A Lesson In Humility 4706

The morning part of the session was a blast, especially for Kim, who I let cut loose on the song, “Boiler Man” Kevin, Rory, and I couldn’t help but smile as my brother whipped out a can of whoop-ass and played a scorching lead that added so much to the song. Kim also showed that he could play slide and on, “A Pack of Dogs” he did that flawlessly. I also told Rory to break bad on the tune, which he did with his usual jaw-dropping skill. After we had recorded that song, I could see the fire in Kim’s eyes that told me he was ready for anything. We then took a short break.

While getting a little sun, Kim asked me why I let him cut loose like that. “When you have a big gun you shoot it,” I replied. “That’s it?” “Yep.” “Okay, thanks for the vote of confidence.” “My name is on the album, which means I want it to be the best possible record possible. I’m playing with three great musicians who bring an arsenal of talent that I want and need to utilize. It gets boring of I’m doing all the flashy parts,” I then said. “Is it Kev’s turn next,” my brother asked. “Yes, it is, “Volcano” is the perfect vehicle for him to stretch out on,” I replied. “And I’m ready.” “Do you write songs with that in mind?” “No, I play with amazing musicians who can make a nursery rhyme sound incredible, so I tell them what I want, and they deliver.” “You gave me a little guidance on that lead,” Kim said. “You’re dipshit who needs guidance,” I replied. My brother laughed and gently grabbed my neck. “We’re a band, and that means we play like one,” I added.

I then asked Kim if he remembered Willie Mappen.

“Yeah, he a hotshot player from Raleigh, came out in the mid-nineties?” “That’s right, well, he played the McSwain County Fair back in ’95 or so. Naturally, it was the Willie Mappen Band, and although he was a good guitarist, his band sucked because he wouldn’t let them do anything, everything was about him, even though he was a weak singer who wrote insipid lyrics. He anchored his band to simple rhythms while he went off on extended leads that lead back to the banal lyrics followed by another extended lead. Every song was that way, even the covers, which he butchered. After he had played his set, a couple of us introduced ourselves and told him that he was a good guitarist. He tepidly thanked us, undoubtedly disappointed that we didn’t think he was great. You could tell that he thought the gig was beneath him and that he should have gotten top bill. He did say that next year he would be in L.A., and he was. Unfortunately, it didn’t turn out too well.” “What happened,” Rory asked. “I didn’t know until a couple of years ago when his name came up while I was talking to Lance Pletty, who said he remembered that name from somewhere. I had forgotten about him until Kirby brought him up. Well, Lance made a few calls and talked to a producer who said that Willie stayed in L.A. about three years before being told to get lost. The problem with him was that he had to have all the attention and couldn’t stand sharing it with anyone else. This producer said he was a great technical player, but a shitty overall musician because nothing he played sounded good. He managed to piss off just about everyone out there. He left and ended up in Texas where he now plays the honky-tonk circuit. I don’t know if he still is doing that, but he sabotaged his career over his insatiable appetite for fame, which never came because he couldn’t see the big picture,” I said. “Yeah, I remember the music editor for the newspaper up there telling me that Willie flamed out in L.A. He remembers an arrogant young man who thought way too highly of himself, but did say he was a flashy guitarist,” Kim added. “Willie never gave himself a chance because he thought he was all that mattered. Perhaps if he had let his band help him, he might have played arenas or stadiums and been famous,” I said. “How old was he,” Kevin asked. “He was about twenty when I met him.” “So now he’s at forty and playing in clubs in Texas?” “That’s what I was told,”Kim replied.

Talk about a lesson in humility.

Published in: on August 30, 2016 at 6:44 am  Leave a Comment  
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No Respite From Dingleberries 4705

At supper, Kim asked about Amelia, which made Blake curious about how her first day of school went. “It’s going to be an adjustment that will test the patience of those three guys, but I think it’ll work out because they know what’s at stake. I thought about that last night and recalled that someone took in Honey when he was about Amelia’s age, and it made all the difference. Instead of getting involved with the likes of Amelia’s father, he became a good student and developed a solid work ethic that allowed him to become successful. Perhaps Honey feels he needs to pay it forward. Then again, Honey took in Johnny after he got out of prison, which certainly kept him from going back. They explored the foster care option and discovered how broken the system is and decided that Amelia would be better off with them. It’s a stunning development that no one saw coming. If it all works out, then those three guys will have done a great thing, but they also might be the biggest winners in the deal,” I said. “That’s true,” Kim replied. “Amelia told us that Honey is the leader of the three and that he doesn’t put up with much, but he’s reasonable. She also said that Stray is funny when he teases both Honey and Johnny. She didn’t like him at first, but now she sees that he’s just a little different, which makes the house fun. Oh yeah, she’s learning hockey from Johnny and was told that she would pull for the Carolina Hurricanes,” Rayne said. We all laughed and realized that things up there are going to be fine.

After supper, Kim and I stepped outside to watch the horses in the field. We chatted about the tour and then discussed guitars before Barton called. Blake handed me the phone, and I could tell that something was bothering the billionaire. “Something crawl up your ass,” I asked. “No, but that movie Mauk and May did is extremely violent and deeply troubling,” he replied. “You called about that?” “Scragg, when are we going to make a nice film?” “You’re a producer, so produce one.” “It’s not that easy.” “Yeah, it is, now leave me out of this.” “I just got cussed out by Piper Kavagan, Fletch Martin, and Jordan, which is not only disrespectful, but it’s wrong, Scragg. I have a valid point, but I’m treated like an irrelevant stumblebum!” “Alright, Barton, so you’re looking for some words of encouragement,” I asked, trying to contain my anger. “It would be nice if someone listened to me.” “Okay, I’ve listened, so go fuck yourself,” I replied before clicking off.

I don’t need this shit.

I was about turn off the phone when Alan called asking for Blake. I asked the professor what he needed, and he was evasive, which meant that he wants her to come in tomorrow morning to do his job. “Alan, she’s on the phone talking with a friend, so give me the message, and I’ll give it to her,” I said. “I need to talk to her,” he replied. “Yeah, so you can ask her to do your job while you keep your head up your ass.” “Scragg, I don’t need this hassle!” “Oh, you don’t, then why don’t you do your fucking job and leave my wife alone?” “Scragg, you’re an asshole!” “And you’re still the world-class dingleberry that I’ve come to know and loath, so get your head out of your ass and figure out what you need to do.” “You bastard!” “Listen, dickhead, life ain’t fair, so strap on some balls and deal with it,” I said before clicking off.

What the fuck?

Kim laughed and said I have a way with words. “They’re two are grown men with college educations and a history of success, which begs the question–how the fuck did they get where they’re at in life? I tell you, sometimes there’s no respite from dingleberries around here,” I said. My brother chuckled and said that it’s this way everywhere.

We walked in the house where Blake told me that she needs to go to the school tomorrow morning to help Alan the Asshole with some shit he could do, but won’t. “I know you don’t like that, but it won’t take long, and Janice will be down, so I need to be there. Please refrain from faxing him caustic drawings, Elmer, they don’t help matters, or serve any purpose,” my wife said. “They make me feel better,” I replied. “I replied. “Elmer.” “Okay,” I promised. Robin will watch the kids tomorrow morning,” Blake then told me.

Before bed, I faxed the dingbat three drawing conveying my displeasure with his incompetence.

Published in: on August 29, 2016 at 11:06 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Brother To Brother 4704

We began recording at eight in the morning and went straight through until dinner. The band found its groove early, which allowed motor through the session. Joe said that we sound great and is excited about hearing the album in its entirety. Rory praised the song selection and echoed the engineer’s sentiments. Kim came prepared and didn’t miss a note while Kevin was rock solid as usual.

We then took a break.

Dinner was a glass of water for me and not much more for the rest of the band. I told Joe that we needed to get this album done and eating slows up the process. Kim finally ate half a sandwich, which was okay. After fifteen minutes, we were ready to get back into the studio. We went over the next song and then did a practice run. Everyone felt comfortable after we played it, so we proceeded. The ESP and B.C. Rich guitars proved to be a wise choice for these songs as they provided the sound I wanted to convey the feeling of the songs. Kevin said that the songs never sounded better, or more menacing.

And the guitars will look cool in concert.

“Primrose” a song I wrote years ago about the perils of bad choices born out of desperation, was next on the list. I picked up my resonator and began playing the tune. The subject of the song is Mama and plight she faced every day. I found myself harking back to those painful days and recalling her tired face after she got off work. I now feel terrible about not making her life easier, but realizing that the past is just that, I focused on her ability to block out the misery in her life and carry on without making a fuss. Unfortunately, the bad choices combined with bad luck, piled up leaving Mama in a hopeless state. Fortunately, I finished the song, which was me playing slide guitar with Kevin providing light percussion.

That was tough, as I felt every word.

Kim shook his head and said he just witnessed something special. “That’s what I call putting it all together and making a great song,” he added. “Thank you, it’s a tune dear to my heart.” “I know it’s about your mother, and I hope she’s looking down and smiling,” my brother said. “That would be nice.” Kim sensed that I wanted to move on, so he patted me on the shoulder and got ready for the next song.

We wrapped up the session having recorded five songs. I thanked the guys for their professionalism and told them to be back tomorrow morning at six. Kevin and Rory headed home while Kim and I walked to the fence and took a breather before supper. I asked my brother if he’s ready to take this on and he said that he’s more than prepared. “I wish the situation at the station played out better, but that’s life. I was told to check back with them after the tour and perhaps I will, but who knows what will come of this. Michelle said that it’s an opportunity of a lifetime and for me to make the most of it. Jr. and Kira said the same thing, so I have their support. I’m sure I’ll be in awe at times, but I keep reminding myself that it’s a business and that I need to approach it that way,” he replied. “That’s right, but remember to have fun when you can. We’re breathing rarified air, and we need to keep that in mind, too.” “I know, Scragg, and this is an unbelievable opportunity for me.”

My brother does have an extra bounce in his step and looks terrific. He arrived this morning ready to play and did it with incredible skill. He’s a good reporter who did his job well for that station, but he’s a great musician and will provide another dimension to the band. He didn’t get this gig because he’s my brother and he knows that. My brother’s chops are as impressive as any of the top players, and he’s now going to be able to show millions of people what he’s capable of, musically.

And it’s nice to have family on tour.



Published in: on August 29, 2016 at 4:57 am  Leave a Comment  
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Sustenance Over Gobblygook 4703

Honey and his crew had become the Things that Wouldn’t Leave, as Johnny rambled on about parenting techniques and the importance of stability. Even Blake was beginning to fade out from the incessant chatter. I walked to the kitchen and pulled out the meatballs that I had planned to use tomorrow for a feast, and prepared them for the supper today. I grabbed some boxes of penne and then began making homemade Alfredo sauce. Amelia walked into the kitchen and asked if she could get a soda. I pointed to the refrigerator and told her to help herself. She then asked what I was doing, and I told her that I was preparing supper. She smiled and said that I know how to cook. “I’ve learned how to do it over the years,” I replied.

I then asked her if she wanted to help.

Amelia put down her can of soda and asked what I wanted her to do. I gave her the task of making the salad that included cutting up the lettuce, tomatoes, olives, and onions. I watched the girl fix the salad with care that made me smile. I put the meatballs in the oven and then whisked to Alfredo sauce. After Amelia had finished preparing the salad, I told her to continue to whisk the sauce while I made the bread. The girl watched my every move and seemed impressed that I could make a meal that required more than a couple of steps. Stray walked into the kitchen and observed the proceedings and asked Amelia if she liked to cook. “I do so far; I never did much of it before now,” she replied. “Mr. Scraggy knows how to make delicious meals. I’ve eaten several meals here, and they’re always amazing,” the tenor remarked.

Time passed at a good clip and Honey, and Johnny finally checked what was going on in the kitchen. Johnny looked on in awe as he watched Amelia strain the water from the pasta and then whisk the sauce before getting the meatballs out of the oven. She then grabbed the plates and began dishing out the food. I got the bread out of the maker and handed it to Johnny to put on the table. Gio got the salad out of the fridge while Rayne and Elizabeth set the table. Honey and his crew looked on with a mixture of confusion and realization. “Just do it,” Johnny muttered. “No, Johnny, talk incessantly about things you don’t know anything about in an attempt to make yourself look like you know what it’s all about,” I replied. “I was expressing myself, Scragg.” “Yeah, put on wig, dress, and you could have passed for one of those insufferable parenting experts you see on talk shows,” I said. Amelia buckled from laughter while the little guy scowled. “Let’s eat,” I then said.

The meal got rave reviews from our guests as they wolfed it down with gusto. Honey gave Johnny a scornful look and asked him why they didn’t have a bread machine. “I didn’t know you wanted one,” the little wearily replied. “I told you I wanted one, but all we ever get is stale bread,” Honey snapped. “Fine, we’ll get a bread machine.” Honey maintained his look of displeasure at Johnny. “What?” “Go take the make and model number down,” Honey told him. “I know what it is.” “No, I want that one now go write it down.” Johnny got up and wrote down the make and model number. “Now order it, so we get it ASAP,” Honey then said. “Anything else?” “I’m sure I’ll think of something, but for now, that’ll do, no wait, get a cookbook, so we can eat meals like this,” Honey replied. “I know how to cook,” Johnny pleaded. “Could you prepare this meal?” “You have a recipe,” Johnny asked me. “Yes, and I’ll send you a bunch via e-mail,” I replied. “I do the maintenance work around the house, Stray leads the cleaning effort, and you handle the meals, which is what we agreed upon, so it’s not unreasonable that we get delicious meals,” Honey continued. Johnny gritted his teeth and did his best not to explode. ‘Sustenance over psychobabble’ that needs to be the mantra for your household,” I added, which made the little guy grind his teeth even more. “Exactly, I heard enough gobblygook today that it’s going to take a week for my brain to flush it out,” Honey said in disgust. “Okay, Sustenance over Gobblygook’ is the new mantra,” I added. The table erupted in laughter with Johnny finally joining in.

The guys and Amelia will be just fine.

Published in: on August 28, 2016 at 10:40 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Rough Reassurance 4702

The family and I enjoyed a relaxing morning that found us all in good spirits and ready to take it easy for the rest of the day. Unfortunately, nothing is ever that simple around here, and when Johnny called seeking more advice about Amelia, I groaned. Blake took the call, so I couldn’t lie and tell him we were busy. My wife told them to come on down and that we would be glad to help out.

I don’t remember volunteering.

Blake gave me a stern look when I protested. “Elmer, they’re trying and need guidance, so be nice and provide it,” she told me. “Isn’t it a little late to be giving those three dingleberries guidance,” I quipped. “Elmer!” Gio and Rayne covered up their laughs, which irritated Blake. “You need to set a better example,” she then warned me. “Just saying,” I replied. “We’re helping them with Amelia, Elmer.” “Oh, that makes all this better.” “Elmer!” “Alright, what else do they need help with,” I asked. “Amelia starts school tomorrow, and they want some reassurance that they’re doing the right thing.” “Damn, I’m kind of liking those putz’s lack of confidence,” I mused. “Elmer!”

Oh well.

Honey and his crew arrived at the house with buckets of chicken from Walmart. I chuckled to see that Melvin, Jannelle, and Jeff still around. We put the spread on the table and began eating. Amelia was all smiles and animated, which was nice to see. She said that Chase dropped off some instructional videos, which will help her with school. “He saw us at the studio and told us that he would give Amelia the videos,” Johnny added. “Excellent, you have everything else she needs for school,” I asked. “We sure do, and she’s ready to start the school year.” “Okay, sounds like you have everything under control.” “I think so, it’s just a little nerve-wracking, but I’m sure it’ll all work out,” Johnny said tentatively. “You ready to do this,” I asked Amelia. “Yes, Sir.” “Well, then it seems everything is in place for a successful school year,” I replied. “I know what you’re getting at, Scragg, but this is new to us,” Johnny said. “Do you know what you need to do,” I asked him. “Yes.” “Do you know what you need to do,” I then asked Amelia. “Yes, Sir.” “Okay, we have a meeting of the minds, which means all that’s left to do is you all doing your parts.” “And it’s just that simple,” Johnny asked. “No.”

I then stated the obvious.

“Amelia, these guys are in a precarious situation. Do you understand that,” I asked her? “What?” “Precarious means dangerous.” “Oh.” “Yeah, I know you understand. This can only work if you cooperate and that means accepting the that they’ll be tough times, but you have to know that they have your best interest at heart. You make any unfounded accusations, and you know what happens?” “I wouldn’t do that, Sir.” “Do you know what happens?” “Yes.” “Good.” “Scragg,” Johnny pleaded. “I’m going to say what I want, and right now this needs to get out in the open. They’re doing this because they know a young life is at stake. Honey and Johnny knew your father and promised to look out for you, but he’s not the reason you’re with them, you are. You’re going to be living in an unusual situation, but that doesn’t make it wrong, it’s just different. These guys are famous, but they don’t act as they are and that’s because they know what’s important. What we do is a business, and there is more to life than music. Something must be missing in these guys lives to do this. I’ll stop now because I see I’m making everyone nervous, but I think I got my point across,” I said.

Honey and his crew looked like they aged ten years in the past few minutes.

“Just tell it like it is, Scragg,” Melvin said in a weary tone. “I will.” “Yeah, I guess you will.” “You just come crawling out of the briar patch?” “Scragg, ease up,” Johnny pleaded. “I already did.” “You always could be relentless,” Honey remarked. “And you can’t?” “Scragg, I’m not here to fight.” “They why are you here?” Honey let out a breath and looked away. “It’s going to be alright,” I then told him. “Mr. Scraggy is honest, just like you said he would be,” Amelia said. “Yep and you have more sense than these humps combined. “We’re doing our best, Scragg,” Johnny replied. “Make sure your subscription of Better Homes and Gardens doesn’t run out,” I replied. Amelia almost spit out her food from laughing while Johnny scowled. “Blake, take over,” I then said. My wife shook her head and smiled at Amelia.

Blake reassured the trio while I stuffed my face. I could feel their eyes upon me, but I continued to eat. When we finished the meal, I stepped outside and walked to the fence. Melvin joined me and gave me an annoyed look. “What,” I asked. “You’ve got some strange methods,” he replied. “Sorry, I shocked your delicate sensibilities.” “Can we do without the sarcasm?” “No, I like mocking you.” “Great.” “Glad you approve.” “Asshole,” the old bootlegger replied.

Blake gave the three men enough confidence to get them through the day and Johnny said she did it without the aid of sandpaper. “Trying to be clever, you’ll fit right in the P.T.A.,” I fired back. “Elmer, give them a break,” my wife said. “Alright, I’ll be nice.” “Amelia is looking forward to going to school and said she’s already made a friend,” Blake then told me. “Cool, now do well in school, make more friends, and don’t roll your eyes too much when you’re around these three, you might turn into a slot machine,” I told the teen, who chuckled. “Elmer!” “Sorry.” “He can’t help it,” Johnny said like a soccer mom. “And get all your advice from daytime talk shows,” I added. “Elmer!” “Sorry.” “It’s always a pleasure, Scragg,” Honey replied. “Good, if you need any more advice just call me.”

rough reassurance is still reassurance.


Published in: on August 28, 2016 at 10:03 am  Leave a Comment  
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Knowing Where You Belong 4701

Gio and Rayne broke out their guitars and began playing heavy metal. Blake looked on in dismay and told me that giving them those awful instruments was a bad idea. “Listen to what they’re playing,” she said. Cullen, still smiling from the stunt he pulled, implored the girls to step it up. Gio then handed him her guitar, and he put on an amazing display of technical prowess that left the crew in awe. “He’s the world’s biggest asshole, but he can play guitar like no one else,” Johnny admitted.

Mauk and Connor May then showed up.

As usual, the mob lawyer could resist trying to get in on the action, which caused those of us who know about his abilities to groan. He took Rayne’s guitar and attempted to join in with miserable results. Stray, unable to contain his anger, walked over to May and took his guitar. “Go do something you do well, like eat,” he told him. “Steven, nobody else is complaining!” “That’s because they’re polite, but I’m not them.” “Steven!” Stray then cut loose on a riff that was mighty impressive. He then gave the guitar back to Rayne and told her to play. My granddaughter joined the Sorcerer, and they exchanged jaw-dropping riffs that made me proud. May sulked and went over to the grill to get some food. “Drown your sorrow in food, not notes,” Stray said to him. “Steven, you’re an unpleasant man who saps the musicality right out of me,” the mob lawyer spat out. “When you sing you’re musical. When you play an instrument you’re a noisemaker,” the tenor replied. “Steven!” Cullen then whipped out a classical run and began singing in a terrible opera voice about how the fat mob lawyer. “Hey, I’ve lost a lot a weight,” May screamed. “You’re still fat,” Cullen fired back. “Yeah, well I’ll lose weight, but you’ll always be an ass…., well, you know what I mean,” he replied before stuffing his face with sausage. “Here, Gio, show May how it’s done,” Cullen then said. My granddaughter joined her sister and played a beautiful melody that everyone enjoyed.

And Amelia was mesmerized.

“They play better than boys,” she remarked. “That’s right; gender doesn’t matter,” I replied. “Listen to them, they can jam like it’s nobody’s business,” the teen then said. “They’ve got talent, and they practice,” Honey commented.

Amelia then burst out in laughter when Elizabeth joined them.

“Oh my God, listen to her,” the teen squealed. My baby girl played an impressive run on the guitar that gave her mother chills. “Elmer, she’s jamming,” she pleaded. “Right,” I replied. “Come on, Blake, jump in and show us what you got,” Cullen said. “Very funny.”

Elizabeth then did something incredible–and slightly mean.

My baby girl began playing an instrumental version of, “I’m a Cat” the awful tune Blake and her college friends sang in the video. Paige burst out into a fit of hysterical laughter while Blake stared her down with the most intense look I’ve ever seen. She then turned her gaze to me, and I pleaded ignorance. “It’s okay, Elmer,” my wife said in with a threatening smile. Elizabeth finished play the song and then got in her mother’s lap. Blake hugged and kissed her while staring at Paige and me.


Cullen extolled Elizabeth’s skill and sense of humor. “It’ll cost Scragg, but who cares, ain’t none of us feeling that pain,” he added. He high-fived Paige, which pissed me off. “Hey, I had nothing to do with that, so leave me out of it.” “Shut up, Scragg; you need to take your lumps and move on,” Laura replied. “Yeah, Scragg, stop playing innocent,” Cullen added. “Pound him good, Blake,” Maire added. “Hey, leave me out of this,” I pleaded. “We all agree, it’s Scragg’s fault, so he deserves what is coming to him,” Johnny told the crew who all agreed. “Sorry, Scragg, but there’s nothing anyone can do for you,” Cullen then said. “You’re nothing but a troublemaker,” I hollered, setting myself up for more abuse. “Oh God, did you hear what he just said,” my sister replied. “What?” “Scragg, no one was a bigger troublemaker than you.” “Your husband was pretty bad.” “Now Scragg is turning into a contemptible snitch,” Johnny jumped in. “You little shit!” “Elmer, watch that language,” my wife snarled. “Yeah, Scragg, I can see where Maire gets it from,” Cullen added. “Gets what from,” my daughter demanded to know. “You’re snitching.” “Oh, you rotten piece of…, well, you know what you are.” “Yeah, back in ’79, Richard got us all in trouble, but I was innocent,” the Sorcerer mocked me. “I’m not a snitch,” Maire yelled. “Please, you come by it honestly.” “Cullen!” “See, he’s the troublemaker,” I said, once again, lighting myself up. “Good God, if she’s a schoolmarm, then you’re a spineless headmaster,” the Sorcerer continued.

Cullen’s an asshole.

Everyone had a good time and those who had seen Amelia earlier in the week noticed a vast difference in her today. Besides looking like she has a home, she now acts like she belongs with her three guardians. We also noticed her ability to socialize and act appropriately in a social setting, which is important as she starts school on Monday. Amelia brought no undue attention to herself and wanted to fit in with the other kids. I know it’s still early, but she’s off to a good start in her new environment.

And if she can handle this crazy crew, then she can handle most anything.

Published in: on August 28, 2016 at 12:29 am  Leave a Comment  
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A Good Bad Guy 4700

I finished my chores on the farm and then showered up. Blake said that Colton and his family will be here around eleven and that Laura and Richard should arrive shortly afterward. “Maybe Laura can help with the cooking,” I joked. “Elmer, leave her alone.” “Okay.” I don’t know what time Honey and his crew are coming, but I imagine they’ll be here by noon. Everyone else will be here around that time,” Blake informed me. “Sounds like a plan. Is there anything I can do?” “No, just don’t start any trouble,” my wife replied.

A few minutes before eleven, Colton, Melinda, and Jeremy arrived. I greeted the family and said that Jeremy is getting big. “Yeah, he’s growing and is a mile-a-minute,” Big Red replied. Melinda immediately asked about the trio of dads, which made Colton laugh. “It sounds so bizarre, but I don’t want to sound like they can’t do it, it’s just that I never thought they wanted to,” she remarked. “I know, but life is full of strange things that no one thought possible,” I replied. Blake stepped out on the porch and invited the family inside. Melinda and Jeremy walked inside while Colton and I took a short walk.

As we strolled along the fence line, Colton asked several questions about the living arrangements that the trio have provided for Amelia. “I haven’t seen their new residence, but I assume it’s satisfactory. Johnny isn’t going to live in squalor, so I’m certain it’s suitable. “You say it’s Moon’s daughter?” “Yes.” “I liked Moon, but he was about as irresponsible as a man could be. I tempted to dismiss that as something that just can’t work out, but that would be hypocritical because there were people who doubted we could raise Jeremy. I remember Johnny telling that Jeremy is with the parents he needs to be, so I need to show some faith in those guys,” Colton said. “It’s surreal, however, they are determined guys who have overcome a lot in their lives. I have a good feeling about it and think it’s going to be a good situation for Amelia,” I replied. Big Red smiled and said that he’ll trust my instincts.

When Colton and I walked back to the house, my daughters were all standing outside. They greeted the big guy and asked about his family. He told them they were inside, and they prepared to walk in and greet them. I took Christopher and carried him inside the house. Blake smiled and took him while Michael Jr. and John ran to her. She handed Chris to Melinda and hugged the two boys who adore her. Elizabeth came running in and corralled the two boys to play. The ladies all then went into the living room to chat. I told Cary to man the grill, which he said he had planned to do. Michael joined him, and the festivities officially kicked off.

Richard and Laura arrived, and I greeted them as they approached the porch. “You’re looking dapper,” I said to Richard, who wore faded jeans and Braves tee-shirt. “They said it was casual,” he replied. “What a scumbag,” I told him. “I see you have your sin-in-laws cooking,” my sister said. “Yeah, at least they’re good for something.” “Scragg!” “Well, what else can you do with doctors?” “You should be proud of them.” “I would have been, but I know Richard, so being a doctor must not be all that.” “Scragg!” Maire walked out of the house and demanded to know what I had done. “Oh, the schoolmarm,” I said, which annoyed my daughter. “Daddy, I’m getting tired of you calling me that,” she snapped. “Scragg, there’s always a disturbance when you’re around,” my sister added. “Oh well, you know how it goes,” I replied. “Unfortunately, we do,” Laura scoffed.

Honey and his crew then arrived.

The guys and Amelia got out of the car and walked over to near the porch. Amelia looked like a cute teen girl with her new haircut, pink short, white blouse, and tennis shoes. She also was more animated and wearing a smile. After greeted the crew, I introduced the girl to my sister and Richard. I then saw another vehicle pull up and saw that it was Melvin, Janelle, and Jeff West. “We brought some muscle if Amelia gets out of hand,” Honey joked, pointing to the muscular detective. Colton then walked out of the house and laughed when he saw Honey, Johnny, and Stray. “Oh boy, here comes trouble,” he cracked. Johnny then introduced him to Amelia, who looked at Big Red. “He’s just a little but taller than me,” Johnny quipped. “Yeah, by about two feet,” the teen said in awe. Jeremy came running out, and Colton introduced him to the girl, who smiled at him.

What a beautiful sight.

The rest of the crew arrived and as usual, Cullen raised a ruckus by wearing a tee-shirt of Blake dressed in her pink bikini and combat boots. My wife took a swing at him but missed. Maire then hollered at Rory for wearing one with Cary dressed in scumbag outfit looking menacing. It was hard not to laugh at the shirt, and even Maire finally admitted that it is funny. Kevin and his family mingled about, and I told them to introduce Davan, Brooke, and Brandi to Amelia. The girls greeted the teen with smiles and immediately started a conversation. I then stepped put of the way and allowed other conversations to flourish.

I sat next to Jeff West at the picnic table. The detective and I watched Honey, Johnny, and Stray carry on a conversation with Colton and Melinda, who were telling them about their experiences as parents. I couldn’t hear what they were saying, but I knew that’s what they were discussing. I then saw Amelia sitting in between Davan and Brooke, who were talking girls stuff with her. It all looked normal because it was. There was nothing forced about the conversations, which made them all the more special. “For years, I wasn’t worth a shit and was expected to die at any given time. I even believed that I was doomed, but somehow I managed to make it. I was one of the sorriest men there was, so if I can turn it around, then anyone who wants better can do it, too. Honey, Johnny, and Stray never did the shit I did and were far more responsible, so having Amelia in their lives shouldn’t come as a shock, it just fills out their family. Sure, there’s some trying times ahead, but they’ll get through them and raise a nice, well-adjusted young lady,” I said to the detective who agreed. “I agree, Scragg, and I have faith that it’s all going to work out,” her replied. A terrified scream then pierced the calm.

A terrified scream then pierced the calm.

Everyone looked about and then someone pointed over to where Kevin was sitting. I then noticed Christine in near tears. “Oh God,” Brie shrieked. “What,” I asked. “It’s a gigantic snake,” she hollered. I got up and saw a long black snake curled up a few feet away from the table. “It’s harmless,” I said as I approached the snake. “Daddy, what is he going to do,” Christine screamed. “Remove it,” Kevin said in a shaky voice. I picked up the snake and began walking to the woods. Cullen, being the dick he is, quickly got in front of me and took the snake and headed back to the tables.

Oh shit.

“Cullen, you get rid of that snake,” Blake screamed. “Who wants to play with a snake,” he asked the crowd. “Cullen, put that snake away,” Paige bellowed. “I think Andi wants to play with it,” he replied. Robert stood up and gave the Sorcerer a stern look. “Cullen, knock it off,” he warned. “Fine, I’ll let Kevin play with it.” Cullen, get that snake away from me!” “Alright, I think Amelia wants to make a new friend. The teen ran to Johnny and Stray, who shielded her from the snake and the obnoxious bully. An angry Honey got up and took the snake from Cullen and then walked to the woods where he let it go. When he walked back, he gave the Sorcerer a disgusted look. “As usual, the Sorcerer conjures up immaturity for his mean-spirited amusement,” he said, which didn’t faze Cullen a bit. “You’re an asshole,” Maire seethed before apologizing. “No need to apologize when you speak the truth,” Blake told her. “Amelia, there’s his brother,” the asshole then screamed, pointing at the teen’s feet. She screamed and jumped into Stray’s arms, but there wasn’t a snake. Cullen laughed, which angered most everyone at the picnic. “One of these days, someone is going kick your ass,” Paige hollered at him. “Cullen, sit down,” Daisy then told him.

After we had eaten, we all mingled about and chatted. The ladies were still furious at Cullen, who relished his villain role. His antics revealed a trust that Amelia has in her three dads, which might have been the plan.

Sometimes, a bad guy is good.

Published in: on August 27, 2016 at 9:50 am  Leave a Comment  
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Talking To Mr. Cougar 4699

Meeting Chris Botti made my day and erased the aggravation that bedeviled me in the morning. The family and I went home and put some of the trumpeter’s music on the stereo while we discussed all the other great musicians we’ve never met. “I should know more stars than I do,” I said. “I agree, Elmer, but you have to make some effort,” my wife replied. “Yeah, I reckon you’re right.” “Daddy, a lot of stars want to meet you, but you just go about doing your thing. Maggie told us that whenever you’re in L.A., you either hide in your hotel or are out sightseeing,” Paige said. “Yeah, I’m not one for parties,” I replied. “Who do you want to meet,” Robin asked. “Anyone famous.” “Like Madonna,” Blake said. “That would be cool.” “Justin Beiber,” Paige said with a smirk. “Yeah, I’d meet the Beib, isn’t that what they call him?” “Springsteen, Mellencamp, Bon Jovi, Van Halen,” Robin rattled off. “Sure, they’re all famous.” Paige laughed and said I’m so out of it. “Daddy, you’d rather meet a luthier,” she added. “Right, they sometimes give me guitars.” “Who do you want to meet, Daddy?” “Who are the options?” Blake laughed and said that I’m a mess. “How about Mellencamp, he describes himself as a redneck liberal, so he’s probably someone who’s interesting.” Of course, Eddie Van Halen would also be awesome. I call Marty and see if he can get up with them,” I declared. Blake and the girls laughed and waited for me to call.

I then made the call.

I told my manager to get in touch with Mellencamp and Van Halen, which made him go silent for a few seconds. “Okay, how do you propose I do that,” he asked. “You’ve got connections, so use them.” “I have connections?” “Yes, now get on it.” “And should I get up with John and Eddie, what do I tell them?” “That I want to speak with them.” “Okay, is this for a musical collaboration?” “No, I just want to talk to them.” “Alright,” Marty said in a quizzical tone.

It was supper time before Marty got back with me. He said he couldn’t get up with Van Halen, but did chat with Mellencamp. “He said he would be delighted to talk with you, so here is his number.” I took the number down and asked why he could get up with Eddie. “Probably because his people thought I was crazy,” Marty replied before clicking off.

Oh well.

I called the number, and sure enough, a gravelly voiced man answered. I asked if I was talking to John Mellencamp, and he said I was. “Cool, I’m the Scragg Man, and I met Chris Botti this morning, which got me thinking that I don’t know many celebrities, so I’m starting with you. How’s it going, Sir?” “Great, how about yourself, Scragg Man?” “Couldn’t be better, I picked you because anyone who describes himself as a redneck liberal is bound to be cool.” John laughed and asked if I’m liberal. “Probably not, but I reckon I have liberal leanings. I consider myself a common sense guy, which I realize sounds absurd coming from me, but whoever said life was neat?” “True, so you’re calling me because you don’t know enough celebrities?” “Yeah, maybe one day we’ll get to meet.” “That would be nice” “Where are you?” “In Indiana?” “Yous still live out there?” “Yes, Sir.” “Cool, I like the Midwest.” “I know, are at home?” “Yes, Sir.” “You busy?” “Not this weekend, but I will be afterward. I have a tour coming up.” “Yeah, I know.” “So, this is weird; say, you have Skype?” “Yes, Sir.” “I’m surprised.” John laughed and said he would get on it the site.

Man, this is strange.

John laughed when he saw my mug, and I did the same when I saw him. “I’m prettier than you thought, now aren’t I,” I said. “Yes, you are, Scragg.” “Hey, where’s your long hair?” “I got away from me, so I had to do something with it.” “I wish I had locks like that,” I replied. “I hear you have horses,” John asked. “Yes, Sir, as well as a serval cat that is the laziest thing ever.” “Elmer,” Blake hollered out of habit. “Sorry,” she then said. “That’s my wife, Blake,” I told the rocker. “Sounds like that is hers.” “It is, I just live here.”

I talked to the rocker for another ten minutes before we both had to go. I jokingly invited him to the picnic tomorrow, and he laughed and said he should go. I then thanked him for chatting with me. I also told him that I remember when he was John Cougar. “You’re dating yourself,” he replied.

It was cool talking with John, and I decided that if I get a chance to meet more famous musicians, I’ll take the opportunity.

Or, I can just get Marty to get in touch with them.

Published in: on August 26, 2016 at 11:42 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Chris Botti 4698

Blake went to the high school this morning to help Alan with a report that the lazy bastard could do on his own but is playing incompetent because it involves some detailed paperwork. I got pissed thinking about it and drew some unflattering caricatures of the professor, which got me a call from my wife telling me to stop. “I’ll be home at lunch,” she pleaded. “Are you wiping Alan’s nose and ass, too,” I replied. “Elmer, you’re not helping matters.” “I’m not trying to help matters; I’m pointing out how sorry that schmuck is.” “Please, just let me finish this and then you can cuss him out all you want.” “I’ll do that, anyway,” I replied.

Alan then got on the phone.

“Scragg, this is important business, and we don’t need your nonsense,” the idiot said as if he had credibility. “Alan, you took a gigantic shit this morning that has left you brain dead, but fortunately, you’re so full of it that your brain should be coming around any second now. Unfortunately, you’re still a world-class asshole, which means you’re limited on all fronts,” I fired back. “Scragg, I mean it!” I could hear Esther in the background, and that prompted me to draw another caustic sketch of the fool while he rambled on. “Put Blake back on the line, dickhead, I can’t handle any more of your absurd ignorance,” I hollered at the fool, who told me that I was the world’s biggest asshole. “Elmer, please, we’re trying to get this done, and it’s important that we do,” Blake said. “Baby, he’s a lazy turd who feigns ignorance whenever he doesn’t want to do something at that school.” “I know that Elmer, and I’m going to have a talk with him about that.” “You’ve talked to him for years about it, and nothing changes.” “I will tell him that he needs to do this on his own now let me go and finish this,” my wife replied. I faxed the drawing and kept Blake on the line until Alan saw it. I could hear him scream, which was gratifying. I also could hear Esther laughing it up and that, too, made me feel better. “Okay, you happy now,” my wife asked me. “Yes, I hear that idiot all riled up and acting stupid,” Blake told me she’d be home for lunch and then clicked off.

Alan is a dickhead.

I was watching cartoons with the girls when E. Sr. called asking me if I heard anything from the Snapjacks. “No, that’s not my job,” I replied. “Well, I have no idea, either,” he replied. “Did you ask your son?” “He and I are at odds right now.” “Hey, this is a business, so get over it,” I snarled. “You don’t know what he’s like,” the moron pleaded. “I’m sure he says the same about you.” “I don’t know where he is.” “Call him.” “He won’t answer the phone.” “Ethan, you’re pissing me off.” “Well, I don’t.”

I guess it’s a morning to deal with dingleberries.

E. Sr. rambled on about how his son routinely ignores him, which gave me a headache. I was about to scream when he was interrupted by someone asking him a question. He then asked me if I knew a Chris Botti. “The trumpeter,” I asked. “Is that what he is?” “Yes, why?” “Because he’s standing in the lobby.”

What the fuck?

“Invite him in and ask him what he wants,” I told the dingbat. “Okay.” A half-minute later, E. Sr. said that he wanted to know is he could speak with you. “Tell him I’ll be right down.” “You know his music,” E. Sr. asked. I clicked off and tried to purge the idiot’s voice from my head.

I put the girls in the car and called Blake to tell her that I would be at the studio. “Chris Botti stopped in to see me,” I declared. “Who,” she asked. I told her that he’s a jazz trumpeter, which meant nothing to her, so I ended the conversation. I’m sure my wife has heard his music, but she’s not in the business. E. Sr. on the other hand–aah, fuck it.

I arrived at the studio to find Chris Botti chatting with Robin and Bella, while E. Sr. looked about like a clueless asshole. I shook the trumpeter’s hand who thanked me for taking the time to see him. “The pleasure is all mine, Sir, and I see you’ve meant my daughter and Bella,” I replied. “Yes, and I told them I’m a big fan.” “Excellent, what brings you down this way?” “I had business in Myrtle Beach, and after I had taken care of that, I decided to take a chance. I heard your song, “Tara,” which is beautiful and I wanted to meet you. I’ve heard you’re an agreeable man with a wicked sense of humor. You’re the biggest star there is, but don’t act like it, so I’m honored to meet you.” “Sir, I’m not all that, but I’m mighty glad you stopped by. If you would call the band,” I told E. Sr., but then quickly gave the job to Amber. “We keep Ethan around for no particular reason,” I said to the trumpeter. The record exec gave me a scowl, but could do little else.

A contemporary jazz trumpeter, Chris Botti has worked extensively with pop artists and has brought jazz to millions of people who otherwise might have never been exposed to the genre. He’s been criticized for being too pop and using his striking good looks to promote his music, which wasn’t his idea, but that’s just how the music business works. Despite those criticisms, Chris Botti is a brilliant trumpeter capable of playing many styles and has enjoyed tremendous commercial success.

This is cool.

I chatted with the trumpeter and found him to be a grounded guy with a sense of humor. He asked me about my experience with the trumpet, and I told him I just dabble in it. He smiled and said that I’m quite a dabbler. I then grabbed my horn, and we walked into the studio where I played him the song without musical accompaniment. He listened, and I could see him soaking up what I was doing. He then took out his trumpet and we played an improvised duet.

This is unreal.

Kevin, Rory, Cullen, and Dave Curren showed up, followed by Paige and Maire. I introduced them to the trumpeter, and he smiled as each one of them shook his hand. Rory cracked him up when he said that meeting us will knock him down several notches, but Chris waved him off and said it was an honor. “I’ve listened to Paige’s album so many times that I know it by heart, yet still, hear something new with each listen. Robin’s albums are also in regular play. I don’t think I ever laughed so hard when I listened to the Club Jack and Scuzz albums from your father. Then, of course,  his album of Chris Roseman’s songs was amazing, as was his first album. His classical work is brilliant, so this a real treat to meet him and his talented daughters. Caroline is an incredible artist, as are you, Maire.

He then looked at Rory.

I don’t know how you do what you do on bass, but it’s something to behold,” he said to the bassist. Kevin Surrey, wow, it’s a pleasure, Sir. And of course, Dave Curren, a man I met when I was starting out. You ended up down here, which makes perfect sense. This is something else,” Chris said.

We then played a group jam.

Everyone got in on the fun and time passed quickly. I knew the trumpeter was pressed for time, but he continued to play with passion and fun that made the improvised jam something truly special.

Blake came to the studio, and I introduced her to Chris. She then recognized him and said that he played with Sting, which made him laugh. “Yes, Ma’am,” he replied. When one of Cullen’s employees brought down a spread, Chris couldn’t resist and agreed to do lunch. “He’s Italian, so he’s probably going to slap you when he tastes your food,” Rory said to Cullen. Chris took an Italian sub and said it was delicious.

Chris Botti didn’t have to stop and see us, but he did, and I’m grateful for his kind gesture. It would be easy for any celebrity to stay away from our crazy crew, but that didn’t cross his mind. When he had to go, I told him to keep in touch, and we exchanged numbers. He thanked us for making a big deal over his visit. “I came here to see this Scragg Man, and met so many great musicians,” he said. “The pleasure is all ours, Sir, and we thank you for taking the time to do this. If Chris Botti says we’re okay, then we’re cool,” Cullen declared. The trumpeter laughed and said we’re giving him too much credit.

What a cool experience.


Published in: on August 26, 2016 at 6:56 am  Leave a Comment  
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Validation And Trust 4697

Blake was still reeling from last night’s show, and after we had taken the girls to school, she asked me why I liked the band. “They’re good musicians and write interesting songs. I can’t help but think that some of what they do is morbid humor. I realize that may sound nutty, but I think they’re having some fun, too,” I replied. “Elmer, did you hear those songs?” “Is it any different from your humor in “Cadaver,” I countered. Blake let out a laugh and admitted that I had a point. “I guess I was hoping to hear some sappy love songs but got hard rocking morbid songs instead,” she said. “I’m curious where those guys got to last night. It’s like they were racing to get out of the joint. I hope they’re not wanted by the law,” I said, only half-joking. “They probably are, and we’ll find out that they’re all escaped prisoners,” my wife replied.

I got a call from Melvin, as I was preparing dinner, and the old bootlegger asked if he could have a word with Blake and me. I told him to come on down and join us for dinner, which he said sounded like a plan. I told Blake that Melvin would be joining us, and she chuckled. “You think he’s here to discuss the situation those three guys have up there,” she asked. “I suspect so, and it should be interesting to hear what he has to say,” I replied.

Five minutes later, Melvin arrived on the farm. I greeted him at the door and told him he just in time for the meal. We all took a seat in the living room and began eating. Melvin didn’t waste any time in asking us what we thought about the situation with Amelia, and Blake said that it’s a workable situation that could benefit everyone involved, which seemed to take the weight of the world off the old bootlegger. “That’s what I’m thinking, and it comes at an ideal time. Honey was talking about touring again in the late fall, but this puts that on hold. He would tour until he collapsed, which we can’t let happen. I realize he loves playing music, but he doesn’t have a life outside of it, so I feel that Amelia coming into his life, as well and Johnny and Stray’s is a godsend,” Melvin replied. “I agree, and in time, those guys will be on a schedule, too, which will give them focus and something besides music to live for,” I added. “I’m glad to hear someone else thinks that. I was worried that the state wouldn’t go for this, but the system is so broken that they’re just glad she has a place to stay. Amelia comes from a terrible upbringing. I’m suggesting that Moon was abusive, but he was an irresponsible criminal who never got his act together. Amelia bounced around with her father and never had any stability in her life, so this will be a change for her, but so far, she’s adapting well and with each passing day the unit becomes more like a family. They enrolled her in school yesterday and after that, Jannelle and I got her a haircut and took her shopping. She’s a sweet kid who just wants to be loved and have a safe place to stay.” “They’re lucky that’s all she wants. We all know that this could have been a truly awful situation, so let’s be thankful that Moon and his sister did enough, or that Amelia has the character to want better for herself and be part of a family,” I replied. Melvin agreed and added that the future looks a lot brighter for the teen than it did a week ago.

When faced with a situation that is seemingly out of your realm, validation from those you trust gives you the confidence to continue making important decisions without becoming paralyzed by the fear of failure. Honey, Johnny, and Stray are going to need guidance in raising Amelia, but they’re going to have to be the ones who make the tough calls. Fortunately, they have each other to balance whatever shortcomings each of them has, and I’m hopeful that their collective effort will result in Amelia becoming a happy and well-adjusted young lady.

It’s still surreal, however.

Published in: on August 25, 2016 at 7:29 pm  Leave a Comment  
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