Tuesday, June 10, 2008

I Have Been Tal-Tagged!

The rules: Each player answers the questions about themselves. At the end of the post, the player then tags 5 people and posts their names, then goes to their blogs and leaves them a comment, letting them know they’ve been tagged and asking them to read your blog. Let the person who tagged you know when you’ve posted your answer.

1. What was I doing ten years ago?

Ten years ago, I was married to a cold heartless lady, working too damn much at Kroger (and graveyard shift, at that), and approaching the old age of 30. Basically, aside from music collecting and guitar playing, the only things I looked forward to at this point was bowling every Friday and church every Sunday. Yeah, I lived a very exciting life.

2. What are 5 (non-work) things on my to-do list for today?

1. Finish paying the dreaded bills
2. Soak in the jacuzzi
3. Put a post in my too-long-neglected blog
4. Try to attempt to clean & organize my music room
5. Transfer some LPs to CDs

Yeah, on #5, there is an interesting story behind that one. JLo's mother works at a restaurant in Hot Springs that has new ownership. The new owners have a 16-year-old daughter that is really getting interested in classic rock and folk music. JLo's mother told her that she needs to speak to Bolivar - he's got it all. So, the last time I was in Hot Springs (Memorial Day weekend), this young lady & I got together & talked shop for about an hour. She told me the artists that she was looking for: Van Morrison, Bob Dylan, James Taylor, Joe Cocker, Eric Clapton, just to name a few. But then she mentioned a band called the Pentangle... I had to ask her if she was really 16! I told her that I have friends my age that have never heard of that band! I told her I have all of the albums the Pentangle did on the Reprise label, and her face completely lit up! I told her that I have no problem burning those for her. That's what I am doing as I do this post.

3. 5 snacks I enjoy:

1. M & M peanut candies (sorry, Tal)
2. Bud Light
3. "Miami Vice" - one part strawberry daquiri, one part pina colada, 100% yum!
4. Fried peach pie a la mode from Couch's BBQ in Jonesboro
5. More Bud Light

I know, #5 was wrong! But I have always said that everyone needs something to believe in... so I believe that I will have another beer!!

4. Things I would do if I were a billionaire:

1. Buy the rights to the Beatles catalog away from Ms. Michael Jackson (or whoever has it this week)
2. Get myself out of debt (won't take much)
3. Put the money in the bank & live off the interest
4. Build me a nice but not extravagant house out in the middle of nowhere (preferably in the Ozarks), and also build me a nice recording studio next to the house
5. Buy me a copy of Thin Lizzy's "Jailbreak" on vinyl

5. Places I have lived:

1. Wichita Falls, TX (1968-1975)
2. Beaumont, TX (Jan. 1976 - June 1976)
3. St. Louis, MO (June 1976 - Feb. 1977, Sept. 1977 - Dec. 1979)
4. Dallas, TX (Feb. 1977 - Aug. 1977)
5. Houston, TX (Dec. 1979 - May 1981)
6. Newport, AR (May 1981 - May 1986)
7. Jonesboro, AR (May 1986 - July 2001)
8. Little Rock, AR (July 2001 - Nov. 2001)
9. Hot Springs, AR (Nov. 2001 - July 2007)
10. Cordova, TN (July 2007 - present)

Whew! 10 places I have lived in. Wow!!

6. Jobs I have had:

1. Mowing Yards!!! (1979 - hmm... does this ever end?)
2. H & R Block (2 months in 1984 - made enough money to buy a new guitar and amplifier - I still have that guitar: my old trusty Peavey T-60 guitar!)
3. Revco Drugs (Aug. 1984 - Dec. 1985) - Yes, for a year and a half, I sold drugs. And I have no regrets about it.
4. Sonic Drive-In (Dec. 1985 - May 1986) - I must have really been on drugs, because I quit Revco for this??? I partied my last day there - I couldn't wait to graduate & get out of Newport.
5. Bonanza (May 1986 - April 1988) - At first, I really enjoyed this job & I made a lot of friends (most enduring friendship: Talmadge Q. Gleck). Towards the end, I couldn't wait to quit this job as well. The people I liked had moved on to bigger and better things, so it was time for me to do the same.
6. Sears (April 1988-May 1988) - Great when I first started, but it's hard to live on $50 a week. But it got me through my final exams... and a heartbreak.
7. Dominos Pizza (May 1988-July 1988) - Oh, the stories I could tell. I lost count how many times I delivered pizza when young ladies wearing nightgowns would open the door... good times, good times. Unfortunately, the wear & tear on my Chevette was too much.
8. Autumn Inn (July 1988-Dec. 1988) - I loved this job, even though it was a graveyard shift job. But I would get off at 8 a.m. Friday morning & not return until 10 p.m. Monday night. Yes, I had weekends off! Unfortunately, I had a confrontation with a guest, which led to my dismissal, one week before final exams.
9. Snak-Pak (Dec. 1988-Feb. 1989) - The absolute bottom of the barrel. The day I got the axe was a turning point for me (the manager wanted to hire a friend - she was told that she had to let go of someone first - guess who.).
10. Kroger (Mar. 1989 - present) - It's hard to believe that I am going on 20 years with this company. I have had my share of good and bad times with Kroger, but I really wouldn't trade it in on anything. Since taking my new position, I have gotten my name out there quite a bit. Some of the bigwigs in Cincinnati have begun to notice. The next step? Who knows! But I am enjoying the ride.

So there you have it. I am supposed to tag 5 people, but most of the people I know have already done this survey. So, I am tagging Nettiemac, Seraphim, and Candidly Caroline. You all are up next.

Sayonara - till next time.

- Bolivar

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Saturday, February 09, 2008

Embarassing Moments (part 1)

This post is for Kate, Katie, Susan, and Sue... as well as all of my friends in cyberland...

I posted a comment in K, K, S, & S's blog about an incident that involved the New Kids on the Block. Let me start by saying that it did not involve them directly - I have never like the NKOTB, but Marky Mark did earn a measure of my respect when he switched from wannabe-rapper to an actually pretty decent actor - the 1997 movie "Boogie Nights" is one of the best movies of the decade, and it was Burt Reynolds' best movie since "Smokey and the Bandit", 20 years earlier.

Anyway, here is what happened on that fateful night back in September of 1989...

Friday, September 15, 1989. I was living in Jonesboro, Arkansas. I had just bought a car, but I didn't have insurance for it yet, so it stayed at my parents' house. I walked everywhere for about 10 months. At around 9 p.m. that night, I walked the three miles from my trailer to work. I came on at 10 and started working. At around 12:30 in the morning, I get a phone call from my aunt who told me that my mother was in town. I was puzzled, so I asked why. Here's why...

My mother drove the 55 miles from her house to Jonesboro to camp out at the local record store for NKOTB tickets for my sister. The local record store was called "Hot Dogs" (ah, Talmadge, the memories!!). There was a parking lot full of cars that night. Wonder why...

Anyway, my aunt asked me what time I got off in the morning, and I told her about 7 a.m. Then my aunt told me that my mother needs to see me, so I told her that I would be there for a few minutes, just to chat, and then go home. Then my aunt told me that my mother might need my help in getting these tickets. I said no way - people know me in this town, and I have a reputation to protect!

Little did I know that my boss was eavesdropping on another line. He, and the rest of the longtime Kroger associates in that store, will never let me live this incident down. And this was nearly 19 years ago.

Anyway, I left Kroger at 4 a.m. for lunch. I walked to Larry's Restaurant (ah, Talmadge, the memories!!) to get a couple of to-go cups of coffee. I then walked to Hot Dogs and chatted with my mother for about 30 minutes before I had to go back to work. I told her that I would see her in a few hours, but she was on her own with the tickets. I told her this was her fault, and that she had no one to blame but herself for this!

Now, what was her fault? A few hours previously, at the high school football game, she told her friends that she was going to Jonesboro after the game to camp out for NKOTB tickets. That opened the floodgates - next thing, mothers and their daughters were coming to her with $20 bills wanting her to get a ticket here, two tickets there, and so on. And my mother, being the nice and sweet & totally unselfish person that she was (I miss you, mom) - she couldn't say no. When it was all said and done, she had to buy 36 tickets at $21 a pop.

Not to mention that Ticketmaster had put up a new policy - you can only buy six tickets at a time. So, my mother had recruited my aunt, my two cousins, and a friend of my aunt's. That left one slot open...

Back to work, and the word had spread like wildfire - Bolivar is camping out to get NKOTB tickets! I said no way!! I am not doing this! Stop it!!!!!

I got off work at 7 a.m., and I walked to Hot Dogs to meet up with my mother. She is still putting the bite on me to help out with the tickets, and I am still not wavering! But I was enjoying the company - here I was, 21 years old at that point, surrounded by a ton of teenage girls. And yet, I couldn't help but think that they were all - every single one of them - obsessed with the New Kids. Yes I know - I was 21, they were around 14-16 - highly illegal, I know. I was born with a brain, by the way! But then I ran into a few of my female friends from ASU, and they asked what in the hell was I doing here. I knew I was in trouble until I told them that I was not getting tickets - my mother was here & I wanted to spend some time with her.

But then, when everything seemed to be in control, I lose it real quick. My mother had discovered one of the oldest tricks in the book, and she had the nerve to use it on me...


I was waiting for my mother to turn into Marlon Brando - she did. Briefly. But enough for me to cave in.

Here's what happened. About 30 minutes before tickets went on sale, my mother pulls me aside, and she asks me a question:

"Bolivar, have you gotten the new Neil Young album that just came out this week?"

I told her don't even think about it - I am not falling for this trap! Don't you dare!!

"I believe the name of the new album is called "Freedom". Is that right?"

Yes, mother, you are correct. What are you getting at here?

"Bolivar, I heard it's Neil's best album in 10 years..."

Yes, mother, I heard that too...

"I heard "Rockin' in the Free World" on the radio the other day... killer song..."

Yes, mother, I heard the song, and it rocks. What are you getting at?

"And I know that you are a big Neil Young fan... do you have it?"

I haven't gotten it yet, but I have every intention of getting it when I get paid this Thursday.

"I will make you a deal..."

Oh boy, here we go, I knew this was coming. OK, mother, give it to me, I'm ready...

"If you help me get these tickets, I will buy that new Neil Young album for you, and I will also buy you breakfast at Shoney's after we get the tickets."

Can you do better than this?

"Oh, and any future concert that you want to go to - I will buy two tickets for you and a friend."

That was the straw that broke the camel's back. I caved in - I told my mother that I would help her out.

So, at 10 a.m., tickets went on sale, and I stood in line behind my mother. When it came my turn, I told Mike that I want six tickets. He gave me the strangest look. I told him that these are not for me - he said yeah, right. I also told him that if anyone asks, you never saw me here. He told me that he's telling everyone. Guess what? He did! To this day, my family, friends, and former co-workers at the Kroger in Jonesboro, Arkansas will not let me live down this incident.

My mother bought me the new Neil Young album and breakfast at Shoney's that day before she took me back to my trailer. We had a good talk about my education and about my new car purchase. It was a good visit.

I waited until 1992 to cash in on the tickets - my mother bought two tickets for me to see Eric Clapton at the Pyramid in Memphis. A young lady named Susan and I went to that show, and it was awesome. It was the first tour for Clapton since his son died tragically, and when he performed "Tears in Heaven", I had never seen so many Bic lighters, including mine, go off at one time. It was a very special moment.

My mother passed away in 1996 after a three-year battle with Lou Gehrig's disease. She lived her life the way she wanted to up to the very end. If she had stayed around 45 more minutes, she would have passed away on my 28th birthday. Shortly before she passed on, we reminisced about all the good times and all the crazy times that the two of us have had. I could tell, even in her bedridden state, that she was all smiles. You can bet that the NKOTB episode was brought up. I miss my mother everyday & wish she was still here.

That's it for this one - more to come.

I love you, mom...


Monday, December 31, 2007

Stolen from Nettiemac who Stole it from Kate/Susan who stole it from Melissa who stole it from Drew who stole it from...

Why don't we recap the best of 2007? OK, here we go...

Best Album: There were two albums that really caught my attention in 2007. First was "Raising Sand" from Robert Plant & Alison Krauss. Neither performer could do wrong in my eyes. The next one was "Systematic Chaos" from Dream Theater. The best heavy album of the year - these guys are probably the closest thing to Yes that we have nowadays, except that they are a lot heavier than Yes ever were. Dream Theater may be more experimental than Yes ever was - I'm just waiting for DT to put out their own "Tales from Topographic Oceans" (they came close with 2002's "Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence"). Runners-up: Rush's "Snakes and Ladders", which was their best album since 1989's "Presto", and the Pat Metheny/Brad Mehldau "Quartet" album. Brad, and especially Pat, could do no wrong as far as I'm concerned.

Best Non-Fiction: Phil Lesh, "Searching for the Sound". A fascinating look at the history of the Grateful Dead, from that band's awesome bass player. I know, this came out in 2006, and Andy Summers (Police) autobiography came out in 2007, but I haven't read it yet.

Best TV Series: It's not a new one, but it's better now than what it was then: "Nip/Tuck". Very strange series, so it's right up my alley.

Best Fiction: I haven't read a fiction story in eons! Someone give me some good ones, please!

Best Kids Music: Give me a break!!

Best Movie: I went to see "August Rush" on Dec. 14. This is such an awesome movie - I would very highly recommend this movie to any music fan.

Best Sign of the Apocalypse: Tom Cruise is still making movies. No one has ever accused Tom of being a good actor.

Best Comeback of the Year: I have to give it up to the Washington Redskins. First, they lose Sean Taylor, who was really coming into his own this season, in a terrible shooting. Then the "double time-out" call against Buffalo that cost them the game. Then they lose their starting quarterback, presumably for the season. They hit rock bottom & could have given up. What a December they had! Todd Collins has thrown 5 TD passes and no interceptions in the last 4 games. Clinton Portis is rapidly becoming a leader for his team. That defense has been nothing short of amazing. And most importantly, they won the last 4 games of the season to make the playoffs. Their road doesn't get easier: they go to Seattle next weekend. Then on to Dallas if they win. And you know what? I would not count the Skins out by any means. The 2008 version of Cinderella? Stay tuned.

Best Old TV show you are just getting into: I really don't have one, but I do have an old TV show that I was into years ago that I have gotten back into: "Twin Peaks". When I was dating Penny in 1990, that used to be a Saturday night ritual for us in her dorm room. We loved that show. Historical fact: 14 years ago today, I rented "Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me" on VHS. My then-girlfriend (now ex-wife) came over to my apartment & watched this movie. By the time the movie was over, I had gotten sick. Turns out that I had gotten the flu while the movie was on! Oops!

Best Grocery Store: Kind of a no-brainer, don't you think? I love Kroger, and March 6 will make 19 years of employment with that company.

Best (Summer) Vacation: I really didn't have a summer vacation, but the one I had this past spring was awesome - JLo and I went to South Padre Island (see previous post).

Proudest Accomplishments This Year: My promotion from Co-Manager in a store to Assistant Systems Developer in the division office. The last half of 2007 has been the best time I have had in over 10 years.

Goals for Next Year: I only have one. I plan to drop at least 50 pounds. It wouldn't hurt if I drop 75. I plan on doing this by changing my diet, eating less, and working out as often as I can.

Most Exciting Sports Moment of the Year: Arkansas stopping LSU's two-point conversion in the third overtime to beat LSU, 52-50. I was cheering in my office.

Saddest Moment of the Year: In many ways, leaving Hot Springs. I had encountered the highest of the highs and the lowest of the lows in the nearly six years that I lived in that town. To a certain extent, I do miss that town, but there are certain people that I will not miss (guess who).

Happiest Moment of the Year: In many ways, leaving Hot Springs. I closed a very painful chapter in my life and opened up a new one. So far, it has been absolutely wonderful, and I love it here in Memphis. I am closer to my aunt & cousin, not to mention rekindling a lot of old friendships from my friends in Jonesboro (I am only one hour away).

We could have an early entry into the best album of 2008: Radiohead's new one comes out on New Years' Day. I can't wait.

OK, that's it for this one. Feel free to discuss, and leave comments with your thoughts. I would love to hear them.


Monday, December 17, 2007

Dan Fogelberg: August 13, 1951 - December 16, 2007. R.I.P.

I get home from work, and I check through e-mails and other stuff, when I stumbled upon Talmadge's blog, and my jaw dropped.

Dan Fogelberg died yesterday of prostate cancer. He was 56 years old.

I have been a huge fan of Fogelberg for a very long time. I have been fortunate to see him twice in concert - and one of those shows featured him, an acoustic guitar, and a piano - and that was it. It totally blew me away. The second time I saw him was in 1995 with my ex-wife. Ironically, I proposed to my ex-wife that weekend. Her favorite Fogelberg song was "Run for the Roses". Strangely enough, that's one I can take or leave.

In his box set, he told of a time where after "Twin Sons..." was finished, he headed for Europe because he feared that the album was heading for disaster. When he came back to the states, he had a hit record on his hands! I remember when I went to see him in 1995, he introduced "Old Tennessee" as one that "goes back many years... if you're old enough to remember this song, you probably have a babysitter tonight." The audience got the biggest kick out of that one.

I have every album the man has put out, and I love them all, but I must single one particular album out: 1981's The Innocent Age. I found that this album held so many meanings for me as I was pushing 30, and now that I am just a few months from turning 40, that meaning has now intensified. If you think about it, the album is a loosely conceptual album about getting older, and so many of those songs leave a haunting effect - and the song that the album closes with, "Ghosts", left a haunting image on me that I still can't shake, 26 years after its release.

I agree with Talmadge - the man did put out quite a bit of sappy material. But less talented people would kill for his songwriting abilities - sappy or otherwise. When the man rocked out, he could rock with the best of them. And the resume of who he has played with & produced reads like a California rock "Who's Who": the Eagles, Jimmy Buffett, Little Feat, Emmylou, CSN, I could go on. In this age of computerized crap & all beats with no imagination, Fogelberg's stuff, for me, sounds like a breath of fresh air.

In 1994, my ex-wife bought a copy of the sheet music of his Greatest Hits album. I was so excited when I learned how to play "Longer" and "Leader of the Band", note for note, on my acoustic guitar. Since then, I have managed to learn, either on guitar or piano, the rest of that sheet music. But strangely enough, as you will see, some of my favorite Fogelberg songs weren't the hits.

So, without further adieu, here are my 15 favorite Fogelberg songs, in no order:

1. "Ever On" (The Wild Places, 1990)

This closes out what was, hands down, his best album of the 90s. To me, it is a fitting farewell for this man.

2. "Ghosts" (The Innocent Age, 1981)

Still haunts me to this day.

3. "Windows and Walls" (Windows and Walls, 1984)

The Innocent Age was about getting older; this song is about already reaching that age and wondering what's left. Beautiful melody.

4. "Old Tennessee" (Captured Angel, 1975)

Not just because my new home state is in the title. Great song.

5. "Song from Half Mountain" (Souveniers, 1974)

Fogelberg solo - absolute killer song.

6. "The River" (Home Free, 1972)

Another haunting melody and lyric from his first album.

7. "As the Raven Flies" (Souveniers, 1974)

I agree with Tal - my favorite track from this album, and one unjustly ignored.

8. "Tullamore Dew/Phoenix" (Phoenix, 1979)

Kicks this album off with a bang. Over 8 minutes long and all awesome.

9. "Hearts and Crafts" (Portrait: The Music of Dan Fogelberg 1972-1997, 1997)

This B-side of "Same Old Lang Syne" featuring the Chieftains, and is one of his best songs.

10. "Nexus" (The Innocent Age, 1981)

Very atmospheric song - kicks off this album with a bang as well.

11. "The Innocent Age" (The Innocent Age, 1981)

Could be his best melody and lyric - capturing the simplicity of his heroes in the Buffalo Springfield.

12. "Road Beneath My Wheels" (Live - Greetings from the West, 1991)

A blues song with Fogelberg on bottleneck guitar? This totally rocks!

13. "Seeing You Again" (Exiles, 1987)

This song brings back a ton of memories for this one particular lady that I let go of. Seeing her again was very hard for me, but was inevitable - she was one of my sister's best friends. In retrospect, I wished I had never let her go. I would even go as far as to say that I should have married her instead of who I actually married.

14. "The Reach" (The Innocent Age, 1981)

Very unjustly ignored - one of his most atmospheric and ethereal recordings.

15. "Scarecrow's Dream" (Nether Lands, 1977)

I had to throw in a curve ball, but this is a beautiful song.

Farewell, Mr. Fogelberg. And many thanks for the memories, and for all of the great music that has touched my heart and left a lasting mark on my life.


Saturday, December 15, 2007

Back in the High Life Again...

For those of you who have been wondering what I have been doing since my last post back in July - here is a recap of sorts. For all souls who have been concerned about me, let it be known that the concern is greatly appreciated. I'm concerned about myself too!!

Anyway, I started in my new position on July 16. My new boss is a pretty cool person who has shown me the ropes and has been a constant source of encouragement and support ever since I came to Tennessee. The people I work with in my department are pretty cool as well. I have a lot on my plate with this new position, but one of the key things I do are Out-of-Stock audits. I did a store in Memphis & showed my audit to the co-manager who told me that I am not making friends very fast around here. My boss HOWLED when I told him that. He thought it was so funny, he brought it up at a meeting with some Cincinnati corporate bigwigs when they came down. Anyway, I told this person that I have a job to do, and that I am only trying to help, not hurt. I think this co-manager got the message.

With some minor exceptions, I work Monday - Friday. There have been a couple of rare exceptions when a store has had an issue on a Saturday or Sunday, and I go to that store to resolve it, and then I go about my business. I absolutely love my new job - I haven't been this happy at Kroger in a long time.

So, getting used to the new job wasn't a problem. Finding a house that I like turned out to be a nightmare. My real estate agent showed me about 30 houses in Southaven, Olive Branch, Bartlett, and Cordova before I finally found one that I liked. It amazes me how people could care less about houses. I have asked many times, how in the world could people live in a house that looks like that. Anyway, I narrowed my search down to two houses - one in Cordova and one in Bartlett - that I could see myself in. The one in Bartlett was around 1600 square feet that had a huge game room and a fourth bedroom. It was an older home (built in 1977) that needed cosmetic work done on it (mainly paint and new carpet), but it was a decent house. The one in Cordova was about 1450 square feet, but was only 2 years old and in immaculate condition. It also has a jacuzzi tub in the master bathroom (which is big, by the way). I bought the Cordova house. The house is a little smaller than the house I had in Hot Springs, but that's OK. It's just me and JLo that are here...

OK, I now hear you saying, "JLo"? JLo wanted to come with me, and I wanted her to be with me. We are now living together - and I can hear some Christians out there reviling me as I type this. The living arrangement has been a constant struggle. JLo brought all of her stuff with her, and it freaked me out when I saw items in my new home that I had never seen before. We have argued more that we ever have. It's just part of the new adjustment. The first night after the movers brought our stuff was a bad night. It was like a maze just trying to get to the kitchen. I never realized that we had so much stuff. At first, thoughts of me making a terrible mistake with this house crossed my mind, but cooler heads prevailed, and we sat down and had a long talk. Basically, I suggested that we have a major garage sale in the near future - we have too much junk that we don't use, so why do we need it? Fortunately, JLo agreed with me. Unfortunately, we haven't had the garage sale yet! We may do a Christmas garage sale next weekend - weather pending, of course.

I have rekindled old friendships with some of my Jonesboro friends that I haven't seen in a while, and I have gotten e-mails from an old friend of mine from high school as of late. I have seen my ex-brother-in-law and ex-sister-in-law a couple of times. And I even called my ex-wife a couple of times because I needed a couple of favors. The electric bill was in her name, and I needed her signature on release of title. Surprisingly, my ex-wife was very co-operative with me on this. On the day that I closed on my Hot Springs house, I called my ex-wife to thank her for her help. She congratulated me on my promotion, and she told me that she knew that I worked very hard for it. I told her one major perk of the new job, and she thought I would say not having to deal with customers. I told her these three words: "OFF EVERY SUNDAY". She said, "Wow". Then I thanked her and told her that my work in Hot Springs is now officially over. She told me good luck. I haven't spoken to her since, although I heard from a reliable source that she was furious when she found out how much I made from selling my house. I bought the house in Hot Springs for $78,000 in 2001 and sold it for $110,000 in 2007. I pocketed around $28,000 from the sale, which I used to pay off credit card bills & used for down payment on the new home. Pretty cool, huh?

What irritates me now is that I am still unpacking JUNK! But that's OK. JLo loves it here - she managed to transfer from the Kirklands in HS to the Kirklands in Memphis. I have taken her to restaurants that she has never heard of (like the Spaghetti Warehouse in downtown Memphis), and we spent a wonderful evening not too long ago on Beale Street. She really seems to enjoy it here, which is more than what I could say for my ex-wife when we moved to Hot Springs.

As for me, I absolutely love it here. I have been needing to get out of Hot Springs since 2005, and it finally happened for me. There is so much to do in Memphis, and so many places to go. What is just as nice is that Tunica is about 45 minutes from here, and Nashville is about 3 hours from here, should I go there for a weekend. JLo and I have talked about doing that sometime next year.

Speaking of vacations, your humble servant has never been on a cruise before in his life. In 2008, I go on two of them. JLo and I will be taking a cruise from Galveston, Texas, to Cozumel, the week after Valentine's Day. I also won a cruise from Ft. Lauderdale to Nassau in the Bahamas, which we will be going on sometime next summer. I am excited, and I can hardly wait.

Speaking of vacations, you already know about the South Padre Island vacation. My second week vacation was spent in Hot Springs - JLo's sister MLo flew from Washington state to Little Rock. Since that vacation, MLo has left her loser husband and is now in Hot Springs until something better comes along. I spent my third week vacation in Dallas, but I was only there for three days, and I was only there for the Dream Theater concert (their new album, "Systematic Chaos", is one of the best albums released in 2007). My fourth week vacation was spent resting and unpacking. I found out that I qualified for a fifth week vacation back in March of 2007 that I didn't know about. I will take that vacation after the holidays, and I will be resting, I'm sure.

As far as concerts, in 2007, I have seen the Who, Little Feat (twice), Dream Theater, Delbert McClinton, and the Trans-Siberian Orchestra. I attended the 2nd annual Feat Fest in Eureka Springs back in September, and the only bad thing about this one is that it started raining during the Feat Jam. I ended up leaving my guitar in the car because I am picky about playing in the rain. Still, Spacely and I had a wonderful time, and you can bet your bottom dollar that we will do this again next year.

Yesterday, JLo and I celebrated three years of dating by going out. We went to On the Border for dinner (we went to On the Border on our first date), and then we went to the late show. If you haven't seen "August Rush", I swear, you need to see this movie. It was such a good movie - the music scenes in this movie are breath-taking. Awesome movie. Do not miss this one.

Now that I have an internet connect, more posts coming from me!! I know - how could you stand the wait?

Until next time... take care.

And Merry Christmas.

- Bolivar

Saturday, July 14, 2007

One Particular Song That Stands Out Above the Rest

This may be one of the strangest postings I have ever done. Bear with me on this.

Have you ever had just one particular song that stood head & shoulders above the rest? The one song that you heard whenever you went through, or are going through, a major life-changing event? I have one particular song...

"Awaken", by Yes, from the Going for the One album, back in 1977.

This wonderful song, which clocks in at almost 16 minutes (keep in mind: this is "Yes"!), ironic or not, has been blaring out of either my home stereo system, or my car stereo system, during times in my life where a major change has taken place. Here are a few examples:

1. May 26, 1985 - I had this song on cassette, and this was playing in my old Sparkomatic car stereo system in my 1980 Chevy Chevette. I was driving from Newport to Jonesboro, on my way to begin a new chapter in my life. Three days earlier, I had graduated from Newport High School, and I got a call that morning from Bonanza Steakhouse saying that they had a position open and wanted to put my name on it. I accepted the job, and there began two years of coming home & smelling like the deli bar. What this song meant to me at that particular time was that there will be storms, there will be tense times, but everything will come to a better ending.

2. Beginning of 1989. Definitely the third worst year in my life (don't worry - the other two years will be mentioned in this post). I had a car wreck to begin the year, and I wound up on foot for 10 months. I was living in a $100/month trailer that inspired Jeff Foxworthy to begin his redneck routine (listen to Jeff's description of the first singles apartment on the "You Might Be a Redneck" album - it fits my trailer perfectly). Then I got fired from the "Snak Pak" because the manager wanted to hire one of her buddies, but was told to let go of someone first. Since she and I NEVER got along, guess who was released. That cassette with "Awaken" on it got me through some very tough times. At the end of the year, I had another, much better job with a much better company (18 years and counting). I had another set of wheels. I just didn't have a girlfriend, but that's OK!

3. June 20, 1996. Two days before my wedding. I had a late night dinner with an old friend of mine at Shoneys Restaurant. Then I went for a drive. I drove and drove and drove. Thoughts going back and forth through my head. Should I marry this lady? Should I run? Will I be a good husband? Will I be a good father? So many thoughts running through my head. And yet again, "Awaken" was playing from my tape deck in my then-brand-new Chevy Corsica. Of course, I now realize that I should have never married that woman!

4. July 8, 2001. Driving from Jonesboro to Memphis. Reason? I had just been accepted into Kroger's Store Management Development Training Program. This was a bold new step for me. How would I do? Did I make the right decision doing this? Will I be successful? By this time, I had a new Oldsmobile Intrigue, and I had the live version of "Awaken", from the Keys to Ascension CD. Still made a huge impact on me, and I decided that whatever I did, I would just be myself. Must have worked pretty well, seeing how I just got a new promotion.

5. The week of Oct. 10 to Oct. 16, 2004. My wife leaves a note on my computer desk, stating that our marriage is over. My whole world crashed. The bottom had fallen, or so I thought. My wife had taken my son away from me, and she was seven months pregnant at the time. And once again, "Awaken" made another huge impact on me. But I couldn't see at that time how I would recover from this blow. Unfortunately, it only got worse...

6. March 5, 2005. I am in my Intrigue, on my way to Dallas to visit my father. About 29 hours ago, I received a phone call from the lab stating that I was not the father of either of my kids. I had just started my vacation, and I wasn't sure where I would go. If the tests came back stating that I was the father, I would have taken my kids and went to Jonesboro to visit grandparents. If they weren't my kids, then I was going solo to Dallas. During the six hours I drove to my father's ranch, I felt like I was a defeated man. I had failed as a husband, and I had failed as a father. And I felt like I had failed as a person. I was 36 years old at that time, and it was the only time in my life that I considered suicide to be not just an option, but THE option. This one song helped me go through so many stressful times, and you can bet that this was blaring from my car stereo.

7. July 15, 2007. About 24 hours from now. Leaving Hot Springs to begin a new, exciting, and scary time of my life. I have just gotten promoted, and I begin my new job at 8:00 a.m. Monday morning. You can bet your bottom dollar that this will be playing in my Jeep Liberty car stereo. I am a lot more calm, and more confident in myself than I have been in many years. I am excited, and I still think that this is only just the beginning.

So there you have it. One great song that Jon Anderson and Steve Howe wrote many moons ago could make a huge impact in my life. Who would have thought it?

But I can't just leave it at that one song. So many songs have had impact in my life: anything from All Things Must Pass, "Hollow Years" by Dream Theater, any great Van Morrison song (which means about 90% of his output), any great Moody Blues song (which means about 90% of their output), "Wish You Were Here" by Pink Floyd, "Winning" by Santana, "Jailbreak" by Thin Lizzy (rock on, Tal!) - there are a lot of classical, jazz, new age, country, gospel, and even (God forbid!) some rap songs (thank you, Run D.M.C.) that have such a huge impact on me. Music is such an all-powerful force! It supports any mood, any emotion that I am looking for. Is it any wonder why I love it so much?

Anyway, that does it for this post. Keep rockin', and pray for me as I tackle this new challenge!

Bolivar "When's the new Yes album coming out?" Shagnasty

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Vacation #1: April 8 - 14

Since I am in a somewhat reflective mood, let's talk about what has been happening in my life, so far, in 2007. I work TOO DAMN MUCH!! That's the bottom line! However, in saying that, there have been some high points this year.

First off was seeing one of my all-time favorite bands at Alltel Arena in Little Rock - I saw THE WHO! Musically speaking, those guys can still play, and Zac Starkey is the closest thing the Who has gotten to remotely replacing Keith Moon. They played a lot of the classics, but there were so many songs that were left out: "I Can See for Miles", "Squeeze Box", "Magic Bus", & "Long Live Rock", just to name a few. But what shocked me the most? Brace yourself for this:

They played nothing, and I mean NOTHING, from "Quadrophenia"! You would think maybe "5:15", or "Love, Reign O'er Me", or "I'm One", but NOOOOOOOOO! How shocking is that?

Anyway, on April 8, I finally started my first weeks' vacation. On Easter Sunday, I spent some time over at JLo parents' house. When we got home, we had no idea how late it was - it was after 10:00 p.m. We still had to pack for our trip, and we also had to finalize hotel arrangements. We then got up Monday morning & drove all day to South Padre Island, Texas. We got there after midnight, and we slept until around 9 a.m. Tuesday morning. We got up and saw the sights, did some shopping, and spent the end of the afternoon doing some dolphin watching. It was so much fun. We also had one rule on this trip: we would strictly eat at places that we have never eaten at. No McDonalds, no Sonic, no Burger King - not even a Chili's or an Applebee's. We ate entirely too much while we were on vacation, but it didn't matter - we had a lot of fun.

On Thursday, we left the Island heading for Austin. We saw a HUGE outlet mall in San Marcos, and we drove around there, looking for places that caught our eye. I saw a Rockport place, & I told JLo that we are definitely stopping there. I bought two pairs of Rockport work shoes for $85. I was so happy, because I can not get Rockports in either Hot Springs or Little Rock. Amazing, huh? I found the number of Miss Caroline, she of "Candidly Caroline" notoriety, and I almost started to call & see if she wanted to join us for lunch, but I held off on it. Maybe next time...

On Friday, we checked out of our hotel room & went to a huge music place in Austin - Waterloo Records. Unfortunately, they didn't have that many records left, but they had a ton of CDs - I bought about $200 worth. Then we went to a place called "The Salt Lick" in Driftwood. JLo had seen something on the Rachael Ray show about it, so we thought we would try it out. The bottom line: this is the best BBQ I have ever eaten. Up until then, I always thought Memphis had the best BBQ, and Memphis is still one of the best, but this BBQ we had totally blew us away. Peeled off of the bone - melt in your mouth - oh, man - this was so good. When we come back to the area, we are stopping there again. Awesome BBQ - the best.

Anyway, on to Dallas, and Forever Young Records. I first went to this place back in 1990, but did not return until 2002. So much had changed in those 12 years. They had gotten BIGGER! I spent about $500 when I went in 2002 - I only spent about $200 this time, but got some really cool stuff - Herbie Hancock, Al Kooper, Elton John, just to name a few. I made it there just in time, because it was really storming outside. When the storms flew over, we discovered that 5 tornados had touched down in the Fort Worth area. They just missed us - thank God! Anyway, it was almost 10:00 p.m. when we left, and I knew we would be pushing it heading back to Hot Springs. I decided that I would drive until I couldn't drive anymore. We stopped at Sulphur Springs, Texas, and spent the night at a hotel there.

We got up Saturday morning, had breakfast, & headed home, but we stopped at a Best Buy in Texarkana, & I bought the new Sly and the Family Stone boxed set before doing that. We got home about 4 p.m. We weren't home 30 minutes before Spacely called & said that he was in Hot Springs & wanted to meet us at Jason's for dinner. We did that, then I went to Kroger to check next week's schedule, & then we went home & went to bed. I think we were in bed at 9 o'clock that night - we were so tired!!

This was the first vacation JLo and I had ever taken together, and we had so much fun. Truth be known, I don't think I had as much fun on any vacation my ex-wife and I took. My ex-wife certainly wasn't considerate. Here is a good example: when we were driving to South Padre Island, JLo saw that I was tiring out pretty quick. We went to a town (don't remember the town), and we stopped at a Supercenter because JLo wanted to get a few things. We pulled in, I started to get out of the car, and JLo tells me to stay in the car & take a power nap while she was in Wal-Mart. She was there for 30 minutes, and I took a nap. When she came back to the car, I was rested up pretty well. I helped so much. My ex-wife would have NEVER done that for me.

We have talked about vacation plans for 2008, and right now, the front runner seems to be Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Nettiemac, what do you think? Good choice?

That does it for this post. More to come - wow!! This is 2 posts in one day! Especially since I haven't put in a post since February! Strange...

Later, Bolivar

I am such a terrible blogger...

Hello everyone!! I am such a terrible blogger! OK, I know it's been February since I put in my last post. It has been really crazy, but I have the biggest news to drop on the world. Here goes -

I had stated in my last post that I didn't get a promotion for either store I applied for. Since then, I had been applying for stores and for positions within the Kroger Company. My life changed this past Friday, June 22, at around 9:30 a.m.

I accepted a position to work in the Information Systems & Services department at the Kroger Division Office in Memphis, TN. I will be a Technology Field Representative. My job consists of a lot of items, but the main items I will be doing will be going to stores & fixing their computer problems; I will also help implement to the stores new computer programs that come through. This is a huge opportunity for me, and a lot of people have went to the plate for me, including store managers, zone managers, merchandisers, and other bigwigs. I am not about to let them down.

One thing that is so great about this new position is that I will have off every Sunday, and only work on occasional Saturdays. Ever since I was old enough to work a job, I have never liked working on Sundays. That doesn't mean that I won't do it - I just have never liked it. I am so excited about starting this new position - I can't wait to get started.

Notice the date I accepted this position - June 22. Talmadge knows where I am going with this - in case no one else does, June 22 would have marked the 11-year wedding anniversary of me and my ex-wife. June 22, as of 2007, takes on a whole new meaning. A better one, I might add.

I got a pretty nice raise and the opportunity for a bigger bonus with this new position. What's more important is that I am leaving Hot Springs. Friends and family have been telling me that I need to leave this town, and that I've been needing to leave for about 3 years now. I would have left in 2005 if I had lost the house in the divorce. But I managed to keep the house, so I decided to stay. When I look back on my almost 6 years in Hot Springs, it will go like this - I have had the highest of the highs, and the lowest of the lows since I have been here. Of course, the lowest will be the divorce and everything that went with that, but I have met a lot of wonderful people in this town, and I have been to a lot of really great places in Hot Springs. I will miss this town tremendously, and I will miss places like "Rocky's Corner", where JLo and I have eaten on a weekly basis for about a year and a half now. If you ever go to Hot Springs, and you love Chicago-style pizza, eat at Rocky's - I swear you will not be disappointed.

Of course, with the promotion and everything, things are looking up, but there is something that I have to consider - JLo. She is scared about my promotion. We have talked about everything, and we have tried to cover all of the angles with this move. I told her that she is making a bigger commitment than I am. The only commitment I have made is the new job, but I have been with Kroger for 18 years, so everyone close to me knows that I am committed to Kroger. But JLo faces the possibility of leaving her family and her friends and going to a town that she knows absolutely nothing about. I know Memphis very well - I made trips there about once a month for about 13 years, and I have stayed in hotels there. I know Graceland and Beale Street very well. Also, she has never been away from her family, so this will be a first for her. The one thing that sticks in the back of my mind is this - the last time I took a young lady 3-4 hours away from her home - do we need to go any further on this? I think we all know what happened there.

If JLo goes with me, fine. If she chooses not to go, that's OK too. If we split, I will have nothing but good things to say about her. She has a really big heart, and she has stood beside me through some really tough times in my life. I would look back with very fond memories - something I can't say about my ex-wife. As far as my ex-wife is concerned - remember, what you reap, you sow. She has always wanted to get back closer to her home. And now, I am, and she isn't. Remember what I have said before - she had the world and everything that went with it, and now she has settled for second-best. Good luck.

I do have two more posts I will do today - my vacations. Should make for interesting reading - I hope.

Before I end this post, I am deeply heartbroken and saddened by the events that occured concerning one of my all-time favorite wrestlers - Chris Benoit. I was watching WWE Monday Night Raw and saw that he had passed on. My jaw immediately hit the ground. Chris was one of the most intense wrestlers I had ever seen - he was absolutely incredible. His in-ring work was awesome. I remember when he was part of the legendary "Four Horsemen" with Ric Flair, Arn Anderson, and the late Brian Pillman. They were a bunch of tough guys. Then he arrived in WWE with the Radicals - Benoit, Eddie Guerrero, Dean Malenko, and Perry Saturn. They were also a tough bunch. I remember watching in awe as Benoit became only the second man to enter the "Royal Rumble" at #1 and be the last man standing. And then, watching him beat Shawn Michaels and Triple H at Wrestlemania XX to finally become world's champion. I loved watching Benoit wrestle because he always pushed the envelope and he was so intense. Unfortunately, his legacy is totally clouded because, supposedly, he strangled his wife and smothered his son before he took his own life. Whether he had serious issues, or he had a problem with steroids, or whatever - the bottom line is this: three people are now dead. And no amount of investigation will change that. If Chris actually did this, then he should be judged by God on his actions, and I have no doubt that he will be. If someone else did this, then they will be judged somewhere down the line. May not be today, may not be tomorrow, but rest assured that they will be judged by God. If Chris did this, it hurts me and a lot of fans because we had always thought that nothing could break this man. How wrong we were, and are. It's a real shame.

Future posts to come - I promise!!