31 March 2008

Dith before dishonor

Dith Pran
1942-2008
Photojournalist, hero

***

"They used to be just like me and you
They used to be sweet little boys

But something went horribly askew

Now killing is their only source of joy"

The Decemberists, "The Shankill Butchers"

¡Pico de gallo by Cinco de Mayo!

This was a project I started before Jenn left for Peru and was supposed to finish before she came back. Then I had the bike wreck and didn't like walking for a while -- much less moving heavy wheelbarrow loads of rock and soil. So it had to wait.

The construction of the planter itself was fun, but it also felt really good mixing potting soil with sand into a heavy gray layer above the rocks that serve for drainage at the bottom. My hands were black as tar, and it took days to get the crud out from under my fingernails. But the cool soil in contrast to the hot sun just felt wonderful.

We finished it weekend before last and excitedly planted all our little plants. Unaware that it was going to nearly freeze last week. D'oh. Looks like everything survived OK, though. We planted bell peppers, jalapeƱos, basil, bush cucumbers, cilantro and lots and lots of 'maters. So with the exception of onion and garlic, which are cheap, I've got all the makings for lots of fresh pico de gallo all summer.

29 March 2008

Drag show adjectives

Went to hear composer Nico Nuhly speak about music for films Friday night. He wrote the music for the very good film "Joshua." He spoke a lot about the importance of ambiguity in music, especially in regards to film, and he proved to be about 2/3rds musical genius and 1/3rd comedian. He's also just 26 years old, the bastard. Anyway, it's unbelievable that this was a free program.

Some highlights:

* He dissed big-sounding major chords in films as cheese. "Like the opening of 'Star Wars' -- you can tell it's going to be terrible," he says, pounding the chord on the RiverCenter's Steinway grand. "Well, it's not terrible. It's great. But like a drag show is great," he says.

* He's from Vermont, so the Southern drawl down hee-yah is a bit of an adjustment to him. And he speaks very fast, as flamboyant artsy types from anywhere are want to. It made for yuks when he tried to order coffee in a restaurant. Had to repeat himself three times, he said, and by then, "I was afraid they were going to spill the coffee on me in some hate crime in a Southern cafe."

* He played a 12-minute folk ditty -- a murder ballad -- that he reclaimed as a piece of horror by recording it with sounds of whale flesh being cut from the bone, the bones themselves being sawed apart, and percussion played with human bones wrapped with cloth. And other horrid stuff. It was great.

The Columbus State University's Percussion Ensemble will play the world premiere of a piece commissioned to him by CSU at a concert Monday night. It's 7:30, free, and at RiverCenter's Legacy Hall. Go ye.

Oh, and he's got a great blog here, and he's been posting from Columbus.

28 March 2008

Ma's house

The New York Times today published a nice piece on the reopening of the Ma Rainey house as a museum. Sure, it happened months ago. But it's still good to get the national coverage about "the house that nobody wanted" (as Florene Dawkins, with Friends of Ma Rainey, says in the story).

Read it here...

If you don't know about Ma, she was basically the mother of the blues. She performed in traveling minstrel shows and ransacked the blues until it became something very similar to what it sounds like today. She was a huge influence on both Bessie Smith and Louis Armstrong. And she was from Columbus, and she retired back here to run a couple of nightclubs. Her only downfall was she was born about 10 years too soon to take advantage of the recording industry, which blossomed after her peak. Still, there are a number of recordings of her stuff out there, even if the quality is sketchy.

There will be a fancy-schmancy Web site for the house/museum at some point, at this site.

27 March 2008

(Heart) breaking news

Evolving story. More freakin' tragedy in this town. And more folks clamoring to bear more arms. "I don't go anywhere without a .38 in my pocket," says one guy. Maybe it comforts him, but it makes me very, very nervous. This guy's proximity to his weapon is why the shooting happened in the first place.

http://www.ledger-enquirer.com/292/story/281970.html

Hercules, Hercules!*

Though I love a few Elton John songs dearly, I've never been a huge fan. I think he was too ballad-centric in a time when I was exploring post-punk and new wave sounds. Or maybe I'm still scarred from the bastardization of "Goodbye, Yellow Brick Road" that Jenn wrote for my 31st birthday. Our dear buddy Rusty performed it, dressed like Bootsy Collins. It was called
"Goodbye, Farewell to Brad's Youth," and in the part where Elton John sings "row-oh-oooad" he instead stretched out the word "prunes."

Nevertheless, I picked up a two-disc best-of collection by Sir Elton the other day. What's hard for me to believe is that they found room for "Crocodile Rock," and that junk from "The Lion King," but there's no "Funeral For a Friend/Love Lies Bleeding" to be found. True, it was never a single, but it's still one of his greatest songs.

*John's middle name, after the horse named Hercules on the British sitcom "Steptoe and Son," per the infallible Wikipedia.

26 March 2008

I love everyday Peeples

Thanks to Maggie & Bandit's mom
The Wasington Post recently hosted a diorama contest for people and their marshmallow Peeps. It's sort of like that famous "Lord of the Peeps" series from some years back, only pulling from any famous film, painting or real-life scene. (Like the scene from "Say Anything," shown below.)

It's worth taking a peep at. One of my favorites is the homage to Tarantino and the scene from "Soylent Green."

Be sure to wear some flowers in your hair

Wowsa, this here's a way to debut a new music festival. The list of talent is for the innaugural Outside Lands Music & Arts Festival in San Fran Aug. 22-24. Tickets are on sale March 30, if you can be anywhere near this event then. I'm just jealous of any city that can use the phrase "local acts such as Primus" in a press release.

This event, by the way, is co-founded by the Bonnaroo festival planners. Maybe that's why the billing sounds like Bonnaroo's Greatest Hits 2005-2008.

On the bill: Radiohead, Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, Jack Johnson, Beck, Wilco, Manu Chao, Ben Harper & the Innocent Criminals,Widespread Panic, Primus, Steve Winwood (what the...?), Broken Social Scene, Regina Spektor, Cold War Kids, Andrew Bird, M. Ward, Drive-By Truckers and many more.

25 March 2008

While My Guitar Gently Beeps

The head of publishing over the Beatles' catalog has said he'd be interested in making a Beatles-only edition of video game sensation "Rock Star." Already the game was pretty killer for including the "Trogdor the Burninator" song in its second edition, but this would be so awexome (in Strong Bad's words) that I'd probably have to plunk out my money.

Marty Bandier, chief executive at Sony/ATV Music Publishing, told The Los Angeles Times, ‘‘It’s something we have talked about and something I’d like to pursue.’’ It's certainly better than hearing "American Idol" contestants bleat their renditions of Fab Four tunes. (Especially Kristy Lee Cook's "Eight Days a Week," says Sorich. More like "Eight Days a Weak.") Wonder if it'll come with a left-handed controller for McCartney.

Speaking of Beatles massacres, check out this "jazz vocal" rendition of "Ticket To Ride." Like, to ride on a train wreck mayhaps?

A Tribute to the Beatles - Ticket To RideThe Swingle Singers
"Ticket To Ride" (mp3)
from "A Tribute to the Beatles - Ticket To Ride"
(The Sound Corporation)
More On This Album

Ride a bike, it's better for the city

Great music weekend in the Chattahoochee Valley. The Waverly, Ala., High Corner Co-Op opens a photo exhibit of works by Kyes Stevens, starting at noon. But the 5-6 p.m. EDT reception will be followed by music by Birmingham's 13ghosts (sparse + acoustic + creepy = recommended), on the heels of their new record, "The Strangest Colored Lights." Guitarist Taylor Hollingsworth will open the show.

Tragically, this puts them in competition with the freestyle country, blues and roots music that happens at Seale, Ala.'s Outsider's Outside Doo-Nanny — a great folk art festival that's moving to the property of the eclectic artist Butch Anthony this year.

I'll actually be stuck on assignment most of Saturday, which means my most likely destination is The Loft. That's no consolation prize, though. Athens' wonderful Modern Skirts are performing, and I'm looking forward to hearing, hopefully, some new material from them.

And at least I'll still have Waverly's Old 280 Boogie waiting for me on April 19.

24 March 2008

Radio Free R.E.M.

The new R.E.M. album, "Accelerate," is out next Tuesday, but as of right now you can listen to its songs over on iLike. I'm listening now. It's good. Lots of energy. Give 'er a spin.

NPR aired an interview with the boys this morning, in a 7-minute segment that also included lots of sound clips. Here's the page, with the interview, some cutting room bits with interesting thoughts on religion, and a link to the band's full performance at South by Southwest.

Don't say I never did nothing for you.

23 March 2008

Dirty Potter, Book 7

Why do I do it, the Harry Potter fans ask me. Why do I insist on reading between the lines of J.K. Rowling's acclaimed texts to expose (ahem) the naughty, naughty sexual innuendos contained therein?


Because, gentle readers, I believe it is my mission to reveal the truth: that Ms. Rowling needs a good thrashing. Except she'd probably like that.

Before we begin, I'll warn younger readers that the language is adult here. And it's Rowling's fault. She's taken an alarming tack of masochism in this text, and she never gets tired of the "wand" innuendo. Continue at the peril of your own innocence (if you have any left after finishing her smut).

So here it is, my analysis of her seventh and final Potter book, "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows" -- which the more astute instinctively know is actually a clever anagram for "Shall the Dandy Eat Her?: Howl, Rapt Tory."

This a long book, therefore a long post. Buckle up, and if you need to brush up on the first six installments, here they are: Book 1, Book 2, Book 3, Book 4, Book 5, Book 6.

Let's begin at...:

*Page 8: Malfoy glanced sideways at his wife. She was staring straight ahead, quite as pale as he was, her long blonde hair hanging down her back, but beneath the table her slim fingers closed briefly on his wrist. At her touch, Malfoy put his hand into his robes, withdrew a wand...

*Page 61: As the pain from Harry's scar forced his eyes shut, his wand acted of its own accord. He felt it drag his hand around like some great magnet, saw a spurt of golden fire through his half-closed eyelids...

* Page 171: "SHUT UP!" Harry bellowed, directing his wand at her, and with a bang and a burst of red sparks, the curtains swung shut again.

(Such violence and hatred associated with these male/female encounters. Rowling really needs a shrink.)

* Page 203: Every nerve in his body seemed to tauten: He pulled out his wand, moved into the shadows...

* Page 291: Harry's scar kept prickling. It happened most often, he noticed, when he was wearing the Horcrux.

(She's usually not this blunt. But what could a "Horcrux" be, if not the crux (i.e., the nethers) of a whore? Not content with such bluntness, she plunges on into more bondage themes...)

* Page 422: "Okay then," Hermione whispered. ... "Please, Ron! Harry, hold on tight to my hand, Ron, grab my shoulder."

* Page 472: Panting, Harry peered around the edge of the sofa. ... "Drop your wands," she whispered. "Drop them, or we'll see exactly how filthy her blood is!" Ron stood rigid, clutching Wormtail's wand.

* Page 587: Harry recognized Rowena Ravenclaw from the bust he had seen at Luna's house.

* Page 726: Hands, softer than he had been expecting, touched Harry's face, ...crept beneath his shirt, down to his chest... He could hear the woman's fast breathing, her long hair tickled his face. He knew that she could feel the steady pounding..."

(Deep breath. Then further down the same smutty page...)

The whisper was barely audible; her lips were an inch from his ear, her head bent so low that her long hair shielded his face from the onlookers. ... He felt the hand on his chest contract; her nails pierced him.

Still with me? Well, that's it. Been trying to think of a nice summary, but all I can come up with is: "Eww." So I'll leave it at that.

Now I'm going to read one of those "Golden Compass" (rhymes with "hump us") books. You know, just to protect the innocent...

"My name's not Mark...

...and who you calling a beast?"


Jenn and I are in Panera Bread Co. this morning. I'm in a T-shirt and worn jeans, and Jenn is just as casual. I'm unshaven and clearly haven't been to church this fine Easter morn. It was a backup plan for breakfast, when we discovered that Publix was closed. Curses! Anyway, we get a couple of tall (which is, "small") coffees and a muffin and a pastry for breakfast.

The total?

"Six sixty-six," the cashier says.

Perfect. I asked her if she'd take payment in the form of 30 pieces of silver. I don't think she got it.

"He walked up to the temple
With gold in his hands
And he bought off the priests
And propositioned the land
And the world was his harlot
And laid in the sand
While the band played six-sixty-six"
-- Larry Norman, "Six Sixty-Six"

(Most folks think this is a Frank Black & the Catholics song. That's actually a cover of the original, mid-1970s Larry Norman version. Norman was one of the original Jesus-rock hippies, a founder of contemporary Christian music in the small window before it started sucking. (It's true. There was such a time.))

22 March 2008

Whew!

Been kinda busy. Here's my weekend picks. And here's a piece I wrote on a high school class what did an egg drop. I'm told Sonya's interview with the Easter Bunny, of which I had a little hand (rabbit's foot?) in, will be reposted online tomorrow.


And in Monday's paper, barring some big breaking news, I'll have a piece taking a closer look at the planned route for Columbus' 11-mile Rails to Trails project. I scouted much of the trail on Thursday, on Donkey the Scoot. It was great filling-jarring fun.

Before the weekend is out, I'll post, finally, Dirty Harry Potter, Book VII.

20 March 2008

Poor Ty-D-Bol Man

Thanks, Cath. Sort of.
I know what you're wondering. You're wondering whatever happened with the girl who sat on her boyfriend's toilet for two years. Well, here's the latest poop (ahem). It's sad.

Boyfriend's being charged. Woman might be left in a wheelchair henceforth. And a nation of readers scratch their heads and wonder, "What the hell...?"

And if you don't get the headline, you're too young. Here's a vintage commercial on YouTube.

WWGIJD? (What Would G.I. Joe Do?)

From the Department of Huh?: FAO Schwarz will reportedly soon be offering "Ugly Betty" dolls, from Madame Alexander. And yes, the doll (see photo) is no uglier than Betty is on the show, which is to say, not.

The dolls will retail for about $45 and be available in June — right around the probable start of Season 3 of the show — making my old Star Wars figures look like a real bargain. Of course, they're 18 inches tall, making my old Star Wars figures look like shrimps.

Happy to be stuck with Badu

Montgomery, Ala.'s Jubilee CityFest has announced Erykah Badu as the Saturday night headliner for the May 23-24 festival. Angie Stone, Three Days Grace and Huey Lewis & the News also are booked. CityFest is one of the few city festivals of this sort that's been able to survive (unlike Columbus' Riverfest or even Atlanta's Music Midtown), and I'm guessing it's because they don't bring in too many big names (like MM did) and the names they do bring in are great talents (unlike, sad to say, Riverfest in its past few outings).

And while I'm pimping music festivals and cool female black vocalists, I'd be remiss not to remind folks that Angelique Kidjo is booked for the Savannah Music Festival (along with Bela Fleck, Stewart Copeland (that's right, Stewart Copeland), the Blind Boys of Alabama, Jerry Douglas, Marty Stuart, and many more). The fest runs today through April 5. Kidjo is March 29.

19 March 2008

Carpal tunnel never felt so good...

Thanks to Sandra O for the link.
Forget environmental chic. Maybe it's time again for chic for chic's sake.

Like this guy, who does lots of cool stuff. Like a $1,000 modded up computer keyboard. It's gorgeous — of course, it had better be — with metal or aged wood finishes, mechanical keys, and manual typewriter keycaps. One of his models, "The Industrial," features feet made from old transmission planetary gears and keys made of hex nuts.

Also check out his Steampunk Laptop, looking like it escaped from an old "Max Headroom" episode.

Nobody knows it

So Jeff asks me, "What the hell happened to Kiki Dee?"

The better question is, "Who the hell cares?" Right?

But I won't go breakin' Jeff's heart. I couldn't if I tried. I don't think he actually expected me to have kept tabs on the woman best known for her duet Elton John in 1976. But I guess he was curious.

I did find out that she released an album as late at 2005, and a DVD just this year, with guitarist Carmelo Luggeri ("Who?" you may ask. To which, the answer is: "Exactly"). But really, even learning all this hasn't made me any more interested in Miss Kiki.



Kiki Dee (right) with Elton John. I mean, some other dude.

18 March 2008

Leper-con

In today's paper, or at this link, you'll find what I promise is the last bit I'll write about St. Patrick's Day for at least a year. Once you're over your green beer hangover, give it a read as a way to put Irishness behind you for another 12 months.

And here you'll find today's piece on reinstating P.E. in elementary schools, if you care about such things. I can't imagine school without P.E. ... I was partial to dodgeball, and also what we insensitively called Smear the Queer. When our parents found out about that name, we had to change it. But I don't think they like Kill the Man with the Ball much better.

Pronoun trouble

There's lots of good music out today. Daniel Lanois' got a new film/CD combo called "Here Is What Is," and Daniel doesn't record bad records. There's a new set from Destroyer.

But most curious is this awkwardly named act She & Him. It's actress Zooey Deschanel (the she, we must assume) and M. Ward (the he). When I acted surprised at Zooey's move, Lils said, "She's got a good voice. Didn't you see 'Elf'?" No. No, I didn't. Anyway, there's a strong girl-group vibe on the songs, which is no surprise to M. Ward fans. Deschanel's voice is sort of a cross between Cat Powers' and Iris Dement's -- smoky and thin, but strong in its way. It's worth a listen. Not sure the cover of "You Really Gotta Hold on Me" was a good idea, though

17 March 2008

Mighty morphin': The sequel

Wasn't happy with the hair morph on Steve Buscemi. So I gave it another go, with yet another unattractive star. Can you guess who?

I would like to state, for the record, that my closest match was David Beckham. But morphing into Beckham's not really funny...

MyHeritage: Celebrity Morph - Family heritage - Family name history

Living for the day

There's a new addition to the all-too short list of Chick Flicks That Don't Suck. "Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day" is wonderful. It's not a earth-shattering film by any stretch, but it's got a couple of surprisingly deep sentiments and an important singular message.

Oh, and fellas: We get to see the lovely, doe-eyed Amy Adams in the buff, albeit unfortunately brief and (also unfortunately) tasteful.

I've got an ongoing debate with co-workers and Jenn about why films for the ladies are too often vapid and shallow, when, conceptually, they could be full of character development and real-live emotion. And yes, I'm awared of the irony of me complaining about that right after cheering Adams' nudity. Nudity doesn't have to be vapid and shallow, I say.

So far on the list of ones that don't suck, we've got "Love Actually," "Stardust," "The Family Stone," and now "Pettigrew." I'd probably also put "Breakfast at Tiffany's" on there. I know there are more that aren't coming to me right now. And I'm happy to accept nominations. Comment away, readers.

16 March 2008

Sports nuts?

Got in from St. Patrick's Day weekend in Savannah. Yeah, I know I came back, technically, a day early. But everything's winding down since it's now Holy Week and all.

Speaking of religion, this group of dunderheads was protesting all the debauchery in one of Savannah's squares on Saturday:
OK, I understand, however wrongheaded, the radical Christian's hatred of stuff like pro-choicers, gay people, Mormons and lovers of porn. But what the hell did the sports nuts do to them?

Maybe it's for all those football games on Sundays.

14 March 2008

"And then I heard a double-gobble..."

A Newnan, Ga., man was on Letterman last night, showing off his championship turkey gobble. And I mised it. And it's not on YouTube. (Yet.)

Curses.

There is, however, an entertaining text-based retelling on the "Late Night" site. Here's the pertinent bit of writer Michael Z. McIntee's recap:

Doug's eastern gobbler sounded something like this: Gobble gobble gwock gwock gwock gobble gwock." I laughed while Doug was performing his eastern gobbler when I heard Dave remark, "He's not that good."

...

While you're waiting for someone to do the video upload, go track down a copy of "Vernon, Florida." It's one of the saddest, funniest documentaries about crazy crackers you'll ever see. And it's by Errol Morris, a guy who would later win an Academy Award for his documentary filmmaking. It's got lots of vignettes about turkey hunting.

13 March 2008

Bad news for the wife...

Here's an equation for ya.

(Your own personal pictures) + (face recognition software at MyHeritage.com) = (all sorts of freaky stuff). Want a montage of stars you look like (kind of, if you squint)? No problem.

Here's a short video it made of me morphing into one of my look-alikes. Jenn, you've got this to look forward too, apparently...

MyHeritage: Celebrity Morph - Draw family tree - Family website

Akon in Tigertown

The Auburn Plainsman today reports that rapper Akon will perform for the college's spring concert on April 9 at Beard-Eaves Memorial Coliseum — though a contract has yet to be signed. The concert is free for AU students. Time is TBA.

Here's the bad news: There will be no outside admission. So apply now for those audit courses if you're a fan...

I vote for the one in Wichita...

OK, what are the odds that, hours after I post that bizarre Wichita toilet-dweller story below, there's a press release in my in box for the following?:

Cincinnati, Ohio – Less than a month remains to collect nominations for the coveted “America’s Best Restroom Award VII,” presented by Cintas Facility Services. Nominations will be accepted until April 7, 2008. Up to 10 finalists will be announced in May, at which time the Internet public will be asked to cast their votes. The winner will be announced in August of 2008 and receive the coveted “America’s Best Restroom” plaque of recognition from Cintas. The top five vote-getters will secure their place in the “America’s Best Restroom Hall of Fame” found at www.bestrestroom.com.

(I wonder if there's any hyperbole in that paragraph. Coveted "America's Best Restroom" plaque? Best Restroom Hall of Fame? Egad.)

Jungle Jim's International Market, Fairfield, Ohio
(2007 America's Best Restroom Hall of Fame)

12 March 2008

What the flush?

Can't make this stuff up. A Wichita woman sat on her boyfriend's toilet for two years without coming out. The boyfriend isn't sure why. He'd bring her food and water every day and ask her to come out, to which she'd respond, "Maybe tomorrow."

You gotta read the story. Big question: Why it took the boyfriend two years to report to the police that "something might be wrong with my girlfriend." When they took her out, the seat had to go too. Her skin had grown into it and her legs had atrophied.

I just hope it was a two-bathroom flat...

Oh, oh. One more thing. The sheriff quoted in the story has the honest-to-god surname of Whipple.

Down at our rendezvous

Sometimes, you just gotta hear the "Punky Brewster" theme song. That must be why someone set up this TV Theme Music and Songs database, complete with streaming craptastic themes you've tried so hard to forget. (Thanks to Maggie & Bandit's momma for the link. But then, thanks may not be the right word...)

What's funny is to listen to the evolution of soap operas' themes, from the early piano-and-organ riffs that sound straight off of old radio soaps to the modern heavy-breathers. I clicked on the 1976-era "General Hospital" theme, which, sadly I remembered. Today, it sounds more like a western than a soap, what with all those trombones and such. But rudiments of that theme survived well into the '90s, albeit saxed up, Big-Kenny-G-style.

Worst theme song ever? Hard to say definitively, but it might be "Too Close for Comfort" which, in one minute, synthesized everything bad about '70s music and stuck it in front of an '80s show.

11 March 2008

Term limits are up

What the hell is with a new release, "These Are the Good Times, People," by the Presidents of the United States of America? Haven't we heard quite enough of their trademarked "witty banter"? (Yes. Yes we have.) More like, these were the good times... before you decided to record another album.

Stuff that might actually be good that's out today includes:

Destroyer, "Trouble in Dreams": This guy always reminds me of The Waterboys. If The Waterboys were Canadian.
Jason & the Scorchers, "Lost and Found"/"Fervor": Their first EP and LP together, again, on one CD. (Say out loud five times fast.) Though they did some great work later, this is their only essential disc, with more energy and crazy guitar work then they'd ever be able to reproduce again.
Black Crowes, "Warpaint": OK, it may not be good. But now I want to hear, since it was panned by Maxim before they ever listened to it.
Shawn Mullins, "honeydew": I can vouch for this one (and do, in today's column in the real paper).

Opening soon (if 67 days is soon)

Our local theater chain often can't tell us what's opening in the Peachtree 8 on a given Friday. But you can curiously buy tickets now for the second Narnia movie, "Prince Caspian." That's right, the film that opens May 16 — or nine weeks and four days from now.

Sigh. Carmike.

And speaking of fantasy books (OK, so I haven't mentioned, specifically, that the movie is based on Confederate Steam Ship Lewis' famed series of fantasy books. But there. I just did.), I promise to bring y'all the long-overdue final installment of Dirty Harry Potter soon.

Wait, is this an MGM film?

Catherine the great

This quote comes from an interview with Catherine Zeta-Jones that appeared today in a Welsh newspaper:

“I think it’s just a natural progression," she said. "I’m 38 years old and I’m going to play more mums than sex symbols."

To which there is only one natural reaction:

Nooooooooooooo!

10 March 2008

No one puts bravery in a corner

I wish Patrick Swayze well and all, in his fight against pancreatic cancer. I promise I'm not being sarcastic, even if he is a sucky actor.

But what I'm really tired of is moronic morning newscasters gushing about his "brave fight against cancer."

Coming out of the closet? Brave. Cliff diving in South America? Both brave and stupid. Attacking the jet's hijackers and forcing it to crash at your own peril but saving the lives of others? That there's bravery, folks. I don't think an action can really be called "brave" when the only choices are a chance at life, or death. (United 93's passengers had to choose between death and death.)

That said, I wish Swayze strength, peace, wellness and more sex with Jennifer Grey. Shout it with me: "Wolverines!!!"

09 March 2008

No whimper with this wine

Cath, the rock star over at A Blithe Palate, knows she's my culinary and wine-related hero. But this guy is a very close second. Many thanks to Porkchop Gomer for pointing me his way.

His name is Gary Vaynerchuk ("That's 'vay-NURRR-chuck,' he bellows), and he looks like a drinking buddy or a sports fanatic, or that spaz you used to shoot spitballs at in high school. But he clearly knows his vino, and he's funny as hell. He describes one wine's color as "a little more Ric Flair-ish than Hulk Hogan." ... It's worth watching all the way to the end, when you've got a spare 10 minutes (and the company's high-speed, right?). He even makes running down a calendar of events interesting.

07 March 2008

Oh. My. God.

Not sure what was worse: Flipping channels last night and seeing all the grown, gray-headed Osmonds dancing around with those little-boy moves, or seeing that there were thousands of people in the audience screaming with glee. Sometimes PBS sucks.


They are, however airing a few cool music programs in the coming days. At 8 p.m. Monday there's a tribute to the gospel roots of Johnny Cash's music. After that, at 9:30 p.m., is an Elvis Presley concert in honor of the 25th anniversary of the point where he ran off and became a short-order cook somewhere in Itawamba County, Mississippi*.

* I mean, died.

Long division, yeah

Been careless and forgot to let folks know that you can hear the first single from the forthcoming Old 97's record on the band's Web site. The song's "Dance With Me." It's good, if a bit of a re-tread (reminiscent, but better than, "This Is What We Talk About," off "Fight Songs"). It just sounds really good to hear the ramshackle guitar again, with the gain cranked up to the raggedy edge.

"This old nightclub stole my youth,
This old nightclub stole my true love.
It follows me around, from town to town.
I just might get drunk tonight and burn the nightclub down."
-- Old 97's "Nightclub"

06 March 2008

Ugh.

Pretty sure I'm not supposed to wake up in the middle of the night shivering and shaking uncontrollably. Unless I suddenly turned uber-emo. (Sweet!)

Think I've got some residual fever-y issues from the bike wreck. The knee still pink and hot, though not too swollen. Hurts like hell, needless to say, but I don't think there's an permanent damage.

I was going to post a bit of lyric from "Everybody Hurts" here, in honor of both the wreck and the April 1 new R.E.M. But I'm not suicidal, so it seemed inappropriate. Instead, I'll post a bit of lyric from my single favorite R.E.M. tune, "Wendell Gee" (which, apparently, Peter Buck hates).

"He was reared to give respect
But somewhere down the line he chose

To whistle as the wind blows

Whistle as the wind blows with me"

-- R.E.M., "Wendell Gee"

05 March 2008

Where 'Wolf'?

Blot out this date on your calendars, film and animation buffs: March 26.

That's when PBS will air "Peter and the Wolf," the stop-motion animated piece that won the Academy Award for best animated short film two weeks ago. The 32-minute film is told without dialog. I'm most curious, though, about animator Suzie Templeton's earlier film, "Stanley," in which a man falls in love with a head of cabbage. Rotten luck, eh?

(Get it? Rotten?)

The film is slated to air at 8 p.m. (Eastern, i.e., "Correct" time), but as always, check before setting your VCRs and Tivos.

04 March 2008

Zero h.p.

Gary Gygax
1938-2008
D&D creator, 17th level thief (of Tolkien's work), geek hero

More geriatric rocker news

Back in August, I gently ribbed the Van Halen reunion tour. There may have been some age jokes. And then a fan (among who I count myself) posted a comment that said, "Hold on to your shorts fellas....THEY'RE BACK! EVH and DLR are ripped with six pack abs, musically tight and throughtly on top of their game. Never better."

So I wonder if there's any genuine surprise to hear that those hot-for-teacher players are canceling U.S. tour dates, due to a "mysterious illness" that Eddie's suffering. I'm assuming that if this were another bout with cancer or a second hip replacement, they'd just tell us. Instead, we must conjure up our own possibilities.

My money's on prostate.

"You better call up the ambulance
I'm deep in shock
Overloaded baby
I can hardly walk"
-- Van Halen, "Somebody Get Me a Doctor"

Sympathy for the Jagger

This, of course, is all the buzz: That the Hell's Angels planned to kill Mick Jagger in 1969. Here's the story and a couple groovy photos of Jagger on stage with the bikers working security in front of him. Zoiks!

Apparently they were miffed when he fired them from concert security, following an incident where they sort of killed an 18-year-old fan in the infamous Altamont Speedway incident. At least, they were blamed...

When questioned about the new revelation, Keith Richards (a.k.a. Satan, therefore, theoretically head of Hell's angels) denied any knowledge of the plot.

03 March 2008

Movie marathon

One good thing about being so busted up that I didn't actually feel like doing anything over the weekend: I caught up on a lot of movies.

Starting with Alfred Hitchcock's "Rebecca" — which is from 1940, so you can see I had a lot of catching up to do. Of course, it was dark (No Sunnybrook Farm anywheres). This was his first American film, based on a Daphne du Maurier story, and it was very good. Didn't feel very Hitchcockian until the last act. Still, it's one of the Best Picture winners that actually stood the test of time.

Also caught "The Good Shepherd." Funny story. I'd rented this before, and Jenn convinced me that I'd already watched it on the plane. Returned it. Realized later she was confusing it with "The Departed." Also watched "Hard Candy," starring Juno. Excruciating, but well done. ... I've still got "Ocean's 13" and "Monster House" waiting at home.

01 March 2008

Death Race 2008

Cat away, mouse play, right? I've been hankering to ride my bike for a few weeks now, but never want to do it when Jenn's around. Cuz she's got a crummy cruiser one-speed and can't go with me. So anyway, she was off this morning on a spring break trip, and I thought I'd spin down the Riverwalk for a bit.

I almost didn't wear my helmet. "This is just a joyride," I thought. "It's not like I'm going to be racing." But I wore it anyway, with the thought that even a low-speed wreck that wasn't my fault could be deadly without the hat. I guess I'm officially old. Whatever.

Turned out to be fortunate. The bike slipped on a bit of parallel railroad track I was trying to cross. Before I even realized I'd lost my balance the bike went out from under me and I was on the road. I sat on the curb about 10 minutes, waiting for me knee to stop bleeding and making sure nothing was broken. (Landed on my right wrist, it's pretty clear, and it folded under. It hurts. It's bleeding. But it ain't broke.) I dug an impressive quantity of gravelly bits out from both hands, found a Quizno's napkin (cleanish) blowing about to dab up some pooling blood, retracked my chain and started home. It was a long 3 miles.

I'd post some grotesque pictures, but Jenn took the camera with her. Lucky you.