Monday, August 31, 2009

Know Your French Actresses: Audrey Tautou

I've been remiss in posting French Actresses lately, so here you go:

Audrey Justine Tautou; born 9 August either in 1976 or 1978 is a French film actress, known to worldwide audiences for playing the title character in the award-winning 2001 film Amélie, Sophie Neveu in the 2006 thriller The Da Vinci Code, and more recently Irène in Priceless (2006). She won the César Award for Most Promising Actress in Venus Beauty Institute (1999).

If you haven't seen "Amelie", I highly recommend it. It is a visually stunning fable with really spectacular cinematography, and if you don't fall in love with Audrey Tautou watching it there's something wrong with you.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Life List: Giant's Causeway and Old Bushmills Distillery-Northern Ireland

I don't drink much(or particularly well)but my preference is Bushmills Irish Whisky. I got two bottles for my birthday.

I want to do a Northern Ireland Fly-Drive vacation and visit the distillery, which has been there since 1608.

The Giant's Causeway is just a couple of kilometers from Bushmills.

The Causeway appears on the cover of the Led Zeppelin album Houses of the Holy.

The Causeway proper is a mass of basalt columns packed tightly together. The tops of the columns form stepping stones that lead from the cliff foot and disappear under the sea. Altogether there are 40,000 of these stone columns, mostly hexagonal but some with four, five, seven and eight sides. The tallest are about 40 feet high, and the solidified lava in the cliffs is 90 feet thick in places.

Before the famous coast road was built in the 1830s visitors complained about the ruggedness of the trip. But there was one shining compensation on the journey: the town where tourists made their last stop before the final push to the Causeway was Bushmills. Ever since 1608 saddle-sore travellers had been revived with magnums of the King's whiskey at the world's oldest (legal) distillery, which is still in business.

IZ Lives!

"Trying Hard To Make This Whole Thing Blend..."

Friday, August 28, 2009

Paul Davis: American Singer/Songwriter

I've already owned up to a crippling weakness for songs about the Rodeo.

This isn't a Rodeo song, but Paul Davis was a terrific pop songwriter and singer.

If this song doesn't get stuck in your head, then feel free to judge me...

Paul Lavon Davis (April 21, 1948 – April 22, 2008) was an American singer and songwriter, best known for his radio hits and solo career which started worldwide in 1970. His career encompassed soul, country and pop music. Notable songs in his career include 1977's "I Go Crazy", a #7 pop hit which once held the record for the longest chart run on the Billboard Hot 100, as well as the #6 "'65 Love Affair", his highest pop hit.

Paul Davis:

Survived a shooting on July 30, 1986 in Nashville, Tennessee

1977's album, Singer of Songs - Teller of Tales featured the ballad "I Go Crazy," which became his biggest hit, peaking at number seven a full eight months after its release. Its continuing appeal helped keep it in the Top 100 for 40 more weeks.

Never did interviews. Whenever a reporter would contact him about doing an interview, Davis would reply that "all the answers to your questions can be found in my music.".

Brookside, Alabama: St. Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church

Brookside is a former mining town predominantly settled by Eastern European immigrants located in western Jefferson County, Alabama, United States. As of the 2000 census, the population of the town is 1,393.

The Brookside mine was opened in 1886 by the Coalburg Coal and Coke Company. It was purchased one year later by the Sloss Iron and Steel Company as a source of fuel for their blast furnaces in Birmingham. Following the practice of the time, the mined coal was processed into coke in rows of beehive ovens banked into the hillside below the mine opening.

Sloss, like other employers in the booming industrial expansion of the early 20th century, had difficulty recruiting skilled labor. Recruitment efforts extended internationally and Brookside became the home of many Czechoslovakian immigrants and their families who made their way to the mines. As Brookside became a destination for Eastern European miners in the area, the culture of the town reflected their ethnic traditions. A Russian Orthodox church was founded and served to strengthen community ties. This church was one of the first Russian Orthodox churches built south of the Mason-Dixon. Unlike other mines where skilled whites and unskilled blacks could be played against each other by the owners, the Brookside miners were tightly organized and carried out a successful (albeit violent) strike in 1906.






Brookside remains a small town with a distinct Eastern European flavor. The onion-domed church, re-faced with brick in 1965, still holds services for approximately 70 congregants. An annual "Russian Food Festival" brings visitors to tour the church, see traditional Slavic and Russian dances, and sample traditional foods prepared by the townspeople.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

After all these years, we all still love Lisa...

It's safe to say that John P. Strohm is the coolest lawyer in Birmingham, Alabama

I love this guy's music.

I couldn't find a decent video of him solo so opted to post this entirely gratuitous Blake Babies video featuring Juliana Hatfield.

Don't judge me.

I've never met him, even though he lives around here and plays at Bottletree sometimes.

I love his solo stuff-see the Myspace

I particularly like "Waiting For The World".

John Strohm (or John P. Strohm, born March 23, 1967 in Bloomington, Indiana) is an American guitarist, singer, and lawyer. He began his musical career playing drum set in Indiana's punk rock scene, then moved to Boston in 1985 and switched to guitar. With Juliana Hatfield and Freda Love (then Freda Boner) he co-founded the indie rock trio Blake Babies in 1986.

Following the breakup of the Blake Babies in 1991, Strohm performed with the bands Antenna, Velo Deluxe, and Hello Strangers, and has also recorded and performed extensively as the guitarist and drummer of the Lemonheads. In addition, he has performed on albums by Mike Watt and Polara.

Strohm has released three acclaimed solo albums, Caledonia (Flat Earth, 1997), Vestavia (Flat Earth, 2000), and Everyday Life (Superphonic, 2007).

Strohm favors the electric guitar and his style is melodic, alternating between heavy, distorted chords and more folk-influenced flatpicking, with Neil Young and punk rock being important polarities. He often plays most or all of the instruments on his solo recordings, including electric, acoustic and bass guitar, drums, and keyboards.

He is a cum laude graduate of the University of Alabama at Birmingham (2001) and a magna cum laude graduate of the Cumberland School of Law of Samford University (2004). While in law school, Strohm served as editor-in-chief of the Cumberland Law Review. He is currently an adjunct law professor at Cumberland School of Law. He lives in Birmingham, Alabama, where he works as a transactional intellectual property and entertainment lawyer, representing musicians, songwriters, and independent record labels, among other clients.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Royal Albert Hall, London 2005

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I'm too lazy to come up with anything clever, so I'll recycle some more old vacation pictures..

Gare Du Nord, Paris

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I took this photo of Gare du Nord interior when we travelled from London to Paris on the high-speed Eurostar via the "Chunnel".

Pretty cool stuff.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Rickwood Field, Birmingham Alabama

Built in 1910 by Birmingham industrialist Rick Woodward for the Birmingham Coal Barons. Rickwood Field was modeled after Pittsburgh’s Forbes Field and Connie Mack designed the field dimensions. Opening Day was on August 18, 1910 at 3:30 p.m. The Barons defeated the Montgomery Climbers 3-2 before more than 10,000 fans. The Barons played at Rickwood Field until 1987, when they moved into the suburban Hoover Metropolitan Stadium. The famous Black Barons of the Negro Leagues also called Rickwood home during their existence. The legendary Willie Mays, who grew up minutes away, was a 16-year old center-fielder on the 1948 championship squad. The Black Barons played their home games at Rickwood when the (White) Barons were out of town. Championship pennants from both teams are painted on the exterior of the ballpark behind the third base grandstand. The 1983 Barons were the last Rickwood tenants to celebrate a championship when they won the Southern League that year.



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Saturday, August 22, 2009

It's all about me today..

It's my birthday and I can move this from PG to PG13 for one day, can't I?

I mean, it's Marilyn Monroe!
Everyone has a favorite Marilym

Friday, August 21, 2009

It's unavoidable: Birthday Cake and festivities delay blogging activities

I get the same cake every year..

Thanks Honey!

This is the template photo I'll be using for my body paint tomorrow.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

"The Bear" and Great Moments in Regional Bell Operating Companies: South Central Bell

Coach Paul "Bear" Bryant for the late, lamented South Central Bell. This sold a LOT of Long Distance in its day

Call your Mama.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

"Quotations are the refuge of those incapable of coming up with clever and original thoughts of their own"

I have no idea what the mind of a lowlife scoundrel is like; but I know what the mind of an honest man is like. It is terrifying.
Abel Hermant

Experience! That most brutal of teachers. But you learn, my God, do you learn.
C. S. Lewis

Death twitches my ear. "Live," he says, "I am coming."

I would never lie. I willingly participated in campaign of misinformation.
David Duchovny (Fox Mulder)
The X-Files

And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music.
Friedrich Nietzsche

I like a person who grins when he fights.
Winston Churchill

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Brush with Greatness: Rick Danko


This poster is one of our most treasured possesions, inscribed by Rick Danko to Leanna on September 11, 1993 when he came to Birmingham to play a solo show at "Louie Louie".

He was a terrific gregarious guy, and is often described as having an infectious personality.

He is one of my true heroes and couldn't have been nicer. RIP and God Bless Rick Danko.

Rick Danko was -- and will forever be known as -- one of the three singing members of the Band, as well as

their bassist. Their principal lead singer on the first album, he was second of the members to join the group back in its days backing Ronnie Hawkins, and the second of its members to pass away.

He was born Richard Clare Danko on December 29, 1942, in Greens Corner, Ontario, Canada, near the town of Simcoe. The latter is in a part of Ontario populated by a large number of families descended from expatriate Southerners from the United States, and the echoes of Southern culture ran through the music and language in the area, with a special emphasis on country music. Danko's whole family played or sang, and he was playing banjo for his classmates as early as the first grade. As a boy, he listened to Hank Williams, among other country artists of the late '40s and early '50s, in addition to gospel and R&B, with Sam Cooke and Fats Domino both strong influences during his teen years. He gave up school to go into music full-time when he was in his mid-teens, and made the jump to the big time -- relatively speaking -- by joining Hawkins' backing band, the Hawks, at age 17. Guitarist Robbie Robertson was already a member of a couple of years' standing at that point, and Danko was initially the group's rhythm guitarist, but he soon learned to play bass and switched to the four-string instrument. He not only mastered the electric bass but also the upright acoustic bass, and became an amazingly accomplished player on both instruments at a very young age.

Friday, August 14, 2009

My underutilized swimming pool membership

Every year I consider giving up my membership since I only go a few times a year, so it costs me about $40 a trip.

I'd give it up, but there's about a 3 year wait to get back in.



Bubba and the Preacher

This joke was sent to me by my friend Richard

"Anyone with needs to be prayed over, come forward, to the front at the altar," the Preacher says.

Bubba gets in line, and when it's his turn, the preacher asks:

"Bubba, what do you want me to pray about for you?"

Bubba replies: "Preacher, I need you to pray for my hearing."

The preacher puts one finger in Bubba's ear, and he places the other hand on top of Bubba's head and prays and prays and prays, he prays a blue streak for Bubba.

After a few minutes, the Preacher removes his hands, stands back and asks,

"Bubba, how is your hearing now?"

Bubba says, "I don't know, Reverend, it ain't til next Wednesday!"

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Galveston Key photo and "The Wreck of the Key Biscayne"

I used to work on the Galveston Key in the very early eighties when it was nearly new. (along with Joe from "meet the readers")

It's still working, most recently in the South China Sea off the coast of Vietnam.

I was looking it up and found this report: One of Galveston Key's (older) sisters, also built by Letourneau, "Key Biscayne" sunk in 1983 off western Australia.

The jack-up drilling rig ‘Key Biscayne’ was last seen afloat shortly after
1845 hours W.A.S.T. Friday 1 September 1983 in position 31° 10' S, 115° 11' E,
10 nautical miles off Ledge Point on the coast of Western Australia. Shortly
before that time the tow line to the rig supply vessel ‘Atlas Van Diemen'
parted and the standby vessel ‘Argus Guard’, which had been stationed about
5 cables astern, pulled off to starboard to clear the rig as it was running
down with the weather. ‘Key Biscayne’ was clearly seen when about 2
cables off the port beam of the standby vessel both visually and by radar.
However, by the time ‘Argus Guard’ completed its turn, the rig was no
longer visible and radar contact had been lost.
‘Key Biscayne’ was on voyage under tow by two rig supply vessels ‘Lady
Sonia’ and ‘Atlas Van Diemen’ from a location off Darwin to Fremantle for
stacking in Cockburn Sound pending its future employment.
The loss of the rig was the combination of a series of events during the
final day when tow lines parted and gale force winds, rough seas and heavy
swells buffeted the rig. All 52 persons aboard ‘Key Biscayne’ were
evacuated by helicopter and were taken to nearby Lancelin township without
loss or injury.
The tow line to ‘Lady Sonia’ parted at 0644 hours 1 September and for the
next twelve hours ‘Atlas Van Diemen' attempted to hold ‘Key Biscayne’ into
the weather and away from the lee shore. Concern for the safety of the
crew and of the rig was felt soon after the tow line to the supply vessel
‘Lady Sonia’ had parted. Shortly after 0900 hours the rig transmitted a
PAN message seeking assistance. By 0930 hours this message had been
converted into a MAYDAY and helicopter assistance was sought to evacuate
crew. At 1110 hours the first man was lifted from the helipad and by 1230
hours all non-essential personnel had been evacuated by both RAAF and
civilian helicopters. Throughout these operations the rig was wallowing in
the heavy seas and swells, rolling and pitching heavily.
During the day it was noticed that the vessel was settling by the stern
and listing to starboard, as heavy green seas were continually washing over
the main deck. The bow of the rig was seen lifting clear of the seas and
the stern immersed as the vessel pitched up to ten degrees forward and
about twenty five degrees by the stern. At the same time the rig was
rolling up to fifteen degrees each side of the upright.
All efforts to reconnect ‘Lady Sonia’ were unsuccessful. At about 1600
hours it was decided that the remaining crew should evacuate before dark
and return the next day when conditions were expected to moderate. The
drift of the rig toward the shore had been slowed by an anchor and the
weight on the tow line. With all line-throwing rockets spent and conditions
on deck too hazardous to work no useful purpose was seen in remaining on
board. By 1620 hours the remaining crew had been lifted from the rig.
The three support vessels remained in the area during the night. At about
0830 hours Friday 2 September ‘Argus Guard’ recovered a guitar case, life
jackets, paper and a trail of debris indicating the location of the sunken
rig. The position of the wreck was confirmed by bathymetric survey.

Little Feat: "Willin"

Weed, Whites and Wine, Tucson to Tucumcari, Tehachapi to Tonapah..

"If you got it, a truck brought it"

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Monday, August 10, 2009

Brush With Greatness: Phil Kaufman

I didn't actually meet Phil Kaufman, but we exchanged a couple of emails trying to arrange a meeting while on my way to Nashville. I'd heard a rumor that he occaisonally tends bar there, and thought it would be a good opportunity to pick up a copy of his book, get it inscribed and have my photo taken with him.

It's not every day you get to meet someone who served time in Terminal Island with Charles Manson in the early sixties, stole the corpse of a Rock icon, and Rolled with the Stones.

I didn't get to meet him as he had to accompany Nanci Griffith to a show in Texas the weekend I was there. Maybe next time.

Phil "Mangler" Kaufman, the man who and stole and cremated the body of country-rock icon Gram Parsons, and who has been described as the entertainment industry's"executive nanny" by Mick Jagger, tells it all. The Rolling Stones, Frank Zappa, Joe Cocker, Etta James, Emmylou Harris, Elizabeth Ashley, Rosanne Cash, the Byrds, the Everly Brothers.

(Before his death Parsons had said that he wanted to be cremated at Joshua Tree and have his ashes spread over Cap Rock, a prominent natural feature there. But after his death his stepfather arranged to have the body shipped home for a private funeral, to which none of his low-life music buddies were invited. Said buddies would have none of it. Fortified by beer and vodka, they decided to steal Parsons's body and conduct their own last rites.

Having ferreted out the shipping arrangements, Phil Kaufman (Parsons's road manager) and another man drove out to the airport in a borrowed hearse, fed the poor schmuck in charge of the body a load of baloney about a last-minute change of plans, signed the release "Jeremy Nobody," and made off with Parsons's remains. They bought five gallons of gas, drove 150 miles to Joshua Tree, and dragged the coffin as close to Cap Rock as they could by moonlight. Kaufman pried open the lid to reveal Parsons's naked cadaver, poured in the gas, and tossed in a match. A massive fireball erupted. The authorities gave chase but, as one account puts it, "were encumbered by sobriety," and the desperadoes escaped.

The men were tracked down a few days later, but there was no law against stealing a body, so they were charged with stealing the coffin or, as one cop put it, "Gram Theft Parsons." (Cops are such a riot.) Convicted, they were ordered to pay $750, the cost of the coffin. What was left of Parsons was buried in New Orleans.)

The movie "Grand Theft Parsons" is a fictionalized version of the Gram Parsons body-burning episode described in "Road Mangler Deluxe." Here is what the two principal actors have to say about the book:

"Phil Kaufman is an amazing character. I mean, just the basic [Gram Parsons] story is amazing. . . . I read Phil Kaufman's book called "Road Mangler Deluxe" and he's lived five lifetimes--his whole life should be a movie made out of it, much less these two days."
Johnny Knoxville
(plays Phil Kaufman in "Grand Theft Parsons")

"His book is pretty phenomenal. . . It's so great. It's like a fly on the wall of his thoughts and all of the escapades he got himself into."
Christina Applegate
(plays the fictitious Barbara Mansfield in"Grand Theft Parsons")

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Ridiculously Premature Vacation Planning: Amsterdam

I know we just got back from a couple of summer trips, but once the afterglow starts to fade, it's time to start thinking about the next one.

We are tentatively discussing doing a gathering in Amsterdam next summer, pooling resources to rent an awesome Canal House for a week.

In my experience, Amsterdam is so much more fun when you have a few friends along.

Everyone would make their own way over, we are considering flying in to Brussels, Paris or Frankfurt and possibly renting a car for some rural discovery. I've always wanted to go back to Ansbach Germany where I lived in my late twenties, but that may be another time.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Abbey Road 40 years later

LONDON August 8, 2009, 09:48 am ET
Hundreds of Beatles fans swarmed Abbey Road on Saturday, singing songs and snarling traffic to mark 40 years since John, Paul, George and Ringo strode across the leafy north London street and into the history books on iconic pop photos.

The famous photo graced the cover of the Fab Four's "Abbey Road," the last album recorded together, and shows the bandmates walking purposefully across the zebra-striped asphalt.

It remains one of music's best-known album covers, endlessly imitated and parodied. Although the shoot itself only took a few minutes, so carefully studied was the cover for signs and symbolism that some die-hard fans came to the conclusion that Paul McCartney — who appears barefoot and out of step with the rest — had secretly died.

McCartney himself made fun of the bizarre conspiracy in the title of his 1993 concert album, "Paul is Live."

Conspiracies aside, the ease with which fans can imitate the scene has drawn throngs of tourists to the site every day, turning the street into "a shrine to the Beatles," said Richard Porter, who owns the nearby Beatles Coffee Shop and organized Saturday's event.

Crowds spilled into the street, cameramen jostled for angles, and exasperated drivers honked their horns.

"I didn't expect so many people to be here," said German visitor Tschale Haas, 50, who was dressed in a Sgt. Pepper jacket.

Abbey Road, which cuts through London's well-to-do neighborhood of St. John's Wood, is home to the eponymous studios where the group recorded much of its work. Jay, London 2004

The group decided to shoot the photograph in August 1969 while recording music for the last time together. For the shot, photographer Iain Macmillan stood on a stepladder and police held up traffic while the Beatles walked back and forth across the street.

The enduring popularity of the site has caused headaches for local authorities, who have had to move the Abbey Road street sign up out of reach to prevent theft and repaint the wall every three months to hide fans' graffiti.