Weird Dream

The alarm went off at 4:20am and I quickly realized I needed an extra 20 minutes of shut eye, so I hit the snooze and quickly went back under.

Next thing I know I’m at my aunt’s old two-story house that she hasn’t lived in close to ten years now. We’re all standing around looking out of the picture window on the second floor. My grandma was there, as was my mom, wife, and my kids. My grandma has been dead for over 6 years now and my kids were all little in the dream. It was some sort of impromptu family get together. I was holding a bowl of soup, which consisted of a dark broth and pieces of a pine tree. The door opened downstairs so I went down to see who it was. It was my aunt, the one whose house we were at. She told me there was some sort of strange animal on the porch and that my dad had shot it. She said he walked back his house to put the gun away and he’d be back. I quickly went over to the window to look at the animal(she said the name of this particular creature but I can’t recall what she called it.) I saw this furry creature that looked like a cross between a koala bear and a beetle slowly crawling along the porch. I followed it along the window and when I got close to the porch door there was a monkey starting in at me. I was shocked because, well, why was there a monkey on the porch of a house in downtown Plymouth, Indiana? I then realized the wall was completely glass, so it looked as if the monkey could come right in. I yelled upstairs and said “Hey! There’s a monkey on the porch. The kind you’d see at the zoo! Look out the window!” It looked like a cross between a kapuchin and a lemur. A demonic Zoboomafoo sort of. It quickly stood up on it’s legs and started walking away. It jumped down off the porch and quickly grew to the size of a full grown man. Like 6’5″ tall and it was suddenly wearing a clown outfit. Just then two more jumped off the roof of the house, one as tall as the first one and another that was shorter. All of them were dressed as clowns and they began walking down towards my parents house where my dad was. I knew their dog would start barking and going crazy so I tried calling their phone number in my aunt’s kitchen on an old rotary phone to warn him not to answer the door. I kept dialing one number wrong and would have to retry. Then once I dialed it I realized I had to dial the area code for some reason, even though they were just two houses down. I looked to my right and my dad was standing right there next to me. I said “I was trying to call you to warn you about those monkey clowns.” “I just got here.”

Then the alarm went off.

I think the Frosted Mini Wheats I ate as a snack before bed might have been laced with PCP.

Memory Upgrade

So sometimes your memory betrays you. Okay, most of the time your memory betrays you. Like for example, how you may remember an argument with an old friend that caused a riff between the two of you. When you finally have that heart to heart and discuss things you realize you remembered things all wrong. That friend didn’t actually say what you thought they said. Or you watched a movie as a kid and you remembered it a certain way for 25 years. When you go back and watch that same movie as an adult you realized the ending in your head was all wrong. Even how you remember a person. My grandma died over 6 years ago. I think I remember how her voice sounded, and her laugh. But I don’t have anything to go on anymore. No old home movies or answering machine messages saved. I’m going on those pieces still lodged in my brain. A couple phone conversations just a few weeks before she died, and a visit to her house just a month before she was gone.

It’s all I got, so I have to run with it. Try to keep it fresh and glowing, like stoking embers in a fire. Once it’s out it’s out. No more kindling to throw on the fire.

There’s no lesson here I’m trying to teach. There’s no moral to any of this. I’m just thinking a lot about memories and the importance of making them. My oldest was home this past week for spring break. I took the last part of the week off so I could spend time with her. My wife had to work all week and the younger ones were still in school(they aren’t off until the first week of April.) When the oldest comes home on extended weekends she’s often either sleeping, hanging out with her old school friends, or with her mom on some shopping excursion. I’m here at home making sure she’s getting her favorite meals while she’s here. I’m keeping the gears running at the homestead. I’m not ever going on adventures with her. So this time I wanted to be able to do something with her, so she knows I care and that I actually do like to spend time with her.

Wednesday was taking her to the dentist and the eye doctor, then being at home waiting for the heating and cooling guys to put in our new water heater. Thursday wasn’t much, but then Friday my daughter and I spent the day in Fort Wayne shopping for books and music, eating quite well, and just enjoying time together. We hit three spots for books and came out of it with a stack for each of us. I wanted to hit up Neat Neat Neat Records as well as I haven’t been there in over two years. Hasn’t changed much, and I’d hoped for that. For lunch we ate at Bravas Burgers. Probably the best burger and fries I’ve had in a very long time. We will go back for sure. After a coffee refueling we hit the road and made it home by 5pm. Saturday was just hanging out at home mostly, which is what we all needed I think.

Today, my wife and mom are currently driving the oldest back to school while I’m home with the younger ones. Making dinner and keeping the gears turning at the homestead.

I look back at my life, even just the last 6 years, and there are these moments that stick out in my head. They’re good moments: family vacations down south, trips to record shops, Christmas eves with board games and snack-y foods, a Colorado wedding, school carnivals, and band concerts around the holidays. They’re not grand gestures like trips to Disney World or anything like that. They’re just these little moments that define such significant times in my mind. More than a grand gesture can do, the trips to the bookstore, or a cabin in the woods, or the cinema on a Sunday afternoon are what stick in our memories. More memories we make the easier it is to remember them all.

Anyways, that’s what going on in my head. We made some memories this week, and I’m happy about that.

Friday Rentals

All this talk of classic horror films from when I was a boy in short pants has me reminiscing about Friday nights of my youth. The Friday night video rental, to be exact. It was a semi-regular thing for my parents and I to go out after my dad got home from work and go grab a pizza at Pizza Hut, stuff ourselves, and then head to Video World and rent some movies for the weekend. Of course, I’d head straight to the back room(not THAT backroom, you perv) and start perusing the horror and sci fi. Video World had a back room dedicated to nothing but horror, sci fi, music docs, and weird odds and ends. That’s where I spent a good portion of my time. This was my formal education into the world of the undead, vampires, alien creatures, soulless slashers, and general weirdos that I’d carry around in my memories for years to come. At first it was an appreciation for being scared, but then it changed. It was the whole aesthetic that I loved: the effects, the music, the set designs, and yes even the stories that were attempted. Some were better than others(much better at times), but each movie carried with it something endearing, no matter how horrible the film was. If it was really bad it would sometimes transcend into something even greater than scares. The horror film that tried so hard but missed the mark would become something else: parody. Something so bad that it became a completely different genre. Even a lousy movie could make for fun viewing.

This Friday night ritual continued on through high school. One of my best friends and I would crash at either my place or his, grab a Tombstone pepperoni pizza from the store along with a bag of Cheddar and Sour Cream Ruffles, hit Video World for the newest horror film(by this time we’d rent from either Video World or Video Plus), and spend Friday night distorting our minds(and our intestinal tract with that Tombstone Pizza.) Oh, and if you hadn’t guessed, we weren’t the partying types. Were we dorks? Nerds? I don’t think so. But we definitely weren’t “popular kid” material. Listening to Rush and Joe Satriani and pining over Daphne Zuniga didn’t win us any cool points, but we were cool with that.

I don’t think much has changed for me(except I make my own pizza nowadays.) The video store has turned into renting movies off of Amazon, and Fridays are also shared equally by watching movies and spinning records. If I’m going to waste time, I might as well waste on things I love to do, right? I do miss the video store, though. The strange cast of characters that haunted the aisles: whether it was parents and their kids looking for something to watch together, teens looking for something they shouldn’t watch, or the creepers disappearing into the “other” back room. And of course the folks working behind the counter, renting to the folks hungry for entertainment on a Friday evening. Spending their weekend making ours a little more interesting. I had much admiration for them. I was one of them, as I started working at Video World when I was 18 and worked their for nearly a year. A great year it was, too.

So here’s to Friday rentals and making the most of those little moments.

Saturday Morning Synths

So I’m sitting in my comfy chair with a cup of dark roast at my side enjoying the glorious sounds of synthesizers on my Chromebook. It really is a perfect Saturday morning if you ask me. My oldest is home from school for a week(she’s on her spring break), we’re having a taco fiesta in honor of the boy’s birthday, and we have lots of new blu rays to enjoy over the weekend. I only have to work Monday and Tuesday then I’m off the rest of the week. The oldest and I will be heading to Fort Wayne in the later part of the week for some father/daughter time at various bookstores, records shops, and maybe an art museum. We’ll see what happens.

But right now, it’s all about synthesizers.

I’m trolling through Youtube looking up various live videos of S U R V I V E, Tangerine Dream, Klaus Schulze, and the like. Started out looking for S U R V I V E. I’d really love to take the boy to go see them, but they’re not playing anywhere remotely close(SXSW, but that’s not close.) As much as I love listening to synth music, listening and watching are two different beasts. I can listen all day, but watching…well I’ve come to find out that it’s all in the presentation.

For example, check out this video from 1975 with Tangerine Dream performing at Coventry Cathedral:

Now that completely kicks my ass. Moody, weird psychedelic effects on the film, gothic shots of the church with candles lit throughout, and the guys completely lost in the music. And really, that opening shot of the modular synth open and foreboding like some monolithic sci fi device is just absolutely incredible. That’s how you perform synth music live.

Here’s another great one, Klaus Schulze peforming in Germany in 1977:

Slow panning shots of Schulze sitting surrounded by mounds of wires, keys, and what looks like a fur as he turns knobs to help make the noise of infinite space all the more brooding. I also love the tape reels running. I can only imagine how some mind-altering substances could make this experience even better, had you actually been there in that room.

Then there’s Jean Michel Jarre’s performance of Oxygene somewhere I’m not quite sure:

I’m guessing this was originally shot in 3D, as by the strange tracers surrounding everything on the video. Bonus points for that. Of course without 3D glasses you start to see double after about 10 minutes, so be warned. Still, it’s another cool video showcasing the otherworldly beauty of analog synths. Looks like the visual effects would’ve been unbelievably cool. And it’s Oxygene, so there’s that.

Hell, Jan Hammer performing “Crockett’s Theme” is even cool:

All it takes is some swaying from the player, some colored lights, and the look of confidence. I’m won over. I was never a big Hammer fan, but this is pretty damn cool.

Brian Ellis’ Reflection does some cool stuff live, too:

The video is a little wonky, but you get the gist. Lights, mood, and a little attitude goes a long way.

Then there’s S U R V I V E at Moogfest:

Four guys lined up side by side with synths in front of them, wearing their street clothes, in a room that looks like the shipping and packing area of what looks like a warehouse. No colored lights, no darkened room, no fog machines,…just four dudes staring down at keyboards with no expressions as onlookers have conversations on what looks like some nondescript afternoon. The music sounds great, it really does. But this music requires further stimulation in a live setting. It requires some fanfare, some pomp and circumstance,…hell, even a damn pantsuit would be okay.

But hey, S U R V I V E got it right here:

The video’s not the greatest, but you get it. Fog machines, colored lights, and the mystique of the analog synth. That’s more like it. It’s amazing what a little pizzazz does to the proceedings.

Anyways, this is where I’m at this morning. Time for another cup of java.

Causa Sui Revisited Part Two : Pewt’r Sessions 3

It’s Friday. What better way to start your Friday than to melt your frontal lobe with some time and space-altering, free-form psych jams? Sure it’s only 7am but who cares? Get that coffee with a triple shot of espresso and soundtrack that morning commute with Causa Sui. In particular, let’s get the weekend going with Causa Sui’s head expanding 2014 Pewt’r Sessions 3.

img_2863Causa Sui’s Pewt’r Sessions were a series of three albums the band recorded with American musician Ron Schneiderman. Where Summer Sessions basked in sun-baked jams and spaced-out bliss, Pewt’r Sessions indulged the darker side. Krautrock vibes and motorik beats permeated tracks like Pewt’r Sessions 2‘s “Gelassenheit”, while Pewt’r Sessions 1′s “Mating Call” sounds like The Stooges on a “Walk Don’t Run” kick with some blots of acid thrown in for good measure. “Wasted Milk” is serious guitar squall. Imagine The Experience jamming with the Mothers Of Invention. Hear it? Good. “Garden Of Forking Paths” off Pewt’r Sessions 2 is a mind-expanding journey to the heart of the astral plane. This is very much in the vein of Eternal Tapestry’s weedy, soggy jams, but with less humid funk and more fiery indignation.

So the first two Pewt’r Sessions were heady sonic experiments that went from languid, Haight-Ashbury acid fixes to Berlin sound excursions at the drop of a needle. On Pewt’r Sessions 3 I feel that things got deeper, darker, more meditative, and just more precise on every level.

When I first heard opening track “Abyssal Plain”(here’s my original review of the album from 2014) I immediately thought of electric Miles. There’s this feeling of electricity that hovers over the song, like tension that builds before a great storm hits. It’s that place where sheering light and bruised black come together to offer the most beautiful and complex contradictions in nature. The song builds and cymbal and tom fills as guitar lines slither around each other before the song comes together into this almost doom metal wall of noise. It feels more purposeful than what we’ve heard before. There’s fire in there.

“Eutopia” is a break in the clouds. It’s bouncing buoys in stuttering waters as the next build of crushing waves, shattering thunder, and eviscerating lightning hit. The drums, guitars, organ and bass all come together quite beautifully. They prepare us for what comes next.

“Incipiency Suite” could very well be the most epic track Causa Sui have committed to tape. Coming in at over 26 minutes, “Incipiency Suite” is carried initially by the fusion-infused rock drumming of Jakob Skott. He brings layers of noise and dissonance into sharp focus as the song works its way into a hell of a rocker. Once again Bitches Brew-era Miles comes to mind as electric piano becomes wild and woolly and the guitars begin to emulate Miles’ Crybaby Wah-effected horn. This is chaotic and numbing. Skott’s drums and Kahr’s bass lock in to give us some serious voodoo and On The Corner-like funk while Munk, Schneiderman, and Rasmussen kick it into interstellar overdrive with otherworldly noises that feel like a panic attack painted with stompboxes and buzzing electrical circuits. The song finds this peaceful center eventually, allowing the song to breathe and rise over the chaos.

fullsizerender-5Clocking in at only three tracks this is the shortest Pewt’r Sessions, but in terms of dense layers of sound and overall heady atmosphere this one feels like the most epic Pewt’r yet. By this point the guys in Causa Sui had ventured out to explore on their own, creating new sounds and vibes. When they returned to the Causa Sui fold with fellow music explorer Ron Schneiderman things came out on a whole new level. Pewt’r Sessions 3 took the Causa Sui sound and turned it inside out. Free-form, exploratory, and acid-burnt musical madness abound, it plays like a slow burn psychic meltdown.

But in the best way possible.

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Memo To My Son

What have you done to the mirror?
What have you done to the floor?
Can’t I go nowhere without you?
Can’t I leave you alone any more?
Can’t I leave you alone any more?

One year ago yesterday on March 1st I drove my wife along snow-covered county roads to what would be her final OB appointment before we’d hit her due date for what would be the birth of our third(and final) little Hubner. The doc informed us that she was 3 cm dilated and that if we wanted to just head over to the hospital and get settled in we could. Since there was no great rush, we decided to go grab breakfast before the big wait. We dined on crepes and omelets and then drove in what I would describe as a blizzard down US 30 West two miles to Kosciusko Community Hospital and indeed settled in. After a day of crappy TV, hospital food, and uncomfortable naps our son, Owen Christopher, was born at nearly 2 am on March 2nd, 2005.

I know you don’t think much of me
But someday you’ll understand
Wait’ll you learn how to talk, baby
I’ll show you how smart I am
I want to show you how smart I am

As far as births go, it was a pretty easy one. Given that our oldest was a long and painful birth, and our middle child was a whopping 10lbs, 3 ounces(the nurse was literally pushing down on my wife’s stomach to force her out), Owen came relatively quietly and with little drama. My wife’s stepmom stayed with our girls so I could be up at the hospital for the duration. My wife made the hospital stay a two-for-one deal and the next day had a tubal ligation. It wasn’t that our son was a “whoopsie baby”, more than he was an “oh shit” baby. We had two beautiful daughters and had hit the child quota we’d created in our heads. Christ, we’d just bought a brand new Honda Civic…perfect for a family of FOUR. There was no chance of another baby coming into Hubner the family quotient.

Well, the family quotient flew out the Honda Civic’s window(we ended up trading that in late summer of 2004 for a Honda Odyssey.)

fullsizerender-4Now my “oh shit” baby is now a 12-year old young man. It’s such a cliche thing to say but I’m gonna say it anyways: where did the time go? I can’t imagine our lives without “the boy”. I think he’s a balancing force in the house. He’s the mediator between two sisters constantly butting heads, he’s the board game partner to a mom that loves board games, and he’s dad’s partner-in-crime when it comes to watching horror movies, spinning soundtracks, and hitting up the local comic book shop.

Before I had a son I always thought the whole “father and son” bonding thing was a myth. Sure, I bonded with my dad and all when I was a kid, but I remember spending lots of time by myself in my room getting lost in Star Wars battles and Van Halen cassettes. My dad and I never had things in common that we loved together(well, maybe great Philly cheese steaks and MAD magazine.) I just looked up to him because he was this hulking figure that put a roof over our head and fixed things in the house when they were broke(or spent all of Christmas morning affixing decals to Kenner and Hasbro toys.) Plus, having two daughters and having the connection with them that I had I just couldn’t imagine how I could love more than that.

A quitter never wins
A winner never quits
When the going gets tough
The tough get going

But raising this little guy into a bigger guy I can see there is something to this father/son dynamic. I love my kids equally. That’s a no-brainer. But seeing my son grow from a cooing baby to a polite young man, and all that came in-between, I can say the heart grows to accommodate the love that you uncontrollably develop. Ones capacity to love never stops growing. It’s an ongoing construction site, the heart. My son has opened my head and heart and made me a better person, better dad, and a better listener. He’s been my buddy from the beginning, and I hope it stays that way.

So on today, March 2nd, the boy turns 12. One year away from teendom and a whole new stretch of awkward road for him to travel. I know teen angst is coming, so I’m going to enjoy hopefully one more year of the kid that loves hitting the comic book shop with his old man. And going to used record shows on Sunday mornings. And the boy that loves playing board games and card games with his mom. And one more birthday gift wish list that’s dominated by Marvel collectors action figures and a request for a taco fiesta for the birthday dinner.

Maybe you don’t know how to walk, baby
Maybe you can’t talk none either
Maybe you never will, baby
But I’ll always love you
I’ll always love you

Time flies, baby. So keep up.

Friday Thoughts

So it’s Friday. You made it through another work week. How’d you fare? Was it a good one? Not so good? I hope things weren’t too painful for you. Me? Ehh, work has become a function like breathing, blinking, or going to the bathroom. It’s a necessary function, but one I don’t really think about all that much. It provides me with the funds to put a roof over our head, heat under the roof in the winter and cool in the summer. It puts gas in our cars, clothes on our backs, and music in our ears. It allows us family vacations, dinner for two, trips to the comic book store, record shop, and Starbucks. It gets us into the cinema, the museum, and the amusement park. It allows us to be generous to others when they don’t quite have enough. It gives me reassurance that if someone gets sick we can afford to get them better.

These are things about my job that I am forever grateful for. Things I do not take for granted, or ever will for that matter.

But this is a job. Not a career, or a dream position. I have been and always will be just a cog in the machine. I don’t get any sort of satisfaction in the workplace(other than what I mentioned above.) I’m not saving lives or changing the world(though they’d have me believe the opposite.) No matter how much good we do in the world, the bottom line is money. If they can save some bucks and keep those top end bonuses nice and fat by canning some folks in the Midwest and pushing more manufacturing to Puerto Rico, Costa Rica, China, and Mexico then that’s what they’ll do(and have done.) They did it just two weeks ago. 25 people clocked into work on a Friday and within an hour they were offered packages and sent on their way. Some had worked there for a year. Some had worked for 30 years. Some had spotless records; some not some much. It was a big, painful surprise.

I’m not saying I didn’t sweat it for about 3/4 of the day. I did. There was no rhyme nor reason that those that survived could see. It felt pretty random. This happened back in 2013, too. Back then we knew it was going to happen. They warned us. It was still bad, but at least it wasn’t like a random bullet flying through the picture window of a peaceful household and taking someone out. We were prepared for the worst that day. More than a few friends were let go then. More than a few were let go a couple of weeks ago.

So the last couple weeks have been tense. Still reeling from what happened, and a little sickened by management’s willingness to just move on to the next thing. A few of us see the writing on the wall. More work will head over borders south, west, and east. Less work will find its way to our plant. If the place is still running in three years I’ll be surprised. Shocked, really.

It’s time to figure out what I’d want to do. Not for a job. I’ve done the “just a job” thing for 24 years now. Something not so soul-crushing. Something I look forward to go to everyday. That would be something, wouldn’t it? My dad has been my inspiration in all of this. He had a job, too. Not a career or a passion. Just a job. For 50 years he plugged away at the same company supporting our family of four so we could live a reasonably comfortable middle class life(by 1970s-80s standards.) At 17 years old he lucked out and got a Journeymen apprenticeship at a Chicago-based printing company that had built a plant just 20 miles from his house in Northeast Indiana. He’d planned on going to the Indianapolis School of Art once he’d graduated high school(my dad’s an amazing artist), but with this job opportunity he felt he couldn’t pass it up. He lied about being 18 on the application and went for it. Figured he’d work a couple years then head to Indianapolis. He met my mom, then met my older brother(just three months after he and my mom were married), then 50 years later life got away from him. He did continue to put his artistic abilities to good use by drawing caricatures and comic strips of people he worked with that pissed him off. Some of them were hilarious and quite biting satire(think Mad Magazine and National Lampoon for references.)

My dad comes over and has coffee with me every Saturday morning. We rarely talk about work, though. He’s been retired for over 2 years now. He worked 50 years and 6 months at that place. He went to work whether he felt like it or not. He had a responsibility and he didn’t take it lightly. That made an impression on me growing up. It showed me that it’s not always about you and what you want. Sometimes you sacrifice your wants for everyone else’s needs. That’s just how it is. But with how things are at work nowadays, I’m thinking it’s time to pare down the money going out the door. Take stock of things. I may not find a job that will give me the benefits and money that I’m currently getting, but if I can get rid of some of this existential heft then I think it would be worth it.

Now might be the time to make that change.

I guess I’ve got a year or two left to figure it out. Until then I’ll keep plugging away, plotting my next move, and continue being a cog in the machine. I’ll keep looking forward to Fridays and movies, trips to the comic book store with my son, and date night with my wife, and all those things that keep us a tight knit family crew.

I’ll keep working for the weekend.