Wednesday, May 31, 2006

The Hold Steady Is Rocking My Suburbs

Thanks to the article mentioned in my previous post, I have a new favorite band of the hour.

The Hold Steady.

Their website.

Their myspace blog.

The writer of the article described them as "blink-182 covering Springsteen while thinking of Joe Strummer." I'm not sure I hear much blink-182 in there, but there is a hint of Social Distortion. It's really fantastic stuff.

Happy summer to all. And always keep your ears open for the good, new stuff. It's college radio, clubs, and the internet for me. I gave up on mainstream radio a long, long time ago. And I haven't looked back.

Tom Waits Is Good For Jogging

Jed Gottlieb, music writer for San Diego CityBEAT, writes on his picks for the perfect (and not so perfect) collection of summertime songs for your iPod. And yes, he is joking when he tells friends that "Tom Waits is good for jogging."

Here's the article.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

My Philosophers All Have Guitars

I am fighting my way through A History of Western Philosophy by Bertrand Russell, all 895 pages of it. It actually reads a bit easier than I had expected. On more than one occasion, I have picked up something by Nietzsche or Plato, only to find that I couldn't begin to make sense of much of anything I was reading and then choose to abandon it.

Russell, however, writes in a way that is much easier for me to comprehend. It's still a bit over my head, but the ride is quite enjoyable nonetheless. The thing is that I'm not sure I'm ready for it. I may have to thumb through it a bit now and really try to give it a better shot at a later date. The philosophers who move me and whose words resonate with me most aren't in this book. I don't read their words and feel as if I am studying for a test. They are today's singers. They are on your iPod or are found on Or if you are lucky, you can find their CDs at Phonoluxe or some other used CD store.

I come home from my workdays and my great reward is sitting down at my computer and listening to singer-songwriters doing their thing. They ask the same questions that a lot of the great philosophers seem to ask. And I hang on every word. Why are we here? Are we truly responsible for our actions? Who knows us better than we know ourselves?

My poets and philosophers are relative unknowns like Geoff Baker, Peter Himmelman, and Michael McDermott. They are contemplative and they are so good at communicating their ponderings. I listen to them and I don't feel like a corporate drone. I feel like matter trying hard to matter. I struggle to look past the Coke and Nike commercials that permeate our world, close my ears to the noise, and try to catch a glimpse of my purpose in life.

Peter Himmelman sings, "the most precious things are always in disguise." And I think of my current state of mind:

I am guilty of letting myself get overwhelmed by my overwhelming ability to work a lot of hours each week for a surprisingly low amount of money. This does nothing to help the financial strength of my family. For whatever reason, I am a seemingly intelligent man stuck in the apparent safety of an entry-level position. (Anyone want to help me put my resume together?) With a mortgage to pay and moving expenses upcoming, with gas prices high and savings account low, and with 30 miles between work and home in an old car each day and night, I worry all of the time of financial collapse. I worry about who I am to my family and how I rate as a provider. Sometimes the weight of my worry is all that I can feel.

But this morning, I took thirty minutes to lay on my bed and listen to Geoff Baker on my bathroom CD player before leaving for work. My wife came in to lie down next to me and rub my back while my mind was a million miles away, taking in the songs and thinking about life. Then my two year old ascended the stairs and announced himself in our doorway with a smile and a big "Hi guys!" He entered the room and played with a focus on nothing but happiness. And for the next fifteen minutes or so, I was at peace. If my question was, "what is contentment?," then this was my answer. Paradise found. And Geoff Baker sang "How I Remember You Now."

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Q: What's The Definition Of Perfect Pitch?

A: When you toss a banjo into a dumpster and it doesn't hit the sides.

Bobby loved banjo jokes. Bobby loved all jokes. He could have an intimidating disposition (I honestly never really got entirely used to it), but tell him a good joke and he would prove the meaning of infectious laughter. Behind his tough grey beard was a lot of silliness and playfulness. I heard a lot of anecdotes of pranks pulled while sitting at the dinner table with him as I was growing up. Those anecdotes are not for me to tell here, by the way. They are not my stories. But I can't wait for some Nashville session musician to write a book about the wild goings-on during the days when Bobby Thompson, my stepdad, kicked around this town as one of the greatest banjo players ever to hit the scene.

I only saw him in the studio once. I was a teen with zero love for country music, but went along anyway probably preferring to stay home and listen to Dokken instead. I sat politely in the small room with the mixing board along with five or six other people and watched as the producer and engineer worked their magic with all of those buttons and knobs. For a young music fan, this quickly became a very fascinating place to be. They worked so fast that it all just seemed like random manipulations, but of course they knew that board so well that what they were doing was in fact purposely precise professionalism. (Alliteration unintended.)

Although I cared not at all for country music, I soon heard music that blew my young ears away. These players on the other side of the glass were out of this world as they took to their instruments. It was that night that I first heard a steel guitar as it should always be heard. I heard a man play electric guitar up close and personal that was every bit as rocking as anything I was hearing on Headbangers' Ball on MTV those days. And I heard Bobby make music with his banjo that even made the seasoned pros hush up and focus on him as if they knew just how special it was to be able to be so close to such a unimaginably stellar artist. When Bobby played and we got to watch and listen to him from such close proximity, it more than made up for all of the other great moments in music history that we had missed for one reason or another. Of course, some of the guys just knew to pay attention because if Bobby made a mistake, he'd be sure to do some pretty good cussin'. And no one wants to miss out on that.

Watching Bobby and his fellow session players that night didn't make me a country music fan. The wonderful stuff I heard pretty much got edited down to the same old 3:05 of your basic radio friendly crud. But I did feel my respect for him swell just a bit. I already respected him for basic reasons of politeness, but watching him work took that to a much more genuine level. As the years passed, he taught my brother, Matt, how to play the guitar, and I know that Matt couldn't have had a better teacher. He's a fantastic player and a wonderful person. And he's got Bobby to thank for a lot of that.

Bobby Thompson died about a year ago from complications due to multiple sclerosis. He fought it for almost half of my entire life. I watched he and my mom fight that disease so hard and so long. I am struggling now to put together a sentence that explains what they went through, but that just is not possible. Quite simply, I am humbled. As much pain as they faced as a couple dealing with his MS, it was met with equal amounts of love. It was a lot of pain and it was a lot of love. Still is, of course.

I am grateful to have known him as well as I did. He and my mom loved each other so much. Of course, she still hurts missing him. And so do the rest of Bobby's friends and family members. He was a pretty special guy. I miss him, too.

Bobby's CD: Thompson Picks

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

The Weight Of It All

Those who are close to me know that the family and I are packing up and leaving Murfreesboro for pastures just east of Nashville. This is because we are tired of spending so much time in our cars (and so much gas) going to our respective workplaces.

The short of it is that this has not been a smooth time. We put our house on the market but never really looked hard at new places to live until someone finally put an offer on ours. Our realtor told us that this is how most people do this and not to get nervous about accepting an offer before putting an offer down on another home ourselves. So we accepted the offer and Paige looked after school in her area for places we might be interested in. There weren't very many in the Mt. Juliet area in our price range and size needs and with time marching on, we expanded our search. We found a couple and ultimately put an offer on one. But the owners counter offered and in the end, it just wasn't meant to be. With homelessness approaching, and the window of time closing for what is needed to buy a house at all, we felt the enormous pressure and decided to go the apartment route and look for houses again in a few months.

A couple of days ago, after a few dead ends, Paige found a nice apartment complex a few miles between our workplaces. We would both drive fewer than ten miles to work each day as opposed to the thirty that we had been doing from Murfreesboro all this time. Now, the only stresses left for us were just basic moving expenses and the actual heavy lifting associated with it all.

And then today happened. Turns out that the people who are buying our house had the sale of their house fall through. And now the soonest that they might be able to move in here would be July 1st, not June 1st. And this after we had just giving the apartment people $150 of non-refundable money. This after so much stress and time and tears and relief. Back to stress, time and tears, relief will be put off until a later time.

Now the house is back on the market and I hope someone offers more money than the current offer. We'd be allowed to take the higher offer and maybe finally see a positive to this whole thing. So I guess we're back to looking for a house to settle into by July 1st or an apartment by the same date if we don't find one in time. And I'm back to 8 a.m. showings where I have to act as a fugitive from my own home on six hours sleep. But maybe it's for the best. I pray that it is.

Karl Wallinger Knows The Future

The clocks will all run backwards
All the sheep will have two heads
And Thursday night and Friday will be on Tuesday night instead
-- World Party “Way Down Now”

That song was released back in 1990. And the last line tells me that Karl Wallinger knew that TiVo was coming.

Monday, May 22, 2006

World Party, A Few Continents Shy

Last night's World Party show was met with such anticipation. I had seen them previously on two occasions one night in 1991 and still rank that night as one of my top ten musical experiences ever. And now, 15 years later, Karl Wallinger and gang finally played again in Music City. Mr. Wallinger has certainly weathered some bad stuff over the years. He suffered a life threatening aneurysm, he split from his record label, some bandmates and his former record manager secretly re-recorded one of his songs with Robbie Williams (a fact that he seems a bit bitter about except for the bit about the huge success of it and the royalties that certainly came his way as a result), and his own personal manager and mentor, Steve Fargnoli, died of cancer.

But here he was, on the stage at The Mercy Lounge, doing what he does. This time a bit stripped down. As the title mentions, he introduced his World Party as being a few continents shy. No bass. No drums. Just he and his guitar, one man playing electric guitar, and a third playing fiddle and mandolin. Having heard how full his songs are with full band, I was a bit disappointed about this, but quickly forgot all about that after the band got going. Each song sounded fantastic.

The show was not sold out like I had assumed it would be, but it was a good crowd nonetheless. I saw an old friend from my record store days. I looked around and really missed being among crowds like this most nights. Everyone around me seemed to live and breathe music. And I felt that youthful energy in me that I too often forget about. The Mercy Lounge really is my Fountain of Youth.

I got there early to watch the crowd build. I sat on the deck and saw Karl and his bandmates standing in front of their bus taking pictures of each other with the club in the background. I listened to the music playing over the sound system as the venue got less and less empty. The bartenders were about as friendly as any bartenders in Nashville. At some clubs, you almost expect (and maybe appreciate) the sullen "I'm too cool for you" vibe that you get from some servers. But here, I always melt a bit when the bartenders give me that very friendly and genuine smile while hearing what I'll have. And I am always more than happy to tip accordingly. I don't know their names, but they are as cool and kind as they are beautiful. And they are quite beautiful.

But back to the show. As soon as World Party took to the stage, I abandoned my barstool and made my way to the front of the stage. For the next hour and a half, I stood and took the music in. How my emotions are affected by this wonderful mix of words and chords, I'll always be thankful. I noticed one woman sitting in a chair that she had pulled up to the very closest spot to the stage and she just looked up and smiled and hung on Karl's every verse. Maybe it was her short, dark hair or something else, but as I watched her in her musical bliss, I thought of how my mom would be just like that at any given concert watching someone she loves. And just like that, here I was at a World Party concert, thinking of how much I love my mom. That was not a revelation, mind you. Of course I love my mom; I just didn't expect to be thinking about that while at a club show.

Toward the end of the show, I also noticed a young couple embracing. It was a nice moment. But on a more studied glance, I saw that the girl was crying just a little bit. I caught her glance and gave her a polite smile which she returned. I turned my head back to the stage, feeling like I had glimpsed too private a moment already. But I glanced again and saw that her man was wiping his eyes under his glasses, too. They were certainly dealing with something and I wish them well. I saw a lot of love in that public but tearful embrace. "Love Street" was the song and I think I will forever think of them when I hear that song again.

Speaking of hugs, I received one as well. (What a night, right?) Facing the stage, soaking it all in, all of a sudden a man makes his way forward from behind and seems to be hugging everyone he passes on the way. Certainly, I am caught off guard as he puts one arm around me while walking by. I look to my right to meet his eyes and he squeezes my left shoulder a bit, gives me a smile, and makes his way forward doing the same thing to each person he passes. The vibe here is so much about peace and love that no one seems to mind. All, including me, smile back and finally he gets to the front to meet his buddies. Observing them for a bit, it is apparent that the three of them are quite drunk. At least he's not a mean drunk. I'll accept an innocent hug any day.

All of the songs were well received. Everyone here is a fan and everyone is happy that Karl Wallinger has brought his World Party to Nashville. We all do our little sways to the music and pay attention to the words and politely clap as each song comes to an end. What I wasn't ready for was how much every person really took their excitement to another level when we heard "Is It Too Late?" near the end of the concert. We are not people who just buy singles. We buy albums and listen to them all the way through. And when I think of World Party, I don't think of any one song that really defines them. So it was funny and strange to me to really feel that elevated energy level for any one song in particular. But this was the song where several people started singing along and the swaying back and forth was much more bold and intense. I wonder if it's like that at all of his shows and I wonder how much the band members feel the rise in energy when they play it. It's got to be awesome for them if so.

So thanks to the band for what they did for me last night. And thanks to The Mercy Lounge for its part in another of my great musical memories.

Here's the link to the account of the first time I saw World Party (twice in one night!) back in 1991.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

World Party Soothes My Heart

I'm listening to their latest right now, and I will hear them perform tonight at The Mercy Lounge.

Life is beautiful with music like this around.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Curing What Ails Me

I'm a bit under the weather this morning. And so I do what always works so well for curing my illness. I walk downstairs, find my laptop, and listen to The Waterboys. Specifically, I play Room To Roam, their 1990 release. Mike Scott and his band of wayfarers sound so good, reminding us how good an Irish band can sound, bringing back the beauty of the mandolin, infused into the perfect mix of true folk and youthful rock n' roll energy. I'm feeling better already.

Rhapsody music writer Chad Driscoll describes them much better:

Restless as the seafaring nomads whose chanties and airs they borrowed from, the Waterboys called no one style of music their own, but roamed the oceans and passage of time for sources of inspiration. Mike Scott and his ragtag troupe of aging folkies, pub buskers, and salty punks crafted with an artisan's care scrappy Folk-Rock that resonated with romantic, vaguely new age themes. Fisherman's Blues (1988) -- containing interpretations of Van Morrison, the Beatles, and W.B. Yeats -- captures them at their most adventurous. On the title track, Scott's tearful whelps and scotch-scorched vocals reach a fevered emotional pitch that infects the entire album. At a time when rock 'n' roll had brought to the brink of extinction instruments like the mandolin, bouzouki, and accordion, the Waterboys repopulated music with them, giving their songs a timeless quality. The results were never less than majestic.

- Chad Driscoll

Incidentally, ex-Waterboy Karl Wallinger brings his World Party to Nashville's Mercy Lounge this Sunday night. I'm feeling like it's the early '90s all over again. Old friend and fellow record store employee Kirk Anderson turned me onto the beautiful sounds of The Waterboys back in '91. We would hang out at his apartment after work and listen to so much music each night. A few beers and so much music. Because of him, I know The Waterboys and World Party. I know Luka Bloom and Billy Bragg from listening to their tapes and CDs on his stereo. I haven't seen him in years but I think of him every time I hear these artists and bands.

Here's to great music, influential friends, and feeling better as the day goes on.

Friday, May 19, 2006

My Bulldog, Stoic As Ever

After All, Coke Is The Real Thing

I don't think of myself as very needy in regards to carbonated beverages. I have my share of pop throughout the day but I drink just as much water as anything else.

But today I am home with the kids while my wife is at work. In her car are the two car seats, so I feel essentially under house arrest. We are out of Cokes. We always have water, but right now I want a Coke. How badly? Well, if the kids and I go for a walk and a neighbor happens to have a canned Coke sitting in an open window sill? I'm taking it.

(OK, I'd leave a dollar in the window, but still. I would not be asking if I could buy it. I would be taking it and drinking it right there. I might be addicted.)

Closing Time

Important eateries that have served me well and have since departed:
  • Dipper Dan's Ice Cream Parlour
  • The Campus Grill
  • a diner in Melrose whose name I cannot recall
And now, add Vandyland to the list.

Sudan Crisis On Fresh Air

Listen to this very important conversation about what's going on in Sudan. I heard bits and pieces of it while I was working yesterday and rightly moved by how badly people are being treated on a daily basis in this troubled but hopeful world.

Clyde Kennard, Exonerated

On May 4, 2006, I wrote about Clyde Kennard. I had read about his wrongful conviction and how he died imprisoned three years into his seven year sentence.

Then, on May 16, 2006, I read uplifting news. In short:

On Wednesday, May 16, 2006, Judge Robert Helfrich agreed with a motion brought by a legal team led by former Mississippi Governor William Winter, former Federal Judge Charles W. Pickering, and former Mississippi Chief Justice Reuben Anderson, and overturned Kennard's conviction, declared him innocent, and expunged the record of his arrest. The honest and fair District Attorney, Mr. Weathers, truly represented the people of Mississippi by agreeing to the motion and also stating his firm belief in Clyde Kennard's innocence.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Phil Collins, Always Topical

All this talk of immigration and illegal aliens. I don't pretend to have the answers. I only know that every time the subject comes up lately, I just hear this song in my head.

Let's go back to 1983 and hear Genesis sing "Illegal Alien" together.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

"Wrong Guy" - I Thought This Stuff Only Happened On Sitcoms

BBC names "wrong Guy" in interview mix-up
Tue May 16, 2006 09:56 AM ET

LONDON (Reuters) - The BBC has revealed that a bewildered man it interviewed live on TV in the mistaken belief he was the editor of a technology website was, quite literally, "the wrong Guy."

He was Guy Goma, a graduate from central Africa, who had gone to the BBC's News 24 studios for a job interview.

(Click for the rest.)

Sunday, May 14, 2006

All Of His Skies Are Vanilla

I love Tom Cruise. I just watched Magnolia again on IFC and just couldn't get enough of watching Tom's eyes as the misogynist, hurting son. He's a movie star among movie stars. I haven't watched M:i:III yet, but that is only because I don't have the money or the time for movies nowadays. When the DVD comes out, I'll be sure to watch it and focus on it as well as I can with two screaming kids running about my living room.

Tom's religion is not my religion. Big deal. His views are not my views but his profession is my passion. Everyone is sticking up for Brooke Shields lately after Mr. Cruise's attack on her views on post-partum depression and its treatments. That said, I imagine even Brooke finds herself channel surfing and stopping at Jerry Maguire and thinking, "I don't know about Tom Cruise, but Jerry Maguire sure could complete me." And who would fault her there? Dude looks great.

Big Bad Bill Is Sweet William Now

On this beautiful day, I am listening to the likes of James Blunt, Matchbox 20, Third Eye Blind, and Teddy Geiger. All are on shuffle.

Just last night, I was talking to my friends at work about how I only like to listen to indie bands. The more eclectic the music, the better.

But sharing a life and a home with the person you love can soften you a bit. Unapologetically.

Cue Bon Jovi.

To All Of The Mothers...

Happy Mother's Day!

And here's what Garrison Keillor has to say about it.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Question For My Beautiful Spouse

I see that our freezer contains one pint of Dutch Chocolate Blue Bell Ice Cream. Is it OK if I eat that?

Correction: Was it OK if I ate that?

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Brokeback Goombah

I had to post about the Sopranos eventually. I just have one question:

In the first episode this season, a guy comes into about a million dollars in inheritance. He wants permission from Tony to relocate to Florida with his family and essentially resign from the Mob. Tony says to him, "What are you, a hockey player? You can't retire from this." Once you're in, you're in. The guy knows that he's stuck. He knows that if he just up and leaves anyway, he'll be hunted down and killed. It's just the way, right?

Recently, one of Tony's captains is seen at a gay nightclub. He's dressed in leather and dancing with a guy. Knowing that he's been seen, he bolts. For however long now, he's been wandering the streets of some New England town, staying in a bed and breakfast and flirting with the male owner of a diner. He has left his family behind and his Mob obligations as well. And no one is looking for him? Moreso than the first guy, he has every reason to go to the Feds and spill his guts if only for protection reasons. And Tony and the gang seem to have no interest in his whereabouts?

What kind of free pass did this guy get? And should the first guy just have done the Jack Tripper "Three's Company" thing and pretended he was gay? Too bad he hung himself in despair. If he knew then what we know now...

Maybe this will all come to a head in the next episode. Something has to happen if only for the drama. But it still won't explain these weeks of no concern by the guys. You can't retire from this.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Thought Of The Day

"You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing you think you cannot do." - Eleanor Roosevelt

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Listen To...

...anything and everything by Bekka Bramlett,

Racine by Sass Jordan,

and for something completely different, Lunatico by Gotan Project.

New World Party? Say No More.

This afternoon, I stumbled upon the new World Party CD. While looking through the Nashville Scene, I saw an ad for their (his?) upcoming show at Mercy Lounge. Excited about that, I typed "World Party" into my digital music service to listen to some of the early stuff. And there at the top of the discography list was Dumbing Up. I am listening to it now and it is pure heaven. As leader Karl Wallinger always does so well, he makes music that sounds like the best Beatle-esque material from the 1960s while never sounding anything but contemporary.

I'm listening to "See The Light" now and am remembering my one great World Party night from the early '90s. My friend Angela and I went to see them open for 10,000 Maniacs at Starwood Amphitheater. The show was good, the lighting was very professional and the sound was crisp, but they were the opening act and didn't play a very long set. However, Karl mentioned that they would play another show later that night at Nashville's famous Exit/In.

Quickly, I found a payphone and called the local sponsoring radio station, WRLT, and asked the d.j. if I could get on the guest list. "No problem," said David Hall. And so, Angela and I watched the Maniacs do their thing and after the concert I dropped her off (not a World Party fan), and picked up my girlfriend (not a World Party fan either, but she wanted to come for some reason).

With one World Party show already under my belt, we headed down to the Exit/In for another. As good as the earlier one was, this later one was the stuff of legend. Where Starwood was spacious, Exit/In was packed and cramped. Where Starwood was outdoors where we all felt the light breeze in the air, Exit/In was a small, closed space with not much ventilation to speak of. We were sweaty and we were smoky and there was no other place we would have rather been.

Karl and gang took the stage and played rock 'n' roll with the passion and energy that no one seems play with anymore after too much success. It's been too long ago for me to remember just how long the set was or what they played. I only remember being among the lucky few hundred. I remember seeing a few of my friends who had not been at the earlier concert but had gotten hot tips and made it out. Elena was one of my coworkers and I saw her moving to the music high above the crowd. I don't know what she was standing on but she looked like a vision of absolute beauty, standing so much higher than the rest of us as she leaned against a column over by the bar.

The night had started at 7:00 and it must have been 2:30 in the morning before we made our way out to our cars on Elliston Place. Nashville had once again proved itself as a haven for musical greatness. You can hear the greatest stuff for nothing here, any given night of the week. And I write this now hoping against hope that I can afford to see World Party when they play my city once again on May 21.

Back then, I had one kid, paid cheap rent to a friend, and a worked a job that didn't pay much but gave me all of the stuff I wanted for free (concerts, CDs, free drinks at listening parties - oh, the swag!). Now I'm all grown up with a wife, three kids, a mortgage, and a job that doesn't pay much and provides no swag. But this upcoming concert is only $12 at the Mercy Lounge, so I should be able to swing that. And you should, too.

World Party website

World Party blog

World Party at Mercy Lounge

Mercy Lounge website

High Point

A few nights ago, my younger son woke up around 1:00 A.M. just as I was getting ready for bed after a long night's work. He stood at the top of the stairs calling out, "Daddy, I'm here."

I climbed the steps in the dark to where he was and told him that he really should be asleep. My cherub replied that he was scared, so I sat down next to him and did my best to comfort him. To take his mind off of whatever was making him afraid, I asked him questions about his day. I asked him if he played with his friends at daycare and I asked him if he practiced walking a straight line with his classmates for his teacher. I hugged him and told him how much I loved him. He said it back to me and made me so happy.

In our silent home, we just sat together in the dark talking quietly. After a few minutes, I ushered him to bed where he quickly fell back to sleep. And I went back to the top step and sat for a few more minutes reflecting on my life. Before my little guy had woken up, I was downstairs worrying about any number of things. And now I was happy and at peace as my family slept in good health. Just who had comforted whom that night? He certainly helped me feel better. And for that, I am grateful.

David Sedaris On Old People

My latest issue of The New Yorker came in yesterday and I was thrilled to see an new David Sedaris essay waiting within. It is titled Memento Mori and I'll share with you my favorite paragraph from it.

One moment he’s an elderly Frenchwoman, the one I didn’t give my seat to on the bus. In my book, if you want to be treated like an old person, you have to look like one. That means no face-lift, no blond hair, and definitely no fishnet stockings. I think it’s a perfectly valid rule, but it wouldn’t have killed me to take her crutches into consideration.

Here's the link while it's still up: Memento Mori

Friday, May 05, 2006

Art School Confidential

If the previews are any indication, Art School Confidential should be the greatest little film I've seen since Rushmore.

With John Malkovich, Angelica Huston, and a cast of young phenoms, this promises to be a sensational satire. Of course, it could be a dull waste of time. But the preview I watched last night made me laugh out loud. It's on my list.

Innertube Was Made For Guys Like Me

CBS has started a new broadband channel called Innertube. Here's the stuff from E!online.

Right now, I'm watching a 45-minute concert by Pearl Jam recorded at the Ed Sullivan Theater.


Movies That Matter

This post is more for me than you, but I invite you to benefit from this list of good independent movies as well. I used to see two or three movies a week in the theater, and several more at home. These days, I'm lucky to find the time to watch one movie on TV every month or so. But that doesn't stop me from reading articles about good, new films and telling myself, "I am so going to see that one."

With that in mind, here is a list of fresh new films according to

Han Shoots First

Coming to a DVD near you. Finally!

Good for George Lucas for sticking to his guns and releasing this to the fans while still exclaiming that it is "not the definitive" version of his series. He released them his way in 2004, fans complained and got all snarky but bought them anyway, and now he's releasing them the way that we wanted them in the first place for a "limited time only." And so we can all rush out and buy them untarnished by changes. Could it be that this was the plan the whole time? Fine with me. It's on my list.

Now I can see Greedo get blown away with his blaster still in its holster by a tough pirate named Han Solo. I can see Sebastian Shaw again as Anakin Skywalker in the final scenes of Return Of The Jedi. And I don't have to watch a computer animated creature step in poop near Mos know, for the kids.

It's Star Wars as I remember it from 1977. So what if it wasn't George's original vision. It's what my original vision of it was as a seven year old kid watching it with my dad in the old Cinema South movie theater on Nolensville Road. And it made me a Star Wars fan for life. So Mr. Lucas, I'll play your game. I'll buy whatever you make. And I'll buy however many versions of it you choose to release. You had me at "A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away..."

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Clyde Kennard Should Be Pardoned

In 1963, imprisoned Clyde Kennard died of cancer. He had been convicted in Mississippi of helping a man steal $25 of chicken feed. Johnny Lee Roberts, a fellow black man, told officials that Clyde asked him to steal the chicken feed. Mr. Roberts, who did the stealing, served a suspended sentence. Mr. Kennard was convicted as an accessory and received one year for every $3.57 of the feed. And three years into his seven year sentence, he died.

Since then, Mr. Roberts, the only witness, has admitted that Mr. Kennard was guilty of no crime whatsoever. Mr. Kennard was, however, trying to desegregate the University of Southern Mississippi. As I read in the New York Times tonight, Clyde Kennard served seven years in the Army in Germany and Korea and for three years, attended the University of Chicago as an undergraduate. Moving home to Hattiesburg, Mississippi, he wanted to finish his education at Mississippi Southern, but was not allowed because it was reserved only for whites. According to reports, not only was he denied admission, but state officials plotted to kill him. The Times goes on to reveal that "the files of the Mississippi Sovereignty Commission, the state's segregationist spy agency, show that killing or framing Mr. Kennard was openly discussed as preferable to allowing him to enroll at the college."

But now that the state and Governor Haley Barbour acknowledge that Mr. Kennard suffered a terrible wrong and was falsely imprisoned, one would think that he would receive a pardon. Mississippi's governor, however, says that he will not issue a pardon posthumously. I somewhat agree with him when he eloquently states that "a posthumous act won't right a wrong." Clyde Kennard suffered greatly and was denied the life that he should have been free to live, but I like to think that his soul no longer suffers and that whether or not some politician pardons him or not means nothing now. But there is a family here. There are those who are here today and who share his lineage. For them, I think that a pardon would be a very respectful and right thing to do.

More on Clyde Kennard and how you can help at

Too Many Blogs

Our home is on the market, which means that I usually have to play fugitive when the phone rings early in the morning. It's usually a realtor wanting to show our house, and despite my few hours of sleep from the night before (I work second shift and I also have a baby who hasn't been sleeping well lately), that means it's time for me to jump into the shower, tidy up the place as best I can, and get out the door. When a prospective buyer is here, it's best for him or her to imagine it as being as free of clutter as possible. The buyer should be able to walk in and see it as his or her own place. And the presence of the actual owner kind of gets in the way of that.

The only real problem we have had is that the company that calls us to give us the heads up is good about calling my wife (who is at school all day long), but not so good at calling me (who is usually working on a good case of bedhead during the day). So today, I get a call asking if someone can come by and show it at 11:45. The call comes to me at 11:40. There is no time to shower, make beds, wash dishes, etc. in five minutes so I ask if 12:15 would work. They say that they'll call the agent and tell him my wishes. I thank the nice lady, hang up the phone, and walk through the living room to go upstairs for a quick shower. Glancing out my window, I see two people walking up my drive, the realtor and the prospective buyer. Great!

Oh well. I throw on a ballcap, crate the doggie, and open the door for them. I welcome them in explain that I just got the call, and apologize for any unmade bed they may find. They're very courteous and apologize for the inconvenience, and I invite them to look around while I take a short walk.

But here's where the title makes sense. As I am walking in jeans, black t-shirt, Guinness ballcap, and no shoes down my street, I can't help but wonder: Is the prospective buyer Big Orange Michael? He looked a lot like him. He was wearing a Titans ballcap. Big Orange Michael is a Titans fan. But then, I am in Tennessee. Many people are. It's not the first time I have thought I've recognized a fellow blogger out and about. And I have been right before. But I just couldn't think of a cool, non-scary way to say to the man as we met again at the door ten minutes later, "Thanks for coming by. And by the way, do you have a blog?"

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

A Very Minor Confession

I often here excited talk about something called Nutella. I don't know what it is. When I hear people use it in a sentence, I surmise that it is something sweet or tastes like something sweet or something like that.

The thing is, I have no desire to know what Nutella is. I don't even know if I am supposed to capitalize it when writing about it. And I don't want to know whether or not I should capitalize it or not. It is important to me that I never know what Nutella is. I want to be the last person on Earth (or is it earth) who doesn't know what it is.

So there. Thanks for reading my post about Nutella.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Nashville Skyline, As Seen From The Pedestrian Bridge

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My Recent Weakness. Trains And Bridges.

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You've Come A Long Way, Babies

Methinks they're bringing home the bacon.

The Ace Of Clubs

What are some of your favorite shows you saw at the Ace? Maybe I'll dig the archives of my mind and come up with an extensive list. I remember seeing Human Radio on the eve of the first Gulf War. I remember being wowed beyond all expectations when I saw Peter Himmelman play his ass off for far too few people one night. I'm thinking that a lot of kids were conceived the night that Buckwheat Zydeco played at the Ace. Joe Ely was awesome. Don Henry was fantastic. And The Mavericks, with frequent special guest Tricia Yearwood always made for an evening of aural bliss.

Man, I miss the Ace Of Clubs. And I wonder what the former staff is up to nowadays. Posted by Picasa

The James Robertson

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My Kind Of Spa

So honey? If I arrange for a massage for you at one of the local massage schools, will you arrange a trip to Austria for me so that I can go to the beer spa?

Hmm, will you at least think about it?

Roland Schlager for The New York Times

For you NY Times subscribers, here's the link.