The Coming Epidemic

Make no mistake. An epidemic is coming. And it's going to be ugly. People dropping like flies. I'm one of the early victims, but there will be millions more.

I was working diligently in the office and I got the itch. No, not THAT itch. The one that makes you sit at your desk and stare longingly out the window daydreaming about the breeze on your face, the smell of cut hay, and the crack of the bat. I’m talking about spring fever. And I got it bad this morning.

I’m notorious around the office for giving in to spring fever. The last day of February is a little earlier than I usually get it, but how’s a guy supposed to resist when it’s in the mid-60’s out? This early outbreak does not bode well at all for my balance of vacation days. Neither does dating a teacher. Metro schools don’t have their spring break for a few weeks yet but she’s already started seducing me away from work that week.

Have no fears imaginary readers. This outbreak wasn’t too bad. It was cured, or at least sated, by taking the afternoon off and visiting the jewel of Davidson County. I’m talking about Radnor Lake, my favorite local park. A jaunt along the South Cove Trail wore me out and exposed how out of shape I’ve become over the winter. Well, in the interest of honesty I’ll rephrase that. I wasn’t in that great of shape before this winter. The trail just proved how much further from I was from ‘shape’ than last August. It’s not really the ideal way to go, but most everyone is less active in the winter. So I’m using all y’all to justify my laziness. Take that, imaginary readers.

The park wasn’t as great as it will be in a couple of months, but it was still a fun and relaxing time. Great to recharge the batteries after a couple of nasty weeks in the office.


I'm It

Well, today's a milestone. I got tagged for the first time. I'm not so sure about these things because it's really just a 21st century chain letter, but in the interests of letting all you readers learn more about me....

Remove the blog in the top spot from the following list and bump everyone up one place. Then add your blog to the bottom slot. (1) (insert name here) (2) Hits from 'da Blog (3) Rex L. (4) Aunt B (5) W. I'm not tagging anyone new because they don't read me so they'd never know I tagged them.

What were you doing 10 years ago? Stacking wood in a furniture factory. I was the new guy they hired from the temp place so I got the dullest job in the plant. And worked with the dullest guys in the place. I only lasted a week. The whole thing was very demoralizing because I had just graduated from college and was having the hardest time finding work. After that week in the factory I decided to become a substitute teacher. It was way more rewarding because I got to give my brother's friends detention.

What were you doing 1 year ago? Recovering from the flu. That was the nastiest I've felt in a long time. Like a week long hangover, but without the nice buzz to look back on fondly. Coincidentally it was also the first time in 10 years I didn't have a flu shot. I was first in line this year.

Five snacks you enjoy: pizza rolls, peanut butter, raisins, Snickers, and bannannas.

Five songs to which you know all the lyrics: I'm really bad at remembering song lyrics, or even really listening to them. I just hear the music and don't pay much attention to the lyrics. The only ones that come to mind are: The Pussycat Song, Margaritaville, Violent Love, I'm In Heaven, and various Christmas ditties.

Five things you would do if you were a millionaire: Pay off the mortgage, buy a better car, throw a huge party, acquire the whole Star Trek DVD collection, and expand my library

Five bad habits: Just about all of my bad habits are attributable to lazyness. I'm not even going to bother to expand on that.

Five things you like doing: Swing dancing, reading, exploring new places, spending money, being the boss.

Five things you would never wear again: I got nothin' here beyond my old hiking boots. And my dam t-shirt. (The dam t-shirt was great. Our student chapter of the American Society of Civil Engineers made them. They had a beaver on front and he was saying 'It's just one dam project after another.' I think it just made us all feel a little rebellious.)

Five favorite toys: Ipod, GameCube, cell phone, baseball bat, and my rubber duck.


The Dark Side of The Job

Yesterday’s post was about the greatest reward of my job. Today’s is about the exact opposite. The dark side. I'm not talking about the usual gripes. Small cubicle, low pay, etc... Not to sound egomaniacal, but I love to quote Spiderman…..

With great power comes great responsibility. – Uncle Ben

Like I said, it’s a great kick to see one of my bridges built, and people driving across it. In the back of my mind I’m always wondering what would happen if I screwed up somewhere. I imagine it’s a lot like being a doctor. People can die if I make a big enough mistake. But fortunately, I have a lot more time to get it right, and a lot of people to look at it after I’m done to make sure I did it right.

There aren’t a lot of engineering failures, but when they do happen they’re pretty spectacular. Even the small ones get pretty ugly. I don’t remember the exact figure, but something on the order of 75% of all bridge failures are in the aspect of the design I have responsibility for. It’s enough to mess with my head every now and then.
I didn’t have this worry when I was fresh faced and naïve right out of school. Then I got a project in west Tennessee. This particular bridge had collapsed in the late 1980’s and killed several people. There was a major investigation and then the bridge was rebuilt with the problem supposedly solved. Ten years later it turned out they didn’t quite solve the problem, they just delayed it and moved it farther way. Oh yeah, and in the process made it a lot more complicated. So who gets the nod to fix it? Yeah, this is where I come into the story. I fixed it as best I could and in the process was reminded of the responsibilities inherent in that kind of job. It was a very sobering experience, but it did wonders for my reputation in the profession since the original failure was very well known.

In case you are wondering…….. I’m very happy to report that the bridge is still there and in fine shape. The fix seems to be working more or less as intended. But there are a few other projects that sometimes make me cringe.


The Good Part of The Job

Back when I was in college I used to get burnt out from time to time. A good drinking spree usually took care of it. But sometimes I just lost the motivation to stay up all night studying for my Statics final. Whenever that happened I used to go out to a large TVA project nearby. It’s a huge hydroelectric dam with a bridge built over it (since then they’ve also got one of the nuclear reactors working). I’d go out to the overlook and just sit for awhile. Contemplating the idea of being part of building something like that always helped motivate me (and the lousy night job didn’t hurt either).

That was ten years ago, and I still have to do that for motivation from time to time. The big difference is, now I can look to my own projects for motivation. There’s nothing like seeing something go from my head to paper to concrete and steel. Seeing someone write a multimillion dollar check to build something I designed is a huge kick too.

Everyone likes to think their life will make a difference in some way, and it means a lot to me that I can already say I have made a difference. I’m certainly not pompous enough to think none of it would have been done without me, there’s always someone else willing to do it. But the point is, I did it. So now I can drive on my very own bridges along with thousands of other people.

And if you didn’t already think I’m a pompous ass, here’s more proof for you. I like to name my bridges after people I know. I call the very first one I did “W’s Bridge”, and a few others are named after select friends and family (and one old girlfriend who received the dubious honor because she was as hard to deal with as that project was). You’ll never see signs on the side of the road with the names I gave the bridges on them, that’s up to the politicians. But I still think of them as mine and it’s my prerogative to call them what I want.


What do I do for a living?

Telling people you’re an engineer doesn’t really give much away. It’s an enormously broad description. Me, I’m a civil engineer. That still doesn’t mean a lot to some people, so I usually just take the easy way out and tell them I design bridges. It also helps me escape the bad jokes about driving trains or being rude. (Civil, rude…. Get it? Not funny is it?)

Civil engineering is the oldest of engineering fields. It used to be the only one. All the other major fields grew out of specialty areas as technology progressed. The simplest way to describe it is that civil engineers build civil works. The basic infrastructure that we all use. I think the terminology came about because early engineering works were all for the government. What I’m talking about here are roads, bridges, water distribution, airports, railroads, etc…

In a lot of ways, political entities are defined or at least made famous by their engineering works. The concept starts with entire civilizations. Ancient Egypt had the pyramids and irrigation works on the Nile floodplain. The Romans had the aquaducts, roads, and huge buildings. It works its way down to smaller entities like cities. One of the first things that comes to mind when you think of San Fransisco is the Golden Gate Bridge. One of Nashville’s bigger projects of recent memory is the Gateway Bridge over the Cumberland River downtown. That thing could have been done a lot cheaper, but the city wanted a ‘signature structure’ that everyone would associate with Nashville after they saw it. That’s why it’s called the Gateway Bridge, it’s supposed to be the gateway to downtown.

It’s a widely held belief in the engineering community that God is a civil engineer. How do we know that? Take one of His greatest creations as an example, the human body. Who else but a civil engineer would put a waste area right next to a recreational facility? (Insert rimshot audio here.)

A Must See

Tomorrow night at the Adventure Science Museum.

Hurricane Katrina and New Orleans... What Went WrongTuesday, February 21, 2006 6:00 pm - 7:30 pm.

News 2 Storm Team Meteorologist Davis Nolan will use satellite maps and other methods to present the latest findings on what happened to the levees and floodwalls. Nolan, a native of New Orleans, will address his own experience as his parents were faced with this tragedy.

Kiss An Engineer!

Unless you've been living under a rock, you already know this is National Engineers Week. How did engineers get their own week? It’s been going on since 1951 and is timed to coincide with George Washington’s birthday because the original George was a military engineer and surveyor.

The original intent of National Engineers Week was to ‘increase public awareness and appreciation of the engineering profession’. These days it has become more about encouraging children to become engineers. It’s becoming popular in the trade publications to complain about the lack of students interested in becoming engineers. And in a brilliant display of stupidity, it’s also popular to complain about the state of education of the new engineers that colleges are turning out these days. It’s a good thing most students don’t read the trade publications until after they’re an engineer.

As part of the festivities I’m declaring this ‘Kiss An Engineer’ week. So pick the engineer of your choice, and give them a big ole smooch. Though I will warn you, engineers aren’t noted for dealing with the opposite sex so random kissing could have entertaining results. I’d expect anything from new puppy like devotion (stalking is such an ugly word) to fainting right on the sidewalk. If you choose wisely, you may even get kissed back. As the founder I’ll be available for kissing all week, otherwise I’d just be a hypocrite. Guys, don't be shy. I personally prefer a handshake from all my non-female appreciaters, but the women engineers need appreciation too. Apparently lots.

Like I said, this has apparently been going on since 1951. I can’t say for sure, but I doubt many people have heard of National Engineers Week. I’d call that a public relations problem. So this week I’m doing my part to educate all my imaginary readers, and my one real reader, on the profession. So stay tuned for a hard hitting series of posts all week long. Just as soon as I get back from the gym and getting a hair cut.

The Best Double Entendre Ever

A girl and her grandmother are talking after her grandfather’s funeral. Since it’s important to the joke, I’ll tell you they’re British.

Girl: Grandpa was kind wasn’t he? He was always patting me on the head and giving me a pound.
Grandmother: You and me both.

That one is hidden so well I had to think about it. It took me at least a minute to start laughing, and at least ten to stop. In case you were wondering, the movie is an HBO original called Last of the Blonde Bombshells.


A Winter Wonderland?

Driving back from the gym today I realized something interesting (to me anyhow). Snow is great. I’ve always been a fan of snow since back in the old days when we lived in the country. A good snow storm could knock out the power for days. It was annoying, but it was also a great family bonding experience since we didn’t have anything to do but entertain each other.

Snow is great, it frosts everything in white and covers up all the little imperfections. At first. But that second day after the snow is a whole different story. Nothing makes a landscape uglier than used snow. When the grass is poking through and it’s all gray and nasty from being driven through and walked on. Saturday morning was the beautiful part. We're well into the ugly stage now.

A good snow is the great equalizer. It makes everything beautiful, and everything ugly.

On Cell Phones And Irony

I was late to the cell phone fad. I’ve had my wireless wonder for a little over a year. And in that year I’ve used my home phone exactly once. So I finally decided to just have the thing canceled.

Can you guess what happens next in this story? I was talking to a friend about something important, and my cell cut out due to lack of battery. No problems, I just grabbed the home phone to call her back. Only to realize I had just had my home service cut off that very day.

Ain’t irony a bitch?


Cooter talk...

For reasons I’ve already told you, my February 14 was non-traditional. We went to the Nashville Zoo. They had a presentation called Miami zoo and had been doing this presentation for 17 years. His familiarity with the material showed, and I laughed more here than I did in my last trip to Zanies.

Just a few things I learned….

- There are documented cases of rape in only two species: orangutans and humans. The males of all other species wait for permission before jumping on. It may be a subtle signal most of us don’t notice, but the female is always the one that initiates. Basically the same as with every guy I know.
- In an interesting reversal of the ways of man, in the animal world the male is the one that is more colorful and doing things to attract a mate. Perhaps that ties into Aunt B’s thoughts on how human women worry more about appearance in order to secure a mate as their protector. The female peacock doesn’t need a protector, so she doesn’t worry about appearance. It does make me wonder how things would be different if humanity was this way. Most single guys I know worry about their appearance, but it’s nothing compared to the average single woman. Would women worry about their appearance less if they didn’t have to consider the threat from men forcing their attention? If that were the case, I still don’t see the average guy spending a lot more time on his appearance. It’s kind of like a business monopoly.
- Homosexuality does exist in nature. It’s fairly rare, but it happens. He showed pictures of two lesbian flamingos that they have in the Miami zoo. Apparently a zoo in the UK has a problem with their penguin population because all of the males have bonded with each other. When they try to introduce females they ignore them. A lot of people like to say homosexuality is unnatural, but this definitely makes that harder to believe. Apparently this has happened in New York and Germany too.
- Most animals have an actual bone in their penis. At that revelation about half the women in the room prodded the guy sitting next to them with their elbow. But then we started talking about why those things are needed. In most species, the female is in heat for several days, but she doesn’t let him go right away. And when she is ready, he has to be ready right then. So the penis bone helps make sure he’s good to go at a moments notice. Also, when she’s ready, she’s good to go for a loooong time (days for some species) so the equipment needs to have staying power. Once again, it makes me wonder what humanity would be like with that little innovation. The ability to get it up at a moments notice and keep it that way for hours….. we’d die out as a species in a hurry. Either the women would all die from being over fucked, or they’d kill all the men just for some peace. Penis bones would definitely NOT work for a species that doesn’t have to wait for the female to be in heat.
- A female dog will be in heat for several days before letting any males breed her. The biologist told us that this is so that all the dogs around will be attracted, and they can fight it out to see who gets to do the deed. I think this is why they call a female dog a bitch.
- A male cat has spines on his penis that protrude back from the head and rake the vaginal wall when he pulls out. That’s why cats in heat sound like someone stepped on their tail. It’s also why the male cat always gets a paw to the face when he finishes up. Interestingly enough, not only does he keep coming back for more, but she’s also ready for more in half an hour.
- Orangutans like oral sex. No great observations about that one, but apparently at least some of the males know their way around a cooter. He had pictures.
- The female zebra has some pretty amazing cooter control. The outside is smooth black skin, but when she’s in heat she can open and close that skin to flash the pink at the males. Elephants also have that kind of cooter control. No mention of ping pong balls though.
- Apparently giraffe females like to walk during sex. If the male leans on her… he’s going down as soon as she takes a few steps. So in order to get lucky, a giraffe has to learn to walk on his hind legs.

It’s all for fun, but the point of the program was to raise interest and awareness in zoo animals. The Nashville zoo is fund raising to get 3 giraffes and they need contributions.


How do you woo a cynical woman?

My date for Valentine’s Day showed up last night dressed all in black. Better yet, she had a heart embroidered on her sweater. Not the stylistic heart you see on February 14 every year, an actual representation of a human heart. It was a little rough looking, but you could tell what it was. I was forewarned, and found it pretty funny. That’s just the kind of thing you have to expect when you date an artist.

We do make an interesting couple, engineer and artist. The stereotypical engineer is logical to a fault, analytical, shy, and has no clue how to act around the opposite sex. The stereotypical artist…. Well when I try and describe a stereotypical artist, I don’t get much beyond “the opposite of an engineer”. Let’s just go with a free thinking rebel. (Anyone else notice how the stereotypical artist sounds a lot better than the stereotypical engineer?) Neither of us is that close to the extremes which those stereotypes are based on. So it’s not quite an ‘opposites attract’ relationship. It’s more of a complimentary strengths relationship.

Back to my topic of cynicism and romance. I have a friend who described her self to me as a ‘cynical romantic’. To me those are two words that are diametrically opposed a textbook oxymoron. Given what I know of her history I decided this means she likes romance when it happens to other people, but is suspicious of it when it happens to her.

Fortunately, my black wearing, artistic Valentine doesn’t seem to be cynical to romance in general. Just toward the day devoted to it. I managed to find out that this is something that goes back to high school where apparently February 14 was all about who had the richest boyfriend and the biggest flower arrangement. More than ten years later, her thoughts formed in high school still rule on this topic. If that doesn’t tell you how much impact the child has on the adult, then read it again.

So how do you woo a cynical woman? My answer so far…. subtlety. All you imaginary readers, feel free to make your own suggestions.


The Obligatory Valentine's Day Post

Perhaps it’s because of the company I keep, but it seems fashionable these days to bash Valentine’s Day. But then again, it’s fashionable these days to bash most holidays.

I consider myself to be a fairly romantic guy. Romance fascinates me as both an intellectual concept, and a more concrete feeling between two people. It’s a theme that you see everywhere in our culture. I think it’s safe to say romance has inspired a lot of great works. I’m not just talking Shakespearian sonnets here, I even had one colleague tell me he got into the business of designing buildings so he could impress women (obviously he’s a somewhat misguided soul, but that’s a post for another time). When it comes to entertainment, even the shows that aren’t romantic themed have it written in. Rare is the movie, tv show, or book that doesn’t have an element of romance or at least sexual tension written in.

So a holiday devoted to romance seems like a good idea in theory. And I think the key to that sentence is the last two words. It’s a great idea to have a day devoted to romantic deeds. But it starts to fall apart in the execution. A whole holiday devoted to the idea leads to expectations, and expectations are the enemy of romance. (I just read that and let me just say, damn that sounds cheesy. But it stays.) What makes romance special is that you don’t have to do it. You do it just to make your special someone happy. When your special someone expects it, then you’re just doing your duty. That’s not romantic.

Personally, I blame Hallmark. Commercialization is the root of all evil.

So in summary.......... Valtine's Day = good idea in theory, bad in execution. Blame = Hallmark.


Chivalry Ain’t Dead Yet…

…but sometimes I wish it was. Is it good manners to treat one person well to the detriment of another? Let me illustrate with a story…

I work in a high-rise (at least for Nashville) office building downtown. It has the usual double door airlock type arrangement for entering. You go through the first door, take a few steps, and go through another to enter the lobby. After lunch today I was following a guy inside. He went through the first door, opened the second, and then proceeded to practically knock me over in order to turn around and open the first door again for a woman who was behind us. Do good manners to her excuse bad ones to me? If I’d known what he was doing I would have just let him bounce off me (the joys of being tall) instead of tripping over myself to get out of his way.

I’m not sure if I’m sexist for asking that question, or he’s sexist for doing it that way. But the situation is one I observe fairly often. I’m constantly getting shoved into the side of the elevator so the guy at the door can let some woman in back get off, or some similar nonsense. So who has more respect for women? Me or that dufus?

Maybe a Boycott??

I just had the dubious pleasure of attending traffic school in Lakewood. It wasn’t really that bad an experience. It was only an hour long and the police officer doing the class was fairly entertaining and told interesting stories. But it was definitely a scared straight kind of class.

It still makes me laugh that the police officer conducting the class was from Mount Juliet, not Lakewood. I think this was a good tactic on the part of Lakewood because it diffused a lot of tension. You see Imaginary Readers, Lakewood is mighty serious about their traffic tickets. I heard a lot of complaining about the circumstances of tickets from the people in the room. Now some of this you can chalk up to plain spite about being there. But between my own experience and the stories I heard, I’m convinced that they don’t believe in overlooking anything.

Personally, I was ticketed for doing 56 mph in a 45 zone. Now we’re talking nice, straight, 5 lane Old Hickory Boulevard. At 2 AM. I might be crazy here, but it seems like a little discretion is in order. Speeding through there at 5 PM when it’s rush hour is dangerous, and I don’t do it. But 2 AM when the road is deserted is a completely different story. The only thing that kept me from arguing with the officer is that it was two hours after the ball dropped on New Year’s Eve and I really didn’t want to end up taking a field sobriety test.

I have a great deal of respect for police officers. I don’t want to do what they have to do everday. And I think they should be allowed to exercise some discretion on when to write tickets. I also know a few of the people in charge of setting speed limits, no one likes them.

I just googled speeding tickets. It’s really amazing how much there is out there about how to beat them. Call me crazy, but I knew I was speeding and did it anyway. So I’ll take my lumps for it, even if I complain a little. I have less respect for people that try to avoid the consequences for their actions.

Culture for W: A Theater Review

Last weekend I made a trip to TPAC to see the Rep Theater’s latest, Recent Tragic Events. They bill it as A comedy about chance, coincidence, fate, free will and a sock puppet! It takes place on September 12, 2001. A man is picking up his blind date, but things turn complicated. Some of you Imaginary Readers who watch TV might recognize playwright Craig Wright from the credits of Six Feet Under, and Lost.

It really is a comedic performance, which is pretty amazing considering they have the constant news coverage of the World Trade Center disaster going on in the background. Through the course of the first act we find out that the lead actress had a sister who may have been at ground zero. So essentially the story is about 5 characters sitting around drinking while they wait for the phone to ring.

The prevalent theme seemed to be about the absence or presence of free will. The playwright incorporated a couple of obvious gimmicks in order to get laughs in the process. No doubt about it, they're gimmicks, but they're gimmicks with a purpose. The ‘stage manager’ comes out at the beginning of the show to tell the audience we get to play a part in what will happen on stage. This gimmick is played for laughs at crucial points in the first act, but it’s abandoned at the beginning of the second act. And in the process, it really starts to bring home the point about control. That’s really the best impression I can give you without spoiling some of the plot.

In the second a philosophical discussion breaks out in the midst of a drinking game. It centers around whether humans really have free will when we’re all subject to the whims of chance. The ongoing background news coverage from ground zero is used to really make the argument. This is where the other gimmick comes in. The fifth character enters the picture, and is a sock puppet. In a cruel twist of fate the sock puppet is the one that argues for free will.

I have to say I agree with the argumentative footwear on this one. Certainly we’re all subject to chance, but we exhibit free will in how we deal with what luck and chance give us. No one forces you to quit. A person can shape chance just as much as chance shapes them. My thoughts on it are summed up by a quote from Louis Pasteur. ‘Chance favors the prepared mind.’ Chance, or luck, tends to give you as many opportunities as it takes away so you have to be prepared when it does.

In the last minutes of the show, I did begin to see some of the playwright’s point about people being puppets. The lead actor did something he obviously didn’t want to do, but it was because of emotions and internal conflicts, not external forces. So I thought of it more as how we are shaped by our childhood.

I do have to give a lot of credit Anitra Brumagen, who plays Nancy. She has only one line of her own, but as far as comedy goes, she stole the show. It was a great demonstration of what a good physical comic can do. She kept things lively just by her facial expressions, and activities in the background while everyone else was waxing philosophical.

In the end, I think the writer was a little to gimmicky and clever for his own good, but it’s still entertaining food for thought with great acting. It’s showing through February 18. Go see it.


It Burns! It Burns!

Well, it looks like there is more Cash coming. (And that’s not a tax season joke.) After seeing Walk The Line, I was poking around looking at Johnny Cash websites. It turns out that there’s a new Broadway musical called Ring of Fire coming out featuring his work, and it’s coming out this March, just in time to capitalize on any good Oscar buzz from the biopic. Apparently the writer decided not to make it a biography because they thought it would lessen the story. So instead they’re featuring Johnny’s ‘songs and stories’.

I don’t know what they mean by stories, but I decided to share a few of my own thoughts on some of his songs.

‘A Boy Named Sue’ has a great story. If you want to hear it, listen to the song. Sue ends up forgiving his dad for all the crap he had to put up with a name like that once he finds out why dad did it. The moral of the story as I saw it is that you should always look at things from the other guy’s perspective. I really wish more people would do that. Opinions are always so rigid these days, and few people can participate in friendly debate without getting their feelings hurt. This song is also the inspiration for a great character in the soon to be classic movie Swingers. (Rent it. It's money baby.)

At first, ‘Ring of Fire’ always sounds like a number from this cheesy mariachi band I heard at the Mexican restaurant down the street. But if you listen to the lyrics, it gets a lot better. It’s all about why they call it ‘falling’ in love. Love is amazing and inspiring, but sometimes it burns. It was written by June Carter Cash, and if the movie is to be believed it’s inspired by her relationship with Johnny.

‘The Man Comes Around’ is obviously religious. I don’t have any grand cerebral insights into this one. I just have to say that it really creeped me out at the beginning of Dawn Of The Dead when they play it over a montage which essentially shows the world ending.

I think in ‘Long Legged Guitar Pickin Man’ he may be the only man to ever get away with calling his wife a big mouth woman. It helps that this one is a duet with June.

What can you really say about ‘Hurt’? It’s a powerful and it makes me hurt a little just to listen to it. Nine Inch Nails did it well, but Johnny Cash really took it home. You can hear the bitterness about growing old in his voice. The only thing I don’t really agree with his insinuation that everything he’s done in life is worthless. Maybe it’s just wishful thinking, but I sure hope I don’t end up feeling that way when my time comes. Watch the video if you haven't seen it.

There’s nothing to say about ‘Folsome Prison Blues’. But I have to mention it anyhow since it’s my favorite.

All of these songs can be heard on JohnnyCash.com. They have a nice selection of his greatest hits.


The Man In Black

The lady friend and I finally managed to see Walk The Line this week. Imaginary Readers if you haven't seen it, go for it. It won't be here much longer. It's worth the price of admission, just for the music you get to hear.

I have to admit though, through the first part of the movie I was having flashbacks to Ray. It's like the writer used it as a template. We start out with childhood on the farm in a little rundown house with Mama and brother. There's a big accident, and brother is gone. The feeling of deja vu returns later on in the movie right before Mr. Cash hits bottom. There's a series of scenes where he's arrested for possession and they make him take apart his guitar so they can find his stash. The lesson: to be a legendary musican you have to lose a sibling in a tragic accident and have the police meet you at the airport. And die right before the movie about your life is made.

Brother's accident is obviously a pretty pivotal moment for young Johnny. Afterwards his dad not only blames him for the accident, but tells him that the wrong son died, his brother was so much better. This sets up the secondry theme of the movie, and tells you a lot about what drives young Johnny. No matter how well he does, his father is always critical.

It's a standard theme in art and in life. Every guy wants to make his dad proud. Even if he doesn't like dad, he wants him to be impressed. The reasons seem pretty self-evident, but I've struggled to actually put it into words. Dad is the first male role model any boy has, so he sets the standard for manhood. So gaining his approval is the validation.

Of course the primary thurst of the movie is the relationship between Johnny and June Carter Cash. (I guess I just gave away the ending by including her last name. Oh well.) There was a lot of chemistry between Reese and Joaquin throughout the movie. I can't help wondering though, if my perception of that was affected by knowing about the real world romance. I've heard it mentioned in lots of news reports about how much they were in love, and much is made of the fact that they died only three months apart.

The thing that bothered me about their relationship also bothers me about all the best Hollywood love stories. There's always some other poor sap getting the shaft. In this case, it was Johnny's first wife. For essentially the entire time he's married to her, he's pining over June. First in magazine pictures, and then in real life. Why is it that this is the case for so many movie romances? I suppose some conflict makes for better drama, but I resent the idea that in order to find true love you have to break someone's heart.

I've heard quite often lately, that the great thing about Brokeback Mountain is that it's this amazing love story. But while these two guys are out on the prarie falling in love, they're both neglecting their wives back home. The Bridges of Madison County is supposedly a great romance, but I just kept thinking about her poor ignorant husband. I'm sure it says something about me, that I sympathize with the person left behind. I'm not going to speculate on what it says about me, but I will say that I didn't always have such tendencies.

I think the two main themes of the movie sum up the motivation for most men. Impress the cute girl enough to talk to you, and make dad proud. At least until they win the girl, and become a dad themself.


Why bother?

Seeing as how this is my inaugural post, it just seems right to figure out why I’m starting a blog. I’ve been reading blogs for a long time now, and the commonly held opinion is that having a blog is a good indicator of an inflated ego. After all, why bother putting you thoughts down and publishing them for the world to see if you don’t have a pretty high opinion of them. I’d say that’s probably semi-true. Now I could offer you imaginary readers a lot of reasons why I’m trying my hand at blogging.

I could tell you that it’s because
Aunt B is making me. She’s a pretty persuasive woman with an impressive rack, and lots of local bloggers respect her. If that’s not enough, she knows several men with large guns that can help her inforce her will. So that might be a worthy reason, but that’s not it. (But she is my official blog mentor.)

I could say I’ve been reading and commenting on blogs for a long time, and feel like I should give something back. But I’m not that altruistic, and there are other flaws in that statement that I’m just not going to point out.

I could be starting my own blog for my very own bully pulpit. So I can do things like proclaim Aunt B my blog mentor without her prior knowledge. (Surprise B!! Now make with the mentor like activities.) But that, while alluring, isn’t enough to justify this much effort from a lazy person like me.

I could blog just to keep everyone updated on my life and what I’m doing. That’s a reason many casual bloggers use, but I really don’t know that many people, so they can just call me if they want to know what I’m up to. Besides, I haven’t really decided if I want to share this website with my friends and neighbors. I’m afraid I’ll start editing if I know certain people are reading.

I could say that I aspire to a
NiT post with a snarky title about one of my entries. And that would be half true.

I could say that writing things down helps me organize all the thoughts in a jumbled up brain. But that doesn’t mean I have to put them out here for you to read.

Mostly though it’s just a big experiment. I’m curious to see what happens. Maybe I’ll learn something, and maybe I won’t. Hopefully I’ll have some useful comments on some of the things I post, but in the end I’m blogging because I can.

Oh yeah, my editing and proofreading skills ain’t bad, but I usually don’t bother. You’ve been warned.