Sunday, December 31, 2006

I've Been Everywhere, Man

Well, not quite. But I'm working on it.


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Sibling Choreography

Longshots Make It Fun

All of my favorite teams are long shots except for the team with the man from Alcorn State.

Our beloved Titans have made this quite the dramatic campaign. An 0-5 start and they are in contention in this final week? Unprecedented. However, they'll require some tough help from some other teams to make a playoff bid.

Here's what they need:

1) TEN win + CIN loss or tie + DEN loss + KC win

I was raised a Bengals fan and so after so many hapless years, it's nice to see the Cincinnati football team being relevant in the second half of the season. But they need help to make it to the playoffs today.

Their needs:

1) CIN win + NYJ loss, OR
2) CIN win + DEN loss + KC win

I was also raised a Vanderbilt fan and it's wonderful to see a former Vandy signal caller with a shot at the NFL playoffs - as a rookie no less. But his team also needs a few things to happen that are beyond their control.

Their needs:

1) DEN win or tie, OR
2) KC loss or tie

Steve McNair, however, is doing quite well on a powerful Baltimore Ravens team that may have no trouble at all going all the way. They've got the division title wrapped up and are healthy and strong.

NFL Week 17 is gonna be a blast.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Beach Town Meets Urban Graffiti



Tom Waits on NPR's World Cafe

It's always a pleasure to hear him talk.

Click here for the interview from December 15.

You Gotta Listen For The Subtle Clues

Bigotry, ignorance, and the like are usually revealed in a person when the following words are uttered: "I'm not a racist, but..."

Friday, December 29, 2006

Typos Are Fun

I saw a small card at work yesterday that was meant to accompany some complimentary items for certain guests. It was supposed to read: PASTRIES AND FRUIT FOR FLIGHT CREW.

Instead, it read: PASTIES AND FRUIT FOR FLIGHT CREW.

Either way, it's nice to get free fruit.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Rocky Balboa

Thirty years ago, I saw Rocky, a movie so good that any number of bad sequels can be forgiven. (It helps that I never got around to seeing Rocky V.) I saw the last installment a couple of days ago. It was a beautiful piece of art. The famous imagery of the rougher parts of Philadelphia that resonated so clearly in the first film are shot smoothly and fantastically once again. Gone are the bombast and ridiculousness of steroid popping Russians.

What we get in this latest and loving tribute to the legacy of Rocky Balboa is rich character development. We get tender moments and quiet ruminations. And we also get what a lot of people forget was in that first Rocky movie - lots of purposely bad jokes. Rocky, especially when trying to impress Adrian, was always trying to find the humor in everything. Early in that 1976 debut, we hear Rocky play with a few words while looking at his reflection in the mirror. It's a small scene and what he says doesn't make sense. In the next scene, he's at the pet shop and cracks a bad joke for Adrian. It's the joke that he was practicing in front of that mirror in his dingy apartment. The beauty in that has always stayed with me.

Speaking of beauty, there is a long and loving tribute early on to his Adrian (first name "Yo"). She has died of "woman cancer" and Rocky makes a point of visiting all of those memorable places where their love grew over the years. I'm not going to tell you that I cried, but I won't say that I didn't either. It's a great moment for Stallone the director to use this as a way to pay tribute not only to Adrian, but to that first and timeless film of his.

In this year's Rocky Balboa, he is still trying to make people laugh. He's more confident now, but it's still his way of breaking down the defenses of the people he tries so hard to care about. This is a movie that will grab at your heart. Still a bit cliched here and there but worthy of forgiveness for its occasional flaws.

The exhibition fight in the end gets all of the attention that an exhibition fight deserves - not much. It's masterfully shot, reminding me of scenes from Sin City. The opponent is not the bad guy and so the scene is more about the violent hits and the cinematographer's love of the dance than any "good fighter triumphs over bad fighter" nonsense.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have this urge to run up the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Must Love Zhivago

While on vacation this week, I got to watch Must Love Dogs. I saw the previews way back when and thought it looked like a cute and forgettable romantic comedy. There was no reason given that I should take time out of my life to expect much of anything out of it. Except of course, that it stars John Cusack. When I grow up, I want to be him. And so, when my wife got the DVD for Christmas, I was happy to pop it in as soon as possible and give it a view.

It had its moments where it rose above the standard fare, but mostly it just felt like a cheap made-for-TV movie. That said, Diane Lane has a new fan in me, Stockard Channing had some pretty good lines for a typically minor role, and Christopher Plummer, as Diane Lane's widowed and dating father, was a wonderful presence on screen.

And Cusack was his ever reliable engaging self. Divorced, pensive, and always yearning for the perfect love, his Jake was just an older version of that same kid from Say Anything, holding a boombox over his head and blasting Peter Gabriel's "In Your Eyes" as a modern day serenade to the beautiful girl in the window.

Jake is that special sort of guy who seems to think that taking a girl to see Dr. Zhivago on a first date is a good idea. He's a man of philosophy and intense conversations. I'd like to hang out with him. But I'd give him some dating advice. It's a bit much to ask someone to consider Dr. Zhivago the perfect first date. He should take his dates to see John Cusack movies instead.

At least that's what I'd do.

But Enough About The Robbery

The welcome home wasn't quite what we were expecting, but the vacation was very nice. Here are some snaps from the trip. Click below for the motherload.

Robbed!

My wife has the details.

I haven't felt that famous sense of violation yet. Maybe it's because the place wasn't completely trashed. Maybe it just hasn't sunk in yet. It happened while we were away and everyone is healthy and fine. Nothing was taken that can't be replaced.

Police report filed, doors and windows dusted for fingerprints, the kids are none the wiser and are sleeping unaware in their beds. We are back to our routines. And the police officer who stopped by to help with the report is back to his routine of visiting other victims of break-ins around our fair city. He's been busy this week. 'Tis the season.

Be safe and sleep well.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

At The Beach

Self Portrait of the Blogger on Vacation

Ari and us at the beach.

Joshua and the beautiful scenery behind him.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Action For Christmas, Please

I just read a story about Springsteen "gushing" over the chance to meet Nick Lachey at a party so that he could tell his daughter Jessica Rae about it. Apparently, she is a huge fan of Lachey and "would have killed him if he didn't make contact with the pop star."
A partygoer told Page Six, "(Springsteen) ran across the crowd to gush over Nick and hugged him -- so he could go home and tell his daughter, Jessica Rae, he 'got action from Nick.' Apparently, she's completely in love with Nick, and Bruce wanted to give her an early Christmas gift by relaying the story to her."
What? The Boss couldn't arrange for his daughter to meet Nick in person? I think that would be a better Christmas gift than telling her that he got to hug her idol.

Keeping in that spirit, I won't ask for any presents from my readers. Give those gift card and envelopes stuffed with cash to other bloggers. Instead, make my Christmas by telling me what famous people you've met. Extra points if you "got action" from them.

For Kirsty


During the summer of 2001, Kirsty MacColl's Tropical Brainstorm practically lived in my portable CD walkman. I would listen to it daily. Walking from my house to Centennial Park, I would hear Kirsty sing her beautifully cool songs. The CD's first line opens with, "I know an island where the people are kind / And the rest of the world seems far away / Maybe it's only in the back of my mind / But I know when I go that's where I'll stay."

She was killed by a speedboat on December 18, 2000 as she was diving with her two sons in Mexico. I only today learned that it is believed that the wrong person is serving time for her death. The family in the speedboat blamed the boathand, who may not have even been driving the boat.

I can't begin to wrap my head around who is or is not guilty here. I will simply listen to Tropical Brainstorm again today and remember her wit and her music's sexy rhythms. My best to her family. She's missed.

Shane MacGowan writes about his friend here.

Her mother tells the story here.

I Just Ruined My Daughter's Day

She's almost two years old and she just walked up to me from the bathroom with a drop of lotion in her hand. With her little hand held up to me, she said, "help me."

And so I helped her by rubbing that lotion into her the palm of her hand. Of course, she looked down and saw that the lotion had disappeared and proceeded to cry. Oops. I guess that's not what she wanted. Sorry baby girl.

Three minutes have passed and I think she's over it. Cool.

A Bit About My Upcoming Vacation


Vacation time has arrived. Wednesday will be my busy day of errand running, i.e. starting and completing all Christmas shopping. Thursday is the day that we make that drive down to the sandy beaches of Amelia Island. The laptop may or may not accompany us and so there may or may not be any blogging for a week or so. (This scare just in: My Google Reader might overwhelm me upon my return. Can everyone just not blog until after Christmas? Thanks.)

I plan to improve on my photography skills while I am there. I have a couple of photography books waiting for me at the library and maybe I'll learn a thing or two. I've relied on the automatic settings on my Kodak digital for the past year or so and I really need to learn my way around the manual settings and try to get some shots like I see on Flickr's "Interestingness" pages.

Fernandina Beach, here we come. Sand, prepare to be between my toes. Lighthouses, get ready to pose for my camera. My good friend Milla wants to see you. American Beach, I'm coming down to walk respectfully upon your sand and feel your civil rights history wash upon me.
American Beach was founded in 1935 by Abraham Lincoln Lewis, Florida's first black millionaire. Mr. Lewis owned an insurance company and bought a section of the island so that his black employees would have a nice place to vacation without having to deal with the nightmare that was segregation.
My wife's youth is on this tiny island. Her family inhabits this small beach town. I visit and and do my best to fit in (a tough challenge for a shy boy amidst a family who really knows how to have a good time). But in their laughter, they exhibit so much that I love in my bride. Family means everything to her, and with these in-laws of mine, I can easily see why. They are loud and they are beautiful. I might not be the life of their parties, but I feel the love of the family as I relax among them and smile and laugh at their jokes and stories. I just hope that they don't try to get me to sing karaoke with them. I'm just not the karaoke kind.

I'm happy enough that I get to hang out with these guys. I definitely"married up" when I married Paige and found myself related to these good people. Here's to not "fitting in" but loving every minute anyway. Merry Christmas.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Orhan Pamuk in The New Yorker

Tonight I read the most beautiful essay in The New Yorker magazine. Entitled My Father's Suitcase, it was written by Turkish Nobel Prize-winner Orhan Pamuk.

Here's the link.

And a few excerpts I especially liked:
A writer is someone who spends years patiently trying to discover the second being inside him, and the world that makes him who he is. When I speak of writing, the image that comes first to my mind is not a novel, a poem, or a literary tradition; it is the person who shuts himself up in a room, sits down at a table, and, alone, turns inward. Amid his shadows, he builds a new world with words.

To write is to transform that inward gaze into words, to study the worlds into which we pass when we retire into ourselves, and to do so with patience, obstinacy, and joy.

Sometimes my father would stretch out on a divan, abandon the book or the magazine in his hand, and drift off into a dream, losing himself for the longest time. When I saw this expression on his face, which was so different from the one he wore for the joking, teasing, and bickering of family life, when I saw the first signs of an inward gaze, I would understand, with trepidation, that he was discontented. Now, many years later, I understand that this discontent is the basic trait that turns a person into a writer.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Your Moral Sense


I was listening to NPR today and was reminded of The Trolley Problem. It is an interesting hypothetical scenario which asks you to imagine a trolley approaching five people who are in its path. There is a switch that you can pull which will divert the trolley onto another path where it will surely hit and kill a person who is on that track. Do nothing and five people die. Pull the switch and one person dies. More often than not, participants reply that they would pull the switch.

Then, the question is asked again, but with a twist. You are watching the whole thing unfold from atop a bridge. Instead of one person on another track, one person is by your side. Your choice is between doing nothing (five people die) and pushing that one person over the bridge and onto the track (he dies). For this scenario, most participants cannot imagine the physical act of pushing someone onto the track.

The story link is here.

An accompanying Moral Sense test is here.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Where Are We?




December 18 Is Upon Me

In two short days, it will be December 18, 2006. I will turn 37 years old. It's my suspicion that I will celebrate it exactly the way I did last year when I turned 36. Here's what I wrote approximately 363 days ago:
It's my birthday today.

I just thought my reader(s) should know.

I celebrated like any good thirty-six year old should. I worked my shift, clocked out, and went to Waffle House where the good waitresses comped my meal. And then I came home and listened to Tom Waits, checked some blogs, drank some beers, and went to sleep.

Note to self: party a little more next time.

This time, it appears that I will work my shift, clock out, and go to the Waffle House. Then I will drive home, listen to some music and read blogs. I'll probably drink a couple of beers and then I will go to sleep. Just call me Mr. Predictable.

My Favorite Thousand Words

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Reservoir Dogs: The Early Years

The 2007 Spirit Awards Nominees

What makes me giddy? The Spirit Awards! The Spirit Awards! It will air on IFC on February 24, 2007 and the nominees are...here.

The host will once again be Sarah Silverman and again - unlike the Academy Awards - it will probably be held in a hotel ballroom or underneath a tent somewhere. It ain't about the fashion and spectacle as much as it is about the art involved.

Here's hoping four time host John Waters at least makes an appearance. Nothing against Sarah Silverman, who is terrificly crude and hilarious, but Waters pretty much embodies all things independent film.

Is it February 24 yet?

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Scream. It's Your Birthday.



Here's the image from Google's homepage today. Edward Munch was born today in 1863. Here's a brief bio.

"...like a punk Pippi Longstocking."

"Sure, they called her Kurt Cobain's Yoko. And she certainly got into a lot of fights. But Love had a messy charisma and a style - those ripped babydoll dresses and smeared makeup - that felt like a satire of sexiness. Her 1994 album Live Through This was the first rock I'd heard that really focused on women, with lyrics about breast-feeding and rape and competition, but done with humour and an aggression rare among female performers."
...more>>

Just Wait Till Your Progenitor Comes Home

Lori Borgman of the Indy Star wrote a story on how Spain is now using "progenitor" on birth certificates to refer to the parents. "Mother" is now "Progenitor A" and "Father" is now "Progenitor B."

Monday, December 11, 2006

Got Stagefright?

Monday Morning Bits and Pieces

Saturday: 3 miles on the treadmill followed by 5 minutes of heavy lifting followed by a 9 hour work shift.

Sunday: 4 miles on the treadmill followed by 5 minutes of heavy lifting followed by a 9 hour work shift.

Monday: Ow. Ow. Ow. Lactic acid buildup like hell. Hurts to move. Think I'll skip workout and get back to it Tuesday.

Via the blogs, I see that the fair Mellissa of Atlanta is having happy and beautiful travels in little ol' Geneva.

The sexiest of sites for readers like me has a wonderful interview with the always captivating Laura Dern. (Working yet again with David Lynch, the experimental director who always used to frustrate the hell out of me until I figured out the correct way to approach his work.)

I agree wholeheartedly with Jeffraham. And I also love that he rides a Vespa. Most of my driving is within a 5 mile range and rarely use the interstate anyway. Getting up to 90 mpg is something I could easily get used to.

Airline captains travel with beautiful women, even if only for Halloween costumes. (I sent in my resume months ago. Call me.)

Finally, parallel parking for guys like me (who suck at it).

At the recommendation of my friend Leesa, I am watching Dream for an Insomniac. If these first three minutes are any indication, this is going to be a beautiful ride.

That's all for me. Be sure to tip your waitress.

Why I Listen

Sixteen and a half minutes into "Symphony No. 3: I. Lento - Sostenuto Tranquillo Ma Cantabile" by Henrik Gorkecki and it remains one of the most powerful moments in music ever.

December and Very Blue



My friend posted some excellent pictures of Nashville on his blog today and one of them reminded me of this one. Same background, except this one features this blogger's mug.

Every year, every December, I get like this. Blame it on the gray skies, blame it on relative poverty amidst consumer mania, but I just get lonely although surrounded by love and feel poor despite a refrigerator filled with food. Although enlightened do-gooders remind us that "Christmas is not your birthday," we can still feel enormous pressure to buy nice things for the people we love.

Tonight, I changed out of my work uniform in the locker room and I gave myself a minute to reflect on the road I've been paving for myself. It's my own personal Route 66, rich with history and mostly content to be the path less traveled, but all the while studying the faster and more modern highway and feeling a touch of envy. Not enough envy to change my style though. With my pace comes the most beautiful appreciation of the softer and more quiet amenities of life.

Peaceful solitude with Nice Drake's Pink Moon playing through these laptop speakers is my current state of grace. Some customers treated me poorly this evening. But I think that at this minute they might be looking for reasons to be angry at life and I'm relaxing at home and enjoying the art of beautiful music and looking for reasons to be happy. I'm finding those reasons with ease. I'm finding them in coworkers who really do value me as their friend. I'm finding them in the customers who are not like the aforementioned customers. And I'm most easily finding them in my family, the ones who are crazy about me day in and day out. Born into one loving family and married into another, I've done quite well for myself.

But December still does its thing. It's changing my age in a week. Who knows? Maybe I'm just getting started.

Simple and Profound

Kids know. As evidenced here.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Pissy Little Cuss

The good news is that I ran three miles today.

The bad news is that I've been a pissy little cuss since daybreak.

This is 20-something year old Mike looking at 30-something year old Mike and wondering what the hell happened. This gut is unacceptable. The 32 inch waist gave way to the 34 inch waist a good while back and I've been at peace with that. But now the 34 inch waist jeans are getting harder and harder to fasten and there is no mystery as to why.

And so today, I went into work early so that I could use the hotel health club (nice perk). I ran on that treadmill for a good 55 minutes with a television hanging in my face. What was on? Rocky III. It seems someone knew I needed some motivation today. (I don't want to give anything away but Mr. T sure took a beating at the end of the movie.) I watched the film with the sound off and the closed captioning on (hilariously wrong very often) and with my iPod playing Himmelman and Tom Waits. If you think it's ridiculous to work out to the sounds of Tom Waits, I offer you "Filipino Box Spring Hog" from Mule Variations. It was perfect for a good hard steady rhythm. And the guttural barks and howls fit my mood to a T.

With the movie over and the workout completed, I showered and changed and took to my shift at the house of Punch The Clock. I should preface to say that it actually was a good day. My wages were good and, financially, it was the kind of day that most folks absent a college degree don't often see. I worked steadily and was well rewarded for my efforts. But it was also a day of many tedious and annoying little failures. There are many details I won't go into because I'd hate to get fired for blogging about work, but I can say that I related to cousin Larry of Perfect Strangers. (In fact, now that I think of it, I think that Larry's life closely mirrors that of my own.)

Remember in Perfect Strangers, that one recurring gag was that whenever Larry would come home from work, he would toss hiss jacket cooly across the room to his coat rack? And remember that his coat would always just miss said rack and fall to the floor? The humor wasn't just that he missed. The humor was in his face afterward. It was the face of defeat expected. (Thank God that the defeated have such an ability to see the humor in their situations.)

Today, my gag was that everytime I would approach the elevator with a cart full of luggage, it would always be surprisingly already at the first floor as if waiting for me. Then, my good luck too good to be true, it would begin its ascent away from me just as my thumb would press the button for the doors to open. And I would stand there with my cart - time being of the essence with my work - watching the elevator rise away from me and almost laughing at me as I remained motionless. My eyes are on the numbers above the elevator door and the camera crew for Perfect Strangers catches my face of accepted - and expected - defeat. (Cue the laughtrack.) It's not that it happened. It's that it happened time and time again.

I received two gifts today and I'm confused as to how I should/do feel.
  1. One birthday card from the workplace. I'm a sucker for small things and was happy to open it and play my favorite game of Guess That Executive Committee Member's Signature. But I was thrown for a loop when I saw that I was the recipient of two free employee meals. (That's a total value of $6.50 for those who don't work with me.) Gift horse lesson aside, it all of a sudden seemed kind of cheap to me. But keep in mind that I liked it before I knew that I even received any gift at all. I think I'm just being bitter and unfair, but I'm not sure.
  2. One Christmas card from the workplace. In it was a very well received gift card to a local mall for the sum of $50. No skepticism there. That's a good and well needed card. But then I found out that most of the employees in other departments got cards for twice the value. Now, I'm pissed where I was earlier elated. Sure, other departments might hold higher value to the company and require higher training and such, but I've also been here for over a decade and got my $50 where some new hires in other departments are opening $100 gift cards just because they don't push a bellcart or drive a shuttle for a living.
Enough venting. And before any kind bloggers give me too many kudos for my good health workout from earlier today, keep in mind that this post has been brought to you by one now empty bottle of cheap white Zin and the rest of a bag of Doritos. And it's 1:00 A.M. and I'm still a pissy little cuss.

Maybe I'll wake up in a better mood tomorrow. I'll bet my loving family hopes so, too. They put up with me and I am forever humbled.

[Edit to add: I lost my internet connection mere seconds after I hit "publish." Oh, how pissed I would have been had I lost all of those rambling words from above. Small favors.]

[Update: I should mention that I don't feel that a $50 gift card is cheap at all. I am quite happy to receive it. It just seems that within a workplace like mine where people are always talking with friends in other departments, that it isn't the smartest decision to give varying values of gifts to everyone. Everyone loves a gift until it's revealed that someone else got a nicer one. And in more recent news, I found out that while my card was half the value of some, it was also twice the value of others. If we all got the same amount, we wouldn't have reason for envy.]

Thursday, December 07, 2006

With Some Song Lyrics Come Goosebumps

The best concert I ever attended was by Peter Himmelman. This memory includes the fantastic show put on by birthday boy Tom Waits at the Ryman earlier this year. Right this minute, I am finding auditory bliss in Himmelman's Skin CD from 1994.

Nothing gets my head right like this guy's music.

Peter Himmelman official website

Peter Himmelman's myspace page

He has stayed busy in recent years composing for television shows including Judging Amy, Men In Trees, and Bones. Dig around his official website to see and hear beauty in song.

From "Been Set Free":

I often wonder
Does it matter
Or is this all a worthless joke
Are we just atoms
Conceived in silence
Awaiting our turn to fly like smoke
I'd do anything to lay beside you
I'd bring you all the things that I denied you
I'd say the words I
Seldom spoke

I have believed in money
But all I got was greed
I have believed in vengeance
But all I did was bleed
I have believed in fame
But fame turned its back on me
If I had only believed in love
If I had only believed in love
If I had only believed in love
I could have been set free

I'll Take One Shower Soothe, Please

While listening to Nina Simone on my iPod and reading blogs, I saw this commercial on my television with the sound down. The advertisers succeeded on two important counts: 1) They had my undivided attention, and 2) I want to buy their product.

New Of Montreal Streams Here

In stores January 23, 2007, Of Montreal's newest release, Hissing Fauna, Are You The Destroyer? is streaming free now at PolyVinylRecords.com.

Sayeth Pearl Bailey

"What the world really needs is more love and less paperwork."

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Blogs and Jazz

Good article in the New York Times.

Famous Last Words

While reading Living with Legends: Hotel Chelsea Blog, I came across a mention of Eugene O'Neill's last words as he lay dying in the Shelton Hotel. The crabby part of me really wants to go out bitching in a similar fashion. I don't know whether or not his intention was humor, but his parting words made me laugh. (It helps to imagine them voiced by George Costanza.)
Eugene O'Neill, who wrote The Iceman Cometh and A Long Day's Journey into Night, was 65 when he died, broke and unhappy, in Suite 401 of the Shelton Hotel in Boston on November 27, 1953. His last words were: ''I knew it. I knew it. Born in a hotel room -- and goddamn it -- died in a hotel room.'' He had been born in a Broadway hotel room in New York, the son of an Irish-American actor.

Calvin Trillin on Walt Disney World, 1972

In my latest issue of The New Yorker (12-04-06), there is a wonderful reposting of Calvin Trillin's account of his first visit to Walt Disney World in 1972. It had only been open for two weeks but he describes a Disney World very much like the one that remains so successful to this day - lots and lots and lots of smiles, to the point of nausea.

Anyway, the link is here, but in typical New Yorker fashion, it'll probably be a dead link in a week's time. What really made me smile was one passage where he describes his wife's reaction to this theme park dedicated to all things happy. (Hint: It's the reference to hotel workers that resonated with me.)
She did not seem to react well to the ferocious friendliness of the young Disney World employees, particularly when it came in conjunction with the service problems that any tourist operation is bound to have in its first few weeks—problems complicated by the fact that the young people manning, say, the Polynesian Village seemed to owe their cheerfulness partly to not having had enough experience in hotel work to have been turned sullen.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Welcome To My World

Reading Crazy Hotel Workers always helps to remind me that I am not alone in this.

Happy reading!

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Titans 20, Colts 17

Well, that was sweet as hell.

Rejected, and For Sale!

The good folks over at The New Yorker will sell anything. There are books of the magazine's famous covers, there are collections of essays, and there are books featuring cartoons of various topics.

This morning, I received an email from The New Yorker advertising The Rejection Collection, a collection of cartoons that never made it to the magazine's pages. Good enough for a current issue? Nope. Good enough to sell as a collection for $22.95 to completest fans and readers of the magazine? Yep.

They know me so well.

The email:
Click for the Rejection Collection
Click for The Rejection Collection
Purchase A Signed Copy of
The Rejection Collection

The Rejection Collection (Signed)

Featuring cartoons you never saw, and never will see, in The New Yorker, edited by Matthew Diffee.

Each week about 50 New Yorker cartoonists submit 10 ideas, yielding 500 cartoons for no more than 20 spots in the magazine.

Editor
Matthew Diffee called on his fellow cartoonists for their favorite “rejects” as well as for insights into their creative minds, resulting in this outrageously hilarious hardcover book.

Too risqué, silly, or weird for The New Yorker, these cartoons are sure to have you blushing, gasping, and laughing out loud.

A foreword by New Yorker cartoon editor,
Robert Mankoff, explains the sound judgment that keeps these sort of cartoons far away from the pages of The New Yorker. Handwritten questionnaires introduce the quirky character of each artist.

Each copy is signed by Matthew Diffee-
Only at TheNewYorkerStore.com.

All That's Past Is Prologue To Jay Cutler, NFL Starter

Tonight marks the beginning of a new era in Denver. Vanderbilt's Jay Cutler gets the nod for the starting QB position for the Broncos as they play host to Seattle for Sunday Night Football on NBC. I bet that Seahawks DB Jimmy Williams is just as surprised as anyone that he is facing a fellow Vandy alum at quarterback in an NFL matchup.

Woody Paige, columnist for the Denver Post, shares his thoughts on Jay Cutler and the history of Denver quarterbacks. He's excited about the change under center but makes some fair and cautionary points as well.
Cutler fared well in exhibitions, but they are called exhibitions for a reason, and he was performing against a lot of fellows who are currently driving UPS trucks. (...the article)

Enjoy your Sunday, folks. It's a good day for football.

Trippy

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This is fun :)

Copy and paste the code above into the address line.

I found this at Leesa's blog.

Blog Unnameable

The New Yorker's 12-04-06 issue has the most interesting story on Bob Fass. I'd never heard of him before tonight. He is the host of "Radio Unnameable" on New York's WBAI.

His show was most famous in the '60s and early '70s and it tried to bring the vibe and voice of the counterculture to the radio. On any given night, Fass would be joined in the studio or on the phone by people like Abbie Hoffman or Bob Dylan. "Radio Unnameable" was one of those great "anything goes" radio programs.

Today's local radio has nothing like what I read about in the article. I imagine that today's version of Bob Fass (not including the actual Bob Fass) hosts a podcast instead of dealing with radio programmers and the FCC.

Before he became such an easy caricature, I spent many a late night lying in my bed listening to Larry King on his after midnight radio show. He would take calls from across the country and he would answer every call with two questions: "What do you do?" and "Why are you up?" Alone in my bed, I would listen to Mr. King interview these random callers and I would feel the pulse of my country. These listeners were all "nighthawks at the diner" and people who belonged in the Bukowski books I was reading at the time. Either lonely insomniacs or workers punching to the beat of a different time clock. They were my people and they kept my hours.

Wanna hear a bit of Bob Fass and Bob Dylan on "Radio Unnameable?" Click here for a couple of links. It's beautiful and raw.

More Blogs On Radio Unnameable:

James Wolcott's Blog: Must-Read

The Night of Not Buying The 60's

The Man of the House

The man of the house is not me. I may be the male of the house, but if we are looking at this from a sterotypical sports fan perspective, then I have to give the points to my wife in that game. I am a sports fan, but compared to my beautiful bride, I don't know how many innings are in a soccer game or how many goals are scored in the average tennis match.

Now I will say this. I'm not a complete knucklehead. I am a fan of the NFL and the Tennessee Titans. I traveled to Memphis to watch them play the Buffalo Bills in 1997 and I attended a few of their games in their poorly attended 1998 season at Vanderbilt Stadium. For their mighty Super Bowl run season of 1999, I proudly cheered them on from the stands at every single contest. And that famous Music City Miracle game against the Bills? The one that almost every Nashvillian claims to have attended? Not only was I at that game, but I was on the field and in the locker room afterward.

On many a Sunday when I found myself on the work schedule, I'd wear my Steve McNair jersey underneath my bellman's jacket and a Titans pin underneath my name tag. That said, as much as I consider myself a fan, I'm pretty laid back about the whole thing. When the Titans lost the Super Bowl, I just shrugged and thought, "Better luck next year." My immortal beloved, however, was teary eyed and despondent. It was then that I saw the difference between a casual fan and a true fan. I was the former and she was the latter.

Paige has been rooting for the Georgia Bulldogs (excuse me - her Georgia Bulldogs) since she was the littlest of kids. I started caring about football somewhere around 1997. I had to work today and so I missed the opportunity to sit back on the couch and watch college football. But that was fine since I didn't even know who was playing anyway. My Paige, however, had the best time watching college ball all day long. I know that because she blogged about it. Here.

Friday, December 01, 2006

The Night Of A Thousand Vomits

I got home at 11:30 tonight and settled into my quiet routine of reading blogs and ruminating on the day. I was catching up on blogs alphabetically and somewhere between Peace Of My Mind and Running Into A Brick Wall, I heard Ari crying from her room. I rushed down the hallway to console her - a bad dream maybe? - and found her lying on her back, sobbing, with vomit running down her cheek. (I know.)

I scooped her up and carried her into the bathroom to clean her up. Almost two years old and feeling miserable, she looked up at me and trusted that I would help her feel better. By now, her mom was up and changing her bedsheets. Teamwork in parenting, it was after midnight and a baby was being bathed and sheets and blankets were being laundered. All was well, the baby was settled back in her bed and the parental units went back to where they needed to be - one back to sleep in preparation for the early morning alarm clock, the other back to the living room to wind down from a long work shift just concluded.

Ten minutes later, she was crying again and lying in a bed once more made a mess. We were back to our loving, caring duties and this time gave her some medicine for her upset stomach. With crossed fingers, we put her back to bed and hoped for the best.

Not even the medicine would stay down. And now, a few sessions later, I sit on the couch with my little girl by my side. Her brother is wide awake in his room thinking I don't hear him playing with his cars. She is wide awake and holding her babydoll. It's a restless night here at Chez Bez.

And tomorrow is going to be a long, sleepy day.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

I'll Sleep When I'm Dead

I skipped out on plans to meet some fellow bloggers today so that I could get an extra hour or two of sleep before work. My sleepiness is my fault. I work second shift and so I usually get home around midnight. As is my routine, I surf the web, read blogs, and sip a beer or two. Last night, in addition to this, my Arianna was restless and kept getting out of her bed. And so I spent a lot of extra time trying to sing her to sleep. (I don't know any lullabyes so I just make up words and hope she isn't too critical of my false rhymes.)

At 2 A.M., I made my way to bed and called it a night. After getting up at 6 and helping to get the kids dressed and into the van for school, I came back to bed with my alarm set for 10 A.M. and with intentions of meeting friends at Mothership BBQ. But at 9:30, apartment maintenance was knocking at my door so that they could replace the door to my laundry room. So I stay up and let them do their thing and smile because one of the guys looks just like Michael Bolton. It's not everyday that Michael Bolton fixes your door. And I don't mean the Michael Bolton from Office Space. ("Why should I change my name. He's the one who sucks.")

Anyway, I'm fighting the urge to play the original "When A Man Loves A Woman" while he works. I'm guessing he knows about the resemblance and I don't think I'll fuel the fire. He might like it.

The door is fixed. Back to bed.

Wiggle

SYDNEY, Australia (AP) — The lead singer of the hugely popular children's group The Wiggles announced Thursday he will stop performing after being diagnosed with a chronic condition that causes dizziness, fatigue and nausea. more>>
I've seen The Wiggles on television a number of times. I guess the nausea is contagious.

Speaking of "wiggle" and speaking of bad, here's Dylan circa 1991 singing "Wiggle Wiggle" in concert. My dad and I saw him on this tour at Vanderbilt and it was pretty much the worst concert ever.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

You Cut Off Tom Waits?

I'll say it again. You cut off Tom Waits?

It was a pleasure to see Tom Waits' appearance on The Daily Show. He chatted with John Stewart for a bit and John was clearly a fan. He asked a few questions, listened intently to Tom's replies and shared how nervous he was to be talking to him. Simply, the respect level was huge.

And then after a break, Tom took the stage to perform "The Day After Tomorrow." With only his guitar and Larry Taylor on standup bass, it was strikingly beautiful. It's a powerful and heartbreaking attempt to tell the story of a young soldier at war. Twenty-one years old and thinking of home. Armed for battle and contemplating the senselessness of it all.

But I suppose the show was running long and so with the song at its most tender part, the credits crawled and The Daily Show concluded for the night. Now I understand that these things can't always be helped. Producers have to pack a lot into a half hour show (less with commercial breaks), but with only one interview - Mr. Waits - it just seemed that a minute or so could have been spared elsewhere for this. It's not like it was just another musical act that was doing the promotional circuit. This was a musical guest that the host was clearly honored and elated to have on his show.

Oh well. I just hope that the studio audience got to hear the song in its entirety. It's a good one on record, but I'm happy to know how exceptional it is live. I must have heard it a dozen or so times on the CD and never paid it much attention. But when I heard Tom Waits perform it at the Ryman Auditorium a few months back, his voice and those lyrics grabbed me in a way that still gives me goosebumps.

All in all, it was great to see him. Now back to another fascinating night of C-Span.

The performance:

Can't Blog Now, Watching A Charlie Brown Christmas

Nice.
A snippet:

"Sun Comes Up, It's Tuesday Morning"

Some days require a listen to perfect albums. With the kids' naptime finally arrived, I was looking forward to listening to some of the more experimental sounds from Tom Waits' new Orphans collection. I also planned to give a listen to the new Robert Plant nine disc set. Another choice that I found last night was a new 90-track set by The Doors.

But then I remembered a favorite album of mine from so many years ago that seemed perfect for relaxing in some well-deserved quiet time. And so now I am listening to The Cowboy Junkies' The Caution Horses. Margo and company soothe and satisfy. This is probably the most "comfortable" album I have ever owned.

My favorite lyric from "Sun Comes Up, It's Tuesday Morning":

Telephone's ringing, but I don't answer it

'cause everybody knows that good news always sleeps till noon.

Good advice, Margo. And thanks for singing so sweetly.

Tom Waits Interview (Pitchfork)

Photo by Danny Clinch

Tom: "'Alternative sound sources' is the technical way of saying it, which could really be anything-- maybe something you found along the side of the road. I think hardware stores can be fascinating if you go in there with a mallet! I look for things that are left of center, something you've only seen your whole life, but never heard. Hit it! With a stick! I have a guitar made out of a 2x4 that I bought in Cleveland. You know, in Iraq, you can't have a guitar in the window of a music store because it's too sexy. You know, the curves. So I could go over there with these 2x4 guitars and really take the country by storm."
(click here for the whole interview)

Monday, November 27, 2006

On Squirting

Newsweek's Steven Levy writes about Microsoft's Zune music player and the "squirting" of songs. Because every time I see someone walk by with an iPod or other music player and I wonder what they might be listening to, this sounds like a very cool thing. A fellow Zune listener within ten meters can send - or "squirt" - you a song from their playlist that you can choose to accept (yours for three days or three listens, whichever comes first).

Another cool feature allows you to see what songs are on a nearby Zune player. I'd love to see what the person on the treadmill next to me is listening to. As the article states, what a great way to get to know someone with similar musical interests. ("You like Robert Plant too? Care to squirt me some of that new box set?")

We sure do talk weird here in the future.

Dig it.

My dad always makes the very astute point that we parents tend to spend so much money on expensive presents for our very young kids when all they end up playing with is the box the present came in.

Today reminded me a bit of that point when I took them to the park so that they could play on this...


...but they spent most of their time playing in this.

Ari Conducts A Meeting




"Meeting ajourned."

Surely I'm Weird

I was recently tagged by a blogger friend of mine to do the "Six Weird Things About Me" meme. Is it weird that I can't think of one thing for that list? Maybe my head's just not in the right place for it right now. I've got lots of virtues and lots of faults, and I do think of myself as a bit eclectic and weird. However, I just can't put my finger on any one interesting detail that validates my weirdness.

I suppose my spouse would be able to compose a list of weird things about me pretty quickly. But if you'll excuse me, I have to go eat my ketchup and applesauce sandwich now.

Heroes Fans Take Note

Pop Candy's Whitney Matheson reports that The Sci Fi Channel will air the first six episodes of Heroes on Wednesday starting at 5 p.m. CST.

I work nights and still haven't hooked up my VCR since my last move so I haven't seen the show yet. Some folks I know seem to like the show and so I may try to check it out.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

The Vince Young Legacy Started With A Hug

I watched and was wowed by today's game between our Titans and New York's Giants. The only thing that could have taken this team spirit emotion higher would have been a possible playoff run by Tennessee's team. That said, they sure played the role of spoiler in the most exciting way possible.

Between Pacman's interceptions and Vince Young's scoring drives, it was a beautiful thing to view. Jeff Fisher said, "Wow." Giant's coach Tom Coughlin said, "We're going to be sick about this one forever." And my wife said, "I think I want a Vince Young jersey." But she wanted that one before the game anyway.

My favorite moment was the joke of a sack attempt on Young by Giants rookie Mathias Kiwanuka. Facing fourth-and-10 in the waning moments, Young dropped back only to be hugged immediately by the speedy Kiwanuka. It was a sure sack and I was sure that New York would take possession and handily wrap up this game with a well-needed victory. But the sack was not to be as Kiwanuka quickly released his grip from our rookie QB, assuming I suppose that this was simply a two-hand touch contest and his job was done.

The hug complete, Young took off for a 19 yard run, guaranteeing the Titans a first down and an opportunity to tie the game. Score and tie they did. One more Pacman Jones interception and a field goal kick later and the rest was history. The biggest fourth quarter comeback in franchise history and it feels good to be a fan.

[Edit to add: In defense of Mathias Kiwanuka's mistake on the attempted sack, he says that he had his head down and thought that Vince Young had already thrown the ball. He was concerned about a possible 15-yard penalty for driving the quarterback to the ground and so released his grip. I hope he redeems himself next week against Dallas.]

Chimp Mothers Make Better Lovers

I recently read an interesting article on why male chimpanzees prefer older chimpanzee mothers over their younger counterparts.
Cross-cultural research suggests that men generally prefer to hook up with younger women. The same does not appear to hold true for chimpanzees. A new study finds that the males of that species go for older females in a big way. Chimp researchers have long suspected that the animals prefer older females as mates. For example, Jane Goodall, who spent nearly half a century studying the chimps at Gombe, Tanzania, noted that some males were extremely attracted to older females.

At Centennial Park With The Kids

With temperatures in the sixties and a rare day off from work on a weekend, we Paige and I took the kids to Centennial Park for a bit of fun and photography. Click here for the rest of the pics.
The tube of static electricity.

Foreshadowing, maybe?

Two Geese, Signifying A Day At The Park

Friday, November 24, 2006

Choices

Home early from work and happy to veg out and watch a little TV.

Dark City, Sin City, and The Cooler are all on. At the same time.

Cable knows just what I like, but could it space it out a bit better?

Too many choices. (Which is better than not enough.)

Flattery Will Get You On The Blogroll

I am thankful for the person who got me to start blogging in the first place. I had read a few blogs beforehand, but the one that inspired me to start my own was Brittney's Sparkwood & 21.

She was a local girl working in the service industry (waiting tables) just like me (hotel bellman) and I found myself looking forward to each new post. Her blog is what got me hooked on this new medium and I soon decided that I may as well jump in and be a part of this whole new blogging thing.

Brittney, of course, landed herself one of those jobs that simply didn't exist a few years back. That in itself is pretty cool. I wonder how many people out there are working jobs that hadn't even been invented while they were in high school. Day in and day out, Brittney keeps all of us bloggers neatly aggregated and blogrolled. She reads our rants and our tributes, our political viewpoints and our very funny posts.

Quietly, I am a part of this fun and exciting community. Brittney, you probably didn't know that you inspired me to start blogging, but you did.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Changing A Tire In The Dark On Thanksgiving

Video #1 is me changing the tire and talking a bit towards the end. Video #2 is my big thank you to all of the people who passed by without stopping for the twenty minutes or so that I was struggling with my task in the dark.

Seriously, it wasn't a big deal. While Beziats might be known for their skills in the world of automotive repair, we have been known to change the odd tire. And I'd prefer to think that all of the people who drove by my disabled car on a dark Thanksgiving night were just confident that I could do the job and do it well. And for their confidence in me, I am thankful.

On a less silly note, I really am grateful for the things that break which remind me of the things I have and the family that I miss which remind me of the family that I have. I wish them a safe return from Florida and I wish the best for you and yours.

My flashlight batteries were dead so I used the next best thing.

Hartsville

I drove up to Hartsville, TN today for Thanksgiving at my grandfather's house. It was so nice to be with family members who I rarely see these days. I'm proud to be among them.

Anyway, the plan was to go up early and take some pictures of the town in all of its beauty. But I overslept and made it up there just in time for eating. So here's the link to some other people's picture of Hartsville via flickr.

Tennessee Trash

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

A Day with Tom, Geoff, and Newton

The family is out of town, I've had conversations with the dog, and now it's time to get out of the house and run some errands. I look forward to listening to a lot of Tom Waits, Geoff Baker, and Newton Dominey on my iPod as I go about my day.

I have a check to deliver, some pictures to take, and a movie to see. As for after the movie matinee, I have no plans yet. Is this what a life of leisure is like? I approve.

Tall

I am a towering 6 foot 2 inches tall. Well, I don't know if "towering" is the right word, but some seem to think of me as quite tall. I think I may have a natural slouch and I imagine that if I get that posture as it should be, then I will really hear about my exceptional height even more.

I've met fellow bloggers only to have them write about me later as being really tall. I've got to work on that. "Funny" or "really intelligent" are preferred adjectives. (I have given up on "good looking." That would have worked when I was in my mid-20s, but that was a long time ago.)

I really don't think of myself as particularly tall. Whether you are 5'2", 5'6", or 5'9", you are just another person who is shorter than me. But then, my brother and his friends are a good 6 to 8 inches taller than me. For a short time, I lived as an adult with my little - albeit much taller - brother and I would often come home from work to a house filled with his basketball playing buddies. There I would be, 6'2" in a room full of people a good half foot taller than myself. In those nights, I would smile, look upwards and think, "Wow. So this is how the rest of the world sees me."

Anyway, for those of you who are over 18 years of age, I will direct you to a site that I like to visit in these after midnight hours. Nerve.com is one of those sites I like because it is sexy but also because it is written for the internet surfer who likes a little literature and art with his sex. The writer of this nerve article writes of a "social convention for uncharacteristically tall people." (Warning: It starts out innocently enough but does get around to the topic of S-E-X. Just so you know.)

One closing note: Tip your hotel shuttle driver. We might make less than you think. If a taxi would set you back $10, then throw this driver a buck. You're still ahead nine. Thanks.

Home. Rant. Vent.

Work your starched white ass off. (What song is that from?)

Holiday season. It means many things but it's very telling that this is when I see our boys in blue every few miles on my way back from work. "Don't worry about me, boys. I do my drinking at home."

I cross the dam and study the lights and their reflections in the water as I drive slowly to the place where my bed and my love wait for me. The only real color I see is the yellow Waffle House sign in my rearview mirror. The rest is like a black and white album cover, "artistic" but cheaply done.

Because I can, I built a domain for myself on the web. I registered www.chezbez.com via Microsoft's OfficeLive and simply used it as a link to this blog, my photography blog, and my myspace page. I'll turn to a friend to see if he can spiff it up a bit. For now, it's basic as basic gets. More importantly, it's also free as free gets. Everyone knows you can't impress girls with your website address if you have to add dot-blogspot.com to the end. Now I simply direct the ladies to www.chezbez.com and wait for the fawning to follow. (Note to self: Meet ladies. Another note to self: Watch lovely wife roll her eyes as she reads this.)

  • Not blogging about work, but...remember in Office Space when the protagonist makes an error with the TPS reports and hears about it from several different bosses? We are all supposed to relate to him and his cubicle misery. Me? I watch that scene and every time, I think how lucky he is to have so many bosses on the same page. On a daily basis, I answer to any number of bosses who would approach any given situation with a number of different viewpoints.

The wine is now gone. The bottle is empty.

  • Tennesseans. You mean well. You are patriotic. We get that. But many of you need to know something. You are flying your state flag upside-down. Its top star should be closest to the pole. If the star closest to the pole is on the bottom, you need to start over and hoist that rag opposite of how you hoisted it before. No biggie. It's an easy mistake. Even the local Air National Guard is flying it upside-down. So, if we are grading on a curve...you're cool.

  • Red light runners. I counted so many of you while I was driving my hotel shuttle bus tonight. Stop it. You're gonna kill someone. And for what? A minute better on your travel time? "Bee alert. Arrive unhurt."

I heard a song on NPR tonight during a Tom Waits interview. I may be using it out of context, but I imagined me singing it to my little daughter as a lullabye. The song and its lyrics follow:
"Bend Down The Branches"

The sky's as deep as it can be
Bend down the branches
Close your eyes and you will see
Bend down the branches

You're like a willow
Once you were gold
We're made for bending
Even beauty gets old
Climb the stairs they're not so steep
Bend down the branches

Close your eyes and go to sleep
Bend down the branches

Sleep well. My lonely Thanksgiving approaches. But you read this and I smile.

Wanna see Casino Royale with me and my dad Wednesday afternoon? We're catching the 4ish showing at Regal Green Hills Cinema. Witnessing strangers saying stuff to me like, "Aren't you Chez Bez?" would really knock his socks off. I'll be the tall guy. (Tall people post above.)

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Orphans In My Home

Via Rhapsody, I have just spent some beautiful time listening to disc 1 of Tom Waits' Orphans collection.

It just sounds so good.

Monday, November 20, 2006

On Michael Richards and His Mea Culpa

I came home early tonight and happened upon Jerry Seinfeld's appearance on Letterman. Invited to speak of the recent incident via satellite was Michael Richards. Not that it helped me understand his now infamous outburst on a comedy stage, but I appreciated his earnest and sincere apology to everyone for his inappropriate behavior.

I believed every word of his apology and wish everyone the best as we go about our lives forgiving and forgetting and trying to be good humans to one another. Michael Richards, I guess it's safe to say, provided for us tonight an example of what we should all do when we find ourselves on the wrong side of right. He wasted very little time in standing up and apologizing for the pain he caused.

As for the ill-fitting laughter heard from the audience, I wish to think that it was the result of the uncomfortable silences as Michael Richards struggled to find his words. Kudos to Jerry though, for admonishing the laughers by saying, "Stop it. It's not funny."

Tribute to Steve Grady

I don't know Steve Grady, but he had a friend in Susan. Here's her tribute to him.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

I Found It!

Ever love a website and then somewhere along the line lose the link and forget how to find it again? That was the case with me for Tom Waits Supplement.

I was reading reviews of Orphans tonight and followed a link blindly...and there it was. It really is a thing of beauty.

I stay current with The Eyeball Kid, but Tom Waits Supplement was the first site dedicated to Tom Waits that seemed to really get it right.

Nice.

Get Behind A Mule at The Basement

Saturday, November 25, promises to be a fun night for fans of Tom Waits and supporters of local music. The Basement presents Get Behind A Mule: An evening of Tom Waits Music.

The cover is only $5 and all proceeds go to Toys for Tots. I'll be there. Who's with me?

Take The Kid And The Kid In You

I know you parents want to take your kids to see this. And you who are not parents want to take your nieces and nephews. My kids will be out of town and I'm considering going alone.

Schoolhouse Rock Live! at Nashville Children's Theatre

I Love This Guy

Gothamist interviews Brian Regan (click for the whole thing):
How'd you get your laughs when you were growing up?
I remember the first time I thought about timing. Somebody was talking about something, I thought of something funny, but the guy wouldn't shut up to let me say it. I thought, "I've got to wait until he's done," but when he was done it wasn't pertinent anymore. I knew I couldn't say it then, so I threw a question out there that led him back to the original topic that I had thought the funny thing about, he said something, stopped, I said the funny thing, it got a big laugh, and I thought, "I had to manipulate that." I remember feeling powerful because not only did I think of a funny thing, I figured out a way to get back to it. This was long before I ever considered being a comedian. It was just learning how to be funny with your buddies.

Christmas Card Pictures: The Attempt

Click for the motherload.

From The Mouths Of Babes

Until last night, my little daughter had not yet put more than two words together to form a sentence. According to a text message my wife sent me at work last night, I was the inspiration for a sweet, heartbreaker of a sentence twice the normal length.

Here's my wife's post about it.

Serious Insomniac Babies

A few nights ago, I came home from work at around midnight. Usually, all are asleep and I go about my routine of taking the dog out and poking around on the web while sipping a beer or two. This night, however, I opened the door to hear my young three year old welcome me with, "Daddy, you're home." I figured that maybe he was sick and that surely his mom was about, readying some medicine for him. Nope. Everyone else was still asleep. He had just woken up and decided to come into the living room to watch a little TV and wait for me to come home.

On the TV was an old favorite show of mine, M*A*S*H. And my little guy had just politely been sitting on the couch watching it. One has to wonder what he had to make of it. No Dora or Diego to be found exploring the mountains of South Korea. Blue was not looking for clues in Klinger's tent. This was unfamiliar territory for Joshua. I guess he assumed it was a funny show, thanks to the laugh track, but I wonder how he was following it. A kid's just gotta watch TV sometimes, I guess.

A couple of nights later, my wife got up in the middle of the night and heard a sound coming from the living room. She ventured down the hallway at 4 A.M. and peered around the corner to find both children, Joshua and his little sister, sitting properly on the couch watching C-SPAN. I'll decide he's watching too many Senate debates if he starts wishing to be referred to as "the gentleman from Tennessee."

I guess it just comes down to this: The kids know how to turn on the television but they don't quite know how to change the channels away from what mom or dad were watching earlier in the evening. And at the hours they seem to be keeping, I guess it's best that we can't afford any movie channels.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

I Hear That Train A Comin


On my "Things To Do Before I Die" list is the goal of traveling across America by train. I envision a leisurely week or so of riding the rails with my camera and my notebook. Any destination is fine. I just want to feel relaxed for a period of time and gaze at my country's glorious scenery - not by plane where I am thousands of miles above it or by car where I am focusing more on the road than beauty around me, but by train where I can casually study the view out my window and reflect on all that has happened in this land over so many years.

Usually, when thinking about this, I imagine a trip up into the New England states. I think of timing it to witness the awesome fall foliage. But today, I was talking with my Montana residing friend and did a little AmTrak.com research. There is a route called the Empire Builder that travels from Chicago to Seattle with a stop very near her home. It'd be nice to finally meet a friend I only know through blogging. What a beautiful trip that would be. My wife has always wanted to live in Montana (she even subscribed to the Billings Gazette while in college at UGA). I doubt we'll ever move there, but it would be a nice gift to her to take a trip to Montana.

So, the "Things To Do Before I Die" list now includes AmTrak's Empire Builder route. Paige and I would leave the kids with my mother-in-law and we'd just disappear together for a while. No internet, no blogging, no punch clocks - just leisure time with my love as we get to know parts out west.

I found a nice article on that route and train travel in general at thelobby.com.

What's on your list?

Friday, November 17, 2006

Orphans

"'Orphans' (in stores Tuesday) is a teeming, seething menagerie too antic to be corralled, a leviathan too vast to be easily grasped."

-from a review of Tom Waits' new CD set, by Richard Cromelin of the L. A. Times

I Don't Have To Camp Out For Three Days For Yesterday's Technology

All of this talk of PlayStation3 has me wondering, "Is it time I upgrade to PlayStation2?" I have the first PlayStation system but it's buried deep within a storage unit somewhere and I just don't have it in me to go digging for it. I have no need for the latest technology. I just want something to play Madden football on.

With that in mind, I guess now might be a good time to check eBay for unwanted PS2s.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Craig Wilson Gets My Thanks

Only losers lack the manners to thank the finder - Craig Wilson, USA Today

A Link From My Finnish Friend

In Finland's Footsteps

Good News For Jazz Fans

Nashville gets rare chance to hear live jazz from masters

It's Like This

I can't go into the details because I know better than to blog about work.

Suffice to say that I am finally home, I have beers in my belly, and I have Vern Gosdin playing on the stereo.

There's a song in my mood and disposition tonight. But Nashville is full of writers tonight and I'd just rather leave the writing to them. I've finally got walls, beer, music, and solitude. Ten hours on the clock and I'll take my reward.

[Edit to add: The funk is gone. Why? The workplace is a million miles away, Vern Gosdin has run his course, and I am now listening to 1991's fantastic Bone Machine by Tom Waits. I'm back on top.]

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Juggling Two Houses

I'm so glad that our experience with that is a thing of the past. Here's an NPR story on getting caught between two mortgages. With us, it was a mortgage and rent. And the stress of it all just about did us in. It seems that it happens to more people than I had thought.

Monday, November 13, 2006

It's A Good Thing For Them That We're All So Car Dependent

In so many areas of our lives, the people with whom we make deals are held responsible to certain levels of honesty and integrity. Whether it be out of respect to the law or out of fear of losing customers to competitors with lower prices or nicer smiles, we consumers are treated well and with dignity.

And then there is the car business. From dealers to repair shops, it seems that we not only lose out on the deals, but we just accept it as a foregone conclusion that we will be lied to and we will pay too much. We are just too weary to fight these battles. I would love to live in a city with better mass transportation. I would love to not need to own a car. Even if living in a city with a higher cost of living outweighed the price of driving a car in my current city, I would just feel better not having the daily worry of whether or not my car would start and how that would affect my family financially. And essentially, I want to be no one's sucker.

I'm thinking of this after reading the latest in alleged Bill Heard dishonesty:

"We would like to congratulate you on your ‘04 Trailblazer," a voice said.

It's a recording that'd been left on the car's message system by the salesmen at Bill Heard that closes with this zinger:

"I know you got f**ked, but still in the long run, you're going to be happy with it. So, take care!"


I invite your comments on the subject of trusted mechanics and car dealers. Shared knowledge is indeed shared power.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Is That Of Montreal Doing An Outback Steakhouse Commercial?

Yes, it is.

And now The Go! Team is featured in a Honda commercial. It's like this Titans game is being brought to you by Vanderbilt's WRVU. I can't wait for the next commercial break. I'd like to request something by The Mountain Goats, please.

Opening Act

Here at Chez Bez, we pause for dramatic effect.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Veterans' Day


My grandfather.

A hero and a man among men.
When seeking a role model for how to be
the truest of gentlemen,
I look only to him.

I thank him for his service, his guidance, and his love.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Bukowski Night


I write the blog because the fantasy is that one day I write for a living and stop punching a clock for a living.

When was the fantasy's seed planted? A long time ago. I was wandering about an old bookstore that didn't survive downtown Nashville's resurgence as a tourist destination. I couldn't have been but nineteen or twenty years old and already I was dealing with more than I was ready for in life. At the front end of one aisle of that old bookstore was a title of a book that caught my eye. It was called Women. I had never heard of its author, Charles Bukowski, but I liked the title and I liked what I read from skimming a few pages.

I bought that book that day, and from that night to this day Bukowski has been the man I always go to when I need to read the best. In Waffle House diners and in workplace locker rooms, I have settled myself down by reading his poems and his novels and his short stories.

Tonight, the kids are sleeping well and my wife has turned in for the night. It is only me and my bulldog occupying the main room and I am finally watching a wonderful documentary on the man called Bukowski: Born Into This. The bulldog is chewing on a blanket. I'll have to get after her for that, but I'll give her a minute or so of fun first.

I've got mine.

A Day of Leisure


They stayed home from daycare today. One had a fever and the other wasn't feeling too well either. Of course, there is an upside to this: Pajamas all day long.

"Love u. Miss u."


Oh, how the timing of that text message was perfect. It came from my wife while I was at work. It was just a random and sweet little reminder of her love for me.

Except that I was also experiencing another little random encounter at the time. I was standing in my hotel lobby talking with one of my coworkers when in walked R. This was the woman I had dated before Paige and I had gotten back together and decided to get married. R. was now married as well and had brought in her newborn baby for some of our mutual friends to see. (She used to work here, too.)

So while politely catching up with an old girlfriend and exchanging niceties, I received that little text message from my beautiful wife, "Love u. Miss u." Women really can sense these things, can't they? I was quick to text back. Finding no need for lengthy and profound eloquence, I replied simply, "U 2." And I smiled for our shared love.

A Good Read

Waiter Rant on Dignity

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

The Triplets of Belleville


Good news. Nashville Public Library is screening the wonderful film, The Triplets of Belleville.

When: Nov. 8, Thurs. 6:15 p.m.

Where: Main branch (downtown location)

For more information call 862-5852.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Nice Amendment You've Got There, Tennessee

I didn't vote so I can't complain, right? Bite me. I wanted to vote but procrastinated on getting a new card since I moved back into Davidson County. No excuses there. I just dropped the ball on that one.

That said, I wasn't really very passionate about either one of our candidates for Senate. I would have voted for Ford Jr. but that would only have been me voting the party line. The thing that has me blogging is that right now, with 50% of the polls reporting, 930,660 (or 81%) of the voters have voted YES for the amendment to ban same-sex marriages. I won't dare argue someone's moral beliefs on that matter. I'm still young and I am far from wise, but it just seems like such a mean thing to vote for. I am a straight man and I have several gay friends who are feeling yet another slap in the face from society.

Whatever your religious beliefs, let's just approach this from a strictly legal standpoint. Let's just think about people and their rights. This is about hospital visitation if a loved one is sick or dying. This YES vote is about denying certain humans basic rights that the rest of us take for granted. Is it just the word marriage that scares people so much? What if it's just called something else? I know I need to do my homework on this before going on and on about it. I'm sure it's more complex than I know. It just makes me mad to read about so many people voting so passionately about something that really doesn't affect them at all.

I see amendments like these and think that it's just a ploy by one party to get people to the polls ("Don't have an opinion about taxes? How about gays?"). But then, in a tight race where Corker is currently winning with 53% and the amendment winning by over 80%, that tells me that a lot of Ford voters are voting YES, too. (Or does that mean that a lot of YES voters aren't casting a vote for the senate at all?)

I'm still learning, I guess.

Come Back, Britney

So you filed for divorce from Mr. Federline. Whatever. Now will you get that career going again and put out a damn album? It's been three years since you made me a fan with great songs, "Toxic," "Outrageous," and "Early Mornin'." Since then, you've released a greatest hits collection and a CD of remixes. I don't count them.

It's not like you disappeared. You stayed in the news for reasons completely unrelated to music. Please, get with the right producer and make that kickass comeback album I know you have in you.