Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The Air Between Us

A month ago (ok, one month and one day ago), I alluded to doing a little video project.  Both Birdie and Erik said they'd make sure to remind me about it - and let the record show, neither of them did.   Slackers.  Not keeping on their toes.

The project itself was a lame idea to begin with but with some clever editing from iMovie, I made it slightly less lame. Read between the lines folks - it is still lame.

I think the important thing to remember is that I committed to the project and I finished it.  There has to be something in that, right?  Right???


So sit back and enjoy your in-flight movie:  AirBlobby






Song by:  Hammock

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Record of the Month - Classic

Another installment of a disk I have enjoyed over the years. I'm trying to keep the Record of the Month posts to be fairly new releases. Classics are going to be ones that are at least 10 years old.

For 2011, I thought I'd focus on debut disks - just to make it more challenging for me. I don't think you'll care one way or the other.



I suppose it can be a "debut" album when all three individual members have releases on their own.  I suppose it can be a "debut" disk when it turns out to be their only disk - at least so far.  But considering Cry Cry Cry dropped their eponymous disk in 1998, I don't hold out much hope there will be disk #2.

What is lovingly referred to as a "folk supergroup", that term of course is quite an oxymoron.  While you might have heard of Dar Williams (someone? anyone?  ....other than Jon, that is).  And it's possible you might have heard of Lucy Kaplansky (I have two of her solo disks).  It is highly unlikely you've heard of Richard Shindell (I hadn't - and I know a thing or two about music).

But just bolstered on the two females of the group, I got the disk all that many years ago.  I had a number of their solo disks and thought, well how can this be bad?  And it isn't.

Granted, folk music isn't everyone's cup of tea, but it's not all "Hang Down Your Head, Tom Dooley" or all Pete Seeger.  As with most generes, there is a fluctuation within the category.

Honestly, I bought it for Williams and Kaplansky, since I enjoy their work so much.  I ended it up liking it for Shindell.

The record is worth its price for two songs alone: "Shades of Grey" and "Cold Missouri Waters" and both are Shindell-led.   The women certainly have their moments ("the Ballad of Mark Magdalen", "I Know What Kind of Love This Is").   There is a misstep with a cover of R.E.M.'s "Fall on Me".  It's a song that never needed to be taken on again.

It's folk music, so you're not getting any fast tempoed songs, though "Shades of Grey" picks up the pace a little.

You might want to sample the tunes at iTunes.  It's a good album not a great one, but it has some stellar moments, which is more than you can say about most releases.

Monday, November 28, 2011

My Music Monday


Some of my selections have been limited due to the fact that I had been using YouTube videos to convey my musical choices.

As you know, not all songs have corresponding videos.  Or worse, they have fan made ones which are even crappier than the MTV generation of falling glasses of water that break onto hardwood floors - shown at different angles, then again in slow motion.  You know those early 80's to early 90's video-in-a-box kind of thing.

I am trying something new (for me) in this here blog, and this here post series I call My Music Monday.  I've embedded an audio player - and will on some of my subsequent MMM posts, at least when there isn't a good video.   Yes, Blobby (or his blog) has finally has arrived in 2004.

This song, "Farmer's Daughter", is a one-off by Fleetwood Mac, a tune that is not even theirs.  It is a cover of a barely known Beach Boy's song from 1963.

Fleetwood Mac released it on their 1980 Live record (a remastered version is on their re-released Tusk outtakes disk), and while it is done live, there is not really an audience for the performance.  It was recorded at a soundstage where only tour staff where about.

Still there is something to be said for the recording.  The three part harmony is done well.  Stevie Nicks could still carry a tune back then and had the ability to do it in a higher register than Lindsey Buckingham - though her harmony part does not do that here.

The arrangement is nothing like the Beach Boys original recording and there is minimal instrumentation here - John McVie on bass, Mick Fleetwood on some bongo-like drums and Buckingham on very light guitar.  As you'd expect with a Beach Boys song, the focus is on the harmonies and Fleetwood Mac carries that here.


Sunday, November 27, 2011

Fix Me Now

I am cautiously optimistic.  We have five weeks to see one more movie to meet that never reached goal.  Yes, we saw our 11th movie last night.

I think the bigger issue in December is which movie to see.  As we creep closer to year end, and beginning of movie award season, some of the heavy hitters will be coming out.  But we need to reserve some of those for the 2012 season.

Anyhoo - yesterday we opted to see Martin Scorsese's new film, the highly acclaimed Hugo.

While you can see it in 2-D, do not bother.  This is totally a 3-D film and completely worth the searching out of the theater and the extra $$$ it takes to see a 3-D film.  This is not a retro-fitted 3-D film, it was made for this medium and it totally works.

Our concern was - a late afternoon PG rated movie, we assumed it would be PACKED.  Out of the 500 seat theater (yes, that large), maybe 70 people where there.  Maybe.  But you know, I have read great stuff about the movie, but I don't know I've seen a commercial for the flick.  Maybe no one knows it is out.

Visually, the movie is stunning.   The acting is good - many of the adults having appeared (not starred) in some of the Harry Potter films, plus Ben Kingsley, who does a subtle but wonderful job.  The kid who plays Hugo is good and for his three minutes on film, Jude Law doesn't suck (which to me, is saying something).  But I thought ChloĆ« Grace Moretz was a real highlight.   Look out for uncredited appearances of Scorsese and Johnny Depp.

It is really the story that is key - along with a healthy dose of early film history (which one segment goes on a little to long, in my opinion).  At first I thought that went on a little long, but without spoilers, you see why that happens.

I would never say I'm a huge Scorsese fan.  I never was thrilled with many aspects of Raging Bull or Goodfellas.  Apparently, I don't see that artistic vision like some do.  I always liked him more for stuff in direction of the King of Comedy or After Hours.

It seems he wanted to make a movie his pre-teen daughter (isn't he like, 65?) can see.  I guess he made it.

As low key movies go, and clearly a critical darling, but one you won't encounter too many crowds, I recommend Hugo. It is in the top 2-3 movies we've seen this year.

...even if we do have one more to go.



Song by:  Garbage

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Fan Mail

It's been a tough week for us here and believe it or not, I don't write about everything.

For some levity, I thought I'd just post a viral video about the Cleveland Browns.  Yeah, it is kind of a lame thing to do, but it is better than nothing, right?

Most of you might not care about football.  Hell, I don't.  But I hope you watch anyways.

As you read a few weeks ago, I've only been to two Browns games in 15 years - so clearly I'm not a fan - of the team or of the sport, overall.  For those who do not know, the "new" stadium (circa 1999) is build right along the lake front, which is where the old one resided. Rebuilding it there was a big bone of contention for many (myself included) on taking up valuable land.

Still I liked the truer fan's rant against our continually losing team.  It already has 600,000 more hits than any other YouTube video that features the Cleveland Clowns.





Song by:  Blondie

Friday, November 25, 2011

Shopping with Blobby

Yet another installment in the drudgery that is everyday shopping. The camera-phone makes it a bit more fun - though I get looks whenever I take pics of products. Like I care what people think!

So maybe this time I don't show you something from a grocery store - which is my norm Shopping with Blobby segment.

I fly a lot.  I think you all know that.

What I rarely do when I am in an airplane is pick up and look through the SkyMall catalog.  Talk about a bunch of crap, not only do you not need, but that you then have to order and wait for delivery.

At best, most of these items, while not cheap, are impulse items.  Who is really buying a doggie staircase at 35,000 feet?  Do you need Hermione's wand that badly during your layover?

But last week this did stop me dead in my tracks as I flipped through between Houston and Los Angeles:


Get the money clip that killed Osama bin Laden !!!!   Or something like that.

Did Navy Seal Team 6 really carry around rupee in case they needed to hit 7-11 for some beef jerky after offing the head of Al Qaeda?

I get that for a decade bin Laden was Enemy #1, but really???  Celebrating his planned assassination with merch?  Even that seems unseemly to me.  And at the price of somewhere between $35 and $60?

For g-d's sake, it's not even Hammacher Schlemmer.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanks To You

I would normally make my snarky post about Thanksgiving, but not this year.

This year I am thankful for many things - a job, great friends - blog and flesh and blood ones, and I would say the love and support of family.

As much as I razz them in this here blog, 710 and I have a good family - immediate and extended.  Don't get me wrong, I'll still take my jabs as often as I can - at my family, not his.  And to paraphrase Animal Farm - all family members are not created equal.

But for us, this last week has brought on how much those ties bind.  I think we do a pretty good job at not taking most of these folks for granted and while we don't have overly demonstrative relatives, the respect and love is there.  Sometimes it is more of the former than the latter, but it depends on who we are referring to, of course (see the above Animal Farm reference).  That is not to say love isn't there, just not stated easily, if at all.

We might love them, we might even say we love them - but I'm not sure we ever thank our families enough.  I mean all of us, not just 710 and myself.

710 and I are much more demonstrative than those who came before us - at least with each other.  If my plane crashed tomorrow, neither of us would a have concern knowing how we felt about each other - and that little, if anything, was left unsaid.

It is also safe to say we don't do that with the ones we truly care about - at least we don't do it enough. Love is one thing, but letting them know they are appreciated is something different...and equally important.

There. I'm done with my schmaltzy stuff.  You can resume your normal lives knowing I'll be back to my normal self tomorrow.  Or in a few days.

Enjoy your holiday.



Song by:  Emmylou Harris

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Record of the Month

I figured I'd do a monthly 'what I'm listening to' kind of thing. This could be viewed as a lame placeholder kind of post. And probably it is. But it's my blog! So there!


I'm a little late to this review.  I'm a little late to a few. I have the Record of the Month posts mapped out for this and the next three months - at least.  I doing this only once a month, these last few months have had a few new releases I'm trying to get to.  Eventually.

Blondie stands, to me, to be one of the better and more consistent bands out there.  "Consistent" might be a correct and yet incorrect description.  Their band members have changed over the years - though they still have a core of four since 1978's Parallel Lines.  They have rarely put out a similar album twice - and except for their first two releases, they've never put out two that are alike in a row.

Their first album in seven years, Panic of Girls, is no exception.

I haven't bought a physical CD in years - mostly because I don't have anything readily to play them on, but really - where does one buy them in the first place?  But don't look for Panic on iTunes, the download was only available at amazon.com.

Panic of Girls is good, but it's not superb.  I guess, that could accurately describe their last three disks - No Exit, the Curse of Blondie and Panic.  All have strong tracks, but those are not necessarily outweighing the weaker ones - and unfortunately, there are weaker tracks.

Back in the day (yes, I said that phrase), the band didn't really have weak tracks.  I don't think I'm waxing with nostalgia either, but maybe I have no perspective either.

Panic has too many Calypso/ska/reggae songs.  Or as my friend Jon put it:  "Look..you had a huge hit with the ska/Caribbean "The Tide is High" so STOP recording songs just like that...it was a fluke!"    That made me smile when I read it.  But he is correct.  With  "Girlie Girlie" "The End The End" and "Sunday Smile" it is too much for me.   ...and apparently for Jon too.   Not only is it too much, they're not even good. 


Jon is also correct in his assessment that "Le Bleu" is awful.  I'm going on record by adding "China Shoes".  I like the music, but not the lyrics.  The first few lines reminded me of a song in Glee they tried to "write" called "My Headband". 


I am not surprised by Jon's take on these at all.  We bonded over a lot of things decades ago, and Blondie was one of the first of those.  We have mostly been on the same page with their music.  Including the good. 


That all said, I do like "Mother",  "Wipe off My Sweat",  "Love Doesn't Frighten Me".  And I really like "What I Heard".  


Debbie's vocals aren't extremely strong.  It could be argued they never were, but the material used to really wrap around those, versus the other way around.  With Panic, that marriage isn't always there.   ....and she is now eligible for Medicare.  That was painful to think, say and write, but a 66 year old's voice isn't going to be as strong as it was when she was 30. 


Still, I like Blondie's energy and their desire to keep plugging away and not resting on their laurels.  It's not an out of the ballpark disk, but it is solid and that's saying something. 

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now

How how I love the likes of Dear Abby, Ann Landers and Ask Amy.  At least I can say I've met Amy Dickinson, but before she had her column, when she was doing (and still occasionally does) an NPR commentary on All Things Considered.

Reading the letters published in those columns, one would think most the people who write in have zero common sense.  These people ask the most obvious and sometimes dumbest shit there is known to mankind.

Occum's Razor would suggest that is because they are dumb shits (is that supposed to be one word? It didn't look right when I typed it.).

The other theory (well, mine) is that these letters - or at least some of them - are made up by Abby and Amy's staff members.  Totally fabricated.  I'm told by Amy, via Becky, that they are indeed real.  I am not holding my breath on this.

On days they are not making up letters, at least Abby has readers writing in their responses.  It's what I call "coasting" so "she" doesn't have to be bothered dolling out questionable advice that Mary Worth could do in her sleep.

I do read Abby daily since it is right next to Speed Bump, Bizzaro and Doonesbury.  Notice I didn't say Sudoku, the NYT crossword puzzle or Jumble.

Normally, I read the questions, but not the answers because 90% of the time you're going to get "seek counseling or talk to your pastor".   It's like Dr. Ruth - everything is ok as long as you use a condom.  Pat answers.   Or as I call it, "bullshit".

Is that Andy Rooney job still open?

So I actually laughed at not only the question, but the response to a letter a few days ago:
DEAR ABBY: I am a middle-aged woman who is Baptist by faith. I believe that when I die I will go to heaven. My problem is, if going to heaven means being reunited with my parents and other family members, then I don't want to go! The idea of spending eternity with them is more than I can stand, but I don't want to go to hell, either. Any thoughts? -- ETERNALLY CONFUSED IN MISSISSIPPI
DEAR ETERNALLY CONFUSED: Yes. When you reach the pearly gates, talk this over with St. Peter. Perhaps he would be willing to place you in a different wing than the one your parents and other family members are staying in. And in the meantime, discuss this with your minister.


I'm not sure which item is the more stupider of the two.  The first part of Abby's response could have been tongue-in-cheek, but since she has her pat follow-up, I'm guessing it is not.  I'm surprised she just didn't say, "fly on over to another cloud and only see them at holidays but hold your tongue if they upset you.".  But the lady who axed the question, is a unquestionably a fucking moron.

I get that people here on this hell-on-earth need to believe in heaven, but I'm not sold on it.  Yes, I am ye of little faith.  I need to see it, and one book isn't going to sell me on that.   Hell, there is film, audio recordings, pictures and, according to amazon, 5,183 books on Kennedy's assassination, yet there are still questions on who may have been involved, how many shots fired or if he died at all.  Yet one book - possibly the biggest selling novel of all time - determines that there is a heaven?   Puh-leese.

I might be 100% wrong on that existence.  But me getting past - or not- those pearly gates most likely does not depend on me.  g-d is not just....or if he is, it's all relative on what one might consider "just".   Turning people into pillars of salt or having someone sacrifice their son on an altar, or whales, arks and cutting babies in two don't seem like a "good guy" mentality.   This behaviour is ok by the folks who support Fox, but........   So technically, our version of being good might not matter in the slightest.

People talk acting like Jesus, as if it is the way.  But if you act like g-d himself, and not his offspring, would one have to be a serial killer, pyromaniac and in general, just a prick, to get a harp and wings?

The only heaven, if it exists, is one where I am with certain folks and of course, my cats.  But according to the Sunday school teacher on the Simpsons, I'm not hopeful.

"For the last time, the ventriloquist goes to heaven, the dummy does not!".


Song by: the Smiths

Monday, November 21, 2011

My Music Monday


In the original Wayne's World, Wayne was taken to task by the owner of what was most likely a Guitar Center for playing the first few notes of 'Stairway to Heaven'.

Rightfully so, I might add.

As classic as the song may be, there are better Zeppelin songs than that one. It just seems to be the most iconic.  It is one of those songs no one truly fucks with or even covers.

Or do they????

Almost a decade ago someone dared to take it on and it is anyone in the top 50 list of artists you think might.  Sure Shatner comes to mind.  Even Nimoy, perhaps.  Yankovic might even pop in your head.  But it was none of those.  Nope.

How about:  Dolly Parton??

Yeah, you read that right.  Dolly Parton.

It came from her 2002 disk that went back from her schlock country stuff which she has done, to bluegrass.  And it works.  Mostly.

I would say for the first two-thirds of it (or a little longer) the song totally works in Dolly's favour...and the listener's, if they can open their minds slightly to what many would call a travesty, if they were to look at this on paper only.

Having heard about it, I "shared" this from one of my "peers" on Limewire or some such program.  So while I would have been curious, I was never curious enough to pay for it.  I suspect some of you are in that same boat.

But if I'm to be honest, when I talk about the last third of the song, it does drag, and I'll get re-beat-up by the high school folks who bled Led, when I say the same is true about the original.  It goes on too long and doesn't know how to end - that is, until the last line.

Maybe the song is about America.  Maybe it's about the Statue of Liberty.  Maybe it is not.  I am not really invested enough to care or to even wiki it.

So here is a live version of Dolly singing 'Stairway to Heaven'.  I'll give her this, live sounds pretty close to her recorded version, so she doesn't gussy it up in the studio at all.  Like it or not, I thought I'd toss it out there for you.


Sunday, November 20, 2011

Anniversary

This is the last of the first anniversary posts.  Even I'm a little bored writing about it.

We got a nice card from Rebecca yesterday.  I am so bad about sending stuff out like this.  I remember the days,  just can't get it together to buy something to send out and then get it out the door, let alone on time.  I'm a social retard.

But the card itself - which you can't really read - was funny as hell.  The part you can read (and that does say '710' and not 'Flo') is nice.   The present she references is the lined white paper.

I'll let you think about that one, but it made us both howl.

And yes, we did do dinner.  I am glad we waited till the weekend to do it as opposed to trying to fit it in during the work week.  It was our second trip to Washington Place Bistro.  The space is nice, the service was flawless.  The food?  Eh.  It was nice, but I wasn't as wow'd as we had been the first time.  It was fine.

We each got dessert.  Why that might not seem like big deal for most, we rarely get dessert out when we eat.  That has never been our thing, as I would much rather load up on salad and bread.  710 got a doughnut bread pudding with vanilla ice cream.  I got a chocolate cake with chocolate mousse and raspberry coulis.  OMG, it was great.  It made me almost forget the average meal.


So the celebration is over.  Year one is over.  Now we just settle into a life of complacency, resentment and regret - just like every other married couple.

Yay us - we're living the dream.



Song by:  Suzanne Vega

Saturday, November 19, 2011

$1000 Wedding

I know our anniversary was a paper one, but no paper was exchanged. Actually, no presents at all.

It is not that I wanted anything, but if I really had time (and really I should have), or the forethought to do it, I would have and should have done something for 710. 

As it turns out, he did something for me. 

One of my bigger beefs was getting no wedding cake for when we got married.  I mean, I love the man, but I love dessert more equally.  Yes, it was pouring the day and night before our wedding, so instead of going to Georgetown Cupcakes as planned, Becky 710 and myself ended up getting toffee covered pretzels (which btw, were amazing!) and sitting around our hotel room. We opted not to trek down to G-town after we got Becca to the airport after the reception.

But 710 surprised me on our day with this


He was so great, he didn't even get it off a bakery shelf, but had it made.  A small cake with two tiers.  It is my understanding that the person taking the order didn't really understand what he wanted, but the person who presented it to him said, "oooohhhh, what a cute cake!".

It was a small cake - chocolate and vanilla.  A Thomas Jefferson cake. Or a Strom Thurmond cake.  Yes it was a small cake, but it was a huge gesture. 

Tonight it is our anniversary dinner - two days after the fact.  I'll fill you in on that, unless something more interesting comes up.  I'm sure it will.  You don't really want to see another post about food. 



Song by:  Gram Parsons

Friday, November 18, 2011

A Stroke of Luck

It's been a tough week - work-wise, that is.   Yesterday I couldn't even break away to go to our anniversary dinner that 710 scheduled for us.  He's had a tough week too, so neither of us were too broken up about eating at home.  We just moved the reservation from last night until Saturday.

He did get me us a cake though. Yayyy.   I didn't get one of those for the actual wedding, if you recall.  I've been bitching and moaning about that for the last 364 days.

With no thought to a post today, I just thought I'd put up a video here.  It was sent to me from a woman who used to be in my department, but as you know, I moved on last June.  Jeri and I still talk weekly and I do enjoy her so.

This video might not be for everyone.  But most guys will certainly get it.   Enjoy.

Maybe I'll have words of wisdom tomorrow, but I wouldn't go holding your breath or anything.






Song by:  Garbage

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Paper Thin

Oooh.  Today is my our anniversary.

One year ago we went off and got mallied in DC.   Yes, Mallied.  Sheeesh.  (I am 99.99% I've used that line before.)

It seems odd saying we are celebrating a one year anniversary (or 5.07 in Kardashian years), when we are pushing three decades together.  I think I've said before it was hard enough celebrating one anniversary, but now we have a second date to consider.

Even the first date was tough.  First date?  First time you move in together? Final time you moved in together (yes, there was more than one time)?  If not a marriage date - how do gay couples truly pick "the" date they are together?  Married couples don't really celebrate their first date and call it their "anniversary", do they?

I know none of my four sisters do.  And I don't know anyone else who does.  They'd be hard-pressed to know the date of their first time out together.  Yet that is the date Denton and I have inscribed on our rings - which we got years before we had the opportunity to get married.

I know none of my sisters had as good of a best man / matron of honor / honor attendant as we did, that's for shore.  Yes, I spelled it that way!  Whatta gonna do?


So, we made it to year one and we're still together.  Maybe these crazy kids can make a go of it and beat all odds.   Only time will tell.



Song by:  John Hiatt

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

App of the Month

This month, we have a game:  Trainyard Express.

Yeah, a game might not be as useful to you as say, how to workout or how to make a movie on your iPhone, but games have their advantages.

When I updated my phone last week, I lost all of the levels I achieved on Angry Birds and Bejeweled.  Frustrating.

As much as I know I need to get those levels knocked off again and back to where I once was, I needed something new, a distraction.

710 had this game on his phone and I thought I'd try the lite version.  Lite = free.  I am all about the cheap.

It has proved to be quite the distraction too.  While yes, there is a sense of "winning", it really is a thinking game and not one of beating a time limit or outscoring someone else.  I suppose you could play that way, but what it really is about is logical abilities and problem-solving skills.

These are lessons is spatial thinking.  And that is not Appalachian for 'special'.

You have to get train A to station A.....and so on.

Yes, it's easy enough for the first few rounds.  Too easy.  So easy you think it's a trick.  It is not.  But then you add layers, you add trains, you add stations, you add blockades.  And you have to do it without making the trains crash, which of course, is the sign of any good railroad guy.  Crashes are bad!

As you'd expect, each level gets harder.



This level wasn't too too hard.  Just getting four trains to the station.  No big whoop.


This was a little more difficile, as you have to get the trains to all combine before they can get to the station or it is considered a crash.  I'm not yet sure what the deal is with the big popcorn, but then I still don't know why birds want to kill pigs, so.....what do I know?

It is something different to do on the phone while I fly.  Angry Birds has some thinking involved with physics and such, but Trainyard Express really makes you think about curves, timing, cross-over tracks and such.  Hey, I come from German stock, it's all about getting the trains to work on time.

Sure it's a time-killer, but since I'm only normally playing this in-flight, it's not like I have tons better to do.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Rain Song

The best laid plans.  Dashed.

My work travels went nowhere yesterday, not that I didn't try.  Not that I didn't sit at an airport for five hours trying to make something happen.

Cancelled flight after cancelled rescheduled flight. Frustrating.

I finally had to just call it and tell them to refund me. Any chance of getting where I was headed was thwarted when I missed the last connecting flight from Chicago.

It was going to be close after the second rescheduled flight to make that connection and my fear was that I'd be stuck in O'Hare for the night and not be able to get home.  I already knew I'd miss my morning meeting if I couldn't get out last night so why bother?

As you can see, Mother Nature was to blame.

But I gotta tell you, I was more annoyed with the gate agents than the weather.  I had to do all the work for them, giving them potential connecting cities to get to my final destination. They had no logical thought process at all.  Then the one just cancelled all my options (cancelled not rescheduled) not bothering to let me there were two other options to get to Chicago.  I finally righted her wrong, but what a hassle.  Don't even get my started on my sopping wet luggage I'm guessing they left on the tarmac.

But after five hours, I headed home. Never made it out of state, let alone to my client.  ...and it slows down my quest by one week to get Platinum status.

Why g-d!  Why??

My boss was big about the entire thing.  He's going to be there tomorrow and I will not.  I can call in, but it won't be the same - not really.  Still I accept things I cannot change.  Ooooookay.....not really.  I'm not that guy.


Song by:  the Continental Drifters

Monday, November 14, 2011

My Music Monday


Inspired by sometime reader Brett R, (not the other Brett), I am going in a 1960s direction (again) for this week's selection.

I have zero idea why my parents had a Petula Clark record in our house.  I never thought they bought any music after Glenn Miller pulled an Amelia Earhart.

Perhaps they bought it for one of my sisters, but I never heard any of them play it.  I found it, and I played it - at the ripe old age of like 7 or 8.

How tuned in I was to my inner-chanteuse, even pre-puberty.  Don't tell me it's nurture over nature.

That record had some great tunes, like "Don't Sleep in the Subway", "Downtown" and my all time favourite song of hers, "My Love".  It was one of the first songs I illegally downloaded shared from Napster in its early incarnation.

While clearly I didn't know it when it was released in 1966, I was well familiar with it before we hit the next decade.  It still resides on my iPhone and iPod.

And playing the song in my car is one where I can sing along to it at the top of my lungs - and I do.  It never gets old.  It is one of the perfect pop songs of all time.


Sunday, November 13, 2011

12 of 12

So I'm doing my 21st 12 of 12

12 pictures taken on the 12
th of the month. Since I only post once per day, you get my images the following day. All pictures taken with my iPhone. Click images to enlarge, if you choose.

Created by Chad Darnell (thanks Chad!) and picked up from, what I can tell, a number of random bloggers who then link back to him and vice versa. While he said he would stop it at the end of 2010, it still looks up and running to me, so I'm running with it.

09:10.  Oh my.  That is unfortunate last name.  The last-last part of it, of course. 

13:30.  Denton's soup not mine.  

14:15.  Outing to Kohls.  New fuzzy pants for Blobby.  No,  I'm not kidding. 

14:18.  The Great Wall of Socks.  We bought none.  Well, none on that wall. 

14:45.  Business man and Vrksasana posing woman.  Tree Pose is one of my favouritist yoga poses. 

 15:15.  Home Depot, having them help us with a design for a new front door.  They were unsuccessful. 

15:45.  At the car wash.  

15:47. Frankie Say Car Wash Done.

 16:25.  Do I have to spell it out for you what this is?

 16:28.  The new wall finally going up from the collapsed hill last April.  The directional sign in the above picture was to get traffic into the other lane.

16:35.  Our neighbor's big-ass pile o'leaves.  We won't have one this big when the undocumented workers come back this week to finish with ours, but it will be close.

22:10.  Fleur de Sel caramels from Purple in Seattle.  $5 for three.  AMAZING.  I have tried a few different places and this is without a doubt the best.

Unspecified time taken.  Your Baker's Dozen.

Sophie and her ever-present string which she takes everywhere in hopes of that you'll play with her.   Someone always does. 

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Pushing the Needle Too Far

I can cross another state off my list:  Washington.

I had a three day meeting up in Seattle.  The Pacific Northwest is fucking awesome!

You have to gay-sing the word 'awesome', with 'awe' being the high note.  You know what I'm talking about.  You're doing it in your head right now.  I know you are. You know you are.  You know I know you are.

I've been to Portland, which I love, but had never been up north of that.  I might like Seattle even more.  I could totally see living there, but I said the same thing about PDX.

The first morning I had free, but none of my co-workers was up to do anything.  Slackers.  I went out and explored on my own.   Off I went down the steep hill so I could see Puget Sound.  It was beautiful - and I was the only one down there.   The walk back up was great of the glutes and the calves.

Seattle is built on about an 18%  grade.  If you've ever tried to bike up an 8% it's frickin tough. Now more than double it.  Originally, the town was a 49% (!!!!!) grade. Honest to g-d, they hosed it down and eroded it so they could build a base to the city.  Key-razy!

But while down there I saw a glimpse of the Space Needle.


....or as 710 calls it:  Dr. Evil's HQ.

I never made it to Pike's Fish Market, which was a bummer, but I was there for work, not play.  I did pass a few really cool looking galleries, but they weren't open at 07:00.  Go figure!  All 4,391 Starbucks that I passed were.  I felt dirty not being a coffee drinker in this town - like I was doing something horribly horribly wrong.


We did do a little play - mainly a little walking tour of Seattle and then a shuttle ride over to the Space Needle, where we had dinner and did the observation deck.

The views were pretty frickin' cool.



The restaurant was another matter.  Rotating does nothing for me.  Yeah, you got to see all sides of the city while you ate, but while most don't face straight out, it was just a little odd to notice things moving.

I also assumed it would be touristy and because of that it would have high priced (it was), but low-brow food (it wasn't). You know me, if I have to ask what two items in the dish are:  I'm out.  Every dish was like this. The special of the night?  A 44 oz  (!!!!!) steak.  It only cost $120.  Your pre-angioplasty dinner is pretty cheap compared to three days in CCU.

For a great meal, I suggest Purple.  Incredible food.  Incredible desserts and a great great wine list.  I had the bestest Pino Noir I've ever had.  Pricey, but good.

I did skip the last day of my meeting, so I could drive four hours to do a presentation to a potential new client.  Up and over the Cascade mountains before dawn, they were seemingly beautiful.  It was dark and cold.  Low 20 degrees up there.  But coming down the other side,  through the fog-laden valley, I could barely make out Mt. Rainier.  Impressive to say the least.

Rumour has it that if Rainier were to erupt it would wipe out Seattle in minutes.  I suppose it could. I'm not a geologist.  I was surprised how far away from Seattle it is.  I always assumed it loomed right over the city, not two hours away.  Clearly I'm not a geographer either.

Had I not been driving 80-100 miles per hour, I would have stopped to take pics of some of the sights, as they were great.  Yes, the seemingly crappy Chevy rental car was doing 95 and I never even noticed.  And even at that speed it still took me almost four hours to get to my destination. It was kind of out in the middle of nowhere.

As much of a pain as it might be to get out there, if it let me spend more time in the PNW, I'd gladly take on the client.

One more pic of the Needle - one my way out, in the dark.




Song by:  Indigo Girls

Friday, November 11, 2011

11:11

It was the best of times......it was the worst of times.

Yes, I'm stealing from that hack, Dickens!   (somewhere Dr. Spo just fainted!)

Actually it was 11 years ago today that Becky and Andrew got married.

...that would be be best of times portion of our show.  But if you subtract 11 years from today you get 2000.  This would be 5 days after the 2000 presidential burglary election, ergo, the worst of times.

Being that the wedding took place in DC it was a confluence of everything being at the center of the media's attention - the election, not the wedding.  It should have been about the wedding.  It should have been all about the wedding, but we were a nation distracted.

Still, it was a great weekend.  Denton and I went in a day or two early so we could have dinner with the happy couple.  We gathered friends from the airport when needed.  Since I was a bridesmaid honor attendent (no dress, and certainly no explosive bowel movements at the bridal store!) I also planned the rehearsal dinner.  So much to do - including a little sight-seeing with the gang including the Jefferson Memorial, the White House, and a stroll down to Georgetown to pic up our tuxes.

I won't go into the drinking, the passing out, the passing gas stories.  Let's just say, we still talk about them to this day.

Even at the bridal luncheon we saw Patrick Moynihan, which was one of the highlights of the trip. Some people fawn over celebrities, I'm good with a solid political sighting, as long as it is someone I respect.

But the Bush-Gore tussle over Florida is almost a mere memory and normally I don't associate it with Becky's wedding.  Though at the time, the best man (I was probably the best man, I just didn't have that role per se!) was almost a no show as he was in Florida helping with the recount.  He made it and I was relegated to holding the train of the dress.  {sigh}

There were a lot of laughs though.  Jon made us bring a few pictures each from our past together and we all sat around our hotel rooms just chuckling at ourselves.  It was a great idea and now that it is 11 years later we should probably do that again sometime soon.

Jon brought one of Morty, Becca and myself in 1991 while we were all in Houston, and we opted to re-enact it here.   Asian Blobby - again.  Morty and I are the ones without juice cans or brushes stuck in our hair.



Oh, it was a weekend of laughing and drinking too much - which pretty much sums up every weekend I have ever spent with these people.  It is amazing we all haven't had liver transplants.

How is it that original picture - taken in a photo booth is 20 years old????  It is unfathomable.

So today is 11.11.11 - and happens to be Becky and Andrew's 11th anniversary.  It's got a great ring to it.

The plan was to spend the day and weekend with them in Provincetown.  They are going.  We are not.   Boo.

I just flew back from the west coast - and just landed got home and began this post.  Work got in the way.  Hell, today was supposed to be a PTO day and I don't see that happening either.  Too many emails to get to and clear off.

I'll miss not being with them on this day - their day.  But they are both so great and there are so many fab memories of that weekend, it's just fun to yak about.

Here is on more pic for the road and it is one of my favourites of all times - the pic and the couple. I hope they don't mind me posting it.


I'd say "I dress up nicely", but I suppose the picture and the day wasn't supposed to be about me. But, I mean really, isn't it?



Song by:  Rufus Wainwright

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Strike Up the Band

I did this meme a few years ago, but Rebecca axed that I resurrect it again.  I'm ok with that.  You know me - anything for a post.  And I now have a few more regular readers than I did back in March 2009....which oddly doesn't seem that long ago when you "say" it out loud.

Anyway, it is a meme / post to create album cover art, if you were in a band.  Hell, some of you guys might be in a band.  Most of us are not.

The last time I did this, I don't even remember what my band was called or what the cover are looked like anymore.  Bummer.  I lost all that when my host/server "updated" me and lost all my images. I don't think it is one I can ever get back - unless someone somehow miraculously did the meme and has it somewhere.  I do know the album title was called Tortures the Living.

I never truly tag anyone for these memes - as I don't want them to feel obligated, or the reality is, I'd feel worse if they dismiss me because I did tag them.  It's just easier if anyone who wants to participate does it on their own accord.

I'd be happy to have a follow-up post in a week or so, where I link or post everyone's album art in one entry.  Naturally, you'd have to tell me you have created one.  I'll post them even if you don't have a blog and want to send me your image.  I can do that.   .....and it gives me another entry.   YES!  SCORE!!!


Follow the directions below and find out...Here are the rules:

1 - Go to Wikipedia. Hit “random”or click here.
The first random Wikipedia article you get is the name of your band.

2 - Go to Quotations Page and select "random quotations"or click here.
The last four or five words of the very last quote on the page is the title of your first album.

3 - Go to Flickr and click on “explore the last seven days”or click here.
Third picture, no matter what it is, will be your album cover.

4 - Use Photoshop or similar to put it all together.
I don't have Ye Olde Photoshoppe, so I used whatever editor was built into my MacAir.


I admit to cheating just a tad, as my first Wiki random search was indeed already a recording artist.  I just did not want to be "Shania Twain".  One of those is enough - don't you agree?

Anyhoo.....here is mine, amended as it may be:

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Come Together

How long has it been since my laptop was stolen right from under my nose?  A month? Longer?  I haven't been keeping track of time.

The new MacAir is great and I'm loving it, but my iPhone has been woefully un-updated until I got my iHouse in order.

I had to resync my iPhone to update it for the new OS, but before that, I had to make sure all my music was pulled off and saved, or when I did update, everything would be wiped out.  I had too many songs and albums from library visits that I had not backed up to just lose.  I wasn't willing.  But I never had time to do the deed.

As beautiful as this last weekend was, 710 and I got me to where I needed to be. There is a "free" service to pull songs off your phone, and it would identify any duplicates so you don't have to spend the time doing it for crud you already have.  Oh, and this "free" service only allows you to pull 1000 songs at no cost.  After that, it is $20.

The problem is, between two devices, I had 3700+ songs, clearly a number of them duplicated.  1700 to estimate.  After realizing the duplicate identification part of the program was not working, and a few hours of stupidly thinking I could know which song had been backed up and which had not, I gave up and paid the $20 and downloaded everything and then used iTunes to sort duplicates.

Even that was a painful process.

On our back-up drive, we had most of all our ripped music, but I noticed at least a dozen disks that are not, so I'll have to fix that  But in my OCD state, over the last few years, I made sure I had artwork for all the stuff on my laptop.  That was not backed-up now.  So I am trying to repress anxiety attacks when much of the reloaded music comes up with no artwork or the wrong "tag" and artwork attached to the song. 

It's not easy.  Anxiety normally wins out.

But I did get my shit updated, so I have 2000 songs back on my iPhone along with a new OS, which I am liking, if not still getting used to.

All I can say people:  back-up.  Do it often. 

Song by:  the Beatles

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Booth of Glass

It is that time of year........again.   Voting time.

Not one to miss an election, but knowing my travel is unpredictable, I did the absentee ballot once again.

I don't think I have visited a polling station since the 2006 primary election. Ohio had gone to the Diebold system and I wasn't really confident my vote was being tallied, since the octogenarian volunteers couldn't figure out the machine...yes, singular, as only one of the three seemed to be working...and I never did get to see a printout of my actual vote, which is required.

Between that an my travel, it is just easier to request a mail-in ballot and hope that some Ohio board of elections doesn't leave them all sitting on a loading dock uncounted.

Yes - that has happened.

Either by booth or mail, I feel my vote has an equal chance of being ignored, so why stand in line at 06:30 when a postage stamp can do that for me.

Speaking of, I'm pretty sure the envelope used to be pre-paid, but the notice on florescent green paper told us to adhere postage, so I'm assuming there was a change in procedure.........and the economy.  The county/state can no longer afford this luxury, which means all those infirmed (read: elderly) voters who can't make it out and don't have the disposable income for whatever a stamp costs these days, their voices and votes will be unheard.  As if they really were before.

I know I'm cynical, but it's a shell game, this election process.  2000, 2004 and 2006 surely dispelled any uncertainty that was there before.  Don't trust "the man".

Ohio had only three things on the ballot this year, save the local judges race.  But all of them I wanted to vote on - including the vaguely worded repeal of "Obamacare".  With the other big issue being the repeal of the anti-collective bargaining issue that Ohio's congress sped through session.

With the latter being such a hot button issue and way more ads to repeal than to keep in place (at least up here in NE Ohio), Issue 3 on the healthcare repeal isn't even a whisper.  Not one commercial, not one yard sign........nothing.

My ballot was mailed weeks ago, as I knew I'd be out of town........and had no intention of hitting the voting booth if I weren't.



Song by:  Patty Larkin

Monday, November 07, 2011

My Music Monday


This is probably a choice most would not see coming:   Neil Diamond.

Don't get me wrong, young Neil was not bad.  As a singer-songwriter, I was never turned off by  "Solitary Man" (a great song!),  and "Sweet Caroline".

Who didn't like his songs that the Monkees covered:  "I'm a Believer" and  "A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You"?

I thought less of him starting with "Song Sung Blue".  It was dialed up to full-on dislike with "America" and "Heartlight".  Ugh.   Especially that last song.  I'd rather poke my eardrums out than be forced to listen to that.

A few years ago Diamond went down the road of a later years via Johnny Cash - using Rick Rubin (Beastie Boys, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Dixie Chicks) as his producer.  Allegedly, Rubin approached Diamond.

The two subsequent albums, 12 Songs and Home Before Dark were critically acclaimed.   I've tried to listen to them, because I'll give them a chance.  They weren't bad, but they didn't really grab me either.  But the same was true of Cash's last five disks:  supposedly great, but I found them to be difficult to listen to them.

There is one exception to a song off of Diamond's Home Before Dark - "Pretty Amazing Grace'.   It's simple, but good.  But even with that, it took me a few listens to really hook on to it. As with Rubin's production on Cash and Diamond's efforts, he pares its down to mostly - if not only - an acoustic guitar.

"Pretty Amazing Grace" for the first half or so is solely an Diamond on acoustic guitar with a few more instruments thrown in as the song goes along, but for the most part it is unadorned, not unlike the earliest of his work.

There is no official video of it, so it is some fan-made clip. I think with the word 'grace' in the title, most of these fan vids take on a religious theme, but that is not me. I tried to find the least religious one out there.

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Walk Outside

It was such a gorgeous day yesterday, any winterizing we planned to do on and to the house went kaput.

First off, I was engrossed in my OCD with finally getting some pictures and music straightened out with the "new" laptop.  As it turns out, that was a much bigger project, so I was grateful when my sister and brother-in-law called and wanted to go to lunch.   They were bored.  I'm not sure I should have been grateful about the call, now that I think about it.

Our plan anyway was to go take a hike.  Literally.

After lunch we headed down to Brandywine Falls.  It was not too far from where we hiked a few months ago.

The falls were nice and it would be better to see it after a big rainfall.  I'm not advocating more rain, as I am tired of it, but the falls would have been more impressive, no doubt.

There weren't a ton of people there, considering the beauty of the day.  And the ones that were there did not venture back past the falls - and into the woods.  Yeah, there were some, but they were all there to seemingly view the cascading water.  Their loss.  Our gain.

710 and I had a nice hike and just talked.  I know, it sounds boring, but after work - when I am home - we sometimes don't talk like we normally would or should.  We had good discussions so it was a fine few hours.   ...and it was pretty.

video
A very short moving picture of the falls. 


The path downward.   Oh, how I've been on that road for a long long time. 

A bridge over the river. 

On the other side of the river was a house that had a goat, one rooster (that we could see) and about eight chickens.  Free range, at that.


So, we'll pay for not getting our last two storm windows in, but it was totally worth it.  Or so it seemed.



Song by:  Marti Jones & Don Dixon

Saturday, November 05, 2011

House of Leaves

Ok, Ditto just got on me (via text) for it being past 09:30 and not having blogged.   It's true, I hadn't.

Normally, I have things drafted and ready to post, but not today.  It was one of those workdays yesterday and I was beat yesterday evening, so it just did not happen.  So you can thank Dith for getting me off my fanny to post.

Actually, I have been on the computer as I woke up this morning with this idea that while my deleted email folders empty after a certain amount of time, my 'sent' files do not.  I had / have a chance for getting some of the photos I lost, when my laptop was stolen, back.

Clearly, it's not all of them, but anything I might have shared with anyone since, say 2005, I can go through thousands and thousands of emails and pull back and put into a folder and re-re-re-re-re-back them up.

So I got on that jag and just forgot about blogging.

On a side note, it's a beautiful day today, but one we won't have to spend doing leaves.  As I mentioned, we outsourced it.  Four hispanic men came yesterday with their leaf blowers and cleared the acre and the beds of all the leaves - or at least the ones that had fallen.  We have about 30% more to still come down.

The beauty, which I wasn't expecting was that they vacuumed them up too, as opposed to just leaving them at curbside until the city picked them up.  That was helpful on so many levels:  one was that who knows when or if the city would pick them up as we get closer to snow time.  The other is, that those leaves would just blow back into the yard or turn to muck and just become sludge on the lawn or street.

I have not been outside yet, but I'm sure the yard no longer looks as pristine as this.




Ok, now back to my OCD obsession of getting pics back.  I'm up to 2009.



Song by:  Poe