everything you ever wanted to know about nothing at all...

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Finally, Some Good News from the Cottage Bar

The last time Dan invited me to the Cottage bar he told me he had some news for me. I figured that he was engaged, since that's what I predicted when I found out he'd be moving to Indiana. Instead, he told me that he'd be going off to Iraq.

The other night I got invited again to the Cottage Bar since Dan said he'd be home for Christmas. Again, he told me he had big news.

This time he got it right. Dan & Jill are engaged. Jill is in full wedding planning mode, too. I'm sure when Dan gets back from Iraq, she'll be sure to have a flower arrangement to match every bridesmaid's eye color. Maybe there will be a dove for every day that Jill & Dan have known each other to be released up into the sky at the end of the wedding.

I couldn't be happier for them, they just may well could be the best dressed couple I know, although they do have stiff competition from Emily & Bob.

If you guys need any help planning the music, I can lend my services :).

It was a great evening, & a perfect end to six days straight of holiday get togethers (& yes, I'm glad they are over, as fun as they were).

Five Favorite Songs of the Day

En Gallop-Joanna Newsom, The Milk Eyed Mendor
Clam, Crab, Cockle, Cowrie-Joanna Newsom, The Milk Eyed Mendor
Mexican Blue-Jolie Holland, Springtime Can Kill You
Adieu False Heart-Jolie Holland, Springtime Can Kill You
The Long Cut-Uncle Tupelo, Anodyne

Happy Wednesday, friends!


Monday, December 18, 2006

I Didn't Feel So Cold, Then...

The Cold

How exactly good it is
to know myself
in the solitude of winter,

my body containing its own
warmth, divided from all
by the cold; and to go

separate and sure
among the trees cleanly
divided, thinking of you

perfect too in your solitude,
your life withdrawn into
your own keeping

--to be clear, poised
in perfect self-suspension
toward you, as though frozen.

And having known fully the
goodness of that, it will be
good also to melt.

Wendell Berry, Collected Poems

It's ironic that the gal who found this book for me hates winter so much. This poem describes just about everything I love about winter so much, how you can't appreciate the warmth until you've been out in the cold. There's nothing like the first cool day in the fall to give you a break from the heat of the summer, & there's also nothing like that first really warm day in the spring that reminds you how good it is to get outside. Michigan is the perfect place for this kind of feeling.

Five Favorite Songs of the Day

Lo! How a Rose E're Blooming-Some Choir on Blue Lake Public Radio

Atomic Power-Uncle Tupelo, March 16-20, 1992

Where Are You Tonight?-Bob Dylan, Street Legal

It Ain't Me, Babe-Bob Dylan, NYC 2001

Wait For the Light to Shine-Bob Dylan, NYC 2001 (song by Hank Williams)

Happy Monday, friends...


Saturday, December 16, 2006

I Can't Eat All That Stuff in a Single Bite

Last night was the SW #1327 Christmas party here at the ol' Moreland Street Ghetto. It was a feast of epic proportions, the likes of which haven't been seen at any place where the address has been in my name. Everybody was asked to bring a dish to pass. Kelly & Dan brought Taco Salad with either beef or refried beans, Junior brought Meatballs & corn casserole, Gloria brought Lasagna & a peppermint cake & Christie made cheesy potatoes. I supplied the hors durves (alright I can't spell it), chips & salsa, crackers & winn schulers, & vegetables & dip & beverages. Every dish was delicious. A good time was had by all. I'm still full.

Five Favorite Songs of the Day

Accidentally Like a Martyr-Warren Zevon, Excitable Boy
City of Gold-the Dixie Hummingbirds, Masked & Anonymous Soundtrack (song by Bob Dylan)
Lenny Bruce-Bob Dylan, Amherst MA, 2006
Tiny Cities Made of Ashes-Sun Kil Moon, Tiny Cities
Jesus Christ Was an Only Child-Sun Kil Moon, Tiny Cities

Happy Saturday, friends, let thine eyes not be bigger than thine stomach.


Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Holy Crap!

Sad news, Peter Boyle has died. I wish I could say more about the man, he was the funniest character in Everybody Loves Raymond. John Lennon was the best man at his wedding. To hear Peter Boyle talk about John Lennon is heartbreaking.

In other news, Mike's back in town, the wedding went well. Dan may be shuffling off to Ludington soon (dan the ass. man), & all my audits &/or visits from higher ups are over.

Five Favorite Songs of the Day

God's Gonna Cut You Down-Johnny Cash, American V, A Hundred Highways

If You Could Read My Mind-Johnny Cash (song by Gordon Lightfoot), American V, A Hundred Highways

Four Strong Winds-Johnny Cash, American V, A Hundred Highways

Desolation Row-Bob Dylan, Wembley 2003

My favorite version of my favorite song.

Accidentally Like a Martyr-Warren Zevon, Excitable Boy

Happy Wednesday, friends!


Monday, December 11, 2006

Businessmen they drink my wine, plowmen dig my earth...

Can't people just leave me alone & let me do my job?

Thursday morning, when all was quiet in the store & the snow was coming down in buckets, a lady stepped out of her mazda car, puffing on a cigarette. There is a one on one fitness place to the right of our store, & a Michigan Works employment office on the left. When we are slow, & we see somebody pull into the parking lot & watch them get out of their car, we try & guess which place people are going. The cigarette tipped us off that she wasn't going to the fitness place. She had one of those carry along briefcases with wheels on it that extend. She was headed our way.

We give the standard greeting & ask what we can do for her. It was our auditor. For some reason, my stomach always falls to the floor when the auditor showed up. It's not that my store isn't in good shape or that I'm doing anything grossly wrong, it's the fact that you can get caught doing something wrong that always makes me nervous, like when you pass a cop on the highway you instinctively slow down even if your not speeding. The fact that we haven't seen one in almost two years made it a little worse.

Everything went fine, of course, & after I found out that I did reasonably well on the audit, I took the opportunity to question the reasoning behind many rules. Most notably, I asked why it was an audit infraction to not have printed out a fifty page report that can easily be viewed online just so you can prove that you looked at it.

The audit lasted for three whole days, after the auditor would take an hour & a half for lunch each day, another 1/2 hour smoking & she'd spend another 1/2 hour on the phone for personal calls. Today took the cake, however, she finished the audit at 10:30 am, then proceeded to go online & check menus of restaurants in towns where she'd be spending time in the future. She filled out Christmas cards. She talked on the phone some more. She bugged my employees. She left at four. Can I have my auditor audited?

Tomorrow, my boss & my bosses boss are scheduled to visit my store in the afternoon. We've spent the last week painting the floor in the back room, cleaning the floors in the front, changing ballasts & light bulbs. I'm sure I'll get a phone call telling me that they didn't have time to make it, after all.

Wednesday, I have "Diversity" training. I think it's quite hypocritical for a company who has very few minorities & women in managment to have diversity training, but what do I know?

No more complaining. Not until tomorrow, anyway.

Five Favorite Songs of the Day

Alexandra Leaving-Leonard Cohen, Ten New Songs

Baby's Got New Plans-Alejandro Escovedo

Everybody Knows-Leonard Cohen, I'm Your Man

Shelter From the Storm-Bob Dylan, Comstock Park, MI, 2006

Cold Irons Bound-Bob Dylan, Portland 2006

Happy Monday, friends!


Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Money Doesn't Talk, It Swears/Love & Some Verses

The company I work for has done a good job in the last year or so of stripping it's managers of all of their responibilities, leaving us to have to ask for approval for every small thing such as ordering product on certain days, changing a customer's price (even though we are the ones who are to go out & find the customers & quote them prices), extending a customer credit, writing checks over a certain amount etc, etc etc. They also ask us to cut hours for all sorts of reasons. There is one responsibility they leave in our hands, however, which is telling our employees that their hours are going to be cut, & it breaks my heart to do it. That's business, I guess, but that doesn't mean I have to like it.

On a happier note (well, for me anyway), here's some of my favorite lyrics from my favorite songwriters.

Karl Marx squeezed his carbuncles
while writing Das Kapital
and gaugin, he buggered off, man,
and went all tropical
while Philip Larkin stuck it out
in a library in Hull
And Dylan Tho
mas died drunk in
St Vincent's hospital
Nick Cave, There She Goes My Beautiful World

I could have been your pillar,
could have been your door

I could have stayed beside you,
could have stayed for more.

Could have been your statue,
could have been your friend,

A whole long lifetime could have been the end.
I could be yours so true I would be,
I should be through and through

I could have been One of these things first
I could have been One of these things first.
Nick Drake, One of These Things First

Come on down to the Mermaid Cafe
and I will buy you a bottle of wine
And we'll laugh and toast to nothing
and smash our empty glasses down
Let's have a round for these freaks and these soldiers
A round for these friends of mine
Let's have another round for the bright red devil
Who keeps me in this tourist town
Joni Mitchell, Carey

Papa died while my Girl Lady Edith was born Both heads fell like Eyes on a crack in the door And Sodom, South Georgia Slept on an acre of bones Slept through Christmas Slept like a bucket of snow
Samuel Beam, aka Iron & Wine, Sodom, South Georgia

And some might say that it's a waste of time
Cause ain't no amount of dancing finna break the bondage We go to war and transcend space and time When every record ain't a record just to shake behinds You know the stakes is high we in the face of drama That's why we can't shake it or escape the problem Its like a game of roulette the barrel revolving They only wanna see us occupying a coffin Mothers crying too often from they lost child leaving From trying to get over, get under, get even Get inside getting, getting dumped, getting greedy We got to get it right It ain't about to be easy You better pull you goggles up, it's about to get greasy Believe it's on as long as we can still speak freely Pages of my life would make it hard to read me I know my people hearing me, holler it you hear me
The Roots, Guns Are Drawn

I choose the rooms that I live in with care,
the windows are small and the walls almost bare,
there's only one bed and there's only one prayer;
I listen all night for your step on the stair.
Leonard Cohen, Tonight Will Be Fine

Jesus, help me find my proper place Jesus,
help me find my proper place

Help me in my weakness
'Cos I'm falling out of grace Jesus Jesus
Lou Reed, Jesus

I wake up an' I'm fine
With my dreamings still on my mind
But it doesn't take long, you see
For the demons to come and visit me
And i've got my problems
Sometimes love doesn't solve them
And i end each day in a song
Will Oldham, aka Bonnie "Prince" Billy, Hard Life

if you find that your closet is a mess
dig through the bins
try to find a nice dress
among the skeletons
Kevin Davis, If We Run

Well, I rapped upon a house
With the U.S. flag upon display
I said, "Could you help me out
I got some friends down the way"
The man says, "Get out of here
I'll tear you limb from limb"
I said, "You know they refused Jesus, too"
He said, "You're not Him
Get out of here before I break your bones
I ain't your pop"
I decided to have him arrested
And I went looking for a cop
Bob Dylan, Bob Dylan's 115th Dream

I'm missing a ton of course, but that's all I got for today.

Five Favorite Songs of the Day

Where Are You Tonight?-Bob Dylan, Street Legal

Lessons From What's Poor-Bonnie "Prince" Billy, Master & Everyone

Every Ghost Town Needs a Commission-Kevin Davis

Better Git it in Yo' Soul!-Charles Mingus, Mingus Ah Um

Oh Babe I'm On Fire-Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds, Nocturama

Happy Wednesday, friends!


Monday, December 04, 2006

Repeat the Hymn Again!

Looks like somebody's got a case of the Mondays!
Doesn't anyone here know what Christmas is all about?

Here's my tree, thanks Christie! There's more pictures here, ignore the dork she's with!

One of my favorite things about the Christmas season is the music, usually not the usual songs that you hear six months before Christmas but the traditional songs that you only hear in church. The older I get, the more I excited I get to hear the more obscure songs like Savior of the Nations, Come, Oh Come Oh Come Emmanuel, On Jordan's Bank the Baptists Cry, & my favorite Lo, How A Rose Ere Blooming. A couple of years ago, Dan gave me a copy of the book 101 Hymn Stories, & in it it says that the tune to Oh Come, Oh Come Emmanuel is from the twelfth century. It's not surprising that such a great tune can last for over 8000 years.

Here's a version of Lo, How A Rose Ere Blooming from Sufjan Stevens. I had no idea he ever sang this song until I googled it. As if there weren't enough reasons not to like Sufjan. I beg you to listen to this, if you can, you won't be disappointed, it's incredible.

On the subject of Dan, there's a rumor that he will be spending Christmas in Michigan, which is great news, a Festivus Miracle!

On the subject of Christmas music, I picked up a copy of the Vince Guaraldi Charlie Brown Christmas soundtrack from Best Buy yesterday for $7, a steal. Did you know that CBS originally did not want to air the special because of the soundtrack? They thought having jazz as a soundtrack to a cartoon would not mesh, they couldn't have been more wrong. That would've been one of the great mistakes in television history, if you ask me.

Five Favorite Songs of the Day

Lo, How A Rose Ere Blooming-Sufjan Stevens

What Child is This-Vince Guaraldi

One of These Things First-Nick Drake, Bryter Later

Oh Come, Oh Come Emmanuel-Cellist from Immanuel Lutheran Church whose name escapes me at the moment.

Actually, this is from yesterday, but I didn't write a blog yesterday, so there you go.

Go No More a Roving-Leonard Cohen, Dear Heather

I rented the I'm Your Man documentary about Leonard the other day, I'm gonna watch it tonight. I'm excited.

Happy Monday, friends!


Friday, December 01, 2006

Still Waters Run Deep

Here's a link to the annual Thanksgiving story from Bailey White. It was a good one this year, as usual. Her characters are usually simple & heartwarming, although usually not innocent.

Five Favorite Songs of the Day

Every Grain of Sand-Bob Dylan, Brixton 2005

Not too be morbid, but this would be a great song to play at a funeral.

Ain't Talkin'-Bob Dylan, New York City, 2006

Medicine Hat-Son Volt, Wide Swing Tremolo

River-Joni Mitchell, Blue

A Case of You-Joni Mitchell, Blue

Happy Friday, friends!


Thursday, November 30, 2006

See for Me that She's Wearing a Coat so Warm, to Keep Her from the Howling Winds

Newsflash, friends, we're supposed to get 8-12 inches of snow tomorrow, at least in West Michigan. Am I the only one looking forward to this? I've always taken a sadistic pleasure out of driving in the snow. I get a strange feeling of accomplishment after pulling into my driveway after going a long ways in the snow. My old man used to say "lay off the brakes, lay off the gas", & that strategy has usually worked for me, except for the time I skidded off the road in our '94 Chevy Lumina & almost slid into the woods. I'm glad I got that bit of overconfident driving out of the way at such a young age.

I happen to know a young lady who is deathly afraid of driving in the snow, I won't mention her name, it's not the young lady pictured above. Drive safe.

First Sight

Lambs that learn to walk in snow
When their bleating clouds the air
Meet a vast unwelcome, know
Nothing but a sunless glare.
Newly stumbling to & fro
All they find, outside the fold,
Is a wretched width of cold.

As they wait beside the ewe,
Her fleece wetly caked, there lies
Hidden round them, waiting too,
Earth's immeasurable surprise.
They could not grasp it if they knew,
What so soon will wake & grow
Utterly unlike the snow.

Philip Larkin, The Whitsun Weddings, February 1964

Five Favorite Songs of the Day

Cold & Wet-Bonnie "Prince" Billy, The Letting Go

Masters of War-The Roots

Who knew the Roots were Dylan fans? Genius loves company.

let me ask you one question, is your money that good? would it buy you forgiveness? do you think that it could? I think you will find, when your death takes it's toll, all the money you made won't buy back your soul!

Cosmia-Joanna Newsom, Ys

Via Chicago-Wilco, Summerteeth

The Seedling-Bonnie "Prince" Billy, The Letting Go

Happy blizzard, friends!


Monday, November 27, 2006

I Hear Them All

One of the many pleasure's of the long weekend was reading some of the letters & correspondence between my Great Grandma Schroeder & my Great Uncle Willis that my dad showed me when Willis was in the army, just after World War II ended. Willis died in a plane crash in 1947. He was 19.

As you can imagine, these letters spark the imagination on so many levels & you can learn so much from them. Each letter is a small, simple story that conveys a deep & meaningful sense of family & of community. Topics that were discussed in all of the letters I've read so far (I think there's alot more I haven't read yet, it makes me excited for the next visit home) include the crops, the weather, baseball, the neighbors, church & family. This is not to say that everybody was perfect, there's gossip about neighbors & talk of people getting "plastered" & "stewed" close to church.

When I read these letters, I unconciously paint a picture for myself of the person writing them from what I know about Britton (the town from where they were written) & from what little I know about my great grandparents. My picture always reverts to a small wooden table in a kitchen much like my Oma & Opa's, with a transistor radio close by airing the Tigers' game. I picture the Ridge Road, as if it were the center of the universe for those who lived in Britton. I know the Ridge pretty well, having ridden on a tractor down it many times as a kid with my dad & Opa.

Unfortunately, the picture that lacks from the letters is Willis' point of view, as the letters were sent back to his family along with the rest of his personal effects. How did he feel about being overseas? Did he get along with the rest of the people in his company? Was he homesick? Was he proud of his work?

I can only speculate about these people from things I know. The letters talk alot about Clarence & Rosie (my grandparents, Oma & Opa as we call them). Willis was the next oldest brother, & I imagine that Opa was a great big brother, who probably played pranks & tortured his younger brothers, yet taught them all kinds of things about baseball, about farming & about life. I can only imagine what it would be like to have Oma as a sister-in-law, I'm sure that she treated each & every one of Opa's brothers like they were her own brothers.

I want to know more about these things in a way that I never thought about. I want to know what it was like to live in the town of Britton all of your life. Whenever my Dad & I would drive through Britton he would tell me all about the people who lived at certain houses & he'd give me stories about each family. I want to hear more of these stories. I want to know about what it's like to live in one place your entire life, the people you come across, the histories of the people who live there, the way you interact with each other, the way you help your neighbors. I want to know more about my great grandparents. I want to know more about my Great Uncle Willis. I want to know more about Oma & Opa as they were before I was born. I want to know what it was like to be in Oma's classroom, or ride on Opa's schoolbus.

I can't wait to read the rest of the letters.

By the way, I miss Oma. She embodied goodness & kindness like nobody I've ever met. For the life of me, I can't recall a single bad word she said about anybody or a time when she didn't have that great smile of hers. She had a love for life that shined in everything she did.

In other news, I put up a Christmas tree this year, I haven't had one in a couple of years. It's a doozy, a bit full at the bottom, but with a good shape. The decorations were skillfully picked out by Christie, although I made the game time decision of switching the colors from silver & red to gold & red (it matches my living room better). Maybe I'll post a picture of it, someday.

Five Favorite Songs of the Day

I Hear Them All-Old Crow Medicine Show

I hear the crying of the hungry
in the deserts where they're

Hear them crying for heaven's
own benevolence upon them
Hear destructive power prevailing
I hear fools falsely hailing
to the crooked wits of tyrants
when they call

I hear them all
I hear them all
I hear them all

I hear the sounds of tearing pages
and the roar of burning paper
all the crimes in acquisitions turn
to air & ash & vapor
and the rattle of the shackle far
beyond emancipators
and the loneliest who gather
in their stalls.

I hear them all
I hear them all
I hear them all

So while you sit & whistle dixie
with your money & your power
I can hear the flowers a growin' in
the rubble of the towers
I hear the leaders quit their lyin'
I hear babies quit their cryin'
I hear the soldiers quit their dyin', one
and all.

I hear them all
I hear them all
I hear them all

I hear the tender words from Zion
I hear Noah's waterfall
Hear the gentle lamb of Judah
sleepin' at the feet of Buddha
and the prophets from Elijah to the
old paiute wovoka
take their places at their table
when their called

I hear them all
I hear them all
I hear them all
I hear them all
I hear them all
I hear them all

Most of the Time-Bob Dylan, San Jose, 1992

Muzzle of Bees-Wilco, A Ghost is Born

Sharp Cutting Wings (Song to a Poet)-Lucinda Williams, Happy Woman Blues

Theologians-Wilco, A Ghost is Born

Happy Monday, friends...


Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Up the Road, Around the Bend

Bob Dylan saved the best for last in 2006. At his tour & year ending concert in New York City on Monday, he debuted the album closer from Modern Times, Ain't Talkin'. He even waited until the encores to play it. You can download it here, if you wish...

Sometimes when you hear a live performance of a song you enjoy on an album, it can tend to let you down. Maybe it's underrehearsed, or maybe whatever tricks they use to make it sound good on an album aren't available on stage. This was certainly not the case for this song, it came alive onstage in ways that made it shed it's skin from the original. It was sped up, just a bit, & electric guitars played the parts between, giving it an edge & forcing Dylan's vocals to be much louder. The vocals on the album are more of a singing/talking passive effect, here they are loud & very forceful, employing the growling effect Dylan's used the last few years. Bob's organ even sounds good here, creating an eerie backdrop that suits the lyrics very well. This band sounds better than anything they've ever done, there's a great guitar solo confrontation between Denny Freeman & Stu Kimball, expressing the tension of the song very well.

Pay no attention to what the website says, the second verse goes as follows:

They say prayer has the power to heal
so pray for me mother
in the human heart an evil spirit can dwell
I try to love my neighbor & do good unto others
But, oh mother, things ain't goin' well...

I'm off to hang Christmas lights at Mike's house. I'm on vacation 'til Monday!

Oh, & here's one more Thanksgiving tradition I've stumbled upon for the last five years or so. Every Thanksgiving evening NPR features a short story read by an author whose name escapes me at the moment. The story is read during All Things Considered, which is usually playing on my drive home. I'll provide the link for it tomorrow, it's great.

It's only 11:30, but I can't imagine I'll hear anything that tops these...

Five Favorite Songs of the Day

Christmas in Prison-John Prine, Souvenirs

it was Christmas in prison
and the food was real good
we had turkey & pistols
carved out of wood
and I dream of her always
even when I don't dream
her name's on my tongue
and her blood's in my stream

wait awhile, eternity!
old mother nature's got nothing on me
come to me, run to me
come to me now
we're rolling my sweetheart
we're flowing by God

she reminds me of a chess game
with someone I admire
or a picnic in the rain
after a prairie fire
her heart is as big
as this whole goddamn jail
and she's sweeter than saccharine
at a drugstore sale

the search light in the big yard
swings 'round with the gun
and spotlights in the snowflakes
like the dust in the sun
it's Christmas in prison
There'll be music tonight
I'll pro'bly get homesick
I love you. good night.


I love that song. I can't think of a better songwriter who uses the simplest of language than John Prine.

Ain't Talkin'-Bob Dylan, New York City, 11.20.06

who says I can't get heavenly aid?

Souvenirs-John Prine, Souvenirs

Satan, You're Kingdom Must Come Down-Uncle Tupelo, March 16-20, 1992

People Putting People Down-John Prine, Souvenirs

Happy Thanksgiving, friends!


Monday, November 20, 2006

November Traditions

Forget the fact that it's cold & rainy, especially if you live in Michigan, November is a great month. Here are some great past traditions that have occured in the month of my mother's birth.

The Annual "You're Gonna Throw the (expletive deleted) Dart!" Tournament

I used to have this every Saturday before Thanksgiving, with about 16-24 people participating. Good stuff, although the winner was never declared until the wee hours of the morning.

The Schroeder/Steinke Classic Golf Tournament

Eric Steinke invited me to play golf at Brookside Golf Course in Saline the day after Thanksgiving about 12 years ago. We suited up for the cold for years after that. The scores were never too good, though.

Thanksgiving in Deerfield

If memory serves me correctly, we were never too fond of driving to Deerfield on Thanksgiving day after church (I miss having church on Thanksgiving morning, too). The food was never that great, but there was usually a football game that occurred after the meal. That was fun. That was usually the day when Oma would give us our Christmas ornament for the year. I remember getting excited if somebody had already put their Christmas lights up when we were driving home from wherever we spent the rest of the day. Now, everybody has Christmas lights up starting in September.

Thanksgiving Night Movies

There was always good movies on Thanksgiving night. Some popular ones were Miracle on 34th Street, A Christmas Story, Grumpy Old Men. The most prominent movie shown on Thanksgiving was Home Alone. I wish that was still on. I remember that being one of the few times that we'd make a fire in the fireplace, & that was one of the few movies my dad would watch all the way through. He'd laugh with that high pitch laugh of his, the simplest sense of humor.

Potato Pancake Supper

There's Joyce's continuing thoughts on this tradition that hasn't been in my life for at least 15 years. The only things I remember about the Potato Pancake Supper was that the school stank for a good week before & after, there were lots of kids around that day, & best of all, I didn't have to eat it.


The Gentleman over there orders another pint,
well, that's nice, then I don't need to worry
if I have another myself in due course.
Trouble is, one straightaway thinks one is addicted,
I even read in an American magazine
that every cigarette you smoke takes thirty six minutes of f your life,
I don't believe that, presumably it's the chewing gum industry
that's behind that, or Coca-Cola.

A normal life and a normal death --
I don't know what they're good for. Even a normal life
ends in an unhealthy death. Altogether death
doesn't have a lot to do with health and sickness,
it merely uses them for its own purposes.

What do you mean: death doesn't have a lot to do with sickness?
I mean this: a lot of people get sick without dying,
so what we have before us is something different,
the introduction of a variable,
a source of uncertainty,
not an open & shut case,
not the grim reaper mounted on a bag of bones,
but something that observes, sees round corners, excercises restraint,
and musically plays a different tune.

Gottfried Benn

This poem reminds me of the scene in Clerks where a man waits behind the counter & badgers customers who are buying cigarettes, showing them pictures of smokers lungs & so on, until all the customers have formed a mob against Dante behind the counter who is simply selling them what they asked for. Dante's girlfriend saves him & asks who was leading the mob, only to find out it was a Chewlee's Gum salesman.

"As if I don't suffer enough indignities in my life, now people have to start pelting me with cigarettes?"

Great movie.

Five Favorite Songs of the Day

Leopard Skin Pill Box Hat-Bob Dylan, Amherst, MA 11.15.06

This is the best tour since Spring of '04.

Various Stages-Great Lake Swimmers, Bodies & Minds

Coyote-Joni Mitchell, Hejira

My Little Red Book-Love, The Definitive Rock Collection

Tell Ol' Bill, Take Two-Bob Dylan, Tell Ol' Bill Outtakes

Happy Monday, friends! Only one full day of work left!


Sunday, November 19, 2006

"Wintertime is Coming, the Windows are Filled With Frost"

It snowed today, very lightly, I could see it through the window at Wolfgang's Restaurant. For some reason, whenever it snows, I'm instantly 10 years old again, & I'm excited for the prospect of school being cancelled, making snow forts, going sledding, having snowball fights, & playing football. Football was always better in the snow, because the speed of some & the weight of others in tackle football was neutralized by the ten layers of coats we had on & the 6 inches of snow on the ground (yes, mother, we played tackle football without helmets).

St John's parking lot was perhaps the best place to play in the snow as a result of the large snow piles made by the plow. We always had a good pile bordering our backyard & the parking lot but the best one was the one that bordered the back of the parking lot & Nieman Street. Many times we would have snowball fights where our yard was one team's station & the Nieman Street pile was the other teams. Epic battles occurred there.

Here's another Philip Larkin poem dedicated to the oncoming winter.

Continuing to Live

Continuing to live--that is, repeat
A habit formed to get necessaries --
Is nearly always losing, or going without.
It varies.

This loss of interest, hair, and enterprise --
Ah, if the game were poker, yes,
You might discard them, draw a full house!
But it's chess.

And once you have walked the length of your mind, what
You command is clear as a lading-list.
Anything else must not, for you, be thought
To exist.

And what's the profit? Only that, in time,
We half-identify the blind impress
All our behavings bear, may trace it home.
But to confess.

On that green evening when our death begins,
Just what it was, is hardly satisfying,
Since it applied only to one man once,
And that one dying.

Philip Larkin

I don't know what that has to do with winter, maybe I just like the poem. I felt old today, my back was hurting & my leg, when you move it a certain way, seems to give out. Ah well.

Five Favorite Songs of the Day

Lenny Bruce-Amherst, MA 11.15.06

This performance was not merely a rarity, but Bob sang it with an amazing conviction, like Lenny truly was the brother he never had.

Don't Feel Right-the Roots, Game Theory

Always See Your Face-Love, The Definitive Rock Collection

Stardust-Harry Connick, Jr, 25

Emily-Joanna Newsom, Ys

Happy Sunday evening, friends!


Thursday, November 16, 2006

(some pictures of the greatest face to ever hit the big screen)

I rarely read the syndicated columnists in the paper because you can usually spot their politcal colors from a mile away. The title of Cal Thomas' column caught my eye today, it's called "Where do Conservative Christians go from Here?". I've never read this guy's column before, & I'm really not sure which side of the political fence he's on. I was hoping it wasn't going to be another leftist gloating over the democrats reclaiming of power in the last election, & it wasn't.

One of my pet peeves of politics are those who use their faith (well, religion would probably be a better word to use) to try & gain political power, or those who feel as if politics and faith are interwoven. The "Vote Pro-Life" bumper stickers really bother me. It's seems to me to be an excuse for those who don't believe in the right of abortion to turn a blind eye to any other issue. I believe Christian politicians should see Jesus Christ as the way, the truth & the life and an example on how to live their lives, not as a political symbol to attract votes.

For those of you who don't care to read the column, I'll give you an excerpt.

Conservative Christians are fond of quoting God: "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord" (Isaiah 55:8). Could it be that the way of politics is man's way and, thus, not God's way.

Amen. Read the article, it makes more sense.

On a happier note, check out Dan's blog, he's heading to Montana preparing to head over to Iraq.

Five Favorite Songs of the Day

Ugly Beauty-Thelonious Monk, Straight No Chaser

Cruel-Calexico, Garden Ruin

Summer Days-Bob Dylan, Love & Theft

John Saw That Number-Neko Case, Fox Confessor Brings the Flood

The Sprout & the Bean-Joanna Newsom

Happy Thursday, friends!


Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Stories in the Press

There was a good article included in the Grand Haven Tribune today that I found quite interesting, especially for you teachers out there. Check it out, it's a good read, usually I just read the obituaries.

That's all I got for today, oh & here's a live video of Joni Mitchell singing one of my favorite songs...A Case of You.

Five Favorite Songs of the Day

Here at the Right Time-Josh Ritter, The Animal Years

This just may be the best album of the year, if you ask my opinion on the matter. At least for today, anyway. Other contenders would include Belle & Sebastian's The Life Pursuit, the Drive By Truckers A Blessing & a Curse, Bonnie Prince Billy's The Letting Go, Alejandro Escovedo's The Boxing Mirror, The Roots Game Theory & a handful of others I'm probably forgetting.

A Case of You-Joni Mitchell, Blue

Oh, Joni...what a genius. Do yourself a favor & pour a glass of wine & put on Joni Mitchell's Blue. If I had to make a list of my favorite albums, this one would be towards the top.

Idiot Wind-Bob Dylan, Hard Rain

The angriest song in the Dylan canon, every verse another knockout punch.

Ill Wind-Frank Sinatra, In the Wee Small Hours

I didn't plan this, honest. The sound is a bit different, but the intent is the same.

I'm Old Fashioned-John Coltrane, Blue Train

Happy Tuesday, friends...


Monday, November 13, 2006

My 100th Post

Thanks to this new beta blogger thing, I found out that this is my 100th post. No need for applause.

For my 100th post, I thought I'd take a minute to talk about one of the best shows to ever hit the small screen, Northern Exposure. Set in the fictional town of Cicely, Alaska, the show highlights the quirkiness, isolation & kinship of this small town. The outsider of the town is Dr Joel Fleischman, from New York City, who is forced to be the doctor in the town in payment for his medical school. What I like most about the show is that the people from the town live the simplest of lives, yet are capable of the most abstract thoughts. What makes the show is it's characters, there's a character for everyone to relate to.

I think I started watching this show in 7th or 8th grade, about the time when I was allowed to stay up until 11:00 pm. The first episode I remember seeing was the Thanksgiving Episode, where the Indians in the town throw tomatoes at the white people as a cathartic ritual of showing their rage for having their land stolen from them. There was a parade at the end, & a feast, all to the tune of Louis Armstrong's Cabaret. Whoever wants to borrow a season or two on dvd, give me a call. Season five comes out next week!

Five Favorite Songs of the Day

The End of the Innocence-Bob Dylan, St Paul MN, 2002

Put this one towards the top of the list of the strangest songs Dylan has ever covered. He nails it, though, he really does.

Precious Angel-Bob Dylan, Slow Train

you either got faith or you got unbelief & there ain't no neutral ground...

Tonight Will Be Fine-Leonard Cohen, Songs from a Room

Brooding. Dark. Creepy. Leonard at his finest. This song probably ranks in my top ten favorite albums.

For the Price of a Cup of Tea-Belle & Sebastian, The Life Pursuit

I haven't listened to this album in a while, it's better than I remember.

Dress Up in You-Belle & Sebastian, The Life Pursuit

Dylan lyric of the day:

Do you ever wonder just what God requires? Is he just an errand boy to satisfy all of your desires?

Happy Monday, friends!


Thursday, November 09, 2006

(I apologize for the stolen pictures, we have three from Heidi, one from Joyce, & I don't know who took the wedding picture, but I do know that they're older than me)

Please tell my mother
I miss her the most
an' as I travel from coast to coast
I feel your love 'an
I feel your ghost
Listen, dear mother, I miss you the most
Listen, dear mother, I miss you the most

Jeff Tweedy, from Please Tell My Brother

Happy birthday, Ma! She turns 56 tomorrow, as all of you know. I didn't have a picture of her directing a choir, but she has the same happy smile on her face when she's doing that, even when the choir is hitting all sorts of bad notes. When the song is over, she cuts off the note, & always makes a face that says "good job". I don't know how many different choirs she's directed in her day, it's probably in the 20's or 30's.

It should come as no surprise to anyone that her courtship (it's fun to say courtship) with my old man began on a choir tour in Europe. She's been making music all of her life, one listen to her & her sisters singing will take you instantly back to the 1950's. She taught herself how to play guitar. She's always been singing, in the car, around the house, in church (she always sings harmony during church hymns), in school. The story about how she woke up singing "Going to the Chapel" on her wedding day could not have come from anyone but my mother. From what I remember when I had her as a teacher for a short while, she would have devotions every morning & each student would take turns picking songs from different hymnals (is that right, ma? my memory's a bit froggie on that one).

I got my love of music from my mother, although I'm sure that alot of the music I listen to sounds like nails on a chalkboard to her. That's okay, deep down, the songs I love the most are the hymns that we've been singing in church since I was born.

I could tell you all sorts of stories about my mother, about how we'd go on walks around Fort Wayne when I was four years old, or about how she stayed up until 4 in the morning when I got lost driving home from the prom, or about how she made it to %99.99 of every sporting or musical event we ever had as kids, or about how she's the perfect wife to my dad, or about how she's a great listener, or about how she's always a teacher, especially to her grandchildren, or about how she likes to take shots of Jagermeister on Christmas Eve :), or about how she loves to go on little adventures, or how she unsuccessfully tried to get us to clean up the kitchen before the timer on the microwave went off, or about thousands upon thousand bowls of popcorn on weekends, or haircuts in the backyard, or I could tell you about how she's a great host, or about how she would always encourage you to be great without being overbearing, or about how she always tries to be interested in the things your interested, or about how she doesn't like that whiny guitar sound, even though she'll let you control the radio station, or about how she asks you what your favorite thing you like about somebody, or what your favorite part of some event was, or about how she'll tell you it's only money, or about how she's become quite the architect in her old age, or about how she sees the best in anybody even when the best is hard to see, or how she'd never let you feel sorry for yourself or take yourself too seriously, I could tell you about how she got afraid of a fight breaking out during a Tigers game, or how she'd always make scrambled eggs with cheese at just the right times, or how she always tells you to remember whose you are, no matter how old you get, but it would 'cause a run-on sentence & I'm sure you all have similar stores. Thanks for everything you do, ma & for being who you are. I love you.

In other news, check out the hottest thing on the blogging scene since, well, who knows. Don't believe a thing she says, though, she tends to drink at least four bottles of whiskey before she blogs (just kidding, she'll kick me in the shins if I don't clarify that she does NOT in fact, drink four bottles of whiskey before she blogs) :).

Five Favorite Songs of the Day

Ramblin' Round Your City-Odetta, A Tribute to Woody Guthrie, 1968

Dear Mrs Roosevelt-Bob Dylan, A Tribute to Woody Guthrie, 1968

Oh Well-Fiona Apple, Extraordinary Machine

Thunder on the Mountain-Bob Dylan, Auburn Hills, 2006

Please Tell My Brother-Jeff Tweedy

Happy Thursday, friends, raise a bowl of popcorn & a glass of lemonade & wish my mother happy birthday!


Tuesday, November 07, 2006

You'd Sing Too

You'd sing too
if you found yourself
in a place like this
You wouldn't worry about
whether you were as good
as Ray Charles or Edith Piaf
You'd sing
You'd sing
not for yourself
but to make a self
out of the old food
rotting in the astral bowel
and the loveless thud
of your own breathing
You'd become a singer
faster than it takes
to hate a rival's charm
and you'd sing, darling
you'd sing too

Leonard Cohen, Book of Longing

Leonard's a genius. I nearly made it through half of this book the other night in about an hour. I can't wait to read it again.

Five Favorite Songs of the Day

Desolation Row-Bob Dylan, Clarkston, MI

My first show, my favorite song. Good stuff.

yes I recieved your letter yesterday
about the time the doorknob broke
when you asked me how I was doing
was that some kind of joke?
all these people that you mentioned
I know them, they're quite lame
I had to rearrange their faces
and give them all another name
right now I can't read too good
don't send me no more letters, no!
not unless you mail them from
Desolation Row

Five Hearts Breaking-Alejandro Escovedo, Austin Texas 2004

Dear Head on the Wall-Alejandro Escovedo, Austin Texas 2004

This House-Kevin Davis

Tangled Up in Blue-Bob Dylan, Toronto 2004

Happy election day, friends, cast your vote for the carpenter!


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About Me

Grand Haven, Michigan
the sun shines on a dog's ass every now & then...