Wednesday, January 1, 2014

My 2014 Reading List

Right before the Christmas holidays, I started a new job at the same old place I've been working. The new job is more about how much I know as opposed to how much work I can do. Suddenly, I've got more responsibilities, but more free time to kill with nothing much to do but read.

I used to read a lot, but gradually got out of the habit when the Internet came along. My New Year's resolution was to use my newly-found free time to get back into the habit again. I also decided to keep a list of what I've read, and that's what this post is about.

I've mentioned before that I usually try to make the next book I read somewhat different from my last book. I'll read some lightweight fluff, then try to read something more substantial. If you think of something you think I might like be sure to chime in.

1. The Eyes of the Dragon -- Stephen King

This is what I was reading... um, re-reading, when the calendar ticked over to the new year. I first read this around 1987 when it was first published. I was re-reading it to see if it was appropriate for my grandson, who will be entering middle school this year. I think I'll wait another couple of years before giving it to him.

2. The Mosquito Coast -- Paul Theroux

This languished on my shelf for quite a while. A strange book about a strange man who takes his family away from it all, all the way to the Mosquito Coast. A little too far. I'm really interested in seeing the movie now.

3. To the Last Man -- Jeff Shaara

I've read quite a few of Shaara's books, which are usually historical fiction about the various wars America has been involved in. This is his book about WWI.

4. Co. Aytch -- Sam Watkins

I'm not quite sure why I haven't read this Civil War memoir before. The first non-fiction book of the year.

5. I, the Jury -- Mickey Spillane

I love a good crime story and had never read any Spillane books before. I found a book that combined three of Spillane's Mike Hammer books. This is the first. Not really my cup of tea, but I can understand why people ate these up in the 1940s and 50s.

6. Nickel and Dimed -- Barbara Ehrenreich

Another non-fiction book. Ehrenreich leaves her comfortable existence to work some minimum wage jobs, and does a pretty good job of relating some of the obstacles facing the poor working class.

7. Raylan -- Elmore Leonard

I've read more than a few Elmore Leonard books in my time. This one centers around Raylan Givens, the protagonist of the FX series, Justified. This book tells some of the stories from the show with some substantial changes.

8. Doctor Sleep -- Stephen King

The sequel to the Shining.

9. Joe Strummer and the Legend of the Clash -- Kris Needs

I was a big Clash fan back in the day. This book was a whole lot of hero worship, but related a lot of the stuff I missed from being on the wrong side of the pond. This was a bathroom book. (If you have to ask, you probably don't want to know. Suffice to say, I read it over a long period of time in short segments.)

10. Mountains Touched by Fire -- Wiley Sword

Another non-fiction book. Another Civil War book; this one is a narrative of the battles of Chattanooga.

11. Thirteen Moons -- Charles Frazier

Not as good as his debut novel, Cold Mountain, but what is?

12. Innocence -- Dean Koontz

Once upon a time I read a lot of Dean Koontz books, but finally got tired of him and stopped. This book reminded my why.

13. My Gun Is Quick -- Mickey Spillane

The second of the three Spillane books. (See #5.)

14. Sacred Ties -- Tom Carhart

Another Civil War non-fiction book. This one is about five guys who met at West Point, and how they all went their separate ways once the war began. A lot of stuff about life at West Point, a lot of stuff about the Eastern Theater of the war.

15. Our Kind of Traitor -- John le Carre

A typically entertaining le Carre book.

16. Uncle John's Bathroom Reader Sports Spectacular

Another bathroom book, appropriately enough.

17. Hard Times -- Charles Dickens

I'm slowly working through the Dickens catalog. This one was a chore. I'm not quite sure that I finished it, but close enough.

18. Les Miserables -- Victor Hugo

I went into this huge, huge book with a lot of apprehension. I figured I'd read a little bit and see how it went. I was immediately drawn into this wonderful story, then couldn't dig my way out. A great story, but it would have been twice as good at half the length. I really don't understand why Victor Hugo included so much that didn't really have anything to do with the plot. This book marked a turning point, my first on a Kindle.

19. Riders of the Purple Sage -- Zane Grey

My grandfather loved Zane Grey, and I like a good western for a change of pace, but I wasn't impressed by this.

20. Play Ball -- John Feinstein

Another bathroom book. A non-fiction account of the 1992 baseball season. Some good stories here, but probably not of much interest to anyone except the most hardcore baseball fan at this late date.

21. The Dark Tower VII -- Stephen King

Yeah, I read a lot of Stephen King. This is the third one on the list so far this year. I started reading the Dark Tower books in 1982, when the Gunslinger came out. Now, some 32 years later, I'm finally done. Oh, what...There's another one?

22. Liberty -- Garrison Keillor

A typical Keillor story. Another bathroom book, but I would probably have been better off reading it in a few long stretches at work.

23. 2030 -- Albert Brooks

Probably the most disappointing book I've read this year. I was expecting so much more than what I got.

24. The Drop -- Michael Connelly

I love a good crime novel, a la Michael Connelly or John Sandford. They're like the literary version of fast food. Ive read these -- Connelly and Sandford -- in no particular order, as I've run across them, but have read so many that it's hard to keep track of which ones I've read.

25. Dracula -- Bram Stoker

I read this when I was much, much younger, but didn't remember much about it. The concept of telling the story through journal entries took some getting used to. It drug in places, but finished in a rush. It was one of those books where you look at the dwindling number of pages and wonder how the author is going to wrap it up, then suddenly it's done.

26. A Blaze of Glory -- Jeff Shaara

Another Shaara book. This one is the first of a trilogy about the Civil War's Western Theater, centering around the battle of Shiloh.

27. An Officer and a Spy -- Robert Harris

Back-to-back historical fiction books. The author of Fatherland tells the story of the Dreyfus Affair. A pleasant surprise, much better that I expected.

28. NOS4A2 -- Joe Hill

My first Joe Hill book, but not my last. I kept thinking what an awesome movie this would make in the hands of the right director.

29. Heat Lightning -- John Sandford

Typical John Sandford.

30. The Wind Through the Keyhole -- Stephen King

Billed as a Dark Tower novel, it's really a novella within another novella within a short story. While holed up to get out of a starkblast (an incredibly intense, sudden winter storm), Roland tells his ka-tet the story of hunting the skin-man. Within that story is another, the Wind Through the Keyhole. Very entertaining, but doesn't do much one way or another to advance the overall Dark Tower story.

31. No Easy Day -- "Mark Owen" (Matt Bissonnette) and Kevin Maurer

The two, count 'em two, subtitles -- "The Autobiography of a Navy Seal" and "The Firsthand Account of the Mission that Killed Osama bin Laden" -- pretty much explain what this was about.

32. Bad Monkey -- Carl Hiaasen

I'm a big fan of Hiaasen. I've read almost all of his novels. This one is pretty typical: a convoluted plot, outlandish characters and dozens of laugh-out-loud moments.

33. The War of the Worlds -- H. G. Wells

If I've read this before, it was a long, long time ago. The original alien invasion novel is a rollicking little page-turner.

34. A Darkness More Than Night -- Michael Connelly

Typical Michael Connelly.

35. The Cloud Seeders -- James Zerndt

I signed up for a couple of newsletters that keep me apprised of free and very inexpensive Kindle books. This book sounded interesting and was free, and turned out to be well worth the price. No, seriously, it was a very good read.

36. Deliverance -- James Dickey

Whoa. This book languished on my shelf for a little while. I had seen the movie years ago, so I knew the story...or so I thought. As good as the movie was, the book was light years better.

37. Redshirts -- John Scalzi

 An interesting concept, playing off the idea of the unnamed crewman in the red shirt who always gets killed in the Star Trek away missions. Clever, fun, and just a little bit meta with several laugh out loud moments.

38. City of Bones -- Michael Connelly

Typical Michael Connelly; better than the last one I read, not as good as the one I read before that.

39. The Last of the Mohicans -- James Fenimore Cooper

I can certainly understand Mark Twain's criticism of James Fenimore Cooper. I came very close to quitting this book before I had barely begun. I stuck with it though and finally, somehow, got into the rhythm of the writing and found it to be a very engaging story.

40. Fast Food Nation --  Eric Schlosser

The first non-fiction book in a while. Makes a very persuasive case that many of the ills of modern society can be traced back to the fast food industry. I didn't realize that this book was so old (published in 2001) when I started it; would love to see an updated version.

Now reading: Sycamore Row -- John Grisham

Up next: I'm not sure, just taking it as it comes.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Fighting the Foo

The Westboro Baptist Church brought their virulent mixture of hatred, stupidity and religion to the Foo Fighters show in Kansas City Friday.  Why?  Who the hell knows.  But the Foo Fighters fought the foo, counter-protesting the protestors by showing up on a flatbed truck to do "Keep It Clean (Hot Buns)."




"God Bless America! It takes all kinds; I don't care if you're black or white or purple or green, whether you're Pennsylvanian or Transylvanian, Lady gaga or Lady Antebellum. Men loving women and women loving men and men loving men and women loving women -- you all know we like to watch that. But what I'd like to say is, God Bless America, y'all!"

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Sunday, June 12, 2011

How I Spent My Summer Vacation

You might have been wondering after all my recent troubles, but yeah, I'm still online, though you wouldn't know it from all the activity here.

It took me a while to get all the things done that I had to do to get a new computer up and running the way I want it -- the downloading, the file transferring, the updating, the backing up, etc. -- but all that was finished some time ago.  The only real glitch is that there's a setting somewhere that's keeping Firefox from remembering any of my passwords.  It won't even ask me if I want to save them.  Hmm.

I've been spending most of my free time trying to catch up my Civil War blog.  In case you didn't know, it's the sesquicentennial (that's 150 years) anniversary of the Civil War, and I've been doing a series of posts that tells what happened on the day of the post 150 years ago as it relates to the war.

I've been working on this since October 2009 with several posts on John Brown's raid on Harpers Ferry.  At first the posts were few and far between, but as the 150th anniversary of the start of the war got closer, the posts got more frequent.  I got all the way up to the anniversary of Abraham Lincoln's election to president in November 1860, just when things were really starting to happen.  The Deep South states were about to secede, and the crisis at Fort Sumter was building.  But I was unable to get online for quite a while, leaving a huge hole in the overall timeline -- until April of this year.

But I was back online in time for the beginning of the war at Fort Sumter.  Or so I thought.  I posted the day before the anniversary of the start of the war, then my computer fritzed out on me and I was gone again for another month.  This was another big hole in the timeline just as some big things were going down.

I've been working hard to fill in the holes, plus keep the timeline current moving forward.  I'm happy to report that the first hole -- from November 1860 to April 1861 -- is now filled in with backdated posts.  It might not be exactly kosher, but you do what you can do.  I've still got the other hole to fill, but I'm working on it.  Hopefully, once that's done I'll have more time to spend updating this blog with something interesting.

I've also started the NASCAR blog back up again.  I'm not posting there like I'd like, but I'm at least summarizing the races again.

Occasionally I might post a picture or two on the old photo blog.  I've finally turned my Flickr account pro and am dumping a lot of old pictures there a little at a time.  Lately I've posted a bunch of photos I took last year of my grandson's baseball team.  I've also posted a few photos that I didn't take, scans of snapshots my uncle sent back from Germany in 1965.

If I'm not doing any of the above stuff for a few minutes, you might find me on the Twitter or checking in on the Facebook or getting caught up with some of my blog and news reading.

See you around the web!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Gil Scott-Heron (1949-2011)

I was very saddened today to hear of the death of Gil Scott-Heron.  Scott-Heron, 62, died at a Manhattan hospital Friday.  The cause of death wasn't disclosed, but he had a long, painful history of substance abuse.

If you read through some of the obituaries you'll see Scott-Heron credited as a progenitor of rap music.  That's true in a way -- a lot of his work was just spoken-word pieces (mostly his poems) set to music, but the music was much jazzier than anything you might consider rap today.

He never achieved much more than cult status, but was best known for "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised."
The revolution will not be televised.
The revolution will not be brought to you by Xerox in 4 parts without commercial interruptions.
The revolution will not show you pictures of Nixon blowing a bugle and leading a charge by John
Mitchell, General Abrams and Spiro Agnew to eat hog maws confiscated from a Harlem sanctuary.
The revolution will not be televised.

The revolution will not be brought to you by the Schaefer Award Theatre and will not star Natalie Woods and Steve McQueen or Bullwinkle and Julia.
The revolution will not give your mouth sex appeal.
The revolution will not get rid of the nubs.
The revolution will not make you look five pounds thinner, because the revolution will not be televised, brother.
Scott-Heron, who had a masters in creative writing from John Hopkins University, wrote a couple of novels and a couple of books of poetry, and recorded fifteen studio albums and nine live albums.  Other noteworthy songs include "We Almost Lost Detroit," "The Bottle," "Home Is Where the Hatred Is," and cover versions of Bill Withers's "Grandma's Hands" and Marvin Gaye's "Inner City Blues."  My favorite was "B Movie," a scathing protest against Ronald Ray-Gun and us for electing him -- "We're all actors in this, I suppose."
Come with us back to those inglorious days, when heroes weren't zeros, before fair was square, when the cavalry came straight away and all-American men were like Hemingway, to the days of the wondrous "B" movie.



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Saturday, May 14, 2011

The Lightning Strike

Severe Tornado Outbreak in the Southern United...Image by NASA Goddard Photo and Video via FlickrSo, yeah, we're all a little skittish after the tornado outbreak.  In my case, a tornado devastated a little subdivision about a half a mile from my house, then either veered away or passed right overhead.  It was close enough that I heard the train sound you're supposed to hear when a tornado comes.  So, yeah, that was still pretty fresh in my mind.

After two torrid days that would have seemed much more normal for July, Friday was cooler and rainy.  The forecast called for scattered thundershowers, but it was mostly just some patches of rain.  Maybe a few rumbles of thunder way off in the distance.

And there I was working at my brand-new computer.  Had just bought it the day before.  Had spent a good chunk of my worldly fortune on it.

I don't know where the lightning struck, but it must have been a truly impressive sight.  I just caught a flash of it outside my bedroom window.  One Mississippi, two Mississippi.  Hmm.  Must still be way off in the distance.

Suddenly, BOOM!

It was like standing next to a big cannon when someone suddenly decides to shoot it off without any warning.  No, strike that (pun intended.)  It was like the heavens suddenly split apart.  I guess, in a way, that's what happened.

I 'bout fell out of my chair.  My first thought was about the well-being of my new investment.  Computer innards don't react too well with lightning.  But the lights didn't even flicker.

I debated for a bit about shutting the computer down.  It probably wasn't the wisest choice, but I kept it on and kept working.  I was right in the middle of one of the dozens of tasks you have to do before you can start to enjoy a new computer.  It worked out all right though.  I didn't hear much of anything else out of the storm except for the long, low rumble as the heavens stitched itself back together again.

Hope your Friday was not as eventful.

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Friday, May 13, 2011

Let's Try This Again

A funny thing happened on the way to the Internet...well, okay, maybe it's not that funny.

The last time I posted here I had just gotten back online after a long absence of several months.  I even made a comment that hopefully that might be my last online absence for a while.  Everything was working great.  I was ecstatic.

The good times were over as quickly as they began.  About two and a half days into my triumphant return, my Internet connection started acting a little buggy.  It was dropping out and slowing down.  After three days, I couldn't connect to the Internet at all.  It seemed like the problem was with the ISP and I tried to work with them to resolve the problem, but it just wasn't happening.  I finally discovered that the problem was on my end with my computer -- specifically, I think my network card might have kicked the bucket.

Rather than put any more money into my old computer, I decided to wait a bit and get a new one.  Problems led to delays, and now here we are a month older.  All the pieces finally fell into place yesterday and I'm back again.  Thanks for your patience and understanding.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Rebooting

Don't you just hate it when you're following a blog and it suddenly goes dead on you -- no updates, no new posts, not a word of warning?  Did the author die or is he/she going through some sort of crisis that precludes posting inconsequential stuff on the Internet?

In my case, it was the latter.  I'm still alive and kicking but have been trying to work through some things lately.  To quote Genesis (the band, not the book of the Bible), "I wish that I could really tell you all the things that happened to me and all that I have seen."

My life became somewhat akin to a train wreck  But I feel like I've turned a corner and can now see a tiny bit of daylight at the end of the tunnel.  I'm slowly working my way out of the rut toward that big, bright, beautiful tomorrow.  Hopefully, my next unexpected absence is way off in the future.

When I left you, I was working on resurrecting and restructuring my blogs.  Once upon a time, I had several different blogs, each devoted to totally different topics, namely the diverse things I was interested in -- sports and photography and the Civil War.  One day I had the bright idea to close them all down and consolidate everything here at the old Meanwhile... blog.  The result, as you could probably guess, was a jumbled mess.  Somewhere along the line I got particularly interested in writing about NASCAR, which only added to the jumble. 

I finally bit the bullet, reopened the old blogs and started moving everything back where it belongs.  Now, if you're interested in the Civil War, you can go to my Civil War blog and not have to wade through photos or NASCAR results.  Incidentally, I'm was working on a series of posts there -- the Civil War Calendar.  This was a "This Day in History"-type of series exploring the sesquicentennial (150th) anniversary of the Civil War.  When last I left you, I had just posted about the election of Abraham Lincoln.  The series will resume and I've got a lot of blanks to fill in before the 150th anniversary of the firing on Fort Sumter, the true start of the war, which is fast approaching.

My recently renamed photo blog, Visualizations, is also back.  I'm hoping to pull out the camera more often and update it more frequently.  I also have a big backlog of photos I haven't shown you yet.  I'm going to try to post something daily, but I'm not going to be religious about it.  I'd rather have quality over quantity.

I've also started a new sports blog.  I'm still toying around with the name.  (I'm really not too good at naming these things.)  For now, I've settled on "NASCAR, etc." because it'll generally be about NASCAR and whatever other sports story crosses my radar screen. 

I'm not sure what direction this blog will take.  I'm not very interested in writing about politics much anymore.  It's all been done before.  But this is sorta the mothership of my own personal blogosphere, so at least I can write about what's going on on the other blogs while I try to think of something fresh and interesting.  Stay tuned.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Saturday Six: Peanuts

Charlie BrownImage via WikipediaOver at Patrick's Place, Patrick is celebrating the 60th anniversary of the Peanuts comic strip with a Saturday Six batch of questions about the beloved comic strip.  Peanuts is not my favorite strip of all time, but I would have to put it in my Top 5 with Calvin and Hobbes, Doonesbury, Bloom County, and The Far Side.  Peanuts was a bit tamer than my other favorites, but could get pretty deep and philosophical at times.

Anyway, on with Patrick's questions:

1. Who is your favorite Peanuts character?

Jeez!  That's like asking what's my favorite Beatles album.  All of them.  I guess I've always been partial to the level-headed, intelligent, unflappable Linus.  Either him or Snoopy and his many alter egos.  I'm also a big fan of Pigpen for some reason.  And the duo of Peppermint Patty and Marcie is intriguing too. 

2. Which Peanuts character is your least favorite?

Patty and Violet, the mean girls who seemed to exist only to make Charlie Brown's life even more miserable.

3. If it were up to you, would Lucy have to let Charlie Brown kick the football?

Yeah, probably just once.  I always thought that a good idea for a strip would have been for Lucy to hold the ball in place just once, but for Charlie Brown to flub the kick.

4. When did you last read a Peanuts comic strip?

Today.  I get a daily email of comic strips from Comics.com.  They rerun old Peanuts strips.  Today's edition is a strip that was first published in 1963.

5. Which of the television movies based on Peanuts was your favorite as a kid?

The Halloween show -- It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.  I especially love the trick-or-treating.  "I got a rock."

6. Should the strip ever be drawn by someone else, even if that person agrees to keep the same values its creator held so dear?

NO!  While that has worked out alright for several long-running strips, I'm against it for Peanuts.  If Charles Schultz had had a successor in mind and worked with him for a while, it might have worked.  Since he didn't -- precisely because he did not want the strip to continue after his death -- I'd say "no."  Just keep rerunning the old ones.
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Sunday, September 12, 2010

Weekend Assignment: History

This week's Weekend Assignment is History...
We don't all live near the site of a battlefield or other world-famous event, but any place has its own history: political, cultural, even natural history. How aware are you of the past of the town, city or state where you live now? Share with us a story of local history.

I actually do live near the site of a battlefield (several, in fact), and I'm very aware of the area's history.  I live in northwest Georgia, just south of Chattanooga, Tennessee.   The region's main moment in the historical spotlight happened nearly 150 years ago during the Civil War.  Chattanooga was an important railroad center, where several lines met that connected most of the South.  There were several battles fought for control of the town and there are historical markers and monuments scattered all over the region.

Braxton Bragg's Confederate Army of Tennessee occupied Chattanooga in the summer of 1863. Union General William Rosecrans sent his Army of the Cumberland around Bragg's flank, threatening Bragg's supply line from Atlanta.  Bragg withdrew from Chattanooga and headed south into Georgia.  The armies met at the Battle of Chickamauga.  The Union army was routed, but withdrew into Chattanooga, occupying the town.  Bragg besieged the town to try to starve the Federals out, but General Ulysses S. Grant arrived with many reinforcements and, after several battles, managed to drive the Confederates out of the area.

There are many, many interesting stories and anecdotes that occurred during this period.  It is hard to pick just one, but one of my favorites involves John Wilder.

Before the war, John Wilder was a successful businessman.  He ran a foundry in Ohio and invented many hydraulic machines.  When the war broke out, he joined the army as a private, but was quickly elected captain by the other men (a very common practice at the time.)  Although he wasn't a professional soldier, he advanced quickly and was a colonel within a year.

When Rosecrans's army first advanced on Chattanooga, Wilder's Lightning Brigade was at the vanguard of the attack.  He took a position on Stringer's Ridge, across the Tennessee River from Chattanooga, and began shelling the town.  His battery, commanded by Eli Lilly, who would later become very famous as the founder of a large drug company, succeeded in sinking two steamboats and causing a great deal of panic in the town.

Wilder settled in Tennessee after the war.  He built and operated the first two blast furnaces in the South at Rockwood, Tennessee.  Then he established an ironworks in Chattanooga to manufacture rails for railroads.  In 1871, he was elected mayor of Chattanooga.  That has to be an unprecedented achievement -- from shelling a town to mayor of the same town in just a few short years.

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Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Rearranging the Furniture

I've been having a hard time keeping one blog updated, so the logical thing to do (as I saw it) was to restart my other blogs.  I just couldn't stand the hodgepodge of varying topics here, so my Labor Day weekend project was to separate out some of these topics into other blogs.

All the Civil War posts here will eventually be moved back to Civil War Meanderings.

All of my posted photos will eventually be moved back to Foto Frenzy.

I'm going to keep most of the dated sports posts, including most of the NASCAR stuff, here, but the informational posts and all sports stuff from here on out will be posted on a new blog, The Southern Sports Retort.  (I had a hard time coming up with a name that was not already being used on Blogger.)

I'm not sure what direction this blog, my mothership, will take.  Hopefully I can get re-energized and start posting about news and politics again along with some miscellaneous topics.  Of course, any political posts I make here will be crossposted at The Blue Voice.

A good deal of the transferring of posts has been done and should be finished by the end of the week. It may not be strictly kosher to be moving these posts all around, but, in the long run, I think it will be better to have all this stuff divided up.  We'll see what happens.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

"OK Sarah"

Check out singer/songwriter Wesley Ellis. He's working on his first album, "Broke Is the New Black" and is currently competing in the 2nd Toyota Music MySpace contest.  If you like this too, go there and help spread the word.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

"Bloodbuzz Ohio"

A couple of weeks ago I did a Weekend Assignment post about poetry.  The gist of the post was that I didn't care much about poetry unless it was set to music as lyrics.  I also made the debatable point that maybe our best poets aren't really poets at all, but are songwriters.

Which brings me to the subject of my favorite new band of the moment (well, new to me anyway), The National.  I like their sound, and whoever writes their lyrics -- I suspect lead vocalist Matt Berninger -- has a poet's sensibilities.  Instead of just coming out and saying what he means, everything is symbolism and metaphor and hidden meaning -- so much so that I'm really confused about what it all means.

Case in point, "Bloodbuzz Ohio."  When he says, "I was carried to Ohio in a swarm of bees," he surely doesn't mean that literally. It seems like it's related to the old adage that you can't go home again -- "...but Ohio don't remember me." Is he talking about a trip back home or is he just reflecting on the idea of Ohio? And there's all that other stuff -- "stand up straight at the foot of your love," "lay my head on the hood of your car," "I still owe money to the money to the money I owe," etc. -- most of the song actually -- that doesn't seem to have much to do with anything else. It all sounds pretty good though...




LYRICS:
Stand up straight at the foot of your love
I lift my shirt up
Stand up straight at the foot of your love
I lift my shirt up

I was carried to Ohio in a swarm of bees
I never married, but Ohio don't remember me

Lay my head on the hood of your car
I take it too far
Lay my head on the hood of your car
I take it too far

I still owe money to the money to the money I owe
I never thought about love when I thought about home
I still owe money to the money to the money I owe
The floors are falling out from everybody I know

I'm on a blood buzz
Yes, I am
I'm on a blood...buzz
I'm on a blood buzz
God, I am
I'm on a blood...buzz

I was carried to Ohio in a swarm of bees
I never married, but Ohio don't remember me

I still owe money to the money to the money I owe
I never thought about love when I thought about home
I still owe money to the money to the money I owe
The floors are falling out from everybody I know

I'm on a blood buzz
Yes, I am
I'm on a blood...buzz
I'm on a blood buzz
God, I am
I'm on a blood buzz.

So what's it all about? Any ideas?

If you're stumped on that one, try your hand at figuring out "Brainy."  This is an obsessive love song -- very similar thematically to the Police's "I'll Be Watching You" or Sarah McLachlan's "Possession" -- or is it?  I'm especially intrigued by the amazingly enigmatic couplet, "Everywhere you go is swirling, everything you say has water under it."  The song is on YouTube, the lyrics are on SongMeanings.com.


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Wednesday, May 5, 2010

The Nashville Flood

Here in the Chattanooga area, we were supposed to be slammed by a late weekend/early work week storm.  We managed to avoid most of it.  Nashville was not so lucky.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Weekend Assignment: National Poetry Month

This week's Weekend Assignment is all about poetry.
Weekend Assignment #316: National Poetry Month

As April wraps up, let's not let it get away without celebrating National Poetry Month. For this assignment, please share with us something about poetry. Tell us about your favorite poet, or quote us a few lines of your favorite poem, or if poetry doesn't happen to be something you enjoy, tell us why!

April (and the weekend) wrapped up before I could get to the assignment, but I'll give it a shot anyway.

When I first saw the assignment, I was all set to start a diatribe about how much I really don't like poetry.  I studied it enough in my younger days that I understand the concept, but as Heinlein would say, I don't grok it.  I don't get it on some basic level of understanding.  If you want to tell me about something important, give me a few solidly written paragraphs of prose and I'll understand it better.

But after thinking about it some more, I realized that I do like poetry.  Just make it rhyme (even if just a little), put it to music and sing it, and I'll get it.

When I was a young tyke, my mother went back to school.  One of her textbooks treated some of the pop and rock lyrics of the day -- Simon and Garfunkel, the Byrds, Bob Dylan songs -- as poetry.  As I leafed through the book and picked out songs I knew, it gave me a deeper appreciation of them -- that they were important enough to be considered "poetry."  Even now, I sometimes have the crazy notion that some of our greatest poets are not exactly poets after all -- they're songwriters.

Continuing on that idea, I'll tell you about a favorite poem, the Baby Boomer generation's "Beowulf "(or maybe it's their "Rime of the Ancient Mariner").  In the late '70s, the rock band Jethro Tull released the album Aqualung.  Ian Anderson, the leader of the band, was dismayed that rock critics were calling it a concept album, and said, "If the critics want a concept album we'll give the mother of all concept albums and we'll make it so bombastic and so over the top."



Jethro Tull - Thick as a BrickThe next album really was over the top -- a parody of the progressive rock album from groups like Yes or Emerson, Lake and Palmer, one long, continuous, seamless 44-minute song that stretched over both sides of an LP.  In addition to their standard guitar, drums, piano, Hammond organ and flute (yes, flute), they added the harpsichord, xylophone, lute, trumpet and string section.  The concept was that the lyrics were a poem written by a fictitious eight-year-old English schoolboy named Gerald Bostock.

The album cover was another parody, a spoof of an English community newspaper.  The main story was about young Gerald being disqualified from a literary competition "following the hundreds of protests and threats received after the reading of his epic poem 'Thick as a Brick' on B.B.C. Television last Monday night." 


The entire epic poem, "Thick as a Brick," actually written entirely by Ian Anderson, is after the jump if you're interested.  You can hear the song by Googling "Thick as a Brick."