and now, for something completely different...

It was bound to happen eventually: a site showcasing the best commercial parodies on late-night comedy shows such as SNL and MadTV. The one above with the ever droll Phil Hartman has always been a favorite.

The site also features the 50 Greatest Comedy Sketches. Several favorites made the list:


Lately I've been seeing these bumper stickers and window decals on cars. I wondered (never enough to actually Google 'em, but still, a transient thought would flash thru the 'ol noggin' once in awhile) whose bright idea it was to mock one of our local tourist attractions. (You know, the one prominently featured in Neil Gaiman's American Gods and advertised on barns all over the continental U.S.? Yeah, that one.)

Turns out it was the guy I met last night @ my local pub. It's my favorite spot - not simply because of its convenient proximity to my house or because they keep all varieties of Sam Adams on hand at all times. Nope, I love it because it's adjacent to my gym's gated parking garage, so I never have to stumble far. Let's not discuss how often my well-intentioned ass heads to the gym but magically ends up on a barstool...

While drinking with a mutual friend last night, I met the co-founder of the company that makes this and other Chattanooga-specific inside jokes printed on apparel and accessories. Last night proved one of my theories: if you want to know something, go to a bar. You may not get the answer you thought you were looking for, but you'll always learn something interesting about somebody else. And if you're lucky, maybe somebody else will pick up the tab...

*TheNoog.com has a photo gallery showing folks wearing their garb, on a smaller scale but still reminiscent of Lenny & Joe's Fish Tale in Connecticut. (Damn, I would love one of their lobster rolls right about now!) I thought the idea of worldwide advertising via t-shirts had a moderately high cheese-factor, but now I'm starting to appreciate the kitsch...


Tolstoy...the PowerPoint?

I am a hopeless bibliophile. 
Problem: I have a 9-to-5 which severely limits my workplace leisure reading.

Alas, a solution is available!

Imagine my glee when I opened today's Very Short List email, featuring "Read at Work.

Yep, somebody has finally created a program that allows you to read short stories, poetry and classics in full view of colleagues without having to surreptitiously ALT+TAB over to a bogus spreadsheet. The text is cleverly disguised in faux PowerPoint presentations. Must admit the juxtaposing of F. Scott Fitzgerald and Oscar Wilde with charts & graphs is jarring at first. It is not conducive to speed reading, but it is clever.

I tried it. It's a great concept (oh, I could've said "novel" concept, but that would've been painfully obvious) but unfortunately its library carries few titles. Hopefully this will be improved in the next release.

Still, kudos to the genius whose efforts now allow me to get paid to read at work. Creative loafing is so highly underrated...


bonnaroo recap...

Here's the low-down on Bonnaroo 2008*:
I came.
I saw.
I cheated myself out of some good shows.
I enjoyed all the shows but one.

*scroll to the end to hear a playlist of Bonnaroo artists

A few highlights:

arrived ~noon CST; set up camp in general camping, surrounded by cool neighbors from Florida, Texas, North Carolina, Georgia & Massachusetts. General camping is even more crowded this year because the early bird gets the better location (nearest the entrance) but is allotted much less acreage than those late arrivers who must camp in East Bumblefuck. Get a lovely farmer's tan while assembling the sleeping tent, shower tent, and screened patio; attempt to assemble the hammock but thanks to the neighbor's primo mota, promptly pass out on my air mattress around 4pm. Subsequently miss the first planned show, Newton Faulkner. (Damn!) Wake up a few hours later and need a beer. Cannot find a bottle opener anywhere; realize I've left mine at home. Since glass is not allowed in general camping, nobody around me has one, either. Curse my dumb luck and the cooler full of Sam Adams. Stumble into Centeroo. Promptly head to the Broo'ers Festival tent to sample microbrews before catching Vampire Weekend. Good show. Crawl back to camp ~2am.
WEATHER: hot, sunny, slightly breezy; burn factor: arms & nose crispy

FRIDAY (early):
first full day onsite; wake up ~7am jonesin' for coffee and cramping like a vice. (Damn PMS!) Have a splitting headache from sleeping in the L.L.Bean EZ-Bake Oven tent (sure, it's got side panels for ventilation, but those things are NOT designed for sweltering Tennessee summer heat.) Move like molasses through the morning routine, finally arriving in Centeroo just as the first show was concluding. Hear the Drive-By Truckers playing my favorite ("Lookout Mountain") for an encore as I make my way into the thick of things. By the time I get to the tent where Jose Gonzalez is playing, I realize I've misjudged the time; his show has just ended. I mosey over to the queue for the Comedy Tent where Janeane Garafolo is scheduled. Too damn hot. Need caffeine & Midol or stronger painkillers. Try to locate friends in media camping who might share either; no luck. The rest of the afternoon is a blur until 4pm when I stake my place under This Tent to see The Swell Season. Some chick sitting beside me has an Analytical Statistics or Economics textbook open and is actually studying. She is, I conclude, the only person at Bonnaroo not stoned, drunk, or otherwise wasted.
WEATHER: really damn sunny; tolerably humid; skin sizzle factor: moderate

FRIDAY (afternoon):
Glen Hansard takes the stage at 4:15. He starts the show with one song then invites random audience members onstage to recite poetry while he strums on guitar. No sign of Marketa Irglova. Two poems later, he continues. Plays a few songs from the film Once before stopping mid-song to complain about the noise from other performers. He asks, "Is there another fuckin' band playin' right now? Yeah? Shit." He realizes he's being drowned out by Les Claypool on one stage and the band !!! on another. I notice my camera's rechargable batteries are low. This is a problem, as I have a perfect spot less than 50' from the stage and don't want to leave. Snap a few pics before the batteries die. [During this show I have my first of two Bonnaroo musical moments: one is the personal moment where you feel the performer is singing only to you and the other fans disappear. The second is the group moment when you're at one with 100,000 other wasted fans while a headline act performs on the main stage and everyone sings together. The first moment comes when Marketa croons "If You Want Me" while Glen beams with pride from her piano bench - it moves me to tears! The second moment comes on Saturday nite.]
I hear Glen sing about "ten million pounds of sludge from New York and New Jersey" and it takes a moment to process that I'm hearing an Irish guy covering The Pixies. He performs my favorite song by The Frames ("Fitzcarraldo") with Marketa then covers Van Morrison's "Into the Mystic." I have chills in 90-degree heat. I suspect I have just experienced the best performance of Bonnaroo 2008.
WEATHER: increasingly cloudy; skin sizzle factor: mild; cramps: ohdeargodineeddrugs

FRIDAY (nite):
Second musical mistake: I miss The Raconteurs' set because I'm watching the last half of Rilo Kiley. Apparently Jack White & Co. put on one helluva show; Rilo Kiley was okay. Catch a few minutes of Willie Nelson (just to say I saw him) then head back to camp for grub & shuteye before the headline shows. Get very lost trying to find campsite. Find tent just before torrential deluge begins. Decide to skip Metallica due to a slight fear of electrocution and pronounced apathy. Chill for awhile in camp while rains fall hard, fast, and sideways. Plan to hit My Morning Jacket but opt to stay dry. Listen to their new tunes from the comfort of my slightly leaky tent. Drift off as they play "Gideon"... Hear neighbors ingesting massive quantities of substances before seeing
the SuperJam then DJ Tiesto. Been there, done that. Would rather sleep. [Note to self: sue the makers of Midol for not making it strong enough.]
WEATHER: somebody needs to build a ark; everything is soaked

SATURDAY (early):
Cell phone battery nearly gone; retreat to car (aaaah, A/C!) to recharge. Catch up on text messages; friends from media camping tell me I can stay there now...where it's dry and shady and swank.
Lucky bastards are right behind one of the main stages! En route, manage to catch Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings on stage. Damn, that woman has energy. Three observations: 1. She obviously isn't cramping; 2. She moves like Tina Turner and sings like Aretha on Red Bull. Wow! 3. Her band is wearing 3-piece suits in this heat! Insane!
WEATHER: sunny but less humid, still muddy in places; skin sizzle factor: ouch!

SATURDAY (mid-late afternoon):
Reach the media/guest VIP camping area. It's Shangri-La over there with lots of room, private showers, and hot guys from Queens who share all kinds of things. Damn, I miss hearing New York accents. They fire up the grill. We down Grey Goose shots while waiting on lunch. (Glass is not so verboten over there; I actually forget about my cooler full of beer.) I feel 150% better. Things get hazy for awhile. I plan to catch part of Cat Power and The Avett Brothers, who both play from 4:30-6pm. The hospitable neighbors distract me; I make it to B.B. King around 5:45. Next up is Iron & Wine, and I will not miss this show. My photographer friend joins me briefly before taking off to shoot Levon Helm. I stay for the duration; apparently this was mistake #3. Judging by crowd chatter, Helm's show is off the hook. Determined not to miss any remaining fabulous acts, I retreat back to my camp to change clothes. Jack Johnson is coming up next, so I change quickly and head back to the media camping area.
WEATHER: not bad; cramps gone - must be the Grey Goose ;)

SATURDAY (evening):
I hear Jack Johnson from the comfort of VIP camping. Should have gotten to the show earlier to see Jack duet with Eddie Vedder, but miss it due to long lines getting back into Centeroo. (This is another perk of staying in VIP camping - no long lines and relatively little security scrutiny of your bag upon entrance.) Hang out w/the guys before heading over to Pearl Jam. We make our way through the throng of nearly 100,000 fans. Bought more camera batteries before the show; hope to get plenty of pics. The guys share their goods during the show and I forget to take more than a half dozen shots. The show is amazing. Brian has a near orgasm when Pearl Jam does an extended version of "Love, Reign O'er Me." I feel likewise when Eddie does "Crazy Mary" but the encore of Hendrix's "All Along the Watchtower" leaves the crowd breathless. The show runs late; they exit well after 1am. Brian and I lose Mike, Luciano & Chris in the crowd. We hear Phil Lesh while stumbling back to camp to wait for the late-nite shows. Kanye West rescheduled his act from 8:15pm to 2:45am. I miss seeing Sigur Ros and Ghostland Observatory because we are spent from Pearl Jam. Around 3am, we head over to the main stage again. We are crammed in sardine-style fairly close to the stage. There is no room to move anywhere. The massive jumbotron first announces a delayed start time of 3:15, then another delay until 3:30. The crowd is angst-ridden by then. When he still hadn't appeared by 4am, the crowd turns ugly. Glow sticks and full bottles of water are hurled toward the stage. Loud chants of "WTF?" and "Kanye sucks" continue. Kanye finally appears at 4:25. It is beyond disappointing. The crowd has come down from their collective high and is not pleased. As dawn begins to break near 5am, I maneuver through the thinning throng and return to my camp to change clothes. At this point, I have been up for 22hrs and can no longer feel my feet. I am tired and pissy for having wasted nearly 3 hours of my life on a "performer" I don't even like. I learn while standing in line for breakfast that I have missed an unannounced Galactic show that brought da noise and da funk while I stood motionless in Kanye's crowd. Damn it! Musical mistake #4! Instead of grabbing fresh clothes and returning to VIP camping, I pass out in my quickly warming tent as the sun rises. Sleep is not possible because some lucky chick a few tents away is being orally pleased, based on her ecstatic moans. This adds insult to injury. Not only am I miserable, but I get an audio reminder. There goes my theory that nobody ever gets laid at Bonnaroo because they're too tired, too dirty, or too high to function. I try to sleep, but this is impossible when aroused and alone...
WEATHER: whothehellcaresI'mnotgettingany; it's hot & I'm exhausted

SUNDAY (early):
Two hours of fitful sleep later, I emerge from my sauna and head for my solar shower tent. It feels good to be clean; must try to relieve aching head. Today is the last day and I have much to see & do. Try to break down camp. Today's shows are non-stop and I want to get packed before night falls. I will sleep in my own bed in my air-conditioned house tonight if I have to take prisoners to make it happen!
WEATHER: really fucking hot; sporadic breeze; it's gonna be a scorcher

SUNDAY (afternoon): Hit the Which Stage for Orchestra Baobab - very talented, funky-eclectic band from Senegal. Crowd is larger than expected. I grab coffee instead of beer and stroll over to Jakob Dylan. He is good but mellower than what I need. I listen to
Susan Tedeschi for a bit, then check out Bombadil while Fil takes more pics. I hear Robert Randolph playing but decide to check out Ladytron instead. I am impressed by what I hear; stay for several songs while applying much SPF70. Move over to Aimee Mann's show. There are no shady spots available so I stand, skin a-sizzlin', for a few songs. Too hot. Realize I've missed the rest of Robert Randolph's set. Damn! Another mistake. (Apparently he lead the crowd in a "Kanye sucks!" chant. That would've been something to behold.) While waiting for Solomon Burke, I meet a musician from New Haven who has filmed & recorded many of the weekend's sets. I give him my info; he promises to send DVDs. There is hope yet that I can enjoy some of these missed shows. Solomon Burke starts. The crowds are smaller now, as many folks have already hit the road. I get a great spot up close and some pics. He takes requests - via text message! - and keeps the crowd entertained. I stay for several songs but the heat calls for cold beer, so I head back to the Broo'ers Festival to use up my remaining tickets. Alas, many vendors are gone and I settle for an Abita Amber while waiting on Robert Plant & Alison Krauss. My energy is gone and two more shows remain. I enjoy a bit of RP/AK but remember that I haven't taken any pics of the hot neighbors from NY. Get over to the VIP camping area but they're elsewhere. Get a few pics of the Which Stage (mere yards from camp) before Death Cab for Cutie starts. Stay for half their show before calling it quits. Meet up w/the girls from Charlotte who have camped behind me and we take a few pics. We bid Bonnaroo adieu and head back to camp to finish the load-up & leave. Finish breaking down my campsite, hoping to leave during Widespread Panic's set. Many others have the same idea. I get stuck in traffic on the farm - it takes 90 minutes to travel the 1.2 miles to the highway. I have a blown headlight. I am ravenously hungry, but the only sustenance I have left is a cooler full of Sam Adams (but still no bottle opener), two bottles of water and a handful of dried cranberry & cashew trail mix. I am soooo ready to be home! What I don't realize at the time is that I am also really freakin' broke, to the tune of $401.72 overdrawn thanks to manic, pre-Bonnaroo shopping sprees and snowballing overdraft charges. Apparently in my pre-trip frenzy, I forgot to transfer funds into checking. Holy hell...

# # #

All in all, not a bad year. Bonnaroo '07 had a better lineup, but this year had other perks. I will be back next year. Hopefully my long-distance friends who battled floods in the Midwest and broken bones in New England can make it. Bonnaroo is like a giant family reunion, with hundreds of concerts and performances serving as its soundtrack. It requires a helluva lot of prep work to do it right, but it is always worth the effort. The people you meet are always incredible. The shows are always amazing. The Bonnaroo experience simply cannot be replicated.

Here, enjoy some tunes from Bonnaroo '08 artists:


sushi-assisted recovery...

Bonnaroo ferris wheel

So this time last week I was baked at Bonnaroo.
I got some sun, too - so I suppose that made me a twice-baked potato... ;)

As usual, the event was a wild musical rollercoaster ride. Getting there was no small miracle. After an automotive scare a mile from home (nearly nixed the trip when I ran over a rock which looked small from a distance but proved to be quite large when it scraped the undercarriage of my car, barely missing the oilpan - still have to repair the damage underneath, oh joy.) One trip to the closest mechanic and two hours in traffic later, I made it to Bonnaroo and secured a primo spot in general camping. Aside from a downpour of biblical proportions on Friday nite, the long weekend was incredible.

I made it back in one piece...only to return to a severely overdrawn checking account on Tuesday and a tax audit @ work yesterday and today. This, my friends, is karmic payback for all the fun I had. So tonight I am drowning my fiscal woes in Sam Adams Summer Ale and california rolls. Beer and sushi: the two items I never forgo even when pathetically broke...

Play-by-play Bonnaroo analysis is forthcoming...gotta finish uploading the pics. Here's a teaser:

Annual aerial shot of the farm (stages at 4 & 6 o'clock)

The "Which" stage (+30,000 fans)

The "What" stage (+100,000 fans)

Apropos graffiti after the ill-timed "show"...


P.U.I. ?

File this under: "Photoshopping Under the Influence."

This, my friends, is the result of some young, punk-ass 'shroom junkie with a souped-up Mac being paid exorbitant amounts of money to produce something "creative" and then laughing all the way to the bank.

I present to you this year's Bonnaroo admission ticket, resized to fit the screen. Seriously, it's over 8" long.

(The bobblehead statue thing makes sense to those who've been there; giant versions of it are located between the two main stages, which is really freaky when you're tripping and a nightmare when you're lost and/or both, but I digress...and no, the giant ones on the farm don't have a gleaming grill...)

By comparison, last year's ticket was classier. The metallic ink doesn't scan well, but you get the idea:

You can experience Bonnaroo live online this weekend. Check out AT&T's Blue Room* or FuseTV* for live concert footage and who knows what else. I doubt either channel will show the massive numbers of naked people painted various rainbow shades. Yep, nothin' says summer like buck naked college coeds painted blue or green from head to toe. Seeing that is kinda freaky too, when you're in the aforementioned state, although they seemed to blend in during The Flaming Lips' show...

*(Contrary to popular belief, I receive no compensation whatsoever for these plugs. I'm just trying to recruit hordes of Bonnaroo virgins for next year...)

Must curtail this rambling & pack. I'm supposed to hit the road in a few hours; it might behoove me to get my habitually dilatory ass in second gear at some point. News, reviews & photos to follow upon my return.


planning the musical assault...

It is impossible to see every performance at Bonnaroo. The logistical scheduling nightmare (as is often the case @ 'Roo, many shows either overlap or run concurrently) means I must choose which artists to see. Many performances must be truncated, which I hate. That's the down side. The plus? Cheap shows! Each show will cost less than five bucks. I have 50+ acts on my Wish List. In 4 days. On 2 main stages and 5 smaller tent venues. At an 800-acre farm. In 90-degree heat. Probably in mud, due to stormy weather forecast all weekend. (Damn, this reads like a Harper's Index...)

Check out the lineup. Let me know which acts I absolutely should not miss. Last year, I saw some acts I had not yet fully discovered (The National, Brazilian Girls, Flight of the Conchords, etc.) and now wish I'd stuck around for the duration. My goal this year is to make musical amends. In my pre-event research (something neglected in '07), I found these promising performers:
  • Newton Faulkner (young, red-haired, dread-locked British guitarist);
  • Adele (this year's young, soulful, Brit-pop It-Girl);
  • Two Gallants (lo-fi indie folk/rock; best lyric: "if you've got a throat, I've got a knife");
  • Orchestra Baobab (Afro-Cuban/world pop/fusion band from Senegal with whom Youssou N'Dour first played); and
  • Ladytron (a black-clad British art-rock quartet which sounds, according to iTunes, like Britney Spears if she'd been a German heroin addict - in other words, weekend ear candy.)
That said, I'm most inclined to see these acts (in order of scheduled appearance):

B = love 'em/won't miss
# = newly discovered / will see
I = like 'em / might see
* = already seen 'em
+ = slightly known / might see
^ = known / unlikely to see
? = unknown / undecided
  • What Made Milwaukee Famous *
  • Vampire Weekend
  • Newton Faulkner #
  • MGMT +
  • Grand Ole Party ?
  • Nicole Atkins +
  • Felice Brothers +
  • Janeane Garafolo
FRIDAY, 6.13
  • Drive-By Truckers
  • Jose Gonzalez
  • Adele
  • Tegan & Sara ^
  • Fiery Furnaces +
  • Minus the Bear ?
  • The Swell Season
  • !!!
  • The Duhks ^
  • Jake Shimabukuro
  • State Radio ?
  • M.I.A. ^
  • Anders Osborne ?
  • Rilo Kiley
  • My Morning Jacket
  • Tiesto *
  • Wood Brothers
  • Two Gallants +
  • Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings
  • Ozomatli *
  • Amy LaVere ^
  • Matt Morris ? with Charlie Sexton
  • the everybodyfields +
  • Little Feat ^
  • Donavon Frankenreiter +
  • Gogol Bordello *
  • Cat Power
  • Avett Brothers
  • B.B. King
  • Ben Folds *
  • Iron & Wine
  • Pearl Jam
  • Sigur Ros
  • Ghostland Observatory +
SUNDAY, 6.15
  • Rogue Wave ^
  • Orchestra Baobab
  • Robert Randolph's Revival
  • Aimee Mann
  • Broken Social Scene ^
  • The Greencards ?
  • the everybodyfields ^
  • Bombadil
  • Ladytron #
  • Solomon Burke
  • Robert Plant & Alison Krauss
  • Death Cab for Cutie

The playlist @ page end features these artists. Enjoy from the air-conditioned comfort of your abode while I hear 'em live...most likely in 100% humidity.

Full reports to follow next week...


bonnaroo 2008

Where else can you see this many bands in one weekend for less than 300 bucks?

Tennessee has the dubious distinction of being the Country Music state. We have unbearably hot summers and more redneck hicks than you can count. We do have some diversity, though:
  • We have blues & barbecue on Beale Street in Memphis...and Elvis.
  • We have music stars and some pro sports teams in Nashville...and Al Gore.
  • We have some NCAA champions in Knoxville...birthplace of Quentin Tarantino.
  • We have some tourist attractions here in Chattanooga...birthplace of singers Usher and Bessie Smith, writer Arthur Golden; former hometown of Samuel L. Jackson.
Whatever. Those accolades ain't nothin' compared to what we have in Manchester, a mere 50 miles from my house.

We have bonnaroo music & arts festival and it is one mind-blowing event.

A recently-edited Wikipedia entry about Bonnaroo stated before it was removed:

"Once inside the festival, there is no law enforcement,
which means that illicit drug use of all varieties
is not only overlooked, it's basically encouraged.
Artists are often even seen partaking while on stage."

Yep. It's all there. Anything you want, anytime you want it. (Except indoor plumbing & air conditioning - c'mon, you can't have it all.) What's the word I'm looking for? Oh yeah: smorgasboard. Everyone you meet is your new best friend & everybody shares. Your only foe is the scorching southern summer sun. Of course, nobody is ever sober enough to try that much alliteration at Bonnaroo.

Bonnaroo is a music lover's dream and a recovering addict's nightmare. But it's more than a trip or a musical microcosm. It's an ephemeral Utopia. It's people from all walks of life coming together for a week, sharing their beliefs and passions, and enjoying great music while creating a harmonious society. Maybe the psychopharmaceuticals help. I overheard someone say (or maybe I said it - the details are fuzzy) last year at Bonnaroo: "man, if Congress got stoned together, they could fix everything that's wrong with this country!"

Next Bonnaroo blog topic: a listing of all the acts I'll try to see (the schedule is logistical hell), plus a special playlist for your enjoyment. Stay tuned...


Sunday solitude...

Christopher Stott, © 2007

Sleeping in til noon...
Consuming coffee & books for brunch...
Speaking to no one all day...
Lounging around, doing only what I want...
Dressing only if the need arises...
Catching up on the week's podcasts & blogrolls...
Tackling a few domestic duties, if inclined...
Soaking in a late-night bubble bath til the water is cold...

Sunday is my day to be utterly, shamelessly selfish. I can retreat into hermitdom and curl up with a stack of books and periodicals if I so choose. Or enjoy a few uninterrupted hours of solo exercise, either at the gym or on the trails. I call the shots and I reap the rewards of hard-earned leisure. I am queen for a day.

One full day dedicated to personal pampering is not a trifling indulgence; it's a necessity. Much like a cell phone requires recharging, so I must unplug from the world before facing a new week of daily stress and challenges.

Selfish solitude. Sundays make me question whether I ever want to settle down again and welcome another into my peaceful realm. Perhaps I am simply too strong an Alpha female to need a co-habitant 24/7. I am more suited to a Rent-a-Mate for a 20% time share. Indeed, a Thursday-Saturday partner seems an ideal solution.

Maybe diminished solitude explains why relationships fail or why enthusiasm wanes for once-favored activities. It's the old "How can I miss you if you never go away?" mentality. I suspect it accounts for my inability to keep a job more than five years: I tire quickly of colleagues I see daily. But oh, how I miss my long-distance friends and our sporadic visits. Them I miss. Those I cherish. The familiar faces representing daily drudgery? Not even in the least...

Sunday solitude: it's my recipe for mental health.