Bass MichaelOlsonBlog

PICKS ON ELECTRIC BASS

I was sitting in with a friend’s country band several years ago in Denver, Colorado. When he handed me his bass, and I plunked a few notes, I quickly realized that he hadn’t changed his strings since the Clinton administration. I immediately pulled out my wallet and fished out a blue Jim Dunlop Tortex 1mm (I couldn’t find my “potleaf” pick from Pickboy, with the razor-sharp tip), placed the side of my hand snugly against the saddles to create a palm-mute, and picked away to me heart’s delight. After I was done, my friend came up to me and said, “Wow! I’ve never heard my bass sound quite like that before! How’d you do that?” Smiling, I showed him the pick hidden in my hand. “Oh,” he said, crestfallen; “You cheated.”

Cheated?!? Why? Because I found a way to get a decent tone out of an instrument that sorely needed fresh strings? ‘Cause if that’s cheating, I’m burning my rule book in the barbeque tonight after dinner.

Why is it that so many of us bassists regard pick use as sacrelige? Aren’t we allowed to use the same tonal palette that our wimpier-sounding brethren enjoy? It seems that we’re afraid of being called “guitarist wanna-bes” so much that we’re reluctant to explore all of the sounds that we have available to us. Why should we limit our creativity?

I started playing bass back in ’83, when I was 12. (Go on… do the math.) For the first eight years of my bass-playing career, you couldn’t have paid me to use a pick. I always teased my guitarist buddies who came over to jam and then realized that they left their picks at home: “You go on and get your little picks; I’ll wait right here and practice without one.” BOY, did I feel empowered. I never had to look around and see if I could find a pick before I could practice. I never had to worry about wearing them out or breaking them, and having to go and get some more at the music store, and praying that they had the kind I liked. When it came to pick usage, the phrase “holier-than-thou” took on a very special meaning.

In ’91, I began to teach privately, a practice I continue to survive on even today. One day I was showing a student a particularly interesting bass line, and once he started to get it, I wanted to show him how it sounded when someone else was playing on top of it. I began by playing chords high up on the neck, which was ok, but they sounded a little boring and “thuddy…” They just didn’t have that “chime” tone I was looking for, and I had just put on a fresh set of strings not two days ago. I was wondering what to do… and then, I saw it…

A pick! It was laying on the floor, most certainly left behind by a student of an inferior instrument with at least six strings. Self-consciously, I grabbed it, held it like I was feeding a quarter into a soda machine, and strummed (yes, that’s right, STRUMMED) a few notes, and voila! It was a guitar! (Well, close…) My student’s eyes brightened, he smiled, and we had a great time jammimg for the rest of the lesson.

I had a break after that, and one of the guitar teachers and I decided to go around the corner and get a soda. Now, not wanting to be ridiculed for having used such a primitive tool to make music with, I had jammed the pick deep into my pocket…. Unfortunately, not far enough. When I reached in to find some silver, out came the pick. There was nowhere to hide. The guitar teacher just gave me one of those LOOKS, and shook his head. Of course, everybody else at the music store had to hear about it, and I was forced to endure the shame.

But after a while, I thought: What shame? Why is it such a horrible thing to use something that gets you the sound you want? And the answer I came up with is this: It isn’t. It’s that there are far too many guitarists who have lost coin tosses with the other guitarists in their band, and been forced to take up the bass, and they figure that it’s just a big guitar, so they’ll keep using a pick. We’ve all known them; heck, maybe some of you are reading your own press here. Don’t be embarrassed–you have something in common with a lot of fabulous players, including none other than Paul McCartney, who used to think of the bass player as “the fat guy in the back.” And Paul goes back and forth between fingers and picks all the time!

Unfortunately, the lion’s share of bassists who are ex-guitarists lack not only understanding of the role of the instrument, but decent tone as well. And it usually stems from failing to realize that the chunk of wood (or graphite, or luthite, or whatever your strange, space-age bass is created from) hanging from their shoulders doesn’t really react the same as their old friend, the guitar. You just can’t get away with too light of a touch; this instrument is supposed to have AUTHORITY. Big Man On Campus type of tone. And if you’re not putting your all into it, it sounds more like a 98-lb. weakling… or a 3 lb. Hondo.

Now, in order to distance myself from the multitudes of pick players who couldn’t play with a pick, I decided to learn to use it by the way it SOUNDED when I played. I choked way up on the pick so there is barely any tip sticking out, I learned to hold it between one finger and my thumb, and I began to think of the pick as just a sharp finger that could go either direction–up or down. So I began to push and pull the pick through the string… and wow! I had the depth and the clarity I wanted. Then I ran it through an old distortion box, and it was over… I was completely sold on it. I could hold my head up high and say to the world, “I’m a bass player, and…. I USE A PICK!!” (Not very loud, of course… what do you think I am, crazy?)

Don’t get me wrong. I still use my fingers every bit as much as I use a pick, and I always will. Picks are not to be used as “crutches.” I’ve had several students come in and tell me that they use a pick because it was easier for them. So I’d take them through a gauntlet of exercises that would barely make you or I blink, and they’d invariably start to squirm, and say, “Can I try this once with my fingers?”

“Well, I don’t know… Can you?”

And they could, and they would, and so they did… amazing!

Eventually, though, they’d get back to playing with a pick for certain things, so I did my best to teach them how to be selective about when to use a pick and when NOT to. And as time went on, their choices influenced me to become even more accomplished in what I was doing with the pick.

So now I’ve developed my technique so I can play the “tic-tac bass” palm mute style pretty well… in fact, I’ve even developed a quasi-”upright slap” tone from it. It really makes a difference in driving the band. When I first started doing it, the drummer gave me a weird look, but then he began to groove with it, and we had more compliments on our sound than we ever did before! I’ve also gotten into the “machine-gun sixteenth-note” vibe that a lot of the thrash metal bands have embraced. Can’t help it; I grew up on Black Sabbath and Rush. (Don’t tell the guys in the country band, ok?)

So, if you’re one of those who refuses to use a pick just on general principle, here’s some advice: Order a dozen or so picks from your favorite catalog and have them sent in a plain wrapper under an assumed name (so you can remain anonymous), close all of your windows and shutters, lock the doors, turn out the lights, plug in your headphone amp, and give it a try–You never know what you’ll “pick” up!

(GOOD GRAVY, was THAT corny… I oughta be shot.)

MichaelOlsonBlog

ONE LEG UP ON LIFE

This’ll be short – but I had to mention that my right leg started doing what it’s supposed to do for the first time in a while last night!

Went to the store late, on the way home from rehearsal. My usual MO is to find a nearby shopping cart and push it into the store, where I can find a motorized cart. Well, the closest one was a good 15 feet from the car, and no real way to park so it was closer.

So I went ahead and “toughed it out,” and carefully inched my way to the cart without any sort of assistance device.

And my right knee bent like normal!

I was amazed – I don’t know what I did right during the day, but it was working pretty well. I didn’t drift to starboard like usual or anything! I made it to the cart, pushed it inside, looked at the motorized carts and said, “Hey, if it’s working this much, let’s give it a workout!”

I managed to push the cart all around the store for a good 30 minutes, and only at the end did I start running into a little bit of trouble (which was really no big deal – my right foot points outward and catches things, and really it always has).

Got everything into the car and home and inside, no problem.

Now I slept waaaay longer than I should have – probably 9 hours, which is about 2.5 hours too long – but maybe I earned it, no? I’m awfully stiff and spazzy today, but I can live with that. That’ll clear itself out in plenty of time for lessons, and with enough water and electrolytes I ought to do well.

I’m going to try to make a point of really looking for the opportunities NOT to use my rollator or a crutch from now on – I bet I can re-teach my muscles what to do in the long run. This is really cool!

MichaelOlsonBlog

THERE IS NO RHYME FOR “SPHINCTER”…

This week, I had my first voluntary sphincter contraction of the year. I was so excited I had to tell you all about it!

I’m telling you, if you never had issues like this before, there’s nothing like the feeling of knowing you need to go AND YOU DON’T HAVE TO RIGHT NOW! It’s very freeing. And although I’m not quite ready to trust it yet, this could be the start of something big.

I was sitting at the computer when the urge hit. Now experience I won’t go into here has taught me that when nature calls, I answer right away. So up I went, and started down the hall 30 feet away from the loo. To be honest, I thought I wasn’t going to make it.

My instinct took over, and gracefully grabbed ahold of the nerve path that runs from brain to groin and pulled the switch. VOILA! Crisis averted!

I stopped, mid-hallway dash, and marveled. A great grin crossed my face as I realized I was able to continue to the restroom At My Own Pace. What a relief!

(Actually, the relief was AFTER my visit to the toilet, but you get what I mean.)

I remember the last one vividly:

I was coming in from the car. I had just finished playing in Denver.

It was a dark and stormy n… no, I won’t go there. But you get the idea.

It was barely zero and the wind was howling.

Anyway, you know how it is. You get out of a warm car, stand up in the freezing cold, and suddenly your bladder says, “Remember me?”

So there I am, trying to adjust the rollator and my phone and wallet and keys realizing that I might not make it and pushing as fast as I can while my right leg spasms and locks pegleg straight so I have to swing my hip up to move it forward and trying not to fall on the snow frozen to the parking lot when it hits me:

I’m actively NOT peeing my pants. This, of course, is a good thing.

Somewhere in the brain, or the spinal cord possibly, is a lesion affording me only the most limited and spotty control of certain muscle groups. This was one of those times where it said, “Do whatcha gotta do.”

Just like a few mornings ago.

So why am I boring you with this?

I dunno… YOU’RE the one who read this far, ain’tcha?

But seriously… until this becomes a daily blog because my adoring fans just can’t get enough of me, it will have to wait for inspiration to strike. Which is usually when I’m feeling particularly down about my situation. And it has been pointed out to me that oftentimes my written legacy may not be so rosy as the personality I display in person – so much so that it seems that I tend to wallow in my own self pity.

But the truth of it is… I find a lot of what’s happening to me FUNNY. There’s a random element to it that I can appreciate, being a musician and being accustomed to improvising. That’s not to say that I’m totally comfortable in my own skin yet – my DX was just 18 months ago – but I’m getting better. I’m used to it; I’m not ashamed to bring the rollator where I’m going; I’m not worried about whether someone is going to stare or ask me funny questions.

I think I’ve done most of my grieving over this… and if you’ve read this far in my blogs, you’ve been party to it. I might be reaching acceptance sooner than I thought. That doesn’t mean I always have to be happy about it – that’d be ridiculous – but it does mean that I realize my life will go on, and that it will be FAR more interesting than most people’s for just this reason.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to NOT go to the bathroom…

MichaelOlsonBlog

OVER OVERTIME

You follow sports? No? Then this blogpost isn’t for you. You can just wait until next time. Have fun reading your Harlequin novels and picking out doilies at the local Candlerama outlet store.

Now, for the REST of you, put down your 3/4 lb. bacon double cheeseburger for just a second and follow along:

A few nights ago my beloved Colorado Avalanche defeated the Phoenix Coyotes 3-2 in shootout overtime (yes, they play HOCKEY in Arizona – a subject of another rant, but I’ll get to that one later). And I’m here to tell you they almost didn’t deserve it.

If you don’t follow hockey, but are still reading (for whatever reason), it goes like this: At the end of 3 periods, if the score is tied, they will play 5 more minutes with each team being short a man, and the first one to score wins. If they STILL haven’t scored, then they go to what’s called a “shootout” (somehow much more suited to Arizona than hockey). Each team gets 3 chances to fire a shot at the opposing goalie, and the team with more goals wins the game. If it’s still tied, each team gets a turn to shoot until one team has an advantage, and they’re the winner.

Now, the Avs would have won in regulation time save for a last-second shot (literally – there were less than 3 seconds on the clock!) that trickled in. 5 minutes of 4-on-4 overtime hockey didn’t decide it, so they went to the aforementioned shootout phase.

Which took TWELVE SHOTS PER TEAM TO DECIDE.

Sure, the Avs ended up winning. And I’m not one to turn down charity.

But I’m sorry, this just isn’t hockey; it’s target shooting. And maybe it’s more exciting for the fans, but it has so little to do with what the game is about that it’s almost insulting. Hockey was intended to be a TEAM sport, not like the NBA has turned into lately, where it’s 5 one-on-one potential matchups.

(At least basketball and baseball got overtime right; I’ll say that much. However, basketball bores me, and baseball seems to bore everyone else.)

Think of the poor goalies during an NHL shootout. They already have a target on their chest as it is – knowing the shot is coming has to make them feel like they’re standing before a firing squad. And have you tried to squat in position wearing that kind of gear before? Imagine doing it for 65 minutes, and THEN being told that you have to stop a bunch of slapshots before your back bends the wrong way like the legs of your kid sister’s Barbie dolls after you got done with them.

And exciting for the fans? How about boring? “Oh look, there’s another goal, and another, and another! When will the excitement end?”

I’ll tell you: that kind of “excitement” could NEVER end.

The longest shootout in NHL history went 15 rounds – that’s 30 different skaters – and ended with a trick shot by Marek Malik of the New York Rangers. It was quite a shot – Malik overskated his own puck, then stuck the blade between his legs and fired the puck from behind his left skate. The goalie never saw it coming.

It’s set up to be fair to each team; however, the possibility exists where each team could match each other goal-for-goal and save-for-save.

Again, that’s just not hockey, any more than the “trick shot” competitions are real sport (pool, bowling, basketball, tiddlywinks).

Why not play a version of overtime that 1) keeps the action in the realm of the team sport it’s supposed to be and 2) GUARANTEES that the game will end fairly and without lasting an extra hour?

For example: Currently there’s a 5 minute period of 4-on-4 overtime hockey, which doesn’t count the goalies, who are of course still on the ice. If they fail to score during that time, why not do another short period of 3-on-3? The more open things get, the easier it gets.

And if there’s STILL no score after that? Another 5-minute period, but REMOVE THE GOALTENDERS. Or even replace the goalie with a 4th skater. Either way, I PROMISE you’ll get a winner here.

Wouldn’t that be so much more exciting? And much more realistic and relevant to the game itself to boot.

Write your congressman. Or the NHL offices. Or your favorite sports columnist. Or your favorite hockey team. Or ANYONE you think gives a rat’s rear end.

The “shootout” overtime in hockey is nothing less than a slapshot in the face to the true fan, to say nothing of how the goalies must feel.

Okay. Rant over. Seen any cute doilies lately?

MichaelOlsonBlog

THE MS TEST

So there’s an online community that I’ve been a part of for just over a year, and it’s made up of folks who have a bunch of holes in their brain. (They also have MS. Somehow that seems relevant…)

Anyhoo, a thread was begun a few days ago by a person who was despondent over having scheduled her “Dial-A-Ride” for a time that made no sense for what she was doing that day, and she titled the thread, “You Know You Have MS…”. What followed were a string of responses regarding other people’s personal experience with the MyStery disease, and most of them were pretty darned funny (especially my own).

This reminded me of another website I had seen before with a page entitled “You Know You Have Lupus (or an Invisible Disease) When…” with a similar bent to it; an open-ended sentence with many different possible endings.

So, I’ve chosen a healthy sampling of those comments that I feel best describe the MS lifestyle. I hope no one objects to my re-printing/re-wording of their brilliance… and if they do, well, they know where to find me and whom to threaten. ;-)

YOU KNOW YOU HAVE MS…

…if no one will even offer you a penny for your thoughts.

…when comments that were supposed to be only in your mind are clearly made in your “outside voice.”

…when every time you see “Survivor Micronesia” you see “Survivor Minnesota”.

…when you have a multi-step plan for getting out of the shower.

…when “Charades” isn’t just a game, its how you communicate.

…when “Numb Nuts” isn’t just your nick name, it’s a fact of life.

…when you wear out the tops of your shoes before the soles.

…when you think you may be able to get a grant from the Ministry of Silly Walks.

…when you are FAR better at landing safely than walking correctly.

…when you get pulled over for drunk driving with out having a single drink.

…when you no longer find the phrase “I’ve fallen, and I can’t get up!” even remotely humorous.

…when someone walks in the room, and your first thought is “Where’s their walking stick?”

…when you go to stretch your legs upon waking in the morning, and the bed frame collapses from the vibration.

…when there are shoulder-high grey stripes along the walls of your hallway from where you put your hand to steady yourself.

…when you don’t answer the vibrating cell phone in your pants pocket because you thought it was just your leg buzzing.

…when you put your phone in your bra because you have no pockets, and you can’t feel the vibration or hear the ringing.

…if you’re really sick of hearing the phrase, “But You Look So Good!”

…when your mental health therapist asks if you’ve ever heard of or tried bee sting therapy.

…when every 4th person you MEET asks if you’ve ever heard of or tried bee sting therapy.

…when the kids across the street keep coming over asking you to shake up their bottles of chocolate milk for them.

…when you make a grocery list so you wont forget anything, and then forget where you put the list.

…when tying your sneaker laces seems like punishment.

…when you go to the store to buy something specific… buy the whole store.. and forget the one thing you went for in the first place.

…when you’ve told people “Good Morning” in the afternoon so often they’ve stopped correcting you.

…when you’ve searched for your glasses for 10 minutes upon waking, only to realize that they’re still on your face from last night.

…when the food delivery driver shows up at the door and compliments you on your new pajamas!

…when someone asks you “What happened”, and in response to your confusion, points to a bruise that you didn’t even know you had.

…if, when Mother Nature calls, you can’t afford to have your secretary take a message.

MichaelOlsonBlog

WHADDYA MEAN, I’M DISABLED?

Maybe this is a symptom of being pretty new to the MS diagnosis even after a year and a half…

I’m finding that I feel instantly sorry for anyone that I see in a chair, or with a cane or walker or any device like that. I didn’t really pay attention to it before, though; it was just something interesting that I noticed about the person.

Now, when I see someone using a powerchair, or a child with crutches or a walker, I think, “How awful! Boy I’m glad I’m not in that situation.”

And then I remember, “Waitaminnit… I AM in that situation.”

That revelation brings forth several different competing emotions:

– I’m sad because I’m not able-bodied at this point in time;
– I’m jealous of those who can get up and walk across the room without a stick (I still do a double take when I’m watching a TV program and a character does just that);
– I’m embarrassed at myself for making a spot judgement on someone I’ve never met and have no idea how they live their life;
– I’m grateful that I’m still able to get around and do the things I am used to doing, albeit a little slower;
– I’m VERY grateful and thankful that I can still play my bass and sing background for Jennifer and Dave B. AND teach AND record;
– I’m frustrated with myself that I don’t seem to have the total compassion and understanding for others in my situation that my condition would normally indicate;
– I feel bad for those around me who don’t realize they have a look of pity on their face when they see me coming;
– and I’m annoyed at myself when I occasionally forget that there’s anything wrong, try to get up and walk across the room and hit the wall, floor, or both. Hard.

All of this has made me come to the realization that after a year and a half of being diagnosed, plus about 3 years of “something’s not right,” I have yet to be comfortable in my own skin.

The funny part is that I’m just about to leave my place to go pick up a powerchair. Oh, sure, I won’t be taking it outside much, and it’s 4 years old, and needs some work done on it, but it’s free (!), and apparently fully functional – like a used car that runs but will have its own quirks from time to time.

And now the transformation will be complete: I will have become one of those people I used to feel sorry for.

Emphasis on USED TO. :)

MichaelOlsonBlog

STOUT AND SYMPATHY

The following are excerpts from a letter written to my friend Eli about 9 hours before the 2008 NFL conference championships began:
——————————————

I seem to be coming out of my December flare, although the right leg is showing more signs of quit than wakey wakey these days. Wishing Rebif was more of a cure than a control, you know?

PeeWee is busy chasing Marcel up and down the hallway at breakneck speed; I’m listening to an album that I recorded a year ago and just got a copy in the mail (Annie Brooks), and I’m vacillating between staying up until this place is spotless and doggie proof (Carol is coming over to watch football tomorrow, with springers in tow) and dealing with the lack of sleep and the lack of motor control that comes with it, OR waiting until morning when I’ll have less time and physical ability to do it, but a somewhat clearer head. Ridiculous.

This recording is one of the most hauntingly beautiful projects I’ve ever been a part of. It’s the last record I did playing my old string bass before I sold it (couldn’t stand and play anymore, much less haul it around). I do miss that bass. But it didn’t go far – a student bought it, with the stipulation that if I ever needed it for a gig/session I was welcome to borrow it anytime. Cool.

Something else cool about this album: One of my old students is on it! Not as a bassist, but as a mandolinist, and singing a duet with Annie. My ex-student’s name is Eva Holbrook, and as of this writing she’s 17, I think. This kid has more talent in her fingernail clippings than I have in my entire family tree. Not to mention that she has one of those ‘looks’ about her that just screams “beautiful soul”. Actually, so does Annie. You’d best watch out for both of them!

Been on Rebif for a little over 2 months now. No discernable change, other than that I’ve noticed my injection sites becoming a little more sore. I keep hoping it will be like waking up from a bad dream: In a few months, I’ll arise with the sun, put my feet on the floor and walk out of the room without so much as a thought concerning the location of my stick/crutch/rollator, and sit down at the computer for a few hours without having my feet turn grey from lack of circulation. Then I’ll have the Bentley brought around and go brewpub hopping with the ultimate in designated drivers. Hey – it COULD happen…

THERE’S something I’ve never understood – how can you have poor circulation in your feet?!? If the blood doesn’t want to pump through your veins, you’d think gravity would take over and draw the blood downward, wouldn’t you? Or is that what’s already happening, and the issue is not having enough oxygen-rich blood feeding the cells in my feet? Maybe that’s it… I’m just going to have to start breathing more. I keep forgetting…

MichaelOlsonBlog

FUNNY AS A CRUTCH? HOW ABOUT TWO?

So I just got a pair of forearm crutches – you know, the kind you’d expect Tiny Tim to be using, except these are European style. No medieval-looking clamp around the forearm here; instead, a simple half-cylinder type area for my arm to rest in and allow me to have a little more control over the crutch. I can use one or two at my leisure. They’re going to take a little practice; I had been used to using a walking stick which was considerably longer and required a different wrist angle. But these could be very cool if I get used to it. At least they’ll let me stay upright easier – less bending over at the waist than the stick or the rollator gave me, and if I’m using two crutches, that means 4 points on the ground, 3 of which I can trust. Means a LOT less falling over.

Josh Blue was HILARIOUS on Tuesday! Even got to meet him after the show. Turns out J.W. had already MENTIONED me to him! I tried not to get goosebumps in front of anyone… I wonder if they showed… oh well. Josh was nice enough to give me a signed copy of his DVD. Might have to watch it this weekend after the playoff games are over.

And SPEAKING of which… the SEAHAWKS play the Packers tomorrow at 2:30 local time! I can’t wait – I smell an upset in the making! As a matter of fact, I’m stating here, for the record, that I predict that the Colts will be the only home team this weekend to win a game. At the very least, we will have one upset for sure. Just got a feeling that it’s going to be more than that, and that the Screaming Seachickens of the Northwest will be playing for the right to return to the Super Bowl next weekend. You heard it here first!

MichaelOlsonBlog

DISABOOM.COM

Headed off to Denver tonight to see the venerable Josh Blue perform at the Comedy Works. If you’re not familiar with Josh, he’s a brilliant comedian who won Last Comic Standing a couple of years ago. He also has Cerebral Palsy. What’s more, he’s not afraid to use CP to his advantage on stage. He’s hilarious! What’s more, he reminds us all in his own, uh, er, SPECIAL way that people with disabilities don’t need to be pitied – and there’s plenty to laugh about regarding various diseases. Not laugh AT, but laugh ABOUT. And Josh proves it time and again. There are few taboos when it comes to Josh Blue!

The performance is being sponsored by disaboom.com , which is a website dedicated to bringing disabled folks together, and giving them a forum to communicate with each other AND to learn more about their own disease as well as other afflictions, and keep up with the latest research and treatments regarding those diseases, and so on, and so on, ad infinitum, ad nauseam, etc., etc., etc. It’s a pretty cool place – check it out.

Reason I bring this up is because last Saturday at Elway’s, the CEO (I think that’s right) of disaboom.com came up and introduced himself. It was a wild coincidence – I had just heard of the site days before, and had already joined and made a few posts in the community. AND we had already planned on going to see Josh. And here comes J.W. Roth coming to say hello! Really nice guy, and a great story to tell about why the website got started. (No, not here – you’ll have to peruse the site to find it, or email J.W. yourself and get the story straight from him.)

So the site is cool as it is right now – Tuesday, 1/8/08 – but I hear that in a week’s time things will get much more interesting on the site. So check it out now, but make plans to be back next week. I can’t wait to see what they have in mind! Toodles!

MichaelOlsonBlog

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Hey everyone! Thanks for visiting the new digs. I hope everyone had a great holiday, and has some great ideas on what to do on New Year’s (other than being safe).

So there’s not a lot to report – playing the standard gigs down at Elway’s on the weekends and teaching M/T/W at Spotlight Music. Working on the text parts of this site – hopefully this will become a place where people are wondering what the next new thing is going to be (like Homestar Runner), but more from a bass player’s perspective. Also some goofy stuff that just SCREAMS Michael Olson the bassist with a really twisted sense of humor.

I have indeed begun Rebif therapy – it’s been not quite two months yet, which is far too early to see if anything will change/improve. But I’m acclimating to the side effects, which are similar to getting the flu and having those achy muscles. Keep yer fingers crossed and yer knees bent for me. :-)

I have a new kitten – his name is PeeWee, and if I can I’ll try to upload pics of him at some point. He’s a ragdoll breed, and he’s HUGE – already over 8 pounds and not even 6 months old. He stands a good chance of ending up over 27 lbs. by the time it’s all said and done (ragdolls keep growing for a good 3.5-4 years). My older cat, Marcel, hates me for adding to the family and will take awhile before he accepts his new little brother. Too funny – Marcel’s a coward, and PeeWee plays HARD. Strange to see the little one pushing around the older cat!

Looking out at well over a foot of snow – Christmas brought 7 inches, and two days later we got 7 more. I don’t remember the last time we got Real Snow On Christmas Day. It was pretty cool to see that, and really it was unexpected – the forecasters said we might get a flurry or two and maybe a dusting worth of accumulation, and instead we got a proper Winter Storm. Not bad, except that GF and I got stuck on the side of the road when her car broke down in the snow and wind and such. Thankfully, a friend and student of mine was ready, willing, and able to come tow us back to my place, and the repair was pretty darned reasonable – a cracked vacuum line – so in the end, no harm done save for a few extra grey hairs for our trouble.

I got creative contemplating the rare sight of snow falling on Christmas morning – laugh if you will, but I kinda like it:

“I’m not dreaming; it’s a White Christmas,

Last night brought half a foot of snow,

With the tree boughs bending, and Nature sending

Her gift to us folks down below;

You’re not dreaming; it’s a White Christmas,

Can’t help but marvel at the sight,

May your day be as joyful and bright

As this wondrous Christmas is White.