Friday, September 25, 2009

A horse is a horse, of course, of course...

...And no one can talk to a horse of course
That is, of course, unless the horse
is the famous Mr. Ed.

Go right to the source and ask the horse
He'll give you the answer that you'll endorse.
He's always on a steady course.
Talk to Mr. Ed.

People yakkity yak a streak and waste your time of day
But Mister Ed will never speak unless he has something to say.

A horse is a horse, of course, of course
And this one'll talk 'til his voice is hoarse.
You never heard of a talking horse?
Well listen to this.

I am Mister Ed."

Aaaaahhhh - Horses. Such beautiful, graceful animals. Such power and might. Horses are my wife's first true love (next to her kids of course, and I fall somewhere in there - I think right after the horses - and that's ok). And while my fiancially concervitive mind shuttered at the thought owning such majestic creatures might cost us, there are things that you just let your spouse "do". After all, Jen allows me the freedom to play music and ice hockey and golf. Besides, a relationship becomes smothering if all of your time is consumed with each other.

Not long after we were married, Jen started to get the "horse itch." Jen grew up on a farm, and had ridden, cared for, and competed with horses for most of her young life. And just before she was to leave home, the horse that she had cared for and grown up with was sold out from under her. So it was no supprise that Jen jumped at the change when the opportunity for horse ownership presented itself.

Welcome Bonnie.

Bonnie was one of a pair of equines - Bonnie and (of course) Clyde. Bonnie is a head strong but very loving (much like her owner) quarter horse, which probably explains why the two of them get along so very well - at times. :P Jen has worked with Bonnie for quite a while, but over time the question was asked of me, "Would you be interested in riding at all?" To which I stated, "well, sure it would be fun I think - but we'd have to find a horse big enough to carry me."

WARNING: Men and Women do not speak the same language. I mean, it SOUNDS like english, but the meaning of words take on a completely different meaning depending on whether those words are spoken to a man or a woman.

For example, when a women says, "Do I look fat in this dress," she is not asking for an opinion on how the dress looks. It instead means you should say something nice about her appearnace. When a woman says, "We need to talk," it means, "you need to listen, but don't fix my problem." Therefore, when I said to Jen, "I think riding with you would be fun, but we'd need a large horse," she heard, "Sure hon - we need to get another horse, but make it big enough for me to ride."

Aaaahhhh - communication is wonderful, isn't it?

Enter Rosie, or "Whole Lotta Rosie" as I have named her.

Rosie is a Percheron/Belgium cross mare. She is 5 years old, 16.4 hands tall and nearly one ton. You can see me walking with her in the picture above - keep in mind I"m 6'2", and if you'll notice Rosie's hoof is about the size of my head. Plenty of size and mass to hual my fat @$$ around, if I can get the confidence to stay on her back while she deals with me.

I've been on Rosie's back once - once... ("My mother hung me on a hook once - once...") It was a frightening event for me, and probably one for the horse as well. My wife was very understanding and did a good job of instructing me during my first 5 minutes of "horsing around". I plan on getting back on her time and again until I can go on some trail rides with my lovely wife.

Stay tuned - It's likely I have much more time to blog if the horse throws me and I bust my butt. ;)

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The Puck Stops Here - Pt 2

The Puck Stops Here - Pt 2

OK - so I can stand up on 2 blades - move forwards, turn (with some difficulty) and stop (snowplow style). But there so much more to ice hockey than putting on a pair of skates.

Back to Play It Again Sports - Shin Guards, hockey socks, hockey shorts, hockey jock with protective cup (manditory), chest protector, elbow pads, gloves, helmet (extra large - oh man this hair has got to go...) and a bag to carry it all in. Gota have a hockey stick too... Now what?

Lessons maybe?

Northen Kentucky Ice Center was giving all adult lessons - Northland and Sports Plus combined their adult lessons with kids, so this seamed to be a better option for me. I hate to be upstaged by a kid. ;) So 8 lessons were paid for, and I showed up for each one of them dressed in full hockey gear (the only person mind you). It actually worked to my benefit because it doesn't hurt so bad when you fall in hockey gear. The other adults wern't so lucky. After 8 lessons, I could get around the ice pretty well - even started to learn the hockey stop. Not bad...

So what now - adult hockey lessons?

My friend said I should contact this guy named Don Biggs. Don is a hockey star of note. I won't get into his career here, but I will refer you to his stats page at One thing that is not addressed in his stats was the fact that he was a scrappy player who wasn't affraid to drop the gloves. And when he did, holy cow watch out!

My first meeting with Don went something like this:

DB "Hi there - Don Biggs."
Me "Hi - Jim Questa"
Don looks at my jersey - game worn Kansis City Blades (IHL) jersey.
DB "Ah - Claudio Scremin - want to be a defensmen do you?"
Me "I just want to be able to skate up and down the ice and not hurt myself."
DB "Claudio and I had some tumbles in our time."
Me "Great - just don't have any flashbacks..."

Don was a hell of a nice guy, and someone who I would get to know on a somewhat personal level as well. I took Don's adult hockey classes for 5 years - even after I was able to get on a team. His drills and instruction really gave each player an edge and helped elevate their game after each 90 minute workout.

The first team I managed to connect with was Lemen's Lemons. We played at Cincinnati Gardens in their "C" league. I knew next to nothing about the sport, and even less about playing (except what I could pick up at Don's clinics), so having someone who would understand this and work with me during the games was very important. The Lemen brothers were great people, and helped guide me to making good plays, yet having a good time. I scored my first goals with them, scored a playoff goal during the finals, and we even won the C-league championship that first season. It was VERY cool - I still have the trophy. ;)

Next was team Biohazard. Played with them for a couple of seasons until - all of a sudden - they never called me back. Hummm... So I was nominated to start my own team - team "No". Why team No? Well, the guy running the league asked if he wanted to name the team, and he said "No". It stuck, at least for 2 seasons. We would later become the Wolves, complete with jersey's, socks and helmet stickers! Even a website that we still use -

And I continue to play today. Not very well mind you, but much better than when I started. I've earned a few hat tricks, played nearly every position except goalie, and I continue to have a blast with my friends every time we hit the ice. Weve won a few championships, and we've lost our share of hearbreakers. But all in all, it's a GREAT time playing the coolest sport on ice. :)

Thursday, September 10, 2009

The Puck Stops Here - Pt 1

Let's travel back in time to 1974. I was 10 years old. I've been playing the organ on television, shopping malls, Junior Achievement conventions - you name it - for nearly 5 years. Obviously, opportunities for organists were few and far between. But one place were the organ was a historical staple was the ice hockey arena. So when my parents saw a newspaper ad for an organist for the Cincinnati Stingers, they jumped on it (on my behalf of course).

The Cincinnati Stingers of the World Hockey Association were playing at Cincinnati Coliseum in downtown Cincinnati. Mark Messier - who would go on to win the Stanley Cup with the New York Rangers - played for the Stingers, and would play against Wayne Gretzky and the Indianapolis Ice (also in the WHA at the time). The WHA was a competitor of the National Hockey League, outbidding the NHL for top talent like Gretzky and Messier, but with much lesser known (and lesser skilled) players who would rather rough it up than play the skilled game we know of today.

I auditioned and was granted a 1 game appearance - the Singers against the Quebec Nordiques. This was my first exposure to the awesome sport of ice hockey.

Cut-scene to 1990, when the Cincinnati Cyclones of the East Cost Hockey League appeared at Cincinnati Gardens. I was in Florida at the time, playing music professionally with Danny Morgan, and when I came back from the road people were talking about this "cool hockey experience" over at the Gardens. I attended a few games - thought it was great fun - but I didn't really get hooked.

Fast Forward ten years to 2000. Cincinnati was now a two hockey team city - the Cyclones (now in the International Hockey League - a AA minor league and a step up from the ECHL) downtown, and the Mighty Ducks (of the American Hockey League - also AA minors) at the Gardens. Local Cincinnati radio personality Wildman Walker was not only a loudmouth on the radio (and at the clubs where he would see Bad Habit play), but he was also the on-ice announcer of the Cyclones. Since we were "friends" as such, he would forward some free tickets to me as often as I wanted to go. THAT was when I was hooked.

I finely "understood" hockey. The precise grace of ice skating with the power of football and the non-stop action of auto racing - all wrapped up into a package that was interesting and exciting. Additionally, the spectators were "encouraged" to participate by chanting and otherwise taunting the opposing players. You can't do that in Baseball. No one can hear you in a Football stadium or on the race track. This was FUN!!!!!

So I was hooked on the sport, but it became so much more one evening during an exchange with a friend I met at the Cyclones games.

Rick: "Well - I better get going"
Me: "What do you mean - it's nearly the middle of the 2nd period?"
Rick: "Yeah - but I've got a hockey game to get to..."
Me: "But your AT a hockey game..."
Rick: "No - I have to go PLAY a hockey game..."

What??? "PLAY" a hockey game - as in, put on skates, pads, helmet, stick? Go out on the ice and actually PLAY the game???? Yeah - that's what he meant.

So one evening I head out to Sports Plus in Evendale and watch my friend play a game. It looked like so much FUN!!! This was something I HAD to do. Let's see - 300 lbs, out of shape, 36 years old, haven't had ice skates on for 26 years - Yeah, I can do this!
So off to "Play It Again Sports" I go. I pick up a pair of used skates, try them on, they feel OK - what do I know??? Then off to the book store for a book on hockey skating. Laura Stams "Power Skating" filled will all of the basics and advanced techniques for ice hockey skating. Then it was off to Sports Plus again for open skate.
Skates laced, walking to the door to the rink - confident (or am I defiant?) - "Power Skating" book in hand. I step out on the ice... Holy $#^!!! This is HARD!!! It speaks volumes as the 5 year olds skate backwards circles around your 36 year old fat butt. But alas, success. At the end of 90 minutes, I was able to skate forward and snowplow stop rather well if I do say so myself.

Next: The Puck Stops Here - Pt 2

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Music Music Music... Rock & Roll Part II

Back in Cincinnati. Back to a day job. Back to working for a living instead of living the life of a professional musician (which now after playing professionally for 18 months, it certainly was WORK). Less than 10 days passed by before I received a call from one Richard Sciutto. Rich told me that he and Jim Oldfield from the Bell Jar days were starting a band and they needed an upgrade in the keyboard department. It was strange, because Rob Nadler (formally from The Take and Straight Up) had his “audition” the same night I did. This meeting in October of 1991 spearheaded the birth of the Bad Habit Band you all know and love today.

The history section of the Bad Habit Band Website has the following story:

The year was 1990. Picture if you will Jim Oldfield walking across Seymour Avenue checking on some properties that he managed. At the same time a hurried copier repairman - Richard Sciutto - was driving down that same road, smoking a cigarette, and talking on his cell phone. Jim wasn't injured during the altercation, but the two musical acquaintances and this chance "meeting" lead to the formation of one of Cincinnati's most talented live music groups - Bad Habit.

Jim Oldfield (a founding member of Cincinnati's 70's rocker "Bell Jar") and Richard Sciutto (Freedom Suite) - wanted to "get back out into the clubs and play some great music". They added 3 other musicians - another guitarist, keyboard player and drummer - to get things kicking. They also played one show with Dangerous Jim and the Slims lead man Jim Miller before going it alone as a 5-piece group. In October of 1991, Guitarist Rob Nadler (The Take) and Keyboardist Jim Questa (Mara) were called into action to form the strong nucleus of the band you see today. Drummer / vocalist Jim Sullivan was the 5th member who powered Bad Habit through their first 2 years on the Cincinnati live music scene.

In 1993, Jim Sullivan's work schedule made it impossible to keep up with the ever-increasing schedule of Bad Habit shows. Jim Questa called his friend Brian Lee who was fresh off the road with The Take, starting a series of drummer changes that has only been exceed by the legendary band Spinal Tap. Other Drummers who have played with Bad Habit include Todd Farler (Mara), Stephen Schwarz (Prizoner), Rick Lanza (The Relics), and Shawn Wells (Twisted Fate). Brian joined Bad Habit for the third time in 2006, and never looked back.

Today, Bad Habit is known as the "who's who" of the Cincinnati live music scene. Rarely have musicians come together in a way that actually enhances their musical differences in a positive way, much less stay together for any length of time. But this group of polished professionals feeds off of each other’s strengths to form a truly unique mixture of styles, sounds and personalities. The result is a musical group that can truly play nearly anything and make it sound like their own creation.

October of 2009 will mark the 18th year of the Bad Habit Band. This amazing run would not have been possible without the support of our families, our partnerships with Greater Cincinnati's finest live music establishments, and the best fans any music group could ever wish for. The Bad Habit Band would like to raise a glass to all of you - many thanks for your support, and here's to many more years of good times and great music.

Just over the last few weeks, Bad Habit has been reborn into a 4 piece musical group. But studio rehearsals have given the band new life and a cleaner, clearer sound that the public hasn’t heard out of BH for years. I am really excited about the possibilities moving forward.

However, Bad Habit isn’t the only group that I’m working with. DV8 called me into service when their keyboardist gave his notice in mid June. This is another talented group of musicians who really love to do their thing. It’s more pop oriented with a bit of a classic rock edge, but the combination of two awesome vocalists (one male, one female) and a solid group of musicians make this a fun group with which to work.

Over the last month we’ve played some outdoor shows and some small rooms around Cincinnati. We will also be opening up for John Waite (the Baby’s, Bad English) on Friday, July 24th. It’s cool to see new clubs and new (and old as it turns out) faces, especially people who say, “Hey – didn’t you play with Bad Habit?” My answer remains, “I still do.” :)

Next Up – Hockey, The Coolest Sport On Ice

Music Music Music... Off To The Islands "Mon"...

In 1990 and after much soul searching trying to figure out if the Mara thing was all it was cracked up to be, I received a call from Danny Morgan. Danny was (and still is) a singer songwriter originally from Cincinnati Ohio who has carved out a great musical life for himself in and around the Gulf Coast of Florida. This was an opportunity to play music full time and make it a profession instead of a sideline. It also meant playing 5 or 6 nights a week, every week exposed to a different side of the music industry.

I was working at Santo’s Auto Service at the time as their parts manager. I scheduled a couple of days vacation, worked a full day on Wednesday, had dinner at home, hopped into my 78 Volkswagen Rabbit and drove 11-1/2 hours straight through to Sanibel Island, Florida (a very beautiful barrier island just off Ft. Meyers Beach).

I arrived in Sanibel about 1:30 in the afternoon. I picked a spot in a public lot and took a quick nap, trying to contact “Morgan” (as he is known by his close friends and employees) every so often. I managed to reach him around 5:00 and he gave me directions to his home. After showing me where I would stay for the next 18 hours, we hopped into the van and headed to the South Seas Plantation on Captiva Island.

After watching Danny’s show in this very quaint but very expensive night club, I sacked out in his van while he played the rest of his show. When the show was over, Morgan, guitarist Danny Frazier (of the Frazer River band), drummer Kenny Cox and I headed back to Moran’s home to sleep the rest of the night.

The next morning I auditioned for Danny and his band, landing the job easily. Danny and I headed off to a local restaurant where I signed a one year contract to play with Danny’s band, then hopped back in the VW Rabbit for the long drive home arriving back in Cincinnati early Friday afternoon.

Upon arriving home, I grabbed a nap because I was due to play a show in Clifton with Mara that night. Things were very strange with the band, and while I didn’t tell anyone where I was going or what I was doing over the past few days (not an uncommon occurrence ever), something didn’t seem right. Apparently, word had leaked out to the rest of the Mara guys that I had indeed auditioned with Danny’s band. That night I told the guys that I would be leaving to play full time with Danny when he came to Cincinnati in about 2 months. My last show with Mara at the time was held at “Nightlights” in the Eastgate area.

My time with Danny would be an incredible learning experience not only from the business side of music, but personally as a musician and the level of proficiency I would eventually attain. Moving from a part time prog-rocker to a jack of all trades musician wasn't really that difficult considering the background of my pre-teen days playing all kinds of popular music and standards. I learned Danny’s set list of jazz standards, reggae, island, 60's / 70's pop, and Jimmy Buffet songs - NINE SETS of them. And I wouldn't just be playing keys and singing, I'd also have to play left hand bass on the keys. This was the most difficult part, as my left hand has always been weaker than my right.

Over the next 15 months of playing 5+ nights a week in some of the most beautiful parts of Florida (Sanibel Island, Captiva Island, Naples and Key West just to name a few), my musical performance abilities really came out to shine. I could totally separate my left hand bass and right hand chords and leads, playing different parts in different time signatures and feel without even thinking about it. The sense of accomplishment was incredible and a testament to the God given talent I was blessed with at birth.

But while my musical abilities blossomed, 18 months on the road began to shake me as a human being. The recording opportunities I thought might be there really weren’t there, and any exposure or opportunities I might receive to move on to the “next level” were discouraged to the point where it became a similar experience to Mara’s “is this all there is” feeling.

We were due back to Cincinnati in the spring of 1991, and I decided at that time to stay in Cincinnati when Danny was scheduled to head back to Florida. This of course put Danny in a terrible bind, as he had become to depend on my proficient playing abilities. As a result, I sequenced Danny’s entire 9 set song list – nearly 150 songs – into a Roland MV-30 sequencer / band in a box. It became “Jimmy in a box”, and Danny still uses many of those sequences to this very day.

Next up – Rock & Roll Part II

Music Music Music... Rock & Roll Part I

My introduction into rock bands started in 1991 when I joined a couple of high school friends playing pop music together. Animation was that first group, lasting about 9 months. Chris Mundy and I combined forces with the vocalist, guitarist and one awesome female drummer (you ROCK Kenda!) from a band called "Scimitar," becoming "BALANCE" - a band that would last 18 months. After a few months on my own I met up with vocalist Philip Olmes - we cut a 45 (that would be a two sided polyvinyl chloride disk played on something called a "record player" - look it up) with two original songs on it. That lead to a band called "AM/FM" - we played a handful of shows with Chris Mundy on base and guitarist Jason Aronoff, who after a short time invited me to play with progressive powerhouse Mara.

Mara was - in the beginning - a progressive rock style original music band that was based out the “Pill Hill” Clifton, Ohio area. Taking cue from their musical hero's and influences such as Genesis, ELP, Yes, King Crimson and others, Mara was a pretentious and creative group of accomplished musicians with plenty of money to buy whatever musical device they desired. One such member played something Chris would whimsically name the "Nutty Octave Device" - an electronic clarinet if you will. It was the most bazaar musical instrument that I had ever seen at the time, and it became the focus of many jokes and stories over the years (including a mention on Mara's first commercial release).

Upon my arrival as Mara's new keyboardist, the band started to take more of a turn towards a harder edge (a trait that would follow me pretty much wherever I headed). Popular music in 1984 was right in the middle of the Glam Rock mTV era where big hair, make-up and 3 chord rock songs were the big sellers. In typical fashion, Mara borrowed a taste of this and a pinch of that to their progressive styling’s to create original music that was accessible to the 3 chord rockers, but acceptable to the prog-rock snobs (like myself of course). Mara brought on singer Marty Farris about the same time Dream Theater released their single "Pull Me Under", putting Mara on a similar prog-rock track producing powerful rock songs with intricate rhythms and big vocals.

"Breaking The Silence" was Mara's first release. We recorded it on an 8 track reel-to-reel recorder syncing the keyboards to SYMPE time code (not really an exact science for a bunch of 20 something year old kids), but it sounded simply incredible. Our close friends all became a part of the process taking photographs, designing the cassette jackets (yes, audio cassette – look it up), printing them, cutting, folding, inserting the mass produced tapes – EVERYTHING! At the end of the day we had a package that people could purchase at our live shows. You could take Mara home with you.

I thought for sure that this was - at last - my vehicle to stardom.

Over the next few years we would play clubs, open for national acts such as Andy Summers, Marillion, Shooting Star, and “3” (Keith Emerson, Carl Palmer, and Robert Barry). We even did a show in Dayton, OH with Donnie Iris and Joan Jett and the Blackhearts in front of an estimated 18,000 people (WOW what a rush!), all the while writing more and more material. We upgraded to a 16 track recorder and added a bunch of outboard gear to record “Poetry & Motion” – Mara’s first full CD released that included select cuts from our first cassette.

Jason Arnoff, Jim Questa, Marty Farris, Todd Farler, and Chris Mundy
MARA 1987

By this time Mara had a “posy” of managers, agents, and a road crew – even our own step van (the “Taco Queeb” van – don’t ask…) to go from local gig to local gig. By the time we started the writing process for “America”, we were well on our way – so we thought…

Unfortunately as time went on, the struggles of life and the unrealistic expectations of men who refuse to grow up started to have an adverse effect on the band. Half of us wanted to hit the road and start making more of a name for ourselves. The other half wanted to stay local and "do it like Allen Parsons," breaking into the music business from the recording studio. While we continued to play in local clubs to rave reviews, I had to make a personal, professional decision.

Next up - Off To The Islands "Mon"...

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Music Music Music... In The Beginning

My musical history is so long and varied (spanning 40 years now) that I'll be breaking this information up into sections. Have patience. :)

When I leave this world I will likely be remembered because of and through my music. Music doesn't completely define me, but music certainly is a major part of my life and without it, I would be a shell of the human being I am today.

Picture if you will a small house on a small, dead-end street, the lady of the house cooking and cleaning. Her husband is looking over bills while a black and white TV churns out the drivel of the day. The telephone rings, and the woman of the house picks it up. The conversation goes something like this:

"Hello Loretta - Ruth Junker here."
"Hi Ruth - how are you?"
"I'm fine - Jim is over here"
"Is he behaving himself?"
"Well, yes - when did he learn how to play the piano?"

My parents walked over to the neighbor's house and listened as I picked out the songs I heard being played by my teacher in kindergarten. Shocked and astounded, my parents decided this was a talent that needed to be nourished and developed.

They picked up a cheap Magnus Chord Organ for my birthday, complete with a 12 song songbook. I learned all 12 songs in a month, and wore out the organ in 6. Fully intent on purchasing a piano that Christmas, my parents took me to the Wurlitzer store in Tri-County Mall. While they were talking to a salesman about pianos, I hopped up on the largest organ in the store and started playing with both hands on both manuals. My legs were too short to reach the pedals, but I stood up and played them too as best as I could. Thinking, "You can make a lot more sounds with an organ than you can with a piano," my parents bought the smallest organ in the store...

That organ came with a 36 song song book and three cassette tapes. I drank up the books designed for an adult like a hungry baby gobbles mother’s milk and had them mastered in less than 6 months. By the time I was 6 years old, I started performing for others besides my parents.

I was "discovered" by Bob Braun, a local television celebrity who hosted the "50/50 Club" for many years in the 60's and 70's. He was at the Tri-County Mall where I just happened to be playing the organ to a throng of people who packed the front of the store to see this little "toe head" of a kid making music. Braun approached my parents and within 30 days I was to make my first of 3 appearances on his show. From that point up until high school I was to perform on every television station in Cincinnati (only 5 of them at the time), and even nationally as a "Showtime" guest on the New Mickey Mouse Club in Anaheim, California. And that's while also performing a rather demanding schedule of personal appearances for music stores, shopping malls, restaurants, conventions, etc.

At the age of 9, my parents answered an ad in the newspaper - producers looking for talent. Gene Hughes from the Cincinnati do-wop group The Casino's and Snokkie Lanson from the Lucky Stripe Hit Parade were the two people who sold my parents on financing a recording that would likely catapult their little boy from obscurity to super-stardom. Several thousand dollars later I found myself in a recording studio laying a lead instrumental organ track to the original background of The Casino's "Then You Can Tell Me Goodbye", and then an original instrumental composition entitled "Chicago Line." I even worked out the chord charts with the studio musicians in the room so we could bust out my song in about 45 minutes.

While the experience in the studio was very cool, the financial burden and inability (unwilling may be a better word - you choose) of the promoters to keep their stated promises took a huge toll on my Parents, and in particular my father who suffered his first of 3 heart attacks and the first of 3 strokes in the months thereafter.

During my 4 years at Roger Bacon High School I played drums and percussion (to the dismay of my parents of course - by the way, the parents curse works...), not only becoming section leader my senior year, but writing and performing my own musical compositions. After spending a summer with Amelia High School as their drum instructor I was done with marching percussion, but not with performing.

Next up - Rock & Roll Part I

The Silence Is Broken

Hello world! :)

Perhaps the world doesn't need another collection of electronic noise in the form of a blog from a middle-aged white male. But I'm so pleased that - at least for now - the government hasn't clamped down on my freedom of expression. I plan to make the best of the opportunities that are in front of me, which is something I am proud to say I have done throughout my relatively short lifetime.

So - who am I? The answer to this question will be worth $300.00 worth of psychological visits. Not only am I writing a blog, I'm preserving my own mental health.

Stats, Birthplace and Education
I am a 45 year old man, half 3rd generation Italian (father) and half 4th generation German Dutch (mother). I have a shaved head (was blonde) and blue eyes, 6'2" tall and weigh much more than I should. I am politically conservative and personally liberal (a contradiction that I will explain in detail another time).

I was born and raised in St. Bernard, a small city about 6 miles north of the Ohio River right up Interstate 75 made somewhat famous by "Ivorydale", the huge Proctor and Gamble soap plant where Ivory Soap was produced for the masses. I was sent to public schools through 3rd grade, then transfered to a private Catholic grade school from 4th grade on thanks to the grace and financial fortitude of my parents (mostly my mother, but more about that later). After graduating from Roger Bacon High School in 1982, I entered the Southern Ohio School of Broadcasting. Unfortunately, both time and money prevented me from finishing my associates degree program, so it was off into the working world I went.

Working Stiff
My employment record shows either incredible loyalty, or incredible stupidity. During my senior year in high school and first year through college, I worked at United Dairy Farmers - first in St. Bernard, then in Roselawn. I transfered from convenience store clerk to auto parts gofer, first working at J & R Automotive in Bond Hill, then Santo's Auto Service in Wyoming. It was at this time that I discovered a trait inside of me that I've drawn on throughout the rest of my life - my ability to adapt, change, accept a challenge and succeed. At Santo's I started as a general laborer, assistant and cleanup person. Over a short period of time I learned how to do simple repair work - oil changes and tune-ups - then more advanced repair duties. Then after running a 67' Jaguar E Type convertible through the front window of the repair facility, I found myself a new position (within the same company believe it or not - thank you Tony!) as parts manager. Over the next 6 years I would create a spare parts facility complete with a computerized inventory system (Mac's Rule!), and by the time I left in the spring of 1990 Tony had turned his little two bay gas station into a 6 bay master repair facility.

Fast forward 9 months to August of 1991. Fresh off the road from giving a music career a shot (more on this later), I landed a job at a manufacturing facility in Sharonville as a "stock clerk". Over the next 18 years, I would survive 17 managers, 10 promotions, 6 downsizings, 2 ownership groups and 2 locations. I still work for that company, and by the grace of God I still will by the end of the year.

Next up - Music Music Music...