Friday, July 30, 2004


Lennon's law (from the 1980 John Lennon song "Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy)"):

Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans.

Burns's corollary:

I do my best work when I'm supposed to be doing something else.

Thursday, July 29, 2004

Less is more

Last night's episode of "Method & Red" was not the strongest yet, but I remain convinced of its genius.

Because Ereck and I were out for dinner, we taped the episode (and the "Simple Life 2" episode that preceded it), and this let me linger over the "Method & Red" theme music. As you may recall reading herehere, and here, I'm something of a connoisseur of TV theme songs, and I'm pleased to report that the "Method & Red" ditty is top notch. Here are the lyrics in their entirety:

What's that show you came to see?
That's right, M-E-T-H and the R-E-D
What's that show you came to watch?
That's right, M-E-T-H and the R-E-D
The Method and Red show!
The Method and Red show!
Forgive me

If you're a musician, you've encountered The Jokes. Like medicine and law, live music is a profession about which zillions of jokes are told. The main difference, I suppose, is that although doctor and lawyer jokes are common coin, musicians jokes mostly get swapped among musicians.

So at the risk of boring my musician readers, I wanted to share a few zingers from a cache of musician jokes I ran across the other day. Some are classics of the genre; others were new to me.


A young child says to his mother, "Mom, when I grow up, I'd like to be a musician."
She replies, "Honey, you know you can't do both."

Q: What do you call a drummer in a three-piece suit?
A: The Defendant.

Q: Why do some people have an instant aversion to banjo players?
A: It saves time in the long run.

Q: What's the difference between a folk musician and a large pizza?
A: A large pizza can feed a family of four.

Q: What do you call a guitar player who only knows two chords?
A: A music critic.

Q: What will you never say about a keyboard player?
A: "That's the keyboard player's Porsche."

Q: What's the difference between a dead chicken in the road and a dead trombonist in the road?
A: There's the remote chance the chicken was on its way to a gig.

Q: What's the definition of optimism?
A: A saxophone player with a beeper.

Q: How do you reduce wind drag on a bass player's car?
A: Take the Domino's sign off the roof.

Q: What do you throw a drowning bass player?
A: His amp.

Q: What's the difference between a bull and a band?
A: The bull has the horns in front and the asshole in the back.

Q: How do you get a bass player off of your porch?
A: Pay him for the pizza.

Q: What's the last thing a drummer says before he gets kicked out of a band?
A: "When do we get to play my songs?"

Wednesday, July 28, 2004


Martin recently blogged about a fascinating dream. Over the years I have noted a few dreams in my diary, and I'd like to share this one from November 15, 1993:

I dreamed I saw the new Merchant-Ivory film, the one with Emma Thompson and Anthony Hopkins [The Remains of the Day]. The dream laid out an entire plot, which may or may not have anything to do with the actual film. I don't remember much of this plot, other than that one part takes place on a golf course. Anthony is putting and Emma is holding the flag for him.

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Peace and love

I was always a little sorry I never went to a Grateful Dead show. I'm of the generation that, as teens, began to swarm to Dead shows in the 1980s, newly attracted to the music and the lifestyle by (among other things) "Touch of Grey," the 1987 track that was the group's biggest hit. MTV played the "Touch of Grey" clip incessantly.

But the Deadheads were, like skateboarders and organized science-fiction fans, one of those communities I admired from afar, but never enough to join in. In the ten years I lived in Chicago I had many opportunities to see the Dead, but I ignored them all except the last one, at Soldier Field, just weeks before Jerry Garcia died in 1995. I tried to score tickets to that show, but only seats behind the stage remained by the time I managed to get through to Ticketmaster. Next time, I figured. There wasn't a next time.

So I was glad, last Saturday, to at least be able to see the Dead--the Dead proper, that is. That's the name under which the surviving members of the Grateful Dead are touring these days. My brother is a giant Dead fan, and he was visiting my mom in Chicago last week. And so the three of us journeyed to East Troy, Wisconsin's Alpine Valley theater to groove to the music and take in the sights.

Yes, a Dead show with Mom. We weren't the only family there, not by a long shot, though the kids I saw with their parents tended to be adolescents, even very young children, not guys in their 30s. Regardless, the show was a great time, and I was delighted to share the experience with my family.

Steven and Mom drove to Madison for lunch, and then we took two cars to East Troy. We had passes to the VIP parking lot, just next to the theater entrance, but a miscommunication sent us into the cheap lot, where a kindly attendant showed us the quickest way to the VIP lot: a gravel path amid a thicket of minibuses. We gamely rolled our way through and got a taste of Dead Lot chaos, which consisted mostly of the cavorting of a great many half-dressed youths. We finally reached the VIP lot, which could not have provided a starker contrast. The cars and SUVs were much nicer, and older folks, mostly, sat around in quiet groups, drinking and barbecuing.

After relaxing for a few minutes, we made our way to the gate two hours before the show started. We had lawn seats, and we wanted to get inside early so we could stake out a good spot. We settled down in our rented lawn chairs for some serious relaxation. The theater was only half full by the time we saw the opener: Warren Haynes, late of Gov't Mule and the Allman Brothers. Going in, I knew nothing about Haynes, and while his solo acoustic set was pleasant enough, it didn't prepare me for what was to come. The Dead took the stage at 8:30 or so and were greeted warmly by the crowd, which by then had swelled to roughly 35,000.

I should mention that my knowledge of Dead music is mostly limited to one terrific album, American Beauty, and a handful of the group's most famous songs. So unlike seemingly everyone else in the audience, I didn't recognize a lot of what they played. Fortunately I had my brother to supply titles and a bit of historical context. Unsurprisingly, I most enjoyed the songs I knew, like "Casey Jones," "Uncle John's Band" and a freaky cover of the Beatles' "Tomorrow Never Knows." The other songs were very good, though I must confess that I most enjoy freeform jamming in small doses. But the musicianship was impressive, especially that of Haynes, who filled in for Garcia. Haynes' singing and guitar playing were simply astonishing.

A word about the crowd: it was a mix of ages, although the fashions were fairly consistent. Lots of tie-dye, as you might expect, and t-shirts declaring allegiance either to the Dead or some other rock act. Once the lights went down you couldn't much see the clothes, but it was at that moment that clouds of marijuana smoke began to waft over us. Lord, were people smoking pot. My throat began to ache in sympathy.

Yes, apart from the children, our group of three appeared to be the only sober folks in our vicinity. Time was that I would have gleefully joined in the profligate substance abuse of the Dead audience, but as you may know, those days are behind me. When I later drove out of the parking lot, I had to be extra vigilant about the hordes of stoners who kept stumbling in front of my truck. I do recall that booze and drugs can make music sound very good, but I for one was glad to have my senses about me.
Good word

"I was just a back seat driver in a car of love."

--The Chi-lites, "Stoned Out of My Mind"