Monday, April 26, 2010

Thank You For Perfecting Me! Now Let's Go Perfect Everybody Else!

Do I need to explain, at this late date, my writing modus operandi? Probably not, but just in case...

I have no internet connection at home, so when I write it is never published immediately. I always have time to ruminate. I write, then I read what I wrote. I say to myself, "Wow! That's excellent!" and then I go to bed. When I wake up, I read it again. I then, more often than not, say, "Hmmmmmm. Maybe this isn't as excellent as I thought it was." Then I either re-write or just totally shitcan what I wrote and write something different.

What follows is a ridiculously overblown reaction to some of your comments. I've read it and re-read it, and I fully realize I should shitcan it, but parts of it still tickles me. In addition, I spent about two hours on it and I don't want to have wasted that time. So, I'm publishing it and letting each of you waste about five minutes on it; much more economical. This first section is sort of an apology in advance. Not a single one of your comments warranted such an extremely snotty reaction. Moreover, you're right and I'm wrong. Still, it's way too much fun being obnoxiously self-righteous, so...

I guess that's enough apology (and way too many ellipses.) If you're one of the people I'm jumping on with both feet, you'll enjoy this more if you pretend you aren't.


I had no idea. Really, I didn’t. Had I known, I would have joined your ranks long ago. After all, it makes perfect sense.

The response to THIS PIECE, done for my other blog, was certainly instructive. I posted some reasonably focused photographs (a major triumph for someone of my well-known non-ability with a camera) and added commentary which, while not especially brilliant, was nevertheless entertaining enough to move things along to the end without giving you reason to curse me. As an aside, and to add bits of personality and flavor, I mentioned that the piece had its genesis because I smoke.

Well, that was a mistake. And it’s the last one I’ll ever make, so you folks who felt a need to tell me that smoking will kill me (despite my having said so, in the second sentence of the fourth paragraph, thus – I had assumed - obviating the need for YOU to do so) should now be happy. As a result of your having lovingly hectored me, I have decided to become as you are – perfect.

I know what you’re thinking. Considering how much baggage I have to toss off of my train of bad habits, in order to facilitate speeding it along to my final destination of relative godliness, this seems like an impossibility. However, I have your sterling examples to guide me, and if that isn’t enough, then there’s no hope.

You know what’s funny? I was so unrepentantly imperfect before this, I had no idea that so many of you were without fault and thus qualified to hand out advice on how I should live. That’s the way it is with faulty people, of course. We (I still use that term, for grammatical ease, even though I’ll soon not be included) can’t see the path to perfection as readily as we should (probably because it’s strewn with cigarette butts, chicken bones, empty beer cans, and discarded religious tracts, but I’ll clean it as I make my way towards Nirvana, making it easier for those who follow.)

(It’s the least I can do in return for your beneficence. No need to thank me, since needing thanks for doing good deeds is quite obviously a trait of lesser beings.)

Of course, now that I’m going to be perfect like you, it will be my responsibility (nay – my sacred duty!) to tell all imperfect people how they might improve themselves and attain the same state of grace. Even though, at present, I’m only ON THE WAY to perfection, I’ll waste no time getting started on this part of it. After all, I’ll be imparting joy to others, and that’s certainly a worthwhile endeavor to undertake immediately, despite the work left to be done on my own reclamation from perdition.

Of course, I’ll be quitting smoking; that’s obvious. So, from now on, whenever I see someone else smoking, I’ll walk right up to that person and tell him or her how much harm they’re doing to themselves. A person less perfect than you or I might think that everybody with an IQ over 70 is aware of the harm that smoking causes (since it is written on the side of every package of cigarettes, has been common knowledge for forty years or so, is mentioned on television and radio a few hundred times every day, is the subject of numerous laws and proposed laws, is banned from many places because of the well-known ill effects, is the subject of exorbitant taxation in order to recoup the costs of health care expenditures, and would thus seemingly be impossible to claim ignorance about) but we perfect people know better. We understand that, unless we add our two cents, the smoker will think he or she is free from the possibility of deleterious effects, and so if we don’t ruin what little enjoyment they ARE getting from the thing that will kill them, by making them feel even more guilty about it, we will feel guilty about that, so by all means we should make ourselves feel as though we’re accomplishing something, since what’s the use of being perfect if it doesn’t include a sense of accomplishment?

On to other things. I’ve noticed that none of you eat anything that could possibly be bad for your health, so I’ll stop doing that, too. No more red meat, milk, donuts, mallomars, butter, white bread, cheese, fried chicken, ice cream, Oreos, coffee, sugar, corn syrup, cream, cookies, cake, pickles, salt, trans fats, refined flour, peanuts, Chinese food, unfiltered water, vegetable oils, pancakes, waffles, muffins, torts, jam, jelly, marmalade, crackers, syrups, chutney, gravy, Worcestershire sauce, canned vegetables, processed soups, mercury-laden tuna (and/or dolphin), Froot Loops, lard, pizza, fried fish, here’s where, i throw, in something, that all of, the skimmers, will not see, so they’ll, wonder why, i tell them, to fuck off, in the comments, when they get, self-righteous, and pork. Since none of you eat these things, you’ll never die, of course, and I think that’s something I might like. We’ll have many years to tell the fat people to lay off of them, and then THEY’LL never die, just like us! And we’ll all have eternity together to enjoy eating mealy worms or whatever is left.

Obviously, if one has devoted such attention to not polluting their lungs or guts, the same care should be taken with the brain. After all, without a fully-functioning brain, how can one be expected to become holier-than-thou? I’ll stop drinking beer, immediately. Whiskey, vodka, gin, wine, tequila, absinthe, rum, and all other alcoholic beverages will also be verboten. They kill brain cells!

(Maybe they kill bad brain cells as well as good ones, and the trade is worth it? No, that’s the sort of thinking characteristic of a disordered mind that spends too much time considering improbables; one befouled by reality-altering substances. How silly.)

No drugs of any kind, of course, prescription or otherwise. Sure, some of them alleviate pain, whether physical or mental, but we perfect beings don’t need such crutches. And we’ll be damned if we’ll let any other one-legged spiritual sons of bitches use them, either! We know what’s good for the bastards, and they’ll learn to live with their pain and be better for it! It builds character!

One thing I found especially amazing was the amount of time you devote to exercise. I guess, what with the not smoking, the not eating, the not drinking, the not doing drugs, and the not having sex – I’m just assuming - you have scads of free time to run nowhere in particular. It’s a good thing, I suppose, since running will more quickly get us to all of those people who desperately need our advice. And when they see such visions of untainted unrepentant unbelievably inhuman unworldliness, such as ourselves, jogging towards their smoky, fat, drunk, clogged artery, vile selves, what choice will they have but to listen? Heck, they certainly won’t be able to outrun us. If they’ve attained less perfection than we have, and are less polite, they might try to shoot us, but I’m sure we have a plan to handle such an eventuality. We wouldn’t be perfect otherwise.

About the only thing I don’t understand is how we can justify such an obviously bad for us activity as sitting on our asses in front of a computer. It’s no good for the eyes, contributes to obesity, has a tendency to cause actual physical harm via such things as carpal tunnel syndrome, and sucks for the environment. I’ll figure it out once I become as fantastic as the rest of you, no doubt, but for the present it baffles me.


My friends – and I call you that because you may still be, despite all of the crap above – I know that smoking is bad for me, and I know that you mean well in telling me so. But – and I say this with all possible love – shut the fuck up about it. The painfully obvious point is that we all do something or other that is unhealthy – physically, morally, spiritually, legally – and, in most instances, we already know we’re doing something ridiculous and ultimately harmful. If a person is doing himself harm and is unaware of that harm, sure, maybe you should offer some advice. But, folks, smoking is damned sure not one of those instances. Everybody who smokes knows full well that a hideous disease and unbearable pain may lie just around the corner from their ashtray. All you’re doing by reminding them of that fact is making their present less enjoyable. You are making yourselves feel good, via the mistaken notion that you’re doing an act of love by offering advice and/or admonition, but it does absolutely nothing for the person you’re advising or admonishing other than to make him or her more miserable. Their future will be nasty enough. Leave them be to enjoy the now, and trust to the fact that they already know.

[I went on in this vein for another seven paragraphs. About the only thing you have to be truly thankful for in all of this is that I've deleted the rest of it.]

As I said at the beginning, though - you're right. I should quit smoking. I'm seriously considering it. And I'll continue to seriously consider it until one of you, in the comments to this piece, tells me again that I should do it. Then, being the contrarian prick that I am, I'll light up another smoke even if I don't especially want one at the moment.

Soon, with more better stuff (if I don't come down with six different kinds of cancer tomorrow, since God seems to take a special delight in making us become what we have readily mocked.)

Tuesday, April 20, 2010


[Before we get into what passes for a story around here, I'd like to thank you all for the multitude of kind wishes expressed to MY WIFE on her birthday. I knew I could count on you guys to denigrate me unmercifully and make her birthday more joyous. Also, a special 'Thank You!' to Judi Fitzpatrick, who went out of her way to make a very nice handmade gift. Her good stuff may be bought HERE.]

[If you've been coming around here on a regular basis for the past three weeks or so, you've seen and/or heard THIS, THIS, THIS, THIS and THIS. All of them might be useful as prologue. I'd say one or two of them might even be essential, but I'll leave that up to you. If you feel lost in what follows, click onto those links!]

On Saturday, I ventured to the home of Steve Giusti, his lovely wife, and his daughter. Steve was the drummer from Live Wire, a.k.a. Powerline, one of the rock groups I played in, in this case during the very early 80's. He had been gracious enough to offer his basement as a place for us to get together and jam, as an entire group, for the first time in close to 30 years. Steve made this offer when, a week prior, three of us had gone to Plymouth to take part in our singer's 50th birthday bash. The only one of us missing was Ronnie Bower, one of the guitarists, who had to cancel his appearance at the party at the last minute due to a business problem that needed immediate handling.

The party was swell. It was great to see Marty again, as well as to see so many other faces I hadn't seen in ages. A nice bit of ego pumping was had, too. We folks from the band were treated as semi-celebrities. It was truly amazing how many people told us, upon finding out that we were members of Powerline/Live Wire, how much they used to love coming out to see us perform at such-and-such a club. I even heard a couple of folks quote lyrics from our original tunes. When you consider that we never put out any commercial recordings, and that these folks were dredging those lyrics from their 30-year-old memories without prodding, you can understand that it was quite a rush to hear them do so. I was flabbergasted, to say the least.

As I said, four of our five made it to the party. And, at one point, we were asked to pose together for a photo. When we did so, five or six people took out cameras and started shooting. It was the closest I've ever come to having the Paparazzi experience. The four of us stood there, smiling back and forth at each other, making comments like, "Man, this is more flashbulbs than we got total when we were an actual band!"

Here's a shot of the entire group, from 1981, and then some shots of the four of us who made the party.

Jimi, Steve, Ronnie B., Ron F., Marty

Ron F., Marty, Jimi, Steve

Without Ronnie Bower there, I was the only bald guy, damn it.

However, while some of us have lost a bit of hair, some of us have also managed to retain a slightly more trim waistline than others.

Here are a couple more shots from the party.

Me, doing my world famous "half-drunk deer in the headlights" imitation

Steve has aged way too well, and is still a handsome bastard. We will have to kill him and get an uglier drummer.

Now, on to this past weekend, when four of our five were able to make it to the subsequent jam session at Steve's place. Marty (our singer/flautist/harmonicat) had a previous commitment. He was bummed about not being able to take part, but expressed definite interest in getting together the next time we can all do so. Showing up this time, to have some fun attempting to remember the old arrangements, were Ron Frattasio, myself, Steve, and Ronnie Bower. In order to even things up in the bald-guy-in-photos department, I kept my hat on this time.

And here are before and after shots of the four of us (1981 first, then present day - as if you couldn't tell that without me cluing you in.)


Ron is, and always has been, a tremendously nice guy. And, in listening back to the tapes of the jam session, I've come to the conclusion that he may be the best musician of the four of us these days. Not that he wasn't a kick to play with years before, but he's now gained some seriously good chops. I was impressed.


Steve still has the same drum kit! Way cool!

Steve is, as mentioned before, too good-looking to go on living. We're definitely going to have to step on his face before we do a gig. I mean, not only does he make the rest of us all look fairly old, but compared to him we look like old degenerates. Personally, I have no problem with that - I've been cultivating that look for some time now - but I'm just thinking of Ron and Ronnie's feelings.


Bowser, as I sometimes like to call him, is one funny son of a gun. He'll just be standing there, very quiet, looking as though he's not really paying attention to anything in particular, and then he'll come out with some sort of comment that just cracks me up. For instance, at one point Saturday, I suggested we take a break in order to clear our heads. Ron F. agreed, and so did Steve. Ronnie waited a beat, then said, "Yeah, you guys do need to take a break."

One other funny story about Ronnie. He's currently plagued with a really bad hip. As a consequence, he can't do much lifting and carrying. When he arrived at Steve's and said that he couldn't carry his equipment inside, and that he'd like someone else to do so, Steve said, "Yup. Some things never change."


The less said about this guy, the better off we'll all be.

I'd post some music from the session, but truthfully there wasn't much great stuff. We had a ball, but much of the time was spent playing about a minute of something, then stopping and saying stuff like, "Hey, wait a minute! What key are you playing in? Didn't we play this in F sharp?" or "Steve, that's where your drum break was, remember? That's why we all stopped, but you shouldn't have!" or "Man, Ronnie, I can't hear what I'm playing through this P.A. Can you give me a bit more high end so I can distinguish the actual notes instead of it being a pile of mush?"

More so than anything else, we were struggling to remember the old arrangements. It's been a long time, and it will take a few more sessions before we gel to a point where I'd feel comfortable putting the product out here for general consumption. When we do get it together, which I have no doubt we will, I'll post some audio.

Hope you enjoyed the photos and such. I'm pretty sure none of us did (except maybe Steve, the handsome bastard.)

Soon, with more better stuff.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Sunday Is MY WIFE's Birthday

MY WIFE generally prefers that her face not be seen here. I can't say that I blame her. Being associated publicly with anything I do is likely to cause hideous embarrassment for a person, sooner or later. For instance, here it appears I'm about to puke all over my birthday eclairs. No wonder she doesn't want to be seen!

So, in deference to her wishes, I have always kept her name hidden and I generally try to keep her face out of things, too.

But, damn, how can I pass up showing her dressed as a cherry pie? Woot!

See? Now she's all embarrassed. And that's how she poses for a photo if she has even the slightest inkling that the shot will appear on these pages.

However, once in a while she lets herself be caught in a pose that truly captures her athleticism.

Oops! I've embarrassed her again!


Some of you actually know her, while some of you know her only from these pages. I suspect there may be one or two people, new here, who don't know her at all. Well, here's a quick tutorial.

MY WIFE (always ALL CAPS, because... well, I guess you could read this, but it's damn long. Suffice to say she doesn't want her real name used and the CAPS are a sign of my love and respect) is my soulmate. The possibility might exist that I have other soulmates out there, but she's the one who got to me first, so she has dibs. And damn fine ones, too, I might add.

(She will read that last sentence and groan, but she won't divorce me. MY WIFE puts up with my overwhelming penchant for turning everything into a dirty joke. Soulmates will forgive the little peccadilloes.)

(And don't think I couldn't have done something similar with that sentence. Yikes!)

I can count on the fingers of one hand (I think even Mordecai Brown's hand would be enough) the number of actual fights we've had over the course of the 20 years (including 18 years of marriage) since we first met.

(Oh, you want to know how we first met? Here you go! If YOU want a soulmate, go thou and do likewise!)

(Or have your mother do likewise - and, no, that's not some sort of an insult. You'll understand when you read it.)

When I am hurting, MY WIFE hurts. When I cry, she tastes salt. That doesn't do me even a tiny bit of good, but she really likes salt, so she'll use any excuse.

(She actually laughs at some of this crap. How could I not love her?)

MY WIFE likes to take me on Mystery Dates. Since it's a mystery why she wanted to date me in the first place, it is somehow apropos.

Want to know more about her? Try these posts in which she is featured prominently:

MY WIFE wakes up on The Morning Of The Last Day Of My Mini-Vacation

MY WIFE is Howard Stern in A Halloween Story

MY WIFE is as much of a slugabed as I am during My Day At The Marathon

MY WIFE is fairly much as insane as I am while we write out George Bernard Golf Club Leans To One Side

MY WIFE goes to the grocery store with me! Mt. Olive Pepper Rings Jimmy Fund Shopping

And, of course...

The Wedding Of The Decade

... said decade being the 1990's, so if you were married in that decade, tough bananas. Ours was the best. Sorry!

And who could live without...


There are, of course, many others. She is the reason I started blogging in the first place. It was her suggestion that I do so. Therefore, all of you people who are sick and tired of me have her to blame.

Hey! Look! Here's a whole bunch of random photos with her in them!

And now, if you would be kind enough to leave your best wishes, happy birthday greetings, or most sincere condolences concerning her marital state, I'll show them to her on Sunday. Thanks!

Soon, with more better stuff.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Now That I Know I Can Trust You, Here's My Heart

I've given you a few songs performed by Live Wire (aka Powerline) and you've accepted them with good grace and love. I thank you for that. And now that I know I can trust you, I give you my heart. My soul, really. I give you the song that meant the most to me, as a musician, during every gig we played. It is the song entitled Live Wire.

I would dig this as rock, whether it was me playing on it or not, but it contains my heart and soul because it also contains my nightly extended bass solo. As a hard rock bass player, you mostly stay in the background. Sure, you do some fills you might be proud of, or maybe you get a small solo spot here or there for four or eight bars, but most of the glory goes to the singers and guitar players. And rightly so. Their sound is usually more easily accessible, crisp and up front, whereas bass may be diffuse, a bit mysterious to some, steady but perhaps not exciting. Guitarists and singers are in your face, but you have to listen to hear the bass. When musicians are listed on the back cover of a CD or (showing my age) record jacket, singers and guitarists come first; bass players and drummers come last. No complaints; that's just the way it is, with rare exceptions.

Not every situation, nor every group, gives a bass player the opportunity to stretch out. I was lucky enough to be in a group filled with guys who appreciated what I could do and who didn't frown on experimentation. They allowed me the spotlight for as long as I wanted it during this song, and I thank them for that.

(At the birthday bash for the singer, Marty - which, I promise, I will show you some "before & after" photos from soon, probably next week - he opened my gift of the CDs I made of the group's performances, and when he saw the song "Live Wire" listed, he gave a good-natured laugh, and said to those present, "Oh, man. Yeah, I'd say, 'Here's Jim on bass!' and then the rest of us would go out for a sandwich, play a few hands of cards, do our nails, have some coffee, maybe chat up a few girls in the audience, and then start listening for his cue to us to come back in.")

The song is 7 minutes - really kicks in with the chugga-chugga at about the one-minute mark - and my solo begins at about 3 minutes into it. Steve accompanies on drums, and really it was a showcase for him, too. He and I worked out some set bits within it, but I'd say about half of it was improvised each performance. And he never missed what I was going for, always supplying just the right accents and fills. At the end of the solo, I play some chords - double and triple stops - leading into an ascending line that was the cue for the rest of the boys to come back after their sandwiches and whatnot. This particular performance certainly has a couple of small clams in it, but overall I'm proud of my playing. Considering the pace of the song, I... well, I threw the CD on the other day and tried playing along, with thirty years more playing experience to draw upon, and I had a damned hard time keeping up with my younger self.

Here's the lyric (as well as annotation of some mid-song stage patter):

LIVE WIRE (Bower, Frattasio, Giusti, LaRue, Murphy)

You're a woman full of energy
Your eyes sparkle with electricity
You're my idol, girl, you're my best friend
When we make love, you stand my hair on end
You're my live wire

I feel a sense of electrocution
Falling thunderstorm; there's no solution
When I wake up in the dead of night
Let you do the things you want to me - I won't fight
You're my live wire

[Ron Frattasio on guitar right here
We got Ronnie Bower on guitar, guitar Ronnie Bower
Steve Giusti on drums, Steve Giusti
On bass guitar we got Jim LaRue
Take it away, James]

You're my live wire

Live Wire
You're my burning desire
Live Wire
You set my soul on fire
Live Wire
See what you mean to me
You're my one and only one
Don't ever set me free
You're my live wire

And here is the song itself. I hope you enjoy it.


Soon, with more better stuff.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Last Stand

[Main characters in the stories that follow - Me, Steve, Ronnie]

Much like old soldiers, talk often turns to times past when old bandmates get together. Stories are traded concerning mutual experiences, and good laughs are often the result. Here are two tales that revolve around one of our songs.

When Live Wire worked a club date, our closer for the fourth set (the last set of the evening) was usually an original tune called Last Stand.

HEAR THE TUNE (The standard disclaimer: poor sound quality, but it's the only version of the song that was ever recorded, so far as I am aware. Unfortunately, Ronnie's ending solo did not get picked up very well on the tape, perhaps because of the cassette recorder being far from his amp. If you're a musician, you'll probably still hear the cues. Ronnie gives his after 32 bars, far from... well, I'm getting ahead of the stories.)

We worked strictly from head arrangements. After the final verse on this song, Ronnie Bower had an extended solo that varied in length. He'd launch into his solo while the rest of us kept the steady repetitious rhythm. When he decided he'd exhausted all possibilities for fun - after 24 bars, or 32, or anything else divisible by 8 - he'd play a certain run to signal me, then I'd play a specific bass line as cue to the rest of the guys that it was time to close it out. Then we'd all play the final 8 and (hopefully) bask in the tumultuous applause.

One night, Ronnie got it into his head to torture Steve Giusti, our drummer. The rest of us - rhythm guitar, bass, percussion - just had 4 chords to contend with. In my case, this meant fingering a simple line. Ron Frattasio strummed and Marty kept a simple beat on a percussion instrument of one sort or another. Steve, however, had to keep pounding the drums and, since this was the final song of four sets, he would sometimes be exhausted by the time this song ended. On the night in question, Ronnie just kept noodling around the fretboard with no particular goal in mind. He was making enough noise to keep it interesting for the (by this time of night) very drunk patrons, and every so often he'd peek over his shoulder to see Steve shooting daggers at him with his eyes. It was a summer night in a hot smoky crowded club. Steve was pouring sweat, his hands cramping, his bass foot going into paroxysms, and had it not been a paying gig with customers out front, I think he might have started flinging sticks at Bower to get him to stop.

Bower finally gives me the cue after perhaps 512 bars. I was tempted to ignore it, not playing the other cue for the rest of the band, just to see what Steve would do. However, he was my good buddy in the rhythm section, so I did the right thing and didn't allow the torture to continue. We closed out the song - to huge applause, by the way, as Bower had been circulating in the crowd while doing his solo and getting everybody to love him - and we left the stage. As soon as we got out of sight of the audience, Steve kicked Ronnie in the nads and then beat him to death with a ride cymbal.

Nah. Steve was way too nice a guy to do anything but smile about the joke, and that's why Ronnie did it. It's also why we all have such fond memories of being in that band. We were all nice guys, prone to pranking but never to outright shitty behavior.

The other story also has to do with Last Stand.

One of our bits of stage business was for Ronnie and me to stand back-to-back during his extended solo, leaning into each other (and, on occasion - if we did it right - both of us inching our way down close to the floor while we played. Then, still supporting each back-to-back, resuming upright positions. We'd then go our separate ways, working the crowd, until Ronnie gave me the cue to end, etc.)

Well, as you probably know, electric instruments and amplifiers have to be grounded. When they're not, or if the polarities are opposite, shocks may result. Unbeknownst to me, Bower switched the ground on my amplifier during the break before our final set. This made absolutely no difference during any of the other songs, as I had no reason to approach a mic or otherwise come into contact with anything else with a ground during the first 7 songs of the set.

We launch into his extended solo, with Bower and I making our way out onto the dance floor of the club. We give each other a visual cue - eye contact - and approach each other to do the back-to-back bit. We turn and lean into each other.

Jesus Christ! I get this huge shock! I almost stop playing, but I'm something of a pro and so I keep going. I have no idea what happened. Ronnie is looking at me like I'm out of my mind, and he sort of signals for me to lean into him again. Like an idiot, I do. ZZZZZAP!!!

This time, Ronnie can't keep a straight face, and the light dawns on Marblehead. I realize what's happening. I am NOT going to touch the son of a bitch again. Except now, Ronnie is approaching me with this evil gleam in his eye. So, I have to back away from him. Meanwhile, of course, we both have to keep playing, and the rest of the band is wondering why I suddenly appear terrified of Ronnie. I stopped, gave him this look of "If you touch me again, you bastard, I'm going to slam my bass over your head", and I think he got the message. He laughed, finished his solo - and then tried to get to me one more time, after the song ended, before I could switch out the ground. I was too quick for him, and powered down my amp before he could fry me.

Like Steve, I was too nice a guy to knock Ronnie's teeth out. And Ronnie was just too nice a guy to do it to, anyway. See, he could take a joke himself, so when he played one on you it was cool. He knew you might seek revenge of some sort later, and that was fair play. If he was the victim of something funny, he'd laugh at your joke. Of course, when the rest of the guys found out what had been transpiring during the song, they rolled on the floor laughing.


Went to the birthday bash for Marty (the singer) on Saturday and it was a blast. Tomorrow, or the next day, I'll see if I can put together some "before & after" photos to show you.

Soon, with more better stuff.

[Thanks to Knucklehead for initially triggering my memories of these incidents via this piece of his.]

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Freedom (To Me)

You never know what you're going to find when you clean out a closet. For instance, I found a time machine.

Well, OK, not literally a device that could send me back into the past, but most definitely a way to revisit it. What I found was a cassette tape containing a performance of Live Wire. Until I found that tape, I assumed that I already had the complete Live Wire collection in my possession, i.e., one live performance tape and one studio session tape. I assumed there were no other recordings of us. As you might imagine, I was thrilled to find another live recording. Increasing your stockpile of aural memories by 50% in one fell swoop is exciting stuff.

Anyway, I found the tape a few months ago. Subsequently, four of our five met at a Chinese restaurant in preparation for the birthday party of the fifth. It then occurred to me that it would be really cool to digitize everything I had, from all three tapes, and throw the results onto a couple of CDs as a birthday present for the celebrant. And, since I was making the CDs anyway, why not make copies for the other guys? So, I've been busy doing that, during my spare time, over the past week or so.

The major problem in doing so has been cleaning up the recordings as much as possible. As I said, these things were recorded onto cassettes close to 30 years back. The tapes have degraded quite a bit, and some songs needed major overhauls, sonically speaking. Luckily, sound technology has advanced quite a bit since 1981, so I was able - in most instances - to resurrect at least a listenable version of the performances. Of course, since we were the ones playing the songs, our listening experiences will be both better and worse than someone coming upon these things fresh. Our memories will fill in some gaps, while simultaneously remembering some things that weren't salvageable.

For what I hope is your listening pleasure, here's another song from the Live Wire catalog. It's called Freedom To Me and I'm the guy responsible for it. I wrote it. Again, sound quality from 30 years ago isn't as good as it would be if recorded last week, but you should have heard it before I worked on it! Be kind. This one was performed at that club, McCarthy's, that I've talked about in the posts about the group. Thus the sound is intimate and separate audience members get picked up on the tape.


Marty "Sucks" Murphy - Lead Vocal, Flute
Ronnie Bower - Backing Vocal, Lead Guitar
Ron Frattasio - Rhythm Guitar
Jimi LaRue (yes, me) - Bass
Steve Giusti - Drums

Since I wrote it, you fans of bass will hear distinct bass on it (the opening and ending are me, with only accompaniment being Ronnie Bower playing harmonics on his guitar, and Steve Giusti with small cymbal flourishes at the end.) It's a softer tune than most of our repertoire - a ballad, really. Here's the lyric:

Freedom (To Me) (LaRue)

Made me
What I am
And what I am is what I wanted to be
So you are freedom to me

Gave me
What I need
And what I need is to have you near to me
So you are freedom to me

(bass solo)

Can see
What you are
And I believe in what you're trying to be
And that is freedom to me

Can be
Something more
And the more you are the more I can be
So you are freedom to me

(guitar solo)

(repeat first verse, etc., then flute solo out to bass ending)


When MY WIFE and I were married, in 1992, I actually wrote out the sheet music to this and had the choir/band play it during the ceremony. Being self-taught, and having worked exclusively in bands that used nothing but head arrangements, it was the first time I had ever written music for someone else to play. I'm still not sure I got it absolutely correct. I ended up showing the leader/organist the basic structure by playing it myself on his keyboard. He took it from there and the ensemble did a fine job with it. There was some slight consternation on his part when we began, as music played at a Catholic wedding ceremony should rightly not be secular music, but I got him to buy into the entirely plausible rationalization that the lyrics referred to God and not to MY (future) WIFE. If you re-read them, you'll see that this could very well be the case, at least for the first two verses, so he suspended his disbelief and the song was used.

Hope you enjoyed it. The birthday party is Saturday. I'll try to get a few photos so you can compare and contrast us, then and now.

Soon, with more better stuff.

[My thanks to buddy Kevin Fitzpatrick for his work restoring the photo seen on this piece. The original was faded as hell, but - with no prodding from me - he took many of the photos I published here previously and did some work on them in Photoshop. He's one of the good ones, for sure.]

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Ask Poochie - 2

If you want more good advice, see Part One. And, if you have a need for similar advice, Poochie will be glad to service you. Send your questions to, with a subject line of "Question For Poochie". No guarantees when the next installment will publish, though, so if you're in a hurry you might be better off asking somebody qualified.


Dear Poochie:

How did you meet and fall in love with that Saint of a woman, YOUR WIFE?

i beati

Dear i beati:

I met MY WIFE in the usual way. I was hanging out in the stairwell at a parking garage, waiting for a likely victim, when she showed up. Not much else to tell. I clubbed her over the head, threw her in the trunk of my car, and we were married two years later. Very pedestrian stuff.

Oh, OK, I can't pass up the opportunity to send you to another piece. Here's The Shish-Kebob Incident.

Shish-Kebob? Yes. That's what I used for bait.


Hello Mr Suldog kind sir,

Do you have any suggestions as how to get my sweet hubby interested in trying one of the mystery dates like YOUR WIFE surprises you with occasionally? I have shown him the posts describing all the fun you have on your mystery dates and he says it is a good idea but won't budge when I want to try a mystery destination. He is bipolar and on meds and does not care for stress. He knows I know all this and I would not put either of us in a stressful situation. I just thought I would start out with a simple coffee out and a walk somewhere. Any advice from your overflowing cup of wisdom would be appreciated.


Now that's the way to write a letter! Since you know the value of obeisance, I will give you the most heartfelt and excellent advice I have ever given: Shish-Kebob. And a good strong club. Make sure the trunk of your car isn't cluttered!

No, seriously, what meds is he on? More important, is he willing to share? Perhaps he's already on a mystery date with himself, 24/7. If so, what does he have to gain by indulging you? I mean, aside from the obvious?

OK, let's assume that there's room in his head for more fun. As usual, my stock answer applies: lie. Tell him you're going out to eat at whatever place you always do. Then, take him wherever you want. Once you get there and have fun, he'll forgive you (unless he has a psychotic reaction and ends up in a cracker factory for the next year, in which case they'll be giving him his meds and he won't need those he has at home now, so I'll be over to pick them up at 8.)

All right, since you really desire an answer that has little inherent chance of upsetting your man, here's the serious-as-a-heart-attack advice. Have the first mystery date AT HOME. There's no rule that says you have to go someplace far away. Guarantee him that you won't take him any further than one block from home. Then walk him around the block, back to your own house. Beforehand, cook (or order in) something new and interesting. Dress up in something playful, maybe wearing it under your coat when you go out; alternatively, you can change into it when you get home. Decorate a room in your house in a way it's never been before, perhaps creating a theme with all three elements (and, remember, elements never forget!)

MY WIFE once wrapped her boobs in tin foil and pretended they were Hershey's Kisses. That doesn't necessarily have anything to do with the above advice, but I've been trying to work that tidbit into this blog for five years now and could never find the right place for it, not that this is.

Anyway, the idea is to make a night the two of you will never forget. It doesn't matter where you end up, so if he's comfortable at home... And, once you spring this one on him, and he admits to the pleasure of it, you've got him. Can he ever say no after that? No! Next time, when you want to bring him someplace, remind him how much fun he had the last time you had a mystery date. He has to agree to go with you unless he's a total poop. And then, while you have him out of the house, I'll be over to steal those meds. Or, since this was such outstanding advice, you could just send me some out of the goodness of your heart.


Dear Poochie:

I live with five cats. They insist on sitting on every seat in the house in the daytime. I now have varicose veins and swollen ankles from having to stay on my feet because I cannot sit down. At night, I have severe cramps from having to lie in contortionist positions due to a number of said felines occupying the sleeping area. Once I get into bed, they reposition themselves variously on my head, feet, down the length of my body and under the covers with claws attached to tender areas in readiness for me moving the wrong way.

How can I get a decent night's sleep and find out how it feels to stretch out again? And how can I get a sit down in the day? Please help Poochie, before my ankles burst. And please tell me how I can repair shredded boobs before my husband notices.
Thank you.

Yours purringly,

Dear Thumbelina:

You are obviously a madwoman. I'd look into getting some of the meds that TechnoBabe's significant other currently takes. Couldn't hurt. However, perhaps your religion forbids the use of such medications? In that case, start your own religion. What the hell; you're obviously bonkers to begin with, so it won't be a stretch.

If you're not willing to medicate or become your own pope, I think the obvious answer is best. Just sit down on a random cat. I can almost guarantee you that after you sit down on the first one, and it gives out with a bloodcurdling scream, the others will think twice before getting in the way of your destructive butt. If they still insist on blocking your access to the La-Z-Boy, just keep sitting on the suckers. Sooner or later, they'll get the message (or be crippled beyond repair, which will also solve the problem.)

As for the bedroom, I must ask a question: Has your husband been petting your pussy in bed? That may be the reason for your pussy being there. So, if you want your pussy out of bed, I think the only thing to do is to tell your husband to stop stroking it. Otherwise, it may never want to leave. I did notice, however, that you seem to have mentioned multiple pussies in the bed. Where is your husband in all this? Is he buried under a mound of pussy? In that case, I wouldn't worry too much about the shredded boobs, as he probably won't notice. If you really must repair them, though, Spackle will do the job nicely. Just be sure to have a pink highlighter handy (or a brown one; I haven't seen them, so it could be) for the parts that may need coloring in.


Dear Poochie:

My softball team has been real bad and never have won any championships. Our faithful ex-manager is turning 99 and we want to win one before we have to cap him like Old Yeller. Any advice? Also can you get a signed autograph of Cam Zirpolo for our friend Chris Knucklehead?


Jennifer Aniston & Jessica Simpson

P.S. Give us that stud Jay Atton's phone number

Dear Persons Whose Names Suspiciously Begin With Jay:

Where do I even begin?

Let's start with your faithful ex-manager. If he's anything like me (and I bet he is, a lot) then if the team had listened to him more, and not swung at 3 and 0 pitches - and if knuckleball pitchers listened to him and threw only knuckleballs, and didn't try to sneak 45 mph fastballs past batters - and if the outfielders paid attention when he tried to get them to come in so that singles hitters wouldn't drop weak pop-ups in front of them, instead of being scared of one going over their heads and playing someplace in downtown Chelsea - then maybe they would have done better. Instead of capping the manager, maybe the team is lucky he never capped their asses. Excluding you two, of course, as you seem like reasonable types who always takes a strike.

As for an autographed photo of Cam Zirpolo, he'll be at a card show in Woonsocket this weekend. He won't be inside signing autographs, though. He'll just be standing outside the door asking for spare change. I'm sure Knucklehead can strike some sort of reasonable deal, probably get an autographed photo for two bits. Hell, if he's willing to spring for a couple bucks, he can probably get a pint of official Cam Zirpolo blood.

And Big Jay Atton's phone number is 1-800-CALZONE.


Dear Poochie:

Should I rent my house to my mother?

Here's the background on the story. Two years ago my mother wanted to move from Alabama to Florida. Her proposition? Buy a house and I will rent it from you.

As the good son, wanting to make my mother happy, I went out and bought her a 3 bedroom/2bath BRAND NEW home. She stayed 8 months, decided she hated Florida, and moved to Indiana without even giving me notice she was doing so. During her 8 months in Florida all I heard were complaints about how she hated Florida. To make a long story short, she now hates Indiana and is asking me to rent her the house again in Florida.

What should I do?


On The Road Again

Dear OTRA:

I suppose it's too late to get a new mother?

Here are two possible scenarios, both of which I'm glad I'm only giving advice about.

1) Lie. Tell her the house is rented, and the new tenants have an ironclad five-year lease. If she asks you to buy her another house, tell her you're broke and ask her for a loan. Better yet, ask her if you can move in with her. That should shut her up.

2) Let her move back to the house in Florida. This is probably the easiest solution. But get her to sign a lease or pay you rent up-front for a lengthy time period. That should stop her from moving out and leaving you holding the bag. If she refuses to be that reasonable, then you have to stand up to her and tell her, "No."

Good luck!


Dear Poochie:

A friend of a friend (yeah, you heard me) has agreed to have (an escorted, with her best mate, the one responsible for setting this up) lunch with the cheating ex-fiancee she ditched and hasn't seen in over twenty years, when she is in London (next week). How can she instantly lose all her wrinkly, saggy bits, and guarantee to leave him pining for the rest of his sorry life?

Yours hopefully (on behalf of a friend of a friend),


Dear Shrinky:

Here's the thing you probably haven't thought of: He likely has all sorts of wrinkly saggy bits himself. On top of that - and I do mean on top - he's probably bald.

(Not that there aren't some magnificently sexy bald men. For instance... well, modesty forbids me to mention names. However, his lack of hirsuteness might make you feel better about yourself, that's all I'm saying.)

If the fact that he's aged as much as you, or maybe even more so, doesn't give you confidence, then my next-best advice is to get him drunk. The following formula applies:

Every pint of beer he drinks = you look two years younger and sexier.

In addition, every pint also makes him look fatter as his belly fills up. So, if he has ten pints, you'll look twenty years younger and he'll be grossly obese.

If that doesn't work for you, let's try this: Do you have a daughter who looks like you did twenty years ago? Send her in your place. She probably won't even have to talk, because when she walks into the bar and he sees her, he'll keel over from shock at the fact that you still look magnificent while he's turned into a wrinkly saggy bald git.

But, really, getting him drunk is best. Have your friend fill him up with stout before you arrive. If he can still talk by the time you get there, he'll lavish you with praises concerning how magnificent you look.

(Oh, excuse me. Your friend.)


Dear Poochie:

I don't normally write to someone who has a dog's name, unless it was an advice column about pets (which I don't own any) but I heard from several unnamed sources that you'll give me the answer you want yet not necessarily how I want it to be while still being the best answer nobody needs. So I figured I would give it a shot.

My problem is two-fold. I tried to make it three, but my origami skills aren't the best and any moron can fold a piece a paper over once even if it is into a tiny little ball. Anyway, this question came to me while surfing the Amazon site for porn movies while realizing they don't sell porn and how unfair to leave perverts out of their shopping needs. What discrimination that is! I say we should boycott! But I'm not sure how serious they'll take someone going by the name Poochie and shows photos of pink dildos on their site. But it would make a good marketing strategy.

However, I digress (which seems all right to do on your site [since it seems you digress a lot and use many unnecessary parentheses to boot {not that I'm complaining about it and hope you don't hold it against me by not answering my question}]).

My problem is: how do I make a bad situation into a good situation while knowing when the good situation comes it will just go unnoticed, turning it into a bad situation?

signed - Partially Persuasive in Pennsylvania

Dear PP in Pennsylvania:

I think you answered your own question. I certainly hope so, anyway, as I can't make head nor tail of it.

One thing caught my eye (ouch) and I must comment. Amazon doesn't sell any porn?!? Why, their name itself conjures up an image of a sexy big-breasted warrior woman (well, one breast, anyway.) I find it rather amazing that they don't have any porn. Did you check between the mattress and box spring? That's where you'll usually find it. If not there, way in the back of the sock drawer.

To answer your actual question, you turn a bad situation into a good situation by throwing money at it. That's what the government says, anyway, and if you can't trust the government, who can you trust? Certainly not me, so what have we learned here? Not a damned thing, and that's what anybody with half a brain had to expect, so the next guy should be satisfied.


Dear Poochie:

Do you know where I can find Kosher Ham?

Uncle Skip

Sure. It's right next to the Kosher Crab. You can't miss it.

Seriously - and I've used that word far too often here - if you want Kosher Ham, it's possible that the ham made from turkey might actually qualify. For that matter, the crab made from pollock might qualify, too. Neither one is quite as good as the original, though, so I'd suggest that everybody who wants to try real ham or real crab convert to Catholicism. There's almost as much guilt as with Judaism, but you get to eat more stuff.

Speaking of which...

Soon, with better.

Monday, April 05, 2010

Ask Poochie

The response to this was so overwhelming (and my responses so wordy) that I've decided it needs two days to do it justice. As a matter of fact, I might even make it a regular feature, so if you've got any more questions to which you need answers, feel free to send them to, and I'll use you (yes, I meant to say it that way) in another installment.

Meanwhile, here's part one of...

Dear Poochie:

I've been invited to a baby shower next weekend.

I hate baby showers. Loathe them with a vengeance. There's just waaaaaay too much estrogen at these things. And I have absolutely no interest in babies (born and unborn) and their accoutrements - I am incapable of mustering excitement over a onesie, tiny socks or the frequency of their (or anyone else's) bowel movements. Seriously, they sleep, they cry, they eat, they shit. How interesting are they?

I need advice on how to turn the invitation down.


Dear Jazz:

Ugh. Baby showers. I don't like them, either. The babies bounce off of you, hit the floor, and pretty soon you're up to your waist in babies. And you don't get clean at all.

I jest, of course. But not about babies. I can't say that I find them particularly interesting, either. I prefer having no interaction with humans until they're old enough to talk, and then only if they have a certain sense of decorum.

However, the question was how to turn down an invitation to a baby shower. I'd say that sending the letter you wrote to me, to whomever invited you, would probably do the trick quite nicely. Not only will you get out of this baby shower, you'll probably never be invited to another one for the rest of your life.

My guess, though, is that you wish to get out of it without appearing to be as rude and uncaring as you actually are, thus keeping alive your chances of getting birthday gifts from these people in future (as well as not having people point as you walk down the street, saying, "There goes the baby hater!") To that end, my best advice is to lie. Feigning illness should do. Call up the organizer of the heinous event and tell her you have a flu of some sort, and that you wouldn't want the expectant mom to catch anything that would jeopardize the health of her future rugrat. That way, it will appear that you're actually doing them a favor by not showing up.

They may ask you to send your gift anyway, since that's the way some of those people are. You'll still be screwed in that regard. Sorry!


Dear Poochie:

How does one get into the habit of exercising on a regular basis?


Yes, hugs are a nice form of casual exercise, and might even lead to something a bit more strenuous. However, I'd suggest acquiring a truly gigantic nasty dog, preferably one that is hyperactive, likes to chase things, and shows little willingness to come when called. Release the hound every morning when you awake. After you've taken care of your toilette - giving Fido a necessary head start - go out and try to wrestle him back inside. That should do the trick.

However, chances are you won't be able to drag the idiotic canine home before the time when you have to be at work, so you'll be late. If this happens often enough, you'll be fired. In that case, the following morning you should let the doofus dog out and good riddance to the hideous fleabag! You won't need him any more, as you'll get plenty of exercise going from place to place looking for a new job.

As your employment situation changes back and forth, repeat whichever step applies.


Dear Poochie:

How do we get 10,000 people to go to this web page and vote for the Kennebec Valley Humane Society? The homeless, abused, and hurt animals can sure use the help. If they vote once each day, we can save many lives.

Uncle Jim

Dear Uncle Jim:

Well, I'd be a hell of a Poochie (as well as a rotten nephew) if I didn't at least try to help! I don't know about getting 10,000 people to go to the website via this sorry excuse for an advice column, but maybe a few will. And, for the person above who wanted to get exercise? The shelter probably has at least one truly gigantic nasty dog that is hyperactive, likes to chase things, and shows little willingness to come when called. Why not go get yours there?


Come on!!! You can do better than that.

Anyways, here's my question. It has to do with this whole green movement and conservation. What I want to know is why nobody is advocating using both sides of the sheet of toilet paper?

Yours truly,
Ivan Toblog

Dear Ivan:

First off... "You can do better than that." I don't know where you came up with such a crackpot notion, but it's ill-informed and ridiculous. Stop it.

As for using both sides of the toilet paper, I'll go you one better. If you just let it dry out, you can use the same side over and over. Give it a try and see if I'm not right!


Dear Poochie:

Why did my blogging light burn out? I used to be so excited to blog that I would practically pee my pants. Alas, now all I do is pee my pants.

Forever Yours,

Dear Anonymous (and I kept it that way, because that's how you signed yourself. If you wanted a link, I would have gladly given you one. Then again, considering your problem, perhaps you really are embarrassed, so maybe I did the right thing, which would be a first):

To start, for your incontinence problem? If you want to save money, see my previous advice to Ivan. Even more cost-effective, maybe he'll let you use the other side of his!

As for your blogging light having gone out, you either need to be rewired or have your battery charged. In either case, I suggest lots of sex. Whether it's excellent sex or crummy sex, it will give you something interesting to write about. And if it doesn't, you still had lots of sex!

Of course, maybe the peeing problem is cutting down on the sex life. The solution is to find someone who gets turned on by such things. You might even make a buck or two. Of course, if you're already (relatively) happily othered to someone significant, that probably isn't feasible. So, instead, every time you feel the urge to pee during sex, just yell, "Look at that!" and then point at the window. When he gets up to see what it is, relieve yourself. Then resume the sex (unless there was a cop outside your window who arrested your guy for flashing charlie to all your neighbors. But, once again, it will give you something interesting to write about!)


Dear Poochie,

I have a few questions that have been eating at me.

1 - With all the injury and illness around me (broken toe and demolished tendon, 3 sinus infections, asthma flareup, wisdom tooth woes, concussions, vomiting, and now a torn meniscus) I'm wondering in whose cosmic cornflakes I must have spit and how to reverse the downward trend for the members of the House of Lime.

2 - What is the most effective method for dealing with a passive aggressive schmuck? I'd like a method not likely to land me either in the looney bin or prison.

3 - What color should I paint the den?

Yours truly,

That's an awful lot of questions, lady. Even someone as prone to neoplasm as I am isn't sure he has enough words in him to answer all of them. I'll try, though.

1 - Oddly enough, it was my cornflakes you spit in. In order to get relief from my wrath, you must send me all of your worldly possessions. If you don't, you can expect more evil to befall you! Send everything to:

93 Winsor Avenue
Watertown, MA 02472

Start with small things, such as cash, and work your way up to washers, dryers, refrigerators, and more bulky items like (I hope) a 60" flat-screen TV. Once your house is emptied out, sell it and mail me the proceeds. You can keep your husband and kids.

2 - Is it literally a schmuck, i.e., a male reproductive organ? If so, does the passive-aggressive part of it have to do with erectile dysfunction? I suggest Viagra, if you want the aggressive part more often, and saltpeter for the passive.

Let's assume, though, that you are dealing with a figurative schmuck. Is there a reason for the behavior, aside from general schmuckiness? If so, maybe you can defuse the situation by alleviating the schmuck's needs or desires. If that's too distasteful - or you don't have the means left to do so after you've sent me all of your worldly possessions - I'd consider enlisting others to do your bidding. After all, you've got a widely-read and popular blog, with lots of fans who will do whatever you tell them, so why not give the bum his comeuppance by siccing your internet minions upon his sorry ass? So long as you're careful with your language and stay out of it physically yourself, you can get away with an awful lot.

However, maybe you don't wish to encourage more schmuckity behavior, and calling him out in public might have that effect. My next best advice is to ignore the clown. There's little that pisses off a passive-aggressive schmuck more than ignoring him.

Whatever course of action you decide upon, be sure to start sending me all of your worldly possessions immediately. Otherwise, you're doomed to failure.

3 - The den? Tie-dye it.


Dear Poochie:

How do I toughen up my soft heart?


Dear Jinksy:

I suggest going out every day and finding as many puppies and kittens as possible. Kick each and every one of them, hard. By the time you kick the 500th one, you'll hardly cry at all.

However, is that what you really want? Why would you want to toughen up your heart? Having a soft heart is a good thing, my dear. Just make sure it isn't accompanied by a soft head!

I suppose what you're asking, though, is advice on avoiding heartbreak, right? You know what? The only way to avoid heartbreak is to avoid loving. And, if you avoid loving, you're avoiding most of the joy in this world. So, my true and heartfelt advice is to keep the soft heart. You'll hurt every once in a while, but not nearly as much as forever going around with a hard lump of cold steel in your chest.

There are two sorts of people in this world, Jinksy: Those who feel sorry for the chocolate bunny having had his ears bitten off, and those who bite the ears off of chocolate bunnies with great forcefulness and relish while a sneer curls their lips. One should always strive to be in the company of the former (of which, you appear to be one, and good for you.)


And on that sappy note, part one ends. See you tomorrow with advice concerning softball, dating, cats, and ham, though not necessarily in that order or in tandem.

Soon, with more heartfelt advice.