But what an elephant was doing in my pajamas, I’ll never know!

My laundry isn’t dry yet, so I’m posting.

  1. I’m trying to get my loan with Mohela refinanced.  I have my doubts that they’ll do it…but it’s worth a shot.  I don’t HAVE the extra $50/month to give them…so they’re either going to have to help me out somehow, or I’m going to have to…I don’t know what…  Suck it, I suppose.
  2. In defiance of Mohela—and because buying things makes me feel better—I picked up a couple of CDs this week.  Quick reviews, which will be expanded upon, should I ever get “Empty Checking” working again.  (More on that momentarily.)
    • Iron & Wine – “Kiss Each Other Clean” — I feel like a little bit of a trend jumper for liking Iron & Wine, but here we are.  I really dig this record.  (And not just because the guy looks like Zach Galifianakis.)  Particular standout tracks are “Monkeys Uptown” (always thought it was spelled “monkies,” but that’s neither here nor there) and “Rabbit Will Run.”  The latter is so good, I thought it was a cover of a Pink Floyd song I didn’t know or something.  This one’s a little bit of a departure from his earlier work—a little more 70s rock, a little less 70s folk…but it works, and some of these songs will be crowd pleasers for a long time, I’m sure.
    • Wanda Jackson – “The Party Ain’t Over” — You’re damn right it ain’t.  As my brother said on his new music blog, she still sounds like she’s 20.  Classic Sun Record standards spring to new life on this record, peppered with more modern influences…even boasting a mystifying and genius cover version of Amy Winehouse’s “You Know I’m No Good.”  Jack White produced and plays on the record…and this is the first record with his name on it that I’ve knowingly bought.  I’m not a fan of the White Stripes…and I don’t know…maybe it’s Meg’s fault.  Jack’s great on this record, and I can’t imagine it being this good without him.  Record of the year potential…but the year is young, so let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
  3. Re: “Empty Checking.”  I don’t know what’s going on.  The software I’ve been using to upload keeps showing that it’s reached 100%, then it freezes and uploads NOTHING.  So…that blows.  I’m trying to figure it out and I’ll keep you posted.
  4. Feldman gig this past weekend went really well.  Good crowd, nice bar owners, and fun time playing.  Had to buy my own beers (bars are like that for bands more and more these days), but their prices were great.  I only paid $6.00 for my two bottles of Guinness.  In a lot of places, $6.00 has only bought me ONE Guinness…so no complaints there!  (And for the record, when I asked how they handle drinks for the band, the girl behind the bar told me we pay our own way, but sounded almost apologetic about it, which was very nice of her.  A lot of places act insulted when you ask about it, like they’ve never HEARD of giving a free drink to a band…but this place was different.  In a down economy, I don’t mind paying for my own drinks if the people are nice and the prices are fair, so last night was just fine by me.)  Anyway…yeah, great gig, and a lot of fun with good people.
  5. Probably playing again with Mike very soon.  VERY soon.  I’ll keep you posted after I talk to him tomorrow.  🙂
  6. Okay…so the Fantastic Four finally killed Johnny “The Human Torch” Storm in this past week’s issue.  Been so long coming, I thought it’d already happened and I’d missed it.  I bought the issue.  It was well done…but we all know he’ll be back.  That’s how comics work these days.  (Cross-reference: Superman, Bruce Wayne, Captain America—at least twice, and pretty much every villain there’s ever been.)  It didn’t even look like they actually killed him in the frame where they supposedly did it.  I was actually pretty disappointed.  But anyway…that happened.
  7. Watched the SAG awards tonight.  Absolutely nothing to report on that.  Boring and lifeless show that is the epitome of an industry patting itself on the back.  People complain about the Oscars…but the SAG awards are just ridiculous.  It’s just the SAG union sitting around clapping for one another.  It’s like if the UPS union had an award show and handed out “nicest use of brown pants” awards.  It seems like they were having a SAG convention and decided to insert awards into it just for fun…and it was also a 2 hour commercial for “The Fighter” (seriously…how classless was Wahlberg in his promo segment?) and “The Social Network.”  …but Betty White looked happy to win anyway.  That’s something.
  8. Supposed to be a major snowfall happening in St. Louis tomorrow—or today, depending on how you look at it…  Apparently it’ll be the biggest one we’ve had since 1981.  (I seem to remember a really bad one somewhere between 85-89 though…I’m not sure why people are skipping over that one.)  At the moment, I’m still planning on going to work…but we’ll see if my driveway is passable, much less the roads.  I’m mainly dreading it because last time we had a major ice-based storm here, the power went out in most areas for about a week.  So you might have to watch your own ass while Ameren is covering theirs.
  9. I’ve been moving slowly through Joe Hill’s “Horns.”  But suffice to say, I’m pretty good at predicting things in this genre.  🙂  Still a great read…I just haven’t been reading much this week.
  10. I didn’t get any farther (further?) on the Two Hangmen guitar parts yet.  I’m hoping maybe I’ll have some time tomorrow after work.  I think I’m settling into how I want to do it though, so it’ll be good.  And for those geeks among us (me), I’m probably mostly sticking to my Telecaster and my Gretsch for this one.  They seem to have the right sound for the project.  (But there’s a part of me that wants to throw on a little bit of that really expensive and seldom-used Les Paul I’ve got…maybe I’ll just do a different guitar on every song, ha ha.)
  11. I just looked at the tabs at the top of the blog.  I’m realizing that I rarely update them.  I’m thinking I’ll either do away with one or two of them or that I’ll replace them with something more static that doesn’t feel like it should be updated.  I’ll think it through, though…odds are I’ll forget about it.  🙂

…and that’s all my brain will allow right now.  I’m sore and sleepy from the gig yesterday.  Haven’t played that long in a while, and it takes a lot out of me.  So I’m going to check the dryer and hopefully go to bed.

See you after the snowpocalypse.

RIP Charlie Louvin

If you don’t know who the Louvin Brothers are, then you’ve missed some of the tightest, most sublime harmonies in Country/Gospel music.  Ira Louvin—one of the biggest sinners in Gospel music, no offense to Hank Sr—died in 1965 in a car crash.  Charlie died yesterday.

The first time I ever really became aware of the Louvin Brothers was a mention by Patterson Hood at my first ever Drive-By Truckers show at the Duck Room in St. Louis.  (Like 2004-ish?)  They were about to play the song, “Dead, Drunk and Naked” and Patterson was telling one of his trademark stories to get into it.  He said he wrote it about a musician-friend of his whose family sent him to a Baptist Church’s rehab program because they couldn’t afford a real rehab program.  As part of his recovery, he wrote Gospel songs.  Apparently (and I think I’m pretty close on Patterson’s exact quote), “That sum-bitch wrote the prettiest damn Gospel songs I ever heard.”  He then went on to say that they were the type of songs that the Louvin Brothers would’ve written.  At the time, I’d heard their name in conjunction to people like Johnny Cash covering their music.  In subsequent years, I’ve investigated them further…and I haven’t heard the songs Patterson Hood’s friend wrote…but I can’t imagine them topping the Louvins. 

Many of you will be familiar less with the Louvins’ music than you will an obscure, bizarre record cover that has made many lists on the Internet.  It has been praised as one of the most iconic images of the genre for its time…and also as one of the weirdest/silliest covers out there.  Hank Williams III does a brief cover version of the title track as the intro to his “Straight to Hell” record (incidentally, the last III record I really liked).  Ladies and gentlemen…  Direct from Wikipedia, I present to you the cover of “Satan is Real.”

Really? Because he looks like a cardboard cut-out to me...

Unfortunately, that seems to be how most of the Interwebs has chosen to remember Charlie Louvin this week.  I choose to remember him differently.  First off as a wonderful songwriter…but more than that as someone who never forgot who he was, where he came from, or his family.

Below is a video I hope you’ll watch.  It’s touching.  It’s a tear jerker…and its promise has been fulfilled.  Following is Charlie’s 2007 tribute to his brother Ira.  Get your hankies ready.  You’re gonna need ’em.  (Link working as of time of posting…sorry if it’s gone in the wonderous World of Tomorrow.)

Edit: Dammit!  You’ve got to watch it on YouTube due to copyright stuff…  Direct link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lIT0Xe1qaoI

Rest in peace Charlie.  Heaven’s harmony just got a little bit better.

(And seriously…read up on Ira’s life story some time.  People think Cash had demons…yikes…)

No, you hit HIM on the head. You naughty moose!

Blah blah blah…

  1. I finally picked up CAKE’s new record, “Showroom of Compassion.”  It’s great.  Got the groove-inspired rock thing going on that they’ve always done, and it’s super catchy.  I love both the “featured” tracks of “Sick of You” and “Long Time.”  The rest is also hugely enjoyable.  Glad I picked it up.
  2. I also picked up a copy of Joe Hill’s “Horns.”  I found it at Barnes & Noble’s website in hardcover.  I was happy to get it, then even happier to open to the verso and see that it’s a first edition!  (I know…geeky…but it’s the little pleasures…  And yes.  I said “verso.”)  I like it so far…but I am in about chapter seven and I’m already ready to make a prediction.  In like Chapter Two, the main character (Ig), who was accused but never convicted of raping and murdering his ex-girlfriend, wakes up to be told by his PRESENT girlfriend that after their previous night’s fight, she’d had oral sex with a guy in the bar she’d known in high school.  I’m making the call right now.  That guy’s going to turn out to have been the real rapist/murderer of Ig’s ex-girlfriend.  (Not hard to tell…if you introduce a gun in the first act, someone uses it in the third.)  But even though I’m already calling that, I like the book a lot so far.  It’s just as compelling as “Heart Shaped Box” was.
  3. Didn’t watch the State of the Union speech tonight.  It’s not that I don’t care…it’s just that I know what shape the country’s in and I’m not of the crowd that needs a rallying speech to believe in the guy I helped elect.  And I sure-as-sugar don’t need the subsequent two days of the Bullshit Report (aka the “news”) analyzing every word he said.
  4. I mentioned last week that my friend/coworker Larry has been out sick.  I think he’s coming back tomorrow…  Which is, of course, the day after I finally figured out what I’m doing with the extra tasks of his job that fell onto my desk while he’s been gone.  🙂
  5. I think I’m less disappointed by the fact that “Jersey Shore” is a thing than I am that I know people who watch it.
  6. Sock puppet in the audience on “Conan…”
  7. As I’ve mentioned before, I still watch wrestling for some reason…  And right now, that reason is CM Punk.  He’s great, and he’s saving the show.  They’re nuts if they don’t put him in the title picture.  (And yes, I know wrestling’s fake…I just like it, and I don’t really have anywhere else to talk about it right now.)
  8. My toothache already feels fine, by the way…  But for some reason, my stomach has been kinda sensitive for the past two days.  I’m blaming the Long John Silver’s from Sunday night (and the leftovers from Monday night).
  9. Patton Oswalt looks to have lost a little weight…or at least looks thinner in his street clothes than he did in the suit he wore on his last comedy special.  Either way, good for him.
  10. So I’m afraid of flying and also afraid of large bodies of water.  It’d really blow to be a duck.
  11. Two Hangmen EP experienced a slight delay tonight.  Dave’s having his (nicer) bass repaired.  So we’re picking it up next Tuesday.  But on the plus side, that’ll give me a chance to come closer to completed guitar tracks this week, hopefully.
  12. Gonna have to get that Wanda Jackson record that Jack White produced.  They did a performance on “Conan” tonight, and it was excellent.
  13. New comic book releases tomorrow.  That’ll be fun…last week was great with both “Morning Glories” and “Scarlet” coming out.  “Morning Glories” is so good, it should be a TV show.  But if they did that, they’d ruin it.  It’s perfect how it is, and if you’re not reading it, I actually feel bad for you.

…and I think that’ll do.  I’ll keep you posted on all the stuff that needs posting.

Addition – I just found out that my student loan payments went up $50 a month.  (Thanks for all the warning, Mohela.)  So…unless I get a raise in a down-turned economy and also about 6-8 months away from my annual review, that pretty much takes me out of buying much of anything interesting for the forseeable future.  Maybe a CD here and there.  Maybe MAYBE I can still afford comics…  But bye-bye banjo.  And possibly also lunch.  Great. 

Don’t go to college, kids.

You watched it…you can’t UN-watch it!

Got a few things on my mind…so let’s talk about all of them at once.  That’s right.  We’re going random, here…

  1. I was hoping the Jets would get into the Superbowl.  I don’t watch American Football much, though I do tend to keep up a bit with the English Premiership (which most of you would call “soccer,” but I don’t really want to get into that).  But, about 10 years ago, I said the Jets would go all the way…and now it’s 10 years later, and I almost got some very delayed bragging rights.  But they tanked it.  Personally, I just don’t think they thought past the Patriots (but I’m glad they beat them, anyway).  As it stands, I don’t care WHO wins the Superbowl as I don’t particularly care for either team.  I actually kind of dislike them both—but I can’t remember why, exactly.  Oh well…at least there’ll be awesome food at the party.
  2. The Two Hangmen EP is progressing.  I *THINK* I’ve more or less completed the drums.  I started in on my “final” guitars today…and that’s not going too smoothly.  I’m over-thinking it, and it’s not sounding right.  I need to care less, overdub less, and just embrace the fun part of it.  I’ll get there…but it didn’t happen today.  Oh well…maybe I’ll gain some ground on Tuesday’s session.  If nothing else, we’ll work on bass tracks with Dave and I’ll get a sense of scale for my guitar work.
  3. I’m incredibly proud of The Simpsons for referencing the World Trade Center in a comedic way on the show tonight.  Homer was trying to order from a 20-year old catalog, and Marge told him he wouldn’t be able to do it.  So he picked up a pen and started addressing an envelope while saying, “We’ll see about that…  #1 World Trade Center…”  I was almost too surprised to laugh, then I did.  I’m glad we’re finally getting to the point that we can take what was—of course—a very sad moment, and work it into a comedy show.  And it was done tastefully, in a way that didn’t mock 9/11/01 or anyone who died.  Good job, Simpsons…and THANK YOU!
  4. And now, it’s time for another entry of “Facebullshit!”  This is the thing where I take an “inspirational” quote from the Facebook status of one of my friends, and mock it.  Today’s entry is a quote by William Hazlitt.  Apparently he at some point said or wrote the following…  “Man is the only animal that laughs and weeps, for he is the only animal that is struck with the difference between what things are and what they ought to be.”
    • Joke response: Then how the hell do you explain Woody Woodpecker, jerk?
    • Real response: We’ve all seen animals gutterally howl (their version of crying) or even abused animals shed tears of pain in those videos where Sarah McLaughlin bores us with her music.  We also can CLEARLY tell when our pets are having fun and think something’s awesome.  Just because you are a human, you can’t dismiss that other forms of life are also parts of creation, have nervous systems, emotions, and thoughts.  And that some of them are delicious.
  5. I’m always really proud of myself when I remember someone’s birthday without Facebook having to tell me about it.
  6. Jack LaLanne died today.  Despite the cries of “too soon!”  …I say they outta juice him.
  7. I know a Feminist of whom I am very, very tired.  Now, I have no real problem with the concept of Feminism.  I think women deserve equal pay, equal rights, equal benefits, etc, etc…  But at the point where you no longer want equality, but instead want REVENGE, my sympathy is short-lasting.  Every time I hear the woman in question talk about how helpless men are, I just want to say, “Yeah, you’re right.  How could I possibly have gotten by for 30 years?  All this time I’ve been earning an income, living in a house, paying my bills on time, having a basically successful music career, maintaining friendships and family relationships, driving a car, and keeping out of prison…all without a woman to guide me!  I MUST change my lifestyle immediately!”  But I’m pretty sure she either wouldn’t understand the sarcasm or would somehow misinterpret my irritation as a victory.  So instead, I’m blogging about her without naming her.  And THAT’S how passive-aggression works!
  8. I have a minor toothache.  Very minor…but worth mentioning.  I think I got it biting down on a charred bit of some food I ate this week.  Seems to be a recurring theme in my life, huh?  It’s basically fine.  Hurts less today than it did last night.  Slept just fine.  Gone without painkillers.  No swelling.  No biggie…  But I wanted to mention it for some reason.
  9. A guy from the Banjo Club called to tell me that he has my songbook with him and that I can pick it up from him whenever.  (I didn’t attend the January meeting, because I still don’t have a new banjo and also January’s Thursdays have been kinda busy.)  I haven’t yet.  For some reason I haven’t called him back yet.  Dunno why…but I will.  And sooner or later I’ll GET that banjo, too!
  10. This is going to make me sound like a terrible person, but there’s a small, sick twisted part of me that loves watching divorces play out on Facebook.  All the unfriending, and the friends choosing sides and unfriending other friends who’re still friendly with the “wrong” friends.  We’re living in the future…and it is stupid.  In real-time.
  11. I heard we’re going to get more snow.  I guess it kinda snowed today, but you might not know it.  I think there’s supposed to be even MORE later this week…but who can tell? St. Louis weather is weird.  I like snow…but I hope it holds off.  I don’t mind it when what time I show up to things doesn’t matter, but I HATE having to try to make it in to work on time when it’s snowing.  And MoDot sure doesn’t make it easier.
  12. I’m still reading through Vonnegut books.  And I’m still sort of planning on the record filled with songs inspired by Vonnegut’s work…but I’m not really sure how to approach it.  If I do it, it’ll have to be done in a way that appeals to people OTHER than Vonnegut fans, and doesn’t throw out TOO many references that people would have to Google…but at the same time, if I cop-out and say “inspired by Vonnegut” but don’t reference things like “Ice-9,” “Billy Pilgrim,” “Kilgore Trout,” etc…do I really even want to do it?  Tough call.  Anyway…I’ve got about three songs at least mostly written.  One of them is pretty abstract and not too reference-packed.  One is entirely biographical (and I think that’s fair and will work just fine).  And the third is abstract, but FILLED with references to Vonnegut’s universe.  We’ll see where it goes…
  13. I bought gloves!  I haven’t had gloves all Winter, and with all the snow, you can imagine how that’s felt.  So I finally bought a pair at Walgreen’s on Friday night.  They are made by the “Handmaster” company.  Is it just me, or does that sound like some guy turned his embarrassing Junior High nickname into a positive?
  14. Also on Friday, I ate an entire order of Kung Pao Chicken, and an entire order of Crab Rangoon from my favorite Chinese place…then I ate two Gus’s Pretzels.  That was a lot of food…  And—word to the wise—if you eat that particular combination all in one go, you get a little heart-attacky.
  15. Got a gig coming up on Saturday with the Feldman Group.  Haven’t done that in a while.  Should be fun…but also exhausting.  It’s one of those 4-hour bar things that I’m going to leave hours in advance to get to on time.  I’ll enjoy it, don’t get me wrong…but it’s always a long day.
  16. I recorded an episode of “Empty Checking” that should go up sometime between now and Wednesday.  It’s kind of a fun one.  It’s me rambling after one shot of bourbon, and sipping on another shot while I’m talking.  So it gets a little weird.  🙂  I’ll note it here when it’s up.

…and that’ll do for now.  I’m not sure how much I’ll have to post this week…but you’ll read it here first!

Sign of the Times

If you’re wondering how the economy’s going, I think I have a pretty good answer.  We had a pretty big snowfall in the St. Louis area on Wednesday night into Thursday morning.  Not as much as the 20+ inches some have had recently, but at between 6-9 inches, it was the biggest storm we’ve had in a long while.  I worked from home today rather than deal with the threat of poorly treated Missouri streets (MoDot sucks), but I did have to venture out this evening for a rehearsal with a band.  (As a side story, I had assumed that at 7:00 pm the streets would be okay, but I slid across a street and hit a curb pretty freaking hard—and if there’s damage, I’m sending the bill to my Congressman…but that’s not what I wanted to write about.)

Coming home from the rehearsal, I noticed that my gas tank was a little low. Being that I’m going to have to go in to work tomorrow, I decided to put some gas in the tank tonight, so I can just walk right out the door tomorrow and don’t have to leave any earlier—as I’m sure we all would do in that situation.  So it’s ten o’clock at night, and I’m at a QuikTrip.  I’m of the type that ALWAYS reaches for the plain-Jane “Unleaded” and doesn’t ever go with a higher grade.  I know that some people like to use Premium or what have you, and some cars even have little stickers on them that tell you which grade you’re supposed to use to benefit your engine—and people tend to listen to that for some reason.

Well…I think it’s a sign of the times that when I’d put the (entirely CLEAN) Unleaded nozzle into my tank, I glanced at the other two and saw this:

Why is this picture so much better/cleaner than the picture of my veal???

Notice how the middle grade has some snow on it, but the Premium has obviously not been touched all day?

Guess that’s how the recession works.

I Ate This…

That’s a Veal Porterhouse from Maggiano’s in St. Louis.  It’s a crappy cell-phone pic that I had to bring up the color on because it was dark in the restaurant…but it was about an inch and a half thick, it melted in my mouth, and it was so good I was angry when it was gone.

Also had the best Fried Calamari I’ve ever had in my life.  And they make a fine Manhattan.

Then a hellish drive home in the snow…for which there was obviously no pre-treating done on Highway 170, Lindbergh, or the Rock Road.  Thanks again, MoDot.

But before that…Veal Porterhouse!