December 31, 2008

Pat Metheny

I'm a big Pat Metheny fan and I never tire of his music. I came across this video of a concert from 1979 when he was a member of Joni Mitchell's band, along with Jaco Pastorius (bass), Michael Brecker (sax), and Lyle Mays (keyboards), an incredible band that performed together on Joni Mitchell's "Shadows and Light" album. This is Pat Metheny's guitar solo from that concert.



This is Pat Metheny much later in his career performing "Last Train Home", one of my favorite Metheny songs. The instrument he's playing is called a choral sitar, a cross between the Indian sitar and guitar.

The Ting Tings

Here's a tune WFPK has been playing. For your mindless, bubblegum, and pure pop enjoyment, The Ting Tings with "That's Not My Name".

Party Like It's 2009

This is the first post I’ve written on the new computer I bought the day after Christmas. You can tell your computer’s about to die when the hard drive starts sounding like a turn signal of a ’68 Dodge and the fan sounds like an idling bi-plane. The mega-chain electronics store I ventured to was mobbed.

Can someone please tell me why some people go out dressed the way they do? You can’t help staring, like slowing down to look at a car wreck. I was walking to the store from where I finally found a parking spot five miles away and saw a girl who appeared to be about fifteen years old. She had festooned herself to look like a character out of The Rocky Horror Picture Show. There was a man, about my age, who looked like he forgot to dress and came out in his flannel jammies.

I might come off as judgmental or snobbish but it seems a lot of people don’t have the least bit of pride in their appearance anymore. I don’t expect everyone to look like they just came from an audience with the Queen of England but at least be somewhat presentable when they’re out in public.

You’ve seen those old photographs, where most of the men are wearing coats and ties, and the women wearing dresses, hats, and white gloves. I guess those days are gone forever.

I bought the computer I wanted and also picked up a copy of Adobe PhotoShop so I could screw up this blog real fancy like. I’ve been messing with it and it’s going to take some time to learn how to tweak photos. The first photo I experimented with was a photo of me and I kept playing around with it until I looked like Mr. Potato Head.

Charlene and I are going to a New Year’s Eve supper club tonight to ring in ’09 and I can guarantee you that we’ll end up dragging our sorry @$$es home well before midnight and struggle to stay awake to watch the ball drop in Times Square on TV. We'll party like it's 2009.

December 24, 2008

December 22, 2008

At The Mall

Last Friday evening my grand-daughter and I were browsing a calendar kiosk in the mall of the mall, (what?) while the others were in a shop, and I heard Hailee say "ooh I want this calendar papa!" It was an Elvis Presley calendar with pictures of Elvi for every month of the 2009 year.
"You know who Elvis Presley is Hailee?"
"Yeah"
"Name a song he did."
"Blue Christmas."
Hailee then broke out in a deep voiced rendition of Blue Christmas, complete with the quivering lip sneer.
Where do kids pick this stuff up?

There's Strong, and Then There's Army Strong

"Gesu Bambino" written by Pietro Yon in 1917.

December 19, 2008

Guilty Pleasure

The Carpenters had a huge hit on their debut album in 1970 called "Close To You". Until today, I didn't know that Burt Bacharach wrote the song. The little trumpet solo makes it even more obvious. I don't know how the guy playing the clarinet got a trumpet sound out of it. I loved this song back in the day. I still do.

December 18, 2008

I Killed Santa Claus

The front door to the house where I grew up was thick distorted glass surrounded by the wooden door frame and at Christmastime there would be a poster of Santa waving to everyone hung on the glass.

I had asked for a bb gun one Christmas which, almost certainly, had caused considerable discussion between my parents. After having asked for it my mother said something like “you’re too young for that kind of thing” and “It’s too dangerous, you’ll shoot your eye out”. My father must have won because on Christmas morning there was the Daisy air rifle with the genuine wood grained plastic stock. I was warned several times to never, ever, never shoot it in the house and to shoot it only in the backyard and then only toward the open field behind our backyard.

It was the morning after Christmas when I was messing around with my new bb gun. I thought it was empty of ammo but there must have been one little bb in there. I took careful aim at Santa Claus and pulled the trigger. To my complete shock and amazement the bb hit Santa right between his eyes, causing a small crack in the glass. I heard the bb ricochet around our living room and can still remember the small copper colored bb that came to rest on the carpet in front me.

From the sound, you might have thought Mom was giving birth to a fifty-seven pound calf. After she chewed me out, she said the words known to strike terror all kids the world over, “Wait ‘till your Father get’s home!” I can remember my sisters and brother looking at me with a mixture of pity and glee. My brother said it turned out to be a good shot and that if the Santa were real it would have killed him dead for certain.

Then And Now

James Taylor, 1970 "Sweet Baby James"



James Taylor recently "Fire And Rain"

December 16, 2008

Abs of Mental Health Steel

I was tagged my Sweet Mango to list five things I do for my mental health. Hmmm, this has the potential to be a funny post, after all, laughter eez good for zee mental health ... yes no?

1. Exercise
Elf ear and I either go to the gym or walk a few miles two to four times a week. There's nothing like building up a good sweat to work out the built up stress. It's good for your mind as well as your body. Sometimes I feel I could work out for hours and other times I have to drag myself through it, but I'm always happy afterwards.

2. Meditation
A long time ago, while the earth's crust was still cooling, I took a class in Transcendental Meditation. I fell out of the practice for many years but now I meditate on the van either to or from work. Researchers have found that meditation reduces your biological age. The man who "invented" TM still died. When meditating you can be super alert and yet feel a deep sense of relaxation, a kind of unconscious alertness. This also happens while I'm reading and my wife is talking to me at the same time. It's helpful in case there's a pop quiz.

3. Mental Gymnastics
If I had the time and money I would be enrolled in some kind of class all the time. There's a guy I work with who's trying to get me to get a Master's in Business Admin degree with him but I simply don't have the time to do it. I love the challenge education offers, it keeps you mentally agile, and it never hurts to keep current on your spit ball skills. There's a night class in photography that I might take sometime.

4. Reading

I inherited the love of reading from my parents, who are still avid readers today. I used to read alot more when I was younger than I do now, but I still read, just at a slower rate. I'm currently reading two books, a biography of Daniel Boone and a Poetry Anthology compiled by Garrison Keillor. Besides the act of reading, I love the physical heft and feel of hard cover books. I rarely buy books in paperback. Just call me a book snob. The wave of the future will be ebooks and I would hate to see that day when it's the only way you'll be able to read. Reading let's my mind wonder, reflect, and see things through other's perspective.


5. Music

Music is the world's universal language. Awhile back willow posted a video which says it all.




Well, that was a fun post to put together...thanks for the tag Sweet Mango!

December 15, 2008

Teensy Christmas Story

Charlene has this oversized handmade cane which is painted with red and white stripes to look like a candy cane. Our three year old grandson, Tristan, loves this thing and every time he’s at our house, he’ll pick it up and inspects it very carefully and sometimes carries it around the house. He’s obsessed with the thing, ignoring all other Christmas bric-a-brac.

At Tristan's home last Saturday a lamp fell over and landed on Tristan’s foot. He cried so hard he quit breathing. After he got control of himself he told his mother that “We’ll have to go to Mimi and Papa’s and get the candy cane to help me walk.”

December 13, 2008

Flawless

Charlene and I drove the the clock man's home and picked up our grandmother clock a few days ago. Jim Duncan had disassembled the clockworks, cleaned, oiled, and reassembled. It works flawlessly. I had to more-or-less do the same for my computer (minus the oiling), since it had caught a malicious adware virus, hence the lateness of this post.

While we were there we bought a c. 1860 wall clock which Jim is going to hold for us until after the holidays. I told Jim how thankful we were in doing the work for us since he usually doesn't usually repair clock for other people. It's very hard to find a person around Louisville who will repair a mechanical clock. Jim buys, restores, and sometimes, sells clocks. Here are a few photos.

















This is my favorite clock in Jim's collection. It's a one handed clock which was made in England c.1730 and in full working order. It can be yours for about eight grand. You can click on the picture for a larger view.




































































































This is the clock we'll hang on our dining room wall after the holidays.
















And last, our grandmother clock back home again and chiming every quarter hour, keeping perfect time.





December 8, 2008

My Half Elf Wife

A couple of weeks ago Charlene told me a funny little story. In the morning she was curling her hair with her curling iron and burned her ear. The burn was so bad it started bleeding so she put a band aid on her ear, wrapping it around the top outside edge. This didn't surprise me as she has burned her ear many times with her curling iron. One day I expect to come home to a little pile of ashes in front of her vanity mirror.

She tells herself she must remember to remove the band aid before she goes to run some errands because her ear looked like some kind of bad make up job for a B horror film.

Of course she forgets and goes to the grocery, the vegetable market, and a few other places. When she gets home she's horrified when she catches sight of her little elf ear in the mirror. I laughed so hard it hurt.

Season Five of Lost

The fifth season of Lost start January 21st. I don't know about you but I'm ready for some escapist TV fare.

December 6, 2008

Charlene, Noelle, and Abby

I found some old pictures while I was rooting around the basement today and I thought I'd scan them.











Abby, Charlene, and Noelle on Christmas Eve
1987. Six months later Charlene and I married.









Charlene and Abby. I'm guessing
Abby's three years old.







Abby at a wedding. Ain't she cute!









Abby and Noelle at Abby's fourth birthday party.

December 2, 2008

The Clock Man

I loaded the grandmother clock into the back of my pickup and took it to a man who has been working on clocks for thirty-five years. The man who worked on it last night, Dick Dixon, recommended it because the workings needed cleaning. Dick and this man have been friends for over thirty years and are both members of The National Association of Watch and Clock Collectors, Inc. (NAWCC). I picked Dick up.

"What's his name Dick?"
"Well, his name is J.R. Duncan, Jim Duncan, people call him J.R., but most of his friends call him Red."

J.R. Duncan is eight-two years old and retired from Western Union and put two daughters through college. He looks more like seventy. Dick and I carried the clock into JR's basement and my jaw dropped. There must have been at least fifty clocks, many of them grandfather clocks. JR collects, buys, sells, and used to repair clocks. Dick talked JR into cleaning my clock so to speak.

The oldest clock he had was made circa 1730 and had wooden clock works. He had restored the decorative wood surrounding the clock itself and it keeps time. I fell in love with a one handed grandfather clock made in 1830 that was fully restored and worth around 8000 dollars. The design was simple, primitive, and had alot of character. JR said I wouldn't want that clock though because you had to wind it everyday. Damn, I was just about to whip out my checkbook too.

When I go to pick our clock up, I'm definitely taking my camera and I'll post them in the future.
I've heard there's a fine line between a collecting hobby and madness but I find myself drawn to antique clocks. They have a indefinable charm to them, an almost life-like personality.

December 1, 2008

Grandmother Clock

Charlene has had this grandmother clock for thirty-four years and it hasn't chimed or kept time in twenty. A clock enthusiast friend came over tonight to take a look at it and after some cajoling, he got it chiming and tick-tocking again just in time for the Christmas season. This is a video of the clock guts exposed (maybe not for the faint of heart) while chiming.

video

1950 Nobel Prize For Literature

On Thanksgiving Day Louisville's newspaper, The Courier Journal, re-printed this speech by William Faulkner. I've read this before. You can even find the actual recording of the speech on the web, his Mississippi drawl included. Although he wasn't very good at speaking in front of crowds, his writing is awe inspiring.

In 1950, after winning the Nobel Prize for Literature for “The Sound and the Fury” and “As I Lay Dy­ing,” American author William Faulkner (1897-1962) gave this speech about the writer’s duty to remind humanity of its great hopes and promise:

I feel that this award was not made to me as a man, but to my work — a life’s work in the agony and sweat of the human spirit, not for glory and least of all for profit, but to create out of the materials of the human spirit something which did not exist before. So this award is only mine in trust. It will not be difficult to find a dedication for the money part of it commensurate with the purpose and significance of its origin. But I would like to do the same with the acclaim, too, by us­ing this moment as a pinna­cle from which I might be lis­tened to by the young men and women already dedicat­ed to the same anguish and travail, among whom is al­ready that one who will someday stand here where I am standing.

Our tragedy today is a general and universal physical fear so long sustained by now that we can even bear it. There are no longer prob­lems of the spirit. There is only the question, When will I be blown up? Because of this, the young man or wom­an writing today has forgot­ten the problems of the hu­man heart in conflict with it­self which alone can make good writing because only that is worth writing about, worth the agony and the sweat.

He must learn them again. He must teach himself that the basest of all things is to be afraid; and, teaching himself that, forget it forever, leaving no room in his work­shop for anything but the old verities and truths of the heart, the old universal truths of the heart, the old universal truths lacking which any story is ephemer­al and doomed — love and honor and pity and pride and compassion and sacrifice. Until he does so, he labors under a curse. He writes not of love but of lust, of defeats in which nobody loses anything of value, of victories without hope and, worst of all, without pity or compas­sion. His griefs grieve on no universal bones, leaving no scars. He writes not of the heart but of the glands.

Until he relearns these things, he will write as though he stood among and watched the end of man. I decline to accept the end of man. It is easy enough to say that man is immortal simply because he will endure; that when the last ding-dong of doom has clanged and faded from the last worthless rock hanging tideless in the last red and dying evening, that even then there will still be one more sound: that of his puny inexhaustible voice, still talking. I refuse to accept this. I believe that man will not merely endure: he will prevail. He is immortal, not because he alone among creatures has an inexhausti­ble voice, but because he has a soul, a spirit capable of compassion and sacrifice and endurance. The poet’s, the writer’s, duty is to write about these things. It is his privilege to help man endure by lifting his heart, by re­minding him of the courage and honor and hope and pride and compassion and pity and sacrifice which have been the glory of his past. The poet’s voice need not merely be the record of man. It can be one of the props, the pillars to help him endure and prevail.

November 30, 2008

The A-B-C's

My grand daughter Hailee. What a ham.

video

November 29, 2008

The Abby of Gesthemani


Charlene and I drove down to the Abby of Gesthemani today to shop in their visitor center and walk around the grounds of the Abby, which was founded in 1848. Gesthemani is located about fifty miles south of Louisville, just south of Bardstown.

As you arrive at Gethsemani you can feel the peace and holiness of the area. Gethsemani is where Thomas Merton (his given name at the Abby was Friar Louis Merton) lived and wrote his many works.

Gethsemani supports itself (as all Trappist Monasteries do) by their own work. They make fruitcake, fudge, and cheeses. The fruitcake is out of this world delicious. They sell all their goods world wide through the Gesthemani Farms websight.























































Grave of
Thomas
Merton



















































November 28, 2008

Thanksgiving Pics



We took
a walk
before
the feast




















Deep
fried
turkey
goodness






Ben
the
maniac
carver





Center-
piece
by
Hailee

November 26, 2008

Templates

Don't ask me why I change templates so much on my blog. There's never a template good enough. Blogspot offers not very much to choose from and I guess I'll have to go outside to look at some of what whoever offers something different. There's a blue million of 'em for free. So if it changes again....deal with it.

Strange Overtones

WFPK have been playing alot of this lately. David Byrne and Brian Eno's "Strange Overtones". I like it. Hope you do to.

A Coffee Snob

I’ve been a coffee snob for over twenty years now. Warning: Good coffee is like premium bourbon, once you try it, all the rest is swill. If you want a good cup of coffee, here’s how to make it. First buy the non-electric Melitta coffee brewer. Any decent gourmet shop should carry it. If not, Melitta.com has them. Melitta recently started making an electric coffee maker. Do not buy this. Coffee will taste the same as all the rest made with an electric coffee makers. I think that it’s because the water is heated by an electric element which gives coffee a kind of slight metallic after taste. The manual Melitta is simply a coffee pot and a cone filter holder that rests on top of the coffee pot. Place the filter in the cone and put the water on to boil.

While the water is coming to a boil let me tell you about the coffee. Buy whole bean coffee and grind it as you need it. It makes a huge difference to make coffee with fresh grounds and I always grind the beans to a literal dust consistency. As far as brand of coffee to buy, that’s up to what you prefer. We buy our coffee from the local Fresh Market. They used to carry Tip Of The Andes coffee, a delicate heavenly brew, but they don’t carry it anymore for whatever reason. I’ve found Tip Of The Andes online. Currently we usually buy the Fresh Market Blend which has a nice balance of light and dark beans.

Ok, the water is just starting to boil. Don’t boil it to death. Put the coffee pot on a stove burner on low. Put seven or eight scoops of coffee dust in the filter and slowly pour the water over it until it reaches near the top of the cone. After the first few sips of the coffee you’re magically transformed into a coffee snob and you might not ever go back to Mrs. Olsen and her swill again.

November 25, 2008

Synopsis

Life passes at a breakneck rate.
Brisk as text messages.
Time only for the executive summary.
The Dummies’ Guide.
The abridged audio download.

The Dow-Jones average.
The brief diversion
of the Breaking News.
The quick synopsis.
The cursory look.

The no-frills stats.
The FAQs.
Reading on a need-to-know basis.
The World at a Glance
in the commuter freesheet.

History a volley of bullet points.

by Dennis O’Driscoll

November 21, 2008

Layla

Eric Clapton wrote the song "Layla" when a band member of Derek and The Dominos in 1970. The band made only one album, "Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs." When the album was released in December 1970, it was a critical and commercial flop. "Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs" has continued to be noticed by critics and has been named one of the best albums of all time. This is certainly one of my favorites.

Ramblings

Walking down the hallway towards the elevator, my footsteps clicked on the floor like echoes of the treadmill I was on last night. I didn’t lift free weights and didn’t use the weight machines. I walked at a brisk pace for forty minutes while watching the console tick off the time. At three point seven mph, I take exactly two steps per second. Most times I feel like I could walk all night, occasionally it’s a push to squeak out one mile. The treadmills are lined up like soldiers in front of the ceiling to floor windows which sweat with condensate. It’s cold outside and the gym is packed with most people plugged into their mp3 players, insulated in each of their own musical preferences. Music used to be a shared event among friends, but this is a thing of the past, except at concerts.

The best concert I remember attending was when Crosby, Stills, and Nash blew into Lexington’s Rupp Arena around 1977. It was a sell-out and the crowd was mellow. I remember that Stephen Stills said something like this was one of the best crowds they had ever performed in front of. The crowd and the band were in synch and as I recall they did three or four encores. As huge as Rupp Arena is, it felt cozy that night. Walking back to our apartment we came to the corner of High and Stone streets. The street signs were missing as usual. As fast as city government could replace them, they would be ripped off the post by some student. Those were the signs of the times, so to speak. I once went to a party close to campus and in the living room, hung on the wall, was the corner of High and Stone. The last concert I went to was to see Chris Whitley around ’02.


This guy at work has a Apple iPhone and there is a free application you can download called Shazam. You hold the iPhone up to a speaker and it can identify the artist, the song, and the CD title within ten seconds. It’s pretty slick. He said he’s been trying to stump it but hasn’t been successful yet. I can’t decide what I want for Christmas, a blue ray player or an iPhone. Charlene will probably give me clothes but I’m still a little kid at heart when it comes to Christmas gifts. My grandmother would buy us underwear.

My sister Janet and her room-mate had a costume party on Halloween; It may have been 1977 also. I rented a gorilla outfit and rode to the party on the back of a motorcycle. We were coming up to the local McDonalds which at the time were selling banana milkshakes. Of course I told Tim to stop and I went in and order a banana shake in full gorilla regalia.

Tim Donovan was a high school friend who moved to Louisville from Chicago. His father would beat him from time to time. He would confide with us and show us his bruises whenever it happened. He died in a motorcycle accident in Bowling Green, KY. Some believed it wasn’t an accident but suicide which, sadly, I think it was.

video

November 20, 2008

Cotton Mather

The singer sounds eerily like John Lennon, in fact this song sounds like a Beatles song. This is the group Cotton Mather with "My Before And After".

November 19, 2008

Tagged By Sydney

I was tagged yesterday by fellow blogger and friend, Sydney (A New Yorker in Houston), to give some personal information about myself. I told her it wouldn’t make for sparkling reading but since she shared some things about her life, I feel compelled to share some fluff about moi.

Back in the seventies I was a tennis playing fool and for a few years was a linesman for the Louisville Tennis Classic which was held every hot steamy August. I got to meet Ilie Năstase, Jimmy Connors, Vitas Gerulaitis, Guillermo Vilas, and Authur Ashe. One day Authur Ashe was waiting for his practice partner. I asked if he wanted to hit a few while he was waiting. He agreed, so we knocked the ball around for about twenty minutes. He wasn’t a half bad player. I still play on occasion. My best shot is the slice backhand which confounds the average player. My drop shot has aged nicely.

I had a mild heart attack back in February ’05 and had a couple of stents place in my ticker which has since re-occluded. I take a hand full of pills every day. Heart bypass surgery might be in my future, hopefully the very distant future. My father survived a heart attack running down a drop shot.

The hardest thing I’ve ever done was earn my Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer (MCSE) certification. Through blood, sweat, and tears I got ’er done. Who says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks?

I attend, am Deacon and Stewardship Chairman of Simpsonville Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). This is one of the friendliest churches in Kentucky, or at least this is what we hear from visitors. I still have an occasional adult beverage and have been known to cuss like a sailor.

One of my biggest passions is music. When I was a little kid, I used to listen to my parents classical music albums on their big honking stereo console. Remember those? They were so big they looked like a sideboard that might have belonged to Cornelius Vanderbilt. I listened to music that was encoded onto wax platters where the sounds were picked up on a needled tone arm which glided across the platter. No ones or zeroes were involved. The crackle and pop sounds gave me the warm fuzzies. I was introduced to jazz by a roomie of mine at U of K, who played drums in the UK jazz band. Joe Ringold was his name and he had four orange crates of nothing but jazz.

I used to be a hippie. Peace man. I have no tattoos.

My older sister, Janet, passed away in June of ’07 after a long battle with melanoma. She was fifty-three years old, which is my present age. At her visitation, it was like all the ghosts of the past were there. It’s too bad that the only time you see friends you haven’t seen in forever is at a funeral visitation. Ever since her death I think more about the shortness of life and reminisce about the past. I figure I’ll snap out of it any day now.

My field is Information Systems and I work for Kentucky Higher Education Student Loan Corporation (KHESLC). KHESLC is a quasi-governmental state organization, whatever that means. Our Vice President can’t explain it either. I work in the Network Services Branch. When ask what I did for a living, I told my cardiologist that I was a network analyst. He asked if that involved watching a lot of TV. I thought he was trying to be funny but he was dead serious.