Motherly Advice – PAY ATTENTION!!!

Posted 6/17/08

What do you mean “What do you mean you broke your leg?”   I thought you knew that!  Well, here’s the story…

If you go to wikipedia and type in “Break a leg”, one of the many (one) response(s) that pop(s) up will be:

“Break a leg” is a well-known saying in theatre which means “good luck“. It is typically said to actors before they go out onto stage to perform.

The expression reflects a theatrical superstition in which wishing a person “good luck” is considered bad luck. The expression is sometimes used outside the theatre as superstitions and customs travel through other professions and then into common use.”

Hence, when my mom told me to “break a leg” (generally considered a bad thing), she was, in fact, saying “good luck”, (generally considered a good thing.  Unless you are an actor or other performer, in which case the term “good luck” is generally considered a bad thing and to tell someone to “break a leg” is considered good.)

And, as it turned out, good luck (broken leggedness) prevailed – especially since we had to work so hard to be blessed with the luck. 

Another lesson in life:  The harder you work, the luckier you get… Or you could say that “If you try real hard, you’ll end up with a broken leg.”

“Wait a minute,” you say, “You only came in third.”

You’re right!  We DID come in third.  But if you frame it such that we probably only came in third at our first gig, and we were the only entertainment, then coming in third at our second gig was a huge improvement…

…And that’s how we looked at it….  

  • The first time we came in third out of a field of one (we were that bad).
  • The second time we came in third out of a field of seven (we were that much better).

We felt victorious… 

We continued practicing at the same rate, learning more songs.  And we also got some small jobs playing at parties, and the occasional school dance. 

We also started going to dances and other events where there were other bands performing, just to watch them, get some ideas on new songs to learn and learn some stage presence.  Scouting the competition, as it were…

One memorable Friday night, the Ventura Recreation Center was having a dance.  The band was one that we had not seen, but had heard was pretty good, so we all decided to go and check them out to see if we could come away with some good tips.  None of us was old enough to drive, yet, and it was several miles from Scott’s house.  We decided not to ask Scott’s dad for a ride and elected to walk…

Back in those days, there was still a fair chunk of open space in Ventura, including lots of citrus groves and a few small farms, etc.  We decided to take a short-cut along a more “rural” route. 

It had turned dark and we were walking along,  joking around,  talking “band” talk and generally having a good time when the inevitable happened… Someone had to “relieve” himself…  I don’t remember who it was – not me, though.  But, hey, we were out in the middle of nowhere with several miles still to traverse before we arrived at the Rec Center, it was dark, and when you gotta go, you gotta go.  So whoever had to go, went.  That caused a couple of others to have to go, too, so they also went. 

This illustrates another mathematical law:  

  • The Commutative Property of ‘I Have To Go To The Bathroom and There Is No Bathroom Around In Which To Do This and No Prospects of Finding One Soon’ 

Havert was good at math, so he decided that it was also his time to go. So he did…  Right onto an electric fence…    

I don’t believe I’ve ever heard another sound quite like the sound Havert Seally made when he did that.  I don’t really know how to describe it…  It was… not of this world… 

But, of course, the rest of us fell on the ground laughing, and we continued to do so ’til our stomachs hurt and there just wasn’t any more laughter left in us…  Somehow, Havert failed to immediately see the humor in the situation, though he was more open to it later on… 

This became permanently etched in my mind as “Havert Seally and the Electric fence Incident”…  And I’m still laughing… 

(***At the risk of introducing a bit of crudity into this chapter, I am about to type a word that may be offensive to some.  If you are one who may take offence, please skip the next paragraph…  And please don’t hold it against me – it has to be said…)

There are many ways to call attention to yourself…  Whizzing on an electric fence is not at the top of the list of the best ways to do it…   

…However, It does bring to mind a lesson that my mother taught me: 

  • Always go to the bathroom BEFORE you leave the house… 

Having witnessed the possible consequences of failing to follow motherly advice in this area, I have become an expert at always going to the bathroom before I leave the house…   

Thank you, Havert, for serving as my roll model…  Bzzzzzzt!   

This event was followed by the naturally expected jokes concerning the consequences of having made this kind of mistake.  The ones that seemed to stick best were the ones that had to do with his new speaking voice…  Kinda high… 

Enter The Beach Boys… 

As mentioned earlier, I am a Beach Boys fan, an enthusiasm, sadly,  not shared by the rest of the band members.  As a result of everybody else’s ambivalence toward America’s Band, we didn’t have any Beach Boys songs on our list of music.  One of the “reasons” given by the guys was that we didn’t have anybody who could sing the high parts…   

The Electric Fence Incident did more than give us all (well, almost all) a great laugh – the jokes that followed it gave me an idea…  Maybe Havert could now sing the high parts! 

Unbelievably, Havert didn’t know any Beach Boys music – He had never heard them.  He really hadn’t.  I was amazed…   

BUT I could fix that – I had every Beach Boys album ever made, and I was going to make sure that Havert would hear them and practice the songs before I brought it up to the other guys again.  When they repeated the excuse that we can’t sing them, I would have Havert demonstrate that we COULD sing them…  It was going to be great… 

The next week, I brought all of my Beach Boys albums to Havert… 

The week after that he moved to Bakersfield.   

With my Beach Boys Albums…. 

Exit The Beach Boys… 

Enter the Roamin’ Four…

  • Kathleen Marsh Says:
    October 27, 2008 at 10:55 am   editHow could anyone not hear of the Beach Boys? What kind of animal is this Havert, anyway?
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    I Break My Leg

    Posted 6/10/08

    Saturday:  Sears Days minus one week…

    We had convened at Havert’s house in the morning for an intense rehearsal of the six songs we had chosen to perform at the battle of the bands competition…  We had mikes…  We had drums…  We had new large amplifiers…  We had new guitars…  We were working hard…  We were getting it right…  We were hitting the vocals…  We were being a band…

    But mostly we were being loud…  

    Havert’s parents and sister had begun to make it a practice to leave home while we were rehearsing.  Not that they didn’t enjoy having us there, sharing their home, eating their food, drinking their soda-pop and, generally, contributing to the cultural expansion of their minds.  They just had something to do somewhere else when we showed up.  Amazing…

    We decided that Havert was not going to play the tambourine this time (there is not much worse that can happen to a guitar player than to be shown up by a tambourine player). 

    Thankfully, his dad found a friend who was willing to loan him a truck, and we would be transporting the organ to the show.  This was a very good thing because one of the songs we had mastered was “Green Onions”, with a large organ part to be performed, and it just wouldn’t have sounded right played on a tambourine.

    For the Battle of the Bands, we decided that we would skip “And I Love Her” and we replaced it with the equally romantic and beautiful love ballad, “Hanky Panky”, by Tommy James And The Shondells. (In fact, we completely dropped “And I Love Her” from our play list, making “Hanky Panky” – if you don’t count “Louie Louie” – our only bona fide love song for the next month or so.)

    As the days running up to the “event” went by, we practiced our chosen selections on a few more occasions, but didn’t want to over-do it… 

    Friday:  Sears Days minus one day…

    We all got together one more time at Havert’s house for a short run-through of all of our songs.  We were ready this time…. Really, we were

    We decided to leave all of our equipment at Havert’s house overnight and pack it all in the truck with the organ in the morning…

    We all went home…

    I remember talking with my mom that night.  There are only two things I remember from that conversation.  One was my mom saying,  “Well kid, you’re -”…

    That’s as far as I let her get… “Well kid, you’re – “. 

    I had done everything I could think of to make this go well…

    • Changed some songs
    • Practiced everything over and over – including what goes where and when
    • Got a new guitar and amplifier

    …And I wasn’t going to let her jinx it by telling me that I’m “on my way” again…

    So she just said, “Break a leg!”  That’s the other thing I remember…  “Break a leg.”

    Saturday morning:  Sears Days minus a few hours…

    My dad dropped me off at Havert’s house on his way to work.  Everybody got there within about 15 minutes of each other.

    We started loading up.  We got the organ into the truck and tied it down.  Then the amplifiers.  Then we made a discovery concerning the drums.  The drums wouldn’t fit into the truck with all of the other stuff in there.  OK… Well, we could just load them into Scott’s dad’s car with the rest of us and our guitars (Havert was riding in the truck with his dad)  and get them there that way.  There were only three problems with that:

    1.     If we put the drums and the guitars in the car, we couldn’t put the band in the car. 

    2.   If we put the band and the guitars in the car, we couldn’t put the drums in the car.

    3.   If we put the band and the guitars and the drums in the car, we couldn’t have a driver (Scott’s dad) and somebody would have to ride a bike. *

    * In this case, only the guy on the bike would get to the event and only he and Havert could perform.  This was not part of the plan…

    We all wanted to get there at the same time and unload and get ready to set up together. 

    This wasn’t a transportation problem… This was a Brain Teaser… 

    Here’s what we ended up doing.  It was pretty simple, but it seemed inconvenient at the time… 

    Fortunately, we were the third or fourth band scheduled so we didn’t actually HAVE to show up at the same time.  One of us could fit into the car with all of the guitars, drums and driver.  That person would go with the stuff and, with the help of Havert, his dad and Scott’s dad, would unload the equipment. Then that person, Havert and Havert’s dad would stand watch over the gear while Scott’s dad came back and picked the rest of us and taxied us to the stage.

    That worked fine.  And it had the added bonus of motivating Scott’s dad to encourage Scott to get his driver’s license as soon as it was legally possible.  And that later spilled over onto Mike’s parents…. 

    After watching – with a critical eye – the first two or three bands perform, it was our turn. The bands that went ahead of us were really pretty good, we thought.  But we really thought we could out-do them…

    They gave us about 15 minutes to set up. 

    We set up our gear – the organ wasn’t that bad – we just had to maneuver it into place and plug it in.  Got the mikes, and amps into place.  Tuned our guitars again just to make sure they were right.  Quick Sound Check.  

    We were ready…  The introduction…  The first song…

    “One-two-three-four!”  The music starts…

    On the fifth count, Scott, Mike, Tim and Havert started playing Walk Don’t Run in the key of “A”, and I started playing Walk Don’t Run in the key of “A”.

    That’s right, we all started playing the same song at the same time in the same key at the same speed and in the same time signature! 

    We were rolling… We were rockin’ and rolliin’…  we started out well and we didn’t screw it up the entire first song!  When we were done with the first one, people actually applauded! Somebody liked us!  Wow!! 

    Then we went on to the next song – Same thing!!  We didn’t blow that one up, either!

    Hanky Panky…  We nailed it… 

    It’s All Over Now…  No it wasn’t!  We hit that one right on, too…

    When we were done, some people actually cheered!  And it wasn’t just our family members, either…

    There were also a couple of people there who had witnessed our first foray into the world of Rock and Roll at the apartment building.  They sought us out to say that we had substantially improved from the last time they had seen us “perform”.  (Actually, what they said was that we were “not nearly as bad as we were last time”. In fact, we were “pretty good”.)

    When the votes were tallied, we actually came in third out of seven…  We were jazzed! 

    My new guitar and amp were vindicated. 

    We were a band.

    I still possessed my Beach Boys albums…

    And I had broken my leg…

    Guitars And Golf Shoes

     Posted 6/1/08

    Before we all left, we decided that we needed to practice more, and set a time to do so.  We also decided that we would each speak with our parents and make sure that they would hold off on getting us any new gigs until we gave them the “all clear”. 

    Once we had that arrangement out of the way, and with our gear in tow, we headed for the door.  I walked up to my dad and brother… Bob had an enormous grin on his face… I looked at him and said “Shut up”.  My dad gave me an affectionate slap on the back. 

    As we walked out, I asked my dad what he said that made the guy standing next to him laugh so hard.   

    “Well,” he said, “I said ‘You see the kid with the red guitar?’ The guy says ‘Yeah’ and I said ‘He used to be my son’.” 

    That didn’t immediately make me feel a lot better, but I thought it was one of the best lines I had ever heard him deliver and it DID make me laugh pretty hard…  It also taught me another lesson in life:   

    If you look for it, you can find humor in almost any situation, and if you do, it can be a great stress relief.  That has really come in handy on many occasions… 

    Failure can be a great motivator.  The pain and humiliation didn’t last that long.  In fact it spurred us all on, and made us more determined to be better prepared the next time…  And we intended that there would be a next time… 

    So…  We got together the next day at Havert’s house.  We came up with a plan of action on how we would, in the future, make sure we all knew what songs we were going to be playing when.  We also rehearsed the six songs in our repertoire several more times to make sure we had the words and melodies down… 

    We started practicing at least three times during the week and for long hours on Saturdays.  And we added a bunch of new songs to our list of “known” music.  Havert’s parents really put up with a lot those first few weeks…  Really…  A lot… 

    We also pooled some of our money and bought a couple of mikes and stands and plugged them directly into the second channels in Tim and Scott’s guitar amps.  AND Mike’s parents helped him buy a real drum set!!  Woohoo!  

    We were progressing in our equipment and our proficiency… 

    Then one day my dad came home from work and told me that Sears was planning a weekend “Sears Days” event a few weekends down the road, and that a Battle Of The Bands contest was going to be part of the promotion.  He asked if we might be interested in entering.  I talked with the others and we decided that we were ready this time.  Except for one thing… 

    While I was the first in the band to have an instrument, I was now the one with the least “professional” equipment.  I had fallen behind in the hardware department… My five-watt amp could not be heard with the other instruments.  And, being that I was the lead guitar player, it was important that I stand out, volume wise. 

    I had been saving my baby sitting money for quite awhile, and had more than a couple of hundred dollars to my name.  And I was ready to sell my existing guitar and amp to make up the rest of the needed funds for a new guitar and amplifier.   

    My dad didn’t completely understand this requirement… 

    I need to interject here that my dad is an avid golfer.  And he’s a really good amateur golfer.  I know this is true for several reasons: 

    • He told me so.
    • He made me caddy for him from the time I was five years old until after I was married.
    • He has stopped buying new golf shoes after a bad game. 

    When I was a kid, whenever my dad shot a really bad round of golf, he would go out and buy a new pair of golf shoes. This was because, naturally, the current pair of new shoes didn’t work as well as they should have.  Apparently, a bad pair of shoes can cause a swing to go bad, or make the ball follow a trajectory (relative to a good swing) not possible as dictated by the laws of physics.  My dad must have owned fifty pairs of golf shoes by the time I was eight years old… 

    This third reason brings me back to the story at hand… 

    I presented my dad with the “bad golf shoe” analogy.  I compared my “old” guitar with his “old” bad golf shoes… 

    My dad understood the importance of a good pair of golf shoes.  Well, he understood that I had caddied for him for more than half of my life at that point and I understood his rationale for getting new golf shoes every time he had a stroke (pun intended) of bad luck on the course… He just looked at me with a smile and approved the purchase. 

    A week later, I had made the leap to my next guitar – a Sears Silvertone model 1488 Jaguar.  And Silvertone model 1485 ammplifier.  (See pictures at the end of the chapter.) 

    And we had a third mike… 

    And we were a week away from our second gig… 

    And I still possessed my Beach Boys albums…

     

    My second guitar

    My Second Guitar and Amp…
    My \
     

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