Tuesday, April 30, 2013

The political Twinkie

Apparently, labor unions are the source and summit of everything that is bad in this country.

In recognition of that, you're supposed to celebrate the resurrection of Twinkies -- which now will be produced in bakeries as free of labor unions as the little sponge cakes are of any nutritional value -- by waddling to your local grocer, purchasing a pack of empty calories and applying them directly to your ass.

After all,  according to one learned commenter on ForAmerica's Facebook page, "unions are destroying this country, remember Jimmy Huffa and organized crime, the mob runs unions." (Sic -- a great big sic. -- R21)

If you ask me,  what's destroying this country is us. Whacked-out, pissed-off, greedy-ass, political-nutjob us. We're pathological. Our angry zeal so consumes us that we've just f***ing politicized the Twinkie.

And . . . wait. Jimmy Huffa?

Do they have bourbon-filled Twinkies?

Saturday, April 27, 2013

3 Chords & the Truth: Riddle me this

Riddle me this.

Tell me the truth.

What can this mean on 3 Chords & the Truth?
"Carry your fear on the radio because your baby is gone."
The mystery is deep.

The show is long.

Thank God the Big Show is known for fine song(s).

Does this make sense? Not a whole lot.

But I'm pretty sleep-deprived, so this is what you've got.

It's 3 Chords & the Truth, y'all. Be there. Aloha.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Who's gonna fill the Possum's shoes?

I wonder whether St. Peter has ever had anyone pull up to the Pearly Gates on a riding lawn mower.

Well, he has now. The Possum has left this vale of tears and taken off on the grandest tour of them all, one on which all broken hearts are mended and all tears are wiped away forever.
George Jones, the definitive country singer of the last half-century, whose songs about heartbreak and hard drinking echoed his own turbulent life, died on Friday in Nashville. He was 81

His publicists, Webster & Associates, said he died at a hospital after being admitted there on April 18 with fever and irregular blood pressure.

Mr. Jones’s singing was universally respected and just as widely imitated. With a baritone voice that was as elastic as a steel-guitar string, he found vulnerability and doubt behind the cheerful drive of honky-tonk and brought suspense to every syllable, merging bluesy slides with the tight, quivering ornaments of Appalachian singing.

In his most memorable songs, all the pleasures of a down-home Saturday night couldn’t free him from private pain. His up-tempo songs had undercurrents of solitude, and the ballads that became his specialty were suffused with stoic desolation. “When you’re onstage or recording, you put yourself in those stories,” he once said.

Fans heard in those songs the strains of a life in which success and excess battled for decades. Mr. Jones — nicknamed Possum for his close-set eyes and pointed nose and later No-Show Jones for the concerts he missed during drinking and drug binges — bought, sold and traded dozens of houses and hundreds of cars; he earned millions of dollars and lost much of it to drug use, mismanagement and divorce settlements. Through it all, he kept touring and recording, singing mournful songs that continued to ring true.

Mr. Jones was a presence on the country charts from the 1950s into the 21st century, and as early as the 1960s he was praised by listeners and fellow musicians as the greatest living country singer. He was never a crossover act; while country fans revered him, pop and rock radio stations ignored him. But by the 1980s, Mr. Jones had come to stand for country tradition. Country singers through the decades, from Garth Brooks and Randy Travis to Toby Keith and Tim McGraw, learned licks from Mr. Jones, who never bothered to wear a cowboy hat.

“Not everybody needs to sound like a George Jones record,” Alan Jackson, the country singer and songwriter, once told an interviewer. “But that’s what I’ve always done, and I’m going to keep it that way — or try to.”
ANOTHER GREAT ONE is gone at a time when we seem to be losing great ones at a quickening pace.

That leaves me with one big question -- a question Jones once asked himself.

REST IN PEACE, Possum. Your music lives on. Amen.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

It's always 1965 somewhere

Yesterday or today?
Old snapshots or brand-new pictures?
1965 or 2013?
Is it live, or  is it Memorex?
Am I stuck in the past, or is this early onset "second childhood"?
Are the two one and the same?
Or could it just be some old stuff sitting around the production studio as "decor"?
Maybe this is a multiple-choice exam. I report; you decide.

Café à l'orange

I love me some Community coffee, the Louisiana brew I grew up drinking.
Lots. Lotslotslots. Drinking lots. Lots. The coffee I grew up drinking lots of.
I also love me some Clementines. So one day after eating me some Clementines -- but right before I was about to make me a pot of coffee -- I got to thinking.
What if. . . ?
Hell, what could it hurt?
In went some orange peel into the bottom  of our old French-drip pot. And then a little piece went atop the coffee grounds.
The effect on the brewed pot of Community was subtle, but right tasty.
Give it a try, especially if you're fond, as I am, of making your coffee the old-fashioned -- translate as "best" -- way.
Tonnaire! Ça c'est bon, oui!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The tragically hip

The staff of Jimmy Kimmel Live risks getting sucked into the black hole at the core of hipper-than-thouism for the sake of making you laugh really hard at nothing -- which is exactly what lies at the core of idiot hipsters so totally cooler than you that they're, like, soooooooo into bands that, like, don't even exist. 

But the Chelsea Clintons, the Obesity Epidemic and Get the F*** Out of My Pool really ought to. That'd be a hell of a show.

Watch the whole thing; you don't want to miss the guy dressed like Sitting Bull. Or would that be, more precisely, Sitting Bulls***? Whatever, maaaaan.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Elvis has left the cellblock

Spider Murphy's still playin' the tenor saxophone, and Little Joe's still blowin' on the slide trombone. 

Except now, the jailhouse is rockin' to an instrumental.

Elvis has left maximum security. Rather, a reasonable facsimile of the king of rock 'n' roll has been sprung from the Lafayette County Jail in Mississippi.

The lawyer for Paul Kevin Curtis says he was caught in a trap -- framed amid a slew of suspicious minds. But now he can walk out after the feds dropped charges against him, because there's no proof Curtis gave any poison-pen letters to the postman, or that he put them in his sack, says Reuters:

Prosecutors dropped charges on Tuesday against a Mississippi man accused of sending ricin-laced letters to President Barack Obama, a senator and a state judge, according to court documents.

The surprise decision came hours after Paul Kevin Curtis was released from a Mississippi jail on bond.
Prosecutors said the "ongoing investigation has revealed new information," but provided no additional details, according to the court order dismissing the charges.

Curtis told reporters he respected Obama. "I would never do anything to pose a threat to him or any other U.S. official," he said. "I love this country."

He said he had no idea what ricin was. "I thought they said 'rice,' I told them I don't eat rice," he said.

Curtis, who is 45 and known in Mississippi as an Elvis impersonator, had been released from jail on bond earlier on Tuesday after a judge indefinitely postponed a court hearing on his detention. The case was later dismissed "without prejudice," meaning the charges could be potentially reinstated if warranted.

Later on Tuesday federal law enforcement officials searched the house of a second Mississippi man, Everett Dutschke, Lee County Sheriff Jim Johnson told Reuters.

It was not clear if the search was related to the ricin case.

A representative for the U.S. Attorney's Office in Oxford, Mississippi, did not return calls for comment.

Dutschke is "cooperating fully" with the FBI, his attorney Lori Nail Basham told the Northeastern Mississippi Daily Journal. Dutschke has not been charged in the ricin case, she said.

Christi McCoy, Curtis's attorney, told CNN she believed her client had been framed.

"I do believe that someone who was familiar and is familiar with Kevin just simply took his personal information and did this to him," McCoy told CNN. "It is absolutely horrific that someone would do this."

Curtis was arrested on April 17 at his home in Corinth, Mississippi. He was charged with mailing letters to Obama, Republican U.S. Senator Roger Wicker of Mississippi and Sadie Holland containing a substance that preliminarily tested positive for ricin, a highly lethal poison made from castor beans.
BACK at the jailhouse, Nos. 47 and 3 couldn't be reached for comment on the Man Who Would Be the King's sudden release. According to fellow inmates Shifty Henry and Bugs, they were otherwise occupied.

Not including sales tax; time machine extra

Yes, Tape Recording magazine! I do want to get the most practical use, fun and personal profit from my own tape recorder! Please show me how!

Here's my $2 for a year's subscription under your special money-back guarantee offer. I can't wait to get better recordings and greater use from my machine!

Sound on magnetic tape . . . a veritable electronical memory! What will science come up with next? Personal UNIVAC machines for the home? Television programs on a video record album?

Monday, April 22, 2013

Boom goes the dynamite!

 NSFW alert: There's a reason the new anchor only lasted a day

If you haven't seen this viral video yet, crawl out from under your rock. The fresh air will do you good, as will taking a break from fighting off the grubs and the armadillo bugs that keep encroaching on your personal space.

That said, this is about as bad a first day on the job gets for a TV news guy, barring being sent to cover a fire at the local ammonium nitrate plant -- up close and personal.

On the upside, this poor guy is still alive. On the downside, when A.J. Clemente, now formerly of KFYR-TV in Bismarck, N.D., mixed the F-bomb with the S-word while forgetting that guns are always loaded and microphones are always "hot," he may have just blown his nascent career to smithereens.

Boom goes the dynamite!

Look, if you can't make it a day on local TV in Bismarck, where is there left to go? "F****** s***!" indeed.

HAT TIP: NPR's The Two Way blog.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

3 Chords & the Truth: Do you remember?

Somewhere in America today, there is a little girl blue.

You see, when someone asked her "Do you remember rock 'n' roll radio?" she realized that, no, she did not. Truth be told, she barely remembered radio at all.

Her parents, engrossed in the latest episode of 3 Chords & the Truth -- a most excellent podcast, by the way -- said that rock 'n' roll radio hadn't mattered, hadn't really mattered, since the end . . . the end of the century. Maybe the end . . . the end of the '70s.

For some reason, this left the child on needles and pins. She knew that her parents, despite their advanced age, were barely old enough to remember this thing -- was it on television?-- called Hullabaloo.

Upbeat, Shindig and Ed Sullivan, too.

But they remember rock 'n' roll radio.

YES, they remember rock 'n' roll radio. Country, jazz and easy-listening radio, too. Were they anything like that Hullabaloo? Wow. Rock 'n' roll radio. It must have shone brighter than the California sun.

The folks told her radio was a lot like 3 Chords & the Truth is today. In other words, a really Big Show, only back at the end of the century. Back at the end -- the end of the '70s.

But then the country took a swing to the right, and Mom and Dad said it was like everybody just put their teeth up on the windowsill after moving into a one-room country shack. And not even Mr. President has pity on the working man -- unemployed DJs, for instance.

It's all in the game, apparently.

Everybody wants you to pay them their money down. This has caused many to have almost lost their mind in the still of the night. After hearing her parents bare a piece of their hearts, the little girl blue wished she could bring Murray the K and Alan Freed to show and tell.

But she learned the two great DJs were not on Broadway, but instead were long cold, cold, cold in the ground. I don't know about you, but I go to pieces just thinking about it. Mercy, mercy.

THEN the little girl blue thought that, perhaps, she could bring the Big Show to show and tell. That's as close to rock 'n' roll radio you can get now, the folks say. And it makes them feel so young! They dream of lying in bed, with their covers pulled up over their head. Radio playin' so no one could see.

Yes, she thought, we need change, we need it fast. Before rock's just part of the past.

Yes, she thought, she will bring 3 Chords & the Truth to show and tell. She'll rock it like it's the end, the end of the century. Like it's the end, the end of the '70s.

Mom and Dad, she realized, are pretty smart. So's the Big Show.

It's 3 Chords & the Truth, y'all. Be there. Aloha.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Because I'm a geek . . .

. . . I get all excited about procuring a 1962 Pioneer FM multiplex stereo adapter to go along with my monophonic 1960 Voice of Music tuner.

I did have a pretty basic V-M multiplexer hooked up to it, but the Pioneer is sooooo much nicer. And better. And you can adjust the stereo separation -- cool!

I just lost you, didn't I? My wife's eyes glaze over at "FM stereo multiplexer."

But she did perk up  at ". . . and I got in on ebay for about $150 less than these things usually sell for."

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Better living through chemistry

April 16, 1947 :
Texas City, Texas

April 17, 2013:
West, Texas

Twice in 66 years, the fertilizer that helps put more and cheaper food on your table also has blown up much of a Texas town.

Ammonium nitrate and fire don't mix. Large quantities of flaming ammonium nitrate and commercial or residential areas mix catastrophically.

When I was a kid, DuPont's ad slogan was "Better Things for Better Living . . . Through Chemistry." That may well be true, but that "better living" comes at a cost that well-off advertising executives are at little risk of having to pay.

THAT deadly check, when it comes, usually gets picked up by working-class folks in places like Texas City. Or West. Or my hometown, Baton Rouge.

You don't want to know what would happen if the entire Exxon-Mobil refinery there blew. We just found out what happens when a fertilizer plant blows in a town like West.

Not that we'll stop to count the costs of progress, however. That's just not the American Way.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

The communion of Cornhusker saints

Nebraska spring game, April 6.

I was fooling around with our little idiot-proof digital camera, trying to de-idiot-proof it enough to take time-exposure shots around Memorial Stadium.

This is what happened when I put it on the "Fireworks" setting and plopped the thing atop an ice machine. When I saw the ghostly images of the passing crowd, it reminded me of what I see in my mind's eye whenever I find myself in an old church -- the generations upon generations of the faithful who sat in those pews, most of them now departed.

It's much the same thing with college football, isn't it?

As far as I'm concerned, those ghostly images of today's fans just as well could be the spirits of all the fans who have packed into Memorial Stadium for nigh on 90 years, cheering on the Huskers come Bill Jennings or Bill Callahan. (Or better, come Bob Devaney or Tom Osborne.)

And the choir eternal sang "There is no place like Ne-braaass-kaaa, dear old Nebraska U. . . ."

Saturday, April 13, 2013

3 Chords & the Truth: Don't be chicken, listen!

This week's show is not about chickens.

On the other hand, the music on this week's edition of 3 Chords & the Truth is so good that it just might cockle your doodle do. That's a funny, boy! I say . . . I say, I made a funny! What's wrong with you, boy?! Cat got your sense of humor?!?

I say, that's another funny, boy!

SORRY, the weather's been so bad this week, we're all a little loopy.

So, on the Big Show, we decided to have a little dance party to cheer ourselves up. But you'd better be versatile if you want to join in -- just a word to the wise.

And we're also going to have the mother of all Beatles-covers sets. Really, you'll want to hear this.

Other than that, I got nothing else to add -- other than a giant rooster.

That is all.

It's 3 Chords & the Truth, y'all. Be there. Aloha.

Monday, April 08, 2013

Keep Lincoln weird

Sometimes, when you go to a ballgame, the least interesting thing is the ballgame -- am I right?

Never is this more true than a spring football game. One, you know your team is gonna win. Two, you're not gonna see much of the playbook.

Think of it this way: You go to Baskin-Robbins, only to find the 31 flavors have been reduced to chocolate, vanilla and strawberry . . . but you can get strawberry for only the first 30 seconds after you walk in the door.

That's your typical college spring scrimmage.

Saturday at Nebraska's spring game, you had little Jack Hoffman's touchdown run for the ages, and then. . . . Exactly.

So I was thanking God that at least He showed us the tender mercy of putting our state university in Lincoln, because them people there just ain't right. And when people just ain't right, things are about to get interesting.

Take the picture above, for example. Every coffee shop in the world has a wall o' fliers. Many people overlook walls o' fliers like this one at the Scooters in downtown Lincoln.

But this is Lincoln, and that would be a mistake.

I MEAN, the Kicker Country Stampede in Manhattan, Kan., or the Widespread Panic concert at the Pinewood Bowl might not be everybody's cup o' joe. People in Lincoln, a progressive and diverse state capital and college town, understand this. That's why Christopher H. Merritt of our fair capital city invites you to drop by his April 24 arraignment in Lancaster County District Court.

If we're lucky, there will be a little contempt-of-court action. If we're really lucky, maybe somebody'll get tazed, bro.

Let's just hope Mr. Merritt doesn't decide to play it like George Jones and not show up at all. Alternatively, though, let's do hope he plays it like George Jones and putts into the courtroom on a lawn tractor.

OK, I JUST as well confess that I'm all about the Husker-striped overalls.  I want me some scarlet-and-cream striped overalls.

But you can overdo it . . . or underdo it, as the case may be. I only wish that the kid had a really stupid tattoo on his chest or, at a minimum, a little hair. Maybe he should drink a little of my coffee -- that would help.

YOU WANT PROOF that this country is is dire need of a dictatorship of the proletariat, or at least a little Fabian socialism? Dude's probably only making minimum wage to wear a giant weenie on his head.

The running-dog bourgeois establishment clearly has gone too far this time.

Power to the people now! And let it begin in Memorial Stadium.

ON THE other hand, sometimes the people are freakin' idiots. Giving them too much power might not be the best idea.

I'm not sure what's worse here, the sentiment behind "I'd Rather Have A Lesbian Sister Then Be A Hawkeye Fan" or the violence done to the king's English. I am assuming that the dude is linguistically challenged and thinks that having a lesbian sister is a fate worse than death -- but better than being an Iowa fan.

Of course, it is possible that the shirt means what it says, and Joe Football really, really wants a lesbian sister and swings both ways when it comes to college athletics. After all, this is Lincoln, where all things not only are possible but, indeed, probable.

FINALLY, after the spring game, we headed to the outskirts of town and Pioneers Park. Saw a herd of buffalo . . . and this.

Luke A. Heritage hearts Jennifer. That's very sweet, and I'm sure Jenny is a lucky gal.

Now let's hope some of her luck rubs off on the lovestruck Luke. Otherwise, he's totally going to get his identity stolen. But at least he won't be able to blame me.

Because being from Omaha has its advantages.

Sunday, April 07, 2013

There is no place like Nebraska

When the missus and I headed to Nebraska's spring game Saturday afternoon, little did we know that we'd end up seeing the best thing we'd ever witnessed in a football stadium.

College kids don't always put their best feet forward. That goes double for too many college athletes. But just when cynicism threatens to overcome one's jaded self, you see a bunch of college kids and their coaches do something extraordinary for a 7-year-old cancer patient -- one who had been befriended by former Husker running back Rex Burkhead when he was 5 and undergoing brain surgery. That led Burkhead to enlist his coaches and teammates into a Team Jack campaign, and now a larger effort to fight pediatric brain cancer.

But on Saturday, what this all meant was giving a little boy who has known much suffering a moment of great joy as 60,174 people in red went wild. I was yelling; my wife was crying.

It was wonderful.

Whether little Jack Hoffman lives to age 10 or -- may God will it -- to age 100, he will be a Husker fan for life. So will we lucky people who got to witness this moment of grace at Memorial Stadium.

Go Team Jack! Go Big Red!

Saturday, April 06, 2013

3 Chords & the Truth: Rebuilt and relaunched

And we're back . . .

This is the first new 3 Chords & the Truth episode since January, when the Big Show was being produced on an old PC that went BRRRRRRRT -- no, Beano isn't for electronics, alas -- in an overcrowded studio that really needed a facelift. So, it got a facelift.

And a new iMac. With new software.

And some paint.

And a lot of uncluttering.

And we're feeling groovy now.

YES, LIFE ON the Big Show front is good, and so is the music. Well, that's one thing that didn't change -- the good music.

It would have been a bloody shame to do all that remodeling work for the sake of sucky tunes.

Am I making any sense here? Exhaustion, don't you know?

So check out this brand-new episode of our studio-fresh music extravaganza while I enjoy the new digs here. And maybe take a nap.

It's 3 Chords & the Truth, y'all. Be there. Aloha.

Thursday, April 04, 2013

Soul, crackle and pop

Posting, obviously, has been light here as I break in the new studio and prepare for the big relaunch of 3 Chords & the Truth . . . coming to your computer, tablet, smart phone or MP3 player soon.

Really soon.

So here's the JPEG version of a little sweet soul music in the night.

Be there. Aloha.