Friday, March 30, 2007

Bob Frakking Dylan

I was talking to my friend Will Briarwood for a few minutes today – he was busy at work, and didn’t have a lot of time.


“We have not discussed the season finale of Battlestar Galactica yet. Pretty strange, huh?”

Strange that we have not discussed it, or a strange episode?

“Ha. Both, I guess. Let’s see, Season One ended with Adama being shot.”

That was right about when I started watching.

Season Two ended with them on New Caprica and the Cylons finding them.”

That was a shocker.

“And now Season Three ends with new Cylons, Bob Dylan, and the return – maybe – of Starbuck.”

Seeing Starbuck again wasn’t a shock. And I kind of suspected that something was up with the chief, when found that temple. The other three Cylons were a bit of a surprise.

“And them hearing Bob Dylan? How do they explain that?”

I read some of the reviews, and interviews. I think someone said that maybe there was a songwriter somewhere out there, who somehow thought of the same lyrics as Dylan…

“That’s a bit of a stretch.”

Stay tuned. I’m sure they’ll explain some things next season.

“Which isn’t for like nine months. 2008.”

I heard they’re planning to do an episode this fall, kind of bridging the gap between season three and season four.

“We’ll talk more later. Gotta run.”

And so Will ran. Before we could discuss whether Starbuck is just in Lee’s head, the way that Six and Baltar are in each other’s heads, and I didn’t get to ask him if he had seen Tricia Helfer in Playboy, and how Tigh could be a Cylon when Adama has known him for many years, and what it means that there is at least one other Cylon/human hybrid baby, and…

Thursday, March 29, 2007

And Even I'm Getting Tired...

I was talking to my friend Will Briarwood today. I thought he would tell me about last night’s Patty Griffin show, but…

“We didn’t go.”

Bummer. What happened?

“What happened? What happened is that I forgot that going to shows in the city on weeknights is pretty tough on a tired old guy, who is still adjusting to new medication, and is sick of fighting traffic. I just wasn’t up for it.”

Sorry to hear that, Will. I know you’re a big fan of Patty’s.

“Yeah. I was bummed about missing her shows at Schubas earlier this year, so I was hoping to catch last night’s show, but it didn’t happen. If I had planned things better, I could have at least sold the tickets on ebay or something…”

You ok? You sound tired again.

“I probably shouldn’t have had a beer with lunch, when I’m on medication.”

Did you watch Lost last night, as long as you were home?

“Yeah. So not only did I miss my concert, but I wasted an hour watching another weak episode of Lost.”

It was not one of their better shows. I’m not sure what the point was in telling the backstory of a couple of minor characters.

“I wanted to watch Jericho last night, but didn’t have time.”

Me neither. I burned more of covivant’s cooking shows to dvd, watched Lost, and went to bed just past ten.

“I was talking to someone about that big Clapton concert, the big festival that’s in Chicago this year.”

The Crossroads concert.

“Yeah, that one. When I expressed my opinion that big all day festivals were fine for young people, that I wouldn’t go unless I had a skybox ticket, in the shade, with a private bathroom – well, the person I was talking with called me a ‘weenie.’”

Yawn. Whatever.

“I mean, I saw some festivals when I was younger, but when I make a list of the best shows I’ve seen, I don’t think my list includes anything that was at Soldier Field, or Navy Pier, or that Guinness Fleadh clusterfuck.”

The person you were talking to about the Clapton thing – is this one of those guys who thinks that the more money he pays for a show, the better the show is?

“I don’t think so. I think he’s genuinely enthusiastic about music, even though he’s older than we are. He’s mostly a classic rock fan, and those are the shows that you find at big stadiums in the summer.”

I don’t plan on finding any of those shows.

“I thought about going to that festival last year in Chicago, the one that Roky Erickson played at. But I just have no interest in spending many hours sitting – or standing, more likely – in the summer weather, with twenty thousand drunk morons around me.”

I hate to say it, Will, but I think we are both having trouble adjusting here.

“Adjusting to what? Getting older?”

More specifically, I meant giving up a lot of the concert-going experience.

“Yeah. It’s something that I’ve really enjoyed for many years – giving it up, or just cutting back, it feels like some kind of admission that I’ve gotten old.”

Got any meaningful song lyrics I could quote at the end of my post?

“How about that old Jethro Tull song, about being too old to rock and roll, too young to die?”


“I was kidding. ’Hope I die before I get old’?’”


“Maybe a Patty Griffin lyric. How about this one…”

Ouch. You sure you’re ok?

“Yeah, I’m fine, really. Just hanging on to that capacity for sadness.”

“Everyday I take a bitter pill
It gets me on my way
For the little aches and pains
The ones I have from day to day
To help me think a little less about the things I miss
To help me not to wonder how I ended up like this”

Monday, March 26, 2007

To Know Which Way the Wind Blows

I was talking to my friend TS Elmwood again yesterday afternoon. We were both out enjoying the record warm weather.

“Do you believe this? Weren’t we buried in snow a few weeks ago?”

I guess we lived through February.

“And it will be opening day for baseball season in a week.”

I found the neighbor kids’ baseball in our backyard the other day. It was like a sign of spring, that and all the robins.

“It was great, being able to open up all the windows at home this morning. Unfortunately, our neighbor was out on his patio with his cigar, and with the wind out of the southwest, I could smell it in my kitchen.”


“They’re good people, but the next time they complain about my bird feeders, they’ll hear from me about cigar smoke.”

They don’t like birds?

“No, they might poop on their perfect lawn. And I don’t think they like all the squirrels that invade my feeders, one of them might drop a peanut shell in their perfect garden.”

Life in the suburbs.

“Big plans for the nice weather today?”

I hope not. You?

“Do a little cleanup in the yard. I think I’ll save raking leaves and dead stuff for a couple weeks later. All of your cats healthy? Nothing bad in their food, I hope?”

Healthy as we could hope for a bunch of old cats. They sure enjoy being out on the porch when it’s warm like this.

“I didn’t think that you let your cats outside.”

No, we don’t – we have a screened-in porch, that’s too cold in winter and too hot much of the summer, but it’s really nice in spring and fall. I was out there, reading a book, with a cat curled up next to me.

“I was outside earlier, and I just sat still for a few minutes, and felt the warmth of the sun on my skin. And I went throught the drive-thru at Starbucks, and sat there while they made my drink, with the car windows down, feeling the breeze. I just love these warm spring days, I feel my lifeforce coming back after all these months.”

Covivant says she hopes my S.A.D. is finally lifting.

“We saw a couple of Irish bands Saturday evening – it’s hard to stay sad, or S.A.D., with that kind of music.”

Whom did you see?

Lunasa and Dervish, at the Old Town School. I’ve been a Lunasa fan for several years, they’re always great. I liked Dervish, too – first time I’ve heard a Cher song done Celtic-style.”


“The singer introduced it as a song she had heard on the radio, and she thought the band could play it their way. She said it was about the ‘marginalized of society,’ then she started singing ‘I was born in the wagon of a traveling show…’“

That would be “Gypsies Tramps and Thieves,” I believe?

“You got it. They also played Dylan’s ‘Boots of Spanish Leather.’ ”

***Warning – spoiler coming for the season three finale of Battlestar Galactica***

You don’t watch Battlestar Galactica, do you?

“No, but I’ve heard it’s good.”

I’ll have to talk to Will about it, then. They used some lines from ”All Along the Watchtower” in last night’s season finale.

“Sounds intereresting. You’ll have to stick those lines at the end of your blog.”

“ ’There must be some way out of here," said the joker to the thief,
’There's too much confusion, I can't get no relief.’ “

Friday, March 23, 2007

More Sick Cats and Dogs

I talked to my friend Will Briarwood again today. He was still angry about the pet food recall.

Rat poison. How does rat poison get into pet food?”

I don’t know, Will. I saw the story, didn’t get the chance to read it yet.

“And the first lawsuits have been filed against Menu Foods.”

I saw that. And I saw that PETA is demanding criminal charges in several states.

“And I hadn’t even noticed the dates in that New York Times story – Menu knew about possible problems last month, and it took them three weeks to announce the recall?”

I did see where someone pointed out that this could be a wake-up call to millions of pet owners, that they need to take a look at what they are feeding their pets.

“And it could mean an increase in business for the natural food makers.”

I talked to our veterinarian yesterday – he said they had one cat that was hospitalized last week, and they think it was due to the food.

“I hate to think of how many pets have been affected by this. I could be hundreds, thousands.”

I keep thinking about the picture from the New York Times story, the one I used on my previous post.

“That was a great picture, a sad picture. I feel bad for that woman and her poor little dog. Sometimes I look into the eyes of our cats, and I think of how much they trust us, that we’re taking care of them, feeding them the right food.”

You’ve given your cats good lives. Always remember that.

“I know, I know. I just worry that someone could take those lives away from me.”

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

On the Menu: Sick Pets

I talked to my friend Will Briarwood this morning, and he was not happy.

"You've heard about the big pet food recall, I'm sure."

Of course. I was in PetSmart Sunday, saw the sign, and went home to make sure our cats' food was okay.

"Well, even if it's ok, it's probably not ok."

Meaning what?

"Meaning that if you buy foods made by this Menu Foods, then you're supporting cruelty to animals."


"I was reading a bunch of the news stories, and I saw a story in the Tribune that was just disgusting. Here, let me quote it to you: 'Menu Foods told the FDA it received the first complaints of kidney failure and death among cats and dogs from pet owners on Feb. 20. It began new tests on Feb. 27. During those tests, the company fed its product to 40 to 50 dogs and cats. Seven animals--the mix of species was not immediately known--died...’ There was also a story in the New York Times.”

So they learned that their petfood might be killing animals, and they decided to be sure?

"By killing more animals."

I read the list of pet foods made by Menu -- it's a long list. And it includes the Nutro / MaxCat that we buy.

"I think it might be time to reconsider the brand you buy."

I will reconsider. It's just that our oldest cat is really picky -- she's going to be sixteen years old next month, and I don't know if she will be interested in trying new foods.

"I know, it could be a tough decision, but I've heard you talk about how you try to buy cruelty-free products. I started looking around online. I found a list of brands from companies that do not test on animals at PETA's website.”

You know that I’m not a big fan of PETA.

“I know, I know, neither am I. But sometimes they have information that other organizations don’t.”

If PETA would stop trying so hard to offend people, they might have a few more supporters.

“I think PETA believes that offending people is their purpose. Anyway, do some checking on your catfoods.”

After I talked to Will, I did some checking.

We buy cat treats made by Halo -- they are on the list of companies that do not do testing on animals.

We buy several kinds of dry food, including Innova and Science Diet. They are not on PETA’s list.

And we buy Nutro moist food. Nutro is not on PETA’s list.

I’ll be contacting these companies, to ask them their position on laboratory testing of animals. Stay tuned.

Monday, March 12, 2007

The Times, They Are A-Springin'-Forward

I was talking to my friend Will Briarwood, and I told him he looked like he could use a long nap.

“There are several reasons that I’m tired today. One is stupid Congress.”

You and Congress were out partying this weekend?

“No, it’s the time change. Springing forward always throws off my schedule – it feels like I woke up in the middle of the night this morning.”

It was kind of dark when my alarm went off today. Congress could probably find some more important problems to work on, rather than screwing up our clocks, both internal and external.

“Then there’s my urologist.”

I did not know that you have a urologist.

“As of last week. New medication, makes me a bit dopey.”

Let’s save that discussion for another post.

“OK. The main reason I’m tired is the three shows I saw in the past three nights.”

You and your concerts, again. You’re old enough to have a urologist, but you still think you can go out three nights in a row.

“I know, I know.”

So whom did you see?

“Friday was Alejandro Escovedo and Chuck Prophet at the Old Town School of Folk Music.”

If you drove into the city on a Friday, then I bet traffic sucked.

“Took me over two hours to get there. I spent more a lot more time in the car that evening than I did watching music.”

Long drives, or short show?

“Both. It was one of those nights where the Old Town School decided they had to squeeze in two shows. So they had to clear the room for the late show. Alejandro was done by like 9:30 – he only played for a little over an hour.”

You’re kidding – I saw him play for almost three hours once.

“Well, in his defense, he is a bit older now, and he does have his own health issues.”

He still puts on a good show, doesn’t he?

“Well, yes. But he played several songs from his most recent record, and one brand new song, and I hate to say it, but his songwriting is in a slump. It makes me nervous that he’s using his wife poetry for song lyrics. And the brand new song – which he wrote with Chuck Prophet – didn’t do much for me.”

How was Chuck Prophet’s set?

“He was good. I wish I had bought a cd or two.”

He was in Green On Red, right?

“Right. One of those bands I missed back in the 80’s.”

Whom did you see Saturday?

“Back to the Old Town School for Karan Casey and Crooked Still. It was a really good show.”

I’ve heard of Karan Casey, but I don’t think I know Crooked Still.

“Kind of bluegrassy / old-timey music. But with a cello as the lead instrument, rather than a fiddle.”


“I was telling someone that the singer looked a bit like Lisa Loeb, the banjo player looked a lot like a very young Bruce Springsteen, and the cellist looked like Kurt Cobain.”


“And it turns out that the banjo player actually toured with Bruce last year. I wish I had bought their cd too.”

You’ve seen Karan Casey before, haven’t you?

“Saw her open for Lunasa, last year. One of my favorite Celtic singers. She does a version of a song called, I think, ‘Love Is Teasing’ -- aye, ‘twould melt your heart. Unfortunately, I don’t think it’s on any of her cd’s.”

And Sunday’s show?

Natalie MacMaster, out at the Hemmens in Elgin. Another really good show. My wife and I bought three of her cd’s last night. A very energetic show, considering she’s six months pregnant.”

She’s the one who fiddles and stepdances, right?

“Right, but there was a bit less dancing last night. Coincidentally, I saw both her and Karan Casey last year – and both were pregnant last year.”

And today you’re probably more tired than a pregnant stepdancer.

“As soon as I pick my wife up from the train, I’m going to bed.”

Isn’t Heroes on tonight?

“It’s a rerun. But, dammit, that reminds me that I do have to watch last night’s Battlestar Galactica. And my wife has been busy, so we have a couple of Gilmore Girls we haven’t watched yet.”

March is rerun month, Will. You’ll have time to caught up on your shows.

“I know. Right after I get caught up on my sleep.”

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Lost Cats

I was talking to my friend Will Briarwood, and he was not happy.

“I think I’m going to stop watching Lost.”

We discussed Lost recently – I didn’t think you were ready to give up on it.

“What did you think of last night’s episode?”

SPOILER ALERT – we are going to discuss episode number 59, “Enter 77,” which was on US tv yesterday, March 7, 2007.

It was pretty good, I guess. A bit violent.

“What about the cat being abandoned in the jungle at the end?”

That did bother me.

“It bothered me a lot. They wouldn’t have done that to a dog.”

By ‘they,’ you are referring to the writers and/or producers of Lost.

“Any tv show’s writers and producers. It’s always ok to have a cat being abused, but they would never show a character leaving a dog to die in the jungle.”

Slow down, let’s think about this. Perhaps The Others will come to investigate the explosion, and they’ll find the cat and take care of it.

“I’ll bet you anything that the show never refers to that cat again. Or the horse we saw, or the cow.”

But you must have appreciated the scene where the Iraqi woman talks about rescuing the alleycat.

“Yes, it was good that she rescued the cat. But the writers would not have written the scene with a dog being tortured.”

They did not show any animal abuse on screen. The Iraqi woman’s cat seemed to be cared for – it showed that she still had compassion in her, despite being tortured herself.

“Yes, yes, that was a nice touch. It’s just that I hate to see animal abuse, especially involving cats, being used as a plot device.”

I found myself thinking about all the cats on Maui.

“That’s right, they film Lost in Hawaii. I did read that there is a serious cat overpopulation problem there.”

Seeing that cat abandoned in the jungle, I was thinking of all the starving cats in Hawaii. And the ones that are not starving are eating the endangered bird species.

“I was thinking about Carlita.”


“Rose’s cat on Invasion. When the show ended, there were several cliffhangers left unresolved, including whether Carlita survived everything.”

Do you think that Lost will answer some of our questions in the remaining episodes this season?

“Actually, I think that Eyepatch Guy may have answered some questions last night, when he talked about the conflict between the Dharma scientists and The Others.”

One more thing bothered me about last night’s show – when did Locke become so dumb?

“Yeah, ignoring a dangerous captive so he could go play chess. Pretty dumb.”

You are going to keep watching, aren’t you?

“Yeah, I will. Just so I can say ‘I told you so’ when they never refer to the lost cat again.”

Friday, March 02, 2007

Julie Miller, We Need You

My friend Will Briarwood was telling me about Julie Miller, Bruce Springsteen and 9/11…

“Remember the story about Bruce Springsteen, and the fan who said we needed him after 9/11?”

Refresh my memory.

“The story – at least the story that we saw on the morning news shows – was that Bruce was in his car somewhere in New Jersey, a few months after 9/11. A fan recognized him and yelled something like “we need you, Bruce.”

I do remember the story. And Bruce was inspired to write songs about 9/11, which became his album The Rising.

“Yeah. Bruce did make a great album, with some great songs.”

You said you were also thinking about Julie Miller.

“One of the first shows I saw after 9/11 was Buddy and Julie Miller at FitzGerald’s. Near the end of the show, Julie was talking about what was happening in the country -- I wish I had written down her exact words.”

What did she say?

“She talked about God, but only about love, not about hate. I remember her message as everyone should try to love each other a bit more and hate each other a bit less. That we should all reach out to anyone we knew who was a Muslim, or an Arab-American. Because that was what Jesus would do.”

That’s quite different from what a lot of so-called-Christians were saying at that time.

“I know – I seem to recall Jerry Falwell on tv, saying that we needed to kill the evildoers, in Jesus’ name.”

So your point about Bruce and Julie is…

“I wish that someone would see Julie driving around Nashville, and would say to her, ‘we need you, Julie.’”

Which would inspire her to make an album about…

“About what she said at FitzGerald’s.”

I don’t think I’ve heard anything new from her for a while – where has she been?

“Not sure. I checked around online, and I think the story is that she’s had some health problems, and a death in the family, and just hasn’t been able to make a record for several years. I have a Google alert for ‘julie miller,’ but most of the info I get is on many other people named ‘julie miller.’ “

Covivant is a big fan of hers. It would be good to hear Julie’s perspective on things.

“I mean, people have made records about 9/11. I think the best is the Sleater-Kinney song, ‘Faraway.’

There were those Neil Young records, good and bad.

“And Butch Hancock’s most recent one.”

I’ve heard a song by Mudhoney called “Hard On For War. ” And I heard Richard Thompson play his new song last week, called “Dad’s Gonna Kill Me.”

“ ‘Dad’? “

Short for Baghdad. Like ‘Nam’ was short for Vietnam.

“Got it. So, are you going to put some Julie Miller lyrics at the end of the post?”

Yes, I am.

“You can have my heart
If you don't mind broken things
You can have my life if you don't mind these tears
Well I heard that you make old things new
So I give these pieces all to you
If you want it you can have my heart”

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Dream Dreams the Dreamer

I was talking to my friend Will Briarwood earlier today. He was telling me about the dream he had last night.

“I had just arrived at a concert hall, and I was trying to find some place to leave my bike.”

Your bicycle, or your motorcycle?

“Don’t know. I don’t remember that I was pedalling, and I don’t remember that an engine was running. It was one of those dream things, where you just move via an unknown force. I was riding around alleys and parking lots, and there were no parking spaces or bike racks.”

Did anything look familiar? Did you know where you were?

“I thought I might be in Oak Park. I was getting worried, because the show had already started. I could hear the opening act from outside.”

Who was it?

“It was Big Country. They were opening for U2.”

Interesting. What song were they playing?

“Don’t know. I just heard music and knew that it was Big Country.”

Stuart Adamson is dead – were you hearing a different singer? Or were you back in the past?

“Did I mention that it was a dream? It was another one of those dream things, where you just know what is happening, without knowing all the details.”

Okay. Did you get your bike parked?

“Nope. Dream ended with me still outside, riding around.”

Sorry to hear that. You know, I think they say that dreams like that indicate a fear of having no control over your life.

“Yeah. The fear pops up in your unconscious, and plays itself out as a dream – rather than the dream making you wake up feeling afraid.”

I know you’ve mentioned that you hate being late for concerts.

“I do hate being late -- my wife complains that we always leave way too early, and end up sitting around waiting for the show to start.”

It wasn’t her fault that you were late, in the dream?

“No, I don’t think my unconscious was blaming her for anything. I don’t think I was with anyone. Just me on a bike.”

You do think about concerts a lot, for a man your age.

“Right back at ya. Hey, did I tell you I was thinking about Julie Miller, Bruce Springsteen and 9/11?”

Tell me about it in the next post…