Wednesday, April 20, 2011

A Legacy..not a "lifer"

Today would have been my mom's 68th birthday.  And although there are many stories that I have and continue to share, I thought today would be a good day to talk about one of the most precious gifts she ever gave to me...
 You see, I'm a people person. And I got that from mom.  When people ask me if I came from a big family, after I go through the rundown of marriages, siblings and divorces, I attempt to explain our  house growing up.  There were always people at our house, mostly unrelated people!  But to mom, they were our family.  And thankfully me and Beck are still in contact with alot of these people.  They loved her as much as we did.  There were card games, cookouts, hair cuts and perms! (even for the was the 70's)  But lets get to the point.
  All my life my mom worked in restaurants..well at least the first 14 years.  Every time I'm counting down the money drawers at work I think of counting her tips when I was old enough to help.  And of course most of you know that she bought all of our birthday and christmas gifts with those tips..most notably that brand new Gretsch snare drum for me when I was 8!  Court and I save our change now..and when I watch her roll the coins it makes me think of mom.  Sometimes I have to do the math to realize that at the time she was only 33.  She loved the restaurants she worked at. She tended bar, cocktailed, cooked, and ended up manageing a truck stop cafe!  Which brings me to my favorite story...Mom was covering the graveyard shift at the truckstop on I-74 one night. She came home the next day (a saturday) and asked me if I knew who Ozzy Osbourne was.  I was 12 at the time, and big into KISS, but didn't really know much about Black Sabbath or Ozzy.  She handed me a piece of paper with three autographs on it..Rudy Sarzo, Tommy Aldridge,and Randy Rhodes...They had stopped in the cafe in between gigs in Cincinnati and Indianapolis..they were traveling by bus and Ozzy by plane..two weeks later Randy was killed in that infamous bus crash.
  Although I've always played music, and went to school for broadcasting, the restaurant industry has always been my home. She always supported my dreams, but when it came to having a job, she would always say.."Everyone's got to eat, just make them want to eat with you"  So for the past 24 years I've "worked" in this industry.  And from fast food, now it's called quick service, to home owned, to corporate, I've gotten through using mom's philosophy.  If they can't, won't, or don't eat at home..make them feel at home when they eat at your place.  There's a "label" in this business. For people that have worked for a long time..they call them "lifer's".  The reference to people serving prison is appalling to me.  So to all of those people you know that have made a "career" out of being a server, bartender, busser, cook, or even manager, this is not a "sentence" but a job that can and is very fullfilling.
My mom never got to see me go into management for my new company...but I know she's very proud and happy for me..after all I'm her legacy...happy birthday mom, thanks for making this a great Tommy's World.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Take me out to the ballgame....

As I've stated before, I like to spend my days off living the OC life. So last night when Court suggested we go to the Angel game today, I was stoked! What better way to get us into summer ( yes we do have seasons here that aren't summer!) than to hit Angels stadium for an afternoon game?  And let me add this..they will always be the Anaheim Angels!  The Indians were in town (Cleveland) so there were plenty of tickets available..and plenty of empty seats. Just try getting a ticket when the Yankees or Redsox are in town.  You won't find those "loyal season ticket holders" selling their tickets on ebay or stubhub for those games!  Not to mention the ANAHEIM Ducks were playing in the Stanley Cup Finals across the freeway.  And it was an afternoon game,so some people were probably working..either way the stadium wasn't very full. 
  So we drove for like 5 minutes, payed our 10 bucks to park, and bought our very inexpensive tickets at the box office.  We chose the Right Field Pavilion..based on price and the fact that it is actually called the Budweiser Pavilion.  I also have a fond affinity for Right Field from a players perspective..for those of you who knew me during my short lived little league career..that was always where I was placed.  Given the fact that there were very few left handed batters in little league.  My athletic ability, among others, is much better now and I in fact play Third Base, Shortstop and Left my psuedo adult co-ed softball the dream! 
   We found our seats, and immediately began the discussion of "who will get the beer and who will get the food"?  We decided that there would be "No man left behind", she would go for beers,and I would go for food..well it's not really "food" but it works great with beer and baseball.  She gave me some money.  We met back at our seats. She had $20 worth of 2 large beers in "collectible" Angels plastic mugs that light up...and I had $21 worth of 2 hotdogs, 1 bag of peanuts, and 1 order of "build your own nachos" complete with baggies of jalapeno peppers.  Play Ball!  oh yeah, I forgot to mention that during the national anthem, if you are walking to your seats you are "expected" to stop, remove cover('s a military term), and turn your attention to the nearest American flag.  I love this, and it's actually very moving to witness..unless you are dead center centerfield at Angels Stadium..this is where..timing with the performance, they SHOOT OFF FIREWORKS!  The rockets red glare isn't the's the smoke that consumes you..and you can't move. 
   Oh how the first 4 innings were awesome..The sun, the food, the beers, the inside the park homerun with a man on.  Me amazing my wife with my abilitly to call strikes from that distance, before the homeplate umpire could..aaah the good life.  And then the invasion.  Suddenly our nice little section was overtaken.  The seven seats in front of us became occupied by three adults and four boys..all under the age of 4!  Before the siege I had actually commented to Court that I thought we were in the "alternative lifestyle" section..based on the three lesbian couples and the one guy behind us!  Boy was I wrong.  That brings me to my point of this blog.
  You can't take children everywhere you want to go.  And you shouldn't take children where you "think" you should.  These boys are probably great kids, but they spent the entire time (before we decided to move) kicking the seats in front of them.  Could be because we watched the parents give them suckers and licorice!  The parents weren't even interested in watching the game!  At one point the "mom" actually asked the boys if they wanted to move down a few rows and to the left so they wouldn't bother the people in front of them..and behind.  Rather than realizing that they shouldn't be there in the first place..her solution was to "move" the kids away from her and their dad.  I will say that we witnessed several dad's bringing their kids to the game..and can't speak about how those kids behaved, but this was a prime example of parents not thinking.   Happens in movie theatres and restaurants all the time..but that's another blog! 
  In the process of moving seats..and getting another beer, we ran into some of Court's co-workers and finished out the game sitting with them and having a great time..We left in the 10th inning and the Angels went on to win it in 12..
  One of my favorite movies of all time is Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. Those of you who've seen it will probably never forget the character who was in charge of rounding up all the children and hiding them beneath the castle.  The King wanted a world without children.  If you've not seen this movie, buy it and watch it with your kids..or by yourself.  I cannot imagine a world without children.  You all know how much I love kids..I am that "uncle"!  But if they're not ready to attend a ballgame, a movie or sit at a restaurant, please don't bring them.  Their attention span is alot shorter than ours. can teach them alot about the game watching it on TV like my dad did...
  To the parents that brought those kids to the game only to ask them to move..."Swing and a miss" you're out!  in Tommy's World.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

The ACM's CMA's or whatever.

  I will preface this with saying that I love country music. That "genre" like all forms of music encompasses many different types of said "country" music.
  Now, most of you know me.  But most of you have known me during different stages in my life.  This post is simply about music.
 About the same time I fell in love with the band KISS, third grade, I also was subject to watching "Hee Haw" on tv.  Can you imagine the confusion?  But I loved the jokes, the skits and the music on HH.  In fact I have a couple of those HH videos!  You just can't get better than Tom Jones, Conway, Loretta and especially Barbra Mandrel! Hello!  My parents also had an extensive record collection that varied alot, but included a lot of country music.  There were alot of "crossover" artists that found their way on to AM radio back then too.  Yes AM radio.
  Those of you who knew me in high school, at least the first couple of years, will fondly..or not so fondly remember me sporting  the much coveted "Beat It" jacket my sister got me for christmas '83.  In all fairness, I did ask for it.  And I still think "Thriller" is one of the best albums ever.  I soon made the transition into "Metal" or "Hair Metal" if you will..and traded in my parachute pants for ripped jeans and a mullet. Aah Indiana.  But country music has always been there, and even if it was "shit kicking" tunes or lovely ballads, I love the sentiment.
  So finally..yeah I the point.
  Of course I DVR'd the ACM's, I thought they were the CMA's but who can keep track. Either way, this was an "awards" show.  I was watching with Courtney, who loves music as much as I do, and immediately started jotting down notes for a blog.  So these may not follow the show exactly, I lost track/interest, but here are some thoughts.
  First of all, Toby Keith.  I love TK, or I did. I was always impressed with his "middle finger"  attitude.  He's had some great albums, great singles and has always embodied the "outlaw" side of country music.  But do I really need to hear another song about him in a bar? Yes the formula works, but c'mon.  That brings us to Steven Tyler..awesome performance..great duet..doing what he does best..and not "ass clowning" himself. But straight "pimpin".  And even though I knew it was inevitable..I was dreading the Sugarland performance..I love "Stay" but that 'Stuck like you" song drives me fuckin nuts!  And there's my lovely me the look..and even though the look was enough.she informs me " Don't make fun of the way she sings!"  You would have to hear  me parody the singer to appreciate the humor in this.  Then came Dierks..really want to make fun of his name..but then what the fuck is a Conway?  53 minutes in to this award show..they gave away an award.  Really?  Zach Brown was awesome with James Taylor.  The Band Perry won an award for what I call "The happiest dead song ever"  I love the melody line and tune, but this was the first time I had ever listened to the lyrics.  And my final comment is this ( for guitarists and vocalists) If the song is not written in you key, RE-TUNE or RE- LEARN!  Stop "capo-ing" every guitar!  A "capo'" is a device used to change the key of a guitar without changing standard tuning.  This country..its' Tommy's World.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Lactation Emancipation.

So earlier tonite, a friend had posted on FB that he wondered why people are disgusted at the thought of drinking "breast milk" (human) but will drink the milk of another animal. I'm assuming he was referring to bovines (cows) but people do consume goat's milk.  So of course I referred to the classic line from "Meet the Parents" "I have nipples, can you milk me Greg?"  But after my initial humorous remark, it reminded me of my own opinions regarding this particular topic.  So here are my thoughts.
  First of all, we are the only mammals who wean our young off our milk, but continue to drink the milk of other mammals.  And boy does it taste good on Cap'n Crunch! Or in our coffee (I use a non-dairy creamer), more on that later.  We use it to cook and even back in the day, women would bathe in it to moisturize their skin!  When I was growing up..the FDA suggested to parents that children should drink 4 8oz glasses of whole milk a day..WHOLE milk, not lowfat, 2%, skim, 1% etc.  So we did. Who knew that 30 years later, me and most of my generation would find themselves dealing with something called "Lactose Intolerance" basically meaning..drink the milk, feel the pain. ( or smell it.)  Not to mention you might have to plan your entire weekend around one grilled cheese sandwich.  Cow's milk was designed to turn a calf into a 2000 pound animal..quickly. And it's working on a number of our human population!  Also..cows have 4 stomachs to process the enzyme lactose and well most of us only have one. 
  As far as drinking breast milk or eating foods made with it..I'm going to have to pass. Much like I have to pass on products from cow's milk..forgive me but..It's an "udder" disaster.  Of course putting non-dairy creamer on cereal doesn't work I skip the cereal and have coffee.  Next unrelated/related topic will be "breast feeding in public..good for you? good for your child? good for the dude sitting in the next booth?"
  Guys will always joke about "putting a nipple on the bottle" But if I'm going to drink straight from the "tap" it better have a Coors Light logo on the Tommy's World.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Can you actually "miss" an entire county?

Just over 19 years ago, I moved to California.  It was february, and my running joke is, "if you've ever been to Indiana, february is a good time to move!"  In all honesty, the timing really had nothing to do with me. A good friend of mine had actually met a girl from Costa Mesa, CA and moved out here to be with her..more on that later.  He was going to the beach and I was shoveling my piece of shit car out of the snow! So I promptly sold my POS to my mom and bought a one way ticket..there was no money left over.  Two weeks later I arrived in Anaheim. Well I arrived in LA, but my friend was living in a "studio" apt in Anaheim..much cheaper than Costa Mesa.  And outside of a short span where my address was Garden Grove (basically on the border of Anaheim) I have lived in this city the whole time.  It took me awhile to realize that living "here" was not just a city's a "county" thing.  It's also a Disney thing..but that's an entirely different topic.  We are from Orange County. Now don't get me wrong, I love this city.  I love the Anaheim Ducks, and the Angels. I hate the fact that the owner changed the name to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim..and I am not alone.  Although we still go to games and support the team.  There are 34 (thanks Court) small albeit over populated towns in the OC..yes you have to say THE OC! lol  (we said that before the show..hence the show)  We do have our share of large buildings, but for the most part each of the cities are very small town like.  In fact the namesake city of Orange actually has a "circle" much like Indianapolis and Shelbyville IN.  Keep in mind folks that this blog is for people here, back home and everywhere. I might tend to get over descriptive!  As far as the TV shows go..and yes even though my wife makes fun of me, I do watch the "Real Housewives" even though I don't think "real" or "housewives" should be in the title, they do represent a certain part of orange county.  In my defense, I only started watching the show because my favorite Orange County Register columnist Frank Mickadeit was writing about the cast.  But the people that live here would tell you that if you really wanted a good representation of the OC, they should film the show in Garden Grove or Westminister!  Or Anaheim! 
whew.  okay. Having "said" all that, I haven't spent all of my time in OC.  Playing music afforded me the opportunity to spend time all over "the southland".  LA, Riverside,Ventura and other surrounding counties and numerous cities within.  It was then that I began to realize the difference's between them.  Even though LA is only 20 miles (60 minutes) from here it's a whole different world.  Which brings me to my point. I know..shit it's about time! 
   5 months ago I began my management career with a different company, left behind the OC and the OG and started training in Cerritos CA, LA county.  After training I was placed in Lakewood CA not far from where I trained and closer to Long awesome city where I've played some great gigs ( Molly Hatchet) one of my favorites and of course where they run the Long Beach Grand Prix every year.  I love the store, the staff, the rest of the management team and getting to know the people of Lakewood.. About half way through this process I found myself "missing" orange county.  I had worked at the same location, in the heart of orange county Santa Ana, for eleven years.  Not to mention the 5 years prior at two different restaurants!  ( I had the pleasure of working with a new server who used to have his grandpa bring him in to see me on friday's at a Pizza Hut in Anaheim..when he was 4!)  I really felt like I knew "everybody". Doctors, Lawyers, Nurses, Lunch Lady's, Actors, Ducks!  My ladies from Mater Dei HS that came to see me every wednesday for 10 years.  I've watched children grow up..watched some of them battle and beat cancer ( children's hospital is across the street)  Helped families deal with the loss of loved ones..and they helped me deal with the loss of mine.  But "missing" the county is not just missing the people. Sometimes I get frustrated having to ask someone if there's a Wal Mart around here!  I guess "branching out" means not knowing where the closest In n Out is. 
Of course, Courtney is well aware of my displacement issues.  And although I don't need another reason to love her, she spent the last couple of days "bringing me home"  Regardless if that was her intent, something inside me tells me she knew exactly what I needed.  She had a meeting at work last night, and sent me a very simple text.."wanna grab a beer?" What do ya think I said?  She decided on the Tartan Room. A little Irish pub where I used to hang out, and she hung out after I had stopped.  It's where we realized how many mutual friends we had before we ever met!  So a few friends were there and we played some darts and listened to the juke box..the usual Cash, Petty, Journey and Flogging Molly.  aah home. She continued today with taking me to Heroes another favorite past/ present haunt in Downtown Fullerton and bowling at LinBrook...cleverly named for the intersection of Lincoln Ave and Brookhurst St.  They were filming a new pilot episode for Disney there, and the clientele was ripe with orange countians. the geeks, nerds, weirdos okay that was the five of us..the tatted up, the misfits, again we fit right in.  And of course someone played a little Floggin Molly on the jukebox. 
  I like where I work..but I love where I live..thanks Court...Orange County IS Tommy's World!

Monday, March 28, 2011

You Tube famous...

In our country, more so than others, we are raised idolizing the famous. It has been said that they are "our royalty". Regardless of why these people have fame in the first movies,stage, music,writing.  Some of our most "famous" people are criminals. Which leads me to believe that some people don't understand the difference between "imfamous" and "famous".  For example, if your sister is dating a heroin addict you wouldn't invite him to christmas dinner...but if he were a rock star with a drug habit? Let me get to the point.
Disclaimer: I have not heard the song  Friday by Rebecca Black.  My opinion expressed here has nothing to do with the quality of the songwriting or recording. 

So Rebecca posted this song she wrote.  She really had no control over it going so "viral".  She eventually was the subject of a newspaper article about how her song had gained so much attention.  The article most definetly fueled it's popularity.  I did read the article (I do newspapers) and most of the article described how "horrible" the song was.  No such thing as "bad press"! 
So of course, people started to Facebook and Tweet their opinions..the modern day version of "water cooler" talk.  And the majority of posts I've read have been "why is she famous" " this is horrible" and of course the obligatory.."Really?" 
The answer is simple..Take away the "buyer" you take away the "seller".  ( it's a prostitution thing)  We love to see people succeed and we love to see people fail.  You can believe there will be more blogs to come regarding the world of being a musician and how this applies.  You will hear/read people say.."I could write a better song than that"..but could they? What were they doing at age 13?  At that age, Elizabeth Taylor was an accomplished actress.  My point is this..we give the "fame" to the famous..if we weren't forwarding or telling our friends to watch..the video/song would just die out.  We are in affect "rubbernecking" this girl into her 15 minutes!  Good for her..took some guts to put herself out like that..are we rooting for the underdog or relishing in her embarrassment? Either way she has now become a part of the "you tube/Facebook/twitter nation" and through "sin by association" she is now a part of "Tommy's World"

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Am I really a blogger?

All of a sudden, I'm at a loss for words!  Just trying this site out to see if it will work for me.