16 Horsepower

Monday, January 16, 2006

Server issue should be sorted out within an hour

Just got off the phone with my host. There are some problems with the server my site is being hosted on. It's got some bug in it off of an upgrade they're doing though they say the rest of their servers are running fine.

Hopefully the Southern Gent will be up and running shortly.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Argghh

Frustration. I spring for my own domain and now my site has crashed out.

Hmmm, hopefully Eccentric Southern Gentleman will be back online soon.

Just wanted to let y'all know it still exists, we're just having problems at the moment.

Nico

Monday, November 28, 2005

A new home....

I finally decided to spring for my own domain, so 16 Horsepower the blogspot blog is giving way to Eccentric Southern Gentleman. I just wanted some more features and little more flexibility.

For those of you that link to me, PLEASE update the links on your site so the occasional reader via your site will know where to find me! Thanks a million!

Ushpizin



Went to my favorite movie theater on earth yesterday, The Enzian, to watch Ushpizin, an Israeli film about a poor Orthodox Jewish couple (Moshe and Mali) preparing for Succoth and all of the difficulties they face once the holiday begins. "Ushpizin" means "holy guests" and the couple's holiday is turned upside down by two unexpected visitors from Moshe's wild, secular past. It won the "Best Picture" and "Best Actor" awards from the 2004 Israeli Film Academy awards. Truly a fantastic movie. One of the best I've seen in quite a while.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

A Tribute to George Best

Soccer legend George Best died on Friday. He was 59 years old. Best, who gained fame playing for Manchester United was one of the sport's most entertaining stars both on and off the field.

Here's a clip of George in action from late in his career playing for the San Jose Earthquakes in the NASL. Truly one of the most amazing individual efforts I've ever seen.



Thanks to Michael K. for the video.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Book roundup

I finished several books in the last few weeks and most of them are worth mentioning.


Lovesick Blues: The Life of Hank Williams by Paul Hemphill
Excellent biography of one of Alabama's most famous sons. Hemphill is a native Alabamian and he skillfully weaves personal recollections of growing up during Williams' meteoric rise into the biography. An interesting and riveting way to chronicle someone's life. Highly recommended


Midnight In the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt
Nonfiction account of life in Savannah that centers around a famous murder trial for a 1981 shooting that gripped the small Georgia city. Berendt, a writer working in New York had made Savannah his second home and came to know many of its eccentric citizens personally, including those involved in the shooting. The book has been described as "lyrical nonfiction" and that's about the best way to describe it because it reads like a novel eventhough it's nonfiction. Highly recommended.


Spiritual Florida by Mauricio Herreros
Guide book to spiritual places in Florida and a few more scattered in Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina. About 80% of the entries are in Florida. Includes everything from Greek Orthodox monasteries to Thai Buddhist monastaries to a 12th century Spanish monastery that was disassembled in Spain and shipped to Miami to be reassembled. Some of it isn't particularly interesting because it just tells about retreat centers that are available. The monastery listings and historic cathedrals are quite interesting and I've found about 10-15 places in the book I'd like to visit. One of them, the St. Photios Shrine in St. Augustine, I've already been to.


Time and Man by Georgios I. Mantzaridis
Complex philosophical/theological book dealing with time and man's relationship to it. Only about 100 pages, but it's a real mind-melter. Good stuff though.


A Quiet Room by Jakushitsu
The poetry of a 14th Century Japanese Zen Buddhist monk. Some of it was totally lost on me due to my not having a great knowledge of Zen theology/cosmology, but a decent portion of it was stuff that anyone could latch onto and understand. It was okay, I wouldn't recommend it though.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Made/Remade vol. 9 - "Toxic"

Volume 9 of Made/Remade features Britney Spears vs. Bluegrass.

Mrs. Spears released a truly good song (I cringe to type that) last year with "Toxic." There, I said it. Yes, I really like the song. It's catchy as can be and is a nice little guilty pleasure song.

Imagine my delight last week when Nickel Creek broke the song out at the concert in Charleston, but arranged for mandolin, acoustic guitar, fiddle and upright bass. Interestingly, Chris Thile takes vocal duties instead of Sara Watkins. This particular version is from the Cleveland House of Blues. Just Google "Nickel Creek Toxic MP3" and you'll find a few sites that have it for download.)



Britney Spears - "Toxic" (purchase here)



Nickel Creek - "Toxic" (not commercially available)

Thursday, November 24, 2005

The Flaming Lips - The Fearless Freaks



The Flaming Lips' popularity is one of those things about music that just totally baffles me. There's truly no accounting for taste.

Now that we've firmly established the fact that I don't like their music, I do have to say they seem like really interesting people and it seems like they'd be a lot of fun to see in concert...and probably pretty fun to hang out with (most of the time.)

The Fearless Freaks isn't a concert movie, it is a documentary and follows them around from their humble Oklahoma beginnings to their international tours with bands like Red Hot Chili Peppers and Tool. All the while, they've truly "kept it real" and continue to live in the same rundown Oklahoma City neighborhood they were born into.

As is the problem with most movies these days, it's too long. Not that I have a short attention span (the three and a half hour Andrei Rublev is one of my favorite movies), it's just that too much is thrown in. There seems to be little ability to self-edit. They should've totally done away with the half hour or so following the movie making ambitions of the Flaming Lips. That was terribly boring.

The whole reason I'm even making an entire lengthy post about having watched this is that one of the band members got hooked on heroin for about five or six years. They actually film the guy cooking up a hit of smack and explaining how he's shot all of his money and possessions into his veins and that he literally owns nothing. He even sold his musical equipment to the band and didn't own his own gear. We're (thankfully) spared the visual of him actually sticking himself, but they do show his long search for a vein to stick. Immediately after he'd shot up, they start filming again. The guy is so twitchy, freaky and creepy. This is what they need to show in drug prevention advertisements, not the corny things they show now. Everybody in the room was completely revulsed and I think it would produce that reaction in 99.9% of the populace. I can't believe they let that in there, but I guess they were going for the brutal truth.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

AOTW: Nickel Creek: Why Should the Fire Die?



Nickel Creek have finally found their own voice on record with Why Should the Fire Die? Their two previous records were produced by Alison Krauss and the sound of her band more than rubbed off.

Why Should the Fire Die? is lyrically and musically more mature than their previous efforts and focuses primarily on themes of love and relationships gone sour. Mandolin player and bandleader Chris Thile handles the majority of the songwriting duties and that's a good thing because his abilities as a writer far surpass that of his bandmates, Sean Watkins and Sara Watkins (brother & sister.) I also like how the songs sometimes sound more innocent than their lyrical content. The contrast is interesting.

I've included four tracks off of the fourteen track disc. If you don't listen to them all, at least check out "Helena" and "Why Should the Fire Die?" Two very different tracks that'll give you a feel for the variety they bring to the table.

"Helena": A song about being in multiple relationships when not everyone involved is aware of all of the circumstances. It's a pretty bitter, angst ridden song that grows from placid to furious both lyrically and musically as the song progresses (well as furious as a mandolin, fiddle, upright bass and an acoustic guitar can be.)

"When in Rome": A song about the status quo, fear thinking, keeping up with the Joneses and living under the expectations of others.

"Can't Complain": A song that's brutal in its assesment of some relationships gone wrong. I love the line "I guess we just kidnapped each others minds."

"Why Should the Fire Die?": The title track and the song that closes the disc asks the question why should (or does) the spark in a relationship die? It's a sparse, longing number that really sews the album up nicely. It's one of my favorite tracks off of the disc.

"Helena"


"When in Rome"


"Can't Complain"


"Why Should The Fire Die?"


Disclaimer to the big, bad label types that may stumble across this: These tracks aren't downloadable and they will be removed seven days after they're posted.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Made/Remade vol. 8 - "The Mercy Seat"

Volume 8 of Made/Unmade switches things around a bit and finds an older, more established artist covering the music of someone a generation younger than him.

In Johnny Cash's later career, he gained a whole new audience by covering a lot of songs by younger artists, one of these was Australia's Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds.

The versions are vastly different, but both excellent.



Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds - "The Mercy Seat" (1988) (purchase here)



Johnny Cash - "The Mercy Seat" (2000) (purchase here)

Disclaimer to the big, bad label types that may stumble across this: These tracks aren't downloadable and they will be removed seven days after they're posted. Additionally, I've posted links where you can purchase the work.