Friday, December 31, 2010

The Last Day

Look well to this day
For it is life
The very best of life.
In its brief course lie all
The realities and truths of existence,
The joy of growth, the splendour of action,
The glory of power.
For yesterday is but a memory.
And tomorrow is only a vision.
But today well lived
Makes every yesterday a memory of happiness
And every tomorrow a vision of hope.
Look well, therefore to this day.

Ancient Sanskrit Poem

This was read aloud at the memorial service today. It was a day we thought about those who are still with us, and how much we would miss them if they were gone. It was hard to watch others in great pain of the kind that may never heal. It was good to hear others share their memories aloud. We reminisced afterwards over a late lunch and a bottle of wine, then spent the evening curled up on the couch with some favorite TV episodes, a fire, and Henry the cat - who is, thankfully, still with us too (and the company of a 19 year old cat is a rarity).

I think it was a day well-lived.

This song was played today by the same guitarist (only 26 years later). It sounded very much the same. It's called "Song For Life."

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

RIP Bill Maddox


Bill Maddox, former Eric Johnson drummer, shot to death
I was skimming through twitter yesterday and found this shocking news. It had a stunning effect. In fact, I can't sleep so I got back up to finish this post. From the news article:
A law enforcement source who wished to remain anonymous because he’s unauthorized to talk to reporters said a woman believed to be Rhonda Maddox called 911 at 7:27 a.m. and reported a burglary in progress at the couple’s home. “They’re in the house,” she told the 911 operator, “I’m gonna have to shoot them.” The phone was put down, then the operator heard a single shot, followed after a pause, by several more.
Later yesterday night, a close friend of his stated in a forum post:
Evidently a neighbor was off his medications and threw a rock through either a plate glass window or door. Bill and Rhonda thought it a burglary and called the police. The neighbor entered the house and there was a confrontation with a gun ending with Bill dead and the neighbor flown to the hospital with a gun shot wound.

That last account has not been presented in the news media yet.

A year before we moved here, in fact, a year before we were even considering moving anywhere, I flew down to Austin from St. Louis to attend 2 live taping concerts at Antone's with Alien Love Child (Eric Johnson, Chris Maresh, Bill Maddox). The tapings became this record. Actually there were 3 nights of tapings, but I held myself at only 2 (kind of like being offered a plate with 3 large cookies and leaving one there just so you won't appear to have lost all control). People came to those shows from all over the USA and at least a couple flew over from the UK. After the 3rd show, it had been arranged for us diehard fans to be able to meet Eric, and a small restaurant (Austin Java) was rented out after hours. It was my first EJ show and first time in Austin. That's how this place ended up on the short list when we were deciding where to live - because it was the kind of place that put up a statue of Stevie Ray Vaughan, it was nice weather in January, and the positives grew and grew.

After moving here, I ended up doing some website, graphic design & production, and flash animation for Eric. If you are a big music fan and in Austin, it's likely that you will have an opportunity to do get involved in helping out a favorite musician at some point even if it's just hanging posters. Anyway, it was because of that involvement that I got to meet Bill quite a number of times, either backstage or at casual social events. He was an extremely nice person, and always had a smile, onstage and off. He had been playing in bands with Eric since the early 1970s.

All I know about this tragedy are the accounts mentioned above, and am not sure if there will be any more information released. One of the most disturbing things is that it's possible that he may have been killed with his own gun. I hate guns, but out of respect for Bill and everyone who knew him, I am not going to turn this post (or the comments that get added) into my usual anti-gun rant. Those can be found elsewhere at the Oasis here, if you care to look.

Here are a couple of pics that I took the last time we saw Alien Love Child, which was in August of 2009. It was a long time ago... too long, and we didn't even hang around afterwards to say Hi to the band. Now I regret that.


[addendum Dec 28] Update: More about this not being a burglary.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Boxing Day music


Here's a nice pop ballad from Darin Murphy. Darin is a big Beatle fan and it shows as an influence here. Warning, it's very catchy and you will find this song stuck in your head. Enjoy! If you like this, you can get it on iTunes on Darin's album "Haunted Gardenias", or get it as a download or physical CD through CD Baby.
[CLICK HERE if you are using iPhone or other flash-free device]

I love this day, not because I do anything to celebrate it, but because I am a bit of a scrooge... I am relieved with the end of Christmas music saturation, stores and parking lots choked with humanity in full frenzy, retail employees enduring the big push and shove, worry and dread over whether the holiday will measure up, the War on the War on the War on Christmas in the media, my own personal dread, depression and awkward feelings. It's a sigh of relief.

I believe we are going to venture into some stores and purchase a few mundane items.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Xmas blues and rock 'n' roll

We've been having a great time getting out to see some of our fabulous local bands. Thursday's happy hour we went to the Lucky Lounge to see Ian McLagan, who has a residency there. "Mac" is a founding member of the Small Faces (with the awesome Steve Marriott) and then the Faces (with that other crooner... Rod "the Mod" Stewart). He's the keyboardist and wrote a lot of the songs so the music is fulled with Faces vibe. Since we were off work, we were able to get there and sit in the "living room" that's right in front of the stage. Enjoyed the hell out of it. Mac's band includes one of our favorite Austin sidemen guitarists, Scrappy Jud Newcomb. Always amazes.

Xmas Eve we went out the Saxon Pub for a real bash. Warren Hood and the Goods, plus quite a few stellar guests, great players. Where to get started... Warren's band usually has the amazing Emily Gimble on keyboard/jazz vocals, but in this video Marcia Ball is sitting in with a soulful and bluesy Bells Will Be Ringing with Cindy Cashdollar on slide. I also want to mention that Willie Pipkin is one of our favorite guitar players in town. Always great.
Carolyn Wonderland played a few with Cindy too. Carolyn has been getting a lot more exposure out in the world lately. Give her a google if you love the blues. Here she is with Cindy rocking some Chuck Berry Christmas on Run Run Rudolph.
Today (December 25th) we are going to a movie matinee, and will get some couch time tonight with Henry (if he feels like joining us), a roaring fire, and The Doctor.

Friday, December 24, 2010

The Rules

click to enlargeThis is a great "signed, the management" type sign that I saw at Vulcan Video this week. Click to enlarge (and click again to zoom). I especially liked the comment that someone wrote down the side.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Holidays in Austin - Part 3

We've been getting out for live music and other stuff. Low key but high quality. This first video is from a house concert (on Sunday the 19th) by my friends Milkdrive, who are also some of the finest musicians you can find. This is not our video. Let's see... how to describe this music... acoustic progressive, jazzgrass, I don't know but it's pretty.
That's Brian Beken (fiddle), Noah Jeffries (guitar), Matt Mefford (bass) and Dennis Ludiker (mandolin).

Last night we went to see the Dennis Ludiker Trio, and this incarnation has the phenomenal Billy Bright on mando and Dennis on fiddle (with Jesse Dalton on bass). However, the smokin' hot jam featured in the video (ours this time) has both Dennis and Billy on mandos. I am still waiting to get the fiddler's name and the name of this song... which I might describe as blazing Brazilgrass. Your description may vary. ;-)


We pulled out all the party animal stops, and went to the weekly event Wednesday midnights at the Alamo Drafthouse called "Weird Wednesdays." This was an unimaginably bad B-movie called "The Magic Christmas Tree" and is described by Alamo staff this way:
THE MAGIC CHRISTMAS TREE
DIR. RICHARD PARISH, 1964, 35MM, 60 MIN, G

Special seasonal reprise of the Christmas-killing hit! Here it is: the evil holiday movie we've all secretly been waiting for. It made its producers wealthy men and turned a generation of children into santaphobic sociopaths. We are still paying the cost. It's a very strange film and we're not sure why anyone would make it, but two words come to mind: Malicious Intent. Why else would the young hero be abducted by a witch and forced to uh, plant Satan's magic seed in his backyard? The seed grows into a tree that gives him three wishes. Then the kid abducts Santa Claus, straps him to a chair and abuses him until he gets all the toys in the world. Plus there's a long race between a lawnmower and a turtle and more tomfoolery presided over by the powers of Darkness, including the appearance of a giant who says inappropriate things. We cannot be held responsible for any lasting trauma. (Lars)
...and in IMDB user comments this way.
Whee-doggy, we went to a midnight flick and got to see 6th Street, which was hopping as always.

The holidaze continue. More soon.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

37th Street Lights for 2010

Finally on to this year's 37th Street Holiday Lights. That area is in transition, there is gentrification afoot, people are moving out... it's still pretty fabulous, but, that said, it's really diminished even from 2-3 years ago, and much less of a cultural event. This is just a block (or so) where many people have put up extreme displays.

First, here's one for Debra. This was a whole string of bee flags and dragonfly lights.

This glitzy baby jeez was tucked away in a manger with a disco ball.

It was nippy out, about 40°, perfect for Santa, his old lady, and the elves to sit around the fire. There was a mailbox for Santa's letters.

There is one house in particular that is rising into prominence with greater awesomeness every year. They decorate with lots of sock monkeys and religiously diverse light sets. Here's Jedi, and they also had Star of David lights. Sock monkey Santa with teddy bear Rudolph, sock monkey elves, Tibetan Buddhist monkey, and, of course, sock monkey nativity (check out the cute little baby jeezy)






I was a little sad to see that the displays were pretty much completely non-political, whereas in the past they've always had some real biting and powerful statements. A sign of the times? People burned out on that stuff? Don't know why.

The local news site has a nice gallery here.

Here's a video that shows a few past highlights of 37th Street in its full heyday. Even this can't capture it (and I could really do without the music they added, quite honestly).

Chasing the Moon

I am not at the J-O-B this week, so MrB encouraged me to try and get out to watch the Solstice Total Lunar Eclipse. Earlier in the evening we had walked outside, and the moon was shining bright in a clear sky.

I happened to wake up at the right time, so I walked outside in my PJs with an added sweater for modesty, because it really wasn't cold - 66°. Gorgeous night. Couldn't see a thing from the front of the house, so I went in the back... and peeking through a tree I could see the red glow. This was a leafy tree though, and really blocked the view, so I started walking. Realizing that I couldn't possibly walk far enough for a clear view, I walked back home and got in the car. Drove and drove around the empty suburban streets trying to find it again. There was another nutcase moon-chaser out there... parking in the wrong spots and walking around with his headlights off. (I think this definitely qualifies us as lunatics.) I drove around for a solid hour, miles and miles, frequently stopping the car to get out for a look and trying not to trigger anyone's security cameras. Couldn't see a damned thing in any direction. Our streets change direction a lot so I couldn't always tell which direction I should look... but saw nothing at all in any direction.

I probably should have just tried a gaze out of an upstairs window and let it go at that.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Holidays in Austin - Part 2

Continuing on...
MrB has been salivating over the idea of getting an all-electric car. I admire him for this, and I don't hate the idea, in fact I like it. I'm am just not an early adopter and feel like a hybrid might be more for me. I like for a lot of the kinks to be worked out by other poor souls before I add something that pricey and important to my toy box. Yes, I know... electric cars are not a brand-new invention, but we have not had a variety of choices of non-prototypes before. The Nissan LEAF has been on a 23 city debut tour of test-drives, and we got to drive it on Saturday. It's a perfectly nice little car. I like the size of it. It doesn't go real fast, but it's designed for the commuter (people like us) who drive less than 100 miles a day. Actually, the deal-breaker for me personally with the LEAF was my own fault. Part of the display panel that's behind the steering wheel was too close to my eyes. I wear glasses for distance vision (like for driving) but don't need them at all up close - so I couldn't really focus on that panel with getting bifocals. So GO LEAF but I will wait for a Honda or something else.

Saturday evening we decided to go and see The Tourist, despite a whole lot of bad reviews. My four word film review for it would be "safe for movie date" or maybe "she's pretty, he's pretty." We didn't hate it but thought it missed the opportunity to be funny. It's been nominated for a Golden Globe as a comedy, but believe me, it isn't funny, and it looks like the GG noms might be more than a little tainted this time.

I will end this post here because I need to rest my eyes a little before the big eclipse happens! Something tells me I am going to snooze through it... it's highly likely.

Loretta tells Santa Claus where he can go.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Holidays in Austin - Part 1

The holidays are here, at least for me... and my "holidays" I don't mean "holy days" or "holly days," I mean I took this week off work and next week the office is closed! It's another staycation in Austin, we are stuck here but it's a great place to be stuck. We are celebrating having been living here for a full 10 years (more on that saga in another post). As for the holidaze, they are going pretty well so far.

Friday night, we went to (radio station) KGSR's anniversary party. Tickets were free but you had to win them. The lineup was great: Quiet Company, Alpha Rev, the legendary Joe Ely (with full band) and Old 97s... all local bands (97s are Dallas-based but Rhett Miller was born in Austin).
Alpha Rev - Colder Months (song about missing loved ones)

Joe Ely - Midnight Train (with tasty guitar from David Grissom)

Old 97s - Won't Be Home (this one is not our video)

Really enjoyed all of the bands. Haven't seen Old 97s in quite a few years. With Rhett Miller on vocals, they just cowpunk-rocked my socks off. More videos from Old 97s on Amy's channel.

Well, I've only managed to cover Friday, Dec. 17th, and now it's almost time to head out to house concert with MilkDrive so this topic is to be continued...

Thursday, December 16, 2010

From the griddle to your middle

Soooo....
There's a rumor going around that the TSA's scanner can be blocked by a pancake... which you would presumably place over whatever it is you are wanting to hide. Colbert had a really hilarious bit on it.
The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Scanner-Defying Pancakes
www.colbertnation.com
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical Humor & Satire BlogMarch to Keep Fear Alive

What I want to know is... who thought this up and how did they discover it?

Maybe they were inspired by Dan Lacey, Painter of Pancakes. That's his website (and there are some examples in the widget below) and it's worth searching through his links and galleries because this is some of the craziest crap you can find anywhere. He spares no one.



Shall we consult with Master Pancake?

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

X post facto

You know how us godless liberals are spitefully spelling "Christmas" as "Xmas" just to wage the War on Christmas? Heard that one? Well, according to Dictionary.com:
...the abbreviation predates by centuries its use in gaudy advertisements. It was first used in the mid 1500s.

X is the Greek letter “chi,” the initial letter in the word Χριστός. And here’s the kicker: Χριστός means “Christ.” X has been an acceptable representation of the word “Christ” for hundreds of years. This device is known as a Christogram.

I will keep using the "X" spelling though. It pisses off the religious right. Hee hee.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Want to look like a girl?

We all know that most spammers don't exactly have a good command of the English language, but this one needs a bit more schooling in other subjects, such as anatomy.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Music docs

Stones in Exile

I believe this video was a companion piece to the recent re-mastered re-release of Exile on Main Street. (We have not yet heard the new version of it.) This film takes the present day band back to the recording of the album, and to the places and people who were there at the time. A couple of the locations are Keith Richards' Villa Nellcôte, a 19th century sixteen room mansion on the waterfront in Villefranche-sur-Mer (once the headquarters of the Gestapo in France), and Mick Jagger's Stargroves, a magnificent 16th century manor once occupied by Oliver Cromwell and later by Rod Stewart. Not only was Exile partly recorded there, but also some major stuff from the Who, Led Zeppelin and others. It's kind of funny at times seeing them trying to figure out, amongst themselves, what exactly happened and where. I don't think some of those mysteries will ever be solved.

The film includes a little footage from the banned (but bootlegged) Cocksucker Blues which I blogged a bit about last year, a film where we are shocked to discover that the Stones and entourage are neck-deep in the sex and drugs that go with rock and roll. Stones in Exile also includes interviews with modern-day Anita Pallenberg and Mick Taylor, and a disturbing interview with Liz Phair, who really creeped me out by making it obvious that Exile on Main Street is more than her favorite album, it's her religion. I've seen that happen to people up close and personal. It's hard to tell where the lines are or where they should be when you are delving deep into the worship of something or someone.

As an extreme fan, though, I don't think that Liz can hold a candle to the subjects of this next movie, I Think We're Alone Now. Trailer is below.
Jeff Turner and Kelly McCormick are both extremely obsessed with and delusional over 80's pop singer Tiffany. This movie not only sheds light on that quirk that they share but express differently, but Jeff has Asperger's Syndrome and Kelly is a hermaphradite identifying as female but struggling through related issues. I really recommend this one if you can find it. (official website)

White Stripes: Under Great White Northern Lights, trailer below.

This is a tour documentary covering Canada, and the band got as far out in the boonies and sought out the "real" places as much as possible, turning up in lots of unexpected places. What stands out about it is the relationship between Meg and Jack - how each one drives the other while they play, and the continued love and dependence they still share above and beyond divorce. Sweet.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Secular X-mas stuff

1. I love this. I saw something like this in one of the Comic-Con costume galleries… a grayscale person. This is not Photoshopped, it’s done with makeup and gray clothing (although, for the sake of one photo, it might be easier to use Photoshop to get the effect). See more desaturated Santa pics here.


2. In the Scrooge category, it's been revealed that the Salvation Army has been taking Twilight and Harry Potter toy donations and throwing them in the trash, while giving the OK to guns (such as a plastic M-16). Their PR people are currently scurrying to clarify this, saying that they really don't approve of toy guns. Wizards and vampires are nixed though. Not sure of their policy toward fairies (including Fairy Godmothers, Tooth Fairies, and Tinkerbell), leprechauns, mermaids, Jolly Old Elves named Claus, ghosts of Christmas Past, Good Witch Glenda, or Virgin pregnant ladies.

3. A good response to old Sally Ann might be to stuff her ding-dong cauldron with a farting Santa ornament or Blitzed'n the drunken reindeer.

4. This last one is just cute. Simon's Cat has a new video out called "Santa Claws", and this is not on YouTube or embeddable yet. Click to watch. Yule love it.
(:::: sorry ::::)

I want the one with the sheep

The Snazzy Napper.
It really should come with earplugs too, so the laughter won't keep you awake.

Found via Dave Barry.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

December 8


Steve Martin wrote "Atheists don't have no songs" but surely John Lennon gave us a couple of good ones with "God" and "Imagine." Can you think of any more?

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Keeping Austin Weird Saturday

Always happy when Saturday gets here, even with not much planned. Headed over to Wheatsville Co-op, our favorite little health food market, planning on doing Holiday shopping... not expecting a big art fair to be in progress. Always fun to attend those, but easy to get overwhelmed with choices. Here's a big ol' puppy who was pretty cute. His 'dad' is looking at handmade journals made from old album covers. Great idea. (The sign said they are available on etsy.com if interested.) Click to see larger.
Yes, it was a warm day, it got up to 75° with lots of sun.
In the evening we went to a new music/food venue called "Jax" (and it feels odd to see the name of our beloved kitty displayed everywhere) and watched up-and-coming teenaged guitarist Carson Brock play. Then we walked a block over to do some shopping at the awesome Toy Joy. I think a person of any age could easily spend hours in this place, and luckily they keep some late hours so you can do just that. We were looking for a gift for our toddler grand-niece, and found the perfect thing (no spoilers), but check out some of this stuff.

MrB wanted to get this for his mother because she hates squirrels. I think he just wants it for himself. Squirrel Underpants help a squirrel hide his nuts for the winter.

Here's one for Debra's collection of Sad Keanus.


All the little junk bins have enticing labels.


Exterminate!!!

Keychain/bauble not approved by John Ashcroft (and might get booted off of P-bucket too)

Here are a couple of videos taken in Toy Joy.

This one is a music video featuring Will Sheff of Okkervil River and classic psych-rocker Roky Erickson (13th Floor Elevators) - both local bands.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Our hot little sister

In the morning when I'm headed to work, Venus has been a stunningly bright object in the sky. This morning, even though I was running a little late, I stopped the car and took some pictures with my cheesy little camera. I know it's Venus because I looked it up, and as it turns out, this is the brightest Venus we will see until July of 2012. Actually, Saturday morning is supposed to be the brightest shine of all.

When I saw this sight and wanted to share it, it made me laugh, thinking about good old Mike Shannon and the funny stuff he'd say while doing the color commentary during the St. Louis Cardinals games. Once he was remarking on the big full moon over the stadium in New York, saying "I wish you folks back in St. Louis could see this moon."

Well, if you can manage to get up before dawn for the next couple of days, you can see this Venus yourself.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

9 Things

  1. Never, under any circumstances, take a sleeping pill and a laxative on the same night.
  2. There is a very fine line between "hobby" and "mental illness."
  3. People who want to share their religious views with you almost never want you to share yours with them.
  4. You will never find anybody who can give you a clear and compelling reason why we observe daylight savings time.
  5. You should never say anything to a woman that even remotely suggests that you think she's pregnant unless you can see an actual baby emerging from her at that moment.
  6. There comes a time when you should stop expecting other people to make a big deal about your birthday. That time is age eleven.
  7. The one thing that unites all human beings, regardless of age, gender, religion, economic status or ethnic background, is that, deep down inside, we ALL believe that we are above average drivers.
  8. A person, who is nice to you, but rude to the waiter, is not a nice person.
  9. Your friends love you anyway.
One of those lists that gets mass-mailed, but I still like these. There was also a #10 but it was a sexist remark so I omitted it.