria the elephant, pet (and get liked by) a deer, and pet some goats and sheep.  Ian loved the peacock roaming around, and I think he almost touched him.  Ha ha.  We also talked about how similar yet different Butterscotch is to all the big cats among many other animal facts that we have read  in books & on the signage there in the park.

You can check out more photos on my Facebook or Instagram, or Bethany’s Facebook.

Don’t be ridiculous.


Seriously.

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.

Epi-Pen Shenanigans.


I was going to write a blog about;

But, if you’re interested (even mildly), you have already read those things and made up your own mind.

My initial reaction was to pull out of the FARE walk for Food Allergy due to Mylan’s sponsorship.  But, that won’t do anyone any good.  We still need research.  We still need advocacy.  We still need awareness.  We still need a cure.

I have to trust that in the midst of public outcry, Bresch will be held to task.  I can hope that the rest of the good people at Mylan don’t suffer.  I currently refuse to revel in the failures of others, even if it is at their own hand.

I again would like to ask for donations to this year’s food allergy walk, and I will once again participate in the Teal Pumpkin Project this Halloween.

People like me need your help.

Epi-Pens in a Skull Glass

Don’t let Mylan’s issues prevent you from helping food allergy research, education, and advocacy.

_OOD ALLERGIES - Let's kick the F out of food allergies

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.

So, the beans on our #BeanHouse are sad. 🌱


Heh.  We’ll have to try again next year.  Maybe it was the shade, maybe it was the bugs, maybe it was the timing, maybe it was a lack of Miracle Gro.  Did you see our posts about building it and hanging the sign?

This is all the growth we got:

And something ate our sunflower:

Deer (or something) destroyed this #sunflower pretty quickly, too. No luck gardening this year at all. Ha ha.

A post shared by Eric Carroll (@aixelsyd13) on

Sigh.  Ha ha.

Pittsburgh to me; “Slow down.”


So this morning when trying to get to church, we had an adventure.  We cross the city to go there, because it feels like home when we do make it, and it is where I grew up going.  Generally, it’s not a bad drive on a Sunday morning.

This morning, we left a little later than we like to because… we have two small children.

I knew that there was some sort of work in the Fort Pitt Tunnel this weekend, so I decided to take the Liberty Tubes instead.  Why?  No respectful yinzer takes the posted detour, and it was going west when I wanted to go east.

No work in the tubes, or even on the Liberty Bridge… except when we got to the ramp for the Blvd. of the Allies and we couldn’t go towards Monroeville.

Up Bigelow Blvd. to Craig St. through Oakland to try to get to Forbes Ave. and get on the Parkway in Squirrel Hill, and we ran into this along the way:

Lady Pittsburgh

Lady Pittsburgh

I have no idea what this was.  She was oblivious to the world around her, happily rolling down the middle of the street on her scooter with absolutely no regard for safety or traffic laws.  She eventually got on to the sidewalk, but she was rolling along at about a ½ mile per hour when I pulled up behind her.  All I could do was start a “What the…” phrase that I couldn’t finish with children in the car and laugh.  We laughed for the rest of the ride to church, and we weren’t done with the obstacles.

Apparently, Forbes was closed off right after the CMU campus for a race today.  Out & around to the Edgewood/Swissvale on-ramp to the parkway it was.

Seriously though, I know I’m not a resident of Pittsburgh proper, but I am a resident of Allegheny County.  Can we pass some sort of local ordinance that you can’t work on or around two major through-ways to the city at the same damn time?

We got there, and were only a little bit late.  The universe was testing my patience today.  I hope I passed.

 

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.

Outdoor Gardening Fun With a #BeanHouse. 🌱


So, I dig gardening. (Get it?)  I have passed that on (so far) to my oldest child, and the little one really likes playing in the dirt.  I also enjoy doing things with the kids that are not only fun, but that allow me to sneak in some learning.

Today we set up a Bean House.  What’s a bean house?  I don’t know. That’s what my daughter wanted to call it & it’s really the most appropriate title.  We got the idea from a friend’s Facebook wall with instructions for a bean den and a willow den.

Basically, we built a play house that will act as a trellis for a (hopefully) vining bean plant.  I started with an area that had already been cleared thanks to a pile of brush that was recently removed.  Speaking of that brush that I have recently cleared form our jungle of a back yard; I grabbed 4 rather large branches with a “Y” shape, cut them to roughly the same length with the chainsaw, and sharpened the bottoms.  I dug some holes with a small gardening shovel and drove the posts in as far as I could, mounding up some dirt around each pole.  I used some gardening wire to secure four branches across the top for a nice little cube-ish frame.

Then, I let the munchkins “help” while I secured several smaller sticks across the top, down along the sides, and across the sides.  At one point we ran low on sticks, so I used some old wooden and bamboo tomato stakes.  The wooden stakes seemed to really help make the rest of the structure stable because I could really pound them into the ground well.  To secure everything, I used some newly purchased garden wire, and whatever twine and garden wire that we had leftover from previous years’ gardening adventures.

The top is a thatched mess of “wonky” branches that are woven together to provide slightly more shade than the sides, but will still be open for the growing vines.  My shelter would probably make Survivorman Les Stroud hang his head in shame, but it’s better than most of the shelters on Naked and Afraid.

The wife and little guy helped water the mounds so I could pack them down, and then I mounded dirt all around every post & they helped do the same.  Then we mulched the mound with grass clippings & packed it down again.

Finally I dug some holes for the pre-soaked Kentucky Wonder green bean seeds (beans?) around the base of the entire structure, and the whole family helped put in the seed-starter potting soil mix, the seeds, and some more dirt & mulch in place.  We placed some plastic forks facing outward all around the seeds at the base of the thing to hopefully help ward off the local overpopulation of rabbits.  I may try some additional deterrent like bloodmeal.

Later indoors, we found some other stuff and made a sign to hang once I get a coat or two of clear coat on it.

While we put it up, we talked about enjoying outside, building things, growing things, recycling and up-cycling, sunshine, water, and everything.  We talked about how grass clippings act like a mulch that holds moisture for the plants.  We talked about how the fertilizer and Miracle-Gro in the water acts like vitamins for the plants… vitamins like the one’s we’ll get from eating the beans.  I’m sure we’ll have discussions in the future about patience, including our little brother, and not knocking the bean house over.

My wife and I have always tried to talk to the kids with the same respect we’d give other adults.  We don’t use small words.  We explain things as best we can, encourage and answer questions.  I’m continually amazed at the observations that our daughter makes in conversation, and through our son’s actions that show an understanding of exactly what is going on.

If you’re reading this and are a parent, I ask you to narrate to your kids what you’re doing & why when you do an activity together.  You may think they’re too little to get it, but they’re constantly absorbing what you’re doing.

This is a great way to get into all kinds of stuff like gardening, up-cycling/recycling, food not lawns, urban farming, and striving to pass on the importance of such things as knowing how to grow food to your kids.  I’m excited to plant some tomatoes, peppers, and try a few new things this year.  I love going outside and seeing vegetable plants in the summer.  I love the smell of the dirt and growing plants.  I hope to pass this on and that the kids love it too.

All-in, I paid around $10 for the seeds, wire, & fertilizer.  Everything else we had here on hand or could have probably found easily for free.

Please, enjoy some photos and share some in the comments if you build your own!