Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Decemberists at the Ryman (8/6/11)

I was late to the Decemberists party. Then again, I'm late to a lot of things. Most times I'm just thankful (and slightly amazed) when I manage to arrive at all. When I saw they were playing at the Ryman -- quite possibly my favorite venue -- it seemed I was destined to go.

But then, I realized none of my friends around here like and/nor have even heard of the Decemberists. For crying out loud, a few weeks ago at a minor league baseball game, Wolfgang revealed he'd never heard of the group Chicago. Anyway, weeks turned to months and as the date approached I had resigned myself to skipping the concert. Until...

I was surprised with a pair of tickets!!!

And just like that I was on my way to see the Decemberists. In August. At the Ryman. I was more excited than Rob Schneider when a new Adam Sandler movie is announced. OK, maybe not more, but just as.

Any trip to the Music City for me frequently includes a stop at my absolute favorite barbecue place in the world -- Famous Dave's in Franklin. I know it may not seem very trendy to choose a chain restaurant as one's favorite, but this is different. Trust me. I'm from the South. If there's two things I know, it's barbecue and sweet tea. Also, fried pork skins. OK, three things.

I've made the two hour drive more than once just to eat at Famous Dave's. The food (and sweet tea) and service have been exceptional every single time. (If you're reading, Dave, I'm open to an endorsement deal.) The only -- and I do mean only -- problem I have is that their sweet water catfish may be even better than the barbecue. But then, Dave must have foreseen this would happen. That's why he gave us the combination plate.

They also have some pretty cool t-shirts for sale. I almost bought this one:

But then I tried to imagine wearing that out in a social setting, and, well, I figure I already have enough trouble trying to appear "normal" at kids' birthday parties.

On to the show, there was evidently a Keith Urban concert in town the same night, which made traffic a lovely exercise in hand gestures and honking. And there was no sign of Nicole Kidman.

The opening act was Caitlin Rose, whom I'd heard of but never heard. She was good, enough so that I made it a point to check her out on iTunes later. She played a short set, probably five or six songs. One of the songs she sang entirely with the mic turned off, enhancing the vulnerability in her voice, as it wafted over the pews, up to the ceiling and stained-glass windows of the old place.

The Decemberists came on stage after a quirky recorded introduction befitting them by the mayor of their hometown, Portland, Oregon. They opened the show with "Oceanside" and followed that up with my favorite song of theirs, "Down By The Water." That was extremely cool to hear live, though it did not quite ascend to the level of hearing Counting Crows do a "A Long December" live at the Ryman, which ranked as the #1 highlight of my life for the year 2009.

It's possible music affects me entirely too much.

One of the first things you notice about the Decemberists is that this is most definitely a live band. The show is high energy, the musicianship flawless, and the sound far exceeds what you hear on the CD.

I'm not sure what genre the Decemberists are considered. According to Wikipedia, they are "indie folk rock." There's definitely some folk there -- Colin Meloy's lyrics are almost more poet than songwriter. Whatever you label it, Meloy's voice sounds as if it were created for the sole purpose of singing it.

I don't remember the entire set list, but I know they did "We Both Go Down Together," "Rox In The Box," "Calamity Song," "This Is Why We Fight" and the most surprising song of the night, a cover of "Folsom Prison Blues."

They came out for two encores. The first of which included the crowd-participatory "Mariner's Revenge." They closed the evening with "June Hymn."

My only minor disappointment in the show is that they performed neither "January Hymn" nor "O Valencia," even though some guy kept yelling for the latter at every opportunity. And no, it was not me. Although if I'd thought of it...

Did I mention I love going to concerts at the Ryman? The acoustics are outstanding. Plus, it is the quintessential not-a-bad-seat-in-the-house venue.

Though you should know before you go that the Ryman was originally a church -- the Union Gospel Tabernacle. I thought this was common knowledge, but apparently it is not. Therefore, the seats are literal church pews, unpadded. I'll admit, it has a way of inspiring you to stand up and get into the show a bit more.

Ah, but there's something sacrosanct about the old lady. Rising above Lower Broadway. Unchanging for all those years. Maybe that's one reason I like the Ryman so much. I hate change. I hate when old stores or buildings shut down or are torn down, and all that's left are reminders of what was, and worse, what isn't anymore.

Then again, there's probably an old codger somewhere, around 103-years-old, lamenting the days when the Ryman was still a church.

"But oh, if I could only get you oceanside, to lay your muscles wide, it'd be heavenly..."

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

I have experienced a year's worth of socialization in four days

The past few days brought a barrage of social activity to my life, the likes of which I have not seen quite possibly ever.

There were the annual toddler birthday rounds to make. You know, the cake and pull-up mixers. (We're 3 now, we've moved on from diapers.) But separate and apart from those, I managed to socialize with four different friends in three different settings. I had kinda forgotten I even had four friends.

A backyard bash for Nephew Bone kicked off the proceedings Thursday night. My sis rented one of those inflatable water slides. (The business is called Just Add Kidz, by the way. Love that name.)

Now inevitably, whenever you have that many kids together, someone starts trying to show out and go up the slide the wrong way.

And I almost made it once.

I actually think the adults may have enjoyed the slide even more than the kids -- for a little while. Hurling a 38-year-old body down a 20-foot water slide fifty times or so into a little catch net? You do the math. The next day I was sore in places that I'm not sure have ever been sore.

Sunday afternoon, I attended the godson's party. It was held at this place in the mall that has a bouncy castle and slides and other things for kids to play on. Well, I arrived six minutes early -- which is about eleven minutes earlier than I normally arrive -- and didn't recognize anyone.

So I proceeded to the counter where I had a bit of an awkward conversation with the girl there. I asked if this was the right place. She said yes but that they hadn't arrived yet. Then she asked if I had any kids with me, and I said no. But it felt more like, "No, I'm just an adult male with no offspring who enjoys attending kids' birthday parties. Now if you'll excuse me I'm gonna go sit by the wall and try not to look too creepy."

Betwixt and between all that fun, I managed to hang out with the Darryls on Saturday night. We played XBox 360 and shot pool at LJ's, because... that's what 38-year-olds with no offspring do? Or perhaps that's the reason for the no offspring? Hmm, who knows how our lives get to be how they are.

While I wish I had some great new Darryls stories to share, the sad truth is that I do not. Mostly, we spent the evening not making new memories so much as talking about all the old ones. I can easily see the three of us having the exact same conversations with one another in a retirement home in forty years. One can only hope, right?

Oh, before I forget! I would like to close with one final anecdote I thought you would enjoy.

I guess it's been a bit of a struggle for Nephew Bone to learn to say "Uncle Bone." So my sister called me on Friday to inform me that "Nephew Bone has a new name for you."

(Pause for effect.)


(Pause again to allow laughter to subside.)

Me? A Bubba?

I don't think so.

But it was at this point I realized that he could have pretty much called me anything and I would have loved it. And before you get any ideas, Nephew Bone is the ONLY person who shall be able to get away with calling me this.

So anyway, as we're getting off the phone, my sister says, "Say bye Uncle Bone."

And I hear, "Bye, Bub-ba."

I reiterate. The. Only. Person.

"All the wild nights and bar fights, the ditches and blue lights, are a million dark nights gone before..."

Monday, August 15, 2011

Rockin' Robin

From the get-go, Twitter sounded like a verb I may have tried doing to a girl once when I was nineteen mistakenly thinking she would enjoy it. I never really saw the point. Of Twittering, that is.

Who wants to read someone else's every waking thought of every single day? Well, apparently 2,687,219 people, if the someone else is Snooki.

Also, I have always been afraid of saying something in cyberspace that could come back to haunt me and any future political career I may have. Not that I'm pursuing one, but you never know. And so I continued to resist Twitter.

Besides, I'm not what you would call a social media socialite. I post a status update on Facebook maybe once a month -- albeit often an incredibly witty one, if only in my own mind.

Figuring that if I'm already a bad Facebooker, there's no way I would be a good Twitterer, I took the only logical next step: Throwing caution to the wind as it pertains to any future political aspirations, I joined Twitter.

That's right, I am now one who Twitters. Or as the kids say, Tweets. Whatever you call it, suffice it to say, I am in that Twitting arena.

While that may not seem like much to you, it's kind of a big deal to me. You see, if things continue to progress, I will soon become the first person in my family to use a hashtag. Sorry, sometimes I get choked up talking about it.

One of my first impressions of Twittering has been how difficult it is to keep Tweets to the predesignated limit of 140 characters or less. To date, I have Twitted eight times in five days. But I've probably typed at least that many others that were well over the limit. To somewhat remedy this, I've decided that any over-the-limit Tweets which cannot be shortened without losing the integrity of the original thought will be filed away under possible future Facebook statuses. Or stati, as I like to pretend the plural of status is.

Meanwhile, one of the unforeseen benefits of Twittering is that it really cuts down on the time you need to spend conversing with the other humans. I mean, if you Tweet the highlights of your day along with most every thought you have, what's left to say?

Answer? Not a lot.

You just wind up having lots of conversations like this:

Bone: "Hey, did I tell you I finally popped my enormous back pimple?"
Twitter friend: "Yeah, I saw you Tweeted about it."
Bone: "Oh.... well, I'll see you later then."

Needless to say, that's just an example of what a conversation might entail. I haven't had a back pimple in months! Still, there's an indescribable peace that comes when you realize you don't have anything left to say. Or maybe that's just me.

In closing, I would say that Twitting has been better than I anticipated. And while I'm just getting started, I fully expect that after this post my number of followers will at least double. From four to eight.

As for what comes next for me, it's hard to say. Perhaps I'll finally break down and get that DVR.

I feel like I'm rushing headlong into 2008.

"Even on a slow day, I could have a three way, chat with two women at one time. I'm so much cooler online..."

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

NaBloSoFroDraWe 2011

It's that time of the year again. Time for the week you thought you'd forgotten about, but someone just won't let you. Time for the blogging project that has ruined you for all other blogging projects.

It's National Blog Something From Draft Week!

Begun in 2008, NaBloSoFroDraWe (also known as NaBloSoThaDraWe) encourages bloggers everywhere to select something they've written in the past, but for whatever reason never posted, and finally share it with the world.

It's kinda like getting back together with an ex. You completely ignore all the reasons things didn't work out in the first place, close your eyes, and hope for the best! And that always works out, right?

I like to think of NaBloSoFroDraWe like this: Less travel than BlogHer, less writing than NaNoWriMo.

NaBloSoFroDraWe is a mystery only in its inexplicable lack of popularity. I know I was baffled when reading over the list of obscure holidays for August 10th this morning and saw that Duran Duran Appreciation Day was cited, but not NaBloSoFroDraWe. And this from a guy who likely has more appreciation for Duran Duran than any other 38-year-old heterosexual male you know.

So come on, bloggers. Time to dig out that post you never quite finished, or thought was too personal, or just really wasn't very interesting, and let it see the light of day! And remember our slogan: "Some day we'll look back on this and cringe."

For now, here is my entry for NaBloSoFroDraWe '11. It's something I wrote in 2009, about a dream I had. I have fought and defeated every urge to edit it. And believe me, there were plenty.


I was on cloud nine that day. My mind, a glorious confusion of thoughts and emotions. The prevailing question was how did this happen.

I remembered very clearly and precisely when I first clasped your hand in mine -- both our hands shaking so slightly but the feeling of now that we'd gotten this far not wanting to let go. Then at some point we kissed. The rest was a blur. But it did not matter. For when one is on cloud nine, one does not question how one arrived there. One simply enjoys the all-too-brief stay.

Someone called my name from a bench on the sidewalk. I did not recognize the fellow, but he asked if I wanted to go into a nearby pub for a drink. Since I had just realized that although I was walking, I had no idea where I was going, I accepted.

We sat there for ten or twenty-five minutes, him rambling on like we were long lost friends, me pretending to know who he was but never figuring it out. Then he spilled his drink and got into a shouting match with some lady I had seen there before but did not know her name, and I left.

Back out on the street, I still had no idea where I was going. I was just walking, and thinking, and smiling. Wondering when I'd see you again.

"It gets worse once we get to her room. She stops and she sings, doot do doo do do doo do doo. I claim New Religion is my song. Ah, she doesn't get it. It's all before she was born..."

Saturday, August 06, 2011

"The summer swells anon..."

Summer swelters on, but I can already feel it leaving. It's nothing in the air, just the having been here before and knowing the shorter days always seem to be hurrying August away almost before it arrives.

I kept thinking it was October yesterday. I even typed "October 5th" on something. Not sure why I was confused. Perhaps it was the nasty freak (not to be confused with Freak Nasty) storm that passed through early Thursday morning, knocked out power, and kept temperatures at an almost-autumn-like lower 80's. Or it could be I was getting Blogust and Blogtober confused. Any explanation is better than admitting my mind isn't as sharp as it once was.

It's twenty-eight days until the first Saturday of college football. I've been counting down since about day one hundred.

I was on the phone with my sister yesterday. She's been looking online for season tickets for us. Before long, she drifted to other topics, such as how she's taken up buying and repainting old furniture, and how much she loves her new iPad. Then I hear Nephew Bone start to cry in the background. As she says, "Let me go," there's the slightest hint of exasperation in her voice. But I'm smiling as I hang up the phone, thinking that's the good stuff in life.

For now, I'm off. In the midst of a three-concerts-in-eight-days span, which is just blowing the mind of my inner hermit. Tonight, it's the Decemberists in Nashville. And just a reminder: Next week is the 4th annual NaBloSoFroDraWe.

In the meantime, the summer swelters on. But that's OK. I could always stand the heat more than the cold.

"You're gonna miss this. You're gonna want this back. You're gonna wish these days hadn't gone by so fast..."

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Closing the book on deforestation

I have come to a decision.

And you should know decisions often do not come easy for me. In fact, I may take anywhere from six months up to five years or more deciding on such life-altering matters as whether to buy a new phone, whether to get a DVR, or whether to attend a concert. In the case of the latter, sometimes the concert will pass before I decide, and I wind up not even having to make a decision at all. So, win-win.

But the decision I want reveal today is one I have been ruminating over for probably about six years now. And that is, whether or not to shave one's chest. More specifically, mine.

Let me begin by stating that while I do have hair on my chest and stomach area, I really have no idea if it is excessive. I mean, no one's ever gotten their fingers stuck. At least, not for more than a couple seconds. It's not Austin Powers-esque or anything. And thankfully, I don't have any hair on my back.

When I grew up, having hair on one's chest was normal, or so I thought. Tom Selleck, Alan Thicke, the Duke boys, my Dad -- these were my chest role models, the people I looked up to. But anymore? I'm not so sure.

More and more, it seems I and my Church Of The Unshorn Bosom brothers are an ever-shrinking minority. Is shaving the norm now? When did this all start? And where does it end? What's next, shaving our legs? Wearing skinny jeans?

I'm sorry, but I have to take a stand. I'm sick of noticing guys on the beach or at the pool and wondering if they shave or are naturally hairless. Don't you see how wrong that is? I'm noticing guys at the pool! I'm tired of Google-imaging "Alan Thicke shirtless." Even with SafeSearch on moderate, it's still just... too much.

It has to stop.

Maybe I'm lazy. Or maybe I've just gotten old. But shaving seems like way too much maintenance to me at this point. And I imagine much itchiness. Perhaps this is just where I finally hop off the fashion train. I think I've done a remarkably fair job of trying to keep up. Over the years, I've put away the tightie-whities for boxers, traded in the tapered-leg jeans, and even welcomed plaid shorts with open arms and willing legs.

But it's time to admit that I'm not from Jersey Beach or Laguna Hills. I'm not The Situation, or Spooki. I'm Bone. And I'm bringing manly back.

I hereby declare that I will not be shaving my chest. I might even start unbuttoning the second button on my shirt, proudly let the man-meadow sway in the breeze a bit.

Of course, should Tom Selleck do a new movie with a topless scene in which he is clearly rocking the bare-breasted look, at that point I may be forced to revisit my decision.

"I'm so obsessed. My heart is bound to beat right out my untrimmed chest..."