Category Archives: Mom

Family History Week

This has been a week where I have unexpectedly walked down family history lane.  That continued this morning when I went over to assist in the installation of my Mom’s new fridge.  She showed me a newspaper clipping from the February 6 edition of the Boone News Republican.

The clipping was part of the column Kelley’s Korner. It read:

We heard from lots of folks this week, many from this area and a few from afar… one clear down in Luther.

We talked awhile back about the Centennial production and conjunctive beard contest and that brought a reply from Jacksonville, Fla. of all places.

Former residents Terry and Sheryl Johnson left Boone four years ago to reside in Jacksonville and, by the way, in August, they’ll celebrate their 45th wedding anniversary.

Terry and I worked together many years ago at the “older” BN-R.

Anyway, Sheryl, the former Sheryl Paris, recalled how she and Terry were kidnapped following their wedding ceremony, Aug. 27, 1965.

Yes, a group of Boone men dressed as bearded “Keystone Cops” captured the pair and drove them down the center of Story Street with sirens blasting and red lights flashing.

Their wedding worked, unknowingly, right into the Centennial scene.

Sheryl said, “We were put in a portable jail cell and released only after we were interviewed in front of a large crowd of folks shopping in downtown on a Friday night. Wasn’t that the greatest? All the many stores open and people doing lots of visiting as well as shopping.”

Sheryl said that lots of people thought their little excursion was a rehearsed thing. It wasn’t. It was organized by her brother-in-law, Gerald Bennett.

Gerald was one of the candidates in that beard contest that was part of the Centennial.

This was a family story that I did not know, but it is one that I will have to add to the family story repertoire. A fitting conclusion to a week that started with telling Jen a series of family stories (The Secret Wedding, Grandpa Firing Dad, The Half-Sister, Cousin Troy Comes to Teresa’s Wedding to name a few…) and is certainly more heartwarming than the “You’ve Eaten. That is what you were here for. Get out!” story that I told Shannon during the kitchen downsizing on Wednesday.

Personal Photo Project of the Week No. 7

Shattered Dreams

My mom came over to my house a couple of days after I made this image and was horrified to find broken mirror all over my dining room table. She asked how the mirror got broken.

“I hit it with a hammer. Well actually Jay hit it with a hammer and then I hit it with a hammer some more.”

This made her even more horrified. She pointed out that breaking a mirror was bad luck. I was horrified to be related to somebody that was this superstitious.

Willy chose the name Shattered Dreams. He likes naming his portraits. He also named Grizzly McAlpine:

Shattered Dreams was taken during a FNSC at my house after we feasted at La Carreta and knocked down Tab Cola.

Willy showing he lacks the courage of his convictions.

Willy texting like a teenage girl.

Of course this was probably one of the nights where my furnace was on the fritz, so Jay cuddled up in my Snuggie and donned a mullet wig to keep warm.


It might just be me, but I think this look isn’t half bad for Mr. Janson. I’m so glad Jen gave me this wig, but I think I might just have to pay it forward.

Personal Photo Project of the Week No. 6

Hearts Beat High with Joy

When I took this picture I went down quite the long journey of family history in family Bibles. One of the most important things I discovered was that I was born special.

The Bible in the picture belonged to my Grandma Bennett. My birth announcement was taped or glued to the front of her Bible. I wasn’t the first grandchild born. I wasn’t even close to being the first grandchild born. However, I am the only grandchild that had a birth considered worthy of having the birth announcement glued into the front of the Bible.

The Bible used for Hearts Beat High with Joy was my Grandma Bennett’s Bible. The smaller Bible pictured in the last picture was my Dad’s Bible. The Bible in the middle of the stack was my Grandpa Bennett’s Bible.

Amazing Weekend

Daily Reminder

Don’t forget to update your links, bookmarks and RSS Feeds to the new URL:

I did have a couple of late submissions for RWPE. Here are a couple of bonus FRAMING pictures.

Julie Johnson

Michael Vest

I had an amazing weekend. I would just like to share a few of the highlights. In no particular order, besides chronological:

  • I ate supper on Friday night at Jeff’s Pizza with Teresa and Jesse. I love their pepperoni rolls.
  • I got to watch Jesus Christ Superstar at Stephens with Mom, Jesse and Teresa. It was an awesome production, with the exception of the geriatric Ted Neeley, who has continued to suck it up into his 60s. I firmly believe that the only acceptable definition of Hell is “separation from God”. But if I were to believe in a personal punishment vision of Hell, it might be that I get up to what I think is Heaven because Jesus is there. But then he opens his mouth and sounds like Ted Neeley. I would have to pump my fist and scream, “You win this round vengeful God! You win this round!” Sorry Shannon, but that is the way it is.
  • I got to chauffeur Jim out of the Cyclone State for only the 2nd time since 1987. It was the first time he has left the state for an “extended” period of time since 1987 when he took Nate to see a St. Louis Cardinals game. I think he might have enjoyed it as he is considering leaving the state again this Summer to see the Twins play the Braves on June 12 & 13.
  • I got to see Bethany’s new house. It is pretty sweet. They have managed to put down a new wood floor, new tile in the kitchen and new carpet in the rest of the house. Her new fridge is the coolest fridge I’ve ever seen. They painted all the rooms and they got the paint for free because they bought it on Christmas Eve and the Sherwin Williams employee just gave it to them as a Christmas Present because they were the only customers he had that day.
  • I got to try my first (and won’t be the last) Jucy Lucy. Yes, there is no “i” in Jucy. There are two restaurants that lay claim to having invented the Twin City curiosity. We went to Matt’s Bar based on the recommendation of Becca’s boyfriend Gelli. He insisted that they have the superior Jucy Lucy. A Jucy Lucy is a cheeseburger that has the cheese inside the meat patty rather than on top. A piece of cheese is surrounded by raw meat and cooked until it melts. The end result is a hamburger with a molten core of cheese. The sandwich is both incredibly tasty and slightly dangerous. You have to be careful with the first bite because if you bite into it too aggressively you are rewarded with an explosion of boiling cheese. This cheese explosion is both tasty and painful. A rare combination. The two restaurants that claim to have invented the burger are only a few blocks apart. Matt’s Bar does not use the “i” in juicy. The 5-8 Club does use the “i”. They both have used this spelling in their marketing. Matt’s Bar boasts “if it’s spelled correctly, you’re at the wrong place.” The 5-8 club boasts “if it’s spelled right, it’s done right”. In a future trip to Minnesota, I will give the 5-8 Club a try. I might also venture into St. Paul to try the Cajun Lucy served at the Groveland Tap.
  • Stopped at a quaint little store called Tom’s Popcorn Shop. I picked up 4 types of popcorn. A chocolate popcorn that ended up being terrible. Jill compared it to Cocoa Puffs and that was a very accurate assessment. A double caramel and mixed nuts variety ended up being very tasty. A caramel and peanuts variety was tasty. The banana popcorn I am munching on right now isn’t too bad.
  • I got to see the bank where Bethany works and pick up two new pairs of shoes at a nearby Burlington Coat Factory. My injured foot is already starting to feel better since I switched shoes.
  • I made Sara’s dream come true by wandering around IKEA with Bethany and Jim. Okay, mostly with Bethany. I think Jim was ready to go 5 minutes after stepping in the door. I didn’t get to see all of IKEA, but I did get to see a group of girls acting out the scene from (500) Days of Summer (have I told you lately how much I love that movie!) that is set in IKEA. That warmed my heart a bit. I also fell in love with their collection of butcher block tables and I have decided to get rid of my kitchen table and replace it with a small butcher block table. To create both some space and so I have a food prep area if I ever decide to cook. Or the more likely scenario, for the next time somebody comes over and cooks for me.
  • I got to see Jill’s apartment. It was disgustingly clean. Meaning if I spent now until my birthday party cleaning my house it still wouldn’t be half as clean as Jill’s apartment. But it is a well-known fact that the Gorshes are cleaners. Anybody that ever worked a closing shift at the Boone outpost of the Evil Clown Empire with Derrick can tell you stories about the cleanliness of the grill area when he was done. They can also tell you other stories, but I’m concentrating on how much that guy liked to clean for now. I got to meet her cat. I don’t think it is a major surprise that her can’t didn’t like me, but the theory is that this was just laying the groundwork. The next time I visit, the cat will think I’m swell. It is similar to my theory that the next time Jupiter gets together with Jackson and Bailey they will get along swell because of the groundwork I did on Dog Playdate when I was borrowing Jupiter for Sara’s trip to Florida. I also got to ride in Indy for the first time since I got to drive her several months back. We ate at this sweet restaurant called Jade 88 Chinese Cuisine. We were the only people in the restaurant. Literally. My favorite aspects of this restaurant were that they called crab rangoons – cream cheese powder puffs, they had a chair sitting in the women’s bathroom stall (Jill reported this fact, I did not go into the women’s bathroom) and they had the largest collection of cleaning supplies I’ve ever seen sitting on top of the toilet in the men’s room. That isn’t to say the food wasn’t good, because it was great, but to know me is to know what type of weird things tickle my fancy. After the meal, Jill returned my copy of the 2 Disc Special Edition of A Clockwork Orange that she had borrowed a few weeks back. My Stanley Kubrick boxed set is complete once again! I was also able to loan her The Departed and give her the final piece of Halloween candy. A piece of candy that almost ended up in Willy’s stomach.
  • I had lunch with Jim, Becca and Nate at one of Becca’s favorite restaurants Quang. It is a Vietnamese restaurant that reminds me of one of Sara’s favorite restaurants, A Dong. (Yes, immature people, that is really the name of the restaurant. Stop giggling. I know who you are.) While we waited for a table, Becca and I checked out an Asian grocery store across the street. Now just going to a normal grocery store is kind of an adventure for me. (If you don’t believe me, ask Jay) But going to this grocery store was a special kind of adventure for me. I actually didn’t take my camera out of my backpack on the whole trip. Even though I thought about doing my FRAMING picture for RWPE up there, but in the end I admittedly just kind of phoned that project in. However, at the bottom of this list, you might just find a few low quality images I captured with my phone in this market. The food at Quang lived up to Becca’s hype. We had some kind of fried yam things called Banh Tom Chien. They called crab rangoons cream cheese wontons. Tasty, but not as cute as cream cheese powder puffs.
  • After Quang, I allowed Becca to drive my car (without a small amount of consternation on my part) to give us a tour of Uptown Minneapolis. I really liked Uptown. We got to drive by Gelli’s parents’ restaurant “It’s All Greek to Me…” (a place I will no doubt try in the future) and hear Becca’s sermonizing on how much she doesn’t like hipsters. Nate liked to point out that Becca is a borderline hipster, but she doesn’t see the similarities. Even though she does want to drive a Prius, she is not a hipster she insists. Mostly because she doesn’t ride a bike. But perhaps the most exciting part of the Uptown tour was driving by the Uptown Theater. Although I had missed it, they clearly proclaimed on their marquee that they had a midnight showing of A Clockwork Orange. Jill is going to look into this phenomenon and hopefully a midnight showing of A Clockwork Orange is in our future.
  • After the Uptown tour we stopped at a grocery store so Nate could buy the ingredients for gumbo. On the surface that doesn’t sound particularly exciting, but in fact it is like watching Van Gogh buy paintbrushes or Eric Clapton buy a guitar.
  • Becca made a Coastal Seafood Salad that included shrimp, squid and roughie. It was incredible. Nate made gumbo (no need to point out how phenomenal the gumbo was) and we settled down to watch the Super Bowl. I would have to say that my favorite Super Bowl commercial this year was the commercial with the beaver playing the violin. Like Jen, I’m partial to beavers. The team I was rooting for also won. That was a surprising bonus. Nate also tried to convince me that Metallica had redeemed themselves with their most recent album. I’ve never been much of a Metallica fan, but at some point I will be giving their new album a listen in order to make my own assessment.
  • I pulled into my driveway at 1:30 in the morning. It had been a successful weekend on many levels.

Here are a few low quality pictures from my phone:

Mmmm… Pork brains. But you can’t prepare that without edible beef blood!

Fresh clams!

Lobster. I wanted a picture of the crabs, but the water in their tank wasn’t clear enough to get a good picture.

Of course I also wanted to share today’s love letter from The Writer’s Almanac:

Franz Kafka wrote stories about human beings transformed into vermin; unsettling legal battles over unspecified crimes; and a father who sentences his son to death by drowning. Kafka is often thought of as neurotic, and rarely as romantic, but he wrote a great many love letters — many of the anguished, helpless variety — to a Berlin woman to whom he was engaged for five years. Their relationship was carried out almost entirely by letters.

In the autumn of 1912, he wrote to Felice Bauer about how much she had become inseparable from his composition process, and also how anticipation of her writing kept him awake at night. He wrote:

“Lately I have found to my amazement how intimately you have now become associated with my writing, although until recently I believe that the only time I did not think about you at all was while I was writing.

In one short paragraph I had written, there were, among others, the following references to you and your letters: someone was give a bar of chocolate. There was talk of small diversions someone had during working hours. Then there was a telephone call. And finally somebody urged someone to go to bed, and threatened to take him straight to his room if he did not obey, which was certainly prompted by the recollection of your mother’s annoyance when you stayed so late at the office. — Such passages are especially dear to me; in them I take hold of you, without your feeling it, and therefore without your having to resist.

… [It takes] every imaginable effort to get to sleep — i.e., to achieve the impossible, for one cannot sleep and at the same time be thinking about one’s work and trying to solve with certainty the one question that certainly is insoluble, namely, whether there will be a letter from you the next day, and at what time. The night consists of two parts: one wakeful, the other sleepless, and if I were to tell you about it at length and you were prepared to listen, I should never finish.

Eleven days later, Kafka wrote to her:
“Fraulein Felice!
I am now going to ask you a favour which sounds quite crazy, and which I should regard as such, were I the one to receive the letter. It is also the very greatest test that even the kindest person could be put to. Well this is it:
Write to me only once a week, so that your letter arrives on Sunday — for I cannot endure your daily letters, I am incapable of enduring them.
For instance, I answer one of your letters, then lie in bed in apparent calm, but my heart beats through my entire body and is conscious only of you.
I belong to you; there is really no other way of expressing it, and that is not strong enough. But for this very reason I don’t want to know what you are wearing; it confuses me so much that I cannot deal with life; and that’s why I don’t want to know that you are fond of me. If I did, how could I, fool that I am, go on sitting in my office, or here at home, instead of leaping onto a train with my eyes shut and opening them only when I am with you?”

And a week after that, he wrote to her:

“Dearest, what have I done that makes you torment me so? No letter again today, neither by the first mail nor the second. You do make me suffer! While one written word from you could make me happy! … If I am to go on living at all, I cannot go on vainly waiting for news of you, as I have done these last few interminable days …

I think the thing I’ve liked about these letters is their common theme of thinking constantly about the woman they love and how that gets in the way of their work.

Be Aggressive!

On Sunday I descended into the depths of Missouri and Kansas on Sunday to watch Alexis compete in competitive cheerleading.

I had spoken with our Associate Pastor Andrea about good barbecue joints in Kansas City and she recommended Jack Stack for ribs and Oklahoma Joe’s for sandwiches. I looked into both places and found that there was a Jack Stack in the same suburb as the competition so we checked it out.

In a word… divine!

Everything was great. The fried mushrooms, the warm carrot cake, the ribs, the burnt ends, the beans… everything. I was particularly impressed with a cheesy corn side dish. Teresa is researching the recipe and we (meaning not me) are going to try to replicate it for our Thanksgiving meal.

I should point out that the carrot cake was one of the top 3 desserts I have ever had from a restaurant. Right up there with the tiramisu from Cosi Cucina or the warm chocolate cake from the cruise.

Photographing moving targets in low light does not make for the best pictures, but please enjoy a few pictures from the day:

Be Aggressive!
Statue in front of Jack Stack

Be Aggressive!

Be Aggressive!

Be Aggressive!

Be Aggressive!
Looking over the program.

Be Aggressive!

Be Aggressive!

Be Aggressive!
Iowa All-Stars

Be Aggressive!
Now we get to the point of the pictures where it is more or less: “Where’s Alexis?”

Be Aggressive!

Be Aggressive!

Be Aggressive!

Be Aggressive!

Be Aggressive!

Be Aggressive!

Be Aggressive!

Be Aggressive!

Write down your answers to “Where’s Alexis?” and mail them to A winner will be randomly selected from all correct entries.

Be Aggressive!

Be Aggressive!

Be Aggressive!
Can you imagine what this many cheerleaders (and their moms) in one room sounds like?

Be Aggressive!

Be Aggressive!

Be Aggressive!
Elainie photographing.

Be Aggressive!
We are the champions, my friends…

Be Aggressive!
The Bennett women. I know Teresa will complain about this picture, but it was the only one of the 3 pictures I took where Mom doesn’t look drugged out.

Be Aggressive!
The medal.

Be Aggressive!
I’m going to call this Alexis’ gangsta look.

Be Aggressive!
No comment.

It was a good trip, but I was glad to get back out of the state of Missouri. Very glad.

Alligator Shirt Day

When I posted the picture below, I promised more information on Alligator Shirt Day.

The Car
Jill on the day that Alligator Shirt Day was invented.

The truth is that it isn’t much of a story.
A couple of years ago my mom went to Florida to visit some family. Of all of the places that they visited, I think that her favorite was St. Augustine. While she was in St. Augustine, she picked me up a souvenir. A black t-shirt with an alligator on its front.

If you can claim to know me at all, you know I am a fan of alligators. You also know that I have a severe weakness for monster movies.

When I was a small child I watched a movie called Alligator. Very few movies have influenced the man that I have become like Alligator. (Shaft, Beyond the Valley of the Dolls, Cannibal Ferox, Zardoz, Smokey and the Bandit, Every Which Way But Loose and The Duel to name a few.)

The basic premise of Alligator is that a little kid gets a baby alligator as a pet at a fair of some kind. The kid’s dad is a big jerk and flushes the baby gator down the toilet. The baby alligator lives in the sewers of a major city. Then after 20 years the gator busts through a city street and crashes a wedding among other venues. It is basically Jaws with an alligator instead of a shark. It is not anywhere as well made, but that is part of its charm.

I watched this movie with my dad when we still lived on West 15th Street.

When we lived on West 15th Street, we had an aquarium in the kitchen. Well, where else would you put an aquarium?

Occasionally we would put newts in this aquarium. The interesting thing about newts is that they have no problem escaping aquariums. This freaked my mom out.

Although I have my doubts that she watched very much of Alligator, it left enough of an impression on her that she was always worried that these escaped newts were living under the house (it didn’t really have a basement, more of a cellar) and growing to monstrous proportions.

Maybe this is where you can measure the greatest distance between me and my mom. She was afraid that there were giant newts living in our cellar. I was hoping that there were giant newts living in our cellar.

That house isn’t there any longer and I never read any newspaper article claiming that giant newts went on a rampage in west Boone after being discovered under a demolished house.

Although the odds are against it, I like to think that the giant newts moved on after we moved out and are living in the woods just outside of Boone. Waiting. Just waiting.

I never wear the alligator shirt. Perhaps it is because when you have something that cherry, you live in a constant fear that if you take the shirt out of the closet something bad will happen to it. A sweet and sour sauce accident at Chinese Homestyle Cooking. A barbecue sauce accident at Battle’s. A bloomin’ onion sauce accident at Wallaby’s.

This brings me to the day of the picture above.

Jill and I were going to go cruising around in her car. But as it turned out it rained that day. This sudden unexpected rainfall was caused by Jill washing her car. She has those kind of powers. We still cruised the car, but with the top up.

We ended up at Jen and Derrick’s.

While we were conversing with Derrick, Jill brought up that their dad had brought her back 3 new shirts from his latest Boy Scout camping trip. 1 of these shirts had an alligator on it. She seemed less than impressed with this shirt.

I brought up the fact that I also had an awesome alligator shirt, but I never have a special enough occasion to wear it.

We struck a deal that we would declare one of the days of next year’s The Road Trip to be Alligator Shirt Day and we would wear our shirts.

When I returned home that evening I looked through my closet and found my alligator shirt. I looked at it and thought, “You will get to leave the closet in about one more year.”

A couple of days later I was wandering the shafts of the Computer Mine, when I ran into Coreen. She was sporting a shirt with a crocodile on it that came from the Vacation Bible School that she ran this Summer.

I commented on how I admired her crocodile shirt and I told her about my alligator shirt and the deal that Jill and I had brokered.

She pointed out that if I wore my shirt to work, she would also wear her shirt and we could have Alligator Shirt Day at work.

It seemed like a magnificent idea. So magnificent we had our picture taken to remember the day.

Alligator Shirt Day

Alligator Shirt Day

Alligator Shirt Day was such a success that Coreen and I decided to declare September 2 to forever be Alligator Shirt Day. In fact, if there is a 2010 Photography 139 Calendar, you can bet dollars to donuts that when you flip to September, you will see Alligator Shirt Day staring back at you on the 2nd.

I don’t know that this new holiday that I have invented will take off, but I have a good feeling about it.

Plus, how great is 2010 going to be? There will be not 1, but 2 Alligator Shirt Days!!

By the way, this is journal entry #2 of 5 that are about groups I am in that have matching shirts. The Knocker Walkers, The Alligator Shirt People…

Coltrane’s 1st Wife’s Middle Name

Rarely when I publish pictures do I explain the thought process, the technical information or the inspiration. If somebody is confused by a picture or intrigued by a picture I want them to come to their own conclusions.

I feel by telling people too much about a picture, it cheapens the experience for them. That being written, I am going to part with my traditional way of doing things and give a rare glimpse into what happened before I created a trio of images.

The story of these pictures actually starts with the story of the picture above.

As you can tell, I am very pleased with the shirt I am wearing. It is an awesome shirt and if it isn’t the greatest shirt I currently own, it is certainly a top 5 shirt.

If you can read and have an adequate brain, you probably have deduced that this shirt was purchased at the Beaverdale Fall Festival. Good for you Big Brain! This shirt was indeed purchased at the Beaverdale Fall Festival.

Sara invited a bunch of us down to her house for the Beaverdale Fall Festival. Jen, Jill and I accepted the invitation.

This is the first thing that happened to put these events into motion:

Jill picked me up in her sweet car.

The Car
Picture actually taken on the day that the idea for Alligator Shirt Day was Born.
More on that at a later date.

We swung out to Ledges to briefly interact with Jay, Monica and Jeff.

Then we met Jen in Ames and went to Beaverdale to meet up with Sara.

At Sara’s house we were treated to steamed asparagus and the company of Cousin Amy. Jen gave Jill and I beaver tats with a sharpie to symbolize the importance of the event.

I know a lot of people that are really good at a lot of things, but I don’t think I know anybody who is as good at a given skill as Jen is at drawing beavers. I think she should go into business.

After a small amount of time digesting the asparagus we made the short 3 block walk from Sara and Jupiter’s home to the Beaverdale Fall Festival. Jupiter was left behind in the basement. That is the life of a dog, no matter how pretty.

Our first stop was a table where an elderly gentleman was selling Beaverdale Fall Festival swag. He regaled us with tales of past Beaverdale Fall Festival shirts. My heart was particularly broken because a couple of these shirts sounded at least as sweet as the Beaverdale Night Fever shirt he was hawking this year. One was a parody of album cover of “Let it Be”. The other was a parody of the album cover of “Abbey Road”.



But if I live by one rule it is this: Don’t waste your time lamenting the beaver shirts that got away. Be thankful for the beaver shirts that you have.

Feel free to use my rule as the center of your life as well. I guarantee you it will serve you well.

Jen, Jill, Sara and I each purchased a Beaverdale Night Fever shirt. Admittedly, we should have picked one up for Derrick, but having to stand at Sara’s birthday party and take the picture of the 4 of us in our beaver shirts was his punishment for choosing 35 South over us on that night.

Jen and I declared that we would wear our beaver shirts at work on Monday. Sara gave us no indication when she would wear her beaver shirt, but Jill announced that she would wear her shirt to work on the following Friday.

Jill works at one of those companies that has “expectations” and “standards” about the clothes that their employees wear. But on Fridays, they let there employees get all casual.

Monday came and I arrived at work sporting my sweet new beaver shirt. I had Jesse take a picture of me with my phone so I could picture message Jen and find out if she was also sporting her sweet beaver shirt.

Jen was sitting in her office explaining the beaver shirt story to Jessica (who is the person that is organizing the Knocker Walkers team) when my picture message came through. This apparently amused them both.

On Friday, my work soundtrack consisted entirely of John Coltrane music. I decided to follow-up on Jill to see if she was wearing her beaver shirt. As I was typing out the text message I had a strange flashback. I remembered sitting around Jen and Derrick’s living room this summer before their wedding.

They asked the guests of their wedding to pick a song for the reception. We were going through the list of songs that people had picked and I had stopped on Jill’s song. She had chosen Naima by John Coltrane.

It was the only jazz song anybody had suggested. I remembered that.

Jill texted me back that she was wearing the beaver shirt and enjoying the many jealous looks she was getting from her co-workers.

I turned on the only copy of Naima that I possess and gave it a listen. The only version that I own is from the album Live at the Village Vanguard Again! It is 15 minutes and 10 seconds long. It is 110% chaos.

Now I know that the original is not chaos. The only other song on this album is a 20 minute 21 second version of My Favorite Things. It is also chaos. I have 3 other copies of My Favorite Things that are not chaos. This album is chaos. It is also genius.

I texted Jill and asked her why she chose the song Naima.

She answered back that it was her favorite Coltrane ballad.

I wrote back that I was going to need to find a studio version of the song because the only version I had was live and was chaos.

She wrote back that the studio version was “incredibly soothing and hopelessly romantic”.

I wrote her, “That is the single greatest description I have ever heard for a song.”

I told her I would find a copy of the studio version and give it a listen and then we could compare notes.

I did some research on the song to find out what album the original song was on. Turns out that it was Giant Steps. This was an album that I have literally held in my hands at least 10 times, but have never purchased because it seemed to me that I could wait for a remastered version of the album.

Ames is virtually devoid of music stores. I know that is partially because Ames didn’t support its music stores and partially because the internet and iTunes have so radically changed the market that music stores with inventory of not Top 40 (read crap) are not going to make it.

I remember when I was in high school – Bill, Lowell, Andy and I would load into Bill’s Ford Fairmont station wagon and drive to Campustown to visit the (not 1, not 2) 3 music stores located with a 3 block radius. There was Archives, Peeples and BHS Records. BHS Records wasn’t really called BHS Records. It went by another name, but we always called it BHS Records because it is where we discovered the Butthole Surfers.

Now they are all gone and if a person is looking for new, experimental, alternative music – good luck! I don’t know where this generation of kids is going to discover bands like Jerry’s Kids, Intense Mutilation, The Abortions, Dead Kennedys, Dead Milkmen, The Ramones or the Revolting Cocks.

The options in Ames for buying music are the big box department stores. That means virtually no choice at all.

But I wasn’t without hope. Best Buy has a small jazz section. Borders has a slightly bigger jazz section. Hastings has a slightly larger jazz section than Borders. But if you were to combine all of their jazz sections the term that would best describe the conglomeration is anemic.

That Friday after I left work, I did not have time to stop at Best Buy or Borders for reasons that currently escape me. After all, this was nearly a month ago.

Now I know what you are thinking… You are thinking that somebody that literally mines computers for a living must easily have the aptitude to download this song from iTunes, Amazon, Zune or illegally find it in one of the murky backwaters of the worldwide web.

It is true that I have that capacity. But I am also the guy who still wants CDs. I want liner notes and album art. I want to rip the CD to my hard drive. I want to be able to have a real CD (not a burned copy) to sit inside the 300 disc changer that resides at the bottom of my stack of audio equipment in my home.

On Saturday morning I had a fairly busy day scheduled. I woke up early and met Frank at the gym. This was one of his first times back to the gym since his NDE so it was a fairly light workout.

I left the gym with enough time to stop at Best Buy and Borders before I had to meet Sara in Beaverdale for our jaunt over to Prospect Park to watch Jen rip it up in the Des Moines Regatta.

Des Moines Regatta - 2009
Derrick and Jen at the Des Moines Regatta

I can write what I am about to write with a clear conscience. The dude that runs the Best Buy in Ames is one of my best friends and although he is not a reader (his term) he still is a loyal subscriber to this blog.

Scott tenderloining.

Best Buy broke, no, shattered my heart into a million pieces. Not only did they not have Giant Steps, they didn’t have a single Coltrane album. I could understand that they didn’t have Giant Steps. Even though it is a fairly seminal jazz album. I mean I don’t own it, so I shouldn’t judge Best Buy too harshly. But they didn’t have a single John Coltrane album in stock. I know, pretty unforgivable. I mean to have a serious talk with Scott about this tragic oversight the next time that we are knocking down a tenderloin. (Yes, I realize that music and movies are loss leader items for stores like Best Buy and in a tough economy it is smart business practice to keep as little on hand stock as possible, especially items that aren’t exactly flying off the shelf like 50 year old jazz albums. But we’re talking about Coltrane, man!)

Borders used to have a fairly decent jazz selection. Unfortunately a few months back they decided to lower their inventory levels and concentrate on selling Top 40 (read crap) music. Now their jazz section is a disgrace on multiple levels.

Their first disgrace is the size. It is only about 1/3 of its previous size. Their 2nd disgrace is that their discs are randomly “organized”. I literally went through every single jazz album they had in stock to determine that they did not carry Giant Steps.

Disappointed I made my way down to Beaverdale to meet Sara for the Des Moines Regatta.

I was hoping to have time to hit a music store in Des Moines while I was down there, but it wasn’t to be. The Regatta ran a touch longer than expected and then after the portion that interested us had concluded, we ate at Zimm’s.

Sara contends they have the best nachos in Des Moines. I argue for Skip’s.

I left Des Moines at 3 and had to be at the wedding of Mindy Vickers in Boone at 4. I got stuck behind the Army football team on Highway 17, so I was not able to make record time, but I did get to the wedding only a handful of minutes late.

I grabbed a seat in the back of the church next to my old boss, the Son-in-Law. After the wedding concluded, the Son-in-Law set up shop on the Senile Old Man. It was awesome! I could have listened for hours, but instead I congratulated the happy couple and headed to the ISU-Army football game.

After the game, I went to Dustin Jackson’s wedding reception.

Dustin and I – The World’s Most Dominant Egg Toss Team

I just want to note that I miss those sideburns.

I had an awesome time at the reception, before returning home to sleep.

In the morning I attended church and around noon the family took my mom to La Carreta for her birthday.

At this feast, Teresa asked me if I would take Logan over to the art festival in Ames. He needed to go for extra credit.

I agreed to take him because I was going to Ames to check out Hastings to see if I could find Giant Steps. I could use the company.

Johnathan decided he wanted to go, so we met at my house and prepared to load up the car. But before we got in the car Logan insisted that he get to choose the music.

I told him he could choose the music on the way there, but on the way back he was in my world.

He asked if I had The Beatles One CD.

I asked him if he meant, “Like the Greatest Hits Album”.


I was disappointed. My sister had failed in teaching him one of life’s most valuable truths.

“Greatest hits albums are for sailors and housewives.” I think we all know what terrible taste in music sailors and housewives possess.

I gave Logan a long lecture on the evils of the “Greatest Hits Album”.

Logan having the good fortune of me being his uncle his entire life, listened and took to heart the wisdom that I imparted to him.

The first stop in Ames was Hastings. As we approached the door I noticed that it was plastered with signs proclaiming that Hastings was closing on Wednesday.

Interesting, I thought. Then I entered the store.

“Bennett.” I heard called out to my left.

Ungs was working the Customer Service Desk.

“What is this all about?” I asked pointing to the sign.

“Our lease is up. We are closing down forever. They held a meeting and told us a couple of days ago.”

“Did they at least give you burnt cheese and pretzels?”


I was disappointed. When we had been told that Campus was closing down, the Senile Old Man had at least provided us with burnt cheese and pretzels.

I worked my way back to the jazz section and surveyed the Coltrane albums. Giant Steps wasn’t there. But as I examined the albums I noticed that Naima was on The Very Best of John Coltrane.

Fate was laughing in my face. I wanted to hear the song, but I didn’t want the indignity of buying a Greatest Hits Album. But sometimes a man has to swallow his pride.

I looked around to make sure Logan and Johnathan weren’t paying attention. Luckily for me, they were quite enthralled with a pimp goblet.

Might be what the Holy Grail looks like…

I picked up the CD and made my way to the checkout. They never noticed.

We headed up to the art festival.

Coltrane's 1st Wife's Middle Name

Coltrane's 1st Wife's Middle Name

They seemed to enjoy the art festival and after ambling around for an hour or so we headed back to Boone so Johnathan could go to work.

We dropped off Johnathan, then Logan and I made a brief stop by the Boone & Scenic Valley Railroad so that we could see Thomas the Tank.

Coltrane's 1st Wife's Middle Name

Then I dropped off Logan and went home to prepare my house for Rabbit Feast. By prepare my house, I mean that I was home.

Becky came over and began her preparations. Jay came over and prepared his appetite.

Becky served so much food that I can’t possibly remember it all. I do remember that it turns out that I don’t particularly care for rabbit, stud rabbits aren’t treated with nearly enough respect and Becky made some kind of peanut butter glaze that was incredible.

After the meal, I amazed Jay and Becky with my ability to play YouTube on my Blu-Ray player. All things considered, I am more impressed by the fact that it plays Pandora. But to show them the YouTube functionality, we watched several clips from Robot Chicken. Becky was not amused by Robot Chicken. I feel bad that she doesn’t appreciate the greatness of that show.

Jay and Becky left around 11 and I immediately crashed.

The next day I brought my CD to work to listen to Naima. This is not how I like to listen to music. I like to not have any distractions and be in complete darkness. I don’t know, light distracts my ears. Nothing I can do about it. I have to live with this brain.

While I was perusing the liner notes, I learned that the version of Naima on this greatest hits collection was live.

Fate was laughing at me again. This time, I had to laugh with the stupid jerk as well. Then I went to Amazon and downloaded the Giant Steps version of Naima.

I made a CD of the studio version of the song and the two different live versions of the song. That night as I went to bed, I put the CD on “Repeat Disc” and listened to the disc until I fell asleep.

I’m not going to go into details about my exchange with Jill about the song. It was mostly me making references to other forms of art and a discussion on what it means to be “hopelessly romantic” and whether or not that is a bad thing.

But I will share the one paragraph that Jill sent that inspired me to make these pictures:

I believe that you do not need to be an accomplished musician in order to be an accomplished music lover. Actually, I think knowing too much about the technicalities can ruin just purely loving to listen to music. I luckily never cared too much about music theory so I don’t think I’m part of that group, but I would much rather go hear music live rather than listen to recorded music. That is probably why my favorite genre is jazz because it’s so spontaneous and so great live. Unfortunately I no longer have any of my jazz cds, but I will slowly rebuild my collection. I’m not going to pretend to know a lot about jazz because I don’t. I played in jazz band only because it was just so much fun. I was never great at it by any stretch of the imagination but I simply didn’t care. I’ve heard a lot of it, but honestly can’t name every standard or tell you who performed them all. I do know what I like when I hear it though, and I can usually explain why I like it. I think that is all that really matters.

I should state for those that don’t know, Jill is an accomplished musician and played the most rocking piccolo solo I ever heard in my life this Summer with the Boone City Band.

I think you know that I am not an accomplished musician. In fact, I could hardly be described as a musician at all. But I do still have my old slide trombone sitting in my basement from my days at dear old BHS.

But after being inspired and somewhat liberated by reading those words, I decided to take a self portrait with my trombone in homage to a couple of my favorite musicians (Miles Davis and John Coltrane) and two of their seminal albums, Kind of Blue and Blue Train.

So that is the story that lead me to sit in my basement one Thursday night and make these images with a beat up trombone that has seen better days, but will never see better days again.

Coltrane's 1st Wife's Middle Name
Kind of Blue Train Series – 001


I know it is a lot to get through just to see 3 pictures.

Charlotte Bennett (Mom)

My mom doesn’t own a computer or even know how to use one, so I had to bring her over to the Honest Abe office to have her look over the pictures for her to pick one.

2009 - Pufferbilly Days Photo Contest Nominee
“Pardon and Sanctify Me”

I actually thought that she would pick this one. It is a picture of the cross on the top of our church. It actually looks much nicer than that now as it has been recently painted during the tuckpointing process. It is prettier now, but perhaps not as photogenic.

There were a couple of other images that she also considered.

2009 - Pufferbilly Days Photo Contest Nominee

2009 - Pufferbilly Days Photo Contest Nominee

The truth is that she doesn’t like the picture of Logan’s eye at all, but she thought it was artistic. I don’t think any of my weirder images got much love, but at least this one got mentioned.