Doritos and Smoke On the Water


I write this for everyone who has ever owned a guitar but never learned to play, for we are the ones that ensure the presence of cheap guitars on EBay.

A trip down memory lane of the songs we never learned how to play.

My son Kal got a guitar this week.  An EBay find, $45 for a Fender Squier Mini.

He has no previous guitar experience.  I only hope he surpasses his dad on his musical journey.

Approximately one minute into his journey, I was flooded with memories of my own failed guitar life in the late 80’s.

He plugged into a mini-Peavey amp, turned everything on and got ready to play his first lick.

“Wait Kal, let me find you a pick”  But I couldn’t find a pick.

Rewind to 1988.  A townhouse apartment at the University of Kentucky that I shared with my brother Scott and two friends.  I had a Martin Stinger electric guitar that always stayed propped up somewhere in plain sight.  But I couldn’t play.  Still can’t. But every rock and roller wants to pick up an ax and at least play a recognizable portion of a few key masterpieces.  Iron Man, Stairway To Heaven, Smoke On the Water.

Most guys that came into our apartment picked up that guitar and banged around on it.  Few had any actual skill.  But I could never keep up with a pick.  My friend Cass delivered the same answer time and time again when I told him there was no pick:

“You got a Dorito?

Last night, Kal looked puzzled when I told him I would get him a Dorito to play with.  I ended up cutting up a gift card in the shape of a pick so he could get started on Smoke On the Water.

In those college days, there were no YouTube videos to watch, Guitar tab websites, or guitar tab books to learn songs from. But we didn’t really care about learning songs.  We just wanted to play cool parts.  I tried to figure things out by ear, and my ear was horrible.  My brother had taken piano lessons as a young boy so he had some understanding of music and chords.  He tried to show me some things, but I was too impatient to learn.  I just wanted to shred, and I was too impatient to learn how to shred.

He is now a skilled guitarist, as is my dad.  My dad, brother, and sister once picked and sang together in church.  Afterwards, people who didn’t really mean to be insulting, asked me, “Can’t you do anything?”  And the only answer I could give was, “No, no I can’t.”

But I wasn’t without my moments in my final year of college.  My friend Marty moved in with a Yamaha 12-string guitar, and he actually knew how to correctly play major riffs from awesome songs.  Dust In the Wind, Sweet Home Alabama, Crazy Train, Don’t Fear the Reaper, and Stairway To Heaven.  Of course he freely shared this knowledge with me, and I was well on my way to a few more years of not being able to play.

Upon returning home from college and getting married,  guitar mags were now widespread, as were tab books, so I acquired a sizable pile.  Developed an interest in thrash metal.  And Justice For All, Hangar 18, Symphony of Destruction. But I just really couldn’t play.  Still I clung to this vision of possibly buying a really expensive guitar and hooking it up to the right amp………and the awesome sound would take my playing to another level.

Thankfully I never make that silly purchase.  Soon after, I became a father and unofficially declared my guitar career over.

I still pick up random guitars and play the opening licks from Enter Sandman.  I still laugh when people who know my dad and brother ask me  “don’t you play?”.

And I could only laugh when Kal asked me how he was going to learn how to play.

“YouTube videos son.  I sure can’t teach you anything.”

And a last-minute confession that might get me kicked out of the Metal Militia:  Marty showed me how to play Bon Jovi’s “Wanted Dead Or Alive” on his 12-string.  And I thought it was cool.

Musings on Birth Order, Nostalgia, and My Love/Hate Relationship With Social Media

I assume that all men in their 40’s can recite most of the lines from Airplane, Vacation, and Caddyshack.

“Sit down Waldo!”, of course, is from Van Halen’s “Hot For Teacher” video.

Eddie Murphy singing Roxanne in 48 Hours…..enough said.

Monty Python’s “Upper Class Twit of the Year” is quite possibly the greatest six minutes of comedy in the history of mankind.

And everybody should know about the history of American sport, right?  Like the 1982 AFC championship (Bengals vs Chargers) played in -60 degree windchill.

freezer bowl

But my wife reminds me quite often that everybody isn’t a 40-something male.  Life and its conversations really aren’t just one big Lynyrd Skynyrd song.

My feeble nostalgia based attempts at conversation startups earn me “the look”, as in “why don’t you have this conversation with your brother or someone who knows what the heck you’re talking about”.

So when I snap a picture of a Gwar song on an XM display as a Beavis and Butthead reference, where else do I go to find those six people out of 1,400 friends that actually know that Beavis went bonkers when a Gwar video came on?


Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, of course.  I don’t want to change people’s political views or even find people that agree with me or think my pictures are cute.  Sometimes I just wanna connect with people that can name the original three actresses on Charlies Angels without using Google.

Ask for people’s favorite Saturday morning cartoon from the 70’s, worst sit-com from the 80’s, or best music videos ever made………and you will have a colorful conversation with folks that you don’t normally hear from.

I don’t long for the past but it’s nice to talk about it and have others stir memories of things that may have slipped away.

I primarily like social media because there is no time limit.  Long periods of silence are just awkward in person (it just takes me a long time to answer people).

I can come across as sort of interesting on Facebook (my wife doesn’t get jazzed about  1978 UK basketball references……but she does marathons and builds loft beds for our son on her day off work……so she really is quite interesting).  I know you were beginning to pity her so I better clear that up.


Birth order.  Kids under 10, parents can post pictures and tell stories about them without getting in trouble.  Middle school and high school kids require child’s consent before using their likeness or antics for public broadcast.  1) Because we embarrass our kids with stupid stuff and overkill and 2) because adults take just a little “gathered” information and twist it around and blab it back to our kids and make us look bad.  I take liberties about using my college freshmen daughter for a lot of blogging life illustrations because she is a fellow blogger and closet philosopher like me (not because my two middle kids aren”t awesome too).

“Karrick, people don’t have any idea what you’re talking about.”  Sometimes I guess not.

But it’s really cool sometimes to have that one person that always seems to get what you’re saying, even when no words are spoken.   (Besides my wife of course)

My 18 year-old had the advantage of growing up without smart phones and social media for the most part.   Sure, she uses them now, but probably 10% as much as mom, dad, brothers, and sister.

Everybody writes about it, so I won’t go into detail here.  But the overuse and overattention to handheld devices is a serious problem that parents should not overlook.  Parents and kids alike are guilty of burying their nose in their devices and ignoring the people that they share a room with.  I worry about my 8 year-old because of the abundance and appeal of technology that’s been available for his entire life (my older kids just had a GameCube at his age).

My job is in a retail business.  If I have a customer in my presence I will not even consider taking a phone call.

The person in my presence has more value than the person on the phone (I can call them back).

Why should I not apply this to my family life.  Whoever I share a room with deserves my attention more than a Facebook or Twitter feed, Instagram, etc.  Put down the smart phone and laptop.  Limit their use and encourage your kids to do the same.  Of course, I’m guilty as charged (and by writing this, I paint myself in a corner and force myself to change my own habits).

To wrap this up…….what happens with the kid who grew up missing out on the app crazy world of today?  She pays attention to her surroundings, doesn’t have to overcome the handicap of “distraction”.

And she gets what her crazy dad is saying, even when no words are being spoken.

Our family of six is traveling down the highway and road construction barrels make it difficult (but not impossible) to avoid driving directly on the noisy rumble strips.  My wife hates it when I drive excessively on rumble strips (and also when I leave windshield wipers on long after the rain has stopped).

Children 2, 3, 4, and wife all seem to be distracted, possibly with phones and a DS.  The extended roar of the rumble strips brings a quiet chuckle from the back seat.  “Macy, are you laughing because you know I’m doing that just to get under your mom’s skin?”


Hysterical laughter from both of us now.  Everybody else missed it.   As long as I have an audience of one, I guess I will keep on speaking in crazy code.  I just need to do a better job of teaching others how to crack the code so they will be in on the next joke.

Are the things that grab your attention today the things that will hold value for you and for loved ones tomorrow?  Twenty years from now?



The Awesome 80’s

I see people share pages on Facebook that say “you know you’re a child of the _____ if you remember this.

So here is my version.  You know you were a teenage boy of the 80’s (with a slant toward the world of sports) if:

You either liked Bird or Magic, but not both.

You owned a pair of Converse All-Stars (bonus points if you painted the star your school colors)



You can name all 6 actresses who were Charlie’s Angels.

You hated the Detroit Pistons.

You have stumbled onto an episode of Happy Days in recent years and wonder how you ever found it tolerable.

You thought the Mattel handheld football and basketball games with lighted lines for players were awesome.



You thought the graphics on Intellivision were awesome.


You thought Daryl Dawkins shattering a backboard was a greater feat than putting a man on the moon.

You heard the story of Darrel Griffith grabbing a coin off the top of a backboard.

darrel griffith

You had at least one argument over pronouncing Nike the right way.

You remember the Zips commercials (Zips a big z)

You realize you could have been rendered sterile from wearing skin tight jeans and basketball shorts.

You argued with at least one guy that swore he could hit a baseball further with a wood bat than with an aluminum bat.

You got excited when you pulled an Oscar Gamble card out of a package of Topps baseball cards.


You became an expert on the different types of tape because you had to put tape on every wiffle ball bat to keep from destroying them and to add distance.

You got pretty excited about the invention of the cassette adapter (so you could play them in your 8-track player).

You stayed up late on Friday night because that was the only time to watch an NBA game.

You made fun of Rick Barry for shooting free throws granny style.

You were determined that you wouldn’t buy cd’s because you owned 200 cassettes.

You still buy cd’s and call them albums.

You can name 6 guys who owned a Chevy Chevette or a Ford Escort.


Your parents still don’t know you watched “10” or “Animal House” when you were 11.

You knew that going down a hill on a skateboard too fast could kill you because all skateboards sucked and the wheels would start wobbling at high speeds.


You know what “backwards masking is” and can still remember the backwards message of at least 3 songs.

You still can’t get your wife or children to truly appreciate the musical brilliance of Van Halen.