Random Shuffle – 3/27/06

B000002OWD.01._AA_SCMZZZZZZZ_5.jpg“Boots of Spanish Leather” – Nanci Griffith
From Other Voices, Other Rooms

I first discovered Nanci Griffith on a whim. I was involved in one of those BMG get 8 CDs for the price of one kind of deals. I needed to buy a few albums to finish out my contract and her Blue Roses from the Moon album sounded very interesting. I was just starting my infatuation with folk music and so I ordered it. I quickly became a fan.

Other Voices is Nanci covering all her favorite artists and songs. “Boots of Spanish Leather” is a slightly obscure Bob Dylan tune off of The Times They Are A- Changin’. Nanci’s sweet, country voice and plaintive guitar picking turns a mournful song into a gorgeous dirge. Dylan plays harmonica on the track simply, understated so that the music is bettered by it without having to make some kind of statement of notice. If it weren’t for the acknowledgement in the liner notes, I wouldn’t even know he played on the track.

B000002OWD.01._AA_SCMZZZZZZZ_6.jpgBridge Over Troubled Water – Paul Simon
From MTV – Unplugged

Unlike say Eric Clapton, I don’t believe Mr. Simon ever released an album from his Unplugged performance. There might be a song or two available out there on some of their packaged disks, I don’t really know. It is a shame though because the disk is quite nice, and well worth seeking out from traders.

Being this is Simon without Garfunkel this song had to be reworked a little bit. Naturally, Paul sings it a little lower and the “Sail on silver girl” part get a little bit funky. It’s still a cool version, and while not as touching as the original it is nice to hear it a little different angle.

B000002OWD.01._AA_SCMZZZZZZZ_7.jpg“A Little Less Conversation (Radio Remix)” – Elvis
From 30 #1 Hits

I’m somewhere in the middle of the Elvis fence. While I would fall greatly on the Beatles side of the Beatles/Elvis question, I still dig the King a good bit. I really dig some of his very early rockabilly tunes, but there is a special place in my heart for the big Elvis via the come back specials.

This remix of a slight classic was a pretty big hit for Elvis a few years back. I dig the crap out of it. It’s got a nice dance groove while still maintaining that Elvis cool.

B000002OWD.01._AA_SCMZZZZZZZ_8.jpg“A Letter to Elise” – The Cure
From Wish

Like a lot of unhappy, mixed up, gloomy teenagers I too had my Cure phase. Wish was released during the post Nirvana everybody’s Alternative years of the early 90’s. I believe it is there highest selling album ever.

I listened, obsessed and loved every note. “A Letter to Elise” is a sad, heartbreaking affair that became a favorite of mine from the album. I used to dream of singing this song on those lonely nights after a painful break up. The problem was always I never had a girlfriend, much less a painful break up. After 10 years, a few loves and a couple of hard break ups, the songs stands up quite well.

I hate to admit that I cheated a little for this weeks Random Shuffle. Wilco’s “Jesus, Etc” came up in the shuffle again this week confirming what I had previously believed. My MP3 player’s shuffle ability really sucks. I’m working on a method to keep that from happening in the future, but for now we’ll have to settle with a 6th choice.

B00000267V.01._AA_SCMZZZZZZZ_.jpg“Got My Mind Made Up” – Bob Dylan
From Knocked Out Loaded

I know, I know more Dylan. Man, what can I say, I have nearly all of his albums on my hard drive and they come up a lot. (see the aforementioned suckiness of the shuffle function).

This track was cowritten by Tom Petty (the Heartbreakers backed Dylan up on the album and a tour during the same late 80’s early 90’s era). It’s a decent rocker but pretty much a throwaway as far as Dylan is concerned. The album is often considered one of Dylan’s worst and I’ve never managed to give it a real listen.

The Hot Topic: Kleenex or Adreneline – A Look at Chick Flicks

After a long hiatus, the Hot Topic is back…and this time we've invited a girl to kick things off.

Within the Sinister Cabal that is Blogcritics.org, there exists a Double Secret Society of Men. Manly Men, who wear plaid, spit, swear and scratch private parts. These are the Manly Men of Mondo. Their existence has been whispered about and speculated upon and soon, a major motion picture starring Tom Hanks will be released to show the world the truth behind the Mondo Myth. To get to the kernel of that truth took cunning, bravery, and a decidedly feminine touch. I took on the task to infiltrate this conclave, this cabal within a cabal. I brought coasters, doilies, chamomile tea, and a case of beer. Ingratiatingly charming but ready to fling the fucks with the best of them, I am – The Gurl.

From: Mary
To: The Hot Topic Team
Re: Chick Flicks

So, here I am, yakking about movies. A gurl at that, in the midst of the Boys of Mondo, talking about movie preferences based on gender. Well, do I go to see a movie based on the stud appeal of the leading men? No, that's not the driving force. There are a lot of hot leading men out there that I like to look at, but it takes more than that to earn my crumpled, sweaty dollars. So, assuming I'm not seeing a movie for my kids, assuming I'm seeing something just for me, what turns me on? Ah, I dunno. I have been thinking of my favorite movies, and why they remain favorite movies.

Some I like purely for the talking. Tons of dialogue, doesn't have to be witty (though, I love witty too), just deep. Dialogue that provokes conflict, which speaks to some dark part inside me. Take The Anniversary Party. Although some of the more interesting dialogue occurs after the characters have taken ecstasy, I enjoy this kind of slow moving film. Maybe part of the allure is the fine cast, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Alan Cumming (both also wrote and directed the flick) Jennifer Beals, John C. Reilly, Jane Adams, and Kevin Kline. Or maybe I just like talky movies with Kevin Kline. The Big Chill hit me in a big way when that came out. Tons of talking! That's all they did! Oh they had a little sex, did some drugs and played football. Or maybe I just like the movies where they take drugs. Who knows?

But hey, I like action movies too. I don't know if they are just fun to watch, or because it's what you do when you're in a house full of men. The technology has advanced in film making that for me anyway, watching today's Batman Begins or Mr. and Mrs. Smith can be so jaw-dropping. Of course, not to discredit some older action flicks, 1981's Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark was incredible. I remember seeing it with a girlfriend, and the momentum of the movie stayed with me as we left the theater. I wanted to drive very fast afterwards.

A recurrent theme that flows throughout my favorite films is music. I wonder if The Big Chill would have been as great if there were no Motown beats running through it. Would the church scene have been as good without the Stones' "You Can't Always Get What You Want"? A little film that made it big at Sundance 2004 and across America – Napoleon Dynamite – was a success not only for its writing, acting and directing, but also for its musical scoring. The instrumental "Music for a Found Harmonium" is a piece I have fallen in love with. "Harmonium" is good music on its own, but now, when I hear it, it's forever colored by the sweet last few scenes of Dynamite. And then a decidedly more masculine view is how much I love "Down With the Sickness" by Disturbed in Jet Li's movie, The One.

And that brings me to another point. It seems as if my yang (masculine) is more predominant than my yin (feminine). Or maybe they are equal, but I'm maybe more in touch with my masculine side then other woman? Would that explain my martial arts interests? My propensity for vulgar comedies? My desire to cuss?

Yet there are plenty of typically girly things that I like, movies included. Filmsite.org lists a bunch of 'chick-flick' movies. I read through them and to me it could just be a list of any movies with no special gender connection. My reactions ranged from, "eh" to "Yes – LOVED it", to "since when is Lara Croft just for chicks?"

Ultimately, I have movies I like, and movies I don't. A favorite film, You've Got Mail, has some lines that eloquently express the combination of hope and vulnerability of the lead character, Kathleen.

What will NY152 say today, I wonder? I turn on my computer. I wait impatiently as it connects. I go online, and my breath catches in my chest until I hear three little words: You've got mail. I hear nothing. Not even a sound on the streets of New York, just the beating of my own heart. I have mail. From you.

Girly stuff? Yes. Good stuff? Definitely. And I'll beat up any boy who disagrees!

From: Mark Saleski
To: The Hot Topic Team
Re: Chick Flicks

I love "chick flicks". Honest. I really do. They…are…awesome!

OK. OK. That was just a transparent attempt to not get my ass beaten by Sir Mary, resident black belt of the House of Mondo.

Still, the movies that I like to tend to share some of your basic chick flick tendencies: emphasis on relationships and character development, lots of dialog, not so much action.

Some of this, to be sure, comes from my contrarian nature. Working in the software industry, I'm just supposed to be into things like Star Wars, Star Trek, and Lord of the Rings. Nope. Nothing there for me.

Similarly, the "guy movie" is often full of action and violence. Don't get me wrong. I'm not anti any of this stuff. It's just that it's kind of, well, boring. Seriously. When I see a movie trailer and somebody pulls out a large gun, or maybe a building explodes into a ball of flames…I'm just not interested. Why that is, I'm not sure. I guess it's just that none of it feels like it's got anything to do with my life.

Of course, there are counter-examples. What? You want internal consistency? Dirty Harry. Apocalypse Now. Blue Velvet. Terminator II. Pulp Fiction. A Clockwork Orange. Is there a line to be drawn through all of those films? Maybe "purposeful violence." Dunno. It seems to me that you can lose yourself inside the characters in those movies, no matter what kind of ugliness they're experiencing.

Relationships and dialogue: The Big Chill is a good starting point. Add to that Ruby In Paradise, Babette's Feast, Manhattan, Fandango, High Fidelity, and Paris, Texas. The one thing that links all of these completely different movies together is their memoir-ish nature. I love this stuff. Some folks enjoy flinging the label "navel-gazing". To me, observing how others make a way through their lives is endlessly fascinating.

So why do most guys not care about this kind of thing? Or is that a stereotype?

From: Mat Brewster
To: The Hot Topic Team
Re: Chick Flicks

Chick flicks? Quotes from You've Got Mail? Man, who let the girl in here? What kind of Gentlemen's Club lets girls in? Wait, don't answer that question.

So Sir Mary wants to hang with the men of Mondo, and we let her right in the front door. I guess that's okay. I mean we're all enlightened men here. This is the twenty-first century. And it's not like this club is full of big burly men anyways. I mean we're all aspiring writers (and ain't a one of us look like Hemmingway) who sit around debating the merits of organic food, Ryan Adams and Asian cinema.

At least Sir Mary curses like a boy, unlike that girlish Aaron Fleming chap who cries when he chips a nail.

Okay then, so movies are the subject at hand. I can't really say I like flicks that get labeled for chicks or dicks. I'm not really hip to the Norah Ephron romancers or the gun toting, action packed testosterone packages from the Governor of California.

I want to say that I'm an indie film kind of guy, but truth be told, all too many indie flicks are just rotten. The budgets are miniscule, production quality is shoddy at best, the acting is about as good as you'd get in community theatre, and the stories are bloated, convoluted messes.

The heart of my film life lies in directors. Where many people follow actors around, I pant over directors. Let's face it the controlling factor of a film lies in the director's hands. A great cast, and script, and special effects team will still go limp without a good director behind the camera.

Kurosawa, Welles, Truffaut, Scorsese, Bergman, these are the words that tell me a film has potential. Not over boiled marketing terms like "romantic" or "heart warming" or "action-packed" or "thrill ride."

But I'm digressing from my digression. What I'd really like to say is that labels and generalizations don't mean anything. Are there women who love the collected works of Steven Segal? Surely. Are there men who love to sit in a dark theatre with Meg Ryan, Audrey Hepburn and a box of hankies? Most definitely.

I like good movies, whatever that means. I want something interesting and well made. If that takes a story about a group of commandos fighting an alien in the jungle, then fine by me. Or if it means a three-hour drama about a homosexual AIDS patient dealing with the loss of her cocker spaniel, then so be it. In the end I don't care how they market a film, or what labels they throw on the DVD box, as long as the cinema moves, excites, and changes me.

From: Bennett Dawson
To: The Hot Topic Team
Re: Chick Flicks

I'm not much of a "guy flick" kinda guy. I enjoyed the hell out of the Terminator series, but have never had much interest in Rambo or anything starring Jean-Claude Van Damme. I need more than blood an' guts an' fast action to keep my attention, I need PLOT, and intelligent DIALOG, and crafty camera angles that add to the overall feel of the scene.

That said, some flicks are SO girly that I won't even give 'em a chance. My lovely wife has no chance at all of getting me to watch such sappy crap like Bridges Of Madison County or Little Women or An Officer And A Gentleman (gag). Ya gotta draw the line somewhere!

But there is a middle ground in film land, and it's filled with gems that appeal to the inner me, my unique mix of mach-emo, the yin-yang of my center. Borderline stuff like Fried Green Tomatoes, Ghost, Chicken Run, Forest Gump, Little Big Man, True Lies, American Beauty, The Shawshank Redemption… Okay, not all of those were borderline examples, but I do love 'em all.

I believe that truly Great films have scenes that lodge somewhere in your brain forever and ever.

It's funny, but one of the best chick-flick/macho-flick comparison scenes comes to you courtesy of Sleepless In Seattle. One of the ladies is weepingly describing how romantically tragic An Affair To Remember is, and the guys in the room use the same weepy, sobby descriptions to tell the story of The Dirty Dozen.

"…An' then (sob) OJ gets shot (weep weep) an' before he (choke) dies, he (sob sob) drops the (weep weep) hand grenade down the (gasp sob) chimney." It's a scene worth watching, even if it comes from an admittedly classic chick flick. Guys, bring a hanky.

But what I really need is more flicks like Fight Club. A masterpiece what grabbed me by the sack with the hottest 15-second sex scene ever printed to celluloid, great acting, amazing screenplay, and masterful cinematography.

Is that too much to ask?

From: Aaron Fleming
To: The Hot Topic Team
Re: Chick Flicks

Hmm, is film taste connected to gender? Stereotypically it is of course, ya know, guys (that is, real men with their hairy chins and…vests and stuff) like the kind of movie that features males with heaving musculature brawling with other males of similar dimensions, and the ladies like it when a mother and daughter have a soul-bonding trip across middle America involving massive increments in Kleenex's profits. Is that indeed the case?

I don't know. Generally I'd sneer off a floating projectile of `meh' in the direction of each of those sub genres. True, if it were a toss up between explosion-laden action flick and weepy true story, I wouldn't waste any time announcing the declaration of "bring on the Lundgren!" At least there'd undoubtedly be a collection of moments where one inept actor is forced to express emotion but fails miserably due to that inextricable lack of talent, or we find ourselves embroiled in some sort of drunken dancing shimmy, where our very essences have been refracted onto the screen in a flash of hand canons
and gatling guns.

I don't envision any such happenings in the weepy, or in the relationship film. When was the last time Meg Ryan decided she would break up with her man (Peter Gallagher or someone) by spouting an assortment of biting one-liners? Or Sandra Bullock went into training under some mystic in order to woo her male conquest? I don't think it happened I'll tell you that much!

As for my own tastes, I'll have to align myself with Mr. Mathew Brewster's inclinations to give more credence to a film's director than any cluster of genre buzzwords. Stick a wonderfully embolden Cronenberg on that flick and I'll be sycophantically wandering around telling all the infidels about how it'll be the film of the year and how it'll blow the metaphors out your very analogies. Look at the symmetry on the `v' in Tarkovsky, or the wonderful shadow below the
`i's in Miike, it's a veritable orgasm of class.

So whether Jean-Pierre Jeunet makes a film about nasty cannibals hanging around a butcher, or a film about how some lovely lady touches the lives of her neighbours, it's all good to me.

From: DJ Radiohead
To: The Hot Topic Team
Re: Chick Flicks

I have all the stereotypical aversions to chick flicks most guys would likely have. Of course, I think most of the action films aimed at men are rubbish as well. A movie whose main ingredients are former wrestlers and giant fucking explosions are about as likely to be shit as a Julia Roberts movie.

Johnny Cash summed up what is wrong with most love songs and love stories whether written or filmed in the liner notes of his Love, God, Murder box set:

What has happened to our love language? We have brought it down to three-minute sound bites – sandwiches in cute words that rhyme. And it's a shame that those love songs are played everywhere with no follow-up kisses to seal the words.

So many of these movies have cheapened the experience and feelings of love. Hollywood makes movies about immature love. I am all for escapism in films. I am all for seeing love and humanity portrayed as it should be or as it could be. However, real love and the love Hollywood depicts are about as different as a wank or dry hump is from making love: the entire time you are going through the motions you find yourself wishing and yearning for the real thing. Your loins will settle for a dry hump but your heart, mind, and soul are not so easily fooled.

Titanic tells the story all wrong and it won thirteen fucking Oscars! Kate Winslet meets Leonardo DiCaprio on a fucking boat and mistakes those intense feelings of infatuation and lust for undying love. The love story of Titanic is not the three hours we spend watching Kate and Leo run around on a sinking-ass boat. The love story is the lifetime Kate Winslet's character spends with the man she later marries and the family they raise together.

Even on the rare occasion when the stories being told are less insipid than the characters telling them, they do not seem real or even believable. I do not know the people in these movies. I love Al Pacino and Michelle Pfeiffer as actors and have enjoyed many of their films. Al Pacino looks only slightly more like an ex-con turned fry cook than Michelle Pfeiffer looks like a waitress trying to escape the pain of an abusive relationship in Frankie and Johnny. Should that matter? Probably not, but it does to me. In what parallel universe is Janeane Garofalo so repulsive she would need Uma Thurman to fill in as her body double to get her a man (The Truth About Cats and Dogs)? Granted, Uma Thurman ain't too bad ugly, but you get the idea.

I guess I sound bitter and I suppose I am. I can attribute this bitterness to a lifetime spent developing well-honed neuroses. I never fancied myself much an object of desire in the eyes of the fairer sex and this was one area where most of the fairer sex seemed to agree with me. Watching a load of beautiful people decry their lack of sex or how they could never meet anyone interesting went up my ass sideways.

I used to feel bad when I watched chick flicks during my single years because they fanned the flames of those well-honed neuroses. I did not feel inspired or touched or moved. I felt cheap and bad and lonely. I do not know why I continued to watch them. I guess I was just bored or I really was that lonely. Caricatures would profess undying love in dramatic language and I was just positive no one would ever feel that way about me.

I was wrong about that. I met the Wife to Whom I Am Married while in college and I experienced love "Hollywood style." Then we grew up and our love grew up and we grew together. That is what Hollywood leaves out and that is what Johnny Cash meant. Love gets so much better than the acrobatic sex acts (not knocking those, by the way) or the roller coaster ride where each and every moment feels 1,000 times bigger and more intense than it actually is. The flames die down but the heat never does.

Maybe that does not make for such a good film but then someone in Hollywood approved the script for Can't Hardly Wait.

From: The Duke
To: The Hot Topic Team
Re: Chick Flicks

It might be that I'm a big ol' poof and a ponce and a nancy-boy girly-girl, but the fact of the case is as follows:

I adore the very sodden guts out "chick flicks".

Or at least the good ones. Because here's the thing, like everyone has said, pretty much, a good film is a good film, whatever genre it fancies itself a part of.

But if we are to assume, as Sir Fleming did, that two flicks are being presented to yours truly, and that I know nothing about them save for the fact that one's called some shit like Zero Degree X and the other's called Two Folks Love For A Time, I'm gonna go with the fella meets the lady and the lady likes the fella but woe! He's married to some filthy whore treats him like a bag o' busted bladders. Dump that ho, I'll say, and get with that woman writes you songs and then sings them to you but pretends they're covers of Sheryl Crow b-sides cause she knows you got a ring on yonder finger.

Also, such a motion picture is more likely to feature Kirsten Dunst and be written and directed by Woody Allen.

I don't think it's a gender thing; it's just a taste issue. It's a damn filthy lie that folks are more likely to wanna see Steven Seagal (with Vinnie Jones as "Henry") blowing shit out a freight-train if'n they've got a willy twixt their pegs. You either dig the smush or you don't, I dunno if a hoo-hah makes any difference.

As Sirs Saleski and Dawson pretty much said, guns and explosions just bore the shit out my belly-pipes. But a shot of two folks holdin' hands side the river, well, most likely that'll have the tears carvin' trenches 'long my jowls and a smile size o' Kansas on my yap.

But if the rest of the flick sucks, well, don't matter how many montages it's got all about he misses her, she misses him, maybe they should put their differences aside and get filthin' again, it ain't gonna save it

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The trip to Alabama was lovely for many reasons, one of which was the beautiful spring like weather. Though it was overcast a bit, the temperatures were quite warm and the trees and flowers were all full of blossoms.

Today, the second day of spring mind you, we received several inches of snow. Not exactly the welcoming home present I had in mind.

An Ominous journey

My wife and I spent this past week in Montgomery, Alabama visiting old friends (which explains my absense here). It was a lovely visit, but the travel was quite a thing.

There is a bit of a long road leading out of our home that curves and twists just before reaching the main highway. It is a very dangerous intersection that is desperately in need of a traffic light. Pulling closer to the intersection I noticed a city bus pulled over to the side of the road. The angle was a little off and I couldn’t make out if it was stopped in the road, thus blocking my way, or far enough to the side to allow me space.

As I approached, I could see that it was out of the way, and by looking underneath the bus I could see a rather damaged mini van on the other side of the bus. Realizing there must have been an accident, I approached with caution.

Riding past the bus I rubbernecked to see the damage. I wish I hadn’t. Lying just to the side of the road was a rather large person in blue sweatpants and a red t-shirt. Face down and not moving I couldn’t tell whether this person was alive or badly injured. A man and a woman were both standing near by beginning to attend to this person. Seeing that the paramedics were on there way, and knowing there was nothing I could do I drove on feeling sick and bleak towards a rough start to our trip.

Miles down the interstate I saw another accident. This time it was well after the fact, as the police and ambulances had taken care of any injured, leaving only smashed up vehicles to the side.

After our vacation we headed home Saturday evening. Somewhere in northern Alabama I gave my wife the driver’s seat so that I could get a little rest. I normally do most of the driving on our trips, but she is very helpful when I need a break and does some excellent driving.

Around 9:30 in the PM driving on I-65 in southern Tennessee with virtually no traffic about a dog ran straight in front of the car.

My wife jammed the brakes and veered sharply to the left. The anti-lock brakes locked up and we skidded sharply into the left lane, missing the dog.

My initial thoughts were there’s a dog. As the brakes locked I thought we should have just hit the dog.

The car skidded off the road into the medium between the highways. There had been a rain recently and we slid quickly through the muddy grass.

My wife excitedly cursed and called out to me.

I remained rather calm, taking the wheel while I tried to remember if you are supposed to turn into the swerve or against it. At this point I remember thinking that my wife should let her foot off the brake and pump it instead. Yet I knew that if I said anything to her it might cause her to panic even more and cause more harm.

Instead I held the wheel and kept saying that it was going to be ok.

The car fishtailed to the left and then turned 90 degrees facing our end of the interstate. We climbed the embankment and stopped just short of entering the interstate again.

A kind off duty fireman stopped to ensure we were ok. We check out the tires and checked underneath to make sure nothing was leading or broken. We drove the car back onto the interstate and made the rest of the trip a bit shaken, but unscathed.

Thinking back on my reactions I’m kind of proud of myself. I remained very calm. I wasn’t ever worried that we were going to cause serious harm to ourselves. I took the wheel and helped steer, I didn’t shout which would have cause my wife to be more nervous, but calmly spoke to her that it would be ok. The only concern I really had was that we would blow a tire, which would cause us a long delay in our return home.

We’re now home, safe and sound.

CD Review: Keller Williams – Grass

Interesting covers are nothing new in the bluegrass world. There are bluegrass covers of Prince’s “1999”, Janis Joplin’s “Piece of My Heart, Hayseed Dixie did a whole album of AC/DC covers, and who can forget Dolly Parton singing “Stairway to Heaven?”
The ubiquitous one man jam band Keller Williams has teamed up with Larry and Jenny Keel for an all bluegrass album titled “Grass.” It is an interesting mix of original tunes and covers from the likes of Pink Floyd, Tom Petty and the Grateful Dead, amongst others.
Keller Williams solo is a something of a minor miracle. Playing a variety of instruments including a 12 string guitar modified into a 10 string instrument, bass and synthesizers he creates a rainbow of sounds by looping them all together on delay system.
The Keel’s add some nice flavors to the music creating a more organic sound than Keller normally creates as a solo player. The pickin’ and a grinnin’ is nothing but sunshine. The trio play some mean bluegrass and are obviously having a great time doing it.
Keller, being the smart arsed clown that he is, just can’t stop himself from tweaking the covers he chooses. So we get “Mary Jane’s Last Breakdown” which is a creative mixing up of the two Tom Petty tunes, and a cover of the Grateful Dead’s “Loser” bookended by the chorus of Beck’s song of the same name. Both work better than they have any right to.
The low spot is the Pink Floyd cover “Another Brick in the Wall.” While the playing there remains solid, gone is the dark cynicism of the original version. Pink Floyd play the song with a sneer towards the horror of elementary school. Keller plays it with a wink and a smile at how clever he is for doing such an interesting cover but misses the soul of the song.
The standouts are the three original Keller Williams tunes. The album opener “Goofballs” is a fast, hilarious ode to the drug induced road trip. With lyrics like

Rockin' it, never stoppin' it,
Cap'n Kirk and Spock'n it
Transforming the road into the holodeck
Crunchin' it and punchin' it, casually lunchin' it
Doin' what you can to avoid the wreck

it’s hard not to smile like a freight train.

The other two self-penned tracks, “Crater in the “Backyard” and “Local” contain the same type of smart-allecked lyrics and jubilant melodies.

“Dupree’s Diamond Blues” might just be better than the original Grateful Dead version. There is a lightness of touch and buoyancy in Keller’s version that the Dead could never muster.

“Grass” is a jubilant touch of newgrass that for the most part will satisfy my bluegrass needs until the next summer festival.

Concert Review – Railroad Earth (March 10, 2006)

It has been over a year since my last real concert, something unheard of in Brewsterland. Sure, over the years my ability to go out and hear live music has decreased, but I’ve always managed to see a show at least once every few months.

I did go to the Strasbourg Music Festival last spring, but it was more about the madness and chaos of walking the densely populated city streets than really sitting and listening to one band play. Ah, a mad scene that was with local bands of all flavors playing on every corner, alleyway and sidewalk. You couldn’t hear one band for the three others playing down the road.

But other than that it was the summer of 2004 since I caught anything live or musical. Wow, just reading that makes me sad.

There is nothing like live music. With all the technical wizardry and beeps and gadgets they come up with in the studio, as amazing as some of it is, it just can’t beat the magic that comes from hearing a band playing live for all they’ve got. Standing in a crowd of people moving in one groove as the sounds pump right through your insides is nothing short of awesome.

I once saw Phil Lesh one hot Thursday afternoon in Oklahoma City. It was well over a hundred degrees and I was standing in a patch of ground that had been baked into dust. I came home drenched in sweat, sun burned beyond recognition and caked in dirt, dust. It was one of the best times of my life.

So, it was with great anticipation that I waited for Friday night to come and my chance to see Railroad Earth at the Bluebird in Bloomington, IN.

My wife laying low with a migraine I invited my friend and coworker to tag along.

Arriving I was a little trepidacious, having never been a part of the press corps, or guest list. I approached the ticket counter (actually a burly young man sitting in the first booth for the bar.)

“Do you have tickets?” he asked.

“Um, I should be on the guest list. It’s Mat Brewster.”

Scanning the two pages of guest list he asked me again what my name was. Peering at the same list I could see a Mat Hutchins listed with Blogcritics next to it.

“Yeah, that’s me, I’m from Blogcritics. “

Both relieved that I got in, and a little annoyed that they got my name completely wrong we went inside.

The Bluebird is an old country bar that saw its best days around a couple of decades ago. It is old and worn and best seen through a smoky haze, something you don’t get anymore since the city has outlawed smoking pretty much everywhere.

The stage has grown since the last time I visited. A couple of years ago I saw Sam Bush and his band could barely fit on the tiny platform. I’ve always loved the stage, though. It stands about waist high and is set up so that you can get within inches of the band.

I first came to know Railroad Earth, oddly enough, through a t-shirt of syndicated radio host, David Gans. After hearing him rave about them again on the Grateful Dead Hour I downloaded one of their shows on archive.org and found there really was something to rave about. Those boys can cook!

They are a hard band to describe. They play bluegrass instruments (banjo, fiddle, dobro, mandolin, etc.) but have a drummer and everything is plugged in and amped up. You can hear influences from bluegrass to jazz to straight up rock and roll.

In an age where musicians get more hype for their clothes than their songs it is refreshing to hear a band really getting off on music, without even a glance at the bottom line.

Even with six musicians on the stage I could clearly hear each instrument. The band came to jam, and the improvisations often extended a song out for more than 15 minutes. Yet unlike so many jam bands their jams never turned into noodle fests. They were unique and interesting extensions and transitions of the songs, while still maintaining the integrity of the melody.

At the beginning of the second set, another fellow coworker showed up with some buddies, drunk off their arses, all three. Suddenly, I was in the middle of what I absolutely despise at concerts – a group who would rather talk, and make loud, dumb comments than listen. I hate those people, and now I was one of them.

What could I do, what can you do when you’ve got three drunks shouting at you that the place smells like a toilet and that there are no cute girls? Thankfully, they left after a couple of songs.

The crowd was fairly small, with the venue about half full. South-Central Indiana is a bit far off from their normal fan base. But those who were there were full of smiles and white boy dance grooves. It was an odd mix of frat boys, middle aged couples and neo-hippies.

God bless hippies.

Several beautiful young hippy ladies were dolled out in flowing, blowing long skirts. They danced, whirled and twirled on the second tier floor oblivious to everything and everyone but the songs.

My drunken friends returned and I had to swear that I was on my second beer (though I had only taken a few sips of my first) to keep my coworker quiet and calm. At this point they were so zonked they pretended to dig the band so they could hit on the girls.

Ignoring them I continued let the groove move me to other worlds. The psychedelic outings of “Warhead Boogie” and “Like a Buddha” left me more than emotionally erect, and fully satisfied. On these songs the band was so tight, so connected they moved as if they were a cohesive whole of one organism rather than six distinct individuals.

We headed home at 1:30. The band played a full 2 and half hours of joyful, mind blowing music. I made it home exhausted, but completely satisfied.

Calendar Movies: Ben-Hur


“What are you doing this weekend?” a fellow coworker asked.

“I have to work Saturday and then I’m going to a maple syrup festival and then on to my in- laws in Palmyra, Indiana.”

“Oh, that’s nice.” Came the uninterested eye-rolled reply.

The thing is, it was nice. My days of going to the clubs, to the bars, enjoying the scene are long gone, if, in fact, they ever existed.

An enjoyable evening to me anymore is a well made, home cooked meal, a good DVD on the TV and a nice book to tuck me in at night.

I turn 30 years old on March 25. A fact that both announces itself with every breath I take, and sneaks up on me every day.

With each passing day I feel more the recluse, more the anti-social hermit. It’s not that I don’t like people, for I enjoy a number of folk’s company. I like to laugh and tell stories and hang out. It’s more that I don’t feel the need to meet more people. The spark of excitement I once got at a room full of fresh faces is gone. Give me a small gathering in a familiar cozy setting and I’m much happier.

When I started this concept of Calendar Movies I had visions of lavish parties where my guests would dress up as characters from this month’s film and eat and drink and have the times of their lives. Yet the reality has become that the parties are small affairs. Three or four people come for a simple dinner and sit quietly throughout the films.

Several times, I’ve gotten bewildered faces upon invitation to the party. As if why anyone would want to watch an old movie is simply beyond them. For The Wizard of Oz, I was even laughed at.

So, it is fitting that I watched March’s Calendar Movie with my in-laws, in their little home in small town USA.

For as long as I can remember I’ve had itchy feet. I just can’t seem to stay in one place for very long. For this, I completely blame my dad. He is a home builder by trade and as a child he would build a house, move us in, then sell the house and move us into a rental. Then he’d build another one and start the vicious circle all over again. He built entire subdivisions over the years and I think I lived in every house on the block.

I have never, ever lived in one home for more than a few years.

This constant moving has stayed the same in my grown up years. Since moving out 11 years ago I’ve lived in 9 cities, 6 states and 2 countries.

Though in many ways this has been exciting, I’ve also lost any sense of home. My life is packed away into boxes, always intending to be unpacked, but never settled before its time to move again.

In the five years I’ve been with my wife, her parent’s house has become my home. No, I’ve never truly lived there, but it has become all of those things I think of when I think of home – stability, warmth and comfort.

When my wife (then girlfriend) spent one summer in Montreal and our relationship, along with my career and life, were up in the air, I spent a few days in that little house in Palmyra. It was there I felt like things might be ok. It was there I found some sense of myself.

It was there again that I sat last Saturday night watching Ben-Hur. And though the kids at work will continue to roll their eyes and laugh at me, and I know I’ll never make the society pages, I’ve come to realize that it is there that I belong.

Random Shuffle

Rolling Stones – Everybody Needs Somebody to Love
The Rolling Stones, Now!

I recently got my hands on a number of earlier classic Stones albums. In fact, I’ve only recently gotten into the Stones again. I’m continually amazed at their vast amount of really great music. It’s easy to listen to their “hits” collection played over and over on classic rock radio and overlook what amounts to one of the greatest mass of tunes in rock-n-roll.

This song is from their 1965 album of covers, which makes it their third album released in the US. You can still here the early 1950’s rock-n-roll influence and even some doo-wop slipping in. It’s a catchy little number, but something of a novelty throw-away in the pantheon of Rolling Stones music.

Bob Dylan – I Don’t Believe You (She Acts Like We Never Have Met)
Biograph

Apparently a live version of the song originally on the Another Side of Bob Dylan album, though I wouldn’t have guessed it had I not read the fact while researching the song. Not a favorite song of mine, but as with many Dylan songs, even when their not great, their pretty stinking good.

Ryan Adams – Elizabeth You Were Born To Play That Part
05/01/05

This comes from a five disk compilation of live shows from 2005 called Bedhead which I assume comes from Ryan Adams generally disheveled coif. This is a quiet, beautiful piano ballad from the third of Ryan’s releases in 2005, 29. Like many of Ryan’s ballads this song is so quiet it’s hard to actually hear what’s going on. But if you can manage to remove all distractions and really get into it, there is a song of heartbreaking proportions.

Grateful Dead – Drums
Dicks Picks 5 (12-26-79)

The Dead always dug their drummers. So much that they hired two of them. By 1979 Mickey Hart and Bill Kreutzmann had created a monolithic beast of every sort of drum and percussionary instrument. At 4 minutes 22 seconds this is a relatively short (and tame) version of “Drums” but still manages to create an interesting snake chasing menagerie of rhythm.
Wilco – Jesus, Etc
6/28/05By now Yankee Hotel Foxtrot has been praised, lauded, magnified more than any album deserves to be, and yet it remains a masterpiece – a freaking glorious album. This is a pretty spot on live version with some nice keyboard action.

A Bad Day At Work

I get to work at about 7:20 in the AM and start my normal duties of opening the office. One of the supervisors is out on vacation so it is quite a busy morning. Nothing really strenuous, but very busy.

Due to a couple of meetings I work straight through my lunch.

By five o’clock I am more than ready to go home. At this time, one of my part time reps starts asking me about her PTO. She believes that she should have more time off than her file is showing because, she says, she made up some of the hours.

Part time reps often have the availability to make up hours they have taken off in any given week. For example, they could take off a scheduled Monday and work the same hours on that Friday, when they are normally scheduled off.

Though exhausted, I go through her file and do find a couple of things that are out of place. I find my boss and start chatting with her about it.

The thing is, Human Resources made major changes to our attendance policy at the New Year, and now none of us really know how it works.

After fifteen minutes or so we are still very much hashing it out. Another supervisor, Millie, walks into the boss’s office and turns in some paperwork.

Now, for whatever reason this happens to me a lot. I’ll be sitting in the boss’s office discussing some issue, and someone else will walk in, completely ignore the fact that I’m sitting there and start talking to the boss. Normally it is a quick question and I’m not bothered, but sometimes it is a longer conversation and I’m forced to sit there and wait so that I can finish my discussion.

I’ve talked to my boss about this before and she has always apologized and said she’ll try to make others wait. But she’s kind of like me, with no attention span, and gets distracted by others easily.

So there I am again in the middle of a discussion with my boss and Millie does it to me again. She turns in a review, that was due last week by the way, and my boss starts looking at it.

There is a little discussion about it because Millie has written her review in the third person instead of the first. This is no big deal because it’s kind of funny and is only taking a moment.

But then Millie whips out some other forms and sits down to discuss them with my boss. She has completely pushed me aside. At this point I start to get mad. I wait, and wait for several minutes waiting for the boss to get back to me.

After about 5 minutes I get up and walk away. I go talk to some folks and clear my desk off. After about 10 minutes I walk back into the office and stand staring at Millie, willing her to shut up and leave.

I want to scream. I want to punch her in the face. I stand there another minute and walk away.

Finally about 5:30 I get to sit down with my boss again and hash everything out.

It’s not really that I’m still mad at Millie or that what she did was particularly heinous. She just became that final straw. What is it about me that everyone seems to think they can push me aside?

To me that is incredibly rude. If I have something super quick I’ll jump in front of someone and ask the boss. Otherwise I either wait, or leave and come back later. I really don’t know how to do otherwise. I truly didn’t know what to do with Millie.

DVD Collection

2LDK
5X2
12 Monkeys
24: Season 1 (6 disks)
24: Season 2 (6 disks)
24:  Season 3 (6 Disks)
25 Watts
28 Days Later
29 Palms
The 400 Blows
2001
Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein
Abyss
About Schmidt
Adaptation
After the Thin Man
Alice in Wonderland (1951)
Akira
Akira Kurosawa (Documentary)
Akira Kurosawa’s Dreams
Akiru
Aladin
Alfie (1966)
Alien
Alien 3
All About Eve
Alphaville
Amelie
And God Created Woman
Another Thin Man
Apocalypse Now
Aqua Teen Hunger Force: Vol 1
Army of Darkness
Around the World in 80 Days 1956)
Animal House
Austin Powers:  International Man of Mystery
Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me
Babette’s Feast
Back to the Future Part II
Bad Education
Bad Sleep Well
Bad Taste
Badlands
The Bank Dick
The Barbarian Invasions
Barefoot in the Park
Barton Fink
Basic Instinct
Batman
A Beautiful Mind
Bed and Board
Betty Blue
Beetlejuice
Being John Malkovich
Bicycle Thief
The Big Lebowski
The Big Sleep (1946)
Big Trouble in Little China
Bird with the Crystal Plumage
The Birth of a Nation
Blackboard Jungle
The Blair Witch Project
Blue Velvet
Bob Dylan 11-13-99
Bonnie and Clyde
Brain Dead
Braveheart
Brazil
Breakfast at Tiffanys
Breathing Lessons
Bride of Frankenstein
The Bride Wore Black
The Bridge on the River Kwai
Bridget Jones Diary
Bringing Out the Dead
Bringing UP Baby
Broadcast News
Brokeback Mountain
Broken Flowers
Bulletproof Monk
Buster Keaton Collection (2 Disks)
Cabin Fever
Caddyshack
Caine Mutiny
The Cameraman
Cache
Cape Fear (1961)
Capote
Carnage
Carnival of Souls
Casablanca
Casino
Castle in the Sky
Catarina in the Big City
Catch Me if You Can
Cercle Rouge
Charlie Chaplin Collection
Cheaper by the Dozen (1950)
Cheers Season One
Cheers Season Two
Cheers Season Three
Cheers Season Four
The China Syndrome
Chinese Ghost Story
A Christmas Story
City Lights
City of God
The City of Lost Children
Cleo From 5 to 7
Clockwork Orange
Close Encounters of the Third Kind
Conspiracy Theory
Constant Gardener
Le Corbeau
The Corpse Bride
Crash
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
Dark Water (2002)
Dark Water (2005)
Day For Night
Death of Mr. Lazarescu
Decline of the American Empire
The Deep End
Deep Red
The Deer Hunter
Desperado
Dial “M” For Murder
Die Hard
Discreet Charm of the Bougeouis
Do the Right Thing
Dog Day Afternoon
Donkey Skin
Donnie Brasco
Dr Doolittle (1967)
Dracula (1931)
Dracula (Spanish Version)
Dracula’s Daughter
Duel
East/West
The East Side Kids
Ed Wood
Edward Scissorhands
El Mariachi
English Patient
Enter the Dragon
Erin Brokovich
Escape From Alcatraz
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Everything is Illuminated
Evil Dead
Evil Dead IIThe Exorcist
Fall Guy
Fanny and Alexander
A Farewell to Arms
Father Goose
Father’s Little Dividend
Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
A Few Good Men
Fight Club
The Fighting Caravans
Finding Nemo
The Fisher King
Fist of Furty
Five Easy Pieces
The Fly (1986)
The Fog (1980)
Fox and the Hound
Frankenstein
Free and Easy
Fudoh:  The Next Generation
Full Metal Jacket
Full Metal Yakuza
Gandhi
Gaslight (1940)
Gaslight (1944)
Gentlemen Prefer Blondes
Ghost of Frankenstein
Ghost World
Ghostbusters
Gladiator
Go
The Godfather
The Godfather Part II
The Godfather Part III
The Golden Coach
The Good the Bad and the Ugly
Goodbye Dragon Inn
Goodbye Lenin
Goodfellas
Goodnight, and Good Luck
Goonies
Gone With the Wind (2 disks)
Gosford Park
Grand Hotel
Grand Illusion
The Grateful Dead:  4-22-77 (2 disks)
The Grateful Dead: Anthem to Beauty
Grateful Dead:  Sunshine Daydream
The Grateful Dead: Ticket to New Years
The Great Dictator
The Great Escape
Gremlins
Groundhog Day
Gunga Din
Hamilton Mattress
A Hard Day’s Night
Harold and Kumar go to White Castle
Harry Potter and the Sorcerers Stone
Hatari
The Haunting (1963)
Heathers
High and Low
High Fidelity
High Noon
High Society
Hills Have Eyes (2006)
His Girl Friday
A Hole in the Head
Horror of Dracula
Hostel
House of Dracula
House of Flying Daggers
House of Frankenstein
House On Haunted Hill (1959)
How To Irritate People
The Hudsucker Proxy
The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1939)
I’m Not Scared
I Heart Huckabees
I Vitelloni
I Was a Male War Bride
The Ice Harvest
In the Bedroom
In the Name of the Rose
In the Heat of the Night
Incredibles
Indiscreet
Intolerable Cruelty
It Happened One Night
The Italian Job (1969)
It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World
James Taylor and Carol King 1971
Jarhead
Jaws
Joint Security Area
Jumanji
Key Largo
Kill Bill Vol 1
The Killing
King Kong (1933)
King Kong (2005)
The King of Comedy
Kiss Me Deadly
Kwaidan
LA Confidential
La Dolce Vita
Lady Vengeance
The Last Emperor
The Last Time I Saw Paris
Laurel Canyon
Lawrence of Arabia
Le Femme Nikita
The Life Aquatic Life With Steve Zissou
Life of Brian
Little Ceasar
Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels
Looney Tunes Golden Collectin Vol I
Lord of the Flies (1963)
Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Rings
Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
Lord of War
Lost In Translation
Love in the Afternoon
Love on the Run
Maltese Falcon
Man on the Train
The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934)
The Man Who Wasn’t There
The Manchurian Candidate (1962)
Manhattan Murder Mystery
Marebito
Mars Attacks!
Mary Poppins
Master and Commander
Mata Hari
The Matrix
Merci Pour le Chocolat
Michael
Midnight Cowboy
A Mighty Wind
Miller’s Crossing
Millions
Minority Report
Modern Times
Monster’s Inc.
Mr Deeds Goes to Town
Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
The Mummy (1932)
Mummy’s Curse
Mummy’s Ghost
Mummy’s Hand
Mummy’s Tomb
Murder (1930)
The Music Man
My Fair Lady
My Fathers Glory
My Life Without Me
National Treasure
Network
New Three Stooges
New World
Nibelungen:  Siegfried
Nibelungen:  Kriemhild’s Revenge
Night and the City
Night of the Hunter
Night Watch
Nightmare on Elm Street
Not on the Lips
Number 17
O Brother, Where Art Thou?
Oliver 1968
Omega Man
On the Waterfront
Once Upon a Time in America
Once Upon a Time in the Old West
Ong Bak
Only Angels Have Wings
Out of Africa
Out of Sight
Panic Room
Passion of Anna
Patton
Pee Wee’s Big Adventure
Persuasion
La Petite Lili
Petit Freres
Philadelphia Story
Pi
The Pianist
Picadilly
The Pink Panther
The Pink Panther Strikes Again
Point Blank (1967)
The Polar Express
Poltergeist
The Poseidon Adventure
Pride and Prejudice (2005)
The Princess Bride
Princess Mononoke
The Professional
Prozac Nation
Public Enemy
Punch Drunk Love
Raging Bull
Raiders of the Lost Ark
Rain Man
Ran
Rashomon
Ray
Rear Windwow (1954)
The Red and the Black
Remington Steele – Season 1 (8 Disks)
Requiem For a Dream
Resevoir Dogs
Revenge of the Pink Panther
Road to Perdition
Rocky
Roman Holiday
Royal Tenenbaums
Rushmore
Sabotage (1936)
Salades de l’amour
Samurai I
Samurai III
Samurai Spy
Say Anything
Schindler’s List
Sea Lab 2021: Season 2 (2 disks)
The Searchers
Secret Agent(1936)
Seven
Seven Samurai
Seventh Victim
Sex, Lies and Videotape
Shadow of the Thin Man
Shaun of the Dead
The Shield: Season 1(disks 1, 2, 3,4)
The Shield: Season 2(disks 1,3,4)
The Shield:  Season 3 (4disks)
The Shield:  Season 4(4disk)
The Shining (1980)
Shrek
Sideways
Silence of the Lambs
Silk Stockings 1957
Silverado
Simpsons: Season One
Simpsons: Season Two
Simpsons: Season Three
Simpsons: Season Four
Simpsons: Season Six
Simpsons: Treehouse of Horror
Singing in the Rain
Slaughterhouse Massacre
Small Change
Snake of June
Solaris (1972)
Some Like It Hot
Son of Dracula
Son of Frankenstein
Song of the Thin Man
Sopranos Season 1 (4 disks)
Soylent Green
Spider Forest
Spies
Spiral Staircase
Spirited Away
Spite Marriage
Star Wars: Episode One – The Phantom Menace
Star Wars: Episode Two – Attack of the Clones
Star Wars:  Episode Three – Revenge of the Sith
Star Wars:  Episode Five – The Empire Strikes Back
State and Main
The Statement
La Strada
Strange Love of Martha Ivers
Superman
Sunset Boulevard
Swimming Pool
Swingers
Syriana
Tale of Two Sisters
Taxi Driver
Therese
The Thin Man
The Thin Man Goes Home
The Third Man
Thoroughly Modern Millie
Three Amigos
Three Burials of Inequdes Estrada
Three Extremes
Three Kings
Throne of Blood
Time Bandits
To Be and To Have
To Catch a Thief
To Have and to Have Not
Tootsie
The Trial (1962)
Treasure of the Sierre Madre
Triplets of Belleville
True Grit
Umbrellas of Cherbourg
Unfaithfully Yours
United 93
Untold Story
The Vanishing (1988)
Venus Beauty Institute
A Very Long Engagement
Victor/Victoria
Les Visiteurs
Voyages
Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were Rabbitt
What Have I Done to Deserve This
When Harry Met Sally
Whisper of the Heart
Whispering Coridors
Whose Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
Wild Bunch
Wizard of Oz
The Wooden Camera
X Files: Season 1
X Files: Season 2
Yojimbo
You Can’t Take it With You
Young Guns
Young Guns II
Young Frankenstein