Monday, April 4, 2016

How I Spent My Kat-Less Weekend

Like a whole bunch of you, I work for a living, and I work hard. I spend Monday through Friday doing workdays that often begin before 7AM and often end past 9PM. I work for myself, and in my experience, people tend to work harder and longer for themselves than they will for anyone else. So, I own this little company that does marketing communications for the musical instrument, professional audio, broadcast, and related industries. It's a good way to make a living, I believe. I write, and create graphic designs, and I handle all manner of content creation and distribution for a variety of good clients.

Anyway, it keeps me busy during the week, and so I purposefully try and make sure I'm doing anything but work when it comes to Saturday and Sunday (though occasionally, despite my best intentions, I still have to do some weekend work). Weekends are times when I can focus on things I want to do, rather than have to do. That almost always involves doing things with my lady of the last 10+ years, Kat. However, this particular weekend, she was up in Seattle visiting her family, which includes two new additions over the past year (her nephew who just turned one, and her baby niece who she only just met).

That left me on my own after dropping her off at LAX on Friday afternoon. What kind of shenanigans did I do in her absence? Not a lot, but some worth mentioning in any case.

1. Horace and Pete
Flashback to Saturday January 30. I -- along with every other person who is a fan of comedian Louis C.K. -- discovered that he had created a new show called "Horace and Pete". Like Louis's recent comedy specials, the show was only available via purchase on his site. Kat and I were chilling here as usual on that Saturday. In fact, I had just wrapped up the NAMM Show the previous weekend, and nothing sounded better to me than clearing out my stressed-out brain by watching an original show from a guy who, in my opinion, is the best comic of his generation by far. It would, doubtlessly, be hilarious.

So we purchased the show, downloaded it, and... what the hell is this? It's not a comedy. It's more like a theatrical production, except it's filmed like a sitcom, except there's no laugh track, and there wouldn't be a lot to laugh about if there was. I found it completely intriguing. Enthralling, in fact. And the caliber of actors involved! Steve Buscemi. Edie Falco. Alan Alda. Jessica Lange. Appearances by Steven Wright. Laurie Metcalf. Colin Quinn. All delivering their best work I've ever seen. We had no idea how often Louis would be producing new episodes, or how long the show would last. But from that first episode, we were hooked. As it turned out, Louis would release a new "Horace and Pete" each Saturday morning for the subsequent nine weeks. Each weekend, we'd get out of bed, make our coffee, and then immediately buy, download, and watch the latest episode.

Louis C.K. and Edie Falco in a scene toward the end of "Horace and Pete", once of the best dramatic presentations I've ever experienced.

The series never lost its level of intensity, and in fact grew more and more captivating as it went on. Week after week, like kids who jump out of bed to see a Saturday morning cartoon, Kat and I raced to the computer to see what would happen next. For perspective, keep something in mind: I don't watch television at all. Yup, I'm one of those weirdos. But this wasn't TV; nothing like this had ever been on TV. I'm still not sure what it is... or was, more appropriately.

This Saturday morning, despite being busy (as you'll see below), I watched episode #10 of "Horace and Pete", which turned out to be the finale... something the collective watchers of the show didn't discover until the very end. I won't tell you what it's about, this show. I certainly won't tell you how it ends. I will tell you that it might be the finest dramatic production I've ever seen. However, and this is an important caveat: if you are prone to depression, please be careful about watching this series. There are only two kinds of drama: comedy and tragedy, and this is a tragedy that is on par with the darkest works of Shakespeare, Arthur Miller, or Eugene O'Neill. It might be worth it regardless (I certainly think so), but I don't want anyone going into a downward spiral based on my recommendation of this show. Consider yourself forewarned.

One final note: the New York Times seems to agree with my assessment of the show. Plenty of spoilers here, just so you know.

2. Time with Dad and Son
Unlike Horace's dad (shhh, no spoilers), my dad is a good guy. I really have no complaints about my upbringing. Were my parents perfect? No, of course not, but no one is, and mine were a helluva lot better than many I've seen. Anyway, my dad was born in January 1941, making him 75 years old. People have different ways of dealing with aging and the inevitable finite aspect of life. Some people try and stay healthy, visit doctors often, and take all manner of steps to try and ensure that their last wishes are carried out after they pass. My dad does none of those things. I could have tried more, I suppose, to change the person he is, but to be frank, a) I don't necessarily find it appropriate for children to take over their parents' lives except under extreme circumstances, and b) he wouldn't have listened to me anyway.

So, as opposed to seeing a lawyer and drafting up a will, my dad decided to come by and go over a list of his worldly possessions. Fun, huh? Good times. Let's chat about what stuff you have so I'm aware of it when you die. Way to make my weekend happy, especially after that devastating final episode of "Horace and Pete". At the same time, I knew that accommodating my father's wish in this regard was actually the best thing I could do for him under the circumstances, so at noon sharp (my dad is never late for anything, a trait that I picked up from him), he popped up at my door. We spent a little while going over some documents he'd put together. Everything seemed clear enough. Not for the first time, I told him that the preferable and more effective solution to this was to get a will created, but he's one of those guys that thinks he'll die immediately upon completion of solidifying his last wishes. So, on the bright side, we got to spend some time together. Honestly, at age 75, he seems pretty healthy to me. I wouldn't know for sure, since I think he last went to a doctor in 1978 or so.

After our discussion was done, my son joined us as we drove down the street to a diner in King Harbor, and had lunch. After that, we headed down to the beach and enjoyed the fresh breeze coming off the Pacific for a short while. It was a pretty good time, and somewhat less morbid than I'd anticipated.

Enjoying a moment on the Esplanade here in lovely Redondo Beach with my son and my dad.

3. New Music
I can write music with Kat being here, and often do, and especially considering that we're in a band together (called They Stole My Crayon, by the way), it's something we both enjoy doing. However, there are aspects to songwriting that just require a level of solo concentration, and it's not super fun or exciting for anyone not directly involved in putting together chord progressions, building drum ideas, and so on. Kat will often use those times to go catch up on her reading, or napping, and I don't blame her.

Recording a guitar part on a new in-progress song.

Anyway, I was alone this weekend, and feeling a little spark of inspiration, I went to work on a new song. I think it came out pretty good. I'm not going to let you hear it because I've now handed it off to Kat and Bunny so they can work on lyrics and a melody and all that stuff. It's by no means done. But it's always a welcome thing when a new song comes around to say hello. It's not something you can force to happen, but when it does, you have to be willing to drop everything else and capture that moment. I did, and listening to what I created over the weekend makes Monday morning a little less terrible.

4. Picking Up Kat
Of course I picked up Kat from LAX on Sunday evening. Picking up your significant other from the airport is toward the front of the "How Not To Be The Asshole In A Relationship" handbook. We got to enjoy a little time together that night, and she watched the "Horace and Pete" finale that she'd missed on Saturday while out of town (though I had to leave the room during a crucial scene toward the end, since I couldn't handle the thought of seeing it again). I made us some spaghetti for dinner, and that was pretty much the end of the weekend.

So, that was it. And now I'm getting ready to start a new week. I know it doesn't sound like a very relaxing time, but if I learned anything from "Horace and Pete", it's that life is meant to be lived, as opposed to being passively observed. I can honestly say that I've been pretty good at being an active participant in my own life, even if sometimes it seems like it would be easier sitting here and watching it pass by.

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