Monday, December 31, 2007

Happy New Year! Whatcha doing?

I'm off work tonight at 11:00 and go back in tomorrow morning at 8:00.

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

"You gotta keep the devil way down in the hole."

Season 1 of The Wire used The Blind Boys of Alabama's interpretation of "Way Down In The Hole" as its theme song. Season 2, in keeping with its grittier theme, the show used Tom Waits' original version of the song.

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

Speaking of Southside Johnny...

Southside Johnny joined Jon Bon Jovi on stage for the Hope Concert III in Jersey last Friday night. Finally a concert where both my wife and I would be in awe simultaneously. They sang "Broke Down Piece of Man" together.

Southside Johnny's Grapefruit Moon

A friend of Southside Johnny Lyon told me about this over a year ago. It appears likely that it will finally be released in early '08.

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?

I love to feel that Fernandina Beach sand between my toes.



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.)

Saturday, December 22, 2007

But enough about ugh for a minute.

I just received an early Christmas present. And it just may be the best present ever.

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.

The continuing saga of ugh.

And now my car's battery seems to be dead.

But it's cool. I dropped a buck on a lottery ticket today. It's just a matter of time, right?

Friday, December 21, 2007

There goes my dream of a Maynard G. Krebs lifestyle.

I'm looking for a part-time job. Over the span of a mere twenty minutes, I've applied online to three different places. I've perused craigslist and found a plethora of possibilities, many of which look to be not much more than ye good ole pyramid schemes.

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

They did manage to tell Santa what they wanted for Christmas.

The kid can't take a compliment.

I came home last night to see my little Ari sitting on the couch with a single tear resting just below her right eye. Or as she called it, her "eye drip."

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!"

Monday, December 17, 2007

Enjoy Every Sandwich

First, a joke:

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

Lucky Bastard, That S/FJ

If there is anything about being a professional music writer that sucks, I would like to know what that something is. Sasha-Frere Jones (professional music writer) starts his latest blog entry thusly:
"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 - Frame that Red Rocks show and put it on your wall.

Beautiful music for your ears, STS9.

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.

Aimee Mann webcast

Aimee Mann's Christmas show will be webcast live Monday night at 7:00 Nashville time on NPR.

Friday, December 14, 2007

One Thing I Know: All we are is dust in the wind.

Apparently, there are long-term benefits to teaching children by using the Socratic method.
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.

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.
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?

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

Oldie

I remember sometime in the early 80s, my dad cringing when he first heard the music of his youth categorized on radio formats as "oldies." I laughed at his mock pain. Of course those songs were oldies; they had been around forever.

Now it's 2007 and Madonna and John Mellencamp have both been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Cringe.

He's The Man

Joshua made me laugh the other day. There are two doors into the kids' bathroom, one from the hall and another from Ari's room. I had locked the door from the hallway while staying home with them to avoid any more curious disasters like the one Paige talked about here.

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.

"It's Janet if you're sexy."

"Feedback," Janet Jackson's latest dance track, is streaming here.

h/t Pop Candy

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

My first Christmas meme.


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.

"All Girls Wanna Be Me"


The podcast is Pistol Digital's Global Music Hunters.

And now I play The Junkies (producer Cosmos) over and over.

I like where these Hunters take me.

My Dark Knight




Monday, December 10, 2007

Nice


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?

I thought all women knew their size.

Salon.com's Sarah Hepola writes about her large breasts eloquently and honestly in Busting Out.

Good





Sweet

No Reservation

I'm watching No Reservations, hosted by Anthony Bourdain for the first time. His voice keeps making me think of Northern Exposure's Adam Arkin. So even though he's doing a fine job of explaining the interesting cultures of India's Kolkata and Mumbai, I just keep waiting for him to exchange fierce and acerbic dialogue with Dr. Fleischman.

Oh well. This'll do.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Dan Dierdorf on todays Titans/Chargers game,

"Is everyone here in a bad mood?"

It does appear so.

“Love never fails,” he said.

In 1955, she married someone else, becoming Jeanne Conway. “I remember it vividly,” he said. “I’m at Fort Bragg in the 82nd Airborne Division jumping out of airplanes and I pick up the Sunday New York Times and whose picture do I see but the girl of my dreams?”

I can't hear you.



Global Music Hunters hold exclusive rights to my ears right now.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

The Sound of Young America

Drives home for me are things of beauty when accompanied by the sounds of The Sound of Young America. I subscribe to the podcast and always love listening to it on my iPod.

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.

From Wikipedia:
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.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Fogerty tonight.

My sleeping habits take me to bed between 1:00 and 2:00 in the morning. This morning found me up at 7:00 with my home-with-a-fever son. He feels great and we haven't stopped playing, talking, goofing around yet. I'm beyond exhausted.

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

Walk Hard...to Nashville.

Dewey Cox: Maybe you don't believe in me at all.
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.

Smile

"We laughed. The clerks laughed. I just happened to be facing the irritated customers in line...and I watched them laugh."

Click here for the rest.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Can I post what I think is the quote of the day?

Clocks in, gets jiggy with it.
"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

Declares Francis...

“Marriage is a beautiful mistake which two people make together.” - Trouble In Paradise (1932)

Emphasis on "beautiful."

"It hits pretty close to home," thought this here blog author.

The New Yorker's latest has an interesting essay on diaries, what compels some of us to keep them and what compels others of us to read them. Some of it will resonate with those of us who blog.

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

Some of my guests are way cool.

While working today, I met a guest who was reading a book that made me think of fellow bloggers, Newscoma and Ron.

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.

Your Super Bowl Halftime Act?

Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers, as reported in USA Today.

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"