Thursday, August 31, 2006

One Of Many Quirky Goals Of Mine

Every year about this time, I read about the Burning Man festival in Nevada. And every year about this time, I know that I am missing out on something I would really like to experience.

But like most things, it's online at least.

You've Got Questions? We've Got Layoffs...via e-mail.

FORT WORTH, Aug. 30 (AP) — The RadioShack Corporation, the electronics retailer, has followed through on plans to cut about 400 jobs, but it has been put on the defensive because of its decision to notify laid-off employees by e-mail.

Employees at the headquarters here received an e-mail message on Tuesday morning telling them they were being dismissed immediately.

“The work force reduction notification is currently in progress,” the notice stated. “Unfortunately your position is one that has been eliminated.” ...more>>

Pop Critic Of A Generation!


Chuck Klosterman, of course.

Here's the stuff.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

It's About The Customer Service, Stupid

Several months ago, I was going through a photo album of a vacation my father and I took to New York City back in 1991. We stayed at the famous Hotel Chelsea (Chelsea blog here) and had the big time. Among the photos was a letter from the Chelsea to my dad confirming his reservation. It was typed out in detail by the sender. (Was it proprietor Stanley Bard himself?) In closing, he personalized it by wishing my father and his son a good visit. Obviously, he had taken the time and care to remember more about my father than his credit card number.

How often does that happen nowadays? We're all so automated now. We press 3 for this or 4 for that when speaking to a real person is all we really want. The last days of the record store are upon us. Will Tower Records be here in a year? In three months? We go online and click and buy, but no one smiles and says "thank you" anymore. And if we see that phrase at all, it's just a meaningless piece of text on the screen. We don't feel it and we don't buy it. We just purchase and move along. Fair enough.

So I was smiling tonight when I received email confirmation of an order I made on Still just text on a screen maybe, but it felt genuine and was fun to read. It's probably just a standard script that every purchaser receives, but what a script! Thanks to CDBaby for putting a little effort into making me feel good about a purchase. Stuff like that buys loyalty from a guy like me.

By the way, I bought Heater by Nashville's own Newton Dominey.

Here's the fun confirmation in question:

Your CDs have been gently taken from our CD Baby shelves with
sterilized contamination-free gloves and placed onto a satin pillow.

A team of 50 employees inspected your CDs and polished them to make
sure they were in the best possible condition before mailing.

Our packing specialist from Japan lit a candle and a hush fell over
the crowd as he put your CDs into the finest gold-lined box that
money can buy.

We all had a wonderful celebration afterwards and the whole party
marched down the street to the post office where the entire town of
Portland waved 'Bon Voyage!' to your package, on its way to you, in
our private CD Baby jet on this day, Tuesday, August 29th.

I hope you had a wonderful time shopping at CD Baby. We sure did.
Your picture is on our wall as "Customer of the Year". We're all
exhausted but can't wait for you to come back to CDBABY.COM!!

Thank you once again,

Derek Sivers, president, CD Baby
the little CD store with the best new independent music

In My Favorite Movie, The Following Line Is Spoken

She: I hate to think of you in that cheesy motel.
He: I'll move to a real smart hotel tomorrow
if it makes you feel better.

Sayeth Bruce Springsteen About The Rumors...

"Due to the unfounded and ugly rumors that have appeared in the papers over the last few days, I felt they shouldn't pass without comment. Patti and I have been together for 18 years — the best 18 years of my life. We have built a beautiful family we love and want to protect and our commitment to one another remains as strong as the day we were married."

And for fun, the lyrics to his love song to his wife:

"Red Headed Woman"

Well, brunettes are fine, man.
And blondes are fun.
But when it comes to getting a dirty job done,
I'll take a red-headed woman, a red-headed woman.
It takes a red-headed woman to get a dirty job done.

Well, listen up, sir,
Your life's been wasted
Until you've gotten down on your knees,
And tasted a red-headed woman, a red-headed woman.
It takes a red-headed woman to get a dirty job done.

Tight skirt, strawberry hair.
Tell me what youve got, baby, waiting under there.
Big green eyes that look like sun
They can see every cheap thing that you ever done

Well, I don't care how many girls you dated.
Man, you ain't lived
Till you've had your tires rotated
By a red-headed woman, a red-headed woman.
It takes a red-headed woman to get a dirty job done.

Monday, August 28, 2006

23rd Street Lullaby

Patti Scialfa has recorded two albums, one in 1993 called Rumble Doll and another in 2004 called 23rd Street Lullaby. They are both as good as anything I have ever heard. The songwriting is both strong and delicate. The music is perfect.

When I first heard Rumble Doll, I was working in a record store. Knowing of the Bruce Springsteen connection, I popped it onto the in-store CD player and gave it a spin as I went about my business of pricing, alphabetizing, and selling. I liked it, but it was evident that Rumble Doll was not being heard in its best possible environment. After work, I took that promo copy home, turned down the lights, and listened to it again with headphones. I paid attention to everything and it owned me. Her voice is that seemingly impossible mix of flawless imperfection. Just scratchy enough to feel the ache and sincerity of every word.

Today, I was thinking about her as I read more stories of her impending divorce from her husband and looked her up on Rhapsody to give Rumble Doll another listen. Clicking on her name, I was surprised to see a second release that I was not familiar with. 23rd Street Lullaby came out two years ago and I hadn't heard a note of it. This was another perfect time to listen. My young daughter just down for her nap, I could listen to it uninterrupted. I was rewarded by another fantastic piece of insightful and interesting work by this very talented artist. Nothing is exaggerated, and the songs are rich with confident nuance.

23rd Street Lullaby remembers her time living in the New York's famous Chelsea community in the late 70s and early 80s. This is an album which recalls those days fondly. It remembers the yearnings that are strong with so many of us and it pays tribute to those who are still working hard just to barely make it ("Rose").

While Patti Scialfa will be mentioned in the news and gossip pages for a bit as she and her husband go about dissolving their marriage, let's not forget that her talent stands strong as an artist and musician. Eleven years passed between Patti's first CD and her second. Let's hope that her third release will arrive much sooner. What she creates is well appreciated. I wish her the best.

[Edit to add: No later than ten hours after I published this post, I saw that Bruce released a statement refuting the rumors of his split with wife, Patti. For some reason, I read it with an unstoppable grin. I love watching them interact together on stage, and I particularly love "Red Headed Woman," his ode to her, and it's beautiful to watch him look her in her eyes as he sings it in concert. That song has more mischief and sex in it than anything I have ever heard him sing.

I'm glad to hear that the marriage is cool. Here's his statement regarding the rumors: "Due to the unfounded and ugly rumors that have appeared in the papers over the last few days, I felt they shouldn't pass without comment. Patti and I have been together for 18 years — the best 18 years of my life. We have built a beautiful family we love and want to protect and our commitment to one another remains as strong as the day we were married."]

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Ari By The Lake

Happy Dog

Don't tell her, but she's ripe for a B-A-T-H. Posted by Picasa

To Shelby Dog Park We Go

Are the "anti anything resmembling a pit bull" restrictions so tough that we might have a problem bringing our sweet pacifist English bulldog to the dog park?

I suppose we'll see. I haven't been to Shelby Park in a long time and would love to have a great time there today with my family. Even if our Georgia isn't allowed to run free in the dog park, I suppose that we can keep her on her leash and walk the Greenway.

That's cool.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Free Mattress - Come Get It!

The good people here at Chez Bez downsized a few months ago and find themselves with one extra mattress set. It's fullsize and superfluous to our needs. It comes with boxsprings and is priced to move - Free!

I tried to donate it to Salvation Army but they insist that they came by and it wasn't here. I promise that it indeed is still here. Sitting on our back patio, it is very much here. Plan A is to give it away to whomever needs it. Plan B is to try to fit it into the apartment complex dumpster. I really, really don't want to resort to Plan B.

Need it? Want it? Let me know and I'll give you directions to the source.

Tom Waits Judges Your Music

If ambushing your favorite bands with UPS'd cassettes and CD-Rs tossed on stage hasn't gotten your band noticed yet, the 2006 International Songwriting Competition should be right up your alley. Brian Wilson, Tom Waits, Robert Smith, Isaac Brock, and more are all judging the contest. Hell, the ISC is parked in your alley giving away free... more>>

Throat Fleas? I've Got Those Too

Shauna over at *o, pish posh!* describes something that I hate that I relate to.

Throat Fleas.

They made me consider staying home from work today. And then, mere minutes into my workday, as I was contemplating a ten hour nap while on the clock if I could just find somewhere to hide, I hated myself for not calling off.

I now sit in my favorite chair, sufficiently drugged, and am contemplating calling off tomorrow. But I know I won't. I know me too well. I can't stand to hear a manager not believe I'm sick when I really am. So, throat fleas for all my coworkers!

Friday, August 25, 2006

At The Dog Park

Or as my canine calls it, The Dawg Park.

She's an UGA-line English Bulldog and is social as the day is long. When we first brought her into our home, we would go to Franklin's dog park most weekends and watch her run around with all of the other dogs.

In our apartment complex, we made friends with another couple who had a young puppy. Our Georgia would play with their Zooey when we got home from work each day. It was good for the dogs and good for us.

A few years have gone by. We have had two kids since then, and our Georgia doesn't get the exercise and love that she used to. That's OK to a point. She is a breed that is happy to lay around the house and not exert too much energy. However, I can still be a better dog owner. And what better way to improve my social circle than to take my dog to a place full of dog lovers like myself.

And so, weather permitting, Paige and I will take the kids and the sweet dawg to one of Nashville's dog parks on Sunday. Now to decide which one to go to. The one by Centennial Park or the Shelby Dog Park? Dog lovers and fellow bloggers, which one do you like?

Pacman Arrested, And I Have An Opinion

Titans player, Pacman Jones, was arrested early this morning on charges of public drunkenness and disorderly conduct. Sharon Cobb broke the story on her site long before I saw any mention of it anywhere else.

The story is here. Just How Violent Is Pacman, Anyway?

Oops, sorry. That's a story about the Pacman, the video game.

Here is the story about Adam "Pacman" Jones.

An excerpt:
Jones was arguing with a woman he accused of stealing his wallet inside the club and passing it to one of her friends, according to police.

Officers said they ordered Jones to leave several times, but he refused and continued to shout profanities.

My thoughts?

Fair or not, he's way too high profile an individual to be drinking excessively in public. Surely he knows better, but who are we to judge? If the above excerpt is entirely true, I can see me losing my composure in the same situation. I've had too many drinks and a woman won't give me back my wallet? I get angry and try to get it back and security and police officers order me to leave and I still don't have my wallet? I can see the situation getting loud and out of control.

Pacman needs to be more like me.

He needs to always be at his most sober and polite in public and save his imbibing of alcohol for when he is in the safety and security of his own home. But I'm sure Jeff Fisher has given him that speech more than a few times before. Life is just easier when playing it safe. Go out and enjoy yourself. Listen to music and laugh with good friends. But know that if you are a high profile millionaire athlete, especially one who has had more than his share of "being in the wrong place at the wrong time" incidences, you will not get a break if you are drunk and angry in a public space.

I'm just your average factotum, and I stay out of trouble and save my small measures of drinking for when I am at home in my living room, listening to music and surfing the web with my dog by my side.

Now if I could just find my wallet.

In Memoriam: Tara Cole

The Tennessean newspaper reports that two suspects have been arrested in the murder of Tara Cole. While sleeping on a downtown Nashville pier, she was pushed over the side into the river where she drowned.

Nashville's homeless community and others who care kept a vigil downtown for ten days until her body was found. Did the media attention play a large role in the quick work by Metro police or were her killers caught just as they would have been regardless?

Thanks to surveillance video of the two men and interrogation, Timothy Webber, 21, of Tribble Lane in Lebanon and Josh Dotts, 22, of Smalling Road in Lafayette were arrested and charged with Tara Cole's murder. A news report this morning quotes them as saying that they did it "for kicks."

A related story on homelessness is here.

The following is a poem by Charles Bukowski:

Trashcan Lives

the wind blows hard tonight
and it's a cold wind
and I think about
the boys on the row.
I hope some of them have a bottle
of red.

it's when you're on the row
that you notice that
is owned
and that there are locks on
this is the way a democracy

you get what you can,
try to keep that
and add to it
if possible.

this is the way a dictatorship
works too
only they either enslave or
destroy their

we just forgot

in either case
it's a hard

Alice Cooper At The Ryman?

OK, it's not quite Hank Williams or the Grand Ole Opry, but a venue's a venue, right? And if it's good enough for Queensryche, it's must be good enough for Alice.

Alice Cooper will bring his current tour to our Ryman Auditorium on September 30. Tickets go on sale this Friday at 5 p.m. through Ticketmaster.

I last saw Alice at Nashville's Municipal Auditorium back in the late 80s and I'm thinking it'd be cool to see him again. Maybe it's just my current mood - 2 a.m. and listening to Motley Crue and drinking a tall bottle of beer - but I'd like to revisit my late 80s self, if for only one night. When I first saw him, I took a girl from high school and her dad drove us to the concert in his station wagon. If I go this concert, a good twenty years later, I'll be driving my own station wagon. Great. I've become my girlfriend's dad.

Regardless, with cheap tickets at only $25 I can almost justify this one. It's no big deal if I miss it, though. But I bet he still puts on a hell of a show. Tom Wharton of the Salt Lake Tribune thinks so. Here's his excellent review of Alice's Saturday show at the Saltair.

Babysteps To Holding One's Ground, Sibling Style

With a three year old son and a 20 month old daughter around the house, I often hear or say the following: "Joshua, that was not nice. Now tell your sister you're sorry and give her a hug." Toys are returned to rightful hands or pushes and shoves are given second thoughts while in time out.

And so yesterday I was a bit surprised, both at what I heard and the grin that I grinned, when I heard some familiar but noticeably different words come from my wife's mouth: "Arianna, that was not nice. Now tell your brother you're sorry and give him a hug."

My wife soon gave me the play-by-play. Joshua had entered the kitchen right at the time that Arianna decided that she needed to open a kitchen cabinet. The corner of it struck her big brother's forehead, causing him some pain and much sadness.

The whole thing was just one of those innocent, unfortunate happenings. But I can't help but wondering about that little voice in Ari's head, gleefully whispering, "Payback."

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Ones For A Twenty Please. I'm Going To A Funeral.

Farmers hire strippers to attract funeral crowd
FARMERS in a small Jiangsu town host strippers at their funerals to attract larger crowds, China Central Television reported the unique custom on Monday.

The local people believe that the more people gathered at a funeral, the more luck it will bring to the family and offspring. So some families hire striptease troupes to attract more people, the report said.

This stripping spectacle has reportedly become one of the town's most popular nighttime events... more>>

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Sunday, August 20, 2006


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On Factotum

L.A. poet and writer Charles Bukowski was a lot of things. Lover, drinker, voice to the semi-defeated working class. But he was not, the performers of the film "Factotum" insist, a slob.

That's an important detail. When you're talking about a hard-drinking, womanizing writer with a serious case of world-weariness, the beauty in the man often can be found within his contradictions. more>>

Link to 2 minute trailer here.

An Idea With A Lot Of Mileage

Oh, how I'd love to drive a Vespa the six miles to work each day. With an average of 55 mpg and speeds up to 60 mph depending on the model, I wouldn't even blink at gas prices.

Article in Saturday's Tennessean here.

Trip report from Cannonball Run 2004 here.

The official Vespa website here.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Tom Waits - Orphans: Brawlers, Bawlers and Bastards

On November 21, 2006, Tom Waits (in wikipedia) will release his much anticipated 3-CD compilation, Orphans: Brawlers, Bawlers and Bastards.

The track list is here, and a brief description is here.

Or if you prefer, Tom Waits himself describes it as thus:
We're doing a thing called "Orphans,"a lot of songs that fell behind the stove while making dinner, about 60 tunes that we collected. Some are from films, some from compilations. Some is stuff that didn't fit onto a record, things I recorded in the garage with the kids. Oddball things, orphaned tunes.

Brazilian Girls Bring Talk To La Bomb

I just listened to two songs from the Brazilian Girls' new release. Their first CD was breathtakingly wonderful. With a fresh vibe and a very sexy feel, it was easily one of my favorite new finds. (Side note: They are not from Brazil and there is only one female in the group.)

I'm always excited to hear music that sounds like nothing I have heard before. Brazilian Girls makes music that fits that bill for me. It's all very global. Maybe it could be described as a bit trip-hop and a bit electronica, but it also has a very earthy and warm tone to it that is not often found in those genres. I listen to their self-titled first release and feel that I am traveling the globe to the sexiest and sultriest destinations. I'm in an upscale Argentine nightclub being seduced by a wealthy heiress one minute and I'm freely wandering the streets of Paris with a young bohemian artiste the next.

Some people keep that Barry White CD around for romantic dinners at home. I'll make sure I always have Brazilian Girls at the ready. Smooth and cool and hypnotic, this is mood music at its greatest.

Now a new CD is upcoming and two new songs have been made available to my anxious ears. The first track is called "Last Call" and it's maddeningly disappointing. The music is quite uninteresting and derivative. Of course, the vocals are still beautifully affecting. Singer Sabina Sciubba could nag me for a lifetime and I would fall in love with her more with each aural assault.

The best I can do for the song though, is to compare it to a bad Thompson Twins song from the '80s. I like the Thompson Twins, but if you can imagine them at their worst, that's kind of what I hear in this song. It's a single for the sake of a single, and nothing more.

More promising is the second song. It's named "Jique" and was first heard on their Live in NYC release. A bit more abrasive than what I am used to from them, it comes across as something Trent Reznor might have produced. It's got a real dirty synth thing going for it and is very sexy as a result. I just hope that "Jique" is more representative of their new album than "Last Call."

The new album is titled Talk To La Bomb and drops September 12 from Verve Forecast. It was produced by the band along with Ric Ocasek and Mark Plati and much of the album was composed as it was being performed and produced. Whether I will like it as much as their debut remains doubtful, but I'm still excited about its release.

I'm ready to travel the world with them again.

Friday, August 18, 2006

My Life Partner And I Are Doing Just Fine

With the house mess behind us and a teenager visiting for the weekend, my lovely wife and I jumped at the occasion to have said teen watch the two littlest while we went out on a well-deserved date.

We went to a restaurant and ate our meal at the bar. Underneath the captivating glow of televised football, we conversed about nothing stressful for the first time in what seems like forever. We talked football and we talked about friends. We talked about idiots we've met over the years who have pulled the "Do you know how I am?" defense when they don't get what they want. We laughed together about all things inconsequential.

It goes without saying that I am married to the prettiest girl around. And for who she is and how she acts, I am the luckiest guy around to get to share a life with her. In good times, we're good. And in stressful times, we're good. It's nice to say that and it's nice to know that.

File this post under: Sappy, mushy love stuff.

Furry Fuhrer?

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The Blog is The New Refrigerator Door

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Blogger Millie Garfield is 81

I just saw an interview with Millie Garfield, one of the internet's oldest bloggers. She just shared that now she starts each day checking for emails and comments instead of reading the paper and paying bills. I think I just saw my future self.

Geriatric1927 Has Something To Say

Thursday, August 17, 2006

I Smell Celebrity Endorsed MLM

I've come into contact with a lot of crazy multi-level marketing scams. This claim just sounds like yet another one.

Says David Copperfield: I've found the Fountain of Youth.

"I've discovered a true phenomenon," he told Reuters in a telephone interview. "You can take dead leaves, they come in contact with the water, they become full of life again. ... Bugs or insects that are near death, come in contact with the water, they'll fly away. It's an amazing thing, very, very exciting." more>>

The Diary of Jay-Z: Water for Life

Jay-Z to Dramatize World Water Crisis in MTV Video Diary

NEW YORK, New York, August 11, 2006 (ENS) - "Most young people are unaware" of the world's water crisis, but if they knew about the "staggering numbers" of people affected by lack of clean water, they would be moved to act, Def Jam President and CEO Jay-Z said at United Nations Headquarters in New York on Wednesday.

UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan welcomed the help of the internationally known recording star and MTV President Christina Norman in raising public awareness of water scarcity through a new global initiative.

"Most of us take water for granted," the secretary-general said, "but, for more than a billion people who lack access to safe drinking water, this is an inconceivable dream."

Nearly two million children die every year because of unclean water and poor sanitation - far more than the casualties from violent conflicts, UN records show. more>>

Claire Suddath Is My New Favorite Writer

I can't remember how I first discovered Claire Suddath. She has had a few radio shows over at WRVU. She writes for the Nashville Scene and its blog, Pith In The Wind. She had a short lived literary rag named Illiterati. And I'd bet that there are one or two other outlets that I am forgetting.

Anyway, I've always loved hearing her on the radio and whether it be a little blog post or Nashville Scene column, her writing has always been good stuff. Clever and funny, I can always count on Claire to make me smile when I read her work.

Well, she has raised the bar. She wrote the cover story for the August 17 edition of the Nashville Scene and it's stellar. It's called Eaten Alive and it addresses a friend's struggle with bulimia and anorexia. This is the stuff that inspires people - some to be writers and some to look at their own challenges with eating disorders. I'm in the first category. I want to be this good.

I strongly encourage everyone to read it uninterrupted. A few nights ago, I heard Claire on her radio show, I Like Songs (click to listen), giggling and struggling to correctly pronounce "Helsinki." Tonight, I read her cover story and wondered how many people will see themselves in this and attempt to get help and live a healthier life after reading her powerful and caring words.

Good stuff, indeed.

Hey Kids! There's A New Blogger In Town!

My friend, Corey, is a concierge who has finally gotten into this whole blogging thing. He writes about Nashville and what it has to offer its community and visitors.

I'm no foodie, but he sure is. On any given day, he is telling me about some fantastic restaurant that he just tried out and how I need to check it out. And whether it's a five star restaurant or Hot Diggity Dog, he's happy to share with me the merits of the place and what's so great about it.

And now, for all of you foodies (or "pioneers of the palette," as Tom Waits would say), you can read about what he likes, and make your plans accordingly.

Check him out. He is certainly among Nashville's finest.

Blog roll, please...Webbspun Ideas has arrived.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Homeowners No More!

After months of well-documented stress, we finally closed on the sale of our house yesterday. The check was quite the pittance but we were happy just to sign and close the deal. (Appraisal number one came in at a certain amount but the deal with those buyers fell through. Appraisal number two, one month later, came in significantly lower, coming nowhere close to representing what we had been paying in property taxes.) But like I said, we were happy just to put this thing behind us and move on with our lives.

Apartment living is so nice. My work commute used to be 60 miles roundtrip a day. Now it takes me a week to put that many miles on my car. We both can be to work in less than 20 minutes (12 for me), we don't worry about lawn care or the cost of maintenance. In season, we have two beautiful swimming pools from which to choose and there are a couple of modest workout facilities that I can always access. En route to work each day, I cross over the Percy Priest dam and have the most beautiful view of the lake and the plethora of boats upon it. (Note to self: Make friends with someone who owns a boat.)

We're still as broke as ever and all of a sudden my car is stalling each time I come to a stop or near-stop. So there's some more money to be spent immediately. I just hope it holds out long enough for me to take it to the dealership tomorrow or Friday. I've been late to work every day this week to care for kids with fevers and I'd like to make it on time today.

I don't see us rushing into homeownership for quite a while. Our experience was just too hard with this sale. If not for the loudest walkers in the world above us, this would be the most perfect living situation for us right now. I think our upstairs neighbors have nightly midnight races from the bedroom to the kitchen and back.

Now all that's left for me is to get a better job. As soon as I get my resume into Southwest Airlines, I'll feel like I am really doing something good for me and good for my family. I rarely meet a SWA flight attendant who doesn't have a genuine smile. They love their jobs and have a blast traveling from city to city. Unlike my current situation, there is such a thing as seniority and even though the hours can be quite long, the schedules are quite flexible. When they are at work, they are away from their families. But when they are home, they are home for three to four days at a time. My family would love actually seeing me that often. Funny how a traveling job could allow me to have more family time than the one down the street.

Chez Bez
Factotum Extraordinaire

Hilarious and Brilliant - The Elmo Litmus Test

ELMO REFUSED to be interviewed for this column. I consider this to be a supreme act of cowardice. And it doesn't surprise me one bit. Elmo is an annoying tool. more>>

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Mini-bar? No? TSA Bar? Yes? Cool.

Joe Sharkey writes for the New York Times on all things travel related. Here's his latest with regards to recent airline restrictions of carry-on items and how some hotels are responding to it.


Around the country, many hotels rushed to assure arriving guests who didn’t check bags that they could easily replenish cosmetics, toothpaste and other liquid or gel items no longer allowed in carry-on bags. One resort in the Florida Keys, Little Palm Island, is asking guests to call ahead and say what kind of toiletries they want stocked in their rooms. In New York City, the Exchange Hotel near Wall Street (average room rate $375, according to is giving guests a $25 gift card for a nearby drugstore. And the Lemon Tree Inn in Naples, Fla., has set up a TSA Bar (Toiletries Snagged Again) where guests can simply take items they need, from personal-size toothpaste to deodorant. more>>

Coupons! Coupons! Coupons! Local Coupons.

New at Google: Local Coupons
by Sean Hansell

Google is expanding its local directory business using the same sort of disruptive tactics it has used in other areas: giving away something for which others charge. Starting today, Google will let any business offer discount coupons to people who use its Google Maps service... more>>

Scalia on Bush v. Gore: Come On, Get Over It

Has Bush v. Gore Become the Case That Must Not Be Named?

At a law school Supreme Court conference that I attended last fall, there was a panel on “The Rehnquist Court.” No one mentioned Bush v. Gore, the most historic case of William Rehnquist’s time as chief justice, and during the Q. and A. no one asked about it. When I asked a prominent law professor about this strange omission, he told me... more>>

Sunday, August 13, 2006


William was a good friend of mine. He worked with me and was a security officer. We had worked together for a while but didn't really get close until football season arrived one year. My friend Daniel had just gotten into fantasy football and asked William his thoughts on a few of his decisions. William's face lit up with a glow of luminosity. He drew Daniel in closely and analyzed his football choices like a professor studying a favorite student's thesis.

We always knew William as a friendly guy whose face always seemed to default to "huge smile," but now we were privy to the wealth of knowledge dancing about in his head. He was a short, black man who always looked a bit like Charlie Brown to me. That round, shaved head of his talking the beautiful strategies of football just seemed misplaced accompanied by that dress shirt and tie. I remember watching him and seeing an exuberant twelve year old boy who values only two things: sports and friendship.

Week in and week out, he would correct Daniel's fantasy football choices to perfect results. Daniel would seek William out like a writer seeks out a muse. I would tag along just to be with a couple of friends.

My favorite memory of William was probably William's favorite memory. He played college football for a small school in Kentucky. I forget if he was a running back or primarily a special teamer, but he loved to tell a story about a kick return or a punt return that he made one night. As the shortest man on the team, it was really something to watch him run. He was dodgy and quick and had a way of catching opponents off guard. This one night, he caught the ball and went the distance. Ninety something yards, William took the pigskin to the endzone for his biggest night in his football career.

It was a home game and as he crossed the endzone for the touchdown, he heard the cheers of the crowd. But looking down and catching his breath, he heard laughter as well. Confused, he looked up to see what everyone was laughing at. As it turns out, his mom had been watching from her seat, but once he got the ball, in excitement, she ran down to the sideline and proudly ran the distance alongside her son. Of course, while he was dodging defenders, she was dodging coaches - and she made it to the endzone before William. She was dancing her own touchdown celebration while he was still making his way there.

His smile as he told the story was beautiful. One day, he brought in pictures of him in his team uniform. It made me wish for him that he was still active in sports instead of doing what he was doing. A knee injury turned even his small chance to stay in football into no chance. But if he was bitter, he never showed it. He took pride in his job and loved the community of friendship that we had. I wouldn't trade those days of talking with my friend for anything.

Several months after hearing his great story, his boss resigned and he posted for the promotion. He hadn't been there long enough though and so someone else would come in for that position. Feeling slighted, he left work that day early. I was off for a few days and got word later that William had been arrested and charged with the stabbing murder of his girlfriend. I think that there was some paranoid jealousy at play. He thought she was cheating on him and lost his head.

As the news report indicated, as soon as he realized what he had done, he called his mom and asked her to call the police. He waited and was taken into custody. A few weeks after, William committed suicide in jail. This was about five years ago and I still find myself thinking of my friend. He did a terrible thing by taking a young woman's life. Her family will suffer forever as they miss her. I also think of William's mother.

I knew William well enough to know how completely out of character his crime was. I bet that desperate phone call from her son still doesn't feel quite real. He was the guy quick with a smile and happy to be among friends and family. She once - in great happiness and pride - outran him on the football field, but now she has outlived him in life.

I know that she misses her boy. I do too.

Labor In Translation


I saw it not as a risk, giving birth so far from home, but as an adventure. Hell, in the previous year I had...more>>>

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Where's Mike?

Actually, this sign is posted at Nashville Zoo. On days like these, I don't see why an animal would be anywhere else.

Alligator Cove!
(Or just an ugly example of imminent domain according to the otters who used to live here.)

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Eight Years Of Foreshadowing. The Man Who Would Be Cash

While watching 1997's U Turn on television the other night, I enjoyed a scene where Joaquin Phoenix's character tries to start a fight with Sean Penn's hapless passerby in a diner. Just as they find themselves standing chest to chest, seconds from angry fists flying, in walks the sheriff. His appearance prevents the fight from happening...for a bit.

But the music that swells as the sheriff makes his entrance? "Ring of Fire" by Johnny Cash. The camera holds a short, tight shot of Mr. Phoenix's tough face and I see the Oscar nominated mug of the man who would later portray Johnny in 2005's Walk The Line.

Late Night Essentials

Monday, August 07, 2006

And Now, A Review Of The Show By A Pro

I shared my view of the show. Now read what Peter Gilstrap has to say about it. I hung on every word.

Time at the Ryman worth the wait

Sunday, August 06, 2006

I Can Die Now. I Saw Tom Waits At The Ryman.

What can I say?

Last night's show was the perfect reward to sixteen years of waiting for Waits. Discovering the music of Tom Waits back in 1990 while working at Turtle's Records was the single greatest result of having worked at a record store. It was either Heartattack And Vine or Nighthawks At The Diner, and from there I was buying up his back catalogue and waiting with bated breath for upcoming releases - Bone Machine was my first new release purchase.

Anyway, here it is, the year 2006, and my day was made when the lovely Janet at Out The Other (her most recent show streams here) made the announcement that Tom Waits would be playing Nashville. I had missed him the last time he played my fair city as I was about three at the time. Within weeks, I was on vacation in a little beach town, logging onto on my laptop in a hotel lobby. Clad in flip flops and shorts, other vacationers must have thought me to be a poor workaholic who just couldn't leave his work alone for a week. They didn't know that I was a rabid Raindog and my wife at my side was enabler to my addiction, reading the credit card number to me as I completed my transaction. Final result? August 5, Ryman Auditorium, Main Floor, Section 6, Row P, Seat 8. Confirmed.

Waiting for the show date was painful and beautiful. August 5 arrived and at 2:30 I picked up my ticket at will-call. Immediately, a couple behind me asked if I was from out-of-town like them. "Nope, I live here," I replied. I met a lot of people before the show and none of them were local. Buffalo Billiards on 2nd Ave was the official meeting place for show attendees and it was there that I met two cool guys from Dallas, an odd duck from Virginia, and another guy whose city I didn't get, but this was his third stop following Tom Waits around and as I recall, he had been sleeping in his car here and there.

Norway and England were represented by attendees as well. My English friend had seen Tom on the Raindogs tour and the man from Chicago sitting next to him had seen him on the last tour. I was in my element. Music fans all about, two hours of talking records and radio with the two guys from Dallas, and I really began to miss my record store days. If I could find the time, I would apply for a part time job at Tower Records just to get back to that.

But the concert.

The stage was set up simply with drums on the left, upright bass next, and keyboards and percussion on the right. Sitting somewhere in between was a small and odd assortment of items including a bullhorn. The curtain behind these creations was a warm and pale color. Shortly after 8:00 the lights dimmed and my goosebumps arrived. The band casually walked onto stage and took their spots - Casey Waits on drums, Larry Taylor on upright bass, Duke Robillard on guitar, and Brent Clausen handling all things percussion.

And then entered Tom. In appropriate reverence, all in the crowd stood and applauded. Dressed in basic work pants and jacket, Tom took the mic and growled my recent favorite, "Make It Rain." I wasn't watching a concert; I was watching theater. Animated and full of gestural intensity, Tom worked his artistry and gave a commanding and beautiful show.

Focusing not on any one part of his career but touching on all of his varied styles, he really gave the perfect performance. The thing that really will stay with me is how well the lighting was used. With blue lights from above and a white spotlight from below, every glance at his face was like a glimpse at a stirring photograph. And that spotlight from below cast the most enormous and spooky shadow of the entertainer onto the curtain behind him.

There on the curtain were shadows of the band members doing their thing, but towering higher at what seemed to be twenty feet tall was Tom's shadow. The shadows themselves seemed like a show of their own. Sitting in my pew a mere 16 rows from the stage, I half expected the shadows to take on lives of their own. I imagined that they were conversing with the shadows and ghosts of all who had played on that famous stage from so many decades of musical history. Surely, Tom's shadow and Hank Williams' ghost were off playing cards and sharing a bottle before night's end.

The instrument most notably absent from the stage was the piano. Tom's most recent album was his first where there was no piano at all. Was he forsaking the thing that accompanied him on so many wonderful songs over the years? With the help of a few good hands, about midway through the show, here came the piano. Enter stage right. And Tom took his seat, the band took a break, and he gave us "Tom Traubert's Blues." And my goosebumps were back. He followed that with "House Where Nobody Lives," a song that resonates with enormous sadness and beauty for me. A song or two later, he stepped away from the piano; the men were back, and he forcefully waved those 88 keys off of the stage, seemingly to much delight. Beautiful as it is, I think that is just damned tired of pianos.

My only criticism is really unwarranted. "Murder In The Red Barn" was reworked as if more of a Delta blues creation. It worked just fine and sounded great, but I just really love it the way he originally recorded it and was a bit disappointed not to hear it that way live. But that was easily remedied by playing the recorded version on my stereo at home the next morning. Small potatoes.

"What's He Building In There?" was a fine moment in the night. It's among my fave of his spoken word creations. And it gave the percussionist a great five minutes to gather from his assorted tools to find the perfect complements to the airy and spooky words of Mr. Waits' query. (If anyone remembers the exact quote Tom used to tease Mr. Clausen, let me know. It was hilarious but the exact wording escapes me right now.)

[Edit to add: I just remembered that he humorously referred to the Mr. Clausen as "an overzealous percussionist."]

The show was unrivaled by any I had ever seen. His beautiful presence and artistry were at top form and way worth sixteen years of waiting. His encore, "Day After Tomorrow" stayed with me my whole way home after the show. Typing that now, and listening to it while I think about its words, still resonates in a way to put me miles from drudgery and heart to heart with the power of honest expression.

Thanks to Tom Waits for all that he has done over the years. Ask me in twenty years what Tom Waits means to me and I'll tell you that back in 2006 I saw him at the Ryman Auditorium and it remains my favorite show ever.

[Follow the tour info online at The Eyeball Kid. It's got the setlists - and I lifted this post's picture from there.]

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Easily My Guilty Pleasure Of The Week

I saw this on Nashville Is Talking last night. Britney Spears appears to be quite high.

This reminds me. Getting high is overrated. Watching other people get high is hilarious.

Here's the link.

The Eyeball Kid Knows All

My daily dose of Tom Waits news, setlists, and such comes from The Eyeball Kid.

Nashville fans should know that there is a get-together today pre-show and post-show at Buffalo Billiards on 2nd Ave.

I'm a touch nervous about the anti-scalper methods working against me. We bought the tickets with my wife's credit card in our hands but typed in my name with plans for me to bring my credit card (same number) to the box office.

We can't find where in the house we keep mine, so we'll have to bring my wife's. The number on the card is the same, but the name won't match. Same last name but different first name. The plan is for both of us to go to the box office with her card and our IDs. I doubt it'll be a problem, but there's always a chance of trouble.

We'll see.

[Edit to add: One phone call to the Ryman comfirms that I should be fine. Fantastic news!]

I Stand Corrected. Peter Gilstrap Knows His Stuff.

I noticed that The Tennessean had a story about Tom Waits and his upcoming Ryman appearance. I decided not to read it, assuming that it would be the usual "Tom Waits is weird" stuff that people who don't delve into his work usually say to describe him and his 20 album career.

But tonight, a blogger who saw him in Atlanta linked to the article with props to the writer. Turns out the writer knows his stuff and has considerable respect for the music. It's a good read.

And it's here for your reading pleasure.

So This Is What Dial Up Feels Like?

I'm plugging this baby back into its modem. Is all wireless this slow or is there just some little flaw or bug going on?


Friday, August 04, 2006

Always The Way

We just made the switch to wireless here at Chez Bez, and the ability to move about the house with this thing is really cool. But a seemingly related problem is that the Rhapsody music service I love so much is not streaming like it should. I'll play a track and find that 40 seconds into it, the music stops. The stream is just not fast enough lately. This happened late last night and again this morning. How can I hear how boring The Boredoms really are if I only hear bits and pieces of their songs. And I want like anything to hear if this band called Beirut is really worthy of all of the internet hype they have been receiving. I was able to hear Persephone's Bees before the issues started and I give them a big thumbs-up.

But back to the streaming issue. I called Comcast to talk to someone about it to determine if it was connection related or not. The icon shows an "excellent" connection with a speed of 54.0 Mbps, but I don't know if that tells the whole story. So I make the call. And I wait on hold for a couple of minutes. And just like the car that makes the horrible noise all the way to the mechanic's garage but sounds great as you pull in, Rhapsody just started flying again as I waited on the phone.

I guess I should have stayed on the phone anyway just to see what the tech would say, but my rehearsed script was now facing a serious rewrite. I hung up. And now it's slow and phohibitive again.

Beautiful. Guess I'll turn my radio to WRVU and get ready for work.

Times like this, I recall Warren Zevon reminding us to "enjoy every sandwich." And I smile and go about my day. I can always call Comcast again when I get home from work tonight.

Even A Three Year Old Knows That "Dude" Is Gender Specific

I got in trouble with my son this morning. While attaching to her feet those weird, plastic shoes that everyone wears these days, I said something to the effect of, "Give me your feet, dude."

Immediately, Mr. 3 Year Old hopped down from his chair to say to me, "She's not a dude, Daddy. I'm a dude."

OK. Sorry, dude.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Shadows Of Pigtails Must Be Photographed

OK Go - Here It Goes Again

Cool video featuring OK Go on treadmills.

It Was Twenty Years Ago Today...

Wait, that's a song.

It was four years ago today. I awoke in a hotel bed in Fernandina Beach, FL on the morning of my wedding day. I am a man who questions everything. I move forward with great trepidation and hesitation. I tend to worry first and act later, much later.

August 3, 2002 found me without worry and without hesitation. I awoke feeling strong, confident, and lucky as hell. My son and I stirred about the hotel room for a bit and then went outside to the parking lot to toss the football back and forth. It was a warm and sunny day and all seemed right with the world. Friends and family had made the trip down from Tennessee to Florida (two drove to Florida from the D.C. area!) to witness one of my happiest days. I would pledge and commit myself to the love of my life, and I am happy to have shared that moment with so many kind and loving people.

What still strikes me is how smoothly the whole thing went for me. The stress I carry with me so often through life was completely absent that day. No nerves, no fainting at the altar - I was proud and happy and the day sailed by like so many of the beautiful boats off the shore of that little island town. Standing at the altar, my best man and groomsmen by my side (as I know they continue to be), I got to watch my beautiful bride make step after step on her way to choosing me to be her man forever. With each step, I felt both stronger and more vulnerable.

So often in my life, I had been sure of one thing. I would purposely remain single. The married life was not the life for me. Relatively cool, I just functioned better unwed, unspoken for. My personality is too quirky for another person to have to deal with it forever and ever. Not the big money maker and not the life of the party, a fantastic evening for me could be defined as an evening alone watching IFC or listening to some jazz while reading Charles Bukowski novels. Could anyone really love a guy forever whose idea of a great week is one in which a new issue of The New Yorker magazine arrives and he hears a cool David Sedaris essay on NPR? Surely not. People develop crushes on guys like me, but they don't build lives around us.

But it's been four years since she walked that walk (down the aisle) and talked that talk (she said "I do!") and she still kills me with looks of admiration and love. I watch her move through her days and I am always reminded of why I was not nervous at all on our wedding day. She is my love and having chosen each other always reminds me of a great line from The Unbearable Lightness of Being. It is this: "When the heart speaks, the mind finds it indecent to object." I never question that Paige is the woman with whom I am supposed to share a life. With her, my nerves are calm and my heart rests easily in quiet comfort. My heart spoke and I knew not to object.

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

Happy Anniversary! Paige, I love you.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

They're Number One!

Sports Illustrated's Peter King writes deftly about the Titans while they exercise and practice in the inconvenient heat in Clarksville, TN (home to Austin Peay University) here.

He loves Vince Young, Ben Troupe astounds him, and he thinks that "Kevin Mawae, David Givens, David Thornton and Chris Hope -- as well as the re-signing of defensive end Kyle Vanden Bosch give (Jeff) Fisher five on-field versions of mini-coaches."

He likes our running back situation and thinks that LenDale White could be the man come November.

But the thing that made me chuckle (and him too) was this:

There's a T-shirt in the Austin Peay bookstore with these words on the front: Let's Go Peay.

If I ever find myself in that store, I'm buying that shirt.

I'm Sharing A Fifth With Tom Waits

More to the point, I am sharing August 5th with Tom Waits. He'll be onstage at Nashville's famous Ryman Auditorium and I'll be 16 rows back with a stupid grin upon my face. To the best of my recollection, I discovered his musical wanderings in 1990 while working in a record store. One night, I popped in Heartattack And Vine or Nighthawks At The Diner and I have been hooked ever since.

Not too long after discovering this masterful storyteller with the voice emotive and strong, Bone Machine was released. Unlike anything I had heard him create before, it was percussive, wild, and unrelenting. I knew that I had found an artist owned by no simple defining niche. His musical spirit gets younger as his skin gets older.

Here's his setlist from last night's Atlanta show. His own son on drums and Duke Robillard on guitar, and Tom doing what Tom does. I'm damn giddy about seeing him live.

1. Make It Rain
2. Hoist That Rag
3. Shore Leave
4. God's Away On Business
5. November
6. Til The Money Runs Out
7. Blue Valentines
8. Lucky Day
9. Tango Till They're Sore
10. House Where Nobody Lives
11. Don't Go Into that Barn
12. Whistlin' Past The Graveyard
13. Ninth & Hennepin
14. Trampled Rose
15. Get Behind The Mule
16. Murder In The Red Barn
17. Shake It
18. Singapore
19. Goin' Out West
20. Day After Tomorrow
21. Heartattack And Vine
22. Johnsburg, Illinois
23. Chick a Boom

[Edit to add: pics of the show from]