Monday, June 30, 2008

Up Too Late

It's two in the a.m. and I have to be up at four to go to work, but I can't sleep. My Restless Leg Syndrome has kicked in, which means my leg is kicking. I'm tired, I did a full day of work and came home exhaustive, but after tossing and turning for the last few hours I still haven't been able to go to sleep, so I'm up and on here trying to make myself tired enough to sleep.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

More on George Carlin

Two pieces about the late George Carlin. Kevin Smith remembers here and Mark Evanier here.

Health Update

I figured it's been awhile since I talked about my health. (I feel like some old geezer that has nothing better to talk about but his health problems.) It's been four weeks since they removed my gall bladder. I actually went back to work last week. There were a few days there that I wondered if I had done the right thing, I was coming home from work so tired. And that was work where I did nothing really physical. No one at work will let me pick anything up, so I walk around a lot. But I think I'm doing better. I'm not going to feel better overnight, the doctor said it would take at least six weeks before I should be doing any real lifting. But even though I still get tired a lot quicker than normal, I'm able to last longer than before.

And I was at PetSmart today getting some drops for Buffy's ears when the assistant Vet leaned over the counter and with a grave voice asked if she could ask me a personal question. When I told her yes she asked me if I had lost some weight recently. I told her yes but that she didn't want to go on my diet plan. But I still felt good that I've lost enough weight that others are noticing, especially people that I don't deal with on a day to day basis.

So it's getting better every day.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Tony Schwartz

On June 15 Tony Schwartz died at the age of 84. Mr. Schwartz was the creator of one of the biggest ads in the history of advertising and the ad only ran once, on Sept. 7, 1964.

Monday, June 23, 2008

George Carlin RIP

George Carlin died on Sunday at the age of 71. The following video is probably his most famous routine. If you're easily offended, don't watch it.

Monday, June 16, 2008

The New Way To Get Your Music Sold: Commercials

It seems the new way for unknown bands or performers to get noticed and sell a lot of cds is to appear in an Ipod commercial.

I'm not going to go into a rant about artists selling out by appearing in commercials. I used to think that and still wonder about certain artists selling out a classic song to sell blue jeans or something. I don't want to see a Beatles' song hawking underarm deodorant.

But I understand the fact that for a new band to even have a chance in today's marketplace it is hard. Radio doesn't break singles like they used to. Heck, singles aren't really singles anymore.

Even older acts are getting into the act. I read an interview with John Mellencamp about why he let Chevy use his song "Our Country" for a commercial. He basically said that he wanted to reach as many people as he could with his music and the record company did virtually nothing to promote his music anymore, he would do what he needed to.

I guess in today's marketplace you have to do what you have to do in order to get your music out there. I can understand how frustrating it must be for an artist that's been around as long as John Mellencamp to put his album out and get no support for it. And if it's that hard for an established act, how hard must it be for a newcomer?

The above commercials are:

1) Ting Tings Shut Up and Let Me Go
2) Feist 1,2,3, 4
3) Jet Are You Gonna Be My Girl
4) U2 Vertigo
5) John Mellencamp Our Country
6) Willie Nelson and Ryan Adams Move It On Over

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Incredible Hulk

I've been a fan of the big Green Goliath for as long as I can remember. When I first start collecting comic books he was one of those that I bought every month. For a long time I had a complete collection, save for the first six issues, of his entire run. Well I haven't kept up with the Hulk comic, except here and there, for a long time.

I'm one of the few that actually thought his first movie wasn't that bad. I admired the way that it tried to be different for a comic book movie. I think one of the biggest problems is that as one of my friends always say when I bring up this movie, "He fought a giant poodle." If they had given the Hulk a more worthy opponent this movie might not be so reviled today.

I go back to work on Monday, so this last week was my last week of staying home. It was also the first week that I'm starting to feel decent enough to get around more on my own. I decided to go to a couple eary morning movies and the new Hulk was the last one. Going at eleven in the morning on a weekday was nice, the crowd was probably no more than two dozen people.

So what did I think of the movie? I liked it. It wasn't as good as Iron Man as everyone is saying. But it was a fun movie. For fans of the comic book there are a little easter eggs scattered through out. It also included a few such highlights for the old television show. The old tv show Hulk Lou Ferrigno has a cameo and he does the voice for the new Hulk.

This is one of the movies that you don't want to think too hard about, like General Ross basically invading a college campus to capture Bruce Banner, some quick cuts that seemed to skip a little too much, but if you want a fairly good action movie this is it.

And the end is just the next step in creating the Avengers movie. (How about a movie with the Hulk and Iron Man? And as Marvel tries to tie their movies into one world is there any plans on bringing the Fantastic Four into their Marvel universe? Now that would be a great next movie, the Thing vs. the Hulk.)

The fight at the end is pretty good. The CGI on the Hulk is decent, sometimes it was better than others. For the amount of the movie I expected a little more with the look I think. Still this is all nit picking, I did enjoy the movie and will buy it when it comes out on DVD.

A Day In The Life

This is the first time ever that the song "A Day In The Life" has been played live. By the time the Beatles recorded it for Sgt. Pepper they were in the final stages of their career as a group and we no longer doing live performances.

This is one of their songs that Paul and John traded verses on the song, so here Paul has to sing John's parts as well as his own. And where does he mess up? On is own verse he forgets a lyric. This is arguably one of the Beatles' greatest songs.

In the audience was Olivia Harrison and Yoko Ono.

I saw Paul five or six years ago when he did his last tour. It was a great show, with Paul doing lots of Beatles stuff alongside his own great solo hits. And he also took time in between songs and talked to the audience. He's starting what is being billed as his Last Big Tour and I'm hoping he comes this way.

For a final note, I wasn't expecting the song to morph into "Give Peace A Chance." Maybe I'm just a big softy, or you have to be a certain age, but I have to admit when I heard Paul singing "Give Peace A Chance" my eyes welled up. For my money this is the best song of its type out there. Simple and direct.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Father's Day

These pictures are from the last Christmas I had with my Dad. I drove up on Christmas Eve and was able to spend the week with him, if anyone works in retail will know how hard it is to get off at the time, but my boss knew the situation and let me have the week off. My brother and niece and nephew were there too. They managed to get there a few days before me. I left around midnight to drive up there, I knew I had to get there before too early in the morning. My Dad was like a kid at Christmas now. I remember when my brother and I were kids, waking up at six in the morning and running in their bedroom to try and get our parents up. They were always pleading for just a little more time to sleep. Now the roles have been reversed. My Mom and Dad are up at sun up or earlier, reading to start Christmas day.

I get there around six in the morning and I actually was there before anyone woke up. My niece opened the door for me and Buffy. Buffy ran in to let my niece play with her than she went looking for my Dad. My Dad was in bed and Buffy was all tail wagging wanting him to get up. By this point he had been sick for a few months, the cancer came back at the end of the summer, so he wasn't all that strong.

The picture above is one of my favorite pictures of me and my Dad. Christmas was wonderful and no one wanted to leave. Within a few months we all were back up there as my Dad went into the hospital. He got out again, but was back in before long. The cancer started out in his colon, went to his liver, lungs and brain. Sometimes he didn't know where he was, he would think he was back in the Navy.

This is my first Father's Day without him. Every Father's Day I would call him and he would act like the day was no big deal, but I could always here the pride and love in his voice. My Dad was a short man, around 5'4", but in my memory when I'm with him I'm always looking up at him.

Friday, June 13, 2008

New Indy Movie

I went and saw Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull the other day. This is one of those movie series that have become more than a movie, it's part of our culture. I remember watching the first Indiana Jones movie in the theater and being blown away by it. The movie was such a great action movie with such a great main character. Harrison Ford was perfect in the role of Indiana Jones. He brought a humanity to the character that is easily missing in a lot of action heroes.

The sequels came and while everyone wants to argue they weren't as good as the first, they more than held up their own. Than after the third one...nothing. For a decade and half the rumors swirled that a new movie was coming. The three principals, Steven Spielberg, George Lucas and Harrison Ford, all had to agree on the script and it seemed nothing was going to bring all three to an agreement.

Until now. Finally they've all decided to dust off Indy's hat and bullwhip and get back into the game. Of course there's such a buildup for this movie that there was no way it was going to be as good as everyone expected. It's kind of like the fourth Star Wars movie. Everyone was waiting for it so long that there was no way it was going to live up its expectations. Except unlike the fourth Star Wars movie this movie doesn't suck.

Remember the first three movies were based on the old serials from the 40s. In updating the movie they based it on movies from the time period where it was based, the 50s. And in the 50s what were the big topics for the B movies of that time. Commies and aliens from outer space.

I think one of the best things they did was age Indy. Indy isn't a young man anymore. The years have passed, hints of past adventures are dropped throughout the movie. And bringing back Marion Ravenwood, Karen Allen, was a stroke of genius. The movie introduces a new character, a younger character that is being primed to take over the series.

So is the movie good? Yes, I think it holds up the tradition of the series in grand style. When Indy picks up his hat and you first seen him in silhouette, I could feel the thrills running up my back.

Before they continue with the new "Indiana" series I wouldn't mind seeing another one with Harrison Ford.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008


For some reason I don't read too much about this show, but for my money it's one of the best shows out there today. Supernatural has created its own history and lore, much like Buffy did. The two main characters are really good. Most of the music on the show is 70's power rock, the type of music that Dean likes and listens to in his black Impala as they are driving down the highways looking for the next mystery. In the show, this song "Renegade" was one of the best uses to fit into the storyline that I've seen in just about any show. It worked so perfect.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

I'll Sleep When I'm Dead

I just finished reading the oral biography of Warren Zevon I'll Sleep When I'm Dead by his ex-wife Crystal Zevon. Warren was never a big hit in the music business. His biggest hit was "Werewolves of London." But he was one of music's most literary writers.

Reading this book can be leave you feeling frustrated and even angry at Warren Zevon. He was not an easy man to like. He was an alcoholic and suffered from OCD. Even in the later years of his life when he stopped drinking he was described as not an easy person to get along with.

This is a fascinating book. Before Warren died he told his former wife to write the book about him, but to be sure she included all the ugly parts. She does that here. But it's a book the will break your heart. Reading the last part of the book, after he had been given only months to live, was hard reading.

During his last months to live David Letterman devoted an entire show to Warren Zevon, who was a frequent quest and sat in with the band many a night,and his music. The following video is from the appearance.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Health Update

Well, I'm into the end of my second week sitting home so I thought I'd give everyone a health update. I've been to all three of my doctors in the last week and they all pretty much say that everything is good. In fact next week should be my last week at home. After that I can go back to work. So I'll have been home only three weeks after having an open surgery, which from what I've read is pretty good. You can end up being home for up to six weeks. My blood pressure is a little high, not to be alarmed at they said, but of course they want to do some blood work and other stuff just to be safe. The staples are out and everyone says the incision is healing nicely. Now I just have to remember not to pick up anything too heavy. I actually feel pretty good, still get tired after being up too long. I ventured out today to the book store and was out for about two hours and got home and laid down and fell asleep. But all in all I have to say things are going pretty good.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Dona Nobis Pacem

I don't think I can say it any better than this:

There never was a good war or a bad peace.
- Ben Franklin

You can't shake hands with a clenched fist.
- Indira Gandhi

When the power of love overcomes the love of power the world will know peace.
- Jimi Hendrix

One day we must come to see that peace is not merely a distant goal we seek, but that it is a means by which we arrive at that goal. We must pursue peaceful ends through peaceful means.
- Martin Luther King, Jr.

If you want to make peace, you don't talk to your friends. You talk to your enemies.
- Moshe Dayan

Ours is a world of nuclear giants and ethical infants. We know more about war than we know about peace, more about killing than we know about living. We have grasped the mystery of the atom and rejected the Sermon on the Mount.
- Omar Bradley

The care of human life and happiness, and not their destruction, is the first and only object of good government.
- Thomas Jefferson

We must shift the arms race into a 'peace race'.
- Martin Luther King, Jr.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Interview with Susan Cowsill

This actually is over on my VOICES TO HEAR page but since Susan Cowsill is my Artist of the Month over here I thought I'd reprint it here.

Susan Cowsill is one of the biggest undiscovered talents out there. I really cannot believe she is not bigger than she is. The interview is a format that I use over at VOICES TO HEAR where I ask artists the same six questions. I've gotten responses from such artists as Brian Stotz, Toby Lightman, Shannon McNally and a bunch of others that are on the site now, with more to come.

Now to the interview:

1. For many artists, they cite a defining moment for themselves when they knew they wanted to be a singer. For many it was the appearance of Elvis on the Ed Sullivan show, to another generation it was the Beatles’ appearance on Sullivan half a decade later. Is there such a defining moment for you?

Yes, it was MY first performance on the Ed Sullivan show three years after seeing the Beatles on Ed Sullivan!

2. When you’re not creating music what are you listening to? Who are some of your favorites?

My all time favorite women singer/songwriter is Karla Bonnoff,,,,,I also love U2,,,,Wiskey Town featuring Ryan Adams...But my all time fav record is Richard Harris singing Jimmy Webbs music

3. What would you say is your greatest moment so far as an artist, either on record or live?

Playing for the first time at our home town bar The Carrollton Station in New Orleans after having been evacuated for four months. We were the first band to come home, and I believe the first band to play at the club since the storm. It was the most meaningful night of music I have ever played to the most loving and "in need audience" I have ever played for in all my years as a preformer.

4. Do you believe music can change the world or is just something to listen to? How much can music influence current events?

Absolutley it can,,,It has! Just look at Bono,,,Farm Aid....George Harrisons Bangledesh.

5. How has technology affected the music industry? How has technology affected your career as a musician?

Oh my god!!!!! How hasn't it changed it? The industry I mean. My music?? Not at all. My music, all of our music is unchangeable , it is simply music, our emotions expressed in lyric and sound,,,,,,yeah, thats my answer.

6. Now for my Barbara Walters question: If you were a pair of shoes what type of shoes would you be?

Oh this is an easy one, but can I be more than one pair??? Ok. First I am a pair of desert boots with the laces up the front, then I am a pair of fluffy but raelly worn in slippers, preferably velvet outside and lamby fur inside and lastly and mostly,,I am no shoe at all.

Speaking of Ani Difranco

I think Ani Difranco is one of the most talented singers/songwriters out there today. She refuses to be categorized. She runs her own record company and puts out her own albums. She didn't put out a greatest hits album until she had already recorded something like 17 albums. (That's one of my pet peeves, an artist releases a greatest hits after they've only had two albums. Get some music behind you before you start picking your greatest hits.) Her live albums are some of the best live albums ever as far as I'm concerned. Her more recent album Reprievewas one of those albums that just gets better with every listen.

Utah Phillips Dies

May 23 Utah Phillips died of congestive heart failure. I first heard Utah when Ani Difranco did an album with him. For more about his life and music click here. Not many readers will probably of ever heard of Utah Phillips and in the end that's the shame.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Susan Cowsill: Just Believe It

Dick Martin of Laugh-In Dead

I missed this, I guess being in the hospital means you don't see some things, but on May 24, 2008 Dick Martin died. He was the co-host of Laugh-In. I remember when I was a kid watching the show and not really liking it. I was pretty young at the time it came on so I was definitely not its target audience. It moved so quick and a lot of it I didn't catch as they tossed one joke after another. But it was a popular show and made their careers.

After Dan Rowan retired a few years after the show Mr. Martin went on to directing other television shows such as The Bob Newhart Show.

Bo Diddley Dies

Bo Diddley is reported to have died today at his home in Florida of heart failure. He was 79. He can be rightly be classified as one of the originators of Rock and Roll. He never attained the status of Chuck Berry and some of the other early Rock Pioneers, but his influence is still felt years later.

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