April 24, 2008

Bob and Ray

Bob Elliot and Ray Goulding (known as “Bob and Ray”) started as a radio comedy team and later went into television. I vaguely remember them being on the Johnny Carson show when I was a kid. Their comedy was subtle and dry and not controversial or profane unlike what passes for much of comedy today. Back in the early 80’s National Public Radio used to play an hour of Bob and Ray routines on Sunday mornings; my roommate and I never missed one, in fact we recorded them on cassette tape (remember those?) Some of the routines made us laugh so much it hurt.

Some of their routines were:
“The 64-Cent Question”

“Garish Summit” - a soap opera that “recounts the petty squabbles for power among the family members who own a lead mine

"Lawrence Fechtenberger, Interstellar Officer Candidate" "brought to you by chocolate cookies with white stuff in-between."

Other fictitious sponsors were:

“Monongahela Metal Foundry "Casting steel ingots with the housewife in mind"

Einbinder Flypaper "The brand you've gradually grown to trust over the course of three generations"

The Croftweiler Industrial Cartel "Makers of all sorts of stuff, made out of everything"

Grime, "the magic shortening that spreads like lard."

This is Bob and Ray with "Slow Talkers Of America"

And "The 4th Of July Parade"

April 22, 2008

Catch Up On "Lost" In Under Five Minutes!

My favorite TV show since NYPD Blue ended.

April 18, 2008

New Madrid Superman

We left our windows open last night. I was dreaming this morning of dogs howling and barking to themselves while I was slowly floating forward, prone and westward just above Saint Clair Drive; my arms were outstretched, superman style. I couldn't see the dogs as much as feel them from their back yard hiding places; their sounds, menacing. My body started buffeting from an unfelt wind and I was coming in for a crash landing. I awoke to the house trembling and the neighborhood dogs barking; the trembling subsided. It may have been the wierdest dream I've ever had; I consider myself lucky I woke up before the crash landing considering the scientifically proven fact that if you hit the ground, it's an automatic fatality and you wake up dead.

April 13, 2008

Ani Di Franco

Listening to Ani Di Franco is sometimes like listening to a poem. Di Franco is classified by some people as "folk rock". I don't think you could really pigeon hole her genre. She's an original. She's performed in Louisville two or three times but I've never seen her live. By all accounts her live shows are outstandinger than hail. This is a song called "Fuel". The "song" is about..ummmmm..cultural homogenization...maybe?


"Fuel"

They were digging a new foundation in Manhattan
and they discovered a slave cemetary there
May their souls rest easy
Now that lynching is frowned upon
And we've moved on to the electric chair
And I wonder who's gonna be president, tweedle dum or tweedle dummer?
And who's gonna have the big blockbuster box office this summer?
How about we put up a wall between houses and the highway
And you can go your way, and I can go my may
Except all the radios agree with all the tvs
And all the magazines agree with all the radios
And I keep hearing that same damn song everywhere I go
Maybe I should put a bucket over my head
And a marshmallow in each ear
And stumble around for another dumb-numb week
waiting for another hit song to appear
People used to make records
As in a record of an event
The event of people playing music in a room
Now everything is cross-marketing
Its about sunglasses and shoes
Or guns and drugs
You choose
We got it rehashed
We got it half-assed
We're digging up all the graves
And we're spitting on the past
And you can choose between the colors
Of the lipstick on the whores
Cause we know the difference between
The font of 20% more
And the font of teriakiyi
You tell me
How does it... make you feel?
You tell me what's ... real?
And they say that alcoholics are always alcoholics
Even when they're as dry as my lips for years
Even when they're stranded on a small desert island
With no place within 2,000 miles to buy beer
And I wonder is he different?
Is he different?
Has he changed? what's he about?..
Or is he just a liar with nothing to lie about?
Am I headed for the same brick wall
Is there anything I can do about anything at all?
Except go back to that corner in Manhattan
And dig deeper, dig deeper this time
Down beneath the impossible pain of our history
Beneath unknown bones
Beneath the bedrock of the mystery
Beneath the sewage systems and the PATH train
Beneath the cobblestones and the water mains
Beneath the traffic of friendships and street deals
Beneath the screeching of kamikaze cab wheels
Beneath everything I can think of to think about
Beneath it all, beneath all get out
Beneath the good and the kind and the stupid and the cruel
There's a fire just waiting for fuel
There's a fire just waiting for fuel
There's a fire just waiting for fuel
There's a fire just waiting for fuel
There's a fire just waiting for fuel.....

April 12, 2008

Our Torch Song

Charlene and I were married in 1988 and at the time Taylor Dane was being played heavily on top 40 radio stations. Today when we're together in the car and a this song comes on, we look at each other with goo goo eyes. Most every couple has "their song". Our's is "Love Will Lead You Back" by Taylor Dane. Besides being our song, I think this is the best torch song ever made. Taylor Dane sings it with passion, she may have even knawed on the studio microphone.

April 11, 2008

Saturday Night Live in the 70's

I found an old Saturday Night Live skit I just had to post. It's one of my favorites of Dan Ackroyd who's doing a parody of Julia Child.



And yet another skit from SNL from the 70's. Dan Ackroyd and the infamous Bassomatic.

Gilbert Jones Stories

Going to my grandparent’s old farm a week ago seems to have stirred up a lot of memories and I’ll share a couple of recollections that, looking back, were quite funny.

I was six or seven years old and I had spent the week on the farm during the summer. The day came when it was time for the drive back home. It was just Grandpa and me in his truck. I’ve forgotten why Grandma didn’t come but it was probably a good thing she didn’t. We were almost to Ballardsville when Grandpa’s truck started to overheat; steam started pouring out from under the hood and I can remember Grandpa pulling over to the side of the road near a bridge, over an almost dried up creek.

Grandpa got out, lifted the hood, and after the engine cooled down a bit, unscrewed the radiator cap. He then started looking around for something. He found a discarded quart milk carton on the side of the road that had a small hole in the bottom. He looked down the steep embankment that ended at the creek and started down through the small trees and undergrowth, disappearing from sight.

After what seemed forever I could hear him hurrying back up the embankment. He reappeared with the milk carton, water coming out of the little hole at the bottom. He poured in what little water remained in the radiator. “Well sheeeeut.” It took what may have been fifteen trips up and down the embankment and no cars came by the entire time. I learned quite a few cuss words that day: g@wd d@mn, $0n 0f @ B1tch and so on.

This second story is about my brother, Brad, who could talk a blue streak when he was little. If you had tied his tongue to his leg, he would’ve walked himself to death. It was always a million questions with Brad.

One day Dad got after Brad for asking too many questions and Grandpa, coming to Brad’s rescue, said “how’s a little guy going to learn anything if he doesn’t ask questions?” It may have been the following week that Brad went to the farm to spend the week. The end of the week, Brad came home. That weekend Brad started to ask Grandpa a lot of questions. Finally, exasperated, Grandpa said “you know Brad, if you kept your eyes open and your mouth shut, you might just learn something.” Dad howled.

April 9, 2008

Music

Once or twice a week I'm going to post tunes that I like. I've liked some songs in my twenties that I can't stand to listen to now. I've liked songs in my thirties that I've grown to hate. Same as in my forties. There are a handful of songs that still stand up today.

One of my favorite songs comes from Marvin Gaye. He was a song writer and performer for Motown in the sixties, seventies, and eighties. He wrote an album titled "What's Going On" in 1971. At first, the head of Motown Records, Barry Gordy, refused to release it because it didn't have the Motown "sound". Marvin Gaye refused to write any more music for Motown until Barry Gordy gave in. "What's Going On" was very different for it's time and was one of Marvin Gaye's and Motown Records', biggest sellers. Marvin Gaye was a man ahead of his time. It's hard to believe this song is 37 years old.




The next song is by a band that formed in Athens, Georgia back in 1982 by the name of REM. This band originated the term "alternative rock", songs that weren't widely played on the radio. REM built their following by touring and playing mainly to college age listeners. After a time they became very widely known. This is "Walk Unafraid" released on the album "Up" in '03. I've always thought lyrics were just as important as the song itself so I've included them. Viva La Difference! Yes no?


"Walked Unafraid"

As the sun comes up, as the moon goes down
These heavy notions creep around
It makes me think, long ago
I was brought into this life a little lamb
A little lamb
Courageous, stumbling
Fearless was my middle name.
But somewhere there I lost my way
Everyone walks the same
Expecting me to step
The narrow path they've laid
They claim to
Walk unafraid
I'll be clumsy instead
Hold my love or leave me high.

Say "keep within the boundaries if you want to play."
say "contradiction only makes it harder."
How can I be
What I want To be?
When all I want to do is strip away
These stilled constraints
And crush this charade
Shred this sad masquerade
I don't need no persuading
I'll trip, fall, pick myself up and
Walk unafraid
I'll be clumsy instead
Hold my love or leave me high.

If I have a bag of rocks to carry as I go
I just want to hold my head up high
I don't care what I have to step over
I'm prepared to look you in the eye
Look me in the eye
And if you see familiarity
Then celebrate the contradiction
Help me when I fall to
Walk unafraid
I'll be clumsy instead
Hold my love or leave me high.

Walk unafraid
I'll be clumsy instead
Hold my love or leave me high.

April 7, 2008

The Hunters

I’m guessing it was November 1965 on my grandparent’s farm just outside of Franklinton, Kentucky; it may have been the Sunday after Thanksgiving. It was afternoon, and grandfather, father, my brother Brad, and I went on the last quail hunt of the long holiday weekend, southward toward the hill: one of the highest points in Henry County. Brad and I didn’t have shotguns yet but we loved to watch the hunt. The hunters had a blue belton english setter named King to scour, nose down, the hollows stretched out before us. If we were lucky, while cresting the hill, the three or four jets would come screaming in low, wing to wing, out of the west.

We didn’t know, but soon after we headed south to hunt, my sister, Janet, decided that she wanted to come watch the hunt. Grandma, Mom, and my little sister, Amy, stayed while Janet left the farm house to catch up with the hunters. We had told them we were heading north and changed our minds after we left the farm house, and headed south. Janet put on her sky blue coat and headed north, away from the hunters, across the gravel road to the hollows beyond.

The hunters were cresting the hill. “Here they come!” I said. There was a low rumble to the west and we turned to look left and saw three dots, low on the horizon, approaching fast. The rumble became an ear splitting throaty scream as the jets flew nearly in front of us, so close you could see the silhouettes of the helmeted pilots in their cockpits. In seconds, the jets were miles to the east, the heat from their engines distorting the air around the rumbling, receding dots. The rumbling faded to nothing and from atop the hill you could see for miles the quiet, vast countryside.

Janet had crossed the road and walked down the gradual slope to the tree choked hollow. Walking through the hollow, there were no signs of the hunters. Janet thought maybe they would be over the next rise so she continued on over the hill and down into the next hollow. She felt her panic stir along with rumble of the jets in the distance. Where was her father? Surely he would be close by somewhere. She realized she was lost and afraid to try and find her way back to the farm house and afraid of getting farther away from the hunters. She decided to stay put, sat down on a fallen log, and tried not to cry.

Walking down the south side of the gradual slope from the hill, the hunters saw King on set in the hollow. He was standing stock still, his tail standing straight up, as if in a dog show, demonstrating its best show dog pose. Grandpa and dad clicked their safeties off and slowly walked to King, dad saying “stay...stay” in a slow drawn out way:”staaay”. The hunters were not yet close enough when the covey broke in a riotous fluttering of wings. The covey had been over-hunted and knew what was about to happen if they had stayed much longer. Both hunters shot but it was wasted effort. The hunters swung in a large arc and headed back north to the farm house, deciding that the hunt was over for the day.

Janet heard the two distant shots echo around her, but couldn’t tell which way they came from or whether the shots came from her hunter’s guns. She was getting chilled sitting for so long. She pulled her hood over her head and walked in a tight circle, trying to warm herself. “Father will find me”, she thought. She was sure of it, despite the tears she felt coming on.

Mom was getting things together, preparing for the trip back to Louisville when she saw, through the back bedroom window, the hunters coming into the broad, flat lot behind the house. She ran out towards them, a sick, panicked feeling welling up. “Where’s Janet; didn’t you see her?”

Dad knew Janet had most likely gone north across the road to catch up with them. Dad let me ride with him up the gravel road to where he knew there was a good vantage point of the north side’s hills and hollows. The road made a ninety degree left turn, inclining up. He stopped the car and walked up to the overlook. Scanning with Grandpa’s binoculars he saw Janet’s sky blue coat. “You stay in the car and wait, I’ll be back”.

Janet heard her father calling her name and looked up. He was a half mile east of her, waving his arms. She knew he’d come. She ran the rest of the way to him, feeling embarrassment and relief, wiping the tears from her cheeks. She thought her father would be angry.

Janet rode home that evening between her parents in the front seat, her head resting against her father's shoulder, watching the sun on the horizon come through the clouds in slow cart wheeling spokes, first amber, then red. As she dozed off to sleep in the dashboard’s dim green glow, she dreamt of a low gentle rumble, as if an unknowable yet familiar voice, which surrounded her and gave her perfect peace the rest of the way home.

April 4, 2008

Gilbert and Novella Jones

William Faulkner is quoted as saying "The past is never dead, it's not even past." I drove to Franklinton, Kentucky today and Faulkner may have been right, at least in the sense that the past is part of who we are. Franklinton is where my maternal grandparents, Gilbert and Novella Jones, lived and farmed many years ago. As I drove down Franklinton Road which runs off of KY 22, there was the Berea Christian Church, where Novella went most Sundays to attend worship service; Gilbert wasn't a church going man. I think I can remember one Sunday he went when my parents, sisters, and brother went. It was a rarity seeing Gilbert in a tie. Usually you never saw him in other than a plaid shirt, khaki pants, and a straw hat.

Berea Christian Church

I wind down the road and came to a stop sign and there it was, Franklinton. What a shock it was. It had been at least eighteen years since I'd been there; the bank was completely gone. When I was a boy there was a building that simply said "Bank" engraved in the concrete pediment, like a cemetery head stone. Once, I asked my grandfather what happened to this bank. All he said was "It got robbed too many times." Gilbert was a man of few words. One time, when asked how to get rid of wild onions growing in the yard, his one word answer was "die". The rest of "downtown" Franklinton was, for the most part, slum. It looks like Fallujah after a terrorist purge.

Main Street, Franklinton

The road to my grandparent's farm was gravel and didn't have a name when I was a boy. Now it's paved and it's called Hickory Corner Road. I drive less than a quarter mile, and there it is, The Farm, where my mother, Joyce Jones, grew up, where we played, and hunted quail, rabbit, and squirrel. The house hasn't changed much.


It didn't feel at all like I expected it to feel when I first pulled up in the driveway. It was almost as if I had just arrived at a stranger's house. Everything was the same yet just a little off kilter, like putting a pair of exact same translucent photos over each other, but one a quarter inch off the other. There was a car in the drive but no one was home. I was itching to get inside but I probably would've set off a silent alarm system. I could see myself, after taking a few pics inside, coming out of the house, a state trooper with both hands on his gun aimed at my head. "FREEZE M0TH3R F*#KER !!!!


Here a few photos of the Jones Farm


The Dairy Barn (with a Christmas wreath still??) The pond to the right was dug and stocked just for the grandkids to fish.


I left the farm, down Hickory Corner Road, and went to the cemetery, where it took me awhile to find my Grandparent's headstone. Oddly enough, this was where a lot of the memories of the farm came back to me. I miss them both very much.

When driving to and from the Jones Farm I took the way we used to come when we were little, all the way up KY 22, through Eminence, Pleasureville, and Bethlehem. It's changed alot as I expected. I couldn't find the Chat & Nibble Restaurant in Eminence. I think Gilbert used to call it the Choke & Puke. The liquor store, where Grandfather "shopped", is gone. Most of the farms along KY 22 seemed dilapidated. When I was a boy it seemed every farm around the Franklinton area was neat as a pin. Of course there's quite a few subdivisions which have sprung up like the plague, especially around Ballardsville. I took Charlene's car to drive instead of my truck to save on gas. I estimated I burned about twenty dollars worth. Back when we were kids my father probably spent all of two dollars, to and from.

The day was kind of depressing and not at all like I thought it was going to be. I feel my age most certainly but I leave you with a more humorous William Faulkner quote. When asked about the difficulties of writing he said

"If a writer has to rob his mother, he will not hesitate; The “Ode on a Grecian Urn” is worth any number of old ladies."

April 1, 2008

My April Fools Day Off

I took the day off work because I had two doctor appointments, one for my final toe joint replacement x-ray and exam, and one with my cardiologist. My orthopedic appointment was first. I had my right big toe joint replaced with an implant last October. Over the years I've wiped my big toe cartilage away on every tennis court in Louisville. Mobility was becoming a problem and so was the pain. I went into the office and registered at the desk. None of the office staff were wearing big red rubber noses or big clown shoes which was a slight disappointment. Dont these people have any fun around here on April Fools day?

After the obligatory twenty minute doctor's office wait I was finally ushered to the exam room and Melissa, the physician's assistant, looked at and manipulated my toe. I then walked to the x-ray room, had a few pictures taken. Melissa came back and oohed and aahed over the x-rays and discharged me for good. After the surgery, the recuperation took alot of patience but it was worth it. No more pain and I can walk and run normal. No more singles tennis anymore though. It's strictly doubles from now on.


Now it was on to the cardiologist. Again no clown noses or shoes and that slight let down feeling, but it soon passed. Only a five minute wait this time. That's a record, especially in a Kentucky cardiologist office. Kentucky is the capital of myocardial infarctions. Don't you just love that phrase? They took a EKG and I talked with the doc. Everything was fine and I don't have to come back for a whole year!


I got home, Charlene and I went to the gym and did some cardio and weight machines. Some of the treadmills in the new gym we joined have little TV's on them. You plug in your earphones and the time flies. I watched an episode of The Soprano's and Charlene watched HGTV. I hate HGTV. It a channel developed to cause husbands across the nation misery. I'd much rather Charlene watch blood, gore, and senseless violence.


We came home from the gym and Charlene cooked dinner. Salmon croquettes and steamed asparagus. Charlene's a great cook. Without her, I would probably weigh 300 lbs. Everything is made from scratch as much as possible with Charlene's cooking. There's a desert she makes which calls for one package of white cake mix. In the grocery she'll hide the cake mix package in the bottom of the cart. It sometimes borders on Martha Stewart pathological home made syndrome. We're through eating and we had to go and get coffee. Now both Charlene and I buy no ordinary coffee. It's got to be coffee from Fresh Market. None of that Folgers, Maxwell House, or (shudder) Kroger brand tripe. We're both just plain coffee snobs and we say this proudly. I love going to Fresh Market. The classical music, the food aromas, watching the Anchorage snobs peruse the aisles. We buy the Fresh Market Blend whole bean coffee. Charlene actually throws some salami in the cart, bless her heart. I also buy some of these crinkle cut rustic salt and pepper potato chips which are out of this world delicious. My cardiologist would have a myocardial infarction.

Thrills, Chills, And Spills

Last Saturday night was the annual "Circus Of The Students" at Crosby Middle School. My cell phone rang while I was helping the Wickerham's move their daughter, Emily, a few blocks up Frankfort Avenue Saturday morning. "Hello?" "Barry, don't forget about the circus thing tonight at Crosby." "OK, I'm not gonna be that long helping move hon." "Well, don't forget about finishing up the downstairs bath." My Saturday is planned.
Across from Emily's new condo is an old church that may have once been a Baptist church. Across the front of the church hangs a sign which reads, "Louisville Korean Seventh-Day Adventist Church". Now that's a mouthful. I wondered if, when people ask the members where they go to church, they say "We go to the LKSDAC"? Emily told me whenever she was to marry that the LKSDAC looked like a nice church to be married in.

Emily Wickerham and the LKSDAC

After helping with the move, I drove home and finished up work on the basement bathroom, which I wouldn't bore you to death with the details. I'm ok with finish carpentry but I'm by no means an expert. It's an honorable profession as any Christian would tell you.

And now, ladies and gentleman, it was on to the circus. Before the circus we met the Lunte and Cook crews at a restaurant. My sister-in-law, Lisa, was there with my niece and nephew, Jessica and Andrew. Jessica is an aerialist in this year's circus. We also saw identical triplets, classmates of Jesse's, who were to be in the circus also.

The three and only identical triplets!


Hailee brought her friend, Madison, along with her. Madison was telling me about neighbors of hers, who had a hot tub and a home theater system. She said they were "rich". I acted duly impressed.

Madison & Hailee

We arrived at Crosby Middle School and a crowd had already gathered, waiting for the doors to the gym to open. I sat next to my nephew on the top row of bleachers for a better view. If anyone is curious what my brother, Brad, looks like, here he is.

Andrew McClain (a thin, much younger Brad McClain)

The kids who performed at the circus were impressive. P.T. Barnum would've been proud. There were jugglers, trampoliners, cyclists, and the human jump rope (one of the triplets). Jessica was an aerialist and she did a very good job. As a young man heights never bothered me. I used to do all kinds of crazy stunts off a 33 foot diving tower. Now, heights scare the wits out of me. I can feel my stomach flip whenever I have to get on the roof of my house to clear tree debris. Jesse provided the thrills and chills. Thankfully there were no spills.

Jessica McClain

As Sergeant Pepper would've have said "A good time was had by all".