30 May 2007

Our country, but your stupid song

Non-conformist musician Dan Bern, best known for his great song "Tiger Woods," has recently come out criticizing musicians who sell their songs to companies for commercial use. That's nothing new, of course, as Neil Young scored a minor hit with "This Note's for You," a song based on the same principle.

But what's interesting, to me, is that Bern says that when Mellencamp sells "Our Country" to peddlers of pickup trucks, it not only cheapens the song, it cheapens music in general.

He told McClatchy reporter Len Righi: "It's just about the notion that when people see these songs -- the ones they've given their hearts to, given a special place in their lives -- see that same recording used to trick them to buy some vehicle, or sugar water or whatever. What does that do to the psyche the next time a good song comes along? ... You're compromising the (music) form itself and the connection between listener and performer. If you're the listener, it's like you fell in love with somebody who has eight (spouses) in four different states."

Of course, the flip side is, look at how many people discovered Nick Drake because of the "Pink Moon" Volkswagen commercial. And, of course, the flip side to the flip side is, a car commercial also made Sting's "Brand New Day" album a hit. Ugh. Now I hate Sting and Jaguars.

(Oh yeah, go track down that "Tiger Woods" song.)

29 May 2007


Just got back from Atlanta, on a trip to see the High Museum's Annie Liebovitz exhibit. More about that later, in a story for the paper. But as I drove on the underpass beneath The Varsity, I was reminded that Esquire recently mentioned the hallowed restaurant where the crew always wears the red paper hats.

Actually, they mention the Athens, Ga., location. It made No. 28 on the magazine's list of things worth shortening your life for. Specifically, they point to Combo No. 4 -- that's the chili-cheese dog, chili cheeseburger and fries or onion rings, with a drink, for $6.90. They also suggest upgrading said drink to Frosted Orange for 30 cents, which seems like a good idea to me, too.

More alarming was their list of the five most decadent burgers in the U.S. (and the Four Winds' Ranger Burger didn't make the cut). Among them: A sirloin burger filled with braised short ribs, foie gras and black truffles from DB Bistro Moderne in New York; an 11-pound burger with 22 clices of cheese, three whole tomatoes and more from a Clearview, Pa., pub called Denny's Beer Barrel; and a bacon cheeseburger that uses Krispy Kreme donuts instead of a bun from the Gateway Grizzlies concession stand in St. Louis. Uh, yum?

28 May 2007

Hanker for a hunka' cheese

Maybe because of that earlier post (Dennis Holt's 10-gallon hat feeling five gallons flat), or maybe just because I stumbled on some old cartoons on YouTube, but I've been singing those old 197X Saturday-morning "Time for Timer" bits for the last two days. I'll spare y'all the link, but you can find them yourself, if you're so inclined.

Not sure what's the worst fate: Having those songs stuck in my head or spending the first two days of a three-day vacay working on the house. The guest bathroom renovation has begun with the small, uncomfortable job of moving a light switch from one side of the room to the other, since the switch is against the wall that will be inside the linen closet when we're done.

After all that work, I'm kinda hungry. I know! I'll make some wagon wheels, with a slab or slice or chunka' cheese. Just remember, you are what you eat, from your head down to your feet... (Yeah, I lied about sparing y'all the link.)

25 May 2007

The Spring' and I

A new Springer show has been announced. And I ain't talking about the Springer Opera House. This one's in Tennessee, put on by the Memphis' Playhouse on the Square. The postcard I got in the mail says it all, actually:

And they're putting it on during Elvis Week, so plan your trip now. Dates are Aug. 9-10 and 16-17.

No amount of clever wordplay could make this post any funnier than the concept itself. So I'll shuttup now.

24 May 2007

Is that a drumstick in your pocket?

Uh, yeah. Apparently it was just a drumstick. At least for a while. This is from a health brief in the paper:

Dr. William Harper, a Columbus urologist, will present a free seminar about erectile dysfunction June 21 at 6:30 p.m. in the Hilton Garden Inn, off Bradley Park Drive West in Brookstone Centre. Treatment options, ranging from new medications to the latest penile implants, will be discussed. Dennis Holt, former drummer of the rock band Kansas, will share his story of successfully treating the problem. To register, call 1-877-433-2873. For more information about the seminar, call 706-243-3734.

All we can offer for advice is, carry on, my wayward son.

A urology expert probes the Kansas drummer's trouble area
in this undated file photo.

23 May 2007

What the...?

Saw this classified ad today: "FREE PEANUT Hulls, help yourself. 3509 Cussetta Rd- Columbus."

That appears to be the address for Arctic Bear Heating & Air Conditioning. Not sure what that means, exactly. Maybe they thought they were buying a bunch of packing peanuts for insulation?

WWGWCD? (What would George Washington Carver do?)

Rated "Arrrrrr!"

Best as we can tell, the new "Pirates of the Caribbean" movie, opening Friday, will be more of what we saw in the second installment. Big, loud, disjointed fun.

Which is all well and good, just as long as they don't forget it's the irreverent dialog, pop culture references and subversive jokes that people over 25 liked about the first movie. (Remember Johnny Depp's Captain Jack, complaining to the comely Keira: "But why did you burn all the rum?!?")

Some of that was present in the second film, but not enough to make me happy. If the first movie set the scale and gets an A grade, the second one was a B-minus to me. The A.P. review I linked to up yonder liked this series' third chapter better than "Spider-Man 3" and "Shrek the Third," which both received their shares of good reviews.

So maybe, yarrr, just maybe there be hope.

21 May 2007

How do I hate thee...?

So Sylvester Stallone was busted with a bunch of illegal testosterone, en route to begin filming -- get this -- a new Rambo movie. I'm not sure which is the more disturbing fact to come out of this report, but I can promise you that the pills are certainly not the most surprising...

Anyway, on to more important stuff -- like me!

I really hate Sonya Sorich. At least, that's concept with the new Brad vs. Sonya bits on the Ledger webcasts. The first installment is on last Friday's (5/18), which you can access here. There seems to be a technical issue, but the streaming (or downloadable) Quicktime version plays all the way through...

Or you can just watch the version that's ended up on YouTube, right here. There's some bonus material at the end. I'd say "enjoy," but I'm not sure that's the right word. You're clever people. You can come up with a better verb.

Ed.: YouTube version is back up.

20 May 2007

Shed. No tears.

Oh, I've heard the rumblings among my friends of late. Phrases like "Where is he?" often followed by words like "lame" and "loser."

Here, after about six weekends of work, I offer my excuse. The new shed.

It's small. More like a lean-to locker than anything else, but it cleared all the rakes, shovels, etc., out of their inexplicable home for the past two years: a corner of the guest bathroom. And it also let us clear out about half of the tool closet inside, too.

We turned a corner of the house from this...

... to this ...

... using a salvaged door from Reaves Wrecking, painted purple to match the rest of the doors in the house. The goal was to end up with something that looked like it was built with the rest of the house, circa 1914. Pretty happy with the end result. Right now it's just loaded with tools, but it should hold a couple of bodies, too. Like the ones of those "friends" who've been talking bad about me. That'll show 'em.

18 May 2007

Moronic Moment of the Month*

*brought to you by Seventeen magazine

Ahhh, June. The month of my birth. The month of warm, summer days. The month that Seventeen magazine compared the inside of a woman to a scab...

It's true. And that's just the grossest moment of the month. I won't be elaborating on it. The most moronic moment is this:

How it works? How it works? If people can't figure out how a sharp blade removes hair without some prissy magazine telling them, well, there is no hope. And I pet poor Rihanna has opted for laser hair removal under her arms after being outed as a bad shaver.

On the plus side, Seventeen did feature a funny bit about dating nerds: like the store clerk and the show promoter... I was torn trying to figure out which of these two I am:

16 May 2007

Hello darkness, my old friend

This is photographer Philip Wartena, in a piece shot by Joe Paull. The accident itself was real. The rest of it's just real funny. It's worth your four minutes. (And, uh, listen up for the sounds of silence.)

15 May 2007

Mr. Sky Blue Sky

Just spent three bottles of caulk on the new shed -- I'll post pix when it's painted, prolly this weekend, if anyone wants to see -- and now I'm winding down by giving the new Wilco a full listen.

I do like "Sky Blue Sky," contrary to my first impression, when the record was leaked a couple months back. But I'm sad that Jeff Tweedy seems reluctant to embrace all the Beatlesque/Beach Boyesque studio tweedling (that seems like the right name for it...) that he's so good at. This is very much like their last record, "A Ghost Is Born," but less discordant. Some are saying it's a regression to "A.M." But that's not the case. It's a very complicated record, and the dusty, twangy atmosphere is really just window dressing.

I guess I'll just stick to Panda Bear for my Brian Wilson fix these days.

(By the way, Wilco's on Letterman tonight.)

14 May 2007

Reign Over the Lives of Others

I tried to counter my recent forays to see "Aqua Teen Hunger Force" and "Spider-Man 3" by watching a couple of (ahem) more acclaimed films this weekend.

"The Lives of Others" won the Academy Award for best foreign film. It probably was robbed by not getting a nomination for best-film-period. And here I'd thought "Pan's Labyrinth" was cheated in the foreign film category. That's what I get for jumping to conclusions without seeing all the movies. "Lives" was phenomenal. And it's only in Columbus through Thursday, so go see it, fools. Especially anyone who's never given much thought to the values of freedom of expression, nor the power of integrity to sway.

Really enjoyed "Reign Over Me," too. If "enjoyed" is the proper word for watching Adam Sandler play a mentally wretched 9/11 widower. Don Cheadle was ever-great. And, holy crap, Saffron Burrows is on fire. Which I guess makes her fried rice.

(Mmmmmm, fried rice.)

13 May 2007

To all bad-ass mothers: Happy Mother's Day

My favorite Mother's Day moment came a few years back, when the Cartoon Network named Race Bannon the Mother of the Year.

Race was, of course, the bodyguard of Jonny Quest's father on the 1960s cartoon starring the blond-headed boy with the black turtleneck. He was the original spy kid. Anyway, nowadays people have pretty much conceded that Race was guarding Dr. Quests body for personal reason, ifyouknowwhatImean. For more on that, go here. (I should point out that this opinion is countered in some circles.) So anyway, the Mother's Day tribute was a not-so-sly nod to Race's parental role with Jonny and Hadji.

Race Bannon doesn't like the ladies. Or does he?

11 May 2007


Some of the changes in downtown Columbus might confuse those who visit Broadway more seldom than other people.

The place that used to be Falcon's (a tattoo parlor) is now Brother's (a candy store). Falcon's moved to Veterans Parkway, but Falcon will be opening a bar, called Falcon's Liquid Tattoos, back on Broad, a block north of where the tattoo shop used to be.

More downtown confusion, of the seasonal sort: Columbus State University hosted a street-closing summer jam last weekend, a full two weeks before Uptown Columbus launches its street-closing spring concert series.


10 May 2007

A picture's worth

A thousand words? I dunno, but an image certainly doesn't do justice to the first bite into a juicy orange, no matter how purty.

I took these pictures for a story last week on the state Farmer's Market reopening with an antique warehouse and flea market. I thought they were lovely, but the paper couldn't use them. So here they are, for at least some others to enjoy.

You can zoom in by clicking on 'em.

09 May 2007

Shorn of the Dread

It's true. I got my semiannual (or is it bi-annual?) haircut today. I've always gone for minimal spending on haircuts, which is why I get it pretty short then let it go really long before sitting back in the barber's chair. Call it a healthy fear of razor blades...

So the hairdresser's about to whip off the hair bib thing, and I'm seeing the sides of my face for the first time in months. My neck looks thinner without the brown tufts around it, you know? I say, "Wow, it kind of looks like I lost weight." She looks at all the hair around the chair and says, "Well, you probably did."

They named it (almost) right

So, let's see. Danny Boyle is not directing the sequel to "28 Days Later." None of the surviving actors from the first one are returning. And it's about Americans. More like, "28 Weaks Later." I'll pass, thank you.

Unfortunately it was the only movie with even a modicum of promise opening this weekend. Luckily, I hear "Reign Over Me" is coming to the second-run theater this weekend, so I can get a film fix thattaway.

07 May 2007

Well what about the durn movie, Barnes?

Despite lukewarm reviews, I liked "Spider-Man 3." Counting "2" as the high-water mark, I'd put this one on par with or just a shave below the first movie. And there's a great emotional payoff in the third act.

The good: Visual effects are absolutely stunning and, gasp, believable. (Yes, a man made of sand looks real. And so does the Goblin's new glider.)

The bad: It was too long, and there were maybe too many plotlines going on at once. Paring it down by 20 minutes might have meant losing a major character, but so be it. I'd vote for Bryce Dallas Howard's to get the hook. She's a hottie, sure, but she's the most expendable, but the word is they're setting her up for a bigger role in a fourth film (which, judging by the grosses, is a given now).

When a friend asked what I thought of the movie, I asked him if he liked the third X-Men movie. He said yeah. I said, you'll like this one. It's the equivalent drop from its fine predecessors.

New music: Blue "Moon"

Funny that, in the long list of CD releases set for tomorrow, the one I'm most interested in is by a dead guy.

Elliott Smith's "New Moon" is a two-disc collection of 24 sparse tracks that Smith recorded in various and sundry sessions, but the songs never made it to a record. From the sound of the reviews, that's too bad. The tracks all come from between 1994-1997 -- some would say that was peak Smith -- and, with one song excepted, tracks weren't mashed or edited together from multiple sessions. So it's pretty much Smith's original vision. (There's also a cover of Big Star's "13.")

Of Montreal's also officially releasing "Icons, Abstract Three," a six-track mini album which the Athens band sold on tour. It was all recorded at the same time as "Hissing Fauna" -- which I've still got in heavy rotation.

Finally, Opelika's Adam Hood releases "Different Groove." Hood used to frequent The Loft here in Columbus, but hasn't ventured south much lately. He's working B'ham, Atlanta and Auburn pretty hard, and all of Texas, which makes sense, given his affinity for John Prine and Steve Earle.

06 May 2007

Reel dumb

I don't mean to insult everyone who works at Carmike, because I've got friends there. But I'm frustrated, and I'm tired of feeling like a second-class citizen in a town where there's only one theater chain.

Tried to go see "Spider-Man 3" this morning. The ad in the paper listed a 10:10 a.m. showtime. I thought, it being a Sunday morning, that maybe there'd be fewer kids then. We pull up to the theater at 9:45 and another potential movie-goer is standing amid a cluster of friends on cell phones. He tells us there is no 10:10 a.m. showtime. That they "forgot to update their Web site," and the first show would be 1 p.m. I guess he'd called someone. So we know the Web page and the newspaper ad are wrong. When I get home, I also call the Carmike number to check the showtimes there, and the recording says there are shows at 10:10 and 11:30 a.m.


So we go back at 1 (normally I would boycot, out of anger and wasted gas, but I want to be able to write about the movie for the paper), and Jenn asks the ticket clerk about the early show. The manager behind her snickers and says, "Yeah, that was just supposed to be Friday and Saturday." Like we're all supposed to know that.


I wish to god we had another theater chain in this city. Again, no offense to any specific Carmike employees. Except whoever's job it was to proof the ads they submit to the paper, whoever's supposed to get correct showtimes on the Web site, and whoever's supposed to make the recording of showtimes actually, you know, correct. And all their bosses.


05 May 2007

Crazy Alabama trucker...

Meant to post this a month ago, but I kept forgetting. Somehow. This happened at the folk art Do-Nanny in Pittsview, Ala., apparently about 30 minutes after Jenn and I left the place. The rest speaks for itself. Volumes, really.

The guy with the camera is artist C.M. Laster. He and his wife, Grace Kelly, are two fantastic folk artists, by the way.

04 May 2007

Elvis' army is here to stay

My Eureka moment with Elvis Costello wasn't until, I think, 1989. Maybe it was 1990. There was a short-lived, but awesome, alternative station in Pensacola. It was A.M. 1230, but they called themselves Radio 1-2-3. That station was watershed for me, because it gave me a chance to actually hear lots of bands I'd read about -- fIREHOSE, Husker Du, Jawbox, Dinosaur Jr. Somewhere along the way, one of the DJs (who went by the name of Elvis. Without much intended irony) slipped in the energetic rock song that had a punk rock edge to it. It was Costello's "(What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding." You gotta understand, the only song I'd heard by him before was "Veronica." How could those two songs come from the same guy, I wondered (Nick Lowe actually wrote "What's So Funny," but that's another post...).

I brought this up with a girl I worked with, who, incidentally, was the girlfriend of Elvis (the DJ. Not Costello. Nor Presley (who was dead)). She couldn't believe I'd not had a proper introduction to Elvis Costello. "I'm going to make you a tape," she told me. "And you don't even have to give me a blank tape in return, because I feel sorry for you." Some 17 years later, I've got all of E.C.'s early catalog, and much of his later (but lesser) works. As I'm listening to the new collection, "The Best of Elvis Costello: The First 10 Years," I realize that sure, I got into him 13 years later than I should've. But it was far from too late. And if anyone's out there saying, "Elvis Costello... What's his big song?" well, it's not too late for you, either.

An aside: My favorite Elvis Costello moment came a couple years ago, when he was on Letterman. He's talking to Dave, and he pulls a bobblehead George Bush out of his pocket and says, "You know that song, 'Drop-Kick Me, Jesus, Through the Goalpost of Life'?" And he punts George up into the crowd.

03 May 2007


It's Tres de Mayo, which means only dos days until the fiesta and siesta of Cinco de Mayo, which is the day Mexican people celebrate that a south-of-the-border sandwich spread finally edged out Hellman's in popularity in Spanish speaking countries. Or something like that.

This reminds me, of course, of one of the only bad experiences Jenn and I had last weekend in Montgomery. We were kind of pressed for time but looking for a nice, non-chain restaurant for a Sunday lunch. The Thai place near the AlaShakes was closed. But we pulled into a place called the Blue Burrito. Sounded vaguely organic, kind of promising...

Unfortunately it had changed owners and names. They just hadn't taken down the granola sign. The place was now called Los Tostitos, or something like that. And we proceeded to have Mexican cuisine that's just as lousy as 90 percent of the Mexican restaurants in Columbus. (The taqueria on Victory Drive is hands-down the best Mex in town, by the way.)

02 May 2007

The news from Lake, uhh, Harding

"Wouldn't you love it," says my buddy Mick, "if that had been his monologue Saturday night."

He's talking about this article, by Garrison Keillor, which appeared on Salon.com. It is interesting how he kind of boxed up these feelings for the radio crowd. And when did he have time to write this? How does the man write so much, with so much insight?

His Saturday show from Columbus, by the way, is up on the "PHC" Web site, streaming in full. We owe the man a tremendous thank-you for how he represented us to his 5 million listeners throughout the world.

01 May 2007

At it like... monkeys?

More reason to celebrate when she says, "I'm on the pill": Scientists have developed a pill that will supposedly decrease a woman's appetite for food and increase her appetite for sex.

(Personally, I'd have settled for half of that equation.)

In trials, the pill had dramatic effect, according to this story reported by the BBC. "When it was given to monkeys, they displayed mating behaviour such as tongue-flicking and eyebrow-raising to the males, while female shrews displayed their feelings via 'rump presentation and tail wagging.'" The bad news is, it's probably 10 years from showing up on store shelves, researchers said.

The other bad news: Incidents of monkeys with lung cancer are predicted to climb dramatically.