Friday, June 27, 2008

Concert Meme

Here I start the catching-up phase of my blogging summer. I'll start with a meme. They're easy, and they appeal to my self-involved side. There's opportunities for bragging-rights for this one. It's a meme that has you naming the bands you have seen in concert. The asterix show how many people who've done the meme before you have seen the same band or performer. This branch will have to end with me unless someone considers themselves tagged. Any who read this--you're it.

Dar Williams*** — Dar’s my second cousin. We saw her in Charlottesville with my parents and she did a shout-out to my dad. She said she always imagined her southern cousins running around barefoot all the time. Pretty accurate.

Sting ***—three times with the Police and once solo.

David Bowie* – Saw Bowie twice on the Serious Moonlight Tour and the next tour which was Scary Spiders or something. Serious Moonlight was great.

The Grateful Dead* –about 15 times before the real en, and several times in their post-Garcia incarnations.

Queen* – First concert ever. Pretty amazing from what I remember.

R.E.M.** – 6 times maybe? Backstage twice, once on the day after my high-school graduation.

Wilco—saw them at Bonnaroo in 2004. I was amazed at their live act.

The Rolling Stones—in 1992. Mick was about 70 then, right? He still worked the crowd like a master. One of my top five shows of all time.

Taj Mahal—once in downtown Winston where the drunk frat-boys didn’t get it at all, and another time at Bonnaroo while standing in the longest ATM line on the planet.

Bob Dylan—several times. Usually people think his shows suck. I don’t know why, but I always enjoy them because he doesn’t care that most people think his shows suck. Best time in Durham standing within arms length of the guy who wrote all those songs.

Wynton Marsalis—I saw Wynton in the auditorium of Guilford College. His band was an hour late, he only played for an hour, he did no encore, and still it was the best 25 bucks I’ve ever spent (50 if you count my girlfriend). The high-note he hit during the New Orleans dirge was worth $23.50 by itself. Saw him again at WSSU. Branford strolled on the stage about halfway through to help finish the set. Unbelievable.

David Byrne—I never had a chance to see Talking Heads but Byrne came to my burg several years ago and put on this amazing creepy show with Talking Heads and solo stuff and a lot of artistic sets. All at a club that looked like a place you’d hold a barn-dance.

Phish—I think I saw this band about three times. The first time was good, but the other times I kind of lost interest sometime during the 29th guitar solo.

Dave Mathews—not the DMB but Dave Mathews with Tim Reynolds and Trey Anastasio. Trey spent the whole concert trying to upstage everyone and Dave looked like he was trying to keep the peace. When Trey started playing the drums during Reynolds’ guitar solo all magic was ruined for me.

Doc Watson—I’ve seen Doc Watson about four times. He always puts on a good show, and he’s in his 80s!

The Radiators—I love the Radiators. I saw them in Eugene and at Bonnaroo 2004. It was on Sunday and we were feeling very worse-for-the-wear. The band revitalized us and we continued on with our revelry.

NRBQ—I saw them in Connecticut in 1991. I didn’t really appreciate them at the time, but now I love them. They always do amazing things with their guitars.

Cracker--I got a little over-excited, i.e. inebriated, at this show and burst into their dressing room before the encore to convince with them to do an encore which they were planning to do anyway. Dave Lowry wanted to know where my girlfriend was--he was kind of a jerk.

Concert wish list, post-mortem: Frank Zappa, Muddy Waters, Thelonious Monk, The Clash. I would have liked to have been at the Beatle’s rooftop concert.

Concert wish-list: REM, again, The Pretenders during their heyday, Talking Heads, Bruce Springsteen and many more that aren't coming to mind right now.

Excuse #457

Excuse #457: I’ve been pretty busy. Too busy to dig down and find enough energy to write a post that would be worth a d**n. But—things will ease up starting next week and I hope to make up for lost time. My statistics have gone south, with an abysmal 17 visitor average. This is what happens when you don’t post or comment. I need to start making the rounds again. It was different when I worked at the reference desk, lots of free time to write. On Sunday I’ll definitely have time to sit down and produce something. If any of the 12 visitors (you know who you are, three sisters and the guy from Slovania) that view this post want to help me decide what to write about here are some things I’m thinking about:

Why the new REM album has restored my faith in human kind

The weird people who live in my town (present company included)

The Rooster that used to live in my neighborhood

A new mock-meme

Anyway, see you later…

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Graduation Photos

Better late than never: Graduation 2008.
The Happy Graduate
With the Proud Parents

Sunday, June 15, 2008


There’s a dog-park not far from me and I took Booker there for the first time today. We (back when we were we) hired a dog-walker who comes three times a week to carry an ecstatic panting black animal down to the large fenced-in-area to socialize, sniff, and fetch. The dog-walker has been controversial of late because of his habit of throwing a handful of dog food on the ground over which the dogs compete. All this was reported to me second-hand by someone who watched as Dog-Walker was confronted by a concerned owner who was probably afraid that her little dog might end up mauled. Seems reasonable. Dog-Walker could be bi-polar (he is a residual of my ex-girlfriend’s restaurant) or may have some other psycho-malady, but whatever it is he doesn’t like to be told when he is wrong. Words exchanged, shouting ensued, the injured and indignant Dog-Walker, martyred and defiant, defended his position dramatically as, according to the witness, Booker sniffed on unfazed. Crises—I needed to make a decision.

True to habit, I decided to wait and see. I haven’t actually talked to the dog-walker since then because he picks up Booker when I’m gone from the house. I really don’t want to hear his side of the story, not because I’m uninterested but because he tends to get over-excited and loud. He speaks very fast. Talking to him is one of those moments when I find myself repeating “yea…but…I know…but…umhmm…yep…but…” throughout any of many one-sided conversations.

Once he took on a group of Jehovah’s Witnesses outside of my house. They had approached me earlier, and I gave them my usual stock spiel about how I had my own beliefs about the creator and that I respected theirs and wished them luck. Dog-Walker chose the moment they were walking off my porch to pull up in his blue Plymouth Volare. The Jehovah’s Witnesses, two very gracious but indoctrinated and dogmatic ladies, made the mistake of asking about the acceptance of Jesus Christ in Dog-Walker’s life. I, by this time, had begun to return to whatever I was occupied with before the door-bell rang, but soon was interrupted by something that sounded like a high pitched re-reading of Orson Wells’ sermon in Moby Dick. “Do not presume to tell me who MY God is!” I heard. “I know who MY God is and he accepts me as I AM!” By the time I got to the street Dog-Walker was brandishing a crucifix at the terrified ladies, the silver neck-chain taught as he asserted his claim to a Christian God that the Jehovah’s Witness’ could only hope to know. When I intervened, Dog-Walker was out of breath from ranting, and he was also hurt that I had not come to his aid. He couldn’t believe that my aversion to loud religious exchanges in front of my house won out over any loathing I might have for creepy religious pandering.

All judgments withheld after that. Life went on. I had seen how agitated Dog-Walker could get, and I’d pocketed another odd story about my neighborhood. But even with this new incident there is something now that’s keeping me from cutting Dog-Walker loose. His relationship with Booker.

Let me just indicate first that Booker loves me. He does the Dino Flintstone when I come home from work and, if it’s been “one-of-those-days,” he senses it and calms down quickly. But if he senses that it’s been a good day, and usually it’s because I’m singing some stupid made up song about checking the mail and feeding the cats, he charges around grabbing his Frisbee and wagging his tail furiously. He’s a good dog.

But when Dog-Walker shows up it’s a different scene all-together. Firstly Booker knows the sound of Dog-Walker’s engine. In the winter, when the front door is closed, he jumps literally three feet off the ground to get a glimpse of Dog-Walker through the glass panes of the front door. Dog-Walker’s entrance into the house is a sort of ritual, with Booker doing a hind-legged dance as the leash comes down from the coat-rack and the humans exchange greetings. A mad rush to the kitchen to retrieve treats might be followed by a taunting invitation with the Frisbee. If not, it’s out the door and into Dog-Walker’s front seat as the two toodle down the street like an old married couple on a Sunday drive. It’s kinda weird and kinda sweet.

There is no doubt in my mind that Booker is as good for Dog-Walker as Dog-Walker is for Booker, mainly because Dog-Walker tells me. These are the conversations I don’t mind. This is a man who’s been dealt some very difficult cards in his life. Life can’t be easy for him, but time with Booker seems to be one of his high-points.

So I went to the dog-park today just to get an idea of the surroundings—where these two go every Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday. I met a good group of people who love their dogs. The majority of the dogs are rescue dogs. The owners proudly tell of the traumas, and joys, of finding and caring for them. A heated confrontation at this place, between two-legged animals anyway, seems like an anathema. Owners sat casually under the shade trees and watched each other's dogs while a canine greeting party was organized and sent forward for every new arrival. Booker lead a couple of these.

It seems to me that the initial trouble at the dog-park is with the food that Dog-Walker is dropping on the ground. If he stops this, there could be a resolution. This is how I’ll handle it:

If it looks like Dog-Walker’s getting his gander up at the mention of changing any of his habits to satisfy a few heinous and unreasonable dog-owners I’ll simple remove the food from the cabinet and hide it. Another solution is to always make sure there are dog-treats, not just dog food so there won’t be any dispute over kibbles. The Dog-Walker can keep a milk-bone handy to give to Booker only. People are very particular about what their own pets eat, and I should try to respect that.

One plus of the whole saga, it got me down to the park. There is a fantastic place for Booker to swim, not just wallow, and the company of strangers felt right. Dogs are, among other things, conversation starters, and meeting, greeting, patting and admiring each other’s dogs quickly put all at ease. I met all shapes and sizes of people and dog, and Sunday (still a tough day for me, possibly the only one left) became tolerable and happy.

So Dog-Walker stays, as long as things return to normal. More instances like this and I’ll have to revisit my thinking on it, but I know that I have a new place to take Booker. New avenues are good for me now, and it took Dog-Walker’s indignation, and possibly his obliviousness to reason, to get me to this one.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

What to Read

I have a dilemma on the reading front right now. On August 25th I’ll be starting graduate school, and I’m having trouble deciding how to plan my reading for the summer. A part of me wants to start exercising my comprehension muscles right now, reading deep analytical tracts about Antebellum culture and Liberian colonization, but the other part of me recognizes that once I’m immersed in graduate work it may be a while before I can read completely for pleasure again. It’s not necessarily that reading about my subject of interest isn’t pleasurable, but neither is it exactly the type of reading where you can throw your legs up on the porch railing while waiting out a hot day.

What’s making the dilemma worse is that while I’m working at the library I get to see the best-sellers circulate on and off the shelves, and it’s piqued my curiosity about all these current authors. James Patterson is our most popular author and, from what I can tell, you can easily read his books in a day, or an evening even. I picked up one of his books recently and just opened up to a middle chapter and read the first line. It was short and perfunctory but kind of enticing too. It seemed unapologetic. After one sentence I imagined that I could tell what sort of reading experience the book would bring me. But I have to use caution with these assumptions. I’ve started books that I was all excited about and later hurled them across the room at around chapter nine. Patterson’s portrait on the back cover doesn’t help either; he looks like the kind of guy that would have you removed from his yacht for wearing the wrong sort of loafers. But you know what they say, you can’t judge a book…..well, you know the rest.

David Baldacci is another one who’s widely read. We get veterans coming in for W.E.B. Griffin a great deal. Daniel Steele is still at the top of the list along with Robert Parker and, to my horror, Pat Buchanan is writing history books (aaaargggg) and Newt Gingrich is writing historical fiction. (Well actually, Pat Buchanan is probably writing historical fiction too but he’ll never admit it.) One encouraging detail, Barack Obama’s books are some of the most heavily circulated.

I’m wondering if I should give any of these authors a try, like having one last fling before settling down. Should I go on a Nora Roberts binge or finally start reading Harry Potter? I’ve got less than three months before I’m researching day after day. Is this the last time I’ll get to discover that prolific woman who writes about African detective agencies? All of these books come highly recommended by fine people who can’t get enough of one certain author or another. One of the most common comments I get is that the patron can’t remember if they’ve read the book they’re checking out or not. Some of them trundle off with bags stuffed with books claiming “this should hold me for a week.”

It’s probably going to reach the mid-nineties today. There are some things I could get done today, but in all fairness to me I worked a long week last week, six days between the county, the college, the film class and helping prep food for a wedding on Saturday, plus three band practice sessions (we’re practicing more because the bass player is available in the evenings now). I just walked out on the porch and that lucky, but oppressive, ‘ole sun is dialing up another scorcher. Reading seems like the ticket.

But there’s one problem. I locked my book in my desk drawer at work. The key broke off in the lock and it probably won’t get fixed until tomorrow. The book is Barbara Tuchman’s history of British and Palestinian relations Bible and Sword. What’s worse is that my graduation pictures were in the book too. I was planning to scan them and post them to this very website, but that will have to wait for a later date. My mother and father are also reading the book and I thought it would be fun to discuss it with them. Now I’ll be behind. But no worries. I do have to realize though, that a mistake like this could be disastrous once I'm in grad-school.

So what to read today? I don’t have any of the above mentioned popular authors at hand. There are some books that were given to me as presents but they don’t seem to be calling me either. Wait, I’ve got it….there’s one Patrick O’Brian on the bookshelf I haven’t read. I think the glorification of England’s empirical dominance in the early 19th century makes for a happy medium between graduate study and James Patterson. Anchors away, see you on the front porch.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

The Evil Twin Meme

I did everything to try to stop this, but it seems my long-lost third-cousin-once-removed has surfaced and posted (how did he get the passwords?) on my blog. He's also placed a block on this post, so I can't remove it...I just have to let it ride. Twadrick was brought up somewhere south of Sausalito, where he was left on the door-step of an assistant professor (MA, PhD w/o dissertation) at a small experimental liberal-arts college. He worked his way up through the ranks, attending Oxford at 9, Cambridge at 11, and The Phoenix Institute at 37. In 1998 he received the Nobel Special Prize for the Most Pretentious Person on the Planet. He now resides somewhere in Yemen where he retains the coveted "price-on-his-head" status.

1. Name the singer/band/performer you are most embarrassed to admit you actually paid good money to see in concert.

I went to see Franciscan Monks perform Gregorian Chants at the chaste age of 10. The eunuchs were quite controversial at the time, and I remember blushing as the acoustics of Glastonbury Cathedral echoed their voices back to me. I ponder, ‘twas it was the incense?

2. Which reality TV show have you watched more than once (come on. I don’t believe you if you say “none,” unless you don’t own a TV)?

Why buy a TV when you have perfectly good entertainment in The Complete Works of John Donne to keep you warm on a blustery day in an academic town where folks play cloak-and-dagger over department chairs? I mean really.

3. Which complete trash novelist have you not only read but enjoyed enough to read more than one book of his/hers?

Joyce. When no one was watching I would hide on the Chippendale love-seat and devour the works of this trumped-up hack. I guess I have a little of the devil in me, because as much as my elders warned me of the intellectual damage I was doing, I couldn’t get enough, even though everyone knows Ulysses is only a thinly veiled retelling of the timeless classic Curious George Visits the Zoo.

4. What sappy musical could you watch over and over and over again?

I just cannot believe that no one has claimed this one. I mean Die Walküre anybody? Move over Mary Poppins, this is the feel-good musical of all time.

5. Who was your first celebrity crush?

My nanny.

6. Who is the most embarrassing celebrity on whom you have a slight crush today?

Stanley Fish, with Foucault a close second.

7. What movie that everyone else and his cousin and even his dog has seen have you never seen?

When I was around 13, every one of my friends went to see a film called Entr'acte. It was the biggest box-office grossing filmof all time for film-night at the Melted Clock Café in Sausalito. Since then I’m ashamed to say I’ve never seen it, but I’ve read every article about it ever written. In fact, it was the subject of my dissertation. At cocktail parties I bluff.

8. What were you drinking the first time you ever got drunk?

41 year old scotch.

9. Which old re-run will you still pause to watch if you’re flicking through the channels and see that it’s on?

Hmmm…..Dobey Gillis? I used to turn the sound down and make up my own dialogue, replacing conversations about the stolen van with revelations on Sartre and Jung. Wait, that was undergrad…sorry.

10. What book/movie/t.v. show that only a fifteen-year-old would think is funny makes you laugh?

Guernica: a Study in 24 Essays and The Complete Works of John Dryden. Anything about malignancy.

Like I said, he's truly a ne're do well.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Emily Supplies Another Great Meme

This is an original meme by Emily and I had a great deal of fun doing it. Emily, if all the other things you do in your life weren’t enough, now you’re supplying me with material for my blog. And don’t worry, Mr. Green Jeans will call…if he’s still, you know, alive.

1. Name the singer/band/performer you are most embarrassed to admit you actually paid good money to see in concert.

I paid good money to go see a southern rock band named Molly Hatchet. They used to play the hit single Flirtin' with Disaster on the radio every hour or so in, oh I guess 1981? One of the reasons we liked the band was because of its album covers. They were by a guy named Frank Frazetti (not sure of the spelling) who also did the covers for Conan the Barbarian which featured impossibly buxom, half-naked warrior women stretched out over extreme terrain while Conan was cutting a man-bat in half or something. At the concert, we were expecting to see bar-brawls and bikers but there was a pleasant family of six in front of us and very few crazed fans.

2. Which reality TV show have you watched more than once (come on. I don't believe you if you say "none," unless you don't own a TV)?

This might be a little revealing but I, now that I think about it, watch my fair share of this terrible TV genre. I know they choose the most spoiled and extreme people to represent a “true” cross section of the population because the more confrontational fire-works the better, and really I should know better, but I think I have a little train-wreck-itis in me. Mainly I watch the cooking shout-fests featuring Gordon Ramsay—Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares and Hell’s Kitchen—but I watched a couple of seasons of Survivor and The Real World too. The other night I found myself watching a show where women try to win a farmer as a husband (if you can name this show, shame on you). Something about entitled whiney women in daisy-dukes appeals to me I guess.

3. Which complete trash novelist have you not only read but enjoyed enough to read more than one book of his/hers?

I can redeem myself here. Although I don’t claim to be very well-read, I really don’t read that much trash either. I grew up in a house that had its own special Barbara Cartland bookcase (I have three older sisters and a Mom). Today paper-backs with pastel front covers showing lustful embraces beneath the willow still knee-jerk me toward regurgitation. (Funny how the Frank Frazetti covers do the opposite.) Steven King might be the closest to trash, but come on—do we really want to say that about the guy who wrote The Shining? I used to read Ann Rule too. She’s true-crime and might fall into that category.

4. What sappy musical could you watch over and over and over again?

Don’t want to generalize here, but this meme is looking more and more like it’s geared toward the opposite sex. I don’t like musicals but I can admit when they’re good. Singin’ in the Rain is a good one. Do Gilbert and Sullivan count? I loved The HMS Pinafore when my sister’s school did it when I was around six. And…yes…begrudgingly, The Sound of Music. Julie Andrews: my first crush.

5. Who was your first celebrity crush?

I think I just answered this, so I’ll give the second crush. There is absolutely no way to beat Emily’s one-in-a-million answer of Mr. Green Jeans, but I had a very strong crush on Tatum O’Neil after Paper Moon. This is odd because I just read today that she’s been busted again for drug possession. I’m not usually attracted to the bad girls. “Tatum…I can fix you…”

6. Who is the most embarrassing celebrity on whom you have a slight crush today?

Besides the fore-mentioned entitled whiney girls on the “I Want to Marry a Hayseed?” Hmmm, I have to think about this. Oh, got it. Easy, Dana Perino. Sorry, but if this woman was at gitmo trying to get me to talk I’d fess up to everything I’d done, everything I might have done, everything I might consider doing at a later date, and anything I might not consider doing but if she says so…well that too.” The only thing Bush has done right in his life.

7. What movie that everyone else and his cousin and even his dog has seen have you never seen?

This really is the hardest question. Well right now, and get ready for the cop-out, the new Indiana Jones movie. I know that there are still plenty of people who haven’t seen it, like in Java and places, but I always profess to being such a big Raiders of the Lost Ark fan and, after reading Ebert drooling pop-corn all over his lap about it in his review, I had really planned to see it over Memorial Day. But going to the movies has lost some allure for me. But I still plan to see it soon.

8. What were you drinking the first time you ever got drunk?.

Strongbow Cider when I was twelve. Yep, that’s right folks, twelve. Did you know that in England the legal drinking age is five if you are on your own property under the supervision of parents? We would go to dinner parties and watch a thirteen-old-get drunk at the table to everyone’s amusement. I thought I’d give it a try and, sorry to say, wasn’t as amusing. It was the first time I embarrassed everyone, but not the last.

9. Which old re-run will you still pause to watch if you’re flicking through the channels and see that it’s on?

Good Times. John Amos and Esther Rolle rule the planet.

10. What book/movie/t.v. show that only a fifteen-year-old would think is funny makes you laugh?

Tommy Boy. But there are so many more. I think part of my development halted at age fifteen. I like the humor of Will Ferrell and Chris Farley. Physical slap-stick, if it’s done well, is my favorite gut-busting form of humor. I like the guy who bangs his head on a pipe and is okay physically and emotionally afterwards.

Question: I know what they say about ending a sentence with a preposition, so how bad is it to end a blog post with one?