Thursday, October 30, 2008

my ipod

So, here is what I am doiing today,my ipod is on shuffle and I am going to make an attempt to connect emotionally to each song as it comes up. I don't know. It has been a long time since blogging, and I am trying to justify the time off, and the amounts of money I have spent on songs

ANDY WILLIAMS...BUTTERFLY Andy williams holds some fascination for me. First off he wore a christmas sweater better than Anyone. Second of all, he is a guilty pleasure of mine and Bruces. Thirdly his wife Claudine Longet killed her lover, Spider Sabich. I don't know. I am listening for anguish of adultery in the song....Nope, not there

TODAY JEFFERSON AIRPLANE....Not to be mistaken for that folk song Today, while the blossoms still sing on the vine that Lisa Wilcox sang in the 4th grade talent show. Just to get that straight. I borrowed this album from Miles' K-1 Teacher, Mr Tim who has incredible tastes, and I turned him onto PIXIES....and Mr Tim was at woodstock, and was in a tent with people having sex next to him. This was not in his kindergarten lessons.

TWILIGHT SKIES ALICE GOMEZ...iNO WAY ASSOCIATED wITH tWILIGHT THe book series. (god I could blog about that)...(If Bread had written Twilight...jesus) This is part of my most listened collection...Massage Mix deep cuts off of ITunes which I listen to often. I downloaded it because my wife needed some mellow music for her classroom. I use it for visualizing with my class.

LAZY BIRD JOHN COLTRANE Jazz has been a very important genre to me, I think symbolically, the idea is improvising over the chord changes, which is my favorite thing to do in real life. I came to John Coltrane later in my life, always sort of thinking he was a little too avant garde. Not at all, he is easily now the jazz artist I listen to the most... One of the coolest things about Coltrane is that he kicked heroine addiction cold turkey, and put all his energy into religion and the saxophone...I get tired of the kids I teach saying things like "I have no process" and "I"m gonna be an actor" and not working on their craft. John Coltrane basically was one of those "sold his soul at the crossroads" musicians who disappeared an ok sax player, and came back an absolute icon of improvisation and fire. Oh, there is this cool bowed bass solo on cool.

I went to the blue note on my birthday in new york to see a coltrane tribute and they played this tune. And if you have never heard Coltrane and Johnny should

bossa nova baby elvis PRESLEY...I would have never been an elvis fan without my high school friend Steve Barker. This is from Fun in Aculpulco...a really fun elvis movie(some of them are so bad) and he plays organ in a little bolero jacket. My wife and I wentto Graceland for our honeymoon

RUDOLPH THE RED NOSE REINDEER AL MARTINO...It's christmas music, it's lounge music. Al Martino was a singer who also was in the Godfather playing basically Frank Sinatra. Now Al is singing with a chorus, a true lounge christmas moment. I remember having the gene autry version on vinyl at my parents house. I remember it fondly

STACY'S MOM FOUNTAINS OF WAYNE..... What do the fountains of Wayne and Tom Hanks have in common. Adam Schlesinger, writer for Fountains of Wayne wrote the theme song to That Thing You Do. I absolutely love this pop stuff. The perfect example of a good hook, that repeated part oof a song that stick in your cheek like a hook in a fish STACY'S MOM HAS GOT IT GOING ON". mILES and I once wrote a transformers version "Megatron has got it going on"

HERE I AM DIONNE WARWICK...NO singer represents my youth more than Dionne Warwick singing all those Bacharach-David masterpieces. Her black and white image was fused into variety programs of the 60's always singing some new genius piece. Bacharach and Davids pop gems have always been part of my life. Once in New York I went to the Brill Building where they wrote, sat in the lobby and tried to pick up the vibes

Sunday, October 19, 2008

prop 8

ok,so last month we had one event we had to go to. It was one that we were not going to miss. We were short on money,so we left on Friday and drove to los angeles. We stayed the night with Erika's mom in the valley and we went towards the hollywood hills early afternoon. We went to an elegant house,were greeted by the warmth that one only gets with old theatre friends...a warmth acquired by intense life,mostly lived when you were younger,the warmth felt when you have created art and lived life,profoundly.
My Mark,as I call him,dressed in a white tux and his soon to be spouse, other Mark,dressed the same, stood greeting the small wedding party. I have known Mark for 23 years. I have written two plays with him.I have stayed with him. We get mad at each other,we always laugh a lot. His pristine nature combined with my...uh,non pristine nature has deemed us to be called the Odd Couple of Musical Theatre. Here is a guy I know very well. And his happiness has always been utmost important to me.
The marriage of Mark and Mark went off without a hitch...well, the minister was late, and Mark came up to Miles and asked him if he could do the ceremony. Miles is an 11 year old ordained minister of the universal life church. He got ordained to dress like Elvis and renew our vows...hasn't happened yet,but on our twentieth anniversary,it will. Finally the minister showed up. And the beauty began. I turned to Miles at one moment and said "History. You are witnessing history".
Ok, jump cut to two weeks before elections,watching some product of some ad agency running rampant across my screen. Proposition 8 will ban gay marriages...that's what it will do. And as an ad agency, someone had to figure out what is the thing that will prohibit people from voting no on it. Well,here is the hook. The ads for proposition 8 say that voted down, it will be legal to have gay marriages and then the schools will have to teach children it is ok. ....
That's all they got. And the truth is,as far as I see it, that's all there is. It's a moral issue,plain and simple. The ads talk about special interest groups trying to push this forward to benefit them. And children will be exposed to gay marriages.
and prop 8,well the polls say it will win.

This sickens me.

I am very angry at this idea. I mean,my country has decided on the concept that war is ok...but marriage between people who love each other...not so much. Even Obama and Biden seem to be against the concept of this union being called a marriage.

this sickens me.

enough said

One time I was teaching the book Johnny Got His Gun. to freshmen. The major thrust of the end of part one is the idea of fighting for liberty. Liberty...what is it? Who is to say our liberty is more important than the guy in germany or nigeria or wherever. How can you fight for something that you don't know what it really's a concept. I really got into it. So much so that three years later, when they graduated some of them yelled "Liberty" out as loud as they could. Marriage has a definition as far as some people think. But what is that definition based on. And what changes in the world as far as changing that definition. Well, the only thing that I can tell that changes is more love gets recognized in the world...not some kind of perverted thing, but actually love, love that comes from hard work and committment...I have learned that most things are run dictated by fear or love. So, our society is fighting for liberty for people half way across the globe, while denying liberty for those next door. I think if I had a world, I would want it to be filled with another loose And if we deny that, what to we teach our children, that our love is good, but your aunt's is bad....remember that wonderful ceremony we loved, well it isn't legal. Why not? Because marriage is defined this way.

I know this isn't my typical writing today...but I am frankly extremely dissapointed with our state and civilization right now.

The Ethel Papers

It's Sunday here,and that weird concept of getting things done.  Laundry, of course, must be done...Waffles must be eaten.   My father must be visited.  I like to get that done early because, well, it allows the possibility of a better day.  I want to make  it clear that My dad and I have our moments of getting along.  It's usually in dreams,but there are cultures that believe that dreams are the reality.  Yes, and when I meet an aboriginal or a shaker,well, I will give them a big hug.  
        I sometimes worry that I am going to have the same relationship with Miles as my dad has with me...I guess since Miles and I go every day and do something,and my father and I went o football games and wrestling matches, it sets up a contrast.  It is actually hard to describe the relationship of my father and I.  One contrast is that I have an imagination, the kind of imagination that creates dilogue about the naming of a 70's rock group,or the recontextualizing of Saving Private Ryan as a Trader Joes parking lot.  My dad's imagination has to do with people eating his dessert and going with my mom to a corned beef and cabbage feed.  My mom has been dead for fourteen years.   But it used to be that the most imagination he had was ....well,none.  I can't think of one time we ever played the game Miles and I play, the what if game/  
Miles:"What if the earth had no gravity"
Me:"Wow, what would cooking be like.  you would have to build a structure so the food wouldn't float away,but perhaps you could create sodas upside down"

Me:  Dad, what if the world had no gravity?
Dad:  But it does.  Do you get paid for thinking these things?

When I saw Field of Dreams there is a scene where a guy who never got along with his dad plays catch with his dead ghost father out on the cornfield baseball stadium.  When I saw it,I cried.  It was the perfect symbol of reunification of boys and their fathers by baseball.  I don't think there is a boy alive who hasn't played catch with their dad, and felt some sort of bond,no matter how fractured the rest of their lives might be.  I got on the phone and asked my dad if he wanted to go to a baseball game on Friday
"Friday?,  It's on giantvision.  It's on T.V.    we don't need to go there."
and when he finally did see the movie ...he loved it..."Except for that part at the end.  How could he play with his father at the end? His father was dead  That didn't make sense"

huge Sigh...

The other day, someone responding to my outback adventure said"How touching and sad it was about my father",remembering times past.  He was vibrant.   He was amazing in a lot of ways.  My father is the most disciplined person I know.  In 1968, the surgeon general report came out,and he pulled the non filtered camels out of his front pocket and never strayed again.....
When I wrote back to my friend,responding to the blog response I said"  Yes, he was doing really well for about the first 9 years after my mother died...The last five have been kinda tough"...and that's when the power of numbers hit me.
I have never been a numbers person.  I struggle with 6th grade math.  But that's what Mensa wives and high percentile kids are for,right?   And large numbers don't affect me.  I am unmoved by the mortgage,or how much it costs to buy a small house in Fairfax...but I was stunned by the effect of that small number on me.  14 years...and I wrote "I miss my mom".
Ethel Smith.

You know, when someone dies you tend to praise them,even though they maybe were not as wonderful as they seemed.  Well, this does not happen with my mom.  My mom was a christian who practiced the values of christianity everyday.  She was kind to all.  She was our moral guidepost through the tumultous times of the 60's and 70's.  She did the work of a housewife, sometimes looked down upon by the liberation concept.  But she was constantly cheerful.  Her love for music and singing made me love music.  She always sang some song while cooking, and though she was...well,not always on key, what she lacked in pitch she made up for in joy.  There isn't a day I don't think about her.  Even right now,as I type,with my patented two finger system,I think of how she would blaze through stuff on the manual typewriter...a graduate of business school in Minneapolis during the war. 
I think of young Ethel and her life in the big city,after years of growing up on a rural farm with four brothers and sisters.  I think of the one room school house,and the fact there was only one other girl in her grade.  When she died one of the first laughs I got was thinking of that next class reunion and the woman showing up and saying "Where's Ethel".  See, the other thing is,My mom would've thought that was funny.
My mom had a bizarre sense of humor.   As religious as she was, she was not beyond trying to crack me up in church.  Once,at a christmas eve service, we sat and listened to the bell choir play what read in the program "A Little Advent Music".  Ten minutes later,as the bells were still playing the said piece, My mother grabbed a pencil and the program and between the words"Little" and "Advent Music" she wrote the words "Too Much".I had tears in my eyes for most of the rest of the service as we both tried to restrain ourselves.  This is the ame mother who would make homebaked cookies and serve them to my friends by singing "I'm the cookie Monster".   For some reason,every time my friend Seth would come through the door she would scream.   He took to screaming at her too.
I got my spirit of experimentation from my mother.  Ethel Smith had holiday traditions but would always try something new on holiday meals.  It might be some side dish,or dessert.  This always amazed my wife,who has solid holiday traditions...including the famous oyster stuffing,even though she  a)is from Missouri,the oyster capital of the midwest and 2) doest like seafood.   "Oyster Stuffing" I asked 20 years ago?   "You don't like seafood.".  
"Oh" she says. " You can't taste the oysters."   So,every year we have this stuffing that you can't taste the main ingredient.  At Ethel's house you would be slightly challenged,except of course that being from rural minnesota,it usually means cream of celery soup instead of cream of mushroom.

My father was disciplined.  My mother habitual.  When dad let go of his cigarettes it might've been an Ethel thought "Oh,more for me".  She smoked a couple packs a day,and at 5 oclock drank boxed wine out of glass containers that held processed cheese spread.  I never have smoked...(hate it,actually) but some of my favorite memories of her consisted of sitting in our breakfast nook,drinking coffee as she smoked.  When she died,my dad said "You know, I think she was still smoking".   I looked at him and said "She was supposed to quit?".  I opened a drawer that revealed the carton of cigarette underneath her homemade lace doilies.  My dad even had to laugh.  But, when I see my students smoking I try to tell them to stop.  I know what it feels like to have someone you love taken before their time.  I would hate for my students lives to be cut short by it,and henceforth effect the lives of the people that love them.

I loved my mother,and was very influenced by her beliefs, I believe in the goodness of people.  I believe that religion has a place for wonderful people.  I find myself often questioning the possibility of God much more seriously....because she believed.  And finally, she loved my dad.   This leads me to believe in his inherent goodness.  He is a man that makes me mad. He is a man that can irritate me.  And he is a man that loved my mother.   

As much as I like to say "I have problems" with my dad and "loved" my mother I know that they were a wonderful set of parents.   

My parents were polar opposites that love each other for 48 years plus.  They struck a balance of  responsibility and love that goes unmatched.     And all in all....that is what is important.
So the next time,and every time I worry about what I bring to my relationship with my son and wife, I want to make sure it is love.  Sometimes love is masked by all kinds of crap....But I know it exists.  I have seen it.  I have questioned it...and I have lived it.  

Thursday, October 16, 2008

trader joes....

every week my son and I do the weekly shopping at trader joes. Great store. Great store. You know who trader joe was? He was the first person to bring frozen mandarin chicken and two dollar wine to the tropics...He also sold women from his boat...he was famous for "two buck chick". And he was also the inventor famous for creating the small,ridiculous parking lot. He would bring boatloads of rushed yuppies to the islands to get the natives used to long lines,near fatal traffic accidents, and juice.

We have a great shopping list my wife made that has basically all the stuff we ever buy,in the aisles of trader order.(hey,you down with ocd,well you know me). My son and I are to Trader Joes as Norm was to Cheers.
We roll through the store...Ok,you get the bananas, I"ll get the medjool dates,the green beans, and the guyere." One of the great things about Trader Joes is that even someone like my wife,who used to say she does eat anything she hadn't eaten before almost invariably must be tested.
My wife is sometimes super dubious
'What's this?"
"Sharp cheddar with carmelized Onions"
"What's this?"
"Gnocchi with gorgonzola sauce"
"What the heck is this?"
"They're called grapes"
but we always have a little bit better shot by adding...It's from Trader's to anything.

"What's this?"
"Flambed Weasel's a new traders thing..."

we love it. One time my wife asked me to buy a non chuck and buck(weird movie). I have a rule though. Since she is no expert....Kansas City having a beef country,not a wine country...I limit my purchase to chardonnays under 6 dollars. At Trader Joes this is doable. They have fun names "Fish Wine", Chalk Hill" "Drink and Go Blind, Cheap Skate"...and she is always fine. My son and I usually shop within the 110 to 140 a week range...and we bought some cool 3.99 wine called Mer Du Soliel. This was the first week we were really trying to provide food for an entire week, and we ended up spending 175.00...Ok, bought more food. No prob. The next week we went back and my wife said "Oh, that Mer Du Soliel was good. Get some more of that. I came back that night and said " Decided not to get that wine again. Turned out it was 39.99. You had a forty dollar bottle of chardonnay.". Now I had a wine friend who shared a 4,000 dollar bottle of wine with my friend. Hell, that's almost a disney cruise.

And now they have a trader joes cookbook, with all the ingredients from Trader Joes. Great idea. My favorite section of the cookbook is called Bachelor Quickies(Two Buck f..., never mind) and it is just stuff you can warm up to impress your date. What? You need a cookbook for that?
Here's a recipe for Seafood Soiree. While the frozen cioppino is cooking, warm up Traders French Bread.... Wow!!! That is pretty tricky....and do ya think the bachlorette(why do I think of dating game when I use that term)falls for that? " Hey, cioppino. Wow,you did a better job with the calamari than you did with boiling water at my house last week. Tell me,how do you do it. Do your warm the bread before you sear the scallops,or after. Good homemade sauce. Let's have sex."
But really, Trader Joes is amazing. I wish sometimes not everybody felt that way. I hear that originally Steven Spielberg wanted to film the harrowing beginning of Saving Private Ryan in a Trader Joes parking lot...He actually tested some footage. The scene with the soccer mom carrying three bags of groceries,only to be struck down by the prius driver , in a great hurry to get his cioppino played allright. However, the scene where the woman,rushing to pick up her son from violin soccer, loses a leg by trying to wedge her suv into a compact spot, then picks up her own leg and and carries it into the store in a cart,just to get some of those peppermint joe joes, didn't test well. People thought is was too close to home. He decided to film in in Normandy instead.

And where I live,everybody wants another Trader's. They seem to be obsessed.
"That old Albertson"s....they're putting a Trader Joes in there"

Trader Joes is going into where tower records was"
"Hey, did you hear? They're paving paradise and Putting up a parking lot...With a big hotel a boutique and a Trader Joes."

But I will continue to shop at the island paradise. It has become a weekly poker night, movie day, or family mine field exploration. I am drawn by value...and experimentation...and Mer Du Soliel.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The Big Texan

Ok...everyone warned us about going on a road trip for our honeymoon. But it was great. First off, we have a very quirky sense of what is cool. What is cooler than Dead Elvis? Right now you are probably thinking"Uhmm, anything" or "Uhmm, everything" or "Uhmm, live Elvis?". Nope, wrong. Dead Elvis....I mean, what? Anybody can have a following when they are alive? Are there Billy Corgan impersonator? Or Kanye West? Is there a David Hasslehoff Blvd? Or a memories of Micael Bolton Hotel? Can you get comforters of the movies of Kris Kristofferson? No....Is there a Roy Clark Family Cookbook?
These are the signposts of cool.

I am tired tonight so don't expect much. I am really good sometimes at the foreplay of blogging, and then, well my point goes flaccid, which has always been my problem. But people have seemed to be taken with my musings about Outback. I guess that it is unique that someone of my upbringing goes to Outback. Hey, I was middleclass white trash living in the early 60's in suburbia. My mother had a bible and a campbell soup recipe book. My father worked three jobs. We never went to Outback. Once every nine months or so we went to Sizzler. Sizzler had little plastic toothpick cows stuck in the meat to symbolize rare or medium rare............these are the memories. I remember going to Yet Wah in San Francisco for Anthony Fuscos birthday, and being shocked that the chow mein had soft noodles. Our ethnic treat was chow mein at Chinese Kitchen that came with those crunchy noodles.

Outback would've been like dining at the DownUnder Ritz.

But it wasn't until I started dating someone from Kansas City that I realized that steak could be elegant too. On my mother in laws birthday we went to a place on the plaza where they brought a meat cart around and you chose your own cut. Like tanked lobsters. But what the hell does someone who thought Malibu Chicken was a luxury know about cuts of meat.

Steakhouses are meant to be huge. That's why filet mignon always felt like a rip off to me. I mean, it is supposed to be about size. On our way back from our pilgrimage to Dead Elvis we ran into the epitome of steakhouse.

And so, I present to you, the steakhouse of all steakhouses....Amarillos Big Texan!!!!!!!

We were drwn by the road signs. We didn't have a true plan for our stay in Amarillo. I just saw it as a relatively short drive from Oklahoma City. Road signs are,of course, the essence of road travel. We had been pulled in on the way to Dead by the road signs for Wall Drugs. Free Ice Water...Wall Drug...."See the Jackalope,Wall Drug" "Cure Your Cancer...Wall Drug"...but the one that drew us was Free Coffee and donuts for honeymooners". Now my wife loves a bargain. sounds like a deal. 1000 miles of driving for free fried dough? It is the Manhatten of deals.

Out of Oklahoma City we started seeing signs with a big cowboy or a big cow or both. Now Texas is all about being big. The Big Texan. Is Rhode Island about being small. Are their tiny signs in New England for The Little Rhode Islander? The Big Texan lured us in slowly. "The Big Texan....Steakhouse and hotel". "The big Texan...Texas Shaped Pool". The Big Texan, free 72 oz steak..... " Wait,what? What? Well,yes. If you,while visiting the Big Texan can eat a 72 oz steak in one get it for free. If not, 40 bucks.....

ok,I love a gimmick as much as the next guy, but yuck. I mean,that is a roast. Not even my dad,rib man extraordinaire could do that...well at least not in an hour. And we weren't going to do that....and we didn't do that. But the call was there. We had to stay at The Big Texan....We had to eat at the big texan....if only to swim in the pool...

So ya gotta love a motel that has swinging bar doors to the bathroom. Cowboys don't need privacy I guess. Ya gotta also appreciate a wall painted with a sunset backdrop,as though you are looking through barbed wire. Oh and a pool shaped like Texas. In the gift shops you can get texas shaped pads, ice cubes...a veritable gamut of temperatures. As long as the temperatures are big...big cold,big heat...
And in the rooms...they have menus for the called us from every corner of our Pecos paradise. And it was time....time to eat.

I am telling you,walking in you knew. Just from the gift shop. Ashtrays,maps,steak earrings...yup. Taxidermied animals too. Snakes,Spiders...and as you get to the hostess station you see the cart....acornucopia of iced meat,waiting. and there is the middle,the holy grail of carnivores........the 72 oz,big texan steak. I swear small children were ice skating on it.

As you sit down you are directed to a list of people who have eaten the steak. That day, at noon, two brothers, one age 13,one age 11, had done it. Eaten the steak,roll,salad and shrimp cocktail. You imagine? You can't share it. Each one ate that. at lunch.
And for all my going on about Chain restaurants, we actually never eat at them. When we travel it is about the indiginous food of the region. You don't go to a new mexico Denny's or order barbecue at the Memphis Tony Roma's. You gotta get down and dirty with Charlie Vergos rendezvous. So, when at the Big Texan we just grin and pile when the salad bar has more cheese than vegetables( One time at Pigeon Forge tennessee we asked what the vegetables were and our waiter, Dale, said Potato Puffs.....{translation...tater tots})... This is regional cooking. Embrace it...except for those bull testicles.... Oh call em rocky mountain oysters if you want to, dress em up in a little batter...but I just can't get there. That's an appetizer at The Big Texan....(THE MENU SAYS "iF YOU THINK IT IS SEAFOOD,STICK WITH THE SHRIMP).
and so what did we eat?????????
Three orders of sheep ankles....stop. We ate a 16 oz steak, split. 8 oz of meat each.
and we were stuffed......stuffed........
So if you are at all enticed by the strange and unusual, and are traveling on highway 40(Old route 66) well,check it out.
I really want to thank those of you who have enjoyed my musings so far. If you think they are funny, pass them on to people...maybe not my dad...but otherwise, hey.

and if you run into a place that has a rhode island shaped pool...let me know

Monday, October 13, 2008

ya gotta have friends...

my friend barbara kessell,who is a facebook friend,was looking for songs about friendship to sing at her church. A lot of people had suggestions,from "You've got a friend" to Cole Porter's "Friendship" to swahili chants(welcome to marin) . I must admit that my favorite suggestion was for a non written song, one called "Feeding Friend Z".
I know a lot of people,but my circle of real friends is fairly small. I chalk that up to my great sense of dedication,my dog like loyalty. The facebook thing is a wonder,as it has linked me back with people that I have lost contact with for years. One case in point is my college friend,Scott Elliott, who I hung with many a night while going to undergrad school. Yes,we went to school at Stanislaus State in Turlock,but we had a great time. Now he is a minister in Florida and we spend probably a night a week chatting. It is nice...really nice.
But I am also loyal to those friends on facebook that I don't know that well. Really it is technology friendship,the speed dating of friendship. Someone knows someone and has heard of you once and suddenly they are friending you. If I ever see those people who have friended me,I am very happy. Most of the time that is unreciprocated. I am loyal to anyone who might even use the term friend to me.
Interesting thing, friendship. I have a couple of avenues of friendship, one is through the theatre. Theatre friendships are usually formed through working on a play together, which can be fiery, collaborative, and bonding to say the least. I still, to this day, remember the night of dress rehearsal when the lights came up on the aforementioned Scott Elliott, laying on the stage after a set piece had flown in and given him a concussion. I see that moment clearly, still. In those long periods of time that we go without contact, I still remember that. It still forges its place in my head. But theatre friendship are often fleeting, and because of my loyalty I tend to get hurt by the fickleness of them. So intense and personal, then so nonexistant.
School tends to be another binding point for people. My friends now are teachers, ex student(I have ex students that are 40 years old)and old high school friends. But think about it, why are your friends your friends? Ever really thought about it?
Yesterday I spent the day with my friend Bruce, who I have known for 33 years. He is someone who has dropped in and out of my radar for most of that time. Sometimes I feel a little less sexy than his newer friends(sexy is just a is not a term I would ever use for me, really) but I am a constant in his life. Riding down highway 1 yesterday,listening to music, and talking to him was such a treat. First off, the guy never gets lost. He has a gps in his head or something. Second of all, we have so much history that two things are true a) We can talk about anything and 2)We can be silent about anything.
I just loved it. No other jokes about it....just loved it.
The last thing about true friendship is the ability to appreciate rather than change. One of my other oldest friends has always had different tastes in music. What 16 year old in the early 70's listened to Englebert, or Tom Jones, Or Wayne Newton, or Even Elvis. Another of my friends knows nothing about music except if it is on a movie soundtrack. He owns thousands of them. One friend has collected stuff for years. What kid gets a toy and leaves it in it's wrapper?
One of my friends was kosher in high school, causing another of my friends to blow up and say "just eat the goddamned pork'. tHIS WAS MY CLOSE SET OF FRIENDS in high school. But they were who they were....And none of us ever drank or took drugs. Seriously. We just didn't. We liked each other, we were sure of who we were...and we didn't try to change anybody. And I have an appreciation for being kosher, collecting and Englebert....That's what friendship is.
My friends befriended a guy in high school who convinced us it was cool to yell fag from cars. I haven't seen him in thirty two years. He was hurtful. There is nothing hurtful about collecting soundtracks.
So this is a little different today. No as many jokes, but hoperfully, if anybody is reading this it sets you on the journey of thinking about those people who mean something to you. People who have made your life, or even your day.
Here's my list for the last 24 hours
Sallye and Greg
Erika(always,happy birthday, honey)
Barbara Kessell
Rev. Scott Elliott
Taylor P

Sunday, October 12, 2008

cultura obscura

It's time for me to come out of the closet.

so, I found something out yesterday, a few things really.

1) you can go to Outback without either trauma or a bloomin onion
2) I am not the only person who is my age or lives where I live who likes chain restaurants...

I had a conversation via chatting on facebook with a friend who told me about Paneras. That sounds too ethnic and real to be a chain...but alas,it is a chain predominant in the midwest that bases themselves around being a bakery..Doesn't that sound more civil than "Hey,mate,have a fair dinkem ale the size of your melbourne lovin skull". Sure.

Truly too I am familiar with bread chains,as my cousin by marriage is one of the heirs to the Boudin Bread Bakery...Sourdough french bread in San Francisco. Hmmmmmm. Ya think they are pretty rich? We never see them,but it is their custom to come to family things,sort of sit at one table,and be the french bread cousins, the upper crust,if you will. Part of the S.F. elite that happen to mingle with the low brow cousins. They provided an interesting contrast to the cousins who would show up at reunions and all pile out of a trailer with their subway sandwiches. I always wanted to have my french bread cousins be all critical of the subway cousins."Ha,you call that bread? We know bread?"
and the trailer park cousins retorting
"Ha, you call what you do living? Any person can travel in a high priced automobile. Try existing 23 to a trailer"
The truth of it is,we don't really fit into any population. Erika and I both have midwestern values and are kinda off the norm. I,at times, become a nomadic wanderer in the cultural wasteland.
Case in point....once every two years we go to Hawaii.
Normal Marin Countyite: Oh,we love the isolated beauty of Kauii. You can feel yourself decompress under the sway of the indigenous palms.
Normal Marin Countyite 2: Oh, you can go to Maui. It is a paradise untouched by human hands.
Us: WAIKIKI,BABY!!!!!! Mai Tais,scathed beauty,rock on...Tiki Mugs,people from Indiana bobbing up and down in the ocean like corks from jug wine. Japanese tourists with weird slogans on their t shirts "America Rock Party Star"..."Cannot Touch This"

The truth is that I am an eclectic traditionalist. I am not way out there, though the you you want me to be is. I do like tourism, It is fun. I like to ride buses to luaus. I like tours. I enjoy Vegas and The Wisconsin Dells.
Now...some of my favorite trashy places...

Flintstones Bedrock City in The Black Hills
Rock City, Georgia(they"ll tell ya Tennessee)
Graceland(Graceland, Memphis Tennessee)
Archie McPhee toystore (Seattle)
The Disney Cruise
The Precious Moments factory in Missouri
The Star Trek Experience Bar(Hilton,Las Vegas)
La Mariana Supper Club,Honolulu
South of The Border(South Carolina)
The Twin Teepees (Seattle)
Route 66 (From Oklahoma City to Flagstaff...highlights, Cadillac Ranch and the gas station that announced "Gas sKips will be persecuted"...and the velvet of Jesus blessing a mack truck
The Black Hills Passion Play
Eureka Springs, Arkansas
Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
Yellowstone(Not trashy). was our honeymoon, by car
Mill Valley to Reno
Reno To Idaho Falls(Long ass drive)
Idaho Falls to Gilette Wyoming( Yellowstone, Cody museum)
Gilette to Custer S.d (Flinstones Park, Devils Tower,Cowboy Supper and Show)
Custer to Soiux City Iowa (Corn Palace, and Jellystone Park)
Sioux City to Kansas City
3 days in Kc
kc to Memphis(Graceland, Charlie Vergos Rendeveouz)
Memphis to Eureka Springs(Passion Play)
Eureka Springs to KC
KC to Oklahoma City(National cowboy hall oof fame)
Ok City to Amarillo(Home of the Big blog)
Amarillo to Albuquerque
Albuquerque to Vegas (Englebert, baby)
Vegas to LA
LA home
no idyllic vienna alpine splendour
no machu pichu finding spitual love fest

we called it the beauty and tack tour

And I guess it's where I am destined to end this blog today
in love with the touristy world of chain food
and living in a world where we are forced to hide our tourist trap loving selves.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

let's go to outback tonight!!!!!

And Eat Bread!!!(Ok, David!!! Shut up about bread!!!)
My editor has made me promise there will be no reference to the David Gates band, Bread. None.
A picture might paint a thousand words, but no words will paint a picture of that horrifying soft rock band.
Tonight my wife wants to go to outback steakhouse for her birthday...Ok. Have you figured out that my wife is blissfully different. No elegance necessary. Hey babes, lets go to a fake australian steakhouse.
Now I have a dubious distinction of having to take my father to the restroom and bitch him out at Outback the last time we were there. Yes,take my father, on his 85th birthday into the mens room, wheel him in and tell him he was being mean and childish. When we came back to the table he claims Erika and Miles ate his dessert. So now, he wants to go to Outback Steakhouse alone!!!! On his birthday. So no one will make fun of him or steal his dessert
Ok, let's go back a little. My dad is in a wheelchair, and lives in a home. Every year we take him to some megameal with cowboy names, Cattlemen's, OutBack, The Ramrod(I thought it was a steakhouse, but that is another story)...and eat an absurd amount of cow. My father has an affinity for one thing at outback....the baby back ribs.
America's love of Australia seems to come from that Paul Hogan movie Crocodile Dundee. In that movie some deviant pulls out some little knife and Paul Hogan says "You call that a knife? Now, this! This is a knife!!!!(and he reveals steel the size of an egret). This seems to be the wisdom of Outback Steakhouse, and of course, the reason people want to eat there. You don't go to Outback for lightly sauteed beef cheeks with a blood orange vinagrette. You want a cow!!! Set on Fire!!!! With blue cheese. Back up the uhaul for leftovers.
Lots of food is what outback is. And these ribs my father eats. Remember the Flintstones? That rack of ribs that tips over their car? Well, the baby back ribs FILLS a plate at Outback. This plate comes after my father has eaten part of a bloomin onion, a salad, and a baked potato with sour cream,butter and bacon..(since his slight heart attack he doesn't eat gravy). My father begins to methodically take down the mastadon ribs, sort of like the tortoise in the said tortoise and hare race. Slowly...and the rib bones begin to pile up... We say "Wow, glad you're enjoying them", the waiter says " Wow, good job" and the people next to us marvel at my fathers prowess surrounding the pig...
An hour and a half later, and there is nothing left but the bones....That is when my father accuses us of making fun of him..."All you did is make fun of me eating the ribs"....Ok, I sometimes make fun of my dad, but not to his face, and not on his birthday.....but he is freaking out, so the bring him a birthday dessert and he wont eat it. Doesn't want it. And he has to go to the bathroom. I take him and tell him that this is what people do at outback, they look at peoples food and say "Wow, you ate a lot"! We come back...and Erika and Miles have eaten a spoonful of his dessert, which he didn't want...

ok, we up to speed now????

So tonight we are going to Outback again....without my dad.
I"m gonna make some predictions and then later come back and tell you if they were true
we will wait for a half an hour for a table    NOPE...WE WALKED RIGHT IN.  TOUGH TIMES...ASK THE WOMAN FROM BORDERS
one of us will mention the rib incident within the first five minutes  TOOK ABOUT SEVEN
Erika will get a beer the size of Tasmania  YEP,A BLUE MOON
The waiter will be wearing flair  KEVIN WAS HIS NAME,AND HE LOVED HIS FLAIR.
Miles will have to take me to the bathroom and bitch me out.NOT THIS TIME
We will eat the yummy bread.  BABY,I'M A BREAD GUY.
David Gates will be playing in the piano bar.(Damn, almost made it)NO

the best thing since sliced....

I realize that this has suddenly turned into a sort of baby boomer referenced blog...john ford coley and england dan, Kenny Loggins, and people might not get that cultural jumping off points(and believe me, the 70's was a good place to jump's as easy as one word(Disco),Two Words(Village People),Three Words(Saturday Night Fever)). And right now I feel like I am going back to the well one more time. It is true...I am a cultural maven of the 70's. I know every obscure 70's actor who ever appeared on say,The Mary Tyler Moore show. We'll watch Nick Tv and I"ll say "Oh.the actor Jerry Foley" or 'Wow, Ted Bessell...but as far as modern stuff? My wife will watch tv and I"ll say
"Who's That?"
"Jorja Fox...CSI!"
"Who's That?"
"Hugh Laurie...House"
"Who's That?"
"Barrack Obama"

I have dropped off the cultural template of the united states, which seems more shifting than the tectonic plates of the earth....
so I find comfort in shuddering at cultural icons that I remember,and once again would love to go back to Bread,the soft rock band of the 70s. Ok,how did they name their band?
"Ok,what kind of music should we do? "
"Well, lets do music that will make girls weep in their bedroom, and guys want to crawl in a hole because they are not as sensitive as we are. I think we should be the sort of band that girls will want to put giant posters of us in their rooms, allowing them to have teenage fantasies about us, perhaps running in open,soft focused fields of flowers,and then ending up in beds with us,making sweet soft rock love,sensitive and caring,where we all weep at the end by how complete a sexual experience it was for both of us."
"Ok....How bout Bread?"
" Hey man, I"m so stoned!!! This is the best sandwich. Man,this bread is amazing!"
"Yeah, let's make a band called Bread"

But, do you notice that in your brain,the guys of Bread were not stoners. They were sensitive guys who read all the feminist fiction and tried to figure out how to find the g spot for the ultimate female experience,whereas bands like steppenwolf , and even Kenny Rogers always seemed like they were stoned at very least.
So,most of you have no idea who Bread was. First off it was a band. With like a drummer,and a bass player. But basically it was David Gates....
David Gates...I think of David Gates sitting on a beanbag chair in some loose elizabethan shirt, looking at The Feminine Mystique, thoroughly interested in what it was like to be a woman...and coming up with just the perfect sensitive way to bag the chick.
When I think of Bread I immediately think of "Baby, I"m a Want You". Ok,what guy writes a song called "Baby I"m a Want You". "I"m a want you?" . I do not have the capacity to title people with a verb and a pronoun. "Baby, I"m a want you. Steve, you are a need guy. Bruce, you are a run she". I think if I did that someone would say "David,you're a nut bag".

Besides "Baby, I"m a Want You" there is " I would give Everything I Own(just to have you back again)"," If"(If a picture paints a thousand words then how do I paint you,the world will never know,the you I"ve come to know), and" I want to make it with you". So,now we get the evil Bread scheme,the brain of a male sexbag hidden in a mystique reading ,lingerie shopping long haired ren faire going hippie. Soften em up with all the" material goods don't mean a thing to me,I can't paint how beautiful you are. Lets hump like crazed weasels....oh I mean, I want to Make It With You."

Everybody talks about how crude rap is,and other music...but let's not fool ourselves....All that sensitive stuff is just another way to get laid.

So,what is my point?
Just felt like writing about Bread.
And I wrote it for you are special,I"d give my hybrid car just to have you back.
Baby, I"m a Write Man

Friday, October 10, 2008

bloggins and messina, I must admit,I came up with the title before I had something to fill the box with....I love puns.
but then I was walking the dog and I started thinking about Loggins and Messina...sure, you can have Bailout and Depression(I saw them open for Billy Idol) but i fill my excursion ala canine with thoughts of those purveyors of 70's soft rock....(It's actually kinda fitting "even though we aint got money,I"m so in love with ya honey).  But who were Loggins and Messina?  Jim Messina was actually a surf guitarist,turned to  Buffalo Springfielder to country rock band in Poco.   But Kenny Loggins?  Kenny Loggins.

I guess Kenny Loggins is the guy who played with Jim Messina before he started that solo career known for the top gun soundtrack and the song the gopher dances to in Caddyshack.  I also once heard a story that often times he would start his shows by coming on,doing a flip of some sort and then picked up a guitar and started playing acoustic.  Well, one night,somewhere, he missed the flip and plunged off the stage,breaking his ribs,unable to play the show.  I secretly wish I was in the audience,first off because it just sounds really bizarre,like if Josh Groban ate fire before his easy listening/opera gig and one night immolated himself.
But second of all, I would've loved to have been there because of the possibility of seeing that and then singing Loggins hit Footloose really loudly.

But I suppose Loggins earned his stripes...he deserves to have written "What a Fool believes" and House at Pooh Corner.  The truth of the matter is that now, anybody can be famous.  Loggins earned it by sittin in with Jim Messina,laying down a generation of soft rock that helped young girls cry and gave young boys the chance to nod and smile and lose their virginity.  He made his mark....then again so did the band Bread.....(one time a kid in my english class told me that his great uncle was David Gates,the writer and lead singer for Bread...and I looked at him and said "Does he ever sing 'Baby I"m a want you" to you?".  Bread....eek)but fame these days can go to a bitchy clothing designer,an offkey American Idol contestant or anyone who writes a memoir.
Everybody was raving about Running With Scissors, and I thought "Who is Augusten Burroughs".  An npr guy?  Standup comedian?  Nah.  Augusten Burroughs is just a guy who wrote a memoir.  Yeah,pretty fucked up life at times,but ...we have come to honor the dysfuntional.
So guys with screwed up lives,or fake screwed up lives(Believe nothing,Oprah) become stars, and certain types are nowhere to be found.  Where are guys like Jimmy Durante,Or Don Knotts,weird lookin guys who just had a ton of personality.  They exist on regional stage,but you aint gonna see them on the screen.  No,everybody talks about it to the point of orgasm when some pretty actor goes off on a limb,Brad Pitt in Burn before Reading,Tom Cruise in tropic thunder....but what about having real weird guys...I mean come on,that scene in Borat with the asses in the faces was so much funnier because it was real.  If it had been Zac Efron
in a fat suit?

So in conclusion,Kenny Loggins...

Where is this blog going to end up,and who cares.  If this was 30 years ago,I would've journeymanned my wares through the million coffee houses,reading my opus, TikiBar of the Spleen...until some great nibble was called paying my dues.   Now,because of instant gratification,I don't need to pay dues.  I just have to pay my internet bill.  Who knows, I keep writing and I may become the next Augusten Burroughs...or the 2008 equivalent of David Gates.  "I found your laptop,underneath a tree,"

hello,yeah,it's been awhile

Don't you just love the song stylings of England Dan and John Ford Coley.  I always wonder about the whereabouts  of guys who call themselves England Dan...or Carrot Top.   I mean, at The Cheesecake Factory do they say "Top...table for four?"(I realize this is an absurd Carrot Top has three friends).
What also distresses me is the moments when I am in a record store and come across cds like the greatest hits of England Dan and John Ford Coley....greatest hits?  of England Dan and John Ford Coley...What's next..the greatest hits of Edison Lighthouse, you know the singers of that 60's bubblegum hit,Love Grows( and the sequel..Love Stops Growing, and the end of the trilogy, Love Lies Festering at the Bottom of The Billboard Charts)...Jesus,digress much?
I got inspired to write today because I was filled with a sense of super nostalgia and monetary dread
.  I mean,I was doing fine until I was at borders(looking at the greatest hits of zz top!!!!) and I was buying books for my wife.  The woman says "  I can help the next person"  I go up cheerfully to her and ask "How are You?".  "Ok..."she said as though she was trying to talk me down from diving to my demise..."Tough Times".   What?  That seemed weird for a Borders employee.  I mean at the Apple Store they might as well just burst into Happy Days are Here Again.... and they are selling I phones,for god sake.  I mean,this woman,well intentioned and all might as well have said "Don't buy the book.  You may be able to find it in the gutter after the crash".
and then I got in the car and listened to Bobby,what a writer.  He is a country guy you should listen to.  His songs are filled with little joys and regrets,and you end up thinking about your gains and losses.  His "Don't ask me how I Know" is a modern classic.
"Don't lose the girl you love at home to a night in panama city
don't get off the phone when your mama calls,you aint that busy
you oughta take the drive to say goodbye to you're grandpa fore he goes
Don't ask me how I know"
it might lose something in the translation
So on the drive home, I just felt myself close to tears....are we all going to burn and this the apocalypse.  
There is no way of filled with regret and joy, I guess I figured I could either get influenced by the borders woman and think tough times
or create my own greatest hits...the things I love
1.   Got a great son
2.  Got a great wife
3.  I got life,brother
4. I have a house
5.  got a job
6.  Have created some great art
7.   Filled the world with joy
8>  Filled the world with stories
9 made people laugh
 10.  Been in love
11.  Seen art,been moved by it
12.  Ate big sloppy hamburgers with a ten year old who's birthday wish was to do so with me
13.  ate sushi with that same boy,now 11,and we shared a cholesteroll
14.  have spent my summers on farms
15.  Have spent my recent summers with the two greatest companions a man can have,if the man is this man
that's volume 1.

probably more songs than on mr dan and john ford coleys greatest hits...