Monday, July 2, 2007

Weekend at Paulie’s ...

Many of you likely saw my bulletin on Friday asking for volunteers to help me paint the town red (or whatever color was cheapest) this past weekend, as Sonya and the kids headed out to her cousin's graduation party. I received several invitations from friends relatively close by, and a handful of condolences from folks impractically far away. All were greatly appreciated, and a few of them turned into wonderful evenings of escapism for me. I had a great weekend!

Thursday night, I came home from work about 11pm and stayed up until 5am re-recording myself singing my arrangement of Rainbow Connection – all 4 parts – into my computer. As fatigue caught up with me and the empty beer cans piled around me (actually, only 4), my confidence in my new recoding grew. Funny thing about beer, fatigue and confidence… I woke up the next morning about ½ late for work and listened to the recording on my laptop when I got there. Not exactly how I remembered it. No, not a drunken tirade expounding on the merits of Jaleel White's deep and subtext laden portrayal of Urkel or anything, but just not quite as good as I remember. Oh well, I had fun doing it, even if it did end up as a waste of 5 hours.

The next day was my usual Friday schedule: work both jobs from 10am till 10:30pm. Nothing surprising there, though it was pleasantly calm and peaceful at Custom Music for a change. I checked my e-mail on a break at Blockbuster to find an invite from Nyma suggesting I join her and husband Todd to watch her brother's band perform at a bar nearby. I also got a message from Melanie asking for my cell number, to which I replied in kind. Woo-hoo! Stuff to do!

After work, I called Nyma's cell, only to get her voice mail, then headed towards the bar she mentioned by way of Meijer to return a cartful of deposits and grab some bottled water for the next day's quartet rehearsal. I got a quick call back saying they were just leaving, as her husband, Todd, had to be up early for work, and that her brother had just announced his engagement to his long-time girlfriend. I sent my congrats and suggested we do something some other time.

Almost immediately, I get a call from my old friend Melanie suggesting I head downtown to pick her up and we head out for a drink. We reconnected via MySpace about a year ago, but hadn't actually SEEN each other in about 10 years. This was a perfect chance to fill in the gaps of those 10 years, so I head downtown and pick her up. I suggest that we find a nice, comfy, hole-in-the-wall bar rather than a crowded trendy place to sit and chat, and I recall my favorite little bar in Corktown with just such an atmosphere. We headed out Michigan Ave. to Casey's Pub, in the shadows of Briggs Stadium and spent the next 2 hours catching op on our kids, jobs, old friends, high school memories, and life in general. We had a great time laughing, talking, and listening to the choice tunes played by 93.1 Doug FM at a loud, yet tasteful volume. We departed about 1:30am and hit the White Castle on the way to dropping her home. It was just what I needed.

I got up about 10am the next morning and immediately started cleaning. The guys in the quartet, I'm sure, wouldn't be shocked to find the house in a bit of disarray, as they know I have 2 kids home for the summer, but I wanted the living room to be at least usable and tidy so I wouldn't be distracted by the chores that lie ahead. I spent the next 2 hours putting away toys, rearranging piles of stuff to go through, vacuuming, cleaning the bathroom, and putting pop and water in the fridge to cool.

The guys show up and we start out on a few standards and polecats (songs most every barbershopper knows) just to make sure we have some kind of repertoire for our upcoming gig later this month. We take a break for a few and start to work on the trickier, less standard stuff we want to do for the Harmony Hideaway a few days earlier. We don't want to get on stage in front of hundreds of barbershoppers, sing songs they all know, and have them sit there thinking, "I could do that better". It's inevitable that they'll think that regardless, but we'd prefer they don't all know the arrangement, at least.

We decide what we need to work on for the next rehearsal after Lou gets back from Internationals, and hit the Oakland Mall to grab some outfits.

I love Steve & Barry's. Good quality, good style, DIRT F*CKING CHEAP. We grab 4 different colors of polo shirts, a nice dressy shirt for each of us, and thankfully, they've brought back the Hawaiian shirt the quartet had before the new guys, so they each get one. The line is long and moving a bit slowly, so of course, we had to sing. We did Down Our Way and Wild Irish Rose as we waited and paid. After that we head into the mall proper. There's a great, echoey chamber just in front of JCPenny. I drag the guys and say, "Okay guys – Darkness". We tanked up and did the Darkness on the Delta tag and rang it like nobody's business! It echoed for at least 15 seconds afterward throughout the mall.

From there we grabbed a bite at A&W, discussed barbershop harmony, the physics of sound, how to ring chords, and the function of overtones. My GOD! I would have NEVER been able to talk like this with the old versions of this quartet! We headed back to our cars, stopping in front of the Coney Island to sing…well, you know. And parted ways. On the way Back, Lou suggested I join him at Crash Landing after work for Karaoke. Perfect! Just want I needed! I dropped Lou at his car and headed to work at the video store.

After work, I head out to Crash Landing, a medium sized bar/restaurant in Madison Heights I was introduced to by a friend when she worked there. I sit down next to Lou and was introduced via shouts and gestures over the loud music to Lou's friends John, Connie, and someone else who's name escapes me. I dig through the catalogue and intentionally avoiding the Sintara section, which is my standard choice, decide on 2 tunes – Zoot Suit Riot (a favorite of mine) and Rainbow Connection.


I have a shitty solo voice. I'm great with a group and small ensembles, but alone, I sound like shit, so for Rainbow Connection, I figured I'd break up the flow of drunken tone-deaf hacks and showy divas by doing it entirely in my quite convincing Kermit the Frog voice. It was very well received.

There was one kid who did some song I'd never heard. Something like "The Day the squirrel went berserk in the First Self-Righteous Church" that had me rolling on the floor! Later my assumptions of a kindred spirit were confirmed when he did "White & Nerdy". How the HELL did I miss THAT in the catalogue!? Lou and I caught up with him on the way out and chatted with him in the parking lot for a while. We exchanged tests of geektitude and passed with flying colors. By the time I had stopped by Taco Bell and got home, I had an add request from him on my MySpace.

I had had a great weekend. When I awoke the next day about 10am, I started to realize how much I missed Sonya and the kids. I had a message from Sonya on MySpace that she had had a rough weekend with them, so I figured I needed to spend the day getting the house spic and span so she'd have less to worry about upon getting home. For the next 8 hours, I cleaned the cat box, swept and mopped the floors, changed the bed, did the laundry, weeded the garden, mowed the lawn, cleaned off the kitchen table, tidied up the rest of the house, and spent 3 hours eroding Mt. Dishmore.

They all got home about 10pm. We got the kids off to bed with little trouble, talked for about an hour, and went to bed watching Bowling for Columbine to prepare for seeing Sicko later this week.

Thanks to everyone who made this a great weekend for me! Now I have the next 3 nights in a row (which never happens anymore) to spend with my family and have just as good a time on the other end of the social spectrum with them!

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