A new year beginning, and, I'm glad to report, plenty of new things to - well, plenty of new things to be glad to report!
First, on the Rush front, just this past week Alex and Geddy and I have started work on some new songs. Although we are 3000 miles apart, the two of them at home in Toronto and me in California, last week I received an e-mail from Geddy saying that he and Alex had spent the day in his home studio, and not only did they have fun, but they also thought they'd written something good.
A couple of weeks ago I had written to both of them that I had spent some time at my Quebec place in November, and decided to see if I had any lyrical "muscles" built up. With the first snows of winter whipping around outside, the lake beginning to freeze over during the cold, still nights, I spent five days sitting on the floor in front of the fireplace. A pile of papers grew in an ever-widening circle around me, and in the end - after much forehead-wrinkling and gnashing of teeth - I felt that I had about six half-decent ideas under construction. I wasn't that confident they were any good, mind you, but I never am until the other guys respond to them. And anyway, those words won't come alive until after the "little miracle" of hearing them sung for the first time.
So when Geddy told me that he and Alex were starting to work on some music, he also asked if I could send them some words to work with. I took a deep breath and sent off my "babies," and now I'm waiting (somewhat anxiously) to hear their responses.
Speaking of "babies," at the end of last year we sent our R30 DVD out into the world, and Hudson Music also released my Anatomy of a Drum Solo. It's too early to tell yet, but so far they seem to be surviving pretty well in the cold, cruel world. You always hope so, but you never know. My friends seem to enjoy them, anyway, and that's important.
I am planning to travel up to Canada later this month, to spend some time in Quebec working on the final revision of Roadshow: Landscape With Drums, A Concert Tour by Motorcycle (at the urging of my editor, Paul McCarthy, I am once again using both subtitles) and getting in some cross-country skiing and showshoeing during the brightest (some would say darkest) and snowiest days of winter.
Alex and Geddy and I plan to get together soon in person and make some serious plans for writing and recording this year. Hopefully we'll also get together soon with guitars and drums. It's increasingly difficult to work out a timetable that allows us to accomplish everything we want to do as a band, plus everything we want to do in our individual lives. But we've always managed to find a way, and surely will again. However we resolve that this time, the actual work is sure to take most of 2006 to accomplish, so although it's encouraging to know that some new Rush music is in the works, no one should hold their breath waiting to hear it.
Friends and strangers have informed me they have heard there are plans for a Rush tour this year, but I can only say, "It's news to me." In reality, any tour dates in 2006 are unlikely - maybe next year.
As for the Roadshow story, it looks like the book will have a September publication now, which means I will have to knuckle down and get it finished by the end of February.
When I first began writing the book, this time last year, I spent February and part of March in Quebec, rising early to work on the book all morning, then closing up the computer at noon and heading for the snowy woods on cross-country skis or snowshoes. Home in the early winter twilight for a shower and maybe an hour's nap, then a glass of The Macallan by the fire while I read over and correct the morning's work. That schedule proved to be both productive and enjoyable, so I will hope to do the same this year - if the weather co-operates.
Speaking of which...
That's easy - in Southern California this time of year, it's mostly sunny and warm, with occasional torrential rains, and sometimes high winds, especially at night. Because I grew up in the east, where that combination is rare - winds usually fall at night, unless there's a big storm - high winds at night still make me feel uneasy. Particularly those "devil winds," the Santa Anas.
When I get to Quebec in late January, I hope for 3 or 4 feet of snow on the ground, with more falling every few days to "refresh" the ski trails and the scenery, and a temperature between - 5° and - 10° Centigrade. Perfect cross-country skiing conditions, and nice to look at out the kitchen window while I'm working.
And speaking of...
It occurred to me that my previous breezy comments about spectator sports might seem to express a kind of "snobbishness" about the subject. I would explain that the opposite is true. As I was telling my father-in-law over the holidays, when he insisted on watching a basketball game on Christmas Day, I am certainly not immune to the vicarious excitement of team sports.
There have been times when Alex and Geddy and I have been in the studio, for example, and I've gotten totally caught up in the hockey playoffs. During breaks in the recording, or while waiting to hear a mix, we would sit in front of the television, all anxious about something over which we had absolutely no control - and I would get all tense about the outcome.
And then after all that tension, there was no release - no reward. Inevitably, we were either disappointed by other people's failure to win the game, or briefly elated by their victory. Even after a whole season of watching something that either tortures you with someone else's failure, or even excites you with their transitory victory, you are left with? precisely nothing.
A few days ago I was hiking in the Santa Monica Mountains with South Park's Matt Stone, and he was telling me that for him, growing up in the Denver area, everything had been centered on football. If the Broncos won on Sunday, his world would be a better place on Monday.
Matt and I were also talking about books, and he mentioned that he hadn't been doing much reading lately. He held his hands out, thumbs extended, and mimed playing on his X-Box. And yes, I have shared that time-eating fascination too, in earlier generations of video games, and for me, I eventually decided that like team sports and other addictive activities, it was better avoided. Perhaps I've reached an age where anything that keeps me up all night probably isn't good.
But there are so many other ways to spend my time.
As my dad used to say, "That's my story, and I'm sticking to it."