Recently Seen and Heard

Guilty as charged: terribly remiss in my blogging. What have I been doing? Cool projects like this one:

It is amazing how breaking crayons and organizing the colors into various patterns can occupy a four-year-old for days. 200 degrees, six to eight minutes, and you’re all good. Additionally, I’ve been grading many essays and working on the NOVEL. And then, for some reason, I’ve gotten all hyped up again my non-fiction project, the proposal for which I had shelved close to a year ago.

To get my feet wet again, I thought I’d review some recent goods. 

The Chieftains were awesome. Thanks to some fabulous folks, we also had incredible second row seats at the Fox.

The Pogues show was great, but a show at the Tabernacle following on the heels of a show at the Fox got me a little down about the acoustics at the Tabernacle.

Itty Bitty Titty Committee = worst movie ever. Maybe it was written and directed by eighth grade drama students?

Joe Strummer: The Future is Unwritten is an impressive documentary. I must get me some Clash.

I read Katherine Anne Porter’s Old Mortality, the first of three tiny novels in Pale Horse, Pale Rider. I enjoyed it, and I admire the size: plenty of impact compressed, generations tied into a little bundle.

Nineteen Questions

“What should we do?”

“Do you have a book you don’t want?”

“The Ikea catalog?”

“Wait! Don’t use the 2009. You can use the 2008. Here.”

And that was the end of the gigantic roach and the 2008 Ikea catalog; farewell, good friend.


I’m returning from my hiatus. I haven’t been blogging lately because I have tendinitis in my hands…from typing. How freaking LAME is that? No, I didn’t tear my acl doing anything amazing, nor did I get scathed by a bullet while doing anything extra-amazing. I’ve been on a big dose of naproxen for a while so things seem to have eased up. I vowed not to do too much typing, but I just had to finish revising my novel or my head was going to explode over the fact that I only have TWO WEEKS and ONE DAY left until my comprehensive exams. Given this timeframe, I had to get that damn book out of my hair. So, I finished typing it. I would call it a failed novel. I love the characters and absolutely adore several of the chapters, but …I’m confident that next time around I’ll have a good go at it, a good go at a novel that actually has a PLOT. Heh. Anyway, there are many things I would like to write about right now–what? I shouldn’t be typing so much? This is true. Therefore, I’ll limit myself to replying to Stephanie, who tagged me with nineteen questions, and then I’ll get back to making my notecards for comps.

1. What are your nicknames? I don’t think I have any. Well, some folks probably call me a bitch, but that’s more like being called a name rather than having a name to be called by.

2. What is the first movie you bought in VHS or DVD? As a kid I remember a lot of taping from t.v.; I know I had Wizard of Oz and Alice in Wonderland (the super awesomely-creepy version with Sammy). Both of those were the kind of recordings where you had to jump up and press pause on the VCR when a commercial came on to try and avoid taping it, and this was never accomplished 100%. 

The first VHS I bought for myself was in high school. I might have been 16. I joined a music video buying club, which I cannot remember the name of. It was sort of like Columbia House, but I received VHS in the mail. I suppose that is where some of my hard-earned money from working at the grand Target went. The only bands I can remember from those tapes are The Lemonheads and The Breeders. Remember the bowling ball?

3. What is your favorite scent? I like lavender. I also like authentic nag champa.

4. What one place have you visited that you can’t forget and want to go back to? Boston.

5. Do you trust easily? Trust has to do with my intuition. I may intuitively trust you upon meeting you. It’s that easy. But if there’s any unease, then no, trust will not come easily. I trust my gut.

6. Do you generally think before you act or act before you think? Think. sometimes for a very long time, which is not always a good thing. Sometimes expedience in action is wildly appropriate. Sometimes thinking for too long = putting up with b.s. for too long.

7. Is there anything that has made you unhappy these days? Dear Horse Flies, Where the f— are you coming from and what do you want with my house? Please go away. You are huge and loud and your big buggy red eyes squick me out. Thanks!

8. Do you have a good body image? Do you mean image as in my imagination, or image as in the public perception? Who knows. I’m sure folks say things like that girl always wears that same dress, because that’s how I am. 

9. What is your favorite fruit? Clementines. Fresh cherries are good too.

10. What websites do you visit daily? Aw, let us not spill all our secrets.

11. What have you been addicted to lately? Fine-point sharpies, decaf Colombian coffee in the late afternoon, making lists.

12. What kind of person do you think the person who tagged you is? Edearing, creative, and amazingly hard-working.

13. What’s the last song that got stuck in your head? Nick Cave’s Bring it On.

14. What’s your favorite item of clothing? A black sleeveless v-neck dress with thick cream lace along the hem and the neckline.

15. Do you think Rice Krispies are yummy? I don’t know, the cereal might be good on top of ice cream, pre-soggy stage. As for the treats, I like them if they’re vegetarian, which they very rarely are.

16.? I’m mystified.

17. What would you do if you saw $100 lying on the ground. Pick it up, and then order in some Thai food and place an online order from Old Navy.

18. What items could you not do without during the day? I think I need my make-up, my coffee, and my computer, and things with which to make lists.

19. What should you be doing right now? Um, making more NOTE CARDS about ALL of the novels and short stories and things and things and things…..for comps in TWO WEEKS. Cough.

I am tagging EVERYONE, because the last step of this game is requiring more decisiveness than I have right now. Pretend you are in the exclusive eight.

Album Debut: Rocksploitation. Plus, Sunday Adventure.

As promised, Rocksploitation put on a rocking show at Limerick Junction last night. The occassion was a CD Release Party for Rocksploitation’s self-titled debut album. We only stayed for the first set, but it was a great show as usual. Stephanie rocks the drums. I sometimes can’t get over Adam’s voice. And Eric tears up the bass. And I abuse active verbs.

This 16 song compact disc brings the trio’s stripped down sound to your living room, where you can enjoy their take on the most easily imitated aspects of 1950’s rock and roll, Merseybeat, and garage rock in comfort and (depending on your living room) style. What’s more, it’s all done in just over 30 minutes, because Rocksploitation is the only rock and roll group that respects your busy lifestyle. All the other bands are just narcissists who only care about themselves, so don’t give them your money. The exceptions to this rule are of course, anyone we’ve played with, who’s helped us, or is thinking of helping us.

The band-mates of Rocksploitation are awesome folks and good friends of mine. That said, many people suck. College started a couple of weeks ago, and because of this fact there was an elevated level of douche-baggery going on among the population infiltrating the VA Highlands on this holiday Sunday. Before we even made it to the VA Highlands, we tried to stop for dinner at a restaurant in Emory Village, but then got back in our car and fled in horror.

We then stopped for dinner at Diesel. Our appetizer and my salad were tasty, and at first I wondered what was wrong with the Creative Loafing guy that gave such a salty and downright nasty review of Diesel’s food. However, our main dishes were truly sub-par. I can’t even go into all of it. But my Green Tomato Burger with a black bean pattie had neither a big juicy piece of fried green tomato, nor the spicy horseradish promised on the menu; the black bean pattie was not legally a pattie, but sort of slop. The black bean slop was tasty, but I’d wanted a burger, and particularly a slice of fried green tomato with some spicy horseradish on it. There were many other variations of burger I could have ordered if I did not want these two things. They didn’t even have Matt’s entree and just served him something else, which was quite ridiculous. If you’re going to be a bar with some food, then do that and simplify your menu so you can actually rise to the occassion. If you’re going to be a restaruant, then, well, I don’t know what you should do, but something. Now we know.

We saw some good friends at Limerick and listened to great music. But the crowds grew, and then it was time to go. It was time to go when I started wishing I had a fire extinguisher to spray people. Before we left I apologized to the woman sitting next to me at the bar for our departure. I’d been prepared to pretend I was her long lost friend, should any of the numerous bozos hassling her cross the line.

Coming Soon: Chronicles of my vacation to Arkansas and Louisiana, including, but not limited to, an unfortunate Elvis themed “boutique” hotel in Tupelo. I took pictures.

Seen and Heard

Where in the world was I when Nick Cave was putting out so much good stuff? Hmmm? I don’t know. But I love him! The many minutes of “Bring it On” are incredible. I suppose it could take a lifetime to study the whole discography.

We finally saw Sweeney Todd. It was AMAZING: a fantastic and beautiful piece of art. I won’t try to summarize all the ways in which it is wonderful. Flannery O’Connor says something along the lines of If someone asks you what a story is about, the only appropriate response is to tell them to read it. I will say, go watch it. I want Mrs. Lovett’s (Helena Bonham Carter’s) dresses, desperately. They are all beautiful black lace and shiny rags and corsets–oh!


Don’t you want those dresses? Now I’m going to go upstairs to hack an old prom dress; it’s gunmetal gray with a corset…all I need is some black lace.

Hellboy 2 was all right. Maybe this is one for the teenage boys. It was a feel-good super hero movie with lots of flashy scenes and sub-par jokes. Despite all the violence and explosions, it’s one of those movies during which I could not perceive of there being any real danger (psychological or physical) to any of the characters, which makes me think So what?  Moving on: the first time I saw For Your Consideration I laughed a lot (though it wasn’t as great as Best in Show), but this time I fell asleep.

News for a Week

I’m heading on a trip to Boston with my partner, Matt. (Anyone see that no-hitter last night?) Two of our friends are getting married; I can’t wait to see the city. I’ve been there once before, for two nights in college. It was an abbreviated trip. I’m looking forward to filling in the gaps, especially with a native as a tour guide. I won’t be blogging while gone, so I thought I’d leave you with some news for the week.

1) I love my neighborhood. I love being able to walk to the coffee shop, the grocery store, and restaurants. I love that the other night our waiter at the next-door-Mexican restaurant turned out to be the Awesome Baton Twirler who practices in the empty parking lot across the street. Who knew?

2) A great local band (made up of great folks), The Skylarks, is playing at Blind Willies (a great blues bar) on Tuesday May 27th.

3) A friend of mine in Asheville is part of Lewis. Stephanie blogs about their latest show.

4) Did you check out Rocksploitation from my earlier post? Hmmm? They’re playing Friday May 23rd at Smith’s Olde Bar as part of the Bob Dylan Tribute. Go support the Lelands!

5) Oh, yes, books. I finished reading The Sound and the Fury. Having read my share of Faulkner, somehow each new Faulkner novel becomes my favorite work of his. The last one I read was Go Down, Moses. What I love is how the story, the truth in his work, can be so raw and real while the prose so beautiful. Talk about layers. Anyway, I like how The Sound and the Fury is divided into four distinct sections, each having a clear point of view. And then there’s Caddy, who isn’t given a voice. Caddy is such a mythical character: the one who got away. Is it me, or is it often only the women (In Faulkner) who are able to escape the crumbling family aristocracy and get out? Of course, Caddy’s escape results in her banishment. Others seek death as escape, and others exist in anger and resentment….perhaps more on this later. Next in line (I’m trying to catch up on reading for exams in the fall) is James Joyce’s A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man.

6) I almost forgot. PUKACORN is coming soon.


New fascination: Rocksploitation. From their website, “Rocksploitation’s sound is a new take on the three-chord (or fewer) attack pioneered by Chuck Berry, Eddie Cochran, and the Modern Lovers.”

I’ve known Stephanie and Adam Leland for a while now, and I knew they were fantastic folks before ever hearing their music. I enjoyed their shows when they were performing as a duo,the A-Sides, and now they are working with Eric Leland as Rocksploitaion. I saw the trio perform last night at Blind Willie’s, and now I have to spread the word. You can download some of their new tunes here.


In Rotation

I read an article in The Wall Street Journal, the August 19-20 Pursuits section (I’m a little behind), titled “Reading, Writing–And Rocking Out.”  Here’s a bit:

Having seen the power of songs to promote TV shows, movies and even video games, publishers and authors are increasingly experimenting with soundtracks for books.  Writers like James Patterson and Lemony Snicket are giving out CDs with their novels. Others, like Mr. Ellis, are posting music suggestions on Web sites, blogs or MySpace pages.

My fist reaction was disgust.  Books are good things, all by themselves! Why promote to such extremes?  Why should writers have to?  The words on the page, the story…But then again, I like music, and we’re in the midst of a ‘media-crossover’ boom, it seems.  Bands are on Myspace, books are coming with cds, and there are novel-related Web sites like Dallas Hudgen’s blog for his novel Drive Like Hell, which has Fulmerica Radio on it and lists of his characters’ links.  And then there is the Web site for Suzanna Clarke’s Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norell (an awesome, awesome book) which includes reviews of the book written by both of the main characters. Soundtracks would certainly work better for some books than others, and when it comes to new music and novels you have to wonder how much of it is simply incestuous promotion of some sort.  I have to say though, that Lemony Snicket is damn cool, and the “20th-century Russian symphony, which was intended to be played before the end of the world” packaged with A Series of Unfortunate Events sounds riveting, but then again, the Lemony Snicket books have been commodified like most new fiction hasn’t.  

I don’t have a soundtrack to any book coming out, but,  I do have some music in roataion.  And for your listening pleasure, here it is:

 1. Gnarles Barkley, St. Elsewhere.  This is by far one of the best albums I’ve heard in a long time.  It’s a whole work of art and the whole thing works together.  My son loves this CD; he sings to “Crazy” and dances to any of it. Cee-Lo and Danger Mouse are my new heroes.  And all of those costumes! The costumes!

2. Robert Randolf & The Family Band, Unclassified.  Awesome all the time and anytime–praise the Pedal Steel.

3. Benevento-Russo Duo, Best Reason to Buy the Sun. Jam band: Organ/Keybooards and drums–what more do you need?  Sometimes this just doesn’t do it for me, but other times it’s just right.  Excellent for video game playing…

4. Los Lobos, Kiko.  I can’t believe I hadn’t heard this sooner.  It’s another one that’s great any time.  It induces a happy nostalgia, maybe because it came out in 1992–is there an early 90s vibe?

5. Jack Johnson, Sing-A-Longs and Lullabies for the Film Curious George.  This is nice and chill and great for the kiddos.

Shine On, Syd

Syd Barrett died a couple of weeks ago. Piper at the Gates of Dawn is one of my favorite albums, and definitely my favorite Pink Floyd album.  While reading about this I came across the 33 1/3 series of books published by Continuum. 

From the publisher, via Amazon: “Thirty Three and a Third” is a new series of short books about critically acclaimed and much-loved albums of the last 40 years. The authors provide fresh, original perspectives – often through their access to and relationships with the key figures involved in the recording of these albums. By turns obsessive, passionate, creative, and informed, the books in this series demonstrate many different ways of writing about music. What binds the series together, and what brings it to life, is that all of the authors – musicians, broadcasters, scholars, and writers – are huge fans of the album they have chosen.

Here’s an excerpt from John Cavanagh’s book about Piper at the Gates of Dawn.  It looks like a cool book, but I wonder if reading such a thing would tarnish the dream that Piper creates.  David Bowie (who I adore) gave a statement about Barrett’s death. 

Shine on You crazy Diamond.

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