Monday, June 25, 2007

A Painter Passing Through

A Painter Passing Through.

That was the title of Gordon Lightfoot's penultimate album, a 1998 release that didn't really do anything for me. It was also the name of about the fifth song he played last night, and the first tune that I couldn't name within the first three notes. It was a lot better live.

"A Painter Passing Through" is an obviously autobiographical song about getting old and being past his prime. It has a certain poignancy live that you just can't catch in a studio album. Gord's voice isn't what it once was. The richness at the low end of the register is gone. And while that's not a good thing, it isn't all bad either. After listening to a few songs, I was reminded of a description Kurt Vonnegut wrote in The Sirens of Titan:

But Beatrice did have a face — and an interesting one. It could be said that she looked like a bucktoothed Indian brave. But anyone who said that would have to add quickly that she looked marvelous. Her face, like the face of Malachi Constant, was a one-of-a-kind, a surprising variation on a familiar theme — a variation that made observers think, Yes — that would be another very nice way for people to look.

And that's sort of what I thought about Gord's voice. It's not the voice he once had, but it's another very nice way for people to sound.

And the band was fantastic.


I don't remember the last time heard a band with such a tight sound live. If there was a last time.

All in all, a very good show. Well worth the time, the money, and the drive to and from Houston.

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Tuesday, June 19, 2007


One of Monster Truck's greatest German hits.

This is what American soldiers do when forced to spend extended periods overseas.

That would be my brother on bass, by the way.

Bring the boys home.

For God's sake, bring the boys home!

I believe this was recorded somewhere around the first Gulf War.

And the lyrics are these:
Mama's Man
(N. Gifford & O. Cowan)

Daddy hit the bottle
When mama hit the bars
She spent a lot of nights
In the back of a lot of cars

I remember the day it happened
It came as no surprise
She knew he knew her secret
From the look in his eyes

And she knew she couldn't keep him
No words had to be said
He couldn't stand the shame
Of that stranger in his bed

Said he'd never really known her
And that ring on his hand
Couldn't stop my daddy
From takin' my mama's man

He spent his life a workin'
With all the men downtown
Oh they built this city up
But it tore our family down

As the love between him and mama
Withered and died
Oh the life he'd made it crumbed
'Cause he'd been livin' a lie

And she knew she couldn't keep him
No words had to be said
He couldn't stand the shame
Of that stranger in his bed

He said he'd never really known her
And that ring on his hand
Couldn't stop my daddy
From taking my mama's man

Couldn't stop my daddy
From taking my mama's man

By the way, Monster Truck is (or was):
Nathan "Giff" Gifford - Guitars and Vocals
Owen PD Cowan - Bass and Vocals
Scott Farnsworth - Acoustic Guitar and Vocals
Dynamite Daniel Fischer - Drums

They've been slowly converting old videos to a MySpace compatible format. More of their stuff is posted here, now including their fabulous versions of YMCA (from before it made its comeback in the 90s), Hey Jude, and a host of others.

Corrections and addenda:

Mama's Man was written in 1992, and the video was from a June 10, 1994, show at Lucky's Bar in Augsburg, so it was a bit after Desert Storm. It was Monster Truck's second to last show, their farewell show being August 6, 2004.

The drummer, Daniel Fischer, was not an American soldier. He was from Romania, the son of a German father. He spoke very little English, so he shouldn't be blamed for the lyrics.

Scott Farnsworth had a great voice and played a mean bluegrass guitar, but he came to the band sort of late, so he didn't have very many songs to sing before it all ended. On Mama's Man, that's Giff singing the first half and Owen singing the second.

In newer versions of the song, the line "I remember the day it happened" has been changed to "I remember the day he left her" to for clarity's sake.

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Sunday, June 17, 2007

More Movie Recommendations

After the Virginia Tech shootings, I read that the shooter was obsessed with a Korean movie called "Oldboy," so naturally, I had to check it out.

Having seen the movie, I don't see how it might have related to the shooter's crimes, but I do see why he liked it. Sort of a Korean Quentin Hitchcock movie. It rates a four pancake stack.

Having liked one of Chan-wook Park’s movies, I thought I'd take a look at his other work. According to Netflix, Oldboy is is the middle installment in Chan-wook Park’s revenge trilogy, the first installment being Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance, and the last Lady Vengeance. Oldboy's clearly the best of the three, and the only one that merit's an unqualified recommendation. Mr. Vengeance is worth a look, while Lady Vengeance is probably best left to compulsive completests, in my opinion.

But he had another one on Netflix that I signed up for at the same time as the otehrs, and that was Joint Security Area.

I'm not sure that this one rates a full four pancake stack, but it's one that makes you think. Or at least makes me think. Pontius Pilate said, "What is truth?" This one asks, "What's it worth?" Like I needed more to think about. It's an interesting quesion, but I still haven't even worked through Pilate's problem yet.

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Friday, June 15, 2007

Is that nasty, or what?

You may remember that my dog has cancer. More specifically, it was a skin cancer in the nail bed that metastasized and spread to his lungs. He was going to have his toe cut off, but when the x-rays showed that one lung was pretty much gone, the vet recommended against it.

I'm posting this so that if anyone else finds him or her self in a similar position, he or she will go ahead and whack off the toe. It's been a constant source of pain for him, and now it looks like this:

He still hasn't told me that he wants his life to be over, but I think it's getting pretty close. Closer than it might have been if all he had to worry about was a bit of trouble breathing.

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Tuesday, June 05, 2007

A Photo Haiku

"Ode to an Anole"

June brings anoles.

So many f**kin' lizards.

Where do they come from?

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Ron Paul on the Daily Show

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Saturday, June 02, 2007


I finally got around to watching Apocalypto, I didn't look at my watch once. And that means it was a very well made movie.

But it didn't live up to the hype.

All the reviews I've read portrayed this as about the most gruesome, gross-out, blood-spurting movie you're ever likely to see. Perhaps I'm being a bit hyperbolic, but it's really not too far off. But in actually watching the movie, I didn't find it any more gruesome than Schindler's List or Saving Private Ryan or anything Quentin Tarantino ever made, and it doesn't even come close to the graphic gross-out quality of stuff like Hostel or pretty much anything George Romero ever made, to say nothing of Japanese classics like the Lone Wolf and Cub series. I get the feeling that the reviewers felt that they had to find something to complain about the film because it was made by Mel Gibson.

But I've got to admit when I started the "making of" documentary on the special features, for those first few seconds Mel had crazy eyes. Demented and maniacal, he looked. Having said that, I feel like a proper film critic.

I don't know if I'll buy it, but it's definitely worth watching at least once.

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