Saturday, August 29, 2009

an ingenious bastard

Yesterday afternoon I started a movie that I simply could not finish. About a year ago I purchased a CD collecton (very cheap) of Western films that included a few Spaghetti Westerns. The movie that I could not finish was entitled 'Any Gun Can Play'. The producers, like countless other producers before, then and since, tried to capture and capitalize some of the success of Sergio Leone's grand Italian Westerns. This movie even started off with Clint Eastwood, Lee Van Cleef, and Gian Maria Volonte look-alikes. There were some very familiar scenes and lots of tight close-ups. It was too boring to continue. No one could ever equal Leone. You see, Sergio Leone was a great storyteller. I wish I had a few dollar more for every time someone tried to come close to what Leone did in his films. What Leone offered onto film was unique.

I've always thought of Quentin Tarantino as sort of a Sam Peckinpah. Sure, Kill Bill I & II had Leone influences, but Tarantino has a very dull edge to his storytelling. Peckinpah was a bit edgy and graphic when it came to his storytelling. Quentin Tarantino's most recent work seems to be more of an homage to Leone and the Spaghetti Western from the very first frame of the movie 'Inglorious Bastards'. No. Quentin Tarantino is not a Leone mimic, he has his own brand of storytelling. He can pay homage without making copies of the masters. Tarantino is a master.

There is no mistaking this - Inglorious Bastards is a Spaghetti Western - only with cowboys and Nazis. I have witnessed many attempts to revisit the Spaghetti Western genre, and this movie is the first to have captured what I first experienced with Sergio Leone films many-many years ago. Quentin Tarantino not only can create the imagery, but has the slow fuse timing of a good Spaghetti Western.

I've never seen anyone handle blood quite like Qeuntin Tarantino. I've known no other director turn violent movies into an art form. Tarantino splashes blood onto celluloid like Jackson Pollack would paint on canvas.

Bloodletting aside, his characters, though sometimes stereotypical, have depth. Tarantino's plots are winding narrow roads which are needless to guess where they lead. In 'Inglorious Bastards', there are moments of film that are as awe filling as moments experienced in Orson Wells' 'Citizen Kane' or David O Selznick's 'Gone WIth The Wind'. Though I can relate Tarantino to many great directors - Quentin Tarantino offering is every bit as unique as the masters who have gone before him. His movies should be classified as a genre unto itself. There are so many familiar nuances experienced in his works - flavors and feels of movies past - yet his storytelling is his own.

I went to the drive-in last night to watch Inglorious Bastards on a bad weather night. It made no difference. The rain let up, and I put my folding chair front and center of the big outdoor screen. I listened to the sound through my headphones/mp3-FM player. I enjoyed this movie at face value - all those interesting and dangerous characters - all the conversations and tragic events strung together. There were moments in this film in which Quentin Tarantino created that are different than anything ever captured on film before- moments so memorable and timeless.

Quentin Tarantino isn't for everyone. I wouldn't recommend his films to just anyone. His stories and imagery are brutal to say the least. Even so, he is to me one of the finest directors living today. He isn't just a skillful director - he is a true artist. He is an ingenious bastard.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

jennie

This is an image I stumbled across of one of my older sisters, Jennie. I have four sisters total. This meant that it was always difficult to get to a bathroom in the mornings growing up. I have two older sisters, Jennie & Irene. I also have two younger sisters, Cindy & Florrie. The guys in our family were outnumbered, but it was a great time growing up.

I see Jennie the least, she lives out of state and it's rare that we see each other. This is a great photo of Jennie. It had some minor water damage and scratches that I had to touch in PhotoShop after scanning.

Below is the most recent image of Jennie from the Winthrop University website. She's still pretty and radiates the same smile.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

stir crazy

My mind has been on a road trip these past few months. Everybody has taken off on vacations and I've been nailed to the school, home, and office. I'd like to get out. I'd like to play again. Gina suggested a few months back that I hit the road on a mini-tour after I get out of school. Maybe I could bring back some money to help pay for those hospital bills that keep coming in the mail. I don't see a mini-tour happening until I get the national exam behind me (for massage certification).

I had this wild idea when I do get my certification. I'd like to go places and sing and take my massage table...at least a massage chair with me. Massage is not only healthful and relaxing - but to me - it's a form of laying on of hands. I'd like to incorporate that somehow into my future road trip ventures. Massage during the day, gigs at night. Maybe soon - maybe in the distant future. This is a seed of thought that I'll pray about and see if that seed is meant to grow or not. Who know.

Either way, I'd like to play again. First things first. I need to get the exam behind me. In the meantime, I'd like to finish my 'Picks' - a compilation CD of mostly live recordings. Brook and I once took a week long trip (about 12 years ago) down in the pan handle of Florida and New Orleans. We had a great venture together and I'd enjoy doing that again. I really don't know if I'll fly solo or bring along a friend. It would probably be easier to just go it alone - but company and a road companion is always fun. Who knows - maybe Brook can finish his CD and we could go share the stage.

I've always have enjoyed the small venues - the coffee shops - the backyard concerts - street concerts - and small church gatherings. These kind of venues do not pay much, but I enjoy the intimacy. I know this comes from growing up part of a coffeehouse ministry during much of my youth.

I do miss the early years of my marriage when Gina and I could hit the road together. Not having my companion with me took a lot of fun from the venture. We used to have the freedom to go on the mini-tours together after the release of 'Stand'. We just can't travel like we used to do.

Anyway - I've got things to do first. I am thinking of the road - thinking of places I'd like to sing - people I'd like to see again. Companion or not - I'm looking forward to playing again.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Friday, August 14, 2009

Thursday, August 13, 2009

it's over man

The last year has been a wild and busy ride. I've been in school while dealing with various health issues. I really began to feel my age once classes began. It would have been nice to have done this earlier in my life and pre-diabetes. If I forgot a med for high blood pressure or blood sugar - or strayed too far from proper diet - I wouldn't get very far. Who would have thought that schooling would be so stressful.

I enjoyed the classes and the instructors were caring and good folk. They take pride in their work - determined that we learn what it takes to not earn the title - but to become good therapists.

Every week for me was a marathon of learning about the workings of the anatomy - muscles and massage modalities. We were tested and validated every step of the way.

I didn't want to spread the program out anymore than I had to so I signed on for 11 credit hours at the beginning of the Summer. I knew I filling my plate to the max. Tuesday night was the final hurtle. I felt like I tumbled through the last few weeks. I looked at my final grade point average - 4.0 (total quality points = 44.).

I could not have made it without Gina. She took the load at the office so I could stay home many days and study. She really got behind in her work because I wasn't there to help out. Gina also took care of things on the home front. She took care of the bills and kept the kids fed, clean, entertained and put to bed. She wanted to help me with my studies but she had more on her plate than I had on mine.

Well - it's over. The next step is studying for the big one. The test that allows me to hang a massage shingle in front of the clinic. I plan on jumping into continuing education for lymphedema after I pass the board. First things first.

It's a strange feeling to walk away from this experience. I've been spending most week nights in class rooms and labs. I got to know a lot of young classmates that have become friends. People that were down with the same struggle. I spent hours upon hours with teachers who I also became friends. It is a strange feeling to not see them all daily. A season of my life has passed - such is life. It's time to press on.

Monday I will be joining the handful of classmates that have finished the program. We are going to have a last supper of sorts with some of the instructors. I think we are going to get our certificates as well - maybe pinned. Maybe Monday will offer a little closure. The program was hard and fast. I feel guilty for no reason - for not studying for another test or feel guilty for not being somewhere that I am no longer required to be. Am I making sense? It's over man - it's over!

father of the electric guitar

The original guitar hero, Les Paul, just passed away at the age of 94 (1915 - 2009). Les Paul made such a contribution to music that I really believe someone ought to name a guitar after him. Godspeed Les.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

soldier demands apology from his representative

Here's a prime example of what the Democrats are calling an angry mob. I had rather refer to them as 'WE THE PEOPLE!"

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Monday, August 10, 2009

fat man on a bike

I got my nephew to spruce up my old bike a month ago. The poor old bike had been hanging on the garage wall for the past decade. The last time I rode it was along side Nori Kelley in the mid-to late 90's. There was a short time that we would meet and ride together. There are too many hills in my neighborhood and I only have so many gears. So many hills and all those territorial-minded dogs! Why oh why did I purchase a five speed mountain bike? The only time I got away from them was down hill - unfortunately they would get me on the way back home.

Heck, I'd never even heard of a mountain bike until the day I bought one. Back in the late eighties there was a bicycle shop on Forrest Avenue called Alabama Outdoors. My brother in-law, Dan Noojin, and I spent a good bit of time together during that time. For some reason he wanted to stop in there and look around. I don't recall Dan ever owning a bike - but he had apparently been in there several times before. There were no cheap bikes in that store. There wasn't a salesman in the place, but for some reason Dan took it upon himself to sell me a bike. To this day I have no idea why he talked me into it. I wasn't in the market for a bike.

At the time I was living downtown and had a job downtown. During Dan's sales pitch, I started imagining what it would be like to cruise around downtown to and from work. I bought the bike and started riding it everywhere. I am sure that Dan was trying to get me out of the house more. I am a bear that enjoys the cool dampness of his cave. Riding a bike took me outside. I rode the bike to work and back. I rode the bike to the grocery store down the street. I'd often carry a sketchbook and spend an evening down at the Chestnut Station ilustrating this and that. I was quite the bohemian. My favorite time and place was downtown Gadsden at night. I had the roads mostly to myself.

A few years later Gina and I got married. I bought her a ten speed Schwinn for her birthday one year. We enjoyed many weekends tooling around Bowling Green, Ky together. We'd go and have picnics at the parks, carry along tennis rackets on our backpacks, or just ride around town. We were in pretty darn good shape back during that time. I had a bicycle rack that we would strap onto the back of our car almost every time we went on a trip. We enjoyed going to various small Kentucky townships and cruising the small town scene.

Now that I am an overwieght fifty year old man (51 come the 19th) - I've taken to the old bike again. I really need the exercise to knock the blood pressure down - as well as take off some pounds. I rode it to the post office and back. It's been a very long time since I rode that thing. I enjoyed the quick venture. I came back kind of hot and sweaty - but at least I didn't get run over by all the downtown afternoon traffic. It looks like I'm back in the saddle again. Funny how I never intended to buy it that day - never intended on spending all that money on a bicycle. Glad I did though. I never got rid of that ride because of all the good memories attached to it.

closer to the end


We got the kids off to school this morning. Katie is starting 8th grade and Kelsey excited to be starting 1st. Summer was fast and hard. The kids spent most of their Summer days at the office. There were a handful of days where they were home - but they seemed to enjoy the office over home. We cut off the satellite dish at the first of Summer in the attempt to get on top of bills. Gina purchased season tickets to Alabama Adventure and the three of them enjoyed some adventures together while I was in massage clinic. It wasn't an eventful time for them - but they did get some exciting moments with mom.

I feel kind of strange. School is starting for everyone and I am wrapping it up at Gadsden State. There isn't much for me to do tonight other than just show up. I did my hands own final last week and will be sitting around for six hours while the students who didn't get theirs in last week do theirs this week. The instructor said that she will give us a study guide for tomorrow nights written final. Tomorrow night is my last night of school. I am in a strange mood. I've been in that environment for a year now, and it will be strange not spending most of my evenings there.

Don't get me wrong. I have anticipated this moment for quite some time now. I am very weary. The biggest hurtle is passing the National Exam. That's the next challenge. I have really felt my age this past year. The stress of constantly studying for tests, long days and nights, really put me through the ringer. I seriously don't think that I could have lived through the program if it were a two year endeavor. Not only am I 50 years old, but I've got diabetes and high blood pressure. Physically, I feel as if I am just stumbling over the finish line.

Boy, I remember those first massage clinics that I had to build up the stamina to give six massages in a day. Saturdays we were required to do six - Thursdays four. Thursdays were always the roughest because there were fewer breaks in between massages. Last Thursday was my last clinic. I only had one massage that night. I had already fulfilled the 45 massage requirement for the semester. The last two Clinicals were a piece of cake. We didn't call to confirm appointments for those who had their hours - and took only those that showed up. I was relieved because physically - I was sucking wind. I did enjoy giving that massage that evening. I can't explain it. Quietly laying on of hands, focusing on the client's needs, and a little banter and laughter here and there.

I'm not out of the woods yet - but it won't be long now. I didn't do a darn thing this weekend. Gina let me crash downstairs Saturday an Sunday. I needed it. Tonight and tomorrow night - the beginning of the end - the end of the beginning.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

dissidents to official state policy must be found!

Email The White House immediately at flag@whitehouse.gov if you know of anyone sending you emails, or posting information that speak against Obama's health care plan. The White House is also urging citizens loyal to Obama to also be informants. The White House needs to know the names of those who also speak against Obama's policies in casual conversations. Washington NEEDS YOU!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

boldly going where every socialist has gone before

No, I didn't PhotoShop this image. I wish that I had. I did come up with an apt title for it, "Live short and don't prosper."

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Kelsey on Keaton

While at MoonSong Songwriter's Cafe' a few weeks ago, my six year old daughter discovered Buster Keaton. I watched her from across the room as she giggle and laughed at the silent movie being shown as the musician played on stage.

She came to me later and asked if I would get them to play the movie again - only turn the sound up. I told her that the movie had no sound - that it was made before people knew how to make movies talk. I told her that Buster Keaton was my favorite of the silent movie era stars. She then asked if we could find some more movies of his so we could watch them at home.

It's true. I've always liked Buster Keaton best. The world around him was a dangerous place, filled with dangerous contraptions. Buster seemed to nimbly leap from one oncoming death defying circumstance to another. Buster never used a stunt man. He told his production crew to never stop the camera until the shot was in the can or he were dead. He was a comedian that always brought nonstop laughter - yet his character rarely smiled. Buster Keaton was his own straight man - with eyes so melancholy.

Last night before going to bed, after a story, a prayer and a big hug, Kelsey asked me about him again. It had been two weeks since Kelsey had been introduced to Keaton. She remembered his name and asked me when I could find him for her. I of course will be more than happy to go looking for him.