Musings on music, sports, life in general from Quincy, Illinois.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Kicking Snow

So I'm heading north Saturday and I call my Hoser buddy Wilx and I'm near Dwight, Ill. While I'm talking I get off on the wrong exit.

"You know your mother is laughing at you right now," Wilx says.

You know he is right. She was horrible at directions and always getting lost. One time when we lived in Montreal she took a wrong turn and we were halfway to Toronto before she stopped and got directions to turn around.

So whenever I get lost .... thanks, Mom .... I hear her laugh and it makes me feel better.

So today I'm in GR and go to the cemetery, but there's four inches of snow. I've been here four or five times but not that familiar with the area and I kick around for a few minutes but CAN'T FIND MOM.

At one point I stick my big boot into the ground and it sinks six inches into the soil. Much to my horror I see a big snow-covered pile of sod a few feet away. Great. Looking for mom, digging up a Grand Rapidian instead.

I'm about to give up when I give it one more kick and boom, there's Virginia Coray Hart.

So the moral of the story is .... don't kick your mother when she is in the ground, but do kick the snow off her grave until you find it.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

We're Ready

Good practice last night ... we are ready for a big show Friday at The Elks. Apparently they are closed to sold out for the Christmas dinner/dance/show.

We've learned some Christmas songs and brushed up on some old favorites, should be fun!

Saturday, December 15, 2007

World In White

I don't know about you, but I love waking up to a fresh snowmall.

Remembering Gregory Klaas Hart today, on the fifth anniversary of his passing. He rests in a much better place, and for that we are glad.

OK, fill in the blanks .... "Christmas shopping _________." Remember, it's a family Website.

Just got done reading one of the best books I've ever read. More next week.

Bet the South Park Hill will be busy with sledders, though more snow would help. Might be worth taking a look a little later.

Hmmmm. Wonder how the ice is?

One more Funions practice Tuesday, then we are ready for our Dec. 21 show at The Elks. It's reportedly going to be a huge crowd. "Run Run Rudolph" is one of the best songs we've learned. Fun fun fun!

Have yourself a safe Saturday, be careful out there.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

La Grange

Very few people just don't care like Jerry Brandt just doesn't care.

It's never dull ....

Tuesday, December 11, 2007


There have been suggestions media do a followup with the local mall in the wake of the shooting in Omaha.

As always, gotta be careful about work-related issues. And it is a good idea in some respects.

But really, what are malls going to do? Make us all walk through metal detectors? Shake us down as we enter stores?

There are common sense things which are worth reporting. Citizens should be alert (NOT paronoid) and should always be aware of their surroundings in a public place.

I gasped at the one media report about what to do if encountering such a situation: Remain Calm.

Remain calm? Sounds like good advice, I guess. But when you are in a mall and psycho is blasting away, do you really remain calm? It's completely inappropriate, but it recalls Kevin Bacon in Animal House when Faber is stampeding during the disasterous homecoming parade - "ALL IS WELL!!!!"

There have been some tremendous stories in the wake of the church shootings. Just one of them is here:

So it's come to this ... undercover security with firearms in our churches.

I am not being critical of it. And the woman likely saved many lives with her actions.


God help us all.

Thursday, December 06, 2007


Is it just me, or is The Fox 103.9 playing a little heavier classic rock lately?

I'm not complaining. Grew up on the stuff, after all.

Doc Holiday of 103.9 had a great interview recently with Rik Emmitt of Triumph fame ....

I saw Triumph in 1993 at Wings Stadium in Kalamazoo, Mich., with my all-time hoser buddy Scott VE. My ears bled for days. Emmett was amazing. Check out his websites, including the myspace site (I think the links are on the fox's site) for more.

Emmett and Triumph are beauty ways to go.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Christmas Music

The Funions cranked out Christmas songs last night in Dr. Brei's basement. We have a couple of new original songs and some standards .... straight blues like Merry Christmas Baby to Run Run Rudolph. Our show at the Elks Dec. 21 should be a blast!

Monday, December 03, 2007

Slink video, Carthage Christmas

The legendary Slink Rand made a hysterical video for "Got It Made." Go to and check on the youtube link.

Speaking of Slink and Carl Thomas, they are both playing in Carthage this weekend as part of the "Christmas Wish" concert at the old college auditorium. for more info. Shows are Friday at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday at 2:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., call (217) 357-3154 for ticket info.

Friday, November 30, 2007


Kudos to Jamie Busen of the Herald-Whig for an excellent story about downtown earlier this week.

One local blogger, happy holidays Tookie, has facilitated excellent discussion about our downtown -

I enjoy working downtown and wish we could make it better, but I agree with Tookie (shudder) in that we need to work together, not mindlessly complain.

Karol Ehmen did a good job for us during The Funions/Fielder World Parking Lot Tour show last summer. I'd love to do it again!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

New Links

Put three new links up.

All The News is Quincy's only rational blog about media coverage. Sometimes what he picks on is curious. We'll have a paper with several good stories but he'll talk about a photo or sports story with a strange headline. However, it's always interesting and sometimes leads to good discussion.

I hesitated to put Quincy Fire up here because the usual Web Warriors seem to flock to it. But it's not boring and it's probably the top site in Quincy for discussion.

Quincy Forums also generates traffic, but unfortunately it seems the same people bitch and moan about the same things. I respect the guy who runs it and he's doing a good thing.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Bob & Doug

So I'm driving home from work after another meat-grinder of a day (try sitting through 75 minutes of yawn-inducing motion hearings and you'll know what I mean) and on the radio comes my good hoser buddies Bob and Doug McKenzie.

Takes a hoser to appreciate one, and my Canadian blood flows extra red when hearing Bob and Doug sing the "12 Days of Christmas."

"Quiz ... quiz for Doug!"

I can only imagine Rick Moranis and Bob Thomas laughing themselves silly doing this.

It reminds me of my hoser buddy Kenny VA and insane Calvin College parties. Not that we did any of that sort of stuff, back in the day.

"FIVE GOLDEN TUUKS ... four pounds of back bacon, three french toasts, two turtle necks ... and a BEER ON MY TREE."

I felt better when I got home.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Turkey Day

Incredible energy at the Cheeks/Fielder/Predawn Hour show.

I love about Fielder because they crank out one song after the other. That's a band that has practiced and played together for a long time.

I think the Predawn Hour guys have huge holes in their hearts and find it strange to play without brother Cory on guitar. But the place was packed and they delivered a great rock show.

Then I went out at behest of friends to one of Quincy's nightspots and there was a band playing great 80s music, and again, boom boom boom, one song after the other.

That's something I wish The Funions could do better.

I hit the wall about 12:30 and bolted. I walked out into the snow and there was a huge line to get into this place. Most of the people were already "happy" and didn't seem to care they didn't have jackets and would be waiting in 25 degree weather for at least an hour to get in.

Today is about coffee, watching the Lions, hanging out at the White House and with my surrogate family in Spring Lake, and just being mellow - and being thankful.

Have a great turkey day!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Friday Show

Here's the lineup for the Turner Hall show Friday night ....

6 p.m. - Conspiracy Underground
6:45 - The Forgotten
7:30 - The Funions
8:15 - Guraja
9 - Atresia
9:45 - Sweet Diesel
10:30 - The Collapse
11:15 - Necebo

$5 at the door.

This is going to be one of those very interesting shows and it will be very curious to see what kind of reaction we get, because we're the old farts playing with a bunch of young bands.

But we'll try, and we're playing mostly original songs during our short set, so it should be fun.

Much thanks and love to Mike Breckenkamp for inviting us.

Heading off tonight to the Predawn Hour/Fielder/Cheeks show at the former Grifiin Centre, now Winter's West Wing next to O'Griffs on Hampshire.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Michigan Coach

Lloyd Carr is done, and it's sad, but the time was right. Mostly fond memories of a coach who did things right.

Intriguing names at the top of the list. Everybody is talking about Les Miles. I hope Michigan leaves him alone until LSU is done playing. Last year Brian Kelly bolted from Central Michigan after the regular season to take over at Cincy and it left a bitter taste in the Chippewa faithful mouths .... it's all I could think of when I saw his team get beat last Saturday.

John Gruden in Ann Arbor .... that would be interesting.

The most amazing name I've heard today? Bill Cowher. If you think Ohio hated him when he coached the Steelers ....

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Farewell, Lloyd

Lloyd Carr has coached his last game in the Big House.

Fortunately I was too busy running around today, then over at QU for the women's basketball tournament, to watch much of it.

I hate Ohio State. They are the Big Ten champs, but they'll go to the Rose Bowl and get hammered by somebody, maybe Arizona State.

The short list for Michigan? Les and Miles, as Tookie likes to say.

I'm rooting for Missouri to beat Kansas next week.

By the way, it could be worse today. You could lose to something called UL Monroe.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Happy Birthday Bass Player

And a very happy birthday Saturday to Funions bass player of doom Mark Brei, the absolute heart and soul of the band.

We celebrated a little too much after practice tonight, but that's OK ... we all have just a little less time left on this earth now anyway.

Fantastic practice tonight. Chris Cornwell is coming into his own as our new guitar player and Pat Cornwell's drumming kept us right there the entire practice.

Looking forward to the Nov. 23 gig at Turner Hall. The Funions play at 7:30 p.m. More on the lineup and other details to come.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

New Businesses

The new Starbucks on Broadway has opened.

It will be interesting to see how people react to $5 cups of coffee, and if other places like the awesome Coffee On Broadway see a change.

I miss Mugshots on Jail Alley, but Washington Perk has done a good job with their coffee lately and I love the Granite Bank Gallery building.

The sushi place at Fifth and Hampshire also opened recently. I drove past there Friday about 6 and it was packed. I hope it does well. Ate lunch with some gals last week who said it was really good.

Monday, November 12, 2007

New Blog

I've started a blog for the Quincy High School girls basketball team ....

First game is tomorrow night at Jacksonville.

Saturday, November 10, 2007


A huge congratulations to Coach Ron Zook and Illinois.

Along with the Cheesehead debacle today, takes a little luster off The Game next week, doesn't it?

Friday, November 09, 2007


Here's a question for you, at the end of a very long week.

Have you ever done something on the job that you haven't felt good about, but you had to do?

Do you really care if certain people get mad because you have done your job?

If the answers are yes and no .... we should get along just fine.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

MAC champs, good practice

How about those Central Michigan University Chippewas, YOUR Mid-American Conference West champs for the second straight year!

Had a great practice tonight at Dr. Brei's place, the first one with all six guys. Arranging the songs and not playing over each other is proving to be a challenge. It's interesting how the songs change when the drummer and guitar player are different.

Here's our upcoming lineup:

Friday, Nov. 23
Turner Hall, 6:30-7:30 p.m. with a bunch of bands.

Friday, Dec. 21
Elks Christmas Dinner/Dance
7:30 - 10 p.m.

Saturday, Jan. 12
Oakley-Lindsay Center
Private Party

Saturday, Jan. 19
Turner Hall
7 - 8 p.m. with Cheeks McGee, Dog Daze, Kentucky Knife Fight.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Brien, DNA

Much fun Sunday making guitar noises with former Herald-Whig reporter Brien Murphy, back in town from Texas for a visit. Hooted and hollered at the palatial Busen estate on 22nd and Broadway, probably scared a few people, too.

The DNA results came back and much to my disappointment, Bob and Anne Mays are NOT my biological parents. But we've drawn up the paperwork and the adoption process is underway. I'm looking forward to eating turkey with my brothers!

Lots of Funions news to report later this week, shows this month, in December and likely two shows in January.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Paul Tibbets

Paul Tibbets died the other day. He was the pilot of the Enola Gay and was born in Quincy, though he moved at an early age.

I interviewed him seven years ago, which I think was the last time he was in Quincy. He was 85 and in relatively good health, and he was still sharp as a tack.

The thing I remember about him was how he simply didn't let what he did envelope or consume him. He let others define his actions. To him, it was simply a job, and he was more concerned about veterans and his country than his role in one of the most defining moments in world history.

It was an honor to interview him.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Guitar Strings

I busted the dreaded G string in church last Sunday. For all the glowing things I've heard about acoustic Elixer strings, they've never worked for me.

I prefer the medium gauges, 52 on the top E. My favorite strings are John Pearse. They last forever and they sound better and better the longer they are on the guitar. Eventually they get too stretched and quickly get out of whack, which is also a good thing and lets you know new strings are needed.

The only person in town that sells them is Al Barnard, but he's never open.

Mississippi Belles are also good strings.

I'd be curious to hear from other guitar players. Seems to me there just aren't that many acoustic players in town .... and what do the younger heavier players in town like to use?

Tuesday, October 30, 2007


From Rev. Tim White of Trinity United Church of Christ, Quincy.

It is that time of year when thoughts turn to raking leaves, turkey dinners, vibrant fall colors and the sentimental, “perfect” lives that none of us have. It is easy to become disillusioned and cynical about things when bills are stacking up, people you care about are struggling, and the upcoming holidays are just another reminder that your life hasn’t turned out the way you wanted it to turn out. As the November winds bring a chill to the air it also brings a chill to many hearts.

I had a conversation with a neighbor recently who told me her Thanksgiving was ruined because her whole family wasn’t going to be together. She told me her children didn’t like each other and there just wasn’t anything to be thankful for. I listened mostly and didn’t say much, but I thought “You and your husband have enjoyed almost 40 years together, your children and grandchildren are healthy and talented and productive and you have nothing to be thankful for because your children don’t want to gather at your beautiful home and pretend that they are “The Waltons” how sad you think like that.

Thanksgiving is in no way about what we have. It doesn’t matter if you sit down at a beautiful table that belongs on the cover of Bon Appetite or if you sit at a table made out of a couple of saw horses and wooden planks and eat chili. When we make Thanksgiving about celebrating all that we have, we make it into a “food sacrifice” to the “gods” who have smiled down and given us all that is on our “wish list of life”.

Thanksgiving is not a day of the year. Thanksgiving is not dependant on a menu with turkey and dressing. Thanksgiving is not predicated on having all your family get along one day a year. Thanksgiving is a condition of the heart that transcends the circumstances of life. Thanksgiving that doesn’t grow out of deep gratitude for God isn’t Thanksgiving after all!

Monday, October 29, 2007

Not Fair

Took my daughter to the doctor today. An old woman in a wheelchair hooked up to oxygen came in. She was talking to herself and obviously unaware of her surroundings.

She looked at me for a second from across the room and I saw resignation mixed with pain. She's hanging on for life, but something about her made it seem like she wanted to go, to fall asleep and pass on in peace.

In another part of the county, a young mother grieves because her husband won't be coming home. Their two young children will ask about their father, and God knows what she will tell them.

Gone, just like that, with the promise of life ahead.

It just doesn't seem fair.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Go Blue!

First and foremost, thank you Bill and Chip for the tickets.

I can't believe how easily we got in and out. Arrived about 4:45 p.m., found one of the last parking spots in the Brown Lot, had a leisurely tailgate dinner, saw my buddy Andrew and his impressive road crew from Chicago/Michigan, soaked it all in.

Strolled across the street into the stadium and saw two drunk fans get into it right off the bat. "That's how fights start," Chris Durst said. Morons.

Massive renovations to Memorial Stadium. Congrats to Illinois for getting it right. The north end zone is now enclosed and the brick grandstand looks like it's been there all along. They put the students in the north seats and boy, were they LOUD.

Fantastic seats, west side, lower level, 10-yard line about 30 rows up. Memorial Stadium is a grand place, despite the dust.

Two fighter jets roared over the stadium just before kickoff and shook the place to the chore. The students were chanting "USA! USA!" Chris says, "This beats pro football, that's for sure."

Illinois started strong and eventually simply shot itself in the foot. The crowd moaned about all the penalties, but when you drag a guy down by his face mask, whack him out of bounds, run him over without turning around while playing pass defense ... and when you drop punts and can't throw a pass down the middle with the game on the line .... well.

Michigan helped too. Ryan Mallett fumbled once and tossed a goal line interception too. No Mike Hart, either. I think Jake Long (77) is as big as Marblehead, no secret Michigan runs left, left and left.

The flea flicker touchdown pass unfolded right in front of us and was a great call. Much-maligned coach Lloyd Carr deserves some credit.

Again, one or two idiots in the crowd by us, but I enjoyed the good natured bantering with the guys behind us and it was all good.

Left with 2 minutes to play, and took only about half an hour to get out of town. The traffic on Kirby moved well, and we were northbound on Prospect but stopped dead in traffic when Chris suggested we cut west through the neighborhood. It probably saved us 15 to 20 minutes.

Got home at 2 a.m., stayed awake in part with a phone conversation from Tookie at 1 a.m. He's happy about Elephant Ears.

Thanks for the garage signs, Christy!

Sleep is waaaaayyyyyy overrated .....

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Sun Splashed Saturday

Beautiful Day in Q-Town. God smiles at Octoberfest for the marching bands, at the Tin Dusters, at the Sammy Fund walk early this morning.

Much fun at the Elks last night. Good energy, if nothing else. The people at the Elks are great, just wish a few more would show up and party with us. Playing with Pat on drums and Chris on guitar worked well, we'll only get better with a few more practices and gigs. Rock A Bye on slide and the incomparable Jack Inghram on sax were on fire again, as usual.

There were a few times when I felt we were just another bad bar band .... but the few original songs we did play got great reactions. Gotta work on the new stuff!

We may be playing Friday, Nov. 23, at Turner Hall with a bunch of other bands.

Heading to Champaign for the big game tonight .... Dr. Brei and his neighbor's brother in tow. GO BLUE!

Back probably around 3 a.m., up before the sun for the Sammy Fund golf event tomorrow.

If I was in town, I'd be at the Octoberfest thing tonight at Flinn Stadium (parade on Maine Street starts at 2 p.m., we'll catch the beginning). Or go down the river for the Exchange Club's Smoke on the Water and to watch the Cheeseburgers.

Whatever you do this weekend, enjoy!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Busy Weekend

All kinds of stuff going on this weekend. Tin Dusters and the Exchange Club's Smoke on the River Saturday with The Cheeseburgers.

A while back The Cheeseburgers were playing at the church parking lot down the street late on Saturday night as part of an annual event. I had my window open and I could hear Burt Shackelton singing "Comfortably Numb" as I drifted to sleep .... Geesh!

Friday night we are playing at the Elks, 7:30 p.m. We had a really good practice with drummer Pat Cornwell the other night and this should be a lot of fun.

Saturday morning is the Sammy Fund run/walk at Madison Park. Saturday is also Quincy Marching Band's Octoberfest, with the huge parade down Maine Street in the afternoon. Hopefully they have good weather this year.

Heading to Champaign with Dr. Brei and JJ Manager of Doom for the Michigan at Illinois game Saturday night. Sunday is the Sammy Fund golf and dinner/auction event.

Might have to take Monday off to recover!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

End of Experiment

I am teetering precauriously on the brink of falling off the wagon. It will happen soon.

So I will choose the place and time willingly.

There's a gathering this afternoon to celebrate Bosses Day and I'll simply avoid the temptation. Woodland Cemetery and the Shuffle beckon, and I'll be better off for it.

However ...

Practice tonight, gig Friday at the Elks.

Michigan at Illinois in Champaign Saturday night.

Sammy Fund all day Sunday.

So, for no reason at all, I will probably tip one or two Wednesday night, in Good Company, and call it a grand experiment. I will also do it again.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Baseball Woes

With apologies to my sister in Denver and brother in Phoenix, baseball sucks.

Nobody, and I mean nobody, cares about the Rockies and D'backs. Last year's World Series was the least-viewed ever, and this year's might have even less viewership due to the NL representative.

In the AL, at least you have the team you love to hate, now known as the Boston Red Sox. I hate the Red Sox. I hate Manny Ramirez, who looks like the alien predator in the awesomely bad Arnold-Jesse movie from back in the day. I hate David Ortiz, who looks like he's waddling after a pizza when turning a triple into a single. I hate Curt Schilling baffling hitters and using his AARP card at the same time. I hate all the other bald guys who look like Stone Cold Steve Austin. And I hate JD Drew, who represents everything wrong about the game, way overpaid and underproductive.

Saturday night I'm getting ready for the Funions gig at about 7 p.m. and the Indians-Sox game is starting. I come home at 12:15 exhausted from playing and tearing down AND THE GAME IS STILL ON. Extra innings or not, it's a classic example of slow-ball and watching paint dry.

Last night I flip to the NL game and they are playing in a freezing rain and it's 4-1 in the sixth .... I watched for 10 seconds, and never flipped back.

Sorry, Major League Baseball. You haven't won me back. You never will.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Two Good Posts

Two good blog posts today by fellow Web Warriors Tookie Don't Care and UMR Blog. Access them at the links on the right side.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Fall Winter Schedule

The Funions are playing this Saturday at the QND 10-year reunion. A week from Friday we're at the Elks.

We have some cool gigs possibly coming up in November, December and January. Look for an announcement soon.

A special thanks to Mark Brei, the heart and soul of the Funions, who refuses to let this band die and has stubbornly kept us going, through thick and thin.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

(Loud) Friday Night Lights

Kudos the Quincy High football team, which refused to quit and battled Alleman to the end Friday night.

Another huge crowd was on hand for senior night. Alleman went up 14-0 just like that, but QHS battled back and trailed 28-21 at the half. The Blue Devils made some big plays on offense and a couple of defensive stands early in the second half, but it wasn't enough in a 42-21 loss.

I left after Alleman scored in the second half, in part because of the dreadful PA announcer. Don't tell me if the guy is running off tackle, or how far downfield he is, or if Vonderhaar is under center, or if the clock keeps running. DON'T DO PLAY BY PLAY from the PA. His enthusiasm is appreciated and I'm sure he's a nice guy, whoever he is, but it's overbearing and distracting from watching the game.

That's right. WATCHING the game. If we want to listen, we'll bring our radios and headphones. I didn't see a single person do that Friday night.

It's much better at Quincy Notre Dame (Frank Cash) and QU (Bill Shuler, Steve Looten). They are professional and to the point and don't scream into the microphone.

The QHS marching band also did a nice job, as always. Good luck to them in Kahoka, Mo., today.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Getting Ready

The Funions practiced last night and learned six or seven songs .... we're getting ready for an Oct. 13 gig, a reunion. We also have an Oct. 19 show at The Elks.

And, coming down the pipe, HUGE news .... a private party show Jan. 12 in Quincy. You won't believe who it is for.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Alexis Runs

I walked my customary South Park route yesterday in the beautiful fall weather. Heading back north along 12th, I noticed the Quincy Notre Dame cross country team coming the other way.

Up the street came a familiar figure, still a whispy willow of a thing, still slightly hunched forward with her face glazed in concentration.

Alexis Coleman.

She played on my daughter's Quinsippi Soccer League Tiramisu team that David Adam and I coached. She was whispy back then, could run like the wind, and we put her at back or in the midfield, or if we needed a goal at forward.

Alexis had the hardest shot of any girl in the league. When she wound up the other players would scatter. They knew. She'd usually injure a hapless teammate or two in practice. You never knew quite where it was going to go, but it was always a bullet.

Those are good memories, car bumper pool in the Paul Dennis parking lot, Sunday afternoons in the late summer sun or huddled in the fall cold.

So here she came, and I could hear us yelling, "CLEAR IT ALEX! OUTSIDE! TO THE OUTSIDE!"

She passed and recognized me and I gave her an "Atta girl Alex" and she grinned that beautiful shy smile.

And she was gone, steadily and surely down 12th Street.

It's funny how seeing a face brings back memories.

I miss the days of little girls and soccer, of Silver Shoes and showdowns with the really good Knapheide team and, of course, the only thing that really mattered. After the game, the chorus was unanimous .... "Who brought treats?"

Thank you, Alexis, for bringing it back, and good luck in your running.

Monday, October 01, 2007

To Drink Or Not To Drink

So I made it through September (actually starting Sept. 3) without drinking alcohol.

It was a frustrating yet rewarding experience. I missed having a beer a lot. Saturday night at Frankie's benefit the beer was flowing and people were laughing in that beer buzz way and I had to sip my water and sort of grin and bear it.

This was an event where you paid to get in and drank all the beer you wanted. Normally for me that means sucking down a bunch of beer after getting there, then cooling down because I had to drive (especially in Chicago).

Sunday morning I got up kind of wiped out from the whole thing but really feeling physically fine. And it occurred to me if I'd been drinking, I would have felt a whole lot worse, not really hungover, but just .... run over.

The main thing people always ask me when I tell them I've stopped is simply .... "Why?"

That's a hard question to answer. Maybe to just see if I could do it. Maybe to see if I actually have discipline (believe me, I was sorely tempted on several occasions). Maybe it's to have an excuse to avoid certain situations and establishments.

Maybe to save money .... it's like any vice, you don't really realize how much it costs until you stop. This past summer I estimate I probably drank an average of three beers a day. Many days, especially on the beach, I drank more, and many days I didn't drink at all. Mix in the usual Coors Light with the higher end Goose Island, and that's probably close to $100 a month.

So today is Oct. 1 and I'm faced with the big decision .... stay on the wagon or drop off?

It's really hard to decide, but I'm leaning toward staying on.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Two New Links

Added two new links, one for Kevin's Quincy blog, now that he appears to be doing stuff regularly.

The other is a teacher who has some interesting stuff. Check 'em out!

Brotherly Love

Beautiful time in St. Andrew gym in Chicago's Wrigleyville last night for Frank Calkins. Huge crowd, lots of laughing.

Frank can't talk anymore, though he does have a computer to relay his thoughts. His two daughters sat patiently with him last night and gently wiped his chin as he sucked soda through a straw. People came up to him and his face lit up at greeting old friends.

His family put together a book for the event and some of the stories made me laugh and cry.

His twin brother, Marty, wrote about growing up with Frank and finished with these paragraphs ....

"A couple of months ago when Frankie came to Chicago to go the Bears game with all my brothers, he stayed overnight at my mom's. The ALS had moved to his legs and he needed help walking. That night I sat next to him in our old bedroom located upstairs. I was holding his hand, talking about everything like we've done a thousand times before. He was explaining about what ALS was doing to his body, and said to me out of the clear blue sky, 'I'm glad I caught this instead of you; I couldn't handle it if it was you.'

"I called him a jerk and said, 'I love you.' He fell asleep holding my hand. As the tears rolled down my face, and I smiled and thought, 'That's my twin.'"

Thursday, September 27, 2007

The Friend

I met a dear friend for lunch yesterday and I was afraid I'd break her heart.

Instead, I got nothing but love and support.

When you make life-changing decisions, the consequences reverberate, much like the pebble in the pond. The last thing I want to do is hurt anybody, but sometimes you have no choice.

I appreciate friends and I have good ones in Quincy.

I'm also reading Rick Reilly's book, a collection of his Sports Illustrated columns, and time after time he drives home the point about not taking friends and family for granted.

We all do. It's human nature.

Stopping for two seconds to think about it will make you feel better and cleanse the soul.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Gundy's Rant

Just saw Oklahoma State football coach Mike Gundy's rant about a columnist criticizing his quarterback. See it for yourself:

Gundy goes over the edge and makes several classic mistakes in his raving. First of all, his team won a big conference game, but nobody cares about that now, since all he did was get red in the face right after it ended. Secondly, he shouts at a guy who works for a business that buys ink by the barrel, and you simply can't win.

Gundy made some great points and should be commended for sticking up for his QB. But if thinks that these are "just kids" and if thinks college football is some sort of dream world where athletes are immune from media and fan scrutiny, he's not only sadly mistaken, he's been living under a rock for a long time.

Had Gundy simply stared the columnist down, or frozen him out, or simply ignored him, or made a short statement about what an idiot the guy is, he would have won. And he could have used it for the "us against the world" approach to motivating his team.

Division I College football is a big business, plain and simple. Are they 17 and 18 years old? Yes. Are they being paid? No. Do the vast majority bust their butts and make their universities proud? Yes.

Are they coddled and have advantages many students simply don't have in this day and age of $30,000-a-year tuition? Yes.

Look at Michigan quarterback Ryan Mallett, a FRESHMAN IN COLLEGE who is now throwing passes in front of 110,000 angry Maize and Blue fans on Saturdays. Is that fair to throw him to the wolves? Heck no, but he's out there and trying, and if some bozo writer says otherwise, that's the way it is.

The media doesn't care. There are sports writers and columnists out there who simply feed the beast, who have kids themselves, who don't want to hurt anybody, but also will run over their mom to get the story.

Coach Gundy needs to worry more about the rest of the Big 12 schedule that what a columnist says. This isn't a fairy tail with the gloves off, Coach. It's the big time, Big 12 football, and blowing up after a huge win doesn't get it done.

Gundy doesn't owe the columnist an apology, or talk to him ever again. He does owe an apology to his team and the rest of the media, because they wanted his take on a big game and he left them hanging.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Flinn Rocks

Huge crowd at the QHS football game last night for Homecoming.

Give Coach Little and his players credit for being prepared and playing really hard. The Blue Devils are 3-2 and 2-0 in the WB6, though the tough part of the conference schedule now looms.

I was working last night so I only saw a few minutes of the second quarter and the halftime show. The percussion and bells section especially were very good, not that I'm biased ....

The QHS band rocks. They were in excellent form in the parade Thursday down Maine Street and at halftime Friday.

The only thing I didn't like about the game was the public address announcer. Doing play by play is annoying. And there was more yelling than information given. If I want a running account of the game, I'll bring my radio. Just give us the ball carrier and who made the tackle.

Other than that, it was a Big Friday Night ....

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Happy Birthday Tookie

And a very happy birthday to the Web Warrior of Doom who turns 10 today. Don't hit him while he rides his new tricycle around Vermont Street. Be nice to him and try to talk to him now before McFadden turns his world upside down Saturday.

Tookie - sometimes I think it must be nice to not care about anything.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Could Be Worse ....

You could be a Georgia football fan.

Alas, turmoil galore in Ann Arbor. Even the great programs must struggle on occassion.

The boss at work says, "Who is going to watch two 0-2 teams play each other?" Uh, it's Notre Dame vs. Michigan, and just for the train wreck appeal, much of the country, actually.

Best game yesterday was Fresno at Texas A&M, three or four OTs and players were dropping like flies in the Texas heat.

Did you catch the mighty Chippewas dismantling Toledo last night? Brian Kelly bolted Central Michigan before last season ended and headed to Ohio. Love the guy, high-fived him on the field after Central beat bitter rival Western Michigan last November .... but part of me watches in a jealous rage.

In two non-CFB notes, we're up in Paloma today and looking forward to playing in the bright sunshine of rural Adams County.

And trying to listen to Journey without Steve Perry is like playing golf without a putter. It just doesn't work .... though I like the song "Higher Place."

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Social Experiment

It's not quite a Michigan morning - still too much humidity - but it's comfortable sitting on the porch reviving with caffeine.

I've decided to quit drinking during the month of September, and to see where it leads. Until last night, I was doing fine. Then I went to Blues In The District at Washington Park and it got a little more challenging.

But seeing Tookie with H20 made me feel better. He's stopped to cut carbs. I've stopped to just see if I can do it.

I liken this to a social experiment. If you are hanging out and the beer is flowing, are your perceptions different if you decide not to drink?

Duh! Of course! I'm not saying it's better or worse, but it's very different.

I'm quitting because it was getting too easy to have a beer after work. After a walk. After dinner. At night. All night.

I know people who drink a lot more and are still functional. I know people who hardly drink at all and should drink more — "Lighten up, Francis ...." In the end, you can't worry about anybody else, just yourself. My liver will thank me, I know that.

Not sure how long it will last. I can't imagine sitting on a Lake Michigan beach without a beer. Then again, it might be nice to wake up in the tent and not wonder where the Aspirin bottle is.

Just thinking how huge the Oregon at Michigan game is this afternoon, and how nice it will be to just sit and watch college football today.

With a water, of course .....

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

I luv Tookie

OK. He's a Web Warrior. He bashes people without caring. He can't spell worth a bleep. He doesn't really care about anything or anybody.

But I want Tookie to know this.


This has nothing to do with Tookie giving me Michigan at Illinois tickets. Yes, I am still a fan, despite Armageddon last Saturday. So I'm going Oct. 20 to Champaign. Right now, I have two extra tickets if anybody in Cyberspace is interested ....

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Amazing Guitarist

Every now and then somebody will come along and blow you away.

Check out guitar player Andy McKee on, especially his song Drifting and an amazing cover of Toto's Africa.

And the song Into The Ocean features the most unique guitar I've ever seen.

Check it out!

Monday, August 27, 2007

Aharon's Elaina

Just watched a youtube video featuring Elaina Bellis of Quincy. It's by a guy named Aharon.

I did a story about Elaina not long ago. She went to LA to find herself and get into the TV and movie industry. She sounded like she was having the time of her life.

Check out the video here ....

Wow. A beautiful girl in a well-produced video and even kind of a cool song.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Drew's Off To School

Best wishes to young Drew White, off to school in the Chicago area (Elmhurst, I believe).

Drew heads north Tuesday armed with my old guitar, a good head on his shoulders, massive love and support from his dad and brother, and best wishes from Trinity UCC and friends.

I didn't go away to college until my third year out of high school and it was a huge mistake to wait that long. Some young people are fine staying home and going to school .... look at how well John Wood Community College does, and it makes a lot of financial success.

But others are ready. And others are ready to send them on their way. Right Tim??!!

Andrew, I remember your proud mother rocking her new baby boy in the church pew at Second Congregational in Grand Rapids, and now I'm wondering where the heck all this time has gone.

Quincy is home and always will be, but these are the greatest times you will ever have, Drew. Close your eyes and bottle this up right now, cause you won't leave home for the first time again.

Good luck, my friend.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Bands I'd Pay To See

1. The Who
2. U2
3. Yes
4. Asia
5. The Police
6. Van Halen
7. Eric Johnson
8. Journey (only with Steve Perry)
9. The Kinks
10. The Cars (even The New Cars)
11. The Collapse
12. Dire Straits
13. Foreigner (only with Lou Graham)
14. Sammy Hagar
15. Huey Lewis & The News
16. Peter Gabriel
17. Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers
18. Raised On Radio
19. Freddie Tieken & The Rockers
20. Jack Inghram & The Congregational Hart Throbs

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Musical Toys

The average musician is careful about the money he spends and the equipment he buys. An awful lot of thought must go into getting the latest gadget or instrument.

This ain't a cheap jones.

Today in the mail I got my Digitech Model Guitar Processor from Musician's Friend. It's a lot of fun to play with and I got a great deal on it, and of course I don't really need it. But .... might be able to plug it right into the PA for electric guitar.

When I play with the full Funions band, I just bring my trusty Cort jumbo acoustic with the awesome Fishman pickup. Howard and JB make all the noise on guitar we really need. I add some rhythmn and it's actually a lot of fun to just put the guitar and sing and be a fool on the stage.

But we have some shows coming up where either Howard or JB won't be there, so I might have to play my Highway Strat.

First of all, I try to buy local when I do purchase instruments and gear. I bought my Cort from Al Barnard at The Guitar Shop on South 12th. I bought my Alvararez acoustic from Pat Cornwell at Vegas Music a few years ago and it's my "beater bring it to the beach" or Aldo Blvd deck guitar. I also have two Crate amps I bought from Pat that are awesome.

I bought a Peavey guitar and amp from Scott Smith at Smith Music two years ago, but I sold both. The Peavey was just too heavy and Larry Flavell bought my Peavey when he started playing with The Funions. I've bought two more guitars from Scott, one which I traded back in for a cheap Peavy guitar that JB is playing right and loves because it has a high action and his slide sounds really good on it.

When my mom passed away, I put most of my inheritance away for future use, then invested in a Boss digital recorder and the Strat. I've always dreamed of playing a Strat and I couldn't be happier. There are no Strat dealers around here so I ordered it from Musician's Friend. Then I had Scott Smith replace two of the three pickups with Seymour Duncans to put a little more umphh into it while also quieting it down some.

So now I look around and yes, I have some stuff. Add the Boss chromatic tuner, my Nady guitar wireless system (the greatest thing ever invented) and my Samson wireless microphone (a gift from the church) and I realize I've got some stuff.

Do I need it? No.

Is it more fun to play with than should be allowed?

C'mon ......

Monday, May 28, 2007

Maine Center, Gus

Two things to hit briefly on Memorial Day (and a badly-needed day off it is, too!).

First, the show Friday night at the Maine Center was incredible, one of the best live experiences I've had. There was some sort of issue with having it in the coffee shop, so it was moved to a room upstairs. Jon and I were unsure of what to expect .... acoustic blues in front of a bunch of high school kids isn't normally what we do. But we were stunned at the great reception they gave us. They actually listened to our songs and really got into a couple them, including Breakdown by Tom Petty. Craig Garkie from The Collapse told me kids these days actually like this kind of stuff and it really makes Jon and I feel good. We aren't the best players in the world but as long as you have the energy and intent the show will be good, and it was great fun during our half-hour set.

Young bands November Silence and The Collapse were awesome. The Collapse is discovering the power of playing before an enthusiastic audience. Singer Ryan Hanson at one point said, "It's so cool when people are singing along to your own songs." They've released a five-song CD called The Rooftop EP ( and it's playing right now and I can't stop listening to it - soon to be included on The iPod Shuffle!

Second - Gus Macker. Gus was great again and there were very few problems, just one idiot on a high school court who used some rather poor judgement. Emily and I officiated an 11-12 year old boys court and the parents were great, and except for a few minor incidents, the players stuck to playing. I was very proud of Emily, who blew the whistle down low for five games and did a great job.

To the person who posted on Rocky's site about Gus - don't blast us unless you come down and check it out. Yes, there are usually a few people who act stupidly, but the positive experiences of having 15,000 people downtown far outweigh the few negatives. And don't ever bother comparing the Free Fall convention to Gus, they aren't even remotely the same type of events.

Once again, The Funions are pretty much off in June, with some big events coming later in the summer .... we'll keep you posted!

Sunday, May 20, 2007


Wow. That about sums up our Washington Theater Make It Happen Musicfest Saturday.

Every group and performer was awesome. Ben Bumbry's cool jazz drifted through the historic structure like a breeze on a warm summer day. Come to think of it, it was a warm (late spring) day!

Jason and Warren from SevenD2 played acoustic versions of their many original songs. You have a good song when you can strip it down and make it sound good.

Young Quincy High School band The Collapse had about 40 of their classmates and buddies show up and rocked the house. Learn more songs, boys! These young men are getting a taste of the power of a live performance.

Cheeks McGee and Big A showed up a few minutes late, then blasted through Cheeks' acoustic driven songs. Then came our buddy Roosevelt and Jon Barnard playing acoustic blues. Roosevelt drove down from Kalamazoo, Mich., to play and his beautiful voice boomed through the old theater.

The Funions had fun, as usual. That great big stage gives you lots of room to run around. Good for my chiropracter's bidness, too. Thank you, Gail and Gary. Thank you, Jamie, Angie and Evanne. Thank you to new Funions fans (hopefully) Dave and Glenda.

Fielder delivered a shortened but satisfying set (more in a minute). And PreDawn Hour roared through their set before a big crowd. Jorge Cate and the boys play a heavier style of music but they are tight and have great original songs, and when their fans sing every word, that has to be a cool feeling.

Thank you, Kristin Hoxie and Clint Begley. Thank you, Marianne Barnard and Rochelle Busby, troopers and promoters to the end. Thank you, Gaybos, for the awesome BBQ from the sidewalk in front of the theater.

Thank you, Chris Cornwell, drummer extraordinaire. He donated the sound system with his dad, Pat, from Vegas Music. Chris and I met at 8 a.m. Saturday and it was a long day inside the grand old place, but worth it.

After Chris finished his set with the Funions, he received word his grandmother was ill. He also plays drums for Fielder, which recruited Jorge Cate and Danny Mabie from Predawn Hour to play a few more songs.

Chris donated his time and lugged heavy equipment all day without one word of complaint. He is the guy who packs the punch in the Funions, always has a good attitude, for some sick reason actually likes playing music with a bunch of old guys.

We raised $500 for the Friends of Washington Theater. More importantly, we had hundreds of people actually get inside and see what was, sadly what is, and what could be.

"We gotta restore this place to its former grandeur," Jorge Cate said.


Sunday, May 13, 2007

Sports Fanatic ... NOT

Just got done reading Bill Simmons excellent book called "Now I Can Die In Peace," the collection of columns he wrote about the Boston Red Sox leading up to their improbable 2004 World Series title.

Simmons has a sickness called being a sports fanatic, and at one time I had it. Perhaps because I moved so much I never really adopted one official team, though if pressed I'd have to say my beloved Montreal Canadiens and Expos were my passions, since I spent a few years growing up in Montreal.

But I lived in Ontario and got attached to the Leafs and Blue Jays. In 1992, I hid behind my couch when Mike Timlin fielded Otis Nixon's bunt, held my breath for what seemed like an eternity, then finally exploded when Timlin threw him out to give the Jays the World Series. The next year, I again hid behind my couch until Joe Carter launched Wild Thing's meatball into the left field bleachers, then went out into the street and screamed with joy.

Did I mention I was living in Michigan and my Tiger-loving neighbors wanted to kill me?

I grew attached to the Red Wings living in Michigan, but of course they didn't break their Stanley Cup futility until I moved to Quincy.

I cannot root for St. Louis teams. If you grew up around here, I understand it and you have my respect. But I hated Mark McGwire and all the "He and Sammy saved baseball" BS, and Cardinal fans are a bunch of crybabies. They just won the World Series, and yet two months into the 2007 season all they do is bitch about their current team.

The Blues? HAHAHAHA! And if you think John Davidson and Co. will turn it around, well ... dream on.

I actually like the Rams because of the Kurt Warner thing, but those days are long gone and they are back to being average again.

Chicago? Forget it. Love the Cubs, hapless as they are. Hate the White Sox, especially because of their inept and annoying announcers. Bears? Ugh. Blackhawks? Like 'em because my teams always beat them. Bulls? Prolonged their series tonight with the Pistons, which is good, because the Pistons shouldn't be sitting around waiting for Cleveland and New Jersey to finish bashing each other's brains in.

Tonight Anaheim beat Detroit in overtime, a crushing loss for the Wings, to tie the series at 1-1.

I just turned off the TV and finished by Simmons book. It didn't have much of an effect at all.

Still play softball, still smack that stupid little white ball around the golf course. Haven't hooped it up in a few years, but I spend my summers working for Gus and that takes care of the basketball Jones.

But it was a lot more fun when I was 14 and cheered for my beloved Habs, even as my classmates in London, Ont., ridiculed me. And I miss having that passion.

Miss it a lot.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Signs of Summer

A sure sign summer is upon us — softball season has started!

After a bye week and a rainout last week, the Herald-Whig Demons finally took the field and eked out a 4-2 win tonight over Uncle Bob's Bar. Feeble bats were over come by good pitching from Carl Grape Ape and stellar defense.

For a full recap, check out Don O'Brien's blog at

Speaking of O'Brien, can somebody tell me when the Bulls-Pistons series starts?

What's that? It's already started? And Detroit leads 3-0?


Monday, May 07, 2007

Esther Remembered

An incredible Toronto Star column about cousin Esther Hart, who battled colon cancer to the bitter end before passing away last month.

Monday, April 30, 2007

For Frankie

The Funions played one of their best shows ever Sunday at the Frank Calkins benefit.

Let's face it - a benefit is a social event, and most people come to hang out, visit with friends, sneak a peak at the auction items and drink a soda. The band is usually just background noise, and we are used to that.

But something happened upstairs inside the Starlight Casino (which was smoke-free, thank you very much). People started listening. There was a presentation for Frank right before we played our last song, "Stay Strong," which we wrote for Frank, and the place was jumping.

It is an awesome feeling, playing music when people get it. All the credit goes to Frank.

What a great weekend! The comedy show Friday, the walk/run and golf event Saturday, and Sunday. All good. All GREAT. All because of Frank.

Now comes the hard part. We watch our friend suffer the ravishes of ALS and all we can do is pray a little harder. Truth is, Frank is in a fight for his life, and only his attitude will see him through.

Stay Strong, Frank. Stay Strong.

Saturday, April 28, 2007


Frank Calkins got a dose of medicine no doctor can give, and the drug had only one side affect — laughter.

Last night at Backwaters, Paul Gilmartin had an overflow crowd howling as he mused about life, love, not love, more not love and life. In general.

I often tell people my job is interesting because "you can't make it up." That's what makes Paul's job as a comedian relevant, too. He can skewer and poke fun but the fact is, he's talking about life as we know it. And if you can't laugh at how absurd we are, then get your pulse checked.

Last Saturday somebody said God is in Gil Feld's fan club. Same holds true for Frank. After a dismal rainy week, Friday broke clear, cool and sunny. They have great weather today for the walk/run and golf tournament in Camp Point.

God is smiling down at you, Frank.

Mayor John Spring gave Frank the key to the city last night and proclaimed Sunday as Frank Calkins Day in Quincy. Frank can't stand on his own anymore, but we stood for him four different times in standing ovations.

Frank is good a putting smiles on people's faces. This weekend is our turn to return the favor, as Jon Barnard put it last night.

We'll see you tomorrow at the Casino!

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Paul Gilmartin

Paul Gilmartin is performing Friday night at Backwaters to support the Frank Calkins benefit weekend. You've seen Paul on Dinner & A Movie on TBS, and he is wickedly funny. Tickets are just $10 in advance and $12 at the door.

We play Sunday at the Casino Starlight at about 3 p.m. for Frank's benefit. Should be a great weekend!

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Walking Into Sanity

It's been an unbelievably long couple of days.

This afternoon I restored some sanity by walking through Woodland Cemetery. This might be the most gorgeous spot in Quincy, were it not for the aluminum sided business marring the Gardner Expressway when you look across the bluff and toward the river.

The rolling terrain is how Quincy used to be before we flattened and planned everything out .... gotta have that social order, you know. The place is also a veritable outdoor museum, with a Civil War memorial, John Wood (founder of Quincy) grave and the resting places for many prominent Quincy citizens.

I like to sit on the Roy Brocksmith bench and think about life. My old friend Jo Ann Bier is buried near the west end in a beautiful spot, as well.

The old graves, the vaults, the dirt roads winding back, the view .... it's a beautiful place.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Now She Rests

Cousin Esther Hart passed away peacefully Monday night in Toronto after a grueling battle with cancer.

Peace and blessings to all the family, and safe travels.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Third Ward Race

Today is one of many reasons for loving Q-Town ... cool, breezy, sunny .... the perfect spring day.

I will probably wreck it somewhat by watching the Cardinals tonight, but I will keep my perfect streak of 15 years without watching an entire MLB game.

Interesting story in today's Whig about the Third Ward race between Paul Havermale and John Douglas. I don't live in the ward and have no party allegiances, but it's the only city race on the April ballot so there is a lot of interest.

I think Paul has done an excellent job as alderman. In today's story he came off as bright and interested in doing the best job he can. He didn't let losing his first bid for alderman discourage him from running again and he perservered, proof good things will happen if you stick to it.

John Douglas is another good guy who has the right ideas for running. I run into John a lot doing the crime and courts thing and he is always helpful and good for a quote, and he has a self-depreciating style that always makes me laugh.

This is not an endorsement for either candidate. I'm just glad both parties have good candidates.

The best thing about today's story is that neither candidate threw any mud and they stuck to the issues, refreshing to see.

Good luck to both guys!

Friday, March 23, 2007

Rocky Mountain High

I'm heading West for a week off in the Rocky Mountains, but I'll check in on occassion to make sure it's all good in Q-Town.

Other than bank robberies, cat hoarders and the usual cast of suspects, nothing new to report. Also been working on a story about the Daniel Ramsey murder trial looming next month, make sure to check out The Whig April 1.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

More Willow feedback

Getting some great comments and feedback on the Willow Creek post. But the last comment bothered me.

The person wrote: "Now don't get me wrong -- I enjoy Rock & Roll, but don't ever recall hearing a rock song that is profoundly beautiful and touches the soul."


Have you ever listened to Roxy Music's Avalon? The second side (dating myself here) of the Police's Synchronicity? How about U2's Joshua Tree? "One Tree Hill" still makes me cry. Eric Johnson's "40 Mile Town" makes mere mortals crumble. "I Am Waiting" by Yes. "To Be a Man" by Boston, beautifully sung by the late Brad Delp and haunting knowing he just recently took his life. "Romeo and Juliet" by Dire Straits used to make an old college girlfriend cry, and she hated rock and roll. "Sad Lisa" by Cat Stephens brings me back to my days listening to my mom's old records in the living room.

I'm shooting myself in the foot by listing just a few of hundreds of rock and roll songs that "touch the soul."

Why do you think I listen to music? To have something in the background while writing a story? Yes. To be moved by melody and lyrics? YES YES YES! I was walking the other day listening to my iPod Shuffle when "Don't Give Up" by Peter Gabriel from Secret World Live came on and all of a sudden I was at the other end of South Park and I had no idea how I got there.

Are we "dumbing down" by offering a service appealing to youth and contemporary audiences? With that attitude, there simply won't be a church in another five or 10 years, at least not at 12th and Maine. Organ music and 300-year old hymns just won't do it anymore. It's not wrong and if it moves you, it's where you should be.

Music should inspire and connect, whatever form you choose.

Listen. If I watch the show "Ozzie & Harriet" today, I'd be bored out of my mind, and it's a personal choice.

And seeking something more isn't wrong.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Playing For Republicans

Jack, Alan and I played for an Adams County Republican gathering tonight at the Senior Center. Alan sings and plays trombone, Jack wails on his sax and I stay out of the way on guitar. We play our elavator muzak and sometimes I have to laugh, but people seem to like it and it's perfect background noise at a gathering.

For us, it's just a gig. If the Dems call us, we'll play for them, too.

It was nice to see Bob and Anne Mays get honored, they are really good people.

The bank robbery in Payson has the people up there in a stir. Don't know much about it yet, but we'll dig up more info in the morning for tomorrow's paper.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Willow Creek

I went to Chicago on the train this weekend to hang out with the Reynolds family. I miss them a lot since they moved from Quincy and we had an awesome weekend. Saturday we went downtown and then to Lincoln Park to join in the St. Patrick's Day festivities. It didn't take long for us to realize we were about 20 years too old, so it was an early night but a fun experience.

They live in Inverness, near Palatine, and Willow Creek Community Church is just down the road (in Chicago, just down the road means anything less than 10 miles). So we piled in the van this morning and went to the king of the mega-churches, because I've heard so much about it. Young Mike Reynolds says, "It's like going to a rock concert!"

He was right, in more ways than one.

This place is huge, a series of space ship buildings connected on a massive lake-fronted property. This is the church built on being non-traditional, built on bringing people in who would otherwise not go to church, and they've struck a chord with many of the late baby boomers and now Gen Xers — DON'T make it like a church. This is not your father's church. And that's the whole idea.

You know it's a huge place when they have guys wearing orange vests directing traffic in the parking lot.

You don't walk into Willow Creek as much as you stream in with a lot of other people. There is this sort of expectation hanging in the air — something I've almost never felt when going to church. There is a coffee shop area, a bookstore, a huge commons area to just hang out, a "front porch" area to meet people, computer kiosks with Internet access. "It's like a mall," Tom Reynolds said. "God's mall."

There are signs pointing to the different sections of the worship area, just like a major sports venue. We took one of two escalators to the second of three levels and looked at the "bulletin," which isn't a bulletin at all but a "playlist" of the week's activities and an explanation of the message. This place is huge and it's hard to guess how many people it holds — 6,000, more maybe? It sort of looks like a giant movie theater morphed into the bridge from Star Trek. The stage has about 30 televisions placed on strange angles, and there are two giant movie screens on either side of the stage.

Nope. Not Rev. Dirk's old churches. Not even close.

The band hand, and I mean this is a real rock and roll band, had a couple of guitar players, bass player, a drummer behind a massive Plexiglas encased kit, a keyboard player and a singer. One of the guitarists/singers also plays sax. They opened with a rock instrumental and I kept thinking how strange it was, until I realize it's not that different from the organ music you hear to start church. Same principle, anyway.

There was a greeting and then a video "Behind The Music" look at the band, their influences, and why they play music. It all tied into the message of "How To Save A Life" and was interspersed by the band playing some of their favorite songs.

Have you ever been to church and heard the band break out into The Police or Bon Jovi? Neither have I. Until this morning.

Teaching pastor Nancy Beach's message was highlighted by a drama, the band playing The Fray's "How To Save A Life" and a Nickelback video. That's right. A FREAKING NICKELBACK VIDEO. All loosely tied into the message of bringing church to the unchurched. Suddenly it was 70 minutes later and we were wrapping it up with the band playing "Lifesong." Unfortunately it was the only the song the congregation (again, old and outdated term) sang, but I was told they usually do more songs.

The critics say the mega-churches don't teach the doctrine, that's it's too easy to be too anonymous, that they don't differentiate between the church and the outside world.

Maybe so. But here's the question I kept asking myself — when was the last time I really got something out of church, or really looked forward to it for the right reasons? And if I have a chance to go to Willow Creek again, why would I jump at the chance and be genuinely excited?

This will make some people who read this blog mad, but it has to be said — churches that don't change, that don't update themselves, that stubbornly refuse to accept we are living in 2007, not 1967, are doomed to failure. I should know. I go to one. And it's on the fast track to extinction. And ... it will be very hard for me to go back there after experiencing something like Willow Creek.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Funions 2007

So we have a new guitar player, Howard Schroeder, who plays with Dr. Brei in Crossroads. Howard is an excellent player and better yet a great guy to hang out with.

Jon Barnard is playing slide and acoustic guitar.

Jack Inghram is on board playing sax and keyboards.

These additions make us sound a little different, but at practice last night we just had a blast.

To play in bars and in front of new fans, you gotta have songs people know. We will still be playing "Just Pretending" songs and new original material (wait until the upcoming benefits, we have some new stuff with a lot of potential). So last night at practice we learned a bunch of songs. I won't give any away, but "every girl's crazy bout a sharp dressed man ...."

Here's the schedule so far for the coming months. Some of these shows are still in the planning stages, so check back here or email me at to make sure we are playing.

Funions World Parking Lot Tour 2007
Friday, April, 6, 8-9:15 p.m., North Side Boat Club with Recoil, Slink Rand Band
Saturday, April 21, 5:30-7 p.m., America’s Best Value Inn, Gil Feld Benefit
Sunday, April 29, 3:30 to 5:30 p.m., Casino Starlight, Frank Calkins Benefit
Saturday, May 19, 6-7 p.m., Washington Theater, Make The Music Happen Festival
Saturday, July 14, 6:30-8:30 p.m., Downtown Quincy (with Slick Woody)
Saturday, July 28, TBA, Susan White Benefit, Downtown Quincy
Saturday, Oct. 13, 8-midnight, Barney’s Tavern, QND 10-year reunion

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Farewell Brad Delp

Brad Delp died yesterday. The 55-year-old singer for Boston was alone at home when he passed away.

You need two things for a great rock and roll song. One, of course, is the song itself. Two, you need a voice. This is why The Funions are happily mired in small town rock and roll mire. If we ever get a singer ....

Boston is often criticized for its arena rock album oriented songs. But the first album is one of the best ever made and still sounds great more than 30 years later. Tom Scholz revolutionized guitar rock and maybe he is right to be so methodical about putting out his music.

Brad Delp made the songs sing. To Be A Man from Third Stage is haunting and Holly Ann sends chills up your spine. On the last album, Corporate America, Fran Cosmo and Kimberley Dahme did more singing, and Delp didn't have quite the range when they toured the next year. Dr. Brei and I saw them in Springfield and the band was in fine form. Delp looked like he was having a blast as always. He even joked about not being able to hit the high notes and wisely let the younger singers do much of the higher end vocals.

From what I read he was also one of the nicest guys in rock and roll (, He did a lot of charity work and was tinkering with various projects.

Scholz apparently is always making Boston music. I wonder what's out there with Delp on vocals, but knowing Scholz, it might never get out. And this may spell the end for Boston, which wouldn't be the same without Delp — Foreigner and Journey are good examples.

Farewell, Brad Delp. I loved your voice and your music. My iPod is full of Boston songs, and I'll keep listening.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Great Show

In the immortal words of the late Peter Boyle, while portraying Frank Barone .... "HOLY CRAP!"

What a great time at America's Best Value Inn. Slick Woody was awesome and played more than an hour later than advertised. We had fun, we need to get tighter as a band but that will come with practice. The hotel did booming bar business, both bands got paid and everybody, and I do mean everybody, had a good time.

I won't be able to walk tomorrow.

I promise the rest of the band will learn 8675309. "Junie Junie, who can I turn to?"

Thanks Jamie for bringing your girls. Thanks courthouse crew, you guys rock!

And here's the best part of the night.

I met Rocky Cola and his wife.

I quit. There's nothing else even remotely comparable.

Next Funions Shows: April 7, North Side Boat Club, opening for Recoil and Slink Rand

April 21, America's Best Value Inn, benefit show TBA

Saturday, May 19, Washington Theater!

Thursday, March 01, 2007

New Look

We are really looking forward to Saturday's show at America's Best Value Inn with Slick Woody. This is the old Shepherd's Inn and Ramada across from the Oakley-Lindsay Center. It's in the bar upstairs and it's cozy, so get there early.

We play first at 7:30. We have a new look and I'm really eager to see what we sound like.

The Slick Woody guys have been playing music for a long time and they have what very few bands have — awesome harmonies, good playing and good songs.

See you Saturday!

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Internet Shopping

I went to Staples yesterday to buy CD jewel case inserts. We're burning our own copies of "Just Pretending" and this is the cheapest way to do it.

But Staples did not have the 50-pack Memorex brand I bought the last time. The very polite sales associate said it was likely because they don't stock the item anymore.

So I bought the Avery 20-pack, but it doesn't work with the Memorex exPressit software I used to design the inserts. I can use the Avery inserts for other things so it's no big deal, but for a number of reasons Avery just isn't as good as the Memorex product.

We need some CDs made because we have some shows coming up and it's a pain. Not sure where else in town I can find them.

So this morning I turned to the Internet again to order the Memorex inserts. This is why retailers are deathly afraid of the Internet — it's super easy, it's cheap (except for the shiping), and while I was at it, I bought 50 slim cases. They'll be by my mailbox within a week, which isn't nearly as good as bringing them home.

At least they'll be here.

Monday, February 19, 2007

New Blogger

I switched to the new Blogger format sometime ago and have had no problems.

Not happy about the way Police tickets are being handled. You have to join an Internet club to have access to the better tickets, and prices are astronomical. Will you pay $225 to see a band? If you can afford it, well, more power to you.

Several other bands touring this summer, including the original Asia lineup and Genesis. Van Halen too, but without Michael Anthony and his great harmony vocals, forget it.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Judge This

Just read in the Kirksville Daily Express online that a Northeast Missouri judge, Richard Steele, is letting a Kirksville man out of serving probation terms while he appeals his recent sodomy conviction.

According to the paper, Jay Schilling would not have to abide by the sentence during the appeals process, though the Kirksville businessman will have to register as a sex offender. Convicted in October 2006 for inappropriately touching a 15-year-old girl during the 2004 NEMO fair, Schilling was sentenced this month to serve four years in jail, but Steele suspended his sentence in favor of a 5-year probation with the conditions he complete a sexual offender treatment program and serve 30 days of shock time in jail. The sentence further states the 30 days in jail did not have to be served concurrently and Schilling could choose which days to serve.

Schilling notified the Court he was appealing his case Jan. 11, and asked the Court 11 days later to exempt him from probation conditions, including registering as a sex offender, until his appeal is decided.

The paper says this move came at the prompting of Steele, who had written to Schilling's attorney Jan. 17 he believed Schilling could avoid probation requirements during the appeals process if he submitted a written request to do so, and Steele stated in the letter he would approve such a request.


The judge writes to the defense lawyer, tells him to submit a written request so his client can avoid probation terms, and then says he'll approve the request BEFORE IT'S FILED?

Maybe that's how they do it over in Missouri.

By the way, this is the same judge who oversaw the Lewis County bench trial for the LaBelle man who shot several people a couple of years ago. Jeremy Goodson's attorney used some hocus pocus psychobabble for his defense to excuse the shootings.

The trial was several months ago. We are still waiting for a verdict from Judge Steele.

Juries don't take months to reach a verdict. Neither should judges.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Keep The Series Going!

Congrats to both Quincy High School and Quincy Notre Dame on a great boys basketball game Saturday.

Give credit to the two coaches, Sean Taylor and Scott Douglas, who go about things the right way. To the very few misguided in both Blue Devil Nation and Raider Country, you have NO idea how fortunate we are to have these guys in town. None. So keep beating your heads against the wall and knock yourselves into oblivion.

The administration deserves credit too, from Superintendent Tom Leahy to ADs Bill Connell and Max Miller. Ten years ago, this game just doesn't happen. The QND switch from Class A to AA was the catalyst, and it would be good to get a long-term deal struck so the teams can continue the series past next year.

For those of you unaware of the basketball-crazed town Quincy is, there were an estimated 4,000 people inside Blue Devil Gym Saturday for the first meeting between QHS and QND in many years. QHS won by a point in a great game. I thought CGEM did a good job broadcasting, and it made people like me who didn't want to deal with the big crowd appreciate watching it at home.

Good Lord. I've been living in Quincy too long when I think 4,000 people is too many .....

I was afraid of media overkill, but you give the people want they want. Another Q-town blogger estimated 90 percent of the town was talking about the game. He was wrong. It was at least 99 percent.

Loved Don O'Brien's column Sunday about the game. He is right — having the girls play in the opener would have been a good idea. On the other hand, it's kind of nice for the girls to have their own spotlight game, coming up at the end of the month at The Pit, and it will be interesting to see how many people it draws.

So, Quincy .... good for us!