Monday, December 31, 2018

A Year in Music - 2018

2018 was not a stellar year for released music. I am not sure I have ever purchased such little music in my adulthood during a 12 month span.

For sure, there was some good music out there, but to the point of purchase, nothing I had to plunk down dollars for. Also, when I got my new car in May, when the 3 month Sirius subscription ran out, I was too lazy to renew, so my exposure to some music disappeared.

So, I'll do my annual best of albums / songs.  The list is shorter than most years, but you can blame the content providers more than you can myself.


I only really have three I can recommend. None float to the top as THE #1.

Neil Finn's disk, Out of Silence, is most devoid of guitars and drums. They are simple arrangements for complex songs with a choir background. All songs recorded live over four Fridays, streamed on Facebook while it happened. 

On paper, Rosanne Cash's She Remembers Everything would have been my top disk. I'm not sure if it is or isn't. It has some great work, but some stuff that sounds rehashed. When you put out an album every five years, you should want for more.  Still Cash is in good vocals and the good stuff does shine. 

Mark Knopfler quietly released an album in November with Down the Road Wherever.  There isn't anything drastically different in his music, but it's always well done and comforting.


I am TOTALLY obsessed with Rosanne Cash's "the Only Thing Worth Fighting For".  When it comes through on rotation, I easily hit 'back' 4-5 more times.  Originally released by Lera Lynn for HBO's True Detective 2 (and co-written by Cash, Lynn and T-Bone Burnette), Cash presents a more commercial, appealing and addicting version (my opinion, of course).

You saw me feature White's song a few months back on a My Music Monday segment. It really battles for first place with Cash.  I was hoping for a full disk from him by year's end, but you know.....tick tick day left.

Released right at the top of the year, Finn's album got lost for many, not that it was ever going to be a huge seller. I've grown to love "Chameleon Days" even with Finn's falsetto vocal, especially with the balance of the choir vocals (think mid-60s adult contemporary / Ray Coniff stuff) works extremely well.

Van Morrison is man who just doesn't stop. Just a few weeks ago, he dropped this 40th (!!!!) album of original music in 51 years with, the Prophet Speaks.  I have not reviewed it yet, as I have not taken it all in. So far, all sign are positive in listening experience.  There's a lot to like on it, but so far I've gravitated to "Ain't Gonna Moan No More".

I am hoping 2019 has a little more to offer in the way of interest for me.

I was without XM radio for a while and kind of didn't miss it, until 710 played terrestrial radio. OMFG - so so so bad. Just one song that was worse than the last.   But srsly, when I reinstated XM, the first song up was Portugal the Man's, "Feel it Still".  As if the first 22,108.873* times weren't enough.  Ironically, the song was on Alt-Nation, which would have fit at one point, but hardly alternative at this one.

I never wanted to be that guy who never progressed musically and only listened to things that were released up until a certain time, but I'm tellin' ya, these 'artists' are not making it easy.

*I rounded way way down. YouTube hits alone are almost - get this - 200 MILLION (!!!)

Sunday, December 30, 2018

A Year in Pictures - 2018

One more trip around the sun - assuming that the U.S. voting public still believes we are heliocentric - documented in pictures.

As is the case, I attempt to use photos I have not posted. You might have seen similar ones, but not these (except the one of Spo and myself). And some come from my Instagram account, and those are usually devoid of people and dogs.

This entry, in no way, captures the entire year, just 1-4 glimpses per month. But it's all I got.

January 2018 - Meredith's surprise 50th
Ditto caught me in a laugh due to Sam (avec cap) making a joke at my expense. 

January 2018 - cross country tracks at the polo fields. 
Instagram pic. No filter. 

January 2018 - Surgery day. 

February 2018 - Post surgery on my busted hand. 

March 2018 - Bonding
...with Georty's grandchild.  Yes, you read that all correctly. 

March 2018 - March for Our Lives

March 2018 - Asserting my 1st Amendment right.

March 2018 - Renwick Gallery in DC
Before I Die...... exhibit.  Patron participation encouraged. (click to embiggen)

April 2018 - a turbulent day on Lake Erie. 
Instagram account. 

April 2018 - 05:00 dog walk and moon-cloud scape.
Instagram account. 

May 2018 - Fairport Harbour. 
The skies would open up before we made it back to the car

May 2018 - Shep & Mom
Friends forever......even if the treats run out. 

June 2018 - 100th Birthday
Aunt Marge, my 2nd cousin Ted and the birthday boy, Clete

July 2018 - Kusama
Another portal into her artwork. This one you peered into, but there was no actual room. 

July 2018 - Wrightsville Beach, NC
Walking the beach with 710 and my sister-in-law

August 2018 - Shep conquering Dad #2. He conquered me day 1. 

September 2018 - Welcome Siggie!!!!

September 2018 - Pastoral view on dog walk. 
Instagram account

October 2018 - a brief visit with Dr. Spo

October 2018 - Storm Approaching. 
Instagram account. 

October 2018 - Doug & I. 
I was in Chicago for a conference and met up twice with my dear, long-time friend, Doug. 

November 2018 - drinks (and apparently condemnation) with the former "other" Brett.  London. 

November 2018 - the Eye from (near) Downing St. 

November 2018 - Strangers on a Train

Possibly my favourite picture from our Europe trip. 

Couple across from us on the EuroStar.  I accidentally kicked her Pret a Manger bag which was on the floor and she said, "don't worry about it", after my apology.  Which is four more words than she said to her husband the entire ride. 

Naturally, I back-storied it all:  This trip to Paris was their last grasp at their marriage. But look - she's totally dead behind the eyes. He was more handsome than the pic suggested, so naturally he was having multiple affairs.  And she knew it.  This trip would not save their union. 

(p.s. I had a lot of time on the 2h:24m ride)

November 2018 - Paris. 
The required tour Eiffel shot. 

December 2018 - Petey remembrance

December 2018 - Irony? Sarcasm? 
Unfortunately, I don't think it was either. I think there was an actual Jewish BLOTUS supporter at a Chinese restaurant we went to on xmas night. 

No doubt more images in 2019.

Saturday, December 29, 2018

You Couldn't Be Cuter

We wrap up 2018 pet pics with some year-end Shep and Sophie shots.  No doubt we'll picking right back up in 2019.  No worries.  


Shep was at the ready when we filled his food bin. I left him have a mouthful before closing it. 

Empty day at the park.  Cleveland in the background. 

Lounging.  She's never bothered the tree, unlike Tovah and Kylie. 

Dr. Tongue. 

I welcome the greeting. 

You know who - up at Lake Erie just yesterday. 
It was 55 - in December.  We walked for miles.  Then it poured. 

But the big news of the week. 

As you saw last week that Peter & Mike lost their pal, Otis. 
No fears - they now have Ollie. ......and he's cuter than hell. 

Where we are a hound family (it seems), The Pike household (that's what I'm now calling them), is a Portugese Water Dog one.  I get it. 

Ollie isn't much on training manuals.  
I think the cuteness factor will let him get away with a fuck of a lot. 

Song by: Diana Krall

Friday, December 28, 2018


Far be it from me to disparage adventurer and some alleged historic feat he accomplished, but here I go.

THIS, is Antarctica. Huge, right?

Colin O'Brady, according to some new organizations (and himself) traversed the length of Antarctica, by himself. Some say coast-to-coast. A first in history, "they" say.

....because, what is "the length", really?

Maybe he did. Maybe he didn't. I mean, he was "by himself".  He could be the Rosie Ruiz of the South Pole. You don't know!

If NBC's diagram is right........well............

Well, I'm not sure where you think the 'coast' starts....or ends, and granted, I have no degree in geography, so what do I know?   Still............something is nagging at me.

I couldn't get the entire diagram, but the line goes just around the mountains where it ends.

Mind you, this is NBC - so, you know, Brian Williams & Co.

Maybe they didn't do all their research, or maybe they know as much about geography as myself, OR  maybe their graphics person phoned it in.

I don't discount O'Brady's feat. Even if he did as much as NBC represents, I wouldn't walk 1000 miles in the frozen tundra, where I might have squat, turning my buns - and other things -  into ice cubes.

Song by: Wendy & Lisa

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Ad of the Month

I'm being more consistent about this Ad of the Month thing, so yay me!

Today I'm bringing you a weird 00:00:15 spot. A "holiday" commercial, if you will.

Regardless of intent, it's a strange interaction, at best.   Go ahead.  Hit play.

Is that the worst pick-up line ever?  Because that was my take - and using the word 'meat' to another dude it just risky business.

Does white gay customer, hope that black straight butcher is gonna come down his chimney.  Yes. I went there.   Saying "that's weird" is the best case scenario for white gay customer. A Roadhouse kick to the teeth was one of the other options.

I just keep hearing "meat Santa" over and over in my head. Sure it's my OCD, but I'm making me uncomfortable.

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Mary Mary

I'm hoping we still have two more movies in us this calendar year - assuming we can find two we want to see.  I know of one, but more on that if it happens.

#17 was Mary Queen of Scots. No comma.  ...and we saw it days ago, but there were other things in the blog queue.

I had seen clips over the last few movies we had seen and it looked good.

....and it wasn't bad, but I can't say it was good. Or at least that I liked it, though I didn't dislike it.

This might sound odd, but it wasn't what I expected, though I can't tell you what I expected exactly.

Saoirse Ronan did a good job. Margot Robbie wasn't bad either. The sets and costuming were good, if possibly not historically accurate. Somewhere in the movie was David Tennant and Guy Pearce, but I'll have to go on-line to see who they played because they didn't seem to be recognizable to either 710 or myself.  (update: I did go back - NEVER would have pegged Tennant in the role he was in; less so with Pearce after you see him in costume.)

I think it came down to the writing and editing. There were some missed opportunities on how we got from A to B in some instances.

Since it my second period piece when it comes to UK royalty, I had no idea SO much cunnilingus went on behind those castle walls. But they couldn't show it if it wasn't true.  ......and let's just say, it doesn't end well for the three gay / gay-ish guys.

Like the Queen Anne movie of a week or so ago, I can't vouch for any historical anything.

I'd say go for the sites - but even most of the locations were blah.

...and I'd say wait till it's on cable.  The preview though is really good.

2018 Movie Count / Goal: 17 of 12

Song by: the Monkees

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

So Far

My mom turned 90 yesterday.

I'd say it's a big feat - and it is - but with a brother who was 97 and another who made it to 100, I guess in her family 90 is under achieving. Though she has passed both her mother and father's stay here by almost 20 far.

As always, we gathered for her birthday.

I wasn't so sure it would happen. This has always been at my parent's house (my dad's birthday was the day before my mother's).  Clearly, this year would be new.

I reserved a room at her independent living facility. We went back and forth of having it there or at my sister's, who lives nearby.  As she should, my mom made the decision:  my sister's it was. Deep down I worried about that, but said next to nothing - I was trying to appease my mother's limited independence

The evening was nice, but nothing over the top. It takes a lot of energy to get my mom out and about - and then back to her new place again. I know she wants to do these things, but she and us and still gauging her limits - and we don't have it down yet. I fear she overdid it. 

We assumed she'd tire out after an hour and we'd be home in two. While my brother-in-law picked her up, 710 and I took her back. With travel time and dinner, it was a five hour outing - something we didn't really plan on Shep being at home alone*.

If I'm being honest, a few times this last year, I wasn't sure she'd make it to 90. I'm pretty sure she felt the same. Of course we were hopeful, as we will for the upcoming year.

90.  Ugh.  I am here for the long haul as well, I fear.

*he wasn't alone alone. Sophie was there too. 

Song by: Matthew Sweet

Monday, December 24, 2018

My Music Monday

I was in Panera, having a bagel at 06:30, minding my own business as they played holiday music overhead.

I'm not a fan of the genre, but since Panera so readily plays bad Muzak Jazz with horrible horrible saxophones so often, xmas music seemed like a nice break. Even at 06:30.

I filtered most of it out anyways, as I just logged into my computer to do work reports. Yet at some point I found my foot tapping, and it wasn't just my restless leg syndrome.

Little (or 'Lil', depending on what site you go to) Jackie does "Mrs Claus".   ....and so goes my somewhat annual holiday My Music Monday post.

The song might be better as background music, and it doesn't quite the the street cred that you might expect from someone named 'Lil Jackie, but it kind of works.

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Shut it Down

I don't wanna claim to be Nostradamus or even Miss Cleo, but back on the 12th, I'd totally predicted that BLOTUS flipping and flopping on his statement to be proud to be the one to shut down the government.

Let's just say, I'm less than shocked.  But with my premonition skills, I saw that coming too.

710 fears that no matter what, BLOTUS has won - regardless if he gets the wall. 

I hear what he's saying. Like him or hate him, to his base he is the perfect spinner and no matter what those clips show, his base won't buy it.  But I predicted that one too.

I call 'bullshit' on the essential employees forced to work with no pay. Our niece's husband is an air traffic controller, who still has to work even though there will be no check until it is retroactive upon the government starting back up.

I'm not calling 'bullshit' on him not getting paid (exactly). Want this to end quickly and with no funding for a stupid ass wall?   Watch commercial air traffic come to a dead halt for a week - holiday or not.

BLOTUS is already killing the economy. I am scared to death to look at my 401k. He's killing the government workers - the ones who won't get retroactive pay. The ones who won't be pumping money into his economy over the holidays........or for rent. It also means fewer taxes they'll have to pay to reinvest into the country, who provides funds for infrastructure.

While I'm sorry who are directly effected, I'm sorry to say - this is not enough. It has to trickle down to his loser base. It has to hurt them and for long term.

And I'm sorry - but media, liberal or not - you have stop throwing up the comparisons of what BLOTUS said and is saying now.   You only have to play the first like 23 seconds of this clip over and over and over and over and over again - until November 2020.

Song by: Drake

Saturday, December 22, 2018

My Dear Companion

It's that magical time of year when your pets take center stage, and Sophie and Shep don't have to feel forced into show business like Baby June...........or Rebbie Jackson.

This is a collection of the loved ones from readers, bloggers, friends and family. It's always one of my favourite annual posts.

I love London's attentiveness and Rollo's uncertain side-eye.  
Meredity & Norman belong to these two. 

Becky's dog (Barkely) and one of her cats (Zooey - which I swear is a name she's reused on at least one of her former cats) might be the picture to beat. 

Georty's sweet sweet boy - Logan. 

Christopher's Luna.  Such a pretty girl. 

Spo and Someone's Harper.  
A face even Jan Brewer couldn't dislike. 

Maggie is cute ugly. 
She owns friends Doug & Erik in Chicago. 

My sister's dog (and Petey's brother) Boomer

Brett & Nico's Harley & Holden
The two sites in Europe we did not get to see this trip. 

Let's see if I can get Fearsome's brood right (and left to right):
Betty, Phoebe, Mitzi, Abner, Virgil, Patsy & GIlda. 

Hell, I can't get Shep to look near the camera, let alone AT the camera. 

....and speaking of........

Santa's a chick.  Shep seems well-behaved. 
Too bad - it's not an exciting picture. 

Sophie's always on the 'good' list. And the 'pretty' list too. 

And this year, "we" are adding an 'In Memoriam' section. These guys and gals will never be forgotten.

Ditto's Ripley.  He was such a good boy. 

Mike and Peter's Otis was the 'honorary' best man at a wedding in P-town. 
I don't know who that couple was kidding, Otis was THE best man. 

Christopher's Phoebe. 

I always love this feature. Assuming the blog is up and running in a year, you'll get another dose in ~365.

Song by: Linda Ronstadt, Emmylou Harris, Dolly Parton