The Lonely High Road 5433

I spent the morning cooking meals for Robin for when she comes home tomorrow. I finished preparing the baked spaghetti and then started on the beef stew. Caroline called and said that she cooked up a chicken pot pie and that Maire was baking up some lasagna. I know Paige is also bringing over a casserole so Robin and Farley won’t have to cook for a spell.

Blake and I went up to the hospital to see Robin and Francesca, but my daughter was tired, so we didn’t stay long. We then went to Walmart to pick up some groceries before going back to the farm. I made grilled cheese sandwiches for dinner, which made the girls happy. Tabby then came over to get the latest on Robin and Francesca. Blake filled her in, which allowed me to go outside and collect my thoughts.

I was watching the horses graze in the field when Marty pulled up, which meant something wacky happened. He told me that Don Cutta got into with a journalist who wrote some crude things about women a decade or so ago, but has always portrayed himself as pro-women-feminist-bleeding heart-social liberal. “It got ugly when Cutta called him on the article he wrote years ago for a now-defunct magazine. The journalist, a Leif Maraton, became unhinged, which only added fuel to Cutta’s attack. Maraton went into a seizure, fell off the stage and began flopping around, which Cutta found amusing. Another guest, Reverand Bill Benwood, an evangelical Christian and head of the Coalition for Decency, began screaming at Cutta to help him with the journalist. The staff of State of Affairs, a comedy show, which all three men were on, began assisting Maraton, and the paramedics came and took him away. Benwood then attacked Cutta, scratching his face, which prompted Cutta to ram a pen through the reverend’s cheek while using language ungodly language. It was all on tape, so it’s going to be considered self-defense; Benwood is six-feet and two hundred pounds of solid muscle. Cutta is five-six and one hundred and fifty pounds,” Marty said. “Jesus Christ,” I muttered. “Maraton is in a coma. He smashed his head on the concrete floor from the stage, which was a steep fall. I know this is the last thing you wanted to hear, but the press is trying to tie Rory and Cullen to this, which is silly, but they have worked with Cutta.” “As have I,” I reminded Marty. “Yeah, but he’s really friendly with those two.” “Anything else happen to the Reverand Benwood,” I asked. “No, Cutta tweeted this morning that Reverand Benwood should blow his brains out for being such an asshole and other insults.” “Alright, I don’t give a fuck,” I replied. “So much for civility,” Marty commented. “Yep, which is why I no longer do shows like that,” I replied.

Marty then asked about Robin and the baby, which we spent more time talking about.

Before Marty left, he got another message telling him that Cutta and the families of Benwell and Maraton are exchanging hateful tweets. He turned off his phone and said he was giving it a break for a spell.

It’s sure lonely on the high road.

Published in: on November 19, 2017 at 3:50 am  Leave a Comment  
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Francesca 5432

At four in the morning, Farley called me to say that Robin was going into labor and that he was taking her to the hospital. I told Blake, who got up and got dressed. I then called Paige, Caroline, and Maire before getting a cup of coffee.

I arrived at the hospital and waited in the visitor’s room. I didn’t want to listen to an old man ramble on about how his brother was a big-time asshole, so I got up and walked around. Fortunately, Caroline arrived with Gio and Rayne, and we stepped outside to pass the time. Paige then came Maire, which made it a gathering. We then walked back inside and waited.

At ten-thirty, Robin gave birth to a six-pound-eight-ounce baby girl who she and Farley named Francesca. We all melted when we got to see the precious baby girl. Blake then came up, and she smiled when she saw Francesca. “Just think of the ways we can spoil her,” my wife said. “I’ll be stern,” I replied. “Yeah, right, Elmer.”

We all congratulated Farley before heading back to the house. I’m grateful that both Robin and Francesca are doing well. Blake then made the calls to our friends while I basked in the glory of another grandbaby. “Wow, there’s a passel of kids in this family,” I declared. “Yes, and three more are on the way,” Paige said, pointing to Maire’s belly. “That’s right, I may need to build a bunker,” I cracked. “Daddy,” my grown daughter hollered in unison.

Robin and Farley will be great parents who’ll put Francesca first. They’re about to discover how different their lives are going to be, but that’s a wonderful thing. Their life together is no longer about them and everything they do they’ll have to consider the impact it’ll have on their baby girl. They will give Francesca the happy childhood neither one of them had, which will be a glorious legacy for them both.

I failed my grown daughters, but they’re not failing their children, which makes them far better than me.

You’re a lucky baby girl, Francesca.

Published in: on November 18, 2017 at 12:55 am  Leave a Comment  
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From Hollywood To The Farm 5431

Marion and I boarded the plane for home while Rory and Cullen got on one for Kansas City. It was still dark when we took off, and we settled in for a long flight. I asked Marion if he had a good time and he smiled and said it’s been a long time since he’s been this excited. “I realize that was all show at the premiere, and it’s the box office that matters, but I’m hopeful the film will do well. The reviews are fantastic, and despite the film featuring a lot of classical music, I firmly believe it’ll be a hit,” he replied.

Marion’s optimism is contagious.

I too was pleased with the terrific reviews and how they praised Cullen’s confident directing, which made him laugh, but the end result is all that matters, and the movie is a fine piece of work. The fact that it features classical music could be a drawback, but then again, it might not have any bearing at all at the box office. The reviews for the soundtrack were equally impressive, which I hope will push sales up a tad. I realize classical isn’t pop music and won’t get the response that of popular music; however, I’ve tempered my expectations for film and soundtrack and am hoping for a solid profit.

We landed in Wilmington a little after two and Blake and Amy greeted me. It was good to be home, and I told my wife that I had fun, but nothing beats the farm. She smiled and then asked for details about the premiere. I said that Johnny, Melvin, and Jeannette came out and were taking a later flight out. “I know they stopped down here to tell us they were flying out. Johnny was a bundle of energy and was praying for no delays, so I’m glad he got to experience the premiere,” Blake said. “They wanted to get breakfast at the Roosevelt and then savor the experience a little longer,” I added. I then told Blake about some of the celebrities I met and my chat with Maggs and Claire. “I’m glad Claire is coming home, and I know her parents are, too,” my wife replied. ”

We decided to wait and pick up Elizabeth before heading to the farm. My baby girl beamed wide when she saw me and then ran into my arms. We then headed back to the farm and relaxed.

Robin, Maire, and Caroline stopped over and asked me about the premiere. I gave them all the details and then began to feel a tad sleepy. Blake suggested I take a nap before supper, so I walked into the bedroom and plopped on the bed. It wasn’t long before Ernest came running into the room and jumped on the bed to join me. The Savannah began to purr as I petted him and then he dropped himself next to me. “You’re about the laziest thing ever,” I said to the feline whose wild roots have been completely tamed.

The nap did me wonders, and I felt like a new man when I woke up. Ernest was in no hurry to get out of bed, so I had to nudge him to get up. I walked out to the living room where my all my grown daughters were chatting with Blake and the girls. I told my wife that Ernest gets lazier by the day. “He’s just into relaxation,” she replied. “No, he’s into sleeping and doing as little as possible.” “He’s fine, Elmer, there’s no need for him to be excitable.” “Excitable, that cat is the antithesis of excitable.” “And that’s good.” “He’s supposed to have a little wild in him.” “He’s got it made, Daddy, so why should he exert himself too much,” Paige remarked. “That is true,” I replied.

I took a seat and talked with the family while Farley prepared to cook the steaks. A couple of days in Hollywood was enough for me to want to get back home ASAP. I enjoyed my stay, but the farm is home.

And always will be.


Published in: on November 17, 2017 at 2:54 am  Leave a Comment  

Life And How It Is 5430

I met Maggs for lunch at 25 Degrees, and we started off discussing Maire. She asked me if our daughter was doing okay and I told her that she’s doing well. “I’m just concerned that the news of triplets will overwhelm her and put stress on her marriage. I’m not waiting for the other shoe to drop, but it worries me,” Maggs said. “I understand, but she and Cary are strong. Yes, they have their issues; however, all couples do, and it’s nothing they can’t handle.” “Triplets, that’s a lot of kids, Scragg.” “Yes, I agree, but they’re up to the challenge.” “You make it sound so simple.” “No, it’s merely something they’re going to have to deal with. Look, Maire is doing well both professionally and personally. She’s making a lot of money, and she’s having success because she works hard and is looking at the big picture instead of the moment. She’s also pushing forty and realizes that she has to get things in order.” “I just don’t want her to end up like me,” Maggs replied. “You turned out alright, Maggs, but it’s time you looked beyond Hollywood and did something that satisfies you personally. Nothing is stopping you from finding someone. I don’t know what you want, but I imagine you would like to share your life with someone,” I said. “Yes, but at my age, it’s hard, Scragg.” “Don’t worry about stats, just go for it.” “There you go again.” “What?” “Making everything sound so simple.” “Maggs, the reason I hate soap operas is that nobody ever cuts to the chase. People spend a month locked in a cellar when they could have escaped by climbing out of the window. I don’t like cellars, so I’ll get a little dirty and bust out a window to get out.” “What if there is no window,” Maggs asked. “Then break down the door; if there is a way in then, there’s a way out.” Maggs laughed and said that only I could come up with such an analogy.

One of my songs then came on the radio.

“I was a little indie artist when this song was released.I still remember Kevin and I hoping that the album would sell a couple hundred copies. Wow, that seems like yesterday and a hundred years ago at the same time,” I remarked. “I know what you mean. This has always been one of my favorite songs of yours, in fact, it was the first one I heard. The deejay on the station Maire was listening to introduced the song as “This Ain’t Someplace Else” by the Scragg Man. I remembered almost choking when they mentioned your name. Maire and I then went to an independent record store and found the album. She didn’t know that you were her father, but she said that whoever you were, you sure could sing and play guitar. We listened to the album and with each song, I could feel a jolt go through me. “Running Through a Field” “Catching a Break on a Backroad” All I could think about was how different your life might have been had mother not run you off,” Maggs said. “I would have done the same thing she did,” I replied. “That doesn’t make it right, Scragg.” “It’s the past, there’s nothing anyone can do about it, so let it go and know that Moriath thought she was protecting you.” “It was all about appearances.” “Sure, and the fact that I was a dirty little punk from the sticks with a sharp tongue who hadn’t a lick of sense.” You’re a mess, Scragg.” “I know it, but at least now I get paid to travel about,” I replied.

I have no time to dwell on regret, so I accept the past and try to do better for the future. Would it have been nice to live in Southern California, living in a nice home, and driving a nice car while raising Maire? Sure it would have, but reality has a way of knocking those silly notions out of you. Maggs went on to become a successful actress and director, while I continued to fuck up. I have no one to blame but myself for the pain and bullshit I put myself through, and there is no point in conjuring up scenarios that would have prevented me from being an idiot. None of this is about me, anymore, which makes it easier for me to remain in the present and prepare for the future.

There is nothing profound in what I’m saying, it’s just life and how it is.

Published in: on November 16, 2017 at 9:26 am  Leave a Comment  
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One Helluva An Afterparty 5429

The afterparty at the Hotel Roosevelt started off as a low-key affair that found everyone on their best behavior. I chatted with some Hollywood veterans who told me that these things are for show and gossip, which already knew.  I could see that Cullen and Rory weren’t digging this event, which meant they were prone to start something. Maggs, an old pro at these dog and pony shows, wore a smile and pretended to have a good time. Claire looked bored and didn’t feel the need to pretend. Marion, still in awe of his surroundings, mingled with other Hollywood brokers until he got bored and went looking for something more stimulating. Johnny, Melvin, and Jeannette walked around looking like the neophytes they are.

Cullen then suggested I play the piano.

I walked over to the Baby Grand and began playing a piece from “Rivers and Mountains” an album that I’m still mighty proud of. The crowd stopped what they were doing to listen. John Williams and Christopher Parkening walked over and studied what I was doing. Yo-Yo Ma joined them. I gave them a wink and then finished the piece. “Christopher and Yo-Yo, I missed you at the premiere,” I told them. “We were merely observing you mingle with the crowd,” Parkening replied. “Oh, you should have jumped on in.” “We don’t have your larger-than-life personality,” the classical guitarist said. “Aah, you guy bring your instruments?” “No, they didn’t mention anything about that,” Yo-Yo replied. “You look naked without your cello,” I joked. “Yo-Yo laughed and said that he wanted to show off his killer physique. I laughed and asked them if they wanted to play the Baby Grand. “No, play something else, Scragg,” Williams implored.

Before I had a chance to go into the next song, Cullen called me over and pointed to some guys setting up a drum kit and handing out guitars and a bass.

I stepped to the mic and told the crowd that the party was about to go into high gear. I called up Johnny to get behind the drums while Rory, Cullen, and I grabbed out instruments and proceeded to tear into some tunes.

Rory kicked off the set with “Pure Scum” which made the crowd laugh. We then ripped into, “Hubba Hubba Bubba” before I sang “When the Cat’s Away The Rat Will Play” an ode to my lovely wife who’ll undoubtedly hear about all this.

I then called up Claire.

The young lady asked if she could perform a few of my country tunes, which sounded like a plan to me. She sang, “I Can See It In Your Eyes” and “Just a Rock Now” Her beautiful voice did justice and then some to the songs that never sounded better. “Small Town Love” and “Somewhere Beneath the Stars” followed and the crowd was all into the music. I then handed my guitar to Claire, who then traded licks with Cullen, which wowed the audience. Claire not only has a terrific voice, but she also has the chops to spare and play a guitar with the best of them. I could see some of the celebs looking on with stunned looks as the young lady showed her prowess on the instrument.

Claire is a highly accomplished musician who will make memorable music.

The party lasted until well past midnight, and we played until the last person exited the ballroom. I finally got John and Chris to dazzle the party-goers with their skill on the electric guitar. They refused to sing; however, which would have been fun. It was an afterparty that none of us will soon forget. I asked Marion if he had a good time and he smiled and said it was unbelievable. I hope I don’t feel too bad in the morning, but the hell with it, I had so much fun that it’ll be worth it,” he replied. Claire and Maggs also said it was the wildest afterparty they’d been to. “You guys are something else, but you know how to have fun,” Maggs declared. “I can’t wait to get back to recording,” Claire said.

I griped about coming out here, but I’m glad I did because this was one helluva party.

Published in: on November 16, 2017 at 4:37 am  Leave a Comment  
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Premiere At The Grauman Chinese Theater 5428

We arrived at the Grauman Chinese Theater at six-thirty to cameras and hoopla. We entered through an entrance reserved for celebrities and then waited in the lobby with other stars. Maggs, Claire, along with several other actors and actresses were there, but Maggs had to tell me their names. Cullen looked utterly out of place standing around in his suit wearing perplexed expression. Rory did the same and was even more out of place then the Sorcerer. I probably looked like a dingbat waiting to get this shit over with.

I then walked over to a group of middle-aged ladies who were giggling while pretending not to stare at me. Maggs told me that it isn’t proper etiquette to mingle with non-celebrities. “Who cares, there’s nothing etiquette about me,” I replied. I smiled at the ladies whose eyes lit up when I joined them. “We were told not to approach any of the stars,” one of them said. “Where are the stars,” I asked. “All over there.” “All I see are a bunch of folks standing around trying to look important.” “Oh God, he really is the bomb,” one of the ladies declared. “I don’t know about that, but I feel like I could explode,” I cracked.

Fletch Martin then walked over to me.

“What are you doing, Scragg,” he asked. “Talking to these ladies and apparently these guys and gals, pointing to a large group of folks who had surrounded me. “This is highly unusual,” the studio exec said. “Yep.” “What?” “Yep.” “What?” “Fletch here is a dullard who likes to keep things simple,” I told the crowd. “Scragg!” ‘See, he speaks one word at a time.” “Scragg!” “Yes?” “You’re so frustrating.” “Come on, let’s mingle with the crowd,” I suggested.

It didn’t take long for Rory and Cullen to get in on the act, and before long, the mood had lifted considerably. Hanging with the regular folks was far more fun than pretending to be a star and even Fletch admitted that the atmosphere had changed for the better. I was delighted to see John Willaims, the classical guitarist, standing around with his wife. I called him over, and I told the crowd who he was. “Yes, this is John Williams,” I declared. “Hey, he wrote the score for Jaws and Star Wars,” someone hollered. “Sure, why not,” the Aussie guitarist said with a laugh. “Thanks for coming,” I then told he and his wife. “Glad to do this, Scragg,” he replied.

I then saw three familiar faces.

I didn’t think Johnny, Melvin, and Jannelle would make it, but they stood around like star-struck nimrods, so I pulled them over and introduced them to the crowd, which embarrassed the hell out of them. “We’re not stars,” Melvin pleaded. “Nonsense, Melvin has been in a couple of movies, as has his lovely wife. Jannelle looked like she would faint. She was dressed in a lovely gown that made her look stunning. I then told the group that Johnny drums for Doyle McCann and has been in movies. The little gave me a mortified look as the crowd stared him down. “I should have known you would pull something like this,” he said. “The crowd, playing along with the joke, asked them about their movie resumes, which was hilarious. “Oh boy, we must look like idiots,” Melvin said in despair. “That comes naturally, Melvin.” “Oh boy,” was all he could say.

The manager of the theater, looking hopelessly harried, pleaded for us to take our seats. We all filed into the theater and took our seats. Johnny sat in between Cullen and me, still looking dazed. We all had buckets of popcorn, soda, and candy, which amused Maggs. “You’re so unglamorous,” she said in frustration. “Yep, now when is this flick starting,” I asked. “Scragg!” “You can’t take us anywhere,” Cullen remarked. “This is the coolest premiere ever,” Susan Sarandon said, whom I missed seeing in the lobby.

Cullen then got up and introduced the film with Marion, who just stood looking confused.

“I hope you like this film, it was a labor of love to make, isn’t that right, Marion,” Cullen said. “Yeah,” the hapless billionaire replied. “Well don’t get all riled up, Marion.” “I’m a little overwhelmed,” he said. “My God, you spent all those years doing the full monty with the all-nude male shaking their stuff dancers, Marion, so just imagine your disrobing now and everything will be dandy,” Cullen then told the producer, who wanted to run and hide. The crowd laughed and then started to clap. “Oh God, I’m so out-of-place here,” Marion said in a near catatonic state. “Leave the poor man alone, Cullen,” Maggs screamed. “That’s okay, I deserved this, but I will say that seeing this movie on the silver screen is a dream come true. I’m not going to pretend I know anything about movies, so if you would pardon my awkwardness, I’m just basking in a dream that is now a reality,” Marion said. The crowd gave him a standing ovation, and he took a bow.

The movies then started.

As usual, Johnny’s eyes were glued to the screen, as were everyone else’s as the story about a lonely music professor who discovers the work of another professor from another century unfolded on the screen. Refreshingly absent from the film was the violence, profanity, gross humor, and anything else inappropriate, which made it suitable for families. I was also struck by the flick’s brisk pacing and dramatic effect that Cullen somehow captured. I was also proud of the musical score, which sounded as I hoped it would. I had plenty of help with the score, especially from Paige and Iris, who both played beautifully.

This is a beautiful movie.

I felt at ease throughout the film knowing there was nothing offensive in it, which made it a pleasant experience. It seemed that the crowd also enjoyed the picture and when it ended, they stood up and gave us a standing ovation. We all stood up and acknowledged their compliment. “What an amazing film,” Johnny told Cullen and me. “I can’t wait to get back home to see it with the family. Amelia will love it,” he added. “That was an incredible movie,” Maggs added.

As we exited the theater to head to the afterparty, everyone who saw us congratulated us on a great film that should get nominated for numerous awards, which would be nice, but none of us were looking for it. The fact that it’s a nice, gentle film that the whole family can enjoy is reward enough for me. “That’s what we need to do more of,” Cullen then commented.

And I couldn’t agree more.

Published in: on November 15, 2017 at 11:24 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Hollywood Exit 5427

After spending much of yesterday with the vultures, we decided to keep a low profile until the premiere. Marion, who was exhausted by the time night fell yesterday, was up and about at the crack of dawn this morning. He said that all the glitter got to him and he apologized for turning in early. “We all crashed shortly after you did and I’m glad we did,” I replied.

I don’t know what glitter Marion is talking about, all I saw were vultures.

A little before noon, we got a delightful surprise when the front desk called our room to tell us that Claire Flannery was waiting there to see us. I gave Cullen and Rory a ring and said that Claire was at the hotel to visit us. We all hurried down to see the young lady who has done two films since her breakout performance in “Sunny in South Dakota.”

When I saw Claire, I had to do a double take as the teen I used to know is now a beautiful young lady with sparkling eyes and a million-dollar smile. I gave her a big hug and asked how she was doing. She said she’s hanging in there. Claire then hugged Cullen and Rory before laughing at all three of us. “You guys are going to be something at the premiere,” she remarked. “We’ll be something,” I replied. I then introduced her to Marion, who seemed to be in a daze. “This is Marion’s first foray into films, so he’s a tad overwhelmed,” I told the young lady. “I feel that way all the time out here,” she replied. “You ready for lunch,” I asked her. “I’m starving,” she replied.

We went to 25 Degrees, a burger joint in the hotel that serves up pricey burgers, sandwiches, and shakes. Of course, I forget where I’m at, and the realized that the prices are in line for this area. “I’ll never get used to a sixteen dollar burger,” I declared. Claire laughed and said the same thing. “Hell with it, let’s chow down good,” I then said. Claire smiled and said that she misses home. “I miss the crew and the laughter. It wasn’t long ago when I was playing music and had dreams of becoming a musical artist. I still have that dream, and that’s what I want to do next,” she said. “I thought you got the lead role in that horror movie,” Rory asked her. “The Path,” she replied. “Yeah, I heard the studio paid a lot of money for the script.” “They did, but you haven’t heard?” “No, what happened?” “The director, who’s also the screenwriter was accused of rape and numerous incidents of sexual harassment, which nixed the movie. That happened about five days ago,” Claire said. “I’m sorry, can’t they get another director,” I asked. “Yes, but he still owns the rights to the script, which he said he won’t sell because he doesn’t need the money and is confident he’ll be exonerated.” “Who is this guy,” Cullen asked. Ramsey Dramaura, a director with a good reputation. He’s made a lot of hits and was in demand. I guess we’ll see,” Claire replied. “Aah, something else will come along,” I assured her. “I’m thankful for the opportunity that has been afforded me and I know I’m blessed, but I miss music, and I’m sick of living out here. The bungalows suck and I don’t like the lifestyle here. I called Kevin and Jordan to see if they had anything going on and they both said that they can get me work, so I’m going to go home next Tuesday,” Claire said. “Excellent, I just hope you’re not passing up any golden opportunities,” I replied. “I know what I’m doing, Scragg, but I have to ask if I can do an album with the label.” “Of course, you’ll have access to the best musicians around,” I told her. “That’s wonderful, I know I’m making the right choice,” Claire replied.

The rest of the conversation was light-hearted, which made it a pleasant dinner. I can’t say that I’m surprised by Claire’s decision, but I just want to make sure she has thought it through. She can make a lot of money doing films for Jordan, but Hollywood provides more in guaranteed money; however, Claire is an adult and knows what is best for her, so I said nothing more about it.

Hollywood isn’t for everyone.

Published in: on November 15, 2017 at 2:02 am  Leave a Comment  
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Johnny Rockets And The Vultures 5426

I would have committed a misdemeanor to get out of going to L.A., but since the Devil made no deal with me, I kissed my wife and baby girls and told them I would see them in a few days. Jacque then took me to the airport where I met Marion Dickinson, who was unbearably chipper. “This is so exciting, Scragg, I feel like a teenager again,” he said to me with a toothy smile. “I’m glad, Sir, but it’s awfully early to be this happy.” “Nonsense, I’ve been waiting a long time for this day.” “Alright, but don’t be too happy in front of me.

This is going to test my patience.

After an hour and a half layover in Atlanta, we got aloft again, and by eleven-thirty, we landed in L.A. We got off the plane, got a taxi that took us to the Hotel Roosevelt, where Marion and I unpacked before looking for some grub. We then heard someone knock on our door and I looked through the peephole and saw Rory and Cullen. I opened the door and let them in. “Scragg, glad you could make it,” Cullen said. “Yep, I’m here,” I replied. “Don’t sound so excited.” “Okay.” “What’s up, Scragg,” Rory asked. “I’m here, how about yourself?” “Good, we’re almost done the movie. Paul is still filming in our absence, so we’re not losing any time.” “How you doing, Sir,” Cullen asked Marion. “Oh, never better, this is so exciting, but I know it’s old hat for you guys,” he replied. “Not really, I’ve never done this out here,” I replied. “Let’s eat,” I then said.

We found a place not far from the hotel called Johnny Rockets, a burger joint with a 50’s theme. We all ordered burgers and fries, which were good. It didn’t take long for the vultures to find us and I waved at them outside. The customers in the store then asked why the paparazzi were outside and one of them recognized me. “The Scragg Man is here,” a young lady called out. I stood up and took a bow. “Should I give those vultures the scoop,” I asked the patrons. “Hell no, tell them to shove it up their ass,” the young lady said. “How about I make them buy me a shake?” “Yeah, get Cullen and Rory a shake, too,” someone called out. I waved the vultures in, and they descended upon us. The manager brought us three shakes and then asked the vultures to pony up. “What,” one of them screamed. “Scragg, you’ve got to be kidding,” Tony Olnap, a Hollywood beat reporter, and general pain-in-the-ass whined. “Pay the man or go to jail,” I told him. “What,” Olnap screamed. “Oh good God, here,” Mark Saffis, a reporter for Hollywood Edition, a gossip television show, said while handing the manager the money. “Olnap is going to pay for my supper,” I then declared. “Like hell,” he shrieked. “It’s just that simple.” “No, it’s not, Scragg, and I won’t be duped by you.” “I’m not duping you, I’m telling you.” “Yeah, well I’m not going to play ball.” “You’re not going to play with your balls, well I sure hope not,” I replied. The restaurant erupted in laughter, especially Olnap’s peers. The huffy reporter then put his hands on his hips and demanded that I set the record straight. “You people heard what he said, didn’t you,” I asked the patrons. “Yes, and he needs to do that in private,” someone hollered. “Scragg!” “Olnap!” “As usual, it’s turning into a circus,” a young woman reporter said. “Feeling haughty there, girl,” I asked her, which brought got more laughter from the customers. The young lady gasped and then turned red. “See, you don’t need blush, you can do it naturally.” “How dare you,” she shrieked. “What did I dare?” “Don’t let him rattle you, Terri,” Olnap told her. “Don’t listen to this guy, Ma’am, he does strange things in public.” “Scragg!”

The cops then showed up.

Four officers walked into the restaurant and gave me a weary look. “Officers, I feel threatened,” I told them. “The Scragg Man, we should have known,” one of them said. “Give these guys a shake,” I told the manager. “We’re good, Scragg,” the sergeant said. “Only good?” “Okay, we’re great.” “I thought you were the best.” “Lay it on why don’t you,” Olnap scoffed. “You want me to stroke your ego, Tony?” “Oh please.” “Alright, but keep your hands where I can see them.” “Scragg!” “Aren’t you the Bone Ranger,” Terri then asked me. “Not anymore, Ma’am, if I tried that mess today I’d be in traction for the rest of my life.” “Do you have any shame?” “Yeah, I’m talking to you guys.” “You bastard,” one of the vultures sneered. “Well isn’t that precious.” “Why are Rory and Cullen so quiet,” another member of the press asked. “I’m waiting in anticipation,” Rory replied. “What are you waiting for,” Olnap asked. “I thought we were getting a room,” Rory replied with a straight face that caused another round of hysterics.

As always, it’s a hoot jostling with the vultures who are doing their job while we do ours. I’ve learned that they’re part of the equation and that constantly fighting them makes your job that much harder, so why not use them to your advantage.

None of this is important, so there’s no sense in taking it too seriously.

Published in: on November 14, 2017 at 5:00 am  Leave a Comment  
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The Poetic Pig Sloppers 5425

We went to Chow’s for supper and met Ruckus, and his band met us there. David seated us in a reserved room, and then we ordered our drinks before looking over the menu. Ruckus smirked and asked if they served mutt or purebred, which embarrassed my girls. “Just kidding, I couldn’t resist,” he said. “Try next time,” I replied. “I’ll have whatever Scragg is having,” Ruckus then said. “I’ll have whatever Doyle is having,” Ian Markel followed. “I’ll have whatever Kirby is having,” Tommy Higginson declared. “And whatever dish Blake orders, I’ll get the same,” Kurt Bourbeuse said. Oh, I probably should get what one of his daughters get because I’m liable to end up with fried roadkill,” Ruckus then said, which made my girls laugh. “Yeah, that coming from someone who eats Spam and jalapeno sandwiches,” I fired back. “At least it didn’t get run over by a truck.” “Bubbles is getting wound up,” Ian said. “Man, you call me Bubbles again, and I’ll stomp you,” Ruckus threatened. “The Trailer Park Boys,” Michael called out. “What,” Paige asked. “It’s a hilarious show from Canada,” her husband replied. “Yep and Ruckus should have been in it,” Tommy chortled. “I tell you, sometimes I wonder how we didn’t end up in a ditch or at the working end of a chainsaw. Either way, it’s a miracle I haven’t wasted these idiots,” Ruckus said of his bandmates. “Did you grow up with Grandpa,” Rayne the asked him. “Yes, Ma’am, your grandfather is older than me, but I have a fond memory of him growing up.” “How old are you,” Amy asked him. “43, little lady.” “Are you the oldest in your band?” “Yes, and my maturity and wisdom have proven invaluable.” “Oh my God,” I replied. “What, you know my history of being responsible, Scragg.” “No, that must be revisionist history,” I replied. “It’s a known fact in McSwain.” “Yeah, that you’re insane.” “Well, the definition of insanity is often subjective.” “Ruckus, it’s on record some of the crazy things you did.” “Yes, but it’s still subjective.”

I could feel some insanity coming on.

Ruckus excused himself to go to the restroom. My wife asked me if he was going to do anything crazy and I told that I’m expecting it. “What kind of crazy,” she asked. “Crazy as crazy can be,” I replied.

A couple minutes later, we heard “Great Balls of Fire” coming from where the piano is in the restaurant, and Ruckus did Jerry Lee Lewis proud.

Ruckus then performed, “Coney Island” by Van Morrison.

A spoken word tune with orchestral music in the background, the song recounts a beautiful day in Ireland with the one you love. In Ruckus’ case, it’s a tribute to Tammy Butler, a young lady who was Ruckus’ girlfriend for almost two years. They had planned to get married, but an aggressive form of bone cancer took her life in three months leaving a Ruckus devastated and rudderless. Shortly afterward, his mother passed away, and Ruckus took off for Texas.

Ruckus then returned to the table when the food was brought to the table.

The girls complimented him on his piano skills, which he dismissed as mediocre and best. He ate his meal in silence. When he finished, he leaned back and said that was a delicious plate of food. I asked him how his life was going outside of music. “Good, I reckon,” he replied. “Alright, just wondering. Are you still reading “In Memoriam” I then asked him? “Yes, but not as often.” “Any other Tennyson poem you’ve taken a liking to?” “No, I find the meaning of life in Shel Silverstein,” he replied, which tickled me. “At least you’re not re-reading “Thanatopsis” I replied. “Nah, I haven’t read Bryant much lately. I reckon I’ll read “Annabel Lee,” Ruckus cracked. “Scragg turned him onto poetry, and the world has never been the same,” Kirby told the group. “Tennyson, that’s who you used recite all the time. I tell you, some of the lyrics were downright depressing,” he added. “We were the only pig farm where the workers recited poetry and listened to classical music,” Ruckus said. “I can still hear Scragg trying to convince those slugs that Mario Lanza was a great singer. We all fell out when Scragg slapped Willie when he insulted Mario,” Kirby recalled. “Good for you,” Stray told me. ‘The Poetic Pig Sloppers,” Ruckus said, referring to the workers on Dowdy Farms. The rest of the crew looked at us and shook their heads. “Scragg would get the guys to recite Emily Dickinson while he played a heavy metal riff behind it. I’ve never seen anything like it and probably won’t again,” Ruckus recalled.

We then sat at the table for another hour recalling those crazy days.

Published in: on November 14, 2017 at 12:29 am  Leave a Comment  
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Ruckus Reynolds 5424

Kirby called me in the morning to tell me that he was at the label office with a band he wanted me to check out. “They’re insane, but they sound great,” he said. “Who are they,” I asked. “Just come on down here, Scragg.” “Who are they, Kirby,” I demanded to know. “Joe and the Schmos,” Kirby replied. “What kind of name is that?” “They think it’s cool.” “Well, I think it’s fucked up.” “Let’s not get into their name.”

Shit, I can think of a thousand other things I’d rather do this morning than listen to Joe and the Schmos.

I told Blake about the band, and she said that she would go with me. All of my grown daughters also said they were game. We then headed to the studio to listen to Joe and the Schmos.

Kirby greeted us at the door and said that Honey and Stray decided to stick around to give the band a listen. “I hope you like them,” he then told me. “Let’s get this over with,” I growled. We walked to the studio and saw no band. “No, we’re going to the movie studio, E. Jr. told them to set up there,” Kirby said.

What the fuck?

We walked to the production studio and took a seat. We left the kids with Moriath, who stayed at the office. The band then assembled, and I gave the front man a closer look. I stood and looked at Kirby. “What is this,” I asked him. The band then started playing a song that startled the shit out of everyone.

Ruckus Reynolds has reemerged.

As the band played, “Drunk as a Boiled Owl” I gave Kirby an unfriendly stare and asked him why he dragged up that crazy bastard. “He can play, Scragg, and listen to that sound,” he replied. The song was a novelty tune that was undeniably funny, but we have enough of that on this label. I stared at Ruckus, who was grinning back at me.

When they finished the song, they then tore into a tune called, “Dancing on the Razor’s Edge” a full-throttle hard rocker that resembled nothing like the bullshit tune they just performed.

And damn, did it rock.

Ruckus’ powerful voice and jaw-dropping guitar work were impressive enough, but his band was equally awesome. The guitarist, a tall, lanky guy could keep up with Ruckus and then some. The bassist also dazzled with his stellar skills. The drummer, a bald-headed dude who looked like a villain in the countless flicks, banged with frightening precision.

In short, this band is world-class.

Ruckus and the guys played three more songs in succession before stopping and giving us a friendly welcome. “I’m Ruckus Reynolds, and yes, Ruckus is my real name because my old man was a complete d. i. c., and you can fill in the rest. My fellow guitarist is Ian Markel. On bass is Tommy Higginson. Our drummer is Kurt Bourbeuse, a fine percussionist. I know Scragg from my time in McSwain, which was miserable. I finally left and went to Texas where I found more of the same, so I migrated to Louisana, which sucked. I finally found a home in Indiana, and that’s where I met these guys, most of whom are from Evansville, but I reside in Princeton. I left when I was twenty-two and never looked back until a month ago when we decided to see if we could get signed by Swamp Rat Records,” Ruckus said.

With his thick glasses, pudgy frame, goofy face, and head of straight brown hair styled in a bowl cut, Ruckus looks like a comical figure and can make the funniest faces. His appearance belies a man of enormous intelligence and a complete lack of sense. A loser with the ladies and a social misfit all around, Ruckus has the makings of a tragic figure, but his outlook won’t let him be so. I still recall partying with the fool and him making us all laugh ourselves silly. He could write the most ridiculous songs that you could help but bust up listening to. Like he said, his father was a drunken dick and his mama a helpless woman with zero sense. She named him Ruckus because she said that he raised a lot of hell in her womb trying to get out. His sister, Margo, an obese woman with a sweet disposition, endured years of sexual abuse from her father while mama did nothing. It was only when he choked to death on his own vomit that the family was free of him. Ruckus’ mama passed away when in the early 2000’s and that was the last time I saw him.

Ruckus always could make me laugh and looking at him now I’m still smiling.

“So, Scragg, you need to hear some more,” he asked. “Yeah, play some Van Halen,” I replied. Ruckus spit out notes like Eddie, even getting his smile down. I shook my head and told him to play some more songs for us, which the band did with gusto.

I told Ruckus to talk with Amber and E. Sr. about the contract and then start recording the album. He gave me a goofy look and then looked at the crew. “Any of your fine daughters available,” he said with a straight face. “I’ll bust your ass,” I hollered before putting him in a chokehold. “Just kidding, Scragg, I’ll take the tall kid with the pretty hair,” Ruckus then said, referring to Farley. “Oh, take that up with him.” Daddy,” Robin yelled. “I don’t want to take it up with these two, they look even meaner in the flesh,” Ruckus said to Honey and Stray, who both cracked a smile. “Anyway, we’re ready to get this done and corrupt as many people we can along the way.” “You do that every day just by being yourself,” I replied. “True, but now I have an amplifier to really do the job right.”

Ruckus Reynolds is another of McSwain’s characters that only seem to grow there.

And the crew only has seen the mild version.


Published in: on November 13, 2017 at 5:20 am  Leave a Comment  
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