Friday, December 13, 2019

12 of 12

So I'm doing my 116th 12 of 12.

Normally it is 12 pictures taken on the 12th 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 and picked up from, what I can tell, any number of random bloggers who then link back to him and vice versa. Chad is no longer doing this, nor is successor coordinating the linking of other 12 of 12'ers anymore. Now it's just myself - that I know it's the only blog post he's still doing......for now.  

04:55.  Full-ish Moon. 

Shep and I were 4 hours and 43 minutes late for the full moon - which happened at, get this, 12:12 a.m. on 12/12.  It was also 16 degrees out when I took this. 

06:35.  No one in the hallway on the way to my main campus office. 

I know it's early, but this is a hospital. There's usually SOME activity. 

06:40.  No one here either.  Eerie. 

09:05.   Creating a flyer for an educational symposium in March. 

09:55.  Washing of the hands. 

After you know, "using the men's room". 

12:00.  Holiday Party. 

Currently I'm a department of one (me!), but my old department was nice enough to invite me to their holiday lunch. Totally not worth the calories, but it was nice to be included. 

13:30.  Sneaking out early.  It's not like I don't have the time. 

14:10.  Retrieving. 

Last week when I took in my donation for the two children I adopted for the holidays, one of the boxes had a gift I had purchased fro 710. They found it and had been holding it for me. I got it back. 

14:30.  Retail stop. 

That's all you need to know before the holidays. 

16:10.  Getting dry cleaning from the front door. 

18:45.  Dinner Prep Time. 

And it involves the entire family!

21:20.  Bed Time. 

Still in the low temps - and I haven't been feeling great last evening. Hoping I'm not getting anything, but I turned on the electric blankey, just so I wouldn't get into a chilly bed. 

Thus concludes another 12 of 12.

Thursday, December 12, 2019

Podcast of the Month

I semi-promise I'll get better about these. In four months, I think I've only done two.  Now three.

Office Ladies is kind of what it sounds like: Pam and Angela, from the U.S. version of the Office, chat about, and break down each and every single episode of the show.

This could be good or horribly bad.

This is a big time commitment. Bigger than the West Wing Weekly one I did a few months ago (which I'm not yet done with 7 seasons of that).  The Office had 9 seasons.  Ugh.

This is good and bad.

There are a 188 episodes. Jenna Fischer (Pam) and Angela Kinsey (Angela) are in every single episode. And apparently, they are best friends - something you'd never have guessed from the show itself.

The good news is: the first 7 seasons are pretty spectacular.  Funny and still painfully embarrassing to watch.

The bad news is: the last two. It's too mish-mashy and as I attest in some earlier post: James Spader is just creeeeeeeeepy.  And Ed Helms as he becomes boss (one of many in those last two years) and the show doesn't know how to make him awkward and funny like the did with Steve Carell.  He's just annoying and awkward - but funny ain't it.

Like the West Wing Weekly - they break down each episode week by you'll have them for 188 weeks.  The idea is to give some insight into the show, the background of what happened with writers, directors and cast - good and bad.

Now, this is called Office Ladies.  "Phyllis" was in all 188 shows, and "Meredith" in 187. Why are they not here?  I doubt they have tons going on, but I could be wrong.

The difference between the West Wing and Office podcasts is the former has an outsider - a person never affiliated with the show. They bring the perspective someone associated with the series might not have. The co-host was only on the show for the last four seasons, so could be a little more objective - or at least question some things.

With the Office Ladies, it's all too familiar with Fischer and Kinsey. Cast mates during all 9 seasons and best friends. Now I know how 710 feels when he's with my bestest friends: he knows all the players and kind of the stories, but we can talk in shorthand and leave folks out of the actual joke.

The blather on and on, and not always about the episode, as they stray off-topic, because you know...................they're girls.

Oh - calm was a joke ?

So, they're still on the first few episodes, so maybe they're still finding their stride. Maybe it will tighten up.

Should it not, then I won't listen to all entries of this podcast. I'll just have to wait for certain episodes:

  • Diversity Day (already out) 
  • Gay Witch Hunt
  • the Job
  • Fun Run
  • the Dinner Party from Hell
  • Promos
  • Finale

There are probably others to which I'd like to listen - most anything with Todd Packer. For some of these, I might be waiting a long time!

I'll just leave you with a scene starring William M Buttlicker.

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

All Things Must Pass

Dr. Spo had a post regarding David C. over at Facing Traffic, and the ending of his life this last Friday.

This was oddly upsetting for me, mostly because I had never actually met David.

David and I were linked - blog-wise - when he was writing Another Mile Marker. It's not linked here, as that blog was removed years ago.

We kind of lost touch when he shut down that blog, and it took me a long time to figure out he started a new one - Facing Traffic (though he stopped that writing that almost two years ago).

David was a blogger whom I wanted to meet, but it never happened. We had made attempts both in Columbus and Pittsburgh, but our schedules never quite met up, or they changed last minute. I would have very much liked to have made that connection.

I actively participated in some of his blog questions / posts. The only one I can find is here.

David was a trades guy, I guess. Bartender. Construction. Landscaper. Creative in work and writing. Our written interactions made him seem very amiable. He's someone I think I would have really liked in real life.

I'm not speaking out of school when I say that he suffered from bipolar depression. He references it in his last Facebook post (don't bother searching it out, you won't be able to see the actual post).

David's final post on FB, and perhaps in life, were unsurprisingly well crafted. I suppose the combo of skill and the medium add to my unsettledness. That and he either posted it before committing suicide or had it scheduled to publish after it happened. He talks about it in the past tense - another unsettling aspect.

Perhaps it should not surprise me that people use social media to convey choosing to end their life - they do it for every little thing. But it did.

In a way, I commend him for being up front about his mental and physical pain. Due to those  circumstance, he did not have the financial means to seek or get adequate physical or mental health care.  ....and then, perhaps that is what is also unsettling me.

While I might have him as a victim to the way the U.S. repeatedly throws up barriers to any kind of treatments, David did not - or at least seem to - take on the role of victim. His writing was very specific and clear - and that upsets me too. All very sound-minded, yet he had logically gotten to this point, one of no return.

2019 has been a harsh year when it comes to death. David's was the second acquaintance I had who committed suicide. Of course, there was my mother's death, and I will be attending a funeral this week for the mother of a close friend of mine.

I won't begin to pretend I understand David's decision, but I don't have to. I am sorry he had, or felt he had, no options. I feel for his friends and family. He knows the pain that would be left behind, but in his writing, he was very comfortable with death.

Most of all, I hope he is at peace.

Song by: George Harrison

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

When Will I Be Loved?

There are tons of reasons to love Linda Ronstadt.

The music - obiv.

Even if you weren't a fan of one of her genres, she did pretty well commercially, if not critically, at most of them.

To listen to - or read - her, it was only about the music. Not the fame, not the money, not the awards.

She has written, she gave away her Grammy awards. The Presidential Medal of Freedom she received by Barack Obama is under one of her beds somewhere. Not only did she not attend her induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame - she didn't even watch it, live or after the fact.

In 2004, during the Bush administration, she pulled a Natalie Maines, while giving a concert in Vegas. She promoted Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11 and allegedly half the audience walked out.  Mind you it was during the encore, so they were probably putting on their jackets anyways. But after her show, she was told to check out immediately and escorted out of the hotel - and then banned for life......oooooooooh.

If you read or listen to Mr. Ronstadt speak, she has always been very vocal about just about any social or political stance. Even when she had lots to lose, she gave zero fucks about what she said and where. In her movie and the interviews that accompany that - she is very vocal about our current immigration policy, including the caging of children.

This is a woman who has Mexican heritage and grew up on the border of Arizona and Mexico.

I stumped me - and yet didn't - when she agreed to attend the Kennedy Center for the Arts, where she is being recognized. She claims she wanted to meet Big Bird, as Sesame Street is also being honored.

I mean, BLOTUS hasn't attended one of these, nor does anyone think he would, as you know - arts. And while it's a wide brushstroke - artists can tend to be liberal.

STILL, you think that the Secretary Department might - just might! - vet who they invite to a dinner the night before the honors. But Ms. Ronstadt was invited and went. It doesn't take a Mensa member to figure out where this is going - yet, somehow Mike Pompeo had as much sight as Louis Braille.

Sunday morning, I woke up to see Linda Ronstadt trending on Twitter.  That's usually never a good thing.  But it was like xmas had come early for soooooo many people.  Except as it turns out, Mike Pompeo.

You might be saying, "Oh no she di-in't", but yes, she did. 

Now, I was skeptical at first, as you know......Twitter. And it took a while to confirm that it did indeed happen. The tweet made it sound real time, but it wasn't quite that. 

Pompeo did lament when would he be loved, but it was in an introduction to her. She waited until she had center stage and a microphone. 

There are various reports on the amount of applause she did or didn't get. One report said little, one said half the room, one said it was a slow build, but most people clapped and gave her a standing ovation. I'm going with the one in the middle. 

Unlike Maines and the Dixie Chicks - Ronstadt has nothing to lose. She's not making records. She cannot tour. What are the MAGAs gonna fucking do - stop sending checks to the Michael J Fox Foundation? 

The joke is: she wouldn't care if she did have something to lose. It's about some time someone said it publicly.  I wish she had been harsher, because honestly, she could have devastated him. But I'll take what I can get. 

Had I not already owned so much of her catalog, I would be on iTunes right now, downloading everything she made

Song by: Linda Ronstadt

Monday, December 09, 2019

My Music Monday

I know nothing about One Direction, other than they were a UK boy band - and all the pre-teen and tween girls LOVED them, one of my nieces being one of them.

Gun to my head, I couldn't name or identify a song of theirs.

I will totally admit to not liking them just based on the 'boy band' thing, where merch and style were more important than music. That is kind of unfair, granted, as I had never knowing heard a note of their songs.

And there has been a flurry of activity from this former band - Harry Styles was on SNL in the last few weeks, and according to Billboard, two others have (or are) releasing albums soon. One of them being today's pick.

I know, right!?!

Mind you, I had satellite radio on (I know, right?) in the car earlier this week (710 usually switches to XM instead of my iPhone liberry, and I left it on).  A semi-interesting song came on called "Nic to Meet Ya", and only after looking it up later found out Niall Horan (I'll assume his real name is Neil and he had one too many study halls doodling his new name) was the artist and was a member of One Direction.

It actually doesn't suck.

There are parts that could be arranged a little differently (i.e. better, IMHO) but the song works. He also not hard on the eyes, so I guess I get what 11 yo Missy was probably seeing in him.

I don't know I'd go out and search his other music, but this one for a passing fancy, is not bad.

Saturday, December 07, 2019

Warmth of the Sun

The weather finally got chillier this last week or so. It has not stopped hikes and dog parks. It never does.

Big yawn.  Not a great one of me, but it is of him. 

Sophie will always find a patch of sun. 

Nature hike. 
Shep surveying from high up. 

Urban hike the next day. Steel mills right behind Mr. Shep. 

I love Henry. I love being greeted by him and giving him my attention. 
I don't really want a Golden, but if I did, he'd be THE one. 

Family time. 

She looks absolutely skinny behind an ottoman. 

I believe we have seen him / her before - but I'll show them every single time. 

Song by: the Beach Boys

Friday, December 06, 2019

Ad of the Month

More like........Ad of the Year !!!!

Thank you, Mr. Ricky Martin.

Thursday, December 05, 2019

Rules of Travel

It's been like two weeks. I think it time I wrap up my vacation posts. This is the last one, I swear.

We opted for a non-scenic route back to the city. Hello I-5.  Actually, being the geeks we are, we headed first to Cupertino. Blobby and 710 wanted to see Apple's new-ish circular building.  So, we find it (ugly campus btw), and pull into the visitor center. On the roof of the center (which is really just a big ass Apple Store) has a deck that overlooks the new building.

But there's a guy in the lot who axes us if we are there for 'the event'. Clearly not. He tells us the building is closed. But we park anyways and see what is what - which was sort of, kind of, just walking into the building anyways........and maybe getting on the elevator......with a security guard (who never looked down to see we didn't have Apple employee ID badges).....and up on to the roof.

Alas, this is where this part of the tale ends. A very nice lady, who clearly knows every one of the 141,583 Apple employees, immediately comes up to us and says, "ohhhh, sorry........the center is closed today.....".  So off we went.   ........down the street to Gooooooogle.

A slightly nicer campus with drab buildings. And a LOT of campers parked everywhere. Clearly, the Googlers (yes, that the employee name) live in them to avoid paying rent that they can't afford.

I may - or may not - have hopped on a Google bike and rode around.

Then it was up the highway, over The bridge......

.....and off to Muir Woods.

I went eons ago with my friend Jon. It's really a beautiful place - almost a religious experience.

I don't care what Ben Wyatt said on Parks and Rec, this isn't Endor. That was up in the Redwoods, which is closer to the Oregon border.  I'd show more pictures, but as it turns out, there is no way to shoot the scale of this place. Things are far too high and sometimes narrow to get a grasp of how it is.

We hiked some harder trails and barely passed anyone. The ones lower down, had plenty, but not tons, of folks.  710 was just in awe. This totally made his trip.

....well, that and........a night time trip to Twin Peaks.

710 loves loves loves cities and cityscapes, so, it only made sense to trek up there before heading to the airport for our red-eye home.

We really milked it all till the last minute.

I won't belabor the rest of the trip, which was just airport fuck-up-erry.

.....and we got through the trip without a disagreement. That's not nothing, when you spend 24/7 with me. I'm kind of frustrating.'s true.

So we can drop the curtain on this trip.  You might see a few other pics in my Year in Pictures post, which will be coming up in a few weeks.

Song by: Rosanne Cash

Wednesday, December 04, 2019


'Tis the season et al.

To quote Pee-Wee's Christmas Special: "Christmas is the time we should be thinking of others....".

Actually, that time is always, but as we know, that's not always the case. If we truly thought of others year-round, there'd be a lot less people hungry or unclothed year-round. Be it as it may, I assume that charity picks up more around the holidays.

I'm not judging anyone, as it can be the case with myself. I mean, you won't see me drop a dime in the Salvation Army kettle, but that has more to do with their politics regarding anti-LGBTQ things.

Yearly - not at the holidays - we give a donation to a few organizations, be it food banks, our LGBT Center, an animal shelter, and a local organization that deals with at risk children.  For the last few years, the latter organization has been sending me information on getting these kids presents for the holidays.

I've always wanted to, and had never gone through with it. It is not for lack of want for which I have failed. It's the overwhelming nature of the prospect.

At this smallish org, there were 473 boys submitting a wish list and 375 girl !! The question is never about getting them something, it becomes how do you choose which one?  I totally shut down when reading list after list. There is no good way to make a selection, I get overwhelmed and paralyzed.

This year, the link came and I started the shut-down process after an hour of perusing lists. In that hour, I barely scratched the surface of the just the boys lists.  So I sent a text message to the organization's executive director in the best way to select.

This was possibly counterproductive.

Jeffrey told me he picks the ones who needs hats, boots and gloves. That was heartbreaking to me.

And while I get it is a basic need, I hope that is some of what I'm providing for in my annual give. This is a time for celebration for them to get something they could never get any other ways. While gloves probably are practical, they don't scream 'joy'.  I did ask Jeff if all kids got something, or did certain ones go without. He assured me with their corporate sponsors, no kid would go without 'something'. I felt a tad bit better.

With my initial look at the list and the follow-up ones, I kept happening upon two boys. Both the same age, both with the same last initial (they only give first name and initial of last name), both asking for the exact same thing. Going by their first names, I am 99.7% sure they are six year old twins. Knowing I couldn't buy for one and not for the other, I selected them both.

As both wanted the same item, I did break with that. No reason to have two of the same gift, when they could share two separate gifts. I hope I didn't fuck that part up.

There was a suggested price point, one I went above. The known gift came in varieties, so I got the best version. So when I selected a second gift, I kept it around the same price point.  I dropped them off yesterday - which happened to be National Giving Tuesday. The date was purely a coincidence.

So yesterday truly was Giving Tuesday for us.  I dropped off the gifts and made a special contribution to the animal rescue place (which doubled any amount given that day). And we wrote a special check for the Center (the gay one) as well.

While the presents in the pic don't look like a lot, Jeff showed me the big room that is filling up with donations.

While there, I took a pic of me with one of my great-grandfather and sent it to the cousins.

Of course, then, I had to explain to the woman at the desk why I was snapping the pic. She was fascinated that I was related - and then I had to explain the picture next to him was my uncle. She was hoping I knew the third guy, Mr. Saltzman, but alas, I know some from that name, but not that guy.

Anyhoo.....I'm not patting myself on the back publicly here about what we have done or do. I do think it's important to bring forth recognition to help out the less fortunate. One can't give to every organization or every cause they want - but it is important to give back or pay forward.

I'm happily not a member of the GOP who probably wouldn't dare give to the social organizations we do. Lord know this administration will take away what they can. If I could afford to fund every needy child's lunch program, I would in a heartbeat.  But I do what I can - and hopefully you do what you can.

Whatever little you give, is still more than they have.

Song by: Tori Amos

Tuesday, December 03, 2019

Hot Knife

We actually saw Knives Out last Friday. Yeah - I'm just getting around to it now, but that's mostly due to pre-programmed posts.

Of course we were going to see it, I mean, look to your left.

Toni Collette was one of the two reasons I wanted to see it. Jamie Lee Curtis was the second. I mean, JLC just isn't in much that isn't a re-re-reboot of Halloween. Collette, is well, Collette. Never used enough on film.

The previews have been running for months, and they were well edited, so it looked like it would be great.

Turns out, Knives Out wasn't great. Only good. Well........good-ish.

The cast, save one, is great. Daniel Craig is totally miscast. ....and remember, this cast that has Don Johnson in it, and even he's better than Craig.

Let me rephrase: I don't know what compelled the writer / director (Rian Johnson - who did the last, and one of the better, Star Wars movie) the idea to give Craig's character a southern accent. Having him from the south is not crucial to the character or storyline, so why do it?

If you've ever seen the Office (US version), where Michael Scott and team play a murder mystery game and Michael plays a sheriff from Savannah?  Craig's accent is that put on - and totally distracting. Horribly so.

In ways, Knives Out is clever, but not enough so.

There are one or two "plot" holes that I questioned from the word 'go'. The main one being: how / why would local authorities allow a private detective (Craig) to be part of, let alone lead, a murder investigation?

None of the cast are used enough. Craig and Ana de Armas (who is in almost every single scene) are the stars. The casting is well done (I love Michael Shannon, and Chris Evans is good and easy on the eyes), but I think they could have been utilized more......and better. So much potential.

The movie starts strong with the cast, and then they are kind of sidelined. More inclusion of their stories, assumptions and lies could have played into the mystery way more than it did.

The current administration play a not so underlying storyline in the movie as well.

BLOTUS is never mentioned, but alt-right is, as are cages, immigrations policies and red hats. de Armas is a nurse to Christopher Plummer's character, who according to the family is from Ecuador, Brazil or Honduras. They don't know - nor care. Not really. And then not at all, once they try to vilify her.  Deportation is suggested.

It was an engaging two hours (and it's not a 96% either, Rotten Tomatoes! - but Metacritic's 82% is closer to the mark), but make no mistake: it's no Murder by Death. Now that was a murder mystery movie that's hard to beat.

2019 Movie Count / Goal: 20 of 15

Song by: Fiona Apple 

Monday, December 02, 2019

My Music Monday

No theme this month. Just random shit.

While in San Francisco, some restaurant had the HooDoo Gurus playing.  I can honestly say, I've never heard them playing in any establishment that wasn't a campus record store.

The band, while not super famous by any means, has been around since the early 80s - obviously still at least squeaking out a living almost 40 years later. I suppose it's too late for them to get office jobs anywhere - all that lack of experience and such.

Since it was "Come Anytime" we heard in San Francisco, it's the song you're getting today.

Sunday, December 01, 2019

Just Another Day

So.......since the first time since 2000, scientists have found a new strain of HIV.

That's a bummer.

As we sit here on the 31st World AIDS Day, it should be noted that current treatments already in existence cover this new strain. The bad news is, identifying the new strain is more complex, making detection harder and treatment, well.........non-existent should the carrier be unable to know it even exists.

Sooo...........that's a setback.

In a way I'm not completely surprised. Who knows how the virus might try to work it's way around barriers such as Truvada.  Since PrEP isn't a cure, it's not necessarily a full deterrent to HIV. I hail the use of PrEP, but it can be a false sense of security - as any infectious disease doc or free clinic will tell you, with the rise of Chlamydia, Syphilis, and Gonorrhea. Viruses have a way of morphing all the time, so it's not impossible for HIV to have done the same.

Of course, my theory is just that. I'm not an epidemiologist.

But 31 years in on World AIDS Day. Add to that another seven years when GRID (then AIDS) was detected in the U.S.  We've come a long way in terms of identification, treatment, education and treating stigma. With or without a new strain, there is still more work to be done - on all those fronts.

Song by: John Mellencamp

Saturday, November 30, 2019

Walking on Sunshine

Pet Porn: Thanksgiving edition.

Well, kind of.  The pics were taken within the last week only one of them taking on actual turkey day.   Let's get started...........shall we?

Yours truly & myself.  
Last weekend, out on a hike of yet a new park we hadn't been too. It was chilly, but beautiful outside. 

I'm digging this picture of my little man. 

The gang. 
Actually, I know none of these pups. But yet, I love them all.  Even Mr. Talker. 

Bailey. This was the holiday picture. She's gotten bigger. Honestly, we have not seen her in like 2.5 months. She was "on" for hours. I haven't to believe she crashed HARD after we left. 

710 make Shep a chin rest for when we drive. No joke. 
He likes to be part of the driving action, so 710 makes him comfortable. It's adorable. 

....and yes, I wouldn't leave our HRH Sophie. 

.....and there you have if folks. 

Song by: Katrina & the Waves

Friday, November 29, 2019


I'm sure this post will incite more abuse, we go............

Over the last week or two, someone - I'm assuming a guy - has been playing fast and loose in my comment section.

I'm sure it will continue, only for the fact that I've given "him" recognition.

This is, and is not, that.

There is no real way for me to let you know this without involving "him" at some point. This is that point.

The comments being left are either anonymous or under names of other commenters and other bloggers - trying to represent them (i.e. youz guyz) .

"He" has even tried to post comments as myself.  "He" seems obsessed with someone's tits. This might be heartbreaking to "him", but I have never even bothered to Gooooooogle the person to which "he" has referred, so those constant references fall flat.

If "he" is her PR hack, "he" is doing a horrible job. No one who visits my blog cares about female boobage.

I suppose it must be nice to have that kind of free time. The kind where you have literally nothing else to do with your life other than troll some mediocre blog to leave random comments under other people's name.

Hell - start your own mediocre blog with your own made up name. I did. And it's free.

Or I dunno, go help the homeless, volunteer with the elderly, help socialize adoptable animals or solve world hunger.

Should you be unable to do that, then by all means, feel free to write away here,  knowing that just minutes or hours after you leave said messages, I'll delete them forever. You'll be as forgettable as that person's tits about which you keep talking.

Song by: the Cure

Thursday, November 28, 2019

I Fall to Pieces

Actually, I do NOT want a piece of you.

Besides the no dessert thing - and yes, it's still a thing - I am no fan of pumpkin anything, including the pie. 

There isn't enough whipped cream in the world for that.

For one brief, unfulfilling moment, I went off my diet in San Francisco.  One mediocre cream puff. Blech.  Oh, and beer. None of those were mediocre.......or just one.

I'm still down almost 12 lbs, but have another six to go. It's all been slower now, but that's ok, as it's not going the other direction.

Nor will it today. I never overdo it on this day, as I find most of the traditional offerings to be.......bland. At best.

Last year we were in Paris for this day. We had a make-up session with my mom, which would be her last Thanksgiving. So this year, we are having it with on of my sisters and her family.

At my father's 90th birthday party, by the time we sat down to eat, all the tables were pretty much filled, leaving 710, my sister and her husband alone at one table.  As I looked around the room, I just said to all, "I think we can pretty much agree, after they're both gone, "this" will be our holiday group?".  I got nods all around.

Whether that remains to be true, we will see. But for the first year, it seems to be holding water.

So tonight we will break bread - that I will have hopefully baked! - with a small group that will consist of seven. Maybe it's a new tradition, possibly not. 

Actually, I'm ok spending every Thanksgiving in Paris.

But to all of you - thanks for coming by, as you do so often. Thanks to my friends - real and imagined. And enjoy your day, your meal, your long weekend.

Song by: Patsy Cline

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

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!

If you read for content and have a good bit of retention, you might remember that I have a love / hate relationship with cover and / or tribute records. 

I'd says 96.4% of the time, they are just bad. Bad song choices by the wrong artist, and a bad arrangement. 

As I've said before, if you're using the popular material, chances are you're never going to meet the expectations that drew one to the original artist. The best you can do is make it "interesting".  So my thought it counter intuitive to the record execs who would greenlight a project anyways:  cover the deeper tracks of said original artist. 

Naturally, that won't sell records, but to be honest, no cover disk has ever raked in piles of dough. They're all vanity projects. Not Vanity - though I'm sure someone could (and should!) remake "Pretty Mess". 

And you know what won't make a dime? Female artists covering songs by Tom Waits. 

Come On Up to the House was released recently.  And while not unwelcome, I can pretty much assure you that no one was waiting for this album. 

Tom Waits is in the same category as Dylan and Cohen:  a great songwriter with a challenging voice. I can honestly say, I have only one Waits disk, and it's soundtrack from Coppala's film, One From the Heart. It's a great disk. 

He is a good songwriter and the talent drawn to this record is what piqued my interest:  Aimee Mann, Rosanne Cash, Iris DeMent, Patty Griffin, Allison Moorer & Shelby Lynne.  That's not sucky talent. There are a few other artists on here I know by name, but not by their actual work, save Corrine Bailey Rae. 

The would-be bonus to this is, not many of Waits' songs are widely known.  Someone named Courtney Marie Andrews tackles "Downtown Train" - and it falls into the "interesting" category. It's already been covered by Mary Chapin Carpenter, Rod Stewart, Bob Seger, Everything but the Girl, Patty Smyth (minus Scandal), etc.  I don't think anyone needed another version of that. The chorus is familiar, I'm not sure Waits wrote any of the notes she sings in the verse. 

Ditto with "Ol' 55".  

How much would you care to wager that you thought the Eagles wrote that? I'll give it up for them that that group did an admirable job of it and made it their own.  Moorer and Lynne (sisters, dontcha know), bring nothing new to this song.  They stick with the original arrangement too (but so did Sarah McLachlan when she covered it 20 year ago). It's not a song to fuck around with - as Waits did a fine job the first time

Cash does a nice job with "Time". The writing scream "Waits", and while she sings his notes, by the time he wrote the song, he wasn't really hitting many of them.  Mann's "Hold On" is fairly spot on, but you know - different key, and all. 

I am always going to dig an Iris DeMent song. She has a unique take on "House Where Nobody Lives" .  While there is nothing on the song to compare side by side vocals, hers couldn't be more different than Waits, but in a way, the longing in that voice achieves something no one else does on the record: evoke the Waits vibe. I get it's not for everyone, but it is a great take on a great song. 

Some more interesting takes, but ultimately don't work: "You Can Never Hold Back Spring", and Ruby's Arms.  But two interesting takes that do work: "Take it with Me" (Angie McMahon) and "Georgia Lee" (Phoebe Bridges).  I don't know either of these two artists, but did enjoy the songs. 

The premise for Come on Up to the House is a good one. I always love the premise of disks like these, it's usually the execution that does them in. This fares better than most, but it's never gonna make a dime. 

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Sea of Heartbreak

I haven't forgotten about part 2 of our vacation "adventure".

Since Sonoma was closed for business - more or less - we headed south, down Scenic Highway 1, which wasn't so scenic due to dense fog.  Destination: Monterey.

We stopped at numerous places along the drive, just to see what we could see.

We didn't hit clear skies until Pescadaro, which is maybe the half way mark.  But it was a nice view.

We had been to Monterey once - as a couple - and I had been several times on my own, staying there while working in California.  My client was outside of Monterey, but nowhere there had lodging. So my take of the city was a place to eat and rest my head.

Our one trip together, we ended up there overnight and it was unspectacular. Monterey off-season on a Monday night does not scream 'wonderful'.  It does have an amusing anecdote of eating in a sports bar that had live entertainment - a man with a guitar who STARTED his set with "the Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald".  Anything after that had to be considered "up".  Honestly, I couldn't stop laughing during the entire song.

This time, as we were there in mid-November, it is considered off-season. Hotel rooms - nice ones - were plentiful and not nearly expensive. And ours had a great view of the bay. This was our sunrise.

Most restaurants were open and many past 22:00.  Don't laugh, last time, they weren't.

We had good meals and not horribly over-priced. We hiked a ton - mostly just along the shore. Paved, as 'beach' isn't exactly a beach, or welcoming.

It is, however, beautiful.

I'd like to say we did something "exciting", but I think that is the antithesis of Monterey.  I suppose one could play golf, but one did not. Nor is that exciting either. We were happy to walk everywhere, and as you read, we did see a movie.

During high season, it would be hours to get into their aquarium, one of the most noted in the world. So much so, that Star Trek IV was partially filmed there. I'm not sure that's the win you think it is.

But we wandered right in - for the minimal cost of $49.00 / each . {gulp}

Yes, I'm cheap. I get that. But honestly, for the work they do there on conservation and preserving marine life - it is worth every single penny.  And while I am not a fan of aquariums per se,  this place had my attention from start to finish.

Lost of stuff and activities geared from kindergartners on up. right in my wheelhouse.

I think my images turned out pretty fucking awesome and it still didn't capture everything.  I'm not going to try to explain everything.  Just appreciate the pics.

I don't know why - but I just loved this "guy". 

one of the items, I'm assuming was for the kids. I used to be someone's kid.

Song by: Rosanne Cash & Bruce Springsteen