Our Encounter with a Public Servant

We were waited on by Sharon Barksdale.

“You ever see The Wire?”

“Folks ask me that all the time.”

“It’s good.”

“Yeah, I like it.  People are always asking me if I’m related.”

“Don’t you just want to be like ‘It’s a tv show.  It’s not real.’?”

“No way.  Since that show came on the air, I’m the one person here who never gets any trouble.”

I Just Woke Up, but I’m Feeling Good

My feel good Friday is complicated a little by the douchiness of some record company somewhere, but what can you do?  I’ll just say up front that I prefer the CCR version of this song, but the cymbal in Hawkin’s version is so amazing that it’s almost a song all by itself.

So here’s the video, with no sound (click on through to see the poster’s take on it):

And here’s the song.  Tell me if that’s not the greatest cymbal you’ve ever heard?

Don’t Count on Mrs. Wigglebottom for This

I can tell you right now that, if we had an armed intruder, the only reason Mrs. Wigglebottom would rush in from the other room would be to throw me in the line of fire to protect herself.  I’d have to shout, “Oh no!  That armed intruder is about to take your bone and give it to the cats!!!!!” to get her to take things seriously.

But I’d hate to be him, then.

Ha, but you know her.  She’d be all shot three times and she’d be running around like she hadn’t a care in the world.  I could pull the bullets out of her with a rusty pair of tweezers and she’d still be like “Is that all you’ve got?”

But god forbid I try to cut her nails.

Let me tell you, you hear all kinds of stuff about why the Fenris wolf bit Tyr’s hand off, but anyone with a pitbull knows the real reason is that Tyr came at him with nail clippers.

Liveblogging AT&T

So, I have no phone service because they don’t think I’ve paid my bill–since September.  This is a great surprise to my checking account, which has seen AT&T cash every check I’ve sent them for the past three months.

I’ve talked to two different people already and I’m now sitting on hold while they try to decide if my “ghost account” is the one who’s been sending me bills.

Possibly.  But then, where is that money going?  And, why haven’t I gotten a bill from my non-dead account, ever?

I hope they can straighten this out and apply the money to the right account, because I don’t have three months’ worth of money to send them.

Hurray!  They seem to have found the money.  I’m back on hold.

It’s complicated.  Back on hold.

I now am curious about who the woman who does the hold voice-over is.  I also wonder how long I could have gone without phone service before I noticed.  But you wonder, does she do a lot of hold information or do they just rope one of the more well-spoken operators into it?

The funny thing is that while the person helping me is quietly typing, I can hear the person near her gossiping about what’s for dinner.  Italian, in case you’re curious.

It took an hour but I am back in business!!!!

I Wonder about that More and More

This morning, I was listening to the radio and there was a Budweiser commercial on and it was all about how, even though Bud is brewed at 12 different places all over the country, every day they fly a sample to the brew master in one central location to so that he can make sure all our crappy beer has the same level of crappiness and you won’t be accidetally surprised to find that Bud Light suddenly has taste.

Fine.

But I hope they’re FedExing those beers.  The tone of the commercial, though, makes it sound like Budweiser  has twelve private jets which make one round-trip every day to some central location (I presume St. Louis) to deliver one lone beer.  And I couldn’t help but think, “People all over are losing their jobs and you’re talking about how great it is that you fly beer cross-country?”

It just seemed tone-deaf.

And then, over on NPR, they were talking about the lay-offs there.

And now Mrs. B brings up something that nags at the back of my mind:

The really shitty thing is, if Les Moonves or Katie Couric, both multi-bazillionaires gave up just one weeks pay, they could have saved these 40 peoples jobs.

And you wonder, why don’t they?

But Who Did Bob Marley Steal From?

Okay, I’ll admit, this post has nothing to do with Bob Marley directly.  It’s basically announcing that I am marrying Ted Barron’s blog, because I can’t imagine anything making me happier today than hearing Tommy McCook doing “(Music is My) Occupation” back to back with Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire.”  I laughed with delight at that, my friends, believe me.

A post like this is like a snapshot of Nashville’s magic, mid-trick.  Where we’re making music of all sorts and sending it out into the world, only to have it sent back to us in forms we never imagined.

The late 40s/early 50s in Nashville, like in much of the country, were a bullshit time.  But it was also a time when musical exchanges in town happened like this all the time, that musicians of all stripes who were crazy about jazz would defy the law and social convention to hide away in the back of clubs on Jefferson after hours to play together or all search out the newest Bullet release and memorize it.

And I love knowing that some of that energy was strong enough to carry the music clear to Jamaica and back.

I now formally apologize for being one of those folks who rolled her eyes at Kenny Chesney and the Wailers.  Little did I know, Kenny!  You were just taking the next step in a long dance.

As I’ve said repeatedly, and will say until I’m convinced otherwise, American music at its best can be summed up in those lyrics shared by Johnson and Jackson, “the woman I love took from my best friend/ Some joker got lucky stole her back again.”

I’m Getting Mrs. Wigglebottom a Bathmat for Christmas

The dog’s knee is almost to the point where she could do what she wanted, if she wanted, but not quite  Which means that, if there’s thunder or some other weird noise, she has no problem jumping into my bed, but if she just wants to get up in it, she’s got to pace around and sigh and otherwise try to wake me up without seeming like she’s trying to wake me up so that I will lift her into the bed.

This has been the opposite of pleasant for me because she’s got some boney elbows, let me tell you.  And when you’re trying to lift her up, she’s pushing at least one of those elbows right into your arm.

I have finally figured out how to get the dog into the bed with no pain to me.

I put the bathmat down next to the bed.  Now, she’s got a little something she can grab onto and–voila!–she can leap up into the bed.  My problems solved.

Grandma Has No Use for Sports Bras

I think I told you that my Grandma fell and broke her shoulder right before Thanksgiving.  And they debated whether to do surgery and then they did and blah, blah, blah, very stressful.

So for reasons known only to my mom, she purchased for my grandma some sports bras to wear.  I don’t know.  The Nazerenes tell my mom crap and she writes it down and then we’re all stuck with it.  And why the Nazarenes think that a woman with a busted up shoulder would even be able to put a sports bra on is beyond me.

But that is not the point of my story.

The point of my story is that my Grandma refused the sports bra.  She is, she announced, 87, which is too old to wear a bra in times like these.

A Day Without Gay Day

As much as I would love to see what would happen if every gay person in the Country Music industry just stayed home, the whole Day without Gay Day thing strikes me funny.

Not that I don’t think it’s a good idea, but you can still be fired for being gay in Tennessee.  It’s perfectly legal.

So, if you had the guts to stay home today anyway, you have my admiration.

But it seems to me to kind of show a fundimental problem with where the Gay Rights movement is at the moment–in that depending on where you live, you might have a whole lot more rights than someone in another part of the country.  So, the risks for someone in Tennessee calling out are a lot greater than the risks for someone in California.

Not that that means there shouldn’t be this kind of demonstration.

I don’t know.  I’m torn.

Go read Brent Rolen or we can all watch John Stewart take it to Mike Huckabee while I think it over.

Watching It Doesn’t Clarify

I just can’t decide if The Mentalist is the worst new show this season or the best.

I’m also of the opinion that I should be able to kick the Butcher for giving me this cold.  And I would, except that, even knowing how bad it is, I’m that jerk who goes to work anyway.  And I certainly don’t want my co-workers kicking me.

Also, apropos of nothing, I wish Attack of the Show would get a different sex expert.  How can you have a sex expert who’s as straight-laced as her and be effective?  So, for the record, gentlemen, it does not make you gay if your girlfriend pegs you.  It’s not icky or weird.

Yes, I’ve been stewing about that for weeks.  But it irritates me that somehow “pretty girl who’s willing to talk about sex” somehow equals “sex expert,” especially when her advice is so bad.

Now is the Time for All Good Citizens of Illinois to Weigh In

How are we scoring this Governor’s scandal?

Here’s my thinking.  I’m giving him an 8 for “You want my help selling Wrigley Field?  Stop the Trib from writing bad things about me.”  It’s audacious, but the hint of insecurity it reveals is unbecoming in a scandal.  We’ll call this category “Bullying.”

I’m whole-hog giving him a perfect 10 (shoot, I’d give him an 11, if I could) for his efforts to basically sell Obama’s senatorial seat for his own personal gain.  Category: Audacity.

I’m adding five points outside of regular scoring for even contemplating just taking the seat himself.

But I can only give him a 3 out of 10 for “Likelihood of success.”

So out of a possible thirty points, I’m giving him a 26.

What say you?

Three categories–Bullying, Audacity, and Likelihood of Success.  Ten points each.

Stay Classy, Kay Brooks

You know folks are getting serious when they start posting their opponants’ addresses on the internet, that’s all I can say.

My favorite part of this post is the implication that there’s something untoward about the Nashville Peace and Justice Center being involved with the Unitarians and the Quakers.  Ha ha ha.  Oh, yeah, I was totally going to vote against Crafton’s measure until I saw that the Quakers were somehow tangentially related!

Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha.

Anyway, I call dirty pool.  Posting or drawing attention to people’s home addresses when it comes to an issue as heated as this is uncalled for and unnecessary.

Come on, Brooks.  You are better than that.

You Wanna Do Right, but Not Right Now

So, Braisted is up in arms that the feminists are all up in arms about Jon Favreau being a massive ass-hat.

Maybe they should’ve thought through the political ramifactions of this photo being released to the public and being run through the prism of postmodern feminist theory…but I’m guessing it was a fraction of a second decision made after having had quite a few beers over the course of a very long day. If Obama cut short the career of one of the most promising political speechwriters of our generation for politically expedient reasons, I’d lose a tremendous amount of respect for him.

I have but one comment.  If progressive men want progressive women to be a part of the progressive movement, you need to at least act like you get our concerns.  You want to do right in the world?  Then fucking do right.

Starting with, when you’re feeling pissed at a woman, or proud of your work defeating her as a worthy opponant, or whatever, refrain from celebrating by demeaning her sexually.  Because, let me clue you in, gentlemen, while you might think it’s hilarious to grab a woman’s breast or to mimick grabbing a woman’s breast or joke about grabbing a woman’s breat, we’re not laughing.

Having your boob grabbed when you’d rather it not be grabbed is always infuriating and often pretty fucking terrifying.

If you don’t understand that, and if you don’t understand why we’d rather you not joke about it, THEN YOU SHOULDN’T BE WRITING SPEECHES FOR ANY DEMOCRAT.

If you are with us, then you need to be with us.  Simple as that.

If we really are liberals or progressives or whatever the fuck we’re calling ourselves this week, then we don’t get to put off being good to each other until some other, more convenient time–you know, when you’re not drunk, when you’re not trying to impress your friends, when you aren’t so in need of blowing off a little steam, once you’re done winning the election.

We’re either all in together or we’re not.

It doesn’t look like Favreau is going to lose his job, but who gives two shits if he does?  It’s not like he’s the only guy who knows the cure for cancer, so that we have to put up with all sorts of bad behavior or otherwise people will suffer.  He’s just a dude who can string some words together.  Lots of folks can do that.

So, Who Did Muddy Waters Steal From?

Mack asks me questions like that, just to get me going.  I never, of course, ask him any questions just to watch him go off.

But this is actually an interesting question, one easily addressed, thanks to John Work III, in a book I happen to have right in front of me–Lost Delta Found.  (And may I just point out that the Holiday sale price of that book is incredibly, generously, low, and must have been decided by a person of such great character and kindness that I took her out to lunch today to Qdoba, where she had a pork burrito and mourned the fact that they were all out of chocolate brownies?)–we can answer that question.

Morganfield’s influences, by his own admission, were Son House–“His musical career began with a harmonica, but after listening to “Son” House play the guitar, there developed within him an ambition he could not restrain to play that instrument.”  (p. 118).  (That’s Work’s phrasing and it’s so delicious.  I about want to run out and develop within me an ambition I cannot restrain.)–and Robert Johnson.  The first song he learned on the guitar was “How Long Blues” and he was “in great demand among the plantation folk, both Negro and white.”  (p. 119).  The white dancers wanted to hear old reels, though they did enjoy it when he performed the “St. Louis Blues.”  Work reports, “Muddy water would like to join the church but to do so would mean abandoning his guitar–a sacrifice too dear to make now.”

He v. She

I have been intensly curious to see where Ariah ends up in his efforts to use feminine pronouns to refer to his God all this month.  And I hope he sticks with it.

The post I linked to is his effort to address some of the concerns about the post in which he announces his intentions.

I didn’t comment over there, since I don’t have a dog in that fight any more.  But I have been thinking about it–how soul lonely it is to want so much to feel connected to the Christian God and to feel like that’s never going to be possible because He’s a “he” and you’re not.

And I get Ariah’s commenters who are concerned that doing such a “crazy” experiment might turn off or confuse outsiders, but what about it being a spiritual lifeline to women who would, like I eventually did, otherwise leave the Church?  Are those hypothetical outsiders worth so much more than the real people who feel cut off from your God by your language?

I eventually came to the same conclusion Ariah’s commenter does who believes that God, being all-powerful could have referred to himself as something other than Him, if He’d cared to.  That’s, in part, why I left.  I experienced it as God pulling away from me, first–that constant reaffirmation, “I’m not like you.”

Okay, then, fine.  If you don’t like me, I’m a jackass for hanging around.

But it does seem to me that there is another path and I am cheering for anyone who struggles to take it.

Is there a Double Agent at the RIAA?

Courtesy of Radley Balko, we learn that the RIAA is taking after a girl too sick and too poor to defend herself.  At this point, one wonders if there’s someone at the RIAA trying to take it down from the inside through bad publicity.

Going after sick people and children, it just leaves a bad taste in people’s mouths.  And, if I were a recording artist, I guess I’d want to know where the hell the big successes were.  After all, how many lectures have we had to sit through year after year during the Grammy Awards about what a big problem illegal downloading is and how it’s ruining the industry?

And the biggest villians they can come up with, year after year, seem to be children.

I know everyone knows the problem, but let me just reiterate it.  Whether or not it’s true, everyone assumes that record companies have artists trapped in unfair contracts in which the record companies get rich and only a very lucky few artists do.  Music piracy doesn’t feel like stealing; it feels like sticking it to the record companies.  After all, we are showing our solidarity to the artist, by listening to her music.

Having the record companies, or another big faceless entity like the RIAA, go after children doesn’t do much to show the general public that those attitudes are wrong.

The education is going to have to come at an artist level.

Look at the whole Amanda Palmer incident.  Her label acted like gigantic piggish assholes (“my favorite quote from that meeting: ‘i’m a guy, amanda. i understand what people like.'”), and people were rightly outraged.  They wanted to figure out how to support Palmer and show their disdain for her record company.  But how to do that?

Amanda Palmer’s people explain:

If you are new to Amanda’s music and you wish to listen/buy some of it, please do not punish her financially for her label’s sins by stealing it off the internet. Buying her music from her website will ensure that the largest % of profit goes to her.

Ta Da! It wasn’t the point of the whole thing, but now people who want to support Palmer know how to do so both in spirit and financially.

Why is that such a hard message for the RIAA to formulate and get out?

Tarot Reading

I do a lot less tarot card reading for people the better I get at it.  To me, a good tarot card reading is like reading a map to a place you’ve never been trying to help someone who’s driving, but doesn’t know where they’re going, figure out where they are.  And that requires really being open to what the person sitting across from you is going through and that takes a lot out of a person.  And when it works well, the experience can be even tougher.

I don’t think there’s anything supernatural to tarot card reading, though.  The more I do it, the more I’m convinced it’s pretty ordinary.  But I say that with a huge caveat–and that caveat being that I do think there are a lot of very ordinary experiences  that people regularly have that are right now dismissed as being impossible, but will probably, in the future, seem mundane.

Like, to go back to the “illusions” we talked about earlier in the week–the people who see their dead loved ones at the moment of that loved one’s death.  For me, that doesn’t even have to be about a ghost or the afterlife or whatever.  I think it’s clear that we are connected to each other in ways we don’t yet have science-y explanations for–especially because we are so committed to believing ourselves to be autonomous individuals, to understanding ourselves as such–and that when that connection is broken, as it is at death, sometimes we have knowledge of that break.  Our minds might process that knowledge through the “illusion” of that person calling out to us or appearing before us or whatever–that might be the part of the thing that is up for all kinds of cultural biases and “supernatural” explanations.

But that you might know the instant the person who stirred to life in your body dies?

It doesn’t seem far-fetched to me.

And when I see that Swedish scientists are able to make people think they are in someone else’s body, I pay attention.  Not because it’s an interesting “illusion,”–and I hate that word, with it’s underlying hint of “all in your head, just made up”–but because it tells us something about how human consciousness can work.  We assume that the mind is in the body, but where, exactly is it?

Do you need a body to have a mind–some kind of consciousness?  How many bodies are necessary?  Could your mind connect you to more than one body?  Could you have more than one mind in a body?  Are those scientists creating the illusion of moving a mind into another body, or have the developed a way to trick the mind into revealing how it connects to other minds?

I mean, just for a second, think about this.  Swedish scientists were able to make a person feel that she had switched bodies with another human being, merely by submerging her in his experiences–showing her the world through a camera that broadcasts his perspective.  And we marvel as if this is something new.

And yet, did we not already know this?

I was thinking again of that guy with the MTSU researcher–his powerful need to know that his grandmother (however many greats) was real and how touching the doorframe of her slave cabin was what did it, that he could put his hand where she would have put her hand and see what she saw.

We already know what the Swedish researchers have told us–that seeing what you see can connect me so deeply to you that the lines between us are blurred.

I think a similar thing happens when you read tarot for someone–that the line gets blurred.  I can tell you what you need to hear not because I have great psychic powers or because I’m a con artist or because you’re a rube, but because we, all people, have all these ways of communicating with each other, not just through words, but through body language and through mindset and through ways we probably haven’t even begun to define or study, but ways I think are probably as ordinary as they get.

Anyway, I was thinking about that because  I just discovered Mary K. Greer’s Tarot Blog and I’m really enjoying it.

Why I Blog

I’ve been sick these past couple of days, just the kind of crud that seems to respond to cold medicine, but is right back at its baseline badness once the cold medicine wears off, and I’m grouchy and I feel like every time I open my mouth, it’s to complain about something.

And yet, this morning, when I sat down to write, I felt good, in my soul, about it.  A little excited to take a moment to write some words.

I felt lucky.  Fortunate to be able to do this.

Treats

This, my friends, is what I see when I stand in my back yard and look out.  I am still in shock.  I am so lucky.

backyard

And this is one of my favorite things in the neighborhood.

sinclair

If we win the lottery tonight, I invite you to look upon what I’m going to do in my retirement:

distillery1

distillery2

distillery3

Now of course, I won’t be using these old buildings, but I will be keeping them for the historical value.