Saturday, November 29, 2008

Lee Van Arsdale vs. Buck Chambers

These are photos of my great grandfather, Lee Van Arsdale, taken before an exhibition fight with a man believed to be named Buck Chambers. My father gave me these photos. He believes these were taken in Freeport, Texas sometime in the 1920s. We don't know much about them. They were found among my great grandmother's belongings after she passed.

My great grandfather, Lee Van Arsdale.


Buck Chambers





Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Thanksgiving Jumble

Been a while since I had one of these jumbled up posts I suppose.


I think that MOBB has finally figured out that I want to be cremated instead of buried. I guess it's all the times I told her, "I wanna be cremated instead of buried!"

She asked me if there's someplace I want my ashes spread. I tried to think.

"What's your favorite place?" she asked.

SO, I'm going to have my ashes spread on the internet.


We leave tomorrow morning for Willis, Texas. It's somewhere in the Huntsville/Conroe area.

We'll be having Thanksgiving dinner with my Aunt Shirley, whom I haven't seen since I was 15.

I'm really looking forward to it.


I've found a buyer for my gun. I think we're both getting a fair deal out of this.


I'm going to sell my Les Paul too. I'm going to take whatever cash I can get from it and apply it towards a Carvin Bolt-T kit.

Turns out I'm not much of a humbucker guy. I'll get the humbucker bridge option from Carvin, but it'll come with a coil splitter. In my limited experience with such a rig, I do like the sound of a split humbucker, and when I want to turbo-thrust my sound, I can use both coils. My only real complaint about a Strat is that it's hard to get a really beefy sound without lots of 60-cycle hum.


We watched Hellboy II this week. I actually like it a little better than the first one, though MOBB and Toland prefer the first one. I just love them both, but II's anachronistic gizmos and stunning sets really make that one for me. I'll watch me a whole bunch of Hellboy movies. Ron Perlman's great, though he's no spring chicken, so I don't know how long he can keep reprising his role.


I'm seeing clients now. I need to make a promotional push to get the word out, but I have now oh-fish-ully been paid for my counseling work.


So last night THEGIRL and I had some time alone while MOBB dropped Wolfboy off at a sleepover.

We shared some noodles and watched Qubo.

She asked for a snack, and came back with a cheese stick. Soon she presented me with a tiny little plastic plate with little cheese pieces on it.

I ate a few, and thanked her.

But I pointed out that the cheese was in tiny pieces, and asked her how she cut them.

"With my teeth!" she said.

Oh... well... thanks!


And THEGIRL just broke a lamp. Wolfboy broke one when he was her age as well.

Kids are so hard on the little things. I swear, THEGIRL is going to give Ringo PTSD.


I'll sign off now. Y'all have a great holiday. Be safe, be careful, and ... Hook 'em!

Monday, November 24, 2008

November 24, 2008

One of my favorite authors, Larry Brown, died four years ago today. He was 53.

His writing amazed me, because the words on the page were like the words in my mind. He wrote the way I think. It was uncanny.

I have not often insisted that my friends read books I like. Brown was an exception.

(Thank God for Sherman Alexie, who continues to live and write, and occasionally get foisted upon my friends).

This is the prologue to Billy Ray's Farm. I heartily recommend that if you enjoy Southern literature at all, you buy some Larry Brown.



A long time ago when I was a boy, there was one slab of concrete that stretched from Oxford to Toccopola, a distance of about sixteen miles, and that was the road everybody used to get to town. It was kind of like half of a road, with one side concrete, the other side dirt and gravel. If you were heading to town, you could stay on the concrete all the way and never have to get off on the gravel side. And if you were coming from town, you could get on the concrete part and drive on the wrong side of the road until you met somebody, and then you had to jump back onto the gravel.

That road has been gone for a long time, but I still remember the swaying of the car as my father went from one side of the road to the other. Everybody did it and nobody ever thought anything about it.

A trip to town on Saturday was a big event. The Square in Oxford has changed some, true, but by and large it still retains the image I have of it from thirty years ago. It is still lined with stores and parked cars, and the big oaks still stand on the courthouse lawn, and the Confederate soldier is still standing there high above everything so that you can see him first when you come up the long drive of South Lamar. What has changed is the nature of the town. A long time ago you could find people selling vegetables from the backs of their trucks, and you could go in Winter's Cafe and get a hamburger and a short-bottled Coke for sixty-five cents. You can't even buy an Egg McMuffin on University Avenue for that.

Faulkner would probably be flabbergasted to know that there are several bars on the Square now, and that blues music can often be heard wailing out of the open doors on hot summer nights, floating around the air on the Square, lifting up to the balconies of the apartments that line the south side, where people are having drinks and conversing. It's not like it was when he was around. Life was hard for some. Blacks were oppressed. The drinking fountains on the Square were labeled Colored and White. That world doesn't exist anymore.

What does exist is the memory of it, a faded remnant of the way things were. Write about what you know, yes, even if it doesn't exist anymore.

When I wrote my novel Father and Son, people wondered why I set it back in the sixties. The answer to that is very simple. When I wrote the first scene, where Glen Davis and his brother Puppy are driving back into town, I didn't see the Square I see now, with Square Books on the left side of South Lamar and Proud Larrys' on the right. I saw that old Oxford, the one where Grace Crockett's shoe store stood in the place now occupied by a restaurant and bar called City Grocery, and I saw the old trucks with wooden roofs built over the back ends to shield the watermelons and roasting ears and purple hull peas from the heat of the sun, and I saw a battered old dusty car that my two characters were riding in, and I knew that it had a shift on the column, and an AM radio with push buttons, and musty upholstery that had once been velvet. I saw all that and I knew that they had driven in one hot Saturday afternoon back during my childhood, and I remember the way things were.

What is it about Oxford that produces writers? I get asked that question a lot, and so does Barry Hannah, and so does John Grisham, and I have to confess that I'm just as bewildered by that question as the people who continue to ask it. Maybe even more so. They always want to ask about Faulkner and what it all means, being a writer in Oxford, and where all the stories come from, and why that environment seems to nurture writers. No matter where I go, I always get hit with that question or a variation of it.

I don't know what the answer is for anybody else, and I don't know what caused Faulkner to write. Most times, for any writer, I think it springs from some sort of yearning in the breast to let things out, to say something about the human condition, maybe just to simply tell a story. When pressed really hard, I say something generic like, "Well, for me the land sort of creates the characters, you know? I mean I look at the people around me and wonder what their stories are, or I think of some character and put him in a situation and then follow him around for a while, see what happens next."

It's hard sometimes while being pressed into a corner of the wallpaper to come up with a satisfying answer about your own land and the influences it has on you. Most of this stuff is private. You could say that you like the way the sky looks just before a big thunderstorm moves across a river bottom, or that you like to see the thousands of tiny frogs that emerge on the roads on a balmy spring night just after a good shower. You could ruminate expansively about the beauty of a hardwood forest on a cold morning, or the way the distant trees stand shimmering against the horizon on a blistering summer day. But none of that would satisfy the question. What is it they really want to know? Probably nothing more than that old and tired favorite: Where do you get your ideas?

I believe that writers have to write what they know about. I don't think there's much choice in that. The world Faulkner wrote about was vastly different from the one that exists now. If Faulkner were alive today, he would see that. The mansion down the street has been replaced by a BP gas station now, and the hardwood forest the dogs once yammered through has been clear-cut and turned into a pine plantation. Black folks don't say "yassuh" any more, and at this moment I would have no idea where in all of Lafayette County I could find a good mule. I think the past influenced Faulkner a lot. It must have, since so many of his stories and novels are about segments of history that had already passed when he wrote of them. All he was doing was what every other writer does, and that is drawing upon the well of memory and experience and imagination that every writer pulls his or her material from. The things you know, the things you have seen or heard of, the things you can imagine. A writer rolls all that stuff together kind of like a taco and comes up with fiction. And I think whatever you write about, you have to know it. Concretely. Absolutely. Realistically.

Oxford produces writers for the same reason that New York does, or Knoxville, or Milledgeville, or Bangor. You can't pick where you're born or raised. You take what you're given, whether it's the cornfields of the Midwest or the coal mines of West Virginia, and you make your fiction out of it. It's all you have. And somehow, wherever you are, it always seems to be enough.

Copyright © 2001 by Larry Brown

Sunday, November 23, 2008

THEGIRL Makes the Cake

I don't post many photos of my kids. I worry just a wee bit too much about exposing them online.

But since this is a private site and only friends of mine are allowed to log in, I'm going to post this series of photos from October 13. They're just too great to keep to myself.

Some are from my cellphone. The ones in which she has the greatest expressions were taken by the one and only Ken Baum.


Friday, November 21, 2008

Conviction in the Murder of George Smith

A man has been convicted for the murder of family friend George Smith, who was briefly my boss in 1982. Dylan James Laughrey is 25, which means he was not yet born when I worked at Burger Smith.

Smith's former wife Margaret, who is believed to have paid Laughrey to kill George, goes on trial in February.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

BB's Most Expensive Wish List Ever

Here is the wish list that can’t be filled. My entire life I have been blessed with endless riches, it seems, for birthdays and Christmases. Even in the years when I had few ideas, it seems like the people who are special to me had them.

I’m just going to have some fun here. I struggle with the notion of materialism, sure. The cause of suffering is desire, right? End desire, you end suffering.

Well, I’m not the bodhisattva-in-training today. I’m the guy who wishes he had a buncha money, so he could buy:

A Paul Reed Smith McCarty II model. I’ve never even laid hands on one, but as long as I’m wishin’ for just whatever, why not get a hand-crafted guitar that costs two grand or so? And in this hard-tail model only please.


Barring that, I’ll take a Carvin Bolt-T kit. I have a fine little Epiphone Les Paul, but for a variety of reasons I have learned that I prefer a Strat-style guitar. I’d like to build the one with the black hardware upgrade and the bridge humbucker with the coil splitter. And again, hard-tail only.


I’d also like an Ebow.

It’s a little hand-held gizmo that looks kind of like a travel-size stapler. It creates some sort of magnetic field that vibrates the string for as long as you hold it there. The result? Endless sustain, and violin-like tones. I think the Edge has used this to good effect here and there. It’s pretty nifty, but it’s not $100 nifty.


Okay, let’s get just a little crazy here. I’ve told a few of you that if I won the lottery, I’d sure as heck get me a lowrider.

Go ahead and laugh. Many of you (okay, ALL of you) reacted by saying, “I won’t be riding in that thing with you!”

But man, they’re just so cool and ingenious. I’d have to hire someone who knows how to take care of it too though.


Or heck, just give me a 1966 Ford Thunderbird.

(Great color!)


I’d like to have a lap steel as well.

This is an instrument that makes sense to me, unlike pedal steel, which was apparently designed for only Stephen Hawking to understand.


And I’m tired of wires. I want to go wireless in my house so I can just walk around and play my McCarty II. I mean, why shouldn’t I be able to, say, see how my kids’ bath is coming along while playing “Limelight” by Rush?


I’d also like the newest generation of multi-track recorder and a good mic and some monitors.



A whole tub of Slim Jims.

(Okay, just kidding).


Okay, what crazy/frivolous/expensive/unnecessary thing would you like to have for Christmas? The kind of thing that you might only get if you had a sugar daddy named Bill Gates, you know?

Wednesday, November 19, 2008


Written by: Robert Earl Keen
CD: Robert Earl Keen - Picnic

Intro: C D G C D
Fire one up and you toss one down
Everybody knows you been downtown
Been downtown late last night
Busted your head in a barroom fight
Fightin' with your brother, fightin' with your wife
Seems you've been fighting every day of your life
Can't stand still, still can't run
You put it all together but it come undone

Your soul is junk, your brain is dust
All of your memories are eaten up with rust
Your nightmare's real, dreams too stark
You love the night but you hate the dark
Your momma, your daddy, little sister too
Told you a secret they were countin' on you
You were dying to tell but your dad said son
Button your lip but it come undone, undone, undone

So they turned you out when you turned them in
They told you don't come back again
Now the years stack up like old beer cans
Dead end jobs, payment plans
Broke down trucks, welfare checks
Child support, back-seat sex
You'd kill yourself but you hocked your gun
You built a noose but it come undone, undone, undone, undone

So you're livin' in a shack but you wanna be rich
And you would if it wasn't for that sonovabitch
The sonovabitch, the dirty old whore
The butcher, the baker, the grocery store
You hate them, they hate you
What in the world are you gonna do?
It ain't your fault but they need someone
To blame it on when they come undone, undone, undone, undone

Now the storm's comin' in, the sky's turned black
It's too late now, you can't turn back
Lightnin' strikes on the telephone wire
You're drunk as a skunk, your shack's on fire
The wife took the baby and the other two kids
The dogs are a-howlin' and the chickens are dead
It's your last night out and you're gonna have fun
C (play then mute)
They'll read it in the papers when you come
undone, undone, undone, undone
Undone, undone


Coming soon: BB's most expensive wish list ever.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

More Austin, and BB King Speaks to BB

A few days ago I was flipping through the terrific book my father gave me last summer, The BB King Treasures. Oddly, on the same day Dad gave me this book out of the blue, I'd brought him a new King CD, a greatest hits compilation.

Anyway, in the book King talks about how he ran away from his father's home at age 14. The bicycle ride back to Kilmichael, Mississippi was about fifty miles. "But on my way there, I got so hungry. I was so hungry I didn't know what to do, because all my money was gone."

He describes getting about 10 miles from his destination and seeing an elderly lady on a porch. With his hat in his hand, he asked her if she could give him something to eat. She smiled and brought him some fresh biscuits.

He never forgot it, and made it a personal policy to always help the hungry.


Austin was a pretty doggone good trip. I left work Friday afternoon at about 3:45pm. I needed to make this trip on the cheap, so I had made plans to crash at Toland's place. I packed a cooler full of food since the conference wasn't going to feed the volunteers. I brought my guitar and my suitcase too, and was ready to roll.

I made good time getting down there, though hitting Austin traffic at 6:30pm wasn't fun.

I finally made it to his apartment, and Michael, Liegh, and Maria took me to my old haunt, El Jacalito.

The company was good. We had some laughs, talked about whatever, and ate. I must say, it seemed like El Jacalito had lost a step or three though.


That night we visited until late. Maria eventually headed back to Kyle, and he and I dragged out the guitars. That Yamaha 12-string of his always did sound nice. We had a fine time swapping songs. I know we did stuff by Merle Haggard, Porcupine Tree, Anders Parker, and one Michael Toland. Good stuff all. Must've been pushing 1am by the time we shut it down.

I didn't sleep well, but that's been the case rather often lately. I did manage to get up not feeling like I'd been hit by a truck for once. I headed for campus.


The conference building stands on what, I believe, used to be the south mall. I think a squirrel once clawed my leg long about there.

Anyway, I found the volunteer coordinator, got a briefing on my duties, and headed for the first presentation.

I knew the presenters, and said a quick hello to them. They discussed a book they're publishing this coming spring. It looks like a good project.

The second session was about substance abuse treatment from the perspective of solution-focused brief therapy. At the time I thought it was a bit more esoteric than necessary, but I actually took the most notes at that session.

On my break, I ate a peanut butter and jelly sandwich in the parking lot. The weather was beautiful. Life as good.

The afternoon plenary sessions were pretty interactive, though I kept getting partnered with social workers who weren't familiar enough with SFBT to move along at the clip I would have preferred. It was somewhat useful, but not incredible.

I WAS thrilled that the presenters had video of SFBT guru Steve DeShazer's final session, done in London. It was amusing and brilliant and poignant all at the same time.


After the sessions ended, I headed out for a long walk around campus. I walked through the student union, up and down Guadalupe, around the tower, and almost to the school of communications. I felt most drawn to the library, actually. It still smells the same. One semester I had this great break between classes, and I'd often hole up in that library with a book and just lose myself. I loved that.

I really love having no sense of urgency and a bit of freedom.

It was getting cold. I walked across campus back to my car, got in, and headed north, where I promptly got lost.

(Try to contain your surprise).

But I found a bite to eat up on Burnet Road, then stopped in a comic book shop and some deserted coffee shop for a while.

I hit the road later than I meant to, but I'd gotten hung up texting buddies about the UFC fights going on. Gonzaga won, fine. Kenny Florian too, fine. More on that later.


At the intersection of 183 and 35, as I waited for the light, I saw a woman holding a sign that read, "Humbly asking for help with a meal."

The light turned green, and as I sped past her I realized that I hadn't eaten even half of the food I packed. It was still in my cooler.

I couldn't exactly turn right around. I exited at Braker, put all my neat little baggies in a big bag, and turned around.

Even as someone who works in a social service agency, I struggle on how to deal with the homeless. While living there in Austin I'd certainly had bad experiences, like getting cursed out by homeless teens on the Drag. I've probably given money to folks who got high or drunk with it, and I've probably ignored people who just wanted a meal, I'm sorry to say.

But her sign touched me, and the BB King anecdote was going through my head.

The light was green when I passed her, but I slowed down almost to a stop and got her attention. I told her, "Ma'am, I packed this lunch for today and didn't need it."

She sounded relieved as she thanked me and blessed me.


It was time to hit the road.


Funny thing about coffee... one cup coffee = three trips to men's room. I'd gone the whole day on a sleep deficit, and I needed to find said men's room. I figured I'd look for a Starbucks at some freeway exit and find relief of a couple different varieties.

I was all the way to Bellmead when I found one. Ever find yourself trying to stroll casually into the restroom when you really want to RUN LIKE HECK??

Anyway, God bless the USA and Starbucks.

I had my coffee, tried to shake the cobwebs out of my head, and hit the road again.


At some point the texts started coming in: Brock Lesnar had defeated Randy Couture. Heartbreaking. I think this is bad in a few ways, but I won't go on about that now.


I sang. Sang and sang and sang. Yeah, God bless my iPod too. My voice was hoarse by the time I hit Tarrant County.


I was exhausted and wired when I got home. I blogged a bit before crashing. Thank you to everyone who made my trip the success it was.

sights, smells, and sounds

I am back from a good trip to Austin. Perhaps I'll write a detailed update about it soon, but the highlights included:

An evening with Michael, Maria, and Liegh. He and I played guitar and sang, and no one threatened to shoot us.

The SFBT conference. It worked out so well! And I got to see video of SFBT guru Steve DeShazer's last ever session. It was great in ways I didn't expect.

Walking around the UT campus and taking in the sights, smells, and sounds of my undergrad years. (Well, not all 8 of them... just the 2.5 spent at UT).

A subliminal message from BB King (really)

Bumping into former classmates like Chris and Elliott (okay, I knew Elliott would be there since he was speaking and all)

Peanut butter and jelly in the parking lot

One attention-loving turtle

The new limited edition Alejandro Escovedo live CD/EP. It rocks!

A humble homeless woman

Almost running out of gas half a mile from my house

And finally, the news that Randy Couture LOST to newcomer Brock Lesnar. Dang dang dang.

Get some sleep. Hook 'em.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

I want this to rock like thunder!

Some dumb quotes from Guitar Player magazine.

From a spread on Billy Gibbons' (ZZ Top) guitar rig:

During ZZ Top's 1996 Rhythmeen tour, Billy Gibbons slung a herd of custom "Knife Primativo" guitars built by John Bolin and plugged into the "Lap Dog" (a gutted Alamo amp connect to six Bixonic Expandoras, lower left).

Okay, just the sheer amount of Gibbons-created jibberish kinda busts me up there. Maybe you don't find it as funny as I do.


Nick Perri from Shinedown, about guitarist Nick Maybury of Mink:

"We toured together when I was with Perry (Farrell), and he would make me sick to my stomach each night because he is that good."


"I'm into textures, dissonance, and anything that's hurtful to the ear." Omar Rodriguez-Lopez of the Mars Volta


"I never practice in the traditional sense. When I pick up the guitar, I always want to perform." Yngwie Malmsteen (of course)


They reviewed the "new" Fender Champion 600 (it's a reissue), and after saying that the speaker "succumbed to a papery rasp" and that the "(s)tock speaker can sound thin on overdrive tones," they go on to rave that it's "a no-brainer to add to your collection." Honest to God, they mean this because it's only $199, it LOOKS cool, and it sounds decent if you have another amp to plug it into.

Seriously... Fender must have a staff knee-breaker they send out when negative reviews hit print.


But for your genuine Spinal Tap moment, check out this quote from Angus Young on recording with his brother, Malcolm:

"Malcolm does inspire me. He has very high standards in his way of playing and everything. He is very musically minded, but he can go to the extremes. Like, if we are in a studio and I'm doing some solos, he'll say, 'I want this to rock like thunder,' and you've got to make it rock. He just says something like that, and you know exactly what it means."


Headed to Austin for the conference. Y'all have a great weekend.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

BB and the Bag

BB's current therapy: "Breakfast in Bed" by Dusty Springfield.


I'm working out again. I've done it here and there, starting and stopping. I keep walking past the bag in the garage, and I've finally decided to spend some quality time with it. I do five rounds, three minutes each.


Round 1: Mixed stuff. Punch combinations, kicks from different angles. Funny how on any given night a different strike seems to be working better than others. Sunday night it was this nasty upward rib kick they teach in Krav Maga. Tonight my punches felt good and strong.


Do you feel attractive? Alluring? Desirable? On any given day, does someone special in your life give you any indication that you are in some way special in their eyes?


I'm headed to Austin this weekend for a solution-focused brief therapy conference. I'm too poor to pay the hefty registration, so I volunteered to work it instead. All I really have to do is hand out some papers, stamp some CEUs, and I can attend whatever I want. Very cool.


Round 2: Mostly kicks. I nail that bag too. I work on turning my hips over like I should, hitting with the shin. I also work a bit on kicks from the side and kicks from the rear (with advance). I have started throwing in some kicks to the head. KM doesn't teach that one, as it's a high-investment maneuver that doesn't often pay off.


The Startlegram reports that a local pastor is urging the married folks to have sex every day for a week, starting Sunday.

I gather the full sermon will be posted at some point.


Round three. For a minute, I do mixed combos. I like this cross/jab/kick combo. Needs work to make it smooth, but it'll come. Then for the last two minutes I do non-stop jab/cross combos. It's a bear!


I need to get back to Krav. It's the place I've felt most comfortable. Yeah, I had some issues with the place, but honestly, I just keep looking for a place just like it when I visit new schools. That, or a place like JMMA.

But Krav Maga Bedford was always good to me. When I was broke, they worked with me. When my son was the only kid who enrolled in the children's program, he basically got a couple months of private lessons for ridiculously cheap. And when his buddy tagged along, they let me teach them. Heck, I had a key to the school for over a year. I never should have given it back!


Round 4: Kicks. What else? My arms are pretty useless by that point. David at the KM school always had the most mechanically sound kicks. He'd pivot so well, and WHAM! I always picture that when I kick. I have my moments, but I can't do it like him.


I dreamed I was working the SFBT conference, in fact. It was going well, though lunch time came, and they gave me a big jar full of chopped and ground octopus parts to eat.

As a courtesy, I tried one. Wasn't bad! Tasted like ground beef. Still... they looked gross.


Speaking of KM, go over to Larry Escher's blog and congratulate him on being one of the very few IKMF-certified civilian instructors in the country.


Round 5: Other stuff. Knees (which aren't easy to do on my hanging bag), elbows, and a little bit of shadow boxing to work in some defensive stuff. At that point I've done abs between all the rounds, and I'm spent.


Note to self: Nachos do not make good workout fuel.


If I don't update again before the conference, ya'll take care, and have a good weekend.


Mindfulness is the aware, balanced acceptance of the present experience.

It isn't more complicated that that.

It is opening to or receiving the present moment, pleasant or unpleasant, just as it is, without either clinging to it or rejecting it. --Sylvia Boorstein

Monday, November 10, 2008

Here they are

My diploma and license came back from the framer today. They look great!

Naturally, my daughter smashed one with a pencil. Much wailing and gnashing of teeth ensued.

Oh, and she was a bit upset as well.

(She didn't do any damage)

Anyway, it occurred to me that once they're hanging up in the church office, I won't see them much.


So I took a photo.

Y'all take care.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Let the Good Times Roll

I caught Brad Paisley on Letterman last night.

I don't know much about him, but I do know that I have read several letters from metalheads to guitar magazines raving about his guitar playing.

So here was Paisley, and what was he doing? "Let the Good Times Roll," which I know as a BB King song (originally done by Louis Jordan, though probably written by someone else).

I couldn't find a clip from Letterman, but this one's just as good:

Okay, I love his tone, for starters. He solos twice, and the steel player and fiddler both get solos too. He sings one verse twice; not sure why, as he left out the whole "I've got 50 cents more than I'm gonna keep" verse. Still the whole song barely clears three minutes.

I like it!


I've heard a lot of versions of the song over the years. It's hard to mess up, but I've seen it done. It's probably blasphemy to say that I'm not a huge Etta James fan, but her brand of blues belting doesn't do much for me ("At Last" aside). I have a video somewhere of her basically bludgeoning the song, and she muffs the very verse I mentioned above, saying, "I've got a a quarter and a nickel, but don't let nobody play me cheap--I've got fifty cents more..." blah blah blah. Do the math.

I guess I fell in love with the song in the mid-80s sometime when I was listening to Together Again...Live by BB King and Bobby "Blue" Bland.

It opens the LP, and goes on for six minutes as everyone vamps. I swear at one point it sounds like King is yelling, "Watch it, Bob, watch it!" and Bland is yelling, "Oh shit!" I mean, was a riot breaking out or something?

Great version


Little-known fact.

On the cruise, after I almost sang "Rocket Man," I noticed that the song list also had "Let the Good Times Roll."

I seriously considered going back at some point to sing it. Why not? But then I realized that my travel mates probably didn't know the song, and singing it just for myself was a bit more self-indulgent than I felt up to.


Funny, if you look up that song on Youtube, you find lots of covers by little-known blues bands. It's one of the staples of the genre for sure.


Gonna wrap it up. Maybe tomorrow I'll blog about our evening at the Greek Festival.

Y'all have a good weekend.

Meet Me on the Ledge

BB's current therapy: "Meet Me on the Ledge" by Varnaline.


Early Saturday afternoon. I dreamed about Sherpas last night.


I am in my pajama pants. Thank God for polar fleece. It must be 55 degrees out there...


My hair is a mess. I've had two cups of fine Columbian coffee.


Heaven help me, I've started listening to Tool again.


THEGIRL makes things. Paper things. Her artistic output leaves our living room a mess of scraps. On my lap now is a creature she just made, something she called "an owie wowie."

Last night she made some sort of bus. We both stepped into it and drove laps around the living room.


A possible third Robert Johnson photo has been discovered. I may blog about it at some point.


And the cat is licking his butt.


I'm in my flannel Dickies jacket/shirt thingy. My mother always did give terrific gifts.


We may go to the Fort Worth Greek Festival today. Looks like a nice day for it.


I'm ready to see clients.

Can I really talk for a living?


I light all the candles I can find. My home is an altar.

Friday, November 07, 2008

A reminder from your friendly neighborhood BB

Don't send me anti-Obama stuff.

No bulletins, emails, jokes, animated GIFs, nothing. Please.

If you voted for the other guy, I am absolutely thrilled that you voted. I did too.

Now stop assuming that I voted just like you.

Oh, and don't send me any other racist stuff or anti-Muslim stuff or anything. I'm not so big on hatred.


Wednesday, November 05, 2008


I am in one of those parenting scenarios that tries the brain.

THEGIRL, again, bops out of bed. "I'm scared."

"What do you WANT me to do?"

"I want to sleep in your bed."

"Then where am I going to sleep?"

"In your bed too."

Ugh. I put her on the couch beside me, where I'm hoping my final stretch here, which consists of some ironing and some staring blankly at the computer, will bore her to sleep.

She certainly wiggles a lot.


Ever wish you'd zigged instead of zagged?


I've been snacking on some fine Manchego cheese. Man, this stuff is to die for!


Man I wish there was a really good clip of "Larry" by Buffalo Tom out there somewhere.

This is about it as far as I can tell. Shame. This song just transports me.


This just in.

The one and only Whit McClendon with the one and only Eyal Yanilov. Wow! I hope the Krav Maga seminar at JMMA went well tonight. Whit's been under the weather for a few days.


I took this photo today in Weatherford.

I had the good fortune to attend a lunch meeting at the Silk Stocking Row B&B, where spent some time back in May. I did a fair amount of work on the Tighty Whitey project there. It was good to be back, and we had a fine meal and a good meeting.


Follow your heart, y'all. In every single facet of your life.

Good night.


Okay, I've gotten out of the habit of doing this. To a certain extent, I feel like noodling around on Facebook and Myspace have taken too much of my attention away from writing.


I spent much of the evening in the Tarrant County Public Health Department clinic last night. Seems that, again, I ended up with a positive skin test for tuberculosis. I had a series of positives as a child, and my mother always had to make a big stink to get me in school.

So last night I was to have a chest X-ray.

I showed up and was immediately uncomfortable. Look, on a daily basis I work with or am around immigrants and refugees from across the globe. You might be surprised to learn that yours truly, with the particular sensitivity to smells, somehow got used to the fact that a lobby full of clients here doesn't exactly smell like a rose bush.

Bearing all that in mind, I hope you understand when I say that the lobby at the health department was a very uncomfortable place to be. The place reeked of alcohol sweat. I chose a seat at the far end of the room, facing the couple dozen folks in there. They mostly seemed to know each other, chatting back and forth about their jobs and the like.

They called me in to do a chart, asking me a million questions. The nurse was professional, and seemed relieved to talk to someone "who understands." More on her later.

She started giving me this rundown of tuberculosis prescriptions, saying that the short course takes about five months, but the doc was more likely to give me the nine month course.

That got my attention. I asked her very clearly if she thought I'd end up with drugs for this, and she said there was a very good chance. I told her I wasn't happy about that because I'm NOT SICK. She went on this whole schpiel about how they can't force me to take my meds… ugh.

They sent me back to the lobby, where I stared into space and began to wonder what the hell was going on.


Months and months of pills, which the nurse made clear were a bit rough on the liver. I don't need this, I thought.


I was hungry, tired, worried, and more than a little annoyed when they finally called me in for my chest X-ray. I'm sure the doctor was brilliant, but he had to try about three times to explain to me that I have an inactive TB infection that is not contagious. Long about that last attempt, after he said, "You're not hearing what I'm saying," I must admit that I DID think, I have a master's degree, and if you were explaining this clearly I DO think I'd understand it..

It amounts to this: I've got the bug, but my immune system suppresses it completely. I have a one percent chance of the infection becoming active. It's usually the result of having a disease such as AIDS, or taking a long dose of steroids. I am not contagious.


Moving forward, I'm not supposed to get skin tests anymore, just chest X-rays. My agency requires that I get tested every two years.


That was two hours of my life I'll never get back. I think the nurse, while professional, does too good of a job of scaring the bejeebers out of patients.


I'm opening a counseling office in Hurst Christian Church. I have my license. My business cards are on the way, my brochure is almost done, and it's time to get to work. I'm excited!


In my life, I have had any number of musical obsessions at any given time. Beatles, Eric Johnson, Jellyfish, Helmet, Tool, Billie Holiday, whomever. I don't know, though, that I've ever had as much tolerance for repetition as I do with Porcupine Tree. I simply never, ever get sick of listening to them.


For the second time in my adult life, the guy I voted for is president. It's like MOBB said about the last democratic president: "What didn't you like about his presidency—the peace or the prosperity?"


The sun is up, the sky is blue, it's beautiful, and so are you.



They held a mock election at Wolfboy's school. After the results came in, he chastised a friend for voting for McCain: "You only voted for him because he's white!"

Ha! My sweet, big-hearted child whose dearest friend is the bi-racial girl in the daycare, spoke his mind.

And it got him some version of the "we don't blurt stuff out about race" talk from the daycare lady. He's begging me not to talk to her about it, but I'd really like to know exactly what she felt she had to say to my son for this.

Saturday, November 01, 2008


I received my license today. I can start practicing.

Until I finish these next 3000 hours, though, I will be LPC-i (licensed professional counselor intern).

I feel rather official though.


One day when I was working at Larry's Music, a teenager playing a cheap bass ran out the door with it.

My coworker was in the men's room. "Call the police!" I yelled as I ran out the door after the kid.

He cut around back of the store, across the vacant lot. A Toyota Tercel was waiting for him with the back door open. He threw in the bass, but the car took off before he could get in. He was holding onto the door as he was dragged down the street on his bare knees, yelling, "Stop! Stop! Stop the car!"

I couldn't catch up, but I had plenty of time to memorize the license plate number as the car drove away.

We reported it to the police. I'm not sure if they were supposed to give us this information, but we got the thieves' home address. In the days before the police actually did anything, I drove by there often.

Finally the police stepped in. We prosecuted the little punks. I can't remember the specifics, but we did everything we could.

We got the bass back. They'd repainted it with this pretty sweet skull and crossbone look, really punked it up.

We ended up selling it for $10 more than we'd originally had it listed.


Halloween was good. Heck, given the weather and the kids' patience and overall haul, I might call it perfect save for the fact that only one group came by here.


I'm waiting for the football game. Can you believe it? I'm actually interested in watching UT play Texas Tech.


Had a fine lunch with new father Danny Henley today. I wanted his input regarding some interesting job developments. I must say, he has a real knack for shedding light on a situation, for clarifying things in a way that works very well for me.

And his kid is just a cute as a bug!


Something interesting happened today. I had to stand up for what I believe in. I won't claim it was altogether easy, but ultimately it was the right thing to do.


The group that went on the cruise.

Our CEO's husband has a pistol to her head. Dark, but funny!


The mighty Whit McClendon had a birthday yesterday. I'm told he took a nap, ate some sweets, did some martial arts stuff, and read a good book.

Dang, that guy must have birthdays about five times a week...


My vision is so very clear sometimes, but I don't know whether or not that's a blessing or a curse.


Have a good weekend.