Book Review: Rambler: A family pushes through the fog of mental illness



Title: Rambler: A family pushes through the fog of mental illness

Author: Linda K. Schmitmeyer

Published: September 25, 2018

Pages: 374

Genre: Memoir/Nonfiction

Synopsis: When Steve, a successful young engineer, suddenly quits his job after a fight with his boss and begins exhibiting troubling signs of mental illness, a family’s seemingly idyllic middle-class life is thrown into chaos. Rambler takes the reader on an incredible 10-year quest of a family to stick together through the worst of his troubles and find answers from a medical community whose understanding of mental illness was lagging in the 1990s.



Final Thoughts:

In the realm of memoirs and nonfiction books based on medical issues, sometimes there are Important books, and there are Good Reads, and they do not always overlap. Many readers know the experience of trying to plod through an book just because they feel they should. The end result may be gratifying, but the doing is not. Or the act of reading a book whose narrative breezes along, but in the end, nothing of value remains.

This book is one of the fortunate few that exist in both spheres. Linda’s long career as a journalist and writing instructor is apparent, as events are presented in an engaging and easy-to-understand style. Despite the seriousness of a family struggling with the weight of bipolar disorder and schizoaffective disorder, Linda is self-aware enough to find a dark humor in her life, through things like her husband’s idiosyncratic obsession with Rambler automobiles, and an odd sequence of events that led to the cover photo of Steve standing triumphantly atop a Rambler half-sunk in the middle of a pond.

These are counterbalanced by heart-rending details of events occurring while Steve was having an episode and the family’s ensuing struggle to cope with all of the chaos that entailed, emotionally, socially, medically, and financially. Steve’s personal battle would reach an apex when, after losing his engineering job, he was arrested and placed in a psychiatric hold during an engineering conference in Detroit, Michigan. Unfortunately, it would still be several years before the medical community caught up with Steve’s issues and figured out both an appropriate diagnosis and a mixture of medications that could quiet his mind. These years were a trying time for a family who had effectively lost their primary source of income, and for whom medical answers were not readily forthcoming.

Although the family very humanly experienced wistful despair and even anger at their situation, through all of the struggles is an undercurrent of love. Childrens’ love for their father. A wife’s love for her husband. A father’s love for his family. Each are strained to their limit in turn and for different reasons, but their resiliency and dedication to holding together as a unit is truly uplifting.

Rambler is a worthy companion to recent popular nonfiction books regarding mental illness, like Brain on Fire, by Susannah Calahan (encephalitis); and fictional entries like Still Alice, by Lisa Genova (Alzheimer’s). Especially given that this books offers something that many others do not: the first-person perspective of a family member.

The book is now available on Amazon, here.

On a final, personal note, I know the Schmitmeyer family, although not especially well. Linda and Steve were a part of a “card club” including my parents when I was growing up, and their children were a frequent part of the cast of characters at a pool belonging to a mutual neighborhood friend in the summers. Although much of the events of this book took place before I was in high school and thus my understanding of both mental illnesses and the family lives of others was extremely limited, I was very surprised upon reading at how much of the Schmitmeyer’s struggle was kept quiet within the neighborhood community. I knew Steve to be a charismatic and fun-loving person, who had a 1000-megawatt smile and an eager laugh. The family’s reasons for their reticence to share are eminently understandable: the stigmas surrounding mental illness are still very real, and even today’s relative state of enlightenment is a far cry from society’s general views in the late 90s. But, I think this is an important lesson; not that we should pry into the lives of others where it is not wanted, but that we should be aware that we may not know what our friends are going through at a particular time, and to do what we can to offer a hand or even an ear when we sense a need, because the issues may run far deeper than we realize.



Thanks for reading.

knauff13

Book Review: Bridge to Terabithia

Originally posted on Geeks and Geeklets

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Title: Bridge to Terabithia

Author: Katherine Paterson

Published: 1977

Pages: 144

Genre: Drama/Friendship

Kid Friendly Rating: 9+ This book has a sad moment or two, but it is an appropriate book for any child capable of reading it. Click here for the Common Sense Media Guide!

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Synopsis:

As the summer before 5th grade draws to a close, Jess Aaron’s thoughts are singularly focused. He wants to prove that he is the fastest runner in the entire 5th grade. He practices daily to achieve his goal, running all over his family farm in between various chores. The new girl who has moved in next door is barely more than a fleck of dust in the wind to him.

Imagine his consternation, then, when his neighbor outpaces Jess and every other boy on the first day of school. And a girl, of all things! Jess is basically heartbroken.

Fortunately for Jess, his neighbor, Leslie Burke, sees through his frustration to the creative and sensitive boy underneath, and they eventually strike up a fast friendship. Soon, Jess and Leslie spend basically all of their free time together.

One of their favorite activities is to journey to an imaginary land they name Terabithia. In their adventures, Leslie often challenges Jess to use his creativity and his artistic talents, while at home Leslie’s parents are especially impressed by Jess’ industrious-ness and practical know-how.

Everything is going great for the young pair’s budding friendship, until one fateful day.

Final Thoughts:

I remember when this movie came out in 2007. Being in college at the time, I was a little old for it, and I never made time to catch it, but I remember being intrigued by the previews. The fantasy world of Terabithia was right up my alley, and I instantly made connections to other childhood favorites, like Jumanji and Hook (I don’t care about your ratings, critics. I LIKED IT, okay?)

Well, the fantasy world isn’t really a major part of the book. That’s not a complaint, just an observation. It is, however, a vital part of the friendship and connection between Jess and Leslie. They have a shared vision for the place, and even though they both know they are just playing “pretend,” in their explicit trust for each other they do journey together to their own special place in their minds.

I’m very sorry that I missed this book as a child, and I wish someone had handed it to me and ordered me to read it. it’s a wonderful story of young friendship, overcoming prejudices, and, tragically, dealing with loss.

Jess learns that real emotions can be horribly complicated, and there is no one way to immediately react that is any more appropriate than others. As Jess sorts out his feelings, he finds a way to turn his own heartache into a small positive, which is a beautiful and uplifting conclusion to a deservedly beloved short novel.

As so often happens with my book reviews, I have a movie to for you to check out. This one was released back in February 2007. The movie stars a young Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson), AnnaSophia Robb, and Zooey Deschanel. With a Metascore of 74, I’d venture to say it may not rock your world. but there are probably worse ways to spend a rainy day. Check out the preview below.

Overall, I think this is a great story for impressionable children, and adults will find it well-written and heart-wrenching. I give it 4/5 stars!

The Unfortunate Saga of a Broken PS3 and Lessons Learned

Step 1: Diagnosing the Problem

On Sunday, October 18, 2015, the unthinkable happened. The family PS3, the hub of our living room entertainment, bit the dust. I had spent an hour while my daughter was napping tackling the Point Lookout DLC on Fallout 3 (Fallout Shelter re-ignited my appetite for the series, but I remain on the PS4 sidelines), and, when she woke up, decided to pop in The Lion King on Blu-ray for her to watch while she woke up a bit. Fifteen minutes into the movie, it froze completely and would not budge. I ejected the movie, brushed it off, and put it back in, but the PS3 refused to read it. Instead, I just heard a double-click, like it wanted to eject the disc, but nothing was happening on the screen. In retrospect, I wondered if Fallout was freezing a little too frequently immediately prior to this event, but if you’re familiar with Bethesda games, you know it’s kind of hard to tell.

The system was still powering up, going to the home screen, and playing Netflix without any problems, so it did not seem to be a motherboard or hard drive problem. That the drive was still sucking in and spitting out discs was also a good sign, as it told me the whole drive had not failed. The Google machine told me that my symptoms were indicative of a faulty or dirty laser. The acute nature of the failure led me to believe that it was likely a faulty laser lens, but I decided to try an old CD lens cleaner disc anyway. The disc played, but it did not solve the problem. This was not all bad, as it did give me some important information. The drive still played CDs. Further investigation revealed that it would play DVDs as well, but any PS3 games or Blu-rays got the double-click noise, with no other feedback. Some people online reported that they solved similar issues by fully dissembling the disc drive and cleaning the laser lens with alcohol and a cotton swab, but these reports were met with skepticism, and I did not believe the functionality could suddenly and irrevocably be lost due to an onslaught of dust, without any prior warning.

Step 2: Admitting you have a Problem

Okay. My PS3 has a faulty Blu-ray laser. As much as I’d like to shut my eyes and wish the problem away, I’m going to have to spend some money. My PS3 has been out of warranty for years. What are my options? Dump some money into repairing an obsolete system, or finally get moving on purchasing that shiny new PS4 I’ve had my eyes on for the last year?

Option 1: I did some quick research on professional repair services in my area. A professional repair service in my area offers a $99.99 flat fee for Blu-ray drive repairs.

Option 2: Put down $350 for a new PS4 (it’s $299, now, but this was before Black Friday).

Option 3: My research into the problem indicated it is possible for a mechanically-minded person to replace the laser lens his/herself. They go for about $25-30 on Amazon. Add in the jeweler’s screwdriver & Sony security lock set for another $10.

Option 4: Buy a used PS3 on Craigslist. Not very price-friendly. Most people are marking them up because they want to sell their games with them and it seems like all of the ones in my price range are broken ones selling for parts (Pro-tip: if you’re trying to sell your old PS3, you’ll have an easier time moving it if you sell your system separate from your games).

Option 5: As a consequence of Option 4, I found a guy on Craigslist who offered various PS3 repair services. After contacting him, he agreed that it sounded like a faulty laser lens, and said he could repair it for $50, with a 60-day warranty.

Step 3: Taking the Plunge

Perhaps trusting far too much in my own abilities, I went with Option 3. And here is where the real learning begins. I have a slim 120 gb CECH-2001A model PS3, which the Google tells me requires a KES-450A laser lens. No problem. I found the correct lens on Amazon, and, hey, it even has my PS3 model in the listing. Great. Can’t go wrong. A week later, the lens and jewelers/Sony security screwdriver set was in my hands. This set is not strictly necessary. The two “jeweler’s” screwdrivers are simply very tiny Phillips-head screwdrivers, and the security screws, from what I understand, can be jimmied with tiny flat-head screwdrivers. I was just trying to take some pain out of the process and figured I could use some of them in the future.

There are very helpful videos on Youtube (see here and here, and dozens of others) for taking apart and re-assembling the Blu-ray drive. I’ll leave the finer points to them. A few helpful points from a novice perspective:

  • One of the security screws necessary for opening the outer case is actually hidden under the Warranty sticker. I had no idea there was one under there! You’ll void your warranty the second you lift the sticker, so make sure you’re out of it before you go mucking around in there like I did.
  • Keep your parts and screws organized. The first time I put everything back together, I had a few sweaty moments trying to remember which screw fit where.
  • There was a small white plastic piece screwed into the existing lens that was necessary to install the new lens into the drive deck.
  • Make sure the drive deck rails are aligned perfectly horizontal to each other as you install the lens into the new deck.
  • Make sure all of your ribbons are secure and fully inserted as you put the drive back together.

Step 4: WHY THE F IS IT NOT WORKING?

A few of my own stupid mistakes first, so review my tips above, and hopefully you can avoid them. I first didn’t notice that the drive deck rails were slightly askew. Next problem was failing to re-insert one of the ribbon cables, so the full drive lost power. Once these issues were resolved, I was back in business, right? RIGHT? Not quite.

The drive was back online and spinning Blu-ray discs, but it didn’t sound right. I put the drive together once without the top cover on and could see that it was not spinning at full speed, and eventually it was giving me that dreaded double-click, like it wanted to eject. So, I’m back to square one. Nope. Not quite there, either.

I tried a DVD, and now the PS3 won’t read that, either. First thought, “great.” I’ve royally screwed something up, and now it’s effed. Guess I’m getting a PS4 for Christmas, or something. So I disassembled the PS3 one final time to get the laser lens out so I could return or sell it, and, what the heck, I’ll put the old laser lens back in there just to satisfy the neat freak inside me. Guess what? The old laser still reads DVDs just fine.

Now I’m a little annoyed. Did I receive an even “faultier” lens than the one I was trying to replace? I contacted the seller with my concerns. This was their response:

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Silly me. I forgot to “root” the laser. What the hell is “rooting” it? I decided that this was likely some type of firmware requirement I missed, and went in search of the answer. This led me down a rabbit hole of trying to figure out the firmware necessary to replace the full Blu-ray drive. It seems the drive has a “daughterboard” that is linked to the system motherboard, and you have to downgrade the system to a certain system version to run the system tool necessary to link them. This is my nightmare. I am in way over my head. After hours of research figuring out how to do this, I contacted my old Craigslist friend, and asked him what he would charge to simply “root” the laser that I already bought and installed.

“What?” he said. “There is no firmware required for a simple lens replacement.”

Duh. I knew that. “I’ll probably just bring this thing to you to fix it. But, if I told the seller I thought I received a faulty laser and they told me I need to ‘root’ it first, they’re just blowing smoke up my a**?”

“Sounds like it. Let me know!”

I wanted to do some more research before I decided to meet with this Craigslist guy, because I assumed that despite his proffered warranty, this was an out-of-basement-type operation. I tried the PSN network board and got zero replies. Fortunately, I cam across a very helpful PS3-modding website called ps3hax.net, and called upon their expertise. You can see my forum post and their replies here. Suspicions confirmed.

Step 5: Doing what I should have done

At this point, I’m totally frustrated. I want my PS3 back. I want to play Fallout. I’m just taking it to the Craigslist guy. I got it touch with him, and took it to his base of operations. I confirmed that it was an out-of-home operation, but he wasn’t the 12-year-old I feared, working out of his bedroom. He was totally professional about it, and replaced the lens in about 40 minutes, and it cost me $50, with the donation of my original faulty laser, which he says he uses to defray costs by returning it to a re-furbisher.

I was so excited when I got home and plugged… it… Dang. Dangdangdangdangdang. I left the power cord on top of my car when I drove off. Well, it took an extra week to get a new power cord, but now I’m back in business, and I got the refund on my lens purchase, thanks to Craigslist guy’s advice. I’ve finished the Fallout 3 DLCs, and some other side quests, and now I’m off to playing a terrible, demented game called Shadows of the Damned.

I can’t say I totally regret my experience, because I feel I learned quite a lot about the internal workings of the PS3, and I feel confident I could perform the repair, if faced with it again; however, for a novice, there is certainly some risk of headache here.

If anyone in the Pittsburgh area needs Craigslist guy’s services, let me know, and I’ll get you in touch.

(Originally posted on Geeks and Geeklets)

Short Story: Field of Bad Dreams

Mitchell dreamt that he was rising slowly through a long, dark tunnel, surrounded by uneven walls painted with viscous, slimy gray mud, blistered frequently by ugly outcroppings of jagged rock. He tried to remember how he’d arrived there, but the beginning of the tunnel was nothing but a dark pit in his mind’s eye. As he gazed at the walls around him, he thought he could make out faces in the mud. Were those smiles or grimaces? Laughing faces or screaming? As he gazed closer, the faces seemed to melt back into the walls, or perhaps they were never really there at all.

At length, Mitchell began to perceive that the walls were growing lighter, and the faces disappeared with the murk. Mitchell began to make out a light at the end of the tunnel, but he also felt as if the light was beginning to emanate from the walls. The air grew warmer, tickling his back and sides as it pushed from beneath. The tickling became more forceful until Mitchell decided it wasn’t really tickling anymore. It was more like scratching. He wanted the scratching to stop, even as an itching sensation came on that demanded it. These sensations intensified as the light brightened, blinding him so he could no longer make out the walls at all.

Mitchell woke up. Blue skies above, broken by bright, fluffy clouds. The sun was high in the sky.

What the fuck?

He didn’t say it, because he wasn’t really capable of speech at that moment. Or any physical movement, really. Mitchell’s head was wrecked with a pain he rated equivalent to a face-melting brain-freeze, coupled with a hundred cataclysmic collisions of rusty nails and chalky blackboards.

What the hell happened last night?

This train of thought quickly went off the rails as Mitchell took in more pressing matters, like what the hell was happening now. Mitchell was surrounded by nothing but a forest of wheat, rising green and tan several feet above his prostrate body. Mitchell took this moment to recognize that hay, for all its appearances as a delightful, soft bed to lay among, is incredibly itchy. Mitchell next recognized that the reason he was acutely aware of this at this moment was because he had no clothes on.

Mitchell lay, naked as the day he was born, in what appeared to be a wheat field, in the middle of the day, with a pounding headache, and no idea how he had arrived in this compromising position. And, to his dawning horror, he was unable to move a muscle, apart from his eyeballs and eyelids.

Am I paralyzed?

Mitchell summoned all of his current available focus and willpower into an effort to move his left big toe. After 20 seconds of strenuous effort, he felt his toe wiggle, and relief flooded his mind, only to be quickly replaced by a resurgence in his splitting headache. Mitchell’s world swam for a moment, and he shut his eyes to compose himself.

Seriously, what the hell happened last night?

Mitchell racked his brain for answers, but his brain felt sludgy, and every time he felt like he was getting close to something, it slipped through his fingers, and he was fumbling in the dark to hold on. He’d met Parker and Mike for dinner, and they’d stayed for drinks afterward.

A girl?

He could picture dark hair, smoky eyes, a slight smile that curved slyly from only the left side of her lips. But he didn’t recognize her. No name appeared out the murk to attach itself to her, and when he tried to focus on more distinguishing features, she swam away from him. She’d been wearing a blue dress. Or was it a blouse? Purple?

Shit, what does it matter? There’s this naked in a field thing to consider. Yeah. About that.

Mitchell wasn’t sure, but he thought he could feel sensations of pins and needles gathering in his toes. He was considering whether it would be preferable to wait until he regained his faculties enough to search about for something to cover himself with, or for someone to come across him as he lay there helpless and offer help. Just about at this moment, Mitchell heard a low rumble in the distance.

Oh. Wonderful. Someone is working nearby. Maybe they’ll come across me and have pity.

Mitchell’s thoughts returned to last night. He definitely drank too much last night. No matter what came of this awkward situation, that much was clear. He cringed inwardly as he pictured the annoyed looks from across the bar as he yelled something inane to Parker and Mike. He had a propensity to get a little loud when he drank, and this had been a particularly long week at work, so he’d felt like blowing off steam. Mitchell reflected that he may have been a little out of control, but it still didn’t explain his present situation.

Who was that girl?

He remembered Parker frowning at both him and Mike as they observed the “hottie” at the bar. Felt her look of disapproval, as he knew the word SLUT was virtually emblazoned above the woman’s head, in Parker’s eyes, at least. Mitchell knew it was her protective nature. Mike met lots of women; he knew what to look out for, and how to handle conversations with a certain type. Mitchell was not so suave. His few success stories had been rare instances where he blundered his way into a relationship with a girl he was already friendly with. As it had been with Parker, last year, before that flamed out spectacularly. Mitchell and Mike both spent months repairing that particular bridge. They’d all known each other for years, and it didn’t make sense for their friendship to end just because Mitchell was sometimes stupid and insensitive. They all knew he was stupid and insensitive. They also all knew that he usually meant well. So, eventually they’d all started hanging out again, and here they were. Parker knew Mitchell was likely to strike out, and be hurt about it for days afterward, and she looked unhappy as he clearly began to gather courage for an approach. She’d been staring at him that way, as he took a sip of his cheap, bitter beer.

It had gone well, though, hadn’t it?

He could picture himself talking to the girl, so he didn’t think she brushed him off. She’d SMILED at him. That alone was a much more positive sign than usual.

That noise is getting closer. Someone really may be on their way over.

That was good, because although Mitchell could now move all of his toes with relative ease, the pins and needles were only just traveling up his calves, and he could do little more than lay there and think about what he had done. The girl had told him, what? She was a nurse? No. Teacher? Maybe. That seemed vaguely familiar. Mitchell could picture himself making some lame joke about her having summers off, something he knew wasn’t funny, or even really appreciated, but he’d said it anyway because he was nervous and couldn’t think of anything else to say about it. If he didn’t go with that line, it would have been something similarly tone-deaf and vapid. He remembered a weak, polite smile. Why did he have to be drunk to approach a girl? He always ended up getting his words twisted, and saying something inadvertently offensive. Had he pissed off the wrong person? Maybe her boyfriend had walked over and gotten offended that he was trying to pick her up? Maybe she slipped him something when he wasn’t looking. But what could he have possibly said to lead him that far astray?

That noise is either getting much closer, or it is much louder than I previously thought, or both.

Mitchell inexplicably began thinking of Superman 2. It was an old movie, but it had always resonated with Mitchell. He could relate to Superman’s desire to stop being the hero. To just be Clark Kent, and run away with Lois Lane. Mitchell often wished he could step out of his own skin and live his life differently, but he was always drawn back into his old behavior patterns, reluctantly, but willingly. Truth be told, it wasn’t Mitchell’s favorite Superman movie. He’d found Superman’s fate a little too uncomfortably predetermined. Superman 3 was more his speed. The ridiculous plot and Richard Pryor’s sense of humor added a bit of levity that Mitchell thought Superman 2 lacked. He also especially liked the scenes where Superman fought himself, and the scene where Superman saved little Ricky from the farm combine’s sharp oncoming blades.

Hm. Farm equipment is really dangerous, especially when one is laying exposed like I am, right now.

Mitchell felt a sheen of sweat break out on his skin, and it had nothing to do with the rising temperature under the hot sun shining high overhead. That noise was still growing louder, and suddenly Mitchell was very sure he did not want to be laying there in that field, for any length of time. He struggled to move his legs, but he could not turn himself over. He struggled harder, but movement was slow, and resisting, like in a nightmare in which he was chased by a monster but kept losing his footing even though he desperately needed to gain speed and break away.

I wish Parker was here. She’d probably know exactly what that machine was and set my mind at ease.

Parker talked frequently about a farm she used to visit when she was young. It was a big operation that her grandfather worked on weekends for extra cash, and he’d taken her along often to ride with him while he manned the farm equipment.

Mitchell couldn’t help reminiscing. He had really liked Parker, once. But, hoo boy, had he screwed that one up. He remembered her face that one night, after he’d gotten too drunk at the bar with Mike and Eric, and Mike had pulled him out of the bar by his collar when he found him making out with a random girl in the corner of the bar. He was sure Mike was about to punch him, and was bracing for it right up until he puked in the middle of the sidewalk. Mitchell was delivered, blubbering, on Parker’s doorstep, but there was no undoing it. Mike didn’t talk to him again until a few weeks afterward, after Mitchell had hounded both him and Parker for forgiveness incessantly. Still, that was the end of Mitchell and Parker, as an item.

Less thinking, more moving. That roar is getting louder.

Actually, Mitchell thought he could feel rumbling from the ground beneath him, and the air seemed to be humming with movement. He could smell the familiar odor of freshly cut grass, but while this smell usually brought him nostalgic memories of summer football camps, he felt nothing of the sort now. That smell meant something was cutting. And he was lying in its path. Mitchell tried to yell, but heard and felt only a weak groan emit from his chest.

Shit. No one is ever going to hear that.

With an immense exertion, Mitchell twisted his torso to the left, and then lay there, gasping, as he collected himself to move again. As he twisted onto the fresh hay beside him, he was reminded of the itching and scratching against his naked skin, and looked down at the ground, as he did so, what he saw made his blood run cold.

Written in red lipstick on Mitchell’s chest: “Nobody cheats on me. Ever. – PJ”

Parker Jacobs. No. Nonononono.

Mitchell, dumbstruck, thought back to last night, and the months leading up to it, and wondered how he possibly could have missed the signals.

Does Mike know I’m here?

He wondered whether his beer had been a little extra bitter-tasting as he walked away from Parker’s table, or if he’d simply gotten too drunk and passed out on his feet, possibly for the last time.

Mitchell’s heart racing, he found muscles he thought he’d lost contact with, and began to thrash on the ground. The sound in his ears from the farm equipment was almost deafening now, and Mitchell pictured a combine thrashing through his feet like so much butter, and churning up across his body until there was nothing but a mangled mess where the message was now written across his chest.

Mitchell felt the air swirling from the blades of the machine near his feet. With a final exhausted effort, as loud as he could possibly muster, Mitchell screamed, “HEEEEELP!”

As the toes on his left foot were neatly sliced off, Mitchell thought he heard a dip in the engine, as if it might be slowing, or turning off. He was hopeful as he lost consciousness, and slumped limply into the wheat laying beneath him.

(Originally published on Geeks and Geeklets)

Ancient history: Naive Poetry: Rock

The rockabilly. The ironic laugh ‘til you’re silly. The dig down for the nitty gritty grunge rock. The alternative. The mainstream. The drug and sex fueled cock rock. The atmospheric prog-rock. The help-me-I’m-drowning-in-self-sacrifice rock. The disco. The Sisqo. The southern I’ll drink your face off and not take any of your shit rock. The I’ll love you through thin rock. The spiteful I’ll never forgive you until the day you die rock. The three part harmonies. The 10 minute guitar solos played with ease. The massive crowds pressed together, bound together by obsession. The Woodstock. The peace and love is all we need rock. The new-age. The advertised by web-page. The screaming girl teenie bopper rock. The black mascara gothic rock. The provactive. The pretentious. The I’ll play this until your ears bleed rock. The mellow let’s smoke some weed rock. The close your eyes and relax while it envelops your soul rock. The rock that isn’t the fabled rock, the rock of the church that stands on solid ground but isn’t the sound rock.

Ancient history: Stage Script: Thanks a Lot

George, roughly 45 and stocky, sits sleepily on a living room couch. He’s watching TV while his very young nephew plays on a rug in front of him. Cheers erupt from the television as someone apparently scores a touchdown. George rolls his eyes in disgust. 

George: Ugh! Are you kidding me? That was a catch like I’m a rhinoceros.

(looks around for some distraction and sniffs the air) I wonder if the turkey’s almost ready. I’m about sick of watching this game. And I am starving. If there’s one good thing about the whole family being here, it’s that I don’t have to cook anything. I can’t wait for mom’s stuffing.

(laughing from off the stage)Meh. Sounds like the guys are back from the annual pickup “Turkey Bowl.” I’m sure they’re all going to have stories to tell about full field touchdown returns and one-handed grabs. Like any of us care.

This whole day is more trouble than it’s worth. We make awkward conversation with people we don’t like. We repeat the same god damn short story about the last year to everyone that asks. We listen as if we’re interested. And the worst part: before anyone is allowed to touch any food, we go around the table saying what “we’re thankful for.”

“I’m thankful for a miserable life.” Ha-Ha.

(George glances at his nephew, who has a delighted look on his face as he “revs” a truck on the carpet. He sighs.) He looks so happy. If he only knew what life had in store for him. Decades of heartache. Bad investments. Failed marriages. Expanding waistlines. Yet, he’s so happy in his ignorance. Why can’t we all be that way?

(the nephew holds up the truck to his uncle. George manages a smile) Vroom. Heh. Is this your daddy’s truck? (smiling genuinely now at his nephew’s turn to shyness. He hands it back) I used to play. This isn’t me. Its just, so much has happened. I used to be happy, and now I’m bitter at everything. Look at me. I’m sitting alone in here while everyone else is having fun and enjoying company.

 

It’s not really fair, that I’m here like this. They probably don’t understand. I know they don’t. None of them know what its like to cry your their brother’s shoulder when the stock market leaves you broke at 35. None of them had to move in with their sister for a month after a marriage that ended so badly they couldn’t take care of themselves anymore. None of them had parents give them an intervention when the drink took hold of their lives. None of them.

A wheel falls off of the truck the young nephew has been playing with. He immediately begins crying and holds it up to his Uncle George. George, visibly concerned, takes the truck and wheel in his hands and tinkers a bit.

Here, here. Timmy, it’s alright, see? Good as new. You don’t need to cry; I’m here to help you.

(George pauses as he mulls something over in his head) I’m here to help him. And my family has always been there to help me… I guess I’m really lucky. I’ve had someone there looking after me, caring about me the whole time. I’ve had people there. Even now, they still invite this old curmudgeon when the holidays come around. How can they do that? How is that possible? I must be the luckiest man in the world to have a family that cares this much.

From the TV: “and that’s it folks, Dallas 27, Detroit 17. From everybody here at NBC, have a Happy Thanksgiving!”

George stands up and stretches out. He looks down at his nephew and smiles as he picks him up.

Hey Timmy, let’s go find your mommy and daddy. Its dinnertime, and I think I finally know what I’m thankful for.

Ancient History: Short Story: Doldrums of Delays

I wrote this while I was bored in the airport coming home from a pre-preseason trip to London with my Westminster College soccer team; I was just trying to write something amusing to keep me occupied.

Doldrums of Delays

I.

Ben Knauff is bored at the Newark International Airport. His flight has been delayed for three hours. Justin Rivas sits before Ben and yawns as he flips through the pages of a UK-Edition Maxim. A brunette model named Sophie graces the cover. To Ben’s left, Samwise impatiently waits for the flight to commence. He has urgent business in Pittsburgh; the Allman Brothers are teaming with Tom Petty for a “CAN’T-MISS” event. Rumor has it that Stevie Nicks may even appear on stage with Petty.

The plight of young Sam is shared by Blake Ordell (sitting to Ben’s right) and Cory Burns and Ande Saporito, who sit at 1:00 and 11:00 respectively. Nick Hoover is talking as usual. In between words he plays with his fingers. Rounding out this group are Garrett Horvath, Keith Little, and Todd Atwood. Todd incessantly types on his phone to an unknown recipient. Garrett and Keith are in the midst of a grueling match of movie wits (by way of a game developed by Nick Hoover). Since Nick is too preoccupied to supply Ben with a name for the game, the author of this tale will henceforth attempt an explanation of the rules: One player names a movie at random, after which the subsequent player/team must supply the name of an actor in the movie. The first player then has to supply another movie that said actor appears in. The game continues as such until one player “draws a blank.”

The airport seems to vary between stages of unrest. At present it is relatively quiet, but soon the concourse will be crowded once again. The volume of passengers seems to be taking a toll on the terminal, as small articles of trash abound on the blue carpet of gate 108B. Unfortunately, the maintenance lady who just walked by failed to notice the mess. Apparently, she is only paid to maintain the integrity of the trash cans…

Several newcomers have now entered the fray. Nathaniel Gibboney meanders over to Ben and asks him about a “love letter.” Silly man. Also joining the group is Steve Hogya, who views the author of this note with speculative curiousity. Mark Sadler and Girsh Thakar have taken seats in the fringes of the homeward bound group.

As Ben looks around he feels a certain familiarity to this airport. It’s almost intangible, yet present all the same. The gates are incredibly similar to their counterparts at Pittsburgh International, the airport from which Ben hails. It brings somewhat of a calmness to his mind, despite the calamity around him. As he gazes at the white walls, moving walkways, and large windows, he feels strangely at ease. That was, until two unexpected events forced Benjamin out of his reverie. Blake struck first, asking Ben to pick up his weighty luggage. Ben agrees, but in doing so loses his state of euphoric relaxation. Keith moves in for the kill, hitting Ben with a barrage of dance moves. Though he was caught unawares, Knauff is able to maintain a modicum of concentration. Soon thereafter he falls back into the lull of familiarity.

 

II.

            After much delay the group has finally found itself seated randomly on a Pittsburgh-bound 727. It seems as though concert and company have decided they must scalp tickets to recoup their money. Illegal! This writer won’t tell though. Ben is receiving far too many compliments for his writing. Someone should probably knock him down like Nate always does. Ben gazes out the window at his right side. The scene seems eternally unchanging: a retracted walkway, a mobile staircase, a tranquil luggage cart, a squat control tower in the distance. Across the aisle to Ben’s left, Garrett worries about his wounded knee while he tries to distract himself by reading a book titled, How to Live the Holy Life. A noble choice.

Meanwhile, Keith has lost himself in the fantasy realm of Ipodia. Who knows what thoughts are coursing through his mind to the gentle tunes of Mike Jones. Atwood has borrowed Ben’s pencil. Ben hopes he doesn’t use too much lead.

The plane finally taxis out to the runway at 7:11 PM. It was a 3:40 flight. Ben is rather distraught, as with each passing moment he is inching closer to a scheduled meeting with his Playstation at 9:00. He’ll probably miss it. In his restlessness, Ben follows Keith’s blank stare to the cracked and grassy runway outside. The scene afforded by the cell-like window is now noticeable different. Several planes seem to be in line for takeoff. Our captain informs us that he is going to try to “bully” his way in, but perhaps we are being bullied out of the way.

Nick lets out a hearty laugh in the back of the plane and proceeds into a joke about two old guys. It is met with scattered laughter.

The plane jolts to a start. Finally, home we come.

Insane Ramblings of an 18-Year-Old College Student

Thirty-eight thoughts on school, sports, love, Carson McCullers, and the deep questions of life.

Writing 111 Journal Entries

1/18/05

If I were a rock star, I would be able to spend much more money than the meager savings I have accumulated through summer work. Instead of saving my quarters for a bag of chips I could be buying a factory to make chips of my own, specified to my very tastes. Instead of paying money to go to school, I could be reaping the benefits of doing nothing but having fun and looking good! Alas it was not meant to be. I wonder how many bands have a guitarist who doesn’t know how to play (my first guess – many).

1/19/05

As much as it can be difficult to go out and exercise, it is beneficial in many ways to do so. Fortunately, the fabled “runner’s high” has some truth to it. I think most people who begin to exercise would quickly realize that it is much more enjoyable once you start. Hasn’t it even been proven that people who exercise are happier in general than people who aren’t?

1/20/05

If deer had wings I think the world would be a much happier and less violent place. They would be much too difficult to hunt for sport, with their agility combined with flying ability and increased lines of sight. This would discourage hunters, who would likely be unable to find game as suitable as deer to shoot. To my delight, roadways would also be much clearer, as the deer would probably take to the sky for travels as opposed to backwater roads.

1/21/05

If soccer was more popular in the United States, perhaps foreign nations would like us more. We would seem more similar to them, and therefore more down to earth. Perhaps they would compliment us on our ability to be successful rather than despise us for our differences.

1/22/05

How do we know that we all see things in the same way? Perhaps the color that I call yellow is really blue in someone else’s vision. How would we know? If my vision was the complete inverse of someone else’s, what I consider to be a light shade may even be a dark shade. Maybe to some people white people look darker and black people are fair-skinned.

1/23/05

If the Steelers win today, I will be overjoyed. Unfortunately, it is halftime and not looking pretty. I’m not looking forward to having to look at all of the Boston fans in the eye and say, “yea, your team appears to be better.” Hopefully they will make a comeback the likes of which have never been seen.

1/24/05

When did it become appropriate to wear clothing at all times? When did people decide that men could walk around shirtless but women couldn’t? I wonder if the rules of clothing will ever change. Maybe 1000 years from now, only our eyes, ears, and mouths will be exposed. On the other hand, maybe clothing will only be worn in inclement weather.

1/25/05

I am going to play soccer today and lift afterwards. I have to wonder if all of this activity is going to start showing up on my report card. Will my grades suffer, or will the increased activity help my brain to function properly? Really, I just hope I’m not screwing up by working hard.

1/26/05

Thankfully, I was able to turn in my add/drop card before the free deadline. I previously had Bowling on my schedule, but decided it wasn’t worth it after I learned that it cost $52. I figure that I’m already paying enough just to be here. The school doesn’t need an extra $52 from me, especially when my wallet is already paper thin.

1/27/05

I’m a total fan of rock music. I love just about any kind of it. Be it Cream, Zeppelin, AC/DC, Pearl Jam, Stone Temple Pilots, whatever. It doesn’t much matter to me as long as it ‘rocks’. With that said, I have to say that I am pretty disgusted with the state of rock music today. Talentless fools dominate modern-rock airplay and I’m left to only classic rock stations to pick up the slack. When will the turnaround occur? Will it occur?

1/28/05

I am NOT looking forward to this weekend. Except for tonight, when I have a soccer game scheduled my weekend looks utterly horrible. Tomorrow I am working from 9-5:30 and Ill be doing exactly the same thing on Sunday. You might be thinking, “What? Oh, that’s not so bad.” You might be wrong. I work at a nursing home preparing food and washing dishes afterward. It’s probably one of the most disgusting jobs possible. I use it as inspiration to stay in school…

1/29/05

Home again, home again, jiggity-jig. Work wasn’t so bad. There are a couple cute girls working there now. But it is such a drag to be at home on a weekend like this. None of my friends are here. I have Carson McCullers and my family to keep me company. The TV is delightfully boring tonight. Anyway, 8 more hours of work and I’ll be back in wonderful New Wilmington!

1/30/04

It’s always nice to get back to school, where I’m comfortable. It’s crazy to think of how different that is from the beginning of the year. I used to go home on the occasional weekend to get a good night of sleep. Now it’s a relief to sleep in my nice comfortable college bed. Unfortunately, with all that work I’m going to have to scramble to get all of my writing homework done before Tuesday.

1/31/04

Relationships are a drag sometimes. Read: many times. Why is it that most things in the world that are worth anything take so much work? This one maybe really isn’t worth it. She just depresses me a lot. It’s a shame though because I’ve been dating her for a long time.

2/1/05

If I were a deaf/mute, I wonder how I would go about doing certain things. I would hate to learn sign language, either to read it or use it. Instead I think I would be much more interested in reading lips and attempting to speak without the use of my ears. At the very least I believe I would write messages down rather than sign them out. One good thing is that I would most likely not ever be encumbered by a telephone bill. Why would I need one?

2/2/05

I wonder sometimes about animal and insect civilizations. How consciously do they serve their leaders? if they are so unintelligent, how do they have leaders at all? I would love the opportunity to temporarily become an ant and infiltrate an anthill to see what there is to see and talk to other ants to find out what is going on. Would I be able to meet the queen, or would a soldier ant bar my entrance?

2/3/05

I want to invent a time machine so I can go back and watch some classic rock or even more recent bands perform live. Sure, there are more noble reasons for such an invention, but what could truly be more fun than going to see a Zeppelin concert live in the front row? Revival concerts just aren’t the same. The artists are too far removed from their work to perform it with the same conviction they once had.

2/4/05

This is pick-up weekend! Thankfully, I will be spared the anxiety of it all, as I won’t be pledging whether I’m invited to or not. The only fraternity I have even visited is Alpha Sigma Phi. They will probably invite me because I am a soccer player, but since I have no desire to ever live in the house I just don’t see how it would benefit me. I will content myself with an occasional visit on the weekends.

2/5/05

It’s a good thing that I decided not to pledge because I’m home anyway. My wallet remains thin as ever. I’m anxiously awaiting the day when money will start to appear in my bank account. Hopefully it will be sooner than later, because I feel that the frugal life doesn’t suit me. Bu then, maybe that’s why I’m in this situation in the first place.

2/6/05

Today is Super Bowl Sunday! I’m not even really a huge football fan, although I do watch the Steelers and sometimes a division rival every Sunday. Still, I have to wonder how long it will be until this is referred to as a national holiday. In many respects I think it already is that way, albeit without the title. I walked back into the dorms today and I honestly believe I was hearing the entire building watch the game at once. Does anything comparable happen on Presidents Day?

2/7/05

There is so much talk about the Patriots officially obtaining the status of “dynasty.” My sole question is:, “Who cares?” What’s in a title? And how do you but boundaries on a word like that? Apparently, three championships in four years will do it. It seems like a far cry from ancient empires that lasted for hundreds of years without break. If a civilization came into power for one year, lost control, then took it back for two more years, I hardly think it would be called a dynasty.

2/8/05

Why would anyone drink diet caffeine free Pepsi? It tastes bad. Despite its “diet” title, it really isn’t good for you. There is no caffeine so it won’t wake you up. It will stain your teeth. What is redeeming in such a drink? If its for the carbonation, I’m sure that there are drinks out there that are better for you. Sparkling water, perhaps?

2/9/05

Getting a cold is possibly one of the worst things about cold weather. I never realize how much I enjoy being healthy until I can’t breathe through my nose. Also, I think that there is some kind of rule that says when you have a cold, it is impossible to find a soft tissue. Abrasiveness is apparently what people look for when they go to buy tissues. Has the world gone crazy?

2/10/05

Valentine’s Day is everywhere. I think this is a good example of a holiday that has completely lost its meaning, even more so than Christmas. I wonder how large the percentage of people who don’t know the origins of Valentine’s Day is. I am certainly among that number. I just see a bunch of hearts and pink ribbons around, and know in my heart that no one in their right mind would invent a holiday to be like this. Perhaps commercialism is the root of everything here.

2/11/05

The Heart is a Lonely Hunter. I had mixed feelings starting this novel. Now that I am finished I agree with my original analysis. I’m not the type of reader who likes to go in for the “extra meanings.” My feeling is that in many cases the novel is simply a story and after it is written authors, scholars, and critics alike go back and infer all of these other meanings on it which were not intended in the first place. For my favorite example of this, see Lord of the Flies.

2/12/05

In some ways I think this is a novel for girls written by a girl. I’m not sure what exactly that means, but it’s like movies in a way. You always know when a movie has been released to target solely a female audience or solely a male audience. It’s not to say that either one is better, but the intentions make it less interesting for the opposite sex.

2/13/05

Despite my feelings about the novel in and of itself, I think Mick is a good universal example of adolescence. Obviously, she’s a girl, but many of the problems she faces (relationships with the opposite sex, abandoning childhood) are not unique to girls. Also, Mick’s aspirations with music parallels with the thousands of kids who dream of becoming pro athletes, only to have their hopes dashed when they realize how unlikely it is, for whatever reason.

2/14/05

Although Mick’s aspirations are clearly hurt by poverty, how likely is it that she would have ever had a real career as a musician? There are millions of people who play an instrument or sing, but only a select few of them ever make money at it. No one can deny that Mick has noble goals, but I question the reality of what she wants. The novel would suggest that Mick could clearly become the next Mozart if given a chance. Who’s to say she wouldn’t just become a good pianist?

2/15/05

Finally, all of the hearts will be gone for a year. Hearts could be my least favorite decoration. They don’t even vaguely resemble an actual heart. I wonder where the shape of a heart came from if not reality. Was it just a random shape that someone decided to start calling a heart? Regardless of my complaints, I guess no one else really cares that the heart design isn’t realistic.

2/16/05

It’s amazing that media is such a large part of our culture that a movie can make 300 million dollars in theater ticket sales. If a movie makes $300 million tickets cost $10 each, one in ten people in the United States went to see it. That is an amazing figure when you imagine all of the different types of people who must have gone to that movie.

2/17/05

Pennies should be eliminated from currency. No one uses them except to give change or save enough money to trade for a dollar. Most of the time when I receive any amount of money I’m thrilled, but if I ever get a penny it’s just a pain. It doesn’t even matter if the amount of the pennies I receive is greater than say, a nickel or quarter, because I’m so depressed to have to carry that much.

2/18/05

TitanNet is very annoying. I don’t understand the need for it. No matter how much networking it provides, it isn’t worth the powerless virus-blocking software and inept web browser. Half of the websites I want to go to show up with nothing but a nearly blank white screen that says “504: Bad Connection,” or something like that. What the heck is 504? Fortunately, TitanNet never blocks mainstream websites such as Yahoo!, where I check my main email…Oh, wait…

2/19/05

In this technological age, I wonder how long it will be until we buy a copy of a textbook online, and read it page for page using the web browser. It would save me energy, save the forests, and save me money, because production costs for the book company would be nearly cut out. It seems to me that enough people have their own computer today that it would be reasonable to do something like that.

2/20/05

I am totally drained from this weekend. I had two workdays in a row that I had to get up at 5:30 in the morning for. Tonight, I’m going to just go to sleep at 9 and wake up at 9 tomorrow morning. That is, if I can stay awake until then. Five hours seems like a long time to wait for this tired soul. The bottoms of my feet even hurt from standing so long!

2/21/05

This weather is disgusting; snow mixed with rain. If I ever move to a more southerly state, you can bet that it will be for a change in weather. It would be better If it was always warm in Pennsylvania, or even always cold The problem is that from day to day (and hour to hour), you never know what it will be like outside. Just last week it went from seventy degrees one day to 40 on the next and snowing most of the rest of the week. It’s difficult to deal with at college, because all of my summer clothes are at home. The second I think it is warm enough to go home and trade clothes, it’s too cold to wear a t-shirt.

2/22/05

I feel that I can relate to Mick a lot when it comes to music. I consider myself to be obsessive at times about it. Now, my musical tastes center on rock and reach outward from there, but I have a deep respect for every kind of music, including Mick’s choice of classical. Unfortunately, I don’t have the talent to dream of becoming a musician one day, but that will never stop me from listening with an open heart and open mind.

2/23/05

I can’t imagine what it would be like to be thrown into the streets today. If a second Great Depression occurred for some reason, and I was left without a home I believe that I would go crazy; however maybe the human soul is more enduring than I would believe. Maybe I would become a better person for the experience. Nevertheless, I don’t think anyone can deny that the shock of something would have serious and lasting effects.

2/24/05

Economics is the most made-up piece of crap class that I ever remember taking. In our first class we had an hour discussion about the “opportunity cost” of going to Pittsburgh. Now, it’s one thing to discuss what you might lose out on, but Econ takes it a step further. For some reason, it is necessary in Economics to establish fictional number values to anything, such as happiness. For instance, in a recent class I was told that “Matt receives “24 happiness” out of vanilla ice cream.” How do I deal with that kind of  (insert expletive here) without losing my mind?

Concert Review: Stone Temple Pilots 5.20.08

Scott Weiland’s first trip back to his hometown with longtime band STP after a 6-year hiatus. This review is a little interesting to me because at this point I was still a supermegafan. In the next couple years I became a little further disillusioned and disappointed about Weiland’s willingness and ability to stay sober. I would see them twice after this. In 2010 at Post Gazette Pavilion in Burgettstown, a few days after Weiland embarrassingly fell off the stage during a live show, he was barely coherent between songs. In 2011, STP returned to Pittsburgh to play IC Light Amphitheatre (now the site of Highmark Stadium), and the set was considerably tighter, but the crowd felt small for what had once been a major mainstream rock act–far smaller than the crowd at Post Gazette one year earlier, or the one that filled the same venue to the brim to see Weiland with Velvet Revolver in 2005.

But even though I’d lost faith in Weiland’s ability to stay sober and commit himself to his music, I was still shocked and upset at his untimely death in December of last year. This was still a man who was literally one of my idols throughout a significant part of my teen years and early 20’s, and I will always be sorry that he never pulled it together for one more great album with his old bandmates. Addiction is a scary beast, and a tricky one. Weiland could have decided that he’d conquered heroin, only to become complacent in his usage of other equally destructive substances and behaviors. Only those closest to him will really know. Regardless, I personally found this letter penned by Weiland’s ex-wife, Mary Weiland, massively affecting. In our heroes and celebrities, I think we can sometimes forget that they are also people whom others depend on intimately.

Weiland’s story wound up being a sad one, but his tribulations are eminently relatable to anyone who has struggled personally with addiction issues, or had someone in their life who has. If his death helped anyone get clean, or to face their problems, as I’m sure it did, at least some good will come of it. That’s still a sad story, but would be one worth telling.

Stone Temple Pilots – Cleveland, OH. – State Theater – May 20, 2008

The tension was palpable. The Stone Temple Pilots were about to take the stage in front of lead singer Scott Weiland’s hometown crowd for their first full solo show since the fall of 2002. That tour nearly came to blows between Weiland and lead guitarist Dean DeLeo; the result of years of unresolved and drug-addled conflicts between the two.

Nearly six years later, the scene could not be more different. Shortly after revealing a possible Stone Temple Pilots reunion, Scott Weiland left the supergroup Velvet Revolver and announced a gigantic 65-date tour with the band he helped form in the mid-80’s after meeting Robert DeLeo.

So here we are, at State Theater, Cleveland’s answer to Heinz Hall. The crystal chandeliers and ornate walls seem bizarre for a hard rock concert, and so do the ancient ushers. On the other hand, STP was never quite normal, and the elaborate decor is strangely befitting of Scott Weiland’s glam-rock style.

Ashes Divide unexpectedly hits the stage at 7:30 for a surprise opening set. Lead singer Billy Howerdel puts in a serviceable performance, but he is overshadowed by his drummer and lead guitarist, who frequently drown out his voice. Their single “The Stone,” opened the show, but little of the rest of the set was very distinguishable except, perhaps, for “Stripped Away.” They leave the stage gracefully at about 8:10 to modest applause.

Tension continues to mount as Weiland predictably takes his time making his way out to the stage. Finally, at roughly 9:00 a piano intro begins. Drummer Eric Kretz walks out from stage right and climbs up to his drum set. Bassist Robert DeLeo follows to the left side of the stage, where a mic sits for him to croon backup vocals. Dean follows to stage right. At last, Weiland walks out in a dapper black suit and fedora, still-lit cigarette burning in his hand.

The piano intro leads into hit song “Big Empty.” Weiland leans on the microphone and sings like he’s home. A gigantic LED-light screen swirls in purple psychadelia, changing to a drive down a desert road as Weiland sings, “Time to take her home / her dizzy head is conscience laden”

The Pilots take on a few more hits before delighting fans with the rarely-performed “Silvergun Superman.” A few songs later, Weiland addresses the crowd, telling us that the band is about to launch into one of their favorites, which they wrote on tour with the Butthole Surfers. “Lounge Fly” was also the long-time theme of MTV News (back when they still played music).

Weiland frequently displayed the group’s renewed kinship, constantly leaning on his band mates during solos between his snake-like movements around the stage. He rarely sits still and it makes for a visually gripping performance. After performing “Crackerman,” from their first album, the band randomly breaks into a James Brown jam, after which Robert DeLeo declares, “This is part of the reason I love you.”

Seven more songs follow before the band leaves the stage at 10:15. Undeterred, no one in the crowd moves. After five minutes of chanting, the band walks back onstage and jumps into “Sin.” Following the song, Scott addresses the crowd: “Are you ready? Are you ready?” And they launch into hit song “Dead & Bloated.” Clearly, everyone in the crowd is singing at the top of their lungs.

STP leaves the crowd with “Trippin’ on a Hole in a Paper Heart,” a song that has experienced growing popularity due to its presence on Guitar Hero II. The guitar solo is even better live. The four band members come together after the song to the front of the stage. Hands on each others shoulders, they take a bow for the booming crowd. They leave the stage, lights come on, and, as Cake put it, “The fans get up and they get out of town.”

Full Set list:
Big Empty
Wicked Garden
Big Bang Baby
Silvergun Superman
Vasoline
Lounge Fly
Lady Picture Show
Sour Girl
Creep
Crackerman
– random James Brown jam –
Plush
Interstate Love Song
Too Cool Queenie
Coma
Down
All in the Suit That You Wear
Sex Type Thing

Encore:
Sin
Dead & Bloated
Trippin’ on a Hole in a Paper Heart