Best text message EVER:

If you get tired of being awesome, Cheers is on in five minutes. Just a heads up from the retirement home.

old boobs

Mark Messier goes into the Hockey Hall of Fame, first vote. Obviously.

Crazy tattoo white supremacist dude claims he "didn’t mean to shoot the cop." Right. Perhaps the best press quote of the week.

Immigrant Amnesty Bill fails to pass. Duh.

Utah Jazz draft "shooter". Again.

Michelle Wie scores in the 80’s. Again.

Paris Hilton: an "also ran" in Teh Human Race.

Went to see the Preservation Hall Jazz Band the other night at the Utah Arts Festival. They were good, though not overwhelmingly so.

Went to the rare regional production of Les Mis at Pioneer Theater Company two days ago. I was generally entertained, but underwhelmed with the vocal work, and overall musical direction. Flat like an 11 year old boy. Apparently, when you can’t sing everything in your role, it’s okay to talk-sing the stuff you can’t do. That's why it's rare.

That is all. For now. BRB.


Following Suit: I wanna be Dooce too.

Since some of the people I read think they should pattern their sites after those at the blurbodoocery, here is my contribution.While this isn’t The Former Congressman, Chuck, and while it’s not spaghetti, it IS Cinder and it IS a chopstick.

Represent, yo.

Taken by a twitty 14 year old girl, laughing hysterically. I therefore didn’t feel the need to process them with every single photoshop filter known to man. they were pre-processed for me.

And here is the obligatory pond pic. In last year’s pond post I reported that we had no piscine fatalities over the winter. Not so lucky this time around though. When we uncovered the pond, there was a floater, who had given up his life for the common good. He volunteered to stop using the small portions of oxygen in favor of saving the others.

This is what ponds do while we’re away at work - they make flowers.


Friday Haiku:

haiku peeps

Haikus are easy

But sometimes they don’t make sense



On My Hard Drive: Harry Connick Jr. - Oh, My NOLA

I guess this is kind of a concert review as well as one in the non-regular series of posts called "On My Hard Drive"...

connickHarry Connick Jr. was in Salt Lake last night, and I’m glad it’s close to Father’s Day, because that was the excuse I used.

This tour is in support of two albums, Oh, My NOLA, and Chanson du vieux carre. Both albums were released on the same day, but Chanson was recorded pre-Katrina, and NOLA was recorded post-Katrina.

NOLAWhile NOLA totally showcases Connick’s abilities as an arranger and vocalist, Chanson is an brilliant example of his bandleader/arranger chops. I have a major jealousy complex with Connick. Besides HAIR ENVY, he SUCKS for lots of other reasons too: when he was 22 he single-handedly arranged the music for the Billy Crystal movie, When Harry Met Sally, he’s married to a super-hot chick, former Victoria’s Secret model Jill Goodacre, is a respected actor - he was actually named a "promising new actor" in 1990 in Screen World magazine, has recently acted in a revival of The Pajama Game on Broadway, took piano lessons from Ellis Marsalis, father of jazz greats Wynton and Branford... the list goes on and on. Oh, and he can SING. His lightheartedness reminded me of what a sober Dean Martin might have been like, but then I read today that Connick has been dubbed the Vice-Chairman of the Board, referring to Sinatra’s nickname, Chairman of the Board. Sinatra himself respected Connick’s voice, and always called him "the kid."

Anyway, the concert... the band with Connick was a regular 11 piece band with 3 each of trumpets, trombones, saxophones, a drummer and a bass player. All of these players ended up playing at least one solo on the evening, and each was obviously top tier, without a doubt. These guys SWING, and swing HARD. The setup was all top of the line, with each musician getting his own dedicated mike (and expensive recording mics at that). It took about two songs before it was all dialed in properly from the sound board - as these things usually do. When you do one show per night in a venue, you have to use the first two tunes to get it all fixed up, because the presence of an audience in the room almost negates any sound balancing that was done prior to opening the house for the audience. Things like elevation, humidity, etc, have a big effect on what sound does in space, and you really have to be sharp to dial it in fast.

Obviously, practically the entire evening was filled with the music of these two albums. About three or four songs into the 100 minute set, Connick introduced a guest artist, LucienBarbarinLucien Barbarin, a trombone player. Let me just say right here that unless you have experienced the melody of "Summertime" literally WEEPING out the end of a trombone, swirled and stirred about with the skilful aid of a plunger mute, well, you haven’t really heard what a trombone can do.

Barbarin is a Louisiana-based musician, as one might have expected, and has played on other Connick albums, as well as The Marsalis Family: A Jazz Celebration (also On My Hard Drive), and with the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, among lots of others.

The concert was better than what I was expecting. The music was beautiful, it grooved, it swung, it rocked, it kicked. Connick showed himself to be a great showman, a good band leader, a good writer and arranger, and adept at the self-deprecating audience banter.

If this tour happens to make a stop near you, and you like this type of thing, you should make the effort to get out there and see this one.


More Talk about Hedge funds/private takeovers...

So, sorry for the absence. Frankly, there isn’t too much to say for me right now - just tryin to keep my nose down and be successful. These things are tougher these days than past times. One of those things.

A while ago I mentioned the purchase of Chrysler by Cerberus Capital, a private equity fund. I also mentioned that they had significant holdings, not the least of which is the company that owns the local CBS affiliate here in the Salt Lake area.

Today, it was announced that Cerberus has also just finalized the purchase of Option One mortgage from H&R Block. The price was the total of current assets, minus $300 million. To industry insiders, this is no surprise, and we knew it had been in the works for some time. I friend of mine who worked for them told me there was motion in that direction back in February - and I imagine it had been going for a lot longer than that.

A little research turns up the information that not only do they now own Option One, a very large national subprime mortgage lender, but they also own Aegis Mortgage, which runs (ran) a subprime lending arm, and GMAC financial services, a company that started out as an industrial bank in support of General Motors. Since its inception, GMAC has grown into the mortgage lending business by starting or buying companies like WMC Mortgage, another subprime lender. With its current holdings, Cerberus owns a large chunk of the subprime mortgage origination business in the country.

This interests me for more reasons than the obvious - I work in mortgage lending, and it interests me that private fund managers are seeing the same business opportunities in the "dent & scratch" world of mortgage lending, that many other private citizens see in the foreclosure market nationally right now. There is great opportunity to pick up homes from damaged or distressed owners right now, just as there is opportunity in picking up lenders from distressed owners or monetary investors.

Yesterday on the news I listened to a story about how the traffic in these acquisitions has increased in the last 12 months - so much so that there is some concern out there over a possible collapse of hedge funds or private investment funds. It’s because some of these deals have become so large that many, or most, funds can’t afford to walk in to the closing table and slap cash on the table anymore. These deals are financed through banks and letters of credit. There is concern that in order to attract the lending business from these fund managers, some very basic and logical approval steps get overlooked. It frankly looks a lot like what the residential lending landscape looked like 24 months ago. If you had a pulse and a last name, you could pretty much get a mortgage loan. The same is true right now for these fund managers, and banks are falling all over themselves to get that private equity fund business for the bank.

The problem is that the worst loans are made in the best of times. The cycle always churns, and we may be in for a big problem in the future.

And on another note... this is a test post for a new application called ByteScout Post2Blog... from what I can see, if it posts correctly, the application has no provision for assigning or editing categories to a post... perhaps it’s there and I just don’t know it yet...