30 March 2007

Talk Straight

As discussed previously, a new unsuck listen is Chapel Hill's The Old Ceremony. Kimplicated had the brazen audacity to ditch me as my concert consort for their return to Atlanta and Smith's Olde Bar. Wench is in China. The audacity! New recruit accompanied.

Not the turn out they deserved, but an appreciative audience all the same. Was bummed that the strings didn't come with - the cello and fiddle add such dynamic layers to the soundage.

The new CD hasn't struck me yet as a whole, but different songs bonk me over the head during their live performance. This time, it was Talk Straight.

"Talk straight, talk straight, so I can relate
Don't insinuate, please don't mumble

Enunciation and diction are companions in Kernan the Grammarian's druthers bucket. Have to *really* work at *not* pronouncing stuff when singing in the band (Otter and Boone, your Twelve Hands and Feet ghosts haunt me). Malapropisms and misprounciations so very much suck - as discussed here in CountryMouse's recent The Peevies post.

Important too is clarity. To be understood. To be brave and say the tough things, with honesty. To praise the positive instead of our cultural propensity to bitch and moan.

"You may lose some friends, but baby, in the end
It's better to defend than to cower
And as for me
If you cut me I will bleed
But I've come to believe that the truth has a healing power
If you only talk straight

Cheek-captured video was of the suck variety. YouTube not only yielded a professionally produced video, but it's for a cause:
Carolina for Kibera.

Run by Kenyans and advised by American and Kenyan volunteers, CFK's primary mission is to promote youth leadership and ethnic and gender cooperation in Kibera through sports, young women's empowerment, and community development. Additionally, CFK works to improve basic healthcare, sanitation, and education in Kibera.

Check it out now, funk soul brothah.

29 March 2007

A Time of Cleansing

Sunday as CarolinaMom and I sat gabbing, the first blooms opened on the fuschia azaleas outside the dining room window. 5 days later, they're in full bloom under a slender dogwood, as spied from Cheek's bedroom:

Many changes wrought in Cheekdom since the trees bared themselves just months ago. The season's blooms unfolding echo my own stretch to the warming light and clearing skies. Lazy Geisha put it in such fine prose, I can't compete. Enjoy it here, accompanied by pink azalea bloomage from my back yard:

"I have loved many; sometimes too much if such a thing is possible. I opened myself and gave myself freely and without question, and perhaps where I fell was in expecting that my love would be returned, and for a while it was, but it is the memory of that love which sustains me and now allows me to let it go, forever.

Spring for me is a time of cleansing. The death and quiet still of winter passes us by, and we rejoice in the celebration of life; and we remember those which we have loved, as we kiss them goodbye and turn away towards tomorrow."

28 March 2007

The Enemy's Gate is Down

Cheek already adores xkcd.com - this young bloke is talented, sensitive, and funny as all get OUT! Am anxiously awaiting the t-shirts ordered from the site.

Yesterday I scribed about my favorite sci-fi book of all time, Orson Scott Card's Ender's Game. And then I find this on today's xkcd.

Ender's Game should be read and then immediately followed by Ender's Shadow, a parallel novel that delves into Bean, the even younger, even scrawnier member of Ender's jeesh. By immediately followed, I mean finish the last page of Ender's Game, close the book, and then open Ender's Shadow and commence.

Most urchins discover Ender's Game - boys, mostly - at age 12. At age 25, a colleague offhanded it to me after he'd read it. I've since savored the whole Ender and Ender's Shadow series, as well as most of his other stuff. Pastwatch: The Redemption of Christopher Columbus is also a great read.

27 March 2007

More Sprungage: Dogwoods!

Dogwood trees are in full bloom. While I like the pink ones, their petals are smaller and less abundant. Below is the largest dogwood I've ever seen, and lives a mile away in the CheekHood.

Unsuck Listen List

This not an homage to any traditional idea of “best”. These are listens that struck me and continue to strike. For brevity’s sake, I listed the first thing I heard – subsequent unsucks usually followed.

* items have not yet stood the test of enough time. Let’s say, 10 years.

Crowded House’s Self-Titled Debut
Cocteau Twins’ Treasure
Counting Crows’ August and Everything After
The Cure’s Staring At The Sea
Dave Matthews Band’s Crush
Eddie From Ohio (their entire discography - have known them since before their first release)
Garden State Soundtrack
The Innocence Mission’s Self-Title Debut
*Jamie Collum’s Catching Tales
John Coltrane’s The Last Giant: The John Coltrane Anthology
John Wesley Harding’s Why We Fight
*Jonatha Brooke’s Steady Pull
Kansas’ Two for the Show
k.d. lang’s Ingenue
*KT Tunstall’s Eye to the Telescope
*Marc Cohn’s Burning the Daze
Michael Penn’s March
*Midnight In the Garden of Good and Evil Soundtrack (with the exception of Clint Eastwood’s “Accentuate the Positive” – painful!)
*Mike Doughty’s Haughty Melodic
Miles Davis’ Birth Of The Cool
R.E.M.’s Murmur
Neil Finn’s Try Whistling This
*Norah Jones’ Come Away With Me
Prefab Sprout’s Two Wheels Good
*Space Cowboys Soundtrack
Speidel, Goodrich & Goggin’s Self-Titled Debut
Squirrel Nut Zippers’ Hot
Sting’s Dream of the Blue Turtles
The Sunday’s Reading, Writing and Arithmetic
Violent Femmes’ Self-Titled Debut
XTC’s Skylarking

My Latest Unsuck Crush

Ok. So there are BlogEntries you should know about, and also Blogs you should know about. Because occasionally, something *so* doesn't mostly suck that it's hard to pick your favorite facet. An unsuck crush, if you will.

Historically, first things Cheek-discovered as unsucking were books. Bit by Madeline L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time in the third grade, my love affair with science fiction was born. Octavia Butler. Orson Scott Card. Robert Heinlein. Frank Herbert. Julian May. Once I turned their pages, I kept turning. And turning. And re-turning, reading works again through the years. #1 fave is still Card’s Ender’s Game.

Books led to poetry. Poetry to plays. Plays back to fiction. Too many writers to list – a post for a rainy day. But there’s one book – and only one, so far – that found me *immediately* re-turning: Tom Robbins’ Fierce Invalids Home From Hot Climates. Run, don’t walk, and read it. When you do, be sure to come back and report if you have C.R.A.F.T. Club membership.

Unsucking Cheek seconds: musicians and the first time I heard one of their albums. Ok, ok, ok. CDs. Ok, ok, ok. Musical releases (there!, modern, only-known-digital young FREAKS!). First listens found me captured by the collection of songs, not just any one. Sure, there were standouts. But as a whole, I listened to the entire things over. And over. And over. (See next post if you’re curious.)

The test, tho', is time. I may think something is great, but does it last? Is it overdone? Does it become full of itself? Or does it only continue to have poignant meaning? New works are longed for, but once acquired, may or may not be enjoyed as readily. As wholesomely. Could be hit or miss. But overall, I keep seeking it out. I revel more than I rue. I rarely walk away.

So, back to B.Y.S.K.A.: there are those I peruse, and those I check daily. Ok, more than daily. I read them for withing: to connect with, identify with, groove with, learn with, laugh with. Before you leap to say “should it be ‘from’” - no, it’s *with*. Cuz this new fangled internet thang and its blog – sorry - blag spawn lets me interact, thanks very damn much.

There are many I like muchly and score high on my unsuck-o-meter – you know who you are. But please don’t be jealous of my new unsuck crush, CountryMouse. She’s earned this valentine. How, how, how do I choose my favorite post when betterer ones keep appearing?

Cheek’s CountryMouse unsuck list, dateline 27-Mar-2007 7:58 PM EDT:

1. Roll Call. One woman, many voices. I hope to meet them one day in concert.
2. Too Expensive. Every woman has been here. Or will.
3. The Peevies. She’s after Kernan the Grammarian’s heart with this compendium of malapropisms.
4. An Extrapolation. I was on the edge of my seat: *will* she?
5. Suburban Legends. The language, the lore; “bean blasphemy” at its best.
6. Walking a (Green) Mile in Someone Else’s Shoes. Stark honesty.
7. Have A Euphemistic Day. Foreplayfully good.

CountryMouse reminds me a lot of Hollis Gillespie. Hollis’ articles have appeared weekly in Creative Loafing for years. She contributes to NPR’s All Things Considered, collected her columns into 2 different books, and is working on bringing her tales to the small cable screen. I’m considering taking Hollis’ writing workshop this summer – I’ll be guarandamteed to pee my pants laughing, at a minimum.

CountryMouse, I reckon, and I believe rightly, that the wankosphere is your oyster. My glass is raised to your unsucky, non-lazy ass-mother of three self, and toasting to a blag future of only revel, no rue.

26 March 2007


With props to WhiteNoise (a long overdue addition to the NutRoll) for his M.Y.S.K.A. (Music You Should Know About), there are also BlogEntries You Should Know About.

Scott Adams' post yesterday on The Meaning of Meaning did not suck. At all.

Atlanta: Sprung

"Every field wears a bonnet
With some spring daisies on it,
Even birds of a feather show their clothes off together.
Sun's gettin' shinery, to spotlight the finery,
Spring, Spring, Spring."

- Johnny Mercer, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers

The heckling can end. Been busy in CheekTown and writing is a guilty pleasure. Apologies for the Spring blag break.

Speaking of Spring, it is ON in Hotlanta. First blooming were the Redbud and Bradford pear trees, chased rapidly by cherry trees and forsythia. Saturday found the dogwoods and azaleas competing for first billing. Prettiest tulips yet were spied yesterday at a traffic light.

And so, with Spring comes its rites. Fat bees hum in slow stupor as they languidly lounge about the jasmine blooms draping down from the front porch lattice. Female cardinals build their nests with azalea twigs.

For female humans, toes are pedi-blinged, temperatures rise, necklines plunge, and razors fly as pale legs are landscaped for printemps display.

You cannot trust Cheek with sharp objects. She can barely sing and shake a tamborine at the same time! It took three SpongeBob band-aids to quell the welling blood. At least they glowed in the dark to light the way - Cheek's not known for grace, either.

(Props to Erin O’Brien and her Ides of March Eve Naked Couch Day pic for illustrating tasteful snaps.)

19 March 2007

The Cure for Loneliness ... Ain't It Da Truf?


I usually find Dilbert funny or sadly illustrative of professional experiences - but this was profound. And funny.

18 March 2007


As CountryMouse puts it, we all have voices in our head. One of mine is Kernan the Grammarian. Kernan can be harsh, but Kernan also takes ultimato liberty with language, abusing it profusely into her own patois. Cheeknacular, if you will.

Never knew that I was also an “anonymous apostrophe flinger” – well, I guess I knew I was, but didn’t know there was a name for it. Good thing I’ve got StrongBad to set me straight (watch at least the beginning). I’ve received my charleyhorse. Run, don’t walk, and catch up on some StrongBad E-mail today.

15 March 2007

The Ides of March

Loved this Get Fuzzy from last year - worthy of resurrection.

Visited the Forum in Rome in the fall of 2005. Strolled along the Via Sacra, thinking of Julius Caesar walking the same path. His Curia Julia eventually housed the Roman senate. Peering into the tall, marble floored structure, tourists whispered. Reverence in hushed tones. Closed my eyes and imagined 300 senators conducting the business of the great empire of Rome.

Took Uncle Rick's advice (that's Rick Steves, natch - NEVER travel to Europe without his books!) to hear the Curia's incredible resonance. Spoke low, echoes bouncing back, then whistled a few bars of Walking on the Moon by the Police. Tourists looked askance and clucked tongues. It ain't no church, people - it was a place of DEBATE.

10 March 2007

Christmas in March?

Walked across the street to dinner last week and spied this in the parking lot:

Mind you, it's March. How *did* they keep the holiday tree going? Is the truck driver's to do list so long that he *just* can't get around to dealing with that pesky foliage messing about with his rear view?

Is this a Georgia thing? Captions accepted.


Get Fuzzy just gets betterer and betterer. Who knew Bucky had such depth? Darby Conley is *so* turning this English major / grammarian ON!

Happy Ass-Birthday, CountryMouse

Went to leave a comment on CountryMouse’s recent post, but its length beckoned to bloom here.

Cheek’s 40th year is finding that 40 is as 40 does. My Happy Bunny jammies are working hard to supplant the SpongeBob SquarePants ones in most favored status. I get my toes blinged on holidays (flags on the big toes for July 4th is the *best*!).

I'm still discovering new music, often educating my peeps' teenage urchins on good stuff, such as KT Tunstall, The Shins, Mat Kearney, The Old Ceremony, and Brother Shamus, while edumacating my ‘rents on new good stuff as well (Corinne Bailey Rae and Jamie Cullum).

I may not have my earth mother on like CountryMouse and SmashAsh, but borrowing peep’s urchins upon occasion yields a significant return on my immaturity investment. The past weekend with toddler E afforded the first opportunity to Playdoh and to playground picnic since forever ago. Squeezing a fresh Playdoh wad in your fingers is SO incredibly satisfying. Try it some time. It kicks Silly Putty's ass.

Still working on the grand gesture before the 40th next January. Am definitely leaning towards 40 small earthquakes rather than one large one. More to savor.

Here’s to your own upcoming 40th, CountryMouse. Sláinte. And as the Swede schooled me in singing happy birthday: “Hooray for CountryMouse! Hooray at last! Hooray for CountryMouse, she’s a horse’s ass!”.

Color Me Salsified: Another Food Cherry, Popped

Cheek disgraced. A criminal offense that it took just shy of 15 years living in Atlanta to discover the foodgasmic restaurant by the 'hooch, Canoe. Advance perusal of the menu promised choice dilemmas, and disappointment wasn't realized.

Decided to go tapas style from the First Flavors selections. Pistachio seared goat cheese to start - warm, creamy; only problem was its portion size, but that left room for other tastes. Next came a crab fritter from the specials list - 98% crab served on a bed of greens.

Finished with two firsts found in the scallop gratinee. As mentioned in Cheek passim, my palate is born again yet still shy about funky food textures. Previous scallop experiences landed in the ew! bucket due to rubberyness, but I was assured that overcooking was at fault and not its inherent nature.

Perfectly done, thinly sliced, served in a light cream sauce with applewood smoked bacon, crimini mushrooms, and salsify - a vegetable previously unknown to Cheek and her dinner companion, a self-described chef savant. Nice texture there as well – picked up the flavor of the sauce and bacon – yum. Captured the dish as proof for Yville Mom, who *still* doesn’t believe her daughter ate oysters in any form.

Selected the Brunello di Montalcino Sangiovese from the Sheena-worthy wine list (no f*cking Yellow Tail, and Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc at the ready!). Dessertgasm realized in the roasted banana cheesecake – graham cracker crust, almond brittle crunch jones, hot toddy ice cream topped with warm caramel sauce.

Looking forward to repeat offending as the weather warms and daylight waxes – the african squash soup with peekytoe crap & lime pot de crème as well as the pumpkin pie ravioli are calling Cheek’s name. *So* ready to Spring forward!

06 March 2007

The Rub

Ok, so there's proof that I wasn't inspired by Darby Conley with the One Scratch Stand post, as it was done before his Get Fuzzy strip today. But d*mn! Those two go togethah!

My English major self is groovin' on ShakesPug ... he's McDreamy.

05 March 2007

Lucky Charms

Second fiddle holidays to most are relished in Cheekdom. Have you got yer Irish bling on yet?

Already have designs on the Irish pub in stumbling distance for St. Patrick's day festivities. Free Guinness glasses on Wednesdays all month - I am so! there. Just working on finding my Irish dream ...

let's start with your crushed velvet coat
laid across my bed
all that sexual energy tangled in burgandy
said until then you hadn't found me yet
said you hadn't found me just yet

- Irish Dream, Eddie From Ohio