27 April 2006

Review: “American Dreamz”

“American Dreamz” is a good satire about our current state of cultural and political affairs. The movie revolves around an “American Idol”-type show, so popular that more people vote weekly for contestants than in the presidential election; Hugh Grant does a great job as the cynical, shallow, Simon Cowell-type host. On the other end of the country, the semi-doofus president (played brilliantly by Dennis Quaid) wakes up the morning after his reelection, decides to start reading the newspaper, and finds out how ill-informed and naïve he is. He goes into a funk, disappearing from the public eye for weeks, reading newspapers and educating himself. People begin whispering and his approval ratings plummet, so his chief of staff (Willem Dafoe, who plays it — and looks — very Cheney-esque) gets him booked as a celebrity judge on “American Dreamz.” And that’s all the plot I’ll share. The entire cast is good, especially Marcia Gay Harden in the Laura Bush role and Mandy Moore as the driven, do-anything-to-win “AD” contestant.

"American Dreamz" is funny and well worth your trip to the theater.

While we’re on the subject of ill-informed presidents, I read this yesterday on Scrivenings’ blog. It’s from a speech President Bush gave on April 10 for the The Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University.

Q Thank you, Mr. President. It's an honor to have you here. I'm a first-year student in South Asia studies. My question is in regards to private military contractors. Uniform Code of Military Justice does not apply to these contractors in Iraq. I asked your Secretary of Defense a couple months ago what law governs their actions.

THE PRESIDENT: I was going to ask him. Go ahead. (Laughter.) Help. (Laughter.)

Q I was hoping your answer might be a little more specific. (Laughter.) Mr. Rumsfeld answered that Iraq has its own domestic laws which he assumed applied to those private military contractors. However, Iraq is clearly not currently capable of enforcing its laws, much less against -- over our American military contractors. I would submit to you that in this case, this is one case that privatization is not a solution. And, Mr. President, how do you propose to bring private military contractors under a system of law?

THE PRESIDENT: I appreciate that very much. I wasn't kidding -- (laughter.) I was going to -- I pick up the phone and say, Mr. Secretary, I've got an interesting question. (Laughter.) This is what delegation -- I don't mean to be dodging the question, although it's kind of convenient in this case, but never -- (laughter.) I really will -- I'm going to call the Secretary and say you brought up a very valid question, and what are we doing about it? That's how I work. I'm -- thanks. (Laughter.)

He's a decider, you know. The full transcript of the speech and Q&A is available here.

Go see “American Dreamz.” Laugh hard — then think about how close it hits to the truth, politically and culturally.

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25 April 2006

Grammar Grrrl scores!

As you read in last week's post, I walked out of last Tuesday's technical writing course feeling like I did a darn good job. Got the evaluation results today — and I aced it!

On a 10-point scale:
Overall: 8.96
Instructor (that's me): 9.47

Please feel free to e-applaud me, and thanks for letting me brag.

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24 April 2006

Who needs April in Paris when you can spend it in Atlanta?

Well, I would like to spend April in Paris … but I sure don’t mind spending it in Atlanta. What a fantastic, beautiful spring weekend we had! I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did. This has been one of the prettiest springs I can remember. I keep meaning to take my digital camera with me when I head intown; the azaleas and blooming trees are breathtaking, a riot of color. There aren’t many places as beautiful as Atlanta in April — not even Paris.

There was a wild thunderstorm late Friday night. I love curling up in bed when there’s a thunderstorm raging outside; I feel both safe and excited. I opened up my plantation shutters and windows so that I could lie in bed and watch the thunderbolts and listen to the rain. A couple of bolts hit nearby, lighting up the entire sky. Finally dozed off to the sound and smell of the heavy spring rain.

Went to a matinee of “American Dreamz” with my mom and sister on Saturday. Good, funny satire; review to come.

One of my favorite out-of-towners surprised me with a weekend visit, so we spent every possible moment outdoors — patio beers, neighborhood strolls, lazy drives. We had a wonderful time; I could use two solid weeks like that.

Here are a couple of photos from my townhouse windows. Notice how green it is and what great flowers I have outside my place. Most of the azalea blooms didn’t make it through the storm, but the wild roses are still blooming.

Otto in the living room window.

Maggie looking out the front window.

Too bad I had to come to work today. I need to concentrate on my lotto-winning retirement plan.

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20 April 2006

Renae Edge, artist

Renae (my oldest friend in the world) had her first one-woman show last fall, for a series of abstract photographs she shot last summer. She (quite deservedly) continues to get a lot of attention for this series.

Renae has an online gallery. Take the time to view each series of her online portfolio. Her work is truly amazing.

This piece will be in the 57th annual Art of the Northeast juried exhibition, in New Canaan, Connecticut:

Untitled (Ribbons 50605152)

The Silvermine Guild is a well-established, well-known guild; the show was juried by Ben Barzune, who's a partner in a New York City gallery that represents the likes of Milton Avery and Helen Frankenthaler. Renae also has a piece in an upcoming show in Connecticut. Our girl has hit the big time.

Renae Edge, at her show last November

I am so damn proud of Renae! She just got back into photography about a year ago, maybe two. Her goal was to produce great work and be accepted as an artist, and it looks like she's there. Her determination and self-confidence — and, of course, her creativity and artistic vision — continue to inspire me. And her work is beautiful, amazing, unique. I have one piece hanging over my sofa, and it's my most valued piece. I hope to have a wall of Edges by the end of the year.

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19 April 2006

One of these days

I met Karen tonight for dinner at “our place” — Casa Grande, on Peachtree near Collier. We had our usual, sharing the fajitas for one and downing a few margarita swirls (there’s sangria in those swirls, friends). It just doesn’t get any better than dinner with a beloved friend after a rough, soul-draining week. We laughed. We confided. We talked about changes happening and coming. Two hours later, I walked out relaxed and happy and unburdened — the best I’ve felt in a couple of weeks. I needed to let everything go and be myself again.

Things have been rough lately, but I now see a light at the end of the stress tunnel. Maybe it’s time to make some major changes in my life, to take some big risks. I’m thinking through the hows, and hope to be leading a different life by my next birthday. I’m excited about what may happen.

I’m now sitting out on my deck, listening to and singing along with Emmylou Harris’ “Elite Hotel.” I may have new-wave heart, but I believe that the angels in heaven will sound like Emmylou, Vince Gill, and Gram Parsons. It just doesn’t get any better than this moment, sitting outside, singing “One of These Days,” feeling the damp spring air, smelling the rain. I think I'll sleep well tonight.

One of these days it will soon be all over, cut and dry
And I won't have this urge to go all bottled up inside
One of these days I'll look back and I'll say I left in time
‘Cause somewhere for me I know there's peace of mind
There's gonna be peace of mind for me, one of these days

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18 April 2006

Grammar Grrrl to the Technical Writing Rescue!

This morning’s technical writing class kicked educational ass! I kept the 10 electrical engineers on the edge of their seats for four hours, leading them to master the art of the outline and the structure of a well-written paragraph. I got them excited about action verbs and trimming the word fat. I was running on 30 minutes of sleep, but I stayed focused, showed brilliant flashes of humor, and delivered a damn good class. (Have I mentioned that modesty is one of my virtues?) Added bonus: I really enjoyed myself today. The guys taught me a few things about electricity, and we had a good vibe running throughout the morning.

One activity during the class involved the guys building something out of LEGOS, writing up the instructions, and having someone try to build the same thing using those well-written instructions. The activity reminded me about this site; check it out (preferably at home) ... if you’re 18 or older, that is.

Thanks to those of you who worried about me this morning!

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16 April 2006

Rough Week Ahead

My Easter salmon was ruined today when I was hit by a nasty case of stage fright. I’m teaching a writing class for electrical engineers on Tuesday, and I'm a little stressed. I’m not a trainer; I'm a a copywriter and project manager. But because our department includes both creative services and training, I was drafted a couple of years ago to develop and teach one class a year on writing and grammar. This year, though, I’ll be developing and delivering three different levels of business writing courses — this week's class, one in May and another in June (which I'll delivery three times that month). I do a good job — I’m comfortable in front of a group, and I love talking about grammar and writing — but training is a little out of my element. Plus, I’m too damn busy at work anyway … but nobody listened. If history repeats itself, I’ll be up all night long Monday, pacing floors and gnawing nails until I leave for the office at 5:25 a.m. (my Starbucks opens at 5:30).

Pray for me Tuesday morning.

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14 April 2006

It really is Good Friday

My good friend Paul got his dream job today! He's going to be developing stories for a company that produces some of the best video games out there. He deserves this great opportunity; he blew their socks off with one freelance job, and they grabbed him immediately. Shows corporate smarts. It’s been a long time since Paul had a great job (Bookstar, maybe?) — he’s worked for one psycho and unscrupulous company after another — so it's about time he worked for a decent organization. And he’ll finally be able to use that English degree he earned 15 years ago. Paul’s also on the brink of adulthood — his lovely and wonderfully cool wife will soon give birth to twins — so this job couldn’t come at a better time. Clap for him!

I hope you’re enjoying the same beautiful spring weather I am; I feel God on days like today. I kicked off the holy weekend by seeing “The Easter Story: Where Reality Meets Christ” at church this evening. It was an amazing, powerful drama about the last days of Jesus’ life — put in a context for us to get it. I walked out of church in the much-needed Easter spirit.

Get out and enjoy the gorgeous spring weekend!

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13 April 2006

One month. 34 posts. 2,300 hits.

Today marks one month of this blog. It's been a fun, interesting 31 days. I’ve reconnected with people I haven’t talked to in years — in some cases, the (now) adult children of friends. I've met other bloggers, and have a good time reading their posts and commenting back and forth. There are some wonderfully weird, creative, entertaining folks writing out there.

It’s great having a forum for indulging in my obsessions (just five R.E.M.-centric posts?). Blogging is now a daily habit I look forward to. And the cherry on top: reading your comments.

Take a moment to click on the map at the end of my links section. The red dots show where my 2,300 hits have been clicked. Across the U.S. (including Alaska), scattered across Europe, parts of the Middle East and India, South America, even Down Under. I’m glad I’m writing deep, meaningful posts for the world to read.

Pretty cool, huh?

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12 April 2006

Keeping an ear out for new music?

There’s usually something interesting going on in the Georgia music scene. After all, this is the home state of rock ‘n’ roll originals James Brown, Ray Charles and Little Richard. And we Georgians are damn proud of our B-52’s and Pylon … Johnny Mercer and Jessye Norman … Gram Parsons and Otis Redding ... Widespread Panic and The Allman Brothers … Gladys Knight and Curtis Mayfield ... Vic Chesnutt and Magnapop … Neutral Milk Hotel and Elf Power. Even Elton John lives here part of the time.

And, of course, the greatest band of all time … R.E.M.

My cousin Jamey just turned me on to Corey Smith, a talented singer-songwriter from Jefferson — and a social studies teacher in Gwinnett County. It would be easy to lump him in the Shawn Mullins/John Mayer category, but he has an original voice. Corey’s music is perfect for this time of year, while you’re zoning on the deck after a long day at work, looking at the azaleas and sipping on a beer. Check out his site to sample some of his songs; "Dahlonega" is my favorite. (Damn, Jamey, we missed him tonight at Wild Wing Café!)

On the other end of the local music spectrum is Charlie Hustle. The band is brilliant, and it has a really hot lead guitarist (who also happens to be my friend Paul’s brother). Charlie Hustle (guitarist Ben is from Cincinnati, after all) is what I’d call hardcore alternative. Now, I'm not a huge fan of hardcore; much of it sort of bores me. But Charlie Hustle is great. I love the singer's voice, and the music is amazing. I like all of the tunes on their site and listen to them a few times a week. Charlie Hustle is definitely worth the click to MySpace. They recently tore the roof off The Darkside, so you should keep an eye out for their next appearance.

What are you listening to these days? I’m always looking for a new MP3 to download … so drop some suggestions in the Comments section.

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11 April 2006

Graceland Declared “Historic”

And it’s about damn time. Where else can you experience the brilliance of white-trash taste and rock ‘n’ roll cash?

I love Elvisyoung Elvis (“Blue Moon of Kentucky” and “Mystery Train”) … middle Elvis (“Kentucky Rain” and “Suspicious Minds”) … old Elvis (“Burning Love” and “Way Down”). And, yes, I’m still holding on to the hope that he’s alive and pulled off the greatest escape in history. Wouldn’t that rock?

A visit to Graceland is a must for anyone who loves music. I've been to Graceland twice: with Simeon in August 1991 and with Dan in March 2002. During this historic moment, I think it’s time to reminisce about those two visits to Elvis’ home.

August 1991

As luck would have it, my pilgrimage with Simeon was smack dab in the middle of Elvis Week, which is celebrated on the anniversary of his death.

The Memphis tourists during Elvis Week were the coolest I’ve ever shared a city with. The city was packed, but it still had a laidback, peaceful feel. Everyone was friendly, brought together simply to pay tribute to Elvis. Start the day at the Shoney’s breakfast bar? No less than five people stopped by the table to ask if we’d seen Ronnie McDowell’s concert the night before … or if we were planning to join the candlelight vigil that evening … or to ask if we were enjoying ourselves. Lines were long, but that just gave us more chances to bond with our fellow Elvis-lovers. Yep, Elvis people are good people.

This is me with Bob, one damn good Elvis impersonator from Cincinnati who was on the Graceland tour with Simeon and me. With his two dyed-and-teased ladies in tow, Bob asked the tour guide important questions, such as what alcoholic beverages Elvis enjoyed (seems he was just a pill boy); Simeon asked about Elvis’ album collection (mainly gospel LPs). Simeon sneaked a few photos of Bob — but I went for the gold, asking him to pose with me at the Graceland gates. I still keep a copy of this photo on my office desk; it's my favorite photo ever.

My request opened a floodgate of photo ops; we drove by an hour later, and Bob was still posing with fellow Elvis lovers. We made Bob's day!

Here's Simeon in front of the Graceland gates. He took some great photos during our tour of Graceland, including the multitude of mourners around Elvis' grave, but I can’t find any of them, dammit, except for these. The photo of Simeon and Bob at the gates is brilliant, and I'm sorry I can't find my copy. There are also great shots of Simeon being possessed by Elvis' spirit in front of Sun Records and the Elvis statue on Beale Street.

I do, however, still have this photo from that trip; that's me sitting in front of the sign at Al Green’s church. Unfortunately, our last day was Saturday and we couldn't stick around for Sunday services — but I took (and still have) a broom that was in the Right Reverend's trash.

March 2002

Dan took me to Memphis for my birthday in 2002. Here's a photo of Elvis' living room that he took during the Graceland tour. Note the classic beauty of the stained glass.

Better yet, check out that white ceramic monkey! Elvis had an amazing collection of white ceramic monkeys. Bet you don’t have pieces that nice in your home — or that you can make yellow and blue look this garish.

The Jungle Room is the room Elvis decorated himself (a professional did the other rooms?). I’ve heard the Memphis Mafia talk about hanging out in this room. Can you imagine the mingling of sideburns and shag carpet and Hai Karate?

After reliving these great moments and looking at these photos, I realize I should make the Graceland pilgrimage more than once a decade. Who wants to join me for the Memphis trek in the next year?

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10 April 2006

Movie Review: “Inside Man”

Dan and I recently saw “Inside Man,” Spike Lee takes on the heist flick. It’s his best movie since “He Got Game,” or maybe “25th Hour.”

I hate movie reviews that use most of the words to explain the plot, so I’m going to skip that. Basically, you have bank robbers trying to pull off the perfect heist. The twists are interesting, although Dan and I figured out most of them before they were revealed. It’s still an interesting, fun, surprising movie.

Denzel Washington’s character is a seasoned cop just beginning a new position as a hostage negotiator. It’s an interesting character twist: He’s been on the job a long time and knows what he’s doing, but he’s a novice as a negotiator. He’s cocky, but not completely sure of himself. Denzel exudes great power on the screen; he plays the cocky male very well. He's ofen shot from behind while walking, and there’s something about the swagger in his haunches that captures his cocksure attitude.

Clive Owen is just damn cool throughout the movie; he has the sardonic laugh down pat. He's sexy as hell, so 100% male. His is a great character, and Clive brings a lot to the role. My only complaint about his performance: They kept that amazing face behind a mask too much for my taste.

There’s great chemistry between Denzel Washington and Clive Owen; you can tell they — both the actors and the characters — are having fun playing against each other. I found myself cheering on Denzel to catch the bad guys and Clive to get away with it.

Jodie Foster played an interesting character: that person who knows everyone and can get anything done. She’s mysterious, not really legit. Jodie’s only in a few scenes, and I walked out of the theater a little puzzled and wondering where she got the power and knowledge, who she is and what she does — but I guess that’s what Spike was going for.

The dessert to the movie entrée: Spike Lee has some great cinematic shots, just because. And there’s an interesting moment between Clive Owen and an eight-year-old kid from Brooklyn; it doesn’t move the plot along, but it’s an interesting, quiet statement.

The soundtrack is great; in fact, I ordered it today (I’ll follow up with a review on that once I’ve had a listen). There’s a Bollywood feel to some of the tracks that worked well with the action.

My rating: 3.5 out of 5.

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08 April 2006

Happy anniversary, Paige & Richard!

My sister and her beloved were married one year ago today. It was a sweet, intimate wedding in the North Georgia mountains; my parents and I were the only guests. Here’s one of the wedding photos. Paige, the blushing bride, is in the center; Richard’s in the back with me; and our parents are in front.

This is the last good photo taken of my dad; he passed away in August. Whenever I look at this photo, I smile and cry at the same time. I miss him more than I can say; I don’t know how you get over the loss.

Happy first anniversary, Paige and Ricky! The slice of wedding cake has been pulled from the freezer and the champagne’s on ice.

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Adventures in Petsitting

Paige and Richard are celebrating their anniversary at the beach, and I’m petsitting at their place. I’m having a good time, too. Paige and Richard have a cat, named Kitty Kat, and a beagle, Hobo. Kitty Kat pretty much comes and goes as she pleases, occasionally walking through and meowing her presence.

Hobo’s rather laidback — and he loves his toys:

You gotta love a beagle that carries a beagle around with him:

Hobo drags all of his toys on the sofa so that he doesn't have to nap alone:

Here he’s protecting me from a bug on the ceiling:

We had a pretty exciting morning. A nasty, windy thunderstorm hit around 3:30 a.m., knocking out the power. The tornado alarms were blaring and the wind was making a very weird sound, so we headed to the basement. I read a Vanity Fair by candlelight, while Hobo and Kitty Kat sat at my feet. Luckily, we weren’t hit by a tornado, and we went back to bed around 5:00 a.m.

Hobo and I hopped in the Beetle this morning to check the damage to the area:

It looks like a tornado touched down a few miles away:

Luckily, the Big Chicken (across the street from the tornadoed K-Mart) wasn’t damaged.

Even with the early morning dash to the basement, it has been a nice, relaxing weekend out in the 'burbs with the animals. I love hanging out with Hobo, and always go home wanting to add a dog to my brood ... if I had a lifestyle for a dog.

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07 April 2006

A hall-of-fame moment

I just bought my tickets for September's Georgia Music Hall of Fame induction ceremony — honoring my beloved R.E.M., as well as Gregg Allman, Jermaine Dupri and Dallas Austin! It's rumored that Bill Berry will join the band for a couple of songs (and that rumor comes straight from Peter Buck's mouth). One lucky person will get to join me for that special night ... so start sucking up, kids.

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05 April 2006

Sex & the Southern City: Barista Boy

From time to time (read: when I have nothing to write about), I’ll share highlights from my life as a single woman. These posts will no doubt be great lessons for those of you just starting the single life. And, yes, these stories are true.

Karen and I have just finished a dinner of sushi and (many) saki martinis … which, of course, leads to ribald conversation and naughty confessions. There are still secrets waiting to be spilled postprandial, so we walk to a nearby coffee shop. A tall, very cute barista waits behind the counter. Fueled by my martini confidence, I order my latte with a flirt and a hair toss. Barista Boy repeats my order.

Me: “That’s a cute accent you have. Where are you from?”

Barista Boy: “I don’t have an accent. I have a speech impediment.”

Single girl scores again!

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04 April 2006

Do I have it in me to be a Compacter?

I saw an interesting story on “Today” this morning. A group of friends in San Francisco have created the Compact, an agreement that they won’t buy anything new, other than necessities, for all of 2006. They’re battling consumerism, retail therapy, and crowding our planet with unnecessary plastic objects. Their movement is spreading across the globe. Good for them!

What new items can Compacters buy during 2006? Food, health and safety items, and underwear. That’s it. Deodorant: a necessity. Hair gel: an extravagance (they haven’t seen my untamed hair, have they?). Need a new outfit? Head to the thrift store and buy used clothing — but don’t buy used underwear (I don’t think we need to discuss why new panties are allowed). Exceptions to the shopping ban are discussed and listed on the group’s blog.

I’m intrigued — and, after my recent salon splurge, it might not be a bad idea. I’m not going to attempt 365 days of a necessities-only existence — goals, after all, should be achievable — but I’m curious to see if I can go a full month without buying anything new. No baubles. No books. No cute summer sandals. No (gulp) CDs or MP3s. Thirty days with what I own and the sustenance I need to survive.

Can I make it? I do, after all, come from a long line of shoppers. It’s in my DNA. Shopping is how we get exercise, how we socialize, how we rationalize our existence. The female side of my clan doesn’t miss a new episode of Isaac Mizrahi’s talk show. We enjoy deep, meaningful discussions about which Stein Mart is the best (the Buckhead store, in my opinion). We're the reason they invented the phrase "born to shop."

But I think I can do it, at least for a month. I’m up for a spring challenge. So … who wants to join me for Compact month in May?

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03 April 2006

I was April-fooled

... and I was my own damn joker. I'm a woman. I'm supposed to trust my intuitions, right? But no, not this weekend. Against my better judgment, I stayed in Atlanta Saturday night, instead of zooming up to Athens to catch The Minus Five's final show of the tour. And what did I miss? Only all four R.E.M. boys on stage, performing "Country Feedback."

Berry. Buck. Mills. Stipe. And where was I? Seventy miles away, doing nothing special. I'm still kicking myself.

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02 April 2006

Tonight’s Top 10: Beth's Sexiest Songs

It’s spring, and I’m giddy and distracted and excited … so what better time for my list of sexiest songs?

10. Stevie Wonder: Boogie on, Reggae Woman. Stevie almost has a growl in this song, one that really gets my blood racing. And what's sexier than lyrics such as "I'd like to do it to you/Till you holla for more" or "I'd like to see you naked/Under the stars above"? [Edited after receiving some great comments today.]

9. Gregg Allman: I’m No Angel. I’m no fan of ink, but when Gregg growls “Come and let me show you my tattoo,” damn, I want to look. He’s the bad boy we couldn’t stay away from in high school.

8. R.E.M.: Turn You Inside-out. What a sexy rock song! Peter's grinding guitar gives me goosebumps and makes my mind wander, and Michael's lyrics make me feel bad and naughty — in a good way. Because, believe me, "I could turn you inside-out." [Edited after receiving some great comments today.]

7. Big Star: Thirteen. In two and a half minutes, Alex Chilton takes me back to that feeling of first love, that thrill of knowing I was liked back. Wilco did an amazing cover for an Alex Chilton tribute album that never saw the light of day; it’s worth looking for (or checking with me for a copy).

6. Bruce Springsteen: Tunnel of Love. “Gotta ride down, baby, into this tunnel of love.” ‘Nuff said.

5. R.E.M.: Perfect Circle. “Pull your dress on and stay real close.” The lyrics ... his voice ... the music … mmmmmm. That line and the near-striptease didn’t work the way Renae and I hoped one Athens New Year’s Eve … but I was wearing the party dress with the naughty rose, so the night was still good and fun and free.

4. Al Green: Love and Happiness. “Something that can make you do wrong, make you do right.” Ain’t that the truth. This is arguably Al’s best, most soulful, sexiest song — and that’s saying a lot.

3. Nina Simone: Feeling Good. That voice. That’s sex, baby. Makes me want to slip on black silk stockings and heels, and strut slow and sexy across the room.

2. Jeff Buckley: So Real. Damn, this song is full of passion. And it even has a kick-ass guitar solo, one that conveys longing and passion and frustration. I go weak in the knees when he whispers, “I love you … but I’m afraid to love you.” I play this song over and over and over when I’m getting ready for a date.

And Beth’s sexiest song is (drum roll, Anton):

1. Dave Matthews Band: Crash into Me. I’m not a DM fan at all — most of his songs kind of bore me — but not this one. I cannot listen to this song and focus on anything else. I love how Dave’s voice drops into that sexy, horny-boy octave when he sings “Hike up your skirt a little more and show your world to me.”

OK, list some of the songs that tingle your spine in the Comments section, and we'll debate their sexiness.

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01 April 2006

So, then Scott McCaughey says …

Yep, Scott McCaughey and I were hanging out together last night. I realize that 95% of my readers don’t know who the heck Scott McCaughey is and can’t understand why this was a momentous occasion in my 47th year — but Dan was excited.

Scott McCaughey is the Ron Wood of R.E.M.; he's been playing with my guys on albums and tours since the mid-1990s. He was a founding member of The Young Fresh Fellows, a wonderful, quirky Seattle band that never quite made it. In the R.E.M. off-season, he's once again helming The Minus 5, a band he started with Peter Buck in the mid-1990s.

The (current) Minus 5: Peter Buck; Ministry’s Bill Reiflin, drums; guitarist John Ramberg, who’s played with Neko Case and was in Model Rockets; Scott McCaughey.

The Minus 5 have put out several great albums over the last 10 years. One of my favorites is Down with Wilco — which they recorded with Wilco! This year’s album The Minus 5 (also called The Gun Album) is great, too; my favorite song is “Cigs, Coffee, Booze,” which I play and sing a couple of times a day at work. Scott’s a pretty darn good songwriter, and I like his voice; you can hear his joy in being a musician.

The Minus 5 played last night at Smith’s Olde Bar — and Karen and I were there for the show. Scott and Peter were hanging out in the club, listening to the two opening acts. Tres thrilling for moi! And Karen enjoyed my teenybopper moments.

Scott was next to me at the bar, so I told him how I was looking forward to the show after reading so many great show reviews online. He got excited hearing abour the reviews … introduced himself and asked my name … and then he took off his sunglasses as we kept chatting. Scott McCaughey is rarely seen sans sunglasses — he performs in them, he wears them in nearly every photo — so I was inwardly giggling and squealing like a little schoolgirl. (And, in that schoolgirl moment, I asked him to sign a CD cover for me.) We also chatted about his wife, Christy McWilson, and her great music. He was cool, a lot of fun. Later in the evening, he walked by, squeezed both my arms and said, “Hi again, Beth!” For a groupie-if-my-mama-didn’t-raise-me-right like me, this was a beautiful moment in my life. I think we'll be exchanging Christmas cards this year.

Karen and I stood next to Peter Buck and his woman during The Silos’ set. He gave me that “hey, I know you; how’s it going” look a few times, and I brushed my pinky across his leather jacket as he walked by. Damn, he’s still cute as hell and thrills me to my toes; I grinned like the Joker all night long. His female kept a close eye on Karen and me, so I didn’t approach him (dammit all for my wussiness!). He enjoyed the fact that I kept sneaking peeks at him, and even winked once. I’m sure we would have enjoyed breakfast together this morning if his arm-clutcher wasn’t there (c'mon ... a girl can never give up hope).

The usual R.E.M. suspects were there: longtime Atlanta music journalist Jeff Clark (currently editor of Stomp and Stammer), wearing a Yo La Tengo T-shirt (Mike, was he ever with WRAS?), the blond clerk from Fantasyland Records, lots of recognizable faces from 25 years of R.E.M. shows.

Oh, and the show was great! I haven’t been that close to Peter while he’s performing in probably 15 years, so it was great to be 10 feet from my fantasy BFF. You could tell they were having a great time — and so was the audience. Mike Mills joined them onstage for a couple of songs, playing keyboards. There were whispers that Michael Stipe may show up, but I think he’s in Florida for a film festival showing one of his films. We left early; Smith’s Olde Bar allows smoking, and we fortysomethings can’t take dirtying up our lungs for more than a couple of hours. I’m considering hitting 78 and catching the Athens show tonight.

What a great way to end my birthday celebration week … thanks, Karen, Scott and Peter!

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Click here to read Scrivenings' review of last night's show ...

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