Archive for December, 2008


After interviewing at the beginning of the month, I spent another day in Boston having fun with an old friend. I stayed at Morrison House and hung around Davis Square the first evening before venturing out.

Visiting Club Passim was a treat. Many favorite musicians, including  beloved Mississippi John Hurt, played at it or its forerunner Club 47. This story from NPR‘s All Things Considered recounts its history. We showed up late enough that it was not worth catching the show. I am happy to have stopped in.

Music Emporium is a terrific guitar shop. The selection of banjos and mandolins is similarly excellent. I played until bored or at least boring. Then we ate at Blue Ribbon Barbecue. It was good, surprisingly good for the latitude.

We walked around Harvard Square. Visiting the Harvard Museum of Natural History, including the Museum of Comparative Zoology, was a lot of fun. It houses an amazing collection of glass models. The Glass Flowers and the Blashka Glass Invertebrate Collection are terrific. I also got to touch some meteorites in the collection of rocks and minerals.

I had not visited Boston since before moving here. It is a fun place and much easier to get around than I expected. On many interview trips, I quickly return here following the interview. I had a great time looking around, and I am glad that I spent the extra day.

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Michael M. on December 15th 2008 in General, Music

Cadillac Records

I watched Cadillac Records at the Ronnies matinee showing one day last week. A friend recommended it during an old-time jam. I enjoyed it, but I would have enjoyed a documentary more. It movies up too much of the story. I, no expert on the history, could tell that there were large distortions. For instance, one of the Chess brothers is a tiny character. Other famous Chess artists are omitted completely. Where was occassional subject and hometown hero Bo Diddley?

I am glad I saw it. Every blues fan ought to see it. It has some great scenes reenacting critical moments in the history of American popular music, such as blogged Alan Lomax and John Work recording Muddy Waters on Stovall’s Plantation. I hope it brings greater popularity to the music. At the same time, it is a movie with some big flaws that are easy to tolerate, but hard to completely overlook.

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Michael M. on December 15th 2008 in General, Movies, Music

H. M.

The New York Times has this obituary for H. M. Known by his initials, he is familiar to nearly all students of neurobiology and psychology. He developed severe anterograde amnesia, the inability to form new memories, due to removal of his hippocampi and other temporal lobe structures as a treatment for intractable epilepsy. His tragic situation led to profound advances in understanding the human brain.

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Michael M. on December 15th 2008 in General

Sea Lion Woman

My Feist interest has not abated yet. I checked out her two CDs from the library. Looking into “Sea Lion Woman,” I found its entry on Wikipedia. According to it, Herbert Halpert recorded the song in 1939 in Mississippi. That information registered immediately. The blogged Great Big Yam Potatoes album of Mississippi fiddle music comes from Halpert’s 1939 trip through the state.

Halpert had a vehicle modified to haul the massive recording equipment. The Mississippi band Sound Wagon is named after it. They play traditional Mississippi fiddle music.

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Michael M. on December 9th 2008 in General, Music

Tuva to STL

I posted about Tuva back in the summer and once before. A group of Tuvan musicians visited Saint Louis last week. The Alash Ensemble came while I was out of town. They were guests on KDHX show Uncontrollable Urge. This post on the blog includes links and this mp3.

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Michael M. on December 7th 2008 in General, Music, Recorded


YouTube recommended this video to me when I visited the home page. Feist sang “1234” with special lyrics for favorite Sesame Street this season. I blogged about “Letter B” (video) from pretend album Sesame Road by the Beetles on Sesame Street. The show has famous pop culture figures all the time and has for years. This Feist appearance is at the pinnacle.

Watching the original video for the song reminded me of this post just over a week ago. One of the videos I found featured children’s dances led by Bessie Jones. Feist has cited her participation in the 1988 Calgary Winter Olympics opening ceremonies as inspiration for the video. The “1234” choreography has a few striking similarities with children’s dances. If I had watched them further apart, it never would have occurred to me. “Wind up!”

Jones was an artist in the American folk music revival. Along with her indie chamber pop, Feist has dipped in that bucket. The banjo in “1234” was a sign. “The Way You Look at Feist, So She Appears to You” aired on NPR‘s Weekend Edition Saturday last year. A good portion covers her trip to the well for “Sea Lion.”

The Sesame Street “1234” got me thinking about other segments that I will remember for the rest of my life. Besides developing my language and mathematics skills, Sesame Street also had as much influence as anything on my sense of humor. I still crack up at Cookie Monster in the Library.

Back to the song, the adaptation is obvious and fitting.

To one less than five,
And one more than three.

It is hard to argue with that.

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Michael M. on December 2nd 2008 in General, Music, Recorded

All Brazilian Beatles 7

The 7th annual All Brazilian Beatles show with air this Saturday 6 to 8 PM on Radio Rio on KDHX, 88.1 FM. I blogged about the last one and mentioned it another time. This post on the KDHX blog explains how the show came to be. I am a fan of the Beatles and of Brazlian music. I try to catch the show every year. Now that KDHX makes shows available as mp3 streams for a week or so after broadcast, I will listen later if I miss it this weekend. The playlist should appear during or after the show, and it should have a link to stream while it is available.

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Michael M. on December 2nd 2008 in General, Music, Recorded

Four games

I spent the long Thanksgiving weekend in Oxford watching four Ole Miss victories. The men’s basketball team beat the University of Central Florida. I showed up just before halftime and enjoyed seeing Ole Miss come from behind to lead at the half and maintain that lead in the second half. Saturday, they defeated Morgan State in a close one. The women’s basketball team defeated Nicholls State soundly, setting a school record for the fewest points by an opponent. Neither basketball team is predicted to be great this year. They should be fun to watch, though.

The Battle for the Golden Egg was the real treat. I had not witnessed Ole Miss football dispense such a whipping in the past. Ole Miss scored 24 in the first quarter and 7 in each subsequent quarter. State had but 37 yards of total offense. The Bulldogs entered Ole Miss territory twice. Once was an interception return. The other time State was immediately brought back onto their side of the field by a penalty. The Clarion-Ledger has extensive coverage.

It was also a good time gastronomically. Como Steakhouse never disappoints. Catfish at Ajax Diner was good. I wish we had Shipley Do-Nuts and blogged Blue Bell ice cream up here. Of course, there were big breakfasts and good turkey on Thanksgiving, too. I ran out of time before eating barbecue, blogged Taylor Grocery catfish, blogged Abner’s chicken and Big Bad Breakfast. I will return.

Ole Miss football has been down since 2003. Even early this season, it looked shaky. The team came through. Now we wait for a bowl bid. It ought to be a good one.

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Michael M. on December 1st 2008 in General

On the trail

Following this recent post about a photograph possibly of Robert Johnson, blogged two other times, this post on Highway 61 links to this article in the Houston Press. Dedicated researchers Mack McCormick and Steve LaVere have uncovered far more about Johnson than has reached the public. They visited towns and tracked down family members. The researchers have lost momentum in bringing their findings to the public, though, and they might not come to light.

I noticed that John Nova Lomax wrote the article. The name jumped out at me.  Often blogged Alan Lomax was famous for his music collecting. When in college, I heard about his father and brothers, both named John Lomax, who were ethnomusicologists who lived in Houston, Texas. John Lomax, Sr., headed the Houston Folklore and Folk Music Society. I heard Norman Kennedy at one of their meetings, and during Kennedy’s visit to Houston, he came to the folklore class that I have blogged four times. The professor told us that John Lomax used to come to the class, too. I figured that John Nova Lomax must be related to the other Lomaxes. His article about his family confirms my suspicion. It weaves Guy Clark, twice blogged Townes Van Zandt and blogged Texas folk artists SamLightnin’Hopkins and Mance Lipscomb into the stories. The photographs are great, as are the comments by John Lomax III and others that followed the article.

Another trail journey originating in Saint Louis was posted on Highway 61. The Post-Dispatch has this travel article on touring the Mississippi Delta. It follows a recently blogged string of connections between Mississippi and Saint Louis. Indeed, the article mentions new movie M for Mississippi quite a bit.

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Michael M. on December 1st 2008 in General, Music

Taj and Homemade

This post on Highway 61 has more information on two previously blogged blues acts.  Taj Mahal, whom I have mentioned four times, is passing a landmark in his long career. Meanwhile, blogged new act Homemade Jamz Blues Band continues gaining fans. They are among the family bands featured on American Routes. The show should appear here eventually. See the Highway 61 post for links to more profiles of these young players.

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Michael M. on December 1st 2008 in General, Music


The Minimal Impact of a Big Hypertension Study” in The New York Times answers something I had wondered about since returning to medical school. The ALLHAT trial results were appearing when I was in the second year of medical school. This paper published in JAMA states clearly “Thiazide-type diuretics are superior in preventing 1 or more major forms of CVD and are less expensive. They should be preferred for first-step antihypertensive therapy.” When I returned to clinical training early this year, the approach was often different. We learned about the JNC 7 guidelines. The ALLHAT findings clearly play a great role in JNC 7, but clinical practice is often different. The concerns about type 2 diabetes and the thiazide class are real and important, but they are hardly the whole story. This article provides one perspective on the divergence between theory and practice.

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Michael M. on December 1st 2008 in General

St. James Infirmary

One time when I was driving through Jackson, Mississippi, I heard a country version of the old song “St. James Infirmary.” I then changed to WMPR on the radio, and I immediately heard a soul version of “St. James Infirmary.” The song has been all over. Twice blogged Jimmie Rodgers recorded it as “Those Gambler’s Blues” without naming the infirmary. Highway 61 has a slew of good links and information in this post about a new book. I saw the embedded Betty Boop cartoon with Count Basie at Spike and Mike‘s Sick and Twisted Festival of Animation at the Landmark Tivoli. May the song live many years yet.

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Michael M. on December 1st 2008 in General, Music

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