The possibilities are endless

A few days ago, I was walking to the Saucer, and passed legendary Downtown homeless person Scratchy on the sidewalk.  He had on a T-shirt that said, “the possibilities are endless.”

That’s our Scratchy.  Always an uplifting word for his fellow man.

Or in Scratchy’s case, always an uplifting word for the invisible fellow man who Scratchy talks to all the time.

Fun with The GIMP

I didn’t go out last night. For one thing, it’s just too hot outside to walk around much. For another, my new book on The GIMP, the free open source image editing tool which is on par with Photoshop, arrived yesterday and I made my way through the first three chapters.  The book recommended using my own images, taken with my digital camera, for the exercises.  I took several images that were poorly lit, and using The GIMP’s Colors -> Levels option, was able to make them look even better than Picasa can do.  Then I decided to have some Photoshopping – or in my case, GIMPing – old photos.  Here’s one of my first image projects, a pic of what Big Foot Lodge bartender/former BFF Meghan might look like if she got my name tattooed on her chest:

You can get a free copy of The GIMP here.  Make sure you download the Help as well as the program itself.  Note:  Either one of two things will happen.  Either you’ll get frustrated with it and give up after 15 minutes, or you’ll get addicted to it and nothing you planned to do today will get done.  Here’s a hint for you:  After you fire it up, go to the File menu and select File->New and create a new image, or FIle->Open to open an existing image.  The GIMP isn’t much fun unless you’ve got an image to work with.  I know that sounds like basic advice, but I sat there for a while thinking the Layers dialog was an open image, and wondering why I couldn’t do anything with it.

Probably skipping brunch again, because I want to play with the GIMP some more, and because I’ve got momentum going on my next site and don’t want to give that up.  I’ll be out later today, probably around 3:30.

Daddy Mack Blues Band DVD release tonight at the Center for Southern Folklore

If you’re into the blues, check out the Center for Southern Folklore, on the Main Street Mall just south of Gayoso, tonight at 8 PM.  The Daddy Mack Blues Band’s new documentary DVD, by Jim O’Donnell, will be screened at 8 and the band will perform at 9.  $5 cover.  Details below, pasted from an e-mail they sent me:

The Daddy Mack Blues Band and cinematographer Jim O’Donnell celebrate the official DVD release of “Plain Man Blues,” the Daddy Mack documentary that premiered last fall at the Indie Memphis Film Festival.  The fun starts Saturday, July 26 at 8:00 p.m. with a screening of the documentary followed by a blistering set by the Daddy Mack Blues Band at the Center for Southern Folklore Store located at 123 S. Main @ The Peabody Place Trolley Stop.  Admission for the DVD party is free while the cover for the live concert afterward is only $5.00.

DVDs of “Plain Man Blues” are now available for sale in the Folklore Store for $18.99.  You can also pre-order your copy by emailing or calling the Folklore Store @ 525-3655.

“Plain Man Blues” traces the late blooming career of Daddy Mack Orr who taught himself how to play guitar at the age of 45 after years of picking cotton, working construction and starting his own auto repair shop.  Now in his sixties, Mack makes his living fixing cars by day while playing the blues music he loves nights and weekends.  His talent was apparent early on when he joined the legendary Memphis-based blues band, The Fieldstones. As the leader of his own band, Mack and his crew have entertained audiences around the world from fish fries in Paris, TN to music festivals in Paris, France.  Along the way, he has achieved success as a recording artist with three consecutive albums in the Top Ten of the national blues charts – “Fix It When I Can,” “Slow Ride” and “Bluestones.”  Even so, life as a musician doesn’t come easy and Mack is still waiting to hit the big time.  “Plain Man Blues” shows what it takes for Mack to make it as a blues artist and the road he took to get there.

The creative force behind “Plain Man Blues” is Jim O’Donnell, an independent Memphis filmmaker.  He produced and directed the award-winning documentary “Ray4theNBA,” which aired nationally on College Sports Television, as well as, being screened at film festivals throughout the country.  He has produced several Memphis-centric documentaries such as “The Party Ain’t Stopped Yet,” about the closing and re-opening of The Center for Southern Folklore and “75 Years of Pink,” the history of Memphis’ Pink Palace Museum, as well as the fiction film “Presumed Dead.”  O’Donnell has also been nominated for a Regional Emmy for his work as a photojournalist.  He is a graduate of The University of Memphis Department of Communication’s Graduate Program.

For more info on Daddy Mack and “Plain Man Blues”, check out:

Photo album: Christmas in July at the Red Rooster

Last night was “Christmas in July,” a fundraiser for Make-a-Wish at the Red Rooster, with The Dempseys, The Plaintiffs, and Frankie Hollie and the Noise.  Here are a few pics.

The rooster guarding the front door was in the Christmas spirit.

Christmas decorations, a Christmas tree, and the Dempseys.

Sam the thinking elf

Me with August BFF of the Month candidates Kristin and Darbi.  Note that Darbi has a tube top on.

Outside:  A Christmas tree, snow machine, a sleigh, and reindeer.

The Plaintiffs rocked it out onstage and got the crowd dancing.

The St. Jude scientists make a blog appearance for the second consecutive day.

My co-worker Tanner, making a rare Rooster appearance.

Darbi liked The Plaintiffs so much, she tried to get on stage and sing with them.

Here’s a link to the full photo album (44 pics). It’s a shame The Dempseys played as early as they did (6 to 7), because they sounded incredible on the Rooster’s stage.  Hopefully the club will bring them back for a full-length performance sometime soon.

It was a block party, with bands inside and outside… but July is a rough month to throw a block party.  With temps around 90 and mosquitoes biting, most people chose to stay inside the club.  I felt sorry for the girls working the 4 outside beer stations, who weren’t making any money.

There were a lot of people inside though, which is a good thing because they raised some serious money for Make-a-Wish.  I tip my hat to the Rooster for finding a way to give back to the community and provide some quality entertainment at the same time.

Plans for today:  I’m going to walk up to the Election Commission and cast my vote, for Steve Cohen of course.  Then I’m going to spend the afternoon building my next website.  Tonight:  Not sure, no definite plans.  I’m 50% on skipping brunch tomorrow, depending on the progress I make on my website today.

Probably more blog posts to come this afternoon, since I’ll have the laptop with me.

Mick Jagger reaches pension age as of tomorrow

Rolling Stones lead singer Mick Jagger turns 65 tomorrow, and as such, will be eligible to receive 91 pounds (about $180) per week in benefits, according to this article.  That pension should nicely supplement the $558 million his band grossed on their 2005-07 world tour, and should provide him a little extra financial cushion in case his $450 million net worth is not enough to support him for the rest of his life. 

Happy birthday to Mick, and here’s hoping there’s another Stones album and tour to come, if they can ever get guitarist Ron Wood to sober up.

New, tiny video camera

I’ve been hearing about a new video camera called The Flip which is only about the size of a pack of cigarettes, starts and stops recording with the touch of one button, and which is relatively inexpensive (not much more than a hundred bucks).  They’re becoming the rage to whip out and film at parties and clubs.

Hmmm… I can see another use for this.  On the Handling-Panhandling group, we’ve been trying to get video evidence of Downtown’s most aggressive panhandlers in action, following people and harassing them for money.  Of course, when they see us whipping out big, bulky cameras and video cameras, they quickly stop their activities and leave the area until we go away.  But if this new camera is the size of a pack of cigarettes – and I’m thinking maybe it can be disguised as a pack of cigarettes – this may be a way to get video of the species bummus downtownis in its native habitat, behaving as it naturally would in the wild.

Even cooler than OpenOffice

Fellow Downtown Memphis blogger Sig shot me an e-mail this morning to let me know that there’s something even cooler out there than OpenOffice, which I recommended yesterday.  It’s called PortableApps, and it’s an entire suite of open-source software that you can carry around with you on any storage device – for example, a USB flash drive, iPod, or external hard drive.

Being able to carry all your software, files, and bookmarks around with you has a number of advantages.  I can see this being especially useful if the main computer you use is not a computer you own.  For example, if you use the computer lab at school, you can use the word processor running on your flash drive with your customized settings and preferences, rather than the school’s.

It’s also useful because it doesn’t leave a footprint… no evidence is left of what you’ve been doing on the computer you’re using.  This could be handy if, for example, you want to use your office computer to edit your resume.

Sig tells me that he has an 8 GB flash drive with PortableApps installed, and still has 7 GB left for files.  That’s really cool.  Sounds like a real winner.  We’re starting to see a lot of innovations in software, and this time around they’re not coming from the big dogs like Microsoft.

Curing cancer by day, dancing on the rooftop by night

These two St. Jude scientists have been trying to figure out what to do to get on my blog for months:

Finally the one on the left figured it out:  Wear a tube top!  It may not be Tube Top Month anymore, but still, tube tops are a good way to get your pic on the blog year ’round.

Finally made it to the Peabody rooftop party last night, and had a very good time.  I’ll try to make it back next week for their season finale with Dr. Zarr’s Amazing Funk Monster.

Got to get to work right now, but I’ll be back later today with cool technology stuff and more reader comments on the Trader Joe’s/wine in grocery stores debate.

I’ll be at the Red Rooster at 6 to support Make-a-Wish and catch The Dempseys.