Thursday, August 31, 2006

WWBD (What Would a Behaviorist Do?) Vol. III

Dear Behaviorist,
I have an unhealthy relationship with another blog owner. Some people think we're the same person...but we're not. He wants me to *throw down*, but I can't stop *throwing up*! Should I take dance lessons to calm my inner demons?

Definitely Not Grant Miller

Dear Definitely,
As we say in the biz, "Put it on extinction." While dance lessons may help you to recover from this toxic relationship, the more important issue is dealing with the behavior of the offending party. If this person is engaging in behavior that is unacceptable to you and you do not want to do the dance of anger, I recommend that you extinguish this party's behavior. Extinction is a planned ignoring of the behavior and is rather effective tool in reducing behavior issues. Initially, you can expect to see an increase in the behavior that is targetted. This is called an extinction burst. No matter how outrageous the behavior, do not engage at this point or you will reinforce the outrageous behavior by giving it attention. After the burst, you will probably begin to see a decline in the behavior. Take data if you have dificulty keeping track of it. I suggest both duration and frequency counts in this case. If you are *tenacious* enough, you will see results. Good luck and remember to take care of yourself.

Eternally Controlling,
The Behaviorist

Monday, August 28, 2006

Celebrity Roast

We all know and love/loathe Grant Miller. But I am afraid he has made some fatal admissions in blogland this week. First he admits that he and his unfathomably beautiful wife are big DMB fans. They like to listen to it turned up to 10. Their neighbors enjoy this as well and reciprocate. It's like some sort of warped "Duelling Banjos."

Now he admits that he has a penchant for "Rock You Like a Hurricane." Grant, don't you know? "No One Like You" is the better Scorpions choice if you must worship the Deutsche Muzik.

Rock You Like a Hurricane

No One Like You

Sunday, August 27, 2006

I Hear Fall

For whatever reason, I seem to be seasonal in my listening habits. When the academic year starts, I have this urge to listen to Quadrophenia in its entirety. I haven't done this in a long time, but then again, I haven't been in school for a long time.

I've often thought that if Pete Townshend was born a few years later, he would have been a punk. He was a mod. That might even be better. They rode scooters.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Christian Rock Festivals, Oh My!

OK, so now you all know that I have lived in another world. Now I can tell you about the fabulous Christian rock festivals and the fact that Christian and rock probably don't really coincide. I've done the youth group thing. I did for years. I had a lot of fun. Most of that fun had very little to do with the church and more to do with the fact that we were a bunch of teenagers hanging out together.

So every summer one of the "sanctioned" activities was Cornerstone. This was a huge music festival held at the Lake county fairgrounds at the time. To me, it was another chance to hear loud music and to behave badly. Not so much what I think they had in mind. I could sit here and list all the things that were on the "banned" list for Cornerstone and then I could site examples of how myself and my friends probably broke each and every rule. Use your imagination here, people.

There were a handful of bands that I actually liked. Pictured above is Daniel Amos. Probably the only band I could say I truly respect of the bunch. They really did rock. Their live show was superior and I was always a sweaty mess from dancing the whole time. I miss them. The whole "Christian Rock" thing seems to have morphed over the years. At one time, it was a bit fringe and exciting, at least for those of us who were desperate and stuck in youth groups. Somewhere along the line, record companies figured out that this was yet another money maker and it has all been downhill from there. Just like the Prez, this image seems to sell these days and it is a sad commentary on how anything, apparently including your soul, can be sold.

On Christianity, Kristianity, and Church

While I am sure I can't solve the world's problems or even a majority of my own problems, it can never hurt to start a little discourse. As many who know me can attest, I have gone through my share of struggling with the whole religion question. It has been at the forefront of my life since I was a small child.

I grew up in a family that was very conservative in almost every way. We went to a conservative protestant church. Our church was not at all like the megachurches of today. This was a small local church that felt more like a family. I didn't feel it was plagued with fanaticism. It was a basic Bible believing church. That's it.

If I have any negative feelings about religion from my childhood, it was that I was teased endlessly for going to church. The majority of my neighborhood was Catholic and recent immigrants. Why this made me a target, I don't know. I guess because I was different. They all went to church, just not my church.

When we moved out to the suburbs, we started going to a bigger church. This church was a bit more, how shall we say, evangelical. It was in fact, an Evangelical Free Church. Initially, all this was supposed to mean was that they had broken away from the very formal and organized Lutheran church, but somewhere along the line, it stopped being another church for Scandanavians and became a church for people with right-wing political beliefs.

I have to say, I was good with all of this all the way through high school. I fell for it hook, line and sinker. I will also say that I did have a period of rebellion my first two years in high school, where I refused to take part in the youth group, until I "got caught" and was forced to go. I genuinely enjoyed the youth group for a couple of years. I was full-force evangelical Christian in my beliefs. Ask poor Lulu, she had to live through me trying to "save" her on multiple occasions. What was I thinking? Why she still talks to me, I don't know. I would have run away very quickly in the opposite direction.

Oddly, the thing that set me off on my own was going to a Christian college. I chose to go there. I wanted a small private school and chose Calvin because although it was a Christian school, it was not as militant as many. It was here that I began to see the hypocrisy. It was here that I realized that judging others was a bad idea. It was here that I was exposed to some amazing scholars that challenged my beliefs of what it meant to be a Bible believing Christian. The professors at Calvin were very different from the student population. I still miss some of my professors from Calvin. They were Christians in the same way that I guess I would like to categorize myself now. They were worldly-wise, open minded, intellectual people that never let "religion" get in the way of the truth. I have learned over the years that religion is VERY different from faith. Religion puts things in little boxes, faith sets you free.

For years after college, I didn't set foot in a church unless I was home visiting. I didn't start attending again until I had children. I guess I felt I needed to give them a starting point. We attended a small church in California, much like the church I grew up in. I had minor issues with some political issues, but never felt it was a point of contention and never felt that I was being judged for holding different beliefs. We were very good friends with the pastor and his family. He was an Australian and had been a race car driver before becoming a pastor. They were very real people who were not hypocrites in any way. They openly admitted their struggles as humans. The sermons were usable discourses on life and its difficulties. I still miss them now that we have moved. That, and Sweetness is still minorly in love with one of their boys (they fell in love playing hide and seek under a table at church). We'll discuss arranged marriage another day.

After we moved back to the Chicago area, we started going to Harvest Bible Chapel. Originally, this church was a breakoff of my parents church, which didn't want to follow the same stale path. I do love the pastor, James McDonald. He is an extremely intelligent and funny man. Smart and funny, just like I like them! It's the congregation that gives me the hives. Many are just average people struggling with life. Many are Kristians. I don't like them. I don't want to be seen with them. And I don't agree with them. In my mind, faith and politics do not hold the same space. If they share space it is in a positive, help humanity kind of way. Certainly not in a "we are the only ones who are right" kind of way. We have been going to church less and less, because I struggle all the time with what I am willing to tolerate. We are probably going to switch to the local presbyterian church because the people who attend do not hold the hideous political beliefs that too many of the people at Harvest do. I hate that I have to leave a church because of the people in it.

So, what does all of this mean? I'm not sure. The older I get, the more I realize that it is part of who I am, but I am not willing to sacrifice my integrity for it. I have come to loathe organized religion and I think that's sad. I don't think this is how it's supposed to be. I think we are mere mortals struggling to make it through this world and not one of us holds the answer to anything. Life is a journey of discovery and anyone who claims to hold the key to all of life's mysteries is only fooling themselves. We are imperfect. Thank God.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Mass Suicide

I am calling for a mass suicide of trivia memories in order to make room for more important thoughts. I'll throw the first lemming of a memory over.

How can I go to grad school with crap like this taking up precious space? I am hoping if I throw the first one overboard, other stupid and useless memories will follow. I know all the words to this song for goodness sake. And I'm not a lonely boy.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006


WHAM!-Wham Rap
Those who mock may not be able to shake some righteous booty. Perhaps they are jealous of the ass shaking geniuses who are the few, the proud, those who dance to Wham!

Songs From the Confessional Vol. VI

This a double header. So good, that one was not enough. Confessions have been made by many. That'll be five "Our Father's" and six "Hail Mary's." Go forth and sin not.

WHAM!-Bad Boys


Monday, August 21, 2006

Life in Grand Rapids-Radio Void Vol. V (Of Censorship and Repression)

While we all accepted that WCAL was a cable only station, thus rendering it useless, what was unacceptable was the censorship that occurred at the station. Each and every album that came into the station was reviewed for objectionable material. OK, so no station can air the seven dirty words, but this went quite a bit beyond that. Granted, this was a Christian school, it still seemed extreme. We had to censor anything that might be deemed objectionable material to the Calvin population. Let's just say that we couldn't even announce The Jesus and Mary Chain. We had to call them JMC. Blasphemy!

In addition to lyric censorship, we had to rate each track on the album with a 1-4 rating for the *heaviness* of the song. For instance, Amy Grant might be a 1, but Einsturzende Neubauten was most definitely a 4. 4's were not allowed to be played during meal times. Yes, you heard it right. The station was broadcast into the cafetrias on campus and apparently we might have caused some indigestion.

Did any of this stop me? Why no. It only prodded me on to be as maverick as possible. I rather enjoyed playing "The Only Good Christian is a Dead Christian" by Scraping Foetus Off the Wheel during dinner hour. No one paid attention anyway. I was never removed from the air, but I did leave Calvin after three years in large part because I wanted to spread my little DJ wings and fly. I transferred to WUSC, I mean the University of South Carolina. They had one of the top ten college radio stations in the country at the time. See, I had my priorities straight.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Friday Primal Scream

Sometimes after a rough day it helps to just let it out. I usually feel this way by Friday night. Scream with me, you'll feel better. I promise. A little loud music will do the trick as well. I feel better already.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

WWBD (What Would a Behaviorist Do) Vol. II

Dear Behaviorist,
I am married to a man that is a skanky rapper wanna-be and a slut. I often make choices that might appear sort of trailer park. I have millions of dollars and yet I can't seem to get any respect. What does a girl have to do?

Ooops, I Did It Again

Dear Oooops,
If respect is what you want, you may need to modify some of your behavior. Behavior modification can be accomplished through many different methods. In your case, which is a bit extreme, I suggest that we use a little negative reinforcement, since positive reinforcement seems to have gone to your head. Try this, act like a responsible adult and parent. Stay away from people who are gold diggers. Wear clothes that reflect your age and social stature (remember you are a millionaire). You will most likely find after a few weeks of doing this that a lot of the negative feedback you have been getting will be gone. In turn, the removal of the adverse conditions will increase the likelihood of your enjoying these new changes and the changes being permanent. You have the financial means to buy all the support and counseling you need to make these changes. What are you waiting for?

Eternally Controlling,
The Behaviorist

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Big Black

BIG BLACK-Pavement Saw

Chicago rock aristocracy. They will only be doing a couple of songs at the fest, but I'd pay 35 bucks just for that. And it's going to be the original lineup with Jeff Pezzati. So cool.

Touch and Go

If you've got nothing to do, or something lame planned for September 8-10, then you should be planning on going to possibly one of the best festivals of the year. Every year The Hideout has a big block party. This year they are providing the venue for Touch and Go Records 25th anniversary party. There will be 25 bands playing and it is an amazing collection of musicians. You'll find everything from !!! to Big Black. Yeah, you heard it right. Big Black. Am I shamelessly plugging this? You betcha! A skinny $35 gets you in for all three glorious days of rock heaven. What better way to say "Adios" to summer?

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

A Perfect Day

How often do you have a perfect day? Today was one of them. My work was unexpectedly cancelled for the day, so Sweetness, Bink and I decided we should go to the zoo. The polar bear has always been one of our favorites.

Sweetness and Bink were very impressed by the size of the lion's paws.

For some reason, the beaver really liked Bink and seemed to play with him.

And how can you not love a penguin with such great eyebrows?

After we left the zoo, we met Lulu for dinner at Hamburger Mary's and then went to get ice cream.

We wrapped up the day at Lulu's. Lulu and I had a chance to talk and she amused the kids with her large collection of Edward Gorey books. Does life get any better? Today we were Bubblemen. Today we had antennas and danced.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Still Wondering

Do you ever have those thoughts that wake you up in the middle of the night? 25 years later, I am still wondering...what on earth does "Turning Japanese" mean?

Friday, August 11, 2006

WWBD (What Would a Behaviorist Do) Vol. I

In this column I will attempt to provide answers for mundane as well as extreme behavior issues. Feel free to send in any behavior related questions in the comment section.

Dear Behaviorist,
In the past, when I've locked my keys in the car, I end up breaking a window in a fit of rage or drink myself into a stupor and end up face down in a gutter. Should I get remote keyless entry?

Forever Losing My Keys

Dear Keyless,
The antecedent (trigger/stimulus) for your behavioral outbursts is clearly locking your keys in the car. While remote keyless entry is a nice option for automobiles, I do not recommend buying a whole new car to solve your problem. My recommendation to avoid this behavior in the future is to do one of two things. One, have an extra set of keys made and give them to someone with a better memory than you. Two, leave a note to yourself to remove keys from car upon exiting the vehicle. Additionally, I may suggest that you reinforce yourself for remembering your keys. Perhaps a cheery note to yourself upon arriving home and managing to put your keys on the key hook might suffice. Be creative with your reinforcer. Remember, the reinforcer has to be strong enough to increase the likelihood of the good behavior (remembering keys). Really, this is a simple case of stimulus control. If you control the stimulus by not allowing the possibility of having your only friggin' set of keys locked in your car, the negative behaviors will be happily avoided. I also suggest seeing a psychiatrist as your emotional/behavioral outbursts suggest emotional lability, which can be a sign of deeper issues. Happy motoring!

Eternally Controlling,
The Behaviorist

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Painting by Numbers

Well, this isn't my garage, but I will be painting my garage this weekend. woohoo. I live a wild life, unfettered by the mundane. Anyone who wants to join in on the fun is welcome. Free booze until you drop and some barbeque. Sound like a fair deal? RSVP for a weekend of fabulous fun.

Video Tribute to Family Fun Vol. I

OASIS-Don't Look Back in Anger

Here are some words of wisdom from the famous feuding Gallagher brothers. Hey, they air their contempt in the public eye. Maybe it's cathartic?

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

I Hate Schedules

As summer begins to fade away, the reality of the school year and all that it means sets in. My kids will have schedules, all my clients will have new schedules, my school work will need a schedule and I will have to deal with it all. Weaving all these schedules together can go one of two ways. It can either be a gracefully choreographed ballet of days and times or it can be a demolition derby with the pushiest one winning the prize. I can already tell that this fall it will be the demolition derby.

Everyone wants me to do things and be places on the same day and at the same time. If there were several of me, that'd work out swell. However, with just one of me and with lots of driving to fit in, it is logistically impossible. So now I am left with the task of disappointing and angering people. Not much I can do.

Oh well, might as well dance!

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Songs From the Confessional Vol. V

Great football players. Bad rap. Not better than The Beatles.

Saturday, August 05, 2006


Lulu won't let me burn Comfy Chair and thinks I am a pyromaniac. Aren't the flames pretty?

Life in Grand Rapids-Radio Void Vol. IV (Big Boots and a Broken Chair)

This is a story about cinnamon rolls and Naked Raygun. When I went to Calvin I became involved in the radio station. It was a putsy little cable only station, meaning only the students on campus could get it. Lame, though it was, I adored working as a DJ and Music Director there. One of my favorite things about working there was the ability to help promote bands that were coming through town.

So, Naked Raygun was slated to come play at the Sons and Daughters Hall (basically a VFW) in Grand Rapids. I called their manager and arranged for the band to come to the station to do a live on-air interview. We promoted the shit out of it. Signs up everywhere, announcements 24/7, the works. On the way to Grand Rapids, Naked Raygun's van broke down and so they were running late and didn't have time to do the interview. We were all a little disappointed, especially me because I was and am a huge fan.

We went to the show that evening and met up with the guys and decided to try it again in the morning. Lines got crossed and after waiting for them at the station for awhile, we posted a note with our home address and instructions to meet at our house if they were still interested. After waiting at the house for awhile, we again gave up and due to hunger went to the most awesome breakfast joint in the world, Breakfast Just Breakfast, that was at the end of our street. We left our high school friends to wait in the house in case they arrived.

Shortly after sitting down to eat, a winded teen came running into the restaurant yelling, "Naked Raygun are in your living room!" I thought the kid was going to faint. We all ran back and sure enough, there they were, big boots and all sitting in our living room. Now I have done many interviews with bands over the years, but none in my home. This was a first.

The guys were jovial and fun to talk to and we had a most excellent time. The high school kid still remembers it to this day. I think it was the most exciting thing that happened to him in GR. As I've mentioned before, GR is not a hotbed of social activity. Over the years, I've had the pleasure to interview and get to know Jeff Pezzati. He is an intelligent and interesting guy who can rock your brains right out of your head. I am glad they were so persistent with that interview. It's one of my favorite memories.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Life in Grand Rapids-Radio Void Vol. III (Wherein Jim Morrison Appears in the Rafters)

This is the story of the infamous birthday party. Two of my good friends had birthdays very near the end of the school year. We decided to celebrate them together and sent out invitations with Baudelaire's "Be Drunk" written on the front. That was the start of the downward spiral into excess.

The party took place in the large and cavernous attic of a very old house. Red wine was plentiful as was herbal remedy. The herbs were quite powerful and took many of us by surprise. Some recount tales of rooms spinning. Some recount tales of nausea. One saw the very image of Jim Morrison in the rafters of the old attic, arms outstretched like a Christ figure. Jim lingered for quite awhile, speaking to our friend.

The party was a memorable one for many. Jim's presence gave weight to our endeavors. We think he would have approved.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

OK Go Are My New Heroes

Ooooooo, I am going to have so much fun at the gym tomorrow! Who wants to come with me?