This Song Brought To You By The Letters O, M & G

One of the pillars in my childhood was the pre-Elmo pre-woke Sesame Street on the local public broadcasting channel. And when I reference this, I’m talking about icons of the show that are long gone, or . . . at any rate . . . on the cusp.

That’s not to say Muppet World hasn’t taken me to the edge of my cognitive limits prior to the introduction that appalling Elmo. Miss Piggy was an attention-stealing porcine that had me wanting to introduce her to a spiral-slicer the same way I wanted to film a sequel called Jar Jar Binks And the Wood-Chipper of Mercy.

But enough about my personal traumas with animated diorama dolls. I’m actually trying to write about rock musicians.

This is where Bob from Sesame Street was my favorite guy. He has a section of the show called “Who are the people in your neighborhood?” This included a little sing-along with a little foot-trip down the street–an attempt to reach out an meet people with whom we:

  1. may not share any commonality
  2. may bridge gaps and maximize these differences.

The lockdown–these hermetically-sealed nightmares that routed lives, livelihood and stagecrafts, also forged something that was essentially survival mode to working musicians: The on-line collaboration.

It works like this:

  1. drummer-person makes a song by themselves. they send it by email to Bass Player
  2. Bass player records their part, and emails it to guitarist
  3. Guitarist complains that his tone “isn’t right” and never completes the project.

Okay, anyway. You get the idea. A song is created over many continents and states, time-lines and competing Mason/Dixon anxieties. Ultimately, a song is created after the vocalist lets fly with their part.

Then this is all mixed, along with video footage provided by each person, which is conflated into a music video–organic to the core.

I’ve seen a ton of these, and I could start with any of them. I’ve already managed to write about Croatian Throatman, Dino Jelusick, and it just so happens that he’s managed to have his overachieving, Slavic mitts involved with the project I’m about to cover here:

Let’s talk about each of these guys, shall we?

The most thing you see is Hammond Beatmaster, Lachy Doley. Not sure what to say about him other than he proves with out a shadow of a doubt that it is entirely possible to reclassify the keys as a percussion instrument. I’d also add the guitar to his list of imitations, but I think that conclusion can be drawn without my help, as his madness on the Whammy Clavinet are obvious without argument. Either way, he’s a monster player, and the first thing I ever heard him do was right here. He’s a monster.

Mike Portnoy is name synonymous with about 83 different bands/projects/offshoots/replacements and triage stand-in gigs in a myriad of bands. And while his name is practically omnipresent as a musician, he still manages to be identified with the one band he hasn’t been in for eleven years.

His current high-point lineups are with the Winery Dogs, Sons of Apollo, and The Neil Morse Band. In two of those bands alone, he gets to be timekeeper over skulking, finger-happy bassist, Billy Sheehan. He’s filled in for so many bands, that it would be easier to simply name the bands he hasn’t played for. And speaking of Muppets, I understand he’s on retainer for the Dr. Teeth band, in the event that Animal winds up with a regional restraining order.

Justin Johnson came to light five our six years ago with the uploading of a single video, of which portrayed him playing a guitar made from a shovel.

Of course, he manages to prove that he has even more nuance than a single video, and his freestyle, and affable approach to music, as well as people,has carried him far. To say that he is as stylistically as far away from the other contributors here is understatement and yet his solo contributions here during the handclap breaks is a complete joy to hear. He is single-handedly inspiring the novice to improve their game, while puzzling the professional with his perfect balance of simplicity and complexity.

Joel Hoekstra plays for Whitesnake.

Okay, its a bit more complex than that. In fact, REALLY complex. He’s playedwith/for so many names, that you best just go over to his bio page and see for yourself. Somebody’s keeping Steve Lukather awake at night, and it aint CC Deville.

And all of this because:

  1. Hes an insanely gifted player.
  2. ‘He clearly likes his job.

Henrick Linder is a founding member of Dirty Loops, and hails from Sweden, and in an in-demand, premium bassist with a HUGE future. Again, surprise addition from the periphery, which is kind of the idea.

Dino Jelusick has also done something here. Now, I have already written extensively here about the the guy, and his ridiculous vocal acumen. Plus, I invented an alleged felony surrounding my occasional tendency to “not listen to Dino Jelusick”. But something needs to be pointed out.

He’s in Trans-Siberian Orchestra man, what more do you want?

Power? Yes. he has it.

Range? Of course. You try hitting those notes.

But anyone will immediately notice that. What people fail to notice is the descending vocal runs through the song that maintain perfect tonality and equidistant times between the note changes. This is not for the feint of heart. Not many rock singers in the entire world have THAT characteristic. Ronnie James Dio left a lot of dead bodies along the vocal highway long before anyone came along to infuse that kind of power with acrobatic controls.

My advice? Look these men up. They all have something to say. Just like you and me. Perhaps it possible to grab the Sesame Street doctrine, and find some kind of harmony with those we would have other wise never met.

Except for Elmo. To the gallows with him.

Ron Giesecke‘s Instagram is @ronniegiesecke

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Vegas: The Ride In

To be honest, I haven’t flown a whole lot in the last ten years, so I figured the post 9/11 measures that still exist would also be an extra pain in the rear with Pandemic-related stuff.

I was pleasantly surprised that, aside from having to keep these infernal masks on, that everything else was procedurally normal; no clandestine rooms with secondary temperature checks, and certainly no one claiming I have a shadow ambassadorship and demanding I submit to “alternate and invasive Covid testing.” 

So on to Spirit Airlines we headed.  For the most part, a trip like this is part entertainment and part reconnaissance, as I have a latent hop of actually getting on the televised off-shoot Penn & Teller have created, Fool Us.

I needed to get the vibe of Vegas—at least a daytime version of it.  Of all people to have never seen that place in their five decades, you’d think a Magician that lives in a border state would have at least seen it a few times.

Of course, it would have been better to have seen it during its RatPack/Elvis Presley/Art Deco period, but I’ll take what I can get.

The most “Vegas” thing that happened actually happened in the cab ride over to the Rio.  First and foremost— the TV screen and credit-card payment portal on the back of the passenger seat was not lost on me as the first “slot machine” I’d witness after the airport.  And believe me, I lost big.

Our driver was from Thailand, or at least that’s what I think he said.  He kept reassuring me that the ride would not exceed “27 dolla,” which is simply an acknowledgment to his dialect, but was also one of the clearest things I could make out.

“Not more then 27 dollars?” I’d ask.

“No, only if we stall,” he said. “Then, goes down.”

“Oh,” I said. “So 27 dollars is the most I’ll pay, and possibly less, right?”

“27 dolla is flat rate,” he said. “I cannot charge more.”

He pulls up to the front of the Rio, as I pull out my card.

“30 dolla with card,” he said. “Only if pay cash, you pay 27.”

If I had been drinking something, I would have spit it all over the car. Every last cent of that ride was worth it.

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An Appointment in Deadwood

I have solidified my newest show at the Arts Theater in Cottonwood, Ca.

June 25, 26 & 27.

Tickets can be purchased here:

https://www.eventbrite.com/d/ca–redding/ron-giesecke/?fbclid=IwAR2jfmVk5yTLFayhOFAljg-qHyAFD3JOV3mDXDAEwCuRhQh41qOm-1c12OU

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The Pirates Of Pollard Flat

From an old blog of mine.

A Tenkara Journey

Quite frankly, I’ve had fits and turns with the idea that the “fly doesn’t matter” in, not so much western fly-fishing, but Tenkara fishing specifically.

I’m not exactly an adherent to this, but again, my experience is anecdotal (although, I’ll hazard an assumption that most of fishing knowledge is anecdotal–and just galvanizes consistent information into axiomatic assumptions). I say this because I spent the better part of two hours pumping up my right arm in a fruitless fashion on the McCloud River. I had confidently been fishing a mundane, brown-ish, traditional Kebari fly.

Nothing.

About ready to leave, I took a faithless chance and tied on another, this time using a fly structurally the same, but running a body out of bright red wire, ala the Copper John.

Five casts. Four fish.

But that doesn’t mean I’m not capable of stepping outside my own little world–or trying ridiculous experiments that…

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Okay, Maybe I Have to Re-Write (and how my habit of trolling may get me published)

This is not me. This is some anonymous hipster that came up in my Google image search.

Today is the day that I stare into the narcolepsy-inducing abyss of needing to re-write my book.  The main reason is simply because  the next phase will me more laborious than the actual creative process– and this has to do with the nature of fiction, continuity, and logic.

Mark Twain once said “Tell the truth, and you don’t have to remember anything.”  And in this case, despite the fact  that the fiction emanating from my dome isn’t some Oceans Eleven-level of nefariousness, it can–and will–be a great story of redemptive value.

However, No matter how you want to constitute, categorize, rationalize simonize– a fictional story is a big, fat, embroidered, zeppelin-grade lie.  So in order to make the story have any value, the lie must me calibrated and adjusted for holes.

That isn’t to say that everything I’ve done has any redeeming value, because some of my exploits have had just the opposite effect. I have at times, been a carping, garrulous troll with nothing better to do than test the psychological limits of the HR departments around the country.

Some time in the 1990s, I cam across a book called The Lazlo Letters, a series of letters written to notables, CEOs, governmental principalities and movie stars.  I read it in the bookstore without buying it, and decided I could do the same thing.  Some of these letters were twenty years old at the time I read them.  Plus, I was too much of a scraping, self-serving skinflint to but the book.

So off I started, writing provocative, stupid, and sometimes patently absurd letters to notables, CEOs, Governmental principalities and movie stars.  I added to that: infamous serial killers, The Vatican and even the Pentagon.

I would then get letters back, and amass the spoils of rhetorical war in a binder, that I have had all these years.  This binder is now infamous.  When we had the Carr Fire a couple of years back, my daughter made sure that in the evacuation, we saved the dog, and that binder full of letters.

I learned quite quickly that the San Diego Zoo will most likely reject a request to rent a Bengal Tiger.  Ditto for The World Society for the Protection of Animals, who felt that my request for feeding option for a spotted owl zoo might have illegal implications behind it.

I did try to canonize my Catholic buddy, and the Vatican got right back to me on that. Charles mansion used a surrogate to write me back.  Word has it, he’s unavailable now.

Also, I did not expect to get a letter back from Mother Theresa. But I did.  That was the one letter that I felt like an idiot after it came back.  At no other time was my calloused literary conscience pricked with guilt, because my letter was so stupid.

I’ve always intended to publish them.  But I was thinking about trying to do so now. The book is practically written, other than the need to write a bunch of crafty lead-ups to each section.  Another book came out years later, called Letters from a Nut (Note to any publishers that might want to take on my incendiary missives: I will not–allow some insular empty-suit come up with a title that screams “zany” and “Knee-slapping fun.” I will commit sepaku before I allow my churlish epistles to be flushed down the leech-line by someone who pictures canned laughter in their head when reading my work. And I don’t care if Jerry Seinfeld offers to write the forward).

So I thought I would use this as an “interstitial” moment: pitch the book, and see what happens.  Maybe some publishing company would like to repurpose the work of a guy who suggested to Disneyland that a ride called The Waco Incident might be a good idea, and have his letter returned because they “didn’t want to retain it in their files.”

We’ll see.  I need something to do while trudging through the endless tundra of a re-write.  Kinesthetic learners are a pain in the neck. Add to that my unrelenting ADHD, and you’ve got a perfect storm of trauma.  If I drop the book now, I’ll probably not pick it up again for years.

So onward. Giddyup. Mush. Whatever.

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I’ll shank a fool before I self-publish

The predictable scenario, post-rejection. It must be understood that I will “wield a dirk, shank, or pig-sticker” in a” homicidally-fortuitous manner” before deciding to appeal to this book’s premise. Which probably means, I’ll wind up self-publishing.

This writing process thing–and by that I mean the fiction/novel crucible, is a bit daunting.  When I started out thinking I was going to use this “down time” to write a book, I first went into Barnes & Noble, and started wandering up and down the Young Adult book sections.

I immediately found myself overwhelmed.  There’s a million people on these shelves; all of them have made some long-form, calibrated venture into stabilized balderdash AND–convinced someone to read it, like it, accept it and ultimately bring it to market.

I’ll come back to that point in a minute.

The other thing I found out is that apparently, this genre will not even think about publishing anything in the genre unless it rings in at 65,000 words. This poses a problem for me, as I sit at 50,000. Although, the upshot articles I’ve read state that fifty grand is fine, as long as you can really sell the overview/plot and whatever else in your pitch letter. So we’ll see.

I also noticed that probably 80 percent of the genre is written in some brooding, quasi-emo, 1st-person dystopian ersatz-suicide narrative, which I am loathe to do. Mainly because, while I am reasonably-masterful at capturing the magic of my youth, the glory of pre-adolescent boyhood, you know–lightning in a bottle, and distilling that into prose that will touch the hearts of the reader, I am also 40 years past puberty, and the essential nuances of teenage angst will most likely feel like a poser was trying to write it.  I won’t write that way, but really, as far a personal restrictions go, I basically only restricted myself to one rule when writing young adult literature:

  1. Under absolutely no circumstances will my protagonist be forced to kill their own peers in routine, organized decimations involving medieval weaponry.

But this last ordeal is the one that I think every writer encounters, unless they’re already published.  And it comes in the form of a question:

Are you going to self-publish?

Now, I get the subtext to the question, whether or not it’s an actively-cultivated thought behind the one asking me this: Are you going to actively circumvent the absolute, soul-crushing rejection, half-hearted delays and out and out ignominious failures associated with seeking a publisher, and go straight to converting  your entire written work into an ePUB file and talk to Jeff Bezos about his cut?

The answer is no.  I’m not prepared to do that.  I’ve spent enough time in the YA section of my local bookstore, skulking through the aisles like a hapless vagrant that one might expect a displaced Atlanta Sheriff deputy  to “put me down” before I bite someone in his camp, to know that plenty of appallingly-pedestrian writers have managed to get Inspector 12 to commission their literary whitey-tighteys. So I’m not going down without a fight.

And I apologize for the circa-1980 and reasonably-obscure reference to Haines underwear commercials to make my point. Snark is last refuge of the talentless.

Half the fun in this will be to find the publishers that will accept submissions from the Ground Zero Hack themselves (this means, from people like me too cheap to hire an agent) and see if I can bait them into reading my book.  As far as I know, everything hinges on one’s ability to, with tact, verve and brevity, fire a flaming synopsis arrow over the bow and light up the decks of people who get these kinds of  submissions all day long.

I’m also enough of a realist to know that I’m nothing special, either, but I do think I can bring an energy to the table that is missed by some.  At least I hope so.  I’ve written a decent story, and maybe one day, you’ll hear about it.

If not, it’ll be languishing in obscurity, waiting for a transient Kindle bum to trip over it. But not before I’ve drawn a prison dirk and done my worst.

 

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Re-writing Is for Suckers

Actually having finished a rough draft of an entire book is a shock to the system for me.  I talked all kinds of smack about it five years ago.  I  had all kinds of MS-13-level bravado about it.  I had street-cred.  I stood on the corner of  Homily  & Tome, throwing up gang-signs and threatening to jump others in if they wandered near my clique.

But it never really transcended the reverberating tones of my incessant, procrastinatory blabbing.  I managed to burp out a single, opening chapter for a completely different book, and then have the idea and inspiration die on the vine.

So now, I’m already sweeping through my first revision for this book.  And I’ve already had a few psychological bumps to navigate.

First, is the Idea of a complete re-write–that meaning, take all 50,000 words, and start literally rewriting them, under the assumption that more elaborative and comparatively  Feng Sui phrases will replace the one that have hard corners messing up my Chi. And I’m right out of Nag Champa incense.  Don’t make me start using words like Namaste.

The problem with this for me, anyway, is my prose in general comes already as polished as I want it. As far as essays go, I am not one that needs to completely re-write.  So that went out the window for me.  It’s just not how my writing works.

Then it occurred to me that, if I were doing this on a typewriter, that fixing my flaws would require an actual rewrite.  So instead, I read my own novel for the first time, noting typos as I went along, but mainly trying to see if my characters were believable, or two-dimensional, contemptible hack holograms deserving a fictional toss into a hypothetical lake of fire.

Second, I needed to “feel” the book’s rhythm.  Is there a believable pacing?

By George, I think so.

Third, plot holes.  I had convinced myself that there were none really, but I was wrong. Horribly wrong. I have never written a novel, so I had zero experience with this, since essay and columns have been my forte. Fortunately for me, the plot holes are nothing huge–just situations in which a character magically knows information in, say chapter two that they are subsequently supposed to hear in chapter 22 and be surprised.  Stuff like that.

Lastly, I realized that there are places in which elaboration will help a few scenes.  Conversations are over too quick, and the reader needs a little more information in the momentary passions of the conversants.

So with all this, I’ll be able to fix and add, cut and incise, graft and impale, and have a first revision within a few days.

It also occurred to me that my pinnacle, closing revelatory moments end way too fast.  So not only will I be adding a few hundred words, the scene will match the pacing while still increasing in speed metronomically.

So that’s that.  Off to revise.  Then, perhaps to hand it over to the piranha-infested waters of my reader friends, who need to tell me if its a train wreck on paper.

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Federal Judge Orders Yngwie Malmsteen Forcibly Removed From Faux Leather Pants

Disciple of Hell no longer of use to nether-regions, consigned to playing Air Supply licks

Swedish-born Yngwie Malmsteen performs another flawless arpeggio in A Minor. many are worried that wearing normal clothing could “significantly impact” the guitarist’s chops.

 

Los Angeles–Acting on the legal request from Lucifer’s Son, a federal circuit court ordered the “immediate and forcible removal” of neoclassical rocker Yngwie Malmsteen from the malleable, faux-leather pants he has worn since his debut album, Rising Force came to light in 1985.

Malmsteen’s incendiary style, a pyrotechnic mix of harmonic Minor scales, sweep arpeggios, and descending diminished runs elicited speculation that the guitarist/composer may have sold his soul to the devil in order to achieve the prodigious, near-perfect permutations and the indefatigable ability to perform 20 minute flurries of 32nd note scales.

Music analysts now believe Malmsteen has outlived his usefulness to the Neitzchien/Aleister Crowley connection, and that “even the remotest of devils is finished with him.”

“Yngwie was, at one time a skinny, arpeggiating fireball,” said one music analyst. “Now, those fingers of his look like Hebrew National hotdogs. You try playing Paganini’s fifth violin caprice on a fender Strat with those ham-hands, and see how far you get.”

Malmsteen’s people contend that the guitarist “is just achieving the apex of his compositional commission.”

The federal courts believe otherwise:

Respondent Malmsteen entered the courtroom this afternoon, citing Bach and Paganini as his major influences. The guitarist proceeded to take out a dingy yellow Stratocaster, plug it into a Marshall stack, and commence with the most flurried, back-to-back harmonic Minor runs ever taken from the instrument.

Despite the obvious and prodigious talent, the court was not hindered in its almost trance-like infatuation with Mr. Malmsteen’s circa 1980’s stranglehold on bad Spandex rock fashion.

The Court hereby orders Mr. Malmsteen to relinquish said pants, whether voluntarily or by an intervention. Probationary rules stipulate a six(6) month banishment from minor keys, and a mandatory Air Supply-related set in all forthcoming concerts.

A spokesman for the Swedish-born guitarist said the ruling “would have a significant, deleterious impact” on the guitarist’s career.

“Two singers have already quit,” he said. “Nobody worth their vocal chops is going to suffer Here I am the one that you love, or Now and Forever, without throwing up. Can you imaging, being laughed off the stage by Black Sabbath?”

Another had a slightly different take on it. Ozzy Osbourne also registered concerns.

“Uh think ah cahns see whoat De inngveey iz tryna spress, he said. “Bluddy mezz, ee iz.”

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. . . and my book is finished.

37 days from the start of this ridiculous, Iditarod-level lunacy.

47, 000 words, with at least another five waiting in elaborative revisionary addenda to concepts and scenes I refused to bog down in the initial process.

Rewrite is next.  Probably will be done rather quickly since I have the core book finished.

Now, I’m having to research what to do with the thing when it’s of sentient value. Because I have no idea. I didn’t actually expect to get this far across the Rubicon.

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Ken Tamplin told me I’m going to jail if I don’t listen to Dino Jelusic

Far be it from me to demur from an incendiary headline, in which I accuse people of saying things they didn’t say. Although, I’m not a journalist, so:

  1. It doesn’t come natural to me
  2. I feel the odd twinge of guilt even if I do say it, and then don’t square the story.
  3. CNN REALLY overshot their azimuth.

Ken Tamplin is a world-renowned vocal coach, musician, singer, producer and intrepid long hair that tries to improve the lives, fortunes, chances and dulcet-tones of other singers. Word on the street is, he’s got the goods.  He also has a lot of known-singers that have gone to him to up their game.  But I didn’t come around to Ken Tamplin because of that. I know him because of this picture:

Photo by Nigel Skeet

That’s him second from the right. Now before anyone in the room starts to wade in with some snarky, Wayne Newton meets David Coverdale comparative mic-drop–stand down right now. You will not wreck my childhood with crass references to glam rock. I simply will not allow it.

This was Christian metal band called “Shout.” These records were straight-ahead tour-de-forces of sound, with Tamplin providing the plethoric amount of scales, riffs, arpeggios and glissandos. Sure, the vocal harmonies are layered to the horizon. And sure, the Christian genre has not always been taken seriously, outside the realms of Petra, Stryper and Resurrection Band. But Tamplin has always played in a larger musical sandbox, and has made friends all around the rock world. This record alone sees contributions from Alex Masi, Joey Price, Lanny Cordola, marty Friedman and Michael Angelo.

He’d have probably gotten Ronnie James Dio in on it, as he did manage to sing on a 1980 Christian album by Kerry Livrgren. If anyone could’ve pulled it off it would have been him.

Anyways, a few things about Tamplin:

  1. He regularly posts videos summarizing technique or styling of famous singers.
  2. He has most likely thrown away the unsightly, blue lamai jacket.
  3. He does not feature other singers directly on his channel.

This was, until Dino Jelusic came along.  Now I consider myself a reasonably-competent connoisseur of strong lead vocals.  I do actually sing, and therefore I know a bit about the craft.  I even have a few friends in high places that let me sit next to them and play a guitar while they do this craft.  So I cruise around the musical ocean like an auditory Mako shark waiting for the next suprise to come along.

One day, I’m sitting on my couch when a friend sends me this video:

The first thing I see is weathering guitar hero of mine, George Lynch, being as cool as George Lynch always is.  I can never turn down a chance to listen to George do what George does with aplomb, style and grit.  He also plays in like 35 bands of varying connecting ligaments, so he’s always working. Always. That doesn’t even take into consideration his endless studio contributions.  A genuine hired gun, and that’s a compliment.  Chances are, he’ll appear on a Partridge Family reunion album, if they ever decide to punch up their version of Like a  Roller Coaster. If they know what’s good for them.

So anyway, this Dino character starts in and well, the rest is history for me.  Even if you’re a reader of mine and don’t like the heavier music, just give the kid’s pipes a chance here.  That confounded Eddie Trunk isn’t listening to my emails.  If he interviews Alice Cooper one more time without interviewing this guy, I’m going to . . . um,  . . . keep emailing him.

Anyway, I found out that aside from his primary membership in the Croatian-based hard rock band, Animal Drive, he was also part of the West Coast Trans-Siberian Orchestra lineup and he was coming my way.  Hadta.  Hadta see him live.  Turns out, he’s not a studio creation, not some hackneyed, auto-tuned rock effigy with good hair and golden-ratio good looks.  Guy’s got some chops.  I know.  Trust me.  But also trust me.  Paul Stanley is Lip-Synching. It’s a sad world.

Without a doubt, Ken Tamplin was idling in the same general cycles of vocal appreciation that I was when he swerved into the S.S. Jelusic.  Thus, his assertion that he felt it would be “criminal” if this singer didn’t get more exposure. Especially now since this COVID-19, whatever-you-want-to-call-it has him battened down in his home country of Croatia, doing voice-overs for Nickelodeon and recording ad hoc projects with his musical heroes.

And it would so appear that the TSO Christmas tour this year is going to be wiped out by the virus.  And since Coronavirus now justifies all manner of bad behaviors, misinformed, accusatory tirades, and oppressive, near-totalitarian administrative measures, I am hereby assuming that Ken Tamplin wants me in jail for not listening to Dino Jelusic.  Zeitgeist, baby.

Also, since that part is all a lie, I must append the record to say:  It is criminal that more people don’t know about this guy.  And his treatment of Queen’s The Show Must Go On will cover any and all doubts:  The kid is going places–just as soon as the places are open again.

Check this:

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