Monday, January 31, 2011

Don't Forget The Butt Paste


Since January 30th, was both the NHL All-Star game and the NFL Pro-Bowl, we decided to go register for baby stuff.  Basically, I wasn't upset as a sports fan, because all-star games are a waste of time.  My wife, myself and my mother, who has "baby fever" went.  She will be a first time Grandmother, so she's out of her mind, in a good way. 

We all meet up after some miscommunication, well, not really, my Mom got it in her head that we were going to Target.  She thinks we're going to let her babysit, everyone is under "double secret probation."  If you can't remember where we're going, what makes me think you'd remember the baby?  That's a question I ask myself everyday, like I'm cramming for a test.  When in doubt answer "C," and when in doubt, don't forget the baby.

We get all situated with the Babies "R" Us book "that you must follow" and the handy dandy gun.  You give me a gun like object and it's the Wild West circa 1881.  I turn into Dork Holliday, looking to take on any 16-24 month old in the store.  I had a nice stare down with a little punk in the toy aisle, but I let him off the hook after realizing he was looking at the Elmo doll behind me.  Lucky for him, I'm very quick on the draw, he got off easy.  Next time, I'm taking him down.

I'm going to throw this out right here.  I hated registering for our wedding.  I don't like picking things out for myself.  I know in a way registering for the baby is still picking stuff out for yourself, but for me, it was more fun....to a point.  After awhile it did become ridiculous.  The prices, the amount of stuff that the baby needs and just everything else.  The book is designed to take you through the entire store from back to front.  It's very clever in it's layout.  For new parents that don't know anything, you just click on everything.  Luckily, my Mom was there and we have other things from family already waiting for us.  Not much, but some things.

The prices are nuts.  You can get this stroller/car seat/diaper changer/bath tub for $15,000.  For people that don't believe that Transformers really exist, go to a Babies "R" Us.  Cribs that transform into beds and strollers that have a car seat attachment.  The people that invented Pack N Plays smoked some heavy duty weed to come up with that thing.  The baby can nap here, get their diapers changed, do long division and workout in the private gym.  Technology is just fascinating.  Still the thing costs $32,000 and you need three of them.

I couldn't figure out if registering for a baby should be a game show or an Olympic event.  The prices would make the game show the hardest ever.  It would be like Showcase Showdown on the Prices Right.  "Your bid for the baby's nursery is incorrect, the correct answer is closer to the National Debt."  The Olympic event would be who could take the fastest route, while still registering for the most stuff, based on importance.  Baby stuff is the way to go, because if you make a half decent product, you'll sell hundreds of thousands of units.  No questions asked.  The baby must have it, especially if it's trendy.

By the way, we forgot the Butt Paste, but will put it on the registry, because it's supposed to be good stuff and also to see if anyone will buy it. 

Saturday, January 29, 2011

The Substitute Blogger




Whenever the subject of pretty much anything comes up, there is always the request of “Name your top five….” Then we have to listen to somebody’s boring analysis on his or her list. I’m going to mix things up a bit here and do it differently. I’m going to jump right into the boring analysis without your request.

Baseball Books:
A subject that has been done to death, but no one ever gets it right… until now.

5. The Wrong Stuff by Bill Lee

I think it’s been mentioned before here on this very blog, but it needs another mention even if it has. There is very much a New England bias here. If you suffered brain trauma and root for some other team, by all means skip this and exchange it with Ball Four by Jim Bouton. But for the rest of us, this is it. There have been a lot of books about seventies baseball but the information gets lost by the end of the book. By connecting players to stories and anecdotes, The Spaceman makes that information stick. Oddly, considering this is supposed to be a hip and funny book, I’m not a huge fan of listening to what he has to say (I think he is ridiculous and mostly roll my eyes to be honest) but from a pure baseball book about the seventies, he nails it.

4. Clearing the Bases by Allen Barra 

Settling those pesky baseball disputes once and for all. Willie, Mickey, or The Duke? Was Babe Ruth overrated? What the heck happened to the 1986 New York Mets? And it has my favorite best of all time argument. (I don’t want to give it away, but years ago I used to always say this guy. I got laughed at. No wonder I like this book.). Dimaggio vs. Williams. Clemens vs. Koufax. Even for the weirdos that like football, there is a section on Don Shula and Walter Payton. But, the section on pitching is what really takes it to the next level. First off, there was a book called “The Diamond Appraised” in which the stats geeks took on the eyeball test people when it came to pitchers. It was groundbreaking (and yet teams STILL don’t follow it) in its way of showing how to keep pitchers arms from breaking down. The book, under review here follows that, but condenses it for normal people. Like The Davinci Code, each chapter is thankfully very short (“So you can feel smart” as Lois Griffin would say). One of the few books I won’t lend out. This is one of the most important books you’ll read if you are a baseball fan. Plus Tim Raines gets lots of love in it.

3.  Moneyball by Michael Lewis

Okay, Let me put on my helmet and protective gear. Here goes: THE MOST IMPORTANT BOOK ABOUT BASEBALL EVER WRITTEN. Yup, May not be the best, or even close to the first about sabermetrics but the term "moneyball" is now a term like Kleenex. People on a message board I frequent bash it “We’ve known about the importance of on base percentage for years”. No kidding. Me too. But 90% of the country didn’t. People complain about how The Red Sox and Yankees are ruining baseball because of their payrolls. Sorry to report, it’s always been this way. The only difference is they don’t have idiots running the front offices anymore. Give a team unlimited resources AND knowledge, and they will win. The Red Sox had wheelbarrows full of money for close to 100 years and couldn’t win. Nothing has changed EXCEPT they now use numbers and can avoid what Bill Lee (I told you his book was good) called “The Curse of Fenway”. For years the Sox tried to get right handed power hitters to hit homeruns over the left field wall. ANY major leaguer can do that. It was a stupid way to go about things. There are 82 games in bigger parks to worry about. Moneyball is a great read in addition to teaching something. The story of the amazing small market Oakland A’s of the early 2000’s is the easiest book to read nonstop on this list.

2. Over the Edge by Jay Johnstone

I know, 1980’s comedy doesn’t hold up very well (see Piscopo, Joe) but this book, his second, is a better book than his first. I knew nothing of 1960’s baseball when I read this book. Even though it was written in the 80’s, now when I read it, I see names from my Strat-o-Matic 1960’s retro league popping up throughout the book. He tells stories about being in the military, his childhood, and his minor league and winter ball days. Plus it’s really short. One of my favorite baseball childhood sports memories was “Fernando Mania”. This captures enough early 80’s Dodgers stuff to bring some of it back. It is the 1980’s equivalent to Bill Lee’s book (I really should move that up the list) in the subjects written about. If you like one you will like the other. Any book with light bulb fights in it has to be good. Be warned, it’s corny in its humor.

1. Dodger Dogs to Fenway Franks by Bob Wood

This never gets listed and I don’t get it. This is easily my favorite baseball book of all time. It is a story of a schoolteacher who takes a summer in his little Toyota hatchback and visits all of the major league ballparks. It is funny enough, sad enough, and has enough of his childhood memories to make it a good read even if you are not a baseball fan. The “Pride of Kalamazoo” grades all of the stadiums based on different categories like food (Dodger Dogs get an A+, while Fenway Franks get a D) and atmosphere (the grades get reversed). The traveling is written simply (unlike newer ballpark excursion books where it has to be filled with catch phrases and other nonsense, this flows because it is a well written novel). I think it is out of print (it was written in 1986?) but it’s worth looking for.

Thanks for reading and I apologize for leaving, Ladies and Gentlemen, the Bronx Is Burning off the list. It to me is more than a baseball book. It is a time capsule of a subject I love (1970’s New York). If you haven’t read it, read it before any of these.

(That was the first installment of "The Substitute Blogger" with Brian Smith.  I hope you enjoyed it, because I know he worked really hard on it.  He'll be back in the future with more views on a variety of other things.)

Friday, January 28, 2011

Nine By Design 20 - Predicting The Oscars


Before we get into our weekly fun, I want to take a moment to remember the Space Shuttle Challenger crew.  It was 25 years ago today that the accident happened.  I was in 6th grade watching it live and I knew it was bad, because I'll never forget the looks on both teachers faces after it happened.  It's one of those, "Where were you when it happened?" moments.

Alright folks, onto our weekly list o' fun.  Today, I've been put in charge by my staff of predicting the Oscars.  How do you make predictions when you haven't seen all of the films?  I've analyzed technical facts, through hours and hours all kinds of info, burning the candle at both ends (which is bad by the way, started a fire), burning the midnight oil (Peter Garrett was pissed) and every other cliche that basically it comes down to, I'm guessing.  There is analysis, but it wouldn't make sense to anyone.  I'm not going to list the nominees for every category, due to space, but you can see them here.  I'm also not going to even try to fake predict the Best Foreign Film...I have even less than no clue on these.  Just no clue on the normal categories.  Fasten your seat belt folks, here we go.


Oscar Predictions:

Best Motion Picture of the Year is always hard to predict, but even harder now since they increased the number of films nominated to 10.  I think it's going to come down as a race between 3 movies; The King's Speech, The Social Network and True Grit.  I think it's going to be The King's Speech...just have a feeling.

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role is a little easier to predict this year.  Here's my logic for my prediction.  Jeff Bridges already won for Crazy Heart, which is great if you haven't seen it.  Jesse Eisenberg and James Franco are both under 35, so they have time.  I'm trying to think like Academy voters.  Javier Bardem has won, granted it was Best Supporting Actor, but he's still won one.  So, Colin Firth, who has been nominated before, will get his well deserved statue.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role is a harder call.  I want to give it to Annette Bening, because she's been nominated 4 times.  I just don't see it.  Nicole Kidman has already won one.  I think it's Natalie Portman.  Michelle Williams could be a sleeper, but it's Portman's to lose.

Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role could be the hardest one to predict so far.  So many great actors are in this category.  Christian Bale, Jeremy Renner, Geoffrey Rush and Mark Ruffalo.  Hey, wait you forgot someone.  No, I didn't.  John Hawkes is the sleeper.  He's that guy you've seen before, but don't know his name.  He's the sleeper, the winner is going to be...Christian Bale.  I really want to say Jeremy Renner, but I can't.  I wouldn't be upset with anyone in this group winning.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role is the most clear cut in my eyes.  It's going to be Melissa Leo for her performance in The Fighter.  She won the Golden Globe.  I just don't see anyone else.

Best Achievement in Directing looks like another slam dunk with David Fincher winning.  He's a great director, but I'm going with David O. Russell in an upset.  Why not?  It's very difficult to make a great sports movie, especially boxing.  Good boxing movie = Raging Bull, Bad (but entertaining) boxing movie = Rocky (all of them).  If boxers threw punches like they do in Rocky, we'd have a lot of dead boxers.

Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen this is a tough one.  I think it's going to be Inception.  It's an incredibly interesting film.  I think it got snubbed in some categories for nominations, but I couldn't take any others out.  I think The Fighter and The King's Speech could win also, but I like Inception for this category.

Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material Previously Produced or Published is a mouthful.  Say it out loud.  I know The Social Network will probably win, but I'm going with 127 Hours in an upset.  I think 127 Hours needs to win for something.  It's such a gripping story.

Best Animated Feature Film of the Year is the easiest of all the categories.  Toy Story 3 in a run away.  It's nominated for Best Picture after all, not just Animated, but Best Picture.  It's an easy one.

So that's what I think...I'm sure I'll be wrong on most, but I'm putting myself out there.  We'll see who wins in about a month.  You heard/read it here first!  Cheers...Happy Weekend!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

State Of The Blog Address



Since the President of the United States addressed the nation, I figured why not?  I have a lot of free time and I have loyal readers (I think?), so they deserve to know what's planned for the foreseeable future of this blog.

This is pretty hard to predict, because I'm scatterbrained.  I have a plan, but could easily just change my mind for the heck of it.  It's like being total focused in on a conversation and then thinking, "I turned off the stove, right?"  Then missing the next 10 minutes of the conversation.  Or to really simplify it, "Hey look...shiny."

I plan on doing many more CD Reviews and Interviews.  If anyone out there is in a band or is a solo performer or knows someone that is, I'm interested in helping out with getting you promotion/exposure of your music.  I've gotten a great response and hopefully can get people around the world to listen to a lot of different types of music.

Another new thing planned is to have a "Guest Blogger" every once in awhile.  It gives me a break and let's the readers get different perspectives on the same topics I tend to blog about.  The first of these guest bloggers will be published this weekend.  He's not internationally known, but he's known to rock the microphone.  Because he gets stoopid, I mean outrageous...No, it's not Rob Base...it's Brian Smith.  I think you will all enjoy his take on many subjects.  Hopefully there will be more guests to come.

As my wife's pregnancy progresses, I'm sure there will be more baby/fatherhood entries.  Let's face it, I'm excited to be a first time dad.  So, I think those types of entries are inevitable.  It's been an interesting journey so far and will only become more so, as the due date gets closer.

Along with all the other bells and whistles I provide to my readership.  Nine By Design and my music dominated entries, etc.  If you have any ideas that you'd like me to approach...I'm always open.  That's about it for now.  I thank all of you for reading.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Extra-Medium Sized Review: The Throttles



How do I write an objective review of a band I personally know?  Easy, I'm extra critical.  I literally put this CD in my player and thought to myself, "I've heard all of their stuff before, there's no way I can be impressed."  I was wrong.  

Now let's clarify a couple things before we get into it.  The Throttles haven't been around for that long, but I've known the individual members through other bands they have been in.  Both Greg Burgess (guitar/lead vocals) and Jack Hanlon (stand up bass/vocals) were in The Amazing (Royal) Crowns together.  Matt McLaren (drums) has played with Jack in numerous bands throughout the years.  All three fit extremely well together, unlike OJ's gloves.

This familiarity really comes across in their playing.  The recording is very tight, all three members are pulling their weight.  There are no weak links here instrumentally.  If there is a weakness, it would be the vocals.  Greg Burgess is a fantastic guitarist.  He plays original leads, with interesting solos, but doesn't over play.  He does plenty to make each song exciting, but doesn't step on any one's toes.  That being said, I'm sure he'd be the first person to admit he's not a lead vocalist in the traditional sense.  Somehow it all works.  I try to imagine other people singing and it wouldn't work.  The rhythm section is rock solid, but they aren't just holding the back-beat so Burgess can solo, they bring plenty of accents, runs and fills to each song.  I believe Hanlon and McLaren have been playing together in some form for about 25 years.  You don't have to know music to hear it.

Now onto the big question; What do they sound like?  You can't pin them down to one sound and that's what makes them so much fun.  You really don't know what's coming next.  You get some revved up rock songs like, "All Gone Bad," "You're My Little Honey Bee" and "Cut Loose and Go."  Then you get an almost sea shanty, sing along in "Sailing Off," some Spanish/Latin influenced songs, that are very danceable in, "La Bella Carmelita" and "I Don't Wanna Die."  A couple really exciting instrumentals, where the band really shows off their chops.  But wait, there's more...Their version of a love song, a nice early 60's style song, with a great sounding organ, and a country ditty.  Whew!  That's a lot of music.  There's really something here for every one's taste and mood.  

In closing, if you like good original music, this is for you.  It's a little bit country, a lotta bit rock n roll, with surprises throughout.  It's what a really good record should be.  Memorable.

Check out The Throttles here.
Purchase the album here and here...you know you want to.

I have had some great responses for CD Reviews/Interview requests.  Keep them coming, if I can help you or your band out with exposure and publicity for your music, I absolutely will.  Contact me.




Monday, January 24, 2011

The Razzies...And The Nominees Are...


With the Academy Award (Oscar) Nominations being due today.  I thought we should explore, the alternative. 

If you've never heard of the Razzies, they are the opposite of the Academy Awards.  They recognize the worst in movies of that given year.  The dubious award is officially called the Golden Raspberry.  I like them, because they don't take movies too seriously.  They basically call BS when Hollywood tries to pass off inferior films.  They call it what it is, crap. 

I love some of the nominations this year.  Not the movie itself, but the fact that they were nominated.  Twilight: Eclipse led in the nominations.  Someone wrote on a message board/forum, "Why did this get nominated, it made so much money?"  Just because, they sold a lot of tickets, doesn't mean it's good.  Teenagers have a lot of money to spend...so all that, plus the dreamy British 30 yr old, playing a teenager and the other dude, who wishes he was Teen Wolf, does not make for a good movie.  Kristen Stewart still looks like she's 12.

Tied for most nominations with Twilight was The Last Airbender.  I didn't see it, I have no idea what it's about, but I remember the commercials.  It's like they have been burned into my brain and won't leave.  Here's the thing, Twilight grossed a ton of cash and Airbender bombed worse than Xanadu or Battlefield Earth, if that is possible.  What do they have in common?  They both suck, although one franchise has managed to brain wash it's audience and the other potential franchise, failed.  Simple.

Here is the nomination website for the awards, which grows in popularity year by year.  Sandra Bullock actually showed up last year to claim her worst leading actress award, but they don't really have awards to be given out.  They should.  That award show would be worth watching.  It would be the one time where actors/actresses/directors wouldn't take themselves so seriously.  It would probably be like a less talented Independent Spirit Awards. 

Sunday, January 23, 2011

10 Questions With...Tin Horn Prayer's Andy Thomas

Andy Thomas of Tin Horn Prayer

As everyone who regularly comes to this blog knows, I'm music obsessed.  I've had the opportunity to know some great bands and musicians over the years, but also be a fan.  When I like something, I want to tell people about it.  So, what better use of this platform than spread the news of good music.  As I review albums, I hope to get the chance to do an interview as well.  I've always enjoyed reading about the members of bands and learning about members.  So this is my attempt.

Derek Johnson:  Start at the beginning...it's boring but, it's where everything starts unless you're Quentin Tarantino.  How/When did you start playing drums/guitar?  Did you take lessons early on?  What or Who made you want to start?  A basic, early overview of your musical roots.

Andy Thomas:  I started playing drums when I was around eleven.  It was around the time that everyone was being forced to play an instrument.  Most people got stuck with flute or clarinet or something like that, but I wanted something cooler.  I had to “try out” to be a drummer by patting my head and rubbing my stomach and vice versa to see if I had the right dexterity – luckily for me, I did.

As far as guitar, I can’t really tell when I started. I was in my first band when I was about 13 and everyone used to leave their gear at my house. When they would leave I would pick the guitar up and play for while. I’ve never been formally taught at guitar, but just being around them I learned to play. I probably should take a lesson one of these days. I’m still not very good!

Who were your early influences and who are they now?  Basically, any particular drummers and now, singer/songwriters/guitarists...etc.  Godzilla, Barney...Anyone like that.

As far as overall musicians, I’ve always like Dave Grohl because of the whole drummer to guitarist/singer transition.  Plus, he just seems like a cool guy I could listen to music and drink Coors Light with.  Keith Moon from the Who was always one of my favorite drummers, but I don’t claim to be anywhere near as good as he is.  As far as songwriters go now, I really like Frank Turner, Joe Pug, Justin Townes Earle,  Chris from Fake Problems, Tim Barry…I have a huge list!

How did Only Thunder come about?  How was your time in the band?  When did you guys know it was over?

Only Thunder started with a bunch of friends finally deciding to play music together.  We never really had an agenda or style other than playing music that we really liked.  I had a great experience in that band and wish it would’ve lasted longer. 

What's the Denver scene like?

There are tons of great bands from here.  But it seems like the majority of bands who “make it” out of Denver, are total garbage and a poor depiction of the group of musicians I hang out with.  I don’t think any city has one distinct “scene.”  Denver is made up of many different ones.  Since Denver is a smaller city, people from different places always seem to assume I know every musician in town.  When I was on tour with Ghost Buffalo, I can’t count the number of times I was asked if I knew the guys in the Fray.  Those guys are great musicians, and I’m sure they’re nice people, but they were so far removed from my “scene” when they were here, that I never even bumped into them.  I love the diversity of music in this town, but I don’t feel a particular kinship to most of the bands.  If I was asked to put myself into any scene it’d be the “old guys who drink too much scene.”  I’m ok with that.

How did Tin Horn Prayer get together?  Are they a full-time band?  I know other members were/are in other bands?  Will the focus ever be just on THP?

Mike and his friend Dan Beachy wrote some of the songs while Mike was still in The Blackout Pact.  He recorded some demos that he brought back to Denver that I just fell in love with.  I think he talked to people for awhile about setting up a whole band around it.  I think at first I was supposed to play drums.  When we finally got everyone together, it was just Mike, Eric, myself and this other dude all sitting down playing acoustic guitars – there wasn’t a lot of dynamics to it.  We started adding a lot more instruments and now we’re a full on rock band, but we still play some of those great songs that Dan and Mike wrote when they first got together.

As far as being a full time band I think we absolutely are.  Tin Horn is certainly my main focus and, even though I would love to play drums for another band, this is still my main priority.  Mike is actually the only member who plays in another band right now, The Lonesome Death of Jordy Verrill.  Other than that, we’re all very focused on this band.

Will THP ever "get in the van" and tour?  Speaking of touring, what current (local or otherwise) bands would you want to tour with?  Regardless of the years of existence, put together a dream day long festival featuring Tin Horn Prayer and what other bands from history??? ( 5 or 6 bands, THP can headline if you want, just do the set lineup for the day)

We hope to tour a bunch this year.  We have a west coast tour planned in February and again, hope to travel wherever anyone will have us after that. 
Right now, I would love to tour with; Lucero, Gaslight Anthem, Justin Townes Earle, Titus Andronicus, Two Cow Garage, Fake Problems or Trampled by Turtles.  We would also love another shot at the Revival Tour with Chuck Ragan.  Our first show ever was with Chuck and we all respect the shit outta that guy.  Anyone associated with any of those bands listening?!  Give us a chance!

I can’t speak for the other guys but a great festival for us would feature all of those bands I just mentioned and maybe some classics like Tom Waits, Townes Van Zandt or the Replacements.  I bet that would make for a good time.  (I'd pay to see that show, definitely)

What is your favorite venue to play with a band and solo?

Three Kings in Denver has always been good to us.  Other awesome places in Denver are the Hi-Dive, The Summit and the Larimer Lounge.  One of the coolest places I’ve ever played outside of Colorado is The Triple Rock Social Club in MN.  I hope we can make it there soon!

Speaking of solo performances, talk about your solo album and if you plan on writing another one, someday?

I still write songs as a solo artist and still perform from time to time but I don’t have any plans for another album anytime soon.  I do have a plan to post a bunch of bathroom demos on bandcamp pretty soon, but another full length in a studio just seems like too much of a daunting process to me and I don’t know if I’ll ever be totally satisfied with anything I record as a solo artist.

Talk about the program you helped create with Illegal Pete's.  When I was on tour, this would have been huge for us, especially after seeing their menu.  Any other projects in the works?

It’s called the Starving Artists Program and we basically give away free food for any touring band that promises to give us a little promotion on Twitter and Facebook.  So far the response has been overwhelming and I think it’s created a music friendly image of Illegal Pete’s which is what we set out for in the first place.  Because of the program, we’ve managed to bring in some big acts to perform in our restaurant; like Frank Turner, Ben Nichols and Lenny Lashley.  We’re constantly coming up with new ideas and are super excited to see what else we can do to help out musicians of all kinds.

What are your 5 All-Time Favorite Bands?
  
Damn, good question. I know I’m gonna go back and regret what I said on this list, but here goes. These are in no particular order:

Frank Turner
The Replacements
Slayer
Lawrence Arms
Against Me!

I know that was more than 10 questions, but you get more than you bargained for, due to the fact that I can't count.  I'd like to thank Andy Thomas of Tin Horn Prayer for being my first interview victim.  Hopefully, there will be more to come.

Please checkout Tin Horn Prayer here and here.


For any other bands/artists out there that are interested in being reviewed and interviewed, please contact me.  Thanks.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Nine By Design 19



Alright folks, we've come to the end of yet another week.  I'd like to take a minute and welcome the new readers I've gained recently.  I thank you, it makes doing a blog much easier when you know someone is actually reading the nonsense you write.  If you're a first time visitor or long time listener, but first time caller...click on the follow button on either Blogger or Networked Blogs (to follow on Facebook).  My psyche could use the boost.

This week's list will focus on music videos.  But, wait, you've already done a Nine By Design on Music Videos and I did, here.  The difference is, those were GOOD videos, these will be bad, horrible, disgusting videos.  Sometimes you get the double bonus of bad song and video...okay, I'll be honest, Most of the time you get the double bonus.  It's not really about the artist or the song, it's "how in the world were these the best pitches for the video?"  Warning: Watch At Your Own Risk!

Bad Music Videos:

"Popcorn Love" by New Edition is a perfect example of "I know we don't have a lot of money, but I'm going to try every effect I can get my hands on."  Is it me or do boy bands do police lineups on purpose?  It's almost like a yearbook, where you have; Most likely to have a successful solo career and Most likely to commit a crime.  "That one there officer, that Bobby Brown, he did it."  "Are you sure?"  "Yes, sir, he did his prerogative all over, my every little step and he was very cruel!"  I should be shot for that last line or applauded, the jury's still out on this one. 

"Screaming In The Night" by Krokus is a band from Switzerland, need I say more?  There's a part in this video where the singer looks totally confused.  I say join the club.  Nobody, knows what's going on in this video.  It's actually a decent song, but the video ruins it for me with it's ridiculousness (not sure if that's a word).  Believe it or not, this band is still going strong in Switzerland, after 35 years.  Then again, A-Ha didn't officially retire until 2010 in Norway.

"Freight Train" by Nitro has always made me laugh.  It's so over the top.  How many metal cliches can we get into one video?  We have a singer that can break wine glasses with his voice.  Which is actually true.  Jim Gillette, who is married to Lita Ford, has been known to shatter glass.  One of his vocal students showed how to do it on an episode of Mythbusters.  We have a guitar player that not only plays a double neck guitar, but a quad neck guitar.  That's not the funny part, he plays so fast that even other shred guitarists go, "Really?"

"Everything Your Heart Desires" by Hall & Oates is a tough video to watch for a couple of reasons.  It was pretty much the end of their grip on the charts.  You can tell this by their hair.  So, this song is not very strong.  I actually like a lot of their stuff, but it's the earlier stuff, mostly.  The way this was filmed messes with my eyes.  I'm not sure if my eyes actually focus the entire video.  They tell me their going on strike and refuse to work if I watch this video again. 

We haven't even gotten started yet.  All this is an appetizer or appetite suppressant.  Get ready for the good stuff.

"Rock Me Tonite" by Billy Squier is the standard to which all bad videos are held to.  It pains me to write that, because I really like Squier.  He's the most sampled man in music.  There would be no rap without his song, "The Big Beat"  (Click on the down arrow where it says, "Was sampled").  See how I'm trying to get you away from this horrible, career killing video of his.  He's dancing, wearing torn t-shirts and writhing all over the floor...for what reason?  Remember, video is the great equalizer.  The whole band is just...ugh. 

"Strokin'" by Clarence Carter is almost indescribable.  The song is easily one of a kind, thankfully.  Carter is blind, so he never had to see the video.  I think that explains a lot actually.  It didn't matter what was in it to him.  The thing that really gets me is, this is a video from the 90's.  You'd think it would be better.  I know, consider the song.  Touche.

"Pump Up The Jam" by Technotronic is not a music video that should be watched if you are prone to seizures.  It's not a bad song, by any means.  It tells you what it's trying to do, which is pumping up the jam.  I think it successfully does that.  I get happy when this video comes on VH-1.  I love the dude dancing in the background, he just makes me laugh.  The singer seems to be hot, but you can't really tell, because the camera doesn't focus on her long enough.  Maybe she's a Monet, like Cher said in Clueless.  

"Lets' Go All The Way" by Sly Fox really has it all.  Great dancing, lyrics, effects and singing.  Okay, you can call BS...it's allowed.  It's a song that took me over an hour to remember, because I couldn't not include it.  It's also a song that will be stuck in my head for the foreseeable future.  It's catchy, that may be the only thing it is, but it's catchy like the flu. 

I've been asked before if the aforementioned, "Rock Me Tonite" is the worst video ever.  It's close, but I have found a successor.

"I Want To Love You Tender" by Danny and Armi is beyond words.  Let's hear it for the Finnish to make me speechless.  They do a "Soul Train Line," there's a toaster that's supposed to be a boom box, I think.  This video is from the late 70's and it really takes the cake, the ice cream, the plates and the silverware.  Someone described it as if, "ABBA took a bunch of mushrooms."  Which is a pretty good description in my book.

Yes, there are many bad, horrible videos out there that will haunt you for the rest of your life, but I try to be a little different with my choices and show you ones you might not have seen before.  I bid you all adieu for this week.  Cheers, Happy Weekend!  Hopefully, for those of us in New England, the snow will stop sooner than later.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Who Is The Better Team, The Beatles or the Pittsburgh Pirates?

Reprint of a 2009 blog

How would you determine this? In sports, especially baseball there are statistics. You could say the entire sport is based on math and statistics. What are the odds that Chone Figgins will steal second base? What is Bengie Molina's caught stealing percentage? Baseball loves stats. The sport was made for the math wiz. New stats are being invented almost yearly. Old statistic categories are becoming less important (Batting Avg. and Wins). While others become more important (On Base Percentage and Earned Run Avg.). Baseball is pretty black and white. Based on statistics, you can figure out who the good teams are and who the bad teams are. There are some gray areas, but not many. There are differing opinions....I think Albert Pujols is a better hitter than Alex Rodriguez. I could make that argument and not be wrong. I could also make the opposite argument just as easily and also, not be wrong. The statistics support both arguments. I'm not saying something ridiculous like, Mario Mendoza is a better hitter than Ty Cobb. There's nothing that could support that statement except mental illness.

So where does the immense world of music fall into this? I really don't know. I think about it often. How does one determine what band or performer is better than another? There are no statistics that really mean anything in music. Record Sales, in my opinion, just mean you appeal to the least common denominator. Luck, I believe has a lot to do with success. How else do explain a lot of the one hit wonders? The moon, the stars and the sun, all line up correctly. The timing of the release of the song, hit enough people just right, for it to explode. Shooting stars burn out quickly. It has nothing to do with quality or talent or any other factor you can think of, really. "Disco Duck" was a #1 hit. How do you explain luck? How about Influence? The Beatles and Beach Boys were incredibly influential. I agree, they are fantastic bands on many different levels. Are Creed and Nickelback influential? Of course they are...most bands wish not to sound like them. That's an influence. All four bands are successful on some level. Good or bad is determined by personal preference. For every Simon & Garfunkel there is an Air Supply. Now, I could easily reverse that statement and not be wrong. For someone out there believes Air Supply to be better than Simon & Garfunkel...they wouldn't be wrong. That is the great and frustrating thing about music. There is no real way to measure it.

There was many a time I'd get wrapped up in an intense discussion/argument/if you don't take my side I'll kick your ass; about best guitarist, drummer, bassist...glockenspielist. You throw Hendrix at me and I say he was sloppy. I throw Paul Gilbert at you and you say he plays with no feeling. And on and on and on...Who's correct? Both, neither...depends who take a better punch? Just like the old saying, "Opinions are like assholes, everyone has on." Some people, no scratch that...depending on the subject...most people...think their opinion is the correct one. I've been one of "those people" too many times to count. Comes down to personal preference again. I like X, but you like Y.

So I don't know if there will ever be a way to determine the best anything in music. Who is the better team Beatles or Pirates? I'm not sure if any of the Pirates can play an instrument, but if both were playing baseball...I'd put my money of the Beatles. Even in 2009.

As an aside, if you are a fan of the Pirates, Royals or any other small market team. Remember, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. Yet, a couple million people go to their games every year...expecting these teams to win, when they already know the owners don't care about you. Just your money. Hit the owners where it hurts.


Editor's Note: Reprint of a 2009 blog.  I'm tired, still getting over a migraine and what I had planned on writing...sucked.  At least, I'm honest.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Through The Eyes Of Babes


During the birthday party yesterday, my niece, Brains, came over and sat on my lap.  She looks at me and says, "We don't have school tomorrow."  I said to her, "Do you know why?"  She answers, "Yes, it's a holiday."  I then say, "Correct, do you know why it's a holiday?"  She then pauses and starts thinking.  I say to her, "It's Martin Luther King, Jr Day.  Do you know why it's an important day?"  She then responds, "Yes, he helped make sure the black people were equal to everyone else."  I was a little surprised that she knew it.  I was also pretty proud and impressed, like she was my own kid.  I told her, "that she was correct and did an excellent job."  She said she learned it on Friday at school and remembered it.  I told her, "She should always remember it."  She smiled and said, "I will."  Then went off to play with the kids.  She's six, but still made me very happy that she was so aware and not just happy that there was no school.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Pray For Our Heathen Souls


I'm not religious, at least, not on purpose.  There is occasion when I pray, because I don't know what else to do with myself.  Kind of like a last second shot in a basketball game.  Trying to at least send it into overtime, if not win the game.  But like most things in life, well my life at least, I'll throw up a shot that will be a brick or rim out.  Let's face it folks, I'm 5'6" on my best days and played basketball like I wrestled.  Basically, I'm not letting you by me, so I'm taking you down.  I held the record in my church basketball league for fouling out faster than anyone ever had.  I'm not sure if this is a real record.  Who keeps track of records for a 6th grade church league?  I committed 6 fouls in less than three minutes of playing time.  That's about one foul every 25 seconds.  Thank you very much, I knew you'd be impressed.

Let's get back to the point at hand.  Which is...oh right...The Terror Twins are having their 4th birthday party today.  Thankfully, the kids don't have 8,000 friends quite yet.  Viper and Brains will be there, but they'll be plotting a way to get out of there quickly.  It's not the Twins fault per se.  That blame goes to the "Mom," but she's more like a babysitter.  Just doing enough so the kids don't kill one another, not really parenting.  That's a whole series of blogs by itself and I just don't have the energy to get into it.  In fact, my wife won't get out of bed, because she's trying to get as much rest as she possibly can, before dealing with her.  It's past noon as I write this.  She's gotten nearly 12 hours of sleep.

We only have to survive a couple of hours, because the "Babysitter" scheduled the birthday on the day of a Patriots playoff game.  Everyone has already told her that they are leaving, so they can go watch it.  As a friend of mine said, "Why doesn't she just change the time to 1-4, instead of 2-5?"  The answer is, multiple choice.  She doesn't care about sports, so didn't think about it.  2-5, fits in better with her schedule than 1-4, so screw everyone else.  I'm sure there are a couple of others that don't make sense either, but I'm already getting tired.

So who really suffers?  The Twins, correct.  They will act up and misbehave, because there will be family to pay attention to them, since the "Babysitter" doesn't, unless you count yelling.  I truly believe that the kids are good kids, in spite of their situation.  They will be on total emotional overload, because there will be presents, cake and family members.  It's a wicked Catch-22 for them.  They'll get too happy and excited and get yelled at and reprimanded and/or punished.  Act anti-social or shy and get the same, because "I've gone to the trouble of having this party for you and you don't appreciate it."  The latter, might be a little too harsh to put on the "Babysitter," but I wouldn't put it past her.  Not much surprises me in this world of ours, unless we're talking about her actions.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Nine By Design 18


You've come to the end of the work week and all you want to do is find out what today's 9 is going to be.  You've obviously come to the right place to get your weekend started.  As always, we've (I've) slaved over a hot stove (keyboard) to bring to you the best in entertainment, for your hard earned dollar (I should charge something, but I like having readers, so free it is).  What will it be?  Will it be comedy?  Movies?  The old standby, Music?  How about all of the above?  This week's Nine By Design is about Concert Movies.  I'm a sucker for documentary films, especially entertainment based ones.  I just like learning about anything, bands, comedians, you name it really.  If done well, anything can be made interesting.  These Nine are great and should be checked out if they pique your interest.

Concert Movies:

U2 - Rattle & Hum : I have mixed feelings about U2.  I liked them early on in their career, then Bono decided to leave planet Earth for a bit and become Sting, but I can't really blame the band for the lead singers actions.  I don't blame the Police for Sting, as they are still one of my favorite bands.  So, when you have one of the cooler drummers in your band, Larry Mullen Jr. and Edge finally realized that he was balding and got rid of the "rat tail," you can deal with LSD (lead singer disease).  Bono, still thinks he's the second coming, but that's now, you could deal with him during Rattle and Hum.  Plus, it really helps that they are really "on" during the movie.  "Bullet the Blue Sky" is amazing.

The Rolling Stones - Gimme Shelter : Most of you may know or at least heard about the tragedies at Altamont.  The Hells Angels were hired to do security.  That would be like hiring a fox to guard the hen house.  Just bad news from the jump.  Fights broke out during the Flying Burrito Bros. and Jefferson Airplane sets.  In fact, Marty Balin of Jefferson Airplane got beat up by one of the Angels.  Tough gig.  Also, there was the horrible stabbing of Meredith Hunter when he tried to get onstage.  So, the film becomes more of a historical event than concert

Urgh! A Music War : I love this film.  There are just so many bands in it that it's hard not to.  It's really a who's who of early 80's Punk/New Wave.  This is about as straight forward a concert movie can get.  There isn't really any talking...it's all music.  Unless, someone is talking from the stage, it's song, new band, song, repeat for 2 hours.  There are well known bands, somewhat underrated bands and bands that were never really known.  It's down and dirty, do it yourself and at times, you really feel like some dude with Dippity Do in his hair, is pogoing right next to you.

Beastie Boys - Awesome; I F**kin Shot That! : What happens when you give 50 fans camcorders and tell them to record everything from the start of the concert until the end.  This happens.  It's a really great idea and a fantastic way to give back to your fans.  I am not the biggest rap fan in the world.  I appreciate certain rappers to a point and the Beastie's fall onto that list.  I think it has more to do with the older rappers.  I'll still listen to Run DMC or Grandmaster Flash or even, NWA when in the mood.  What I really like are the DJs.  I'm a huge fan of how they put together the beats that the MC's rap over.  Mixmaster Mike is a favorite.  I strongly recommend the documentary Scratch, which is all about DJs.  Amazing film.  I also love the way the Beastie Boys end their concert.  Real powerful.

Eddie Murphy - Raw : Wait, this isn't music, but it is a concert film.  This movie was my first real understanding of black comedy.  I had heard a little of his Delirious album, but I was only 9 when that came out.  I was 13 when Raw hit.  Fours years at that time in your life makes a huge difference.  Your not laughing just because, he's saying dirty words.  You understand what he's talking about now.  This also got me into Richard Pryor, the comedian and not just the actor.  Huge difference.  Then a little later on, Chris Rock would hit and really take black stand up over. 

Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars : The brilliance of David Bowie was just becoming evident with this creation.  He would constantly recreate himself over the course of his career.  I take it as he never wanted to be boring and he's had an incredible run.  Bowie also had at this time, one of his best bands and my favorite Bowie guitarist, Mick Ronson.  Reeves Gabrels is a close second, but he doesn't come into the scene until much later.  Mick died way too young.  I also love the cheering and then the silence at the beginning of "Rock n Roll Suicide" when he's telling the crowd that the band is playing their last show ever.  Most people thought he was retiring from the music business, not just retiring Ziggy.

Monterey Pop : I like it slightly better than Woodstock.  Jimi Hendrix and The Who were making their first American appearances.  Otis Redding was crossing over to a predominantly white audience for the first time, backed by Booker T and the MG's.  Redding was another rock n roll tragedy, plane crash at 26.  Monterey came before Woodstock and seems more natural.  It never gets the credit that Woodstock got.  Plus, it has Canned Heat, who was pretty much unknown at this point.

Talking Heads - Stop Making Sense : I'll get this out of the way early, I love the band, but hate David Byrne.  He's one of the poster children for the aforementioned LSD.  One of the all-time great jerks in music history.  Okay, I think it's out of my system.  This is a non-stop concert.  They are really going for it.  So all dislike aside, Byrne is very entertaining, which pains me for admitting that.

The Band - The Last Waltz : Everything about this "band" kills me.  All of them so talented, with three, count them, three distinctive singing voices.  Plus, they have guests up the wazoo...Clapton, Van Morrison, Neil Young and some guy named Dylan.  If anything is a must own on this list, it's this movie.  You'll just never see anything like them ever again.  Whether it's a ballad or a rocker, they are totally amazing.  The other thing I love about this movie is guitarist Robbie Robertson, he bronzed his guitar and by the end of the night, couldn't play it anymore, because it was too heavy.

So that wraps up our weekly stroll.  I hope you enjoyed it.  Maybe, you'll add some these to your Netflix or buy them at the local Best Buy.  They are all worth it.  Cheers, Happy Weekend!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Survey Says....It's A Girl!


My wife and I found out yesterday that we're having a girl.  Some tests we had done came back and we were able to find out what the sex was going to be.  All the tests came back great by the way.  We always imagined ourselves as boy parents, but once we heard it was a girl, we were thrilled.  No disappointment at all.  I've personally always said that I just want a healthy baby, like the average expectant father, but after hearing this news, I knew I wasn't full of crap.  Which is great, because I'm full of crap in other areas, so it's a relief that I truly believe that all I want is a healthy baby.  

I know my main job as father to a girl is to "keep her off the pole," as Chris Rock likes to say.  If that's all you do, you've done a good job.  I've said this before, but it's burned into my brain.  The other thing I've had burned into my brain and maybe a reason why my wife and I wanted a boy is, with a boy all you have to worry about is one dick.  With a girl, you have to worry about all of them.  Childish and juvenile, I know, but still very true.  We'll cross that path when we get to it.  We're not going to rush anything, it all happens fast enough.  

Our little girl will probably come out of the womb with a book in hand, talking about hockey, baseball, The Clash, obscure 80's one-hit wonders, fuzzy animals and getting ready to wrestle and practice MMA.  That's basically a combination of our personalities in a small nutshell.  We're excited for the journey, no matter what happens.  Just happy to be along for the ride.  I think we'll have a great time going through all the ups and downs of parenthood, knowing there's no right or wrong way to do things.  As long as we're active parents.

I'm already a sappy Dad.



Monday, January 10, 2011

Listening To You - Wilco Part 2 (Enter Kotche, Jorgensen, Cline and Sansone)


This is obviously the second part of this great bands profile.  We've just entered a time in Wilco's history where there was a lot of turnover/turmoil in it's makeup.  Jay Bennett had just exited the band and drummer, Glenn Kotche had joined just in time for Yankee Hotel Foxtrot.  There would be just four remaining members for the next album, A Ghost Is Born.  This album would win them two Grammys, which is funny, because their best and most critically acclaimed album to date, YHF, wouldn't even receive a nomination.  That wacky Grammy panel, they really know what's going on in music.  I'll concede any more tangent rants, for now.  Onto some songs from, A Ghost Is Born.

"Theologians"


"The Late Greats"


Their next album released in 2007, Sky Blue Sky, would be the first studio album to feature the lineup they have today.  Guitarist Nels Cline and multi-instrumentalist, Pat Sansone, were both on the live album, Kicking Television: Live in Chicago.  Which is highly recommended by the staff here at For Lack Of A Better Title.  It's the album you want, if you could only buy one of their albums.  They are a superior live band.  Wilco's studio efforts are good, but they really come alive on stage.

"You Are My Face"


"Side With The Seeds"


We now have come to Wilco's most recent album, Wilco (The Album).  Which as a huge fan, I have yet to buy.  I know, I know, but due to having very little ducats, it is what it is.  So, I don't have a great knowledge of the album, like I do, most of the others.  I asked around the office here and nobody seems to have heard too much of it either.  Strange how that works.  I do like what I've heard from it so far.

"You And I (with Feist)"


"Wilco (The Song)"


There we have a short overview of one of my favorite bands.  They just make very ear pleasing music.  They are very prolific, to the point where most of the members have side projects.  As usual, I have just touched the surface with this band.  Please go out and explore for yourselves.  If you liked what you've heard here, there is no way you will be disappointed.  I hope you enjoyed it.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Nine By Design 17


Earlier this week I was flipping channels on the TV.  You know 1,000 channels and nothings on.  I came across an Our Gang/Little Rascals marathon on TCM (Turner Classic Movies).  I was very excited.  I used to watch them when I was a kid and will always watch them, because I think they are still funny.  Hal Roach, the creator of these comedy shorts back in the 1920's.  They started as silent shorts in 1922.  This show was also the first of it's kind for many reasons.  It featured kids as the main cast and it was also integrated.  Black and White children playing and having adventures together.  They figured this out nearly 90 years ago and we still can't get it right.  This week's list will focus on 9 of the many Rascals that a lot of us enjoyed as kids and kids at heart.

Little Rascals/Our Gang:

Wheezer










He was in some of the earliest Our Gang shorts, going back to the silent ones.  He would later become one of the main characters as he got older.

Stymie










Stymie was the bridge from Farina, who appeared in most of the silent shorts to Buckwheat, who would appear in the later ones.  He's one of my favorite Rascals just for the lines he got.

Jackie










Jackie Cooper was one the first Hal Roach Rascals to go onto stardom.  He had a 60 year career in the movies and television.  His best remembered role might be as Perry White in the original Superman movie series.

Dickie













Dickie Moore is another that would go on to have success after his run in the Little Rascals.  I just wish I could find more footage of these great child actors. 

Dorothy













I always liked Dorothy better than Darla.  I thought Dorothy was cuter, funnier and a better fit.  Darla was just annoying.  Dorothy actually just passed away in June of 2010.

Porky



Porky played Spanky's little brother, which was Spanky's role early on.  I think they were going to try to move Porky into the main spot after Spanky got too old.  He was also the first one to say "O-Tay."

Buckwheat













Buckwheat was often Porky's partner in mischief.  He was the last remaining Rascal from the Hal Roach era.  All the others had either gotten to old or left for other roles/careers.

Alfalfa













I was actually not much of a fan of Alfalfa.  Probably because, he was always love struck and singing...horribly.  He was kind of a one trick pony.  Wow, I really guess I don't like him...geez.

Spanky













Spanky was the full package.  He started acting in the shorts at age three.  What were you doing at age three?  I don't know what I was doing, but it wasn't acting.  He was a supreme scene stealer and destined to be the star.  He appeared in something like 95 Our Gang/Little Rascal shorts.

I hope I covered enough with the videos.  A lot of this footage is at least 75 years old.  Hard to find.  If you ever get a chance to watch the shorts, do so.  I'm sure you wouldn't be disappointed.  See you next week.  Happy Weekend!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Listening To You - Wilco Part 1 (The Jay Bennett Years)


One of the two bands to form from the ashes of Uncle Tupelo.  Jay Farrar, formed the other band, Son Volt.  Wilco has had many members throughout their run.  The only originals remaining are; bassist John Stirratt and singer/songwriter/guitarist Jeff Tweedy.  Their current lineup has been one of the steadiest they've had and quite possibly, the best.

My initial exposure to Wilco was in watching the documentary, I Am Trying To Break Your Heart: A Film About Wilco.  Which is a fantastic movie about the workings of a band trying to record an album (which would become, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot) and how the music business works.  Warner Brothers, would drop Wilco from it's roster after they completed the album, but give the band it's master tapes (unheard of), so they could shop the album to another record label.  Then, Wilco would go on to sign with the record label, Nonesuch, which is a subsidiary of, Warner Brothers.  So, Warner Brothers paid for the same album...twice.  That's the music business for you. 

I'm going to start with their second album, Being There.  It's where I truly believe the band we see now, really started.  Here's a couple from that double album, also, major balls to make your second album, a double record.

"I Got You (At The End Of The Century)"


"Far, Far Away"


Our next album is called Summerteeth.  Jay Bennett, who was brought into the band for Being There, really put his stamp on this album.  To go along with him knowing how to play every instrument ever invented, practically.  He was a very respected producer.  The album has a darker tone and Jeff's lyrics were getting stronger.

"A Shot In The Arm"


"I'm Always In Love"


We've come upon the crossroads that is Yankee Hotel Foxtrot.  By the end of this album, Wilco would've been dropped and picked up by the same record label, Jay Bennett would be fired after trying to take over control of the album and they would unknowingly have their biggest selling and most critically acclaimed release to date.  Jeff Tweedy, would start being recognized as one of the great songwriters of our time.

"Jesus, Etc."


"Heavy Metal Drummer"


This completes the first part of Listening To You - Wilco.  I had to divide it up, because there's so many great and amazing songs.  Also, the eras are like two completely different bands, with Jay Bennett and without him.  Jay Bennett would release five solo albums after he left Wilco.  He would die from an accidental overdose of the painkiller, Fentanyl.  He needed a hip replacement and was self-medicating due to not being able to afford health insurance.  He was a really great musician.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

This, That And The Other Thing


This:

I cut my hair today.  It's been a long time coming.  It got quite long and unruly, well for me.  So, I got out the trusty clippers and started shaving away.  I normally don't have long hair ever, but got lazy and let it grow, just to see what it would look like.  I had long hair in college for a while and then I shaved it all off.  For about 10 years, my hair styles have alternated between a pompadour, a flattop and then, the messy flattop (grown in a little, short, spiky and sloppy).  The past couple of years, since I've had my clippers, I just cut my hair down to a short length and let it grow out and style it the way it wants.  My hair allows me to do whatever I want with it, provided it's not too long.  When it gets long, it gets wavy and a mind of it's own.  So, it had to be dealt with.  I cut it down to a 6 (3/4 of an inch) to see what it looked like.  Still a little long, so I cleaned it up with a 4 (1/2 inch).  Perfect.  Swept up, jumped in the shower to clean off the hair.  Felt some long hairs that I missed.  Dried off and started to clip them off.  Forgetting, that I had taken off the length guard.  So, it went from 1/2 inch to skin, in one easy swipe of the clippers.  So, I'm a chunky, Ian MacKaye.  I just need the X's on my hands.  Hair grows back, thankfully.  I told my wife.  She doesn't like my hair too short, so "Lucy, there's some splainin' to do!"  She's fine with it.  She has no choice really.


That:

Tomorrow is the announcement of what players will be inducted into the Baseball HOF.  I don't claim to be an expert in baseball or any sport, but I like to think I know more than the average fan.  There are so many politics in Hall of Fame voting.  It doesn't matter if it's a sports HOF or the RnRHOF, they are all the same.  No player has ever been inducted into the Baseball HOF with everyone voting for him.  You need 75% to get in, but nobody has ever gotten 100%.  Even no-brainers like Babe Ruth, Willie Mays or Hank Aaron, just to name a couple of all-time greats, didn't get 100%.  People have agendas and often refuse to vote for someone in their first year of eligibility.  Just because...that's a good reason.  Remember when your Mom and/or Dad wouldn't let you do/have something and they didn't have a good reason, it was often...just because.  Didn't make sense then and doesn't make sense now.  Basically, it comes down to, "because I can."  I'll give you my little of list of players that I think should be voted in on 1/5/11.

Roberto Alomar: A lifetime .300 hitter, with the best range and hands I've seen on a second basemen.  Often made the incredible play look easy.  12 time All-Star and 10 time Gold Glove winner.  Finished in the top 10 voting for MVP 5 times, as a second baseman.  A very durable player over his career.

Jeff Bagwell: He was the player that got away, for us fans in Boston.  He was part of a very bad trade in 1990.  All because, we had two players ahead of him at third base.  We should have done what Houston did, made him a first baseman.  He goes on to become Rookie of the Year and an MVP winner.  I would have loved to see what he'd do at Fenway.  I'll keep dreaming.

Bert Blyleven: The argument against him is, he was never very dominant.  I get it, but he has 287 wins, is 5th all-time on the strikeout list and did it all while playing mostly for mediocre teams for most of his career.  Plus, he just missed getting in last year, so this might be the only guy I get right.

Barry Larkin: He is the prototype for the modern shortstop.  He proved that you didn't have to have your SS hit 9th in the batting order.  He could hit for power, run and get on base.  He won 3 consecutive Gold Gloves while Ozzie Smith (The Wizard of OZ) was still playing.  No small feat.  He also won an MVP award, which was unheard of, at the time for a shortstop.

That's it.  Those four and I won't be surprised if they all get in or if no one gets in.  That's how screwed up the voting is these days.  Different opinions, ideas on what makes a HOFer and agendas.  Who knows?  Not me.

The Other Thing:




OR


Monday, January 3, 2011

Ouch...Pain!






This wasn't the post I had intended to be the first one of the year.  I have a migraine right now.  I've been suffering from them since about age 12, maybe even younger.  They can sometime last for a couple of days and are just a miserable experience.  I'm just trying to take this little bit of time of dull pain to get something down here, before it feels like someone has taken an ax to my head again.  Granted, I may be over it, but you just never know.

Hopefully, I'll be in better shape tomorrow and will be able to think clearly and write something much more entertaining.  Off to the darkness that is the Bat Cave.