Monday, December 29, 2003

Just 10 in 2003

10) Get Fuzzy by Darby Conley- Recently I've sung the praises of my favorite comic strip as often and as loudly as I can. It's a comic whose humor is based on annoying behavior and it is a reminder that often the ones who annoy you the most (and the best) are the ones who often matter the most. I can't imagine beginning a day without first reading the newest installment.

9) Bob Dylan's "If You See Her Say Hello" at Somerset, Wisconsin- The rest of the concert was pretty typical Bob (in other words pretty darn good and idiosyncratic) made more special by finally going with the biggest Dylan fan I know. When he sang this tune from Blood on the Tracks with wacky new lyrics (something about a woman with blue hair) it was the best single moment of my summer.

8) John Hiatt 9/7 at the Zoo- Someday near the end of time someone will chronicle the history of American music and John Hiatt is sure to get a surprising to most mention. His catalog of songs is such that when he opened this show deep in the suburbs of Minnesota with the rollicking "Lincoln Town," it was one of dozens of great songs he could have sung that would have made my heart more glad than I can ever explain.

7) Dinner at the Melting Pot and then Connie Evingson's show at the Illusion Theater- I enjoyed yet another enjoyable evening with the one who remains my favorite person on the planet. Cheese fondue appetizer, meat fondue meal, and chocolate fondue dessert. My tummy ached. Then we enjoyed an evening of Beatles' songs performed in jazzy arrangements by the Twin Cities finest chanteuse (dressed in some fetching funky pants). But you wanna know the best part of this late spring night? That I got to spend it with my best friend, the one who always continues to be there for me just when I need it most.

6) "Hey Ya" Outkast- There is something so infectious and wonderful about this song that every time I hear it I almost feel like dancing. Yes it's cooler than cool- it's ICE COLD!

5) Lost in Translation- I went to this movie with my wise well beyond her time blue-eyed friend. Both of us had seen it before and both of us NEEDED to see it again. It's a story about a friendship. It's a story about being lost in a strange land and meeting someone who not only makes you not feel so alone but makes you feel if where you've been isn't the only place you have to go back to. It's also a story about an older man befriending a young woman. Geez, how could we relate?

4) Wilco, at the Rock the Garden at the Walker- Before the concert the smartest person I know (but is she truly intuitive?) and I strolled around the garden and she most memorably identified all the plants for me. We then stood waiting for the show to begin and a friend of hers came by. Then my friends came and stood with us. And then Wilco played, and played well and in many ways it was the warmest and most comfortable I felt all year.

3) Liz Phair at First Ave- Years back when Exile in Guyville first came out and blew my socks off (and as it turns out many others as well) I honestly didn't even know what Liz looked like. Then I discovered she's a drop dead gorgeous babe so when she sings about being a "blow job queen" I kind of get defensive about why she remains one of my all time favorite songwriters. Does anyone believe me that I love Liz's songs because she is perhaps about the most perceptive rock writer writing about the confusing nature of relationships? And for the record I like the new CD if only for the devastating song to her son (but in actuality for much much more). I enjoyed this concert more than any other this year.

2) Ike Reilly's Cars and Girls and Drinks and Songs EP- All five songs are superlative. All five songs make you wonder why this guy isn't the biggest thing in the music biz today.

1) Mr. Max- My best friend died this past year. I watched him gasp for his last breaths and each gasp tore the heart out of me. I've tried my best to move on, to remember the things about him that were so special to me. I've even welcomed two other cats into my house this year. But Max changed my very being, my very outlook. We shared a lot in our 12 years together and I still miss terribly the look he'd give me when I got home and how he drooled whenever he was happy.

Monday, December 22, 2003

The Adeam Family Xmas Letter

The Adeam family 2003 Christmas Letter or Miffed and Annoyance

Happy Holidays and I hope the past 365 days have filled you with joy and lots of gravy. For the Adeam family, 2003 was the saddest year on record (remember records are meant to be broken! and have only been kept for six years). There were a lot of fractures and fission (funny how when you check the computer's thesaurus on that particular word it brings up "cleavage" as a choice. Snicker snicker). We all just want to make it through to the New Year and hope for the best.

Little Digger is doing fine. His stint at boarding school in Switzerland ended tragically but he doesn't like to talk about it. The Alps were too "Alp-like"; for him apparently. Digger got his first girlfriend this year, Kim Stathis, the saddest girl in grade two. He figures they are right for each other since she is perhaps the only person on earth that won't ultimately be a lesser person (and far be it for her to be a lesser person) for knowing him. They met in study hall and the baby is due next November. We sent him off for his driver's test last month but he hasn't gotten back yet.

Pappy made lots of money this year. He switched jobs in January going from a position of watching scoundrels argue the issues and get nowhere to helping get them elected and go nowhere.

Mammy continues working on her thesis of whether there are really only two types of people in this world- Shirleys and Leopolds. It's her belief (Fascist as it may be) that you're either a Shirley- the comforting intuitive type, or a Leopold- the intellectual maternal type. In other words you are either for her or against her. Apparently she came up with this theory while she was dating and Pappy hasn't heard the end of it (nor actually the beginning) so he knows both just enough not to really understand it and not be able to forget it. Let's hope she gets that paper done soon. (She still is boiling the pulp.)

The Adeam family lost our beloved pet monkey Chortles in January. He is dearly missed and we have so many extra bananas on hand it isn't even funny. We did adopt two poodles, Precious and David in April. Precious is spunky and relentless while David is missing a limb though he doesn't liked to be defined by what he is missing.

Materially we gathered a lot of dust in 2003. Mammy's collection of plastic newspaper bags have filled more than our kitchen. Pappy's hobby of reading romance novels and weeping his eyes out in a box of kleenex took on new heights (or lows depending on if you're a Leopold or a Shirley). Digger continues to download music though he isn?t allowed to listen to it (thus getting around that whole 'breaking a law' thing).

Athletically Pappy enjoyed his finest softball game ever. He speared a liner, made a spectacular play on a dribbler (you are what your urology exam says!) , and snapped off a double on the new bat that Grandpappy whittled from the tree that fell from Dutch Elm disease. Digger continues to struggle with his checkers play, losing every match feasible. Mammy likes to play hearts on her computer. She considers herself the four of diamonds.

Thus we wrap up yet another year. Time seems to fly by like raisins in a pickle jar. So shake it up because this ain't no jabberwocky this is real wocky!, Mammy likes to sing to hide her hickeys. Hopefully Digger will get back and Pappy will stop sobbing. Hope you all enjoy the Peaches!

-the Adeams (Mammy, Pappy, Digger, Precious, and David)

Monday, December 15, 2003

The Last Bob Column of the Year (Probably)

As experienced as I am at acting (in theory I've been doing it all my life) last week as I performed in my latest role I gotta admit I was a bit clueless at how I should approach the part.

I was supposed to pretend to be an election judge, which is a role that shouldn't have been too difficult to fake since I've done it in real life (if such a thing actually exists). But as you well know often times it's the simplest things that are the hardest to figure out. I've never gone to a fancy acting school so I don't know anything about method acting or studying for a part. So for this particular role what I decided I would do is emulate some of the favorite acting performances, the ones that have effectively stuck inside my craw, in hopes that by faking it, I would, as the girl next door once advised, make it.

Showing up one chilly morning to the shoot site and underneath the glare of the bright lights I took my position in the corner of the room next to my prop, a piece of voting equipment. For the next few hours I watched the crew shoot various takes from the portion of the script that didn't involve me. When the time finally arrived for my performance and the director directed what he wanted to accomplish in the scene I did my best to act dumb- not that it was that much of a stretch. What was I going to use as inspiration? I decided what the role called for was a bit of bemusement and detachment- something like Bob Dylan did as the masked and anonymous Jack Fate in his movie with the same title.

No I didn't have Bob/Jack's pencil thin, Errol Flynn mustache nor do I have his stoic yet mesmerizing facial features (of which the world's finest photographer agreed with me are fascinating) but I went to work knowing that I have successfully taught my cat Thompson to tie my shoes (if only I could teach him to stop tying them together). The director interrupted my Homeresque thoughts with a brusque "Action!" and I did a little Chaplinesque waddle with a hint of a James Dean sneer/smirk/smile on my face. The actress who was pretending to vote approached me and the machine and as she was a rather attractive young lass I really did have to do some acting to pretend I was only sort of interested in what she was doing all the while looking into her eyes and looking away. Like Jack Fate I was trying to create a character who was old for his age but you couldn't tell because he acted so immature.

I was acting my brains out and though I haven't seen the end result I'm sure it was an award winning performance as a few days later one of our state's constitutional officers tapped me on the shoulder and thanked me for my efforts. Look for the award winning performance on your local cable access channel sometime next year.


Speaking of Dylan and acting, I'm a bit of a fan and over the years I have made an effort to watch as many of his television performances as I could. Since his appearances on the medium are so few and far between it might be a bit of a surprise that up until recently I had never seen his 1979 Saturday Nite Live performance. It was only recently I got a copy of the his three song effort and I can't stop watching it. Dylan's appearance on the wacky late night comedy sketch show came a little while after the release of the solemn Slow Train Coming, the first of this three "Born Again" LPs. For those not previously paying attention it was a bit of a shock that all of a sudden Bob was singing the praises of Jesus and a deep found faith. And while many of the songs on the three "Christian" LPs have long been among my favorite Dylan songs (and Shot of Love remains one my top three favorite Dylan CDs) I hadn't quite appreciated this period of Dylan's career appropriately until watching this performance on SNL.

Though his band is sort of nondescript they open with a booming "Gotta Serve Somebody" that clearly means a lot to Bob as the pride he takes in spitting out the lyrics is evident in a smile he is barely able to suppress. It's an energetic performance only diminished by Bob changing the line "You may call me Zimmy" (his one and only reference in over 40 years in the public spotlight to his actual name) to "You may call me Jimmy." His next song is the heartfelt "I Believe in You" and as Bob allows his voice to reach the cracking point several times in the song- it remains one of his most memorable and moving songs, one of deeply expressed vulnerability. The final song of the set "When You Gonna Wake Up?" is a bit of a paranoid rant/sermon "Adulterers in churches and pornography in the schools, You got gangsters in power and lawbreakers making rules" but again Dylan's passionate performance wins you over and makes you a believer if only temporarily.

At the end of the last song the crowd goes nuts and Bob coolly looks straight ahead with a look on his face like, "yup exactly what I expected" (even though a more tepid reaction might have been expected seeing the jarring conversion) and then the goofy looking bass player raises his guitar in the air jubilantly as if the applause is directed at him. Misguided perhaps, but it only adds to the unforgettable appearance.

Monday, December 8, 2003

The Split Tip Jar

I'm always a guy looking at my career options and with that new (well new to my house anyway) musical instrument (my sister's baby grand piano) nestled securely in the corner of my living room, I've decided now is the opportune time to use my nine years of piano lessons to make me some money.

Since I learned much of how to play the piano by playing Barry Manilow songs, I don't think it would be very authentic to bill myself as a rock star. For the same reason I'm hardly qualified to be a classical musician. There is of course that Japanese fiddler in Branson, Missouri, so country may seem like an obvious choice. Unfortunately my current life isn't so much about cigarettes, whiskey, and wimmyn but more accurately about coffee, parking, and kitty litter.

Another handicap might be that I really only play passable versions of two songs, Barry's "Mandy" and Paul McCartney's "You Gave Me the Answer." Beyond that I can do "Let it Be" OK, and if I'm in the right mood, John Hiatt's "She Loves the Jerk," and Brian Wilson's "Caroline No." Stephanie Jane thought I did those last two songs with a little bit too much conviction.

So maybe I won't have much of a career as a professional piano player. Still there are other options. I could always stay at home and teach piano lessons all day long. Two drawbacks to that fallback option: 1) I don't especially like children and I'd probably end up giving lessons like my elementary band teacher Mr. Binstock who used to read the newspaper while I was playing my versions of the scales on my trumpet. 2) If you haven't noticed I thrive on the unconventional and thus would much rather have my students play like my cat Diego-san who dreamily strolls up and down the keyboard oblivious to what the rest of us in the room may think of his music. He may not be melodic but he's going to play the way he is inspired to play. Teach that method to some paying suburban snotty "I don't want to be here but my parents are making me" kid and I'm not sure their mom will continue to send over a check.

So yes, perhaps a rational person given the above choices would keep their day job. Well no one has ever accused me of being rational. So this past week as the one who saunters and I went to see the Matrix Revolutions (a movie that answers the question just what can make Keanu/Neo not mutter "whoa" but rather, "shit!") I did a lot of ruminating. If the reality of the matrix is either a physical world or a computer program can life outside the movie theater be about anything that doesn't happen within the walls of my house? If a cat plays (or pounces) on a piano and there is no one there to hear it ('cept a three-legged cat) is it really music? And when it comes to home repairs is the one who thinks I'm next to worthless really right?

Speaking of things to ponder, if as Ike Reilly suggests, we are all going to be judged on garbage day wouldn't it be prudent to have one's garbage disposal be working and working well? Thus it bugged me when my disposal stopped grinding and I thought to myself I could probably learn to live without it since as a kid our family never had such a luxury. The problem was that the disposal was connected to the lone drain to my sink and without it my sink didn't drain so well.

After I was done doing the dishes one night I pulled the plug (so to speak) and the dirty dishwater just sat there. I was reluctant to leave the kitchen sink (so to be paralyzed) knowing that an overly curious kitty would no doubt want to check out the unusual new situation. Sure enough minutes after I left the kitchen Diego was up swatting suds in the air and tasting the contents. So I spent the rest of the evening watching whether the water level was dropping and then bailing the water out and dumping it into my bathroom sink. Fearing a pricy repair expense I nonetheless called the resurrection number. I was advised that before they sent someone out that I should hit the reset button on the bottom of the disposal. So I did. And it worked. Grinding again! I'm such a handyman!

The next day my car sounded louder than normal. I looked around and saw a small hole in my muffler. Another hole to deal with. It's always something new and old that not even a piano can cure. Or can it?

Monday, December 1, 2003

Room 477

Last time I saw Ike Reilly the world was a whole other place. Last time I saw Ike, Elisabeth Filarski wasn't a co-host of The View named Elisabeth Hasselbeck. Last time I saw Ike, my blue-eyed friend didn't have a college degree. Last time I saw Ike, I didn't have a black cat sorta seeking luck (of any kind) and a tripod companion to neutralize whatever feeling that was supposed to inspire. Last time I saw Ike, my tasty interior designer didn't have a baby grand piano or baby to deal with. Last time I saw Ike, our newest taxpayer hadn't posed nude. Last time I saw Ike, the saunterer hadn't taken a fall and gained a scar (or two). Last time I saw Ike, that same saunterer hadn't lost her grandmother and her mentor. Last time I saw Ike, I hadn't seen Scarlett ask Bill if it gets any easier and Bill replies that it doesn't. Last time I saw Ike, I hadn't enjoyed this morning's cinnamon scone. Last time I saw Ike, I hadn't had my most recent (and last) public meltdown (right here at First Ave!). Last time I saw Ike, Jazzy and Pumpkin had a loving mother/roommate and the roomie's mother hadn't written me a nice card thanking me for my memorial donation (including a 'more questions than answers' admission/reaching out) while trying to figure out why her daughter would take her own life. Last time I saw Ike, I wondered if she'd come the next time, because of all we shared music wasn't something we discussed.

Writers, education administrators, and secret folk rock stars, all hanging out in a downtown bar...


I've been working a lot of hours. Not because of any due compensation or sense of accomplishment. Sometimes you just need something to take your mind off things or keep your mind on anything else. The only thing I allowed a distraction from the long work hours was the ticket in my desk drawer that would admit me to Ike Reilly's appearance at First Ave this past week. So late one evening when I finally got home I gathered up my day's mail and while expecting something wholly different I saw a small envelope with unfamiliar personal handwriting scribbled on the outside. From previous experience (a time or two) I knew the insides contained some type of card though I knew not who it was from since there was no return address on the envelope. Weary of tricky junk mailers I nonetheless anxiously opened the baseball card sized envelope. Inside was an obviously somewhat thought out about card thanking me for a recent charitable donation I made. It was the least I could do and my eyes clouded up when the writer admitted to me, a complete stranger no less, that she had more questions than answers about why her daughter would take her own life.


We only saw each other one time. A friend of a friend of a... When I finally called her up I was in the middle of watching my dear feline friend gasp for the last breaths of his life. I wasn't exactly in the mindset of meeting someone new yet I needed something to distract my mind (catch a recurring theme here?) so I dialed the number I had tucked away. She seemed friendly and somewhat enthusiastic to meet me and we set up a time to get together. I didn't tell her what was really on my mind because how do you know how someone will respond to the revelation that your pet is dying and you are out of your mind and yet you know that you must do the human thing and remain somewhat social? Our first meeting I called to cancel because I had just brought Mr. Max home for the final time and I couldn't devote any less time in watching him and trying my darndest to make him comfortable knowing that really wasn't on the agenda anymore. She was OK with that, and after I told her what was going on she even seemed sympathetic.

A week after Max died we got together. She was kind enough to ask about him and I told her the news and she comforted me and I quickly changed the subject less I started to bawl my eyes out. But she then confessed she had a couple of cats and she couldn't imagine making the decision I had to make. She encouraged me to think about getting another cat or cats because there were so many in this world in need of a good home and having seen mine she knew what I needed to do. We didn't see each other again after that night, though we emailed and meant to get together again. Months later when I did indeed adopt a pair of cats I meant to tell her that her encouragement played heavily in my decision. Then the news came down that she took her life and I thought about how she could do that, how she could, at the very least, leave her two cats alone in this often times cruel cruel place? Should I have called? Could I have made a difference? So then recently I found the tribute her Mom posted on a cat care web site about how her daughter had devoted much of her life to taking in and taking care of lost cats because she had this kind kind soul and couldn't bear to see her intuitive friends suffer at all. And that's when I sent in my donation because I didn't know this side exactly and yet maybe, just maybe it's why we met in the first place and yet maybe I'm reading more to the story and I'll never know. Or maybe soon I will.

This time... it really no longer is about whether one is an angel or a whore or whether my friends are wasted or not or whether Commie drives a Nova or a Crown Vic. My head is bangin' and it has nothing to do with the music anymore. So just when is garbage day anyways?