Friday, March 31, 2006



I have a bad case of blogaphobia. Partly it is due to information overload. I have a large backlog of things I want to write about, but not enough time or space to get to it all in. I have decided to attempt to whittle down the backlog before I acquire new material.

But mostly, it is due to recent events. The passing of old friends and people I admire. Not to mention the aging process. I have become keenly aware of how quickly it accelerates post age 50. I am very cognizant of the fact my thought processes are slower than even just a couple of years ago. Cognizant of my aching knees. Of the fact my canoe seems to have gained twenty pounds over the winter. It has all combined to leave me feeling melancholy and, well, elderly.

However, I am taking encouragement from the fact that there are people doing the best work of there lives post 70. One of them is my friend Bob Owens, who at age 73 is about to tackle Michigan's longest river, the Grand. He plans to have canoed the entire length of it by summers end. I don't have a pic of him to post, but just look at Willie's pic and add 50 pounds. That would be a pretty close image.

Speaking of Willie Nelson, he has just released what I believe to be the best album of his long, storied career. YOU DON'T KNOW ME is a tribute to the late song writer Cindy Walker. Walker, who wrote her first hit song (Bob Wills and the Texas Playboy's DUSTY ROADS) at age 12, had hit songs recorded by Bing Crosby, Ray Charles, Webb Pierce, and Roy Orbison, to name a few.

Nelson has truly never sounded better. He is a singer's singer. His phrasing is impeccable. Reminiscent of Rosemary Clooney. And remarkably, the voice is still there. And these songs are incredible! My favorites are the title tune (every bit as good as Ray Charles version), and IT'S ALL YOUR FAULT, written in 1942. But they are all excellent. I am just enthralled with this album!

I watched THE NOTEBOOK again last night. It reminded me of why James Garner has been my favorite actor since I was a small kid, and he and Jack Kelly played brothers Brett and Bart on MAVERICK. Garner has always been a terrific actor. I loved THE ROCKFORD FILES. And I have seen most of his almost 50 movies. I always thought BARBARIANS AT THE GATE was his best. Until I saw THE NOTEBOOK. He is absolutely brilliant in it. A lot of critics thought he was robbed when he didn't win the academy Award for Best supporting actor for this role. I would have to agree.

Among my other Garner favorites: TWILIGHT (with Paul Newman), 1998; MURPHY'S ROMANCE (with Sally Fields and Jeff Daniels) nominated for Best Actor, 1985; TANK (with Shirley Jones, Jenilee Harrison), 1984; CASTAWAY COWBOY (with Vera Miles, Robert Culp), 1984 (This is my all time favorite family movie. My children and grand children have worn out several copies. Garner is hilarious in this film! If you have kids or grandkids, you gotta rent this one!); SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL SHERIFF (with Walter Brennan and Harry Morgan), 1969: GRAND PRIX (with Eva Marie Saint), 1966: THE GREAT ESCAPE (with Steve McQueen, Richard Attenborough, James Coburn, Charles Bronson), 1963.

Even though I was a huge STAR TREK fan, I have never been a huge William Shatner fan. Until now. Shatner is easily doing the best work of his life right now. His portrayal of Denny Crane on BOSTON LEGAL is just brilliant. Crane is an aging, etcentric, larger than life, superstar lawyer, whose mind and skills have faded with time. He is aware of the fact, but pride and love of the limelight keep him from fading quietly into the night. Because of this, Crane rides a roller coaster of emotions. Over a season and a half, he has developed a sort of father/son relationship with the melancholy, ethically challenged Alan Shore (James Spader). Their relationship is often humorous, sometimes volatile, often poignant. Shatner plays it all with a brilliant blend of pomposity and vunerability. He richly deserved the Emmy he won for this role!

Last year, 36 years after he released his first (and only) album, the kitschy TRANSFORMED MAN, Shatner released a new album. Produced by Ben Folds, and backed by Folds band, HAS BEEN was both a critical and commercial success.

So, I guess there is hope for those of us who are "age challenged." Now if someone would only inform my knees.

I am amazed at the amount of really good music being produced right now! I already discussed Willie Nelson's new album, but there are a couple more I'd like to give a brief mention to:

The Little Willies are Nora Jones' new band. Originally conceived as a Willie Nelson cover band, they have quickly broadened their horizons. Their new album, THE LITTLE WILLIES, has a feel that at once reminds you of Willie, Floyd Kramer, Johnny Gimble and Bob Wills. Nora Jones is easily this decades best vocalist, and she really shines on this album, especially on the song ROLL ON. She sings in a voice reminiscent of Janis Joplin. It is gorgeous and haunting at the same time. I hope they release ROLL ON as a single.

THE LIFE PURSUIT is the new album by Scottish band Belle and Sebastian. This album is quite a departure from the "chamber pop" days. Sans Isobel Campbell and Stuart David, the new album has a much heftier sound, much more uptempo . I really like the songs from this album, which you can hear performed live at NPR's LIVE CONCERT SERIES

Great post. Agree completely about Willie Nelson. I have always loved his phrasing also ... much more like jazz phrasing than country.

Both my dad (during the Vietnam war) and my aunt have met and talked with James Garner and say that he is just one of the nicest men they have ever met.
L bought me, Support Your Local Sheriff and Support Your Local Gunfighter, for Christmas. I ADORE James Garner. I think Skin Game is my all time favorite, although Tank and The Notebook are close.
Garner has also done a LOT of great TV movies.
My knees and my back may be shot, but I still have stamina!
I love Willie Nelson, especially when he sings with Waylon Jennings. Although, I think my favorite song of his is his duet with Leann Womack, "Mendocino County Line". On aging, I don't have much to talk about, but I got a game for the DS which contains little brain exercises and it has a part which calculates my brain age. I started at brain age 63 (gulp), which is almost twice my real age. James Garner is great - I remember watching Rockford Files. I liked when he did the movie "My Fellow Americans" with Jack Lemmon.
Belle and Sebastian is a new discovery of mine. I always knew they existed, and I few years ago I listened to a couple of their songs and couldn't see what the fuss was about. Then a few months ago I heard a few more songs, and I thought they were brilliant. Now I can't get enough of them. It's funny that you posted that NPR link, because I found that concert just yesterday! I haven't listened yet.
I just can't get into the groove with Nora Jones. It just seems so generic to me. Like drinking instant coffee with artificial sweetener. When I hear her, I feel like I'm being marketed to....even if she is a good singer. But then again, my musical tastes have taken me to some oddball places since I took up the squeezebox - like Trikitixa, that curious Basque music, featuring the button box and tamborine, and polka music by bands like The Dynatones, which must have rocked the socks off of Buffalo when they were happening.
my fave Willie Nelson record is Teatro, by far - haven't heard the new one though.
I love James Garner. He's a good dramatic and comedic actor. I've also heard that he's a nice guy, like dbackdad said.

Funny you should mention knees, mine has been complaining again lately. Gotta do some work on it.
dbdad - I saw Garner on Letterman shortly after he joined the cast of 8 Simple Rules. He was remarkably modest and unassuming. Made no bones about his distaste for Bush either.

tshs - You still have stamina? I am so jealous!

notta - I love that sone too! Be thankful you can't discuss the agin thing yet!

gp - arent they great?

mr a - go to npr's website and listen to roll on... I 'll bet you change your mind.

Squirl - I certainly empathise with you!
Great White Bear, howdy. You need to take natural source vitamin B...I hope you are already. And pick up some Omega Nutrition organic flax seed oil for your knees. Take a tablespoon every morning for a week till you get used to it, then work your way towards wo tablespoons. Your energy and thought processes will respond! You might also consider taking natural source vitamin E,400 IUs a day.

Chin up! it's the hardest to lose friends, because we chose them, the family we make.
Gotta check out some of your music, sounds like my kinda stuff. I get stuck on certain albums and find it hard to move on, so it's always good to hear about something new (CDaphobia instead of blogaphobia, I guess....)
I'm very sorry to hear about your losses so early in the year; last year was like that for us, and I know there's nothing I can say to make it a little better, but I certainly wish there was! Please just hang in there and don't fret about aging. There are so many folks out there doing their best at 60, 70, even 80+! (like James Garner!).
I know what you mean about information overload...there's just SOOOO little to say and so much time to say it. Wait a minute. Strike that, reverse it.
I loved The Notebook, too. James Garner is a little before my time; I barely remember Maverick. My parents used to watch it when I was really young, along with Paladin. My mom loved the Rockford Files and I've seen that in syndication, but I don't like it as much as Magnum PI. Garner was good in Space Cowboys, which was a silly movie but had Tommy Lee Jones in it, who is a fave of mine.

As for Norah Jones: God, they play her constantly at my work and I want to go postal whenever I hear her now.
Willie rocks! (or should I say countries . . . that ain't a word, though.)

Nice stuff, regardless.

Ben O.
Yeah, I've had this problem too. There's so many things to post about that I don't feel like starting any of them.

As for getting older, I know I'm not that old, but I swear my body is 20 years older than I am.
Wow GWB. We agree on Garner, Shatner, knees and Nora Jones.

This is spooky!
cm thanks for the knee info!
I like William Shatner he had a group of shows on the SiFi channel he hosted a couple of weeks ago. One where he was the star called "How William Shatner Changed the World" it was funny and he was a hoot.
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