Saturday, October 27, 2007

Where There's Smoke...

Last night Jacki and I were eating dinner at our favorite Italian restaurant with our favorite waiter. As we were wrapping up dinner we saw a combination of heavy fog and smoke roll through the street. When we walked outside after dinner we could smell a hint of smoke mixed into the fog so we decided to drive up the PCH to see if we could see any of the remnants of the Malibu wildfire.

We drove north on the PCH about 10-12 miles and passed Pepperdine University, one of the areas that was threatened. Although we never found fire we did see an orange clouded sky in the distance above Topanga Canyon. We didn't drive through that canyon but when we cut across Malibu inland we reached the top of one of the mountains and had our visibility cut to less than 20 feet while driving as a very thick smell of smoke entered the car. We had to be close. All of this was just a little over 10 miles from where we live in Santa Monica.

During the week the smoke from the fires blocked out the sun in the early evening. This time of year it begins to darken at night around 7pm. When the Malibu fire was at its peak sunlight stopped coming through shortly after 5pm. It was hard to believe that smoke alone could block the sun. The news has slowed in LA about the Malibu fire but as we saw on our drive last night the fire is still having an impact on the area.

Monday, October 22, 2007

A Night With The Wildhearts

Sunday night The Wildhearts played at the Keyclub in LA. The Keyclub has quickly become my favorite venue out in LA, great sound system, clean club, and we always seem to have a great time at that venue.

I first learned about The Wildhearts when they opened for The Darkness in Atlanta. I had heard the band name but had never heard their music. Ever since their performance than night I've been hooked.

Ted, a friend of mine from college came out to visit this weekend so I took him out to the big rock and roll show on a Sunday night along with Darian. Before the show we grabbed a quick bite at the Rainbow Bar and Grill hoping for a celeb or rock star sighting. We didn't see anyone we knew but saw a couple of people that looked like they could be somebody. After the fact I realized that the bass player from The Wildhearts, Scott Sorry, was sitting at the bar while we ate. After a quick dinner we made it over to the Keyclub around 8:30.

First band up was Locke And Load. The bass player and guitarist looked the part, although the guitarist / singer struggled with the lead guitar parts. The drummer was a guy named Richie Rivera who I had previously seen with a band called Touched. I'm not particularly fond of his playing although he was probably the best musician in this band. With all of that said the band pulled the best stunt ever. I was up at the stage and the singer asked me to hold my right hand up and make a right "devil horn". Then he had all the people on the front row hold up their fist and the person on the far left made the left "devil horn". So instead of a typical \m/ horns up it looked like \mmmmmmmmmmm/.

Second band up was Liars N' Cheats. Music was much better than the first band and they came off as a GnR inspired band with a modern rock and roll look. They kept throwing out cds during the set so I was able to listen to the one Ted caught. They were much better live than on cd. This is a band that if I see playing again I may actually check out. The highlight of their set was the end when the bass player destroyed his bass and the drummer trashed his drumset. The first time I had ever seen a non-headliner destroy their gear. Very rock and roll!

The final band of course was The Wildhearts. These guys rarely play in the US so it was nice to see them out in LA. The crowd knew a lot of the lyrics so it was nice to hear a great crowd rocking out and singing along to nearly all of the songs. Considering how hard it is to find their cds in the US I was surprised to see how many people knew the material.

The opening of the set with Greetings backed with Vanilla Radio w/ the great chorus of "Where's My Elvis" couldn't have been any better. The band was extremely tight and were jumping and running all over the stage. CJ, the guitar player stayed on his side of the stage, but Scott and Ginger were ripping it up like they were in an arena.

Other highlights included Weekend, Someone That Won't Let Me Go w/ the audience singing the guitar riff, 29x The Pain and I Wanna Go. I Wanna Go had the crowd chanting just like on the Tokyo Suits Me live cd. The band didn't disappoint and neither did the crowd.

The set had no encore, after I Wanna Go the band left the stage and after several minutes the house lights came on. Crowd was hungry for an encore but we will just have to wait until next time.

The Wildhearts
October 21, 2007
W. Hollywood, CA

Greetings From Shitsville
Vanilla Radio
TV Tan
Caffeine Bomb
The Revolution Will Be Televised
Nita Nitro
Destroy All Monsters
Sick Of Drugs
Love You Till I Don't
The Hard Way
Rooting For The Bad Guy
Someone That Won't Let Me Go
29x The Pain
My Baby Is A Headfuck
I Wanna Go Where The People Go

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Look I'm on TV

I had a bit of a surprise when I arrived at work today in Korea. Taeho who helps me navigate SK Telecom while I'm in Korea told me I was being filmed and interviewed today for SKT'sinternal television network. The topic of the interview was to highlight a content management system for mobile that SK Telecom and Helio worked on together. My team launched the product about a month ago.

It was funny to see how nervous I was for something that will be seen by so few people. Definitely an experience I won't forget.

The first run at the interview was disastrous, lots of umms, I was looking off into the distance as I thought of things to say and even made the mistake of looking directly into the camera.

After a couple of rehearsals and revised talking points we were able to nail it.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Radiohead - In Rainbows

I didn't expect it but I received my download code from the Radiohead website for their new album In Rainbows. Considering I paid nothing I didn't expect them to process my order. They kept up their side of their deal and now I'm listening to the music. Maybe if I enjoy it I'll check out some of their older material.

The download was packaged as a 48MB zip file with 10 tracks encoded in MP3 format at 160kpbs. And of course all DRM free.

Go and order yours now!

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Trip Wrap Up

I cannot imagine the trip with family being any better than it was. We arrived a couple days before everyone else so I was able to spend great one on one quality time with Billy and his family and with Shirley and family.

Now let's continue from where I left off from day one.... On Friday we were able to sleep in a bit and start the day a little later than the day before. Billy's kids went to school and Trey made it to work so Jacki, Darian and I got to hang with Billy most of the day. We looked through photo albums and shared with him some of the pictures I had posted online from out last trip out there in 2002. Later in the day Jacki and I made it to De Queen to do a Walmart run. This was the first time I had driven un-aided into De Queen so it felt like a minor accomplishment.

Friday evening Billy grilled chicken, sausage and burgers. I don't know what Carly and Darian put on the burgers but they were fantastic. We had a great time eating with the kids and I was able to meet one of Billy's half-sisters, Tina, and her family. We got to talking and quickly found out both of us were at the same high school in Houston. She was a senior the year I was a freshman. Although we aren't blood related I felt like I met a new sister for the first time. Darian affectionately called her my quarter sister. Haha

At one point Earl, my grandfather's brother, showed up at Billy's unexpected asking for directions to Shirley's. He looks just like my great grandfather. Lisa and Jeff arrived and were able to join us for the end of dinner. They were staying in Texarkana so we took them down to Shirley's before it got too late. As Jacki, Lisa and Jeff visited with Shirley and Kristy I kept Katie occupied. She read me one of her Spongebob books and we chilled on the couch.

We got back to Billy's and Lisa and Jeff headed to Texarkana. And this is where the fun began. As we walk into Billy's he and Tina are sitting in front of the tv singing karaoke. Billy did a stunning rendition of Stand By Your Man which was hilarious. He had all of us on the floor laughing. Carly and Tina even did a duet together.

That night Tina, Jacki, Billy and myself end up talking for a couple of hours out on the front driveway. It felt great to really connect to Billy and will be one of those nights of visiting you'll never forget.

The next morning I got a call from Lisa right when I woke up. Their car's battery was dead so I drove down to Texarkana to pick her up. Not often that I get one on one time with Lisa. We grabbed an early lunch at Popeye's, talked to Mom on the phone to catch her up on the activities, and headed back to Horatio. We talked about ma-maw and pa on the way back and talked about the great times we had at Shirley's when we were growing up. You can't go wrong with video games and a hot tub.

A group of us headed over to Shirley's to visit with everyone. Lisa brought a painting Kristy did for me when I was a child. Now we are giving it to Katie. One of Billy's friends I hadn't seen in probably 20 years was there so I got to listen to him and Billy tell hunting stories with my Uncle Earl from Louisiana. Kristy prepared a great lunch with chicken, turkey and some seafood gumbo. Right as we finishing our plates my Dad and Rose arrived. We weren't sure they were going to make it so it was great to have so much of the family together.

I was taking people back and forth between Shirley's and Billy's. On one of the trips Carly and her boyfriend Craig rode ahead of us on a 4 wheeler. Craig has no fear and had been popping wheelies on the 4 wheeler the day before. After he dropped off Carly he was riding back towards us and was riding the wheelie like he was the day before. Then all of a sudden the bike got to upright and he flipped off to his left and the bike went off to his right. As we slowed down to help he jumped up off the ground, flipped the bike over, and gave us the thumbs up like he was ok. About 30 seconds later we got to the house and he was hurting. He ripped up his knee bad. He ended up at a Texarkana emergency room with 11 stitches.

After we saw Craig off to the hospital a few of us headed back to Shirley's. Once at Shirley's we spent the remainder of the evening sitting on the porch talking and telling stories. Another one of Billy's friends, Lawrence, also came over. Once the end of the night came it was hard to say bye to Shirley. When we talked alone Thursday night I asked her if there was anything else she wanted to do or see and she told me she would like to see Niagra Falls. When she hugged me as we were leaving she told me that maybe she will take that trip to Niagra Falls after all.

Jacki and I headed back to Billy's and got to say bye to the kids. Dad and Rose came by for a few minutes. We got a few pictures with everyone and then they left back to Texarkana for the night. After they left Tina and her husband Bobby came over to see us out. She brought over our old Lamar yearbook and we were able to confirm we were there at the same time. We got in some laughs about the big 80s hair as well as how goofy I looked.

The journey back was harder than I thought it would be. We left Arkansas about 12:30am and got to DFW a little after 4am. Along the way I had to stop a couple of times for my eyes to rest. Jacki was great and stayed up with me the entire time.

It would be great to get Billy and kids out to LA at some point. We are hoping Trey gets to come out to LA in the near future to check out some of the music scene and to hang with Darian. It was pretty remarkable how similar their taste in music was and how well they got along. For now I leave you with many of the pictures we took. For me this trip will hold some great memories and we can't wait to get back to see everybody again.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Arkansas Day 1

We got in late Wednesday night / Thursday morning around 1am and ended up talking to Billy until about 4:30am. It was great catching up with him. Jacki made the comment the next morning that she and I haven't laughed so hard in such a long time. That's my brother!

We got up around 9am, and Billy and I took Carly to school in Horatio. Once back at the house I was able to see all the dogs Billy is raising. Everything from hunting dogs, to Jack Russell terriers and other house dogs. I was most impressed with the beautiful Chesapeake Retrievers. We took one named Dixie to the pond to train for retrieving. Billy could have Dixie sit, he threw the dummy, and then he would tell after it hit the water to fetch. It was pretty cool to see such an obedient dog. I took some great pictures of Dixie leaping off the bank to retrieve. Shelby, Trey, and Jacki also came down to the pond. Shelby fished and Trey roamed the pond in the boat.

We took the clan including Jacki, Darian, Shelby, Morgan and Trey into De Queen for lunch at Sonic and then a group of us went to see my Aunt Shirley in the afternoon. When we got to her house Earl, Shirley's husband, and my cousin Kristy greeted us. Kristy's little one Katie was there as well. Shelby and Katie ended up playing while Jacki and I visited with everybody. Shelby and Katie played so well together.

Shirley looked good and was in good spirits. It was great to see her and Kristy. We ate lasagna for dinner at Shirley's and got back to Billy's around 8:30pm. They pulled out an old Rubik's cube and put me up to the challenge. I was able to solve it several times but I definitely don't have the touch like I used to.

It's been a great visit so far and I'm kicking myself for not coming up sooner. Shirley made the comment to me about how close our family is even though we hardly see one another. That is so true. At one point I feel hesitant about showing up here thinking no one will know me but once I get here all I feel is love from my family.

Tomorrow Lisa should be arriving. This will be the first time she and I have been here at the same time in probably 10 years. We have two more full days here before I have to return back to reality.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

The Big 60

Today is my Dad's 60th birthday. I'll get to see him this weekend in Arkansas to remind him just how much older he will always be than me. Happy Birthday Dad!

Just so you aren't confused he's the old guy on the right :-)

Monday, October 01, 2007

Radiohead...What's It Worth To Ya?

News was published over the weekend that Radiohead is offering their new album for as much as you think it is worth. I just went to their site and preordered their new album. During the ordering process it asks you how much you want to pay. Not being a Radiohead fan but intrigued I went ahead and ordered their new album for free.

It looks like it took the order and even sent me an order confirmation email. We will see on the 10th if they will honor my free order.

Try it for yourself here.

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