Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Chris Cornell -- songwriter, rock star... mancrush?

Even at the urging of some of my friends, I still haven't seen a single episode of the hit show "American Idol". I'll get to it someday, I promise! But this year I did start to pay more attention to what was going on with the show because a rock singer (David Cook) kept avoiding elimination week after week. Pretty impressive for a show that has mostly rewarded pop singers(and one country star, Carrie Underwood).

David Cook ended up winning the competition. Cool! Many people's favorite performance of his is a recomposed version of "Billie Jean". Yes, the Michael Jackson song.

A few years ago Chris Cornell rearranged the song and turned it into a haunting acoustic piece. He has always been my absolute favorite rock vocalist, just above Dave Grohl and Wes Scantlin. His range, both in notes and in style, has always impressed me. Yet many people in America had no idea who Chris Cornell was until American Idol mentioned his name. Here's David Cook's performance. It's excellent:

So for those of you who still may not really know Chris Cornell, I'll give you a few more details. First, he was lead singer for two rock bands -- Soundgarden and Audioslave. He's been in a couple of movies too, I think. Not important.

If you really want to know Chris Cornell, and to be struck full-force with the strength of his studliness, look no farther than Garth Brooks.

You know Garth Brooks, right? Country superstar? A guy so rich that he reportedly gave his wife over $125 million as a divorce settlement? A guy who has gone to spring training for four different Major League Baseball teams, just for fun? Because when you're that rich and famous, you can pretty much do whatever the heck you want and nobody will argue.

So what present do you get for somebody like that, on Christmas or their birthday? What could a man like that possibly want?

He wanted to be Chris Cornell. In 1999 Garth Brooks apparently became bored with wealth and fame and wanted to do something totally different. He created an alter-ego rock singer called, you guessed, it Chris. Chris Gaines. One of the pictures below is his album cover. The other picture is Chris Cornell.

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I'd rank it as the single biggest public mancrush of all time. Bigger than John Madden on Brett Favre. Bigger than Jimmy Kimmel on Ben Affleck.

Yet with all that fame and power, Garth Brooks couldn't get his biggest wish. He couldn't become Chris Cornell. His album flopped horribly and there was even supposed to be a Chris Gaines movie, but fortunately it got scrapped and the apocalypse was thereby delayed.

Moral of the story: reinventing yourself can be fun and all, but only if it moves you closer to who you really are.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Family update part 2 -- stories

Time to continue the family update, this time with anecdotes from the past few weeks:

You know what I mean

It had been a long day, and Jamie and I were trying to get the kids ready for bed. I had already told Samantha twice that she needed to clean her room and put pajamas on before playing. I then left her room to go help out with Jack.

Two minutes later I checked on Samantha. Her room was still a mess, and she was totally naked, dancing in front of the mirror. I tried my best to stifle my laughter as I took her to Jamie. You see, it was Jamie's night to put Samantha to bed, so I was going to let it be her call on the consequence for Samantha's behavior.

Samantha walked over, still naked, to her mommy.

"Tell her what happened, Samantha", I said.

"I didn't clean my room."

"And what does your room look like right now?", I asked.

"It's a big desire."

Blank stares all around.

"Do you mean disaster?", I asked.


Stifling didn't work anymore.


I had both kids with me at Home Depot, one of their favorite places. I turned my back on them for a second to pick out the light bulbs I was looking for. When I turned back to face them, Jack was climbing up a weedeater. Yes, a weedeater. My instincts took over and I yelled out, "JACK! OFF!"

Except I said those words really close together. It didn't really sound like two words. Everybody turned to look at the filthy-mouthed redhead.

Hotel Adventures

Last weekend we drove to Arkansas to attend my grandad's 80th birthday party. That meant three nights in a hotel with our kids, which is usually pretty fun. We call it "hotel adventure" time. On this trip, though, we didn't even make it past 2am on the first night before changing the sleeping arrangments. The kids had to be separated so I shared a bed with Samantha and Jamie slept with Jack. Jamie got the good end of that one, I tell you.

Samantha did the following over the next two nights:

Full-body twitches
Going deep under the covers and then sitting up (?).
Headbutting me repeatedly -- sometimes in single, large bashes, and sometimes with a series of light taps

More on the clapping. One night at about 5am she sat upright in bed, raised her arms to her sides and brought them together in one loud clap. Then she laid back down.

One hour later the same thing happened. Upright, big clap, lay down. She laid on her side facing me so I said, "Samantha, stop clapping." "Okay", she responded.

Then, while still looking me in the eye, she proceeded to lift her arms up from under the covers and clap loudly. Twice. Clap! Clap!

She was obviously still asleep and had no idea what she was doing, and she had no memory of this when she woke up the next day.

My uncle had the best tip of the weekend -- future hotel adventures should include a two-room suite with a connecting door. Samantha can get her nighttime freakshow on all by herself.

Not really funny

It's interesting that out of the 20 kids in Samantha's gymnastics class, I'm the only dad who is ever there to watch (it ends at 5:30).

It was interesting that out of the 10 kids who graduated yesterday from pre-kindergarten at Samantha's school, I was one of only four dads to attend.

Actually that's not interesting, it's just sad...

Monday, May 12, 2008

Family update part 1 -- pictures

I was out of town for a week on a golf trip with guys from work. My life is tough, I tell ya.

I'm back now so here's a slew of pictures from some of our family fun over the past several weeks:

--Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo
--Our first ever camping trip
--Miscellaneous cuteness and craziness

Also, my friend Hal followed our friend Debby's lead and put a music playlist on his blog, so I've now done the same. If you scroll alllllll the way down to the bottom of this page, you'll see my playlist and can listen to it. I haven't set it to "autoplay" for every visitor; that way people won't be surprised to come to my blog and wonder where the music is coming from! I've enjoyed listening to other people's selections and having it run in the background while I'm working.

In a couple of days I'll continue the family update with some stories. Later!

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