Song Lyric Sunday 10/8/17 – Learning To Fly

This Song Lyric Sunday is dedicated to the memory of Thomas Earl “Tom” Petty (October 20, 1950 – October 2, 2017). Thank you for the many years of great music. You will always be in our hearts.

As soon as I got word of the passing of Mr. Petty on Monday I was deeply saddened. I’ve been a fan of his for a long time. I actually cried as LoneStar 92.5 (the DFW classic rock station) played a Tom Petty marathon Monday afternoon as I was driving home from work and again Tuesday morning driving to work. As such, I just knew I was going to feature one of his songs for this week’s Song Lyric Sunday. I was actually hoping the prompt would be “your favorite Tom Petty song” but it didn’t work out that way. Oh well, can’t have everything.

Alas, we do have a theme: travel, and in sticking with the theme, I’m choosing this song. Though not my favorite Tom Petty song, I do love it as well as so many of his other songs. This one has a charming simplicity to it but it does fit the theme in a roundabout way. Here then is “Learning To Fly” (written by Tom Petty and Jeff Lynne):

Well I started out down a dirty road
Started out all alone
And the sun went down as I crossed the hill
And the town lit up, the world got still

I’m learning to fly, but I ain’t got wings
Coming down is the hardest thing

Well the good ol’ days may not return
And the rocks might melt and the sea may burn

I’m learning to fly, but I ain’t got wings
Coming down is the hardest thing

Well some say life will beat you down
Break your heart, steal your crown
So I’ve started out for God knows where
I guess I’ll know when I get there

I’m learning to fly, around the clouds
But what goes up must come down

I’m learning to fly, but I ain’t got wings
Coming down is the hardest thing

I’m learning to fly, around the clouds
But what goes up must come down

I’m learning to fly
I’m learning to fly
Source: https://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/tompettyandtheheartbreakers/learningtofly.html (With some additions by me)

One thing is for sure, there’s no learning for him anymore. His soul is flying high in the great unknown.

Rest in peace, Mr. Petty, and thank you again for so many great songs. Your talent is sorely missed by all of us.

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(Very) Young Tattooers

One topic I’m really torn on in the world of tattooing is very young tattooers. As in total kids.

Take for example this story from my home town of Abilene that made headlines about four years ago. Then 7-year old (now 11 years old) Alicia Gutierrez had apparently started apprenticing under her father and doing very simple tattoos. Keep in mind this is someone who way is too young to even have tattoos to begin with, but she’s already slinging ink at such a young age. Here was the story at the time:

Sure, a flower might not be super impressive for a professional artist like her father, but that little thing was even cleaner than a lot of kids’ crayon drawings. To pull off a cleaner piece on human skin than most kids on paper is kind of impressive.

Of course, 7 seems a bit extreme, but wait until you here about this little girl from Wales. At just 3 (yes, THREE) years old, here she is slinging ink on her tattoo artist father. If you don’t believe it, here’s a news article.

All I have to say is I hope that’s a fake (airbrush/temporary) tattoo on her arm – a 3 year old definitely should not have a real (intradermal) tattoo. Now, while I agree with her dad that “a tattoo machine is much cheaper than university,” I just hope she isn’t being pushed into the industry rather than taking an interest in it herself.

Anyway, as far as the topic itself, I’m kinda torn. Part of me says if one is too young to have a tattoo one should not be doing tattoos. The reason I say this has nothing to do with age in and of itself. I think if you’re going to be tattooing other people you should have at least experienced what you are subjecting others to. You should know what getting tattooed feels like and have experienced tattoo pain first hand. That kind of goes back to the old adage of “don’t dish it if you can’t take it.” It’s an empathy thing in my mind.

Granted, there are ways to experience that without actually having ink injected. You can, of course, just use a tattoo needle/machine to be able to experience that sensation. Now, would I recommend subjecting a 3 year old (or even a 7 year old) to that? Definitely not. You think tattoos are painful for adults, think of how many times more painful that would seem to a kid.

The second issue has to do with the tattoos themselves. Let’s face it, even adult apprentices start off on super basic tattoos and are required to tattoo fruits, etc. (things that mimic human skin) with proficiency before ever tattooing a live person. Now, it could be argued that these young kids are doing tattoos that could easily be covered up later by an experienced artist. That might be true, but any good artist will tell you that even the easiest of cover-ups aren’t easy at all, and especially if there is excess trauma and scarring to the skin caused by too heavy of a hit, using too much voltage, pressing too hard/inserting the needle too deep, etc. – issues A LOT of beginning tattooers have.

On the other hand, I am all for letting kids explore who they are, develop their own interests and think they should be encouraged to pursue those. Academia/school isn’t for everyone. Being the artsy/crafty type, even from a super young age, is equally valid to pursuing academics. With the booming tattoo industry, it could mean the start of a very promising and bright future for these young, budding artists without having to take on the insane burden of tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars in student loans just to be able to have a regular 9-to-5. Tattooing is a very respectable career choice; it won’t make one rich but most professional artists make enough to live comfortably and it’s definitely a stable career, plus you get the benefit of working for yourself.

In the end, I really am torn. I really am. I don’t know how I feel about it. What do you think? Let’s start a discussion, and I welcome comments from all angles: professional artists, tattoo enthusiasts, non-tattooed people, etc.!

Cigar Review – Padron 1926 TAA #47 Maduro

This review is a follow-up to the review of this same cigar in Natural, which can be found here. The stats are the same (with only a wrapper change) so I won’t go over them again, so we’ll just jump right into the review.

The first light revealed the typical loose Padron draw. Thick, full-bodied and slightly rough-textured smoke that was ultra peppery/spicy out of the gate. Body flavors of a heavy, damp earth and a dry, heavy oak on the retrohale. After the first light a hint of a dark chocolate joins in.

Getting into the first third the initial pepper blast dies down somewhat and a slight natural sweetness mixes in with with the earth and chocolate. Almost a quintessential maduro really, albeit a very heavy, robust one.

On into the 2nd third the body settles down slightly to medium/full with the earthiness tapering off and transitioning to a French roast coffee, while retaining the dark cocoa on the draw and oak on the retrohale. A bit of red pepper heat remains and the texture of the smoke gets smoother. Strength already setting in at a medium.

The last third is almost identical to the Natural version – a heavy, dark coffee with a nutty and metallic finish, dropping the oak. Ended at 1 hour 10 minutes with the strength ramping up to medium/full.

Same notes on the construction – excellent, razor sharp burn but with that silly single cap, though no unraveling was noted.

I definitely preferred this cigar in Natural as I found the Natural to be more complex and dessert-like, but this was still a very good cigar and wouldn’t turn it down if offered. Deducting a quarter point for the single cap, the final rating of this cigar comes in at 4/5.

A Spiritual Moment at Octoberfest

I promised you when I did my SLS post this post was coming up; well here you go.

As I was back in Abilene last weekend (I still go back every now and then – pretty much all my friends and family live there and it’s not too far from Dallas) I of course dropped into my favorite local hangout there (Vagabond Pizza – if you’re ever in Abilene you have got to check that place out!) where I met this totally awesome couple. We shot the shit for awhile and mentioned we were both heading over to a local brewery afterward (a new place called Sockdolager – again if you’re in Abilene check them out) for Octoberfest.

While at Vagabond they both asked me what exactly it was that I did and I shared a bit about my work with them, which was interesting to say the least, but what happened next was truly amazing. The lady (who I’ll call K) noticed my semicolon tattoo and asked me about it. Not very often is it people ask me about any of my tattoos, much less the one that got me into tattoo culture to begin with, so I asked her how long she had and how long I had to tell her my story.

As she didn’t have long, I told her the condensed version of my story and how close I came to committing suicide and how if I wouldn’t have had this opportunity presented to me when I did, I probably wouldn’t be alive today, because nobody would give me the time of day to show what I could do despite my disability. Getting my foot in the door at my current company (even if it was because I had connections) is what really set me on the road to recovery, even if I didn’t realize it at the outset. I then went on to tell her about my eventual goal.

As I told my story K started tearing up and she hugged me and said “I needed to hear this today.” I kind of took it with a grain of salt at the outset but I knew I would follow them to  Octoberfest so I would get to see them again in a bit and she could tell me more.

Not surprisingly, shortly thereafter I caught up with them at Octoberfest and we picked up right where we left off. She and her husband were there as expected and we spent much of the night talking with each other as they introduced me to some of their friends and we wound up telling each other more about ourselves. As it turns out K is a financial advisor and she mentioned that she thought she could help me achieve my dreams sooner rather than later – well alright then, finally someone who actually does believe in me.

As the night wore on so did we (getting drunker by the minute), It was a beautiful night indeed – absolutely perfect ambient temperature with a gentle, peaceful rain. As the alcohol started taking hold K started divulging some of her own deep insecurities, many of which I related to straight away. We started talking about those insecurities, wound up on the topic of music (I was wearing my TFF and Hall & Oates souvenir shirt so we made our way onto the topic). She mentioned she loved the song “Mad World” and in her drunkenness asked me to sing it to her.

Of course, that was kind of on the spot and I’m self-conscious about my own singing voice to begin with (even though everyone reassures me it’s just fine) but after a second of thought I came to the conclusion “what the hell?” (I was pretty well intoxicated myself so my inhibitions were greatly reduced by this point – I might not have agreed to otherwise). We took each other’s hands, I gently cleared my throat and started making my way through the lyrics of the song. As I made my way through the song, at times she joined with me in a harmony almost, especially in the chorus parts.

As I finished the song she asked me, to the tune of the song, to keep singing to her. I wound up singing the entire song start to finish a 2nd time at her insistence. By that point, I didn’t really care and I gladly obliged. The reason? “Mad World” is one of those songs that, if you love it, it’s because you feel it deep into your core. It’s my favorite TFF song (and my overall favorite song) for that very reason. As I sang the song to her that night, I could tell how deeply she felt those lyrics. Wow, maybe I’m not the only one after all.

I left that night feeling as I had touched the hearts of two amazing people, just as they had touched mine. I’m not one for belief in god or angels, but it seems as though every now and then I come across someone who is on the same playing field as me – those who have been through the ringer, been through bad times and although in a better place, might not be completely satisfied with life. I felt like I had connected with both of these people on a deeper level than just meeting each other. I felt like I connected to them on the same level of conscience. Those are the few I have the deepest connections with. Pantheism asserts God is in all of us and we are all a part of a greater consciousness, and this greater consciousness is God. Experiences like this gradually shift me away from pure atheism and maybe more toward Pantheism. These were people I’d just met a few short hours ago, but it was as though I’d known them my whole life.

When I get down on myself and think there’s no way out of a seemingly dire situation, something like this almost always happens. Somehow K made it through seemingly dark times (she told me bits and pieces of it, but I’m sure there’s so much more to the story) and it reminded me that I can too. After all, if she hadn’t, she’d have never resonated with the lyrics of “Mad World” the way she seemed to.

I’m sure K and her husband and myself will cross paths again sometime. I really hope we do. They are amazing people, and meeting them just reminded me that you never know whose lives you might touch by just being there. If they’re reading this, I hope they realize they touched my heart as much as I seem to have touched theirs, and it’s bits like that which keep me going, even through the hard times.

I’ll get to where I want to be. So will K. Her husband seems to already be there (good for him). There is a light at the end of the tunnel, so long as we continue to push through that tunnel and don’t get off the train.

May peace be with you all this day, in the name of whatever deity you personally worship. Amen.

Song Lyric Sunday 10/1/17 – Roar

Yes, I know I’m about 12 hours tardy with my submission for this week’s Song Lyric Sunday. I also know this is my first post in a week. I’ve been a little MIA this week due to work issues and I was out late last night partying my ass off at a local Octoberfest with a bit of a spiritual experience thrown in (future post about that!), hungover this morning so I just now have the mental focus to do a post. Sorry!

Anyway, self-love. A difficult topic for sure, especially given my own personal struggle with it over the years. From being in bad relationships, to the bullying I endured in school, the homophobia I endure at work today and the years of bitterness I had about being shut out of an aviation career, up until I a couple of years ago I had a very negative self-image. It wasn’t until I got my first tattoo that I really started cleaning my self-image up and while it’s still not perfect, I’m gradually working on it.

So, where does this take me for this prompt? I had two songs in mind and was torn between them, but Helen actually picked one of the ones I was torn over (I guess great minds think alike!) so I’m going with this catchy 2013 Katy Perry song that has quickly become like a sports anthem. Katy Perry is one of those artists I listen to by myself – I would never admit to any of my close personal friends that I actually am a fan.

In a way, I imagine she feels this song in her bones too given her upbringing (for those unaware, Katy Perry is actually Katy Hudson, as in the former charismatic Christian rocker) and finally shedding those shackles and finding her true inner self.

So here then is “Roar” – written by Katy Perry, Lukasz Gottwald, Max Martin, Bonnie McKee and Henry Walter.

I used to bite my tongue and hold my breath
Scared to rock the boat and make a mess
So I sit quietly, agree politely
I guess that I forgot I had a choice
I let you push me past the breaking point
I stood for nothing, so I fell for everything

You held me down, but I got up (HEY!)
Already brushing off the dust
You hear my voice, you hear that sound
Like thunder gonna shake the ground
You held me down, but I got up (HEY!)
Get ready ’cause I’ve had enough
I see it all, I see it now

I got the eye of the tiger, a fighter, dancing through the fire
‘Cause I am a champion and you’re gonna hear me roar
Louder, louder than a lion
‘Cause I am a champion and you’re gonna hear me roar
Oh oh oh oh oh oh oh
Oh oh oh oh oh oh oh
Oh oh oh oh oh oh oh
You’re gonna hear me roar

Now I’m floating like a butterfly
Stinging like a bee I earned my stripes
I went from zero, to my own hero

You held me down, but I got up (HEY!)
Already brushing off the dust
You hear my voice, you hear that sound
Like thunder gonna shake the ground
You held me down, but I got up (HEY!)
Get ready ’cause I’ve had enough
I see it all, I see it now

I got the eye of the tiger, a fighter, dancing through the fire
‘Cause I am a champion and you’re gonna hear me roar
Louder, louder than a lion
‘Cause I am a champion and you’re gonna hear me roar
Oh oh oh oh oh oh oh
Oh oh oh oh oh oh oh
Oh oh oh oh oh oh oh
(You’re gonna hear me roar)
Oh oh oh oh oh oh oh
Oh oh oh oh oh oh oh
(You’ll hear me roar)
Oh oh oh oh oh oh oh
You’re gonna hear me roar…

Ro-oar, ro-oar, ro-oar, ro-oar, ro-oar

I got the eye of the tiger, a fighter, dancing through the fire
‘Cause I am a champion and you’re gonna hear me roar
Louder, louder than a lion
‘Cause I am a champion and you’re gonna hear me roar
Oh oh oh oh oh oh oh
Oh oh oh oh oh oh oh
Oh oh oh oh oh oh oh
(You’re gonna hear me roar)
Oh oh oh oh oh oh oh
Oh oh oh oh oh oh oh
(You’ll hear me roar)
Oh oh oh oh oh oh oh
You’re gonna hear me roar…
Source: https://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/katyperry/roar.html

Hope you enjoyed this song and found some inspiration in it as I have. Love yourself. Be yourself. Be happy. That’s my wish for you today. In the name of your respective deity, amen.

Concerning the Anthem Protests

At the risk of losing all of my American readers, let me be the first to thank everyone who participated in today’s widespread anthem protests. You are making a difference. The fact that you are drawing the ire of the opposition just goes to show how effective your protest is being. I’d also like to offer a heartfelt thank you to the commissioner of the NFL for respecting and honoring the players’ constitutionally guaranteed rights. That says a lot about the quality of your character.

You’ve drawn the ire of our Dictator-in-Chief who seeks to transform this country into the likes of North Korea, the USSR and Nazi Germany with forced flag worship. You’ve drawn the ire of the racists, the white supremacists, the misogynists, the homophobes, the transphobes, the Islamophobes, the anti-Semites, the atheiophobes (yes, I made that term up myself), the autisophobes, you name it. You’ve drawn the ire of those who blindly and robotically worship the US without critically thinking about what it is they support.

Whether you realize it or not, your silent protest is having an effect. Please note I stand (or kneel as the case would be) with you. I have faced away from the flag during the playing of the anthem for the last 15 years or so. Kneeling or facing away from the flag can be a perfectly valid sign of patriotism in light of the inequalities so inherent within our system.

I’d like to share with you now my Facebook rant about it. I’m reposting it here but you can read it on my Facebook page here.



If you are seriously offended by people so-called “disrespecting” a fucking piece of cloth, it is you who are a snowflake. The thing with symbols is they mean different things to different people. To people like me it stands for oppression and inequality. That’s just my perception. If you perceive it another way that’s on you. I am in no way offended by someone saluting the flag despite what it represents to me.

No, I am NOT proud to be an American. Nor would I be proud to be (insert whatever other nationality here) that by the sheerest of random accidents I could have happened to have been born in. The notion of patriotism is foreign to me. We are all on this planet by the sheerest of random accidents. Why then are we proud of something as artificial as where we hail from or where we live?

That is why I will not salute this flag or any other flag (if I ever eventually expatriate). I pledge no allegiance to any country or government. I only pledge allegiance to my own conscience.

Nobody is better than anyone else due to such things as where we come from, who we love or anything else. This hyper nationalism just further divides the human race. Maybe it is time we ended these displays of hyper nationalism (including the recital of the anthem at sporting events).

That right there is probably the best solution.


To conclude this post, I encourage you to read the post I wrote on Independence Day along the same lines (link). I’m not looking to sway what you believe or how you personally conduct yourself during the anthem. That is up to you. I’m just asking for a little mutual understanding toward those of us who choose to kneel, face away from, etc. the flag.

Thank you. Goodnight.

 

Song Lyric Sunday 9/24/17 – Acting My Age

Rules – an interesting topic for sure. I’ve got to say Helen never disappoints with her themes for Song Lyric Sunday. Alas, as soon as I read the prompt a certain song popped in my head and I’m like “nah, someone is sure to duplicate that one” so I decided to pick this incredibly obscure song but an even more obscure band.

Do you remember growing up and when you acted like a two-year old whist being a teenager your parents would always tell you to “act your age?” It’s as though society has certain expectations and rules about how someone of a certain age should act. I don’t know as though I always agree with those rules, but for shits and giggles let’s say they exist and we should act our respective ages.

So my pick for this week is a song called “Acting My Age” by a late 1970s/early 1980s band called Graduate. Graduate had very little success as a band, and unless you’re “in the pit” as it were, there’s a reason you’ve never heard of this band – their music is kind of cringeworthy. Alas, this song is hilarious and just plain fun. Although the writer is unknown, I have a definite idea of who probably wrote the song (I will disclose the probably songwriter’s name later).

Now, as hard as it might be to believe, the two individuals who headed up this band later went on to become a real powerhouse in the 1980s, but before I tell you who they became, have a listen and in this still, look at the two people on the far left to see if you can recognize them. If so, you’ll know who they became. If not, I’ll tell you after you have a listen (hint: note the earring on the dude in the lower left corner).

I always walk on the other side of the street
And I never shake hands with the people I meet
And they always dispute the things I know
Guess I’d like to tell them where to go
Guess I wish they’d stop searching me
There’s no god, there’s no church in me
There’s an evil that lurks in me
Can’t you see

I always comb my hair the other way
And I’m always obscure in the things I say
There’s a pile of opinions in my brain
They’re so different but they sound the same

Paranoia (?) it’s meant to be
I’m not a toy and it’s plain to see
Paranoia is what I mean
Can’t you see

Well you always say it’s so unusual
You always say it’s strange
Why I’m always acting like a fool
You know I’m never ever acting my age
Acting my age

I don’t drink, don’t smoke, don’t shave
But I’m told i’m going through a phase
And I’m told I’m thinking like a kid
But I see the world for what it is

If you want it then you’ll receive
All the hatred that’s locked in me
Don’t forget that you hold the key
Wait and see

Well you always say it’s so unusual
You always say it’s strange
Why I’m always acting like a fool
You know I’m never ever acting my age
Acting my age

I always walk on the other side of the street
And I never shake hands with the people I meet
And they always dispute the things I know
Guess I’d like to tell them where to go

Guess I wish they’d stop searching me
There’s no god, there’s no church in me
There’s an evil that lurks in me
Can’t you see?

Well you always say it’s so unusual
You always say it’s strange
Why I’m always acting like a fool
You know I’m never ever acting my age

You always say it’s so unusual
You always say it’s strange
Why I’m always acting like a fool
You know I’m never ever acting my age
I’m never ever acting my age
I’m never, never, never acting my age
Source: https://www.flashlyrics.com/lyrics/graduate/acting-my-age-87

OK, if you didn’t recognize them by the picture or the voice on the lead vocal, here’s your answer: Graduate is a long-defunct band headed up by Roland Orzabal and Curt Smith. Yep, Graduate was headed up by the duo who eventually went on to become Tears for Fears. Talk about a seismic shift in both lyrical content and musical composition huh? Yeah, I found it hard to believe at first myself. Anyway, as Orzabal is the main songwriter for TFF, I’m assuming this song was also written by Orzabal but I wouldn’t be willing to bet money on it.

Anyway, what a difference a few years makes huh? It’s so difficult to believe these are the same two people but they are. You don’t believe me you can Google it yourself.

Anyway, that’s a wrap for this week. By all means check out some of Graduate’s other songs if you wish, but yeah, there’s a reason they never really made it as a band. I think it’s safe to say it’s a good thing for all of us Graduate dissolved and made way for TFF – otherwise we’d have been subjected to this cringeworthy music rather than the deep yet meaningful music and lyrics of TFF.