Wednesday, January 26, 2022

A card pickup

 I figured I would take a break from the music stuff for this post and give you guys what you (probably) want, some baseball cards. Like I’ve said before, I’m trying not to collect as much, and any packs I’ve got since July have went to Kylers collection. My aim is to just get the Topps complete set every year and casually collecting Rays, Tigers, and favorite players. 
One of those favorite players is Brody Koerner, a pitcher who debuted for the Yankees last year, getting into 2 games and striking out a hitter. Is it enough to land him a card in 2022 Topps Series 1?  I hope, but we’ll find out soon. 
I’ve been collecting Brody since he was in college at Clemson, and got to hang out with him and some of his and my wife’s relatives at a Dave & Busters in 2016. 
I had a cool time talking baseball with him and had hoped to see him play in the minors in 2017, but he got promoted to AA a few days before we had planned to see him in A ball at Daytona. Maybe I’ll get to see him in Spring Training or playing against one of the Florida MLB teams this year. 

I recently ordered the 4 minor league cards of Brody that I didn’t have to make my collection of his base cards up to date. I’m missing just the Aspirations 1/1 Gold card from ‘15 Elite Extra Edition to complete the base card rainbow. Aside from the various autograph parallels (including a 1/1 which was I believe was pulled shortly after it’s release), the only other cards are the 1/1 printing plates. I believe most of those cards are sitting in unopened boxes of the product. Well, I still have the majority of his cards, and hopefully will have a handful of new cards of his that I can get if he gets a 2022 Topps issue. For now, here are all of his cards in my collection. 

Perhaps I will see him at the wedding in a month or so. 
Thanks for checking out my latest post. 

Monday, January 24, 2022

Newest song 'I am your Peace

 Today, I finally finished what I consider to be one of my top 3 songs. It is a song called 'I am your Peace'. Here's the story behind it. 

In 2004 or so, I had been going piano/keyboard crazy. My friends Jason and Chris from church were roommates, and both were piano players as well. Both could read music, and also knew how to play from chords, and both knew a lot about music theory. I hung out with them for much of my early 20's. We talked music, girls, songwriting, and whatever. I played string effects on my keyboard in the worship band at my church's youth group, and either Jason or Chris would lead it from the piano. At that point in my life, I was all about writing music, discovering new chord progressions, and recording music. The songs I wrote then were what they were (rushed, lacking depth with the music and lyrics). I just had so much fun trying to write them that I overproduced them, with stacks of paper of lame songs that I eventually weeded through and ended up putting 3/4 of them in the trash. With all of those songs, I had written on (what I thought was) a lot of topics. One day, I stupidly expressed to Jason that I had written on just about every topic and couldn't think of any more to write about. Jason asked if I had written a song about peace. Of course, I hadn't. I thought about that for a few weeks, and came up with some lyrics about peace. Meanwhile, this guy named Joe started coming to our church that year. He was a decent guitar player who had written some songs, and he got a band together, and we started trying to practice and perform song of them. He graciously allowed me to play piano in the band, and I'll give it to him. He let me play without really any reigns on me. I played 100% as hard as I could except for the few times he told me to drop out for dynamics sake. It allowed me to grow as a piano player by not having to give up much control, and I had a ton of fun trying whatever was in my head with that band. We named ourselves 'Broken', and Jason played drums for the band (he is probably BETTER at drums than piano, and he is an elite piano player). Eventually, Joe just up and left Florida and moved to Kentucky, leaving the band to have nothing but memories. One day, Joe showed me an idea for a song that he had, with a basic D, A/C#, Bm, A progression for the verse and an Em, G, D, A progression for the chorus. He didn't really have lyrics to it, and he played it for me a few times, and I came up with a nice little piano riff for it, which Joe thought would be the main draw of the song. Unfortunately, the song never came to anything because Joe left. I did, however, enjoy playing that piano riff, so I used both of them in my song about peace, which was starting to take shape. When I wrote it, the lyrics to me kind of echoed the fact that in times of trouble, God was my peace. Now that I am grown up 20 years or so, the song takes a little different meaning. While God has always been there for me during troubles, sometimes it's not that simple. When we miscarried, while God was always there, it didn't always feel like He was, and it was more friends, some family, and my wife who were my peace. Sometimes, I get to be Karen's peace when she is recovering from a surgery or something, so the lyrics almost tell of being someone else's peace during a difficult time now that I'm older. However the lyrics speak to you, I hope you can take something from this song and connect to it. 
I am really proud of it, and if I were ever to make an album, this would be either the 1st or 2nd single released. It is one of the few songs I have ever performed in person. The first time was at the church with Jason during a music service. I did it at the grand piano, may have had Jason backing me on drums, and after playing it, some of the girls in our youth group came up to me and said 'Jeremy, that was so good'. Made me blush a little. In 2008 or so, my college Bible study in Montgomery, Alabama had a talent night, and I did the song. I got good comments, and after doing the song, our leader Ryan presented me with a shirt that had a picture of someone that resembled me and the phrase 'Jeremy Rocks'. I still have the shirt. 

Later in the year, another place I led worship at had a concert, with the band Thalon. Thalon was supposed to be the only band playing, but I talked with the youth leader, and they were ok if I opened for them, doing a 3 song set. I cobbled together the best band I could find, getting JP, a great bass player to do guitar for me, Jeff, a drummer who I had never played with, and Scott, a kid in the youth group who played bass. JP and Jeff weren't available to practice with me, but were good enough that I never worried about it. Scott practiced a few times with me, but wasn't into it, so he was good on probably 1 1/2 songs. Thalon was there and ready to go, and I was waiting on JP and Jeff. They finally came, and we spent like 10 minutes going over everything. Thalon was kind of getting annoyed with me, but they didn't really show it. Classy guys. I did my 3 songs that night, the last one being 'I am your Peace'. Scott didn't feel confident in it, so he didn't play on it, but JP and Jeff did great (JP even adding some transitional chords in the first song we did that I never thought of but added a nice touch). When Thalon finally went on, they did great, and thanked me and my band before their final song. Hope I can be like that to some younger kids.  

The last time I did the song was in 2010 when my friend Whyna invited me to her church for their music talent service. They had it like once a month. Her church's band was amazing. I did the song once or twice there, and the band played along with me like they knew the song, even though their first time hearing it was when I started playing at the service. Talented musicians. 

I hope I get to play it again maybe, but if not, I hope this video makes its way to as many people as it can and that you can connect with the song in some way. 
Thanks for checking out my latest post.

Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Another song and the Hall of Fame

 The year was 2006. I had just moved to Montgomery, Alabama to live with my old college roommate JT (Jophis). The goal was to start a band, make a CD, get some gigs, tour, and get rich. Seemed like with our talent and experience, we would get there by 2007 at the latest. Around May or so of 2006, we had already recorded our first song (Liberate the Penguins), and were working on getting some of my original stuff in the works of being recorded. A guy that JT knew named Nick, who played guitar, had come along and also been fortunate enough to be able to stay with JT at his parents place. Soon, along with one of JT's friends Walker, a violin player, and Nick, JT and I formed the foursome known as The Younger Griffin. 
Band Logo

I was given the moniker Captain Scratch, Walker was Ranofer, and Nick was Professor Dynamite.

Captain Scratch- Piano/Keyboard, Rap & Secondary Vocals

Jophis- Main Vocals

Ranofer- Violin/Strings

Professor Dynamite- Guitars

 We worked on a few songs together, even recording some piano, vocals, and violin to a song JT and I co-wrote. Unfortunately, we didn't use a click track, so the rythm got all messed up, and that was a lesson learned and a song that will probably never be  heard by anyone. Another song, an instrumental called 'Tunnel' did get recorded, with piano by me, and some guitar by Nick. Untortunately for that song, we never burned it to a CD, and even if we had, it would've been lost over the years probably. Whatever computer that track has been saved to is probably in a landfill somewhere. I do plan on making my own version of that song without Professor, as I remember most of the chord progression, and the main keyboard riff to it. 
As far as a 4-piece band, that is as far as the Younger Griffin has ever got. While we could probably call on Ranofer to record some violin for us, a month or so after Professor moved it, he flew the coop. He had a steady girlfriend at the time, whom both Jophis and myself had met. She seemed like a nice girl. I had a feeling that Professor would get on his feet, and we would see a lot of this girl as time went on. Unfortunately, apparently Professor had been cheating on her with some girl he met while working at Subway, and had gotten the other girl pregnant. I can't remember if she was out of state or what, but the end of the story goes: Professor moved to Kentucky or Tennessee or somewhere, had a kid, broke up with his girlfriend, moved in with his baby mama, and was working at Wendy's. Jophis and I saw Professor like a year later with his new kid (the baby mama didn't make the trip), and while Jophis is friends with him on FB, I haven't really kept up. Last I heard he married someone (maybe the baby mama), tried out for the Voice and was going to be on the show but something happened and he had to go home and now he's not married anymore. Things happen in life, I get that, but Jophis and I always thought he was kind of a flake after he cheated on his girlfriend and skipped town. 
Jophis would always joke that Professor was going to leave Wendy's and go for higher money at McDonalds, and we should make a song about him called 'All my bro's work at McDonalds and all my ho's go to McDonalds'. I took the phrase and ran with it, and actually made a few different versions of the same song.  Song #1 was a little raw, but it is what it is. Version #2 came about when I played version 1 for one of my co-workers at the time and his brother. They suggested I change the word burgers to patties and have a little break part where I go 'flip flip flippin those patties'. Version 2 does have some lines about patties but no break part. I decided to make a version 3 because I wanted to take some words that might be deemed 'offensive' out and also so I could add the break part. That is the version of the song that is on this video. 

So the premise of the song is basically about a day where the main character is working at McDonalds in his first week and Professor is one of his co-workers. All about how easy it is to work at McDonalds, the shady types of people you work with and have to deal with, all of the food that gets tossed from the floor to the fryer, and basically making fun of Professor and the fast food chain.  Same deal as last time. Video is below. Comments and suggestions are welcome. . I have to say that I'm learning how to use the editing program a little better. I have figured out how to get some of the effects to do what I want them to do. I think if I wanted to, with a little patience, I could make each line appear and disappear and do that in the order I want. For now, I just had each line start as the line in the song starts and hopefully got to where it doesn't start too late. I have also got the chords to stay right where I want them to on top of the lines, and even tried to put some lyrics over a photo (of a friend kicking a McDonalds tray off of my head). Unfortunately, that didn't work the way I wanted it to, but at least I am starting to make sense of some of the features, and might be able to make a video where the words are right where I want them to be and the viewer can make sense of everything. 

I really hope this years Hall of Fame election gives us more guys than Big Papi getting elected. I've been seeing a little bit about it on TV and online.  Even without steroid guys, I think Papi, Rolen, Helton, Schilling, Kent, and Vizquel all deserve to be elected with Andruw Jones being on the edge and possibly getting elected without falling off of the ballot. I feel Jones will get elected even if he does fall off of the ballot, and guys like Hudson and Wagner might fall off the ballot, but will get a good look with all of these sabrmetric stats becoming popular. A-Rod, Pettite, Sosa, Manny Ramirez, Sheffield, Clemens, Palmeiro, and Bonds are steriod guys I feel deserve to be elected. McGriff, Mattingly, Kenny Lofton, Keith Hernandez and Dave Parker are just a few guys who've fallen off the ballot who deserve to be in, with guys like Dwight Evans, Darrell Evans, Ken Boyer, Jim Edmonds, Bill Buckner, and Vada Pinson are not neccessarily Hall of Famers in my book, but worth another look. Heck, if Raines, Baines, Gil Hodges, Andre Dawson, Barry Larkin, Roberto Alomar, Mussina are in and all of the guys clamoring for Dick Allen (and who have whined about Raines, Hodges, and Santo not being in) get to have their way, I think Shawn Abner will get elected on the next veterans committee ballot. It's not that I am a 'big Hall' kind of guy. I just think a number of 'very good' players have gotten elected who fell 3-4 seasons of 'counting stats' short, while a number of dominating guys like Lofton, McGriff, and Parker fell like a seasons worth of HRs or SBs short of getting 500 or whatever is deemed worthy. Why elect Hodges, Baines, Raines, and Mussina without putting McGriff, Lofton, Parker, and all of the other guys I mentioned who are far superior than some guys already in the Hall? I followed baseball like crazy in the late '90's and the whole decade from 2000-2010, and I feel my ballot would reflect the best players from those eras. Just because the sabrmetrics became popular and someone didn't have enough WAR for a computer geek to think they are a Hall of Famer doesn't mean they weren't a good player. I could find any bozo off the street with a computer degree to make up a computer program and tell them to input player stats and they could read off whatever list the computer spits out and make a case of who deserves to be in the Hall without having watched a game in their life. I've attended more games in my 38 years than some longtime baseball fans have even watched on TV and attended combined, so I think I should get a little consideration, and maybe actually have a real HOF ballot in 2023. If anyone reading can make that happen, I will make it worth your while (as long as it doesn't involve putting Dick Allen or Mark Buehrle or Bobby Abreu in. I guess we will see the final results on Tuesday.

I got the 2021 Update set in the mail yesterday, and Kyler helped me sort the cards into teams on today, my last day of freedom before going back to work. I'll still have a little time to work on some more lyric videos after work tomorrow. Perhaps I'll work on my song about Surge soda and all of it's greatness. Hope I can remember how to turn the ovens on at work and not burn anything after being out for almost 2 weeks. 

Thanks for checking out my latest post.

Monday, January 17, 2022

First song: Liberate the Penguins

 The last post was kind of a downer, and I have nobody but myself to blame for that. I just need to be more patient on the road and not go too fast when I’m putting a keyboard on a stand. 
Things have kind of turned for the better since then. While Kyler did end up testing positive this morning when we tested him, good news is I am off the next 2 days, and if he is halfway into it like we think he might be, he could just end up missing this week from school and be able to go back next Monday, and it should be something all of the adults in his life (myself, Karen, and Karen’s mom) should be able to cover if he needs a sitter on Thursday and Friday. 
I have also been able to make a (lyric) music video to what I hope will be one of the first of many songs I can torture my loyal readers with. Before I post the video, a little background. 
I was homeschooled for a good amount of my childhood. 1st grade-half of 2nd grade, half of 5th grade-end of 10th grade. I went to a private Christian school from 2nd-5th, and most of the social interaction I got was at church. Not a good deal for someone being thrown to the wolves at public school in 11th grade. I basically didn’t say a word to anyone for the first few weeks and became friends with anyone who pitied me.
That included some crazy people. Jason Sitta, his brother Josh, Bradley Agee, his brother Branden, and another Josh (Richardson), and his brother Jordan. I hung out with those guys the majority of 11th and 12th grade. They were your basic gothic kind of guys who enjoyed video games and wrestling. That love of video games led them to the game Metal Gear Solid, which had some group in the game called the Sons of Liberty. Josh R took it a step further and made a group called the Grandsons of Liberty. Josh R, and the rest of the gang took to the halls of school to add members to the group. Main goals of the group? Liberate penguins, hats, and words that end with the letter ‘a’.  Naturally, I was a perfect fit for the club. Each member got a code name (I was brown sugar), and had to recruit other members. I have always enjoyed penguins, so I had no problem being in the club and getting people to join. 
In 2001, I went to college at the University of Mobile in Mobile, Alabama, and recruited a half a dozen or so people. One of them was a guy named JT. He would become my roommate during my 2nd semester there. I moved back to Florida in 2002, and in 2005 before Christmas, decided to hang out in Mobile for a few days and see some old friends, 1 being JT. While hanging out with him, we were messing around on his piano, and started writing music to a song about penguins. I went back home to Florida and finished the lyrics, and within 6 months, I had moved back up to Alabama to stay with JT and his family and try to get a band going. We had a Weird Al-type of band called ‘The Younger Griffin’, and a serious project called ‘Resiliency from Obscurity’. JT ended up getting a traveling job like a year later, but before that, we recorded piano, synth, and all of the vocals to the song. I moved back to Florida in 2009, and added the bass and drums to the song, and it has been the lead Younger Griffin song since then. Both bands we made are still ‘active’ today, although neither I or JT have much time to devote to the projects. JT became my brother in law in 2013, so I see him a few times a year, and we keep telling ourselves that we are going to get together and record one weekend. I have been doing some recording during the past 6 months, but really need JTs expertise in singing and writing lyrics and recording for that matter. I do have confidence that if nothing else, I might get some of my stuff recorded, and just use the 'Resiliency' brand to get it out there this year. 
So short story long, that is how we ended up with this song about liberating penguins. For the Younger Griffin, JT refers to himself as Jophis, and I am Captain Scratch. Keeps our loved ones from being embarassed and stuff. Here is a simple video with the lyrics, chord progressions, and even a watermark from the site that I downloaded the program to make the video with. If this thing works well enough, I'll keep making videos like this to put my songs up on my blog with. Please leave comments (or hate remarks), and I will try to improve things going forward.

Thanks for checking out my latest post.

Saturday, January 15, 2022

Plans change

 Well, I promised new music stuff on the last post, but I have kind of been on the DL for the past 2 weeks. It all started on the 8th. Actually, let's go back to the day before, a Friday. I had it all planned out...
I had just purchased a dual stand for my keyboards and had planned on setting it up Friday after I got home from work. I was working Saturday -Monday and then had 2 days off without our son on Tuesday and Wednesday where I planned to work on getting some songs either transferred to a player I could put on the blog or put up on YouTube somehow. 
That is how the stand looks right now. Unfortunately, before I got it set up all nice, I was trying to move a keyboard from the desk in front of it and grab wires off of the floor at the same time. While trying to hold the keyboard up, it ended up falling off of the desk, and hit my left pinky finger. If you are squeamish, scroll past the next 2 pictures. 

That’s what it looked like shortly after it happened. I managed to stop the bleeding with cotton and a band aid, and my wife gave me instructions on how to care for it. Lucky for me, it cracked and most of the blood came out from behind the nail so it doesn’t really hurt, but I haven’t tried to play since it happened. 
That’s how it looked a few days after. I think it’s slowly healing. 
So after that happened Friday, Im at work, and get a text from my wife that she tested positive for Covid. Me and her got our boosters back in September, so they probably aren’t as strong as they were when we first got them, but the short of that is that I tested positive on Monday, but both are seemingly at the end of it and made it through ok, and so far Kyler hasn’t got it. 
It also threw a loop into my plans for any music recording as all 3 of us have been home the past week. I took another test yesterday, and it still came back positive, and that combined with still being stuffy and having a little cough led my work to keep me out another 5 days, so with my off days for this week being Tuesday and Wednesday, that will have me going back to work on Thursday. We have a number of people who have stepped up with people being gone for Covid and stuff, and I’m truly appreciative for people covering for me while I’ve been out. While I’ve never been a fan of going to work, I do miss the routine, and I’m thankful for having a full time job with benefits. With that being said, I have a feeling I will thriving when I am able to retire. It has been a great thing for me to be able to sleep in to 9 or 10 (or 1) instead of having to get up at 3:45 in the morning, and my wife and I have just been having a blast being able to hop into the bed around 9 or 10 and not having to rush to get to bed. We have been turning the TV on, talking some, playing games together on the phone, and just having a ton of fun hanging out with each other before bed. My job schedule just doesn’t allow for it, so this has been good for me, and I hope to go back to work a little refreshed. 
The whole staying inside thing has been a bummer. The Sunday after Karen tested positive, we had planned on going out to dinner, as we hadn’t had a date night in like 2 months, and I was really looking forward to that. We’ve needed groceries a few times since being quarantined, but Karens mom has been nice enough to bring stuff by a few times. It still stinks being locked in the house and not being able to do the normal stuff like going out. 
I kind of wish I would’ve just stayed home today, though. Karen was cleared to go back to work, so she went in, but forgot her laptop. I probably won’t go back outside until I test negative or at least until I work Thursday, but she needed her laptop, so I drove out to her work and she just got it out of my car and then I drove home. 
At least that was the plan. I was about 3 minutes from home with some asshole in front of me going 20 in a 35 zone. There was a stoplight coming up and I knew I could cut over into the va parking lot on the right, cross the street, and pass the idiot while he was at the red light by cutting into the gas station parking lot and turning right. I pulled the move off great, even managed to shoot them the bird, but as I was making that final right turn to get back on the road, I must’ve clipped the curb, and sure enough, my damn tire blew. So I’m currently sitting in my car waiting 120-135 minutes for the tow truck to get here typing this post. I hope that asshole that can’t go the speed limit has a crappy day and loses their wallet or something. I’ve cut that corner at the gas station so many times coming from the intersecting road in order to not get caught at the red light and it’s been fine every time, with some spinning out being the worst thing that’s happened. I’m still mad about it. I have a headache, I was 3 minutes away from home, was going to hang out with Kyler for a few hours before Karen got home, but now my day is shot and I’m probably out a few hundred just because some jackass can’t drive fast enough and I clipped the curb on a move I’ve pulled out expertly 10 times before. I probably should’ve been more careful in doing it, and I’ll take responsibility for that, and you can bet if the situation arises again that I will do the same thing again and just pay more attention to the curb. People say I like to make excuses a lot, and I’m ok with that. I just know that had I not had to bring that laptop to Karens work I wouldn’t have been on the road, and had that jackass went even 10 miles faster, I would be home right now and it pisses me off when someone else’s actions cause me crap when I’m just sitting at home minding my own business. I really hope that slow driver gets what’s coming to them. It just sucks that I won’t be there to see it. 
Hopefully I’ll get this car stuff fixed today, and I’ll have another day like this tomorrow (without the car crap).  Kyler is off school Monday (seems like he hasn’t been to school in a month), and as long as he tests negative, I’ll have those 2 off days on Tuesday and Wednesday. Maybe I’ll have a song or 2 up by then as well. 
While I’m not coming back to card collecting completely, I have kind of gotten an itch to get the 2021 Topps set, and I’m kind of looking forward to 2022 products. I remembered that John from Johnnys Trading Spot had gotten a few of the 2021 Topps sets and I reached out to him, and he is kindly sending one my way. I purchased an Update set on eBay, and I’ll probably just sort them and put them in their team binders. As for 2022, I’ll probably get a few packs of Topps and Donruss (yes, they are putting out a set this year) and call it good. Any other packs that Karen gets while at Target will probably go to Kyler, and I’ll just oversee in case he pulls a Trout autograph or something that doesn’t deserve to get macaroni and cheese on it. Then at the end of the year, I’ll probably get the set. 
I think I’m also going to try to get the 4 Brody Koerner minor league cards I am missing and at least some base copies of any Topps/Donruss/Bowman if he can get on some this year. The perfect scenario for me will be if he gets a card in Series 1, if they make a combo of him and the other 2 guys who made their MLB/Yankee debut in the same game, and if he somehow gets a Donruss card. Yeah there is a chance since he is a rookie and Topps is all about the rookies, but he’s never had a Topps card (or Topps contract, perhaps), he only appeared in 2 games and it was mainly because of Covid, but it could still happen. Whatever cards he does get on, I would try to get a few copies of and then bring those to that wedding in March that I am probably going to be roped into going to, and hopefully Brody will be able to make it. I figure between the 10 or so cards I have of him now that the number will be closer to 20 should he get a Topps issue, and I’ll just feel him out on how many he would be ok with signing for me. Maybe have a few extra copies to pass out to his parents/siblings/relatives too. The lockout and him being a free agent kind of makes things weird. Should the strike be over with before March, there is a chance he could sign with a team that trains in Arizona, and he could be a no show at the wedding. There is a chance of that if he signs with a Florida training team, too. I almost feel that having a lockout go through early March is my best bet at him showing up. I might have to get my wife to send a text to the bride (their mutual cousin) and see if he’s returned his rsvp or not. 

We’ll end on a good note with the music. I just wanted to note that with some of my songs (even with the first few paragraphs of this post), that I come off as really negative and angry, and to be honest, it’s easy for me to get there. Then on other songs, I talk about God and some of them almost sound like they have been from personal experience. Well, they are. I don’t confess to know everything. I’m not the perfect example on how to live life. I’m still looking for answers. I have songs saying ‘God will be your peace’, and then ones that express wanting to get revenge on ‘the man’ for oppressing the poor. Then others that ask ‘why do I do the things that I do?’  It’s a constant struggle and some days I’m up and feel like I’m doing what God wants me to do, but then a minute later I’m doing exactly what I don’t want to do, and not caring about it. I’m not the perfect guy, and I just ask that if you are questioning if God is real or needs to be a part of your life that you don’t hold me to a super high standard because I’m not going to be able to achieve it, unfortunately. I just ask that you be open to me, and I will try to be open and honest with these songs and that somehow we will find the truth together and be better and make others better for it. It might take some time, but I will get some songs up soon. 
The tow truck is here. Off to make the rest of this day go a little better. 

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