Thursday, June 16, 2011

A King's Bad Dreams

I came across this picture of Henry I of England having bad dreams that various people (seemingly, peasants, knights, and the Church) were trying to take over and/or kill him. For some reason this really cracked me up, I don't know why, and I felt compelled to share it. I guess even kings - or maybe especially kings - have bad dreams.

Henry I was one of the younger sons of William the Conqueror, and he made a lot of reforms and tried to win over the indigenous Anglo-Saxons (whom his father had conquered), including marrying one of the pre-Norman royal family. His son died in a shipwreck and that screwed up his plans for a smooth succession. Henry I himself died in Normandy from food poisoning (after eating a "surfeit of lampreys") and they had to sew his body up with cow hide for the long journey home. He was buried at an abbey that was later destroyed in the Protestant Reformation and now no one knows where it is.

Kings don't always come to good ends, but at least none of the bad dreams shown in this picture came true.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Back on the Vape Gang

Argh. Grumble. Bicker. Snipe. I am irritable today.

I have stopped smoking again, sort of. That is, I'm on the e-cigarette (non-cartridge variety). I have two of them now (because they don't hold a charge very long), a blue one and a white one, both from Vaper's Corner.

This is my second major attempt. At first, I loved the e-cigarette. I still got nicotine, and I still got to inhale something. But somehow, after about two weeks, I'd find myself wanting a real cigarette. So, as my friend Goonie says, there must be something other than nicotine in real cigarettes that I'm addicted to.

Another problem is that the e-cigarettes do require a bit of maintenance, which I don't always have the patience for when I'm ready to smoke. Er, vape. As for flavors, I enjoy Turkish Tobacco, Desert Ship, My Seven, and Flue-cured Tobacco. I avoid the fruity or coffee or candy-type of flavors.

I've also figured out how to make my own filters with tea bags (you've gotta take the tea out), which saves even more money.

So wish me luck, offer me support, or just send me some good vibes as I try to stay on the vape gang. I may never kick nicotine, but surely I, who have quit some excellent jobs and relationships, can quit cigarettes.

If this try doesn't work, my next step is to visit a cancer ward and see what those guys have to say about it.

Music Page Removed

I've removed the Johnny Pharaoh Band page for a variety of excellent reasons. If anyone actually wants to hear that stuff, don't hesitate to email me at and I will send you a big fat CD of all of my sonic sketchbook stuff. I may put up another blog at some point that focuses on music. For now, this site will just be about my ramblings.

But if anyone is curious about what I'm doing musically, it's this: I came to the conclusion a while back that doing the live rock'n'roll thing just wasn't for me anymore. Every time I try to say why, I end up borderline offending someone who still likes it, so I'll just let it stand at "not for me." That doesn't mean I'll never do it again, but I'm certainly not going to do it often. I've always felt funny about pushing my music on others, anyway. It may not be an arrogant thing to do, but it's certainly presumptuous. I feel that way about all art. I feel compelled to share, but isn't there something vaguely off-putting, if not downright offensive, about someone who has decided they're the one who should be performing and you're the one who should be listening? I've never wanted to be that guy, although that may be what it takes to be successful.

That being said, I did start another band with Ryan (of Rocket to Saturn) and Matt & Corey (of Captain Murgatroyd) called STARFINGER, and it's going well. It's also going slow, and that's OK. We're not in a rush. It's a badass lineup, if I do say so myself, and when it comes to rock'n'roll, I still enjoy the physical act of playing. It's the performances that I'm not sure I love anymore, but I'm willing to take one or two for the team. It's my understanding the band intends to focus on recording and play out only very occasionally. Plus, both of the only two bands that ever helped Ryan and I book shows are defunct now anyway, so...I say this without bitterness, it's just a statement of fact, but KC can be a tough place to find a good weekend slot when you're not friends with the right hipster. I've been on both sides of that fence.

As for my own music, I have drifted further and further from rock music over the past few years (although I did just revisit the Blues Explosion catalog, and I'll always have a place in my heart for Big Dumb Rock). These days, I listen to a lot of ambient music, old jazz, and a lot of symphonic or neo-classical stuff. I find myself wanting to record those kinds of things - non-verbal "soundtrack" stuff - but I don't have the training or musicianship for that. I am strongly considering taking piano lessons and becoming some dude like Vangelis. Or at the very least, Danzig-fucking-with-a-synthesizer-Black-Aria dude. Something like that. We'll see how it goes. Until then, I'll post something when I have something worth hearing.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Summertime here.

For me, that means getting up and going to work while my son, mother, and girlfriend - all either teachers or students - stay home. sucks. I am happy for them, and I guess it's nice to have a job. But it's got me thinking...teaching...doesn't sound to bad in the summertime, does it? I may have to get serious about looking into that.

I don't care how tough a gig teaching is: it's got to be worth it on that day when you wake up and realize you don't have to go back to work for two and a half months. I can only fantasize.

WFRP Critical Hit Generator

Ryan Ashmore and Jason Cotterell made this badass critical hits generator for WFRP, 2nd edition. It uses the expanded critical hits tables by Drs. Chuck Morrison and Josef Tham, which can be found over at Winds of Chaos. This particular version of the generator has our "Swords Against Satan" campaign as a header (WFRP, but set in the "real" world of the early 1600s), but otherwise all the references are to the Warhammer world. If you're like me, and derive entirely too much pleasure from these sorts of things, check it out!