Rich Koslowski: Writer, Artist, Genius
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UNCLE HERMAN'S MYSTERY HAIR!

Oh, some 16 or 17 years ago I took my wife, Sandy, over to my Aunt (Tante Hannelore) and Uncle's (Onkel Herman) house for a nice dinner. My cousin, Bob, and his wife, Andrea, were also there. As the beer and wine flowed--along with the conversation--there came a point when my uncle suddenly exhorted us with a tale of a mysterious 4 inch hair that sprouted out from his neck while he slept one night a few days earlier! As prodigious amounts of alcoholic beverages had-- henceforth, prior to the telling of this tale--been consumed, his story was met with some skepticism by the lot of us. My cousin Bob actually went as far as to tell my uncle the story was getting a "bit thick" and that maybe he ought to lay off the Brandy Manhattans for awhile. My uncle, in his extremely thick Estonian accent, protested quite loudly! He insisted that the story was true! A 4 inch hair grew from his neck in just one night's time!

Well, we all just kind of humored him after that and enjoyed our meal. He was, after all, a man in the thick of his golden years and quite intoxicated to boot. If his memory was a bit altered that was to be expected.

Fast forward 17 years.

So, I'm getting ready for bed the other night (I bet you can see where this is going, can't you?) and I catch a brief glimpse of light as it catches a reflection off of a very fine strand of blonde hair. The hair appears to have stuck itself to my chin or neck area. I am in the middle of brushing my teeth so I just quickly brush at it. It remains. I immediately think "NO WAY!" and summarily finish my brushing, excited at the prospect of what I THINK I have just discovered!

Nervously and anxiously the memories of that dinner with my uncle come flooding back quickly now as I hurriedly rinse, spit and then carefully dry my mouth area--conscientious not to get anywhere near the hair I just spotted!

Could it be?! I wondered. Could it possibly be?!

So, carefully I approach the large mirror in our bathroom, my heart pounding now in my chest (not really but it adds to the story, doesn't it?). The light is good in here, the dark brown colored walls a nice contrast in the background to spot the lone blonde hair.

There it is! One lone, long strand of thin--very thin--blonde hair sticking out of the left side of my neck just a couple inches from the throat area.It's approximately 2 inches in length, not quite the 4 inches my uncle claimed but lengthy for a lone hair in this location nonetheless. I gently grabbed the hair and tugged softly. The skin of my neck puckered outward as I tugged! My God it was attached! But I had to be certain! It could have just been stuck there by some dried saliva or a spot of mucus after all. So I tugged again this time a little bit harder. The skin puckered out again but this time even more! It was! It was attached, there was no doubt.

I stood up now excited about the discovery. Bewildered by this fascinating development. How could a hair grow so quickly I wondered? And I had just shaved that morning. It could not have possibly been missed! No way! And even had it somehow been miraculously missed that morning what about the mornings prior? The WEEKS prior?! The human hair--from what I understand--grows at about the rate of 1/8th of an inch per week. This would mean that my lone hair would have taken about 16 weeks to grow on my neck and avoided at least 64 shavings! I don't think so. And I'm pretty observant when it comes to my personal grooming, giving myself the "once over" every morning and evening in the mirror. If I can always spot those pesky little ear hairs that have been popping up with some frequency the past several years then surely I would have spotted this puppy a lot sooner.

So there was only one possible conclusion to draw from all of this as I stared at my mysterious lone, long blonde neck hair...Just like my Uncle Herman, I sprouted this bad boy in a matter of mere hours. A "Super-Hair" if you will.

I shook my head in amazement, a small smile on my face, as I continued gently tugging and stroking the hair. Fond memories of my uncle swirling in my brain. Uncle Herman's "crazy claim" now vindicated.

And, with no one else still awake in my house to show my wondrous discovery I gave it a firm tug and plucked it from my neck. So thin was the hair that I barely felt any resistance. I held it close before my eyes guaging its length and thickness. Perhaps the "thinness" of it (easily half a normal hair) made the super-growth possible, I postulated.

Staring at it in wonder for a few more seconds I finally discarded the "super-hair" into the toilet and went to bed. I woke up Sandy to tell her all about it though first.

And now I have to call my cousin Bob and tell him his dad wasn't nuts. I'll make sure to call him when I'm not drunk.

Word.

R

BRETT FAVRE AND ME PT II

I was shocked. After the fantastic season and juuuust falling short of making the SuperBowl and ending his season with an interception, I was shocked to hear that Brett Favre was retiring. Had he made this announcement last year I don't think many people would have been surprised. This year?...I think 99% of Packer Nation was stunned speechless.

But, when you think about it it fits, doesn't it? I mean, after all, this is what Brett's been doing his whole career...shocking and stunning us with the unexpected. That's what we love about him more than his obvious physical attributes. His ability to keep us on the edge of our seats. Love his "gunslinging" style or not you have to admit he always kept it exciting.

So, no...in retrospect none of us should have been shocked at all...it's just typical Favre and I love it!

I could cite all the records and accomplishments here and tell you all why he was so great but we've all heard that before and have been reminded of it all this week. So I'm going to just assume you all already know all of that and comment specifically about one particular comment he made at his press conference that really struck me. That hit me even harder than the news of his retirement. In his press conference yesterday (which I thought was great. No notes just shooting straight from the hip) he said one particular thing that made me, once again, realize why I personally connected with this guy. We all love him because he's an "everyman' right? someone we all feel we could hang with and knock back a few beers with. The athlete with no ego who dresses in jeans and flip-flops and isn't afraid to say what he feels and show us he's human by shedding the occasional tear. And when he cried we all cried with him (if you didn't, I'm sorry, but you have no soul). But he's also a lot more cerebral than I think most people give him credit for. I think a lot of people see his carefree, huckleberry attitude and miss the fact that this guy has one heckuva head on his shoulders. He commented that the night before his press conference he watched some of the tributes the many and varied stations were showing. The old footage of his career and life and that watching this he understood what death felt like. The reporters laughed at first and he chuckled softly with them but he was serious. He meant it. You could see it in his eyes and you could see that the realization really affected him. Once again he showed us that he was, indeed, human. And when he made that comment my heart skipped a beat. It skipped a beat because I watched those very same tributes the night before and had the same exact feeling.

"What the hell do you mean, Rich? It wasn't your friggin' highlight reel they showed you idiot?" Right? Is that what you're saying right now? No, it wasn't my highlight reel. But watching it reminds me that I'm getting older with Brett. We're both in that same age bracket--I'm actually a couple years his senior (which makes it more depressing)--and for the last 16 years I've watched him every week under center during the football season. He's become a part of my life. A constant. And his retirement reminds me that a chapter has closed not only in his life but in mine as well. Time is moving on and there's nothing he can do about it and there's nothing I can do about it. We're one step closer to that final, inevitable, chapter.

I know this sounds rather ominous but you can't help but realize it. He realized as did I. It's sad and it's frightening. We all want to live forever and when a guy like Brett Favre comes along and is there every season, every week, every game, whether he's hurt or his father just passed away, whatever the situation, he's always there! It gives you a sense of immortality. Especially when he's the same age as you. You see him running around like a young kid out there every game and it makes you feel young.

And then he hangs it up. He's had enough.

Reality sets in. You realize again that he's "your age." You realize that you're getting older too. So I connected with him when he said he knew what it felt like to be dead. A chapter has closed in his life as well as mine.

And that makes me very sad. I'm going to miss that friggin' hillbilly.

word.

r

EFF WISCONSIN!!!

I shoveled snow for three straight hours today. THREE STRAIGHT HOURS! And I am not a wuss. I move, baby! I am a non-stop snow moving machine. No breaks longer than 20 seconds to take a drink of Vitamin Water. THREE STRAIGHT HOURS!!! We got hit with a blizzard that snowed for 30 hours yesterday and a whopping 16 inches fell here with drifts of 2-3 feet in my friggin' driveway. And the problem with my particular driveway is that there is nowhere to go with the shit! The houses are directly on either side and in the back where our shared driveway "Ts" there's a fence surrounding everything and my neighbor lady's garage. Yes, I am a good samaritan and shovel for her as she is elderly. SO! I literally have to heave the god-forsaken shit up and over either a 4 foot fence on one half or a 6 foot fence on the other. There are only two gaps approximately 2 feet wide on each end of the drive that I can throw the crap through but then that means pushing shovel load after shovel load 30 to 40 feet at a time to get to these gaps...a bit time consuming. So I heave. I figure I heaved at least 500 shovel fulls today, each weighing somewhere in the vicinity of 20 pounds plus...the snow was very wet and heavy thank you very much. Add it up, kids...that's about 10,000 pounds. And that's just the stuff I had to heave, that doesn't factor in the crap I was able to merely push--often having the shovel dig in causing the handle to painfully jam into my lower abdominal region...this happened approximately 37 times.

My back is killing me, my arms feel like lead, my hands are claws right now, my hamstrings are angry and my neck--if it had a voice--would be whimpering like a little girl who just had her entire My Little Pony collection melted by her mean older brother.

And I've shoveled at least 25 times this year and winter's still got a lot of time left. We usually start warming up in mid-May for God's sake...and that's not an exaggeration.

So, yeah, "Eff Wisconsin!" And don't let anybody tell you any different. It sucks here. No bones about it. Someone tells you they "Love living here!" they're full of shit or, as the saying goes, got a little bit of the "Ignorance is bliss" thing going on. There is very little good about living here. Shitty weather, short summer, and incredibly effed up taxes. It's really ridiculous anyone's left living here anymore when you think about it.

Yeah, I bitch about living here a lot. I know. I honestly hate the climate here. I want to move. But my family's here and my friends are here. That's it. I'd miss them.

But I gotta tell ya. I've had it. 40 years of living through miserable winters is enough. Time for a change. The depression of the "winter blues" has really hit me harder and harder the last 6-7 years and this year's record setting snowfalls just sealed the deal.

We're actively looking for someplace warmer to live. I can't put my daughter in the same position I find myself in now when she's 40 and feeling stuck like I do.

So if you've got a job opportunity for an ambitious, uber-talented writer/artist lemme know! I'm there in a heartbeat.

Seriously.

R

BRETT FAVRE AND ME!

Hey kids. The holidays are (mercifully) over and it's back to work for this poor bastard.

I made an interesting observation over the holidays, however, that in the past 15 years I had previously been remiss in noticing! As some of you may know the Green Bay Packers and their Hall-Of-Fame quarterback--one Mr. Brett Lorenzo Favre (rhymes with carve for those who are wondering)--have been doing exceptionally well this season. In fact, they have exceeded everyone and anyone's expectations--including their own team members, including Brett Lorenzo. I admit that I had them finishing 7 and 9 at best!

Anyways, the thing that I noticed that I previously had missed was the striking similarities between Brett Lorenzo's charmed life and my own! It's really uncanny! See if you agree...here we go...

1) Both fine looking individuals.

2) Tall in stature.

3) Terrific physiques.

4) Obviously gifted with athletic ability.

5) Charming as all Hell.

6) Similar age-wise.

7) Both have a propensity to acquire, formulate and pass large quantities of gas (i.e. we both toot a lot).

8) Both married fine looking ladies.

9) Both DESERVE fine looking ladies.

10) Both adored by legions of fans (just a slight discrepancy in the number of fans we each have).

11) Both took a shine to Vicodan (albeit he enjoyed his stint on the "don't care" pill a wee bit longer than me).

12) And we both wore braces at one time (although I had mine when I was 12 not 25).

The only dissimilarities seem to be...

1) The accent.

2) The love for mowing the grass (he loves, I do not).

3) And lastly, our vocations. Of which he has done exceedingly well, achieved the heights of success even the biggest of dreamers could never possibly conceive of, reached the seemingly impossible pinnacle of achievement and success and then leapt high off of it and miraculously seemed to touch the very hand of God himself and was lifted yet even higher to even more glorious and marvelous heights heretofore thought impossible even by God Himself (or Herself don't want to offend any of the ladies), and did so with the humility of the most common and gracious of men, all the while amassing and surpassing just about every important quarterback--and football player for that matter--record there ever was and possibly ever will be, and while doing all that reaping the most lavish of rewards and praise along the way, the least of which millions and millions and millions of dollars in player contract and endorsement deals!

While I, on the other hand, have not.

So, as you can clearly see...aside from those 3 small differences we're very much alike.

Word.

R

BOYCOTT CHRISTMAS!!!

On November 1st I celebrated my 40th birthday. A significant day in my life, my family's life (by default), and the entire world's apparently! Because, apparently, the world has officially gone crazy the day I turned 40...Let me explain... On November 1st of the year 2007 the United States of America unilaterally decided to now entirely ignore Thanksgiving and go straight to Christmas! And why the hell not, I guess? Right? Not enough bucks in selling a few million turkeys and the fixin's that go with it. Turkey is really actually pretty darn affordable per pound. Giblets, corn, pumpkin pie?...all reasonably priced items.

Now Halloween on the other hand generates a nice tidy sum for retailers. You got the costumes (which ain't cheap), the slew of parties which usually involve quite a bit of alcohol (big bucks), and the billions spent on all that wonderful candy! So we go nuts on Halloween and the retailers enjoy this.

But Thanksgiving? Nope...not a whole lot of money required for the families of America to enjoy this beloved holiday and the quality time spent with their loving families, getting together to give thanks for all the good fortune we have.

Not the right "fortune" I guess though, right? In America we want the LITERAL "fortune" not the figurative one.

BUT CHRISTMAS?!! Woo-WEEE!!! That is some HUGE buckaroos spent there my friend...the "literal fortune" and then some! It's estimated that most retailers generate 40% of their yearly income on Christmas sales alone! 40% spent for ONE SINGLE DAY!!! Pretty substantial, hey? Yep, and apparently, because of this, we've (they've) decided to skip Thanksgiving decorations, advertising, songs (I know, there's not many), etc. and go right from Halloween to the Christmas festivities. Each and every year we have--as a nation--tried our collective darndest to get Christmas rammed down the buying publics throats as soon as possible. The most noticeable way was always the tv ads starting earlier and earlier every year. Annoying, right? Yeah, very...but that seemed to be the extent of it for the most part. For the retailers of America there was always that darned Thanksgiving getting in their way! How could they avoid it? The stores would go from their Halloween themed decor immediately to their Thanksgiving decorations. And then on the day after Thanksgiving the blitzkrieg would start! Wee-hoo! There was "Black Friday" where all the idiots would line up at Wal-Marts (camp out even!) starting before the crack of dawn, frothing at the mouth, sometimes getting in fistfights or trampled to death to save a few bucks on the latest Precious Moments figurines.

Well, not anymore. This year we have truly gone to Hell. November 1st, 2007 not only marked my 40th birthday (and let me remind you that November 1st is also ALL SAINTS DAY) but it was also the day and year that Christmas finally, and completely, went from what was supposed to be the most blessed day on earth to what it really is for 90% of our populace...a 60(ish) day extravaganza to uncontrollably piss away a lot of money on a lot of crap no one really needs.

And what, pray tell, happened on November 1st to make me think this you ask? Well, on the way to lunch at my favorite restaurant I almost vomited when Sandy leaned over to change the radio station and said, "Did you hear this yet?" and I gave her a confused look. Her finger tapped one of the buttons and the local station WMYX lit up on the display...it took me a few seconds before I realized what I was hearing!...Yes, you guessed it, Christmas music! "What the...?!" I said, "But it must be just the one song some idiot requested right?" I added. NOPE! This local station--which I will now and forever from this day forth BOYCOTT--proudly announced that from this day until Christmas they'd be playing all Christmas music 24 hours a day! "What the HELL?!!!" I spat! "You have got to be S***ing me!" Nope.

Okay, so it's one a-holeish radio station, right? Sadly, wrong! In the following hours they mobiliozed! It seemed this was an organized decision! As we drove down the street we saw it...it was happening...the Halloween decor came down and what was going up in its place?...Thanksgiving stuff right? That's what always happens...It-it's the next major holiday after all!!! Nope. The Christmas crap was going up all over the place. The florists, the restaurants, the bank, etc. They all decided to skip Thanksgiving and go straight to the Christmas bucks...get a jump on the competition! And the competition took notice! The floodgates opened wide! For in the following days, one-by-one, they all jumped on the "skip Thanksgiving day" bandwagon. "Let's just pretend it doesn't exist," they thought. "People are stupid. They are sheep! They will buy what we tell them to buy."

And sadly they're right. For the most part anyways. People will flock to the stores and they will spend more than they usually do. More than they can probably afford. Our local mall even had a "lighting of the tree" celebration THIS WEEK where Santa himself appeared to greet the children and give the parents an opportunity to purchase their photos of the kids and Santa early! Wow! Thank you Bayshore Mall! You're the greatest.

We're boycotting them, too.

My guess is that at least 30% of people don't even know the real origin of Christmas anymore. And don't get me wrong!...I'm not a "Bible thumper"...not at all! Trust me. But this IS a religious holiday, isn't it? I forget. A holiday that is supposed to celebrate the life of a man who died for our sins...remember? Isn't "Gluttony" one of the seven deadly sins? Yeah, I know, "gluttony's" not one of the Ten Commandments but there is a lot of "Thou shalt not covet..." going on in there and I think spending shitloads of money on boatloads of trinkets and crap is close enough...Hey, I went to Confirmation classes and learned all that good stuff!

But, whatever, bottom line is that somehow I seriously doubt that when Jesus was up there on the cross he wondered how much Gross National Product would be generated on the day we celebrated his birth!

word.

r

TURNED 40 THIS WEEK...Hmm...

Yeah...I turned 40 on Thursday. Kinda sucks in a way, y'know? Mortality and all that. Halfway done now and all that. The old "I thought I'd have accomplished more...made more money...had more groupies...etc.,etc." The body aches are definitely more prevalent as the days go by as well. My feet, my neck, back, teeth and the new one this week was my right oblique (could possibly be a cracked rib, too) that's causing me quite a bit of discomfort. Yep, 40.

On the plus side I am alive and still kicking ass! Both figuratively and literally speaking. Pulled in about 20 boards on Wednesday playing hoops (yes, wearing goggles!) and ran from end to end of that damned court like a 20-year-old. Course the 20-year-olds probably aren't wrecked for the entire following day like I am but what the hell.

Also on the plus side is the fact that my wife still supports me chasing my dreams--or delusions--of grandeur. And my daughter still thinks I'm pretty cool and wants to wrestle and play every day with me. And that's pretty darned cool.

So, what does a 40-year-old get for his birthday you might ask? Well, this 40-year-old gets the massage chair he's wanted to get for the past 10 years but couldn't afford. Still can't but for the fact that Relax The Back Store had a 50% off floor model sale! YES!!! It is possible to love a non-living object, people...trust me.

I also picked up a couple new cds by Josh Ritter and James Blunt. I discovered these two wonderful musicians a few months back and am now in the process of acquiring everything they've ever done. Completely original and brilliant, beautiful music. I also picked up the new novel "The Last Days Of Krypton" by Kevin J. Anderson and started reading that last night. So far so good. Great concept and I'm excited about reading this. Also picked up Charlie Huston's newest book; the follow-up to the "Already Dead" vampire novel. Huston's books are incredible! Great characters, brutal but believable violence and paced at breakneck speed. And today we're going to see "The Bee Movie"...hope it's good. It's Seinfeld so my hopes are very high. I'll let you know.

Okay, off to work now on issue #6 of MARVEL COMICS PRESENTS. Things are really starting to heat up for Michael Pointer, a.k.a. Guardian, a.k.a. Weapon Omega!!!

Word!

r

WORLD SERIES

As some of you may know I am a big baseball fan. Love it! But am I wrong or has this post season really lacked? There seems to be absolutely NO drama whatsoever! The Boston comeback against Cleveland WAS remarkable, yes, I will agree about that...but the fashion in which they did it was actually quite lacking in drama. The last 3 games were SUCH blowouts that even though they rallied to come back from being down 3 games to 1 the series ended up being a "fizzler." I fell asleep a couple times in fact.

And the Colorado Rockies were, indeed, a "Cinderella Story" leading into the WS with their 21 out of 22 games winning run but now they just simply do not look like they belong there. Maybe the 8 day layoff really made them lose their momentum. Momentum is HUGE in any sport. And Boston's comeback against the Indians, boring or not, infused them with such unbelievable momentum and confidence (just like in 2004) that they now look unbeatable.

I sense another 4 and out fizzler of a WS just like in 2004.

I like drama folks, and this WS (at least so far) is sorely lacking. sigh.

Word!

R

MARVEL COMICS PRESENTS!...ME!!!

Hello True Believers! It is my distinct pleasure to finally announce (and it's been very difficult holding back!) that my first stint as a bona fide Marvel Comics writer will finally be seeing fruition this week! MARVEL COMICS PRESENTS #1 will be hitting the stands this Wednesday, September 19th. Yes! I know I'LL be at my local comics shop as soon as its doors open and it's my fervent hope that you all will be as well. Buy early and buy often, folks! This comic's sure to be worth bazillions one day.

As some of you may know, I've been reading comics since I was 5 or 6 years old and--except for a brief period in college when I needed as much beer money as possible--I've never stopped. And my earliest favorites were Marvel comics. So having this dream come true is a very special moment for me as, not only a professional, but as a fan. Not many people get to work in a field that's also been a passionate hobby and I consider myself truly blessed.

Many comic fans ask at conventions "how" I got into the business and "how" I've gotten my work published. Obviously anyone creating comics has to have some level of talent--okay, a few have gotten in that make you scratch your head, but 99.9% of the people creating comics have real talent. So, you've got to have talent to get into the business. But, more importantly, you've got to work your ass off and have endless amounts of Perseverance. You can't give up. And believe me, I've wanted to many, many times...but only for the very briefest of moments.

My family and many of my friends have no idea what I do. I hear the wisecracks all the time about "not having a job" or sometimes they clarify that assinine statement by adding "real" before "job" for the adrenaline inducing "not having a real job" statement that they apparently have no idea just how insulting that statement is. I've pretty much given up trying to defend my vocation to them or how hard I actually work a long, long time ago.

Whatever. Let them think what they want to. Their insensitivity only serves to fuel my drive.

I read something Frank Miller once wrote about the "curse" we have being artists/creators. He hit it on the head when he said, "You can't turn it off!" "You can't make it stop!" referring to the creative juices constantly flowing through your head. And it's true. I find myself so overwhelmed sometimes by ideas flooding my mind that I can't focus on other things. I can't sleep. I never sleep. The ideas won't let me. The "job" never stops.

I don't "punch a clock" and I think because of that some people just can't process what I do as an actual job. Whatever. I guarantee you that I put in more hours per week working --both the actual physical act of putting pencil (or brush) to paper and the constant thinking part--than 90% of the people out there working the so-called "real jobs." And I work erratic hours. This also, apparently, for some, also means I don't have a "real job" because certainly one must work the same exact structured "9 to 5" to actually be working a "real job." I think it says so in the bible.

Yeah, I sleep till 9 o'clock most mornings and start work around 10 am. Sometimes I'll even take a 2 hour lunch. Or take an hour or two midday to play with my daughter. Or go see a matinee. Yep, kind of nice to make my own hours...work when I want to...But I also find myself up and working well past midnight many nights. And almost every weekend. And when I'm trying to sleep. So who gives a crud if the standard "8 hours a day, 40 hours a week" of work is spread out in an erratic manner. Or, as is more often the case--is definitely MY CASE!--the standard "40 hours a week" is more like 60. I'm working 60 hours a week so please pardon me if I don't conform to the standard sleep cycles mandated by you, the "real workers" out there (BTW, that was laced with bitter sarcasm in case you didn't notice).

Perseverance. Not only to get into the "doors" at the publishers, but to put up with the sheep out there who have no clue as to what you're trying to accomplish.

I have persevered my friends. I have stuck it out. I've got the "curse" Frank Miller wrote so eloquently about but, more importantly, I am one stubborn s.o.b. who just will not give in and let the dream die. And why would I? Why SHOULD I? If you're afraid to chase your dreams you might as well stop living all together. Maybe the doubters, the sheep don't dream? Or maybe they don't like seeing others chase their dreams because they gave up on their own so long ago? If the dreamers succeed that means the dreamers were right and the doubter sheep were wrong. Much easier for the doubter sheep to give up and simply ridicule the dreamers.

Perseverance. I'm a dreamer and I'm never giving up my dreams. And I'll be damned if I'll ever let the doubter sheep be right!

So this Wednesday will be very special indeed. Not only because it's going to make the little boy I was dream's come true, but also because it's personal validation for me for never giving up and never giving in. I was right the doubter sheep were wrong.

And you know what?...since I don't have a "real job," and I don't have to "punch a clock," I think I'm gonna take this Wednesday off and just read my comics.

Yeah.

word!

r

THANK YOU, LINDSEY BUCKINGHAM!

In the past couple months––and more specifically the past couple days––I have been so extremely busy with work; Archie duties, finishing up my new book THE LIST and embarking on this new journey with MARVEL COMICS. But last week we ran into a huge mess when we decided to spruce up our bathroom a little bit. When I went in to regrout the bathtub tiles my Dremmel tool went right through the gap between the tiles and I saw nothing behind them. So I proceeded to gently remove the one tile and see what was up. The tile pulled free with minimal effort...and that's because ALL the backing material that is supposed to hold up the tile, i.e. THE FRIGGIN' WALL! was completely saturated with water and just crumbled upon touching it. 1 hour later I had a bathroom that looked like THE PERFECT STORM" ripped through it.

I felt like crying.

Then my wifes, Sandy, came back home from some errands and I revealed my handiwork. Then she felt like crying.

So, a few days later, when we didn't feel like doing anything at all but laying on the couch and watching a movie...ANY movie, but we had already made arrangements with Sandy's parents to take our daughter for the weekend so we could go to Summerfest (the WORLD'S biggest music festival right here in lil ole Milwaukee!) and see Lindsey Buckingham in concert, we really kind of had to force ourselves to go. I knew we'd regret it if we didn't make the effort.

So we went. Got there 2 hours early to grab a bite to eat, a couple/few beers, and get good seats. It's first come first serve at most of the Summerfest stages and a dozen bands share each stage every day. So the band before Lindsey Buckingham was some cover band that was pretty decent but wasn't any major national act of any kind. Good deal for us cuz this meant the crowd was full (they always are no matter who's playing) but not "packed" full. This meant yours truly got us right up front in the second row!!! And we only had an hour and a half to wait. Sweet!

Let me tell you something. Lindsey Buckingham is a NATIONAL TREASURE! He is, by far, one of the most underappreciated talents of any kind to walk this earth. He held the crowd in the palm of his hand from the first song through the 2 hour set and up until the final solo finale. He's a genius and he has stones! Who else would come out all alone and start with a mellow tune from his newest solo album, UNDER THE SKIN (Genius BTW!), proceed to play the next 2 tunes solo and then finally bring out the rest of the band. He mixed old Fleetwood Mac songs in with solo stuff and new stuff, twisting and turning through these songs, mixing them up and making the old sound new again by giving them all a new little patented "Buckingham" twist! There were many highlights in this show and absolutely NO lowlights, but the most amazing moment for me was during the song, "I'm So Afraid", which is a fantastic song as it is, but Lindsey did a guitar part (not a solo) that lasted about 5 minutes and crescendoed and crescendoed to the point of sheer impossibility and I swear...I SWEAR TO GOD!...I fully expected––as I saw him there 10 feet in front of me with the spotlight silhouetting his body––to see his already fire-like flow of hair actually start smoldering and come ablaze with fire as he raised up into the heavens, all the while still wailing the hell away on that beautiful guitar! I ain't kiddin' either. He was the closest thing to a living God I've ever seen just then.

There are few moments when an outside force can actually cause you to involuntarily lose control of your senses without any actual tactile contact. This was one of those moments as I fully lost it and just started laughing with pure unadulterated joy and disbelief (softly of course) as I turned to those around me to see if they were being affected as I was. The guy right behind me was and we had "a moment" together where we just nodded wide-eyed each knowing the other was being equally and completely enthralled.

So, thank you, Lindsey Buckingham, for sharing your beautiful music with us. You made life very wonderful for those 2 hours and reminded me that it's not too bad after all. If there's someone like you out there doing magic like you're doing there truly is religion in this world.

Now to play "poor man's pychiatrist" for a second. Lindsey Buckingham is one deep, weird and sometimes dark genius. He has, through his music, bared his soul for his audience in so many different ways with such openness and honesty. I relate to him. I see in him an artist who can't sit still, just relax and watch a movie, or "turn the brain off" for even a few seconds. I think he's always "working" his brain constantly wondering, tormenting, doubting...I might be wrong but I get the feeling he's only entirely comfortable with himself––whole as a person––when he's up there on stage wailing away on that guitar and singing with an intensity I've NEVER seen anyone sing with before. And I think that's what makes him as great as he is. He never stops.

Fitting that his last song, played solo again, was "Shut Us Down" off of his new album. An album which fully expresses some of the aforementioned doubt he's felt over the years. In "Shut Us Down" he sings, "...Oh I won't shut us down, No I will stay around, As long as I can....As long as I can...As long as I can...As long as I can..."

God I hope that's a long, long time, indeed.

Word!

r

WELL...I WAS WRONG...

Yep, unbelievable as this sounds, I was wrong. Second time ever if my addition is right. I picked the Spurs in five games and they won in four. BTW I picked the Spurs when the season began as well. Here's my quick take on the NBA finals this year...Many people described the series as "boring" but I saw excellent defense. Interesting since so many people bitch that NBA players don't play defense. Then, when they do (and both teams did in this series) people say it's "boring." Sheesh!

The Spurs are the best team at adapting to their opponents particular strengths or weaknesses. They can play up tempo, half-court, whatever they need to do. Highly adaptable. They are the best at it. Best team, best coach. Yes, they are a dynasty.

So am I.

The Sopranos series finale also had many people in an uproar. And while I didn't find the last episode to be as gripping as many highlights of the series past I found the ending to be absolutely perfect for the show. Why? Because it was real. If you didn't get that ending you missed what the show was all about. It wasn't about "Who's gonna get whacked this week?!" it was about family. The whacking and gore were just very nice additions to what was basically a family show...a VERY disfunctional family dynamiic, granted, but a family show nonetheless. So showing the Soprano family together at the end like that, uncertain of the future was just fine with me. Life isn't mapped out and tidy and leaving some room for our imaginations is just fine with me.

Perhaps that's the problem, though, Hmm? I've often commented that too many people lack imagination in our society. Maybe this ending was a completely baffling thing for the unimaginative mind to handle?

God I am smart.

So, you want to hear what I think happens?...Well you're going to anyways, dammit. My blog.

Tony does not get whacked in that restaurant. Nope. They have their family dinner and life goes on. Tony gets indicted but he's got boatloads of money and a damn fine lawyer. The charges do not stick. The war with New York is quiet for a long while and everyone makes money. Sylvio eventually comes out of his coma but never the same. Brain damged, physically damaged and basically needs 24 hour care and dies a few years later from complications. A.J. is a spoiled punk who whines his way through the next 5-10 years and mom and pop enable him along the way. Meadow "sells out" and goes the high priced lawyer route further proving what a "flip-flopping" limousine liberal she is.

I think Tony dies of a good old-fashioned heart attack at about 60 years old. I mean, c'mon, look at him! He's a coronary event just begging to happen. Nothing glorious or grandiose...a heart attack whacks Tony.

And Carmella lives to be about 85 in that big old house still having sunday brunches with the remainder of the family.

Word!

r

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