Pool Sharkin' With The Stray Cats

When I was in high school, my friends and I used to play pool in my basement. We listened to music and imagined ourselves out of that tiny town, although I do not think any of us had the audacity to picture ourselves as pool sharks, hustling townies for their paychecks. More or less, we imagined ourselves fully grown and living a life that did not include lockers and gym class.
The Stray Cats' Built For Speed was one of my favorite albums at the time. I played it countless times during our pool sessions. I vividly remember Brian Setzer's cool vocals rising above the sound of breaks, miscues, and arguments over the kitchen and the granny stick.

When I hear the hits, "Rock This Town" and "Stray Cat Strut" on classic rock radio, I always picture that damp basement and group of guys; most of us still hang out from time to time, but I think I'm the only one that regularly spins the Stray Cats. However, my favorite tracks from that album, which were on CD r…

Life in the Stacks, or Why I Love Working at the Library.

I missed working at the library the last several years, so I plan on working here more this semester. I am still waiting to get my office on campus, so I am sequestered in the library, importing my classes into Canvas and revising my syllabi. Hopefully, I will be doing most of this in my office in the future because I am excited about doing research at the library again.
The library is always quiet, and I love hunkering down between books, and working. The musty smell of the books, old wooden tables, brick walls, are like home to me. I have been working in school libraries for years, and I never get sick of it. However, sometimes I get too comfortable and dose off between the stacks.

Slick Threads: Phantom, Rocker, and Slick.

While digging through my record collection, I found this gem, "Men Without Shame" b/w "Time is on Our Hands" -- a rock and roll record featuring Jim Phantom and Lee Rocker of the Stray Cats. Dig those threads.
This 45 is the first single from their self-titled first album recorded on hiatus from their more famous band. With the addition of co-founding guitarist, Earl Slick, the band created hard rocking music that exchanged the rockabilly of their former project for an 80s rock approach that include everything from ballads to mainstream rockers. While Brian Setzer was refashioning himself as a heartland rock inspired solo artist, Phantom and Slick opted for rocking out.
"Men Without Shame" is a 6 1/2 minute song that never outwears its welcome with Slick's impressive guitar chops front and center. The solo alone separates the song from the group's former projects. Slick's session work holds him in good stead as drummer Phantom and bassist …

Moving to Arkansas

"One’s destination is never a place, but rather a new way of looking at things." --Henry Miller. Big Sur and the Oranges of Hieronymus Bosch (1957).

"I'll never know, and neither will you, of the life you don't choose. We'll only know that whatever that sister life was, it was important and beautiful and not ours. It was the ghost ship that didn't carry us. There's nothing to do but salute it from the shore." -- Cheryl Strayed. Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Life and Love from Dear Sugar (2012).
We just moved to Arkansas so I could start my new teaching job, loading our belongings into a car and a 26-foot truck, trying against all odds to get rid of junk to make the move easier. While I did get rid of books and other nonessential items, the truck was packed (to the gills as the expression goes). I know, first world problems, right? There was barely room for anything else, and when we arrived in Arkansas there were a few damaged items. I hop…

Telling the Same Old Story

There are days when I feel like I have told the same story to numerous people multiple times because I cannot stop dwelling on it. I have always struggled with letting things go. People tell me that I am too sensitive and that I just need to let things go. I battle with trying to forget the small injustices from twenty years ago, blaming others for being mean to me when they barely remember doing it. I think I tell stories to try to reorder my life and take control of situations that I cannot control.

Of course, my inability to stop dwelling does not account for how I start forgetting minor details and adding others after years of telling stories. We all do this because memory is fallible and people like to entertain. The process of understanding what has happened to us throughout the years is hard to comprehend and understand, especially for those of us who have difficulty not dwelling on every detail. We blame others for the minor bumps in the road and we blame ourselves for imagin…


Califone's Stitches fulfills their role as the ultimate purveyors of slow, experimental indie pop songs that flirt with elements of incidental music and soundtrack collage. They seamlessly blend the elements of postrock and70s singer/songwriter conventions, while developing a soundtrack that approximates the weirdest movie-fan dream.
From the very first track, “Movie Music Kills a Kiss,” they navigate this landscape, creating music that pushes this aesthetic into overdrive. Tim Rutili sings “Karen Black forgets the words / Like Memphis when the rapture breaks,” painting a seamless merging of story and song in which their acoustic harmonics and dissonant noises create a perfect backdrop for the gentle lyrics. The title track begins with a smattering of electronics before new wave vocals creep in. The sweet intermingling ofvoice and the backup vocals seems disembodied from the music until he sings “the Chinese opera shows the stitches.” Califone's lyrics resemble a mashup of la…

The Pull of the Elk II: Ten Records, Give or Take, and a Bottle of Jezynowka

It is time for another trip to the cabin to still my quaking nerves and temper
the shift of my lofty or scattered ambitions. I am stressed by the upcoming move
and the shifting of time that makes me older but not wiser as I battle my apprehension
and dismiss the fact that I actually graduated with a PhD no less, but I can never appreciate
my good luck or all the hard work that went into finishing the dissertation, many of it at the cabin.
I pack a small number of records; we changed the rules this year, only ten,
but both Donny and I are bringing more surreptitiously, unbeknownst
to all except each other. We knew we each would and discussed it
more than usual, sifting our collections for the unknown, we
grabbed albums to introduce to each other like new friends.
After last year's AC/DC debacle, where he tried to play the discography and was shut
down, the decision was made (by who?), in passive voice resistance, to bring albums that
were near and dear to us and no one else;  this …