Cruise to the Edge of Delirium

Allow me, firstly, to introduce myself.  I'm someone who likes to make music, but I'm sure you figured that out from my profile.

Oh, you didn't read that part.  Go ahead.  I'll wait...

Cool.  That should make everything clear a little later.  Onward.

I just got back from my first ever cruising experience, a pleasant*, enjoyable* experience* on a four-day cruise around the Bahamas.

...on a boat full of progressive rock musicians, some professional, some pro-am, and some who don't play professionally at all but can still play (this is the category into which I fall).  Mind you, I'm a better parrot than I am a creator right now.  This may change.  It may not.

During the emergency drill (mandatory for EVERYONE on the ship), an older, distinguished gentleman with a wave of white hair came to ask, "Is anyone sitting here?".  I said, "No, please, feel free."  I noticed his "ARTIST" tag and asked who he was with.  "I'm not with anyone."

"But you have an artist tag; who are you playing with?"

"Oh, blast, the card gave it away.  Hi.  I'm Roger Dean."

I did a poor job of concealing my excitement at meeting him.  His artistry, Yes' music, and the accessibility to science fiction and fantasy I had growing up had very richly fertilized my imagination in terms of everything non-musical.  They gave me a power that evidently has lain dormant since then.

Among these fine musicians were such as Yes, Marillion, Allan Holdsworth, Martin Barre, Mike Portnoy, Spock's Beard, Neal Morse, Lifesigns, and several others; while these are all fine draws for a cruise, I must state that they were the icing on the cake.  My reason for attending was to meet people and make some music myself.

I had the experience of meeting Yes in person -- all of them (except for Steve Howe, which, from what I inferred, is understandable).  Didn't get to talk to Alan or Geoff much; they rather seem to keep to themselves, but I did get a photo with them, and I did get signatures.  As I walked off, I told Alan, "Thank you for everything you have given me."  Which is quite a lot, considering Yessongs was the second Yes album I had heard.  He stuck out his hand to shake mine.  Alan, I hope you remember this; it means a lot to me.  I wanted to tell you that you'd met my mom about 30 years ago, and she had you sign a business card from a shop she co-owned, "Tempo di Marcia", and you'd addressed it to me in absentia.  I still have this card.

I ran into Billy Sherwood (their bassist) and Jon Davison (their singer) as well, at various parts of the cruise.  Jon more than Billy, but they were equally approachable.  Billy recognised me from Facebook (before I got bounced), and I actually took the time to introduce myself to Jon when he was sitting behind me in the audience for the after-hours jam.  Normally I wouldn't do this, but I had some reasons for doing so, most of which involved owning up to some rather uncomplimentary statements I had made, as well as an apology for them.  It seemed to me to be the right thing to do.  I think I owe one to Steve, too, but I couldn't find him to tell him in person.

When I saw them play in Saratoga in September, I was disappointed, but convinced it was not their fault.  The audience at the winery sucked the energy right out of them.  It was SO harsh.  Half the people didn't want to be there, and it was obvious.  The ones who were even mildly interested were saying things like, "play some older stuff!" after they played "Roundabout" and "Time and a Word".  How much older do you want, people?  I mean, come on!

When I saw them play their final show for this leg of the tour in the US, on Monday Night, I must say that you can say what you will about Jon Davison, or anyone else in the band, but they are Yes.  They are legion.  They will continue to move forward.  And they were spot fucking on.  The slowdowns were minimal, the energy was high, they vaulted a musical double somersault with a full twist and a half at the end and they stuck the landing.  I have NO doubts about them right now -- when they're playing to an audience that is welcoming to them and appreciates them, they are golden.

As I didn't make the auditions to be on stage for the After Hours Electric Prog Jam, I took comfort in the piano in the dining room at the aft of the ship**.

Apparently, so do some other fine musicians.  Once I found the piano, others were drawn to it as iron filings to a magnet.  There were singers, players, and aprecionados, some from other bands, some from other countries, some from other bands from other countries, and I think a few from other worlds. I am wondering if I must be one of them, because I sure felt at home.

They played (older) Genesis, for the most part, so I thought I'd fill the gaps nicely by playing some Yes songs.  Not just the keyboard parts, mind you -- the whole songs, from start to finish, with two hands on a piano.

Let me explain that last part.

When I was younger, I wanted to play this stuff in a band, but I couldn't find people talented enough, interested enough, or with enough time on their hands to call up and say, "Hey, you wanna jam some Yes today?"  That just didn't happen.  Additionally, my lack of equipment prevented me from getting out there as a "serious" keyboard player.  In order to keep up my sanity, I need to recreate it in some form.  I had two hands and a piano at my disposal; this became that form.

After four nights of all this, even after the EXTENDED AHEPJ (which ran from 11:00 PM to 4:00 AM instead of the usual 2:30 AM) (and still, people went there), I appear to have become part of the prog family.

Most people don't believe me when I tell them I can play things like "Turn of the Century", "Yours Is No Disgrace", or "Starship Trooper" on the piano, never mind the epic tunes such as "Close to the Edge", "Awaken", or "The Gates Of Delirium".  I do this.  I did this.  And because I have spent the last 35 years not really getting out and playing it for other people, I had a lot of doubt that it would make much of an impression, especially when the keyboard player for Spock's Beard jumped on one night.

Let me talk about Rio (aforementioned keyboard player).  This guy is fantastic.  He's sharp, he's precise, and he's really fucking creative. What I heard him play is definitely concert-worthy material, and he's an awesomely nice person to boot.  It was really nice to meet him (and a whole bunch of others!) on this cruise.

It was thus something of a surprise to run into him right before the Tribute to Chris Squire***.  I complimented him on his playing exactly as described above, and he says to me:

"No, you are awesome.  I've never seen anyone play like that."
I: But what you played, out of your own head, that was crazy good!
he: ...I can't remember stuff like you do, though.  Man...who the fuck are you!??

The only thing I could do at that last question was double over with laughter.  How do you respond to that??

Rio, if you're out there reading this, the Lord of the Uncharted Universe**** salutes you.  It was truly an honour to meet you, and I hope to run into you again sometime.

On the fourth night, before we disembarked the next morning, I ripped out The Gates Of Delirium, Perpetual Change, and Starship Trooper, then played (gasp!) an actual original tune (which would have fit the working definition of progressive rock, I am certain).

The reaction I received blew me away.  It was nothing I had ever felt before in my life.  The energy, the good will, was astounding to me, and totally unexpected at that level.  I mean, yes, I know I can play, and I know people will enjoy it, but this was something completely off the chart.

I touched people.  I dropped jaws.  I drew tears.  I got asked "...where did you come from?"

...and it's all amazing, and overwhelming, and beautiful to me.  I never expected this reaction.  I never expected to be told in so few words that I'm actually worthy, because I went through a lot of my life never believing that I was.

You know how when you go to a show and the performers all say "thank you", and you think it must be protocol or something, or that it's pretentious bullshit?

It isn't.  It's genuine.  How can you NOT be genuine about receiving energy like that from an audience?  You get it and you want to give it all back in some sort of amazing positive feedback loop.  It's a wonder the arenas don't explode from all the energy being exchanged in there.

Even from a group of maybe twenty, possibly thirty people all hanging around the piano, it was intense.  I can't even begin to know how it would be to play in front of a crowd at the Oakland Arena, or Wembley Stadium.  Dave Grohl and crew were justifiably overwhelmed when they played there.  You can just see his amazement and his gratitude and you could watch his mind explode from that experience, and he is like that EVERY SINGLE TIME.

My mind is blown so hard that I am certain it will never be the same.

I am grateful.
I am joyful.
I am blessed.
I am humbled beyond words before the universe.

And I have got to do this again.

By the way, why is my house still rolling...?

**Apparently there is a friendly contest as to who finds the piano on the ship first.  I think I won this year.
***Chris Squire was Yes' bassist from their inception in 1968 until he died this year, and the torch was dropped in Billy Sherwood's lap.  Watch the ashes, Billy!
****I wore a small name tag that reads "LORD OF THE UNCHARTED UNIVERSE" on my lanyard or on my shirt most of the time I was walking around.  People may not remember my name, but they will not forget the tag.


Instant Ingratification

So I get to work this morning and I'm listening to the office dads talking about their experiences at amusement parks -- most notably, Universal Studios in Hollywood, and Disneyland -- and they're discussing the prices, which are astronomical enough.

But then they're discussing the additional fee for the fast passes/head of the line access.

I am sickened by all of this.

Yes, the parks are crowded, and I won't go to them any more because of this. There are too many people (paying far too much money, in my opinion).

It's the pursuit of instant gratification that irks me so.

I'm not totally above it, because I have my own impulsive nature, but at least I recognise it, and I am also aware of the surrounding limitations (budget, space, time).

The get-it-all-now mentality has been present for at least a generation, perhaps a little more, but I am just ill at how it has descended presence into pervasion.

And the really sad part of all of it is that I don't know that there is anything I can do about it, not even influentially. We as a society are hurtling more pell-mell than ever down this road with the attitude of "well, if I can't have it now, then screw it!", and all I can do is endure, and be patient, and not be so instantly demanding.

One could argue that at the truly good things will be there for us. I don't share the optimism, because the truly good things will be sullied by the runoff from the mire created by the seekers of this instant gratification.

The problem is that instant gratification is motivated by pure greed, or by fear of missing out -- which is, of course, a false panic created and manipulated by the greedy. Solutions looking for problems.

The best I can do is implore anyone who is caught in either the fear or the greed:

     • Please, slow down.
     • Life is not an emergency -- if it is, you're doing it wrong.
     • If you are used to getting everything instantly, you are setting yourself up for major disappointments when you get older.
     • If it's all about the money, you need to reset your priorities -- you won't be able to eat money after you've fucked the rest of the world.

Upon reflection just prior to posting, I realise that I am speaking from a very privileged point of view, and it may come across as arrogant, for which I apologise, for such was not my intent. I still think that the world needs to slow down, and it's despairing that this will not happen until a cataclysmic event causes the world to just stop, but between then and now, no matter your place or any other separation, take the time you can to enjoy what you can, when you can.

...and I'll stop now before I ramble off the rails any further than I have already.


Adventures with Facebook

or, "just when you thought getting screwed would be enjoyable."

So I finally decided to unzip my Facebook Farewell Archive ... you know, the one you get when you say "save all my stuff and let me download it"?

Imagine my surprise when I opened it and got none of my notes.

Let me back up a little.

Back in 2008, I joined Facebook and decided to keep all my stuff out there, and to get (and, so I thought, stay) socially connected.  So there I was, from 2008 - mid-2015, to right after Chris Squire died, when I got the book-fuck notice from Facebook, saying,

You don't appear to be using your real name.
Please send us official documentation proving that this is how you are known by the members of your community.

("what the...?")

And so they don't seem inclined to let me back in.  So, before I left, I requested an archive of all my stuff -- Photos, wall postings, friend lists, etc.

Welp, I got all that.  I neglected to realise that since "notes" was a separate application, I wouldn't get those back.

So...back to blogging I go.


  • Seeing the updates to the Skyfaire page, to know who has left us
  • Getting any updates to what is going on with S.W.A.S. people and remaining faculty
  • The Yes Official Facebook Page
  • The Pinball Pages
  • Many friends
  • My notes.


  • Religion
  • Politics
  • Alarmism
  • General uptightness
  • People pissing on my wall because I disagree with them
Hopefully, everyone who needs to visit will visit here.  I'll try to post things of interest on at least a weekly basis.  If I can find the text of my notes, I'll post them here, backdated as appropriate.

To those who hope to see me back on Facebook, I can't promise when -- or if -- I will return.  It was a huge time suck to begin with, and it's nice not to have my stomach tied in knots over a disagreement.  I had enough of this in real life once upon a time, and I'm kind of done with that bullshit.

Rest assured that I miss and love you all, though.  You're all good to me in some fashion.


Happy New Year 9.1.1.

or, "will it be the same old same old?"
Happy 9.1.1. I hope.

Back on the "original" 9/11, 2001, the radical Islamic arm looked to take down the United States. They hated us for our freedoms, our permissive views on how the world should run, and, by and large, because we had hitherto been so successful.

They probably also hated us because we had engineered said permissions and freedoms OUT of their status quo, but that's probably a different story for another day.

So on 9/11, they sent a couple of planes to take out the World Trade Center.

They also succeeded in goading a knee-jerk reactionary government into taking unnecessary steps which eventually led us into a war in which we had no need, and no true purpose.

Part of what happened was we began in earnest to build a Police State. It began in our airports and, soon, extended to our train depots. In some places, it is present in our subways and, of course, it is present at our state borders.

We have played right into the hands of what these terrorists wanted. In fighting this "war on terror", a war against "an unseen enemy", we have stripped down the basic rights of our citizenry and reduced ourselves to the enemy we once feared.

If the basic goal of the terrorists was to eradicate this country because of its principles, they have already won, and we have handed them their victory.

Here at 1/1/2009, or 9.1.1, we are sitting in a country which is sitting in a financial quagmire in very large part because of the offensive we launched back in 2003 because of something that happened in 2001, even though the two causes were not connected.

Not Really.

And we are looking at a very bleak picture: Thus far, we are being socially reduced to rubble. We cannot shine as people when we must concentrate on making the ends of the shoestring meet, living hand-to- mouth. The economic problems we face are directly connected to our success socially. The renaissance we enjoyed for that brief moment in time gave us so much, and yet while our top brass is bailing out the banks and the carmakers, they are letting the very elements of the soul of this country wither and die. The arts. The social programs.

A friend of mine recently pointed out the difference between Conservative Equality and Liberal Equality:

"Liberal Equality states that the end result is equal, no matter the path one takes in life to get to the end. Conservative Equality is on the other end: We all start with a level playing field and it is up to us to make something of it."

I agree with this in principle, but there are the ever remaining issues that we do not all start with a level playing field, and even if we start there, those of us who play fairly get screwed over by those who play without ethics, by those who hide behind a shield of righteousness to promote discriminating agendae, by those whose definition of fairness means "fair for me and screw everybody else". In short, "after me, you come first."

We are, ever more, becoming that which we so feared back in the Cold War. We are turning into the old U.S.S.R. with all its trappings. Yes, we have the "right to vote" -- for either of two sides of a flawed single-party system. Yes, we have the right to freedom of expression, so long as we do not express anything against our government or rally dissent. Yes, we have the right to our capitalism, as long as we acknowledge that the government has the right to walk in and take everything we own by brute force if need be.

There is no longer a difference between what was, over there, and what is, over here.
...and this is not going to change until we, the people, nut up, and hold the gun to our government, cock the hammer and demand that they admit their responsibility, their irresponsibility.

And if they refuse, we, the people, can no longer sit idly by and not pull that trigger.