How Not to Write a Song, Part 2 – Procrastination

It’s been almost two weeks since I last touched the project I’m currently working on. I’m in a funk about writing. When things don’t flow, I go into a downward spiral. That spiral includes thinking that, I’ve never written anything worth a shit, and I will never write anything worth a shit. Procrastination, for me, seems to be more about fear, and less about laziness.

Any time I face a creative endeavor, I’m opening myself up to failure. I’ve left myself very little room for failure in my life. To some, this may seem noble or like it’s a “good work ethic”, but not allowing one’s self to fail I think is very unhealthy. Sure, the quality of any work or creation that comes from me is going to be polished and as well done as I can achieve. However, I will accomplish fewer things, as the fear of failure makes me avoid certain tasks that will help me to grow.

How do I deal with this fear? How do I deal with failure? In the past, my modus operandi has been to wallow in it, to curl up in the (mostly proverbial) fetal position, and try to forget about whatever it was I failed at. But, I know that if I have any desire at all to create, I must be not only comfortable with failing, but willing to fail, and to do so on a grand scale.

How Not to Write a Song, Part 1

As anyone that has ever embarked upon any creative endeavor knows, all of us, at one time or another, will run into the widely known, and greatly feared “writer’s block”. This is the first in a series of posts in which I hope to explore, and ultimately deal with, an almost 15-year old case of writer’s block. I also hope that my experiences will help others in the same situation.

I won’t bore you (at least not during this post) with details of my past writing. Let’s just say, there was a time when things came easily to me, and whether or not any of the stuff I wrote in the past was any good, is not of any concern to me, as I was writing, and I was happy doing it. Starting in 1996, the ability to write went away. I’m not sure what happened when I turned 20, but the flow stopped. Writing music and lyrics up to that point had been simply an exercise in sitting down, and turning on the faucet. It required no tricks to get myself into a creative mindset, and no forced or contrived methods of getting my message out of my head. It simply happened. That’s not to say the writing wasn’t hard work. It was emotionally draining, and required quite a bit to translate the emotions and thoughts into something in the physical world. However, it was never difficult. I was able to just let things happen.

Since then, nothing. I mean sure, I’ve had some great ideas musically and lyrically since then. I’ve written one song that is complete musically, and I have multiple gigabytes of unfinished works on my laptop. Lyrically, the flow is almost completely dead. Everything sounds cheesy, contrived, and forced, even if the lyrics are truly representing real feelings I have.

I don’t have a solution to this today. I do think I’ve identified the problem. I think the problem is that I’ve become too much of an adult. I’m hypercritical of myself, because I want my creations to be good. Being hypercritical of one’s self is like trying to turn on a rusted faucet. It’s hard, if not impossible, to turn. And by the time you get it to turn a little bit, you give up and move on.

I’m giving up too early. How do I keep moving forward?

NHL: A Tale of Ridiculous Disparity

Writer’s Note: Interestingly enough, I’ve been working on this since the day the suspension came out. I listened to the “Pucknuts” podcast today, and they almost exactly echoed my sentiments.

In a recent game against the Minnesota Wild, Rick Rypien, a fourth-line thug from the Vancouver Canucks assaulted a fan. Rypien, after being ejected for sucker punching Brad Staubitz of the Minnesota Wild, grabbed the fan as he walked down the tunnel. He shoved the fan around a bit, and then tried to drag him down into the tunnel. Here’s the clip:

Thousands of articles, blog posts, and social media posts have already covered this topic. It’s clear that everyone agrees Rypien was in the wrong. No one that I’ve talked to disputes that. The glaring disparity I see is that he was suspended for 6 games. 6 games. I’ll say it one more time. 6 games. A player, for the NHL, threatened the safety of a fan, who reportedly only said “Way to be professional.” to Rypien, and he was only suspended for 6 games.

Some comparisons of this altercation have been made with Ron Artest’s brawl with fans in Detroit a few years back. I disagree that the two compare in magnitude. However, I do feel that the NHL’s reaction to this attack is completely insane. There is an expectation of safety on both sides of the glass. The players expect to be safe from any would-be physical fan interaction, and the fans expect the same. Shit talking and taunting are fine from both sides, and both fan and player need to be man enough to deal with said verbal abuse. If one can’t deal with it, they shouldn’t bother coming to the game as a fan, or as a player.

However, to think for one second that a six game suspension for assaulting a fan is enough shows that the NHL is out of touch with reality. Does it deserve the 73 games (plus playoffs) that Artest got? Maybe not. But then again, once you start being loose with the penalties for such tactics, you start to tell players, “it’s okay”. Rypien is going to miss 6 games worth of pay. I’m sure that’s significant, but likely, it’s not enough to dissuade others from taking similar actions. If a fan were to assault a player, they would likely be barred from attending a match at any NHL or AHL arena, and would most certainly be arrested and charged with said assault.

Furthermore, the NHL has shown even less of an understanding of what’s fair and right after this suspension, if you compare it with past actions. In 2008, Sean Avery made this comment, an apparent jab at an ex-girlfriend, while playing for the Dallas Stars.

“I’m just going to say one thing. I’m really happy to be back in Calgary; I love Canada. I just want to comment on how it’s become like a common thing in the NHL for guys to fall in love with my sloppy seconds. I don’t know what that’s about, but enjoy the game tonight.”

Is this a crude comment? Sure. Does that comment make the team and the NHL look bad? Probably (even though I think it’s funny). Sean Avery was immediately suspended indefinitely, and then made to sit out for six games. He was also required to attend anger management classes. He promptly also lost his contract with Dallas Stars because the coach and team no longer wanted to play with him.

So there you have it. The NHL views assault on a fan by one of its players the same way it does off-color comments from its players. Actually, it seems like Avery’s comments were viewed as being worse. Bettman and the NHL need to seriously take a step back, take a deep breath, and reconsider what they find important about player conduct.

Rick Rypien

Sean Avery

Rick Rypien Suspended for Contact with Fan

Hockey Season is Here!

In 2003, I moved to Houston, TX from Southern Illinois. In the North, it’s quite easy to be a hockey fan. One has several different teams of which to be a fan, and people talk about Hockey on a regular basis. In Houston, there is an AHL team, the Houston Aeros. I love the Houston Aeros, but they are a minor league team. People just don’t find a love for hockey here the way that people in the north do. If you combine the above with my waning interest after the strike in 2004-2005, this perfect storm almost killed my interest in hockey altogether.

Fast forward to 2010. For some reason, I have become a rabid fan again. The NHL seems to have what it takes to start bringing fans back to the games, the TV, and all of the hockey-related gossip and drama. The games I have watched this year have been exciting, and the players are dynamic and are working hard to entertain. Add to that some new-found hockey-loving friends, and I am now a reborn hockey fan ready to consume as many games as is humanly possible.

I may be biased being from the Saint Louis area, but I think the Blues are a team to watch this year. In the past two days, they have defeated the 2009 and 2010 Stanley Cup winners, and their team is showing the skill, agility, and grit needed to go all the way. Halak and Conklin have been amazing in the goal. Backes and Oshie have also been showing some true offensive and defensive prowess. I believe the Blues have been reborn, and we’ll see them have a very successful season, as well as a great showing in the playoffs. I’m not quite ready to call them Stanley Cup winners, but it wouldn’t surprise me a bit if they did.

Other teams to watch this year are, as always, the Penguins and Blackhawks. I also think the New Jersey Devils have a shot if they can get past what appears to be some locker room drama between their coach and their newest acquisition, Ilya Kovalchuck.

If you have never given hockey a shot, please do so this year. Join me in celebrating an awesome, brutal, and exciting sport that almost saw death 5 years ago.

Nashville Flooding

I really don’t think this is getting enough coverage. There’s some major flooding happening in Nashville.

Nashville Flooding

Please consider donating to the Red Cross to help with relief efforts.

Thanks to the Huffington Post for the above picture. The original article is here.

Web Zeroes

Go watch the show at This show is made right here in Houston. Tell your friends to watch the show. If you’re in the least bit nerdy, you will love this show.


No More Cokes!

It’s now been 8 days since I’ve had a soft drink. I’ve lost 6 pounds. I haven’t changed any other eating or exercise habits at all. It’s amazing how crappy these things are. But damn, I love a good Coke. Wish I could learn to have them in moderation…

This Brings Back Memories…

Finally finished touching this up as much as I can. If you’d like to hear a song I wrote when I was 15, please click here:

Written by Koree Smith
Additional Orchestration by Mindslave

Vocals and Guitar: Daniel Peterson
Lead Guitar: Koree Smith
Bass: Carl Bundy
Drums: Robert Burtnett

Houston Dry Cleaning Fail

Dry cleaning is a pretty simple service. Houston is a big city. There are lots of choices, and all of the ones I have tried so far seem to fail at this very simple task.

I grew up in a small town in Illinois. I had lots of dry cleaning done there, and never had any problems, incidents, or damage with the local cleaners. Since I have been in Houston, I have used 6 different dry cleaners. Every one of them has failed in some way. To date, I have had 2 expensive shirts lost, french cuff shirts with creases improperly pressed into the cuffs (also expensive shirts), a baseball jersey improperly pressed even after asking for it not to be pressed, and a button broken on a brand new shirt.

So, my question to Houstonians is, what dry cleaner do you use? Why should I go there? Have they ever lost anything of yours?