Friday, June 30, 2006


The undistinguished glass doors at the Blanton were sticky with fingerprints and palmprints. The numerous staff members hovering around (although in a friendly way always) should be able to wield a bottle of Windex or Glass Plus throughout the day, without waiting for the (no doubt night-time and contract) cleaning people to come through. At eating places (e.g., Maudie's), people with a second to spare are always tidying up. Those smears and smudges were really ugly.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Speedway vanished

The Blanton has closed off Speedway in front of the Education building and farther along. The Education building is a very handsome one and was designed to be seen from a certain distance and with that lawn in front of it. The lawn was a favorite place of resort for lots of people. It's very peculiar that the Blanton main building is so bland. I wonder what professionals think of its usefulness as a gallery space. That lounge space on the second floor is very pleasant, and I truly do love the Battle plaster casts, which are displayed to very good advantage. As a kid I was most familiar with the greater part of the subjects from steel engravings, not even from black-and-white photographs let alone colored ones. Because casts of the entire Parthenon processional reliefs ran along as a frieze on all four walls of a school I attended, I recognized some of the casts right away. Plaster's not at all like marble or cast bronze, but the scale and detail are very interesting.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

One of the worst

"A Prayer on Your Lips" is a dismal song, one of those maudlin, pseudo-patriotic numbers that includes a dying soldier and, of course, a letter to his mama. This is by Lefty Frizzell on Columbia LE 10113, Puttin' On, which is really a specialty reissue of Columbia CS-9572. The album includes plenty of good stuff, but the lyrics of this dog always cry out for substitutes ("a spoon in the dish is like haircuts in the brain," or whatever). This includes good versions of Little Old Wine Drinker and Almost Persuaded. A favorite is You Don't Have to be Present to Win. A Prayer on Your Lips (is Like Freedom in Your Hand) was among those collected in a huge compendium (disc 8, track 199). Somebody must like it.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Why the omission?

I've read several articles following the death of Arif Mardin. They all mention Dusty, Aretha, and many others whose careers he furthered. Where is mention of Isaac Hayes? Or is my memory rotted all to hell?

Monday, June 26, 2006

Stage magic

H.M.S. Pinafore represents all that's best about collaborative enterprises and exemplifies how slender means pose no hindrance to enchanting results and the greater happiness of all those fortunate enough to attend a performance. The tunes stick in the head, of course. Other such magic was experienced at the Paramount when the Houston Grand Opera sent out student or young-performer touring companies (especially that Rigoletto with the rickety flats for scenery and the beautiful singing). Also never to be forgotten are the Rossini and Mozart productions at the Paramount under the baton of Walter Ducloux, especially the Cenerentola transformation scene by the light of sparklers. There was magic at the Coliseum under Joe McClain with scant resources. I'll never forget opera at the Capitol City Playhouse, where we sat on bleachers and all was accompanied by one or two pianos. I want the Pinafore customer to work for me exclusively! The military-style jackets were so beautifully and becomingly cut and so were the ladies' garments.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Who is that mysterious promoter?

I'd love to know the story behind the story. We're getting new Bollywood movie releases within their first week right here in Austin. It's very convenient that the screenings are at Tinseltown South and that there's more than one showing of any given movie. When there were midnight shows of Hong Kong releases on Riverside, there'd be just one screening. The shows always sold out, so if you weren't at the head of the line, the odds were good you'd be turned away. I could have done without the Tarzan-like origin portions of the simple Krrish, but others disagree. This movie was lots of fun, and the use of martial-arts elements added to the pleasure. The baseball bats, fire extinguisher, and elimination of the alter-Krrish could have been done without. That circus sequence was something, though!

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Out of tune

Johnny Cash has received plenty of radio play lately. He favored about three chords. I've always liked his voice, but he certainly did have trouble with intonation. He had difficulty staying on pitch more often than not. Others with the problem that come immediately to mind are Ernest Tubb, Leonard Cohen, and Kris Kristofferson. Cohen and Kristofferson will not be immortal for their performances, but for some of their compositions. Ernest Tubb had one of the greatest bands ever throughout his career and a sly way of phrasing. I can't think of any female artists with successful careers despite such a defect, although certain Cher always just flirted with being flat.

Friday, June 23, 2006

All my tomorrows

This Nat Stuckey album from 1967 is a cut-out bought somewhere as part of a two-for-a-dollar bargain (really one at $1.99 and another for a penny). This is Paula LPS-2196, from Shreveport. With his musicianship and pleasant baritone voice, he should have had a better career. I like the Eldon Fault song, "He thinks she's an angel, but I knew her when." Somebody should cover this snappy and funny song (or at least add it to their live playlist), a good two-step for, say, Alvin Crow. Nat Stuckey was from Cass County, Texas.

Thursday, June 22, 2006


The Incomparable Charley Pride has been reissued on CD. This is a short album, containing nothing remarkable except the ever-pleasing Charley Pride manner and voice. Was It All Worth Losing You is probably the best, although This Highway Leads to Glory and Time Out for Jesus are fine examples of their type. Anywhere (Just Inside Your Arms) has its points. This is Camden CAS-2584.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006


When I heard the call, I finally looked up at the right time to see what it was. It had never sounded exactly like a seagull (and we do have those around here and sometimes they get away from the water a bit). I could see the bird just as plain as could be soaring upward in a spiral, flapping its wings just a time or two, lazily. It was obviously a hawk, obviously a buteo, and easily identified from the books as a red-tailed hawk. I think it was a male. We've been seeing more and larger armadillos around here, the latest dead in the street. It took two days for a turkey vulture to find it.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Eating the trainees

We've been training the cucumber plants that came from the free bonus seeds to grow upward and over the tomato towers in their pots. They are highly ornamental. It's not just the flowers that are pretty, clear yellow with a greenish tint; it's the leaves as well, which are large and bordered all around with a lighter color. The fruits are quite round and quite yellow and quite tasty.

Monday, June 19, 2006


The July Harper's Magazine (not on line yet) contains an article on this subject called "Breaking the Chain: The Antitrust Case Against Wal-Mart" (Barry C. Lynn). I said "A&P" and K. responded "Robinson-Patman" and announced plans to read this article also. In this same issue is part one of a novel called Happyland (J. Robert Lennon). I wasn't going to read it, but got sucked in. It's obviously based on The Pleasant Company, American Girl dolls, Wells College, Pleasant Rowland, and Aurora. The Atlantic, speaking of magazines of small circulation, has been cribbed from extensively following recent events in Iraq, with many shameless and unacknowledged borrowings from this article by Mary Anne Weaver, which was extremely current at just about the very time that it hit the newsstands. Practices in Bentonville are so monopsonistic that vendors actually set up permanent branch offices there.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

True customer service

I love P22. Something about the funky dial-up connection registered two "submit" commands. Before I could even get in touch to ask about whether two orders had indeed been sent when only one was intended, there was e-mail about that very issue. The work of this type foundry is very much in evidence right now, and its Gauguin and Cezanne faces are ubiquitous in display ads right now.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Tough call

With the electrical activity right up until the last minute, it was no doubt wise to call off the parade. We had a good time anyhow, walking around and talking with people, but we're sure glad that we did take the time and spend it yesterday on seeing marching on Congress, even though the spirit's always stronger on the East Side. We meant to stop by City Market and continue the great Tuffy quest, but got sidetracked by a conversation with somebody we met by chance as we were on our return from our standard post by the Fresh Up Club.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Covering the ground

We walked from Red River to Franklin Plaza to the middle of the bridge back to Franklin and then kept the pace of the bands up to Tenth Street then went to Sixth Street and ate and then went back down the Avenue and over East to the car. All but the starched little kids from daycare centers marched up toward the Capitol to the music. I love Austin on a parade day.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Picking up the habit again

We've made it our business to get back to seeing at least one movie a week. It was easy to go on a Sunday afternoon as a prepare-for-the-week-to-come activity back when the Union had its wonderful program. Then, the dollar movies served the same purpose. After they went, it just didn't seem so easy. But now we're watching out for the Bollywood specials and are back to trying to guess which movies of any kind that's tempting will stay on the screens for more than one week.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006


The ground is beginning to give off heat; nevertheless, among what's growing and blooming there are the following non-potted flowers: bachelor buttons, California poppies. delphiniums, the usual zinnias (pink, as always), yellow cosmos, and tithonia (called Mexican sunflowers by many). Without any assistance, we have wild sunflowers of various sorts, blue dayflowers (spiderworts), and ruellia.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Note to self

Borrego de Oro has been at Lim Ting's old spot for a long time now. For a long time, we've been planning to check it out, but we haven't. For a long time the moon-gate red door remained from the old days. Recently that went. Now there's something hand-painted there. That place is always so busy that a view of the door is always blocked at least partially by vehicles. We could finally see what is depicted: a lamb atop a nopal with a snake in its mouth. I really want a picture of this!

Monday, June 12, 2006

A random walk

We've been playing old albums just as encountered, at least ones that aren't packed away in cartons. They were never properly rearranged last time around, so sometimes we're pulling out a plum and sometimes not. One of the albums I'm hoping to find is Taj Mahal doing the Fishin' Blues, just because it's a happy song. The old tube stereo setup is working very well right now for some reason, with excellent sound reproduction. When it's so hot, this is a good way to drown out the horrible noise of neighbors' air-conditioning units and yard equipment, not to mention helicopters, dump trucks, construction workers getting in that last bit before the sun really goes down, and all the rest of the noxious ambient noise. I've never appreciated the codger element of Taylor's voice and don't love every song on SKAO 3352, but each is beautifully produced and worth hearing. This is James Taylor's first effort, on Apple, produced by Peter Asher, and his musicianship is impeccable. Asher and McCartney sit in on some of this. I'll always love Carolina in My Mind. Others select Rainy Day Man as the favorite.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Harmony KH-32477

This 1973 Columbia budget album, called "You're Gonna Need a Man," does Johnny Duncan no favors. His wonderful voice is wasted on bad repertory and smothered in Countrypolitan choruses. Let Me Go (Set Me Free) is the only halfway decent track. This native Texan recorded much better songs than any of these.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Running jumping standing still

This is a good-humored but very self-indulgent item. Nevertheless, it has received a lot of play over the years. Surprisingly, it has been reissued in CD form. Neither Spider John Koerner nor Willie Murphy can boast a conventionally decent voice, but personality wins out, despite wasted time vamping on Red Palace and elsewhere. Red Palace, in particular, has stayed on the mental jukebox. The non-vocal aspects of this feature Murphy's sometimes Erroll-Garner-like piano with a little Joy of Cooking thrown in. At other times, the breaks sound very West Coast of the era, as they have a right to. This is Elektra EKS 74041, from 1967. I didn't pay for this. Koerner's still out there throwing his personality around. I assume that these are still worth a cover charge. The title song generates happy thoughts, just as RJSS does, still. Koerner himself describes this album as "a blend of jug band, psychedelic R&B and folk-blues."

Friday, June 09, 2006

Sticky fingers missed sticky fingers

And the zipper still works on COC 59100. The inner sleeve with the tongue and the track list is not in good shape, though. But the record itself is.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Sun 107

This is Jerry Lee again, Rockin' Rhythm & Blues. I'd like to know who the saxophonist is. He does have a mean touch on the blues, surprisingly. This album's tracks are one through eleven on a CD reissue coupled with Golden Cream of the Country. My favorite on this album is Hello Josephine, with an uncredited organist and guitarist. This is a different, but great, take on the Antoine (Fats) Domino - Dave Bartholomew classic.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

You ain't going nowhere

This is the lead song on Sweetheart of the Rodeo. It's astonishing that nobody's stolen this over the years, that it hasn't gone the way of so many others. But CS 9670 is still with us and still sounds just fine, and not "too" blue-grassy. John Hartford's banjo is very much in evidence here. Nothing's over-produced. I wonder whether the "Earl P. Ball" is our own Earl Pool Ball.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Woodsmoke and oranges

Besides being one of the greatest olfactory combinations, assuming that the woodsmoke is the century-old kind that has permeated everything, this is also the title of Paul Siebel's EKS-74064. Elektra really laid on the sidemen for this one, including David Bromberg and Weldon Myrick. What became of him? I sure do hope he gets some songwriter's royalties, as he certainly should. Ballad of Honest Sam ("Lay Your Cards on the Table") and especially Nashville Again ("It's a long way to Nashville but I've seen that road before; Here's hopin' that she knows me when I stand outside her door; but some wind came up this evening, all the stars have gone away; And there'll be a storm before the dawn, but I can't turn back no more"). Though he doesn't have my favorite type of voice, he's a pure and expressive singer. Some of these have a snappy two-step tempo (e.g., Any Day Woman, which should also be covered by somebody: "If you don't love her, you'd better let her go").

Monday, June 05, 2006

The country way

This Charley Pride album from 1967 (RCA Victor LSP-3895) has some of the greatest, and we're lucky to hear them quite often on KVET's Saturday-morning oldies show, especially Crystal Chandeliers and Does My Ring Hurt Your Finger (When You Go Out at Night). His version of Life Turned Her That Way ("I hate to admit it but that last footprint's mine") is a fine one. RCA was really giving him some good stuff, along with a Chet Atkins production. I really hate Little Folks, but it's possible to laugh at Mama, When I'm Gone Don't Cry for Me (and that one lends itself well to variant substitute lyrics for almost any occasion).

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Sun 103

This album is called Jerry Lee Lewis: Original Golden Hits - Volume 2. It's short but there's not a dog on it. I love this line from Fools Like Me: "It doesn't really matter what you are; it only matters what you are to me." These tracks are a crazy mix of country songs with the Jerry Lee touch plus jitterbug toe-tappers. There's also a Vegas-ized version of Money. Here's the track list from this 1969 compilation: Fools Like Me, Breakup, Money (That's All I Want), I'll Make It All Up To You, Mean Woman Blues, High School Confidential, How's My Ex Treating You, I'll Sail My Ship Alone, I Could Never Be Ashamed Of You, Save The Last Dance For Me. Besides Fools Like Me and of course High School Confidential, other favorites are How's My Ex Treating You, I'll Sail My Ship Alone, and I Could Never Be A-Shamed of You. In I Could Never Be Ashamed of You, Jerry Lee says pre-haps. This album, along with volume 1, has been reissued on CD (sound samples are here). It's funny to hear What'd I Say with a non-electric piano and without the Raelettes. I know I have volume 1 somewhere.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Zappa spin

On the turntable is Cruising with Ruben and the Jets, Verve V6 5055-X. "IS THIS THE MOTHERS OF INVENTION RECORDING UNDER A DIFFERENT NAME IN A LAST DITCH ATTEMPT TO GET THEIR CRUDDY MUSIC ON THE RADIO?" That's what's in the bubble on the cover. Silly parody this may be, and rife with triplets and all the other sorts of period references that are to be expected, but I still love Deseri, Fountain of Love, No, No, No, and Anyway the Wind Blows. Side two has much more wear than side one. A 1984 remix has been reissued. Wikipedia says that this is from 1968.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Good humor

This quality doesn't always spell success. We very much enjoyed catching Shanghai Knights (a chunk, anyhow) on network television this week. This, along with Shanghai Noon, The Rocketeer, Three Amigos, and plenty of others that are easy to think of, did not do especially well in theatrical release, yet every one remains a pleasure to see again in any form, although they reveal their clever details best on the large screen.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Bottom of the barrel

You'll Never Get Rich (1941), entertaining but very slight, contains low forms of comedy, plus high-quality dancing, courtesy of Fred and Rita. Cole Porter dug deep for these songs, not one of which has become a standard. The most delirious number features Boogie-Woogie service brides and a three-tiered tank prop. Among uncredited musicians are Martha Tilton and Chico Hamilton.