Monday, April 30, 2007

Inspiration. Dooce-style.

I need to buy frames and make my walls look this good.

Another project for another day.

The Grapevine Cafe, Booze, and Rock 'n' Roll

An article about The Place in Nashville's The City Paper mentioned Elliston Place's long forgotten '90s hangout of mine, The Grapevine Cafe. How I forgot about it, I can't figure. I was there to hear The Wooten Brothers regularly before it closed and 3rd and Lindsley got the opportunity to host their funky jams on a weekly basis. My buddy Chris and I drank many beers there and took any number of short-term girlfriends there during our brief stints of twenty-something coolness.

Me at my foggiest, using-parking-meters-as-walking-sticks period was also a proud supporter of my city's Screamin' Cheetah Wheelies as they played so regularly at the small digs of The Grapevine Cafe. I remember them as such a great Black Crowes-ish jam band. Of course, they had to jam well to make up for the absence of a lead singer who would tend to show up 30 minutes or more after official start time. (This reminds me of a time at the club next door when a band started over an hour late. I asked the record label rep who had given me the free ticket what the hold up was. He replied with a smile and a shrug and the words, "rock 'n' roll." That was reason enough. I smiled back, took another swig from my beer and waited patiently for The Tragically Hip to take the stage.)

I ran with a beautiful, blonde rock 'n' roller at the time who was enamored by the much in fact that she ended up dating one of the musicians. There's something about losing a girl to a rocker with long hair and a guitar that just doesn't hurt at all; I mean, aren't we non-musicians supposed to lose girls to these guys? It's when we lose them to equally non-cool guys that it makes us question why. Anyway, they had their on-again off-again relationship, which coincided with our off-again on-again relationship. That's another thing about losing a girl to a musician -- they're bound to piss them off at some point.

Anyway, I have great memories from The Grapevine Cafe flooding back to me tonight. The location has housed Empress Chili, Sherlock Holmes' Pub, Piranha's Bar & Grill and is now home to Aladdin's Hookah Lounge (I hear there are bellydancers for your entertainment!). Rock 'n' roll.

Celebrating Good News

Saturday, April 28, 2007

This Laptop and a Call for Help

Used space: 30 GB
Free space: 5 GB

Looks like I need to manage my space a bit better.

Save my pictures onto a CD and delete them from the hard drive? I checked the properties for My Pictures and that's only 3.2 GB.

Do I have too much music on here? Probably. I currently have about 7 GB of music in my iTunes folder. Should I compress that? If so, how?

Methinks I just need someone cool to sit down with me and help me make this laptop a faster, cooler place to play. I'm broke but not too broke to buy a helpful geek a beer.

Waiting By The Phone... case the Broncos call.

I'm 6'2" and 190 lbs.

I'm ready to play.

It's not football season, but it kind of feels like it.

NFL Draft Tracker

Tom Waits on The Conan O'Brien Show

I'll be watching.

May 4th

I wonder what he'll play.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Holy Crap. We Have Pink Eye (and it's great!)

My left eye won't open entirely and I feel like Rocky Balboa. Paige has it in both eyes.

The kids are fine and in daycare and she and I are relaxing at home by ourselves.

Other than the eye thing, we feel fine. And we're gonna spend all day doing that thing that parents love to do when given the chance.

We're gonna sleep all day long. Oh yeah.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

My Aquatic Enemy, Illuminated

Those who know me well may recall the Great Jellyfish Terror of 1998.* And so it will be known that if I could afford to own a pool, these Floating Jellyfish Pool Lights would not be welcome in it.

On the other hand, if one wished to play a funny practical joke on this writer, Floating Jellyfish Pool Lights would be a hilarious idea. But first, one would have to buy said writer a pool for them to go in and a house for the pool to accompany. Just think of how funny it would be to hear me scream like at the sight of plastic lights.

(found via Boing Boing)

*Actual date may differ from date typed. My memory ain't what it used to be.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Disappointed Thief, I Bet

You broke into a 1991 Honda Accord station wagon?

Empty Coke cans and dirty t-shirts strewn about?

A big hole where a stereo used to be but not for several months?

What secret treasure were you expecting to find in there?

I can't think of a single thing of value missing from my car.

That Little Hippie College Sounds Very Appealing

She told me about when she and her daughter toured that little college in North Carolina and how their guide was a little freshman girl who was barefoot and clueless about all things college tour related.

Samples from the tour:
"This is the lake where people go skinny-dipping."

"This is the infirmary where they pass out birth control."

"This building...I think, is the Science building maybe?"
We laughed and she continued to talk about how beautiful the campus was and how I should check it out if I ever get back to North Carolina for a visit.

Going for humor, I said that I'd be sure to check out that lake.

Not missing a beat, she replied, "Just make sure you stop by the infirmary first. Just in case."

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Year Zero Spins Here

When digital downloads just won't do.

Bought from real music fans at a real record store. Grimey's on 8th Ave.

This is the best offering from Nine Inch Nails since Pretty Hate Machine.

Need another reason to buy it all brick-and-mortar-like? The disc changes appearance from black to white revealing a mysterious binary code.

Ain't it cool? NinWiki

Before the spin:

After the spin:

Friday, April 20, 2007

Excitement, Then and Now

(This post is dedicated to my brother and his wife. Their beautiful baby girl was born Wednesday evening.)

Me, early '90s, talking excitedly with a random co-worker:
"Dude, did you hear that World Party is coming to Starwood?"

"Yeah, I did! That's sweet. Ain't life great?!
Me, earlier this week, talking excitedly with a random co-worker:
"Dude, did I tell you that my youngest is almost out of diapers?"

"Sweet! Mine, too! I'm so tired of buying diapers. Ain't life great?"

Nota Bene, Nashville Bloggers

New free Boston daily written by bloggers

source: Boing Boing

Nashville, Take Me Back

The best post I read all morning is here.

Steven Wright Says...

"A friend of mine has a trophy wife, but apparently it wasn't first place."

A good interview with him is at The Sound of Young America.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Guitar and vocals, by Dan O'Neil

A story in the San Jose Mercury News profiled a few of the Virginia Tech victims. One was Dan O'Neil, a grad student in engineering, who was also a songwriter and guitar player.

Click here to hear his songs. Scrolling down near the bottom and hearing his light and whimsical rendition of "Baby, It's Cold Outside," got to my heart.

What the hell to say beyond that?

Monday, April 16, 2007

What If The Beatles Were Irish

Grindhouse: Bringing It

I finally saw "Grindhouse" last night.

Two things:
  1. It's too long to have no intermission.
  2. If the studio goes along with it's plans to re-release it as two separate films, they'll ruin the whole experience.
There is some criticism that it tries to be over-the-top in a movie culture where so much of what we see is over-the-top and, thus, "Grindhouse" is merely more of the same. I disagree with this. I don't think that "Grindhouse" is out to shock anyone; it only wants to bring back the look and feel of the exploitation films that its directors loved so much. Those movies didn't have the budgets for big stars, so they just brought out the cars, guns, babes and zombies. And they brought them big time.

Tarantino and Rodriguez did a great job, not necessarily in making two great films, but in showing us their love of a certain film era. Complete with deep scratches and lines across the screen and a hilariously (or frustratingly) timed "Missing reel" here and there, we are seeing antiquated cinema.

Rodriguez's "Planet Terror" falters (in my opinion) in being so true to that tribute that why we love him as a director today doesn't really shine through. It really could simply be a movie made a generation or two before the likes of "Desperado" or "Spy Kids." You could almost picture the infamous MST3K silhouettes at the foot of the screen. It's gory and scary enough, but once the action got underway, I found myself getting a bit bored. And I had a whole other movie to make my way through after this one. I was getting skeptical. In the end, "Planet Terror" was fun and cool, and I'm wondering if anyone else thought that its ending mirrored the ending to "True Romance" or if it was just me.

The faux trailers between the features? Almost worth the price of admission alone. Everyone's talking about Rob Zombie's "Werewolf Women of the S.S.," but the trailers for "Thanksgiving" and "Don't" were the extreme guilty pleasures of the evening.

The second in the "Grindhouse" double feature was Tarantino's "Death Proof." Classic Tarantino, at least the first half or so. The opening shot is of a young, hot beauty walking from her car to her house. She's hurrying along and holding herself as she does. This girl really has to pee. In a subsequent scene with her girlfriends, someone wonders who among them has some pot. "Who's holding?," she asks. It didn't occur to me until a few hours later that this is probably Tarantino messing with an audience as they enter into the second half of a three hour movie experience, likely with a big cup of soda at their sides. Sure enough, I had my own personal struggle to make it the last ten minutes or so without running to the bathroom.

Anyway, the Tarantino style is all over this. Long, loving shots of legs and feet, and the beautiful rhythm to the dialogue among these females is the art itself. The girls sit at a round table talking shit and the camera slowly moves around behind them, studying them as they speak, ala "Reservoir Dogs." Music is huge here. Someone enters a coin into a jukebox and we watch the whole process of the record being selected by the machine's arm; we see the 45 placed onto the turntable and we follow that Stax/Volt label as it spins, trying to read the title as the needle hits its mark. And it sounds loud and cool.

Back to the rhythm of the dialogue: I close my eyes and I can hear Uma Thurman in almost every scene. The flow the words and that mellifluous voice speaking them puts me into the clouds.

"Death Proof" is that classic tough-broads-in-cars movie from the '70s. Homicidal maniac and movie stunt-man (Kurt Russell) makes mince meat of girls with his "death proof" car. Then has the rotten luck to mess with the wrong damn girls. And the action is on. Still not much of a movie on its own, but it really sings and moves. Check out its soundtrack. I've been grooving on it all morning. "Staggolee" baby!

New Yorker Roundup

The Shoniwa Show by Sasha Frere-Jones

Rosanjin by Andrea Thompson

Mother Load by David Denby

I Like To Call Them My Spectaculars.

Dude. If I had glasses like these, I would wear them everywhere.

What? You wouldn't? Whatever.

Found this on the Boing Boing blog. Boing Boing found it at deviantArt.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Lazy Blogger Goes To Plan B.

I've got nothing profound to write, but I do have archives.

Enjoy the story.

Shhhh. Don't Tell My Wife.

I'm sneaking away from the family to see Grindhouse in a few minutes.

I'm feeling a bit guilty about leaving my beautiful wife alone with the noisy crumb-snatchers.

Maybe I'll just tell her that I was called into work. (I hope she doesn't read this blog.)

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Donelson Fire Is Second For Family

Two people I know lost everything in the recent fire at Biltmore Apartments in Donelson. Here's the story link from Newschannel5.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Room #1002

"Oh no. This won't work," she said.

I wasn't too surprised. When she told me which room number was hers, I knew that it was a room with one king sized bed. There was another woman traveling with her who was parking the car while I escorted this lady and her luggage to room number 1002.* Maybe her friend was just driving her and not actually staying though, so I kept quiet and let her tell me when we entered that the room wasn't what she needed.

She politely told me that this wouldn't work and I assured her that I would find two doubles for her; no problem. I moved to her telephone and called down to the front desk to make the necessary room change. The change was made in the computer and I carried one of her bags back to the brass bellcart, telling her that all was fine. I apologized for the mix-up and told her that we could wait for her friend before moving to the new room.

She stood alone in the middle of #1002 and watched me as I worked. "I'm not going to cry," she told me (or maybe she was telling herself). I paused and looked into her eyes as she continued speaking. Some people are overly dramatic about such things and treat wrongly assigned rooms as terribly offensive matters. She didn't have that tone in her voice though and I anxiously and respectfully awaited her further words.

"I'm not going to cry," she told me. "My husband was supposed to come on this trip with me but he died two weeks ago. I don't need this king anymore. Joyce was kind enough to come with me." She wasn't crying, but her voice was shaky and it cracked a bit while she stood there, probably telling that heartbreaking news to one more stranger than she wanted to. She appeared to be in her sixties. I admired her overall strength as she gave me the small speech. A friend was supposed to change the reservation to a room with two double beds, but obviously either the call or change hadn't been made.

Joyce arrived and we moved to another room. I completed my assistance to her and offered her my name in case there was anything else I could do for her during her stay. She thanked me for my help and I thanked her as well, again giving her my condolences.

Off to another room and another guest with the knowledge that I'd be remembering the guest in #1002 for a good while. I wish her well.

*Not her actual room number. Neither is Joyce the name of her friend. The rest is true.

One thing I can tell you is you got to be free.

"Got to be good looking cause he's so hard to see."

(Methinks I am easily influenced by this Beatles CD playing as I type.)

He's a good big brother. As evidenced here.

I bet he often dreams of these two famous adventurers.

"I had to laugh. I saw the photograph."

Living is easy with eyes closed.

All hail Giles Martin!

All Songs Considered's Bob Boilen speaks with Giles about the project here.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

He Went To Chicago

He didn't take nearly as many pictures as he had hoped to, but the trip wasn't about that anyway.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

My Best John Cusack

I would hold a boombox over my head, playing Peter Gabriel's "In Your Eyes" loudly underneath my love's window to prove to her that she's my everything.

I'd be totally cool with lounging around in a house of ill repute discussing Western philosophy with the prostitutes therein.

Who wouldn't want to be a 1920s playwright with the likes of Dianne West and Jennifer Tilly always around?

I'm all about peace and love, but Cusack does have a way of making a hitman going home and attending his class reunion seem pretty cool.

Public service announcement: Don't sleep with the wife of your new coworker. It will mess your life up!

If I ever get a job offer to work on the 7 1/2 floor with Catherine Keener, I will not hesitate to accept, slouch over and look behind every file cabinet for that famous portal.

Most of all, I would love to own a record store, make lists all day long, obsess about every woman who ever left me and wonder why I was left. (Maybe it's because I tend to frequent houses of ill repute to discuss Western philosophy with prostitutes?)

Oh, and I just happen to love dogs.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

"What's an album cover?," asks a younger generation.

A highpoint of my recent trip to Chicago was spending time with my brother. Hanging out with him for a few hours on that chilly Chicago evening, I was in my element. He drove me around his town in his new Honda Fit (I envy!) and we talked about music, work and life in general.

At one point, we ventured into a record store and browsed and talked music for a good hour or so. I hadn't talked music like this since I hung out with some Tom Waits fans before his Ryman show last summer. It's what I miss most about my record store clerk days. I'd clock in and stock those longboxed CDs all night long. Every workplace conversation (with co-workers and customers alike) was the same wonderful topic: Music, and not limited to any one genre; oh, how I learned and taught so much back then.

My brother and I, driving around along Lake Shore Drive, found ourselves discussing the (ever increasing?) demise of album cover art. I remember well my dad showing me Steely Dan album covers and Yes album covers when I was so young. To think that a Roger Dean won't have the medium of music to showcase his artistic talents seems a shame to me. I even remember holding my first album (ELO's Greatest Hits) and studying its very simple cover (a gold medal as I recall) and appreciating it as a part of the cool experience of what I was hearing on my turntable.

"Paradise Theater" by Styx was another one of those that I spent hours taking in as something very important. There on the front was that Paradise Theater in its heyday, all lights shining brightly and crowds of people arriving for the "Gala Premiere" as its marquee indicated with such luminosity. Flip to the back cover and a different image of the same theater some years later was pictured in its sad demise. With windows broken and litter on the empty street before it, the marquee now informed any potential passersby that it was "Temporarily Closed."

The stories weren't just in the songs; they were on the album covers as well. Now, the story is not that album covers seem to be less and less important in this digital age, but that there is a whole generation of music buyers who don't understand why anyone would care about its demise. It's about the music, right? What does a picture have to do with whether or not a song (or collection of songs) is any good? The thing is, I guess there is a good point in that. It's time for me to take my spot on the old fogey soapbox and rant about how the present is not as good as the past, at least as far as album covers are concerned.

Here I am with my iPod. It's a Mini so there is no picture screen. I don't even get the tiny jpeg image to squint at. I could have more space for more artists on it, but along the same lines of my old-school ways, I only put entire albums on it. Even if I only really like a few songs from an album, I put the whole thing on there because I feel that the artists worked too hard on their albums to only have a song or two remembered. But that's another rant for another day.

My brother and I were of the opinion that there was dwindling hope for the continued appreciation of the album cover. (Don't get us started on liner notes!) Today, however, I came across an article stating otherwise in Wired magazine. The author writes about designers doing their part to keep the covers cool and relevant with Flash Lite. Here's the link: Designers Work to Rescue a Dying Art Form -- the Album Cover

(I recommend reading this while eating barbecue at Mothership BBQ in Nashville. All cool restaurateurs should decorate their walls with old album covers like this guy.)

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Joss Stone, Makes Tonight A Wonderful Thing

When in 1980, Steely Dan's Donald Fagen sang of the young lady who "don't remember the Queen of Soul," he surely wasn't singing of today's Joss Stone, who at nineteen years* of age (and with her third album under her belt) is most certainly familiar with Aretha Franklin. Joss cut her teeth on the soulful sounds of Aretha, under the tutelage of the amazing Betty Wright with her debut on 2003's The Soul Sessions debut.

Her newest release, Introducing Joss Stone, is titled to suggest a major departure from that first album built to wow a public in awe of a fifteen year old blonde Brit with a voice so capable of channeling the power of America's black soul singers who were belting out sorrow and empowerment so many decades before her very own birth. This is the release that Joss most wants us to know is all her own. Instead of Betty Wright and her guidance, we now have Tony! Toni! Toné!'s Raphael Saadiq in charge of all things sonic and groove related. Very frequently, from one track to the next, I hear beats and sounds that would not be out of place on the best of Prince's dance tracks. (My best compliment is this: It's the kind of record that makes me write down Raphael's name and make a note to listen to anything that he works on in the near future.)

Joss herself remains forceful and positive and sexy with confidence. The CD's title (and a few interviews I've read) indicate that she is trying to show the world that she is much more than a girl who can sound like Aretha, et al. She's writing and co-writing her own songs now and she's telling us that this should really be viewed as the first "real" Joss Stone album. While some are criticizing her lyrics as not being on par with the best in the biz (Hey, she's only nineteen! No need to force the metaphors just yet.), I think that she delivers some very strong and empowering words about love and self-confidence. The clever wordplay may be a bit lacking, but I defy you not to lose yourself in dance while playing "Put Your Hands On Me." My only concern is that she sometimes gets a bit close to sounding like Mariah Carey with some of her vocal acrobatics -- there is beauty in showing off without sounding like you are showing off -- but she gets a pass from me.

On one song**, Joss works in a beautiful interpolation of Joni Mitchell's "Catch Me I'm Falling" among a few other classics from back in the day on other tracks. I also noticed that the "turntablist" gets proper credit in the CD booklet for whatever it is that he does. This is not your father's recording studio.

Joss Stone has released yet another strong album. Whether this is her first "real" record, or her actual third one, I'm glad that I have it around to play loudly while I jog, drive, or pretend that I know how to dance. "She thinks I'm crazy / But I'm just growing old."

*At least I think she's still nineteen. If she's twenty now, then my Steely Dan reference falls somewhat flat.

**If the CD booklet was in front of me and not in my car, I could tell which song I'm thinking about. What? The website doesn't have room for all of the lyrics and credits found in the CD booklet? (I'd probably write a better review if I had the liner notes in front of me.)

Friday, April 06, 2007

Springsteen's surprise appearance at own tribute show

New York. Carnegie Hall. A tribute to Bruce Springsteen. The highpoint? Bruce Springsteen himself shows up and plays for 30 minutes to end (and steal) the show.

Featured artists included Steve Earle, Ronnie Spector, Patty Smith, Pete Yorn and Odetta.

Springsteen said of Odetta: "...the greatest version of '57 Channels' I've ever heard."

Here's her rendition of it. My goosebumps are huge.


Newton Dominey and Newton Dominey on myspace

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Year Zero. Now.

I love a lot of bands but there is only one music artist's bumper sticker on the back of my car. It's an N, an I, and a backwards N. You follow me and you know that I love Nine Inch Nails. Whenever I drive south on I-65 near Brentwood, I recall the first time I heard bits of Reznor's Pretty Hate Machine in an NPR story about the frenzied and emotional industrial sound of his creation.

Not all of his music has hit me the way that Pretty Hate Machine did. I bought that tape that very afternoon and kept it playing in my tape deck for damn near a month straight. While he has experimented successfully with making incredible sounding music since, no complete album of his has been sounded as emotionally desperate as that first release.

Well, here I am with goosebumps listening to 2007's Year Zero. So far, it's raw and furious and needy as hell. Listen to it here. Don't answer phones or open doors. Turn off your television and focus on what may be the best Nine Inch Nails album in a long, long time. Visceral anguish is all over this. The beats are nasty and sexy and don't care about you. But the singer's words regret, and they want, and they reach out with long, skinny arms, pleading for love and compassion. There is the balance.

Year Zero is as complete as 1989's Pretty Hate Machine and as sexy as 1994's "Closer To God." It's minimalism with swagger and lust. It's about the future and paranoia as we all inch through the meat grinder together while singing along to "God Given." Year Zero hits the streets on April 17. It'll be mid-May before I listen to anything other than this genius release.

Again, it's here.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Another day, another podcast.

Currently listening to a cool jazz podcast called Jazzcorner Innerviews. Cool interviews with interesting people in the jazz world.

The podcast that really has fun is Coverville. As the name suggests, it's all cover songs grouped together in various themes. It's where I first heard Tom Waits sing Jame's Brown's "Papa's Got A Brand New Bag." Click here for the archives.

Don't be surprised if I start my own darn podcast in the next month or so. I'm seriously considering it.

Georgia, when she was little.

Click the pics for the larger sizes at webshots.
Georgia not looking unlike a bobblehead
Georgia on the wall
Georgia and Mike
georgia (1)
class clowns

Read one magazine article, say goodbye to social life.

On the plane to Chicago, I read an article in Spirit Magazine about Second Life. It's not the first time I had heard of Second Life, but it's now that I've decided to give it a try.

Any readers play around with this? Your thoughts?

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Chez Bez goes to Chicago!

On Monday morning, I fly to Chicago for the first time.

What to do for a few hours in the afternoon while I play tourist?