Tuesday, August 30, 2005

What To Do When You Need To Find New, Exciting Music

  1. Go to http://www.kcrw.com
  2. Click on "music" in the upper left-hand corner.
  3. Stream the player of your choice.
  4. Get a new favorite song within 30 minutes.
At least it always works for me.

Obscured By Clouds

I made the slow, tedious drive home from work tonight. I have rain attacking me from all around, I'm choosing not to use the defroster because the last time I did I heard a bad noise (and I do not like bad noises), and my windows are open a bit so that the windshield does not completely fog up. I make it home 45 minutes later and I'm tired. I don't reward myself with sleep though. That'll come later.

For now, I have blogs to check and music to listen to. I can't quite find my musical mood though. I bounce around Rhapsody, listening to snippets from Aimee Mann, Lou Reed, and Louis Jordan. I'm not really digging anything. Finally, I think of Pink Floyd and open up their discography. And I settle on Animals, followed by Obscured By Clouds. These albums are perfect for me tonight.

And the title of the latter choice is certainly appropriate for those affected by Katrina and her Waves, who are decidedly not "Walking On Sunshine" tonight. CNN is reporting at least 54 deaths as a result of her winds and rains. My Biloxi mother-in-law is safely with us in the Boro and it's nice to have her here and near.

It's safe and cozy in my home. The family is sleeping well upstairs, and I'm sipping my green bottled Heineken and feeling quite content. "Absolutely Curtains" is closing the disc, Roger Waters and company are done for the night, and so am I.

Monday, August 29, 2005

This Boy Is Country Again

It never lasts long. Soon, I'll be back to Nine Inch Nails and Tom Waits and David Baerwald and more great music that scares the masses. But in the last few days, I have put some serious time into listening to some really great country music.

A few days ago, a friend gave me some CDs that he didn't want. One of the CDs was a Suzy Bogguss release from the 90s that I loved then and was happy to return to now. Driving home last night, I listened to it and just fell in love with her all over again. John Hiatt's Drive South sounded awesome as I drove southeast. And, topically, Lovin' A Hurricane sounded beautiful, if not a little ironic. (My thoughts are certainly with those who are dealing with the not so metaphoric hurricane Katrina.)

Then, thinking I've listened to my share of country music for the year, I read today's Tennessean and find a profile on new artists Hanna-McEuen. I pull them up on Rhapsody and am loving it. The profile references the sound of both Foster and Lloyd and Raul Malo of The Mavericks. I can't say I disagree. This is smart, clean country music with heart.

Too much more of this and someone is gonna have to take my Pearl Jam and Van Halen shirts from me.

Venti Vent

OK. I came into contact with someone today who I thought would appreciate that there is now a Starbucks at my workplace. She quickly and indignantly told me that she doesn't support Starbucks because "they don't support our troops because Starbucks doesn't support the war."

Now while there may be quite valid reasons for people to choose not to spend their money at certain places, this reason just plain doesn't fly. It is completely untrue and invalid. Nonetheless, I was not in a position to argue with her, and frankly I don't think she wanted to be proven wrong.

She felt very righteous to be out there in the field (or desert), supporting our troops by not drinking a specific coffee. Hell, this act of support pretty much puts her right on the front line, doesn't it? Wonder if she's waiting for Rummy to provide extra body armor for her Lexus while she's out there fighting the good fight? I'd hate to burst her bubble about her java line.

Oh well, I'm just here to serve. The truth shouldn't get in the way. Meanwhile, snopes has the details. Carry on, traveling saleslady. I'll wear a ribbon for you.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Silhouette Of My Daughter

Not the perfect profile, but a nice shot nonetheless. I wonder how many thousands of pictures I have taken of the little crumb-snatchers.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

It's Time Again For HNT

I am a serious intellectual. As evidenced in the photo.

4/5 Of Chez Bez

Adventures In Google Image Search

While listening to Herbie Hancock's new CD, I decide to try Google Image Search to find any pics of both Joss Stone and Herbie Hancock together. It turns out that while no pictures of them together were found, GIS determined that three pics of Diana Krall would be the next best thing. Evidently, Herbie Hancock plus Joss Stone equals Diana Krall.


Herbie Hancock's Star-studded New Release

It had me at "featuring Joss Stone." It sounds good.

Herbie Hancock - Possibilities

"Stitched Up" featuring John Mayer
"Safiatou" featuring Carlos Santana and Angelique Kidjo
"A Song for You" featuring Christina Aguilera
"I Do It for Your Love" featuring Paul Simon
"Hush, Hush, Hush" featuring Annie Lennox
"Sister Moon" featuring Sting
"When Loves Comes to Town" featuring Joss Stone and Jonny Lang
"Don't Explain" featuring Damien Rice and Lisa Hannigan
"Gelo No Montana" featuring Trey Anastasio
"I Just Called To Say I Loved You" featuring Raul Midon

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Midlife Crisis At Age 35

It is a quiet dusk at Chéz Béz and I am listening to Claire de Lune by Debussy. It is just what I need right now. I go about each day both blessed and stressed. Aware of how happy I should be, but always worrying about how I might lose what I have. It's possible that I am just simply hard-wired for anxiety, and no measure of good fortune will put me at complete ease.

If I am to use Unbreakable by M. Night Shyamalan as a reference, it makes sense that (just like Bruce Willis' character in the movie) I a man destined for a certain kind of work and I am doing something very far from that work. In essence, not only am I not realizing my potential but I don't even know which way to face to go toward it.

All will be fine; I know this. I am just ever so self-analytical. Nothing transpires in my life without me playing it over and over in my head, trying to find the place where I could have really performed at a greater level of achievement. No conversation takes place where I don't reflect on how I could have better played a part. I just want to be all things to all people, a task of dubious good sense.

I complain and I worry, and yet I have so much beauty in my life. My struggles are the dreams of millions. Go figure.

What phrase keeps me going? "This too shall pass." So far, it is always true.

Close Your Eyes, Ethel!

In today's Tennessean, Learn Nashville is chock full of information about the history of streaking in Nashville.

My favorite passage (from March 1974): "...and Tennessee legislator Rep. Benny Stafford, R-Lenoir City, was calling for a bill to prohibit even partial nudity. 'Streaking is the most indecent and immoral thing. It brings this country one step closer to the dogs,' Stafford was quoted as saying."

Terry Gilliam on Studio 360

Tune in this Sunday at 10am to 90.3 WPLN to hear Terry Gilliam on Studio 360. The topic? Why darkness, fear, and the fantastic are good for kids.


Monday, August 22, 2005

Google Enhances Desktop Search

Google just keeps on rockin' me, baby. Last night, I downloaded their new Desktop Search and I am loving this sidebar that comes with it. Today, I am taking my PC to a friend's house so he cam work his magic and speed it up and fine tune it and such. And here I am installing more stuff. But I can't help it. It's Google and Google owns me. I really should buy a Google hat or t-shirt, but it's just not within the reaches of my budget right now. (Why is everything just out of my budget reach? And if that's true, why do I keep buying beer?)

ANYWAY, check out what Google's got to offer. It's a keeper.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

My Rare Day Of Leisure

Today was my day off from work; no major tasks were required of me, at least none that couldn't be put off until tomorrow. We at Chéz Béz went to the pool and followed that by an evening at the ballpark. More days like this would be quite welcomed by yours truly.

Hunter S. Thompson, Out Of This World

Hear that boom? That's the sound of Hunter S. Thompson's ashes being shot out of a 153-foot tower into the Colorado air. Here's the story.

Can Someone Please Make This Illegal?

I cringed when the Stones made an exclusive deal with BestBuy some years ago ensuring that their new CD would only be available there for the first few weeks of its release. There have been other similar deals with other artists over the years that gave me the same reaction. So much for the other stores in the community that have supported these artists over the years.

And now, in today's Tennessean I read that Garth Brooks now has an exclusive deal with Wal-Mart. He owns his stuff, so he can do with it as he wishes, but it just strikes me wrong that if you want to buy anything from Mr. Brooks, you can only do so from one store. No matter how much you may prefer another store.

I'm turning into a cranky old man in a hurry.

Friday, August 19, 2005

All My Compliments Come With Asterisks

A 20 year old female coworker said a really nice thing to me the other day. And then she kept talking. I had been parking cars at the workplace in the rain, and so I had taken off my glasses so I wouldn't have to keep drying them off every 10 minutes. ANYWAY, she comes up to me and says, "You know, you're really cute...without your glasses." OK, I pretty much have to wear my glasses all the time. And I wonder what I look like with my glasses.

So what do I look like pretty much all the time? Hmmm, hear another thing another female coworker said under the guise of a compliment. To a friend of mine she said, "I think Mike's pretty cool afterall; I used to think he was a nerd until I got to know him better."

Two ways to look at this. Either too bad I have to wear glasses or thank God I'm married and don't have to worry about looking cool anymore.

These Kids Are Alright

Not Without My Governor's Approval

State sues Rumsfeld over base. (click here for story)

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Around Town With Joshua

It is too rare that I get to wander about town with my cherubs and see the sites through their eyes. Joshua (and most kids) certainly has the right approach to life. Have a good time, smile big, and expect greatness at every moment.

Fatal Attraction - The Geritol Years

Apparently, she had never heard the age old adage, "Men: can't live with them, can't shoot them."

Link to the story here.

MIchael Brecker Diagnosed With Myelodysplastic Syndrome

I've listened to Michael Brecker off and on since the early '90s when I worked at Turtles. My heart goes out to Michael and his friends and family and I wish him the best with this current challenge. For the news story and further information, click here.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Vassar Clements Has Passed Away

The Associated Press story is here. The local story is here. And the personal story is that he was a good friend of my step-father's. Bobby Thompson, my step-father and talented, professional banjo player passed away recently, and now Vassar is also gone after a long struggle with lung cancer.

Vassar "Superbow" Clements was a fiddle player who made guys like me appreciate music that would most usually not get more than ten seconds of playing time on the personal stereo. His dynamic style of playing was affectionately called "hillbilly jazz." None of his music sounded manufactured or "market tested". It really was the sound of great talent having a great, wild time.

I'll see if my mom has any pics of Bobby and Vassar together or if I can share any anecdotes here. Until then, look up his stuff, listen to it and just relax and smile. That's what I'm doing right now.

Arlo and Janis...and Mike

If this violates copyright, I'll take it off. But I love how much of my life can be found in a few panels of a comic strip.

Arlo and Janis is almost always dead on. (Just click the comic to enlarge it.)

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

The Ivy Is Alive!!! (And Quite Mesmerizing)

A few weeks ago, I played tourist and met some visiting family members at the Opryland Hotel. Imagine my surprise when some long, tall (and sexy?) ivy started walking my way.
I was transfixed by the strange and beautiful site. The pic with her face gently pressed to the wall is certainly my favorite.

My poor two year old son, however, had no idea what to think. Nothing in his still short life had come close to preparing him for what he saw. Can't say I blame him.

file under: Life's Not Fair

Executed Woman to Get Pardon in Georgia

Published: August 16, 2005
ALBANY, Ga., Aug. 15 (AP) - The only woman ever executed in Georgia's electric chair, Lena Baker, is being granted a posthumous pardon, 60 years after she was put to death for killing a man she said had held her in slavery and threatened her life.

The Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles plans to make the pardon official by presenting a proclamation to Ms. Baker's descendants at a meeting on Aug. 30 in Atlanta, a board spokeswoman, Scheree Lipscomb, said Monday.

The board did not find that Ms. Baker was not guilty of the crime, but it did find that the decision to deny her clemency in 1945 "was a grievous error, as this case called out for mercy," Ms. Lipscomb said.

In her one-day trial, Ms. Baker, who was black, testified that E. B. Knight, a white man she had been hired to care for, had held her against her will and threatened to shoot her. She said she grabbed a gun and shot him when he raised a metal bar to strike her. She was convicted by an all-white, all-male jury.

Ms. Baker's grandnephew, Roosevelt Curry, has led the family's effort to clear her name.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

One Less Crazy Russian On My Street

My street just got a little less diverse, as my friend Alex and his lovely wife Ashleigh have departed for a windier city. I spent my day off helping him put stuff into a truck. (There's a Mitch Hedberg joke in there. Do you see it?)

My muscles are a bit more "ripped", my shoulders are a bit sunburned, and my street is a bit more average. These neighbors are the ones I wish I had more time for. If it weren't for my tiring and everchanging work schedule, I would envision that we would have spent many an evening hanging out, talking about music and jobs and exes and future plans.

As it was, we would touch on these various topics in random small increments of time: a few minutes here while I walk my dog past his house, a few minutes there while they pass by my house on their way to a restaurant. Always, the conversations would end with a promise to get together sometime. Come over for dinner. Check out a band some night.

Two years of friendly passings gone by and now they are taking the Ryder truck up to Chicago. What's funny is if I pursue a certain job and get it, I will find myself in Chicago once or twice a week and crashing on their couch. And so, as life seems to go, I would find myself spending much more time with my former neighbors now that they are living 500 miles away. I wish them a safe journey and hope their new neighbors are as nice as me. There's some heavy stuff in that moving truck.

Monday, August 08, 2005

OK Computer - You Need Fixing

And so it is that my computer is slow, tough to restart, seemingly missing an important device driver, and freaking me out. Lots of pictures are safely tucked away on disc, but I still fear losing recently taken pics if this old hard drive decides to fail me.

Where do I go to remedy these problems? People think I'm tech savvy, but I'm really just a caveman in a world of 10 year olds who build computers because they're bored. Do I go to my local computer repair shop? BestBuy is out of the question. But what about another recommendation? Do I have a friend who would love to tinker about with this machine? Let me know if so. I don't want to start blogging from the library. Their dresscode is stricter than the one at my home.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

One Powerball Quick Pick, Please

A few years ago, while coming home from my honeymoon, I read The New Gilded Age : The New Yorker Looks at the Culture of Affluence. Among the many great essays was one that really stuck with me. Mr. Lucky, written by Rebecca Mead, is about a struggling performance artist in NYC who won forty-five million dollars in the New York State lottery. It's hard to imagine that those who don't even play the lottery don't fantasize about winning.

I remember driving a hotel guest to a convenience store a few months ago. We started talking about Powerball and he, a financial adviser, was going on about how it was a terrible way to spend one's money. Instead, smart investing of even small amounts was always a wiser way to work toward riches. That said, he returned from the store to the van with two Powerball tickets. One for him and one for me...just in case.

John Falcon was the big winner in the Rebecca Mead story. Three years since I read that story and six years since he won, a musical documentary of his life has been released, entitled One Man Show.

I think I'll buy a ticket today.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

When She Said Yes

August 3, 2002

Three years ago today, I vowed the following to my wife:

"I accept you Paige,
as a person, and as my wife,
with your strengths and your weaknesses.
I promise to be loyal to you in health
or illness,
to share what I have and who I am,
to love enough to risk being hurt,
to trust when I misunderstand,
to weep with you in sorrow,
to celebrate with you in joy,
and to live with you in reverence."

And she vowed the same to me.

I am always humbled by her kindness and strong sense of conviction.

I proposed to her on Stone Mountain in Georgia on a hazy but beautiful day. We stopped by Shane Co. on the way to Stone Mountain to "look at" rings. Not that I had already proposed, but we were certainly headed that way, so discussion was in the air. While we were looking, I excused myself to go to the bathroom, but really I went to the back counter to pay for the ring that I had already selected. (Sneaky as I wanna be.)

After "looking", we drove to Stone Mountain with her being none the wiser about the ring. If she suspected anything at all, she had dismissed it entirely because of our little trip to Shane Co. And so we rode the sky tram to the top of the mountain with me constantly fidgeting in my right pocket, afraid I'd lose the ring at any given moment. An impossible fear with it being so deep within my pocket, but you understand.

Upon exiting the tram at the top, the tram attendant said that Stone Mountain is 825 feet tall and all I could think was that if I dropped the ring at any point, it could possibly roll 825 feet away from me. Well, after admiring the scenery, I turned to Paige and proceeded to tell her how much I love her and all kinds of nice things that I wish I could remember saying now. I then pulled the ring carefully from my pocket and asked her to be my wife. Through her happy tears, she said yes and we hugged. I realized later that I forgot to go down on bended knee. Happily, this was not a deal breaker.

We started dating in August of 1996, so this day had been a long time coming. She is certainly patient and I thank her for that. My life is certainly enriched as a result and I'm more in love with her now than I was even then.

One funny memory from the day of the proposal:

After she said yes, I asked a request of a passerby. I told him that I had just asked her to marry me and would he take our picture.
In complete seriousness, he asked "what did she say?"
I wondered why would I want to document my rejection. "Here, I'm sad and she's mean. Take our picture!"

Paige, thanks for saying "yes". And then thanks for saying "I do".

The wedding album is here.

And the honeymoon album is here.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Klosterman Is Coming! (or 85% Of A Good Idea)

Anxiously, I am waiting to read Chuck Klosterman's latest book, Killing Yourself to Live : 85% of a True Story. On our great Biloxi trip, I read Chuck Klosterman's Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs to Paige. I enjoyed reading to her and she enjoyed being read to. A local blogger had mentioned the book, so I picked it up not knowing anything about it. Turns out he's phenomenal. A great story teller and insanely funny. Paige and I laughed for the better part of the road trip.

And now, I find out from the Scene that he's reading and signing at Davis-Kidd on Wednesday, August 3. Do yourselves a favor and get there if you can. And if you see me, tell me you love my blog. I'll be the guy who is celebrating his 3rd wedding anniversary by taking his wife to a bookstore.