Wednesday, June 30, 2004

France...A retrospective

Just arrived back from an incredible 12 day adventure in France...well not exactly twelve days: If you take off the travel time (11 hours to France 25 hours including layovers in Amsterdam, Detroit and Minneapolis back to Missoula) and the delays in travel while in France (Paris to Ennordres normally 2.5 hours took us 6 hours, CDG to Paris normally 45 minutes by Bus took us 6.5 hours by bus) then I guess our incredible adventure was more like 9 1/2 days. But we jammed as much as two people could in those 9 1/2 days.

I kept a journal everyday, so look for some back dated posts with all the details. I had hoped to post as I went along but the French countryside is not dotted with internet cafes as I had hoped and we just got too busy to stop and check the internet. I had over 2000 email waiting for me upon my return (let's just say I know where to get "v1agra, "vaigra","v*agra", "weekend c1al1s" and every other sexual stimulant available by SPAM).

It's safe to say that I made some new friends that I hope to stay in touch with from France and Iran. I also discovered, much to my surprise, that my French is decent enough to get me by with just about anyone except the super fast talking Parisienne's and that super fast talking and hyper Plouhinec family from Brittany. We had great wine, but bad beer. We saw funny Americanisms on t-shirts everywhere. The French seem to be in decent shape but most of them smoke like chimneys. The contributions of those who helped free the continent in WWII are still very much in the hearts and minds of the French. They are fanatical about their football. They drink alot of wine...and by that I mean they drink ALOT of wine and it is damn good.

More from the journal to follow.

Monday, June 14, 2004

Excitement Building

I'm really starting to get excited about my trip to France. I must admit that when we originally decided to go, I wasn't that excited. I really want to get back to Thailand and to places like Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia and South Korea so my thoughts were clouded by the recognition that a tript to France would put that dream vacation off for awhile. But as the time has drawn near and I've finally committed to a loose itenerary, I am totally psyched about France.

I just found out that I'll be staying at this incredibly cool Bed & Breakfast in Bayeux, it is called the Manoir de Doyens and it was built in the 17th century. Here's a picture.

The B & B is owned by a retired British Colonel, a M. J.P. Chilcott and his wife. He is a military historian and is famous for his private tours of the D-Day beaches and surrounding areas. We'll be staying in the attic, which suits me just fine. Bayeux is located in Calvados and is famous for its tapestry, war museums and enchanting villages. This is all very exciting. Here's what the room looks like.

Tonight I've got to start packing. I leave Missoula tomorrow at 2:00 PM and will arrive (after a night stopover in Minneapolis)in Paris at 11:50 AM on the 17th. A Dutch friend of Annie's recommended a place in Montmartre, that is in a very quiet and unspoiled area called Hotel Caulaincourt Square , then it's off to Ennordres and Les Chatelains for the two day wedding.

Yesterday I went a little crazy and bought a digital camcorder...hey, it was on sale! Today I have buyer's remorse so the camcorder might just be going right back to Best Buy, but if not you can expect me to learn how to edit and post movies to my blog.

Time to pack.

Saturday, June 12, 2004

Bruce Hornsby, Big Fish, lost friends, Paul Thorn and Long walks

So, according to sitemeter.com, I've had over 400 visitors to my little corner of the web since April 23, 2004 (when the site was created). When I changed my skin I lost the html that shows the visitor counter, but I still get the reports. If you're visiting me one day and suddenly I have hit counters all over the place, you'll know I've been up to no good.

Today was a beautiful day here in Missoula and I spent most of it working outside and reflecting. Almost a year ago one of my good friends committed suicide and last night one of his very dear friends communicated her thoughts about him, his wife, his illness and life...it caused me to do quite a bit of thinking today, thinking that continues to bang about my head even as I write tonight. Excuse me for not wanting to elaborate much right now, perhaps another night I will.

Mountain Stage is on PBS right now and the musicians are Paul Thorn and Bruce Hornsby. I hadn't heard of Thorn, but was intrigued when I saw he's been a factory worker, Pizza delivery guy and professional boxer (he fought Roberto Duran in the late '80s). He's fantastic, that's for sure. And he's from Tupelo, Mississippi and is the son of a southern preacher. Dude's got style. And Hornsby is a contradiction to me; He was unbelievable tonight, just jamming out.

I saw the movie Big Fish tonight for the first time. In the end I'd have to say it was a pretty powerful piece by Burton, quirky in his style but emotional and wonderful as a whole.

I intended to write much more tonight but I'm feeling a little melancholy suddenly, so I'll try to complete the task in the morning.

Friday, June 11, 2004

National Day of Mourning

From CNN:

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The nation's capital prepared to say its final goodbye to former President Ronald Reagan, who will be honored with a national funeral service Friday.

The funeral, in Washington's soaring National Cathedral, is expected to draw about two dozen world leaders past and present, the U.S. political establishment, key figures in the Reagan administration, family and friends. It will unfold under extraordinary security.

After the funeral, Reagan, who died Saturday at the age of 93 after a decade-long battle with Alzheimer's disease, will be returned to California for a sunset burial at his presidential library in Simi Valley.(Special Report: Ronald Reagan)

The state funeral will begin with a formal military procession from the Capitol, where the body of the nation's 40th president has lain in state in the Rotunda since Wednesday night.

Capitol Hill Police Chief Terrance Gainer told CNN around 89,000 mourners will have passed through the Rotunda by the time the doors close Friday morning. By 11 p.m. Thursday, 69,000 people had paid their respects, according to the U.S. military district of Washington.

At times, the lines to pay tribute to Reagan stretched for blocks, with waits of three hours or more.

Thousands more visited in the overnight hours, and officials had to cut off the long line of visitors hours earlier than they had planned in order to begin preparing for the procession to the National Cathedral. (Interactive: Washington National Cathedral)

Around 6 a.m., Gainer waded into the line of visitors, assuring people that they would get to see Reagan because officials had opened additional security checkpoints.

"He changed my life," Joyce Okine, an immigrant from Ghana, said Thursday. "I'm an American citizen today because of Ronald Reagan, and I'm a proud American." (Interactive: Hear excerpts from Reagan speeches)

President Bush and first lady Laura Bush came in the early evening on Thursday, following the close of the G-8 summit in Georgia.

The couple paused briefly in front of the casket, resting on a catafalque built in 1865 for Abraham Lincoln's coffin.

Eulogies will be given by Bush and his father, the former president, as well as former Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney and former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. (Reagan ceremonies)

Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor -- who made history with Reagan when he nominated her in 1981 to be the first woman to serve on the high court -- will give a reading, as will Rabbi Harold Kushner.

Former Sen. John Danforth of Missouri, an ordained Episcopal priest, will officiate at the funeral, but clergy from a number of other religious traditions will participate, including Roman Catholic Cardinal Theodore McCarrick; Archbishop Demetrios, primate of the Greek Orthodox Church in America; and Imam Mohammad Magid Ali of the All Dulles Area Muslim Society.

Reagan's state funeral will be the first such ceremony since the service for President Lyndon Baines Johnson in 1973.

Dignitaries expected to attend the funeral include British Prime Minister Tony Blair, German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder and the presidents of Nigeria, South Africa and Afghanistan. The widow of the late Shah of Iran, Farah Pahlavi, also will attend, her office said Thursday.

Among those who won't be attending is French President Jacques Chirac, who was in Georgia for the G-8 summit but opted to return to Paris.

France will be represented instead by former President Valery Giscard d'Estaing. Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin, in the middle of an election campaign, also decided to bypass the funeral and return home.

Day of mourning
Friday has been designated a national day of mourning. The New York Stock Exchange will be closed, and only government offices necessary for national security will remain open.

The funeral and burial will cap a week of solemn and sweeping ceremonies that began Monday in Reagan's adopted home state of California.

There, Reagan's body lay in repose at his presidential library before it was flown across the country for the state funeral.

A procession Wednesday to the Capitol was marked by pageantry and poignancy. (Audio Slide Show: Returning to the Capitol)

Constitution Avenue was lined with thousands of admirers as a horse-drawn caisson transported Reagan's casket toward the Capitol to the cadence of drums and accompanied by a riderless horse, which signifies a fallen leader. A pair of Reagan's boots were turned backward in the stirrups to symbolize the loss of a warrior.

Through the day Thursday, dignitaries stopped in to see Nancy Reagan at Blair House, where the first person to sign the condolence book was former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, the late president's conservative soul mate and close political ally.


Former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev stands at the casket of Ronald Reagan Thursday in the Capitol Rotunda.
"To Ronnie: Well done, thou good and faithful servant," Thatcher wrote, borrowing a line from the Parable of the Talents in the Gospel of Matthew.

Also paying his respects was former Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney.

"We just had a wonderful personal visit," he said. "She looked good and strong and very dignified, and given the painful circumstances, in remarkably good shape."

Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, too, paid a call at Blair House.

"I convey my deep feelings of condolence to dear Nancy and the whole family," he wrote in the condolence book.

Ray Charles Passes

Ray Charles was one of those American musicians whose music was instantly identifiable. His voice was very unique and he always seemed to be "working". Although many people under the age of 30 might only think he did commercials or Pop award shows, Ray had a long history of groundbreaking Soul music and was a beacon for many young musicians back in his heyday.

He had been scheduled to perform here in Missoula but had to cancel his show earlier this year. It seems he was more ill than I imagined. I think his bio on the allmusic.com website is fitting to mention:

Ray Charles was the musician most responsible for developing soul music. Singers like Sam Cooke and Jackie Wilson also did a great deal to pioneer the form, but Charles did even more to devise a new form of black pop by merging '50s R&B with gospel-powered vocals, adding plenty of flavor from contemporary jazz, blues, and (in the '60s) country. Then there was his singing; his style was among the most emotional and easily identifiable of any 20th-century performer, up there with the likes of Elvis and Billie Holiday. He was also a superb keyboard player, arranger, and bandleader. The brilliance of his 1950s and 1960s work, however, can't obscure the fact that he made few classic tracks after the mid-'60s, though he recorded often and performed up to the year of his death.
Blind since the age of six (from glaucoma), Charles studied composition and learned many instruments at the St. Augustine School for the Deaf and the Blind. His parents had died by his early teens, and he worked as a musician in Florida for a while before using his savings to move to Seattle in 1947. By the late '40s, he was recording in a smooth pop/R&B style derivative of Nat "King" Cole and Charles Brown. He got his first Top Ten R&B hit with "Baby, Let Me Hold Your Hand" in 1951. Charles' first recordings came in for their fair share of criticism, as they were much milder and less original than the classics that would follow, although they're actually fairly enjoyable, showing strong hints of the skills that were to flower in a few years.
In the early '50s, Charles' sound started to toughen as he toured with Lowell Fulson, went to New Orleans to work with Guitar Slim (playing piano on and arranging Slim's huge R&B hit, "The Things That I Used to Do"), and got a band together for R&B star Ruth Brown. It was at Atlantic Records that Ray Charles truly found his voice, consolidating the gains of recent years and then some with "I Got a Woman," a number-two R&B hit in 1955. This is the song most frequently singled out as his pivotal performance, on which Charles first truly let go with his unmistakable gospel-ish moan, backed by a tight, bouncy horn-driven arrangement.
Throughout the '50s, Charles ran off a series of R&B hits that, although they weren't called "soul" at the time, did a lot to pave the way for soul by presenting a form of R&B that was sophisticated without sacrificing any emotional grit. "This Little Girl of Mine," "Drown in My Own Tears," "Hallelujah I Love Her So," "Lonely Avenue," and "The Right Time" were all big hits. But Charles didn't really capture the pop audience until "What'd I Say," which caught the fervor of the church with its pleading vocals, as well as the spirit of rock & roll with its classic electric piano line. It was his first Top Ten pop hit, and one of his final Atlantic singles, as he left the label at the end of the '50s for ABC.
One of the chief attractions of the ABC deal for Charles was a much greater degree of artistic control of his recordings. He put it to good use on early-'60s hits like "Unchain My Heart" and "Hit the Road Jack," which solidified his pop stardom with only a modicum of polish attached to the R&B he had perfected at Atlantic. In 1962, he surprised the pop world by turning his attention to country & western music, topping the charts with the "I Can't Stop Loving You" single, and making a hugely popular album (in an era in which R&B/soul LPs rarely scored high on the charts) with Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music. Perhaps it shouldn't have been so surprising; Charles had always been eclectic, recording quite a bit of straight jazz at Atlantic, with noted jazz musicians like David "Fathead" Newman and Milt Jackson.
Charles remained extremely popular through the mid-'60s, scoring big hits like "Busted," "You Are My Sunshine," "Take These Chains From My Heart," and "Crying Time," although his momentum was slowed by a 1965 bust for heroin. This led to a year-long absence from performing, but he picked up where he left off with "Let's Go Get Stoned" in 1966. Yet by this time Charles was focusing increasingly less on rock and soul, in favor of pop tunes, often with string arrangements, that seemed aimed more at the easy listening audience than anyone else. Charles' influence on the rock mainstream was as apparent as ever; Joe Cocker and Steve Winwood in particular owe a great deal of their style to him, and echoes of his phrasing can be heard more subtly in the work of greats like Van Morrison.
One approaches sweeping criticism of Charles with hesitation; he was an American institution, after all, and his vocal powers barely diminished over his half-century career. The fact remains, though, that his work after the late '60s on record was very disappointing. Millions of listeners yearned for a return to the all-out soul of his 1955-1965 classics, but Charles had actually never been committed to soul above all else. Like Aretha Franklin and Elvis Presley, his focus was more upon all-around pop than many realize; his love of jazz, country, and pop standards was evident, even if his more earthy offerings were the ones that truly broke ground and will stand the test of time. He dented the charts (sometimes the country ones) occasionally, and commanded devoted international concert audiences whenever he felt like it. For good or ill, he ensured his imprint upon the American mass consciousness in the 1990s by singing several ads for Diet Pepsi. He also recorded three albums during the '90s for Warner Bros., but remained most popular as a concert draw. On June 10, 2004, Ray Charles died of liver disease at his home in Beverly Hills, CA.



Thursday, June 10, 2004

What a wonderful 'Sunny' Day

I have been super busy this week, with a tremendous workload to wade through. Lots of little projects to complete, meetings to set up and two meetings that lasted until past 11:00 PM, so it was a totally wonderful surprise to chat with my friend Sunha (Sunny) this morning. Sunny was in her computer lab, on the campus of Sungkyunkwan University, helping a friend complete a paper in English (I can't even imagine how I would've dealt with having to complete all my papers in English and then in, say, Spanish).

Sunny is just, well, sunny. Just look at her!


I was first introduced to her by another Korean girl named Kiki (actually her name is Kyeonghee), who I met back in Indianapolis. Kiki was taking ESL courses at Butler University and she lived in the same house as a Brazilian girl (Graziella) whom I met because she needed help with her Visa...BUT I DIGRESS. Kiki was someone I liked instantly and so I spent some time showing her Indianapolis and generally making sure she didn't leave Indiana with the impression that everyone was fat, lazy, ate nothing but corn and generally was odd. When Kiki returned to Korea we kept in touch via email and then through chatting. One day she said she had a friend who was learning English and wanted to know if I would be willing to chat with her too. Thus I met Sunny.

Sunny sent me a nice gift at Christmas time. She neglected to tell me it was more of a traditional gift and that people don't really "eat" all the colored cakes (which looked like rice krispies treats but tasted pretty awful). Only after choking a few down did I finally tell her they tasted funny. "We don't really eat those", she replied. Nice. We've exchanged care packages and letters. She is a great pen pal. I wish I could go visit her and hope to do that some day.

It really made my whole day to get to chat with her and find out about her job search and her social life. She's also a great photographer and she shared some new pictures with me today. She has a website, but it is all in Korean and pretty hard to navigate. If you want to visit her, clickhere.

Now it's time for me to wrap up my planning for France. I leave in 6 days and can't believe it. I still don't have the hotels arranged or any other details. Plus, I've got to get a team together for the 1st annual Sandpoint, Idaho Ultimate tournament, happening a week after I get back. Not to mention finalizing the planning for the vacation to Michigan in July I am in charge of (only about 40 people counting on me for that one, no pressure).

Saturday, June 05, 2004

Ronald Reagan Passes

Ronald Reagan passed away today in California. He was 93. I actually voted for him in my first Presidential election. Despite my political leanings, I felt he was doing the right thing to kick start our economy and also, like most Americans at the time, I felt the USSR was a big threat to our country. And even though he put our country into huge debt that took many years for us to dig out of, he did bring a sense of pride (well, at least until Iran-Contra opened my eyes and alot of other people too) back to the country.

Friday, June 04, 2004

Pat & Caroline reach number 13

I was talking with my friend Pat Gallagher today via email. He's headed for London to meet up with his wife, Caroline and their two boys, Patrick and Michael. Pat and I went to Purdue together and are fraternity brothers. I was browsing my calendar and remembered their anniversary was this week. "How many years?", I asked...lucky number 13. It's hard to believe it has been 13 years since we all almost wrecked Wheaton, Illinois in one night. How many people did we have in that bath tub anyway? Oh and Caroline's mother (poor thing had a room right next to the action) was as patient as she could be, but the look on her face when she came in the room at about 3:00 AM is still burned into my mind. Priceless.

Anyway, Pat and I used to exchange mixed cassette's of music we thought each other would like...Pat introduced me to many bands and musicians and we've gone to a fair amount of live music shows over the past 20 plus years (holy smokes we're getting old). We've decided we want to start this up again, probably with CD's and maybe add a few others to our group. That sounds like fun.

It's about 85 degrees today in Missoula and I'm going to bug out of here and enjoy the evening. Some Ultimate, maybe a quick hike up into Water Works Park to check out the Bitterroot's (Montana State Flower) and then some relaxation. Tomorrow it's either off to visit Colin, Amber & Gillian at their cabin up the Seely-Swan valley or maybe a nice long bike ride. I missed heading out to Rock Creek to see Jon Shanower's place again...he'll be back in Chicago after tonight.

Maybe I'll jot a note later.

Thursday, June 03, 2004

Outwitting Blogger?

I'm trying to figure out how to get my photo added to the "my profile section", so I'm going to try outwitting blogger by first posting it here and then mapping the subsequent url to the picture page. Holy cripes, it's 8:15 PM, what the hell am I still doing at work?John Tiberon.jpg

And the winner is...The Flycoons

I know, it's been almost 5 days since I've posted and you must just be itching for Johnny O news. Well first off, the Ultimate team I played on at Bozofest last weekend, the Flycoons, WON THE TOURNEY! Damn, it figures, I didn't play on Sunday and they won. Now I'll spend the rest of my days wondering if they would have still won had I played? If you follow the logic from the German movie Run, Lola, Run (you know, every human interaction changes the course of all life) the answer is maybe they would not have won, but then again maybe I would've just spent my Sunday being happy rather than feeling like a cad for leaving town.

But I digress. The team had an amazing day on Sunday, beating Denver's 2003 nationals qualifier DTL(Drive Thru Liquor) 15-3, Winnipeg's 2003 Canadian mixed champions Chaos 9-7 and stomping Edmonton's Psychoplastique 15-5 in the finals. The weather was still not anything to write home about, but the play was stellar and I'm lucky they let me drink out of Larry, the Bozo clown head trophy.

So this week I'm paying the price for another short week. Last night I got to play a little Ultimate before heading over to a marathon R.A.T.P.O.D. meeting. RATPOD is going to be so cool this year, as we've added bluegrass music to some of the food stops, an ice cream truck at the last stop and some kick ass BBQ after the event. It looks like we'll have 250 riders, pushing this ride to a new level. Until you are actually involved with organizing something like this, you just can't appreciate how much time, effort and people it takes to pull it off. I'm just a little cog but I sure am glad there are other folks helping because it is really hard. But it will be so worth it in the end and the ride will be incredible. What? You want a link? Here it is

News flash. My buddy Steve Hurst re-introduced me to Seattles KEPX today. With their fine streaming audio I am listening to some sweet old-timey country right now. Find them at KEPX

Tonight after work I zipped over to Missoula's Bonner Park to watch Nick & Alex Simmons along with Stella, Mabel & Lorraine Gardner perform in the Missoula International School's year-end program. It was cute. It was called walking through the Magic Door, or some such title. I still don't know why they don't call it the Missoula Spanish School, or at least why they don't stop talking about all these languages and cultures when the only other language they teach is Spanish. Oh well, it's a good start. I think Nick Simmons is going to be the lover and Alex is going to be the jock. Write it down, that's my prediction.

I'm now going to surf the web for funky, cheap, cool hotels in the French countryside. Wish me luck.