Monthly Archives: March 2007

Friday Night Videos: Acoustic Guitars

Michael Hedges: All Along the Watchtower (1987)

I first heard Michael Hedges’ music around 1990 or so, when Taproot came out. I was instantly enthralled. He revolutionized acoustic guitar playing, and despite being on the nascent Windham Hill label, he didn’t fit neatly in the “new age” category. Misty, Scott and I had the good fortune to see him live in 1994, a few years before his untimely death. I picked this video because, despite its middling visual quality, it captured his wry stage presence, his obsession with tuning, and his tremendous playing. I also beg you to go listen to Rickover’s Dream.

Andy McKee: Africa (2006)

Amy turned me onto Andy McKee this week, and oh my am I thrilled. McKee became Internet-famous at the end of last year when one of his YouTube videos was Dugg. I chose this video because the song will be familiar and will give you a beginning idea of his Hedges-like skills, but as with Hedges, you really need to hear one of his original compositions (like Art of Motion).

For this week’s bonus video, let’s take a look back at a commercial I saw when I was but a child.

Orchid Smells Again

My orchid has bloomed again. Which makes only the third time. And once again, it smells best at night. It smells better than it looks but it still looks pretty cool…
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Baby TBA update

I went to the doctor this morning and all is well. Baby’s heart rate is good and my BP is good. I had gained 2 pounds! So I guess that means the baby is growing, finally. My doctor is on maternity leave (twins!) so I saw a different doctor who was very pleasant and totally hip in her mod blue and green plastic jewelry to go with her teal scrubs. I felt unworthy but she did like my hip army green maternity pants with the embroidery down one leg so I was not shamed.

Eli did well (I try not to take him with me but this is Spring Break so no classes for him) and was cute while the doctor was in the room, watching his movie on the portable DVD player.

I go back in two weeks and then the once a week visits begin. It’s getting so close, I can’t believe it!

“Eli Tech-Support. How Can I Help You?”

There is a new game at our house. It’s loosely based on the “Handy Manny” cartoon. Following is a sample house call.

Eli gets his play phone and proceeds to “Ring-RIng” loudly.

Either Stephen or I will answer.

“Hello!?!?” Eli shouts into the phone, “Mom? Hello!?!?!”

“Hello, Eli.” I answer.

“I need your help!” he says dramatically.

“Really? What’s going on?” I am calm and helpful.

“My ____________ is broken!!! I need your help to fix it! Can you come right away?” He is concerned but professional on the phone. He trusts that tech-support can show him the way.

“Have you tried getting your _____________ tool and using it to fix the problem?” I ask in a helpful way, trying to ensure that he might continue with this game without me having to get up from the couch.

“Oh! Sure! That might work! I’ll give it a try and see. Good-bye. I love you!” He rings off.

“Bye. I love you.” I ring off.

This game kept him busy for almost an hour last night and 30-45 minutes this morning. We even had a small pet-store going last night and I guess I was the on-call vet. It’s great for getting him to accomplish small tasks. I called him up this morning and asked him to retrieve his socks and shoes from his room so we could get ready to go. I’m just glad that he’s getting some career training early.

Simon Cowell Reviews My Son’s Music Class Performance

I honestly don’t know where to begin. This performance was all over the place. A slow start, a jumbled middle, a slow end. At first none of you would sing, and then when you did, it was like ordering a ferocious guard dog for your home and getting delivered a poodle in a leather jacket instead.

I don’t mean to be rude, but you’re all so bland — I can’t remember any of your names. But the one in the red and blue striped shirt, yes, you, the one who held his hands over his face the whole time — why were you out here? If you’re not going to perform, just stay home! And the same goes for the two of you who ran off and hid by one of your teachers. It’s not as if you didn’t have fans in the audience, and you came out here and were a big disappointment for them.

Then there’s the girl in the blue blouse. I couldn’t understand a single word you said. You sing like Mickey Mouse on helium. When you led the group around in a circle I was ready for you to lead the singing as well. If you were leading the singing, you lead it right off a cliff.

And your choice of song selection was terrible. “Wheels on the Bus”? I never want to hear that song again. I cannot stand it. I’m allergic to it. And that one song about the animals growling and leaping and so on, I think that was a complete and utter mess. It didn’t really work — it was all over the place. You all were forgetting your words. I mean, I really, really, really hated that song.

I think this was a complete and utter waste of the judges’ time and America’s time. Most of you didn’t sing, and those of you who did, like the little one in the Thomas the Tank Engine shirt, were off-key and off-tempo. My advice to all of you would be, if you want to pursue a career in the music business, don’t.

Look, there’s no need to cry. Why are all of you crying? This isn’t kindergarten! We aren’t handing out gold stars for effort; we’re finding stars, not feeling sorry for people who aren’t very good. It’s no use giving somebody false hopes and not following through. You want to show me up? Come back and wow us next year.

I hope you lot are much better at running and playing on the playground than you are singing, because if not, God help you all.

Why Do You Make Things?

One of my favorite poems is called “Why I am not a Painter” by Frank O’Hara. It’s a behind the curtain look into a friendship between Frank and painter Mike Goldberg and their respective creative processes. Since I first read this poem in high school, I have been in turns drawn to Frank’s description of his internal creative life and his description of watching Mike’s painting evolve and then to the similarities of their creative works in progress.

It only just occurred to me as I sat down to write this that I had never seen Mike Goldberg’s painting of “Sardines.” So, of course, I looked it up. Unfortunately, I could only find this very small example. Even though I can’t really see the picture, it satisfies me that it exists.

Whenever I sit down to work on a project, be it writing here or cross-stitching or making cards or some other creative thing, I often think of this poem and how the creative process is so energizing to me. The other part of that though is the discussion of the creative process with others. This is something that worked so well for me in college and I miss it. I was working on art everyday and thinking about it and talking about it and consequently, I got pretty good at a few things. My skills are rusty now. My current ability with a paint brush is scary but the need for the discussion remains. So I ask you, why do you make things and what do you enjoy about the creative process? I know we don’t all make the same kinds of things but the process is similar for us all. I look forward to hearing about yours.

A Post About Toast

This morning Misty made cinnamon toast, which involves a thick paste of cinnamon sugar on top of bread. I know! We’re inventive around here.

There was one piece left, and Eli claimed it. Mind you, he was still playing with his one piece of toast, rubbing his fingers over the cinnamon and then sticking them in his mouth. So I opened my mouth and pretended to be about to eat the toast. “No, daddy! No! Don’t eat it!” he cried, so I retreated. “That is my piece of cinnamon toast.”

I am one of those fathers who cannot leave well enough alone and keep pestering their children and one day will end up cold and alone on the street. I moved towards the toast again. “Noooooo!” he cried, waving his hands over the plate with all of the toast, so I retreated again. Then he pulled that plate from me to him. “I will put this over here, how about.”

Later he forgot all about the toast, so I ate it. Dad wins again!

Friday Night Videos: Dead White Guys

Boston: More Than a Feeling (1976)
Brad Delp, lead singer of Boston, died a week ago today. In his honor, I give you this video. In case you can’t tell which one is Delp, he’s the one with the giant mustache.

Blind Melon: No Rain (1993)
Say all you want about the trippy, echoey sound of the song or Shannon Hoon’s vocals, it’s Heather DeLoach as the Bee Girl who makes this video. Perhaps you’ve watched this video and wondered, ‘What happened to Blind Melon, anyway?” I’ll tell you what happened: Shannon Hoon left drug rehab early to tour for Blind Melon’s second album and then overdosed on cocaine. So let that be a lesson to you all. Songs about bee girls inevitably lead to cocaine overdoses.

By the way, if you’re wondering what happened to Heather DeLoach the bee girl, she parlayed her bee fame into a role in the James Brooks movie “I’ll Do Anything,” had a few other film roles, and was in two episodes of “ER” in 2003.

And now it’s bonus video time! I wonder if I can find another video starring a dead white guy.

INXS: Need You Tonight/Mediate (1987)
It looks like I can! You kids may not know it, but these two videos are what we thought was cool during the dark years of the 1980s. At least the members of INXS aren’t all sporting porn mustaches, unlike some other bands in this post. INXS spiraled down into obscurity, helped along by a grunge-sounding album with Chrissie Hynde and Ray Charles. Then Michael Hutchence was found dead in a hotel room from autoerotic asphyxiation. Oh, Michael. Couldn’t you die from cocaine or alcohol like other respectable rock stars?

Steampunk Star Wars and Why Movie Writing Can Suck

It’s a busy time here at Live Granades, what with March Madness and work and playing Caribou with my son, so in lieu of real content I give you links to other people’s content.

First, Steampunk Star Wars. Eric Poulton, an artist for computer games, is busily re-imagining Star Wars as filtered through the lens of SF in a Victorian England milieu. His art is great and his descriptions of the characters fun. And plus a million points for Lord Vader’s Phlogisticated Aether Torch, better known as the phlogisabre.

Second, John Rogers explains arbitration letters, which help determine who gets writing credit for a movie. I’ve been reading Rogers’s blog since I saw the unaired Global Frequency pilot that he was showrunner for and loved it. His blog is insightful and fun to read, and often gives me glimpses into what it’s like to write for TV and movies. But if you look at his IMDB page, you’ll see that he’s credited with the scripts for The Core and Catwoman.

Catwoman!

So when I introduce his blog to people and describe John Rogers, I’m always a little apologetic about that point. No longer.

The main reason people want credit on a movie is not for bragging rights or employment; everybody in Hollywood knows what kind of writer you are based on your scripts circulating through the studio system. Which is the answer, by the way, to the question I get on an almost weekly basis in my e-mail: “How the hell are you still working?” Nobody in Hollywood blames me for CATWOMAN, because they all like the other scripts I’ve written. Particularly the unmade ones. Hell, I’ve gotten hired on stuff because of my early, unmade version* of the CATWOMAN script. So there you go. Welcome to Oddsville.

I always knew that in the arbitration stage people’s names could be added to or taken off the writing credits. That’s what happened to Joss Whedon for Speed, after all. But Rogers’s article underscores what a strange, screwed-up system arbitration is.

So, two links for you. Go read them. Be entertained and enlightened.

Big Day

This morning was Eli’s Spring Music Show at Mom’s Morning Out. I’ve blurred out the other kid’s (and teacher’s) faces for their privacy. Some parents are weird about their kids being on the internet. Obviously, we’re not those parents.

Eli was one of three kids who were really into the program. I know our readers are shocked to learn that Eli is a bit of a ham.

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He also managed to go to the potty at school. We’re up to 3 now, so only 7 more to go until the Chuckster Party.

And then we came home and there was much dancing outside with the umbrella that he took to school for show and share. (They are up to U, man the year has gone by fast!)
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And still to come, we’re headed to the mall for the indoor playground this afternoon to meet some old playgroup buddies.

Some days are just full, full, full.