Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Does this include my bonus?

The job search continues. Not a fun time to be out of work (I mentioned my situation to a woman next to me as I was waiting to get my hair cut, and her response was a slightly sarcastic "Good luck!" Thanks for the encouragement, ma'am).

But you have to keep a sense of humor during the process. At least I do. A search of local positions offered by a placement service yielded the above result (click the pic to see the bigger version). Check out the salary on the Credit Analyst job at the bottom.

Yep, that's $95,680,000...almost 100 million dollars (per year, I assume). Seems a tad high, but as the page with more details clarifies, the salary could actually be much lower; it gives a range of $87,360,000 - $95,680,000. So it's not quite as unreasonable as I first thought; but still....

The job description doesn't mention it, but given what we've heard about how certain other companies are rewarding their top leaders, I suspect duties include "doing irreparable damage to the national economy by misusing other people's life savings" and "running an established financial institution into the ground" or even "maintaining a distance from common sense and monetary realities at all times, even if your actions become the subject of congressional investigation." Just a hunch.

Which reminds me, anyone care to be a reference for me?

[I mentioned the probable typo to the woman who answered the phone when I called--just in case--and she was quite surprised and amused. Thought you might want to know.]

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Brandon and his Wonder Kids

This is my nephew Brandon with his two daughters, Candace and Katelyn. As if they weren't already blessed enough as it was, being related to me and all (cough!) they're a special group.

Brandon's a great dad (I can only assume this is due in part to the time I spent babysitting him early on) and a great guy.

Candace's gift speaks for itself; she has the power of hypnotizing you with her cuteness. But if you want to get close you have to wait for her initial shyness to subside; then she'll realize how cool you are and will be quietly fascinated with everything you do (especially if you show her pictures of her and people she knows).

Katelyn is cute as well, of course, but with the outgoing, toenail-painting tomboy energy of a young Lindsay Lohan (very young, as in young enough to avoid certain pitfalls and poor lifestyle choices that may make headlines but are not worthy of her; think Lindsay in The Parent Trap, NOT the Enquirer) combined with, say, the Tasmanian Devil from the Warner Bros. cartoons. Plus, she has a potential role in that TV show "Heroes" (I've heard it's good), or maybe the circus, given her gift of stretchiness. It's not as obvious in the picture as in real life, but her arms are twisted all the way around here; not something for the weak of heart to behold. Don't try this at home. Or anywhere folks are having dinner.

AND, as if that weren't enough (and some would say it were), she folds easily for transport, which is good, especially if that circus thing works out. Which, given her high level of scholastic achievement so far, should be a cinch. I can only take partial genetic credit for that; both her parents are pretty smart and have managed to pull her away from her recreational pursuits (including motorbikes) long enough to study. Of course, if she gets the call to do the next Herbie the Love Bug movie, she can do her own stunts. I'll make sure she puts that on the application.

Monday, December 01, 2008

An automotive milestone

So, OK, I forgot to monitor the speedometer after I left my parent's house on Friday, despite the fact I'd mentioned its upcoming 200k birthday several times in the past few days, including right before I left. So I missed getting a picture of the exact number (not that I couldn't PhotoShop it, but we have enough revisionist history going on, do we not?). At least this makes it easier to remember the year it happened, right?

I bought my Pontiac Sunfire in 1998, when it was a year or so old and was being put out to pasture by the rental company that owned it. It had about 30,000 miles on it at the time. The fact that the car is still running strong after all this time and mileage (all things considered) is due to a few things. I've had good mechanics I could trust, and I don't try to work on it myself; that has to be one factor. Another is that the engine was replaced after the original one died on me about four years ago. The car had 129,300 miles on it, and the replacement engine had (as best as my mechanic Jon could determine) about 60k on it. Jon, the most meticulous mechanic you're likely to meet, did a great job; let me know if you want his info.

Musician Eubie Blake said on his 90th birthday, "If I'd known I was going to live this long, I would'a taken better care of myself." I have to admit I feel the same way about my car, at least where cosmetics are concerned; I wish I had spent the money long ago on the paint job it's needed for years. Or, better, worked harder so I could afford to replace it. Sure, it gets good mileage (SUV owners, pay attention; gas prices will go back up), and it's paid for, and I don't have to worry too much about theft...but what can I say...I'm a guy, so looks matter. On the other hand, at least I don't have to worry about any women agreeing to go out with me just so they can ride in it.

Plus, I can't help but think of how, when the Israelites were in their 40-year "tour" of the wilderness on their way to the Promised Land, the Lord made their clothes and shoes last a miraculously long time. Not claiming a miracle, necessarily, but when my car starts, it's close enough to divine intervention for me.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Lincoln braves the theater again

I told you about this fascinating documentarty in a previous post. This is your second chance to see it first (before everyone else sees it on the big screen or on PBS, or both).

~At the Belcourt Theatre, Hillsboro Village (near Vanderbilt)
~Wed, Nov 19th @ 7pm
~Tickets $6.00 (includes $1 Belcourt Preservation Fee)
~Buy your tickets at the box office after 4pm or buy online (click here then click the listing on the calendar)

"A documentary. A tall tale. BEING LINCOLN is an upbeat, up close quirky look at one man's quest to become Abraham Lincoln. Visit to learn more."

As a bonus, you can, as the Belcourt site promises, "meet the director and producer." That would be my fellow high school alum Elvis Wilson and his wife Vickie Radford. And if you can't get near them because of the adoring crowds and hangers-on that evening, let me know and I'll introduce you later. You can tell all your friends you saw Lincoln at the theatre AND met Elvis and his wife, and not be lying (though they still might give you funny looks).

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Kids, music, Africa and fame

I've been a little distracted by my ongoing job search (see the resume life is an open webpage already anyway).

Had a great time visiting the music class my friend Ronda Armstrong teaches at a local elementary school. She invited a few friends to come by and play a couple of songs and talk to the kids about songwriting. They were precious. And asked some really good questions. I could do that kind of thing every day; maybe not all day every day like a real teacher...especially the mornings...but I definitely enjoy passing along what I've learned to the young 'uns.

I attended the African Leadership fundraiser banquet on Thursday. This organization is headed by Larry Warren, the man who introduced my church (and me) to Living Hope in Cape Town (and who, as I recently discovered, was in a picture I took about 9 years ago--4 years before we met). They do work in many other areas of the continent, though. One notable thing at the banquet: they showed a multimedia presentation on missions that used a Pink Floyd song. Unprecedented in my own experience...and very effective.
No more turning away
From the weak and the weary
No more turning away
From the coldness inside
Just a world that we all must share
It's not enough just to stand and stare
Is it only a dream that there'll be
No more turning away?

Enjoyed my round on Saturday at the Commodore (as much as can be expected, given my perfectionistic tendencies that are of course seldom satisfied). Unfortunately, Brandon had to back out due to a "scheduling conflict" (let's just say he learned that when one gets a new phone in which one puts one's appointments, one should be careful to transfer all said appointments). But Joni Bishop and I "soldiered on" with the extra stage time (and extra space for her instruments). Everyone was clearly impressed with Joni's talents (and I made sure to take credit for inviting her; I call it "talent by association").

And finally, here's a blog post I have to recommend (it was the original reason I started this post), by professional Nashville songwriter Regie Hamm:
(Don't worry...the emphasis is on the "legends" part. And it's not about graffiti).

Monday, November 03, 2008

Pizza night at Safe Haven

I've had plenty of time on my hands lately, due to being "set free" (I like that better than "laid off") to pursue new sources of income (e-mail me if you want to see a resume; I'm not shy). So I was glad to offer some of it to Safe Haven. This Nashville organization offers temporary housing to families who are homeless, along with training and help toward a better situation. My singles group volunteers time with the kids during a weekly class for parents, so I was there on Wednesday evening.

On Friday I dropped by the Safe Haven center and restrung a guitar that had been missing a couple of strings. There's always at least one kid who gloms onto that instrument during the time at the shelter. I mentioned to a staff member I had seen Danielle Peck, celebrity spokesperson for Safe Haven, in an especially good writers round the night before (you feel almost guilty enjoying so much great talent in Nashville, often for free--but you get over it). This is how I heard about the pizza and movie night planned for the next evening, provided by Danielle. Based on Wednesday, I suspected they might need an extra hand, and given the aforementioned wealth of time on my hands, I offered to drop by, help out, take a few pics for the website, etc. And, hey, if I got a hot tip on an industry job, so be it (I didn't). And of course I can't deny the appeal of the chance to get to know a music artist as a "real person" as opposed to the stand-in-line-to-say-hello situation after a show. And, on top of that, a free meal. So much for pure motives. But, ultimately, it's for the kids, right?

Anyway, when I got there, Danielle's mom was cooking up a batch of delicious pizza, while Danielle and her dad stood by ready to help. Danielle freely admitted that where food is concerned she's more useful in the washing up than in the preparation; I can relate. Everyone has a place to serve! I had thought it would be a pretty wild night based on Wednesday, but it turned out to be a lot quieter than I had expected; the presence of the parents made a big difference. But I made myself useful during the movie by playing with the kids that weren't so much into Indiana Jones (the dads and older boys loved it).

It's amazing how kids reveal in their playtime what they're hearing from the world around them. Like the age-inapproprate cheers the little girls did (hey, what can you do but show support and pray they learn better ones later!). But on the positive side, one little girl did a dead-on imitation of a teacher reading to her class (I was the class); and because she couldn't read yet, she made up a story based on the pictures. And then reviewed it with me when she was done: "Now, what happened here? What animal was this?" So cool. A teacher somewhere in Nashville deserves a raise; heck, most of 'em do.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Who says pc folks ain't creative?

It's nice to know that if I ever get tired of playing guitar, I have options for making music with new sounds...and they're as close as the nearest pc.

(OK, the visual could use some work; can't have everything!).

Monday, October 13, 2008

Oak Grove CPC concert, Oct. 18

If you're going to the Ketner’s Mill Country Arts Fair or (if you're the type to get your kicks from checking out displays of vintage farm implements) the Days of Yesteryear, you might as well make the most of your scenic drive and stick around for my FREE concert that evening. Right!

On Saturday, Oct. 18, I'll be doing my usual congenial-but-with-a-serious-side-to-the-humor acoustic folk/pop thing, with my mom as special guest on piano, at Oak Grove Cumberland Presbyterian Church in Whitwell. Music will start at 7 pm CST. The church is located on Griffith Highway (TN 27) just south of Ketner's Mill.

As I've mentioned on this blog (and in enough conversations to test the patience of most of my friends), I've recently discovered some interesting (to me) family connections to the early American settlers of the Sequatchie Valley and their descendants. When I found my great-grandfather Joe P. Kelly's grave next to the Oak Grove church, and on the same visit met pastor Phillip Layne (a distant cousin and also a genealogy nut--er, enthusiast), it seemed an occasion worth marking. So I'm making this event a celebration of family heritage, both earthly and spiritual. It should be even more fun than it sounds. Really.

Via my maternal grandmother I’m related to some past “luminaries” of Marion County who distinguished themselves as military leaders, businessmen, legislators...and even the judge who presided over the Scopes Trial! Who knew? Local genealogy enthusiasts are encouraged to arrive early and/or stay late to share info, pictures and stories about Alexander Kelly, Col. James Raulston, J.G. Lankester and their families (conflicting accounts to be refereed according to current pro wrestling rules). And as Fat Albert said, “If you're not careful, you may learn something before it's done!”

Click here for a flyer you can print and share with friends! Or cover coffee stains on your cubicle walls! E-mail me for yet more details, directions and/or inquiries as to my mental health (could've guessed that one, I'll bet). Or call pastor Phillip Layne at 423-658-0854.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

This one goes on his resume

"The hottest DJ in town"...with the lung damage to prove it!

This is what I call being dedicated to the job! He must have great benefits.

I'm sure all of us have had days at the office that FELT like this...but other than any firefighters in the crowd, it usually doesn't get this far.

I've heard of songs "burning up the charts" but I thought that was just an expression.

Clearly this guy didn't read the "In Case of Emergencies" brochure at employee orientation.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

My obligatory post on the debate

Did you know there was a presidential debate going on last night in Nashville? Right next door to me at Belmont U.! Gee, I wish people would mention these things! You'd think the local media would give it nearly-constant coverage in advance until you start to think there's nothing else going on in town..and even to the point where you were a little sick of hearing about it. You'd think. And you'd be right.

Anyway, I didn't get a chance to watch it live; I watched a movie called "Zulu" (gotta keep that Netflix rotation on the move!) and taped the debate (or least most of it). So do me a favor and don't tell me who won. I've spent most of the day with my fingers in my ears so no one spoils it for me. La-la-la-la-la-oodloodloodl-la-la-la!

Monday, October 06, 2008

Signs of confusion

Or, Why we need more Communications majors at the TDOT.

How would you interpret this sign?

Choose one:
a) "If you want to get to I-40 East, you're on the right road--keep going."
b) "If you want to get to I-40 East, turn right here."
c) "If you want to get to I-40 East, turn left here."
d) "A toast to our favorite interstate! Hip-hip-hoorah!"

I'm not sure either. Google Maps helps clarify the situation...if you don't have that in your car, well, good luck.

This road is coming from an industrial part of Nashville. Not a place people come to see the sights. So let's go through the options quickly:

If you choose option "a" you can get to I-40, but not anytime soon and you'll still have to turn to get there...and I haven't seen any more signs to direct you on that route.

If you choose option "b" you'll find out pretty quickly that's not the way (unless you like to take the long way and have pontoons on your vehicle to get across the river).

If you choose option "c"...well, you'll go under I-40 (I don't think that's what they mean)...then you'll come to a major secondary street (Lafayette), again, with no further indication to turn or which direction the interstate might be. Either way you turn you'll come to your needed entrance eventually but in the meantime your stress level may be too high to allow safe travel, given the neighborhood you'll have wandered through on the way, unsure whether you're going the right direction and hoping you don't hit anyone as they cross the street at random locations which sometimes include crosswalks.

I'm doubting option "d" is the correct one, but you never know; these highway guys really like their work. Why else would they take so long to do it?

This from the same folks who put up important information about routes you can't identify right away because they use abbreviations known only to highway workers and maybe truckers; "S.R. 153 closed; detour west." Huh? "S.R."? "Slippery Road"? "Super Ride"? And which way is west again?

AND one of my favorite examples of anti-intuitive TDOT magic is that when you come south on Briley Parkway (after leaving the Opry or the mall), you have to veer LEFT to continue STRAIGHT on Briley, veer RIGHT then LEFT to go RIGHT (west to Nashville) or veer RIGHT then RIGHT again to go LEFT (east to Knoxville or the airport). I suspect this interchange was taken from the Rube Goldberg school of highway design. It works...just have faith.

I kid the TDOT--I do appreciate smooth roads and the often-dangerous work it takes to achieve them. I'm just sayin'...when you make your signs, keep in mind those of us who don't have psychic abilities, GPS, special powers of interpretation or a degree in civil engineering...and give us a CLUE!

A fitting tribute

As I've mentioned before, I know this person. And she's, like, famous. ABC's "Good Morning America" repeat guest famous. That's gotta be a good reflection on me, right? Somehow? I'm working on it. Click to see her latest contribution. You don't even have to be a middle-aged female with weight and/or body image issues to appreciate the humor; but I imagine it helps.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Good thing she was already in the bathroom

This disturbing sight greeted a friend of mine staying with family. Her hosts explained the doll had been soaked beyond use. I guess it goes to show that, if you insist on throwing the baby out with the bathwater...make sure there's a cover on your trash can! I'd say that goes for any anthropomorphic items you're tossing. Yeesh!

Friday, September 19, 2008

Edit this...if you can

I ran across this job ad for a "content editor" on craigslist. If you can read this and tell me what the hiree will actually do, I'll give you five bucks. And a recommendation for the job.*

Content Editor (Nashville)

Key Responsibilities:

- Report to the Director on key operational issues relating to workflow, schedules and procedures across all journals and their respective Web sites. Report on monthly production metrics: benchmarks, capacities, backlogs, trends.
- Drive initiatives to streamline processes, and improve efficiencies while maintaining tight publishing schedules, cost-effective procedures, and quality control across journals. Troubleshoot and identify critical chokepoints and potential resolutions.
- Collaborate within Production and across departments, to clearly and consistently communicate production objectives, and to understand daily operational concerns and successes. Prioritize and monitor progress on outstanding issues.
- Coordinate with publishing vendor to ensure that production issues are resolved and all workflows and systems run smoothly and efficiently. Provide workarounds as necessary. Understand and identify issues relating to the Journal Management System. Ensure the team is utilizing the JMS most efficiently.
- Manage multiple, priority projects. Facilitate the efforts of key players to ensure project and operational success.
- Supervise, hire and help train new staff. Provide back up to the Director.

Imagine how sleepy everyone must get during staff meetings! Maybe the current editor knows he's getting canned, and wants to stick it to the boss one last time...? Maybe the inscrutable language is meant to weed out the less-qualified; if you have to ask, you're not the one. Or they're using the old shopkeeper's trick of misspelling the store signs on purpose to get folks to come in, then gotcha!--a sale; being intentionally unclear hoping someone will have the guts to write to them and point out their obfuscationary ways, so they can hire THAT person. Nice try, guys; nice try.

*(Monetary offer for effect only; not to be taken literally).

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Happy Birthday To Us

"¡Feliz cumpleaños!" Maybe that's what singer José Feliciano would say to me if he were here (possibly backed by a horn section). And I could say it back to him (with a Southern accent of course) because it's his birthday today, too. Others sharing my birthday include golfer Arnold Palmer, reporter Charles Kuralt and Canadian first lady Margaret Trudeau, according to this website.

A couple of other folks in my department at work had a birthday yesterday, so we shared the billing on the cake (red velvet with cream cheese icing, for those of you who have to know).

Also celebrating a "birthday" today is my alma mater, the University of Tennessee, Knoxville (the original UT, if you're asking the right people). It was officially founded September 10, 1794, as Blount College. Though I've never been mistaken for being over 200 years old (yet), I already knew the university and I have much in common; UT is an institution, some say I belong in one. But in addition to that, I've recently discovered that one of the original board members for the college was my great-great-great-great-grandfather, Alexander Kelly.

According to various accounts, including the very well-written book Sequatchie: A Story of the Southern Cumberlands by Raulston and Livingood, and the research of Elizabeth Rogers Kelly in Jasper, TN, Alexander Kelly came from Ireland as an infant, grew up in Virginia (possibly in what is now West Virginia), fought in the American Revolution, and eventually moved to East Tennnessee. In the region of Knoxville, in addition to continuing in his role as military leader, he became known as a prominent businessman and legislator (those things went together back then too); in fact, he was on the roll of the very first legislature for the new state of Tennessee, representing Blount County.

Kelly eventually claimed 3,000 acres in Marion County, TN, (near Chattanooga) and established a presence there that is still evident through his descendants who live in the area, many headstones and a few place names, as I've found in my recent obsession with my family history. Yes, I've reached the age when walking around graveyards has become a fun way to spend a weekend; kind of like a treasure hunt (only no actual monetary treasure is expected in my case). I connect with Alexander Kelly by way of my maternal grandmother, Harriet Raulston Kelly Vaught. It was her pictures and documents that got me started on this whole adventure. Other people and families I've found in my research have been equally interesting; in time I'll get it all online.

Back to the present: I'll be claiming my free birthday meal at Caney Fork Fish Camp tonight, just because I can. Can't wait to see the little sleeping bags those fish use! And do they make s'mores? And out of what? And how do they heat them? A couple of friends will be joining me to celebrate my 44th. Hopefully I'll have better jokes by tonight. But don't count on it.

POSTSCRIPT: FYI, Caney Fork Fish Camp has reduced the free birthday deal to a dessert. Oh well, thanks to generous friends I still didn't have to pay for dinner. So it was all good. Plus, I got a birthday "serenade" from the bluegrass trio roaming the restaurant as a bonus!

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Missions Momma Yard Sale

The Missions Momma Yard Sale on September 5 & 6 will allow shoppers to snag some great bargains and help support a Nashville teacher in her volunteer work in South Africa. Members of the Single Journey class of Brentwood Baptist Church will be offering a variety of donated items for sale at the Brittany Park Subdivision, off Bell Road near I-24, on Friday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. and on Saturday from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m.*

House ware items, clothing, shoes, furniture, books, CDs, electronics and more will be available. A delicious array of baked goods will also be for sale at the event. All proceeds will go to Danielle Schneider in her work with children and educators in Cape Town.

Schneider recently left her job as an elementary school teacher in Nashville to volunteer for one year through Living Hope, a non-profit organization based in South Africa. Living Hope is making a difference in the lives of individuals and families in a community burdened with the HIV/AIDS pandemic, offering prevention education, home care, occupational therapy, counseling and hospice care. They also run a homeless shelter and a community radio station.

You can find more information about the yard sale and about Schneider’s daily life in Africa on her blog, Brittany Park Subdivision is located at 1001 Brittany Park Drive in Antioch.

* NOTE: Early birds will be expected to help unload the truck.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Tom Sawyer the musical

Click here to see all the pics

Saw the Nashville Dinner Theatre production of Tom Sawyer this weekend. A coworker was in it, so it would have been worth going just for the potential it offered for good-natured teasing (not that he doesn't provide enough of that otherwise...he's a good sport). But it was actually good.

Good cast, though a little uneven on the acting; the variety of accents was a little distracting to my picky ear (broadcasting training will do that to a person). Which is to be expected with this level of theatre (not that I'm an expert), so no complaints there. Some of the younger ones were drama camp "graduates" and I could tell they were having a good time. The songs, by hit writer Don Schlitz ("The Gambler," "Forever & Ever Amen") were most excellent; it's easy to believe he has a ridiculous number of #1 hits. The music was good; never seen the band set up above and behind the stage before. The set, lighting and special effects were impressive.

The sound was unfortunately especially bad, and took away from everything else. People were literally holding their fingers in their ears. Other coworkers said the performance they attended had the same problem. I was in a room full of mostly older folks (the NDT is in a senior center), and kind of envied any who might have hearing aids they could turn down. I assumed the sound guy was one of those former road-warriors whose ears have been assaulted by too many decibels across too many miles, or have spent too much time between headphones, to be able to sense a proper level. He did have a tough job trying to keep up with so many microphones, so I give him credit there; on the other hand, feedback is less a problem when the volume isn't too high. And why does a person choose popular vocal music to play (also too loud) before and after acts? It competed with both the play and any conversations at the tables. Pick some other gig to show off your girlfriend's custom CD, dude; we're trying to talk here.

The dinner itself was pretty good, especially considering the play had been held over past the contract with Shoney's. The service, provided by local youth groups, was good, too. And of course, good company made it all a great evening.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Shut yo' mouth (and remove your shoes, please)

One of our esteemed representatives from Tennessee has grabbed the attention of the entertainment columnist at the Tennessean (among others) by a bold suggestion:

During Monday's funeral for Isaac Hayes, U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen said, "What would you say if you were flying into Memphis and they said you are about to land at Isaac Hayes International Airport?"

First, I'd say Rep. Cohen knows how to work a funeral. Up high, Cohen!

And, upon reflection, naming the airport after the actor/musician/producer sounds like a good idea to me; travelers have been getting the shaft at airports for years!

I can just see the uniforms for security, crimson and gold, with a pillbox hat...bald, bearded, cool shades...I dare any terrorist to disrespect!

Imagine how smooth the voiceover announcements would be...especially with that wheow-wheow guitar groove behind them...awesome (seriously, I love that song).

"Who is the man/That would book a flight for his fellow man..."

"It's a complicated route/And no one understands it but the pilot..."

(Oh, quit whining, Elvis fans, he's had more than his share of honors! At least we still have Graceland).

* * *
SIDE NOTE: The headline on the story is pretty amusing: "Rep. Cohen serious in effort to name airport after Hayes". The suggestion isn't so's the fact that he's serious about it!
* * *
SIDE NOTE 2: I found the caption under the picture of Cohen on his site unintentionally funny as well: "Congressman Steve Cohen speaks in support of H.Res.194, apologizing for the enslavement and racial segregation of African-Americans, which he introduced in February 2007." Oh, was HE the one who's responsible? And I could've sworn it happened longer ago than that. Hmmm. Let's be careful with those pronouns, people; a man's reputation is at stake! Talk about revisionist history! HA!
* * *
SIDE NOTE 3: I realize these side notes are actually at the bottom, not on the side, but I can live with the inaccuracy of the label; hope you can too.

What good radio sounds like

On the other hand (see previous post for the original hand), all hope is not lost in radio land. I listen to a station when I'm in Chattanooga called WUUS (no sound-out-the-call-letters nicknames, please) because a) it plays great music (meaning the music I like, mostly from the 70's) and b) it comes in sooner on my way down and lasts longer on my way home to Nashville.

Admittedly, it doesn't have quite the polished sound of the powerhouse stations (I'm pretty sure I heard either tape hiss or record scratch on a Carpenters tune they were playing--must've been taken from someone's personal collection...couldn't afford the 99 cents for a download? Are things really that tight?), but the songs and the local feel of the station make up for that.

To add to the station's list of attractive qualities, I recently found out a friend of mine and a familiar radio voice from his previous gigs, Dale Mitchell (a.k.a. Announcer Boy) is a strong presence on the air at WUUS. AND I can listen to the station via live streaming internet radio with the simple click of a button on the station's website.

Given the struggles of local radio to keep afloat due to competition with TV, digital radio, the iPod, and the internet itself, this station may not have as solid a future as, say, careers in family counseling, but I'm hoping it's around a good long time.

Gee, thanks, Arbitron!

Ever get a phone call from someone you don't know asking you for information to help them in their business, with the sole apparent benefit to you being the chance to offer your opinion...and the vaguest of possible other benefits being an immeasurably small improvement in the entertainment sphere of society? Me, too.

In my case, it was Arbitron, the company that compiles ratings for radio stations so they can justify the rates they charge for advertising. They publish a book of very specific numbers based on sampling surveys--surveys which can yield very shaky estimates at best. But you have to have numbers when you're spending money, and without the money, radio could not exist as we know it. Never mind whether that's a good thing or not.

What I found amusing is that, after about three calls from Arbitron in which they asked me to take part in their survey and I politely declined (just didn't feel like it this time, OK?), they apparently got the message. But in the meantime, they employed another clever persuasive technique--a clever combination of bribery and guilt.

Two dollars. Cash. With a nice note thanking me for my time and assuring me how important my opinion is to radio stations. You know, the stations that stopped taking requests a few years ago, because they'd rather depend on consultants and market research than say, the station employees or the actual people who take the trouble to call or email their feedback?

OK, that's an overstatement of my skepticism toward the good folks at Arbitron. And I'm not just saying that because of the gift.

But two dollars. They probably did the research and found that two dollars is just enough for most people to say "hey, cool, two dollars--maybe I'll give those nice folks a chance and take their poll if they call again--I'd feel guilty otherwise"...but not enough to break the company if that person says "hey, cool, two dollars--suckers!" And of course the "conquer them with kindness" note is intended to clinch the deal.

It's not often you get paid back for the time telemarketers and the like take from you by calling you at home to ask you questions you don't care to answer or make offers in which you have no interest. So I give Arbitron credit for a clever approach. And I wish them better luck with the next person. Suckers.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Keep mom away from the invitations

There's something about seeing her children getting ready to be married that brings out the protective instinct in a mother. Engaged couples beware. Not that MY mother would ever do this...don't you be talkin' 'bout my mama! (Really, don't; it won't go well for you).

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Little did I know...

How's this for "things that make you go 'hmmmm'" (that's an Arsenio Hall reference from the early 90's, y'all): In 1999, I was still in Chattanooga, working for a fulfillment company whose main client was the media ministry of my church, filling orders for tapes, etc. by my pastor Wayne Barber, then at Woodland Park Baptist Church. I went with the boss, Wayne (pictured, left) and friend and co-worker Jennifer Ould (middle) to the National Religious Broadcasters convention, at the Opryland Hotel in Nashville that year.

Hang on, the "hmmmm" is coming.

I was mostly a tourist at the convention, took a few pictures here and there, including this one (missed a potentially great shot of Tammy Faye Baker walking around with a camera crew).

This week, I was going through my photo album (the non-computerized kind; remember paper prints?) and scanning pics for a Facebook group of friends from those days, when I realized know the man Wayne is talking to, though I didn't know him then.

Larry Warren is the founder of African Leadership, and at the time of the photo had recently moved its based of operations from Africa to Franklin, TN (near Nashville). He's the one who introduced Brentwood Baptist Church, to the ministry of Living Hope, in Cape Town, South Africa, about 5 years ago.

Meanwhile, I had moved to Nashville in September 2002, and joined BBC not long afterward. In September 2004, I was part of the first of several church-wide mission teams to go to South Africa to work with Living Hope.

And that's how I got my start in the long-distance relationship with the people across the ocean, traveling there, e-mailing, and generally yammering on about it. Like I'm doing now.

So, how's that for a "little did he know" (Stranger Than Fiction reference)...Hmmmm? OK, it's not like Larry's my long-lost twin, but still, given the number of people that were there and the small number of pics I took, that's a pretty "neato" coincidence.

As a bonus, one of my first jobs after moving to Nashville 3 years later was with the Grand Ole Opry, also owned by Gaylord and on the same property.

And I'm pretty sure that's not Condoleezza Rice to the far right...but THAT would be REALLY something, wouldn't it?

Monday, July 28, 2008

Patchwork boredom

Careful what you say to her, guys...or she'll be insisting you go with her to the National Quilt Museum as your penance.

A couple of friends of mine here in Nashville, one from Pennsylvania and the other from Maine, just got married in Hawaii; could be he was trying to make sure this place didn't end up on the honeymoon schedule.

For those of us who don't live anywhere near Massachusetts, this place makes a stay-cation seem like an even better idea.

Overheard during the tour:

"OK, honey, but next year we're going to the football AND baseball halls of fame!"


"No, it never would have occurred to me that Rubik's Cube would make such a natural quilt design. Never crossed my mind."

"What? All these quilts and no place to take a nap while my wife does the tour? Is there a breakroom at least? A snack machine?"

"So what kind of insecticide gets rid of those quilting bees? Heh heh. Get it?"

"I heard they were going to open a branch at Guantanamo Bay until the new restrictions on torture went into effect."

"And don't forget to visit our sister organization, the American Sheet and Pillowcase Institute, just up the road!"

(Feel free to pile on).

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Guns don't kill people...but angry wives often do

Gun Scare Prank

Other than the obvious stupidity of startling someone who 1) is holding a potentially loaded weapon, 2) is a novice at using said weapon and 3) knows not only where you live but when you sleep...this is hilarious. Makes a man seriously consider getting married and buying a gun. I imagine it makes a woman consider staying single...and buying a gun.

Panic now, check the research later

In the "scientists apparently DON'T know everything after all" department:

Scientists split on risks of cell phones

Other health-related news: reading stories like this can lead to head injury...

This is one of those articles that seems to offer new information on a scientific subject, but upon reading further we find the original premise to be the disputed opinion of a minority of so-called experts who, in fact, have nothing more conclusive to offer than gems like "I don't know that cell phones are dangerous, but I don't know that they are safe."

The head injury risk is from the urge to beat one's head against the wall after reading such a story, realizing one is barely any better informed and that one will never get the minutes back that it took one to read it. Further research is needed to determine the extent of the head injury danger, however, as experts continue to debate.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Now you see him...

...and now you don't.

Shocking. One expects so much more in the way of photojournalistic ethics from a fine publication such as the Sun. Riiiiiiight. Or at least PhotoShop skills--note how dude's knee is still visible in the lower picture.

Some people should stick to crayons to illustrate their stories.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Verity...or Not Verity?

I was up very late last night (it was Saturday night and I'm single, so I'm allowed) and being the type of person who keeps the TV on more often than not (my degree was in Broadcasting, so I'm not just vegging...I'm supplementing my education), and a movie came on that I would normally not watch at all except my resistance to bad TV was pretty low at that point (you've been there, I know). It was called "Dolly Dearest"--sort of the Lifetime answer to the "Chucky" movies (which I've also sampled--see above reasons), with a cute little girl being controlled by a possessed and murderous doll. Silly, but it'll make you think twice before you put the name Bratz on the Christmas list (as if you didn't need to think twice about that already).

Anyway, the actress portraying the girl's mother was such the spitting image of my South African friend Verity, I just had to do a comparison.

So, from the collage above, see if you can:
a) name the actress from the movie.
b) tell which is Verity and which is said actress

One pic will be pretty obvious (hint: I've met Verity. And had my picture taken with her).

To save you the trouble of Googling (you knew you were going to), here's Verity's website and here's the website of the actress in the movie.

And here's the answer key (don't click until you give up guessing--this ain't exactly the SAT's, so go for it).

Fascinating, huh? criticize ME for wasting time. HAH!

By the way, Verity was recently interviewed for a TV program in South Africa (no, I don't get that channel either but she did mention it); here's the transcript.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Terry and Carmen Thompson Benefit--How It Went

(See my handful of pics above or click to see them at your own pace)

(Click here to see and purchase Benjamin Gibbs’ many pics)

Every now and then something goes so much better than you pictured it, you have to reevaluate whether you're too pessimistic about other areas of life as well. That's how it was with the Terry and Carmen Thompson Benefit last week.

We had a great turnout, especially for a Tuesday night, and especially given the market. Nashville area residents tend to be a little jaded toward the nationally-known artists we get to see—often for free—at more benefits per capita per year than the average city of comparable size (or so it seems). We can't help it if we're spoiled.

When I arrived at the Factory in Franklin, I was immediately impressed by the scale of the event; a lot of work had been going on all day (while I was at work) as well as during the weeks leading up to it. A large platform was set up on one side of the room with tables full of items up for bid and people examining the stuff for sale. A large room in the back held tables of the usual party food (nearly always too much when you’re at the party, but you can’t eat enough because it is awkward to eat a lot at a party and you don’t want to look like a pig in front of people you might want to impress—or at least not disgust. So I seldom enjoy eating at a party).

The concert began with a video welcome by Joni Eareckson Tada, a renowned figure in evangelical Christian circles ever since her inspirational autobiographical book and subsequent film came out in the 70’s.

The music was top-notch, unsurprisingly. Many of the songs were familiar to the crowd with a few exceptions. Amy Grant was clearly aware of what the night was about, but her usual laid-back self. She remarked that “only in Nashville” could she get away with collaring a guitarist backstage to help out on an otherwise solo acoustic song at the last minute. Then she did a couple of her hits (“It takes a little time sometimes/To get your feet back on the ground”) with the band backing her up. They lost each other along the way on one song, but she laughed it off, they worked it out and got back on track. Not many artists of her fame and stature would even consider such a loose approach to a performance; Amy seems more aware than most of how little she has to lose at this point in her career. Definitely part of her charm.

Vocalist Michelle Prentice, the instigator of the whole affair, did an impressive operatic solo a cappella that made me realize I don’t hate ALL opera! Seriously, I really enjoyed it. But then, it didn't last for hours and I didn't have to dress up to listen to it, so....

After several more performances, including one by Terry Thompson himself with help from Carmen, and after a hefty sum of money had changed accounts from buyers to the benefit fund, Michelle called the planning committee on stage and led us in singing “You’ve Got a Friend” to (and with) Carmen. Cheesy, maybe, but sincere. (pictures here and here and here)

The results, in addition to all the new friendships formed and goodwill shared…we raised $40,000 for Terry and Carmen. We’re talking about next year’s benefit already (well, Michelle is, anyway). Should be even bigger and better. And next time, I eat beforehand.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Y'all fly with us agin soon!

I found this article, "Abandoned change adds up for TSA" in USA Today.* It says the Transportation Security Administration "has collected — and kept — more than $1 million in the past three years from airline passengers who forget coins at checkpoints." The top jackpot location was Los Angeles International Airport "...where passengers left behind $89,375 from Sept. 30, 2004 to Oct. 1, 2007...." And this was especially interesting to me: "The cash laggard: Chattanooga (Tenn.) Metropolitan Airport, whose 300,000 departing passengers in 2007 left just $1.20."

My analytical muscles started twitching, and my delight in seeing Chattanooga in non-crime-related national news and my desperate need to get laughs from theoretical total strangers (my readers) drove me to compose this explanation:

According to the stereotypes and popular misconceptions many people probably have about the city of my birth, there’s no change left at the Chattanooga airport because…
· We give it all to the guy doing shoe shines.
· The airport is practically empty; we all take the Choo Choo.
· After purchasing our tickets, we always have just enough change for the RC Cola and Moon Pie machine.
· Our beggars are very persuasive…bless their hearts.
· We put it all in them little binoc’lars on poles up ‘ar at Rock City. Looky, honey, I kin see the outhouse from hyear!
· If it ain’t Confederate money, what good is it anyway?
· We don’t use money; we prefer to trade via the barter system…’course, a fresh-killed hog don’t go near as far as it used to when a feller finds a gal he wants to git hitched to.
· Airport…whut’s ‘at?

In reality, there’s almost no change left at the Chattanooga airport because we natives throw coins at people who call it “Chatt-nooga” (like saying that one extra syllable would kill a person. Dang Yankees!).

*(via comic Suzy Soro's blog).

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Macy the star

This is the little girl that those of us in my church singles group get to hear about from time to time (i.e., pretty much weekly) because her grandparents teach our class on Sunday mornings. Actually they show heroic restraint in the bragging department, and usually manage to work stories about Macy into the lesson of the day. Usually. Regardless, no one minds, because we know David and Beverly love us too. They just don't have room in their wallets to carry all our pictures. And it's not like any of US have budding careers as video actors or actresses. But I'm hoping Macy will put in a good word for me with Carrie Underwood.

The pic is a shot from the music video for "Beautiful Life" by Doc Walker, a Canadian country band clearly hoping to ride Macy's coattails to stardom as well. Get in line, guys.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Born Standing Up: A Comic's Life

I read a great book this weekend: Born Standing Up: A Comic's Life, by Steve Martin. Anyone who was even partially aware of the world in the 70's heard Steve Martin's absurd catch-phrases and one-liners more than once...quoted by friends, or from Martin himself on his live recordings, on TV (especially on SNL) or in person.

I've always been fascinated with the back-story of any cultural icon, and I appreciate unnecessarily-good writing, and Martin's book delivers on both counts. He shares some info about his early life, and focuses on the story of the progression of his entertainment career from selling programs at Disneyland to performing for tens of thousands of people in a night in venues all over the country, and for millions on the hottest shows on TV.

Between his vivid descriptions and deft phrasing and his quotes of his and others' material, I was alternately admiring his skill with words and laughing out loud (hope my apartment walls are as thick as they should be). But he is anything but flippant in sharing the deep emotional issues that accompanied his success, such as his father's mysterious antagonism toward him even in his moments of show business triumph. But this is not the whining of a spoiled rich guy; Martin's skill as a writer and willingness to be vulnerable make for a very redemptive reading experience, especially as he describes his final moments with each of his parents.

One thing about Martin's story was especially interesting to me, because it supports a theory of mine: during his collegiate studies in philosophy in which he and his friends had endless discussions that (according to the very philosophers under discussion) may have been pointless or even theoretically nonexistent or impossible, Martin decided comedy was a real and meaningful alternative and pursued that. There is something inherent in the act of creativity (and its subsequent presentation) that supports the meaning and value of life; it implies something beyond the immediately apparent world--a creator. Even when the content is at its most ungodly and vulgar, art implies a creator, and the artist is imitating the Creator (even if subconsciously), and is always on the verge of worship. (Martin's book is much funnier than this, trust me).

One of my favorite quotes from the book is a line Martin listed among those that eventually went the wayside as he became more popular:

"I've learned in comedy never to alienate the audience. Otherwise, I would be like Dimitri in La Condition Humaine."

Here's a long excerpt (note the page no.'s at the bottom; click these to advance).

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Terry and Carmen Thompson benefit

My career as a volunteer publicist continues....

I'm excited to have joined the group of folks putting the Terry and Carmen Thompson Benefit together (I'm doing the easy stuff, really). Should be a great night; good things are already happening. Terry has been a friend for several years, and played the first of the short series of house concerts I hosted awhile back (when I lived in a house). He and his wife Carmen make a great team, and have clearly generated a great amount of goodwill in their lives...and it's coming back to them in a big way. Carmen has been in a wheelchair since being injured last year, and has been honest about the ups and downs of the process of recovery and adjustment. There've been plenty of each.

Some very cool items have been donated for the silent auction, and the talent for the concert will be, typical of Nashville, astounding. Read the full story here (Word doc).

YOU can be a volunteer publicist TOO! To help spread the word:

Here's a link to the flyer. (2.5 MB pdf)

Here's a link to the press release--no media pass required to read and share! (Word doc)

Here's a link to a .txt file you can paste into a myspace comment or bulletin or even your home page or blog.

Save to a location on your computer before opening:
...on a pc: Right-click the link and "Save Target As..."
...on a Mac: Cntrl-click the link and "Download Linked File As..."
Simply click link to open, then save to your computer (if you're asked for a password, click "cancel" and proceed--no tight security here). Not as reliable as the first option above.

* * *
See the followup post on how it went here. --MKH, July 3

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Funny Girl (move over, Barbra)

Photo by Brent Humphreys/Redux,
for The New York Times

I just got around to reading this article in the New York Times Magazine, and I'm impressed all over again with comic Anita Renfroe. The reporter did a great job (with one possible exception, noted below) and Anita really shines in the interview. I'm glad to call her a friend (i.e. someone I knew before she was so famous and who still responds to pretty much all of my e-mails), and equally glad to call her my hero (one of 'em, anyway).

You may know her as the woman in the YouTube video doing the song ("Momsense") based on everything your mother told you and set to the tune of "The William Tell Overture." Which landed her a spot on Good Morning America, and maybe a regular network gig or two. I prefer to remember her as the wise and discerning woman who liked my song when I entered a songwriting contest at the Babbie Mason Music Conference about 10 years ago. You tend to stick with folks like that.

That said, I was a little shocked when I read this part of the article:
"She is round and soft, loves butter, carbs and sugar and worries routinely about her weight." Yep, she worries...nearly any woman would, especially when otherwise sharp reporters describe her as "round and soft." I checked--this was not Anita's line (apparently the reporter was caught up in the spirit of Anita's self-deprecating humor; it happens). For the record, Anita is not round--not even in cross-section. Oval or elliptical, maybe. But as you can see, she's a beauty, and no Lulu Roman by a long shot. Anyway, she's married already, so what difference does it make? (Huh? What? Did I say something wrong? Please. I can make jokes too, y'know. Where're you going, ladies?).

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Col. Albert G. Kelly, 1892-1944

(Click to see larger pics at your own pace)

My great uncle, Col. Albert G. Kelly ("Al" to friends and family), was Chief of Staff of the 9th Armored Division from its activation in 1942 until his death in 1944. In my ongoing research of my family history (I've got the bug), I was struck by the irony and poignancy of his story, at least what I've gleaned from a few letters, newspaper clippings and pictures left by his little sister, my grandmother Harriet Raulston Kelly Vaught. She had my mother late in life so the generations go back a ways (just clarifying I'm not quite as old as the relation might imply).

After a career in the U.S. Army beginning in WWI, Uncle Albert's life ended--not in battle...not in a P.O.W. camp...but in his bed. According to his general in a letter to his mom (notice you can use the magnifying glass on the upper right of the linked page to zoom in to the graphic), Albert caught a cold during the trip to to England, and it got worse and worse until it brought on a heart attack on Sept. 19. This was just before his men joined the invasion of Europe, distinguishing themselves quite well, and just before he received an apparently-immminent promotion to Brigadier General. Kind of like Moses, in a way; led his people to the threshold, and could not cross over himself. Moses' sin kept him from progressing; can't say the same about my uncle, but he was a smoker, so in Baptist terms, the analogy is a sound one.

I'm sure Uncle Albert would've been disappointed and possibly ticked off had he known his fate beforehand. (Are you humming that Paul McCartney song yet?). But his contribution to the Allied victory was no less significant, in my eyes or (I'm sure) in the judgment of history (the collective body of knowledge of the past, not the TV channel--though they'd probably agree as well). I admit I'm not the most upfront, gung-ho, bumper-sticker-sporting cheerleader for our military, but I very much appreciate those guys and gals and the job they do, and I'm especially happy to share a name with this guy.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Julie Forester at the FQ

I hear Julie has been practicing her "ah-EEE"'s and singing with a Cajun accent for her performance with her band at the French Quarter in Nashville tonight. We'll see if it pays off. Either way, you're sure to have a good time (unless you happen to be a shrimp). And she's definitely easier to look at than Jimmy C. Newman.*

Just click the poster on the left (don't worry, there's more where that link takes you) and listen for yourself.

See you at 6:30.

*(that's an Opry reference, folks; try to keep up).

Monday, May 19, 2008

The dreaded answering machine

This is one of the most painfully hilarious scenes ever put on film. A guy calls a woman he's met earlier that evening (thus breaking the much-discussed standard "two day rule," so he's already living dangerously)...and overthinking sets in.

This clip helps answer a question women so often ask ("why don't men call?") and one that most of my friends and family are too polite (or afraid) to ask me ("why is a great catch like you still single?")*.

*(Except, in my case, for the "six-year relationship" part).

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Dottie Rambo: "Sheltered" for eternity

photo courtesy of
Aaron Crisler | The Judy Nelon Group

A very sweet, humorous and godly woman reached her final destination early Sunday morning. Dottie Rambo was an amazingly prolific songwriter whose work was recorded by Elvis...well, you could stop right there, but also Dolly Parton, Whitney Houston, Porter Wagoner and countless others, including her own family gospel group. She was killed in a bus crash during high winds on the way to a gig in Texas, and her fellow passengers were injured.

I cannot claim to be as aware of her as some can, but in the last few years I did grow to have great respect and affection for her. Some of her songs, such as "We Shall Behold Him" and "Behold the Lamb," were favorites of the church choir I sang with in college.

I saw her in person a couple of times here in Nashville. One was at an NSAI Christian writers' retreat, where she cracked everyone up with her commentary between songs as she performed in the round for the attendees. The other was when she was the featured speaker at a very recent NSAI Christian workshop (a monthly meeting). A relative handful of us listened in rapt attention as she shared about her life, sang her songs (inviting us to join her, which we did) and, after the "official" webcast interview was done, took questions. I asked her to share a story from her years of traveling with her group (one that wouldn't damage any reputations or endanger any careers!). Life on the bus is a staple of Southern Gospel life (as are the resulting stories), so it's only fitting, in a way, that she would go out the way she did.

She told how she was the first one awake one morning and got the bus driver to bring her a large dead rattlesnake they saw in the road. She hid it under her armrest and after her groggy traveling companions were up and milling around, she screamed and tossed the snake at them. She said they spoke in many tongues, but not the kind you'd hear at church! (Actually I can't remember her exact final line, but that was the gist of it--call it the "writer's embellished version"). She was, in a word, a hoot.

She had said she was working on a book about her life; I hope she had enough done for her people to release it. She had achieved much, and suffered much; she had quite a story to tell, and was old enough not to have to be so careful how she told it. I look forward to hearing more from her one of these days, one way or another. I expect to laugh. Loudly. And often.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Power brokers pow-wow on power usage

The vacuum in my schedule continues to suck in all sorts of ways to waste time. So what's one more?

From the Tennessean:

"Prominent activist Robert Kennedy Jr. spoke to music industry leaders at the home of Emmylou Harris on Tuesday night about the growing environmental crises....

He was part of the Natural Resources Defense Council's gathering that attracted Sheryl Crow, Kathy Mattea, Big Kenny and Christiev Alphin, Matraca Berg and Jeff Hanna, J.D. Souther and Mayor Karl Dean and Anne Davis. Warner Bros.' John Esposito and Bill Bennett attended, as well as power managers Gary Borman and Ken Levitan.

NRDC's Allen Hershkowitz, who also spoke, said the music industry is progressive and has historically aligned itself with meaningful causes such as civil rights, peace and gender equality. So we wanted to identify and inform these leaders in the music industry about the liability that they unknowingly may be imposing on future generations by buying power to record and market their records from utilities using mountaintop-mined coal."

On the positive side, it's nice to see the political power of music recognized, and harnessed for an apparently good cause. If you think about it, the top is the best part of the mountain! But obviously the real agenda of the meeting was to get the music industry to help spread the message, maybe by putting out songs to move providers to stop destroying mountains to get coal. Fair enough, although it would've been nice if they'd been a little more up front with their aims. Surely they don't expect the music industry to use less power...I can see the results now:

Comments heard in the studio:

• "OK, we've used up all our non-mountaintop coal power allotment. Everybody take five while we plug the equipment into the alternate source for this last song. Cooter, put down that fiddle and jump on the bike; at least we know you can PEDAL on key!"

• "Billy Bob, they I see that methane is one of the approved low-impact energy sources. I told you that third helping of beans at lunch was a good idear!"

• "I heard Big Kenny's next single is gonna be called "Save A Mountaintop, Record An EP."

• "And Natalie Maines is doing a new version of the classic 'I'm Just An Old Chunk of Coal.' It's called 'I'm Just A Big Bag Of Wind.'"

And from Music Row magazine: "Industry sources are flocking to release new product on a new, mountaintop-friendly media: mp3's are quickly being replaced by wax cylinders, recorded on a hand-cranked machine. They're a little bulky, but they're nearly impossible to download illegally. Many listeners prefer the new media over the polished digital sound, especially for the 'pitchy' effect on vocals. 'It's just like hearing them sing live!' said one fan."

I know I'm missing an obvious "Coal Miner's Daughter" joke. Anyone? Feel free to pile on the silly sarcasm train.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Why I'm a dog person

In case you needed a pep talk today

Coach McGuirk is my favorite character on what is possibly my favorite show on TV, "Home Movies" (4-6 times a week--this is cable, folks). Adult Swim on the Cartoon Network at night, has some really good stuff, some really strange stuff, some really offensive stuff, and some stuff that is a combination of all the above. "Home Movies" is one of the more normal shows, about an 8-yr-old aspiring filmmaker...sort of the Woody Allen of the sandbox set (yes, they're too old for sandboxes, but they're cool with it).

Here's the followup "twist" to the story (SPOILER it makes a difference).

And in case the pep talk hasn't worked and things don't go so well, you may need to apply the "Slaughter Rule" (something of which I'm sure all coaches are aware).

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Idiomatic Responses

The story that accompanied this list of “creative” approaches to time-worn phrases says that a first-grade schoolteacher presented each of her twenty-six students the first half of a well-known proverb, and asked them to come up with the remainder of the proverb. Whether you choose to believe that actually happened or not depends on how much faith you place in e-mail forwards. But it’s funny stuff, regardless.

1. Don't change horses...
until they stop running.
2. Strike while the...
bug is close.
3. It's always darkest before...
Daylight Saving Time.
4. Never underestimate the power of...
5. You can lead a horse to water but...
6. Don't bite the hand that...
looks dirty.
7. No news is...
8. A miss is as good as a...
9. You can't teach an old dog new...
10. If you lie down with dogs, you'll...
stink in the morning.
11. Love all, trust...
12. The pen is mightier than the...
13. An idle mind is...
the best way to relax.
14. Where there's smoke there's...
15. Happy the bride who...
gets all the presents.
16. A penny saved is...
not much.
17. Two's company, three's...
the Musketeers.
18. Don't put off till tomorrow what...
you put on to go to bed.
19. Laugh and the whole world laughs with you, cry and...
you have to blow your nose.
20. There are none so blind as...
Stevie Wonder.
21. Children should be seen and not...
spanked or grounded.
22. If at first you don't succeed...
get new batteries.
23. You get out of something only what you...
see in the picture on the box
24. When the blind lead the blind...
get out of the way.
25. A bird in the hand...
is going to poop on you.
26. Better late than...

Mike Roe & co. rock the house

...And by "house" I mean an actual house, where people live, eat, sleep, watch TV, etc.

This past Sunday saw a gathering of phenomenal talents and those of us who've enjoyed them for--in some cases--decades. This was a house concert featuring Mike Roe of the 77's, a band that has been around, in one configuration of the other, since the late 70's. Possibly since 1977? Just a guess. Their first album was one my earliest purchases of what was termed "Christian rock" and later "Christian alternative" and now, well, whatever you call it, they're not likely to have it at the Wal-Mart. The album was called Ping Pong Over the Abyss (an inside recording engineer's joke with apocalyptic connotations--again, a guess, but this time a better-educated one). It showed a number of influences including Led Zeppelin, the Rolling Stones, Bruce Springsteen, and the punk bands of the time that I mostly ignored except when they were on Saturday Night Live. The 77's incorporated all those styles and more into their own and only improved from there.

The concert was a preview of the forthcoming 77's album, featuring some very old songs in the gospel blues vein, given a respectful rock 'n' roll treatment without losing the dignity or power of the original message. It also featured our hosts, still in cultural transition from their former home of Chicago, performing as The Wayside as opening act.

As a bonus, some of the key figures from other bands that shared the small but intense spotlight with the 77's during the 80's shared the--uh, dining room with Mike: Jimmy A of Vector, Steve Hindalong of the Choir, Phil Madeira of--well, lots of things--and Matt Slocum of Sixpence None the Richer (Matt actually bowed his cello in the kitchen due to space restrictions). Really a cool day.

Mike joked that whenever he finds himself in the "throes of despair" on any given Sunday afternoon at home in Southern California, he cheers himself up by imagining that folks in Nashville are getting together to play the old songs, just like he was doing that day. It doesn't happen as often as I'd like (as far as I know). But at least this day the fantasy was a reality.

Go to the 77's myspace for some samples of past glory, and the official 77's site for everything else. And don't forget to wipe your feet; you weren't raised in a barn.