Different Name, Same Schmuck

If you happen by here often(or semi-often), then you’ll notice something is different about the place. Sure, the WordPress theme looks different(that may change again), but where is the affable Jhubner73.com, you’re probably wondering?(if you’re not, then you should pay closer attention.)

Well, I have indeed re-christened the Good Ship Blog Spot. Jhubner73.com has been bought out by Complexdistractions.blog. Okay, it hasn’t been bought out. I, J Hubner, the sole owner, writer, mover and shaker of the blog formerly known as Jhubner73 has decided the walls around here need a fresh coat of paint, so to speak.

I’ve been here writing and bellowing into the digital wilderness for well over 7 years now. It started out as a place for me to have a conversation about music and life(my life, in-particular) with what I referred to as my imaginary friend. A friend that was happy to sit and read about my love for Adrian Belew, horror movies, songwriting, and listen to stories about me growing up in the Midwest. As soon as I started this place up I felt this huge weight come off me. These were internal conversations I’d been wanting to have for a long time but really didn’t want to burden others around me with them. Here was a platform for my ramblings, and they were ramblings for just me and my imaginary friend.

Funny thing is that my imaginary friend turned out to not be imaginary. That friend is you. You, my blogging compatriots. And you, fellow information super highway travelers that needed a place to stop and rest on your journey. Fellow music lovers who enjoy a fellow music lover’s ramblings about music(and his usually weekly love fest regarding El Paraiso Records.) And even the curious window shopper that stops along on their journey to nowhere in-particular. Maybe you find a story from my childhood funny, or you can relate to my phobia of public restrooms and leave a like before you hit the road. All of you are my friends. My fellow writers and curious seekers and storytellers and music nerds and film buffs and comic book fanboys(and fangirls) and just my fellow human beings looking for a place to stop and feel welcomed. This blog has become just as much yours as it is mine(but it is still mine, okay?)

So with that in mind, I wanted to change things a bit here. I’m not changing a damn thing in regards to what I write or why I write about it. This will always be where I, J Hubner, wax ecstatic about music. This was the reason I began this blog in the first place and that will never change. But with complexdistractions.blog, I want it to also be a place where there are more stories about life. I’ve got a hell of a lot of stories to tell and here is where I want to keep telling them. There will also be more discussions in regards to film and books. And a hell of a lot more interviews. That’s another area I really want to concentrate on here.

You see, I think we need as much of this sort of thing as we can get these days. Distractions. Music, film, books, and hearing other people’s stories. There’s a wide pool of negativity out there that I think we’ve all been wading in for a long time now. Letting ignorance and stupidity seep into our brains and hearts and allowing it to inform how we go thru the day. I’m not saying being informed is a bad thing. Being informed and knowing the truth might’ve averted the current state of insanity we are now in. But soaking in the hot, acidic truth 24/7 will also burn you out. Sometimes diving into an album can heal those psychic pains. Same with reading about someone and their life and what made them passionate about art. Or even cracking open a graphic novel(or even the non-graphic kind…you know, the ones without pictures.)

The re-branding of Jhubner73.com to complexdistractions.blog is merely me refocusing. I want to do  this writing thing better and more often. I want expand my reach and make more imaginary friends not so imaginary. I have no delusions of grandeur in regards to how big this will become. This will always be a one-man operation, with that one man(me) covering things he loves and people he’s passionate about. Complex distractions are the distractions we need right now.


College Visits and Existential Crisis

Had the last couple of days off. My oldest is home for spring break and I wanted to be home so I could hang out with her. It’s not like I had two days of fun and exciting activities planned or anything, but I was at least here and not at work. Thursday she went with me and got groceries after I’d spent the morning cleaning the house(I know, exciting.) Before we went back home we stopped at the Light Rail Cafe in Winona Lake for a shot of afternoon caffeine and a fresh-baked good(I had a cheddar ‘n chive scone, and she had a cookie.) It may not have been the mall or some cozy old bookstore, but it wasn’t bad.

Yesterday was a trip to Manchester University for a preview day. We’ve been on the hunt for a college that’ll be a good fit for her since last May. She’s visited Indiana University, Purdue University, Depauw University, Ball State University, and now Manchester. Up to yesterday she had whittled the list down to Depauw and Manchester. She was accepted by all the above, but Indiana, Purdue, and Ball State were just too big. You’re a number with dollar signs all over you at those schools. Great schools, but they don’t need to wow you with scholarship money to get people to apply, so they’re not. Since my wife and I aren’t independently wealthy and have two more kids that will be going to college in the next 5 years, money does matter. My daughter(as will all our kids) will be paying for a good portion of their education through scholarships, grants, and financial aid. We will help, but I’m not going into hock paying for university. We’ll still have a dog at home that needs money for treats and squeaky foxes. He can’t go without.

Anyways, after our trip yesterday I do believe Depauw will be her pick. She loved Depauw when she visited. She was there just last weekend for an interview to get into their Media Fellows program. She said that the campus just felt like home to her. It’s small, but not too small. The’re geared towards academics and not athletics. Plus they offer Russian, which she’s been taking the last two years. I think it’s a right fit for her. They’re also offering her a very large sum in the form of scholarship money to come to their school. It’s a very expensive place to go to school, but being a private college they have lots of money to offer to students if they really want them to attend school there. They must really want our daughter, that’s all I’ll say.

So she may not have been wowed by Manchester, but her eyes were definitely opened to how much she really liked Depauw.

After the preview day we made our way east and hit Half Price Books in Fort Wayne. Wasn’t planning on buying anything but I couldn’t pass up Yaz’ Upstairs at Eric’s for $3 and a brand new copy of Built to Spill’s Ancient Melodies of the Future for $15. Bought my daughter a couple books and then we were on our way home.

I’m still trying to comprehend where the last 17 years have gone. I don’t feel like a 44 year old guy who has a 17 year old daughter getting ready to go to college. I feel more like a 30 year old guy who maybe figured out what life is all about and still has plenty of time to bestow that wisdom on his young children. I guess I can just be thankful that I didn’t screw up too badly in the growing process. My kids respect me and love me despite the faults they never quite saw behind the facade of me pretending I knew what the hell I was doing. I don’t feel I’m pretending anymore. I haven’t been pretending for quite a few years now. I think I’ve got a handle on things. That’s usually when things go to complete shit though, right? Just when you think you found the quickest, smoothest ride to work they close the road for construction? Or just when you’ve found a work-thru the formula fails and you’re back to the drawing board? You’ve written the best song of your life only to find out you pulled the melody directly from a Loggins and Messina b-side?

That’s just defeatist talk, though. That’s the self doubt demon rising from the pit of your stomach. Pushing that thing to the side was part of growing up and moving on from the stupid days. It will occasionally pop up just to let me know he’s there waiting for me to drop the ball right before I hit the end zone, but I don’t let him rule me anymore. I’m too busy trying to keep my world moving along, keeping those I love safe, happy, and thriving. Keeping my own self constantly moving forward, engaging with the world and with art and with the written word. I want to fill my head with as much of the good stuff as I can. I feel I wasted a few years spinning my wheels in the proverbial mud, pining for things that didn’t matter. I don’t ever want to go back there. Despite wondering where the years have gone, I have no interest in getting them back. I’m not concerned about the last 17 years. I’m looking forward to the next 17 years.

When my oldest daughter and I can sit and talk about politics, the #metoo movement, literature, film, indie rock, and the absurdity of The Emoji Movie, all as we sit and wait for our tour of Manchester University to begin, I feel that I might actually know what I’m doing as a responsible parent.

Memory Upgrade

So sometimes your memory betrays you. Okay, most of the time your memory betrays you. Like for example, how you may remember an argument with an old friend that caused a riff between the two of you. When you finally have that heart to heart and discuss things you realize you remembered things all wrong. That friend didn’t actually say what you thought they said. Or you watched a movie as a kid and you remembered it a certain way for 25 years. When you go back and watch that same movie as an adult you realized the ending in your head was all wrong. Even how you remember a person. My grandma died over 6 years ago. I think I remember how her voice sounded, and her laugh. But I don’t have anything to go on anymore. No old home movies or answering machine messages saved. I’m going on those pieces still lodged in my brain. A couple phone conversations just a few weeks before she died, and a visit to her house just a month before she was gone.

It’s all I got, so I have to run with it. Try to keep it fresh and glowing, like stoking embers in a fire. Once it’s out it’s out. No more kindling to throw on the fire.

There’s no lesson here I’m trying to teach. There’s no moral to any of this. I’m just thinking a lot about memories and the importance of making them. My oldest was home this past week for spring break. I took the last part of the week off so I could spend time with her. My wife had to work all week and the younger ones were still in school(they aren’t off until the first week of April.) When the oldest comes home on extended weekends she’s often either sleeping, hanging out with her old school friends, or with her mom on some shopping excursion. I’m here at home making sure she’s getting her favorite meals while she’s here. I’m keeping the gears running at the homestead. I’m not ever going on adventures with her. So this time I wanted to be able to do something with her, so she knows I care and that I actually do like to spend time with her.

Wednesday was taking her to the dentist and the eye doctor, then being at home waiting for the heating and cooling guys to put in our new water heater. Thursday wasn’t much, but then Friday my daughter and I spent the day in Fort Wayne shopping for books and music, eating quite well, and just enjoying time together. We hit three spots for books and came out of it with a stack for each of us. I wanted to hit up Neat Neat Neat Records as well as I haven’t been there in over two years. Hasn’t changed much, and I’d hoped for that. For lunch we ate at Bravas Burgers. Probably the best burger and fries I’ve had in a very long time. We will go back for sure. After a coffee refueling we hit the road and made it home by 5pm. Saturday was just hanging out at home mostly, which is what we all needed I think.

Today, my wife and mom are currently driving the oldest back to school while I’m home with the younger ones. Making dinner and keeping the gears turning at the homestead.

I look back at my life, even just the last 6 years, and there are these moments that stick out in my head. They’re good moments: family vacations down south, trips to record shops, Christmas eves with board games and snack-y foods, a Colorado wedding, school carnivals, and band concerts around the holidays. They’re not grand gestures like trips to Disney World or anything like that. They’re just these little moments that define such significant times in my mind. More than a grand gesture can do, the trips to the bookstore, or a cabin in the woods, or the cinema on a Sunday afternoon are what stick in our memories. More memories we make the easier it is to remember them all.

Anyways, that’s what going on in my head. We made some memories this week, and I’m happy about that.

Greetings From Holiday Island

FullSizeRender (4)Hello guys and gals! How have you been?

I hope your holiday season has been a pleasant one. I shared a few rum and cokes with the old man on Christmas and watched quite a bit of tv about older men dropping serious cash on vintage cars. The kids were thrilled with what was under the Christmas tree, and the wife was thrilled with her new coat, shoes, and the portrait my good pal Shane Darin Page did for us.

All in all, it was a great Christmas.

Saturday we headed to Indianapolis to spend some serious Christmas cash. We all had things we wanted to look for. The wife wanted to find some threads in the business/casual theme for work. My oldest had no idea what she wanted, so she bought the entire series of ‘Community’. My youngest daughter bought some boots and a scarf, while my son found his Mecca at the Lego store at the Castleton Square Mall in Indianapolis. A Guardians of the Galaxy set and a Batman set were procured(they were both put together by noon Sunday.)

I had but two goals: get my Fossil watch running and grab some vinyl(of course.) Well the watch thing didn’t work out like I’d hoped. I dropped off my watch and told them I need a new battery. They said 20 minutes tops. So we all ate some grub at the food court and my son and I took off for our mall adventure. We hit Fossil up for my watch only to find out that there was a movement issue with the watch, not a battery issue. Fortunately they’ll fix it free of charge. They just have to send it off to get fixed, then Fossil will ship it to my house. I guess all I have to pay is shipping. Not sure how any of this works, but my watch is there with my information. I’m hoping for the best. I hope they can fix it, as it’s my favorite watch. I’ve had it since January of 2002. My wife and I went down to Indy for a night out and ended up buying me this great watch.

The second goal of mine was met wonderfully. First place we hit was Luna Music and I snagged Can’s Tago Mago(Unofficial European version from 2007) and Kluster’s Scharz(Eruption). Krautrock magic, right there. After four painful hours at the mall, we made our way to Half Price Books and I grabbed to wonderful jazz reissues. First was Herbie Hancock’s Maiden Voyage. Classic album, period. I also grabbed Waxtime’s beautiful reissue of Bill Evans with Philly Joe Jones’ On Dolphin Street. Criminally underpriced vinyl right there. Finally, we stopped at Indy CD and Vinyl and I happily purchased Oneohtrix Point Never’s R Plus Seven and Wooden Shjips’ Dos. I also snagged an Indy CD and Vinyl t-shirt for $10. I was hoping to find Kraftwerk’s Computer World, but it couldn’t be found anywhere. Maybe next time.

Today(Sunday) was some tasty New Orleans French Roast I picked up at the Fresh Market on College Ave and grabbing some groceries. New Year’s Eve is coming up this Wednesday. I’m looking forward to it as my parent’s are coming over for some shredded beef sandwiches, euchre, and of course some libations. Maybe I’ll post something before then, maybe I won’t. Let me know what you’re New Year’s resolutions are. Let me know how your holiday went.

I’m out of here. Gonna go eat some tacos, watch Moonrise Kingdom, and get geared up for work tomorrow.

Good day.

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Happy Fourth of July

My vinyl haul on July 3rd
My vinyl haul on July 3rd

….or for my friends not in the lower 48, Happy Thursday!

For those of us that are in the lower 48, today’s the one day of the year where grilling your food over an open flame is mandatory and every man, woman, and child must light at least one fuse that is attached to some sort of explosive that could remove a digit if said digit is too close at the time of detonation.  Yes, Independence Day(not the alien flick either) is a holiday where things go boom and folks proudly display their American flags and American pride.  We kicked some Redcoat ass and we aren’t about to let them forget it.  Yup.  Well, I’m sure that’s a sentiment well worn and displayed in the lower “lower” 48 anyways.  But here, it’s basically an excuse to get drunk, get sunburned, and blow s**t up.  Oh, and eat hamburgers and corn-on-the-cob.  My personal feelings regarding the Fourth of July are this:  I appreciate the freedoms I have living in the U.S., and I really don’t need one day to look at explosions in the sky to be reminded of that.  I can just turn on CNN, BBC, or MSN and see the turmoil Egypt, Syria, Turkey, and the struggles between Israel and Palestine to know we’ve got it pretty good here in the U.S.A.  I have a government-sanctioned day where I don’t have to work.  I can stay home, hang out with my family, drink a couple beers, eat some grilled food, laugh, look at the amazement in my kids’ eyes as they watch those bottle rockets red glare, bursting in air.

So the last two days have been filled with nonsense and fun.  Let me catch you up, shall I?

Tuesday we had an old friend come by for a visit.  Actually, she’s the gal that set my wife and I up on a blind date back in January of 1991…our Junior year of high school.  She was supposed to come with us on this blind date but decided at the last minute she couldn’t.  So, it was a mildly awkward blind date where my wife came by and picked me up(yeah, I still didn’t have a drivers license…super cool) and we went and saw the movie Mermaids with Cher and Winona Ryder(equally awkward).  Afterwards it was breadsticks at Noble Romans.  The rest is history.  Well, there was lots in-between then and now, but that’s for another time.  So anyways, our friend came by with her four year old son and they stayed a good couple hours.  It was good catching up with her.  She lives in Virginia now and has finally found a good spot to grow old in the world.  That afternoon the kids and I headed into town and I grabbed a copy of Tangerine Dream’s Stratosfear for $5 and a new copy of Miles Davis’ Round About Midnight from my good friend John Vance over at Karma Records here in my neck of the woods. Davis has barely left the turntable.  Tuesday night we had a horror movie marathon.  We watched The Bay before my wife got home(super creepy and gross….it’s still not safe to get back in the water).  Then once she got home she made some caramel corn and we watched The Blair Witch Project.  You know, that movie still holds up in my eyes.  The kids weren’t nearly as impressed as my wife and I were back in 1999.  Oh well.

NNN Records new 45s selection
The mighty Sweetwater Sound

So yesterday the kids and I headed to Fort Wayne.  We stopped at Sweetwater Sound for a bathroom break and stayed for the arcade games.  They have a very cool game area where guests and employees can play billiards, ping pong, and skee-ball.  I grabbed a couple packs of guitar strings and drooled over various Gibsons and Fenders.  So after leaving Sweetwater we hit Neat Neat Neat Records and my friend Morrison Agen and I snagged Kraftwerk’s Autobahn and a Collector’s Edition of Black Sabbath’s Vol. 4 in clear vinyl.  We made our way to Hyde Brothers Booksellers and were blown away by the amount of books they have.  It’s literally floor to ceiling. A veritable maze of literature.  The kids made out like bandits and I snagged a John Coltrane biography.  Then we walked down the street to Shooting Star Records.  A hole-in-the-wall that is filled with vinyl treasure.  He got bonus points for having a cute cocker spaniel in there for my kids to “ooh” and “ahh” over.  An import copy of Radiohead’s Hail shooting star recordsTo The Thief made it in my grubby hands.  We got back to the car and headed to the other side of Fort Wayne to Half Price Books and I snagged NM copies of Led Zeppelin III and Miles Davis’ Milestones.  My oldest daughter found Douglas Adams’ entire Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy series in one giant book…for $7.  She was thrilled.  I’d promised I’d get her a John Green book, but they didn’t have any, so our last stop was Barnes and Noble where she found two books of his she was wanting.  Well, dad obliged.  We got home around 5:30pm and I grilled pork chops and we read our books and listened to our records till 11pm.

So here we are.  It’s Thursday, the Fourth of July in 2013.  I’m four days into my vacation.  The sun is shining, the beer is chilling and there’s meat to be grilled.  And maybe even a fuse or two to be lit.

Life is good.