Saturday, September 30, 2006

I've Met Her, And She's In The Washington Post

Photo Credit: Jeff Hutchens Photo/Getty Images for the Discovery Channel

First Person Singular
Caroline Darby, Southwest Airlines flight attendant
Washington Post
Sunday, October 1, 2006

I just completed 20 years back in March. You have to be very flexible because you are on the road; you're living in different hotels every night, different restaurants, different crew members. At this stage, I know my weaknesses. Honestly, I like the shorter flights. Anything over three hours, and I get antsy. The flight attendants that sit up front -- there's two of them -- one's on the aisle, so she's always in view of everybody. And when I fly on the inside, where they can't see me, I always tell her, "Keep a nice, straight face, honey." Naturally, if the plane drops, it's like you're on a roller coaster, but people look to you for guidance. They say: "My God, we dropped -- Oh, she's okay. The stewardess is still laughing and smiling, so everything's good." They still call us "stewardess." So that's what you try to do: You talk to each other in the jump seat to portray that feeling and look that everything's fine. You just have to be prepared to accept anything. At this point ...more>>

Every Damn Year

For the first baseball season in years, I resisted the urge to root failingly for my Cincinnati Reds. In recent years, I have begun the season with intentions of not even paying attention to them. But then something happens and they get on a winning streak. I start to notice. I begin to check their standings in the newspaper. And then I start looking for their games on TV. And before long, I am a watchful fan again.

They always get my hopes up, and then fall short - sometimes way short. And I am reminded of why I tried so hard to do anything but watch baseball at season's beginning.

Anyway, the 2006 season is almost at a close and I made it the whole way without getting sucked into false hope for a Cincinnati Reds post season.

Wait. They still might make it? A few games left and they are still in the hunt?

Go Reds!


[Edit to add: Eleven hours after this post, the Cincinnati Reds are eliminated from playoff contention. That didn't take long.]

Overheard in Nashville

Man #1: What brings you to town?

Man #2: My son. I was up in Clarksville helping him with some stuff.

Man #1: Military town. Military kid?

Man #2: Yeah. He did two tours in Iraq and not a scratch. Now we find out he has ALS.

Man #1: That sounds familiar to me but I can't quite remember what that is.

Man #2: Lou Gherig's disease. (short pause) Fatal.

Man #1: (after a bit of silence) My sympathies. My sincerest sympathies.

Man #2: Thanks. I appreciate that. (pause) So, where are you from?

Thursday, September 28, 2006

N.B.S. (Nervous Blogger Syndrome)

I'm sure there is a more clever title in there somewhere, but I wonder if anyone else has had this happen to them.

I work for a place and I also have a blog. I just checked my sitemeter page and found that someone is viewing my blog from work. If it's a fellow employee, I simply wonder who. If it's an employer, I wonder why. The good news is that I don't really write about work and I certainly don't use the name of my workplace on here. The bad news is I don't know how sensitive my workplace employers are about workers who blog. I don't want to get fired for writing about music I like.

Or maybe the unexpected will occur and I will be called into H.R. tomorrow. Only instead of being fired, I'll be offered big bucks to maintain a corporate blog. Wouldn't that be special? Regardless, I hope that the workplace reader likes it. Or, more importantly, I hope that the workplace employer doesn't care one way or another.

Anyway, it's time to close and go to the Mothership for lunch.

Where To Eat, Where To Eat

Thursday should be a busy day for me. It'll start early with me taking the family to school so that I can have the van all day. I need the van to help my dad take a rocking chair (surely worth millions) to an auction store.

He's offering to buy me lunch for my efforts but I just can't think of where I'd like to eat. We'll be in Green Hills, but not too far from the whole Woodbine/100 Oaks Mall area. I'm not quite in the mood for burgers or tacos, but maybe some kind of barbecue would be nice.

I like to blog, so it'd have to be a place where a blogger would feel welcome. I love music, so a restaurant with some kind of record album decor would be a nice touch. And don't get me started on what I look for in restroom motif.


Any ideas?

Monday, September 25, 2006

Tom And Steve Will Have To Wait

Today feels like the perfect day for lying on the couch and listening to Tom Waits and Steve Earle records all day long.

But I have to work instead. They'll just have to wait for me to clock out tonight. I know they'll understand.

Hotel Rwanda, From A Comfortable Seat

I finally saw Hotel Rwanda tonight. It was screened at Sarratt Cinema in preparation of Paul Rusesabagina's lecture tomorrow. At one point early in the movie, cameraman Jack Daglish captures some footage of the horrible slaughter that is occurring just a mile or so beyond the hotel walls. Mr. Rusesabagina thanks the man for helping to show the world what is going on. Surely, help will come soon as a result. Jack shrugs, knowing all too well how the world works, and replies, "I think if people see this footage, they'll say 'Oh, my God, that's horrible.' And then they'll go on eating their dinners."

I watched the movie in its entirety, thought, "Oh, my God, that's horrible," and then I walked around Tower Records afterwards and listened to some CDs. Of course, it was 9 p.m. on a Sunday night. What else to do? Where to start?

My workplace has enriched me by helping me to forge friendships with people from all over the globe. My coworkers come from El Salvador and from Bosnia, from Argentina and Peru, from Egypt and Albania. They are beautiful human beings and I am proud to know them all. Some came to this country to escape horrible struggles and hardships. Some of them came here as children and don't necessarily have any memory of their home countries.

I am sure that many of us have very different religious beliefs, and if we look hard enough, we can certainly find reasons to hate one another. But the truth of it is that we are all happily and singularly human, we punch the same clock and we clean the same tables. We share roads and we share rights.

Of course, beyond our little corner, hate in the world continues. We just seem hard wired to fight. Just like in Rwanda before them, the people of Darfur also face horrible violence, rape, and genocide. This just in: Aerial bombing continues in Darfur.

Local blogger, Sam Davidson does a noble job of keeping a writer's focus on Darfur. We live in the richest country in the world. We might not all be rich, but in reference to Jack Daglish above, we can say, "Oh, my God, that's horrible," have our dinners, and then do something about it.

The Captain and The Kid

A few weeks ago, I read some promising things about Elton John's forthcoming release. I wrote about what I read, hoping that it was true.

Tonight, as I type this, I am four songs into The Captain and The Kid and I have to say that it is fantastic. That long period of safe, sappy crap?* All is forgiven. This album is interesting and brave. So far, I don't hear an obvious single. I just hear quality songwriting.

(Wait. I just heard the single. "The Bridge" is confusing me. I kind of like it, but I am kind of cringing, too. Listening to the lyrics, I can see them fitting into The New Yorker's BLOCK THAT METAPHOR! category.)

The rest of these songs are kicking ass though. I'm recommending this one.

*Just one man's opinion.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

My Name Is Not Volek. Can I Start?

Admittedly, the accompanying self pic depicts a barefoot center and not a barefoot quarterback. But unlike at The New Yorker, this blog relies on no Department of Factual Verification. We just have fun.

What Music Prepares You?

For a while, I would always start my drive to work while listening to "King's Highway" by Tom Petty. My brother would get ready for his big high school basketball games by listening either to "Call Me The Breeze" by Lynyrd Skynyrd or Tchaikovsky's "1812 Overture."

In this article about opera's Swedish soprano, Annalena Persson, she reveals that she cranks Springsteen or the Stones before going on stage.
While preparing to sing opera's most demanding soprano role - Wagner's Isolde - Annalena Persson will probably pump herself up with either the Rolling Stones, Bruce Springsteen or a favourite band from her native Sweden, Ebba Gron.'

It's how I get myself ready,' she explains. 'Some people at the Royal Opera in Stockholm used to ask me to turn the music down, but we're not all like that. There are people in opera who know exactly what Britney Spears is doing.'
What's your ritualistic song choice?

Closed Captioning, Apropos of a Typical Vandy Football Game

Last night, Vanderbilt defeated TSU. Good for them. They got a win. And that contradicts my following observation.

Last week, the Vanderbilt Commodores were 0-1 and were about to attempt a soon to be futile game winning field goal kick in the last minute as they hosted the hot Arkansas Razorbacks. I was at work and was unable to watch the game in its entirety. However, I did walk past a television during that closing minute and stopped to see the dramatic ending. The volume was up as was the closed captioning. As the words are quickly typed on the screen, it's always fun to watch the wealth of frenzied typos. But this time, I saw a typo that was quite appropriate and relevant to our loved, but hapless Commodores.

The announcer was describing the weather as the kicker was preparing to give the Commodores their first win of the season. "There is no wind to speak of at Vanderbilt Stadium," he said. Closed captioning, however, told a different story. "THERE IS NO WIN TO SPEAK OF AT VANDERBILT STADIUM."

Indeed, that was a true statement. The kick was just a few feet short and the 'Dores ended the game 0-2 on the year and winless at Vanderbilt Stadium. Oh well, I'll always love my Vanderbilt Commodores.

Music That Moves Me (or, Music That I Move To)

I've had my iPod for about a week or so now, but last night was my first time I used it while exercising. I ran/walked (heavy on the walk) 2.5 miles on the treadmill and lifted weights of enormous heft. On the road to being healthy, wealthy, and wise, I'm feeling good about getting 1/3 of that accomplished in the health club.

But most importantly, those couple of hours of sweaty solitude afforded me the opportunity to be alone with two of my favorite albums: 1992's Triage by David Baerwald ("Our love affair ended, the day she tried to kill me.") and 2004's Know The Rain Here by Geoff Baker. I picked these two albums on purpose. I wanted them to be the first two to break in the iPod for its intended purpose. Why? I'm not really sure. I can only say that they affect me warmly and really resonate with me. Maybe I just feel smarter for listening to these clever songwriters.

I do wonder why music seems to affect us so strongly. And I am reminded of an interesting article that wonders the same. Courtesy of The Boston Globe, the article: Survival of the Harmonious. It's a good read.

Chuck Klosterman IV

It's time again to take a road trip and read to my wife. Why? Chuck Klosterman has released a new book. I've read his previous books to her on past trips to Florida and we even spent our 3rd anniversary at a book store listening to Klosterman himself read from Killing Yourself To Live: 85% of a True Story.

Now the Spin writer on all things pertaining to music and popular culture has written Chuck Klosterman IV: A Decade of Curious People and Dangerous Ideas. Here's a good review of it from The Portland Mercury.

An excerpt from the review:
...a terrific interview with Robert Plant ("On 'Whole Lotta Love' you say you're going to give some girl 'every inch' of your love. But you're British. Why don't you use the metric system?")

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Paul Rusesabagina To Speak In Nashville

On Monday, September 25, Paul Rusesabagina, portrayed by Don Cheadle in the very important film Hotel Rwanda, will speak at Vanderbilt's Student Life Center.

Hotel Rwanda will also be screened at Sarratt Cinema on Sunday, Sept. 24 at 5 p.m. and again at 7:30 p.m.

Sharon Cobb has more here.

Sharran Srivatsaa has more here.

Hotel Rwanda Rusesabagina Foundation

Doctors Without Borders Exhibit at The Parthenon

A listing in The City Paper notes what promises to be a powerful and moving photography exhibit:

The Parthenon (Centennial Park, 2600 West End Ave., 852-8431) presents Doctors Without Borders: Photographs from Afghanistan, 1984-2004, a powerful photography exhibition documenting the work of the relief organization Doctors Without Borders.

The Parthenon, Centennial Park, 2600 West End Ave., 852-8431.

Through Oct. 7.

$5 adults, $2.50 seniors ages 62 and older, $2.50 children ages four-17, free for children younger than four.

And it's more than just photography. From the Doctors Without Borders website:

An interactive, educational exhibit, entitled "A Refugee Camp in the Heart of the City," will begin a multi-year national tour in New York City's Central Park on September 15, 2006, followed by stops in Brooklyn's Prospect Park, Atlanta's Piedmont Park, Nashville's Centennial Park, and additional cities to be announced.

"A staggering 33 million people are currently displaced from their homes, having fled violence in more than 60 different countries around the world," said Nicolas de Torrenté, executive director of MSF in the United States. "As long as the response to the plight of uprooted people remains inadequate, we must continue to work to raise awareness of their conditions through public education initiatives like 'A Refugee Camp in the Heart of the City.'" ...more>>

Friday, September 22, 2006

Greenway My Way To Better Health

As I gaze downward in my shower and wonder just how long it'll be until someone asks me, "When's that baby due?," I make a note to myself to get a bit more active outside and leave the bag of chips in the pantry unopened.

Luckily, I live less than a mile from one of Nashville's many Greenways. With my newly purchased iPod and the entire Verve Remixed collection well represented on it, I should be able to get some good distance achieved. Weather permitting, I'll bring the family in tow Saturday morning to the Stones River Greenway at Percy Priest (.pdf) for a healthy bit of together time. As for mornings when they are at school and I am by myself, I'll pick a Greenway, pick up the pace, and work toward a goal of participating in the next organized 5K run I see.

Because it just comes down to one thing. As Kevin Spacey's Lester Burnham said in American Beauty, "I want to look good naked."

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Lowly Millionaires Will Park Their Cars

Billionaires Only Occupy Forbes 400 List

I missed the list by the hair of my chinny chin chin.

Ever Hear Of Cat Power?

I recently read a little thing about a nice comeback of a once troubled but talented musician named Chan Marshall, known as Cat Power. It was an interesting read and I made a note to listen to some of her stuff based on the article.

And then I saw another piece on her in another paper the following day. After that, I saw yet another story on her in my favorite magazine. And then last night, I read about her once more in the New York Times.

Is her record label successfully managing a marketing blitz on a relative unknown or am I the only person to have not heard of Cat Power before a week ago? All of the stories focus not on the music but on the change in the quality of her live performances. Cat Power then? Drunk on stage, rarely finishing a show, let alone a song. Cat Power now? Sober and focused, playing entire sets like a pro. Is this just good p.r. or is this an artist worthy of note?

Whatever it is, I'm interested. I just found her on Rhapsody and I'm going to give her latest release (The Greatest) a listen. Your thoughts on Cat Power?

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Those Who Teach, Blog.

Many of my family members are teachers. And so I hear many first hand accounts of the hell through which they go, day in and day out. I forget the numbers, but it's amazing the high percentage of adults who go through the whole process of getting their degree to become educators, and then after one year of teaching, turn their backs on the thankless occupation and choose to do something entirely different.

It's hard work and the pay is not great. Teachers know that going in. What the colleges and universities never seem to tell these future educators is that they will rarely be appreciated by their administrators or the parents of their students. In fact, my favorite quote from a recent USA Today article about teachers who blog is this: "As a teacher, I feel like people don't listen to me. Parents don't listen to me, politicians don't listen to me, the media doesn't listen to me — but everybody tries to tell me how to do my job."

The article is a beautiful and important read. All parents with children in the school system should read blogs like those mentioned so that they can get a sense of how hard these teachers work. If they don't teach for the money, then pay them in an all important alternative currency: gratitude.

Politeness Works Wonders

Good article regarding my daily grind in USA Today. My favorite quote? "Hey, it's late and we are all tired. How can I make your job easier to rectify this?"

Some healthy venting occurs here.

Also, the New York Times has a story about business travel blogs. The hotel chains and airlines are reading and listening.

And, just for fun? Bedjump.

You are now free to move about the blogosphere.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Saturday, September 16, 2006

The Ultimate Blog Post

By Lore Sjöberg

While blogging has only reached prominence in the last few years, it was actually invented by the ancient Romans who built a majestic blog in 200 BC from marble, granite and links they stole from the Greeks.

"Blog" itself is short for "weblog," which is short for "we blog because we weren't very popular in high school and we're trying to gain respect and admiration without actually having to be around people."

Creating your own blog is about as easy as creating your own urine, and you're about as likely to find someone else interested in it. more>>

Happy Reading

Two books will be ready for me at my library any day now. They are:
  • Secrets of the iPod by Christopher Breen
  • How to do everything with your iPod & iPod mini by Buy Hart-Davis
And it sure does make me happy that I have a reason to read these.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Now Hear This!

Select favorite photos of mine are now linked on my sidebar at Click! Chez Bez Photography.

Me hopes you like.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Who Keeps You Strong?

When I feel pushed to the edge by those who are rude to me simply for the sake of being rude...

And when I cannot respond as I feel a true man should, because it would mean my job...and my health insurance for my family...

I hear the gruff and insightful advice of Kris Kristofferson, whispering in my ear, just as he did for Sinead O'Conner when she was booed by the audience at a benefit. "Don't let the bastards get you down," he says.

It's good to have that Highwayman around. Even if it's just for pretend.

My Guy At The Park

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

The Happy Enchilada*

Doubt and shame. Tonight, I needed more peace

than is possible in a small apartment. With love

all around, my stress and tension only

showed me the noise and clutter.

Thirty-six years old and earning

not much more than I did as a

sixteen year old part-time pizza

deliverer. I get the joke. Not funny.

Tonight, I am short-tempered and

I'm not a good dad. I'm not bad, just

not good. I settle into hot solitude. In

the bath. I escape and soak and ruminate.

After several minutes of studying the

contours of my propped up feet, I smile

and remember the John Prine song. "That's

The Way That The World Goes 'Round."

A verse: I was sitting in the bathtub counting my toes,

when the radiator broke, water all froze.

I got stuck in the ice without my clothes,

naked as the eyes of a clown.

I was crying ice cubes hoping I'd croak,

when the sun come through the window, the ice all broke.

I stood up and laughed thought it was a joke

That's the way that the world goes 'round.

And I suppose I'll make it.

*John Prine once told the story of a woman who kept requesting a song called The Happy Enchilada at a concert. Puzzled, he told her that he had never written a song about a happy enchilada. She argued with him that indeed he had.

To prove her point, she recited a line from the song. She said, you know, "it's a happy enchilada and you think you're gonna drown." Laughing, John Prine told her that it was the song that I referenced above, "That's The Way That The World Goes 'Round."

The line in question was: It's half an inch of water and you think you're gonna drown. / That's the way that the world goes 'round.

My Arrested Development On Parole

I found thirty minutes of bravery and finally submitted the resume to the dream job.

That felt good.

But the months upon months it took for me to do this is quite embarrassing. Nonetheless, "whatever is past is prologue to this." It's time to be better and earn more money while having more fun and feeling less stress.

Wish me luck. Now they just have to call me.

Five Years Ago Yesterday

I turned off yesterday. I abandoned an attempt at a tribute. And writing about "9/11 and me" just didn't seem right. Instead, I approached September 11, 2006 as much like September 10, 2006 as possible. I went to work. I clocked in with Tom Petty's Wildflowers playing over and over in my head. It was another day of business people flying into my city and checking into my hotel. Some people were nice, some were tired and cranky from a day of travel.
People come, people go
Some grow young, some grow old
I woke up in between
A memory and a dream
-"You Don't Know How It Feels"

Business was being carried out just like any other Monday, except that today the flags were being flown half mast and we were aware that we were supposed to be searching within ourselves. "Where were we when we got the terrible news?" My answer to that is insignificant. I was safe and in my bed in Nashville, TN. Having fallen asleep the night before with my television on and turned to CNN, I woke up to it. Like President Bush, so chastised for seeming blankly unresponsive upon hearing the news from an aide, I just watched my TV screen and waited for it all to come together. Surely, my brain would wake up and normalcy would return. Certainly, what I was seeing was not real.
Broken skyline, which way to love land
Which way to something better
Which way to forgiveness
Which way do I go
-"Time To Move On"

Eventually, I must have grasped what was happening, but I have no recollection of the rest of my morning. I do know that I probably made some phone calls to family members and I went to work that afternoon, not quite knowing what work would be like. As it turned out, work was quiet. Certain emergency safety measures had been put into place, but for the most part it was a very solemn day. Any other details from my day are lost in the haze of it all by now. I wish I remembered better.

Time would reveal that a former coworker of ours who had transferred to the Marriott World Trade Center located between the towers was at work that day. Her hotel had become a triage center that day. She had survived the attacks and was now doing her part to help those who needed her. She worked in our At Your Service department answering telephones. On that day in September, 2001, the name of her department was more appropriate than it had ever been before. We were all so relieved that she survived and so proud of her for the role that she played that day.

Five years ago today was September 12, 2001. This was the day that the newspapers reflected on that day's catastrophic events. The front pages showed those terrifying images and the words were bold and large, reminding us that the day before wasn't just a terrible dream. Some of us had slept and had time to think about what had happened. The shock was slowly wearing off and we were starting to manage our pain and fears.

Conversations among us were full of compassion. We asked one another if we had known anyone who was killed in the attacks. We asked about each other's families and we weren't just being polite. We really wanted to help one another. The petty frustrations that would usually get us to arguing just didn't come up. No one complained about much of anything. We were not red states and blue states. We were One Nation. Thousands of us had been murdered and the rest of us had been kicked in the face.

Of course, we are still One Nation. We are still the Statue of Liberty. And we are still the United States of America. We just remembered how to complain again. It's just human nature, I suppose. Nothing is too petty to ruin our days. As a shuttle driver, I hear a lot of complaints from people who wait longer than they want to for a free ride to a hotel. If they have waited twenty minutes, they are sure to complain that they have waited for forty. I'm the guy they yell at and I'm the guy who has to take it, day in and day out.

So, when I remember 9/11, I remember what we all remember. I remember shock and despair. I recall going about my day and wondering what's next. But I remember the days following more clearly. Those were days of politeness and compassion. Those were days where we all acted the way our grandparents expect us to act.

I wish everyone a beautiful day. It's nice out.

Monday, September 11, 2006

My Daughter Knows...

...that I wear my heart on my sleeve.

And she is always close to my heart.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Music That Is Free And Beautiful

There was a time when I lived near Hillsboro Village. One of the many things that I loved about the area was that I was always in short walking distance of so many of Nashville's finest sights and sounds. I would often amble down to the Blair School of Music to enjoy free and beautiful musical performances.

Although I will be working and unable to make it, The Serafin String Quartet plays at 3:00 this Sunday and I recommend it to all lovers of classical music. The concert is free and the hall is superb. Nashville's Schermerhorn Symphony Center is an awesome addition to our city and I hope to soon attend for a surely awesome musical experience, but the Blair School of Music fits my budget much more comfortably and the talent featured is quite exceptional as well.

Click here for September's events.

Lemons Into Lemonade Indeed

VERGENNES, Vt. (AP) -- A woman who learned six weeks before her wedding that her fiance was cheating on her is turning her would-be reception into a charity benefit.

''I'm really just trying to turn it around and make something positive out of it,'' said Kyle Paxman.

Paxman, 29, had planned to celebrate her nuptials at the Basin Harbor Club on Lake Champlain on Saturday. When she found out about her fiance, she called off the 180-guest wedding and the four-year relationship. more>>>

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Chistina Aguilera Brings It

Some who know me would think that Top 40 music doesn't have much of a chance with me. I like my music eclectic, raw, a bit dangerous. "Indier than thou" is a phrase that a friend said fits me well. If it sounds cookie cutter at all, then it bores me and I will leave it to its intended consumers: housewives and little girls. (Extra points for knowing what I am referencing there.)

I like Tom Waits and I love that he sounds more punk and adventurous with each passing year. I like most of college radio for the same reason. If Michael Bolton ever knocks on my door, he's getting a hard punch in the nose. Kenny G is easy listening and if he tries to say that he is anything else, the punch to his nose will be punctuated with the following dedication, "This is for Louis Armstrong." I already know that Pat Metheny has my back on that one.

But I say that to say this.

I love the hell out of Christina Aguilera. I liked "Dirrty," "Beautiful," and "Fighter" from her Stripped CD. I thought they were strong songs not without messages of empowerment for the impressionable youths who were the targeted audience. Those who remember 4 Non Blondes from the mid-90s might like to know that lead singer, Linda Perry, is the successful writer of many of Christina's biggest hits.

Now I am listening to her new release, Back To Basics. It's a 2CD set and is as interesting as it is fresh. The grooves are equal parts smooth and funky and it is easily the most mature and invigorating release of her career. It's still very sexy, but the substance of the songs is stronger than anything heard on any Britney or Jessica CD.

"Candy Man" will bring to mind the music of The Andrews Sisters, if not the lyrics (a "one-stop shop" who "makes the panties drop"). "Nasty Naughty Boy" is the sexiest song on the collection and sounds like a torch ballad sung at a burlesque review in the 1920s. In fact, the theme of the second disc is entirely a tribute to the great horn-based music of the music from the 20s and 40s, complete with the beautiful sounds of the pops and hisses found on our favorite old vinyl LPs ("I Got Trouble").

There is bravery in this release. With the strong punch of songs like "Ain't No Other Man" from disc one, she could easily have kept it at 12 songs and done just fine with three or four big singles and a big selling CD. But this is for guys like me. Back To Basics is here to show me that Christina Aguilera is an artist who has staying power. She not only has the talent, but she is surrounding herself with good producers and musicians.

Go buy this set. Download the first CD to your iPod and hit the treadmill. Then come home, turn down the lights and treat your ears to disc two. This ain't just auditory cheesecake, it really will take you somewhere special.

I've Got Goosbumps For The NFL

NFL Kickoff Weekend is upon us and I am giddy.

Rich Eisen is in Pittsburgh introducing past Steeler greats. I have no love for the Steelers but I've got chills watching these Super Bowl players of days gone by receiving standing ovations from the proud and loyal fans of the Steel City.

The offseason was long and absent of fun. The preseason was, as always, too much hype for too little importance. But here it is, Thursday night on NBC, September 7, 2006, and The Star-Spangled Banner is being sung by Martina McBride, signifying that the long and hard wait for NFL fans is now over.

Are you ready? The greatest sport is back. I couldn't be happier.

Elton John, Back To Being Good?

I love early Elton John. I hate late 80s and beyond Elton John.

This story makes me think that his new album is worth a spin.

Hibbard Thatcher, In The Light

Thanks to Earth & Sky, I know that tonight is the year's closest full moon.

I remember when I was much younger, going to Quaker retreats with my family, lying on my back in the grass at night and watching the sky over me. Those retreats were so many miles from my big city lights of Franklin, Tn., and the beauty of seeing so many stars from those rural settings was simply awesome.

Thinking of those Quaker retreats from so long ago, I'd like to remember a man who was so very important to everyone involved. Hibbard Thatcher died on August 5, 2006. I was pretty young and don't remember too many details of his life, but I do know his name well. He will be missed by so many people whose lives he touched with love.

His memorial service will be held September 10 at the Nashville Friends Meeting.

Whenever I have the chance to lie back in the grass and watch the beautiful night sky, my mind does wander back to those retreats so many years ago. The lights of our consumer driven life are absent and the stars are rich and plentiful. Peaceful silence rests upon me like a blanket of compassion and love and I know that the world was a better place for the existence of Hibbard Thatcher.

We hold his memory in the light.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Becoming Fearless

I received an email today from Huffington Post. Arianna Huffington has added a new page to her blog, one that has nothing to do with politics. It's called Becoming Fearless and addresses the number one problem in my life. Her new book addresses that very topic and she calls it "the most personal book I’ve ever written."

Those who know me well know that I have passed and procrastinated on just about every opportunity to better myself financially. There is only one valid reason for this: Fear. Instead of seeing myself succeeding in certain areas, I visualize only the opposite. And so I keep clocking in at a good job when better jobs are out there for me.

Despite wonderful help from friends, my resume remains uncompleted. With beautiful templates in hand, and only a need to fill in the blanks as they describe my career history, I just keep putting it off. Even right this minute, it seems that it should be easier to fill in some blanks for a resume than to type this post. But here I am, typing away.

I think of the dream job in question and wonder, "Can I get over my fear of speaking in public?" It's just a script. Surely a little practice and memorization is most of the battle.

And I think of the time away from home required of me in such a job and think, "Is it fair to my wife to leave her alone with the kids while I am far across the country? What if the kids get sick? I won't be able to stay at home with them as easily as I am now." Again, surely with a job that pays anywhere from a few to several thousand dollars more a year than the curent one can make the above query a nonissue.

And if I apply for the job in question and don't get it, it's not like I am worse off as a result. I can keep doing what I am doing. Except I will have a good resume and a little practice at interviews under my belt. And I will know that I didn't let fear keep me from trying to be a better man. If I cannot heed the following advice from a woman named Arianna, how can I teach the same powerful words to my daughter of the same name? That's the most important part of it for me.

"Fearlessness is not the absence of fear. Rather, it's the mastery of fear. It’s getting to the point where our fears do not stop us from daring to think new thoughts, try new things, take risks, fail, and start again. Fearlessness is all about getting up one more time than we fall down.” - Arianna Huffington

You Beta, You Beta, You Bet

Lame reference to The Who above. Sorry about that. ;)

It has come to my attention that several people are unable to leave comments on my blog ever since I switched to beta blogger. The improvements are stellar, but I wish that I could fix the comment problem somehow. I checked my settings and it is set for "anyone can comment." I thought that it was just people who haven't yet made the switch who were unable to comment, but a few who have don't even have blogs.

So I don't know what the deal is.

In good news, it appears that I am getting a used iPod at a very fair price. I'm excited about this. I can already envision me in perfect health from all of the running I'll be doing with my iPod strapped to my arm. Goodbye Buddha belly, hello abs of steel. It's just that simple, right? Have iPod, will exercise. Cool.

I hope everyone had a nice weekend. I know all too well that not all who celebrate Labor Day avoid labor. What was once a weekend devoted to relaxation has merely become a weekend devoted to big sales at the department stores. And the workers are nickel and dimed.

Be well.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Leesa White, An Excellent Photographer

Resident of America's Big Sky Country, Leesa White takes some amazing photographs. I've been perusing her sight and marveling at her tremendous eye for composing shots that reflect nature at it's most wild and beautiful.

Click here for her wildvizionz.

The Last Of The Labor Day Weekend Nashville Shots

Apostrophe Catastrophe At Centennial Park

I shudder a bit to see such a mistake on a seemingly official sign. So do the good people over at Apostrophe Catastrophe.

Jazz In Nashville

While wandering about my city on Sunday, I was able to hear some wonderful music at the Music City Jazz, Blues, & Heritage Festival. I didn't buy a ticket. The only thing that separated the ticket buyers and the non-ticket buyets was a chain link fence. And so I walked down 1st Avenue among so many of my fellow Nashvillians and enjoyed the sense of community that was so present that day.

Here are a few pictures from my day of civic pride:

The view from the East Bank.

Fellow bloggers? I think I recognized them as they biked by.

Blues and jazz from the other side.

From this side of the fence, it's called free jazz.

Titan Town

Recognize It? Tell Me A Fave Memory Of Yours.

Physical Graffiti In Nashville

Fishing At Percy Priest Lake On An Overcast Day

Vespas Park Wherever They Want

For my short, non-interstate commute to work and back each day, this would be an awesome vehicle for me to have. Not a shabby choice with gas prices continuing to rise. I want. I want.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Gore Gore Girls At The Basement Tonight

I'll be there. Will you?

What To Do In Nashville, Tennessee Today?

With respect to those I love, who are not here this weekend, I have an entire Saturday of zero obligations and am thrilled at the opportunities before me. But what to do?

I could take my dog to the Shelby Dog Park and socialize with other dog lovers as she socializes with other dog lovers' dogs.

I could catch Reservoir Dogs at the Belcourt Theatre. I may catch Leonard Cohen: I'm Your Man tomorrow.

I hear that David Sanborn is playing at the Music City Jazz, Blues and Heritage Festival at Riverfront Park tonight at 6:00. But tonight, I'll be catching the Gore Gore Girls at The Basement. Jazz loses to rock tonight.

A friend saw a t-shirt and thought of me. The shirt read, "No One Cares About Your Blog." I love that.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Mystery Train - The Last Half Hour

I hate that. I zoned out and watched the replay of the Titans game while Mystery Train was being played on Flix. I just happened to flip around and catch it. Jarmusch at his best. At least I came in just in time to hear Tom Waits' voice as a DJ playing Elvis' Blue Moon.

Fucking cinema owns my heart.

Mike Birbiglia!

Is it somewhere between 9:00 and 9:30 PM CST on Friday night for you right now?

Then join me in watching one of my favorite comedians, Mike Birbiglia, on Comedy Central right now.

I love this guy.

It's 9:04 as I type this and you have already missed some seriously hilarious stuff.

Oh, and look up Keith Alberstadt. He's not on right now, but I used to run around the neighborhood with him when we were kids. Now he's an accomplished comedian and funny as hell.

What Time Is It?!!

I love The Time. Morris Day, Jerome Benton, and crew have been sorely missed on the music entertainment scene in my opinion.

I also love a genre known as jump blues. Thanks to DJ Pete of the local radio show, Nashville Jumps, I know this music that was so popular in the '40s. It's blues minus the guitars and plus the horns. It's fun and fast and just a bit dirty. Innuendos are sung with gusto ("Keep on churnin', 'til the butter comes") and the bands play like they are on fire.

I saw one preview for Idlewild a few nights ago and it looked like a good mix of what The Time was doing in the '80s and what jump blues was in the '40s. The movie features Outkast's

Music Gets In The Way (Not That I Mind)

I would have gotten about four more minutes of very necessary sleep last night if not for the fact that just as I was about to go to bed WRVU's radio show, I Like Songs, played Bob Dylan's "If Not For You." And so at approximately 3 A.M., I sat back, pondered the lyrics, enjoyed the melody, and was enriched.

If I Won A Million Dollars...

I'd buy:
  • Two wireless speakers for my laptop
  • One bitchin' CD player for my '91 Honda
  • One iPod
  • One cell phone that works
I'm not sure. Maybe I'd buy more stuff too. But I'd definitely start with the above.

Gore Gore Girls Are Coming To The Basement

Saturday night will find me at The Basement listening to some refreshingly simple, in your face rock n' roll. Gore Gore Girls are Amy Gore (guitar, lead vocals), Marlene Hammerle (guitar, vocals), and Mayuko on drums. They hail from Detroit and draw comparisons to The Kinks, The Stooges and The Marvelettes. If you are familiar with the garage band sounds of the 60s then you have heard all of this before...but you haven't heard it in a while.

If you want to experience the angry and sexy Detroit sounds of a beautiful Motown/garage-rock hybrid, then come down to The Basement Saturday night. With rock n' roll on stage and Yazoo on tap, it looks to be all a rockin' Nashvillian could possibly need.

Black And Gold, Strong And Bold

Vanderbilt at Michigan
September 2, 2006
Ann Arbor, MI
ESPN - 11:00 AM CT

Everything you need is right here.

If And When I Run For Office

You will know for whom I work.
I work for you! See? It says so on my official seal.

Clive Thompson, Not The Toilet Guy

While reading the popular emdashes, I saw a link to a very interesting interview with Collision Detection's Clive Thompson.

Inside The Story: Clive Thompson

Got Two For UGA This Weekend?

If so, my wife would like to know about that.

She'll be in the actual Athens of the South this weekend and needs two seats to watch her mighty (but sans David Greene) Georgia Bulldogs take on Western Kentucky. She'll be taking my son - who used to root for the Florida Gators before he met her - and wants him to experience his first game at Sanford Stadium.

So, if you've got two extra tickets and you're looking to get rid of them, not rich off of them, let me know. Otherwise she'll just buy some cheap scalper tickets after kickoff.

A Vacation From Blogging? Are You Mad?

Thursday's Wall Street Journal had an interesting piece on bloggers and the dilemma of what to do about vacation time. (I'd link to it here, but it seems only to be available to subscribers.) It studies the problem bloggers face on whether or not the blog should go on vacation when they go on vacation. An unattended blog can lose substantial "unique visitors" per day.

One answer that some choose is to appoint a guest blogger (think Joan Rivers subbing for Johnny Carson), but then readers complain that posts lack the same "voice" that they have come to enjoy. And, again, unique visitors drop. Much to the chagrin of many bloggers' families, the posts continue from the beach. It's the vacation that really isn't a vacation.

It's easy to read the article and think, "just get a life." But the article is focusing on bloggers not like me (a comment or two every once in a while, maybe ten regular readers), but on the bloggers who make their livings with the blog. My job is responsible for my income and my blog is responsible for my creative outlet.

The bloggers referenced in the article are the ones whose vacations are paid for by the blog itself. They need the traffic to keep the ads. Without daily posts, traffic dies and the ads follow soon after. And I know they don't want to have to apply for my job. They've got to keep the blog alive and, to do so, they have to keep posting.

Personally, I'd love to be faced with that dilemma. It sure beats clocking in.

An excerpt from the article:

A banner stripped across the top of the Daily Dish declares that the popular Web log’s host, Andrew Sullivan, has "gone fishing." Mr. Sullivan declared a two-week vacation and opted to leave his political blog behind. Several thousand of his readers have done the same. Despite the efforts of three verbose guest bloggers, replacements handpicked by Mr. Sullivan, the site’s visitor tally has fallen. The Daily Dish, now part of Time magazine, usually garners around 90,000 unique visitors, or individual readers, each day. At the start of the first workweek without him, Mr. Sullivan’s blog received about 67,000 hits, according to Site Meter. This week, traffic has hovered around 57,000. "The frequency of emails of ‘Bring back Andrew’ and ‘This is stupid. Bring back Andrew’ is definitely higher than anything I’ve ever written," says David Weigel, a 24-year-old assistant editor at Reason magazine, who is one of Mr. Sullivan’s guest bloggers and has filled in at other sites in the past.

In the height of summer-holiday season, bloggers face the inevitable question: to blog on break or put the blog on a break? Fearing a decline in readership, some writers opt not to take vacations. Others keep posting while on location, to the chagrin of their families. Those brave enough to detach themselves from their keyboards for a few days must choose between leaving the site dormant or having someone blog-sit. To be sure, most bloggers don’t agonize over this decision. Of the 12 million bloggers on the Internet, only about 13% post daily, according to the Pew Internet and American Life Project. Even fewer — 10% — spend 10 or more hours a week on their blogs. Yet for the sliver of people whose livelihood depends on the blog — whether they are conservative, liberal or don’t care — stepping away from the keyboard can be difficult.