Saturday, February 05, 2005

Good word

"The day is approaching when we won't bring home any kind of audio programming--on tape or disc. Instead, we'll order music through our home computer and have it delivered to us via satellite."

--Paul Terry Shea, Rolling Stone, Nov. 25, 1982 (90)

Friday, February 04, 2005

Giving the bird

I play live music, and at almost every performance, eventually someone in the audience yells, "'Free Bird'!'", which is the name of a popular song by the 1970s Southern rock group Lynyrd Skynyrd. It's an odd custom, one that shows no sign of going out of style, even though the ditty in question is more than 30 years old.

I think I can safely speak for the profession when I say that musicians find this maddening. Lately my group, the World's Greatest Lovers, has begun playing in response the song's rocking bridge--what our pedal steel player Adam Davis refers to as The Wankfest. But this seems only to confuse people.

What is a better response? I've heard that Phish used to perform a barbershop quartet version; this is something to consider. One of the best ideas I've heard came from Adam, who suggested that on these occasions we perform Stravinsky's "Firebird."

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Good word

"Real Art has the capacity to make us nervous."

--Harlan Ellison
We get letters

Date: Thu, 03 Feb 2005 13:37:20 -0500
From: Matthew G. Stratton
Subject: Matthew Stratton needs your vote.

Dear Friends --

An environmental advocacy group sponsored a contest for a new slogan to promote hybrid cars. Out of thirty-five-thousand entries, my slogan -- "Drives great. Less filling." -- is in fourth place, and I need your vote to propel me to the top (grand prize is a new Prius, which means less of me bumming rides when I come to your town).

Anyway, if you feel like it, do me a favor and log on to

Register, then rank "Drives great. Less filling" with a 5 and all the other top-ten suckers with a big fat ZERO. Do it for Stratton. Do it for friendship. Do it for Freedom. Yes, Do it for America.


p.s. the site is SLOW today, so you might wait a few days... Thanks!

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Good word

"It is not completely a joke that Lennon enjoyed referring to 'Why Don't We Do it in the Road' as McCartney's best song."

--Tim Riley

Today, Groundhog Day, is of course a beloved midwinter festival, but my favorite harbinger of spring is the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic, the pro-am golf tournament played in Palm Springs this time of year. Last weekend's champion was Justin Leonard, but I don't watch for the PGA golfing. No, I love the celebrities, who this year included Joe Pesci, Kurt Russell and Samuel L. Jackson.

What's thrilling about watching movie stars golf is that they play like real human beings. On one hole I saw Jackson drive for what looked like 15 feet, and my favorite moment came when comedian Tom Dreesen shanked a ball into the canal at the PGA West course. You seldom see pro golfers make these kinds of mistakes, and it's rare in any televised sports event to see what the game looks like played by amateurs.

Plus I love watching golf on TV, especially in winter. The courses look so warm and lush. At the Bob Hope I saw Jesper Parnevik's shadow, which means six more weeks of plaid pants.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Calling all cars

A while back, someone was telling me about a magazine article by the alt-country singer Robbie Fulks about his dealings with the IRS. I can't seem to find any information about this. Did I dream it? Does anyone know anything?
I'm insane...

...but I'm so very, very, very excited about this, the old Nike ad that revives a mesmerizing bit from "The Electric Company." I watch the spot over and over.

All together now: buh, oing, boing.

Sunday, January 30, 2005


I can't bring myself to watch it, but I thought you'd like to know that on the web just now I stumbled across my one and only appearance in a music video by an (arguably) major artist. The clip is for Mickey Gilley's "You've Still Got a Way With My Heart," and you can watch it on the Yahoo! Launch service here.

What can I say? It was 1989, I was a fresh-faced high school senior, and my theater coach had connections in the Nashville scene. Easiest $75 I ever made.

The real star of the video is my classmate Susan Yeagley as the blonde lovely. She has since gone on to exciting things in Hollywood. But those who know me should be able to spot me, a geek then and now.

It saddens me to learn I may soon have to register with a pharmacist if I want to buy Sudafed, my favorite decongestant. I suffer hay fever but have a medical condition that prevents me from taking antihistamine drugs like Drixoral, so I'm a Sudafed guy, in a big way. Well, not a really big way. I buy perhaps two dozen Sudafeds every six months, not quite enough to flag me as a meth cooker.

Sudafed, you see, contains the active ingredient pseudoephedrine, which is used to make methamphetamine. So if you see someone leaving Walgreens with armloads of Sudafed, it's probably not because they have a case of the sniffles.

Meth is a nasty, nasty drug, and I've met many people whose lives it destroyed. I'm a big fan of people not using meth. But I'm not convinced that clamping down on Sudafed is going to make much of a dent, and meanwhile I shudder at the thought of having to give my name and address when I go to buy my little red pills. I generally refuse even to surrender my zip code in retail situations, much less my address.

But if it helps keep even one person off meth, I guess I can live with that.

I can say this: I'm glad meth wasn't big when I was in high school. Could've been ugly.