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

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Vacation Day Blues #1

Day #1 of 13 vacation days was used up yesterday thanks to Junior's class being cancelled. I was only planning on working until 12:00 anyway, since I had to work Saturday, so I figure I might as well use up a vacation day since everybody else was scheduled to work. I woke up at the same time as usual, made some coffee, paid some bills, & burned some live shows (currently I'm listening to Bob Dylan from Granada, Spain from 1999, a great year). I did some laundry, worked out, cleaned the house, & went shopping for groceries, new work shoes, blank cdr's & the bonus purchase of the documentary "I Am Trying to Break Your Heart" about the making of Wilco's seminal album Yankee Foxtrot Hotel. I've only seen the first half so far, & so far I'm completely enthralled. There's just something about watching musicians work that always fascinates me. I think I'll watch the rest tonight.

The main objective for yesterday was cancelled due to rain. Christie & I were going to go for a hike at Rosy Mound, & perhaps take some pictures, but the rain wouldn't allow. It wouldn't even stop long enough for the old Pier walk. Oh well, we had dinner at Portobello instead (Eggplant Parmigiana with a glass of Merlot, mmm...) & watched a movie. All in all, a very good day.

Don't get jealous of my jet set lifestyle, now, I've got 12 more of these fascinating vacation days left.

Five Favorite Songs of the Day

Reservations-Wilco, Yankee Foxtrot Hotel

What I realized watching that documentary is that what makes Wilco so great & revolutionary, & cutting edge is what bugs me the most about them. Jay Bennett makes a comment while they are mixing a track about how they have to do something to it "otherwise it'll sound like just another folk song". So what they do is add all this ambient noise & if you listen really close you can find the shell of the song somewhere in there. Hearing Jeff Tweedy perform the song solo seems much more effective to these ears. The song speaks for itself, the coolest effects can't save a bad song or I suppose they can't ruin a great song either. To me, this album sounds like eleven attempts to ruin eleven great songs.

Jesus, Etc-Wilco, Yankee Foxtrot Hotel

Ashes of American Flags-Wilco, Yankee Foxtrot Hotel

i wonder why nobody listens to poets, and nobody gives a f&#k, how hot & sorrowful, this machine begs for luck, all my lies are always wishes, I know I would die if I could come back new...

Mosey Roun' Bring it Down-Leroy Jones, Mo' Cream from the Crop

At the Chime of a City Clock-Nick Drake, Bryter Later

Happy weekend, friends...


Thursday, September 28, 2006

A Quick Story About Joyce

We had a halloween party one year in Waltz in the old office or the family room (I think that's what we called it). I don't remember exactly who the party was for or who was invited, I think it was for Heidi's class or something like that, I'm not quite sure. I must have been seven or eight. I think I was Johnny Appleseed that year. Oh how I longed for one of those store bought costumes, but instead we had to get creative. If memory serves me correctly, Johnny Appleseed followed Pastor Bug from the year before. Apparently, for all of my first Halloweens I was seen as some sort of Halloevangelist, stealing your candy & spreading the gospel at the same time, but I digress.

Anyways, what I do remember about that party was that I invited a friend of mine that didn't know many people at the party, if anybody other than me & my family. I remember not spending too much time with him, which must've been awful considering he didn't know anybody & that everybody else at the party was much older than him. Eventually, I realized that he was no longer amongst the party, so I searched through the house to find out where he was. I found him up in my room, playing with some of my toys. Joyce was in the room with him, playing right along.

That's Joyce in a nutshell. She's always looking out, making sure no one is alone, & making sure that everyone is having a good time. I don't think there's anyone better at making you feel welcome, wherever you are, especially at her home (which was good because we were at her home quite a bit growing up). The ultimate hostess.

Also, I really appreciate Joyce because she brings out the adventurous spirit in my mother, something her sticks-in-the-mud husband & son could never do. Happy Birthday, Joyce.

Five Favorite Songs of the Day

A Minor Place-Bonnie "Prince" Billy, I See a Darkness

Desolation Row-Bob Dylan, Brixton 2005

Notes on Air-Alejandro Escovedo, The Boxing Mirror

Feelin' Alright-Joe Cocker

Something-Bob Dylan, NYC 2002 (song by George Harrison)

Unfortunately, this clip omits the short little speech Bob makes about George, who'd passed away a month earlier, but it's a great performance none the less.

Happy Thursday, friends...


Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Carving up the Calendar

It always seems to happen this time of year, that I start to look at how much vacation time I've got left to use up before the end of the year, & it seems like a chore to figure out how & when I'm going to use it. At the beginning of the year, everything seems to be so filled with promise, & I think that towards the end of the year there's going to be some fantastic time that I'll have to save my vacation for, but alas, it never comes. What's worse, is Dan, the assistant, has made the same mistake, with almost as much vacation time left as me to use up before the end of the year. We lose it if we don't use it. With such a small staff, for any one person to take a day off takes a good deal of planning, & sometimes I end up working just as much if not more when I take vacation as when I don't. We've got our times planned, who knows what I'll use it for. Anybody need any painting done?

Five Favorite Songs of the Day

Tuesday Morning-the Pogues

A Night In Tunisia-Art Blakey & the Jazz Messengers

Boots of Spanish Leather-Bob Dylan, Hamburg 2003

so take heed, take heed, of the western wind, take heed of the stormy weather...

Okay, that settles it. I've decided that Boots of Spanish Leather is Bob Dylan's best unrequited love song. Any one care to argue?

Quinn the Eskimo (the Mighty Quinn)-Bob Dylan, Southampton 2002

Let it be known that this song was played live for the first time in thirty five years the summer Quinn was born. Coincidence? Probably.

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

you trample on me as you pass...

Happy Wednesday, friends, I hope you've used your free time wisely.


Friday, September 22, 2006

If There's an Original Thought Out There, I Could Use it Right Now!

Last Sunday I was at one of my favorite breakfast joints, & I saw one of my former professors from Grand Valley, I think the class was called Creativity or something like that. It wasn't creative writing or creative sculpture or anything like that, it was just creativity. I didn't need the class for my major, I think I just took it for credits. I think the professor was a playwright, unfortunately I don't remember seeing any of his plays.

I don't know how much creativity plays a part in my everyday life. I like to think I use it to a certain extent to solve problems or to come up with new ways to do things. A little creativity can get you into trouble when you are working for a corporation with a million rules on how to do things & how not to do things. I loved that class, I think everyone should take such a class every other year of their lives, regardless of profession.

I've been trying to come up with something to give to my new niece, but sometimes I get the feeling that creativity is one of those things you have to use on a regular basis otherwise it'll wither away & die. Well, well. Time to get to work.

I wish I'd written this one, but Blake beat me to it.

A Cradle Song

Sleep, Sleep, beauty bright
Dreaming o'er the joys of night.
Sleep, Sleep: in thy sleep
Little sorrows sit & weep.

Sweet Babe, in thy face
Soft desires I can trace
Secret joys & secret smiles
Little pretty infant wiles

As thy softest limbs I feel
Smiles as of the morning steal
O'er thy cheek & o'er thy breast
Where thy little heart does rest.

O, the cunning wiles that creep
In thy little heart asleep.
When thy little heart does wake,
Then the dreadful lightnings break.

From thy cheek & from thy eye
O'er the youthful harvests nigh
Infant wiles & infant smiles
Heaven & Earth of peace beguiles.

William Blake, Lyrics & Other Poems

Has anybody been catching the Andy Warhol Documentary by Ken Burns on Public Television? I've only seen about a half hour of it, so far, but it's riveting. I can't wait to watch the rest of it. I watched some of it after watching the series premier of Grey's Anatomy (no comment). Talk about culture shock. Andy Warhol, genius or hack?

On an unrelated note, last Friday night my house was filled with people, tonight it's just me. I can't figure out which way I like it better.

Five Favorite Songs of the Day

Don't Think Twice (It's Alright)-Bob Dylan, London 1965

Bob Dylan performances don't get much better than this one, my favorite version of one of my favorite songs. I love the way he makes the harp sound like a train, this song has always been about movement, & is best heard while moving.

Rock of Ages-Bob Dylan, Santa Cruz, 2000

THE Rock of Ages, not this Def Leppard dribble. while I draw this fleeting breath, while mine eyes shall close in death, can I travel to worlds unknown, & behold thee on the throne?

Hallelujah-Jeff Buckley, Grace (song by Leonard Cohen)

Oceanside-the Decemberists, Five Songs

Red Right Ankle-the Decemberists, Her Majesty, the Decemberists!

Colin Meloy is turning out to be one of the finer songwriters to emerge from the last ten years, this song being one of the finest examples.

Happy Friday, friends, let your creative juices flow, whatever you're doing!


Monday, September 18, 2006

A Little Blake to Seal the Deal...


The sun descending in the west,
The evening star does shine;
The birds are silent in their nest,
And I must seek for mine.
The moon like a flower
In heaven's high bower,
With silent delight
Sits and smiles on the night.

Farewell, green fields and happy groves,
Where flocks have took delight.
Where lambs have nibbled,
silent moves
The feet of angels bright;
Unseen they pour blessing
And joy without ceasing,
On each bud and blossom,
And each sleeping bosom.

They look in every thoughtless nest,
Where birds are cover'd warm;
They visit caves of every beast,
To keep them all from harm.
If they see any weeping
That should have been sleeping,
They pour sleep on their head,
And sit down by their bed.

When wolves and tygers howl for prey,
They pitying stand and weep;
Seeking to drive their thirst away,
And keep them from the sheep;
But if they rush dreadful,
The angels, most heedful,
Receive each mild spirit,
New worlds to inherit.

And there the lion's ruddy eyes
Shall flow with tears of gold,
And pitying the tender cries,
And walking round the fold,
Saying "Wrath, by his meekness,
And by his health, sickness
Is driven away
From our immortal day.

"And now beside thee, bleating lamb,
I can lie down and sleep;
Or think on him who bore thy name,
Graze after thee and weep.
For, wash'd in life's river,
My bright mane for ever
Shall shine like the gold
As I guard o'er the fold."

William Blake, Songs of Innocence

Birds are Leaving Over Autumn's Ending...

I don't know about you all, but I think there's a bit of a melancholy feeling in the air. Maybe it's the earlier nights, or the colder weather, or the fact that things are incredibly slow at work, highlighting every little thing that hasn't gone right over the last year. Maybe it's because Dan's heading south at the end of the week, or because I had to go to work this morning after a fantastic weekend. Maybe it's because I listened to Nick Drake's (pictured above) "Bryter Later" the first thing in the morning today, he's a fella who may have written the book on melancholy. Or maybe it's this guy I heard on the radio, today, sounding giddy & gleeful about the war because he thinks it'll signal the end times. A thief in the night, fella, a thief in the night. You better make sure your house is in order before you worry about the end times.

Oh well, hope springs eternal...

Five Favorite Songs of the Day

Monday Night-Ryan Adams, Down from the Mountain, 5 Years of Bloodshot Records

Worried Blues-Bob Dylan, Bootleg Series Vol I

What a painful little song this is, you get the idea that the narrator is headed off to jail, or leaving town to avoid jail time, hoping that his gal stays by his side.

Naked as We Came-Iron & Wine, Our Endless Numbered Days

One of These Things First-Nick Drake, Bryter Later

The ultimate song of wishing you'd chosen a different path in life, but knowing deep down that if you had it to do again, that you'd probably pick the same one, good or bad.

Girl in the War-Josh Ritter, the Animal Years

Happy Monday, friends...


Thursday, September 14, 2006

What's the Matter With Me? I Ain't Got Much to Say...

Over to you, Kevin McFadden...

Tone Deficit

Can't tell your oh from your ah? Go, go or else
go ga-ga. What, were you born in a barn? Oh.
Ah. What do you say when the dentist asks?
No novacaine? Nah. The joke's on us, Jack:

we gnaw ourselves when we reallly ought to know.
Can't tell the force from the farce, nor our
cores from our cars. The horde works hard in this
new nation of shopkeeps, moles in malls, minding

our stores when we should be minding our stars.
Harmony, whoremoney--can we even tell
the showman from the shaman? Or are we
the worst kind of tourists, doing La France

in low fronts, sporting shorts at Chartres
and so alone in our elan? Nope. We're Napoleons
of nowhere, hopeless going on hapless,
unable to tell our Elbas from our elbows.

from POETRY, September 2006

Five Favorite Songs of the Day

Strange Fruit-Billie Holiday

This must've flipped a bunch of wigs back in the day. It sure flipped mine. Just look at that face. Her voice, her facial features, her songs all spell out tragedy, but it's so beautiful.

Windfall-Son Volt, Trace

catching an all night station, somewhere in Louisiana, it sounds like 1963, but for now, it sounds like heaven...

So What?-Miles Davis, Kind of Blue

What I like most about Miles, is that he never needed to be the center of attention. He was never the fastest player, never going for the grandiose solo, he realized that greatness lies in the spaces between the notes. Listening to his earlier bands, you'd never really know who was the star, whether it was Gil Evans, John Coltrane, Cannonball Adderly or Miles himself. I'm about a third of the way towards owning the entire Miles Davis catalog. Maybe before I retire, I'll have 'em all. Bitches Brew is next, even though Melvin warned against it.

Various Stages-Great Lake Swimmers, Bodies & Minds

Spirit on the Water-Bob Dylan, Modern Times

I keep thinking about you, baby, I can't hardly sleep...

Happy Thursday, friends...


Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Don't Waste Your Words, They're Just Lies

I had an entire blog typed out about the president's September 11 speech, but what's the point? Everyone's got their own opinion, & no one's opinion is going to be swayed by anyone's blog. So I'll drop it.

It was a great weekend. The golf league season is over, the black magic hickory sticks came through in fine fashion, I've never drove the ball better off the tee than I did on Saturday. I ate at a fancy restaurant on Lake Michigan on Saturday evening with some of my favorite people, watched a great fall movie "State & Main", drove deep into the heart of dutch country, visited the mecca of great music in Grand Rapids & genuinely had a great time the whole weekend.

Five Favorite Songs of the Day

False Media-the Roots, Game Theory

After the Parade-Dan Bern, My Country Too

Thanksgiving Day Parade-Dan Bern, New American Language

Mississippi-Bob Dylan, Love & Theft

Battle of Who Could Care Less-Ben Folds Five, Whatever & Ever Amen

Happy Tuesday, friends!


Friday, September 08, 2006

One Coat or Two?

I'm sitting here at the Schroeder bar after painting one coat on the kitchen. It's looking pretty good, & I'm half tempted to call it good. The wall where I painted two coats of the same color doesn't look much different then the walls where I only painted one coat. The kitchen has had color samples painted on it since the day I bought the place. It went from it's original gray color that the whole place was painted with to a darker gray, to green, to gold. I finally settled on khaki. It looks good, it's brightened up the place. Now there's only the stairway & the upstairs hallway to paint & I will have covered up what should officially be the worst paint job anyone's ever been paid for. Not that mine is much better, but I didn't get paid for it.

A vodka tonic & a boca burger sounds really good, but as soon as I get everything cleaned up I'm bound to find a spot or two that look a little thin. So, I'm soldiering on. I'm gonna have to find a good cd to listen to. Maybe a little more Nick Cave, he's been sounding good today.

Five Favorite Songs of the Day

As I Sat Sadly By Her Side-Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds, No More Shall We Part

Hallelujah!-Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds, No More Shall We Part

Workingman's Blues #2-Bob Dylan, Modern Times

O Sailor-Fiona Apple, Extraordinary Machine

Shake Sugaree-Elizabeth Cotten

everything I got is down in pawn...

Happy Friday, friends!


Thursday, September 07, 2006

Ain't Talkin' (for Joyce)

Five Favorite Songs of the Day

Watch Me Fall-Uncle Tupelo, Anthology 1989-1993

Keep Me in Your Heart For a While-Warren Zevon, The Wind

Here Am I, Oh Lord, Send Me-Mississippi John Hurt

Hey, That's No Way to Say Goodbye-Leonard Cohen

It Takes Alot to Laugh (It Takes a Train to Cry)-Bob Dylan, Highway 61 Revisited

Happy Thursday, friends!


Wednesday, September 06, 2006

(the great Clarence Ashley with Doc Watson)

Love Songs in Age

She kept her songs, they took so little space,
The covers pleased her:
One bleached from lying in a sunny place,
One marked in circles by a vase of water,
One mended, when a tidy fit had siezed her,
And coloured, by her daughter-
So they had waited, till in widowhood
She found them, looking for something else, and stood

Relearning how each frank submissive chord
Had ushered in
Word after sprawling hyphenated word,
And the unfailing sense of being young
Spread out like a spring-woken tree, wherein
That hidden freshness sung,
That certainty of time laid up in store
As when she played them first. But, even more,

The glare of that much-mentioned brilliance, love,
Broke out, to show
Its bright incipience sailing above,
Still promising to solve, and satisfy,
And set unchangeably in order. So
To pile them back, to cry,
Was hard without lamely admitting how
It had not done so then, and could not now.

Philip Larkin, the Whitsun Weddings
February 1964

Five Favorite Songs of the Day

The Coo-Coo is a Pretty Bird-Clarence Ashley, Anthology of American Folk Music

The Levee's Gonna Break-Bob Dylan, Modern Times

Critics will make obvious statements about how this song is somehow a comment on the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, but this has the swagger of many a great blues song.

Love Would Come-Kevin Davis & Valerie Marincic

Hold on, Hold on-Neko Case, Fox Confessor Brings the Flood

Mutineer-Warren Zevon, the David Letterman Show (more about this one later)

Happy Wednesday, friends!


Tuesday, September 05, 2006

(one of these days I'll get me one of those digital camera things so I don't have to keep bogarting everybody else's pictures)

Today's the day I'm gonna grab my trombone & blow!

What a perfect weekend it was! Lucy Ann Woehlke was born during halftime of the Michigan vs. Vanderbilt game on Saturday. I was sitting on the 43 yard line, 2nd row! I've never had better seats to any sporting event in my life, let alone the opener of the Michigan season. This was all thanks to Christy & her brother Dan. I'll never forget that game as long as I live.

The game itself was good, Michigan's offense could've been better-too many turnovers-but the defense was solid, only giving up one touchdown on a trick play.

Enough of this nonsense about a football game, though. Our parking spot put me in prime position to walk to Uof M hospital to meet my newborn niece. I regret never having been in town when any of my other nieces or nephew have been born, so having been able to make it to the hospital to see Lucy was very special. Emily was as graceful as she's ever been after having been in labor for twelve hours, & I've never been happier to see her.

Things only got better when my old man showed up (watching him nervously holding his granddaughter for the first time is a site to behold), followed closely by Heidi & Scott with all the kids & watching Ella & Soph meeting their sister for the first time. Christy & I hitched a ride in the Schroeder's fourth Astrovan with Heidi, Scott & the kids to avoid a walk to our parking garage. Then we were back on the road back home again to go to Mike's birthday party in Grand Haven.

The bonfire was great, I got to see a bunch of people I haven't seen in a long time. What a fantastic & long day. Up at four, to bed at one thirty. Every minute was worth it.

Five Favorite Songs of the Day

Try to Remember (the kind of September when grass was green & grain so yellow)-the Fantasticks

I must be in some sort of wierd kind of good mood if showtunes make it on to the list.

Shelter from the Storm-Bob Dylan, Comstock Park, MI 8.12.2006

This is as good as I remember it, if not better.

Ain't Talkin'-Bob Dylan, Modern Times

This is an absolute masterpiece, his best lyrics since Blind Willie McTell from 1983, in my opinion. Unlike most of Dylan's songs of the past ten years, this song has a unique sense of purpose (which I haven't quite figured out yet), rather than being a clever collection of clever phrases.

Harsher Winters-Kevin Davis & Valerie Marincic

Another Man Done Gone-Irma Thomas

Happy Tuesday, friends!


Friday, September 01, 2006

(this is meant as a substitute for a picture of mike & me, a pretty close replica, if you ask me)

What Would Life be Without Wishful Thinking?

I was riding my bike the other day through Robinson Township, it was a beautiful day for a bike ride, I was listening to "The Animal Years" by Josh Ritter (a fantastic little album, but I'll save that for another day) & I stopped in Mike's yard to change cd's. He pulled in just as I was about to cruise back to my place to the tune of Tangled Up in Blue. I, of course, stopped to chat & drank one of his gatorades & we talked about the week's events. On my ride back I couldn't help but think that it's been 13 years since we used to ride bikes back & forth from his house to mine (about the same distance), all for the noble pursuits of playing basketball in the driveway, ping pong in the basement or the garage (depending on who's house you were at) & listen to REM, Tom Petty, Elvis Costello or Barenaked Ladies albums. Who would've thought that 13 years later we would live only a couple of miles apart, each owning our own places, hanging out on a regular basis on the other end of the state? It must've been wishful thinking come true.

Yesterday was Mike's birthday, & I can't help but be proud of my friend, what with his new job, his new girlfriend, new haircut & his overall new outlook on life. It's fun to see your friends happy.

Tomorrow's going to be a long, but fun day, starting early in the morning with a drive to Ann Arbor for the start of the U of M football season (courtesy of Christy & her brother). Maybe between now & then, my niece will be born & I'll get to meet her & see the rest of the family. Here's hoping. The day will end around a bonfire at Mike's house, in honor of his 27th birthday. I'm hoping there will be lots of Jackie Greene music coming from the stereo, & I hope I'll get to see alot of people I haven't seen in a long time.

Some other wishful thinking came true just as I sat down to write this, it can be found here. I hope most of the show sounds better than I remember it, & Shelter from the Storm sounds as good as I remember it. I'll let you know later on this weekend.

Five Favorite Songs of the Day

Spirit on the Water-Bob Dylan, Modern Times

This song has been in pretty heavy rotation the last few days. It gets better every time I hear it.

Jesus the Mexican Boy-Iron & Wine, the Sea & the Rythym

Wishful Thinking-Wilco, A Ghost is Born

Irene Wilde-Alejandro Escovedo, Bourbonitis Blues

We Built Another World-Wolf Parade

Happy Friday, friends, I hope your wishes all come true!


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