Thursday, August 31, 2006

More Memphis

OK, here are more Memphis photos, I think I need one more post to get them all!

The sign for the hotel that we stayed at was right outside our window. It reminds me of those hotel signs you always see in film noirs.

A couple of shots of the Memphis Business Journal sign from the hotel.

This is a view from the hotel room of the Orpheum Theatre where Tom Waits played.

This is a view from the hotel room of sunset over the Mississippi River.

OK, this was really weird. They were filming something at this restaurant across the street from the hotel. And they were filming all day. I woke up around 10AM that morning and looked out the window and saw that they were filming. At 10PM when we left to go hit Beale Street, they were still filming! I guess acting really is hard work! And boring. I have no idea what it was, but it looked like something designed to appeal to teenagers.


Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Self Portrait Tuesday - Confined Spaces 5

When I first decided to do this shot, it really didn't have any meaning. I just wanted something that looked unusual. Now, although it's somewhat of a cliche, it is appropriate for how I have been feeling lately. I just want to hide. And like this picture, I'm hiding in plain sight.

See more SPCs here.


Sunday, August 27, 2006

Back to School (Again)

Today was the first day of school for the fall semester. I tell you, there's nothing like getting up early on a Sunday to go to school! Actually I'm kind of glad that I only have to use 2 days of vacation instead of 3. I have to go to campus for the next 2 days.

The prof seems about half-crazy, but mostly in a good way. She's one of those people who is set to 11 at all times, but I think she knows that, which makes it a bit more bearable. She has a reputation as a very good teacher. She even won some kind of teaching award last year.

I possibly got another indicator that maybe I'm in the right place - the class was filled with a lot of strange people. You know, the kind of people who ate lunch by themselves in junior high and then accidentally threw their retainer away. I fit right in.

Oh, and today the temperature didn't hit 100 for the first time in 19 straight days. How frickin' awesome is that?

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Chile Time

It's that time of year again when the Hatch chile peppers start to show up around here. Last night I made some sauce - I really love that stuff! I've been wondering if the actual Hatch chiles taste any different from Anaheim peppers. They're actually the same plant, the Anaheim came about when someone took some of the seeds from New Mexico chiles and started to grow them in California. However, they are supposed to taste different because of the different soils and climates in which they grow. I can buy that explanation, it's basically the whole basis of the wine industry. A grape grown in California doesn't make the same wine as it would if it were grown in France. I guess someday I'll have to make some sauce with Anaheims and see if it tastes different.

These are the roasted chiles. The skin must be removed before dicing.

Here are the diced chiles ready to go into the sauce.

Here's the sauce simmering. The onion chunks are pretty big - I was getting lazy by the time onion slicing came around.

Voila. This is my version of tacos al carbon.


Friday, August 25, 2006

A Building With a View

One of the great things about the infranets is that now I can bore complete strangers with my vacation photos – I’m not just limited to friends and family anymore! Anyway, I’ve got a few more Memphis photos to post.

As we were walking around in the warehouse district in Memphis, one of my friends struck up a conversation with a guy that was at this flea market type of thing where they were giving away old furniture and other things that were cleaned out of a lot of the old buildings. It turns out this guy was some type of developer, and he said he could take us inside the building in the above picture.

The building was built in the late 1800's

After we looked around for a bit, the guy asked us if we wanted to go up to the roof. Of course! So we climbed up this rickety-ass staircase. Those stairs kind of freaked me out a little because some of the individual stairs were not so stable. It was only two or three that were bad though.

There was a great view from the roof. This is downtown Memphis, including the pyramid on the left.

This is a view of the Mississippi River looking south.

The requisite "art" shot.

As we walked away from the building I realized that my legs hurt quite a bit. I guess walking up all those stairs was a decent workout. It's been quite a while since I've been on a Stairmaster!


Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Rock Me

Seeing a picture of these rocks made me think of these rocks:

I took this picture at a beach on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington in 1998. I had never seen a beach totally covered in rocks before. There was an amazing clacking sound that would happen every time a wave came in as the rocks clanked together.

I liked how the forest came right up to the edge of the beach.

This was taken not more than 20 yards from the previous photo, but it looks like it could be miles away.

This warning seems a lot more real to me now than it did at the time.

I have a couple of readers who live in the Pacific Northwest - lucky bastids. Anyone have a room to rent?

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Self Portrait Tuesday - Confined Spaces 4

I've Got Mail

See other self portraits here.


Monday, August 21, 2006


Ugh. Kind of a crap weekend. I retreated into one of my first escape mechanisms - books. I've got 4 books checked out of the library at the moment.

In better news, I got my grades for the summer semester - I got A's! And being the modest person that I am, the following video clip in no way crossed my mind. Not at all. I'm just putting it here so you can see what I could have been thinking!

The fall semester starts next Sunday. Yep, Sunday. I go to campus for three days and then it's online from there on out.


Friday, August 18, 2006

Loose Ends

* First off I want to thank everyone for all of the advice about facial moisturizer. So it looks like I can't get away without at least an occasional scrub, and I can live with that. One thing I forgot to mention is that I am still trying to avoid harmful chemicals as much as possible, so I think I may go with a different brand than anyone suggested. I still refer to this web page that rates cosmetics on the harmful chemicals they contain. My plan right now is to try this and this. I think my skin is probably combination oily instead of combination dry now that I look at the definitions again. The EWG site rates this particular line fairly well (0.4 with 5 being the worst rating, a higher score is worse for number of harmful ingredients), although I'm not thrilled with what it has to say about padimate O and vitamin E. Also, this stuff t'aint cheap. But that can probably be said about a lot of these types of products. Anyway, thanks for the help and if I don't like this stuff I'm buying I may look into some of the things you all suggested.

Oh, and I thought it funny that Noxzema was mentioned because I just had some Noxzema trivia on my trivia calendar. According to the calendar, pharmacist George Bunting was inspired to name his skin cream Noxzema after a customer reported that the cream "sure knocked out my eczema". So the name supposedly comes from "knocks eczema". The original name was Dr. Bunting's Sunburn Remedy. I'm a trivia nerd.

* I wear a contact lens in my left eye. That's why in pictures it looks like I have two different colored eyes since the contact has a slight blue tint. Well, today I realized as I entered the highway that I forgot to put my contact in this morning. I can see pretty well without it, so it's not always immediately obvious when I forget it, unless I'm driving. Since I didn't leave any margin for error in my commute time, and I have been late 3 out of 4 days this week, I decided to press on without it today. It makes me feel a little weird since things don't quite look right. That kind of suits the way I feel, though. The eye doctor always seems curious about my eyes because the left eye is something like 20/400 and the right is 20/40 or so. Apparently that can be an indicator of eye problems, but so far they haven't found anything that is a concern.

* I guess my bush trimming satisfied the gods of the homeowners association. I haven't received any follow-up letters about it. Now that you can see the transformer box the shrubbery kind of defeats its own purpose (to steal a line from Raging Bull), but it's still better than having to cut it down completely.

* The dermatitis is gone! I shall never use fabric softener again.

*Check out the Virgin Mary chocolate dripping!


Thursday, August 17, 2006

When in Rome (Er, Or Memphis)

I should have posted this yesterday, what with it being the anniversary of the King's demise and all. Oh well.

While we were in Memphis we did end up going to the home of the most famous Memphidelphian* ever. Due to time constraints we did not take the tour, we just went to the gift shop and up to the gates of the mansion. I was OK with not taking the tour, primarily because the bare bones tour cost $22! The "VIP" tour costs $55!! Also, I have been inside before on a trip with my parents when we passed through Memphis. Mom is an Elvis fan, but not one of those crazy Elvis fans that eats peanut butter and banana sandwiches every day, wears Elvis pajamas, and uses an Elvis toothbrush.

Speaking of Elvis fandom, when it comes to the crazy fanatics, I guess I just don't get it. I can appreciate Elvis from an academic standpoint, as someone who had talent as a singer. I like some of his songs, but I don't have any Elvis CDs and I doubt I ever will. But man, some of these people are just way into Elvis. For one thing, I think it is partly generational. I am too young to have seen Elvis in his heyday, so that's part of it. However, there were lots of people younger than me around there who had the "Love Me Tender" temporary tattoos and whatnot, so that's not the whole story. I suspect there's some camp appeal for some of these people. I just can't imagine getting that worked up for anybody, I know when I'm 50 I'm not going to be buying a Tom Waits coffee mug (which would never be available in the first place)!

The gift shop was pretty interesting as far as people watching. There were lots of Europeans there in addition to your garden variety yokel. I didn't buy anything, but one of my friends bought some stuff. I wanted to try a peanut butter and banana sandwich, but the only place that looked like it had food was a sit-down restaurant and we didn't have time for that. I did scope out the postcard with the recipe for said sandwich, it is pretty easy to make. Hmm, I see a future blog post!

Look at this! What inspires this kind of devotion? The entire wall was like this, and it's a long wall.

I had to get a picture of this freaky-looking raised lettering, it looked like strawberry preserves or something.

* I'm pretty sure that "Memphian" is the proper term, but Memphidelphian is much funnier!


Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Couple O' Things

I'm getting a new cable company. Yeah, I know - boring, and this is usually the type of thing I wouldn't give two shits about. Until I received the mailer shown below. These people are just way too happy about this impending corporate shift. It frightens me.

Especially this guy:

Now I will just feel angry and confused when paying my cable bill. Do you think this is the reaction they were going for? If so, mission accomplished!

Oh, and another thing. This guy was humming "Camptown Races" on the elevator today. What is this, the 1800's?

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Self Portrait Tuesday - Confined Spaces 3

I like this picture because it's hard to tell if I'm coming or going, which is how life is a lot of the time. But I happen to know that I was walking away from the camera, so I will choose to interpret this as me moving into my future. What's there? I don't know, but I'm going anyway.

See more self portraits here.


Monday, August 14, 2006

Help Me Get Moist

I seem to have a large percentage of female readers, so I need to turn to you all for advice. No, not on dating or women, I'm going to be one of those old people who nobody finds until 6 months after I've died. I want to start a facial moisturizing regimen, but I'm not sure how to start. I did some research, and the main thing that I'm confused about is the number of products needed. There are scrubs, toners, moisturizers, and maybe some other stuff that I don't even know about. Do I need all of this stuff?

I'm guessing that maybe an occasional scrub is in order to get rid of dead skin. Maybe I can just use a loofah? The more complicated that this process is, the less likely I will be to do it. Can I get by with just a moisturizer application after showering and maybe the occasional scrub? I believe my skin is combination dry skin. I turn to you, dear readers. And that means both of you!

Sunday, August 13, 2006

A Tour of the Memphis Warehouse District Pt. 2

And because Blogger sucks and will apparently only let me post so many pictures per post, here are a few more:

I didn't know they shot the cover of Pink Floyd's Animals in Memphis. I'll be damned!


A Tour of the Memphis Warehouse District Pt. 1

Now that I've posted about the Tom Waits show last weekend, it's time to post about some of the other stuff that happened. One of my friends that was in Memphis just got a camera exactly like mine about 2 weeks ago. He only started getting into photography about 6 months ago. So, he's really into that "must take pictures all the time" phase. I remember that phase well, and I think the purchase of the digital camera has brought some of that back for me. It was fun to have someone that enabled me to be a photo geek last weekend, sometimes I get a little self-conscious about taking my camera to different places.

My friend works in the construction industry and he's really interested in old buildings, so he wanted to walk around in this old warehouse district. I would have been a little more enthused about it if hadn't been so damn hot and humid. I got some nice pictures though. There are a bunch of old warehouses near downtown Memphis that are in the process of being turned into yuppified condos. And yes, it's true: my life really is this boring.

I like the way this one turned out, but I kind of wish I had shot it in color. I think it would look better, and I still would have been able to convert it to B&W.


Friday, August 11, 2006

Chocolate Jesus

I found a video on YouTube of a Tom Waits performance from the Letterman show of one of my favorite Tom Waits songs, Chocolate Jesus. Unfortunately he didn't perform this song at the show I went to, but now I can see it on my computer. Check it out!

Dont go to church on Sunday
Dont get on my knees to pray
Dont memorize the books of the Bible
I got my own special way
But I know jesus loves me
Maybe just a little bit more
I fall on my knees every sunday
At Zerelda Lee's candy store
Well its got to be a chocolate Jesus
Make me feel good inside
Got to be a chocolate Jesus
Keep me satisfied
Well I dont want no Abba Zabba
Dont want no Almond Joy
There aint nothing better
Suitable for this boy
Well its the only thing
That can pick me up
Better than a cup of gold
See only a chocolate Jesus
Can satisfy my soul

When the weather gets rough
And its whiskey in the shade
Its best to wrap your savior
Up in cellophane
He flows like the big muddy
But thats ok
Pour him over ice cream
For a nice parfait
Well its got to be a chocolate Jesus
Good enough for me
Got to be a chocolate Jesus
Good enough for me
Well its got to be a chocolate Jesus
Make me feel good inside
Got to be a chocolate Jesus
Keep me satisfied


Thursday, August 10, 2006

Tom Waits Part 2 - The Show

On to the show! I’ve been rolling a lot of thoughts around my head trying to come up with a recap worthy of this event. For me it was a singular experience that I’m not sure I’m skilled enough to express in words. I’m giving it a shot though.

Someone at work asked me what kind of music Tom Waits performs. I couldn’t really give him a definitive answer. There are elements of blues, jazz, Tin Pan Alley, sea shanties, and rock. And I don’t know what to call it, but sometimes his songs sound like the band is playing instruments made of the things you find in a junkyard. You know, like Fat Albert. Tom has evolved over his career to become a true original. And I think there is a connection to some of the Beat poets and writers in his lyrics, he sings about the kind of down-on-their-luck characters and oddballs that they wrote about.

When we entered the theatre they weren’t letting anyone in to the seating area, just letting people mill around in the lobby. It got pretty crowded in there and you couldn’t leave and re-enter, so we milled. It was an interesting crowd which skewed toward the older end. There was a sense of anticipation in the air created by everyone’s expectations of what they were about to see. One of my friends was dead-set on procuring some “merch” as he called it, and I wanted to get a poster myself. Turns out there was no merch to be had. We had seen a couple of people with posters in hand before we entered the theatre, but they turned out to be the posters from the theatre windows.

And I am not going to call this a concert. This was a “show” in every sense of the word. Tom is quite the showman, striking crazy poses, dancing, cracking jokes between songs. His voice is a thing of wonder to behold (behear?). When he started talking after the first song, it was kind of hard to hear him and it made me think that his voice could go. It seemed to get stronger as he went along though. The presentation was fairly minimal but it perfectly suited the performance. There was a very simple stage backed by two enormous white curtains, and there were lights on the stage floor that cast elongated shadows of Tom and the band up on the curtains throughout the performance. The curtain was also back-lit, so when Tom made his entrance by striking a scarecrow pose everyone went nuts.

In the middle of the show a piano was brought onstage, and Tom performed a few songs with only bass accompaniment. The lights from the stage cast a really neat image of the piano keys and Tom’s hands onto the backing curtain. At the end of this segment Tom told the piano to “Lie down, lie down. Lie down, piano” as it was carted off the stage.

For me some of the highlights were An Invitation To The Blues, Shore Leave, Goin’ Out West, Dead and Lovely, and The House Where Nobody Lives. Circus took me by surprise. It is a spoken word song from his latest album, Real Gone. I never really paid much attention to the recorded version, I always just thought it an inferior echo of Frank’s Wild Years or What’s He Building In There, but in person it was transformed by that amazing voice. We were listening to a master storyteller. He came back again and again to the line “Leave the Bum”, which on the record is a line of no particular importance - hard to hear, even. The Ocean Doesn’t Want Me was amazing too. I’ll hear that song with new ears from now on. Tom pulled out a giant bullhorn for the song 219, which was pretty cool. I don’t think he was getting the sound he wanted though because he ended the song by cupping his hands in front of the mic, which sounded a little better than the bullhorn in my opinion. I’ve seen lot of people on the internet complaining about the guitarist, but I thought he sounded great.

There was only one encore, and at first I was disappointed, but I realized we got our money’s worth as the show was nearly 2 and a half hours long! The first song of the encore was Day After Tomorrow. It was just Tom and an acoustic guitar, and it was goosebump-worthy. Another one I’ll never hear the same way again.

I know Tom can be an acquired taste, but if you ever get the chance to go to one of his shows, do it. Don’t even think about it. Just go.

The Setlist
Make it Rain
Hoist That Rag
Shore Leave
Ain't Going to the Well
Yesterday is Here
God's Away on Business
'Til the Money Runs Out
219 (My Baby's Leaving on the)
Dead and Lovely
Tango Till They're Sore
House Where Nobody Lives
The Ocean Doesn't Want Me
Invitation to the Blues
Whistling Past the Graveyard
Heart Attack and Vine
Shake It
It Rains on Me
Who's Been Talkin'
Trampled Rose
Get Behind the Mule
Murder in the Red Barn
Goin’ Out West
Day After Tomorrow
Sins of the Father

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Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Tom Waits Part 1 - The Preshow

I’m trying to get back to my regular routine. Monday morning I was traveling back from Memphis, and Monday night I was putting the finishing touches on the final draft of my paper that was due at 10PM. I worked on it up until about 9:40. I’m done with school for about 3 weeks, which is kind of nice.

The Tom Waits concert was really amazing. I'm going to break it up into a couple of posts so it's not a novel.

The hotel where we stayed was about 4 blocks from the Orpheum Theatre, where the concert was taking place. We had tickets at will call, which opened at 4PM, so we decided to head down there about 3:30 so we could get some pictures of the marquee and scope out the line. There was already a pretty big line when we got there, but we had VIP tickets that we thought would be picked up on the other side of the theater so we didn’t get in the first line. When people started lining up by the VIP entrance we decided to get in line, at which point it looked like the line from the other side of the theater was being moved to our line. Luckily we were able to cut in without any heartburn.

How did we get VIP tickets you might ask? This is going to make me sound like a total douchebag namedropper, but one of my friends knows the tour manager, who arranged to get us 5 tickets (we still paid for them though). We didn’t know where they would be, but we assumed they would be pretty good. There was a bit of nervousness because my friend’s credit card had not been charged yet when we got there. When we got up to the front of the line the nervousness turned out to be well-founded as they couldn’t find a record of our tickets! We were shuffled off to the “troubleshooting” table (at which we were the first “trouble” of the day – represent!). Various people were sent off to try and verify our status. I felt like we had an ace in the hole in the fact that we had the tour manager’s cell phone number if we needed it.

We’d been standing around for about 10 minutes when something really bizarre happened. There was a girl who was sitting on a chair about 10 feet behind the tables where tickets were being handed out. I remember thinking: “Who is that person sitting around doing nothing?” Well, around the time that we were sent to the troublemaker table this girl got out of her chair and hovered around behind the table. She still wasn’t doing anything or attempting to help us, just hovering. I thought it was so weird I even made a sarcastic remark to my friends: “That girl is doing a great job”. About 5 seconds after that remark exited my pie-hole, a voice was heard to say: “These tickets here are for (my friend’s last name), is this them?” It was her! Do-nothing girl! It turned out that these were our tickets. Do-nothing girl pulled our fat out of the fire. DNG also immediately went and sat back down. Her work there was done. I thought this was all really weird and I felt a little bad for bad-mouthing DNG. I’m still not sure why tickets that were sitting near the top of a pile on the table were so hard to find, but that’s life I guess.

We had some concern over our fifth ticket since the friend we had in mind for it ended up not being able to come (we didn’t want to look like unappreciative jerks who begged for tickets and then had an empty seat), but they seemed happy to take it back and sell it to someone else. Our tickets were on the 12th row. I missed my chance to offer it to a cute redhead who was behind us in the troubleshooting line. Damn, I suck. (Two of my friends saw her later right before the concert and found out she was sitting in the balcony and would have been thrilled to be where we were. Double damn!)

So we got our wristbands and headed out, planning to return around 7 for the 8:00 show…

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Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Self Portrait Tuesday - Confined Spaces 2

In An Airplane

I like the idea that just outside of the enclosed space that I am in is a very unenclosed space. It's just beyond that window...

See more SPTs here.