Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Remembering Summer Heat, Part Two

The biggest thing, I tried explaining to Jay, was that "lighting" was the biggest necessity to having a good show, even though basically Summer Heat was really providing music for people to dance to. At this point, all Summer Heat really possessed for lighting were a couple of boxed panels that had colored floodlights in them. The lights were blue and green and red, and that was it. They stayed on, the colors kind of mixing, but basically just putting a bit of dark colored light on the stage.

I told Jay I had found some flash buttons at a local hardware store. All you had to do with these flash buttons was put them in the socket before you put the bulb in, and the button caused the lights to flash off and on. These were purchased out the band's fund almost immediately. I also told the band that they couldn't go wrong if they had a good strobe light, but they were so expensive back then, and even though they thought a strobe light was a great idea, they balked when they priced one.

The next dance the band played was at a small venue in town that was sponsored by the local Boys Club that was called the Peppermint Cave. I helped them set up their equipment that night and told them how forward I was looking to add my "special effect" pipe smoke to their performance of "Fire" that night. That was when they told me that the Peppermint Cave was "smoke-free." Therefore, that night, I was there mainly to help set up and tear down. Running the lights consisted on plugging them into the socket and letting them blink off and on. Right away I could see this wasn't going to be one of my favorite places to be with the band.

A few nights later The Chalets were playing the Community Building again, and on this particular night I got a chance to really take a look at the equipment the band had. One of the guys, and damn but the years have taken the memory away of which one it was, but he had built this power box with outlets and switches on it that ran the bands lighting system. The Chalets not only had similar boxlights like Summer Heat's, but they also had a homemade strobe light. The had built a wooden box about three and a half feet square and about 10 inches deep that had a bracket built in the center of it that contained a fan motor. Instead of it having a fan blade, it had a large circular piece of cardboard with a small hole cut in the outer perimeter of it about 4 inches wide and 7 inches long. Mounted at the back of the box was a white floodlight. The fan was hooked up to one outlet and switch in the switchbox; the floodlight hooked up to another outlet and switch. The result was this fan motor whirling the cardboard around in a circle, only letting light go thru the hole. The large wooden box had a hole cut in a door that allowed the light to come out only at the top whenever the hole in the cardboard passed over the light. The result was an absolutely amazing and inexpensive "strobe light."

We immediately started asking questions of the band as to how long it took to make this. The guy that made it said it was a weekend project he had done himself. I asked him how much he would charge us to make us both the control box and the strobe. His answer was startling! He'd be more than willing to sell us these! With a unanimous vote of the band(no, I didn't get a vote since I wasn't a true member of the band), Summer Heat became the owners of The Chalet's strobe light and control panel. I was given the crash course on how to hook things up and how to run the controls by The Chalets, and Summer Heat gave me the job of being their special effects specialist! I was more than elated, to say the very least.

The next week the band once again played the Peppermint Cave. Not only did I get to help set up the stage with the band that night, I also got to hook up the lights for the first time to the new control panel and I got to set up the strobe light for the first time. That evening when Summer Heat played, they had not only flashing colored lights, but they had the strobe light they had wanted for a long, long time.

I experimented that night running the lighting, making sure to shut off the box lights when I ran the strobe light, and making sure not to overdo the strobe in an effort to avoid overkill of a great special effect. This would be the first night that I started getting a routine down to the bands repetoire. I would get better each and everytime they played, and I would be a part of Summer Heat every night they played after that. Even though I was never actually a member of the band itself, I became a fixture with the band. I even came up with a name for my job as their lighting director. The name was one I came up with that I never forgot and one that got Jay laughing each time it was mentioned.

I called it "Simulated Stimulation.

to be continued.....

Sunday, September 25, 2005

A Time Of Renewal

For a few short weeks each year, we enter the early fall season. In my case, this is one of the very few times of the year that I feel totally alive! The crisp fresh air that breathes in and out of the lungs so well, the beautiful fall foliage, the reds, the golds and yellows, the oranges. It's a time of year that I look so forward to each year, knowing that it's only going to last for a few weeks and then the onset of my least favorite time of year follows that as winter rears its ugly head.

Years ago my wife and I spent our fall vacation time camping. Since we gave up camping eight years ago, we have found new ways to spend our time, most of it still spent outside. We normally take a trip to Tennessee or Virginia or North Carolina, but this year because of the oil companies greed in gouging the American public with ridiculous oil prices, we have decided to forget about travelling out of state and spend our time right here in good old Indiana and enjoy what our home state has to offer us in fall activities.

The nice thing about this time of year for us is that we take an entire two weeks off from our jobs, we spend the entire time together and enjoy each other's company the entire time we are off from work. This time is quality time, time well spent, and time that we invest in each other and in our marriage. And since it's our big vacation every year, I tend to find myself wishing summer away in anticipation of the arrival of October.

For those of you who find these words and read them, it is my wish that you use this wonderful season of the year as a time of renewal and fulfillment. Enjoy autumn to its fullest extent, because it won't last that long!


Friday, September 23, 2005

Is It Any Wonder?

Have you ever seen this?

I thought I had years ago, but then after careful consideration I realize that what I had seen at the time was not the same thing as this is. Usually I keep it out of direct sunlight, although I've heard that if you filter the sun's rays thru amber tint it won't hurt it at all, although I couldn't verify if that is actually true or not.

Some people I've heard in back alley rumors keep theirs under a tarp, which I can't understand because it seems to me like if you were at all proud of it, you'd keep it out in plain view so you could share it with others, maybe even gloating about having it in your possession to begin with. You just have to keep the sun off it, that's the main thing.

I've never seen this for sale on eBay, although I can't imagine why not, except for the fact that it's actually very rare and hard to find. I've even gone as far as looking thru Yahoo to see if you can find any new ones out there, but obviously as you can probably tell, they don't make them anymore, least wise, not like this one. And they do say the older ones are the best ones.

I've heard of some dating back to before the Boston Tea Party. Can you imagine that? I know this one isn't that old, you can tell by the color up at the top edge on the right. However, some people seem to think that takes away from the stellar beauty of it, but to me it seems to intensify it! I mean look at this, take a good long, hard look, if you can, because frankly, it's hard to keep looking at it for very long. Makes one afraid of the old myth about blindness.

Anyway, I'm not trying to make you jealous, well at least not overly jealous. I just happen to be proud that I have this one and I can't help but want others to know that I have it. We've upped our security system here at home, adding those digital locks with the basically impossible code to break, and after talking to our homeowner's insurance agent, he put a rider on our existing policy to make sure it was covered. Hell, you can't just have this without having insurance on it. You have to protect your investment, you know?

And I am proud, and proud without being a gloating SOB about it, too. If I was able to share this with a few of my close and personal friends, I would, but looking at it realistically, you can be assured I don't even share this with my family. Hell, I can't because there simply isn't enough to go around. Actually most people understand, and I'm hoping you do too.

Thanks for being my friend and for sharing in my joy. It makes me feel very special to be able to share this with you, even if it is for just a moment and out of the direct rays of the sun. Besides, isn't that what friends are for?

Bless you for being so special!

Thursday, September 22, 2005

A Step From The Norm Neatly

I can't find my way
Alone in the
I need someone to guide me.

The fear wells up
Inside me at
Won't you come and sit beside me:


Memories Of A Less Troubled Time

Years ago, more than I care to think about, no one had ever heard of a designated driver! That's not to say that there weren't such people that stayed away from the booze all evening long, but it just wasn't something that was really ever talked about.

During those times it was not uncommon for my wife and I to have a houseful of company on a weekend night and an absolutely amazing amount of alcohol be consumed. And while most of our friends drank as much as they wanted, I don't think there were a lot of people that left and hit the road three sheets to the wind.

We did have a friend one night decide he could stomp on a two by twelve plank and break it half, only to find out that this particular plank was bullheaded and had no intention of letting him have his way. Thus, a tetnaus shot and thirty-seven stitches later after an hour or so in the local emergency room rounded out the evening of fun and excitement.

Then there was the night one of our crowd was bragging about all the pot he had smoked and how it never affected him. The next weekend our same small group of people got together, loaded up a pipe with the contents of a Lipton tea bag and watched same said individual get stoned on his ass as the rest of us laughed behind his back, amazed that anyone, anwhere and at anytime could ever get even a mild buzz of of good old Lipton Tea!

One of group belly crawled upon a poor unsuspecting couple one evening that were parked up at the top of our hill and in the heat of passion they didn't hear the air being let out of their tires. Another couple a few weeks later parked in about the same spot were shammed by our group as we each wore a blanket around us and over our heads and walked towards their car chanting out loud like a group of "Satanists." I don't recall ever seeing anyone getting their pants on and taking off any quicker than I did that night.

We had one night when all of us beer drinkers decided to drink screwdrivers instead of beer. We each spent the evening with the blender nearby mixing vodka and orange juice. When our friend the tea smoker showed up, we convinced him to join us and drink screwdrivers with us. And we were nice to him that evening, too. We mixed his drinks the same as ours, two fingers of booze and the rest of the glass filled with orange juice over ice. Oh, did I fail to mention that while our drinks all consisted of two fingers of vodka per glass, his glasses someone received two fingers of Everclear alcohol! All one hundred and ninety proof! Needless to say, this young man felt pretty rough on Sunday morning from all reports, and to this day, unless he's reading this now, we never did tell him what we had done.

There are countless other tales and adventures and misadventures, but the point being, we all had a good time, made some wonderful memories, and put no one at risk on the highways. We provided a safe haven for our friends to get rowdy and have a good time without putting anyone at risk.

I wouldn't change any of that for anything in the world and given the chance I would do it all over again.