Friday, June 02, 2006


I drink milk. Two percent milk. I fill big glasses with cold milk and drink it with lunch, dinner, cake. Part of me feels like this is a child's dietary practice I should have given up long ago. But still I drink milk. Do you?

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Spit take

This is a first: in the mail yesterday, I got a friendly note from Senate majority leader Bill Frist of Tennessee. In his letter he included a survey with questions like, "Do you agree that strengthening our Republican Majority in the U.S. Senate is critical to passing President Bush's agenda and fighting for America's future?" (And, of course, "Should Congress continue to pursue a Constitutional amendment to protect marriage as the union of a man and a woman?")

In his letter to me, Frist writes: "With careful consideration of those who are most active in their support of President Bush and the Republican Party, you have been selected to represent your district." Wha?!?!?!?!

I assume I got this because I subscribe to Fortune magazine, which I read mostly for the pictures of naked people. But seriously, I just happen to enjoy business reporting, which is why I also regularly read the Wall Street Journal and listen to the noon business hour on WBBM, the news radio station out of Chicago. But just because I enjoy business journalism does not mean I appreciate getting crank mail from fringe personalities!

I started to reply to Frist's letter by scribbling in the margins, but then I decided I would just be begging for a tax audit. I stopped before I got to scrawl, "As a native Tennesseean, sir, I am ashamed ..."

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Va voom

I don't think I fully appreciated the fact that the Clash's Joe Strummer was a total hottie.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Er, um, um

Nearly everything was perfect about the Junker reunion show May 13: It was wonderful to see drummer Thomas Crofts and guitarist Matthew Stratton again, new bassist Chris Boeger performed as though he had founded the band, the crowd was big and supportive, and it was delightful to share the bill with the friendly, magnanimous, straight-shooting Cash Box Kings.

So after all that, what was I left contemplating? The fact that I confidently fielded the request for Marty Robbins' "El Paso," but had to call it off halfway through: I forgot the words. I have sung that tune lots of times, but not in a while, and there are many lyrics, and it really is hard for a singer to fake a gunslinger ballad. Most songs have a nice safe chorus I can return to once I have slurred and mumbled my way through a verse that escapes me, but not a gunslinger ballad. So I waved my hands to Thomas, ended the tune, and launched immediately into "Act Naturally."

This was massively embarassing, though in retrospect I realize that it was pretty trivial in light of an otherwise fabulous evening. At a gig as high-profile as that one was for me, though, I'd rather not make prominent mistakes. The gaffe gnawed at me all the next day.

So I was reassured by this post on the blog of the marvelous comedienne Julia Sweeney, in which she describes a performance she gave in Palm Springs. Everything was going fine with her monologue. Then:
I had a horrible moment during my show, however. I went up. ("Up," meaning: I lost my place in the show and couldn't figure out what to say next.) I never go up. And I went up. I haven't gone up since I was first learning the show. And it was bad. It was really bad.
I know this feeling all too well! More:
And then I stuttered and stammered and eventually, finally, after about five years, no twenty years -- audience members left, had children, those children had children -- finally after much "," and "I'm sorrying" I figured out where I was and moved forward. But it was highly embarrassing and really scary. That is truly like standing on the edge of a cliff. A cliff like the Grand Canyon. It is leaning over the roof at 30 Rockefeller Center. It is having one foot slip off the path in Bhutan on your way up to the steepest monastery and you look down and you can't see the bottom. It took me a while to get the audience back with me. Oh how awful that was.
There is no moral, I suppose, except that mistakes happen, and it is embarassing when performers make them in front of crowds. After the show, I was put at some ease when people rushed up to shake my hand and thank me -- and failed to mention the flub. Is it possible that no one except me thought this was a big deal?