Prog Rockers Defy Age


Last weekend was the twelfth and final prog-rock festival Nearfest, held in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. I caught the first night featuring Manchester’s Van der Graff Generator and Peter Hammill.

Van der Graff sound like a pre-Genesis power trio primarily fueled by two keyboardists (although Hammill’s guitar work is solid).

The sold-out festival was comprised of mostly balding men in their 50’s and 60’s. They rifled through vinyl in the merchandise room like it was the 70’s. And there was Roger Dean, signing prints of his famous YES covers.

I went with some friends who have their own prog rock band in the Bay Area. They’re working with the drummer of the Swedish band Anglagard, one of the more hippier acts to appear here. Anglagard was selling its new CD for $22 and people were lining up to buy it.

Aranus, a Belgium band, also played the night I was there. Technically flawless, however, for me, it had no heart; but my friends felt differently. “I got goose pimples,” one said.

There was no way I could sit through three days and nights of progressive rock, but it certainly was an enjoyable experience and I’m glad I went.

Batter Up


Saturday night we took my girlfriend’s kids to see the Bridgeport Bluefish, a nearby minor league team. It was Scout Night and after the game there had fireworks and then we camped in the outfield.

It was a cool and blustery night, but that didn’t stop the kids from running around well past midnight.

We had to be out of there by 7 a.m. Sunday morning, Father’s Day.

Several parents said happy father’s day to me and I wished them a good day too – I’m 53 and it’s the first time anyone has wished me a Happy Father’s Day. It felt strange, but if you’re hanging out with the Boy Scouts you’re either a parent or a perv—best to be mistaken for a parent than the latter.

Afterward, I took Mary and her two boys to a diner for breakfast.

At some point the little one said, “Sometimes people think you’re my Dad.”

“Sometimes people think you’re my Dad,” I volleyed back.

He smiled and dug into his pancakes.

To Drink or Not to Drink — Who Makes the decision?

Everybody knows big sugary drinks make big, unhealthy people. But do we need government mandating soda sizes?

Why shouldn’t ‘We the People’ have the freedom to choose SuperSize?

Nobody wants to be obese. Most people don’t want to die young either. So why do we make such unhealthy choices?

I’m all for freedom of choice, but marketers use advanced tools to maximize the impact of advertising and packaging. The days of Don Draper working up late-night creative based on intuition is long gone. Everything is tested and retested using advanced monitoring devices to determine heart rate, pupil dilation, breathing. Nothing is left to chance.

Is it any wonder people act against their best interest, defying health warnings as if they’re Zombies?

Although I prefer government to stay out of such matters, the People are at a disadvantage.
Marketers are always one step ahead: product placement in TV and Film, sponsoring our favorite musical and sporting events, even supporting our favorite charities—and each expenditure is quantified, evaluated and refined to maximize impact on our behavior.

Michael Bloomberg knows this better than anyone and he has certainly benefited from such corporate success, but he also realizes a fat, sick population is a vulnerable society that is unsustainable.

Imagine using that marketing capability to promote nutrition and exercise.

Insects Love Global Warming

The unusually warm winter was a Godsend after last year’s heavy snowfall and biting cold, but no good turn comes without a price. This spring has seen more bugs than ever, and word is, this summer could be like the days of the Locust, literally, we’re talking Biblical proportions.

It already started at my house. Over the weekend I had a burst of carpenter ants, hundreds and hundreds in the bedroom skylight. I used RAID to knock them out, but they came back the next day, so I called a professional.

According to the exterminator, the chemicals he uses are much less toxic than RAID. He said RAID is nasty stuff and contains wax, and so when you breathe it in, it sticks to your lungs.

He has a gel that goes on like caulk and it is designed to attract the ants like food so that they’ll come out, eat and then go back to the nest and share. Then the chemical kicks in and wipes them all out – nasty stuff.

RAID kills on contact but often the nest is twenty feet from where you’re seeing them so you never get to the center of the problem.

There was film in the 70’s called the Hellstrom Chronicles: a quasi documentary sci fi flick where insects inherit the earth. Starship Trooper was a film in the 90’s about giant insects trying to take over the galaxy.

At the moment, carpenter ants are trying to take over my house. It was either them or me–that was an easy call.


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