Wednesday, September 28, 2005

The Rising

Bruce Springsteen's The Rising CD was released in 2002. I'm a fan, but for some reason I only recently found myself with a copy of it. My mom gave it to me a few months ago and it sat unlistened to for way too long. A couple of days ago, I took it with me for the drive to work. Initially, a few songs stood out and many others just seemed a bit muddled, trudging along in a bit of that generic Springsteen sound. Of course, our favorite CDs get better with repeated listenings, and this one has the makings of being in the top 10 of the year for me.

As I drove home from work tonight, I listened to "You're Missing" on repeat for what might have been six or seven times. And each time, I found tears trying to do what they do. It's my impression that this song focuses on that spouse that never came home, having perished on 9/11, maybe an employee at the World Trade Center, maybe a rescue worker. And someone is left at home, that home made to share life forever with that perfect match. Only that perfect match will never, in body, be there again. Missing.

In art, we can easily find ourselves living someone else's life if only for five minutes and ten seconds, in the case of this song. In great art, we can really live the pain and/or joy of that life. As a husband to the person I will love forever, as the father to three who give me life's best everyday, I weep at the brief thought that I might one day truly receive that proof of how fleeting life can be. I pray desperately never to need the strength to cope with that. But people have to do that everyday. I wish them peace.

I am reminded now, in late 2005, of the images of the man in Biloxi who lost his wife in Hurricane Katrina. My wife and my mother-in-law were watching the news nonstop. My mother-in-law lived in Biloxi and was staying with us, a car full of her life parked in our Murfreesboro driveway. As I walked through the room, trying to balance my sympathy for my mother-in-law who had a connection to this storm that I did not with the fact that she and my wife were choosing FoxNews as their news channel of choice (not mine!), I saw a man being interviewed who couldn't find his wife. He had truly lost her. He didn't know where she was, whether she was alive or not, whether she was in pain or not. He just kept sobbing, "I can't find my wife. I'm lost, I'm lost." And our household sobbed, too. And our hearts go out to him, and to anyone else in the world experiencing what no one should.

And thanks to artists like Bruce Springsteen, who continue to write so artfully and with such compassion. We buy your CDs, we go to your concerts, and we buy your merchandise. And you give so beautifully of your art, helping to nudge us along that path from entertainment to altruism.

You give us what we want but you also give us what we need. And that's where we find The Rising.

Click here for lyrics and a snippet of "You're Missing".

Monday, September 26, 2005

What Has Four Legs And One Eye?

This is Georgia, our English Bulldog. She is of the Uga line, that famous line of mascots for the University of Georgia. She is my sweetie. I come home from work late each night knowing that the family will be comfortably asleep, but Georgia will be waiting for me to take her for a walk down our quiet street.

She has only one eye, and is thus called "the one 'eye' love." She was born blind in the other eye and the vet surgically removed it a year or so ago. She is skittish as anything, probably as a result of her impaired vision, and now deals with a two year old boy running around the house freaking her out each day and night. As most good dogs do though, she just puts up with his craziness and waits for us to direct him away from her. He has been better recently about being sweet on her. It's her reward for outlasting his wild times with her own peaceful patience.

The desire (and upcoming bad joke) is that we would like to be able to afford another dog and playmate to Georgia. Since she is a bulldog of the English persuasion, we want a French Bulldog. Then we could take them both out for walks together, the English so that she can go pee, and the French Bulldog so that she can go "oui oui."

Saturday, September 24, 2005

QB Option

I just returned from Vandy's latest triumph, bringing them to an unimaginable 4-0 on the season. My father and I were sitting with some friends of the family and saying weird things like, "They just brought in the 2nd string QB because the game's in the bag" and "they went for it on 4th down instead of kicking the easy field goal because points are not important to them at this point in the game."

Upon hearing that last bit of information, one of our friends turned to us and, with a kind and compassionate smile, said, "isn't life wonderful when you have options?" It's true. For the first time in years, I was watching the end of a Vanderbilt football game discussing the options they had, not the necessary and usually futile playcalls in pursuit of victory.

I have a feeling that she wasn't just talking about football though. Much has been in the news lately about the poor of our country. When you have so little that you do not have the resources to flee an approaching and devastating storm, you have little indeed. My Saturday evening was spent in pleasure. I drove to Hillsboro Village to share croissants and coffee with my dad. We then walked to a stadium, rested comfortably upon bleachers and enjoyed a few hours of good times.

I sometimes feel that despite my attempts at earning and saving for a more comfortable living, I am failing daily. But I also know that my worst times are the best of hopes for so many. I sometimes feel the weight of my limited options. But I know that there are so many who live without even that. It's my fear that something as little as a broken fuel pump or a faulty alternator will severely damage my ability to get to work, thus snowballing into further financial struggles or worries. It would just be a minor inconvenience for some, but it worries me daily. Thankfully, I must realize and admit that I have options. I do have some money in the bank, I could charge any repair, or I could borrow from a family member. I'd rather not borrow, but it is an option.

Because of all the things I have in life and of all the blessings and breaks I have received, I know not to look for pity from the absolute millions in the world who don't have what I have. The oppressed people of Darfur, the 200,000 Kenyan children who face famine everyday, the homeless of Nashville, TN.

I have options. And life is wonderful.

The Champagne of Beers

Sometimes we find the best art in advertisements. This new ad for Miller High Life is exceptional. Even if it does seem to completely rip-off True Romance (same music, same style of narration).

Here it is (if I linked it right).

The Views Expressed On This Post...

...don't necessarily reflect the views of this blogger. I just think it's a funny bumper sticker.

Another one I saw that I didn't take a picture of was, "Don't blame me; my parents were hippies." I would have paid top dollar for that one.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Ode To My Wife

Her birthday is soon to arrive and I hope she always knows how much I love her. She married me three years ago and all I am is humbled whenever I hear that sound of my wedding ring when I pick up a glass with my left hand. I am a hotel bellman and I often use my left hand to grab a bellcart with my left hand just to hear the sound of those wedding bells again. I love that they are always with me.

We've been tested for sure. No dramatic temptations of our fidelity. Nothing as would be scripted for the big screen to appeal to a mass audience. Just everyday busyness. She awakens for work a few hours after I come home from my work. Our schedules work for what we need, but they keep us at a distance from each other. A few hours together from time to time and we are assuredly too exhausted to behave for each other the way we did when we first met.

I regret that we don't have more time together, but we both seem to clearly see the bigger picture. In time, our kindness and patience of today will be rewarded. For now, I take our small moments and cherish them. I work each night knowing it's for the greater good. I think of the times I have needed her most, and she has come through without hesitation. I think of a time when I made a potentially costly mistake and she only supported me. A lot of people would not have been so kind as she. She has never nagged and we have never fought. Not counting a break, we have been together for nine years. And even when we broke off our relationship for a year or so, the breakup was the most kind and loving breakup one can imagine. It's no wonder we reunited.

She gives me strength and I always want to look and be my best for her. My flaws are not hidden to my wife. They are revealed with confidence. We joke that Jon Bon Jovi is her "get out of marriage free" card. But even in the silliness of that kind of talk, I can never commit to anyone for myself. No one measures up to her. Even fantasies don't rival what she gives me in marriage. ( I would settle for Mary-Chapin Carpenter, I suppose.)

Paige, you are a wonderful person. I value you for so many reasons, including your kindness, your compassion, and your smarts. Our kids are lucky to have you to love them and guide them through life. And, of course, you're a knockout.

Thanks for marrying me. Thanks for loving me. This wedding ring sounds great.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

HNT - New Yorker Is In The House!

I knew it was coming. I confirmed my order some time ago. And according to my calculations, because I chose the free (and slowest) shipping, it would arrive on September 30. Well, how about it waiting for me on the kitchen counter when I came home from work today, September 21?

A big shoutout to my mom, who paid for the thing. Thanks Mom! And another big shoutout to my dad, who got me loving it in the first place. Thanks Pops! (And Happy Birthday!)

The Complete New Yorker - Every Page Of Every Issue, On Eight DVD-ROMs. 4,109 Issues, Half A Million Pages. Mine To Search And Savor.

You like David Sedaris? He's here. You like Adam Gopnik? He's here. Woody Allen? James Baldwin? Saul Bellow? Truman Capote? David Denby? James Dickey? Garrison Keillor? Anthony Lane? Bernard Malamud? Steve Martin? Susan Orlean? Dorothy Parker? Sylvia Path? Salman Rushdie? Upton Sinclair? Susan Sontag? James Thurber? John Updike? All here.

Don't bug me. As long as the power is on and the computer is working, I've got some reading to do.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Note To Self:

Late Show with David Letterman

Wednesday, September 21

Steve Martin

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Go Get 'Em, Tiger

Whatever you do, don't try to sell stuff by trying to sound like Tom Waits. He'll get ya.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Have A Nice Day

My wife is happy to know that Bon Jovi is once again coming to Nashville. No date yet, but they are coming. I took her to see them a few years ago for their Valentine's Day concert (try not taking your spouse to see her favorite band on that day of all days).

They played for just over two hours and I loved about 40 minutes of it. Seriously, that 40 minutes was awesome. They are great live; I just lost interest after awhile. They write some pretty amazing songs, but a lot of the tunes just trudge along, not really standing out.

Well, as much as I like to play the snob about really popular music, I have to admit that "Have A Nice Day" is a really catchy anthem. It rocks pretty hard and stays with you. Honestly, it's just "It's My Life" Part Two. Same feel, and equally well crafted.

This Monday night at Opry Mills IMAX theater, will be a live simulcast showing of them preforming live. Sounds like a neat idea. Several theaters across the country showing a live concert. One show, for the masses, on a huge screen. Not quite the organic concert experience, but close enough.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

HNT Bukowski

Back in the winter and early spring of 1990, I would hang out in downtown Nashville, trying to figure out where I was going in life. This was before the revitalization of our downtown. All that I really remember of the area was this little bookstore on 2nd Ave. I would browse there from time to time and buy children's books for my son who was to be born the coming April.

One day, as I was strolling the aisles, one title seemed to beckon for my attention. Its title was simply, Women. Written by someone named Bukowski. Never heard of him. Within a few months, I bought everything I was able to find from him. His writing was perfect for me, and he went well with cheap wine.

These 15 years since have changed me so much. But it seems that the arts and media that I discovered then have really resonated with me. Formative years, indeed. And so, from the top shelf, I post this week for HNT a perfect book with a perfect title.

To Charles Bukowski, "Thanks for sharing."

Google Just Makes Things Easier And Easier For Me

Google search only within blogs. 'Nuf said.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

The Big Apple To The Big Easy

Listed below are some, and surely not most, of the acts involved in "The Big Apple To The Big Easy" Hurricane Relief concert, to be held at Radio City Music Hall on September 20. If it's televised, check it out for obvious reasons and also to see the fiercely pure and sonic raindog, Tom Waits (absolutely not to be confused with John Waite). Joss Stone should wow the viewers and listeners, too. She came onto the scene a few years ago as a fresh faced 15 year old blonde haired British girl with the pipes and soul of Aretha Franklin and Betty Wright.

Watch, listen, enjoy, and give.

(clicking the artist links will bring up their current tour schedules)

Dave Matthews
John Mayer Trio
Joss Stone
Mardi Gras Indians
Original Meters
Ray LaMontagne
Tom Waits
Trey Anastasio

edited to add:

A-ha! (no, not the "Take Me On" band)

The rest of the above concert will take place over at Madison Square Garden.
Get ready

Allen Toussaint
Bette Midler
Buckwheat Zydeco
Clarence "Frogman" Henry
Dave Bartholomew
Diana Krall
Earth, Wind & Fire
Elton John
Elvis Costello
Fats Domino
Irma Thomas
Jimmy Buffett
John Fogerty
Lenny Kravitz
Loggins & Messina
Original Meters
ReBirth Brass Band
Ry Cooder
Simon & Garfunkel
Stevie Nicks
The Dirty Dozen Brass Band
The Neville Brothers
Troy Andrews

Sunday, September 11, 2005

I look good in a tux...

...and my wife looks good always.

My sister, who has a knack for always making me so happy.

There's a lot of love in this life.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Ladies...There Are No More Adult Male Single Beziats.

Today, September 10, was a day more beautiful than I have witnessed in a long time. Today, I wept. And happily. I was simply overcome. Today, my brother married the most precious, loving woman I can imagine. And so, this afternoon, their long, wonderful courtship became a marriage of two ever-loving hearts.

As I shared in their moment, watching them repeating their vows of love and devotion, I found myself remembering my own wedding. I saw Ashley looking into Evan's eyes, her face all aglow with joy. I remembered the same emotion from my wife's beautiful face as she committed all of herself to me three years ago. I'm typically a shy guy, pretty nervous in front of crowds and doubtful of my actions. But on my wedding day, I had no nerves. I found the girl who loved me, I loved her without measure, and I was getting to marry her. Why doubt love? It's there or it's not, and we've got it.

My brother had that same confidence and joy today. He was classic Ev, full of wit and good times. But he also had that steadfast dedication to what this day was all about. He, too, had found that girl. The girl who when she thinks of love, thinks of Evan. She has for a long time and she will forever. And he loves her completely. Quite simply, I am proud to share a life with them. They are the family I would pick for myself, time and time again.

Oh, and the reason I wept? And happily? Vandy is 2-0 on the season! And 1-0 in SEC play! Two straight weeks of doing it with last minute touchdown drives to win the games! What a day!

Google To The Rescue

This evening, I read a very nice post on Google Blog which was very refreshing. It's right here.

Friday, September 09, 2005

The Default Post Is Always Cute Baby Pictures

The big weekend is coming up. Little Bro, whose height exceeds mine by several inches, is getting married this weekend. This afternoon will be the rehearsal. Immediately afterward, I will make the long drive to "Donkey Mountain" to pick up my oldest son. I will then get back to Nashville just in time for the rehearsal dinner (and to give my first toast ever).

The following morning is the wedding. And then, Sunday I will take Christian back home. Sunday through Tuesday will find me at home with the youngest two while my wife goes down to Biloxi to help her mom sort through her stuff in the aftermath of Katrina. So, that'll be a few days of Mr. Mom duties under my belt.

It's all good stuff and I can't wait for this wedding. I just hope to pencil in a nap sometime late next week.

And here is the link to the latest pics of Joshua and Ari.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

My Return To HNT

It's been awhile since Chéz Béz has joined in the action known affectionately as HNT. I'll jump back in with a picture of me dating back to 1992. A laid-back, long haired record store employee, general carouser and lover of good tunes and great times. This was the year of the road trips. Concrete Blonde in Atlanta, Toad The Wet Sprocket and Chris Whitley at Bogart's in Cincinnati and Drivin n Cryin in Knoxville. And too many to count at home in Nashville.

Rock on.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Not Really Missing The Meat

For some reason, I haven't sought out any meat products since last Thursday, Sept. 1st. I had some chili before work, and while driving in, I was thinking of how it would help the household budget if I stopped eating fast food. As long as gas prices were so high ($3/gallon + 60 miles round trip per day on 30mpg = $6/day), I may as well stop spending $3-5 per day on stuff that I didn't need.

While looking for further ways to eat chearper, I found that the employee price for a veggie plate at work is .27 compared to $3.27 for a burger and fries. So, it's veggies I have been consuming ever since. Veggies, fruit, and water. I'm not calling myself a vegetarian. My mother-in-law made some excellent spaghetti the other night and I had more than my fair share, but other than that, it's been nothing but what is quite good for me. I feel a healthier Mike coming on. I have had absolutely no desire to eat meat for a week now. I know that's not long, but you'd think I'd be craving it. Not so much. We'll see how the next week goes.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Yesterday's Concert Is Today's Webcast

It used to be that I would be in a club watching some cool band three to five times a week. Now, living the good life of a 35 year old married dad with a mortgage, if the cool band's want me to see them, they better steam that concert on the internet.

And so it is that I consider myself to be holding a free ticket to see The White Stripes on September 27, in my computer room. Here's the link.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

The Word Of The Day Is Zeitgeist

The site of the day is Google Zeitgeist.

The song that I continue to play is "Would You Believe" by The Mavericks. The lyrics seem quite topical. Although the song suggests how we as a human race are mistreating our world, hurricane Katrina is not of our doing, but our response to her both as a government and a people is nothing to be proud of.

I hope that people are polite to me at work today.

Friday, September 02, 2005

I've Heard That Song Before

While driving to work today, I was playing Aimee Mann's Whatever on CD, a very nice gift from my friend Sam. This disc was released back in '93 and while I've been a fan of Aimee's for a long time, I had never heard Whatever in its entirety. I got to the song "Way Back When" and it sounded very much like another song I had listened to recently. I couldn't put my finger on it for a few minutes, and then it hit me. It sounds very much like "Would You Believe" by The Mavericks, released a good ten years later.

I don't know if the snippets give justice to my thoughts, but give them a listen and see if you don't agree a little bit. They are both pretty simple but very affecting songs. In fact, "Would You Believe" might be the simplest song on that great Mavericks album, but I remember playing it about five consecutive times when I first heard it. Good music will always mean so much to me.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

I Love My Mother-in-law

I've resisted so far the urge to write about Hurricane Katrina. The truth is that while I feel so much for those who have lost so much, I really have no idea what they are going through. There are those who have quickly moved to voice their opinions on looters, people who should have left in time, and the general notion that this is all from God because they are sinners and deserve it.

Ain't nothing for me to do but ignore them. No one deserved this, some people didn't have the resources to leave in time, and I bet I'd be grabbing stuff from stores, too. The bottom line is, I have no idea what'd I'd do and I'm thankful that I still don't know. My mother-in-law lost everything. She managed an apartment complex in Biloxi and while she is safe with us in Tennessee, the city that she called home is no longer inhabitable. She has friends and coworkers that she hasn't heard from. Her Biloxi world is no longer there. I love her and feel for her. And I hope she hears the best news possible from those she cares for.

I try to put herself in her shoes by imagining Nashville as a place that ceases to be while I watch the news in another city. That's where I find my tears.

Risky Business, The Later Years

And so it is that my wife and kids will be out of town for the weekend. It's conceivable that I will be off from work Saturday and/or Sunday. The wild plans are as follows:

  • Maybe go against type and take a stab at cleaning out the garage.
  • Swap my digital cable box for one that might actually allow me to watch digital channels without going to black screen and freezing up each and every time.
  • Watch my newly borrowed DVD, Maria Full Of Grace.
  • Watch a lot of IFC and Bravo.
  • Try to find some library books that are way overdue. Could I be anymore cluttered?
  • If the weather is nice, walk around Murfreesboro's downtown area. Get to know my city.
  • Sleep, relax, generally do not much of anything.

That's pretty much it. I am so looking forward to my wild weekend. (I'll probably work the whole weekend though.)

Edited to add: It turns out that yes indeed, I will be working all weekend. So that cuts into my plans of not being productive. But it's just as well. Gotta make that big money.