31 August 2006

I Fell in Love Today

I picked up the new Bob Dylan album, Modern Times, during this morning’s Starbucks run. And I can’t. Stop. Listening to it. If you like Dylan … great songwriting … folk music … Americana … rockabilly … get it today. It’s brilliant. Of course it is; it’s Bob Dylan.

And I’m not the only one tooting the Dylan horn:
Rolling Stone
Entertainment Weekly

What are you waiting for? Get out there and pick it up today. Let it be your soundtrack for the Labor Day weekend. You’ll thank me on Tuesday.

Don't trust me? Here's a sample:

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Still not convinced? Here's another:

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Sideways, Cupways

The final installment of my San Francisco travelogue series

Mama and I toured the wine country on our last day — Sonoma in the morning, Napa in the afternoon — visiting three wineries. There’s nothing better than an excuse to start drinking wine at 10 a.m. on a Saturday.

We stopped on our way out of the city to take photos of the Golden Gate Bridge. Yeah, I know I ran one of these already, but I’m proud of the photos. Besides, it’s one of the Coaster Punchman’s favorite landmarks. And seeing yet another photo may send Dale to his favorite online travel agency (he’s having problems thinking his own thoughts, it seems).

The Golden Gate Bridge, in Saturday morning fog

Sonoma Winery #1: Viansa

The Viansa winery is in a beautiful spot, one that reminded me of Tuscany. It was lovely and rather peaceful that morning.

A Tuscanic Sonoma

We tasted four wines: 2005 Vittoria Pinot Grigio, 2004 Athena Dolcetto, 2002 Piccolo Sangiovese, and 2004 Prindelo. My mom isn’t much of a drinker, so I got half of her wines. Score!

The Viansa Winery

My favorite: Prindelo. We Atlantans are in luck; Wine Haven, on Sandy Springs Circle, carries it.

Sonoma Winery #2: Larson Family Winery

The Larson’s winery is much smaller than Viansa. The family lives on the property; in fact, there was a birthday party for their little girl going on.

The Larson Vineyard

But small doesn’t necessarily mean less. The wines I sampled were very good. Unfortunately I lost my notes from this winery, so I think these are the four wines I had: Chardonnay, Gewürztraminer, Wingo White, and Cabernet Savignon.

My favorite: 2003 Cabernet Savignon, which earned a perfect 100 at a recent Sonoma wine competition. It was very good.

The Family Pet, Dolly Llama

We then went into the town of Sonoma for lunch (and a bit of shopping, of course, which resulted in two more boho skirts for my collection), then headed for Napa.

Napa Winery: Domaine Chandon

That’s right, kids, we were sampling champagne (okay, I know we’re supposed to say “sparkling wine,” but I believe in truthiness). Is there any better way to top of a day of sipping wine than with champagne? I think not.

I wish I’d taken some photos of the buildings at Domaine Chandon. The architecture flowed with its surroundings, and it was wonderful. The grounds at Domaine Chandon are dotted with outdoor art:

and colorful, tranquil gardens:

But let’s get back to the boozing. Again, I sampled four champagnes (and half of my mother’s flutes): Chandon Reserve Brut, Chandon Brut Classic, Chandon Blanc de Noirs, and Chandon Riche. The tasting was held outdoors, under a large tree. And the Chandon chick knew how to pour — no tiny tastes here, but nearly full flutes.

My favorite: Chandon Blanc de Noirs

In the Napa sun.
May God’s love be with you always.

Domaine Chandon tip: To chill your bottle of champagne, put it in a bucket of half water/half ice for half an hour.

We returned to San Francisco full of new spirited favorites to bring to dinner parties. Thanks to the champagne, I spent much of the drive dozing and daydreaming about bastardy things.

And so, dear readers, that’s a quick recap of my days by the Bay. Hard to believe that was two weeks ago. Write Procrastinator, keep an eye out for an affordable apartment for me.

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30 August 2006

30 Days of Simmering Resentment

Stephen Colbert has a beef with my home state of Georgia. And, of course, it's funny as hell.

There is a little truthiness to his rant.

And if you need a little more Colbert to get you through the day, here's one of the best moments from the Emmys broadcast:

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29 August 2006

Happy Birthday, OM

OM and Lauren blow out his birthday candles (1988)

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Warren Zevon: Excitable Boy

Several friends have asked why I have yet to feature a Warren Zevon album in my Tuesday album series. I’m a bit mystified myself. Zevon is one of the great music loves of my life, just a couple of notches below R.E.M. His songs have struck a chord in me for nearly thirty years. And I miss having him on this earth.

I was introduced to Warren Zevon my freshman year in college, soon after Excitable Boy was released in January 1978. My roommate was dating this cool grad student, Tom, who brought over the album and insisted that I listen to both sides three times straight. I rarely rebuff cool guys who force music on me, so it went on the turntable that minute. And I fell head over ears in love. The tracks were funny and alive, heartbreaking and honest. He rocked. He crooned. His voice was evocative, full of feeling and humor and sarcasm. I’ve loved Warren since that winter evening.

Warren Zevon was lumped with the 1970s Southern California sound — Eagles, Jackson Browne (who produced this and his previous album), Linda Ronstadt. Other than his locale and the appearances by those folks on his albums, I never saw the connection. Totally different vibe. Or maybe it’s because I love his music, and the rest of those SoCals generally bore me.

He was (and, damn, I hate referring to him in the past tense) a brilliant lyricist. Very literary. His play on words, his unexpected rhymes, his wonderful storytelling (do you know how hard it is to write an entire story in twenty lines?) were amazing. He was definitely an original.

I saw Warren Zevon in concert probably ten times. He was a brilliant performer who understood and enjoyed his audience. He always played a good mix of his fans’ favorites and his new stuff. He was quite the charmer onstage, too. I always stood right up front, and he’d often wink and asked how I liked this song or that one. I’d always giggle and blush; I think he enjoyed that.

Have I mentioned I once kissed Warren Zevon?

And now to the album.

Excitable Boy is best known for “Werewolves of London.” I love the song. It’s witty and weird, clever and catchy. But it makes me sad that it’s the only song most people know from Zevon’s oeuvre. His catalog is rich with beautiful ballads and kick-out-the-jams rockers. Not many can pull of cynical and sincere, but Warren could. You “Werewolves”-only folks are missing out on some musical treasures.

I met a cute guy once at his own party. Bit of spark on both sides. As is my wont, I checked out his CD collection to see whether or not he was worth my time. I complimented him on owning Excitable Boy. He responded that he owned it just for “Werewolves of London,” that the rest of the album was crap and littered with songs about Vietnam. I did not leave my number on his fridge.

“Werewolves” isn’t the weirdest tune on the album. The title track is. Sick, twisted, funny. And it still makes me laugh, even after thousands of listens. Who doesn’t love a pop tune about a psychotic killer? Well, he’s just an excitable boy. I want to rub a pot roast all over my chest one day.

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“Accidentally Like a Martyr” is the perfect anthem for loneliness. It’s always at the top of my break-up playlist (yes, I can be quite the Douglas Sirk queen post-dump). Heartbreaking lyrics, accompanied by a haunting piano. The lines Never thought I’d ever be so lonely / After such a long, long time / Time out of mind always punches me in the gut.

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“Lawyers, Guns, and Money” is the theme song for the troublemaker in all of us, supposedly penned after a night of partying in Mexico. Raucous rock beat, raucous story. Who doesn't love this song? Hank Williams Jr. did a decent cover a few years ago.

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The rest of the album (and I feel like I’m giving them short shrift; all but one or two are glorious):

“Johnny Strikes up the Band”: A great tune to open an album, it's a wonderful ditty that, for me, captures the excitement before a concert.

“Roland the Headless Thompson Gunner”: Another great story from Warren. I’ve always heard that “Roland” was written about a mercenary Zevon and his then-wife met in Europe in the mid-1970s. While Googling about this album, I read several sites stating it was Warren’s metaphor for the Western interference in the Congo in the 1960s. I can’t confirm either … but it’s a great story-in-a-song.

“Night Time in the Switching Yard”: The only track I’ve never been wild about. It sounds dated, very seventies to me. And it’s the only track on the album that Warren didn’t write. Connection?

“Veracruz”: A beautiful historical ballad, with a Spanish verse that adds flare.

“Tenderness on the Block”: Good pop tune (cowritten with Jackson Browne) about letting your little girl grow up. Shawn Colvin covered it in 1992.

There will be at least three more Zevon albums covered on Tuesdays. If you’re a fan, check back regularly. If you’re not familiar with him, I hope the selections I’ve included here leave you wanting more and send you to the CD store.

Postscript: Dave Marsh wrote a good article about Zevon in the March 9, 1978, issue of Rolling Stone. It’s worth a read to get a feel for Zevon at that time.

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27 August 2006

And Now, Back to My San Francisco Travelogue

Once we escaped the unpunctuated flier, the trip was fabulous. How could it not be? We were, after all, in San Francisco — the perfect place to escape reality, to distract us from the sad anniversary. We left humidity in the nineties for clear blue skies and the seventies, Southern traditional for northern Californian bohemian.

We've been to San Francisco many times, so we didn’t have to waste hours hitting all the tourist spots. We hung out in our favorite neighborhoods, hit our favorite restaurants. Just relaxed and had a good time.

Not to brag, but I am one of the all-time great travel companions. Once I leave the metro Atlanta area, I become this laidback chick. I’ll do pretty much what you want to and forgo my desire to wander the halls of the town’s art museum. Or maybe I’m just a wuss.


After checking into the hotel, we went down to Fisherman’s Wharf. We skipped the line of thousands waiting to ride the cable cars and just wandered around. I scored some major bauble booty among all the local booths, those stationed to relieve tourists of their heavy wallets — but I got some fabulous rings and bracelets for next to nothing.

Looking down the street next to Ghiradelli Square

Mama wanted to have dinner at Scoma’s, one of OM’s favorite seafood restaurants. Ridiculously expensive, but damn good. I inhaled a seafood cannelloni I'm still dreaming about.

Coit Tower and the Transamerica Building, from Scoma’s

We were both worn out from the long travel day, so we crashed early. And happy. We were, after all, in San Francisco.


We slept well (eight sweet, straight hours of log-sawing!), in Mama’s version of heaven: in Union Square, looking down on her favorite Macy’s in the world.

Union Square at dusk, from our hotel room

If you’re staying in Union Square, there are three things you simply must do: Shop. Shop. Shop. And shop we did. I won’t list every store hit or bauble bought, but the Capital One got quite the workout.

I bought. The most. Fabulous. Pair of shoes. At Macy’s. For about 90 percent off.

These Anne Klein wedges be kicking out the jams at next month’s Georgia Music Hall of Fame induction ceremony for R.E.M., Gregg Allman, Jermaine Dupri, Dallas Austin, and Felice Bryant.

We had dinner at my favorite Chinese anywhere: House of Nanking. It’s a hole-in-the-wall (now doubled in size) that serves the best food. Even better: Sometimes you order an entrée and they decide to instead recommend and serve you a specially made dish, and Mama got that treat. My West Coast doppelganger (as a doppelganger, it makes sense that House of Nanking would also be her favorite San Francisco restaurant) recommended the fried eggplant appetizer, and it was amazing. (And yes, Dan, I slurped down and enjoyed every mouthful of their hot-and-sour soup). If you’re headed to San Francisco, this is the restaurant I urge you to try.

House of Nanking. Eat your hungry hearts out.

This was the one-year anniversary of OM’s death, so it was special to spend it together. We reminisced about him all day, retelling our favorite stories, laughing a lot, crying a little, and praying for him and us. I think we both got to the other side of the grief. But, damn, I still miss him.


We started the day at Starbucks, sitting at the window counter enjoying muffins, croissants, and the triple grande nonfat latte. Great seat for watching people. Brian Setzer walked by with his blonde wife and two beautiful blonde little girls; Mama thought he was dressed a little weird.

We spent the morning on Union Street, hitting the (now ridiculously priced) boutiques and enjoying the beautiful day out of doors, out of the office, out of state. We still found things to buy, though.

There was an old theater on Union Street playing Little Miss Sunshine, so we caught the afternoon matinee. Both of us laughed the entire time.

We ended the day over dinner at Trattoria Contadina, an Italian restaurant in Russian Hill our family’s been frequenting since 1994. We walked back to the hotel, enjoying the stroll through North Beach and Chinatown.

Mama in Chinatown, on the postprandial stroll from the restaurant.

I love the Transamerica Building, almost as much as the Golden Gate Bridge. It’s the landmark I watch for on the drive from the airport; once I see it, I know I’m there. I take way too many photos during every trip, but I always enjoy each shot.

The Transamerica Building, from Chinatown

And that covers the first part of the trip. Next installment: the wine country tour.

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A Velvet Sunday Morning

This Velvet Underground song sounds the way Sunday morning feels. And it's one of their loveliest tunes. Enjoy your Sunday.

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25 August 2006

Little Miss Sunshine

Saw it. Loved it. Laughed. A lot.
See it. Love it. Laugh. A lot.
Thank me later.


24 August 2006

The Unpunctuated Traveler

First in my San Francisco travelogue series

After the DC debacle, I was anxious about missing my flight to San Francisco. Add to that the new, more stringent screening process, and … well, we got to the airport about three hours before our flight. Check-in was a breeze. Getting through security? When one of your party has a knee replacement, you get to go to the front of the line. We passed the liquid test. Almost. I had forgotten to pull a tube of Neosporin from my baubles case, and it was tossed.

My regular readers know I’m a bit accident-prone, so it should come as no surprise that I have tubes of Neosporin stashed everywhere. In both medicine cabinets. My coffee table drawer and bedside table. The kitchen knife drawer. My makeup kit. In my car, at my desk, in every purse. There’s even a new travel pack I found in DC. That’s just how I roll.

I thought our carry-on bags would be searched again before we boarded the plane, but they weren’t. I could have smuggled Dasani and a new tube of Neosporin, dammit.

The plane was packed, and it was one of those three-across crafts. That meant someone would be sitting with us. Ugh. I’m a friendly person. I enjoy talking to new people, chatting up strangers. Except on planes. I’m not wild about flying, so I prefer to zone out and spend the flight in my fantasy world. Or laptop the hours away. Read, nap, listen to music. Anything to distract me from turbulence. Chatting with strangers does not distract me.

So I’m praying for a business traveler. A fellow flying hermit. Is that the neighbor I got? Of course not. I got stuck sitting next to a chatterbox, one excitedly headed to a Shaklee convention. But it gets worse, folks: She. Spoke. Without. Punctuation. A typical exchange:

How are you are you going to San Francisco too I’m going to the Shaklee convention are you it’s going to be chilly out there I brought a jacket your jacket is cute it gets cold there at night have you been there before I was there with my brother a few years ago we forgot our jackets ha-ha and had to go buy one it gets cold at night you know have you been to Alcatraz it’s really neat but its cold out there so be sure to take your jacket so have you been to San Francisco before ha-ha I’m going for the Shaklee convention they always have conventions at great places next year it’s going to be at a beach somewhere they’re teasing us with posters and will announce it at the banquet I’m really looking forward to the banquet the food is always good …

Behind my fake mannered grin I’m screaming, “Please, dear God, throw me a punctuation bone. A comma splice. Ellipses or a colon. Something to cause her pause so that I can break eye contact and slip into a numbing nap."

Always watching out for her firstborn, my mom caught wind of my hell (she, of course, was safely seated by the window) and started asking me lots of questions so that I could turn away. Unpunctuated conversation came and went. We got a reprieve during the in-flight movie. The unpunctuated one chose to watch RV (destined to be a comedy classic, I'm sure), while Mama and I instead played with the cute baby in front of us, read, napped, enjoyed the semi-silence.

Semi-silence? Yes, because Shaklee Sal had to talk to the screen. At full volume. Lots of “oh, no!” and “oh, dear” and “that’s so funny,” punctuated by loud, fake, attention-hoping laughter. Because Robin Williams movies are just that damn funny. As the credits rolled, I thanked God for letting me sleep just one hour the night before as I slid into a deep nap.

But as I faded into that nap, I couldn’t help but wonder if some consider me an unpunctuated chatterer …

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23 August 2006

The 2,996 Project

Have you noticed the new 2,996 Project banner on my navigation bar? If not, it’s worth a glance and a click.

I found out about the 2,996 Project through The Unending Journey of the Wandering Author (a blog worth reading, by the way). Bloggers are volunteering to honor those who died on that sad September day. I think it’s a beautiful tribute to those 2,996 victims, so I signed up the day after I read the Wandering Author’s post.

Here’s the 2,996 Project mission statement:

2,996 is a tribute to the victims of 9/11.

On September 11, 2006, 2,996 volunteer bloggers will join together for a tribute to the victims of 9/11. Each person will pay tribute to a single victim.

We will honor them by remembering their lives, and not by remembering their murderers.

On September 11, I’ll pay tribute to Thomas Patrick Knox. I plan to spend the next couple of weeks finding out what I can about him. If you knew Tommy or know someone who did, please contact me (my e-mail address is on the navigation bar, above the 2,996 block). I want to be sure I write a fitting tribute to him.

If you’re a blogger and you’re interested in volunteering, go to 2,996 Project and sign up. If you’re a blog reader, spend that day hitting as many blogs paying tribute as you can and leave a comment honoring that person.

If you're a blogger participating in the 2,996 Project, leave me a comment or e-mail me; I'd like to chat about how you're conducting your research.

Let’s honor their lives on September 11.



Looks like we bypassed another Armageddon. Now I can book that hair appointment ...

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22 August 2006

Joan Armatrading: Me Myself I

I got my dream job in 1980: public relations/public affairs director at WRAS, the campus radio station at Georgia State. I coordinated public service announcements and on-air concert and album giveaways. It was an exciting time to be in college radio, as new wave and post-punk and local bands ruled those airwaves. I was born obsessed with music, but my taste was pretty pedestrian when I joined WRAS. I wish I could say I was one of those cool high-school kids who obsessed over The Ramones and Patti Smith and Iggy Pop, but I wasn’t. I listened to Boz Scaggs, Boston, and the Marshall Tucker Band; I even owned a (gasp!) Leo Sayer album. Nothing wrong with them, of course (well, except for Leo Sayer), but I was ready to expand my musical horizons and record collection.

My first three album giveaways changed my music life: The B-52’s Wild Planet, The English Beat’s I Just Can’t Stop It, and Joan Armatrading’s Me Myself I. I got a copy of each record we gave away, and those three opened up my world. I couldn’t stop playing them. They were different than anything I’d heard on WQXI, 96 Rock, or 94 FM. Me Myself I introduced me to singer-songwriters, and Joan Armatrading remains at the top of that genre in my CD closet.

For the seven or eight of you out there who owned LPs, don’t you miss them? I loved everything about them — ripping off the cellophane as soon as I got in the car, soaking up the artwork, studying the liner notes (back when I didn’t need a magnifying glass to read the 3-point type used on CDs), eager to get home and drop the needle in the groove. I enjoyed the hiss just before the first song began, the pops and occasional skips that personalized my albums. I like the convenience of the CD and I’m addicted to MP3s, but I miss the thrill of opening a new LP.

Me Myself I is an empowering album about a personally and sexually confident woman. Every song, every lyric struck my proverbial chord — heartfelt, compassionate, honest tunes about love and friendship and self. This album is more upbeat, cheerier than her previous albums, but not to the point of poppiness.

The title track, the first song on the album, became an anthem for me on the first listen. I’d always enjoyed being alone, and here was a song that declared that love of singleness.

I sit here by myself
And you know I love it
You know I don’t want someone
To come pay a visit
I wanna be by myself
I came in this world alone
Me myself I

Joan let me know that the desire to be alone didn’t mean I was weird.

“Friends” always makes me think of Janice, my best friend in high school — that longing for a friend you haven’t seen in a long time, that remembrance of having to do the breakup dance your friend.

“I Need You” captures that loneliness and sadness of being with someone other than the one you want. Her voice and the strings break my heart.

I’m on my third listen of Me Myself I as I write this. In this world of MP3s and the shuffle option, I rarely listen to an entire album anymore. I’d forgotten how free these ten songs make me feel, how I must sing along with every one, how well this album works. It’s a perfect disc.

The studio musicians on Me Myself I include The World’s Most Dangerous Band: Paul Shaffer on piano, Will Lee on bass, Hiram Bullock on guitar, and Anton Fig on drums. The album was recorded in March 1980, a few months before Letterman’s short-lived, ill-fated morning show and two years before “Late Night.”

I’ve seen Joan Armatrading in concert three or four times. She was touring in 1986, but didn’t have Atlanta on her tour sheet. Creative Loafing, our local alternative paper, started a petition to get her to town. It worked. And it was one of the most stirring shows I’ve seen. Every person in the Roxy really wanted her there. When she stepped on the stage, we stood, cheering and clapping and stomping. And it fed Joan. She stood there on stage and warned us, “Don’t make me cry, now.” Joan’s a tough cookie onstage, so seeing her get emotional sent us higher. Amazing show, one of the best I’ve seen. Sang myself hoarse that night. When she performed “Willow,’ we all threw our arms around each other, swaying and singing from the heart.

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21 August 2006

I Left My Heart

Saturday morning, 9:15 a.m.

And, it seems, my ability to sleep. Eight glorious, restful hours every night I slept in the city by the bay ... only to return home to insomnia. Maybe t's time to start that Tylenol PM addiction.

But isn't that a beautiful sight?

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20 August 2006

I've Returned!

[I hope at least three of you out there started humming the Squeeze tune when you read the head.]

The 2006 Escape from Reality tour has come to an end. I returned tonight to muggy, humid Atlanta after five perfect sunny-and-seventies days in San Francisco. There are many stories to tell … but right now the suitcase lies unopened on the floor (after knocking me butt-first back down my entrance stairs) and the photos remain in the digital camera. Stories and pictures (and whinings about having to be a working girl instead of a woman of leisure) will come later this week.

I hate returning to reality after a vacation, so tomorrow will be a double-Monday. I plan to take full advantage of my grumpiness, as I have five meetings before 2 p.m. I hate meetings. Almost as much as I hate Mondays.

I’ll be back on my regular blogging schedule by Tuesday morning (I can feel the anticipation build as you begin to wonder which album I'll feature). And I hope to spend much of my non-meeting Monday moments catching up with your blogs.

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Happy Birthday, Dan!

If you've read this blog more than a few times, you've probably gathered that Dan is one of my five favorite non-relatives. And today is the boy's birthday. I'm 3,000 miles away and can't celebrate with him this weekend, but we'll make up for it later in the week.

Dan is the best ex-beau you could ask for. We were together for eight years, and now we're not. But there's still a lot of love and respect there, so we continue to enjoy a great friendship few understand.

He's still my favorite bookstore-and-a-movie date. My favorite bitch-about-the-day listening post. One of the first I call when something fabulous or f*cked happens. The one with whom I can be my silliest or my bitchiest, my most manic or quiet. He's the one I can talk to about art and baubles, cry about boy stuff and girl stuff, yammer about music categories, just be myself. He's rescued me so many times, his ringtone is the "Batman" TV theme. Dan knows more of my secrets than anyone else ... and yet he still calls me "sweetie."

My dad's funeral was held on Dan's birthday last year. Typical of Dan, he thought of me first, and went as my date to the service and gathering at my parents' house. I couldn't have made it through that year (or the year since) without him to lean on, and for that I'll always love him.

We've had some great adventures Paris and San Francisco, Kansas City and New York, New Orleans and Memphis, Athens and Savannah, the beach and the mountains. I hope we have another excursion soon; dan is a great and adventurous travel companion.

Dan will alway be one of the great loves of my life, and the best friend a woman could have. Happy birthday, sweetie.

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17 August 2006


What a hometown welcome! The Bay Area’s Writeprocrastinator tagged me for my first meme. But I love making lists, so I’m rather excited, actually.

Ten Years Ago
Living with Dan in our first apartment, spending much of our time on the screened porch, celebrating Dan International Tribute Week (his birthday is this week). Probably our happiest time together.

Five Years Ago
I was working way too many all-nighters at that hell on earth known as a top consulting firm. But I earned enough money to spend two weeks in London, Paris, and Mimizan … so there was a silver lining to those 3 a.m. deadlines.

One Year Ago
OM passed away a year ago today. And that’s all I can say about that right now.

Five Songs I Know All the Words to
It would be easier for me to list five songs I don’t know the words to, so I’m listing the songs I find myself singing most this week:
1. “Wedding Bell Blues,” Fifth Dimension
2. “She Just Wants to Be,” R.E.M.
3. “A Foggy Day,” Ella Fitzgerald & Louis Armstrong
4. “Kentucky Rain,” Elvis Presley
5. “Excitable Boy,” Warren Zevon

Five Snacks I Love and Wish I Could Eat
1. Blue Diamond wasabi and soy sauce almonds (thank you, sister girl)
2. Sunflower seeds (in the shell; getting the nut out is half the fun)
3. Fresh cherries
4. Basil rolls
5. Lay’s potato chips with French onion dip

Five Places I’d Run Away to
1. San Francisco (where I sit as I write this)
2. Maine
3. North Georgia mountains
4. Paris
5. Portland

Five Favorite TV Shows (current or vintage)
1. The Tom Fontana Trilogy: “Homicide: Life on the Street,” “Oz,” and “St. Elsewhere”
2. “Sex and the City”
3. “Twin Peaks” (first season)
4. “Arrested Development”
5. “The X-Files”

Five Things I’d Never Wear
1. Sensible oxford shoes
2. Small, boring, little hoop earrings
3. Low-rise jeans (no muffin tops crowning this ample a**)
4. Suntan pantyhose
5. White shoes

Five Favorite Toys
1. My silver turbo Beetle
2. MP3 player
3. My R.E.M. New Adventures in Hi-Fi View Master
4. Digital camera
5. That purple thing I’d rather not name right now …

And now I tag:
Barista Brat (if she wants to stray from the life in a bux for a day)

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16 August 2006

Crying in the Chapel

We lost The King 29 years ago today. Do you remember where you were when you heard the news? I was in the car with my momwe were shopping for stuff for my dorm room items, to which I was moving in a couple of weeksand they announced it on the radio. People called in for hours, crying and keening, hearts breaking.

But there's a better memory attached to this date: my fateful August 1991 trip to Graceland with Simeon. Sim was in the midst of his U.S. tour, and I met his Amtrak in Memphis. It was pure luck that we landed in town during Elvis International Tribute Week. (Does anyone else find it strange that his legion of fans celebrate his death anniversary more than his January 4 birthday?) It was brilliant. Funny and campy. And rather moving. Everyone was friendly, happy to see other Elvis fans. One of the most entertaining weekends of my life. I wish I had remembered before hitting the road to dig up some of Simeon's photos from that weekend; you have to see it to believe it. Maybe one day soon ...

So toast The King tonight and sing your favorite Elvis tune. I'm currently sipping wine and listening to "Kentucky Rain" and "That's All Right, Mama" and "Blue Moon of Kentucky."

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15 August 2006

Sometimes Being a Music Bully Pays off

The Passion of the Dale's own Dale took my advice and went to see Lyle Lovett in concert over the weekend. And he's glad he did. Don't miss Dale's good review over at his place. You folks need to trust me when it comes to concert recommendations.

So, I've decided I must see Mr. Lovett and his gang at Chastain Park next Friday, August 25. Who's with me?

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The B-52’s: The B-52’s/Wild Planet

I had planned to feature an album by the beloved Warren Zevon this week … but there’s too much sadness in my life right now. What we need is to kick our shoes off and throw our arms out and dance and sing and celebrate the joy in this world. And who better to dance and sing and feel joy with than The B-52’s? (You with me, Dale?)

But I can’t feature just one album. The B-52’s and Wild Planet, the band’s first two albums, are a set and must be listened to as one. Nine months separate the release date — The B-52’s in July 1979 and Wild Planet in April 1980. They work together, and I can never remember which songs are on which album.

The B-52’s and Wild Planet have eighteen of the catchiest tracks in my CD closet. Who hasn’t worn the body out dancing to “52 Girls” and “Lava,” “Private Idaho” and “Quiche Lorraine,” “Give Me Back My Man” and “Dirty Back Road,” “Party out of Bounds” and “Strobe Light”? Or I hope you have. Brilliant songs all, but I must single out three from their debut album.

“Rock Lobster”: No telling how many times I’ve danced my heart out during these seven glorious minutes, nearly embarrassing myself by my body’s wild abandonment of any insecurity or decorum. It’s fun with a furious beat and, according to the laws of nature, you must dance when it plays. Or sing. I scared the hell out of Otto, my cat, the other day while singing Cindy Wilson’s part at the end. Because I must. Sing along. Loudly.

“Planet Claire”: The most fun two-and-a-half minute intro from the post-punk/new wave era, and the coolest 1950s sci-fi movie theme recorded in the late 1970s. Simeon once wanted to film the opening to the song and would often storyboard it for me (I can still visualize his vision); too bad we weren’t digital back then.

“Dance This Mess Around”: Includes the best lyrics ever written for a heartache song, as belted by Kate: Why don’t you dance with me? I’m not no limburger. We’ve all had someone who left us feeling like a limburger, just a limburger. And that toy piano in the background is, to quote Lauren, the sh*t.

It’s hard to believe these two albums are more than 25 years old. They don’t sound dated … or maybe they don’t sound dated to me because I was of that moment, and I can’t bear to think of myself as dated.

Hey! So, Fred, don't that make you feel a whole lot better? Huh?
I say, dunn’it that make you feel a lot better?
What you say? I'm just askin'!

Just writing about The B-52's made me feel a lot better. Of course, I'm listening to the albums while I write this, so I've had to take several must-dance breaks.

I’ve seen The B-52’s perform at least five times — at a large outdoor party in Normaltown (outside Athens) in 1978, at Atlanta's Fox Theater and Chastain Park, and on UGA’s Legion Field for the Cosmic Thing tour (several entertaining stories there, worthy of a future post). My favorite time seeing them was at the Agora Ballroom during 1980’s Wild Planet tour. It was during my WRAS* days, and Ricky and Cindy Wilson came by the studio for a fun on-air interview that afternoon. I went to the show with my station boys — Mike and David and Dane and Sandy (and I met Stephen during that show, but he’s a story we’ll save for an omigod post). We frugged and sang all night long. The B-52's had as good a time as we did. It was one of the best shows I saw that year — and, as the WRAS giveaway girl, I saw a lot of shows that year. Mike borrowed — and lost — my Devo flowerpot hat at the show, and I haven’t fully forgiven him for it. Although that plastic hat did stink.

*WRAS, the radio station of Georgia State University since 1971, has long been considered one of the best college stations in the nation. I was a part of that great staff in 1980-81. It's where my music-obsessed self fully came into being. The best part of my college years.

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Thank You

Your comments and e-mails and phone calls got me through a rough Monday. I was touched by your stories, your shared grief, your concern. And I'm sorry I have yet to address each of your comments individually; just couldn't do it today. But it's wonderful to have such loving, thoughtful support from you. I hope something fabulous happens to you today.

[Isn't it great that the Cup Challenge is over and I can use my overused words again?]

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14 August 2006

To My Readers

This is going to be a rough week for me, as Thursday marks the one-year anniversary of my father’s death. Not sure if I’ll be posting much, or what I’ll write if I do post.

I’ve recently realized, through the help of friends, that I didn’t fully grieve for my dad last summer. I went back to work too early. I shoved a lot of the grief deep down so that I could maintain some semblance of a normal life (or fool you into thinking I was back to normal). I didn't cry and rage and shake my fist at the heavens as much as I needed. I wanted to be strong, to make OM proud. But now, one year later, that grief has festered. And, unfortunately, festered grief manifests itself through anger and depression.

And I am angry. Angry at God for putting my dad through so much pain, so much fear, for robbing him of his dignity in those final weeks. Angry at that son of a bitch of a surgeon, the one who stopped caring once he found that the tumor was inoperable, who casually gave us that horrific news in a room full of staring people, that bastard who simply forgot about OM and left him in the hospital for days longer than was necessary. I know this rage is unreasonable, and I’ll forgive God one day soon (but not the surgeon). I couldn’t voice this anger to anyone until a few days ago … so if I can finally say it, maybe I’m beginning to work through it.

You, dear readers, have been a great source of support when I’ve written about my loss. Your comments, concerns, and shared stories have kept me from feeling alone, and you’ve been a great virtual shoulder for me to lean on. It’s a wonderful little community we have on this page, full of caring, funny, interesting people. Hopefully, as we get to the other side of this week, we’ll see a return to the silly posts common to this blog.

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13 August 2006

My New Web Toy

Tim Sandlin, one of my favorite authors, has turned me on to more than his brilliant use of words. I found Literature Map, the perfect time-waster for bookworms, on his Web site. Type in your favorite author’s name and let the literary fun begin.

By the way, Sandlin’s next book — Jimi Hendrix Turns Eighty — is coming in January. Take the time during the next five months to read every Sandlin novel you’ve missed, then reserve the week of January 18 to read his next sure-to-be masterpiece. You’ll thank me later.

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12 August 2006

Fire and Rain Ramblings

We’re having a grand thunderstorm right now in Atlanta, one that’s washing away the 90-degree days. Soothes my soul to cut off the A/C, open the windows, enjoy a breeze and outdoor sounds as they flutter through my living room.

The cats and I are on the porch during the day for the first time in a month, listening to the rain, and Wilco and Lucinda and Neko, and Stipe and Badly Drawn Boy and Jeff Buckley. It’s soothing to watch the green get greener, to smell the cleansing rain, to feel the occasional spray on my rail-propped feet.

I love thunderstorms. The crack and power of thunder and lightning. The sound of rain impatiently bursting through the clouds as fast and hard as it can. I find peace in all that madness. I sometimes wonder if I’m meant to live in the Pacific Northwest. But do they get wonderfully violent thunderstorms? I need some passion with my drizzle.

I’m having a bit of an internal crisis these days. Longheld beliefs being shaken, what was is no more. I feel as if I’m about to wash away the old me and evolve into another of my selves. Eager and anxious, at once. And I’m an impatient soul, so this leaves me restless, thundering inside, wanting to walk away from everything. I know I must be patient and let the evolution take its course. But I’m ready to embrace this new self. It’s thrilling to start over at this age. And it’s time. As Wilco now sings to me, Nothing'severgonnastandinmyway(again).

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So, Today I’m Sad

I had my last meal with my dad a year ago this evening. Chik-Fil-A, which I picked it up on my way to visit him and Mama. During that dinner, OM kept talking about us going to the mountains for his birthday at the end of the month. But he died on Wednesday. I haven’t had a day since when I didn’t feel sad and lost. Do you ever get over it? I was lucky to have such a good man as a father. I just wish he was still here, reading my writings, laughing at my silly jokes and puns and stories, and loving me unconditionally.

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10 August 2006

My Stomach Runneth Over

Posting will be scarce this week while I battle a stomach flu (which I believe I caught from the Haahnster’s virus-laden blog). I’ll be back with witty tales of life in the South as soon as I can stay in the upright position.

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08 August 2006

Short Trip — Long Recap

Back home after a short trip to Washington, DC, one of my favorite U.S. cities. This was my fourth trip in the aughts to our nation’s capital, third summer in a row.

What do I like about DC? First off, there’s art everywhere you go. For free. The National Gallery, which includes the Vogels’ collection (they’re in my book of heroes; theirs is a story worthy of its own post one day). The Hirschhorn and Corcoran, the Sackler and The Phillips Collection, and so many more. If art’s your thing, DC is a must.

What else? DC is a walking city. I don’t live in a walking city; I live in a city where you drive the quarter mile to Kroger. I’ve found that I adore walking cities — New York City, San Francisco, Chicago, DC. Walking blocks and blocks make you a part of the city, brings the city to life.

But the best thing about the DC area is it’s the home of French, one of my favorite life companions. Funny, honest, happy, adventurous, and one of the smartest people I know. Gracious manners, open heart, and an incredibly hearty laugh. We share passions in music and books and travel and grammar. I’m lucky to have been his friend for the last 15 years. I cherish the boy's soul. I wish he’d move back to Atlanta, but I do enjoy going up for my annual visit and having all of his attention focused on me.

I usually go to DC in the summer. Me, who hates heat and humidity, although I’ve lived in a humid city all my life. But every time I go to DC (and French will back me up on this), God blows out the hot and the humid, leaving me happy and relaxed in milder summer temps. I think God likes my visiting DC.

This year’s trip had another purpose: to see one of Renae’s photographs at the Greater Reston Arts Center, outside DC.

So, a quick recap of the last few days.


After the trials and tribulations of the flight to DC, we landed at National at 3:45 p.m., and I met up with French a little after 4:00. We were about 30 minutes from the gallery in Reston, a gallery that closed at 5:00. We dashed to the car … up the highway … through the faux world that is Reston … to the complex where the gallery was located. We, of course, parked as far away from the gallery as was possible, and had to stop several times to ask for directions, those directions always starting with a “go way down there” and accompanied by an arm wave indicating way down there. We burst through the door at 4:45. The gallery hostess was gracious and didn’t rush our viewing of the Languages of Silence show. It was juried by J.W. Mahoney, who recently retired from the Hirshhorn and is the regional arts editor for Art in America magazine (translation: The guy knows art and he selected one of Renae’s photographs for the show. I’m not surprised, but impressed and thrilled.). We got some photos of Renae’s piece, hanging on the wall as you walked in, already purchased by a GRACE board member — and checked out the rest of the work. I may be partial, but I have an eye for art, and Renae’s was by far the most interesting and evocative piece in the show.

Renae and Me

The first purpose of the trip complete, we immediately moved to the second purpose: sending booze coursing through our veins. French and I walked a couple of blocks and slid onto barstools at Clyde’s. Fortified an hour later by cosmopolitans and Guinness, we decided maybe food wouldn’t be a bad idea.

The DC area is filled with remarkable restaurants, and my foodie friend French always selects a good one for us. Saturday nigh was Tallula, a restaurant in Arlington that boasts an impressive wine list and darn good food. Luck stayed on our side as we snagged a rare outdoor table. We amused ourselves with the baby burger (black truffle butter and red onion marmalade on a tiny hamburger bun) and two more appetizers. My entrée selection was the ricotta gnudi (similar to the gnudi I had at The Spotted Pig in New York last fall), with a nice pinot gris from an Oregon winery. Dinner was sumptuous, and the company was extraordinary.

It was now late, and the lethal combination of little sleep, long airport wait, and lots of alcohol sucked all energy from this old body. We went back to French’s and crashed.


French had an interesting suggestion for a Sunday adventure: Drive out to Maryland and sift the shore of the Chesapeake Bay for fossils at Calvert Cliffs.

But first we had to complete an arts-and-crafts project to build sifters that would help us find fossils in the water. French built the frames on Saturday, as I lolled buzzedly on the sofa. It was now time to cut out the screens and staple them to the frames. It seems I have a knack for snipping wire and stapling it to wood … except for that one time when I stapled-gunned my hand. We’re still not quite sure how I did it, but it did begin with my scoffing at French for holding the staple gun backward … which I then did, but I stapled, too. I really need to get my scoffing under control, since God seems to enjoy mocking me for my mean thoughts (see Saturday’s post).

Self-stapled … and sober

Sifters completed, hand bandaged, and water iced, we headed out for Maryland, taking the Nick’s Trip route. French has XM radio, so the soundtrack was varied and superb — Americana, 1980s New Wave, classic rock, alternative, bluegrass. The 90-minute drive allowed us the luxury of deep, philosophical, from-the-heart conversations: whether or not Chrissie Hynde is hot (I think so; French used to think so, but now thinks she’d frighten him), comparisons of our witty conversations with Scott McCaughey before a Minus 5 show, possible romantic connections, and other important issues of the day.

We stopped for lunch on Solomons Island, a beautiful spot on the river in Maryland. And what do you eat while in Maryland? Crab, of course. We had crab sandwiches, crab balls, and mushrooms stuffed with crabmeat. And some rum drinks (did you know you get a quick buzz if you haven’t had much rum in the last year? ‘Tis so.) We had a nice table on the patio overlooking the water, so it was hard to get up and get going. But get going we did.

The obligatory photo of a gull on a post, from our restaurant table

Calvert Cliffs is a perfect spot in this world of ours. To get to the beach, you take a two-mile hike through woods largely untouched by man (just a few planks, service roads, and mile markers). It was so quiet. And green. And peaceful. Just a perfect hike.

We made it to the cliffs and the shore of the Chesapeake, and spent a couple of hours playing along the shore. The sifters worked well, and we found pieces of fossils and water-worn rocks. There were two kids playing near us, fascinated by our sifters, so I let them play with mine while I relaxed and watched on a fallen log. When you live in a landlocked city, you forget how peaceful waves washing ashore can be, so I wanted to get lost in that for a while.

French and little Julia looking for fossils

Calvert Cliffs, from the beached log

We headed back down the trail around six … pointed the car toward DC … had more deep discussions about hot rock stars and good books and favorite songs … and simply enjoyed each other’s witty take of life.

Booze and blood loss and beach romping had worn us both out, so we stayed in Sunday night, ordering a pizza and watching a DVD. Just like we used to.


Monday’s calendar was penciled in as culture day. The National Gallery had disappointed me last summer when I popped into the East Building to pay my respects to one of my favorite pieces of art — Chuck Close’s Fanny/Fingerpainting — only to find that it was in storage (art museums often rotate their permanent collection since they don’t have room to display everything).

Fanny/Fingerpainting (Chuck Close, 1985)

So we had to go by the National Gallery so that I could once again gaze upon Close’s astonishing use of fingerprints — yes, fingerprints — to create this huge portrait of his mother-in-law. Sadly, oh so sadly, Fanny/Fingerpainting is still undeservedly stuck in storage. French and I opted to check out the Henri Rousseau show in the East Wing. We were both underwhelmed with the Rousseau collection on display, other than The Dream. I’ve always enjoyed The Dream (once had a watch with it reproduced on the face) and I liked the Rousseau work I’d seen at Paris’ Musée d'Orsay, but these paintings were flat and boring. Or maybe I just wasn’t in the mood.

Henri and I share a dream

I was restless, so it was decided that a long lunch was in order — after, of course, I picked out a bauble at the museum’s gift shop. Art museum gift shops always have the best baubles, and they’re a good reminder of the day. I found a nice pair of earrings, and we grabbed a cab.

We lunched at the Hawk ‘n’ Dove, a well-known bar in Capitol Hill. Damn good hamburger — and they actually serve it rare if you request it — but skip the gazpacho. French regaled me with tales from his recent trip to Italy, and we talked about Paris and Rome and other favorite cities. We then wandered the neighborhood streets until it was time to go back to French’s place and gather my luggage.

I made the return flight — the flight I would have preferred to miss, so that I could have taken up more of French’s time. It was marvelous to get away … but now I feel a little lonely without French by my side.

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05 August 2006

Air Travel, Cup Style

1. Wake up at 4:30 a.m. for a 9:35 flight, because you’re just too damned excited to sleep. E-mail, blog, monitor airport parking situation, watch and read the news, close the suitcase, and leave at 6:45 for that 9:35 flight. (Airport is, on weekends, less than a 30-minute drive from the Cup’s cupboard.)

2. Go to Starbucks for the morning’s triple grande nonfat latte. Glad to see that the bald and beautiful Luke is barista’ing, so get in a quick preflight flirt. Favorite barista and cocktail buddy Marlene is there, getting her pre-workout espresso; enjoy chat about weekend plans, personal dramas, and Judaism. Pull out of Starbucks at 7:25.

3. No traffic this Saturday morning, so zoom through town and to the airport. Pull into excellent space, on the end, at the airport park ‘n’ ride by 7:50; get on bus at 7:55.

4. Bus stops first at south terminal and Delta ticketing, this being Deltatown. Everyone gets off but you. Airport looks quiet, slow this morning.

5. Bus takes you to far end of the north terminal and AirTran ticketing. Where 37,812 people are lined up for curbside check-in. A seasoned traveler, you scoff at their ignorance. You never check bags; you’re a carry-on traveler who uses the automated kiosk.

6. Step inside. Another 53,972 people queued to check bags with AirTran; strange that the other airlines have no crowds. Scoff again at naïve travelers, because you’re about to kiosk it and move on.

7. Step up to kiosk terminal at 8:05. Swipe card, type in confirmation number. Your reservation can’t be found. Try again. You still don’t exist. Step to another kiosk. Find that the other kiosk is also stupid. There’s a nice ticket agent behind you, checking in carry-on folks. You ask what’s wrong; he asks which flight and airport. “Oh, ma’am, that flight is overbooked and we’re having problems in D.C. today. I can get your boarding pass.”

8. Walk dejectedly to end of line, like Charlie Brown or the “Arrested Development” cast in that Charlie Brown-inspired episode. Queue up behind the 27 people you just inwardly scoffed for not using kiosk. Now inwardly whimpering.

9. Reach ticket agent at 8:55. “Ma’am, why did you get in line? I would have printed your boarding pass for you when you asked about the problem.” Curse the good manners your mama instilled in you and the 45 minutes you just wasted.

10. Dash to security checkpoint. Panic when you see the 163,478 people in front of you. Queue up in fastest-moving line.

11. Security officer on a power trip stalks up to man just ahead of you, and orders your group through a door to a new line. Whimper that your flight leaves in 25 minutes. Hateful, unfeeling officer with ‘tude shrugs her hateful, unfeeling shoulders with ‘tude and walks away, probably giggling wickedly. Begrudgingly queue up behind other traveling lemmings.

12. Whimper as you watch other travels zip through lines, while you stand and stand and stand. And panic.

13. Line finally begins to move. Irritation boils as people ahead of you wait until they get to belt to empty pockets into bins.

14. Sandals already tucked into briefcase and baubles in purse, stroll through metal detector with non-metal confidence. No ding. It’s 9:15. You’ll just make it.

15. Get to end of belt. Another security officer, this one with less ‘tude and a hint of a kind smile, waves you over. Your bags have been randomly selected for a full search. Whimper again that your flight leaves in 20 minutes. Security officer comments that you’re carrying quite a lot of baubles for so few outfits. Inwardly scoff that men just don’t understand how bauble selection ties so closely to that day’s mood.

16. Security officer then notices laptop, which must be booted up. Whimper again, because laptop takes two or three minutes to boot up, thanks to all that damn virus and wireless protection software that takes for-f*ing-ever to load.

17. Security officer announces that you’re not smuggling pipe bombs or puppies or pomegranates. You get to go to your gate … on concourse C.

18. Grab train. Foot taps in beat with your whimpering.

19. Train stops at C. You OJ it off the train, running up the towering escalator. Trip forward, as you’re wearing a long boho skirt (not the best skirt for running up that hill).

20. Continue the OJ’ing down the concourse. Run up to gate … just as the doors close. Throw yourself against glass, pounding your fists like Benjamin Braddock, shouting “AirTran!” Plane sits there, mocking you with the same ‘tude as that security officer.

21. Walk down to next gate, ask if they can call the stew and open the door for you. After they wipe away the tears from all the laughter, they point you to customer service, where you can book another flight.

22. Queue up. Again. You’re the only person in line, but the guy getting serviced is irritated and won’t be moving soon. A nice customer service guy walks up and tells you to come with him, he can help. Glad to see that tears still work on some people.

23. Next flight to National is at 1:45. There’s a 12:30 to Dulles, but you’re a seasoned D.C. traveler and know that National is most convenient for your friend. Book the National flight. Nice AirTran man mentions that there’s wireless throughout the concourse … so at least you’ll be able to blog and e-mail during your four-hour wait.

24. Worried because you’re trying to make it to a gallery in Reston to see Renae’s photograph hanging on the wall. Call the gallery; they’re open until 5:00 p.m. Relax and call D.C. friend.

25. D.C. friend is shocked to see your name on caller ID, since you’ve never missed a damn flight in your life. (Well, except for that time when you and Dan went to San Francisco, and you’d left your driver’s license at home, and had to drive back home to get it, necessitating a rebooking for later that day. And Dan didn’t even get mad. A saint, that one.) Give friend a very longwinded version of your last 90 hellacious minutes. He adds fuel to the fires of hell, mentioning that Dulles — with that flight leaving 75 minutes before the one you picked — is just 15 minutes from the gallery. Whimpering returns.

26. Slump into gate chair, bags at your feet, and settle in for four-hour wait. Find that Hartsfield plays great music — “Don’t Dream It’s Over,” “With or Without You,” “Someone Saved My Life Tonight,” "The Way We Were." Because gate now feels like home, you feel no shame in singing along.

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Furry Happy Monsters

The folks over at AOL Music (forget Blender or Pitchfork; they’re the bastions of cool and cutting edge on the music scene) recently put together a list of the wussiest songs. Which song ranked number one? “Shiny Happy People.” Kind of have to agree with them (although I like the remixes). R.E.M. even hates the song; they refuse to play it live or include it on greatest hits package (you gotta love their integrity). I’ve heard that Michael Stipe won’t even deposit the “SHP” residuals, but instead gives those monies to charity.

The Muppets are way cooler than AOL Music, as this video shows. There's even a Kate Pierson Muppet!

Enjoy. Dance. Sing. Toss your hair and have a little fun this morning. And I have the MP3, if you must iPod it.

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04 August 2006

Oh, No You Didn’t

It was, after all, Thursday night. Your favorite cocktail night. A birthday celebration and Texas margaritas at the hip new taqueria. Giggles, gossip, and crush confessions fed your undernourished mood while fish tacos fed your overnourished belly.

You went home. The buzz fit you like a favorite sweater, the most comfortable you’ve been in days. So you kept it alive with a glass of white wine. Relaxed on the porch. Answered the thirtysomething e-mails that came in after you left the office. (Damn, that Mary makes you laugh out loud every time.) Another glass of wine as you returned calls. You remember gliding toward the boudoir, thinking you looked like Elizabeth Taylor in Butterfield 8, when you probably looked more like Liz after a weekend bender. And then it gets fuzzy. But you got some sleep for once.

The alarm clock welcomes you back to Soberville. You’re running late (of course; one should always run late on Mondays and Fridays, darling), so you dash to the shower, the makeup mirror, the closet, the baubles drawer, Starbucks — all in 37 minutes.

After that second sip of latte, the brain clouds open up and last night’s dreamscapes float through your brain. Or did you actually …?

Panic sets in. You grab the cell phone. Check the dialed numbers. Oh, sh*t. View the call info. Cringe when you see that this call you can’t recall lasted 43 minutes. F-bombs fill the car as you bruise the heel of your hand on the steering wheel. Did you Mel Gibson yourself last night?

And you’re afraid to check your e-mail sent folder, just in case you …

Must. Stop. At. Two. Margaritas.

You know that contraption habitual DUIers get, the one you must blow into before the steering wheel unlocks to make sure you’re sober enough to drive? You need one for your cell phone. One more round of tipsy telephoning and you’ll have to move to Toledo.

UPDATE: My beloved French to the rescue.

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03 August 2006

Through the Lens: Renae Edge

Renae — lifelong friend, creative goddess, photographer extraordinaire — has an opening tonight for another gallery show, at Newport's Island Arts Center, a show curated by someone smart enough to select three of her photographs. It will be a spectacular night in Newport, one I’m sorry I’ll miss.

Through the Lens: Contemporary Photography is an intimate survey of the recent work of eleven photographers from the United States and Canada. Selected by award-winning photographer and Rhode Island School of Design Professor Steve Smith, the exhibition is a snapshot of current photographic trends, including pictorial, conceptual, and photojournalistic approaches.

Eleven photographers are included in the exhibition … but it was one of Renae’s photographs selected for the invitation and the Web site. Yes, my girl has arrived.

Here are the photographs included in the Rhode Island show (which runs through August 25):

This is the photo used on the invitation.

Renae's Statement:

The Ribbon Series is shot as light and wind pass through curtains of grosgrain ribbons suspended as walls for a ceremonial tea house, resulting in what appear to be quiet landscapes of varying levels of abstraction. In printing I do little to no manipulation as I want the richness of the colors to be true to what I experienced while shooting.

The images chosen for this series are ones that allow me to remain comfortable in the suspension between the push to create a nameable place and the pull of simply enjoying the beauty of color and light. Because the images have no reference to actual landmarks or identifying features, the audience may create the reality of a landscape in their own mind, using their own references to places they have visited or imagined, making the experience with the work a personal one.

Two summers ago, Renae started thinking about getting back into photography. Last summer, she shot the Ribbon Series. This year, her work has been included in six — yes, six — exhibitions, and she had her first one-woman show last fall.

Renae has another piece in a gallery show in Reston, which I’ll see this weekend while I'm in D.C. I’ll write about that show after I’ve seen it.

Her friend Tami recently sent her a quote, which Renae forwarded to me. It defines this phase of our lives.

Remember, the longer it takes for a dream to make itself manifest, the more comfortable you'll feel owning your talent. (Sarah Ban Breathnach, Simple Abundance)

Renae definitely owns her talent. I'm so proud of her. She inspires me every day.

I’ve loved* this woman for forty years. We stayed children as long as we could, playing in the creek, imaginations running wild. We watched each other grow from geeky to groovy, introverted to extroverted. Renae brought art into my world, from being in her poster- and artbook-filled home every day, to her taking the time to find art history books and tab the important pages for me to study, to wandering through museums and galleries. She was born to create, and now she is.

For more information on Renae’s work — and the opportunity to purchase some beautiful artwork before she explodes on the art scene and her prices skyrocket — go to RenaeEdge.com.

*To hell with the Cup Challenge. There is no better word to describe my feelings for Renae.

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Tom Waits. The Tabernacle. Tuesday.

I’ve spent the last thirty hours thinking about the show. Reliving it in my head. Keeping it internal, for the most part, to better commit it to memory. I listened to Tom Waits nonstop at work yesterday. Even graveled my voice once or twice. Now I’m ready to type.

Tuesday’s show was, quite possibly, the best, most exciting show I’ve seen in five years. And I’ve seen a lot of good concerts in that half a decade. Thing is, I’m not this raving Tom Waits fan (and you know I rave a lot about a lot). I’ve always enjoyed his music — The Heart of Saturday Night is in my Top 100 — but I have just five or six albums. However, I felt compelled to go, that it was a must for someone who loves music and concerts as much as I do. I’m glad I felt the must to go. Tom Waits was a-f*cking-mazing.

This was Tom Waits’ first appearance in Atlanta since 1978 — an absence of near thirty years. Waits has named this the Orphan Tour. I did a little reading online, and found that “orphan” doesn’t refer to a new album, but instead the cities — places where he hasn’t performed in years. He’s performing in seven U.S. cities, and Atlanta was the first stop of the tour.

I don’t want to do a concert review here. There are better ones out there by my fellow bloggers, so read their posts:
What We All Want
Shiver Me Quivers
The Eyeball Kid
Making a Long Story Longer

The AJC has a review and photos of Tuesday’s show.

The lights dimmed. The audience roared. Palpable anticipation, as the band filled the stage, waiting for him to walk out. Shall I add the concert cliché the crowd went nuts? Yes, I should, because I’ve rarely been part of such anticipation, such excitement in the seconds before a show began. Truly shiver me timbers (my favorite Waits song, which he didn’t perform).

The pork-pied Waits walked out and exultation filled the Tabernacle (“exultation” may seem over the top, but it isn't, not this time). He started with “Make It Rain,” and rain it did. Each one of us was in the moment, in his palm. It was, from the first note to the last encore, a spectacular show. I wasn’t familiar with all songs, but that was beside the point. This was Tom Waits performing, talking, moving. “Concert” seems too tame a word to describe the event. To be in a room and hear that voice, those lyrics come alive ... well, I can't find the words to do it justice (especially during the Cup Challenge).

And the lighting. The stage was simply set, with just the musicians and their instruments. A curtain backdropped the three-story wall behind them. The lights were set so that Tom Waits’ shadow loomed large on the curtain, yet didn’t show the band. Waits moved in his frenetic style, casting these two-story reflections that looked like an Indonesian shadow puppet show. I found myself several times entranced by the shadow and the music, forgetting to watch the man himself.

He performed for nearly two hours, including two short encores. To hear his voice live … well, it’s indescribable. Tom Waits is like no other, and I got to be a part of that for a night.

I’ve always had a soft spot for Tom Waits’ character in Short Cuts, hoping that Earl is close to the real Tom Waits. His complete love* for Lily Tomlin’s Doreen is beautiful. Tuesday night, I felt like I was with Earl.

I’ll skip the long story about the long wait, the long lines, the not-so-long delay. But we waited in the sun for a couple of hours, another hour locked in the Cotton Club during the sound check, then a couple more hours as fans picked up their tickets. All tickets were distributed at the Tabernacle, per Tom Waits’ request, to cut the scalpers at their knees, and he held the show until every person was inside. (Thanks to those of you who indulged me with cell chats and text messaging during the long wait.)

Surprisingly, the wait in the sun wasn’t bad. I bought my ticket from Lance, a true Tom Waits fan who will see the show twice more (can’t wait to hear about Memphis and the Ryman, Lance!). He got in line 1:30 and was one of the first in queue, with several Raindogs (fellow fans). Lance could not have been more gracious, welcoming me into their afternoon club. He shared his beer, his cooler, and his Waits-filled stereo with us. They were a great bunch of guys, and I had fun talking about different shows we’d seen, who was amazing and who sucked. Nothing like a long discussion of concerts to keep me from noticing the broiling sun. I lost them once the show began; they ringed the stage, and I left that position for the more rabid fans.

As a whole, the audience was one of the greatest gatherings of thousands I’ve been a part of. Very respectful of the man and the music. It’s rare to have that many people stand quietly while a musician performs, but stand quietly they did. (But not still. We danced and swayed with the music.) And shushed those few who had to chat or let loose a war whoop. They were also respectful of the rest of us. I’m of average height, but I feel like Mary Lou Retton in a general-admission setting. Whenever I moved to a new spot, the person in front of me, nearly every time, turned and asked if I could see, if he needed to shift. Or we’d catch eyes and just grin. Lots of joyful faces in that room.

When the show ended, I was wiped. Spent. Near sleep on my feet. And yet I wasn’t ready to go home. So I went to the drive-in at the Varsity, enjoyed a chili steak and FO, and just stared and thought and relived. Drove home my favorite way, from one end of Peachtree to the other, sunroof open, radio off, reliving what I had just experienced.

I’m sorry that I saw this show by myself because it’s one I want to talktalktalktalk about. But I saw it, and I’m glad, so very glad, that Lance was generous and fair with his spare ticket. He’s this month’s hero.

*Allowed during the Cup Challenge; it’s used here as a noun, not a verb.


02 August 2006

The Cup Challenge: Midweek Standings

Day three of the Cup Challenge. Five posts published. Let's see how we're faring in this difficult event:

brilliant = 0*

excellent = 0

fabulous = 0

fantastic = 0

wonderful = 0

love = 0.5, in Bob and Karen Had It Right. But if your aunt catches it at 5:51 a.m., you get a do-over. And so I did that sentence over.

great = 1, in Al Green: Greatest Hits (Vol. 1 and 2), caught by that eagle-eyed professor and music genius, Scrivener. But, dammit, those were marvelous clubs.

*Okay, the cousin nailed me in the comment boxes, but that's the free zone, kids. I need to be me somewhere.

So, 1.5 slip-ups. I was hoping for a perfect score, but I can live with that. Thanks for keeping me between the lines, readers.

* * * * * *


A Star Is Born

Mike Luckovich, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial cartoonist, is on vacation. Before he left for his much deserved r’n’r, he solicited cartoons from readers. Randy, my dear friend since junior high and an avid reader of the Cup, submitted this cartoon:

Can I just say that I like Mike Luckovich’s weekly planner? The man has his priorities straight. I need to get one of those planners.

Mr. Luckovich was also impressed with Randy’s entry.

Of the more than 200 cartoons I saw, some were very good and some of them stunk. Here are two of my favorites. The first, by Mike Phillips of Cumming, caught my eye because the artwork is so good. This person can draw. I also liked Randy [surname deleted for privacy’s sake, in case he’s headed toward fame and forture]'s offering. Even though it isn't technically a cartoon, it was funny, pointed and communicated his message clearly. Thanks to everyone for participating, and next summer when I'm on vacation, we'll do it again.

Randy's cartoon is in today’s edition, in case you want to clip it and save it in your “I knew him when” folder. I did. And I’m going to have mine autographed.

Congratulations, Randy!

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