Thursday, November 30, 2006


Christmas Music Part III

In late 1995, I was in my last year of college and still a big fan of country music. One group whose music I especially enjoyed was The Tractors (their only hit song was called "Baby Likes To Rock It"). I just loved their breezy combination of blues, swing, and country. When I went to ShopKo one afternoon and saw that they had a Christmas disc out, I did not hesitate to buy it.

And I was not disappointed. They did some oldies, but goodies (Santa Claus is Comin' to Town, Santa Looked a Lot Like Daddy, White Christmas), but also quite a few original numbers, one of my favorites being "The Santa Claus Boogie".

They also did a Christmas version of "Baby Likes to Rock It" called, "Santa Claus is Comin' (In a Boogie-Woogie Choo Choo Train)". I listened to the recording (front to back) on many occasions at my girlfriends' house that holiday season.

The Tractors released another Christmas album in 2002 called, "The Big Night". Though solid, I still prefer their first effort.

November 22, 1999 - Journal entry

My love of Christmas was brought to a zenith in late 1993. I had been diagnosed with major depression the previous summer. But I had some good friends that were able to help me through it. I was living at 273 E. 3rd St, Apt. C. This was in Winona, across the street from Goltz Pharmacy. I was feeling wonderful as Christmas approached. My depression appeared to be a thing of the past. I was so happy and blazingly optimistic. I wanted to share this love, so I sent out lots of Christmas cards. I mailed them to family, friends, and others who had touched my life. Some of those names included Dean Mustbechamp, Jim Panushla, Matt Wheel, Brian Chadborn, Beth Woman, Cathy Schofield, several members of Inter-Varsity, and many others. It was the first time in this life that I can recall sending Christmas cards to anyone. And it made me feel good. I bought a variety pack of cards so that I could mail each person the type that I thought they would prefer. I would go to the mailbox with six cards at a time. I knew that the cards would go out all over the city and that most people would be happy to receive them. And when people reciprocated and sent me a card, that gave me a good feeling as well. This was but one aspect of that Christmas.

I also had a little (or as the girls would say, "itty bitty") Christmas tree. I'm not sure if my mom brought it for me or if I bought it. But I did like it. I looked at the tree when I went to bed at night admiring the many colored lights as it sat on top of my bookshelf.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Christmas Music Part II

In the fall of 1992, I accompanied my brother, Brian, to LaCrosse. He had just graduated high school and was looking for a more high-tech (read: more bass-oriented) speaker system for his 'Stang. We spent the majority of our time at Best Buy and it was there that I got a taste of one of my all-time favorite Christmas records. Garth Brooks was huge at the time and I had already purchased his newest recording, "The Chase". I was aware that he had also released a Christmas disc as well, but I wasn't too interested in Xmas music at the time. The CD was actually released in August of '92. In this way, the title of it definitely made sense.

The album was playing throughout the store that afternoon. I listened to some of the tracks as I browsed. It was good stuff, but a little too heavy for me (Go Tell it on the Mountain, What Child is This). It didn't really seem to have any fun stuff on it. I decided to take a pass on it.

During the holiday season of '93, I was shopping at ShopKo with my mom and the girls. She said I could pick something out for myself. Since it was the season, I decided to give "Beyond the Season" another chance. I put the cassette of it in my mom's cart and continued to browse. Later that day, I listened to the recording at home and quite enjoyed it.

I had a friend named Dean who I liked to hang out with at this time. He was a proud member of CIA (Christians In Action).

We were at his place. He was basically doing dishes, cleaning, things like that. I asked if I could put on a christmas tape of mine. He said that was fine as long as it wasn't Garth Brooks (he felt that Brooks was too bawdy and rowdy, especially with the track, "Friends in Low Places"). I played the tape all the way through for him without saying who the artist was. He didn't seem to mind it too much. In fact after the last track, he said that it was quite good. Imagine his reaction when I told him that the singer of the songs he had just heard, many of which were quite spiritual, was none other than GB. Just goes to show that sometimes it pays to withhold judgment.

The War is Over, Dude...

A doozy of a true story here about a WWII-era soldier who continued to fight long after the war ended.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Christmas 1983

My mom was always a big movie fan. On many weekends, she would take all us kids to a matinee. We usually went to Snyder Drug beforehand to get candy and then mosied over to the Cine 4 theatre in downtown Winona.

One afternoon in late 1983, she took us to a Christmas movie. This was unusual due to the fact that we all belonged to a religion in which we didn't celebrate Christmas. Nonetheless, what harm could there be in going to a movie about the most wonderful time of the year? The movie has gone on to be a favorite of millions of people, but most never saw it when it was originally released (it made less than $20 million). I consider myself lucky that I was able to see it way-back-when at the age of 13. It was such a warm account of what life was like a couple of generations before mine. The story took place in the Midwest and starred the late Darren McGavin as the father. In case you haven't figured it out yet, I'm referring to "A Christmas Story". Here is the original theatrical poster:

Ralphie was something else. He wanted "an official Red Ryder, carbine action, two-hundred shot range model air rifle!" But his mother wouldn't allow it telling him, "No, you'll shoot your eye out".

Internet Database readers rank it as one of the top 250 movies of all time.

And now the house where much of the movie was filmed has been "restored to its original glory".

I watched "A Christmas Story" again a few years ago. To my surprise, I didn't laugh much at all. Maybe it was because I had seen it so many times before. In any case, if you want to get in the mood for Christmas, you can't go wrong with this modern-day classic.


All right. Now I've heard everything.

Pamela Anderson is divorcing Kid Rock (Bob Richie) in large part because of his reaction to her role in "Borat".

What a tool!

Christmas Music

Today I will be starting a series in which I write about my favorite Christmas records (the term "CD" just doesn't do it for me). In late '93, I was just getting over my depression and had met quite a few people through Inter-Varsity at Winona State.

So it was that one afternoon I went with several of them to LaCrosse, Wisconsin. Their favorite store there was called the Shepherd's Voice. If you were a Christian, they pretty much had everything you could ever want. I perused a bit, but didn't buy anything. One of the items that caught my eye, however, was this huge book that had thousands of names in it. Each name was printed on a colorful card with the meaning of the name printed underneath. Obviously, I looked up my name (who wouldn't?) My name means "twin".

Next we went to Target (Winona didn't have a Target at this time). I looked in the music section and found a newly released Christmas cassette (I didn't have a CD player at this time) by Vince Gill. As a bonus, it included a cassingle of Vince and Trisha's duet together, "Another Angel Gets Its Wings" (a song I was familiar with and liked). I bought the tape and shortly after that, we headed back to Winona. Later that night, I showed my friends what I had purchased.

It wasn't a Christian recording per se, but it did say, "Let There Be Peace On Earth" and had a star on the cover and the bonus cassingle did mention angels, so it was pretty close (keep in mind that I had become quite spiritual, but preferred country music over straight up gospel). I listened to the recording that night and enjoyed it, especially "One Bright Star"

They saw the Light in the darkness
It shines on us in tenderness
It brings out the hope that's in all of us
May it shine its light on you this Christmas Night

and his rockin' instrumental of "Santa Claus is Comin' to Town". I remember driving around with my friend, Brian, one night while listening to the tape. My mom bought it on CD that holiday season. Though there are a few too many slow songs on it for my tastes, it always takes me back to the Christmas of 1993 when anything seemed possible.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Garth Part V

The third Garth show I would be seeing in the fall of 1998 was one I would be seeing with a guy named Mark Schocker who used to live in Winona (as I did) and who had since moved up to the Twin Cities area. He had some schizophrenia,

but nobody's perfect. He had married a woman originally from Russia (her name was Lyuda Bey. Mark used to call her Lyuda Babe). He was a pretty big country fan, so was more than willing to go see the big guy on a Saturday night. I picked Mark up in the late afternoon and we headed to Target Center. The seats were pretty damn good this time, the best yet. They weren't on the floor, but were on the lower level with an awesome view of the stage. Before too long, the couple I knew came and sat next to us. I introduced 'em to Schock boy and we chatted for a bit. They asked me about all the GB shows I was seeing. I said the main reason I had bought tickets to so many shows was because I thought his playlist might be different from night to night. But, generally, it had been the same.

Garth came out and would you believe he wasn't wearing a cowboy hat or a long-sleeved Western shirt?

He said that since it was Saturday night, he just wanted to cut loose, so thought the T-shirt and baseball cap would be a nice change. He asked the crowd if they minded. They roared with approval. Thankfully, there were a couple songs GB sang that night that he hadn't done earlier in the week (most notably "American Honky-Tonk Bar Association"). Near the end of the show, the rest of the band left the stage and it was just Garth and the crowd. He sang a few numbers, just him and his guitar. Again, a fun time was had by all.

After the show, I dropped Mark back off. He said he had had a great time. Regrettably, I haven't seen him since. We talked on the phone a bit in the weeks after the show, but then kind of lost track of each other. He no longer lives at the residence he did 8 years ago. I've looked for his name online without any luck. It's amazing how people can just drift out of your life and all of a sudden, it's been years since you last saw them.


A recent visitor to my weblog found it by using the following search terms, "webmd kidney stone tart drinks" and another did by searching for "6000s vehicles what did they look like back then". Anyone know what the hell that second guy was thinking?

I'm there, dude...

Friday, November 17, 2006


My dad was diagnosed with diabetes in the early 80's. I can remember how angry he was one evening talking to my mom wondering why he got it, how he got it. But he soon accepted it and did what he needed to (giving himself insulin shots, checking his blood sugar). I remember just before I moved in with my mom, when I was still living with my dad, driving in a motor home with my siblings, dad, and grandma to the VA hospital in St. Paul (my dad had served in the Air Force in Greece in the early 70's). This was in 1985. I remember the year because my favorite cassette to listen to on that trip was Prince's newly released recording "Around the World in a Day".

It featured the hit song, "Raspberry Beret". I recall telling my siblings that Prince lived quite close by (in one of the Twin Cities' suburbs). The plan was for my dad to be admitted to the hospital for tests while our grandma Ruth took care of us kids in the motor home which would be parked on VA grounds (my dad had custody of the kids with us seeing mom only on the weekends). One notable thing I remember from this trip was dad going on a walk with all of us one afternoon and then a couple of the boys misbehaving. He then "rapped" them and my grandma said, "Oh Steve, don't hurt the kids!". Dad said that sometimes it was the only way to make them understand. Grandma lasted a couple days, but she was not used to taking care of so many kids at once. Just taking care of Matt, I'm sure, was a handful (he once rode a tricycle down the main street of Rollingstone with only his underwear on). So she asked her other son, John, to come and pick her up. Dad had to cut his medical treatment short (he finished the tests at a later date). Until yesterday, that was the last time I had been at the VA. My dad has been there dozens of times in the last 20 years.

On Wednesday, he had a stent put in by his heart. It went great, but I thought it would be nice if I drove up to visit him on Thursday. I was able to take off work. I slept in a bit and left Rochester at about noon, arriving at about 1:30pm. I called my dad who said they were finishing some tests and that he should be in his room in about a half hour. I was a bit hungry, so had a bite at the cafeteria. I noticed quite a few guys in wheelchairs at the hospital. Pretty much all the patients were males as well (not surprising since VA patients are, by definition, veterans). I had a burger combo which wasn't too bad. I then went up to 4-E and saw my dad. He said my brother, Mike, and his family had visited earlier in the day. They were now at the Mall of America, but planned to return that afternoon. My dad was in good spirits. He looked forward to going home in a day or two. I mentioned that the last time I was up there was in '85. I was surprised. He actually remembered that trip as well. We were getting ready to leave when Mikey J and company entered the room.

They talked about selling their house in Caledonia and moving to Hokah or the Crescent city in order to be closer to the metropolis of the Crosse. The two kids they have are fantastic. Mike had his hair dyed which was pretty wicked. We all hung out together for about a half hour before taking off. Dad walked us out to the visitor entrance (without shoes on, I might add). We said our goodbyes and headed home.

On the way back, I thought about seeing "Borat" again. I went to the 5:25 show. I talked to my mom that evening who said that she had also seen "Borat" earlier in the week with a friend and that she was quite embarassed to have seen it (I guess it wasn't her cup of tea).

All in all, a nice day. As Borat would say, "Happy Times!!!"

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

New York City Boy Part II

Last month, I wrote about an upcoming movie starring Adam Sandler as a widower who is still grieving over the loss of his family on 9/11. The movie, titled "Reign Over Me", finally has a release date: March 9, 2007. Here is the poster:


Hey, everybody. Please give it up for my main man, Scott, in Utah who's goin' through some tough times, but is on the way back up.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Garth Part IV

My second trip to see Garth Brooks in the fall of '98 was my favorite. I had to drive to Winona to pick up my best friend (at the time) Arthur Davis. He did not have a license, so if I wanted him to go with me, I would need to obtain him in the Island City. I left in the early afternoon and picked the native Floridian up.

The trunk of my car was a bit dirty. To salute our upcoming trip, I wrote "Garth" on it with my finger. From Winona, it was a 2 1/2 hour drive to Minneapolis. We took scenic Highway 61 to get there (the road basically hugs the Mississippi River so spectacular views are commonplace when driving on it).

We listened to Garth's newest CD, "Sevens", on the way up there. Something rather amusing happened on the ride up. There was an Oriental fellow in a van whose fuel tank door was ajar. On passing him, we gestured and pointed towards the back of his vehicle. I don't think he understood. However, he did pull over (he probably feared he had a flat tire or something like that). We just kept going and had a bit of a laugh.

Once in Minneapolis, I parked my Neon and we headed over to a small mall located just a few blocks from Target Center. Art wanted Sbarro while I was in the mood for Mickey's. So we went our separate ways for a short time. After I finished my nuggets, I went over to Sbarro. He had just gotten his food. He was quite excited about the concert. He had been a fan of Garth's for quite a number of years.

After some browsing in the stores, we headed to the concert venue. We entered and took a look at some of the souvenirs for sale. I ended up buying a GB keychain while Art bought a keychain and a cap.

We then headed to our seats which were quite good. They were on the lower level just a row or two off the main floor. Garth's speaker system which dangled from the ceiling had the words "Double Live" emblazoned on them. Some people didn't understand this reference, but I knew that his 2-CD live set was coming out in a few weeks (it went on to become the top-selling live album for any artist or group).

As showtime got closer, tracks from the Mavericks new CD were again played over the speakers. Trisha came out and sang her latest and greatest. Then there was a short break as we waited for the G-man. Upon Garth's arrival, everyone stood up. And they wouldn't sit down! Song after song, we were all on our feet. This wasn't something I had experienced before (at the prior show facing the back of the stage, no one had been standing up). But I dealt. Art didn't seem to mind. He was totally into it. When GB sang "Unanswered Prayers", Art was singing quite loudly along with him. Garth's big finale was the song, "Ain't Goin' Down" followed by "The Dance". Needless to say, we both got our money's worth that night.

Seeing GB 5 times in 9 days was turning into quite a trip.

Birthday Weekend Part II

Saturday was the day after my birthday, but that didn't mean the celebrating was over. My mom couldn't make it out to Rochester the night before because of the snowstorm, but had no problem driving up Saturday afternoon.

I met her at the Olive Garden. I had OG's house salad and pizza. My mom had some type of pasta dish. My mom told the waiter that it was my birthday (though that wasn't technically true). He brought out a pretty tasty cake, the kind that mom used to slap together at home. For the second night in a row, I opened presents (this time from my mom). I got a card, a long-sleeve shirt, winter gloves, and a receipt to get a book at Barnes & Noble that was temporarily out of stock.

After supper, it was off to the movies once again. Mom had seen Borat on Jay Leno a couple nights before and didn't think he was that funny, so wasn't up to seeing his movie. She wanted to see Will Ferrell in "Stranger than Fiction". "Borat" was starting 10 minutes after "Fiction", so I snuck into their screening room to see where she was sitting. She was about 4 rows back.

For the second night in a row, I was going to see "Borat". I sat in pretty much the same seat as I had the night before with Shanon banana. Again, the theatre filled up as showtime got closer. I think there were even more people at Saturday's show than the one the night before. The movie started and the fun began. I mentioned that during the male-naked-fight on Friday, Shanon had averted his eyes. Well, on Sat, this lady in the row behind me was also uncomfortable seeing two naked male bodies up close, but instead of averting her eyes, she actually covered them. She kept her hands over her eyes for the whole fight and asked her boyfriend to let her know when it was over. When Borat served a former congressman cheese "made from his wife's tit", I saw her shake her head and say, "That's not right." Near the end of the movie, there was a part where they showed a few seconds of the fight again. When that came up, she again covered her eyes.

After the show was over, I waited in the lobby for mom to get out of their show. Mom said it was pretty good. And with that, my 36th birthday celebration was officially over.

Incidentally, "Borat" has been the number one movie in the country for the last two weeks.


Monday, November 13, 2006

They Might Be Giants

Man Describes What He Saw In Washington County Woods

After doing some reading on the subject and watching various specials on the telly, I have to say that I do believe there is such a thing as "Bigfoot". There are just too many sightings for me to dismiss it out of hand. If that's the case, then it's probably better that most people don't believe in it because if they did, they would just go into the woods and kill 'em all. This way, if they do exist, they are, for the most part, left alone.

Birthday Weekend

As I awoke on my birthday, I looked out the window and saw snow. I had expected this (the forecast had said the night before that there was a 90% chance of snow falling on Friday). I got ready for work. There wasn't much snow on the ground yet, so I didn't need to concern myself with shoveling the drive. I let the pup run around in the back for a while and then headed out to work. I drove slowly and cautiously. The roads weren't the greatest, but I easily made it to work. I walked in the offices and someone asked me if I had any problems getting up the hill. There are actually 2 different hills that one can take to our offices. I took the less steep one and didn't have any problems. A couple people couldn't make it all the way up the hill and either got stuck or had to park at the bottom of the hill (one lady got stuck near Bruegger's Bagels, so bought some bagels there and then got a ride to the offices).

It snowed for several hours. I put Christmas music on (through my computer) for all to enjoy. We then heard an alert that travel was not recommended for Olmsted County. Due to the inclement weather, for the first time in months, I was unable to take a walk outside during my breaks. The snow stopped falling at around 2pm.

My mom had planned to come out to Rochester to take me out for my birthday, but said that, due to the weather, she would have to postpone it until the next day (my dad couldn't come because he works evenings). My friend, Shanon, however, said that he could make it. I decided to leave work a little bit early so that I could get home before sunset. Once at home, I shoveled some of the driveway. There were quite a few others outside shoveling as well though most actually had snow blowers as opposed to doing it the old-fashioned way. Shanon arrived and helped me finish the drive.

Me and Shanon then headed to da Outback (we had called ahead for seating). As we entered the restaurant, Shanon said that he misplaced his cell phone. We looked in the car for it, but it was nowhere to be found. He said that it must have fallen out of his pocket either in our house or in the driveway when he was shoveling. We would look for it after supper.

I got the Outbacker burger while Shanon opted for the Cyclone (some type of pasta meal). While waiting for the food to arrive, I read an article in Newsweek magazine about "Borat". Shanon had agreed to go to it with me that evening. I had seen it twice before, once at a MySpace screening in September and then again in Inver Grove Heights just 5 days prior (I had missed the first few minutes of the movie when I went to it in Inver Grove. I had tickets for a later show, but felt that missing the first couple minutes was better than waiting 50 minutes for the next show to start, especially since I had seen those scenes previously anyhow). After eating and opening my presents (I got the Tori Amos piano box set,

some dress socks, the Chicks CD and a card), we headed back home to look for Shanon's precious cell phone.

Just before we got home, I heard Shanon say, "Please Lord, let me find my phone". We went inside. It wasn't in the house. I then took our home phone and called Shanon's cell number. He went outside by the driveway and said he could hear it. He found it. It was lying on a snow mound right next to the street. We then headed to Cinemagic to see "Borat".

As Borat says a couple times in the movie, "Happy Times!!". I had gotten tickets earlier in the day, so me and Shanon headed straight to the ticket taker and waited for "Borat" to start seating. About 10 minutes later, we got our seats and waited for the magic to begin. The theatre gradually started filling up. By showtime, there weren't too many empty seats left. Shanon didn't know too much about the movie. He had only seen a few funny highlights on HBO. He enjoyed it for the most part. However, when the fight between two naked men started, he averted his eyes a bit (he did this for some scenes during "Brokeback" as well). I can't say I blame him, though. I mean, who really wants to stare at a fat man's testes?

After the show, we headed home. I asked Shanon what he thought of the movie. He said that it was quite funny, but that a couple parts were sickening. A few minutes later, Shanon headed out. I watched Bill Maher and then went to bed. My birthday was over, but there was still more fun to be had on Saturday.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Snow Dog


Today is my 111th birthday.

Here are some of the gift ideas I gave to people:

Garth Brooks: The Entertainer (5-DVD set)

Tori Amos - A Piano: The Collection (Box set)

Dixie Chicks - Taking the Long Way (CD)

Adam Sandler - Shhh...Don't Tell (CD)

Long-sleeve button-down shirt

Winter gloves

Black cotton dress socks

4-inch vibrator

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Wednesday, November 08, 2006


I'm going out of town over the holidays this year. It's good to get out of town once in a while. I'm gonna try to go to Steak n Shake.

I love that place.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006


Some of you may be too young to remember, but when I was a child, we bought glass bottles of pop at the grocery store. That's right: glass (they came in packs of 8). Our family usually bought Pepsi. Of course, you had to use a bottle opener to get the things open. And if you couldn't finish the bottle, you had to put a plastic cap on it and put it in the fridge. I always hated it when my mom would ask me to bring the bottles into the grocery store so that we could get a credit for them. Why? Because they were so friggin' heavy (for a small kid, anyway).

I have a picture of my sister, Erin, sitting on a barstool next to a bottle of this stuff:

She was about 2 years old in that pic. I can still remember how the girls' eyes would get real big when drinking pop. They loved that stuff.

Erection Day

I'm not gonna vote today. Unlike most, I have a really good reason. My friend and I are at opposite ends of the ideological spectrum. Therefore, our votes would just cancel each other out. Rather than waste our own time, not to mention the time of the vote-counters, we've elected (pun intended) not to bother.

Ah, I'm just shittin' ya. We're of the same political persuasion. We can be found on the far left (Don't blame me. I'm left-handed). But isn't the above paragraph the perfect excuse to give to someone who asks why you didn't vote today?

Monday, November 06, 2006

Yet Another Autumnal Night at the Movies

I went out with Shanon this past weekend. He drove out from little Lewiston on Saturday afternoon. We stopped at his favorite place to buy DVD's (Pawn America) before going out to eat at Friday's. To avoid a wait, we ate at what's called a "high-top" table in their bar. He ordered something really wacky for an appetizer: Fried Mac & Cheese. Not my bag, but he seemed to enjoy it. We both ordered burgers.

Now, this guy is a huge horror fan. Last fall, he went to "Saw II" while I was tucked away watching Nicolas Cage in "The Weather Man". Just a few weeks ago, he went to the new "Texas Chainsaw" movie while I went to "The Illusionist". I kept bringing up the new "Saw" movie which he hadn't seen yet. We agreed yet again to disagree. He bought a ticket to "Saw III" while I went to a slow-as-molasses drama filmed in Minnesota called, "Sweet Land".

It mostly takes place in the 1920's (around the time my grandma was born). Just as Shanon looked forward to be taken to a place where he can see people be tortured by Jigsaw, so too, did I look forward to be taken back in time a few generations. While watching the movie, I pondered how it really wasn't that long ago that people lived off the land, that the towns by necessity were close-knit, that without TV or the movies, people still found things to do.

After the movie, I met up with Shanon. He said "Saw III" was even better than "II" and that he looked forward to continuing the adventure with "Saw IV" next Halloween.

Though we were in different screening rooms for the past two hours, we both went home happy.

Vince Gill - Concert Review: Part III

Yes, indeed. It was now time for Vince to rock out. He sang quite a few songs from his "Workin' On A Big Chill" (rockin') disc. Like the country portion of the show, there were about 15 musicians playing with Vince during this stretch.

Inspired by the proliferation of erectile dysfuntion ads that ran when he watched sporting events, Vince wrote the song, "Cowboy Up" (he sings it with Gretchen Wilson on the CD). The title character in the song is an African-American woman named Levitra.

It was during one of these rockin' songs that I experienced a feeling of transcendence. The band was totally rockin' and jammin' and a blissful feeling came over me. That's the power of music.

The last song Vince sang in the rockin' set was a jazzed-up version of "What the Cowgirls Do". Vince thanked everyone for coming. The audience stood up and he exited. From browsing the internet, I knew that an encore was coming. The crowd cheered and Vince came back out a couple minutes later. Some people who thought that the show was over or were too tired to stay any longer (the show started at 8 and it was now after 11) began to leave. I took this opportunity to move about 7 rows closer than our original seats. This offered a much better view of the Okie boy.

Vince launched into the title track of his '3 album, "Next Big Thing". Then came "Whenever You Come Around" followed by the barn burner "Liza Jane". I thought "Liza" would be it, but Vince had one more song to play from his new album(s) and it is a doozy. Check out these lyrics:

You read the business page
See how you did today
You live up on the hill
You've got a view that kills
Never wonder why

After you've counted everything you saved
Do you ever hit your knees and pray?
You know there's gonna be a judgment day
So what will you say?

(Chorus) No matter what you make
All that you can take
Is what you give away
What you give away

There's people on the street
Ain't got enough to eat
You just shake your head
The measure of a man is one who lends a hand
That's what my father said

No matter what you make
All that you can take
Is what you give away

You know it's not too late
It's all for Heaven's sake
What you give away

With the backup singers hitting all the right notes, the song became a spiritual hymn and we were all united knowing, without question, that helping one's fellow man was, indeed, the answer. A fantastic finish for a fantastic show. The crowd gave one more standing-o as Vince and the band exited for the last time.

I waited for the auditorium to empty before leaving. I walked to my car and headed out. I noticed a couple dozen people standing outside by Vince's bus. They apparently were waiting for a meet-and-greet with the sexy boy. It was late, so I passed on waiting as well. I had read that Vince's concert would go over 3, 3 and a half hours and, indeed, it did. I left St. Paul stopping only in Cannon Falls to get gas.

I arrived home, exhausted, but happy. My 4th Vince Gill concert was my favorite of his yet and if he came back with the exact same show next year, I would buy tickets in a heartbeat.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Holy Shit!

From hollywood-elsewhere:

As indicated by the sudden rise in tracking over the last 10 days, Borat's opening day was an explosion... it's a monster. The weekend's #1 film is expected to do $22,486,000 by Sunday night -- a mere 837 theatres, 26,000 per print.

Fox had cut back on theatres a couple of weeks ago because of weak tracking and exhibitor concern about same, but then the numbers started to shooot up more and more starting about a week and a half ago.

Obviously Fox will be expanding the shit out of this puppy next weekend. They've obviously got a major hit on their hands.

Opening in 3458 theatres (more than four times the # of theatres Borat is playing in), The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause (Disney) should have made $30 million but it will wind up with about $18,792,000. The #2 film will come in with about 5700 a print...a definite disappointment. This once-lucrative Tim Allen franchise seems to be kaput.

Friday, November 03, 2006


Check out the poster for a forthcoming documentary called "Fuck":

Here's an overview of what the film is about courtesy of

A definitive look at the infamous expletive, "F*ck" explores how this oft-used word, still widely seen as obscene, somehow permeates every aspect of our culture - from Hollywood to the schoolyard to the Senate floor in Washington D.C., where it is at the very center of the ongoing debate on Free Speech. "F*ck" examines the word's impact through various interviews, film and television clips, and original animation by Oscar-nominee Bill Plympton.

Scholars and linguists examine its long and colorful history; comedians, actors, and writers who have charted and popularized the word defend their Constitutional right to use it. Even people who do "it" for a living are interviewed, all in an effort to discover what it is about this one syllable that both unites and polarizes people.


I like you! I like sex! Today is the day that "Borat" opens nationwide. It is being released in about 800 theatres today and is set to open wider in a week or two. It seems like forever since I saw the sneak preview of it in Edina on September 20th of this year. As you can see, the reviews are fantastic:

86 reviews of the movie with 82 being positive. That pretty much says it all.

It's not opening in Rochester until at least next week, so I plan to drive 70 miles tomorrow and see it in Inver Grove Heights (a suburb of the Twin Cities). The last time I was at that theatre was in the summer of 1999 when I saw "The Blair Witch Project" (another movie that opened on a limited basis to start out with). I plan to go to a early afternoon show. It's showing on 2 screens there. If I'm really pumped, I may see it 2 times in a row (something I don't believe I've ever done with the same movie). I would go up with my friend, Shanon, but he has to work tomorrow until 2pm. I'll probably see it with him when it comes to Rochester.

Wish me luck tomorrow. Jagshamesh!

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Vince Gill - Concert Review: Part II

During the intermission, I went to go to the bathroom. Whoever designed the O'Shaughnessy auditorium didn't have a frickin' clue. The only bathrooms in the building were in the bowels (how appropriate) of it. There was a heck of a line of guys waiting to get into the bathroom. I wasn't gonna wait, so went outside already know what's comin', doncha?

No, I actually headed for the college's main commons building. Luckily, it was still open. I entered and searched for a restroom. I passed the college's bookstore which was closed. It quickly brought to mind the days when I would go to Winona State's bookstore and pay well over a hundred dollars for the books I would need to buy for that quarter (They didn't start semesters at WSU until after I left). There was a guy studying in one of the lounges. I finally found the men's room. Afterward, I headed back to the auditorium.

As I headed to my seat, an announcement was made that the show would be resuming in 5 minutes. I knew that the next segment of the concert was gonna be "grass". I like grass.

Vince came out by himself and told several amusing stories about his late father. How his dad's favorite outfit to wear was a cap and overalls with no shirt. How he smoked several packs of cigarettes a day. We're talkin' a real redneck here. He mentioned how as a 15-year old, he was praying that his mom would teach him how to drive since his dad had such a short fuse. However, his dad came home one day and told him to get in the truck. After a few minutes on the quieter streets, his dad told him to pull out onto the busiest street in town. Vince was shaking (this was his first time driving, after all). His dad yells at him to go. So he pulls out in front of a GTO whose driver swerves to miss them and then flips them off. His dad then says, (and you're not gonna believe Vince said this, but he was simply repeating what his dad had said) "Follow that son of a bitch!" They did catch up to GTO boy. With both cars now stopped, the guy in the GTO comes out of his car with a tire iron. His dad asks, "Are you gonna use that tire iron in this fight?" GTO boy says, "Yes" and then Vince's dad said, "Then this fight is over." He must've talked about his old man for a good 10 minutes. Everyone was enraptured. His dad passed about 8 years ago and Vince wrote a song for him called "The Key to Life". He then sang it for all to enjoy (I remember seeing him perform it on the CMA's many years ago and breaking up near the end of it).

After that, a few of his band members (banjo player, fiddle player, etc.) came out to play selections from his acoustic (bluegrass) album. Vince sang about a lady named "Molly Brown" and about how he's "All Prayed Up". He also sang a song that he wrote for Amy called "Sweet Augusta Darlin". He said she loves that song. All enjoyable stuff, but I was looking forward to the last segment. Vince introduced it by saying in a British accent, "Now it's time for the Rockin' portion of our show".


Though the days are getting colder, I still like taking walks outside while at work. I would typically wear my winter coat, cap, and gloves. However, I bought a new winter jacket a couple months ago. Its colors are orange and gray. My gloves, on the other hand, are blue and black. What I mean by that is that one is blue and the other is black (I can't find the matches for either). Not wanting to look like a dork when my coworkers drive by, I've elected to leave my gloves in the car and just walk with the sleeves of my jacket covering my hands. I have to say that my hands actually stay warmer under my jacket than they do when wearing gloves (The fact that gloves separate each finger probably has a lot to do with this). If it's really cold out, then once I get a few blocks away from work (where none of my colleagues will see me), I put the stocking cap over my face in true ski-mask fashion.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Vince Gill - Concert Review

Last Friday in the late afternoon, I headed up north to St. Paul to see Vince Gill live in concert. On the way up, I listened to 90's dance music and was in a good mood. The sun began to set as I approached the Twin Cities. Vince was playing at the College of Saint Catherine's in the capital city.

It was a typical fall evening as I drove through the streets of the 2nd biggest city in Minnesota (the wind was blowing leaves across the road, the temperature was in the 40's). I found the venue and parked my car. It was just under an hour from showtime. There were quite a few people as I walked to the O'Shaugnessy, mostly people in their 40s and 50s though there were some younger folks, even some pre-pubescent ones.

Entering the building, there was a dude selling Gill T-shirts and keychains and such. T-shirts were $25. Needless to say, I passed on those (Who's gonna wear a T-shirt this time of year, anyway?) I had actually printed our tickets out at home which was pretty cool. I headed for the balcony to find my seat. My seat was about 9 rows up into the balcony, on the aisle. Quite a few people at the show were wearing cowboy boots. This is common for country shows. The place started filling up. Shortly before showtime, I headed downstairs to hit the head and get some water. There was an announcement at 7:55pm that the show would be starting in 5 minutes and, indeed, the show did begin at 8. It would compose of 4 distinct segments corresponding to the 4 CD box set he had released a little over a week prior.

Mr. Gill came out to much applause. The seats were pretty decent, but I had brought binoculars as well. Thanks to them, I was able to see everything on stage up close. The first song he sang was "One More Last Chance". There were about 15 people on stage (VG, 2 backup singers, 3 guitar players, pedal steel boy, a horn section, piano player, keyboard player, drums, and even someone on the bongos! Take that, Matt McConaughey!) Next was "Don't Let Our Love Start Slipppin' Away". The horn section really jazzed these familiar songs up. The place was almost completely full except for a few rows in the upper nosebleed section of the balcony.

After the first few songs, Vince launched into some of the new stuff from his Country & Western record (He noted that he hates to say that he has a new CD out. He prefers to call them records). Before each song, he would usually tell a little story about how a particular song came to be. He did an impression of John Anderson whom he had done a duet with on the song, "Take This Country Back".

After about 45 minutes of traditional country, the big guy moved on the next part of his show, ballads from his Groovy record. In this portion, he performed his new single, "The Reason Why" as well as a real jazzy number that he had recorded with Diana Krall called, "Faint of Heart". He said he wrote the track, "These Days" for his wife, Amy Grant. He made many references to Amy throughout the show. The crowd seemed to enjoy this. He said Amy is basically the kindest person he has ever known.

He also mentioned their five-year old daughter, Corinna (Vince performed a song written for her, "Sweet Little Corinna"). At about 9:30, Vince said that he would be back to perform some more after an intermission.