Book Review: Sex, Drugs & Opera

I mentioned a few days prior that I hadn’t read a novel since my senior year of high school (almost 14 years ago). As hard as it might be to believe I’m not much of a reader, I’m just not. Alas, on a bored whim, and going through a bit of a dry spell with reading (I DO read a lot of philosophy and general nonfiction; just not so many novels) I decided I would give this one a shot. After reading it, I figured it was only fair to give it a rather amateur-ish review.

Written by Roland Orzabal of Tears for Fears fame, Sex, Drugs & Opera: There’s Life After Rock ‘n’ Roll tells the story of a semi-retired popstar, Solomon Capri, who seems to have the good life. However, not all is as it seems in his life, with a marriage on the rocks and other home life trouble. Capri frantically scrambled to re-kindle a music career, but not as a pop star, but by returning to his teenage years to try to reinvent himself as an opera singer. Sex, Drugs & Opera tells the story of his trials and tribulations in both his professional and personal lives, with a few very interesting and very unexpected plot twists. I shall not reveal anything in too much detail here as to not spoil it for potential readers, but let’s just say if you like intensity, this book is a must-read.

The pacing of the novel was what I would call medium to fast, or so it seemed. Maybe it was my interest level, but I read this book in about 10 hours total. The print edition being 272 pages long, that’s 27.2 pages per hour, which I’m sure seems slow for many of you avid readers but it felt fast for me, the slower reader. Character development was adequate, substantial enough to get a personality of each character but maybe not too many of the really fine details. The story is told from a first-person perspective through the eyes of the main character Solomon Capri, and some accounts were so vivid that I couldn’t help but wonder if Orzabal was just novelizing his own experiences. A little research showed that some events are loosely based on events in his personal life but not much more. Transition from chapter to chapter was well done, keeping me on my toes just wondering what happens next.

This is very much a book for mature audiences. There are some sex scenes and multiple references of substance abuse (predictable from the title) and quite a lot of strong profanity, as well as some other very adult drama. It’s not so X-rated as to be pornographic, but this is not an appropriate book for a child or young teenager. An older teenager should be able to handle the content reasonably well.

Needless to say I thought this was an excellent book. Is there anything Roland Orzabal can’t do? He really knows how to write a pop song, he’s got pipes for days, he plays multiple instruments, does art and has now proven his writing prowess. A quick and engaging read, Sex Drugs & Opera should make its way into any book enthusiast’s reading list. If you can handle the mature content, you will enjoy this book.

Embracing the Starving Artist Lifestyle

I remember about a year ago how I wrote a post saying how I once thought being broke was the worst possible thing that one could be but how wrong I was as I started wising up a bit. Oh no, being broke is not the worst thing that could happen to anyone. The worst thing that could happen to anyone is to be miserable, no matter how much money you have. You can be rich and miserable or broke and content. I know people in both categories.

And that’s when I had an epiphany at work today and happened to think maybe it’s time to take my own advice. Someone royally pissed me off on Facebook and I teed off on them saying how much I hated my job, my coworkers, my bosses, everything about it. Of course, Facebook being the open and public platform it is, I’m sure someone will see it and tattle on me. I don’t list my employer on Facebook but it doesn’t take much to do a LinkedIn search now does it? I’m sure they could find out somewhere.

Alas, I had a moment of clarity just then, given the events of this past weekend. Chances are I will lose my job over that rant, but I’m surprisingly content with that, and it’s giving me an opportunity to entertain the starving artist lifestyle for the next phase of my life. Even if I don’t get fired, I’m seriously contemplating walking away from the stresses of being a staff engineer at a big corporation and being a starving artist.

Now, whatever has possessed me to think of doing something so crazy? Well, I can’t disclose too much on a public blog as I don’t want anyone stealing any ideas, but let’s just say one sleepless night I had a moment of inspiration to write a musical. I’m not the greatest writer, but I’ve written some stuff in life.

So why then would I try something like that?  Well, it just so happens I have a writer friend locally, and a damn good one too. I pitched the idea to her as a collaboration work and she absolutely LOVED it. We sat down to dinner at our digs, ate pizza, drank wine and it took us no more than 30 minutes to bang out a general plot, theme, setting (location and year), you name it. It just flowed out of us. I think we compliment each other as a team too – I bring more of the musical knowledge while she brings the writing talent. Given that, I think we are a killer duo.

Now, things like this obviously don’t come together in a few days, a few months or maybe even in a year or two. That’s why I say I’m almost preparing internally to be a starving artist. Even if I don’t get the ax, I’m seriously thinking of resigning from my job at year’s end and taking a low-stress (but admittedly low pay) job that would really allow me to focus on this project. I’m thinking something like a hotel night auditor – the least busy and most boring shift of a hotel that would have a lot of down time or maybe bartending part-time in a gay bar or something (seriously, the Davy Dukes and/or Meggings could be a hit in those settings) and thus having a lot of time at home. Options like these would give me plenty of downtime to allow me to do research, contribute to the writing, choreography and nail the musical score/composition Given the way we just got on the same page from the outset Saturday night, I really think this is meant to be and it’s a concept that I think could make us household names. Maybe I’m dreaming, but this could be our ticket to fame and fortune (she hasn’t broken through yet herself which is a damn shame).

As mentioned, this is a big decision and I’ll need to sleep on it. I’ve luckily got enough money in the bank to completely pay off my car at the moment (which still has another at least 100,000 miles of life in it – I’m only at 73,000 miles on the odometer right now) and drop my insurance to liability only (as I’d get next to nothing in a collision payout anyway at this point). I’d still have plenty of emergency funds. Student loans of course could be put into forbearance or put into income-driven repayment to minimize my expenses.

Obviously it’ll be a bit of a downgrade lifestyle-wise, one way or another, but what good is living in the lap of luxury if I’m drowning in abysmal misery? I’m so fucking tired of waking up and saying to myself “well shit.” I’m sick and tired of crying myself to sleep every fucking night in horror because I just don’t want to go to work the next day. I’m sick and tired of the headaches, the GI issues, general lethargy and the pain of piles (sorry, TMI, but you probably figured out that’s what was causing my pain last week).

Again, just a thought but this corporate bullshit has got to go. Despite being trained in mathematics and engineering, I’m an artsy type all the way. Maybe this is the break I’ve been looking for? We shall see, but it’s something to chew on. One way or another, something has to change. I’m fucking miserable where I am. I can’t go on like this.

Song Lyric Sunday 10/28/18 – Give A Little Bit

Song Lyric Sunday is upon us once again and our theme this week is “give.” Well this is the song that popped in my head right away and for once in recent history it’s not something I’ve reused so here we go.

One band I’m a fan of that not a lot of people seem to be is Supertramp. They are, shall we say, “different,” but for me that’s part of their charm. One cannot deny their sound is all their own and is one of the most distinctive and recognizable around.

So with that, my submission this week is the song “Give A Little Bit” (written by Richard Davies and Roger Hodgson):

Ooh yeah
Here we go again
De de
Oh oh
Na na
Hey hey

Give a little bit
Give a little bit of your love to me
I’ll give a little bit
I’ll give a little bit of my love to you
There’s so much that we need to share
So send a smile and show you care

I’ll give a little bit
I’ll give a little bit of my life for you
So give a little bit
Give a little bit of your time to me
See the man with the lonely eyes
Oh, take his hand, you’ll be surprised

(Oh take it)

Come along
Yea yea yea yea
Yea yea yea yea yea yea yea

Give a little bit
Give a little bit of your love to me
Give a little bit
I’ll give a little bit of my life for you
Now’s the time that we need to share
So find yourself, we’re on our way back home

Going home
Don’t you need, don’t you need to feel at home?
Oh yeah, we gotta see

Ooh yeah, gotta get a feelin’
Ooh, yeah, come along too
Oh come along too

Come-a come-a come-a come along

Ooh, yeah come along too
Say take a look, come along too
Come along right
Come along way
Sing it tonight
Ooh ooh

So that’s a wrap for this week. Probably not the band you expected to see here, but hey, it works right?

Reading and Me

I have a lot of writer friends on my blog so I’m probably going to draw their ire when I say this, but I never was much of a reader. High school and college English never did anything to cultivate a love of reading for me, mainly because the “standard works” are so damn boring (you have to admit they are!) and it put me off of reading (novels, that is – I read a lot of philosophy and nonfiction) for the longest time. High school was 14 years ago (and thus was college English as I took it dual credit in high school) and I haven’t read a novel since then…until now.

On a whim, I decided to take the plunge and read the novel Sex, Drugs & Opera: There’s Life After Rock ‘n’ Roll. I decided to read it because it is written by one of my favorite songwriters – Roland Orzabal (if you read my Song Lyric Sunday posts you know exactly who he is, and you might even know the name aside from that if you were a child of the 80s or early 90s). The novel tells the first-person narrative of pop star Solomon Capri as he auditions for the show Popstar to Operastar (which is a real show, I should say) and his marital problems with his long-time wife Jenny. Only 5 chapters in I’ve already laughed, cried and everything in between. Roland is a very captivating writer and for once in my life a novel has truly piqued my curiosity and interest.

I feel like this is a huge step in my personal development. This might have been what I needed to really get back into the novel game – to get me interested again. If I can, this might be a new way in which to enrich my own life. I can now kind of see why people are so drawn to it.

Anyway, back to the book. I just had to share a little personal anecdote here. What are you currently reading? If you were not a reader before, what got you interested? If you are not a reader, what do you think would interest you?

When Stress Manifests Itself Physically

If there was ever any indication I needed a career change and fast, it’s my body just starting to break down entirely. It’s been stressful lately, so stressful I am having headaches, tachycardia, hypertension, palpitations and we won’t even talk about the most recent manifestation of that stress except to say my ass hurts so bad I can’t sit down for any length of time. Make what you will of that but I’m sure you catch my drift.

The stress has been building gradually over the past few weeks but last week was the straw that broke the camel’s back as it were. The head engineer passes the buck on one of his pet projects and makes me draw something up in Autodesk Inventor, a software I’m not too familiar with. Between being under the gun there and trying to handle my other duties, well, I about imploded.

Then I get kickback on a previous lift plan drawing I had done and get bitched out because of one reason or another. This ain’t the first time. Apparently nothing I do around here is good enough.

What started out as looking like a good move has quickly soured. It’s getting to be even worse than my previous job. I can’t catch a break and everyone is complaining about something.

Of course, that’s only part of my problem. The personal life/family stress I’m facing right now isn’t helping either. It’s just a perfect storm as it were.

I just don’t know what to do. I don’t know what career would be better suited to me. I guess I should start looking though. Doing some research as it were. The crane business is no place for an autist. It’s way too stressful for us to handle. I have had three meltdowns at work in the past two weeks. I’m absolutely miserable.

Anyway, sorry for all that. I just needed to rant. Forgive me. Life just really sucks right now. At least I have my blogging buddies and my few in person friends to lean on for support. You mean more to me than you know.

Song Lyric Sunday 10/21/18 – I Love You But I’m Lost (Redux)

I know, another redux for this week’s Song Lyric Sunday theme (which is lost), but after the shit week I’ve had, and given that my default pick has already been used, it is what it is.

Alas, there is something different this time. The last time I shared this song it was so new that there hadn’t yet been an official music video released for it. As it is, the song is only a year old (released October 2017) and the official video wasn’t released until that December so I guess this time around instead of just a generic audio I’ll share the official video to the song “I Love You But I’m Lost” by none other than TFF (written by Roland Orzabal).

Lost in the maze of the back streets I struggled
Fighting my way through a whole lot of trouble
Too many people were talking without moving their mouths

So many days so many nights ever wonder
By the lies that have stolen my thunder
In the haze of my mind all the wires were crossed

I love you but I’m lost

From a flame to the spark of an ember
To a fire on the 5th of November
We escaped from the light now we count the cost

I love you but I’m lost
I love you but I’m lost

Look at the marks on your arms all the colours
How you like to make them pay
These are the reasons why your life is not quite what it was

In a dream at the edge of a river
Where we swam where I watched you shiver
Came to life in my arms and then turned to dust

I love you but I’m lost

From a flame to the spark of an ember
To a fire on the 5th of November
We escaped from the light now we count the cost

I love you but I’m lost
I love you but I’m lost

All we needed was some time (x4)

I love you but I’m lost (x7)

For those who listened last time, hope you enjoyed the song again. For those who hadn’t heard it yet, hope you like it! Just goes to show you can indeed teach an old dog new tricks. Alas, rumor has it that TFF is working on a new album to be released either late this year or sometime in 2019, so I’m excited for that to drop too!

Until next time!

Do We Tell the Truth or Do We Live a Lie?

First things first, a cookie for anyone who recognizes the above song lyric and can name both song and band.

Anyway, I happened to think of that particular song lyric today (even though the song referenced above has nothing to do with the content of this post) reading a comment one of my closest friends left on a Facebook status update last night. Here’s what she said:

Too many people go to the grave not ever living their true life and their true self… that’s what’s a shame. Being you and embracing it is a beautiful, freeing thing. I love you sweet friend.

This was in response to a little personal quip asking how long it would take someone to make a smart remark about my new winter look (answer: not long). Oh well, I’m not going to let such remarks get to me. I will keep on being me and making no apologies for it.

Alas, I wasn’t always that way. I lived a lie for so long. I covered up who I was inside. I put on a false front and wore a mask forever, and it was so draining. Granted, sometimes it is easier to live a lie on the surface, for fear of judgment, ridicule, criticism, etc. However, when we get the courage to be who we really are, it’s so liberating.

So where are you? Are you telling the truth or living a lie? Think about that today. If you’re telling the truth, good for you. I’m sure I’m preaching to the choir. If you’re living a lie, be bold and tell the truth for a change. You’ll be surprised at how much better and more confident you feel, even if it comes at the expense of judgment and ridicule. That says more about them than it does you.

Peace be with you today.

Photo Teasers – Meggings

So here are some little teasers of what is to come. I’ve been playing around doing some “mirror selfies” of my all-new for 2018 winter wardrobe, featuring not only the ever infamous “Davy” Dukes but some wild and crazy “meggings!”

These were just snapshots taken in my bathroom mirror with my iPhone SE, but you still get the idea. These are some random outfits I just slapped together to do some selfie “modeling” prior to doing a full photoshoot next week with an actual photographer and a real camera.

So let’s take a look at what we’ve got here. From the Lotus men’s collection we have both of these galactic/space themed pairs – one more reddish and one with more of a blue tint. These are both size 2XL and the fit on me was absolutely perfect from the waist size (I have about a 36 to 37 inch waist) and I wear about a 34″ inseam. I had some leg left over but not much so the length was perfect for someone of an average height (I stand 5′-11″).

And from Kapow we have this lightning pattern pair from their original collection and this tartan pair from their “performance” collection. In both versions I opted for a size L. For the original meggings, the fit was perfect though the leg was a bit long (not a big deal – I can roll them up or fold them down at the ankle) however I found the performance meggings to fit a fair bit more snug on the waist and on the leg; perhaps I should suggest adding an XL size in their performance range? It was still comfortable but I didn’t find it quite as comfortable as the original edition.

Anyway, more to come hopefully in about a week. Stay tuned, you don’t want to miss this!

EDIT: Jordan, one of the founders of Kapow, sent me an email today asking to link to their site. No problem! If any of my followers wish, use code TIA10 for 10% off your order! Hope some of you take advantage of it.

Song Lyric Sunday 10/7/18 – Everybody Wants to Rule the World (Redux)

So I’m a little late this week and I was totally absent last week for Song Lyric Sunday. Sorry. Action packed last weekend and lots of drama this weekend. Ugh. Crazy.

Anyway, with the travesty that just occurred in the United States with the appointment of a rapist to the Supreme Court of the United States, and one who is a threat to a woman’s right to choose, LGBTQ+ rights, the right to privacy, etc. etc. – all I could think of was how I just wanted to crawl into a room where the light won’t find me. Of course, this is a lyrical reference to the song “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” by TFF (written by Roland Orzabal, Ian Stanley and Chris Hughes).

So I figured I’d redux this selection and add a couple of interesting covers of the song. Of course, for reminder, here is the original song. This was the version performed at AA Center in Dallas last year; a concert which I was fortunate enough to attend live. It was awesome!

 Welcome to your life
There’s no turning back
Even while we sleep
We will find you

Acting on your best behaviour
Turn your back on mother nature
Everybody wants to rule the world

It’s my own design
It’s my own remorse
Help me to decide
Help me make the most

Of freedom and of pleasure
Nothing ever lasts forever
Everybody wants to rule the world

There’s a room where the light won’t find you
Holding hands while the walls come tumbling down
When they do I’ll be right behind you

So glad we’ve almost made it
So sad they had to fade it
Everybody wants to rule the world

I can’t stand this indecision
Married with a lack of vision
Everybody wants to rule the world
Say that you’ll never never never never need it
One headline why believe it?
Everybody wants to rule the world

All for freedom and for pleasure
Nothing ever lasts forever
Everybody wants to rule the world

So that’s the song we all know and love right? Well, here are a couple of interesting covers. The first one here is by Lorde, who takes it in a completely different direction. It’s spooky but cool in a way, and was recorded for one of the movies in The Hunger Games series (can’t remember which one). It’s totally different though.

A couple of other cool covers I like are these. Ted Yoder became YouTube famous almost overnight after he covered the song on hammered dulcimer. I’m sharing two versions of that here: one Yoder solo and one with Curt Smith and Jamie Wollam of TFF! Musical magic unfolds when they get together.

Everybody wants to rule the world indeed. Here’s looking at you, Mr. President. Worthless fucking piece of orange haired monkey shit.