Wednesday, June 26, 2013


Hope you're looking forward to French Toast, kayaking, and ice cream...

Monday, June 24, 2013

The Zine Anthology

In December 1996, Mike Nummerdor and I were hanging out at his house listening to one of his countless CDs or mix tapes reading Maximumrocknroll, Punk Planet and various other things.  Bored out of our minds over x-mas break as we had no means of transportation, much of our time was spent on finding ways to fill our time.  At some point, the idea of starting our own zine came up.  This is a tribute to all the people who wrote articles, edited, provided art, bought, sold, traded and so much more.  

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Issue #1:  We have no idea what we are doing.  The name, Schism, was inspired by our high school social studies teacher (My Captain) who introduced us to the term.  For weeks, Mike and I wrote articles and created drawings.  We recruited writers, including the infamous J. T. Law.  After 5+ weeks of development, we called every printing press in the yellow pages to discover that we could not afford to have it published.  We ended up at Office Max and spent over three hours at a copy machine and spending every penny I had, which was only $64 from a paper route.  Again, not knowing what we were doing, we didn't even have a back page.  So, to fix that oversight, I scribbled with a marker "Send us stuff please..." to create probably my favorite back page.  In the end, we printed 80 copies and sold them for $1 a piece.  We sold out in 2-3 days and largely covered our costs.  When my friend Joe asked me "when's the next issue comin' out?" I only remember having a sense of panic.  In the end, the most important element of the issue was Chad Crowell's article Why I Hate Marilyn Manson.  That piece irritated so many fans and please so many detractors that it had to be a success.

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Issue #2: New and improved!  We sort of figured things out and had a lot of great suggestions that we implemented.  The most visible being background images and better graphics overall.  A few new writers added to the group.  Also, a full page of the first amendment of the Constitution was placed because a few high school officials tried to prevent sales to students.  Our response was a threat of a lawsuit that would have prevented any kind of fundraiser or sales on school property.  

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Issue #3:  (Marilyn) Manson's Positive Side by Jeremy Whiteman.  This probably was the most important piece written early on.  This was a retort to an article in the first issue and we were criticized for it.  Our reply was to "write an article to retort."  Obviously, some questioned if we'd publish both sides.  But, we did and we learned a lot from the experience and gained considerable credibility.  Mike Nummerdor also wrote our first (kinda) interview/experience with the music scene.  It's about a road trip to Chicago to see The Queers, Groovie Ghoulies, Screw 32, and Alkaline Trio (which was their first or one of their first shows).  A priceless piece just to read about Nummerdor's mom, Lynne.

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Issue #4: A few more writers joined and we were really starting to figure out what worked and what did not.

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Issue #5:  Notice in the top right corner it says "WE MADE IT TO...  #5."  We were excited about this because we came across something that say something like, "90% of publications fail to make it to a fifth issue."  Not only that, but sales were so good that you notice in the bottom right corner it says "2nd pressing."  This issue had a lot of improvements such as Mike Nummerdor's real band interview with Gracefully Crippled, Dustin Malmquist's humorous exposé on a lack of stall doors in a bathroom, a few more writers and artists.  The biggest improvement was recruiting Brandy Miller to become our Editor-In-Chief.

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Issue #6: I have no idea how or where we sold the summer issues.  But, there were a few changes and improvements while we were out of school.  I have to say that Suckie Camp by Brian Cook and Nick Nummerdor is probably one of my favorite articles.  Gilana Alpert (1981-2007) finally revealed herself as a contributor when she discovered that she'd be our first female writer.  Mike Nummerdor and Ryan Link also share the credit for introducing comic strips to the zine.

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Issue #7: Free Sticker!  Another popular issue that went into a second pressing.  Mike Nummerdor's interview with The Skeptics, who played almost every show I saw in Muskegon Michigan.  This issue also introduced the comic strips by Max Ryznar.

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Issue #8: J. T. Law educates people on the proper way to order from Pizza Hut.  Mike Nummerdor continues with his coverage of the Michigan music scene with an article about Warped Tour.  Our first music review of Evilution by Circle of Fear and a self-titled album by The Dead Sea Squirrels.  This marks our first political attack of the local city government for considering turning a 10-acre park along Lake Michigan into a housing development.  Another article criticized the $42 million renovation of the local high school.

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Issue #9: Brian Cook interview with Scratch N' Sniff.  Jeremy Whiteman describes the infamous Ice Pick music venue.  Music reviews of BMX by Shoot the Gift and Two by Autobots.  More coverage of the local city government's attempts to turn a Lake Michigan park into a housing development.

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Issue #10: If I got a tattoo, it'd probably be of this cover.  Brandy Miller, our Editor-In-Chief, became our first foreign correspondent as she wrote about being an exchange student in Germany.  Brian Cook interviewed Kepi of the Groovie Ghoulies and Mike Nummerdor met with the local band Waldemar Daa.  A music review of the compilation called Be a Ho! and Going Nowhere Fast by Slo-Poke.  We also started getting so much mail that I had to rent a PO Box.  

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Issue #11:  Look at the bottom.  We attempted to produce an e-zine in December 1997.  Never figured it out; but ahead of the curve still with dial up internet connections.  Interviews with the bands Operation: Cliff Clavin and Slo=Poke.  Reviews of Smorgasbord  by Unilever and self-titled The Skeptics (by then; "Muskegon's Ska Giants).  

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Issue #12: New writers continue to join.  Jay Unidos, who really became my zine mentor, influenced a lot of what we did after he started contributing.  Josh Engineer, who I just realized is from Rochester NY (where I live now) also joined the staff.  Mike Nummerdor interviewed Fudge Gun and Paula Kukulka met with the Deluxtone Rockets.  Reviews of CDs (that's right, it was the 90s) by Stinkaholic, Christ On a Crutch, Punk Rock Compilation Volume One by 206 Records, and White Trash Debutantes.  

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Issue #13: ONE YEAR ANNIVERSARY!  A lot of nostalgia and we really became artists of the cut-and-paste aesthetic.  Rod Moon is introduced in what I'll call a micro-article.  Casey Anderson and Ben Johnson have comic strips.  Band interviews with Anti-Flag, No Class, Ferd Mert, and RooSteak.  Mike Nummerdor started Skoog! Distro along with reviewing the albums by The Incrowd, The Piss Shivers, My So-Called Band, and Snap-Her.  Also, first issue of the zine with Editor-In-Chief Gina Lack.

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Issue #14: More political agitation about the local government's attempts to destroy a public park along Lake Michigan.  Coverage of the Schism Zine Anniversary Show that featured nine bands.  Stephanie Rose was amazing at organizing one of the biggest local shows I've ever seen.  J. T. Law reveals his true identity as a band?  Action Rod Moon introduces an extreme sports section.  Damon Hoeltzel becomes our music reviewer with NoFX, Zeke, and New Bomb Turks.  We have interviews with The Throw Downs and Chick Flyck.  Louise Allen of New Zealand educates us about life outside the United States.  

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Issue #15: Jay Unidos induces a few doses about the DIY ethic.  J. T. Law does an anthropology study of Denny's.  Album reviews of Scratch N' Sniff, Antronnylon, Gas Huffers, and the Red Aunts.  Mike Nummerdor interviews the Dropkick Murphy's.  A personal piece by Carrie Swinburne and a comic by Ryan Link.  

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Issue #16: Action Rod introduces us to sandboarding.  Andy Coulon, who now runs a zine library at the Jacksonville Florida Public Library, has a piece about the Tank Man of Tiananmen Square.  Album reviews of The Humpers, J. Bartle, Maybe Later, and Record Ignite.  An interview with the band Drive.  Comics by Dave Scholtons and Ben Johnson.

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Issue #17: Becky Gradisher writes an article with actual sources.  The Schism/J. T. Law (band) crew with Fat Mike of NoFX.  Album reviews of Fracas, No Class, God Awful, Bobbykork Wally, and Violent Society.  An interview with Greg from the Bouncing Souls.

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Issue #18:  There was a summer break for the zine as I spent a summer in Germany.  You can see it had a great influence by the spelling of the month on the cover.  This issue is also the first one to use Photoshop.  Lots of articles about Europe, the music scene, police relations, transportation, and healthcare.  Album reviews of Hole, Rancid, Local H, and The Big Wheels.  There's an Action Rod Sweepstakes and a comic by Drew Yeaton.  This was the last issue of Schism Zine as I had to focus on preparing for college.

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Issue #19: A New Tomorrow was my first independent zine from August 2000.  It was also free (which is why all zines afterwards were only 8 1/2" x 5 1/2") as this was a summer project while I was out of college.  J. T. Law was the only other contributor.  

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Issue #21: Land of the Weird was published in July 2004.  This zine probably the most carefully crafted I've ever produced.  Everything except for the text was hand drawn.  I was heavily influence my medieval manuscripts at the time and that directed the layout.  Also, moving back to Michigan from Chicago gave me rose colored lenses of my home state.  

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Issue #22: Back to A New Tomorrow and it is almost a rebuttal to Issue #21.  When this was started, I completed graduate school in Grand Rapids, Michigan and moved by to Muskegon, Michigan.  This was followed a few months later by moving back to Chicago.  Everything except for the external pages were hand drawn.  While the photo looks like it's a re-enactment of the French Revolution, it's actually from the parking lot of Comiskey Park immediately after the White Sox won the World Series.

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Issue #23: Published in February 2007, it was probably the most personal zine I've written.  I was re-reading a lot of Aaron Cometbus and other zines I found down the street at Quimby's Bookstore in Chicago.  No more hand drawings.  This time it includes all original photographs.  There's also a comic strip from Drew Yeaton.

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Issue #24: The last published zine from August 2007.  The cost of printing became prohibitive and I was generating far more readers online.  Again, a more personal style and observations of life in Chicago.  All original photographs as well.

Thank you for joining me on my walk through memory lane.  These recently have come back into my possession as I have my own home and can store my own junk now.  These zines really did change my life.  It was because I made countless friends that I care for to this day.  It allowed me access to so many experience I would otherwise not have like going on stage with my favorite bands, meeting people I admired, and it was a great way to introduce myself to people I would otherwise had no reason to share life with.  There are way too many people to thank individually over the years and I hope you know who you are and how much I appreciate everything you have done.
PS-If I have made an error, please don't hesitate to let me know as this was largely done from memory.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Random Indoor Activities

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NINE YEARS!  That's a lot of candles!

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Bella loves to party

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More cupcakes from Karen's daughter.  Karen, give me the word and we'll pull Jenny out of college and start a bakery.  Warning: I'll eat all the profits...

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Crazy weather.  It's either nice and warm like this down at Canandaigua Lake or...

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Nasty like this thunder, rain, and hail the other day.  It seems like we've had about 2-3 weeks of straight rain.  

Nothing else too much to report.  Kind of been cooped up in the house with the weather and all.  

How To Build a Simple Fire Pit

Updated by popular demand.  I've decided to put up a quick post because there has been a lot of interest in how I built this fire pit.  So, here we go.

First, dig a hole the size you'd like for a fire pit.  This is about 40 inches x 40 inches with a depth of about 9 inches.

Once dug out, tamp or pack the soil tight and level (Not really seen in this photo).

Lay out the cinderblocks in a square and level.  Fill in with some of the soil that you dug out.

Next, lay some decorative bricks on top.  Once in place, dump soil or sand on top of the bricks and try to rub it into the seams.

TA DA!  You have a simple, cheap fire pit that is easy to maintain, easy to fix, and easy to remove.  

THANKS and please let me know if you need anything or have any questions!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

The Battle Against Beige Tyranny!

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Before and after of the northeast side of the living room.  Since our home was built in 1951, we decided to restore the house to a fun 1950s style palette.  

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Before and after of the southwest side of the living room

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Sorry The Braithwaites Established 2000.  The Bell-Kraus' will finally claim this living room in the shade of Mint Milkshake!

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While I'm at home repair, need to clean the gutters (which apparently have not been cleaned since 2005).  Can I do it from climbing out the second floor window?  Nope, need a ladder...

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Now that the work is done, time for a fire!

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Campfire Premium Quality Giant Roaster Marshmallows!  The mascot is accurate.  The marshmallows are the size of someone's head!  THANKS MARIANNE!

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Mmmmmm....  Giant Smore!

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Look who came to our cookout.  Megan and I were sitting around a nice fire talking when we heard some footsteps.  We saw one deer walk by and try to keep his distance.  Not this one.  He walked right up to us and the fire and didn't back off until we both shouted at him and banged sticks.  He only backed off about ten feet and we could not scare him off.  I literally have about 100 photos of this deer thinking I could use the flash to startle him.  Nope.  

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The more I observe the deer at my house, the less impressed I am with deer hunters.  It isn't a sport if I can walk up to them, put a rope around their necks, and lead them into my garage.
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Megan and I's anniversary is coming up in the next couple of weeks and we don't have patio furniture yet.  Saw this Gnome/Dwarf set at Topps for only $199.99!  This truly would be the gift we would never, NEVER forget!

That's it for this edition.  Thanks for wasting your time with me!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

So a Priest Walks Into Bellhurst Castle...

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Bellhurst Castle ( on Seneca Lake.  Father Jack had his 50th anniversary of being ordained as a priest.  

For those who don't know Father Jack, he's the priest that married Megan and I.  Here we are dancing at our reception.  It was a great 50th anniversary celebration and we were honored to be invited.

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A view of Seneca Lake

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Mr. Fussy looks like a teacher I had in high school...

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Athena seems to be waiting for 5 o'clock to roll around...

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I can't wait for her to try to make this happen when she's 70-80 lbs.

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I call this "Still Life of a Future Blog Post."  

That's all I have this week. 

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