The Path of Thorns


A Sick Kitty.

by on Jun.08, 2012, under love

My friends’ cat is in a lot of pain and needs dental surgery. Please share this link to get the word out so money can be raised for proper care.

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Chase that pain on your brow…

by on Oct.22, 2010, under inspiration, love, music

I mentioned recently that one of my favorite all-time singers, Anggun, was on the unbelievably brilliant album Atemlos by Schiller.  Her work is as remarkable as his, in terms of talent, uniqueness, and a passion in their music that is so rarely seen in this day and age where we seem to be manufacturing music without any real feeling.

Anggun first caught my ear in 1998, when her first English international album Snow on the Sahara was released, and it was played once and only once on a local radio station here.  She’s Indonesian with a French background, and not yet known in America.  Google wasn’t a superpower back then, nor was Yahoo, so I really had to hunt the song down.  I found it on this magnificent album, a record that truly stands on its own apart from any other female vocalist I’ve ever heard.

Snow on the Sahara is relaxing, intelligent, heartfelt, and it really takes you away to a place of tranquility in your head.  I used to listen to it all the time when I’d study, or go to sleep, or just about any other time in my life where I wanted/needed to be at ease.  It doesn’t have the empty cheesiness that Enya commonly falls into – it’s deep, it’s soulful, it’s as pure in sound as any.

Songs like “By The Moon”, “A Rose in the Wind” and “On the Breath of an Angel” make you feel like you’re sailing away somewhere far from any of your troubles.  I know that sounds corny, but it’s absolutely true.  They’re melodic, simple and a perfect lucidity.

Not all songs have the ability to put you to sleep – “Over Their Walls”, “Dream of Me” and “Valparaiso” have more of an island sound in my opinion, and are nothing short of bright and vibrant in their harmonies and chord progressions.  She comes to life in everything she puts a tune to, and these songs have an epic feel that makes you only want to hear more.

She immediately seemed well versed to me when she even did a cover of David Bowie’s “Life on Mars”, an odd choice I thought, but it worked perfectly with her own touch.  Her voice just blows through the song, and though it does vary considerably from the rest of the album, it’s one of the better covers I know, and certainly one of the most original.

Altogether, Snow on the Sahara has become one of my favorite all-time albums, and her work since has developed and advanced, continually keeping herself fresh and reinvented with each record.  Anggun Cipti Sasma is one of the world’s best female solo artists, and I hope she finds great success on our shores someday.

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Before you judge me, try hard to love me…

by on Jun.29, 2010, under death, goodbyes, human emotions, inspiration, love, music, nature

It’s never fair when you’re given the world, and are expected to live up to it.

A year ago now, we lost a King, a leader, a sensation and most importantly, a seemingly wonderful human being.  I can’t imagine being the center of the world’s attention, and then on top of it going through such trouble, despair and confusion.  While still being all of that, for earth to see.  We all like to jump to conclusions, judge as soon as possible, and with that judgment tear people down like moldy old wallpaper.  The second something isn’t what we imagine it to be, when it’s something we can’t understand without tearing down our own walls of perfect image, we condemn and destroy it.

I may be wrong.  This man may have been a sexual deviant, a double-crosser and a disgrace to generations worldwide.  We’ll never really, truly know if he was.  What we do truly know is that he showed the world nothing but love, dedication and endless talent that we ate up and later chewed out when it tasted a little funky.  I myself have dealt with emotional issues, heartache and awful depression.  Letting the world see not only that, but how I’d deal with that, is a trauma none of us could ever begin to imagine.  He dealt with his issues with physical changes, interactions none of us gave any time to listen to or understand (including myself, absolutely), and decisions that were questionable at best.

I was having a panic attack once.  I was in financial distress, dealing with more uncertainty than I’ve ever experienced, and dealing with losses I never thought I’d have to.  If the world saw my reactions to that, and knew nearly every last detail of it, I might have changed myself and made bizarre relations as well.  I nearly lost my world; and when you want that world back, and you don’t know how to, you don’t always know your own reason.  All you know is, you lost something and you want it back.  But you don’t want to be hurtful to anyone, and you don’t want to make a fool of yourself either.  Well, to err is human, and there’s no margin of error when the scale is that large.

This man gave us every last drop of all he had to give.  His talent, his creativity, his ecologic intelligence and passion, and even a good deal of his sanity.  Yes, as we’ve all violently pointed out, he had his mistakes and character decisions that made him far, far from perfect.  But are you?  Am I?

He pleaded with us, with so many of his songs and lyrics within them.  He tried to get us to listen.  And of course we didn’t, myself included; he practically lived in obscurity and financial demise for years before he gave his final breath.  The same market of journalists, TV hosts and press that glorified his imperfect mistakes and actions all of a sudden felt compassion and loss, and gave their best words.  In the world’s best example of not knowing what you have until it’s gone, we lost the Polaris of the entertainment world.  Had we heard him out a little better when he begged us to, maybe he wouldn’t have led such a life of inner misery and with such a lack of self-understanding.

He had everything there was to have, absolutely everything – and I can’t imagine he realized much of any of it.  He paid dearly for trying to go back in time within his own life, with his home, with choices he made, and he knew it.  Still, he died wondering if the world ever even gave a damn about him beyond what he gave and gave until he literally no longer could.

…I take that back.  I saw his final documentary that hit theaters last year, and he had all the heart and talent he ever did, and it made it that much sadder to know that never got a chance to develop again.  While he should have known better in some way, he paid the price of being cast off too soon.

Do we owe his spirit an apology?  Who knows.  Should he have shown remorse for his own trouble?  Yes, and he did plenty of times.  It’s an altogether tragic, sad and confusing loss of one of the best entertainers and activists we’ll ever witness.  And if you scoffed at that last statement, I certainly can’t blame you, but I can’t help but understand and even relate a little to someone as in need of help as they were profitable in their deserved success.

He said it best in his own words, which is cryptic and even more melancholy to listen to now:

Like A Comet
Blazing ‘Cross The Evening Sky
Gone Too Soon

Like A Rainbow
Fading In The Twinkling Of An Eye
Gone Too Soon

Shiny And Sparkly
And Splendidly Bright
Here One Day
Gone One Night

Like The Loss Of Sunlight
On A Cloudy Afternoon
Gone Too Soon

Like A Castle
Built Upon A Sandy Beach
Gone Too Soon

Like A Perfect Flower
That Is Just Beyond Your Reach
Gone Too Soon

Born To Amuse, To Inspire, To Delight
Here One Day
Gone One Night

Like A Sunset
Dying With The Rising Of The Moon
Gone Too Soon

When his sunlight began to dim, we shut our blinds well too soon.  I absolutely hope the anguish you felt in this lifetime is long gone wherever you are now.  Rest in peace and quiet, Michael Jackson.

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Gotta make your own way.

by on Feb.04, 2010, under human emotions, love, music

I wrote in my last post how inspired, original, captivating music is hard to find.  How most newer music doesn’t capture the essence of its ancestral rock and pop originators.  It’s hard, after so much music in this genre has been written over the past several decades, to find a crisp new sound.  Eight out of ten people I know gave up on new music fifteen or twenty years ago.

Stellar Road is not such a band.  It’s a strong and solid argument that they’re just a branch of Dave Matthews, Ben Harper or Jack Johnson.  I can’t stand the last two artists, and I only like Dave a little.  But that’s mostly because most people I grew up with listened to only those few artists for the most part, and most of those people were like James Spader in Pretty in Pink.  So, bad connotation there.

I digress.  Stellar Road’s new self-titled effort is phenomenal.  It’s acoustic rock for the most part, with additional horns and strings as needed.  The songwriting is brilliant, though; their melodies and harmonies are, well, stellar.  They have passion that a lot of newer music lacks; you can hear it loud and clear in tunes like “Try to Be” and “Amazing.”  They’re catchy, but also intelligent; I can imagine an entire amphitheater singing loudly to the chorus of “Shipwrecked” and “Believe.”

They’re bluesier than those in their genre, and you can even hear a little jazz.  Each song is put together carefully with just enough construction and layering to make it strong and brilliant, without overdoing it.  An entire room could dance and lose their minds to their perfected jams in many of their songs, but it’s the intense passion when they let it rip that really captures me.   Daly can croon as well as he can belt out, and the band meshes so well together that you’d think they’ve been doing this for thirty years.

Songs like “Before We Dance” and “Goddamakaway”, on the other hand, put me to ease as well as anything else soothing that I’ve ever heard.  You can imagine them being played on a beach after sunset, after a long and exhausting day.  They sing of love and fun, of the future and the past; never trying to be something they’re not.  I think that stands for something.

Stellar Road is for anyone who enjoys a good rock or pop song.  What’s amazing is that the world doesn’t know them, yet; for now, I’ll enjoy seeing them at Chicagoland bars until some major label realizes these songs have to be truly heard.

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Pour me a heavy dose of atmosphere.

by on Jan.06, 2010, under human emotions, love, music, nature

In an age of advanced electronic music, that stems from techno to house to jungle, it’s all too easy to get caught up in gadgets and vocoders, and miss out on the whole purpose of music, which is of course to reflect emotion, thought and personality.  Key word; person.

Owl City’s ‘Ocean Eyes’ is a remarkable and respectable take on emotional electronic music.  “Fireflies” is their biggest hit, discussing the rotation of our world, the colorful symphony of millions of fireflies and how he’s kept them before.  Its music video and lyrics combined paint the image of the imagination of what used to thrill us as children.  I will argue that it is damn hard to bring a refreshing take to nostalgia in a song, but they pulled it off this time.

To me, that’s just one of the many peaks of this album.  The album continues to show an exciting, visual take on the world that we take for granted, and again one that hasn’t been done over and over again.  You would think these guys lay under a skyline all night every night, and let their minds explode.  “I am floating away in a silent ballet” is one of the several brilliant lyrics on the album that just provide an excellent summation of the scenery they show such passion for.   Meteors, stars, the whole non-luminescence we all take for granted.  They connect such nature to love in one of my favorites, “Vanilla Twilight”, as well as on “If My Heart Was A House”, where he dances and embraces under a sun held from a string. Adam Young, the sole member, makes his voice almost as visual as the words sung out of it, as he allows it to travel and echo and carry with the many harmonies he creates on each song, in a perfect order.

I won’t dissect albums track-by-track, because it makes an album all to microscopic.  The best albums are defined as a whole scope, and this album fits that bill when it comes to electronic music.  Again, what makes Own City so unique and outstanding is that they take the largest departure from ‘natural’ sounds in my opinion, that being synthesizers/keyboards, and combine that with the most natural things in the world; our sky, daisies, islands, and insecurity coming down like a tidal wave that myself and many others understand all too well.

It’s music that has very much to do with personal taste more than the quality of the music, so I could see how Owl City could be hated; the bizarreness of their band name, the whole electronic sound, the lack of machismo.  Who knows.  But in my opinion, the album creates a scene that envisions a combat to my anxiety, and brings me to a place where I actually feel relaxed.

I, too, got lost in this silent ballet.

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I wish you were here, but you’re not here, you’re there. And there doesn’t know how lucky it is.

by on Aug.19, 2009, under human emotions, love

Life feels different when certain people in your life aren’t around.  Not everything has the same feel – the days don’t have the same routine, and it all makes you miss the person more.  Even if it’s just for a brief while.

I haven’t been able to wake up and hear her outside babysitting.  I don’t wake up to the almost-empty coffee pot keeping warm just outside the bedroom.  I don’t hear that pretty laugh, I don’t walk in a room to see her head-over-heels enthralled in her Stephanie Meyer books.  The house doesn’t feel as warm, and many things around the house remind me of her.

It sounds silly – she’s only been gone a short time, and many couples actually get excited about this – but while I’m happy with myself, I’m a whole lot happier in my daily life when I get to see that pretty face on a good day or bad day.  When someone brings that much life and spark into your own, it’s sorely missed when it’s not physically there.

People need personal time, days and nights to themselves, to decompress and gather their thoughts and work on themselves if need be.  Or to just sit and not have to talk or worry about our expressions, or to let a bad mood pass through.

But on a rainy day, or multiple rainy days in a row for that matter, when you’re not working – you wish more than ever that her pillow was back on the bed, her clothes back in the closet and her smile lighting up your day all over again.  It makes you realize how lucky you are and how much that person means to you, and it makes you realize how much loving someone can make you feel that much lonelier when they’re not there for a long time.

I’m a lucky man, and I can’t wait to have my girl home.  I’ll cherish her all the more when she returns.

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Baseball does not build character. It reveals it.

by on Aug.13, 2009, under baseball, goodbyes, human emotions, love

For twenty-three seasons, X has been a major league baseball player.  A star for many seasons, always reliable, always professional.  Always came to batting practice early, always doing the extra infield drills, always talking to each coach thoroughly, with the eagerness of a rookie, year after passing year.

That’s what made X such a wonderful player, and such a perfect role model.  It doesn’t take a baseball fan to understand the love he had for his craft, for his brethren, for those that loved him as much as he loved them back.  It’s may be talent that allowed him to work his magic with his glove and his bat, but it took character to turn that into the respect and devotion he’s put into his entire carer.

X was finishing up work on his glove one Spring morning, in the clubhouse.  He always used the same mitt; that same old trusty mitt, that’s caught over 10,000 balls in its lifeline.  X was beckoned into the manager’s office, where the door was shut gently behind him.  X stood up and smiled, and put the mitt inside of his duffle bag.  He knew.

“What’s going on, Mr. Coach?” X asked, knowing the conversation that was about to begin.  Yet still respectful, as always.

“X, I don’t know how to say this, but I’m going to try anyway.  The staff and I just put together the 25-man roster, and I just spoke to (General Manager).  This is killing me…but you didn’t have a good Spring, X.  We both know that.  you hit under .100 and could barely chase any fly balls.  If we kept you on this year, everyone would see it would hurt the team, and neither of us want that.  I know you’ve been on this team since half our lineup was born…you know what I’m saying, X.”

X blinked a few times, and looked down, noddling slowly.  “I know, Mr. Coach.  I lost count of how many hours I ice my shoulders and knees these days.  The desire’s still there, so is the passion…but my body isn’t.  You don’t need to say anything else.  I’ll clean out my locker for the kid and fly back to Chicago.  Thanks for letting me play the Spring out, Mr. Coach.”

The coach smiled, with faint tears forming on the sides of both eyes.  He stood up and shook X’s hand gratefully.  “We could have put you on the 40-man roster and sent you down to the minors, but you looked like you were saying goodbye every day already.  You and I go back a lot of years, X, no one will miss you more than I do.  Thank you…thank you.”  The coach took his hat off, holding it in front of his stomach, and let the tears flow.

X was speechless.  He nodded and smiled, and went to open the office door.  As he did, he looked back one more time.  “It’s been a great run, Mr. Coach.  I’m going to go on the field one more time, if it’s alright, and I’ll be on my way.  Give the new kid my regards.”  The coach humbly nodded and smiled back, and X shut the door.

Getting back to his locker, he went through each memory he had as he packed up.  The first cap he got when he signed his first contract two and a half decades ago, pictures of him friends long since retired or deceased, and a sticker he got on the first day of spring training twenty-three years ago that said “Baseball is your music; sing your finest tune.”  A token from one of the best players of his lifetime.

X’s eyes watered to match his lightly quivering cheeks as he carefully peeled the sticker off the locker and put it outside of the locker door.  “Best of luck, kid” X said as he gathered his things.  He took one last look at the old and small clubhouse, still as can be.  All of the other players went on that old familiar plane right back to the major league city, preparing for the 162 game season ahead.

X walked slowly out of the clubhouse, down the long and low hallway leading to the field.  He walked up to the plate and took out his bat.  Seeing the groundskeeper, also a dear friend, he called out to him “Hey Z, can you do me a favor?”

Z didn’t need to ask what he was doing there, but wasn’t sure what the request was.  An old high school friend of X’s, he felt the goodbyes of the Spring with everyone else.  He shook his head and laughed, and walked over from where he was in the visitors bullpen, where he was fertilizing the grass.

“Yeah X, you old lug, what do you want?”

“Do me a favor and walk over in front of the mound and pitch one like you used to.  Just one.”

“I’m not even going to ask.  Whatever floats your boat, X.”

Z walked up in front of the mound, about fifty feet from home plate.  He picked up a nearby ball and got his grip.  Smiling through his focus, he threw one straight and true in front of X.

X pushed his right foot back, flexed his arms, quickly raised them and swung through his aching bones and muscles.  He flinched in pain as he connected with the ball, and swung through before dropping the bat immediately.  The ball sailed, almost looking as if it was enjoying its moment in the air, before finding its home past the center field fence in the accompanying lawn.

X stood there, with the numb pain lingering throughout his upper body, with his throbbing fingers.  He looked at where the ball landed for what felt like eternity, and looked back at Z, who looked back at him quixotically.

“No worries, Z, just had to do that one more time.  I’ll see you around.”

Without another word, X walked through the field, taking it all in after his self-produced last hurrah, and let himself out through the right field gate.  He didn’t look back that time; he let the hit speak for itself, as he always had before.

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by on Jun.24, 2009, under human emotions, love


Arguably the most common feeling, or thought, or reasoning, for almost everything in this world.  It’s one of the most open-ended words to define, and certainly one that’s just as misunderstood as it is carefully examined.  It’s a feeling all artists touch on, be it their falling in love, falling out of love, doing something for love, saying something for love, being bitter and rejecting love, dumbing down love, or claiming it doesn’t even exist and that it’s just a fancy way to say infatuation or lust.

I looked up a few definitions of love.  The first one was certainly interesting:

any object of warm affection or devotion; “the theater was her first love”; “he has a passion for cock fighting”; ”

What’s interesting about that was, my first reaction was to laugh at that second example.  A passion…or love…for cock fighting?  Out of all the things you could love and have a passion for?  But that just goes to show how vast love can be taken or felt. 

A ‘first love’, as in the first example, seems to be used when someone first finds their niche, or what they enjoy doing more than anything they have previously.  It’s another interesting way of using the word because you consider love to be mutual, and with some sort of affection shown.  Yet one could counterpoint by arguing that a theater could love the person back, by existing and being there for her to find her talent and excitement within.  By being there as a place of refuge, a place of success.  That goes to show how far love really can go; by being there, you can create love, and hope, and serenity.

I found another interesting definition of love:

“…be enamored or in love with; “She loves her husband deeply” ”

Enamored is essentially the actual feeling of falling in love; the bonding that comes with it.  I will argue that this is most everyone’s utmost demand for love.  We find it, or attempt to find it, in any and all places; a coffee shop, a bar or club, online and through personals, through friends and family, at a party, and just throughout our daily lives. 

People looking for it too hard threaten the possibility of finding a false sense of it, or an incomplete love that leaves us feeling more lonely and/or alone than we did before it occurred.  The world is very tough, considered to be a lifelong fight and struggle to survive and find happiness in our mortality, and we all want someone to fight alongside us in battle.  It is for that reason that many people settle for and accept, and basically expect this lesser love.  As long as SOMEONE’s there, someone who we think knows us and understands us to a degree, most will accept the chronic issues and faults that come along with such a relationship.  It’s why many people bring back into their lives though that cheat, or lie, or steal, or hurt us in many other factions.  We bring them back out of familiarity; because we feel we may not deserve more, or our hearts and minds have become lethargic, but with the underlying reason that we need someone to help us  battle through life, and it may be easier to do so with imperfections than take our whole lives fighting it alone in hopes that perfect love will come along.  A perfect love no longer exists or is even deemed a possibility by many, and it really never was.  To err is to be human, so many unforgivable thoughts and actions are, in fact, forgiven.  And this lesser love continues.

My thought has been, and has matured over the past decade; do I REALLY want to spend the rest of my life with this person?  Would there be cracks in our relationship that would lead to a lesser love?  Can I wake up every morning, see this face, and know I have a good life because of this person?  Do I trust living with them in our home, telling them our deepest thoughts and ideals, and letting down every single teeny tiny wall we have?  Will that person never betray me, never hurt me, never insult the love we’ve created? 

Many have been duped after answering ‘yes’ to all of the above questions – another reason many accept lesser love, or the love of a place, or of our work, or of our friends & family only, with romance as secondary.  If one truly answers ‘yes’ to those questions, and are double-crossed, our hearts break.  That is to say, we feel the deepest hurt and betrayal in the darkest and most hidden part of our selves because of what all we let down for the person, and how much we had led them in.  If an associate hurts you, it’s nowhere near the pain of someone closest to us doing the same.  Humans can be unpredictable, and many question if they ever fully and thoroughly know the one we’re with.  Or the one we want to be with.

To have a non-human ‘first love’, like the previously mentioned theater, is safer for many.  It’s a place, it’s a lifestyle, it’s what you take it to be.  You always know where it is, you make it to be the relationship of your choice.  It’s always there.  If our first love is a self-made painting, it’s safe because it shows the colors of our choice, it’s love we created that exists as long as the painting is loved.  There’s no risk in a painting doing you wrong.

In the end, we all want to come home from the theater, or glance away from our painting, and look around us.  Many don’t mind going home every night alone, waking up alone, cooking alone, and planning their lives out alone.  Many others simply do so with friends and family.  Many have pets to fill something best filled with the love returned of another, whether we admit it or not.  At some point, all of these people who choose alternatives to a perfect love, by default or by choice, will ask themselves who notices.  Who cares what we do?  Who cares how we look?  Who cares what our dreams and thoughts are?  Why bother?

We bother because we all want, in some feeling in some crevice in our hearts and minds, or the pits of or stomachs, during a moment of weakness or self-pity or realization, that perfect love.  Knowing that someone or something can knock you down, and someone’s there to break your fall.  That someone that your heart knows will always be there for you, without doubt or question.  That two people can struggle through a single fight of life means a better chance at success, and a wonderful chance of happiness and safety.  And love.

In the end, our hearts and minds are there in existence to fulfill a promise.  No matter when, or how, or if ever it’s realized or noted, their goals are to fulfill that promise to another pair.  And fall into a perfect love.

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