Friday, September 23, 2011

A Della Mae Threefer

Della Mae just posted three new videos on YouTube. Really nice ones, too, that really show off not just their talents as musicians but also a flavor of the energy you'll see when they're on stage.

We got turned on to them when Sue started taking fiddle lessons at Club Passim from two-time National Fiddle Champion Kimber Ludiker, Della Mae's fiddle player. The next step was easy: Grab some tickets to one of their concerts and you'll be hooked.

Anyway, give 'em a listen. Here are their three new videos.

Blessed Hands

Polk County

Jamie Dear

Thursday, September 22, 2011

I'm Stoned Again

Two days ago I woke up and knew something wasn't right. The fact that it was 6:30 in the a.m. was part of it. I'm rarely awake at that hour. But the pain, discomfort, and general ill feeling was telling me something I was hoping I could head off with a glass of water laced with a bit of orange juice. Not a chance. When you've got kidney stones, you're a goner. Nothing, and I mean nothing, short of some serious intravenous pain killers that you can only get from serious medical professionals, can get you through what a minuscule crystal is about to put you through.

"Oooh, kidney stones. I've heard they're pretty painful." They're the one thing a man can throw at a woman if she starts going on about the pain of labor. Granted, the thing that comes out in one is nothing compared to the thing that comes out in the other, but pain for pain, women even back down from kidney stones. They're even more painful than the excruciating pain I had to bear last fall when I learned I had spinal stenosis. That's a condition caused by your spinal column being too small for your spinal chord. You know what that is, right? It's the entire bundle of nerves that run up and down your spine. Yeah, kidney stones hurt more than that. They hurt more than the symptoms I was exhibiting, numb and paralysis in my leg. Shooting pains up and down my leg, all the way to my ankle. A charlie horse that I called, the Mother of all Charlie Horses. Yeah, kidney stones hurt more than the Mother of all Charlie Horses.

In the ER, the drill is simple. I writhe in pain on a gurney while nurses take blood and my vitals. Then they hook you up to an IV to force fluids in you. You want to hose the mother out. In the meantime, I might be weeping like a Nancy or if I feel like it, vomiting. Real serious pain causes nausea, did you know that? Then the drugs come and you lie there experiencing the best dreams you've ever had in your life. Eventually they let you go with prescriptions for enough Oxy with a street value that could pay off my school loans. And now they also give you this other drug that helps you pee like a racehorse. Like I said, the idea is to hose the little bastard right out of you.

In the meantime, the stone is taking its sweet time negotiating your bladder and ureters, and your body, sensing this intruder, feels that a fever and general malaise is the best thing it can do under the circumstances.

So, you drink and drink and drink. You're supposed to drink up three quart of water a day. Night and day, you're in and out, in and out of the bathroom.  Let it be known that there reaches a point in taking in that much water that it turns from drinking to drowning. Eventually, you can't stand water because you're just forcing it in. Can you say bloated?

I get to the point where I'll drink anything except water. Water with OJ maybe. Today I drank pot after pot of herbal tea with honey, but that eventually starts to get to you, too. Oh, and with all this liquid intake, there's that drug working on you, so you're running to the bathroom every whipstitch.

I don't even want to go into what happens in the bathroom.

Monday, September 19, 2011

The Lost Notebooks of Hank Williams VIDEO

Well, the video is pretty much a seven-minute long commercial to buy the CD, but it's not like it's Netflix trying to screw you. It's not a huge box set with "extras" that so many recording artists are putting out now, either, for a couple of hundred dollars, not understanding or caring that that amount of money for some music lovers now pays for the heat or for food on the table. It doesn't sell for a lot, and it's looks like it's a compilation of a bunch of old songs never recorded by Hank Williams by a bunch of really talented and passionate musicians. I just always grind my teeth, though, when I see the CEO or president of this or that company talking folksy. I don't understand why they just don't stay in their fancy offices and continue to just pull in their overpriced paychecks. Why do they have to get out and mingle with the rest of us? Now that is something Hank would say, so I think it's totally appropriate.

The Lost Notebooks of Hank Williams EPK from Columbia Records on Vimeo.

Hey Netflix's Reed Hastings: Your Skin's Hanging Off Your Bones

Reed Hastings, co-founder and CEO of Netflix, came out with this big mea culpa on Netflix's blog and in text messages for raising prices, apologizing for being the arrogant, greedy bastards they are (wow, 20-20 hindsight, huh, Reed?)

What an example of damage control, huh? Take a look.  

And if you believe that, as they say I've got a bridge I'd like to sell you. What you are looking at is the product of hours and hours of meetings and conference calls and emails and a helluva lot of money in costs--probably more money than many of us will make in ten years--to PR agencies and corporate communication professionals. The whole tone and premise is we want to show our human side, when all along we can see it Reed: You're skin's hanging off your bones. What you're seeing is an alien life form trying to act human.

Netflix is just one snake in a nest of snakes comprising the home entertainment business. We know the entertainment business is cutthroat, and these third-tier providers are the true bottom feeders. Netflix's business was taking in water everywhere. It wasn't just customers jumping ship. It's own "partners"--which is a business term akin to a Facebook "friend"--trying to take them for whatever they can. This business is just a passle of jackals.

"Two weeks ago, negotiations between Netflix and Starz, the premium pay-TV provider, broke down. Starz owns the Internet rights to titles from Sony and Disney, so it is an important source of films and TV shows for Netflix. But Starz is reportedly asking for a $300 million deal, or 10 times the $30 million agreement it penned in 2008 and Netflix doesn’t want to pay." Here's the source of that quote.

Netflix, partially through its own doing and partially because of the Darwinian law that rules the business, was the wounded antelope on the Serengeti, with the lions closing in. Netflix's last option was to actually try to appear human and appeal for mercy from people who don't have a clue about the true nature of the game.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Della Mae- Blessed Hands

To anyone who has a hard life. To anyone for whom life can be, at times, hard. For all of us who find joy and inspiration in music and what it can do for the soul. This is music based in what I feel is real life, filled with human interaction and love.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

I'm Becoming a Huge Tom Russell Fan. What About You?

Been digging through YouTube for Tom Russell videos just to get stoked for his concert next Tuesday at Club Passim. And just about everything I click on I love. Great American stories. Not the crap the Tea Party/GOP is slathering on the public like lard on toast. These are real American stories, based in the Old West (stand up tall next to Sam Shepard.)

These are just a few of his songs I could listen to over and over. Real, impassioned stories.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

East of Woodstock, West of Vietnam

Going to see Tom Russell at Club Passim next Tuesday, September 20. Maybe you should, too.

Here's East of Woodstock, West of Vietnam.

Tift Merritt--Stray Paper

And while I'm back on posting songs, here's one I stumbled on. Tift Merritt is someone who's on my short list to see. I missed her the one time I can remember her coming here to Boston--she played at the MFA, that's the Museum of Fine Arts and I can't imagine this act playing at that staid place. She probably played an acoustic set.

I know I learned about her a while back on one of those compilation CDs that music magazines are wont to put out, a good idea that I'm sure a lot of labels balk at. I mean, you can't just give it away for free, the greasy suits with the nice haircuts say.

You can see from this that this woman has some serious rock-country chops. And she's got an awesome band backing her up.

Enough. I'm just blathering. Just listen. And hang in there because there's a nice surprise at the end.

The Weight--Gillian Welch & Old Crow Medicine Show

Crap rattles around in my head. The Internet doesn't help. Actually, the Internet is an enabler. I can surf and follow my nose like an old bloodhound following a scent over the horizon into oblivion. From this tree to that rock over this stretch of sand and the next thing I know I'm around the bend and everyone is out of sight. Which is usually the way I like things.

I criticize my own daughter for posting songs on her blog simply because they resonate with her. You got to add your own voice, I tell her. Give it more value and pass it along, I say in words that make me wince now that I've realized they came out of my own mouth and now that I think about it. I've been guilty of doing that more than once in this space, and who cares? Music speaks for itself, doesn't it? Do I have to add words, words, words? More noise to the world when the music simply wants to be heard?

Anyway, as I was following my nose this morning, I found this and I would have loved to have been sitting in that audience just taking it all in.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Back to Square One with the Guitar

Graduate school was one of the most intense long-term experiences I've had in a while. Not that I don't get intense experiences almost on a daily basis. I mean, check out the economy. As I used to say when I started freelancing, homelessness and starvation are great motivators. There's nothing like the realization that I may still end up on a park bench in my old age, huddled under a raggedy-ass thin blanket in the snow. Seriously, I've thought of it. What do you do when the money runs out?

Look back on that first sentence and realize that what grad school was, was long-term. It was a non-stop shot out of a canon where you just kept flying through the air and you never thought you were going to land. I'm reading comments, primarily on Facebook, of people who have started the program at BPT and they are completely overwhelmed, exactly the way I was a year ago. I mean, when do I sleep? When do I see Sue? When do I do anything except study? Even, with all the studying and the completing responsibilities toward your stipend, when do I write? Well, it all came together, you slip into a mean routine and just ride it out.

Now, I'm trying to cobble a life. I'm looking for work, and I'll probably blog about that at some point when I get over the fact that I got hammered on an interview for a job that I thought I had, but didn't really want in the first place, but I had to go for something. I mean, I think I'm done with the corporate world and I certainly don't want to shill for an insurance company, which is what this interview was for. That seriously shows how desperate I am, that I said, Insurance?--no problemo. I'll just check my soul here at the door before I wipe my feet. I never did fit in that well to begin with, and now as I've gotten older and set in the writing world, I fit in even less. I think Sue said it best, It's almost like they can smell I'm an outsider. But the work scene is scary. I want to teach, and teaching jobs are scarce, just like any other job. But I'm...hopeful.

Tonight, though, I got back to music lessons, something I had to give up while in school and something I missed so much. And maybe I'll need the lessons some day in case I need to busk in Park Street. I did have a teacher who once said, in all sincerity, that all musicians should have the experience of playing out on the street or in subway stations. I guess there's a visceral grittiness that happens that leads to the blues. I don't know.

I did get rusty. I was really cruising along, learning and growing as a musician, but then I had to make some real choices and cut things out of my life and just dedicate all my talents and energy to playwriting. Sometimes I wouldn't touch a guitar for a week or two. Or I'd just pick it up and dust it, since that's all it was doing was collecting dust. Or I'd walk past it and run my fingers along the strings like you would a picket fence on the street. That's all changed, and tonight Joe, my old timey teacher, got me started back on square one. Start reading music. Start playing E, F, and G on the first string, and tap it out with my foot. Three notes. It's all back to square one stuff. I don't mind though. I'm back at it. And I want to get into songwriting seriously. I mean, what am I really supposed to do in Park Street?--cover old Lowell George songs? Still, I do love this one.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Saturday reading...

There are a few things I'd like to get out of my system here, but a couple of things.

It's a beautiful Saturday and Sue and I are soon going to meet some wonderful friends for a trip to the ICA in Boston, so I don't want to spend my time blogging, for cripe's sake.

The other thing is, as much as I'm for openness and truthfulness, I've learned to censor myself a little bit. If you want to get a glimpse of what I'd really like to be talking about here--and I'm still trying to figure out the best way to do it without shooting myself completely in the foot--check out my Twitter feed. Yeah, it's still Johnny vs. The Volcano a.k.a Corporate America. Why do I even keep trying?

But, in lieu of some hot gossip, check out for some of the latest posts on theater and playwriting there.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Kenny Fuentes Asked For This Recipe & It's Too Good To Keep A Secret

The last time I saw Kenny Fuentes, the artistic director at the Colab Theater, was last night at Krista D'Agostino's good-bye party and he was taking a poll asking if it's cheating on your spouse if you...well, let's just put aside what the circumstance Kenny was proposing.

Anyway, before that, we were talking about food. Good food. Because he and Bob Mussett, along with Krista, had cooked up a Chicken McNuggett casserole. I don't even want to tell you what these folks do with bacon.

But anyway, we got to talking about recipes and Sue said I had this kick-ass recipe for chicken that I cook at Christmastime. Kenny asked for it, saying he'd be too lazy too cook it but might find someone to do it for him.

I was thinking this recipe is too good to keep secret. So Kenny, here ya go. I hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoy hanging out with you. And anyone else who wants to give it a go, try it out.

Now, as far as your question, Kenny--Don't both people have to be alive to do that??

Roasted Chicken with Holiday Stuffing
Recipe courtesy Martin Yan
Show: Cooking Live  Episode: Feast with Martin Yan
 Recipe Summary
Prep Time: 8 hours            Cook Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
2 tablespoons dark soy
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 tablespoon honey
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1(2 1/2) pound spring chicken

1/4 cup dried chestnuts
3 dried black mushrooms
1 tablespoon cooking oil
2 Chinese sausage (2 ounces each), diced
2 medium shallots, thinly sliced
2 stalks green onions, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
2 tablespoons oyster-flavored sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 cup cooked glutinous rice(sweet rice)

Combine marinade ingredients in a bowl. Rub chicken inside and out with marinade. Cover and refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight. Stuffing: Soak the dried chestnuts overnight in water. Place them in a pan with water and simmer, covered, until soft, about 30 minutes; drain. Discard the stems and thinly slice the mushroom caps. Place a wok over high heat until hot. Add oil, swirling to coat sides. Add sausage; stir-fry until sausage is slightly crisp, 11/2 to 2 minutes. Add shallots, green onions, chestnuts, mushrooms and cilantro. Cook for 1 minute. Stir in oyster-flavored sauce, and sesame oil. Remove pan from heat and add rice; mix well. Let stuffing cool. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Just before roasting, place stuffing inside chicken; enclose with skewers. Place chicken, breast side up, on a rack in a roasting pan. Insert a meat thermometer into the thickest part of thigh meat, without touching bone. Bake until thermometer registers 180 to 185 degrees, about 1 to 11/2 hours. During the last half of roasting time, baste chicken occasionally with pan juices.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Controversial Commercial In Australia On Fertility: What do you think?

Australian ad agency Rhodes Shapter Dale Rhodes has produced a commercial that will air on Australian television for a fertility clinic that shows a birth taking place.

I guess it's causing a stir there. Geez, for my money, I'd rather see semi-clever ads for beer like this one, wouldn't you?

Okay, if you ignore all the cliches, from fostering (hey get it, fostering!) a national stereotype, to  setting back male/female relationships about sixty years, it is kind of funny. Hey, it's beer, right? This is the reason, though, why I don't own a television set. If I was subjected to that commercial over and over and over again, along with the rest of the campaign, I'm sure I'd have this sense that my brain and intellect was under the influence of about a case of Fosters. Which I guess is what they want.

Anyway, here's the fertility ad. What do you think? I actually like it. It's pretty to watch, but the maybe five times I've watched it now has really made me hate that heavenly host music.

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