June 30, 2009

Snowy Job

As soon as I walked in the door yesterday from work, wife said that a sales guy was coming soon to save us money by switching our phone, cable, and internet from Piddly-Local service provider to Mega-National-Company phone, cable, and internet. I was overjoyed and couldn’t wait for our evening walk or gym time to be shot to hell.

The sales guy asked what our Piddly-Local monthly bill was. I told him, knowing that he had his stock sales reaction at the ready. He slowly shook his downcast head. “You’re paying that much?” Oh silly me.

Sales guy asked what I did for a living. I said I was in Information Systems. He blinked twice in quick succession. He then made the spiel of the millions of dollars Mega-National-Company has spent upgrading their network to carry far more data than Piddly-Local can offer. Oh the faster downloading crap life for me.

I’ve thought many times of unplugging myself from the media grid and live the life of Ted Kaczynski or Thoreau….nahhhh. Wife wouldn’t have it and we’ve been massaged by the media far too long. We’re firmly entrenched children of the television age and besides that, I couldn’t survive long, cut off from news about Michael Jackson.

We’ll have a new dish on our roof in a couple of weeks. God bless our TV snow filled souls.

“Most of the luxuries and many of the so-called comforts of life are not only not indispensable, but positive hindrances to the elevation of mankind.”— Thoreau

June 29, 2009

A Thousand Clowns

I was messing around with my shortwave radio the other day and somehow got Michael Jackson on the line. His voice was unclear, coming through a thick wall of cracks, pops, and whistles. This is the transcript.

Where are you?

“I’m not sure; I think we’re in some sort of waiting room limbo. I took a number.”

Speaking of limbo, how did you learn to moonwalk?

"Marcel Marceau tried to teach me that little trick but I could never get the hang of it. I used a stunt double."

Wow, that was some illusion.

"My whole life was an illusion, man."

How do you mean?

"My life was so illusory, I didn’t even know myself. I was miserable most of the time, especially when I got older. I didn’t have the slightest idea how to deal with adults. I never grew up after the Jackson Five and stayed in a kind of mental neverland."

The media about you has been non-stop since your death. It must be gratifying that you had that much effect in the world.

"People who feed on that shit must have no life at all. It’s about nothing but money. Screw ‘em."

How did Jesse Jackson get involved with the Jacksons after your death?

"He’s an old family friend. As a matter of fact, he might be my biological father, well, either Jesse Jackson or Marcel Marceau."

Vinyl Lust

This morning on WFPK's 'Vinyl Lust' segment they played this. It sounded so good, well, at least it sounded good at 6:30 am.

By the way, Sydney and my father win at guessing what the varmit was in the previous post. It's a ferret. I was hoping it was a snipe which Bill Stankus guessed it was. I've hunted for snipes as a boy but have yet to actually see one.

Petula Clark 'Don't Sleep in The Subway'

June 27, 2009

Who's Your Daddy?

I was on the terrace cleaning the marble top table, getting ready to entertain family and I turned and there it was, about five feet away from me. At first I thought it was a baby raccoon but then it had more of a weasel look about it. It walked right up to me and started smelling my feet. Wherever I walked it followed. Wife had a two headed cow when she saw it...she screamed. I took a few pics. What do you think? I think it's a baby weasel.

June 26, 2009

The Byrds and Nels Cline

I was listening to world cafe and they were interviewing guitarist Nels Cline and he was talking about The Byrds and what a major influence they had on him as a musician.

The Byrds with 'Eight Miles High'

This is Nels Cline performing a guitar solo with Wilco's 'Impossible Germany'. You can hear the similarities in the guitar work of both songs. Nels Cline, what a fantastic guitar player.

June 25, 2009

Regina Spektor

Regina Spektor was born in Moscow in 1980 and emigrated to New York with her parents when nine years old. She attended the Manhattan School of Music and started writing songs at eighteen years old.

This is 'Laughing With' from her new album Far, just released two days ago.

Three Miles, Minus 100 Yards

“C’mon Barry, you’re slow as an eight day clock.”

The air was hot and thick. My blood was concentrating in my gut, digesting the food I ate an hour ago. I felt that familiar slight tightness around my chest. My body betrays me. They slow down to my pace. I take a short cut back to the house and they walk on. Soon, we’ll be walking parallel, 100 yards apart.

I feel much better now that the ground is level. Walking past the high school where my wife was homecoming queen, I can hear the exuberant voices of teenage girls practicing field hockey on the football field. The field lights compete with the twilight, the horizon, hazy white-blue gradients to purple above with stars just visible. Even though it’s summer, I feel the fall inside myself, the generation of today almost three times removed from me. A slight sad wistfulness creeps over me. I walk past the elementary school and recall Tristan talking to me at this spot some time ago.

“When I get big, I’m going to this school.”
“When I get big, Mommy’s riding me on the bus to this school.”
“I’m the fastest and strongest."
He motioned a karate chop.
"Hai Yah!”

What fills little boy’s minds with competitiveness and make believe violence? I don’t recall being like that when I was a little boy.

I walk past a playground behind the school. There sits a mother reading a magazine at a picnic table, while her little girl whips through the muggy air on a swing.

I arrive at the house and I see them about 100 yards down the sidewalk. They smile at me. I assume they’re glad I didn’t drop dead somewhere along my path. It would be my favorite way to die….no…make that my second favorite way to die.

Tim Krekel 1950 - 2009

It was a sad day in Louisville yesterday. Our native son, Tim Krekel passed away.

He had released eight albums, Crazy Me (1979), Over the Fence (1986), Out of the Corner (1991), L&N (1998), Underground (1999), Happytown (2002), World Keeps Turnin' (2006) and Soul Season (2007).

Tim’s songs have been recorded by artists such as Rick Nelson, Lonnie Mack, Jerry Reed, Dr. Feelgood, Shakin’ Stevens, Canned Heat, Kathy Mattea, Jason & the Scorchers, Vern Gosdin, BJ Thomas, Delbert McClinton Aaron Tippin, Deana Carter and Kim Ritchey. Many artists have had great success with Tim’s songs. Crystal Gayle had a number one hit with Turning Away in 1984. Patty Loveless also went to number one with You Can Feel Bad, a song Tim co-wrote with Matraca Berg and that also earned Tim a BMI Country Award in 1997. Cry on the Shoulder of the Road, another Krekel/Berg penned tune was a chart topper for Martina McBride. Kim Richey’s version of Come Around, a song she co-wrote with Tim, was used in the 1999 Kevin Costner film, For Love of the Game.

Krekel was Jimmy Buffett's lead guitarist for a couple of years in the late 70’s and again in the 80’s. During his first stint with Buffett, Tim played on Buffett's Son of a Son of a Sailor album and appeared with him on Saturday Night Live.

Tim Krekel performing live in Louisville with "Angel's Share"

June 24, 2009

Great Lake Swimmers

They've been playing this on WFPK lately.

Great Lake Swimmers 'I am Part of a Large Family'

Tempest Tost

Yesterday morning forty-three people were let go from our Louisville office. We had a meeting in our Frankfort office today in which our CEO discussed the lay-offs of the Louisville personnel, the lay-offs coming to our Frankfort office this fall sometime, and the murky, fluid, future waters of KHEAA/KHESLC.

The photos and names of the people who lost their jobs were posted yesterday afternoon on our internal web site. As I used to work a lot at our Louisville office, I knew most of the people who were let go. It was very sad to see those faces. Come this fall I might join those unfortunate ranks unless I’m able to find a position with another company.

"Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

Emma Lazarus

June 23, 2009

Queen Of The Underground

I was looking for a Jesse Malin song called 'Queen Of The Underground' and came across this odd little video.

Heard On The Van This Morning

“Did you hear about that guy who was going to play basketball for U of L on a scholarship?”

“Yeah, they checked his heart out and found something congenitally wrong with it and they’re not allowing him to play.” They said he would probably die on the court if he did. They’re allowing him to keep his scholarship though.”

“I think I read where he had Marfan syndrome.”

“What syndrome?”

“Marfan syndrome, they say that Abraham Lincoln may have had it.”

“Good thing Lincoln didn’t play basketball.”

June 22, 2009

"Pensive Papa"

This was drawn by Hailee. My head is really that round and she captured my mood quite well.

If A Tree Falls

The weather’s been unusually hot in Louisville for the month of June, high 80’s and lower 90’s with lots of rain and powerful thunderstorms. Thank goodness we haven’t lost our power (yet).

The last few years it seems the weather’s nature has changed in more dramatic ways. With the drought ridden hot summers, wind storms, and ice storms we’re facing the music with the excesses we’ve forced on the environment.

Bruce Cockburn ‘If A Tree Falls’

A Perfect Ending

I didn’t care if it was overcast. I went to the pool while wife went shopping. Like most men, I’d rather have all my teeth pulled than wander around a mall looking for doo-dads and gee-gaws.

Laying on the lounge, on the edge of consciousness, I listened to the conversations around me. The disembodied voices seem like they came from a great distance away.

“I like baked chicken a lot better than fried.”

“Johnny, quit licking the fence!”

“We went to Fourth Street Live last night and this is all I felt like doing today.”

“She’s been having so many troubles lately, with the break-up and all that.”

“I like fried better than baked.”

“If I have to tell you one more time Johnny, we’re going home.”

“We drank too much and the sucky band was too damn loud. Everybody was too hammered to listen anyway.”

“You wouldn’t believe what an asshole he’s been since they’ve separated.”

“That’s it Johnny, we’re leaving.”

I called wife and asked her if she knew what time it was. She was still shopping and I told her I’d see her at home later when I got back from visiting my parents.

Dad buzzes me in. They’ve taken up the carpet in the condo building and the floor is bare concrete. There’s the faint smell of carpet adhesive that fills the cavernous lobby and hallway leading to their condo. Mom pours me a coke and I give Dad his father’s day gift.

We talk about their quirky Florida neighbors; Carmen and Gay, my brother, my family, melanomas, Lipitor, health care, and my shaky workplace situation.

I drove home and dogs were on the grill. I opened my father’s day gifts and we ate. Hailee was looking cute as ever, a freckled sight for sore eyes. She spent the night with us. She drew a picture of me and made a father’s day card out of it. I sketched her face and she cut it out to put in her notebook. She asked if I would tickle her face to help her fall asleep. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

June 21, 2009

Bling Bling Daddio & WC Fields

This is B B McClain senior with his great-grandson, Sullivan Arthur.

June 18, 2009

June 17, 2009

No Dead Cat Bounce

I woke up yesterday morning and didn’t feel right. It was one of those headaches that felt unlike a regular headache and my eyes felt funny. When I got to work I sneezed about five times. It’s either my allergies flaring up or a cold. I thought I’d swab my nose with Zicam when I got home. It’s worked for me in the past and it makes a cold a lot milder and quicker to get over.

As soon as I walked in the door yesterday wife asked me if I could smell. I told her if I didn’t take a shower for a few days, I could. She didn’t laugh.

She saw the news about Zicam supposedly causing some users to lose their sense of smell. The FDA has ordered the makers, Matrixx, to take Zicam off the shelves. Matrixx stock price has dropped to fifty percent of its value with not a hint of a dead cat bounce.

There was a class action suit brought by 340 people back in 1999 against Matrixx. The court found in the plaintiff’s favor, awarding 12 million dollars. That makes each plaintiff’s sense of smell worth 34,294 dollars. That sounds like a good chunk of money but after I thought about it, it’s worth a lot more than money to me. Could a trained dog smell for you? What would you call it, a smelling nose dog?

Imagine not being able to smell the rain, the first cut of grass in spring, taste a fine wine, or enjoy good food. A fellow blogger told me that she had lost her sense of smell years ago and one of her big worries was not being able to smell smoke from a fire in her house before becoming larger and dangerous.

My wife said the loss of her sense of smell would be devastating. I agreed with her.

June 16, 2009


The layoffs are coming at my workplace, probably next week. We don't know who will be let go, or how many. You can cut the apprehensive atmosphere with a knife.

Dan Hicks & the Hot Licks 'I Scare Myself'

June 15, 2009

Weekend Fire and Rain

Friday night I helped wife make overnight brick sandwiches. This involves hollowing out herbed focaccia bread that’s been sliced lengthwise. Creamed cheese is spread on the bread. Salami, prosciutto, sun-dried tomatoes, provolone cheese, sliced roasted red peppers, shredded basil leaves, and artichoke hearts are then added. You put the focaccia lid on this and put it in the fridge with a brick on top so the flavors will meld overnight. We had to go out to wife’s herb garden with a flashlight for the basil leaves and we found some bricks out by the garden shed.

Saturday I finished spreading the pile of mulch around our gardens, mowed Abby’s lawn, and mowed our lawn. We went to Tristan’s T-ball game which was a nail biter and, as always, comical. A kid will hit a grounder and if no one stops it (usual case scenario), the whole team will clear the field to run after the ball and there ends up being a mess of piled up kids trying to grab the ball. That’s when the T-ball game looks more like a football game.

After the game we all met at the Middletown Manor for the overnight brick sandwich dinner. They were better than I imagined them to be. After the meal Ben called about four children, the oldest being eight, and left alone by their mother that morning. The eight year old called 911. He thought someone was breaking in. Ben took the call. Ben and other officers kept the children occupied while waiting for Child Protective Services to come and get the children. Ben later found and arrested the mother for child endangerment.

I was lying on the porch couch Sunday reading the newspaper and lasting only a few paragraphs, my eyes fell closed. I rose to half sleep with the rumble of thunder and the rich smell of rain breezing in through the porch screens which sent me to a deeper sleep, my tired bones momentarily retired from cares. I woke over an hour later, the sky scrubbed clean, a light rain still falling, on fire in the sun. I thought of those four children and prayed for them.

James Taylor "Fire and Rain"

June 12, 2009

Abbey Road

Most everyone knows the iconic album cover photo from the Beatles' Abbey Road album. Ever since there are lots of tourists who visit the crossing to have their pictures taken.

This is a time lapse sequence of the famed Abbey Road crossing.

June 11, 2009

The Lawrence Welk Show

As a kid I remember my grandparents loved The Lawrence Welk Show. The Lennon Sisters were a regular act on the show and they sang sugary sweet bland songs with not a hair out of place and dressed just so.

I was watching Saturday Night Live a few weeks ago and they did a parody of the Lawrence Welk show. Please pardon the commercial.

June 10, 2009

A Strange Pairing

Loretta Lynn and Jack White
"Portland, Oregon"

Cherry Wood Smoked Turkey

At a dinner party last night our host and hostess, the Sizemore’s, had prepared a cherry wood smoked turkey. It was a damn tasty bird, along with the mashed potatoes, green beans, and frozen lime salad. Dessert was chocolate cake and coffee if you wanted after which we adjourned to the deck, overlooking a large backyard with open fields and leaden skies beyond the post and wire fence.

We spoke of the Vatican, Bosnia, Istanbul, the Sistine Chapel, the Coliseum, the Parthenon, sheep farming, raccoons, skunks, tomato plants, bamboo, poison ivy, no till gardening, DDT, grandchildren, the Middletown Mafia, illiteracy, frozen vs. iced Margaritas, arrowheads, Cherokee bloodlines, the Trail of Tears, Deadwood S.D., the Old Testament, Ephesians, Catholicism, cantors, and cantatas, .

Daylight had imperceptibly crept to twilight, then to dusk so that all we could see were speaking silhouettes. After hugs and handshakes we gathered to the car to head home. We left sated and satisfied, grateful for conversation with friends and prayerful for those who are alone in the world.

June 9, 2009

Jackie Wilson

Jackie Wilson would have been seventy-nine years old today. While singing "Lonely Teardrops" at a benefit concert in 1975, he had a heart attack and fell from the stage, hitting his head. For almost nine years he remained in a coma until his death in 1984.

Jackie Wilson "Lonely Teardrops"

June 7, 2009

The French Open Tennis Heathen

We went out to a Cuban restaurant last night with friends to celebrate wife's birthday. I woke up this morning and could tell I had a couple of bourbons. I had the lucid makings of a poem in my head but made the mistake of turning on the TV and the thing was washed from my mind.

The Sunday paper peeked out of the box and I carried it back and sitting on the porch, I opened it and found two comics; two Blondie's, two Beetle Bailey's, and two Peanuts. There was just one copy of the news. Letters to the editor spoke about a local off-brand denomination church having a carry-a-gun-to-service-sunday to celebrate our constitutional right to bear arms. Pretty twisted huh? One letter writer said good for them. After reading that I read the comics...twice.

The Swiss and Swede were warming up for their dance on red clay. High definition was made for tennis nuts in mind. While on my second cup of coffee, wife comes out on the porch, looking much younger than she is. I was furtively watching her read the paper. She's a piece of work, an original. I'm a lucky man.

"So, you aren't coming to church?"
"I'm watching the final."
"That's a poor excuse."
"No, it's my tradition."
"Did you see we got two comics in the paper?"

She rolls her beautiful dark eyes at me and leaves for church. She comes back in ten seconds. "Move your truck heathen."

Roger Federer wins his first French Open and tears run down his cheeks. This is the only kind of reality TV I watch.

June 5, 2009

Blue Rondo A La Turk

Dave Brubeck wrote this song fifty years ago today.

The Dave Brubeck Quartet. Blue Rondo A La Turk. (You'll know it when you hear it).

Back In The Day

We all piled in the Rambler for a ride out to Sleepy Hollow. Trees moving past us making the sunlight dapple across our eyes.

"Put in Allman Brothers and play Jessica."
"I will if you quit bogart'n that thing and pass it."

Dickey Betts' meandering guitar washed over us in those carefree days and, being eighteen, we didn't think it implausable for these kinds of days to last forever.

It turned out those carefree days weren't meant to go on forever after all, but we sure had a good time while they lasted.

The Allman Brothers Band "Jessica"

The Flobots

The Flobots are a hip hop band who formed in Denver, Colorado in 2000.
"Handlebars" by the Flobots.

June 4, 2009

Zappa Guitar Solo

Frank Zappa was a prolific musician and a remarkable guitar player. He died of cancer in 1993. RIP.

"Watermelon in Easter Hay" performed live in Barcelona, Spain 1988.

Boz Scaggs

He was born Royce Scaggs in Canton, Ohio and got the nickname “Boz” as a teenager in high school. He first became well known as a singer and guitarist in The Steve Miller band, then went out on his own to make several albums. His most successful album was Silk Degrees which was nominated for several Grammys and won one for Best Song “Low Down”. Everyone and their grandmother had this album in their collection at the time.

One of my favorite Boz Scaggs songs is “Look What You’ve Done to Me”, written in ’80 for the movie Urban Cowboy.

June 3, 2009

Strap That Tool Belt On!

I put my swim trunks on yesterday evening. The leak at the main irrigation shut off had been repaired. It was time to adjust the sprinkler heads and get soaking wet while doing it. It makes me feel like a little kid again.

Our irrigation system is my toy I installed myself fifteen or so years ago and get to open every spring. We have many gardens around our house. Wife is Martha Stewart of the garden and I’m the brute force.

Before irrigation we would spends hours dragging the hose around, watering the impatiens, hydrangeas, peonies, Boston ferns, ghost ferns, Japanese painted ferns, rhodendrons, azaleas….etc. It’s heaven to water the gardens while sleeping.

I love big home projects….Over the years I’ve built.
1. Roughly 30’ x 20’ deck.
2. A winding rock path through our side shade garden.
3. Custom garden shed. (With help from my friends.)
4. A Pergola.
5. Terrace foundation. (A pro poured, dyed, and stamped the concrete.)
6. Privacy fence.
7. An addition to the front of our house with considerable help from two friends. Couldn’t have done it without them. (I’m handy, but not that handy.)

Near future projects.

1. A lattice privacy blind to hide ourselves from that mean, nasty, nosey, and Nazi neighbor woman.
2. An attached carport over the driveway. Wife is sick (and tired) of scraping ice off the windshield.

A dream project is warm water lines under the driveway so I’d never have to shovel snow off that long ass thing again.

June 2, 2009


I was about fourteen or so when my grandfather died. Some parts of his funeral I dimly remember but there are parts I can sharply recall.

At the end of the eulogy the funeral director motioned for my mother, grandmother, and father to stand and approach the open casket for a final farewell. The director then took grandfather’s gently removed the glasses from his face and handed them to grandmother before closing the casket.

Everyone filed out to their cars for the funeral procession to Franklinton cemetery. We rode in a limousine behind the hearse. I was in a jump seat behind the driver’s side. It was a very silent ride along the country roads. On the right there was a steep hillside with four or five men standing next to a black man lying face up, arms outstretched on the ground, his blank eyes stared unseeing at the sky. There were two tractors connected by block and tackle close by.

I still wonder if I was the only witness riding in the limousine that day. If my brother and sisters saw the scene that day, they didn’t say anything about it afterwards. Neither did I.

It was either the day before or the day after the funeral when we drove to pick up the clothes grandfather wore at the time of his fatal heart attack. A brown paper grocery bag with khaki pants and checkered shirt sat on the floorboard near my older sister. Looking at the bag of clothes, she sobbed as we pulled into grandmother’s gravel driveway.

Jesus and The Wizard of Oz

I was messing around in the backyard afer church. It was Easter Sunday and the twins were playing in the adjoining backyard. They're around five years old, a boy and a girl. They were both pulling grass and putting it into a little red wagon, making it look like a giant Easter basket. I could hear their innocent child voices, catching bits of their conversation. They were talking of Jesus and the Wizard of Oz. In their minds I guess there was a connection there somewhere.