Monday, December 31, 2007
How will I celebrate? I'll be watching Radiohead's free webcast concert when I get home. [Ugh. I just read that the show starts at midnight U.K. time. And I am guessing that this is not the same U.K. that is playing in Nashville's Music City Bowl.]
I may also stop by here to watch the happenings of New York's Times Square. My young son and I always enjoy watching the streaming webcams of that site and have fun counting the buses and yellow taxis moving about the big city.
How are you guys spending the hours surrounding midnight tonight?
Sunday, December 30, 2007
I just read that Steve Earle, who plays Waylon in the series, has recorded a version of it himself for the final season.
Saturday, December 29, 2007
Grapefruit Moon is the name of Southside's collection of Tom Waits songs presented with the big band treatment. I await, I await.
Now what's the latest with that Tom Waits covers record by Scarlett Johansson that I've all but forgotten about?
Well, I didn't take my shoes off this time, but my beautiful wife and I did at least make time for a nice walk on the beach.
It was kind of the whirlwind trip this year. We couldn't afford to go and so I didn't ask for any time off from work. That was a major downer for us. She was sad to miss Christmas with her family and I was sad because I knew how much she really wanted to be there. Thankfully, her mom sent us a check and I happened to have the 24th, 25th, and 26th off. I clocked out from a ten hour driving shift at work at midnight on the 23rd, got into our van thirty minutes later, and we made the drive to Florida for the next 9+ hours. (By "we," I mean "her" since she prefers her driving to mine. I follow in my father's footsteps and drive a bit too slowly for many people's tastes.)
We pulled into her mom's apartment complex at around ten o'clock Monday morning and zombied our way through the day while visiting with so many of my wonderful in-laws. (One zombie pictured below.)
Christmas was as beautiful as any Christmas should be. The kiddos had a blast and happiness and joy were in abundance. Pictures of said kiddos are on display at Paige's blog.
Thankfully, a friend worked my Thursday shift for me and we didn't have to drive home as early as Wednesday after all, so Paige and I got a little of that beach-walking time in that is always so important to a Tennessee landlubber like me.
More later maybe. I've gotta get back to the grind.
(Here's a nice piece on Amelia Island in Louisville's Courier-Journal.)
Sunday, December 23, 2007
And visit Corey and the good people at Threadventures for all of your embroidery needs.
Saturday, December 22, 2007
Big thanks to a brother, a sister, a mom, a dad, and a wife for pitching in for this 80 GB iPod classic. 80 GB? Are you serious? I've had a 4 GB mini for a year or so. It in itself is pretty awesome, but now I can fit all of my music and fave podcasts on here and never have to take anything off to make room for other things.
Phone calls of thanks are about to be made.
Friday, December 21, 2007
The bottom line is this: The current job provides healthcare that is unlikely to be outdone most anywhere else. I'm keeping it as my main gig. They get me from 2-11 any day they want me, without fail. To supplement my income, I'm open to anything that starts hopefully no earlier than eight or nine in the morning and ends no later than one or so. Another possibility is to work somewhere on the other side of the clock. Midnight to four? Something like that.
Hopefully, something will be found that adds dollars to my day and doesn't invade my sleep too much. I'm open to suggestions.
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
Also, Joshua tends to antagonize her so often that he can't even say something sweet to her without her assuming he's being mean. "Ari, you're a cute little dish," he said to her yesterday.
"Momma, Joshua called me a cute little dish," she tattled.
"Don't worry, Ari," her mother reassured. "It's a nice thing he said to you."
"But Momma," said Ari defiantly. "I am NOT a plate!"
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
Monday, December 17, 2007
Descartes walks into a bar.
The bartender walks up to him and says, “Would you care for a drink?”
Descartes replied, “I think not” and disappeared.
This boy's birthday is tomorrow. December 18. I'll be thirty-eight years old. Now more than ever, I'm curious about topics like existentialism. There is purpose to all of these atoms of mine crashing into the atoms of others, right? Nakedness and touch, intimacy and trust - they bring to me a higher sense of being.
A year older and a year wiser? Maybe. If nothing else, I'm comfortable in my own skin. While I may be my own worst critic in many areas - as a father, as a husband, as an wage earner, I could be so much better - the best truth is that I am at peace with me. I love the music in my life that I am able to embrace and the pleasure I get from reading a good book knows no bounds. When I write, the words might not come together in the way that they would if I was better taught, but the words I choose are always honest. They serve their own purpose.
Half of my years ago, I was nineteen. I was young, but not too young to remember "the Queen of Soul." Becker and Fagen weren't writing about me. People my age tend to ruminate and say things like "where have all of the years gone?" Maybe I'll ask that question on another birthday, but it all seems played out quite fairly for now. I really do feel as if I've lived nineteen years twice. If the first nineteen were all about growing up and going to school, then what were the following nineteen about?
I've certainly put in a lot of work hours. I've delivered your pizzas, sold you your CDs and cassette tapes at the record store, "up sold" you your luggage and briefcases at the luggage store in the mall, and now I carry your bags when you check-in at your hotel. In romance, I've loved from afar and I've loved with abandon. I've loved some of the wrong people and some people were wrong to have fallen in love with me. Both experiences have brought me tears. Both have taught me life lessons.
Now that I have a family, the struggles mean so much more, but the rewards are so much richer. I'm just a good job away from the seemingly perfect life. It could happen. My yearnings seem so overwhelming sometimes. I'd like to understand the great philosophers well enough to formulate my own profound philosophy. I would like for my wife to not have to work and be able to stay at home with the kiddos while I'm doing great things and bringing home big money. I'd like to write of my love for her on the beautiful (and published!) level that Adam Gopnik writes of his, or that Calvin Trillin (About Alice) or Rob Sheffield (Love Is A Mixtape) write of theirs.
I share a birthday with Keith Richards (on how he keeps fit, "Passing the vodka bottle. And playing the guitar.") and with Steven Spielberg ("I dream for a living."). The very funny and very missed Chris Farley died on Dec. 18, 1997 ("Basically, I only play one character; I just play him at different volumes.") Life is beautiful, but it can also be way too fleeting.
As the late Warren Zevon said, "Enjoy every sandwich." Maybe it really is that simple.
Sunday, December 16, 2007
"While at the Led Zeppelin reunion concert..."See what I mean? Read the rest ... In The Days Of My Youth
And read his wonderfully, wonderfully written review ... Stairway to Here
STS9, live at Red Rocks, as photographed by Tobin Poppenberg (click and scroll a bit to see).
I'm falling, falling, falling for this band.
"Breathe In" from that wonderful Red Rocks show (featured on this podcast) will take me home across the dam tonight. Listen and love.
Friday, December 14, 2007
In a study of 105 children, all around 10 years old, teachers spent an hour a week for 16 months teaching lessons based on philosophical inquiry.The philosophy-based lessons encouraged a community approach to "inquiry" in the classroom, with children sharing their views on Socratic questions posed by the teacher.I figured if it worked so well for all of those 10 year olds, why not start out by reading my copy of Jean-Paul Satre's Essays in Existentialism to my under-5 set. None of us could get a damn thing out of it. So maybe they're not ten yet, but what's my excuse?
The result? At the end of 16 months Compared with 72 control children, the philosophy children showed significant improvements on tests of their verbal, numerical and spatial abilities.
Maybe I'll take a refresher course and borrow The Tao of Pooh from my local library. I remember my dad and I reading that together so many years ago. Its synopsis is below.
From Powell's Books:
The how of Pooh? The Tao of who? The Tao of Pooh!?
One of the world's great Taoist masters isn't Chinese, or a venerable philosopher, but is in fact none other than A. A. Milne's effortlessly calm, still, reflective bear Winnie-the-Pooh. While Eeyore frets and Piglet hesitates and Rabbit calculates and Owl pontificates, Pooh just is. And that's the clue to the secret wisdom of the Taoists.
Thursday, December 13, 2007
Now it's 2007 and Madonna and John Mellencamp have both been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
We needed to open the door a bit later in the day and I went about the method of unlocking it by jimmying it with the inside of a pen. (It locks from the inside.) Joshua offered to help by squeezing behind Ari's bed to open the unlocked door in her room. I thanked him and said that we'd race to see who gained access to the bathroom first. He won and I thanked him again. Confidently, and with a hint of swagger, he replied, "It's the one thing I'm good at."
He didn't mean that as modestly as it sounded. He was really proud of his accomplishment. Before I could say anything else, he added with his hands on his hips, "A man's gotta do what a man's gotta do." Indeed, cowboy.
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
Two people tagged me for a meme. It's a Christmas meme. Those people are Holly (such a Christmas name) and Ron (not much of a Christmas name).
Rules for the game include:
1) Link to the person that tagged you, and post the rules on your blog.
2) Share Christmas facts about yourself.
3) Tag 7 random people at the end of your post, and include links to their blogs.
4) Let each person know that they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.
Welcome to the Christmas edition of getting to know your friends.
1. Wrapping or gift bags? Gift bags. No question.
2. Real or artificial tree? Artificial.
3. When do you put up the tree? When my wife asks me to get the artificial tree out of the storage closet.
4. When do you take the tree down? When my wife asks me to. I'm a simple man. And agreeable, too.
5. Do you like eggnog? Never had it. I love boiled custard.
6. Favorite gift received as a child? Maybe the Death Star?
7. Do you have a nativity scene? Nope.
8. Worst Christmas gift you ever received? No such thing. Unless the Christmas I caught a girlfriend cheating on me counts. That pretty much sucked.
9. Mail or email Christmas cards? The cards go out today. My wife is my hero. Before I got married, I would always buy cards with the best of intentions and then they'd sit on the counter until January unmailed and eventually tossed.
10. Favorite Christmas Movie? A Charlie Brown Christmas. That counts as a movie, right?
11. When do you start shopping for Christmas? Typically, sometime in the last 48 hours.
12. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas? My mom makes a certain snack that I love, but I can't think of its name right now.
13. Clear lights or colored on the tree? Clear here.
14. Favorite Christmas song? James Brown has a pretty cool one that I heard at work today. "Christmastime Is Here" by the Peanuts gang is the one that really helps me smile though.
15. Travel at Christmas or stay home? Optimally, travel. Too broke this year to go anywhere. -sigh-
16. Can you name all of Santa’s reindeer? Probably.
17. Angel on the tree top or a star? Neither. A Santa hat this year. I guess we couldn't find what usually goes up there.
18. Open the presents Christmas Eve or Christmas Morning? Christmas morning.
19. Most annoying thing about this time of year? My wallet and how I feel about not being able to buy stuff for folks close to me.
20. Do you decorate your tree in any specific theme or color? I see lots of snowmen. The kids did most of the decorating. This year, I was too busy cutting my toe open to participate.
21. What do you leave for Santa? My wife will choose.
22. Least favorite holiday song? Feliz Navidad. I don't know why. Just make it stop.
23. Favorite ornament? I don't guess I have one. Should I?
My answers reveal to me that I'm even more of a curmudgeon about the holidays than I previously thought. Oh well. At least I smile for the kids.
This is where I'm supposed to tag others to do this. I won't. Instead I'll get back to listening to World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War. I really like it.
Monday, December 10, 2007
This shot was taken by my friend at Peace Of My Mind. Click the pic for her flickr shots.
I've got this nice dream where, should I ever have both time and money at the same time, I ride AmTrak across the countryside with camera, journal, and an iPod full of Van Morrison songs (emphasis on Hymns to the Silence) on hand. My destination? This Tennessee boy gets to hang out with her underneath her beautiful Montana skies.
Which blogger not from your area would you most like to meet?
Oh well. This'll do.
Sunday, December 09, 2007
Saturday, December 08, 2007
Recently featured on the show, comedian Hannibal Burress, whose style of delivery reminds me of the late and wonderful Mitch Hedberg, had me fighting the urge to smile broadly while trying to maintain bored coolness while shopping at Food Lion after midnight a couple of nights ago. There's not much more suspicious than a solitary shopper buying 12-items-or-less with a huge grin upon his face in the wee hours of the morning. Nonetheless, Hannibal had me cracking up. He's at the end of this podcast and his website is here.
Tonight's listen educated and warmed this music lover's heart. Host Jesse Thorn, self-proclaimed "America's radio sweetheart," interviewed musician and producer Steve Albini. His approach to producing and engineering is refreshingly free of ego and "devoid of any trace of tarnish."* When asked why he still charges a modest day rate at his studio instead of the much larger sum that most super-producers demand, he answered as only a true music fan could. Steve replied that while the alternative would certainly be possible, it would likely result in him making a couple of albums a year with not much chance for experiencing the multitude of fresh and organic opportunities found in working the way that he does. Awesome.
On [Nirvana's] In Utero one can find a typical example of Albini's recording practices. Common practice in popular music is to record each instrument on a separate track at different times; see multi-track recording for more information. However, Albini prefers to record "live" as much as possible: the musicians perform together as a group in the same room. Albini places particular importance on the selection and use of microphones in achieving a desired sound, including painstaking placement of different microphones at certain points around a room to best capture ambience and other qualities.Why in the world is this guy's approach to recording music such a rarity in the industry?
Thanks to The Sound of Young America for bringing their wonderful shows to my humble ears. Listen often and support the program when you can.
*"Devoid of any trace of tarnish" is a line from Peter Himmelman's Skin CD entitled "Clean." I just love how it feels to say that.
Friday, December 07, 2007
Wednesday, December 05, 2007
Forgive me if I fall asleep at my Ryman Auditorium pew during tonight's John Fogerty show. At thirty-seven, I'm not too old to rock 'n' roll. I'm just really, really sleepy.
Tuesday, December 04, 2007
Beth Anne: I do believe in you. [pause] I just know you're gonna fail.
- from Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story
The previews for this are hilarious. John C. Reilly cracks me up. Now I read that he is touring in character as Dewey Cox in support of the film. Is Nashville on his itinerary? Yes it is. Yes it is.
Mercy Lounge. December 8.
Monday, December 03, 2007
"I've never viewed myself as particularly talented. I've viewed myself as … slightly above average in talent. … Where I excel is with (a) ridiculous, sickening work ethic. While the other guy's sleeping, I'm working. While the other guy's eating, I'm working. While the other guy's making love, I mean, I'm making love, too, but I'm working really hard at it!" -- Will Smith on 60 Minutes
Emphasis on "beautiful."
Below are a couple of excerpts that made me smile.
The impulse to keep a diary is to actual diaries as the impulse to go on a diet is to actual slimness. Most of us do wish that we were slim diarists.And:
It obliges you to believe that the stuff that happened to you is worth writing down because it happened to you. This is why so many diaries are abandoned by circa January 10th: keeping this up, you quickly realize, means something worse than being insufferable to others; it means being insufferable to yourself.
Sunday, December 02, 2007
World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War
If she finishes reading it tonight, she's giving it to me to read. I'm looking forward to reading it, either the copy she gives me of the copy I'll pick up at my local library. I just wish my library had the audio version available. Who are its readers? Author Max Brooks, Alan Alda, Ron Howard, Rob and Carl Reiner, and the voice that I just have to hear reading this, Henry Rollins.
I don't know. I've seen them live a couple of times and always left thoroughly sated. They just don't seem to me like an obvious choice for the big halftime show. As much as I love them, I can't think of any one song of theirs that brings the excitement and energy level that I associate with high profile appearances like this.
It's more about the spectacle than anything else, right? Last year's featuring Prince was awesome. The Rolling Stones were perfectly suited for 2006's show. U2 was awesome in '02, and even though I'm not a big fan, Aerosmith sharing the stage with Britney Spears rocked so much that I still remember it vividly all these years later.
But Petty? I'll enjoy it, but I wonder about it still. To be silly, maybe he can make some relevant, team-specific song choices:
- "Yer So Bad"
- "Even The Losers"
- "You Got Lucky"
Saturday, December 01, 2007
Friday, November 30, 2007
Thursday, November 29, 2007
I've been thinking of part-time jobs lately and would love to work a few hours a day in a record store. But it's hard to imagine, given the state of record retail today, that any are doing well enough to be hiring anyway. Maybe I'll park cars for Christmas tips, instead.
Anyway, here are some links to recent news stories about record stores:
Record-Store Clerk Blues - "If you can’t alphabetize, then leave it to the professionals."
Police raid former record store - "A sign outside reads Rarebird Records, but police say for months a storefront has been a hotspot for illegal gambling."
Woman commits suicide at record store - Just a tragic story. Including it anyway.
I thought the links would be more interesting than these. All of the others are just press releases about different independents and chains closing their doors and declaring bankruptcy.
What were/are your fave record stores? I never went to Lucy's on Church Street back in the 90s, but I did frequent a tiny shop whose name I can't recall on Elliston while it lasted. (John, do you remember its name?) I worked at Turtle's, Waves, and Blockbuster Music (formerly Turtle's), and currently shop - albeit rarely - at Phonoluxe and Grimey's.
Me: Oooh, cool! Look, kids. Penguins!Apparently, Dora and Diego have taught the child more than I had thought. He was but a learner before, but now he is the teacher.
He who is four: Yes, Daddy. Those are called Emperor Penguins. See their yellow necks?
Monday, November 26, 2007
One person laughs sweetly as she remembers that she has no cash on her to tip me with. She's nice enough and very pleasant, but she just doesn't seem bothered by this at all. She's simply tickled. I'm simply ticked. I finish helping her with her luggage, smile and wish her a good stay. (sigh)
Another lays into me about her wait as I pick her up at the airport. I've done nothing wrong. I'm merely doing my job. Someone's on break and I'm covering his route. I'm on time and helpful as always. No matter. Her wait is my fault. No tip.
Other than that, it was an easy shift. I swept up a lot, read a bit, and enjoyed an otherwise uneventful evening. But my head wouldn't let the facts above rest. What are you doing with your life? Did you envision a life of apologizing to people for things that are not your fault as a career when you were younger? I miss working at the record store. Surrounded by music and by music lovers, I rarely clocked out frustrated.
Anyway, here's my drive home. Its soundtrack took me back to happiness. I'm smiling now.
iron maiden - "hallowed be thy name" took me from elm hill pike to bell road. i love the strength in this song. its lyrics tell quite the tale as well.
When the priest comes to read me the last rites
I take a look through the bars at the last sights
Of a world that has gone very wrong for me
Can it be theres some sort of error
Hard to stop the surmounting terror
Is it really the end not some crazy dream
the hold steady - "citrus" softened my heart as i stepped away from my anger and gained perspective again.
i feel Jesus in the clumsiness of young and awkward lovers
I feel Judas in the long odds of the rackets on the corners
I feel jesus in the tenements of honest, nervous lovers
I feel Judas in the pistols and the pagers that come with all the powders
newton dominey - "all i need tonite" took me across the dam and to my home. whatever my worries, they're on the other side of the lake. i'm home now and with those who love me. i'm home now.
can't close my lonely eyes
without you walking through my movie
i know how it ends i know the lines
but i watch it every night
frank sinatra - "silent night." i step out of the car and close its door and hear frank sing this beautiful song with perfect dignity. this might be my favorite Christmas song. i walk to my door and it doesn't even occur to me to worry about being too broke to buy for my loved ones.
Silent night, holy night
All is calm, all is bright
Round yon Virgin Mother and Child
Holy Infant so tender and mild
Sleep in heavenly peace
Sleep in heavenly peace
christina aguilera - "candyman" plays as i put leash to collar and walk my dog in the quiet night. well, christina's not quiet. i love this song. written by christina and former 4 non blondes singer, linda perry, it's an awesome tribute to the famous "boogie woogie bugle boy" by the andrews sisters.
I met him out for dinner on a Friday night
He really got me working up an appetite
He had tattoos up and down his arm
There's nothing more dangerous than a boy with charm
Thanks for reading.
I open my eyes, smile, and chat a bit with her as she goes about the process of convincing me that I should get out of bed and come into the living room with her. What we were talking about, I have no recollection, but at one point I said, grinning mischievously, "Ari, you break my heart." I said this more for me than for anyone else. It sounded like a cute thing to say to my wonderful little princess, regardless that the meaning of the phrase was probably way over the reach of her 2-year-old pretty head.
Always the apple of my eye, she responded sweetly: "Don't worry, Daddy. I'll fix it. I'll fix your heart." If I wasn't wrapped around her finger already, I certainly was now. Reflexively, I turned to see if her mom had heard this cute little offer of love. She had and we got to share one of those perfect little moments between parents.
If nothing else, Ari made up for the time that she and I had the following exchange:
Me: I love you, Ari.
Ari: Awww. And I like you, Daddy.
Sunday, November 25, 2007
"You got your jam band in my electronica."
"Let's call it STS9."
Overheard, a later conversation about STS9:
"It's great. You can either jog to it or you can take a bath to it."
I love Nashville. There's something about this city that may be the same in others, but surely not most. The overall musical talent level is so high here that one can walk into just about any bar on any night and hear for a $5 cover, if any cover at all, talent that would easily be able to charge $20 or more almost anywhere else. One night, maybe fifteen years ago, I wandered into Nashville's Douglas Corner Cafe, expecting a beer or two and, at worst, some passable singer-songwriter stuff. Playing instead was music I was aware of but had never really heard. The famous Nashville Jug Band was on stage and their playing pretty much knocked me on my ass. Whatever the talent level was (and it was pretty high), the sense of fun that exuded from those players and their instruments was impossible to chart.
In the coming weeks and months, I'd go to Douglas Corner each and every time they'd play. Sadly, being pretty busy musicians on their own, and I guess doing this more as a hobby than anything else, they didn't play often. So many years have gone by and I'd pretty much forgotten about them and the whole experience.
Fast forward to tonight.
It was a long and slow night at the hotel. Hardly anyone was checking in and, if given the chance to go home early, I would have jumped at it. Thirty minutes before the end of my shift, I was lucky to help a wonderfully nice couple with their luggage. And the beauty of conversation turned my dull night into a beautifully memorable one. I would have talked with them for hours if I could. They're retired photographers for the local paper. (I'm far from any pro, but I love taking pictures.) He's really, really into music. (Me, too.) He's a Blues archivist and plays in a band called the Jake Leg Stompers. I've listened to a couple of cuts on their site and I'm in awe. As he said to me earlier tonight in what wasn't quite self-deprecating as it may sound: "We don't let good talent get in the way of good fun." Or something like that. Bottom line -- the talent is great, but the sense of fun is even better.
It made my night to talk music and iPods, and photography and the archiving of photos with a wonderfully awesome couple of people tonight. I hope they have a wonderful night.
The Jake Leg Stompers, playing "pre-war roots music," will be playing live at The Station Inn on Saturday, December 22. Ten bucks gets you in. Care to join me?
We talked for a bit and she was kind enough to open her guitar case for me. Therein lay her famous pink Daisy Rock guitar. "Made specifically for women," she told me. She's playing it now and everything sounds wonderful. I wish I was at the show, but listening to it live online suffices nicely.
Archives of the Ernest Tubb Midnite Jamboree, live from the Texas Troubadour Theatre, are here. Nashville's musical heritage always makes me smile.
Saturday, November 24, 2007
I've read comparisons to Bjork, but it's Portishead I hear.
There is a Butter Bomb Bath in my near future and this will be the music I play while I soak and hide temporarily from the rest of life's sound and fury.
Anja Garbarek's father, it should be noted, is avant-jazz guitarist Jan Garbarek.
Friday, November 23, 2007
In a nutshell, the theory suggests that we change things simply by looking at them and theorists have puzzled over the implications for years.Another excerpt:
New Scientist reports a worrying new variant as the cosmologists claim that astronomers may have accidentally nudged the universe closer to its death by observing dark energy, a mysterious anti gravity force which is thought to be speeding up the expansion of the cosmos.And another:
"The intriguing question is this," Prof Krauss told the Telegraph. "If we attempt to apply quantum mechanics to the universe as a whole, and if our present state is unstable, then what sets the clock that governs decay? Once we determine our current state by observations, have we reset the clock? If so, as incredible as it may seem, our detection of dark energy may have reduced the life expectancy of our universe."Can we just exist long enough to see the Titans thrill us with a consistent deep-threat passing game? Will Axl Rose's Chinese Democracy see the light of day before we are all lost to the universe's dark energy?
CERN's Large Hadron Collider is due to switch on in '08. It will attempt to recreate that fraction of a second after the Big Bang some 13.7 billion years ago.
And then there's Surfer Dude's Theory of Everything.
There's nothing more beautiful to me than appreciating and trying to understand life as we know it.
Enjoy every moment.
Thursday, November 22, 2007
I've always had some kind of aversion to the whole thing. At least it's how I've been since adulthood. While in my early 20s, my friend Chris and I would make the rounds on Thanksgiving, visiting various family tables, eating and chatting, but always ending up in a movie theater later on in the evening, pouring Wild Turkey or Southern Comfort into our expensive soft drinks and dealing separately with our own issues, whatever they were.
'Tis the season for wondering why I never feel at ease in a crowd, even a crowd of loving family members. I smile politely and hope that I don't say something embarrassing or reveal that I don't belong. Angst at any age is both silly and all-consuming. I miss those who are no longer with us, especially at this time of the year. Ron wrote today about something that really resonated with me. My grandmother, who I didn't realize wasn't flawless until recent years, embodied the season for me. Her boiled custard (made specifically for me, I'm sure) was simply the best. After she passed, I would begrudgingly buy store bought boiled custard and shake my head at how far removed from her recipe's wonderfulness it was. Now I drink it and it tastes pretty good. Time has done its thing and I cannot recall the taste of the preferred recipe. Its superiority is diminished in my mind and that only adds to my seasonal melancholy.
With Christmas approaching, I am more aware than any other time of the year that I can't afford gifts for those I love. I only wish I was seven again and all I had to do was come downstairs to a room full of grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins and get to unwrapping gifts. I'm the dad now and it's up to me to mask my weird, unsettled feelings and memories and see the holiday through my kids' eyes.
I'm easing into the right spirit. Baby steps. Frank Sinatra's The Sinatra Christmas Album plays. It's simple, a bit sad but hopeful, and perfect for this late evening of reflection. We're out of boiled custard. I'll be sure to buy some more tomorrow.
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
Remember in A Christmas Story when Ralphie said "fudge," but he really said something else? Yep, I said that something else, too.
My wife asked me if I wanted to go to the ER. I gave the typical male answer.
And what kind of blogger would I be if I didn't post a picture of the pain?
(click below for the version with the blood)
A birthday banquet was also taking place for my young niece and I was just too busy to stop in and say hi. Sounds about right. ;)
Monday, November 19, 2007
Have a listen to her own music here. I hate playing the "sounds like" game, as it never seems like a fully fair description of an artist and his or her work, but it is the quickest and easiest way to give the curious an idea of someone's sound. So...when listening to Kristin Mooney, other artists that are brought to mind include Aimee Mann, Sarah McLachlan, Sam Phillips and maybe Patty Scialfa.
I love what I'm hearing.
Anyway, here's Peter with his father-in-law, Bob Dylan, and Harry Dean Stanton playing that Hebrew folk song that absolutely everybody knows.
Sunday, November 18, 2007
Currently, she is wide awake and comically chatty. I've got Himmelman's latest (The Pigeons Couldn't Sleep) playing and hopeful dreams of sleeping in on Wednesday instead of tomorrow on my mind. I'll be up early with my daughter tomorrow and if my wife can come home from her work early, I won't have to go to my work late. Otherwise, I'll be calling my boss and hoping he understands. How most working parents make it, I don't have a clue.
It's now midnight and her big brother just wandered into the room. Apparently, this is the house where no one sleeps. Despite the stress of losing sleep and work hours, I feel incredible peace right this minute. Peter Himmelman sings "Gratitude" and I know that I'm a rich man.
I'm glad that I can see
The brown eyes of my daughters
The moon on silent waters
Your forming silhouette moving across the room.
My own Chatty Cathy on the couch continues to tell me what she knows is true as I pray that she'll talk herself to sleep. I've got a print of that famous Doisneau photograph on one wall and a poster of the Eiffel Tower with fireworks behind it on another. It's so cute to hear my little girl describe them to me. I've finally gotten Joshua back to bed, but Ari is still giggly and chipper as she tells me that she likes to "eat good food so that I will grow." She adds that she likes ice cream. One of the good foods, I think she means.
I'm going to sleep next to my daughter tonight, assuming she's planning on falling asleep sometime soon.
Himmelman sings simply and perfectly in "Save A Little Honey":
Save your speeches for someone who cares
Save your teardrops to soften up your prayers
Save your dignity for God above
Save a little honey for the one you love.
Mike: We've called it "harvest your energy." With the electricity-generating dancefloor, we're trying to use that power that you've got to power the lights.
Rico: I guess my question is: If you've got a club that's even partially powered by dancers, what happens if the DJ really sucks, and nobody wants to dance?
Mike: (laughs) Yeah, that's a lost night; you should go home.
Meanwhile, back at Worm, a band called Pourquoi Me Reveiller rocks a crowd of 100 people. Some might not know or care the club's walls are made of recycled real estate signs. But Mike van Gaasbeek, chef de ping-ping, doesn't mind. The only thing that bugs him is calling the signs "recycled."
van Gaasbeek: It's actually "upcycled" because it's having a better life. It was in a dull office building, and now it's in a cool club.
Friday, November 16, 2007
Thursday, November 15, 2007
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
One reason I love this online thing? I know this wonderful friend from Big Sky Country.
Stealing the best quote from a post I just read: "I just ordered two Newcastles and two juice boxes at the same bar. It was weird."
Wanna hear Mick Jones' latest project? Listen to this episode of the Pop Candy podcast. Some know him from The Clash. Some know him from Big Audio Dynamite. His latest band is called Carbon/Silicone.
On a personal note, I parked a lot of cars for free tonight at the hotel. People should really tip, but they rarely do. The last car was nice, though. U2's How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb played in the owner's CD player and I got to sit back and have a listen to "Crumbs from our Table." The song itself is about much larger issues than the life of this writer/bellboy, but its lyrics resonated nicely with me in regards to the lumps I so politely take most nights as I go about trying to provide for my family with equal parts smiles and subservience.
Thanks for reading. This blog is absolutely unimportant in the grand scheme of things, but I enjoy writing for it some nights as if it's everything I have to offer. So it's a nice way to close my nights.
Monday, November 12, 2007
"Do you know Mark Twain?" he asked.
Maybe it was the phrasing of it that forced my brain to take the extra seconds to analyze it. Not, 'Do you know of Mark Twain?' but 'Do you know Mark Twain?' - as if this Mark Twain is a guy who works with me, a dishwasher or a busboy at the hotel. I'm also not used to too much talking at the convenience store. I'm a regular and he and I have exchanged pleasantries before. Some nights he asks me how my night's going, sometimes I remark on the song playing on his radio, but that's about the extent of our conversations. We're friendly but busy.
"The writer?" I finally responded.
"Yes," he replied. "He said something about kindness."
I love this guy. My day had been long, hard and I'd made hardly any money to show for it. I'd stopped in to buy two things I really didn't need but now I was enjoying a role in an unexpectedly intriguing exchange.
"I like what Mark Twain said about kindness. I think he said, 'The language of kindness is one that the deaf can hear and the blind can see.' Something like that. He wrote The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, right?"
"Yeah," I answered. "Great book. I hadn't heard that quote before. I like that. Thanks for sharing that with me."
We smiled and I noticed that another customer had walked up in line and was ready to checkout. With a wave and a friendly goodbye, I made my way out to my Honda to continue my trip home. The workday had pretty much been a bust, but I was thankful to have shared a small moment with my friend at the gas station.
Sunday, November 11, 2007
That concert dates back to 1994 and I only recently discarded the shirt that my friend, the club manager, later gave me. Oft-worn, so many girlfriends have wanted me to throw it away over the years, but I always resisted. That shirt, ultimately sleeveless, with ever-growing rips and tears, and survivor of who knows how many washings finally got to the point where even I couldn't justify wearing it around the house. I mourn its passing. And I search the internet for a replacement.
Anyway, Peter Himmelman continues to impress me with his thoughtful lyrics and profound observations. I just wish his talent could be appreciated on a larger scale. While he stays busy writing music for television shows and releasing a successful series of children's CDs, it's still his other more personal work that never fails to move me.
I typed his name into a news search engine tonight and learned through a touching piece by Willam Pesek that slain journalist Daniel Pearl was also a big fan of Himmelman and his work. I don't know why, but it's cool to me to think of Mr. Pearl listening to Skin or From Strength To Strength and closing his eyes while taking in the words and music just as I do. Or anxiously awaiting club doors to open while clutching a ticket in his hand just as I did that one awesome night in '94. It's not just that Daniel Pearl is a person of specific significance, but more that it's always nice to feel some connection with people who are moved by the same things.
If I could, I'd ask Mr. Pearl how he came to know Himmelman and his music. Did the opening track of Skin surprise him as much as it did me? Did Himmelman ever get a conga line going at any of the shows he caught as was the case at the one I attended?
Regardless, I'm glad to have come across such a nice mention of Peter Himmelman tonight. I'll reserve some time this evening to close my eyes and listen to his music. It's really fantastic stuff.
From William Pesek's article:
Danny and I met in the mid-1990s, when we worked in the same office. We weren't
the kind of friends who'd call one another at 4 a.m. amid a crisis; we were
buddies who would brainstorm on stories, swap bizarre travel tales and down a
few beers together here and there.
We first bonded over music -- a
Minneapolis musician named Peter Himmelman. We agreed he was greatest songwriter
virtually no one had heard of and we'd go to Himmelman's concerts together, once
making our way backstage to meet him. ... more>>
Saturday, November 10, 2007
What I didn't count on was the fact that a lot of this time and space includes the backing up of all of my podcasts.
Music: 5.98 GB
Podcasts: 8.86 GB
This seems entirely unnecessary to me.
And now after 5 discs burned, it doesn't even seem to be trying anymore. It just spits the blank discs back out within seconds of me closing the tray without doing anything to them.
I'll abort and come back to this later. After ditching over 8 GB of podcasts.
"And I was pacing myself, trying to make it all last
Squeezing all the life out of a lousy two-day pass
And I had a cold one at the Dragon with some Filipino floor show
And I talked baseball with a lieutenant over a Singapore Sling
And I wondered how the same moon outside over this Chinatown fair
Could look down on Illinois and find you there
I know I love you, baby"
from "Shore Leave" by Tom Waits
photo by Leesa White
Friday, November 09, 2007
And watch your bellman closely upon your arrival -- or he may disappear with your luggage. There are rumours a former Banff Springs bellman named Sam, who passed away years ago, still enjoys helping guests with their bags.I've been lugging luggage for almost twelve years now. This pretty much makes me a lifer. Poor Sam above seems to be an after-lifer. Once a bellman, always a bellman. Even after death.
I'm reminded of The Village Voice's description of the new film, Wristcutters: A Love Story.
But death does not bring oblivion. The ruling joke is that the afterlife is the same as the world of the living, only worse. Suicide is a form of downward mobility: The streets are shabbier, the colors less vibrant, the jobs lousier, and the people more depressed.I love the trailer. It looks quirky and whimsical. And it has Tom Waits. I'm in.
Tuesday, November 06, 2007
Sunday, November 04, 2007
I suppose I already had my fun watching the Titans handle the Panthers, 20-7. Now it's the 4-year-old's turn for entertainment by TV.
Power Rangers: Operation Overdrive it is.
I suppose I can always watch highlights of the game later. In my son's defense, I doubt there's a Power Rangers highlight show.
However, the Fins and Rams do have one more thing in common besides a big fat zero in the win column. This is the one week guaranteeing no more harm to either franchise. Both have byes this week. I wondered if anyone else was writing about this shared sigh of relief for both teams. One quick search found that Bryan Burwell of MSNBC had a few thoughts about the matter. Read and enjoy his take here.
While most of us will be rightly fixated on watching Indy and New England face off in what is likely Part I of a two part matchup (a post-season slug-fest seems destined), morbid curiosity begs the question: Who of the two worst in the league is just a hair enough better to walk away a winner after 60-minutes of thus far poor football? It doesn't have to be televised (thank God), but I think even the players for those teams would like to know. Like Rocky Balboa and Apollo Creed at the end of Rocky III, throwing punches behind closed doors, no one knowing but them how it would turn out, these two very real - and really bad - football teams should find a dome that is not being used this weekend, line up, and find out which of them is not quite as bad as the other. It's my guess that the Rams would win, but no one would be able to walk away from the game with any swagger. Still, I'd like to see it.
They'll both get some regular season wins soon enough. Or not soon enough for them, I guess.
Saturday, November 03, 2007
On a music related note, Newton Dominey is playing tonight at the Bluebird. Word has it that he'll be performing Springsteen's "American Skin (41 Shots)."
I wish I was there to hear it. Go if you can.
"No, We're not the jet set
We're the old Chevro-let set
Our steak and martinis
Is draft beer with weenies
Our Bach and Tchaikovsky
Is Haggard and Husky
No, we're not the jet set
We're the old Chevro-let set
But ain't we got love"
My Christmas present from her has been confirmed. A renewed subscription to Paste Magazine, a subscription that we had previously canceled due to monetary concerns. Thanks to their new, name-your-price-get-it-for-less-than-a-buck deal, it's back to my mailbox. If this is New Media, I'm loving every minute of it. Looks like I may get the new Radiohead, too.
Now if it was just this easy to buy things for my wife. Georgia football season tickets aren't going for the dollar amount of my choice also, are they?
It's tucked away downstairs, far from the eyes and ears of the hotel guests. I like changing from my work clothes to my street clothes in the locker room around the corner and hearing the sound of a fellow worker playing that old abandoned piano. Sometimes I finish dressing and exit in time to see who is bringing life back to forgotten beauty and sometimes the player has left before I open the door.
It's nice to recognize people's talents and passions. More importantly, it's nice to assume that there is more to a person than the job that they do. He might sweep the floors or bus your table, deliver your room service or, like me, drive you in from the airport or carry your bags to your room. All honorable jobs, but never the whole picture. I hope I always remember this as I go through life: being served at restaurants, paying parking garage attendants, waiting in line at various retail counters. These people are always more than their name tags might otherwise indicate.
Last night, the piano played a familiar piece of music as I tied the laces to my shoes. Who it was, I don't know. Maybe a waitress, always hurrying with your drinks, but hearing Debussy's calming music in her heart. Or maybe the head housekeeper, keeping your lobby clean while on the clock but also keeping the memory of how to play "Claire de Lune" fresh and clean in his head when off the clock. Whoever it was last night, what was played made for a wonderful coda to the end of a long, hard night of work. Thank you. Your talent is beautiful.
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
I drove home tonight watching out my window as the moon's reflected light followed me across the dam. Newton Dominey's "This Time Of Year" played softly on the iPod and I found myself wondering how a songwriter can so perfectly get the right mood, instrumentation, and words to play together so well as this. It's a song like this that helps me be at peace with the fact that I don't know what the hell I'm doing in life. It asks questions about loneliness and reveals the writer's hopes for what Heaven is like.
The yearning uncertainties sung amidst such a warmly produced tune mirror my own introspective moments' thoughts. If I don't learn how to stop stressing over every little thing, I'll never become whoever it is that I'm supposed to be. Surely, this is not it. Lonely in crowds and unsure of who I am is no way to make a life.
That said, I don't mind that I'm quiet by nature. Getting lost in a masterpiece of a Van Morrison record is a wonderful way to spend some time if I'm going to be alone. And I like that other people's feelings matter to me. It can be a rough life and I do more than my share of worrying, but on these quiet nights when just the right music is playing, I feel certain that I'm looking at life correctly and asking the right questions.
Anyway, that moon is absolutely beautiful tonight. I wonder how many people over the course of time have looked up at it on a noiseless night and felt peace in not having to have the answers. It demands nothing of us. It simply is what it is and it welcomes our ruminative minds.
(Moon picture by Leesa White)