Sunday, August 28, 2005
Of course, nobody knew about this one, because I didn't blog about it.
Been a tad busy. It's conference planning time at work, which has cut severely down on my time of late. That's likely to continue until the end of October. Of course, the closer we get to the actual date, my insomnia will start kicking in, meaning I will actually have MORE time to blog, since there's nothing else to do here at 3 in the morning.
Let's see...what else? I'm realizing how little I actually blog about comics, which was my purpose for setting up the blog to begin with. I'm also noting that the blogosphere seems to get along just fine without my silly little remarks, so I'm likely to continue as I have been. Besides, who needs me to say anything at all about comics, when you've already got great folks doing a much better job at it? (Although I do have a post about my dad and comics I'm hoping to finish soon.)
The doctor was pleased with my weight loss at my appointment a little while ago.
Keith and I completed a little home improvement project this evening. I'll try to get a picture up soon. In the words of HGTV, we "repurposed" an item we no longer had a use for.
I'm working on two long Emmylou Harris posts, if I can get time to finish them.
We're revving up to see Jean Ritchie, Kate Campbell, the Duhks, and Lucinda Williams next month; Amy Ray and Nanci Griffith in October; and Bright Eyes in November. Before that we've got a trip to Arkansas to visit Keith's mom (and pick up a new--to us--car). Before that we're jaunting to the flea market on Labor Day. And before that, we're catching Del McCoury at the Waterfront this Wednesday.
Beyond that, the tomotoes are still coming in, which has prompted Keith to start making the yummiest home made salsa! I still have a couple of things that need to be done in the yard, like trimming that front tree. And we're in the middle of taking all the cats to the vet for shots and check-ups. And there's still a yard sale to plan for....
Last Week's Playlist:
Tracy Grammer--Flower of Avalon (Haunting and beautiful)
Buddy Miller--Universal United House of Prayer
Mighty Lemon Drops---World Without End
Book of Love--Candy Carol (Sweet and fun!)
Saturday, August 20, 2005
1. Even though I usually only make it in one or two times a month, most of the staff know me by name, and some of them do by comic taste.
2. A couple of weeks ago, I got a personal phone call from one of the managers letting me know about the specials they were having in August. I'm pretty sure all the customers with hold files got one, but it was a nice touch. She even tied some of the specials to my regular habits. "I know you buy a lot of graphic novels. Well, on Wednesdays this month, they're going to be 20% off."
3. Today, everything in the store was 20% off, so we stopped by. My hold file was pretty slim, since I did a couple of large pick ups earlier. The same manager told me that she was sorry that she hadn't called and told me about the sale today before I had come and picked up the other stuff, which I thought was really nice. After all, my file had gotten pretty full while Dad was sick.
4. Keith likes to shop there, too. True, he's there to look at the CD's on the music side of the store, but it is the only one of the four shops in town that he'll visit with me. The staff don't know him by name, but they do recognize that we are together.
Friday, August 19, 2005
Roger Green brings the sad news of Vassar Clements’ death. Another fine musician gone. Sigh!
Playlist for the Week
Caitlin Cary/Thad Cockrell—Begonias
Kasey Chambers—The Captain
Steve Earle—Train a’ Comin’
Tom the Dog’s Mixed Bag CD
Good Tastin’ Music—A six buck sampler from Blue Note and Manhattan Records available only at Barnes and Noble. You’ve got to suffer through the ubiquitous Norah Jones*, but hearing Mavis Staples sing with Dr John more than makes up for that.
Kasey Chambers--Barricades and Brick Walls
Thom Gladhill’s Mixed Bag CD
*Doing a John Prine cover yet! I admit, she usually shows strong taste in the songwriters she picks to cover, but there’s just something about her delivery that doesn’t click with me.
Thoughts on Viewing the “Graphic Novel” Section of a Local Borders the Other Day
I wonder how much longer it will be before manga starts showing up on remainder tables?
Is it wrong of me to hope that those CLAMP boxed sets of books and chess pieces eventually get remaindered?
It defeats the purpose of printing things like Araña and Strangers in Paradise in digest-size (I refuse to call it “manga-size”) if they don’t get shelved with the manga. I’m betting that not many of the manga kids are exploring any other further than the four (!) bookshelves of manga.
I’ve owned the boxed set of the Nausicaä manga (what Viz used to call “perfect collections”) for years—but, damn! Those larger versions Viz is now putting out look really sharp!
Thursday, August 18, 2005
….Noticing that your “thin pants” are starting to sag.
….When the quarterly meeting of the committee from Hell--the meeting you dread, with the committee you dislike, that you can’t avoid because you’re the chair, with the one or two uncontrollably obnoxious personalities—actually goes well and is surprisingly productive.
__________________________________________________________________You Know You Saw a Damn Good Concert Friday Night When…
….It’s Wednesday and you’re still thinking about it and talking about it.
…You haven’t stopped playing the artist’s CD’s.
…You keep bursting into snippets of songs from the concert.
…If it weren’t for your Friday a.m. doctor appointment, you’d be heading to Northern Kentucky tomorrow night to see this performer again!
Comics Reporter has links to news of a new Bill Mauldin book. It doesn't look to me like it's going to be widely available to the general public, though. I’m another prospective reader for the non-existent, comprehensive Mauldin collection Spurgeon would like to see.
Steven Grant spends Permanent Damage this week plugging a bunch of blogs. Looks like I’ll be doing some exploring this weekend. Between Grant’s article and this post at Crisis/Boring Change (link courtesy of Cognitive Dissonance), I'm reminded yet again how many good blogs there are out there that I've not found my way to yet.
Wednesday, August 17, 2005
Why have I not been reading BeaucoupKevin on a regular basis? Thanks to Lyle at Crocodile Caucus for helping me rectify this oversight.
Yet Another Comics Blog is also doing a contest right now. The week's half over, but there are still some chances to win. Thanks to Lefty’s Corner for pointing that out to me, and also making me aware that Dave is also now doing Yet Another Music Blog and Yet Another Music Radio.
Augie De Blieck did his Previews run through yesterday in his Pipeline column. I don't know why, but I really like reading what other folks have to say about Previews each month, especially when they have to come at it from a totally different perspective than I do.
Observation: I really need to make a blogroll of some kind. Maybe this weekend....
We’ve been to a lot of shows lately, and I haven’t had a chance to write about any of them, so here’s a whirlwind tour:
Del McCoury at Ear X-Tacy (July 13): Del McCoury has got to be one of the most generous performers I have ever seen. Even at a free performance in a crowded record store, he goes out of his way to make sure that everyone gets a memorable show. He interacts warmly with the crowd and always seems to be really glad to be there performing for us. It’s really touching. This was the day after their new CD dropped and they came up from Nashville solely to do this appearance. It was amazing. They ran through a mix of stuff from the new CD, plus some older numbers. Of course, the picking and the signing were incredible, but it was McCoury chatting with everyone in between songs that really made the set memorable for me. They closed out with a roaring version of Vincent Black Lightening 1952 that made the hair stand up on the back of my arms.
They Might Be Giants at Lebowskifest (July 22): Believe it or not, I’ve never seen The Big Lebowski, but that didn’t stop me from attending the opening ceremonies for this year’s Lebowskifest. Granted, I was there to see TMBG, but whatever. Two guys from Louisville started the Fest, which gets a little bigger every year. The concert was a lot of fun. I always wondered how the TMBG kids songs would fit in with the rest of their stuff, and the answer is: perfectly. They managed to do the various songs from Flood that everyone always wants to hear, plus a lot of their newer stuff and an assortment from their many other albums. Along the way, they created the storyline of a miracle baby, born that evening in the crowd on the hill at the amphitheatre, who begins to send them telepathic instructions and create instruments for them to use. It was really wild fun. As was, Corn Mo’, the opening act, who was perfectly suited to the whole scene. If you took Meatloaf and Lawrence Welk, tossed them in a blender with a Smurf and an Oompah Loompah, then added a couple strong hits of acid to the mix, the result would be Corn Mo’. My goal in life is now to acquire Corn Mo’ CD’s.
Kentucky Music Weekend (July 23-24): Imagine a free music festival. Sounds nice, right? Now, picture it featuring a whole bunch of great regional and local acts, like Zoë Speaks and the Reel World String Band. Even better, huh? Now for the kicker: The headlining act is Jean Ritchie. Yes, the Jean Ritchie. And, it’s still free. That’s what Kentucky Music Weekend is like.
It was the hottest weekend of the year, but we managed to catch a lot of the festival, including solo shows from Louisville-based Juggernaut Jug Band and the all-female Reel World String Band, who just tore up the place with their playing. They’ve blended a lot of social concerns into their music, particularly environmental issues. They also do a really ripping version of Janis Joplin’s Take Another Little Piece of My Heart!
The main show Saturday night was awesome, with Zoë Speaks, the Juggernauts, and of course Jean Ritchie. Zoë Speaks threw a loop in the schedule, when they got such an ovation they had to have an encore. Still, they are that good, and their set was awesome. They also got to come back out during Ritchie’s set to accompany her on The L&N Don’t Stop Here Any More. At 83, Ritchie has way more energy than I do at half that! Hearing her share both her memories and the songs she grew up singing is a real treasure. She keeps apologizing that her memory and voice aren’t what they used to be, but if she didn’t point it out, you’d never notice.
We came back Sunday morning for the Hymn Sing and then the Zoë Speaks solo set. Keith printed off some of the pics he took the night before and got them signed. Karla from Zoe Speaks asked if he got one of them playing with Jean Ritchie the night before and he promised to send them one. He took Ritchie one to sign and she said “Do I still look that good? Or are you just that good of a photographer?’ I thought that was sweet. Her husband, who was a professional photographer complimented Keith as well and they got to talking shop, which prompted Ritchie to shoo them away so she could hear the music! I was in the audience and saw her wave them away and cracked up! Keith just looked at me later and said, “I got shushed by Jean Ritchie. Wow!”
I was deeply moved at the Hymn Sing, and ended up being very glad we went. (I hadn’t been that enthused about going.) It’s been a long time since I’ve sung any of those old hymns, and I was surprised to discover how much I miss them! Sometimes, It’s a little too easy for me to forget what a big part of my life church used to be. Ever since Dad’s funeral, I’ve started to feel like I really need to do something to come to terms with who I am and who I have been spiritually, but that’s a matter for another time. The Hymn Sing just reinforced that feeling, though.
It was so hot that day that they let anyone who wanted sit on the stage with the performers. There was an AC breeze from backstage, it was a little cooler. I was a little intimidated to do that with Jean Ritchie, but we did move for Zoë Speaks. It was strange to hear the sound coming from the monitors, which were behind us. They tried out some new songs in preparation for recording a new CD, plus did some old favorites, like their version of the traditional tune Shady Grove, which they turn into a powerful parable about racism.
Hayes Carll at Waterfront Wednesday (July 27): We used to really like Waterfront Wednesdays until WFPK had to start enforcing the “no coolers, cans, or bottles” rule from the Waterfront Development Corporation. It’s solely designed to protect the food vendors on the Watefront, and annoys me to no end. It would be one thing if there were anything reasonably-priced, remotely healthy, or vegetarian available, but there’s not. Waterfront Wednesday used to be a great chance to throw together a picnic supper and sit by the water, enjoying free music until dark. Once that changed, we stopped going regularly. It’s not WFPK’s fault. They have to play along to use the space, but it’s not really the same any more.
However, we couldn’t pass up the chance to see Hayes Carll live. Since he was the first act up that night, we decided to go see him and then split. It turned out to be one of the only rainy afternoons we had in July. The rain interrupted his set at one point, which I think kept him from doing everything. At least he didn’t do On the Road Tonight, which has gotten pretty heavy play on the Americana Music Choice channel. We were a little bummed about that, because it’s such a cool song. It was still a fun set. Carll has a really twisted perspective on life that I cannot help but appreciate. (One of his songs is written from the view of a man serving life in prison in Connecticut, where he spends every day making license plates imprinted with the state motto: “Live Free or Die.”) I’d like to see him on his own in a non-rainy club somewhere.
Stacey Earle and Mark Stuart at the Kentucky Theater (August 6): They just had a new CD come out and a lot of their set came from it. Stuart is a really gifted guitar player, while Earle plays rhythm guitar with a really quirky style—she doesn’t strum the strings or pick at them as much as she flicks them and thumps them. The result is a strong rhythm with a unique sound. Incredibly enough, the music works. Their styles don’t complement each other as much as the supplement each other. Both of them sound stronger as a result of the collaboration. It’s pretty cool to listen to. They closed out the evening with an acapella version of Gospel Ship. While they were singing they began to move off the stage, into the audience, up the aisles, out the back door, and into the lobby. They didn’t stop singing the entire time, and when they were done they were all ready to meet the audience as we exited. It was a pretty cool way to wrap things up.
Kasey Chambers at Headliners (August 12): This, hands down, was the best show we have seen this year, and one of the best we’ve ever been to. It’s taken a long time for Kasey to get to Louisville, but it was well worth the wait. Opening with a one-two punch of Barricades and Brickwalls and Am I Not Pretty Enough?, she proceeded to give a set that wandered through her three albums, plus some covers and surprises—including an acapella gospel number. Chambers was gracious and generous to the crowd and seemed to be genuinely surprised that she had so many fans in Louisville, Kentucky. It’s been a while since I’ve seen someone who appreciated the audience as much as we appreciated her and that added so much to the show. I was really surprised that she chose to do her most well-known song, The Captain, as an acoustic solo number for an encore. I kept expecting her band to slowly come back and join in, especially since that electric guitar chord that runs through the song is so lovely and distinct. Instead she created a really intimate, personal moment: just her and the audience and her music. It really added to the punch of an already emotionally powerful song. Overall, it was simply an amazing show. The Greencards opened, and I was really amazed at how much they’ve grown musically since we saw them last fall. I liked them then, but they are turning into incredible songwriters and performers.
Marshall Chapman and Tim Krekel (This Saturday)
Del McCoury at Waterfront Wednesday (August 24): Don’t know how we keep lucking into seeing him at free appearances, but I ain’t complaining! We’ll be putting up with the stupid Waterfront rules to see him, but it will be worth it!
Jean Ritchie at a special Homefront (September 18)
Lucinda Williams (September 29—Got the tix in hand!)
Nanci Griffith (October 17—Tix came yesterday!)
Monday, August 15, 2005
This is the reason I like to start my day with Postmodern Barney.
Comics Worth Reading has comments on the August Previews up. I just finished my order last night. It’s going to be a small one this time. The Mike Allred issue of Solo is a given for me, and I’m really psyched about getting Kamikaze Kaito Jeanne in English. I’m nuts enough about magical girls manga to begin with, but the overlay of the Joan of Arc legends just adds to the appeal. I’m glad to see DC/CMX devoting some attention to works that have had a following, but not been available in English.
Also, I’m getting the first issue of Paris, simply because I cannot imagine two more disparate styles than Simon Gane’s and Andi Watson’s. Most alternative cartoonists have such distinct “voices” to their writing that it sometimes seems strange to me to “hear” those voices coming out of someone else’s art! (It took a while to get used to it in the first Bizarro volume from DC.) The preview at the SLG site reads very much like a Watson comic, but looks so totally Gane, even though he's tidied up his style a bit to make it fit the story better. I like what I've read online, and it looks like this is a collaboration that just might work.
While I think it’s cool that NBM will be publishing new Omaha the Cat Dancer collections, I already have several of the old Kitchen Sink books, including the first one. I’ll be picking up the ones I don’t have when they come out, but I’ll be letting the first one go by, I guess. I can’t recommend it highly enough, though. It’s literate, witty, sexy, and sensual, with great characters and lots of action and suspense. CAUTION: Link is not work-friendly.
Likewise, I’ve got the hardcover edition of Beg the Question, but would recommend the new softcover edition very highly. Sex, love, and relationships in the big city with two typically fucked-up people. What’s not to like? Seriously, this book is an engrossing journey with two protagonists that manage to be likeable, annoying, and frustrating all at the same time. I loved it!
And the latest Books of Magic series is ending with #15. That one didn’t last any longer than its predecessor did, and neither of them made it near as long as the original series. Personally, I think Vertigo/DC should lay off the character for a while. With the demise of this title, there are now no monthly books on my pull list. A moment of silence, please.
Lefty Brown is having a contest. So is Greg Burgas. You'll have to hurry if you want to enter Lefty's.
Revealed at last! The secret origin of John Roberts!
Have you heard the Super F*ckers theme song yet?
Signs You’re Going to Have A Crappy Monday
You wake up at 3 a.m. and can’t go back to sleep.
Your Palm Pilot is dead.
You can’t get the keyboard drawer on your computer desk to go back in its place.
Your internet connection is down.
You spend the first two hours at work in a meeting with your boss.
Saturday, August 13, 2005
A couple of quick things that I wanted to mention before they got to be too old:
RIP Miss Ellie. I was such a Dallas fan back in the day. It was the first post-prime time show my mom would let me watch and probably set up for a lifetime of being hooked on cheesy melodrama. I got an A on my final in a speech and drama class in high school for re-writing "Who Shot JR?" as a parody based on the class.
Belated RIP Ibrahim Ferrer. He was simply an incredible musician. My hands down favorire of all the performers in Buena Vista Social Club is Omara Portuondo, but Ferrer is a close second.
When punk rock meets alt-comix. A Ramones box set with comix stories from Jim Woodring and Mary Fleener (among others)? I am so there.
Playlist for the Week:
I picked up a couple of new discs that didn't want to leave the player, so this week's list is shorter than normal.
Heartaches and Highways: The Best of Emmylou Harris
Paradise Hotel--Eliza Gilkyson
Papillion--The Latest In Radio Compilation
Friday, August 12, 2005
Some sort of demon seems to have infested my PC this morning. I'm having alternating rounds of the mouse and the keyboard locking up. I lost an earlier post because if it. My browser seems to be pulling up versions of pages that are two-three days old, which is easily corrected by hitting refresh, but still, it's annoying. And the clock is running about 7 hours slow. which I is probably not a good sign. I hope I'm not dying a slow death here.
Anyway, thanks to Mike Sterling at Progressive Ruin (one of my favorite blogs) for linking with this blog. And thanks to Roger Green for pointing that out to me, since I had missed it.
Thursday, August 11, 2005
Roger Green at Rambling with Roger put up an eloquent post yesterday, the fifth anniversary of his father's death, telling about his dad's illness and death. Roger's been really kind to me lately, sending encouraging emails, leaving comments, making sure that I'm okay. I've really appreciated it.
Sometime ago, I wrote a few posts about Dad's illness and funeral, but ended up setting them aside for editing. I've had a hard time convincing myself to work on them any more, so they've just sat.
I'm starting to feel now like it's time to finish them and post them. Roger has reminded me of the power of sharing our stories, both in terms of the catharsis it can bring the storyteller and the comforting touch it can bring to the reader.
I don't pretend that I've got any great insights to share, or even that I'm particularly eloquent. I'm just going to share, over the course of two or three posts, some thoughts about some of the things that happened between April 11 and June 6 of 2005.
PersonalMy dad was buried in the little town that I call my hometown. I haven’t lived there in over twenty years. In fact, I left right after I graduated high school and never really came back. But, it’s the town my mother’s family is from and is the closest thing I’ve ever had to a hometown.
My dad did not live there. He had lived in another city, about a half hour away for many, many years. However, Dad had left no funeral plans or instructions, and we had lived there as a family, so it seemed like a reasonable choice.
He is buried in the plot where my mother will also be buried one day. My grandfather bought all his kids two grave plots after my grandmother died. Mom had offered one to Dad when he was alive, and he accepted it.
In other words, my Dad was buried in a town where he did not live and will be sharing a grave with his ex-wife! It would take more time than I have right now to explain my parents’ relationship. Let’s just say that while they were not meant to be married, they did make really good friends.
There are so many things to think about with a funeral that you really don’t realize until you have to do it. An obit has to be written. Visitation must be planned. Clothes mutt be chosen. Someone has to do the service. And on and on and on.
My brother decided that he didn’t want some generic funeral home preacher and service for Dad. He wasn’t a particularly religious man, so there was no one to call who really knew him. My brother Danny volunteered to do the service himself. He’s not a minister, but he is a seminary student. It felt right to all of us.
He asked me to take over at the grave site so he could be a pall bearer. I’m not a minister, but I used to be a seminary student. I really had to grapple with my own spiritual issues quite a bit over this. I wanted so badly to do right by my dad, but I also wanted to be true to myself. I haven’t considered myself to be a Christian for a number of years now, although I’m hard pressed to really describe myself spiritually. Basically God is on one side and I’m on the other, and we don’t talk much.
We bought one large bouquet from the family—me, Mom, Danny, Keith, and Danny’s wife and kids. We decided to let everyone else figure out what “family” meant.
I took every picture album and all of Dad’s papers and things down with me. Keith and I bought a cardboard display board and I made a small display about Dad. We blew up some photos and framed them, and I had some of his Army commendations copied onto a nice ivory paper. We laid out some of his medals and patches and a small American flag. Danny’s daughter drew a picture and sent some paper flowers she had made at school. We added them to the display as well.
The funeral was small and there were not many visitors. So many of the people that knew my family had moved away years before, and Dad’s friends came for the funeral service, but not the visitation. It was small and intimate without a lot of fuss, which is the way Dad would have liked it.
Bottom line is, Dad was a plain and simple man. He did what he had to do without a lot of fuss. He owned very little. If he were attending a large, flashy funeral, he would be standing off to the side, waiting for the chance to go take his tie off. I think we ended up giving him a funeral that he would have been comfortable with.
Danny did such a great job with the service. Keith downloaded some quiet music that was played at the beginning and end. Danny spoke for a few minutes, focusing on who Dad was and how he would be remembered. One of his best friends also added a few remarks at the end. It was a simple service, but very touching.
At the grave site, I was almost overcome watching the soldiers who came to fold the flag. There is a real ritual to that and I found that focusing on that aspect comforted me. My dad loved being a soldier and it was so right for them to be there. Despite my problems with that this country has become, I gladly accepted the flag along with “the thanks of a grateful nation.”
When my dad was in the Army, he was part of a detail that went around the country during the Viet Nam War and did the flag duties at funerals. My mom said she could just hear him telling those guys to get it right!
When the time came for me to speak, I did my best to shove everything else aside and speak from the heart. Somehow I managed to lead a prayer that felt right to me, and appropriate for everyone else. After it was all over, my mother said that she could not have imagined anyone else doing the service the way it needed to be done. It helped me to bring the long, wild journey of the prior two months to a close.
All through everything--court appearances for guardianship, standing up to doctors, holding Dad’s hand and talking to him, trying to help him understand where he was, looking at nursing homes—I kept struggling to do the right thing for Dad. I just wanted him cared for, treated well, and given as much respect as possible. That carried over into the funeral too. But with the funeral I was also able to help myself see that there’s not anything else I can do for him now. I got some good closure that day, and have been slowly working on getting back to normal.
We had to have a major amount of work done on the car before we went down. It needed a new radiator. While we were there, the fuel pump went out. We’d been warned about it over a year ago, and had been putting off getting it fixed. So, the car died the night before the funeral, while we were driving out into the country taking my mother home. We called AAA to get the car, and my brother to come finish taking my mother home. It was an odd feeling to see the car loaded up and speeding off into the night on a journey back to Louisville. My brother took us home after the funeral.
The car’s back now and all fixed. We had to borrow money from Keith’s mom to make both sets of repairs, so another trip to SF is out for this year. There’s no way we can get this paid back and make trip preparations. We’re both a little bummed about it.
Tuesday night after my aerobics class, I stopped by Ear X-Tacy to get the new Eliza Gilkyson album, Paradise Hotel, which had just gone on sale. Last year, when she released Land of Milk and Honey, I waited until the weekend after its release and there was only one copy left. (Not sure if that was all they had ordered or not.) This time, I decided to get there on the day of release, just in case.
Anyway, there was a band doing an in-store there, and it was one of the most bizarre things I’ve ever seen. The three guys in Attic Ned (I think that was the name) wear cardboard masks that cover their entire faces when they perform. Even the guy playing trumpet had a cardboard full-face mask on. In addition to the trumpet, they had a guy making noise (um, I mean, doing vocals), and one doing beats and percussion kinds of stuff.
They were wrapping up their first number when I got there. Before they started the second, the noise-maker (uhm, vocalist) looked at the five or six people who had come to watch the band and said “Join us! Put on a mask!”
Next thing I know, they’ve all got face-covering cardboard masks on!
Thankfully, the New Release section is right by the front door. Unfortunately, there weren’t any copies of the Gilkyson disc there. I had to make my way to the Folk Music section, which is right by the area they use for in-stores.
While I was relieved to see that they had gotten a dozen or so copies of this one, I didn’t tarry too long. I was really afraid of someone sneaking up behind me, slamming a mask on my head, and pulling me into their bizarre cult!
Actually, the music was pretty catchy and I was almost intrigued enough to stay and see what would happen next. If I hadn’t been all sweaty from my work out, I probably would’ve.
Wednesday, August 10, 2005
PersonalEddie-torial Comment: This is an revised version of something I wrote about my trip to San Francisco in April to go to APE. My dad went into the hospital on my last night there, so I never really had a chance to whip this into postable shape. Even though it's been four months, I still wanted to post something about the trip, since I had blogged about it a bit before I left.
As always, I start out with the best intentions and end up going no where. Sigh! I even took a lap top to San Francisco with me so that I could blog on the spot and upload pics and everything.
Then I ended up doing no picture taking to speak of and never seemed to be in the mood to write.
Since my return things have been really chaotic (obviously), but I couldn't let the whole trip go by without a little bit of blogging, late though it may be. Bear with me, okay?
I spent so much time looking things up in books and online before the trip that I was so over-planned with notes and lists of things to do that I almost ruined my trip. I'm still finding myself grousing about what I did not get to do, rather than remembering the cool stuff I did do. Oh well, at least I'm well-prepared for next time! (And I think I have enough raw material for a blog about travel books on San Francisco!)
I was really lonely the whole trip too. It's been a long time since I took an extended, long-distance vacation on my own, without Keith. I found myself calling him several times a day to tell him about stuff I saw or did. Maybe after all these years of feeling the need to carve out some "me space" and "Eddie time" in the midst of our relationship, I'm finally starting to outgrow that. I don't think it will ever go completely away, since it's too ingrained in me to need a bit of solitude now and then. But, maybe, that need is finally starting to lessen somewhat. All I know is, I was really homesick and that has never happened to me before.
But, I had lots of wonderful music to see me through. I listened to Kieran McGee's Anonymous on the flight out and woke up every day to a different CD, thanks to the hotel's clock radio with CD player. I started with Kasey Chambers' Wayward Angel, and then moved to Rosaryville, which is my favorite Kate Campbell CD. After that it was Todd Snider's East Nashville Skyline (my favorite CD from last year), Sam Phillips' Fan Dance (which is too depressing to listen to when you're homesick!), and Anyway, by Amy Farris. I decided that the Kasey CD was a lot better than I originally thought, and the Amy F. CD is so good, I don't know why I don't play it all the time.
I also got to take in some live music while there. I went to the Great American Music Hall to see Shivaree, one of my new favorites, perform with Clem Snide. I really liked the venue a lot. If you took the architecture and atmosphere of the Louisville Palace, the limited seating and musical support ideology of Headliner's, and the lousy service of the Rudyard Kipling and threw them all together in a blender, what would come out would look something like GAMH.
The opening act, Marbles, was a bit too weird for my taste, but I really enjoyed Shivaree. Their modern rock cabaret style music is as much fun live as it is on CD. I was too tired to stay for Clem Snide, unfortunately.
The Drive by Truckers did an in-store at Amoeba Music while I was there. It was the first day of APE, so I had to leave early to get there, but it was worth it. The set was shorter than I'm used to for in stores, but they closed with Carl Perkins' Cadillac, so everything is right with the world. And of course, I cannot go into a used CD store and not buy something. The nice thing about Amoeba, though, is that I spent less than 20 bucks and got a half-dozen CD's, including a Kate Campbell! (I also discovered Streetlight Records on Market Street, which is another great music shop with good prices on used CD's.)
Speaking of shopping, I hit some of my usual spots, like the Magazine, and a few new ones, like Aardvark Books (which has a GREAT selection of used gn's and tpb's). I finally found a vintage leather jacket that fits me in the shoulders. (Vintage tends to run too narrow for me to wear.)
Of course, I did most of my shopping at APE, which was a lot of fun. I knew it would be a small show, but I was surprised at the intimate feel there. Even the "big guns" like Fantagraphics and Top Shelf kept their tables scaled down, rather than overpower everyone else. I ran into Tony, NBM's sales guy (plus sales rep for probably one-third of the folks at APE), whom I had not seen in ages. I worked a couple of San Diego cons for NBM a few years ago, but had not really talked to him since. It was nice to catch up with him.
I also got to catch up with zan from Prism Comics. It's nice to see how well they are doing, and to see them supporting comics about queers actually done by queers. I was kind of afraid I might not be welcome at the Prism Booth, since I kind of faded out on them in the midst of their launch a few years back, but all seemed to be well. zan invited me to write for them, so I might take him up on that.
The biggest kicks for me were getting to talk to Jennifer Camper and Leane Franson, both long time faves of mine. Camper is pushing the concept of marginalized voices with a new anthology, Juicy Mother. There are almost no outlets for this kind of material these days, even in alt-comics, so I hope it does well for her. I started reading Franson back in the days when the only way to get someone's self-published mini was to write a letter and shove a few bucks in an envelope. I discovered her work during the time when I was drifting away from mainstream comics and really needed to find some authentic queer voices in comics. She filled that need perfectly all those years ago and still does. I bought all her latest stuff and we reminisced about the "good old" pre-internet days. Wow! I'm really getting old, huh?
I bought a bunch of other stuff at APE, most of it still sitting in little stacks waiting to be read. I managed to make it to Comix Experience while I was there, but couldn't swing a stop at Isotope. I think their move to a spot closer to the other places I like to visit when I am there will make them a regular stop for me whan we're out there.
I also spent some time exploring Catholic churches in the city. This time I went to St Boniface, located in the Tenderloin area-a sea of desperate poverty. They've actually opened up their sanctuary for the homeless to come in and rest during the day. I went to early morning Mass, and the back half of the place was filled with sleeping homeless people. I couldn't help but think that this is really the way that church ought to be. WWJD, indeed.
Other churches I visited included the Shrine of St Francis of Assisi, Saint Patrick, and Our Lady of Victories. Unfortunately, I couldn't get any pictures in any of them. Something always happened to prevent it. I guess there's always next time.
Speaking of next time, Keith and I had decided to go back to Hardly Strictly Bluegrass in October, but had to spend so much on car repairs related to my father's funeral that it's no longer fiscally feasible. At this point, it looks like it'll be HSB 2006 before we make it out there, unless I can talk Keith into APE 2006....
Tuesday, August 09, 2005
ComicsAs I'm catching up on regular life again, I've made a couple of really LARGE pick-ups at my local comics shop. Last month, I went in and they ended up having to put everything in a box for me to carry it out. Sadly, that only cleared out about half of my holds folder. This past Friday, I went and got the rest. It was all kind of embarrassing, since, at one point, they had actually called me to remind me I had a bunch of stuff there. Sigh!
My relationship to comics these days is sooooo irregular, by most people's standards. I just don't do it like other folks do. I guess some people would say I don't do it "right." But it works for me.
Since I don't read super-heroes, there are very few monthly titles I get. Last count, I think I was down to one. Most Vertigo titles I'm interested in I follow by the trade, which also keeps the list cut down. Any given month, there will be nothing from DC or Marvel that I'm interested in, and possibly one title from the rest of the "big four." In terms of individual issues, most of what I read comes out quarterly at best, and a whole lot of it comes out when it comes out.
On top of that, I frequently go for several months without placing an order. Some months, I don't have time; others, I just don't care. If I know that I have a bunch of stuff I need to pick up, then I won't order. It doesn't feel right to me.
When I do an order, it's usually for trades from folks like NBM, Fantagraphics, and Drawn and Quarterly. Sometimes, they come out as planned; sometimes, they don't. In other words, it's feast or famine when it comes to my hold file. When it's full, it tends to be very full, usually with several trades. I try to get stuff at least once a month, so it doesn't back up too bad. I like the folks at my shop a lot, and they go out of their way to get stuff for me. A lot of what I order, they have to special order. I don't like for them to have a lot of money tied up in my hold file on stuff that they won't be likely to sell to someone else.
Right before I went on vacation, I did a pick up. This was the end of March. I cleaned out most of my folder then. They're pretty nice about letting folks get as much as they can, and leaving some stuff if needed. I think I left a few issues of The Comics Journal and a trade or two, about 60 bucks worth of stuff. My plan was to get them, plus whatever else came in, right after I got back.
My dad went in the hospital when I got back, so for the next two months, comics kind of fell by the wayside. Since he died, I've been working on house, yard, and work stuff that needed catching up. I guess it was about time to get the comic shop caught up too.
I think I've actually only put in one order this year, but it looked like most of it came in. Last month, I got all the trades and TCJ's. This time I got all the rest.
Here's what I got:
Ordinary Victories by Manu Larcent
The last two Little Lulu volumes from Dark Horse
Buddha volume 6
Anywhere But Here by Miki Tori
Golden Plates Vol 2
Several recent issues of TCJ
The Shoujo Issue of TCJ
Stupid Comics #3 (I need to drop this one...)
Banana Sunday #1 (grabbed it off the racks)
Courtney Crumrin Tales
Other World #2-5
Jane's World #19-20
Burglar Bill #3
Stray Bullets #37-38
Age of Bronze #20
Books of Magic: Life During Wartime #10-12
Jack Staff #8
(I also grabbed a couple of back issues and some trades that had been marked down)
Reviews to follow, I hope!
Monday, August 08, 2005
Not looking forward to today at all.
In a couple of hours, I'll be leaving town to meet my mom and close out Dad's bank account. We stopped his Social Security and Army retirement right after he died, but have had to wait for the will to get out of Probate Court to take care of the account. In a few hours, one more trace of my dad will be wiped from the face of the Earth. Slowly, but surely, his existence is being relegated to the realm of memories.
The bureaucracy of death is amazing. So many forms to fill out, notarize, sign, and send. Then when I get done, it all goes to my brother for the same process. I've decided that there is more paperwork involved in being dead than there is in being alive. It's just that when you're dead, you leave it for someone else to do.
Somewhere along the line today, I'll have to trot out the death certificate, that wonderfully official piece of paper that coldly sums up the night of June 6--Carl Mitchell is dead--without giving any of the details that are stuck in my mind: his limp hand, that final gasp, that moment of awareness when you know he's gone forever. He's dead. I've got the papers to prove it.
I'm not completely sure how much is in the account. I really hate that my dad has come down to a couple thousand dollars, and a few boxes of photos sitting outside one of my closets. The traces are getting fainter and fewer. I talked with my brother last night about the best way to deal with the money. He and I are the only heirs, but we're trying to make sure that Mom gets something. That's been the really fun part of this, dealing with Mom.
My folks divorced before I turned 16, but by the time I had left seminary at 23, had managed to become friends again. It was an odd relationship to be sure, and it's even odder now. Mom seems to want to mourn, grieve, and be a part of everything, but she doesn't want too much weight attached to any of it. It's like she feels the need to draw a boundary around her sadness, so that no one makes any assumptions abut their relationship. They were married long enough for her to draw Social Security off of Dad's account. In the eyes of the SSA, she's now a "divorced widow." To me, that sums her up perfectly.
Keith just told me it's time to get ready. Guess I gotta go do what I gotta do.
Speaking of Chris “Lefty” Brown, his wife is reporting at her blog that she’s still experiencing chronic pain and has yet another surgical procedure scheduled. She’s been enduring this for a long, long time, so consider this post a bundle of happy thoughts and best wishes flung out into the blogsphere for Kelly!
Sunday, August 07, 2005
Lefty Brown, Mr. Mixed Bag himself, has started doing a cool thing on his blog. He’s pulling CD’s at random from his music collection and writing about them. Not necessarily reviews, but more like reflections. Chris is tapping into the power that music has to bring back all sorts of memories and sharing stories about his memories connected with the songs and CD’s he picks. It’s a cool take on music, and I’m enjoying reading the posts a great deal. Check them all out.
Life as I Live It
So I'm pouring my typical Sunday morning bowl of cereal, when I open the fridge and realize that there's a reason I've been having creamer in my coffee this weekend. I'm out of freaking milk!
Of course, the deed is done and there's nothing to do now, but throw on some clothes, grab a couple of bucks and trot to the convenience store across the street. (When we looked at our house, the realtor's listing said "convenient to shopping." Which I guess actually realtor-speak for "convenience store across the street.") Of course, I end up buying a pint of milk for the price of a half-gallon at the super-market, but, hey, that cereal was waiting!
Of course, the real victim in this story is our poor kitty, Basil, who always gets the last spoonful of milk out of the bowl. She always comes running when she hears the cereal pouring, and it really threw her for a loop when I started cursing and throwing on clothes. When I left the house, she was sitting in ther kitchen with the most confused look on her face.
Saturday, August 06, 2005
Mixed Bag Reviews
Since Roger Green’s blog kind of inspired me to get rolling with my own reviews of the Mixed Bag CD’s, I’ll let him have the honor of being the first.
The criteria I’m using to look at each Mixed Bag effort involves looking first at the bits and pieces of each CD, and then at the CD as a whole.
Bits and Pieces Questions
How much do I like each song? Why do I feel that way?
Is the song an old favorite or by an old favorite? Is it an unfamiliar work by an old favorite?
Is the song by an artist that’s new to me? If so, does it push me to check out more of their work?
CD as a Whole Questions
How well does the CD work for me as a unit?
Do I like the flow and the mix?
Is this something I’ll play a lot or something I’ll rip a few tracks from and then shelve?
With that in mind, I have to give Roger pretty high marks all the way around. His theme, Travelogue USA #1: New York-Texas, binds the songs together into a listenable unit, without restricting his choices of music styles. On paper, moving from the old timey sound of Fiddlin’ J Carson to Bruce Springsteen to Alison Kraus to Tom Petty doing a rockabilly tune doesn’t seem like it would really work, but it comes off very well. Given that the last 60% or so of the travelogue sweeps through the South and into the Southwest, various strains of country are well represented here, but that leaves plenty of room for a few rock songs, and even some blues from Taj Mahal, plus a jazzy bit from the Mississippi Sheiks. As a unit, this is a great collection and one that I’ll be listening to quite a bit.
In terms of individual songs, only a handful of artists here were new to me, with a lot of old favorites. The opening song—Robbie Robertson’s American Roulette—and the closer—Garth Brooks’ American Honky-Tonk Bar Association were well chosen and bookend the set well. In between is a great batch of artists that I already like—Ryan Adams (with one of his better tunes, New York, New York), The Band, Peter Case, The Boss, Alison K, and Lyle Lovett. Mary Chapin Carpenter and Billy Joel are kind of guilty pleasures of mine, so I can’t help giving bonus points for any collection that includes Down at the Twist and Shout.
Of the stuff I didn’t already know, I like what’s here, but am not really moved to seek out anything else by those artists at this point. But for a mix that I'm enjoying this much, that's really minor.
All in all, it’s a great CD which I am going to enjoy listening to in the future. I hope if there’s ever another Mixed Bag challenge, that we’ll get another section of this travelogue.
Friday, August 05, 2005
Here’s what’s been rotating through my CD players recently:
Roger Green’s Mixed Bag CD
Scott Morrison’s Mixed Bag CD
Casey Stratton—Standing Along the Edge
Emmylou Harris—Brand New Dance
Kate Campbell—The Portable Kate Campbell
Hundred Acre Wood—Xylophagous
NKOTB—Face the Music*
Mary McCaslin—Broken Promises
Freedy Johnston—This Perfect World
Ten Months Later—Sadie Hawkins Dance
*Don’t laugh! If you found the New Kids on the Block comeback CD from the mid-90’s for only 50 cents, morbid curiosity would compel you to buy it too! Be honest with yourself! Yes, it’s every bit as bad as you would expect a New Kids on the Block comeback CD from the mid-90’s to be. It sounds like nothing more than a desperate attempt to revive a career that died a pretty definitive death several years earlier. If they had only waited another couple of years, they could have hitched onto the N’SYNC/BSB wave and created the 80’s boy band nostalgia revival craze!
The only thing better than a Friday is a pay day Friday. Even better than that is a pay day Friday with extra money on the check.
Most of our benefits at work are calculated on 2 pay periods a month, so for months that have three pay period end dates, the only deductions on the check from the last period are for taxes. Three pay periods ended during July.
In other words, sixty extra bucks! Woo hoo! I’ve already ordered the Lucinda Williams tickets and I’m off to the comic shop this evening.
Well, it’s as official as our little Weight Watchers certified scale can make it: I’ve lost 23 pounds since the beginning of the year. When I had my physical in January, I tipped the scales at 246 and was on the verge of outgrowing my 38-inch waist pants. Now, while not exactly trim and svelte, I’m weighing in at 223 and my 36’s are starting to fall off me. By the end of next month, I’d like for 34’s to be doing the same thing. Ultimately, I’d like to drop below 200.
A friend at work told me the other day that she wanted to compliment me on my weight loss, but wasn’t sure if she should. She thought it might have been because of the situation with my father. Actually, I’m lucky I didn’t derail everything that was already in place when Dad went in the hospital. My eating and exercise plans went out the window. It is amazing how unhealthily you can eat in a hospital that prides itself on its heart care center. I was having meals of onion rings, fried mushrooms, and ice cream. (When I’m stressed I do not make healthy eating choices at all.)
I’m thinking I’d probably be about ten pounds lighter, if it hadn’t been for that two month period. One of the first things I did the week after the funeral was go back to my aerobics class. It was the first step in getting my life back, I guess.
It’s helped a lot that right around the time that I was starting this, our city started doing this exercise push for all employees. We’re on the third round now, and every time I’ve exceeded my goals. We get points for the exercise we do, the number of fruit and veggie servings we have, and the amount of weight we lose. At the midway point in this last round, I had achieved 242 points of my 175 point goal.
My biggest challenge right now is dealing with plateaus. In the past, 220, 210, and 200 have all been hard numbers to crack, leading to a lot of discouragement and, frequently, giving up. If I can make it past that, then I’ll have to deal with the struggles to maintain. Fortunately, I’ve been able to establish an exercise routine that I find enjoyable and I’ve simply re-oriented my eating habits toward healthy choices, so I’m not starving. I hope that will help.
As I get closer to the number I want, I’m starting to contemplate the shape I want. I’ll need to shift some attention to the spare tire that’s shrinking, but will need some special attention to completely vanish. I know I’ll never be a Joe Six-Pack. That’s just not a reasonable goal for me, and I just don’t want to put the time into maintaining that sort of frame. So, I’m still thinking all that out.
My dad had diabetes, which led to his heart condition, which led to his heart attacks and strokes, which eventually killed him. It turns out that pretty much the same thing that happened to him, also killed all his siblings. That’s a family history I find greatly disturbing and a legacy I don’t wish to continue. My dad was diagnosed with diabetes in later middle age, when he was about ten years older than I am now.
Beyond the other benefits I get from this--my depression is easier to deal with when I’m exercising, for example—I’ve started to think that the best way to honor my dad’s memory is to do my best to beat the things that killed him.
Another friend at work told me that she had found the weight I’d lost. I told her to keep it, because I was through with it. :-)
I go back to the doctor on the 19th for a check up. I’d like to surprise him by being at 220. We’ll see…
If you haven't figured it out yet, Keith and I are live music junkies. Here'a our tentative concert schedule for the rest of the year. Luckily, most of these shows are here in Louisville.
August 6 (as in tomorrow): Stacey Earle and Mark Stuart
August 12: Kasey Chambers with the Greencards
August 20: Tim Krekel and Marshall Chapman
September 29: Lucinda Williams
October 17: Nanci Griffith (This one's a road trip to Lexington.)
October 28: Greg Brown
December 1: Margot Leverett and the Klezmer Mountain Boys (Klezmer-Blugrass fusion? I am so there!)
It's going to be a busy fall!
Roger Green is rolling out the Mixed Bag CD reviews right now. He's even neatly annotating them with notes that tell who else has reviewed each mix and where the track list may have been posted. Very librarian, if I do say so myself.
I need to get on with reviewing some of them myself, except that I keep getting hung up on one or two of them and playing them over and over. Then, when I finally do move on, another one hooks me and I play it over and over. Currently, I'm hooked on Fred Hembeck's.
I guess that's a sign that a lot of folks did a good job with their mixes, or something.
ComicsSome things I remember reading about (or hearing about at a con) a few years ago, but never seeing. Anyone know what happened? Did they happen and I missed them? Did they get cancelled? Did I hallucinate?
Image was going to reprint Eric Shanower’s Oz gn’s in a graphic album format.
Jeff Smith was going to be doing Shazam.
Alan Moore and Melinda Gebbie were finishing Lost Girls and Top Shelf was going to publish it.
Ivan Velez was going to finally finish Tales of the Closet and there was going to be a collection of the whole story. (At least it's still listed as 'coming soon" on Velez' page.)
Leave It to Chance was being reprinted in album format.
Thursday, August 04, 2005
Blogging and such
Lefty Brown really impressed me the other day with a list of upcoming projects—many of them related to his blog. In the meantime, both Dorian Wright and Mike Sterling—my blogging idols—have both managed to keep posting in the middle of moves and periods of uncertain internet access. Both of them have relied on some material they stockpiled to get through. You have to admire dedication like that. (And I’m loving Dorian’s series of oddball Archie covers.)
So I got to pondering an age-old problem: What the hell is wrong with me? I like to write. I spend a lot of time on the computer. And my life, interests, and comic book collection certainly give me more than enough fodder for blogging. So, why don’t I?
Actually, I do, sort of. At least partially. I’m real good at the writing part. I have tons of blogs that I’ve written, but never posted. It seems I run out of steam by the time it comes to proofing, posting, adding links, and all that stuff.
This isn’t the first time I’ve carried on about my laziness and propensity to leave jobs half finished, or worse, not started. I’d really like to do something about that.
Seriously, I am setting a modest goal for myself right, here and now. For the next seven days, I will blog every day.
Yeah, I know it’s only one week, but I know if I start out too grandiose with my plans, I’ll never follow through.
So, for the next seven days, I will put something up here every day, even if it’s only “I stubbed my toe. Ow!”
Hopefully, it will be better than that.
Because, you know, I really do have a lot I want to write about:
The joys of home-grown tomatoes from your own garden
Concerts we’ve seen recently: Hayes Carll, They Might Be Giants, Del McCoury
Upcoming shows we want to attend. (Lucinda Williams is coming to town!)
A pseudo-review of Amy Ray’s Prom
Reflections on an overlooked Emmylou Harris classic
Musing about Days of Our Lives
New music I want
Some comics and books I’ve read
Mixed Bag CD Reviews
And on a more personal note:
Dad’s illness and death nearly two months on
The post I never got to put up about my San Francisco vacation
The troubles and travails of one dizzy little kitty