After a brief week off we hit the road again, this time to grace a stage adorned with half-hearted props on the Winter Wonderslam Tour. The tour was great in that we mostly played weekends and got to have some weekdays off. In your face, Warped Tour! I used one of the breaks to fly down to Playa del Carmen where Sarah’s sister got married, Speidi-style, on a beautiful beach in Mexican wonderland. It was picturesque, romantic, and unfortunately, Montezuma’s-Revenge-inducing for the unlucky groom. After saying goodbye to family, friends, and the small tree monkeys that make appearances in the afternoons, I boarded a plane to rejoin the Wonderslam tour.


The rest of the tour I spent taking pictures for my nephew’s Flat Stanley project. His classroom read the book and was assigned to assign family members homework by having them take pictures of the flat kids in different parts of the country/world. His favorite picture (and mine) was the one I took of him on the set of The Tonight Show, which we played later that month. If I’d have been on my A game that day I would also have taken a picture of the flat kid with Tom Wilson, who was kind enough to both play acoustic guitar with us on our version of “Sleigh Ride”, and also to graciously answer all the myriad questions we had for him about Back to the Future and Freaks and Geeks.



Christmas was again spent in Chilly MN. We stayed at Diane and Andy’s and were surprised to find a gift already waiting for us there. Before writing about their gift to us, I must needs explain that it was a reciprocation that far outshone our initial gift to them. When Diane and Andy moved into their new house a year and a half ago, Sarah and I wanted to get them a gift of warmth and welcome that would create an inviting atmosphere in their new home. Naturally we decided to go to T.J. Maxx. We must have come at the right time, because that one-of-a-kind item, the one that seemed to jump off the shelf and into our hearts, was sitting all alone, basked in a golden glow, on a forlorn shelf.

Picture in your mind a small, unassuming black box. Now imagine a plaster-white hand, beautifully formed, fingers splayed as in the throes of divine revery, perched gently upon its pedestal. Rising out of the blackness as if to caress the wings of angels, the hand beckons you, seeking to make you all that you can be.

We knew at once that this was the housewarming gift that Diane and Andy deserved. Bought and paid for, we took it to their house and gave it into their care. For many months they kept it near their front window, maybe as a sign of welcome to friends and warning to ne’er-do-wells. They had to finally take it down when a neighbor admitted being kind of creeped out by it. She just doesn’t understand.

So back to this Christmas. Diane and Andy are not ones to be outdone (especially Andy, as you well know if you’ve ever gotten into a kindness war with him [you won’t win {don’t even try!}]), and so they scoured the city and eventually found the hand sculpture’s counterpart. After saying the obligatory oh-you-shouldn’t-have’s, Sarah and I removed the gift from its wrappings, that familiar heavenly glow shining forth from this our very own new, creepy sculpture.

Same black box, same sepulchral white plaster. But what to our speechless awe should appear but a sorrowful face. Just the front part of the head, mind you, like a very thick mask. Eyelids drooping, lips puckered, it mesmerizes you in a curious blend of attraction and horror. Below the face and at right angles to it horizontally, a single hand rises outstretched. Cupped in its palm rests a single votive candle (white, of course) in a direct line from the blowing mouth. Out of what diabolical mind this misguided idea for a sculpture came, I know not. But the effect is disconcerting wherever you choose to place the monstrosity. I absolutely love it.

to be continued…

Listening to "West Coast"
from the album Nighttiming
by Coconut Records