Don Messerli’s Blog |

An exercise in self-indulgence.

Chris Whitley 1960-2005

Wednesday Nov 23, 2005

Chris Whitley passed away from lung cancer this past Sunday. He was only 45 years old. My brother Evan first got me interested in CW by introducing me to his first album, Living With The Law. With its hard pounding tempos, raw and viceral lyrics and southern twang; it was refreshing when music had seemed to hit a boring streak. I would rediscover CW years later when my friend, Mark Stracka, tried to recommend him to me. I caught up with CW’s releases and enjoyed them all. When I later got heavily into Daniel Lanois, I was delighted to discover that DL had played guiter on Living With The Law.

Recently, Mark asked me if I had kept up with CW’s releases. Sadly, the answer was “No”. We both agreed that we needed to pick up his latest album. I’ll be filling in the gaps in my collection right after I get back from Thanksgiving.

I checked my email this morning to find the sad news. I feel, in some strange way, a loss. I can’t explain it and I won’t try right now.


Dating your therapist’s son

Tuesday Nov 8, 2005

Prime
We went to see the movie Prime. The story about a woman who is dating her therapist’s son seemed entertaining from the trailers we’d seen. The trailers didn’t do the movie justice. This is one of the funniest movies I’ve seen in a long time. The humor is quite dry. If you’re looking for Stripes or Animal House, this isn’t them.

I haven’t liked anything Uma Thurman has done in a long time. I really liked her performance in this film. She really has gotten in touch with her vulnerable side. Maybe her divorce from Ethan Hawke had something to do with that.

Meryl Streep stole the show! She was cast perfectly as the therapist who wants her son to marry a nice Jewish girl and is then horrified to find out that not only is he dating a Gentile; but it’s one of her patients. She plays it straight and the performance is one of the best I’ve seen in a long time.

Some people tell me they don’t like Meryl Streep in previous movies. I actually think they don’t like the character she is playing. She thoroughly becomes the character. If you don’t like the person you’re seeing on the screen; it’s the character you don’t like, not her.

5 paws


Why is KFC failing?

Friday Oct 21, 2005

I stopped at KFC for lunch today. It wasn’t my first choice; but the fast-food spaghetti place I was headed for was out of business. Probably because I haven’t been there in months.

The company that owns KFC (Yum Foods) has previously stated that KFC is losing money and that their profits from Taco Bell are keeping the company going. KFC is failing. But why?

KFC has been adding items to their menu like mad. Black beans and rice, the Snacker, wings, and most recently Chops (chopped chicken with rice and salad-type veggies). They honestly believe that they are losing customers to new upstarts because they have menu items that KFC doesn’t. This couldn’t be farther from the truth.

If I pass a KFC in the midst of looking for a fast food fix, I don’t say, “No, not KFC, they don’t have Buffalo wings!”. I say something more like, “No, not KFC, their service sucks!”. Their service is among the worst in the industry AND their stores are aging and decrepit. God forbid I might have to use the restroom!

My predictions… You will see fewer and fewer standalone KFC locations. More of them will be those KFC/Taco Bell in the same building things. They need the Taco Bell customers to subsidize the diminishing KFC customers. The problem with these hybrid locations is… wait for it… THE SERVICE SUCKS!!! They’ve taken the worst of both worlds and combined them to make the dining experience from hell.

My advice to Yum Foods… Kill KFC. Don’t let the dying brand drag down the healthy one.


SqueezeBox

Thursday Sep 29, 2005

Late last year I picked up a really cool toy. It’s called a SqueezeBox from Slim Devices. It’s a small box with a bright LED screen that you plug into your stereo as an input device. You load up their software on a computer (it will run under Windows, Linux, and Mac). I have the server software use my iTunes Music Library.

Using a remote control, you can browse or search your music collection and then the music gets streamed to the SqueezeBox. The one I have is wireless (802.11b - they have a new SqueezeBox2 which is 802.11g). I can listen to my entire music collection* on the stereo in my bedroom without touching a CD!

I plan on getting another SqueezeBox for Regine to use in her playroom (where she does all of her scrapbooking, card making, and rubber stamping).

* Of course, this is only in theory. I have about 600 music CDs and have only ripped about 135 of them into iTunes so far. I figure at the rate I’m going, I’ll rip the last CD on my death bed.


Rate My Kitten

Friday Aug 26, 2005

Cute KittenI can look at pictures of cats and kittens all day. For me, it’s a nerve soothing experience. So, in the tradition of www.hotornot.com and the many www.ratemy{insert body part here}.com web sites, I’ve discovered a copious source of such pictures. The site is Rate My Kitten. You can rate the kittens. But how can you give a kitten less than a “9″? Even a scraggly kitten is cute.

Of course, I also like to look at the pictures of my cats.


Get In Line!

Tuesday Aug 16, 2005

The woman, Cindy Sheehan, who is, along with many others, holding a peace vigil outside of President Bush’s ranch needs a reality check. She is demanding that GW meet with her and other grieving families. Now, I’m not making a statement about whether the war in Iraq is right or wrong. I’m just stating my opinion on her demands.

There are about 300 million people in the United States. I’m sure at least one in every 10 would like to sit down with GW and tell him what he’s doing wrong, what he’s doing right or what he should do differently. I sure would. Does the fact that Mrs. Sheehan lost a son in Iraq give her the right to meet with the President? I don’t think so. If GW decided he was going to meet with everyone who wanted to do so (all 30 million of us), that would be a mighty long line. So, I say to Mrs. Sheehan, “Get In Line!”.

Our country has a mechanism in place for citizens to “speak” to our elected officials. It’s called the voting booth. Use it!


My Cats Have It Easy

Monday Aug 15, 2005

Penguins
Regine and I went to see March of the Penguins last week. The documentary about the emperor penguins in Antarctica is amazing. I was mesmerized and glued to the screen. I must warn you. This film might not be for everyone. There isn’t any nudity or car chases. If you can’t sit still for two hours, go see something else.

The filmmakers spent something like a year in freezing temperatures to capture the penguins’ struggle to propogate their species on film. It was obviously a labor of love for them. I commend them and recommend this movie to everyone.

The next morning, I realized how easy my cats have it as one of them followed me into the kitchen to get some food. Walking 30 feet to get your food out of a bowl sure beats walking 70 miles in freezing temperature to catch it.

5 paws


Live in Concert

Thursday Aug 11, 2005

Regine and I went to see Live in concert Tuesday night at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood. Although its only about 30 minutes away; this is only the second time I’ve been to the place. We went to see some standup comedy at the improv about a month ago. The casino is big; but nothing like Foxwoods in Connecticut. Everything is shiny and new. We’ll see how it looks in a couple of years. The venue for the concert was nice. Much better than the Hard Rock in Las Vegas; but that’s a whole other story. Surprisingly, the concert didn’t sell out. Probably because a large portion of Miami’s population never heard of Live. You can come up with your own “why” theory.

The concert was excellent. It took a little time for the energy to build; but by the time they got around to doing “White, Discussion”, things had climbed to a fever pitch. The majority of the songs they played were from their first two albums: Mental Jewelry and Throwing Copper. This is a good thing since most people I know agree that they have yet to match those albums. They played some stuff from Secret Samadhi as well as four or five songs from their yet-to-be-release new album called Songs from Black Mountain. The new album was just completed and will be released in November. Almost all of the new songs were very good.

Ed Kowalczyk was a bit more buff than I remember. He still needs to do something about those eyebrows and farmer tan. He’s also the only bald/buff guy I’ve seen in a long time that doesn’t have any tattoos.

Again, the concert was excellent. I recommend seeing them if they come to your sh*t town.


Eggs?

Thursday Aug 11, 2005

My friend, Mark, exuberantly recommended an album to me. I tend to regard Mark’s recommendations very highly. He has introduced me to artists such as Dog’s Eye View, Martin Sexton, Live and Dave Matthews Band. Sorry for the lack of links to those artists; but here’s one for you: Google.

This time, Mark recommended an album titled The Mysterious Production of Eggs by Andrew Bird. I purchased the album from the iTunes Music Store that day at work and schlepped it home on my USB memory gizmo. Now, a couple of months later, I finally burned it to CD and listened to it on the way into work this morning. Yes, my commute is long enough to digest a whole album.

As I listened, I started to try to place the music. It sounded like Rufus Wainwright, the group James and, in some places, Paul Simon. Then I started to think: why do I try to place music from artists that are new to me somewhere in my musical comfort zone? Do other people do this? (Feel free to leave comments). Is this being fair to the new artist? Or to the artists already in my comfort zone? Do I do this with other things? New flavors of ice cream? “This new Edy’s Triple Fudge Mocha Nut Blast tastes like Baskin Robbins’ Mocha Almond Fudge mixed with Ben and Jerry’s Chunky Monkey.”

My initial impression of the album is that it’s excellent and I’ll listen to it quite a bit. It’s going to take that much just to fathom all of the lyrics. I swear I heard him say something about tying a girl up and drilling a hole in her head. Eggs is lyrically rich and the instrumentation is a bit eccentric. Somewhat “Wall of Sound”ish. I’ll post more about this album after I’ve listened to it a few more times.


Welcome to my blog

Wednesday Aug 10, 2005

Since what I’ve basically been doing with donmesserli.com is blogging. I decided to switch to a blogging software package instead of the PHP I threw together in a hurry. I chose WordPress. Hey, if I don’t like it, I can always change to something else. Now, I just need to figure out how to get my “quote of the day”, “picture of the day”, and Picture Gallery link working.