Trust the Gene Genie

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Where the hell are the singing cats?

Update: Here's David paying tribute to Paul Newman on the Late Show Tuesday night. And yes, Thank you, David, you get to see Paul shout about singing cats.

It's been an interesting week. David Letterman has proved once again why my 20-year devotion to him is not misplaced. John McCain was supposed to appear on the Late Show Wednesday night but a couple hours before he was to go on, his handlers called the show and said McCain had to rush to the airport to get to D.C. to help with the bailout. At about the time he was supposed to be at the airport, McCain was actually sitting down with Katie Couric to be interviewed on CBS Evening News.

Letterman was merciless and took McCain to task for blowing him off midweek. But he did it classic Letterman fashion -- he was always respectful, but was still cutting and sarcastic about it all.

And in a stunt that reminded me of his NBC days, he had his engineer tap into CBS News' live feed while McCain was sitting done getting ready to be interviewed by Katie Couric and shouted snartky remarks at him. It was awesome.

Executives at CBS News of course were furious at having been hacked into and then ridiculed by Letterman. But it's David Letterman. What are they going to do? Their official comment in the New York Post was, "He does whatever he wants and always has."

Here's the video if you're curious. Trust me, it's a good time.

Also, Paul Newman died today. I'm actually pretty bummed about it. My mom and dad, being of the generation they are, were huge Newman fans and so we grew up watching great films like "The Sting" and "The Young Philadelphians" and "Cool Hand Luke" and "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof." He's just a guy we all grew up loving and really respecting. It's sad that he's gone.

Since we're already talking about Letterman, Newman is a longtime fan and has appeared on both Late Night and the Late Show a number of times, probably most memorably in 1993 when Letterman was brand new on CBS and still getting adjusted to the change. Letterman, in one of first shows in the Ed Sullivan theater, calls on of course Ed Sullivan, whose ghost appears. Sullivan, floating above Dave, introduces Paul Newman, who, it turns out, is sitting in the audience. Newman stands up and asks, "Hey! Where the hell are the singing cats?" I quoted that line all through high school.

I actually found the clip on YouTube, but the quality is terrible. So instead, here's Paul's last appearance on the show, talking about racing:

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Peace like a river

Let's talk trinkets.

I've got the next batch of tunes for our look at really good cover songs and, not to weigh it down with too much Britt Daniel, but I've included a killer Paul Simon cover by Spoon. So let's start there. You can catch up with the rest of the list here and here.

7. Spoon's "Peace Like a River" -- Some songs become inseparable from the artists who write and record them. Paul Simon I think would fit handily into this category. And then you listen to Spoon take on "Peace Like a River" and it sounds like a song written specifically for the band. From the thumping-groove bass line to Britt Daniel slipping into a falsetto during the track's middle eight, the song sounds like home-grown Spoon. The bittersweet melody dissolves into the malaise-stricken lyrics and it all matches the band's sensibilty perfectly. It's an amazing cover. It helps that Paul Simon writes a damn good pop song.

8. Wilco's "True Love Will Find You (In the End)" -- This was a song I fell in love with at college. Napster was at its hight and I used it to find a lot of obscure stuff, this track included. I still have no idea when the band recorded it or where they released it -- I've never seen it anywhere else. And it wasn't until about a year ago that I learned it was a Daniel Johnston cover. Daniel Johnston, if you're not aware, is kind of like the patron saint of indie hipster singer/songwriters. He's battled his whole with crippling mental illness and still turns out gems like "True Love." The song, like Spoon's cover of "Peace," fits perfectly within the Wilco sensibility and makes the case for the existance of cover songs. It doesn't have a lot of zest -- it's mellow but optimistic. However, it's an absolutely beautiful song and Jeff Tweedy's vocals are moving. It's amazing how he emotes on the song.

9. Johnny Cash's "Solitary Man" -- Like any good country music star, Cash has covered a lot of songs. His 60s-era take on Kris Kristoferson's "Sunday Morning Coming Down" is great. But in his later years, Cash started covering artists well outside his genre and, I'm sure to some extent, outside his comfort zone. Some of the songs work (his cover of Danzig's "Rusty Cage") and some don't (his cover of "One"). But it's his cover of Neil Diamond's "Solitary Man" that I really dig. It's perfect Cash, catching him on the right song at just the right time.

It's also Three Word Wednesday today. Rob Report favorite Thom G is handling the desk for the time being so go check out some cool stuff there and catch my three words above.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Mmmm, chocolate pecan pie

Yesterday was the big day. I turned 33. It's not old, but it's older. I reckon hitting the back side of 35 will be tough. But I've got a few years before I have to worry about that.

But back to yesterday, it was a good birthday. Becky knows how to make a boy feel special. Not only did she wake up at the butt crack of dawn (as we used to say in junior high) to make cinnamon rolls for breakfast, she got me the Wilco t-shirt I've been dying to own for a year. It's ugly and kind of obnoxious and just plain perfect for me. She also made chocolate pecan pie. I've never been a fan of cake and I realized a few years ago I don't have to have cake on my birthday, I can have whatever I want. Which, usually, is chocolate pecan pie. Not only is it a good dessert, it's a good breakfast.

So that was my day. Tomorrow, we'll talk more cover songs and maybe recap my summer predictions. Or maybe not. They were pretty far off this year.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Rocky Mountain High

It's almost October. Wow, am I a slacker. We've got a lot of business to take care of. Summer vacations to report, goals to cover and music to talk about.

Let's start with trips. We've traveled across Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Oregon and Washington, been to two family reunions and spent countless hours in the pool. And we were smoked out of our own town a couple times (I wish I had photos of that). And since pictures are worth a thousand words, I shall simply post pictures rather than write about it.

This is Claire and Leigh in front of Vanderhoof Elementary in Arvada, Colo. I did kindergarten through sixth grade there. It looks exactly the same.

Here are the girls with their cousins in front of the Arvada house, my childhood home. It's always weird going back. 'Cause you go back, but you really don't go back.

This Claire, walking across the Bonneville Salt Flats. She was convinced she could walk to the mountain there in the distance. And she tried. And then we brought her back.

A lovely summer rain storm in Winter Park, Colo. and an accompanying rainbow. Aren't rainbows pretty?

And here are the girls keeping themselves entertained. From Redding to Denver, round trip, it was a total of 44 hours of driving. We were all going insane by the end.


Okay, moving on. Part of the reason it's been difficult to blog lately is, well, lots of traveling this summer. We attending my family reunion in Colorado and then Becky's family reunion in Washington three weeks later, for a grand total of six western states visited. Not bad.

Sometime in August, near the end of it all, I was called to be an early morning seminary teacher. For those you out there not of the Mormon faith, high school kids in the church, from ninth grade on up, take daily religion classes. In most places those classes are held before school. My class, 11th and 12th graders, meets at 6:30. Which means I'm up at 5:30. It's pretty intense.

The curriculum this year is the New Testament and every night after the girls go down I sit down to prepare my lesson. I'm loving it. I'm finding it to be surprisingly fulfilling. Akin to experiences I had on my mission. But it's intense. Kinda like my mission. And I've got seven more months of it in front of me.

How about another picture? This from our trip to Washington. I'm in a relay race with my brothers in law. Notice my socks:

We'll do one more picture. The last day of summer vacation the girls and I put on a lime-ade stand. It was awesome. The girls made nearly 20 bucks and we were only out there an hour. Not bad:

And now that summer's all caught up, we can check in with my goals and talk a little music. In the meantime, here's some light reading (another reason I'm not writing as much):

Rob's little newspaper column project

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