Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Shirts for Christmas

The king of the Christmas gifts I received this year was the Nikon D70s that my wife gave me. Some other highlights though were some really cool t-shirts.

My dad bought me a very cool shirt from Blue Note:


Amy knew that I had finally given up on my favorite Himmelman shirt and tossed it after 13 years of use. And for the surprise gift of the year, she presented me with a brand new replica of the original. Of course, the shirt isn't available on picture day. It's in the washing machine, but here's what the old and tattered one looked like:


Today I opened a package from my friend Leesa. She knows me so well. My man Buk and one of my favorite quotes of his: "I don't hate people, I just feel feel better when they aren't around." Love it. Just last night I was reading his excellent Ham On Rye again. It's just about perfect. And the shirt is awesome.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Nice View

From her kitchen window:

Nice Price for iPhone

Not that I could afford it right now at any price, but the prospect of buying a refurbished 8GB iPhone for just $99 intrigues. Of course, I think that the monthly plan would cost more than my current one, so I'll have to keep that in mind.

Anyway, it sure is nice to think about.

Also, read Arik Hesseldahl's recent column, "Tech Trends to Expect in 2009." I like the idea of "the cloud" as my personal assistant.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Why You Little...

Fernandina Beach

I messed up and took a lot of pictures at the beach with the camera on a ridiculously wrong setting. Instead of deleting them from the camera, I played with them a bit in Picasa and ended up liking the results. Flawed but kind of cool, I think. (At the very least, it's apparent that I need to clean my lens.)

Saturday, December 27, 2008

I Marked All As Read

Those of you who use Reader and who sometimes don't check it for a week know what I'm talking about.

We're back in town and happy to be home. The apartment is a wreck. Clutter, clutter, everywhere. We need either a feng shui expert or a thorough thief with no discerning taste. In the absence of either, we'll settle for tackling the task ourselves in the morning.

With that said, I'm off to bed. It's good to be back.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Sweet

Thanks to my wonderful wife and her friend who sold it to her, I get to learn how to use a brand new (to me) Nikon D70s.

Sweet.

The Gender Role Stereotypes Are Firmly In Place

My wife told me that the kids were sitting at the Christmas tree the other day and pretending to open presents. Joshua "opened" one and excitedly exclaimed, "An iPod! I've been wanting one of these for so many years!" Ari then reached for her imaginary gift and feigned similar excitement. "Oh my goodness! A real live baby! Just what I've always wanted!"

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Kids Get Excited About Philanthropy

“I've never forced my kids to do this,” said Will’s mom, Carolyn Nunn. “I've always given them the choice of a real birthday party versus a charity birthday party and since second grade, they've always chosen the charity party every time.” ... more>>

Also, Sam Davidson talks about United Way Nashville's wonderful Give 10 project. It's inspiring.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Translate This

I'm talking with my New York friend who saw "La Bohème" at the Met last night. She told me about the beautiful translations from Italian to English that scroll across the seat backs. Beautiful.

If I may quote her. "The words in English run across the seats. I wanted to grab each one to savor, astounding poetic beauty, expressions of how it is to be struck by love."

I smiled to remember my own Italian-to-English translation from last night. My family treated me to the most wonderful meal for my birthday at DaVinci's Gourmet Pizza. While in the restroom, I noticed some words on a sign just above the toilet. "Gli impiegati sono tenuti a lavarsi le mani." I was intrigued. I tweeted the phrase and then translated it when I got home.

In English: Employees must wash hands.

Expressions of how it is to be struck by germs. I take my poetry where I can find it.

I Live Vicariously Through My Internet Friends


The lovely NellyWaits attended "La Bohème" at the Met last night. While I would have loved to have been there as well, it was good to come home to this picture that she took from her seat. Ain't it beautiful?

I dream often of spending more time in New York City. I dream of sitting in one of those seats at the Metropolitan Opera. Until then, the above suffices nicely enough.

Through the kind generosity of a local blogger, I will be seeing the Nashville Opera presentation of "La Bohème" in April. Maybe I'll take a comparison photo for my New York friend.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Eight Months of Twitter

Twitter: What are you doing?

I poked around TweetStats today and gazed at my navel a bit. It appears that I type out 14.8 tweets a day and that October was very busy for me as I tweeted 566 times.

The words that I most often use are: good, thanks, tonight, time, and love. Fifty-three percent of my tweets are replies to others and I reply to monstermash40 more than anyone else. (All of my top ten replies are to women. I wonder why I rarely talk to dudes.)

While I follow a lot of people who I already know from the local Nashville blogging community, there are quite a few people I follow who are not. I have no idea how I came across some of the Twitter users who aren't from around here. NellyWaits is one example of someone whose tweets are always wonderful, but I can't recall how we "met." I wonder if there's a stat for finding out who was tweeting about what when a follow was made.

Anyway, I tracked back to find my first tweet ever and was surprised that it was as recently as April of this year. I thought that I had started my account as early as June 2007 when Bad Bad Ivy was telling me about it at Flugtag. I first heard of the service when Drew of The Dawn and Drew Show made mention of Twitter on the podcast.

So it was April 2007 for me and how in the world do I have over 200 people following my tweets? Technology and trends are always so interesting to me. My first tweet is pictured below. I think it represents the type of stuff I share perfectly. Not necessarily profound, just that little slice in 140 characters or less.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Search for happiness, refresh

(I like this screen shot. Consider me inspired.)



I read the other day about happiness and the studies that state the obvious. We watch too much television and we stare at our computer screens too much. We love these things and with good reason as they do bring many cool things into our lives. What they don't bring, however, are the levels of happiness to our lives that we might think.

The social networking claims of many of our favorite sites can be quite awesome when fulfilled. But—and maybe I'm just talking about me here—if we don't take advantage of the actual "social" part of the equation, then we're still just staring at a computer screen and not achieving happiness the way that we really could.

For unrelated reasons, I turned off my phone's Twitter updates for a couple of days. At first, it was tough to feel so "out of the loop," but within a few hours it was hard to imagine anything of value that I was missing out on. (No offense to my valued friends. I caught up on your tweets later on in the evening by perusing your feeds at home.) But certainly, I missed out on nothing that required my immediate attention.

Anyway, I think back to a simpler time, the nineties, and I remember that I had no computer for most of that decade. I don't think I even had a cell phone. But I was always out socializing. Clubs, bars, movies with friends, in my free time, I was maximizing my opportunities for fun. I know better than to blame the Internet for my change in lifestyle. Aging plays its role in slowing down the need to be out and about. I'm married to the love of my life and we are raising a five-year-old boy, a three-year-old girl, and another baby girl is on her way. If I'm not working, I'm either sleeping or resting on my couch and "socializing" through your wonderful blogs. It's not quite getting out and maximizing my opportunities for fun, but I'm on a budget and, forgiving the cost of Internet access, this is cheaper than meeting friends at a bar.

Still, the happiness I seek isn't being found here. I need to get better at making friends and spending time with those friends. I joke with my wife that I was "awesome in '93" and that she should have known me back then. There's no reason I can't show her that awesomeness in 2009. It'll be the year that these Beziats get social again. That's the plan anyway. Happiness. Refresh.

Peter Himmelman's Furious World

I would like to see more artists using streaming technology like Ustream to webcast concerts for their fans from their living rooms. Peter Himmelman brings to us another installment of his Furious World tonight at 9:00 CST. (For the Twitter users, he now tweets as well: Twitter.com/PeterHimmelman)

Click here tonight to watch my favorite artist perform with special guest and longtime friend Kristin Mooney. I met Kristin once and was mesmerized by her beautiful spirit. She has three excellent CDs available to listen to and buy over at CD Baby.

Tonight's gonna be awesome. Now if only my favorite Himmelman shirt (pictured below) hadn't finally fallen apart after approximately thirteen years of heavy rotation. I miss wearing it.

Missing Patient

From a very touching blog post this morning:

"Don't bother. You won't find that patient."

"Breast-feeding class?"

"No. Just gone. That was the Code Indigo."

"Oh! I thought I heard an all-clear a while back."

"Yeah, because the patient's definitively gone. Baby's still here, though. Wanna see?"
 
Read the rest at Notes of an Anesthesioboist.

Tonight I...

  • ...worked a longer and harder shift than expected.
  • ...clocked out at midnight after ice had settled on my car.
  • ...scraped off ice from my windshield with an unopened can of tuna fish that I apparently keep in my car for emergencies such as these.
  • ...got home safely and rewarded myself with a beer, some Internet and my iPod.
  • ...discovered French icon Johnnie Hallyday who sounds a bit like Elvis and looks a bit like a hybrid of George Michael and Bono.

This Bellman Wants

Weigh To Go! Bellman Scale(TM) - Interesting. It's a bellcart that doubles as a scale so that the hotel guest can weigh his or her luggage before heading off to the airport from the hotel. The hotel guest has comfort of mind knowing what airline fee to expect, the airline will keep its lines moving along speedily, and hopefully, the bellman will receive an enhanced tip for being a part of the process.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Trends are fun to notice.

It seems that every blog I read nowadays is about either hula hooping or cupcakes. I don't know if she's still doing it, but I remember a member of Panty Raid! Dames who lived out my way was even advertising hula hoop lessons on her MySpace page for awhile. Not until looking at some videos posted at The Little One did I fully appreciate how cool some hula hoop tricks could be. Now I'm thinking that I need to buy a hula hoop for my daughter. Heck, maybe I'd get pretty good at hula hooping myself.

Now about those cupcakes. Is it just me or is everyone writing about cupcakes everywhere? I'm no foodie and I don't subscribe to food blogs. Still, I see cupcake recipes and pictures of cupcakes all over the Internet these days. Even one of my favorite sex writers seems to be more about the cupcakes than the sex these days.

Anyway, I just thought I'd share that. Have a great Saturday.

Friday, December 12, 2008

This Economy Is Cramping My Style

If you read this blog often, there are two things that are probably true:
  1. You love me. (Thanks.)
  2. You know I'm often whining about being broke.
I thought I had the market cornered on broke bloggers. Everyone else I read had good jobs, traveled to cool cities, and generally was blogging about all kinds of nightlife activities. Things have been changing lately though. Favorite bloggers everywhere seem to be victims of layoffs, downsizing, whatever you want to call it; the crunch is everywhere. Suddenly, I'm starting to feel like one of the lucky ones. Except that things aren't so certain in my industry either, so I'm not resting all too easily myself.

On a more tedious note, I've always given myself a hard time for not being a better wage earner for my family. My perspective on this is changing as well. Nowadays, I'm in the company of a lot of very talented, highly educated friends who are either jobless or hanging on to what they've got for dear life. It's scary for so many of us right now. I used to think that if I ever lost my job, it wouldn't be too hard to replace it with another that paid about the same. Now I'm not so sure. Those $8-10 per hour jobs might be in higher demand than ever (college grads willing to take anything at this point), and even those jobs might be cutting budgets as well. Anyway, while Paige is pregnant with our baby Sam, it's less about the hourly wage and more about the health insurance. I'm holding on "in quiet desperation," as the song goes.

Hopefully the experts are wrong and 2009 will be much better than expected. We're all good people just trying to pay our bills, feed our families, and smile as often as possible. Here's to all good things for my friends and neighbors. It's been a tough year. We deserve a good 2009.

I love this forgotten old piano.

Art (loosely) imitates my life.

I have vertigo and I also have a great friend from Finland. Tonight I'm watching a show about a reindeer with vertigo who gets help from a flying Finnish squirrel.

It's called The Flight Before Christmas. I hope it's good.

[Edit to add: The movie was cute enough, but the description was a bit off. I saw no sign of the reindeer suffering from vertigo. He only didn't know how to fly. He just had to believe in himself, ala Dumbo. Also, the flying squirrel? Voiced by Norm MacDonald and pretty funny, but there was no mention in the movie of him being from Finland. That's a strange detail to be included in the TV listing but not in the film itself. Anyway, a the kids and I enjoyed it.]

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Maybe I Just Don't Like Music

Peter Himmelman has been airing live concerts from his living room (I think) a lot lately via Ustream. To this day, seeing him live at the Ace Of Clubs back in the 90s remains my all time favorite concert experience. Yes, he even beats out Tom Waits in this regard for me. Of course, I've had to work each night that Himmelman has performed for all of us fans on the Internet. The good news for me yesterday was that finally he was playing on a night when I didn't have to work. Last night, at 9 pm CST I was all set to kick back on the couch and watch him live for the first time since that legendary Nashville show at the Ace.

Well, enter my luck... The laptop, "fixed" last week for a modest charge, conked out last night an hour or so before the show started. I missed Himmelman again. As far as I know, Ustream doesn't do archives so I'll just have to wish for better luck next time.

In other music news, there was a benefit for Second Harvest Food Bank a couple of nights ago at The Basement. Local bands performing their interpretations of Tom Waits songs. My cup of tea, right? I had to work but my boss was happy to let me leave early for the show. Well, being broke and being me, I talked myself out of it before the night was through. I convinced myself that dropping whatever nominal door fee and then drinking a Yazoo or two would be irresponsible and maybe the bands wouldn't be all that great anyway. As it turned out, local favorite David Olney was among the performers. For him alone, any door cover would be more than worth it. I should just kick myself daily.

Regarding the laptop, the all night disk check must have been successful and we're up and running online here again. Something tells me though that the laptop's last days are upon us. The good news is that I can always do like I did before I had a computer and just watch lots of movies on cable channels like IFC. So anyway, for the moment, it's good to be online and among such a cool community of bloggers.

Have a great day!

Monday, December 08, 2008

I'd Like To Reserve A Room At The Shack Up Inn

Image by hensever

A nice review of a very authentic blues experience of a hotel is here. I'd never heard of the Shack Up Inn before but I think it's on my list of places to stay now.

If you're a fan of the Delta blues, then a night or two in Clarksdale, Mississippi's Shack Up Inn might be one of those magical and humbling experiences that we all need from time to time. Consisting of old cotton gins and sharecropper shacks, this is a hotel stay rich on history and respect and devoid of the luxuries we think we we need. Actually, I was surprised to read that Internet access is available but the website says that it comes and goes due to all of the tin in the area. The sheets might not match, the towels might be frayed and some floors squeak a bit, but everything's clean and simple and the atmosphere is genuinely relaxing and cool.

For reservations and more info, visit ShackUpInn.com.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Oh crap. A meme. Really?

So, I've been asked to list seven weird things about me. Can I just wimp out and say that, after much thought and consideration, I've come to the conclusion that there are absolutely no weird things about me? No? Okay.

Anyway, one of my favorite people in the whole wide world, Newscoma, is the person who linked me for this, so it's my pleasure to try to think of seven weird things about me. (Feel free to add your own insights on my weirdness in the comments.)

  1. Well, let's just start with number one, why don't we? I typically sit down to, um, go number one. I don't know why. Maybe because I stand so much each day that I like to sit down whenever I get the chance. What can I say? I'm lazy.
  2. (You're still here? Cool.) I'm on the fence regarding religion, but I pray often for my friends and family. Just in case.
  3. I used to eat applesauce with ketchup.
  4. Co-workers seem to think it weird that I don't have one consistent hairstyle. Slicked back, bangs down, side part, middle part, I change it up without thinking about it. I've just never committed to one look.
  5. Vertigo!
Wow. I seriously got stuck at five. Too many things from which to choose, I guess. Anyway, that's my post. Smell ya later.

Happy (12 Days Early) Birthday To Me

My wife bought me a Seagate FreeAgent external hard drive. 500 GB, thank you very much.

Now to pretend that I know a thing or two about a thing or two and set it up.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Caution: Picking up some suitcases can be harmful to your health.

My daily commute is happier than I know.

According to this overview of the Donelson area, Elm Hill Pike is a friendlier stretch of road than I give it credit for. I particularly like the bunnies in love.

(click for better detail should you so desire)

I'm planning my escape.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Shhh. This is a library post.

"She does not know her beauty." So Nina Simone sings in "Images." (I cannot find the song on YouTube, otherwise I'd share it here.) Please know your beauty.

Other things:

Bukowski tour via Esotouric. (I like the accompanying picture.)

Live Earth India

Springsteen's "Working On A Dream" is of the good (and of the free).

The Pitchfork 500 (Hi Claire!)

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

I'm at the library and I have one hour to read everything on the Internet.

I'm at the library. Checking my mail. I guess I could blog a bit but it's just more fun for me to do that while listening to jazz in my living room...at midnight...pants optional.

Not much time for reading everyone's blogs here, also not much time for leaving comments. Suffice to say, I love you all. Holly and her cat are beautiful. Monstermash continues to post great videos. Sasha almost met Prince once. Corey checks out the Loveless Cafe. Leesa lives right and shares beautifully. (Nice new blog header there, my friend!)

Also, "Be careful on the edge of the continent."

As for the 700+ other posts that were waiting for me today when I checked my Google Reader account, I'll spare you the share.

Happy Holidays!

chez bez

Sunday, November 23, 2008

I watch a lot more television now that I don't have the Internet in my home.

The laptop is dead. We can't find the original discs. I'm dealing with this better than my wife (I get Twitter updates on my phone; she does not).

Suddenly, last summer last week, it shut down while I was online and tried repeatedly to restart. Always back to the blue screen though. All options, SAFE MODE, LAST GOOD START, etc., resulted in the same unsuccessful effort.

Anyway, maybe our best course of action is to save what we can and take it to a local computer repair shop. I hope that we didn't lose the hard drive. There are a lot of good songs on the D: drive. (If they are lost forever, at least the songs are on my iPod and I can figure out how to move them from the iPod to the next drive later.)

The holiday season is tight enough as it is. I'm not even entertaining thoughts of a new computer. Between kids and family, I'd rather spend any available bucks on presents anyway. Or we'll just forget about a computer for the time being and just buy iPhones and surf the Internet that way. (I think I'm joking but maybe not.)

A thought occurred to me today regarding my iTunes account. I subscribe to dozens of podcasts. Since I don't have access to iTunes right now, is there another way to manage my account (i.e. unsubscribe to all of those podcasts)? If not, I envision logging back in, let's say sometime in March 2010, and suddenly seeing thousands upon thousands of podcasts trying to update all at once. I'd rather just kill them all for now and build them back up later.

Thanks for reading. Maybe I'll see you on Twitter. Log in and follow "beziat." I love it.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Status: Offline

Our laptop conked out on us last night. Could be a virus or it could be a hard drive crash. (We narrow it down, don't we?) Anyway, except for occasional stops at the library, we'll be offline for a bit. Days, weeks, months? Who knows?

Funny. It was just when I was starting to feel a push toward trying out some polite street photography. I took several shots yesterday. But now with nowhere to put the pictures, I don't even care to pick up my camera. Oh well. I'll get back to it eventually.

Have a nice day. Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

You Can Indeed Kiss Your Sister In The NFL

I'm really puzzled. I read earlier today that Donovan McNabb of the Philadelphia Eagles was unaware until Sunday's tie game with the Bengals that NFL games can and do result in ties. To me, that seems like basic knowledge. And I didn't really start watching football until 1997. While it's certainly true that there are no ties in college football (McNabb was quarterback for Syracuse), he's been in the NFL since 1999. Surely this rule has come up once or twice over ten seasons in the league. Surely he's glanced at the win-loss column in the newspaper and wondered about that letter T next to the W and the L.

I don't mean to give him a hard time. He plays to win each and every time he's on the field. I have no doubt that this little detail played no part in the Eagles inability to defeat the (once again) hapless Bengals on Sunday. I'm merely puzzled. But just when I thought I was reading about one weird isolated incident, I learn that he's far from the only person on his team that doesn't know about the possibility of a tie.

In his defense, McNabb wasn't the only one oblivious to the rules. Several of his teammates were just as clueless. 
"Me and Greg Lewis were discussing it on the sideline, so we asked one of our trainers and he told us it ends in a tie," running back Correll Buckhalter said.
"I found out while we were in OT," rookie wideout DeSean Jackson said.
"I thought we kept playing," linebacker Omar Gaither said.
That's four teammates who also had no clue. I don't get it. Maybe Chunky Soup should start printing random NFL rules on the sides of their cans. Ex: "Did You Know? A safety is worth two points. Don't get sacked in your own endzone!!" Or... "Did You Know? In a playoff game or in the Super Bowl, there are no ties." Because Donovan didn't know that one either.
"I never knew in the professional ranks it would end that way. I hate to see what would happen in the Super Bowl and in the playoffs," McNabb said.
I'm not picking on him. I just thought it was weird that a seemingly obvious rule was absolutely foreign to a 10-year veteran of the game. Or rather, I thought it weird that I, a humble fan, knew a rule about his game that he didn't.

And that's worthy of a blog post.

[Edit to add: In defending his ignorance a bit, I'll say that there has only been one NFL game that resulted in a tie since Donovan McNabb has been in the league. Also, I don't have one in front of me, but I would hazard to guess that as long as a season has no tied games, the newspaper probably doesn't waste the space for a T-column.]

Monday, November 17, 2008

Oops.

Apologies to subscribers of this blog. I tinkered a bit with my blog and suddenly I found my last twenty-five posts in Google Reader. So you probably got them, too.

I'm not done tinkering, so, um, it might happen again. The good news is that embedded YouTube videos now show up properly in Reader. No more jumbles of code.

Good times. Have a nice night.

Eddie Would Go

"Make Yourself Invisible"

Friday, November 14, 2008

It's A Fact

Feel Good Friday is good for your heart. (Talk of the Nation, NPR)

Best Thing I've Read All Day

Click and read:

One More Racist Joke and I'll Gloat the Whole Four Years

Feel Good Friday - "Dorothy Parker Blue"

The Real Tuesday Weld

Stuck Between Stations

I clocked out, walked downstairs to the locker rooms and changed from slacks to jeans, uniform jacket to black concert shirt, working man to resting man. Alone, I sat down on the floor with my back against my closed locker and listened to a few tracks from The Hold Steady's Boys And Girls In America. There's a magic in that album that I think will always resonate in my tired but hopeful heart, no matter my age or place in this life. It sets a mood for me that both relaxes and pumps. Its songs' rich narratives make me that much more attentive to my immediate surroundings, as if I can feel around me the songs and stories in every little thing.

Settled and soothed, I made my way out the back doors to the parking lot. My sometimes operable I-think-I-can vehicle, old and all by itself, awaited my hands, feet and butt. It has no radio, looks its age and should have been traded years ago, but when it runs it sure beats walking. I lowered the window, opened the sun roof and drove home feeling the night air wisp softly against my face.

It's a different feeling now to make this drive. After so many months of either riding home with friends or walking the six miles alone, it's both empowering and lonely. I think of my friend who died so recently and suddenly. I was honored to be his passenger all of those nights, to receive the kind generosity of his friendship. He had a long drive home each night, but was always happy to add a few minutes to his commute to help me out. We'd listen to late night AM radio and talk about topics ranging from UFOs to Obama. Some nights we'd talk about work and other nights we'd hardly say a word to each other. Anyway, I miss him. Obviously.

Tonight, more tuned in than usual to the details of my surroundings, I saw so many people walking down Elm Hill Pike. I've walked it, too. While I make the best of it and think of how healthy a good two hour walk can be, the truth is that it sucks to be a pedestrian on a pedestrian unfriendly road so late at night. Between the inattentive or angry drivers and the unsure footing, it's just not safe. Between McGavock Pike and Bell Road, I saw four different walkers tonight. All with their own story. All who could probably relate with those strugglers and yearners in any song by The Hold Steady or Bruce Springsteen.

The scariest though was the last one that I just barely saw. As I made my way eastbound crossing the bridge over I-40, I was shocked to make sight of someone walking westbound in the other lane. This person seemed to be walking dangerously on the white line. A westbound driver would have to really be paying attention to avoid tragedy. That quick glimpse reminded me of just how quickly everything can go wrong in just one second. Sure enough, here came a car, heading westward. I checked my mirror as the driver passed. I couldn't see much, but I didn't notice brake lights or swerving. All was well, I trust.

As I crossed the dam a few minutes later, a car was pulled over by police right on a curve. Neither car was completely to the right and I had to pass very slowly and cautiously. The trip home actually started with me stuck behind one car and then another, both of which were driving very slowly (like 20 m.p.h. in a 35 m.p.h. zone) before turning off to other roads. It just made for a curiously strange night I suppose, as if my pace was not mine to control.

Elm Hill Pike. It's not quite Suess's Mulberry Street, but it's mine. Some nights I drive it, some nights I walk it. I don't think I'll ever get up the courage to bike it. Anyway, I'm home now and wishing everyone safety and warmth. Thanks for reading.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Listening to Studs Terkel And Thinking About Hope


"The individual discovers his strength as an individual because he has, along the way, discovered others share his feelings," ... "He is not alone, and thus a community is formed" - Studs Terkel

Ever since the early 90s I've enjoyed lying awake at night listening to people talk on the radio. Before his CNN gig, Larry King's late night radio talk show would play on my bedside stereo night after night. The show's "Open Phone America" segment was my favorite segment. As I recall, King would take each call asking the person on the other line, "Where are you calling from and why are you up?" For me, the folks who were up during those post-midnight hours were always pretty interesting. Unlike today's sports and political talk shows, folks weren't required to "have a take." It was very conversational, relatively anonymous, and somewhat confessional.

Tonight, I awoke from a nap to hear Studs Terkel's voice speaking on my iPod. The podcast version of NPR's This American Life was playing. Listening to him interview someone who lived through the Great Depression, I appreciated the dignity of his interviewee's voice, being allowedinvitedto tell her story of financial hardship and personal growth, from absolutely knowing she was better than people of color (who were doing exactly the same work as she) to simply knowing better. Hearing her speak of her moral transformation gives me hope for those who think and speak the way that she used to. I want to share details from her story here but they are better heard in her words. The link is here.

Times are getting tougher and unhealthy feelings of hate and bigotry seem to be more vocal these days. I'm hearing racist comments from people who precede their statements with, "I'm not a racist, but..." I don't know. Some people won't change, but then again some do. Life can be exhausting, trying to figure this stuff out. The woman in the Studs Terkel interview found her enlightenment. How many others will? We have a new president but we're still a long way from healed.

I just hope that we can listen to and care about each others' stories. Love thy neighbor. Hope and pray for those with hate in their hearts. We move on. Meanwhile, I appreciate those quiet moments where I can listen to people talk about things like dignity and humility, personal growth and lessons learned. We've all got a voice to contribute. And thanks to people like Studs Terkel, some of our voices will always be there for the education and interest of others. May he rest in peace.

Let's Active

Monsters At The Fence

"All The World Is Green"

Live On Letterman

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Saturday Morning at the Tennis Courts

Future Wimbledon ball boy, maybe?



The Migraine Brain

I'm one of the lucky ones. I might get about two or three headaches a year. My mom has suffered from major migraines for years and so have so many of my friends. There was a period of time about fifteen years ago when I really got them bad for a few weeks. There was no way I could function when one would hit. I'd be at work at the record store and would just go to the back office, lay my head down against the cold, hard desk and rub my temples hoping for any measure of relief.

Anyway, those days of major headaches are long since past. How people make it through their days dealing with pain like that, I have no idea. My heart goes out to them. Last Thursday's episode of Fresh Air featured neurologist Carolyn Bernstein whose book, The Migraine Brain, explores the subject. I'll listen to the podcast of the show tonight. It should be quite interesting.

I could learn a lot from my kid.

The 5-year-old boy just used my phone to call his 3-year-old sister who is grocery shopping with her mom.

"Hi Ari. I like you. You're so beautiful. Bye."

I think he just made her day.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Stop; Start Forward

Dreams of a westbound train are spending much time in my head again.

iTunes Genius was keeping a certain mood going for me nicely as I played with thoughts of my life's trajectory.

"Chips Ahoy" by The Hold Steady led nicely into Pink Floyd's "Goodbye Blue Sky" and I kept thinking of those many hours of relative silence that a long train ride would provide. I imagined myself undisturbed and relaxed with notebook on my lap as the landscape passed by outside my window. Who knows? Maybe this hotel worker would finally figure out how to write something worthy of publication on a trip like that.

Anyway, it was a nice thing to imagine until the next song, supposedly related to the two previous, kicked in: "Beautiful Girls" by Van Halen. Awesome song, but I can't say it really fit the playlist. We're back to good now. Bruce Springsteen. "The River."

And I'm back to those dreams of solitude and inspiration.

Status Report

I can't imagine that there are two more exhausted parents than my wife and I. I'm probably wrong about that and if so I wish those other parents my deepest sympathies.

Feel Good Friday

Friday's almost done but I'll post anyhow. From Bon Jovi's This Left Feels Right, enjoy a reworking of "You Give Love A Bad Name." I like it.




As an afterthought I'll add a song that's been in my head all day. As has been reported from within the McCain camp, apparently Mrs. Sarah Palin was unaware that Africa was a continent and not a country. I really hope that it's just a ridiculous claim, but one just doesn't know for sure. Anyway, enjoy Toto. They probably knew that little fact.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Diamonds On My Windshield

It ain't the most profound of lyrics, but I think my favorite two lines from any Tom Waits song are the following:

A Wisconsin hiker with a cue-ball head
Is wishing he was home in a Wiscosin bed

Monday, November 03, 2008

A Young Girl On An Autumn Day

Or Maybe It's Just A Phase

In recent developments, my daughter seems to be quite the hockey fan. At age three, and oh so "girly" in the ways of princesses and all things sweet and sensitive, I'm a bit surprised. But there she was, arguing with me tonight to watch the Devils and Sabres do their thing on the ice. I mentioned that hockey was on while I was surfing around to see what I wanted to watch. She wanted to watch hockey but I wanted to watch Monday Night Countdown prior to tonight's Redskins-Steelers matchup. Already mastering her way around a conversation she offered: "Dad, you do know that they're just talking about football, right? Now turn it to hockey."

She had made her point and so I turned it to hockey. She watched a few minutes, we talked about what was going on and the names of the teams and her short little attention span took her to the other room. It seemed like as safe a time as any and I turned the channel back to Monday Night Countdown. Within seconds, my little princess hurried back into the living room with actual tears on her face. I assumed her brother had made her cry somehow. Wrong. It was me. "Dad, you turned the channel when I didn't want you to," she accused.

Back to hockey. Olvia, the biggest hockey fan I know, is hereby welcome to borrow her and take her to a game whenever she wants.

Father Daughter


Thinking about my sweetie. Thankful that she loves me.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Blogging is fun when I don't worry about it being good.


What's the deal with Twitter SMS? I send a tweet from my phone and have no confidence that it will update within the next ten hours or so. Someone please buy me an iPhone or a G1 Android so I can stay in the Twitter loop at all times. Just kidding. Sometimes it's healthy to just make do with what you've got.

I saw Nine Inch Nails on Halloween. The good post about the show is here . The thing that I'm talking about is something that made me smile the day after. I went to read about the concert on the NIN website under the forums page and read about someone who was bitching about a stolen tambourine. The person complained that Trent Reznor tossed his tambourine down to her after she asked him for it. According to her story, someone then immediately dragged her to the ground and took it from her. I read that and got pissed on her behalf remembering the time someone grabbed a program from my hands at a Dio show. Anyway, that crap happens.

Later that evening I was at work and talking to a co-worker about the show when she mentioned that a friend of a friend was bragging about a tambourine that he or she had gotten at the concert. Small world, I guess. I told her what I had read of that story and she got a kick out of it. She'll ask her friend about that and tell me more from that side of the story. I didn't know either person but between the Internet and a co-worker I found myself somewhat knowledgeable about two sides to a story about some silly tambourine incident at a NIN show.

In other news (I'm allowing myself some meaningless rambles tonight), I'm still trying to decide if I love the new Todd Rundgren CD or not. It really rocks hard, but something holds me back from really hearing it as I think I'm supposed to hear it. He's so talented and so sharp that it almost feels too calculated to be trusted as a true rock 'n' roll experience. It's not fair of me to look at it like that, but there it is. I found it helped for me to look at it not as a new Todd Rundgren release but rather as some debut CD by some 20-somethings trying to make their mark. Is that the bastard elitist coming out in me? It's not real rock unless it's performed by broke, mean and lean musicians? Anyway, "Gun" is currently my favorite track from the CD, although the big riff seems to borrow (or is it steal?) from Alice Cooper's famous "School's Out."

Also, I want to write with a bit less self-consciousness, a bit less politeness, but there are some respectable people out there with my last name and I'd hate for them to have to answer to my weird blog posts if they were to have bosses and potential bosses come across the blog. Maybe I'll start another one and find the balls to cuss on it from time to time.

I'm going to bed now. Thanks for reading.

"It's A Sad And Beautiful World"

My friend and co-worker died in a car wreck yesterday. I think he was in his mid-40s. I clocked in, heard the news, and worked for the next nine hours, smiling in public and trying not to cry in private. When trying to process his sudden absence from our lives, I kept hearing the phrase, "life is fleeting" in my head. That line which I first heard in Gary Oldman's Romeo Is Bleeding so many years ago always sounded somewhat cool and profound. We lose a friend though and the line carries very little weight. I tried to say it in conversation with friends today, but I would ponder it first, decide that it sounded devoid of proper compassion and let it go unsaid.

All of us at the workplace will miss our friend very much. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family and loved ones. We're all going to have to just deal with this in each of our own personal ways. (I guess this is mine.) When my wheels wouldn't go, he was my ride to and from work. I'd wait for him outside my apartment while listening to Tom Waits on my iPod. He would pull up and I'd hop into his car where Mariah Carey was always sure to be playing on his stereo. If not the music, then the rides and the good conversations were always well appreciated. He was always a good Samaritan to me.

Life is fleeting. Or, "it's a sad and beautiful world." From Down By Law, starring Tom Waits, John Lurie, and Roberto Benigni, here's one of my favorite scenes.

Friday, October 31, 2008

For Makenzie

My wife knows a little girl who recently underwent surgery to have a malignant brain tumor removed. Her name is Makenzie and she is currently receiving radiation treatments.

For more information and to help if you can, click Makenzie's Page.

Vanderbilt's Lacrosse team is excited to help. (Lacrosse team reaches out to local child)

Corn Maze? Corn Walk In The Park.

We went to a pumpkin patch yesterday. It was a field trip for my kindergartener and his class and we had the big time. We rode the hayride (sans hay). We pet the goats, learned about farm animals, and each kid got to pick a pumpkin to take home.

The thing I was most excited about was the corn maze. In all of my years, I had never walked through one before. Here was my opportunity. Well, a challenge it was not. Granted, the organizers maybe had their reasons for keeping it simple. There were hundreds of kids from various schools there and time might have been a factor. The kids were all little and maybe no one wanted to deal with the chance that some kids would get lost and afraid. I get that. Still, I was underwhelmed.

We had a leader. The leader, quite familiar with each correct turn, kept a quick pace and made no attempt to even pretend to get confused. We were far back in a line of maybe thirty people or so and simply followed the long and winding line before us. Thus, my first experience in a corn maze was that of walking briskly behind a line of, well, brisk walkers. The corn maze experience lasted maybe all of a minute and a half. I got separated from my kid at the entrance and didn't even get to talk to him as we made our way through.

Maybe on a different day this would be different. Maybe if it was just my small family going through it alone and not hundreds of school kids, teachers, and parents descending upon the small maze for the big field trip, then the experience might have been more of a fun challenge. My criticism aside, the kids had big fun. It was for them less about the concept of a maze and more about the fun of walking around amidst tall, brown corn stalks. Their fun, of course, is the point. They had a blast.

Fun Day at Pumpkin Patch with Wife and Kid

Oink

Feel Good Friday - Clean It Up

I found a nice little video by the Nashville Hikers Meet Up Group on YouTube while looking around for something to post for Feel Good Friday. It's good people cleaning up litter and having a good time doing it. Imagine my surprise to see my friend and coworker, Nashville's Metropolitan Beautification & Environment Commission neighborhood liaison, Lawrence Jackson in one of the slide show photos.

He and the Nashville Hikers Group are doing their part to help keep our city clean of unsightly litter on Bell Road near the Percy Priest Dam. I've walked the six mile stretch from home to work that is included in the photos in the clip and I've noticed the trash at my feet. It's just so unnecessary, of course.

Anyway, my thanks to the Nashville Hikers Group and to our own Beautification & Environment Commission for doing so much work to keep our city clean. Civic pride and volunteerism make me feel good on this Friday.

Check NashvilleOutdoors.net for more information on appreciating and benefiting from what Nashville has to offer.

With Parenthesis

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Black Books Outtakes

I'm posting this because it makes my wife laugh. And also to see how this video looks in Google Reader.

Baby

Tom Waits - "Time"

I can't figure out what's up with the way that whenever I embed a video into my blog, it comes up as just a bunch of code in Google Reader. I switched templates thinking that was the deal, but it wasn't. User error maybe? There aren't enough steps in the process for me to think I'm doing something wrong.

Oh well. If any of you have an idea of how I can fix this little complaint of mine, I'm all ears.

In the meantime, here's a song that's been dancing in my head all evening. If you're reading this in your Google Reader, I bet it's all code, huh?

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

So, MTV is putting all of its videos online?

MTVMusic.com looks promising. Over sixteen thousand videos online so far and all available for embedding. No Tom Waits yet (my first search), but the list grows every day.

Oh, the stories this beautiful piano could tell. Oh, the stories it does.

Simply and Aptly Put

There's something almost poetic in the following quote by Raheem Brock of the Colts after their 31-21 loss to our Tennessee Titans. For me, it just sums up a football team's difficult loss so very succinctly.

"We just made little mistakes that cost us," Brock said. "To see it, to see how easy it is, it's hard."

Monday, October 27, 2008

Which one's Pink?

Barbara at Layla's Classic Rock blog posted tonight about the possibility of Led Zeppelin touring without Robert Plant. His heart just isn't in playing it loud anymore, but Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones sure would like to make some noise playing the old faves and why not bill it as Led Zeppelin with or without Plant? It just doesn't seem the sacrilege to me that it might have fifteen years ago. It would have bugged the heck out of me back then, but I didn't blink an eye at those "old" bands like The Four Tops, The Temptations, or any other Motown band touring with maybe only one or two of the original members in the lineup. But then I didn't feel like I was raised on their music like I was Led Zeppelin.

Anyway, Journey doesn't need Steve Perry to fill arenas and Styx doesn't require the vocals of Dennis DeYoung to play "Babe" and "Mr. Roboto" to those of us nostalgic for those hits. Yes is touring without the aid (but with the blessing) of Jon Anderson this year. Found their guy on YouTube in a Yes tribute band much like Judas Priest did when they replaced Rob Halford for a short period. I guess if I wanted to, I could even buy the new Queen album featuring Paul Rodgers at the mic.

At least with that one, it's a bit easier to bear as its own artistic endeavor because they're not merely replacing Freddie Mercury but rather moving on and making new music together. Still, I wouldn't go to that show and feel like I really and truly saw Queen in concert.

But fun is fun and I'd see all of these bands for whom introducing their singer isn't just a formality but indeed an answer to a crowd's honest query. I think I'm pretty laid back about it all. Call the band what you're legally allowed to call the band and if you play the hits then I'm happy to just roll with it and enjoy the songs. Just don't get me started on the whole Pink Floyd-Roger Waters thing. I'm holding onto stubborn and saying that Waters was right.

Daughter and Dad, Goofing Around

Candy Break

Friday, October 24, 2008

Feel Good Friday - "In A Big Country"

I met them once. Backstage after a show at TPAC. Wild rock stars? Nope. It was someone's birthday and all I recall seeing was cake and Sprite.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

A blogger friend is on the front page of the New York Times

Lori Stewart, writer of This Just In, was interviewed and photographed for the New York Times in their front page story on the cost of prescription drugs in this tough economy. Her mother suffers from Alzheimer's Disease and, as Lori states in the article, the medication is "literally one-fifth of her income."

It's an important read on a topic that affects so many hard-working families. My best to Lori and everyone else who has to make such tough choices in matters so important. Click below for the story by Stephanie Saul.

Some Cut Back on Prescription Drugs in Sour Economy 

I Close My Eyes And I Go To Amelia Island

    Photo by flickr user kate-eh 

Fernandina Beach. Amelia Island. It's where Paige and I got married. It's where the in-laws live, most of them anyway. It's where we go to visit family and it's where I always most easily clear my head and learn to relax and smile.

I remember reading about the "Beach Lady" of American Beach, such an interesting figure in African-American history, in Smithsonian magazine (June 2003) and being so moved in respect and wonder the first time I spent an afternoon exploring the area. I felt nearly reverential walking around her community that day, taking pictures of old homes and listening to the ocean's waves gently falling and respectfully sliding up to the shore. Read about the community's founder A. L. Lewis here.

Fernandina Beach is where I've gotten my favorite shots of my kids. They've never gotten too crazy about the ocean, but the beach is always good for building sandcastles and experiencing views they just don't get here in Tennessee. Ari's never too happy to get sand on her skin, but I hear princesses and divas can be like that.

If we're lucky and Paige can get a teaching job that she likes, we'll likely move down there in the next year or two. There's also a very nice Ritz-Carlton on the beach where I'd probably work if I'm still doing the hotel industry thing then. As I've written about before, I want to ultimately own a scooter and it's the perfect little beach town for such a vehicle. Heck, at two miles across at its widest point and thirteen miles long, a nice bicycle would suffice. Sure looks like easy living from here.

(I saw the photo above and loved it so much I just had to share it. What I wrote was merely an excuse to share the shot.)

Smart Daughter

All in one breath she said, "Will you buy me that Cinderella kitchen? It's kind of heavy. Are you strong enough to carry it, Dad?"

Tell me she doesn't know how to phrase things to work a conversation in her favor. Of course I'm strong enough. I can carry it. And I'll prove it by buying it for her.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Voting With A Five-Year-Old

We're driving to the library so that I can participate in early voting. He's five and has just gotten back from doing the same thing with his mom. He asks me a question from his backseat car seat.

"Daddy, who is the leader of America right this minute?"

I reply, "President Bush."

"And we're voting for one of the two other guys because he's tired of being the leader?"

"Well, actually..." And I give him my best 60-second answer about things like term limits and such. I talk about how no one can be president forever and that we take turns, kind of like how he and his sister must take turns doing things. I finish and look forward to answering any follow-up questions he might have.

"Daddy?"

"Yes?"

"If you get a dead ant and put chocolate on it, it will taste like chocolate."

And the rest of our conversation was a lot more fun.

Point Up And Shoot