Sunday, December 31, 2006
I started the blog in January, and did my second post on the road while at the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown. Now we are just 9 days away from the election of one of my favorite sports stars of all time, Cal Ripken Jr. to the hall. In February Inky and I went and saw Hank again, while in March The Geelong Cats won the preseason NAB Cup and in April The University of Maryland won the Women's Basketball title.
In May I received a toy I have been waiting 20 years for in celebration of my 30th birthday, which prompted a party in the beginning of June. By July I finally came to the realization that I was nothing but a corporate whore so in August, after much thought I got a new job.
I took some time to hit the road again with an old Friend in September. And in October I had some great ideas, and some not so hot ideas, all of which make me who I am in the end. As the year wound down I went through a sick spell in November, but came back strong as St. Nick in December. So at the very end, this greazy ole' elf decided to get a present for myself with a gift card I got. So I went out and picked up a playmobil Pirate ship and dubbed it the S.S. Diversity ("If you have to ask, you'll never know") and have added her to my fleet of reclaimed childhood memories.
Now I'm two points of the starboard tack with 2007 under my lee, but as long as I have first Lieutenant Inky on the quarter deck with me I will be fine.
Friday, December 29, 2006
Wednesday, December 27, 2006
#10 Laura Imbruglia - Laura Imbruglia. I first heard Laura while listening to Triple J, the Australian youth radio network. She is a strange one to be sure, but that is what I like about her. She doesn't have the most polished singing voice, or the best range, but she writes incredibly creative songs and uses the English language in a bit more creative way then a lot of pop singers out their (her older and more famous sister included). I have compared her to Liz Phair, circa Girly Sound and I think that is a fair and flattering assessment. Favorite Tracks: My Dream of a Magical Washing Machine, Lettuce & Anarchists, I Wanna Throw Stones.
Tuesday, December 26, 2006
#15. Pretty Girls Make Graves – ‘Elan Vital. For their third record these Indie-rockers from the Pacific North West tried a little something different from their previous two records. And it worked really well. The songs on these tracks are still bold and funky like most of PGMG’s old work, but they also show off all the signs that the group is growing and evolving. Even through a line up change and an extended recording session the group seems to be getting more en sync with one another. This is one of the records I picked up in my brief time on emusic but every time I listen to it I think about going back.
Favorite Tracks: Parade, The Nocturnal House, Pyrite Pedestal.
#14. The Be Good Tanyas – Hello Love. This is one of the last records I purchased for the year, so I think it’s place on the list is a testament to just how much I like it. My musical taste osculates wildly from classic rock and punk to indie rock and folk, so wanted to show a bit of that in this list. The first time I heard the Tanyas was on an episode of Showtime’s The L Word, and that sent me to their MySpace page. This record makes for good listening on a long drive or at your desk. If some of the songs seem familiar to you then it’s because the Tanyas have large number of covers on this record including Neil Young’s “For the Turnstiles” expertly sung by Frazey Ford.
Favorite Tracks: Ootischenia, Human Thing, When Doves Cry
#13. Regina Spektor – Begin to Hope. She’s everywhere these days, so why shouldn’t she be on my list. You can hear Regina Spektor on at least 2 or 3 TV ads, on TV shows like Weeds, Grey’s Anatomy, and Veronica Mars and she rules the web. She blew up on MySpace and YouTube and now she’s starting to cross over onto radios around the nation, even being the spokes-song for XM radio. The best part is that the record bares her out. It is filled with creative songs and strange vocal Olympics that are off-putting to some, but loved by others. Favorite Tracks: Better, On the Radio, Fidelity.
#12. The Long Blondes – Someone to Drive You Home. I like this Sheffield 5 piece so much that I’m putting this record in the top half of my list with out ever owning it. It’s only been out for a month and a half, and the best I can do is listen to tracks on MySpace and click track by tack on fan sites. I have heard 9 of the 12 songs on the record in this fashion and so far I’ve been blown away. I also picked up one of their EP’s earlier in the year, but that just made me want the LP more. I held of on buying the record till now so I could see if Santa brought me a copy. Now I have found one on ebay for next to nothing so it will be taking it’s rightful place among the others I picked up this year.
Favorite Tracks: Weekend Without Makeup, Once and Never Again, Heaven Help the New Girl.
#11. Veruca Salt – IV. Even thought Louise Post is the only member of this group who was there when I was first introduced to them, I like them just about as much now as I did then. Post just has a great voice for rock music, no matter what sub-genre you want to lump her’s in with. VSIV is a powerful record from start to finish, jumping out of the gate fast with “So Weird” rounding the turn with the awesome some “Closer” and bursting across the line with “Salt Flat Epic”
Favorite Tracks: Closer, Damage Done, So Weird.
Saturday, December 23, 2006
#20. Clare Bowditch - What Was Left. The first of 3 Aussie acts on the top 25, Bowditch's record came out at the end of '05 in Oz but it took me a while to get it here. I first heard her on a collection of covers of Neil and Tim Finn songs and then again on another cover compilation doing Rufus Wainwright's "Halleluja". All of this was great stuff, so I decided I wanted to hear her sing her own songs, and to the internet I flew like a flash, to order her CD for a whole lot 'o cash. I've listened to this record pretty much all year and i'm sure it will be one I keep going back to over the years. Favorite Tracks: Divorcee by 23, Little Self Centred Queen, Lips Like Oranges.
#19 Ani DiFranco - Reprieve. This woman just doesn't quit. It seems that year in and year out she has a record to offer. That amount of writing normally means that there are a few tracks on each record that could have been left to be a "b-side" or a free net download, and Reprieve is no different. One thing you always know you'll get from Ani is a great group of well written songs. This record is easy to listen to in the background, but also great to take the time to contemplate. Favorite Tracks: 78% H2O, Millennium Theatre, Hypnotized.
#18. The Cardigans - Super Extra Gravity. I may be one of the only people to be excited about the return of The Cardigans. Their new record comes on the heals of continued success in Europe despite nobody in the states thinking about them since '96's "First Band on the Moon." This new disc has a lot of the same feel as the band's older work, but their maturation is evident too. I have always been a sucker for Nina Persson's vocals, and the rest of the band have a truly unique sound that still rings true. Favorite Tracks: In the Round, I Need Some Fine Wine..., Godspell.
#17. The Dresden Dolls - Yes Virginia. I really enjoy the way the Dresden Dolls approach their music, and the style that is pretty much all their own. This record was panned by people ranging from the music media to some of the groups own fans, for not being enough like their last record. I personally found this record to be much better than their other work. Yes Virginia has all of the Cabaret flair and style that made them note worthy, and yet has a decidedly more polished feel to it, which I see as a good thing. They are still very different to other acts in their approach, but now they have a bit more professional sound. Favorite Tracks: Shores of California, Sing, Backstabber.
#16. Cat Power - The Greatest. Inky and I got the chance to check out Cat Power live in NYC this summer, which was good on a few levels. Chan Marshall had a tough year in '05 leading up to a drunken suicide attempt and thanks to the help of her friends she has fallen back in love with her music. She started up the tour again under her performing name Cat Power and you could tell she was loving performing again. Her music is deep, and impactful without being overly pretentious. Which is more than I can say for many of her fans. The record make a great listen even if you hadn't heard about what Chan was going through when she made it. Favorite Tracks: The Greatest, Willie, Lived In Bars, Living Proof.
Friday, December 22, 2006
#25. Flyleaf – Flyleaf. It’s a brave new world out there in music, and I think the best personification of that is this Christian prog rock outfit. I never thought a god group would appeal to me, but Flyleaf is just a really tight group. Their songs are well crafted and their skills well honed. I found myself thinking about the episode of South Park where Cartman starts a Christian Rock group so he can win a bet with Kyle. He points out that to make a rock song a Christian song all you have to do is replace words like “baby” with “Jesus” eg: Rather than “Oh BABY I love your way” it would be “Oh JESUS I love your way.” Likewise with Flyleaf, if you just pretend that Lacey Mosley is singing about a dude rather then the son of god then all is ok. The track “All Around Me” is a great example, with it’s line “I can feel you all around me thickening the air I’m breathing.”
Favorite Tracks: All Around Me, I’m So Sick, So I Thought.
#24. KT Tunstall – Eye To the Telescope. Marking one of two Scottish acts to make it on to the TGWOOfY 25, KT is more than “Black Horse and a Cherry Tree” which has been flogged to death on mainstream radio. Many of the other tunes on this record have seeped into the collective conscious of primetime TV viewers through their presence in the background of some of the hottest shows on now. Tunstall is one hell of a singer and just as good of a songwriter. Her tunes are catchy enough to be put in high rotation but subtle enough to blend almost unnoticed into the background. When you take a time to listen to her words and her playing you find a very mature writer with an amazing voice. And one spin through the whole record will be all you need to forgive her for the number of time you had to hear the single this year.
Favorite Tracks: Other Side of the World, Suddenly I See, Under The Weather.
#23. Morningwood – Morning Wood. There was a month toward the beginning of 2006 when I was really thinking about stalking Chantal Claret, the voice of Morningwood. Funny, when I was young the voice of morning wood was “Lil Greazy. Get up. You have to pee.” But I digress. This Record just kicks ass back to back till you’re spent. The guitar from Richard Steel (get it Morningwood… Richard Steel, dick of steel) is contagious. After one listen you find that you are still rocking, and you start to shake till you can get more. Even though one of my fav’s, Nth Degree, is being used to sell cars this group is A OK in my book.
Favorite Tracks: Take off Your Clothes, Ride The Lights, Nth Degree, Jetsetter.
#22. Mark Knopfler and Emmylou Harris – All the Road Running. This is a disc I picked up as much out of respect for the individuals involved as for the curiosity of what they would sound like together. I wasn’t the biggest Dire Straits fan, but I did dig Knopfler’s trade mark voice. And although I don’t own any solo Emmylou, I do have a few tracks of her performing in a ton of duets with some of my favorite female artists. So I took a chance on All the Road Running and was very happy with what I heard. What ever you want to call the traditional music of the American south, be it country, folk, or what have you, I am a fan of it when it is done well. I don’t get on board for Toby Keith and his ilk, because they don’t put their back into it, nor do they take a risk. This record is filled with wonderful old south melodies and Knopfler and Harris’ voices create an amazing amalgam of complement and contrast.
Favorite Tracks: I Dug Up a Diamond, This is Us.
#21. She Wants Revenge – She Wants Revenge. Ok Justin Warfield doesn’t have a whole lot of range in his vocal delivery. Granted. But, there’s just something about this record that grabbed hold of me. In conjunction with the new GoldFrap record I found myself swimming in the beat heavy techno pool in ’06. Warfield said of the record he and Adam Bravin put out: “ We just wanted to make a record that would make girls dance and cry.” Mission accomplished! Inky saw a SWR show earlier this year and they sure do have their hooks in the young party girls. I assure you that you don’t have to be a goth mall dweller torn while trying to decide if Hot Topic is too corporate to like this group. And you don’t have to be in a club either, as it makes great driving-in-traffic music.
Favorite Tracks: Sister, These Things, Tear You Apart.
Thursday, December 21, 2006
So why stop now? Starting tomorrow I will be posting my Top 25 records of 2006 which will take me through to just about the end of the year. Then in January I will be posting my 100 favorite songs of the year, which I did a half way version of in June.
Be there, or be two right triangles with their hypotenuse's back to back.
Tuesday, December 19, 2006
After Terrell Owens spit in the face of DeAngelo Hall in a game between the Cowboys and Falcons on Saturday night, Owens was sure there was video of it. Why wouldn’t there be? In his mind the camera should be on him all the time. In fact it is my belief that if we all just stopped paying attention to him he would wither and die, and he knows it to be true. So when pressed about the loogie hocking, TO said he did it. In an interview with the NFL network he said: "I got frustrated and I apologize for that. It was a situation where he kept bugging me and getting in my face." And when he was chided for his lack of sportsmanship by Deion Sanders of all people he apologized again. Christ, when Neon Deion thinks you’ve crossed the line, you’ve really gone too far.
Sunday dawned and the whole world saw the clips of TO’s interview, but what they didn’t see was video footage of the spit. And trust me, there was some poor underpaid ESPN intern up all night on Saturday looking at every second of film from each camera to see if they could find the “money shot.” Seeing that there was no evidence TO and his team of “handlers” went to work concocting plausible deniability. The effort is being led, no doubt, by his publicist, who was there to call 911 when he took too many pills. And, also was there at the press conference afterwards to say there is no reason for him to try and off himself because “he has 25 million reasons to live” as if no rich person was ever so self involved that they tried to kill them self.
By Monday TO had come up with this beauty: “When it happened, we were jawing in each other's face, so it wasn't anything intentional," Owens said. "I didn't intentionally spit in his face. He's trying to make it seem like more than what it was by saying I hauled off and spit in his face. I feel like if I spit in his face ... somebody would've seen it.” Of course, because you are TO and that means that everyone must be watching you at all times, right? Folks do yourselves a favor and take a piece of advice from one of the great Simpsons Tree House of Horrors episodes: Just don’t look.
Friday, December 15, 2006
No matter what it looks like I now know that there is an afterlife, because my father is making his presence known among the living.
I was perusing the web this afternoon when I came upon a story that had my old man's fingerprints all over it. It seems that as many as 300 people who ate at a north Indianapolis Olive Garden have become very ill. It has gotten so bad that health officials in the area are examining the victims stool to look for possible causes. The health department says they can find no problems in the kitchen which would explain the sickness. They won't find them in the stool either, because it is the ghost of my Pop trying to warn people about the evil that is chain restaurant Italian food. This is the stuff a pig farmer from Nebraska is talking about when he says: "Let's go out for some EYE-talian food."
My father was adamantly against this type of food, and as a man who traveled a lot he ran into a ton of it. After seeing the movie "Goodfellas" my dad adopted Henry Hill's line: "Egg noodles with Ketchup" to refer to this type of affront to the food of our culture. To be clear here, i'm not talking about the Italian culture, i'm talking about the Italian-American culture. They are very different, but the Olive Garden is neither of them. Inky and I went to a place in the Harrisburg suburbs with another couple the other night, that is real Italian-American food. The type of place my father would never haunt.
But O.G. is. And he was at work in the nations heartland, putting the whammy on people who call that garbage Italian food. That's as ridiculous as if the Vice President of the United States claimed that Don Rumsfeld was the best Defense Secretary in our nations history. Oh, shit, Dick already said that. Crap! Well maybe my dad will have to haunt some places in DC next.
Thursday, December 14, 2006
Let's face it, no matter how hot she is, we are all getting just a bit tired of hearing about Angelina Jolie. So, I have to cast her asunder. I know she will be very hurt by my rejection, but it's nothing she can't fix with another hit on her crack pipe of choice: adoption.
Ms. Johansson will take Angelina's spot in the top 5, breaking onto the chart at #3. The rankings are for sport alone, as all 5 women are winners already in the most important way of all. They can do the nasty with me. That makes them one of only 6 woman in the world who are allowed to do the horizontal mambo with the Greazy one. 6 out of three billion: that is one elite group of people.
Scarlett is a special kind of hot, that sets her apart from Angelina as well as so many other high profile women. All you have to do is watch "The Island" and you will realize that she is just as believable as an ass kicking leading lady as she is as a sultry seductress in "Match Point." And she has the versatility to be a voice in the Sponge Bob movies. Of course the first time most of us took notice of her was in "Lost in Translation" which featured her end in one of the best movie beginnings of all times. She may not be as exotic as others, but her natural beauty makes her a perfect fit on my top five list.
The others who are on the list are:
#1 Sheryl Crow. #2 Liz Phair. #4 Christina Aguilera. #5 Lauren Jackson.
Tuesday, December 12, 2006
For all intents and purposes I am still in my 20’s, or at least that’s what I tell myself as I cry my old ass to sleep. Seriously, I am 30 ½ and I have no kids which takes 3.14 years off your age. I also play fantasy football which docks 4 months and about 23 IQ points. I still feel unsettled and inexperienced, and I guess I am ISO Direction. I got my first tattoo about a year after my father died, for this very reason. It is a compass rose, and it was supposed to remind me to seek the right direction if not and old direction at all. But I am still seeking; still in search of.
I work on a college campus and in some ways I think it makes this feeling worse. I was flipping through the course catalogue today for my wife who is thinking about taking a class next semester and I found myself jealous. Jealous of the kids here now who are just like I was when I was a student. They don’t realize how much they have at their finger tips, and like me most of them are letting it get away from them. I talked to one of the students who works in my office about being a student the other day and what she had to say may as well have been read back by the stenographer of my life. “I can’t wait till school is over and I’m on my own. I want to be out in the real world.”
So the search can begin anew? That’s what’s happened to 90% of us who had one idea of what we wanted when we were 20 and either didn’t or couldn’t make it a reality. How many people do you know who are doing exactly what they said they wanted to do when they were 20? I know about 3, and only one who really loves it. (I hate you a little bit ML) So the rest of us are ISO. We hope to find a job, a hobby or another way of thinking that will settle us down. Flipping through that course catalogue I couldn’t help but think that some of the things I am ISO are out there, just waiting to be studied and learned about. If only I didn’t have things to say, bills to pay and a whole generation of lost bloggers to save.
Sunday, December 10, 2006
The real question I had was: how does one go about being Santa? I decided to do some method acting and I fully based my performance on the Santa from South Park. I used the same voice and had to fight the urge to sing “Rio” by Duran Druan. In the end I had a good enough time playing Santa, even though I had a bit of a hard time reading some of the kids names and that really seamed to piss their mom's off. I also came into contact with one recipient who may have been as old as 16 or 17 who sat on Santa's lap just long enough for me to see her thong sticking out of the top of her jeans. The best part was that they had this little metal or plastic clasp that held the waist part together with the butt crack part that said "juicy." All in all, however, it was nice to bring some holiday spirit to some folks I don't even know. I've added that Karma deposit to my ledger.
Thursday, December 07, 2006
The first track on the album is “Human Thing” which was penned by lead singing Tanya, Frazey Ford. Ford’s voice reminds me of Allison Eastwood’s chractor from “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.” It’s all twangy and southern, which is a bit of a surprise for a girl from the frozen north. You would have guessed that she and Sam Parton, and Trish Klein all grew up listening to their grandpa play banjo on the front porch of their Tennessee home. But in this brave new world why not get great folk and country music from all over the world? The Tanyas and other groups I have delved into this year like Jenny Lewis and The WAiFS, prove that there is so much that can be said with the folk and country mediums. When someone isn’t screwing them up with absent minded patriotism, the same old down home drinkin’ fightin’ and fuckin’ “good ole boy n girl party song or worst of all idle threats of where they might put a boot.
Most country and folk music these days is no better than the other crap out there. Be it R&B, Rap, Pop, Dance, Rock or Gospel. That’s because the big labels shovel more shit then the folks who used to make this music down on the farm. The Tanyas are a group who takes the music back to it’s roots. On “Ootischenia” which all three of the girls collaborated on, those roots are evident. It is a stripped down guitar and banjo driven toe tapper that makes you want to close your eyes and bop your head. Ford seams like she reaches through your speakers as she sings “Bust apart we’ll lose each other. The constellation of my sisters and brothers, I’m spinning out into the darkness. Good bye to you in the sadness of this…”
The amount of covers may cause some people to dismiss this record, but these are the types of musicians who share music like they did in the 50’s and 60’s, not to mention the south. Their version of Neil Young’s “For the Turnstiles” is outstanding and unique in it’s approach and execution. They tackle “When Doves Cry” with the help of Josh Thurston on bass and Mike August on drums. Ford’s vocal approach starts off like Natalie Merchant but takes off to a powerful delivery of a great tune. All in all it is one hell of a record, and I am sure I will be including Ootischenia in my TGWOOfY Top 100 for 2006, and I may even find a place for the whole album on my TGWOOfY Top 25 Records of ’06, and I couldn’t have put them on these lists if I hadn’t gone shopping for myself at Christmas time. Those lists will be out in early January. Not that you care.
Tuesday, December 05, 2006
Then I was a 20 year old College Junior who was heading on to campus to do my radio show from 8am to ten. We would get up at about 7:45 and throw on a pair of jeans, a sweatshirt and a baseball cap and rush to get to the radio station before we were due to sign on. The show had always just been my best friend XL and I, but that day we were going to have a special guest host. XL and I did just about everything together, and we spent an awful lot of time with one another. So I think he knew that I would only change our routine if it was important to me. Plus he had listened to me whine for a few months about how much I liked our new guest host, and how much I wished she was single so I could “take a run at her” to quote Champ Kind.
So on that day in 1996, the newly single Inky came up to the radio station to join “the Birds Nest” radio show. XL and I had our normal retarded back and forth going on until Inky entered the studio, and at that point XL might as well have just left. I was focused on this woman and tried my best to flirt with her. After the show we both went about our school work, and tried to finish up projects for the end of the semester. At some point in the afternoon I ran into her at the campus TV station and I asked her if she wanted to go on a date with me that night. She said yes. Sadly, the story isn’t all good, because I took her to Denny’s (albeit the “good Denny’s”).
Now I am a 30 year old College Employee who was rushing to get onto campus before work started at 8:30. I get up around 7:45 and shower, shave, and put on a dark suit with a French cuffed shirt and shiny shoes. It’s not an exciting life, and certainly not where the me from 10 years ago saw myself ending up.
In the end, however, it is all worth it. Shitty jobs, thinking about money, bad apartments, long commutes, lack of focus and direction, the loss of loved ones. It all is held in check because for the last 10 years she has been with me. I walked her to her door that Thursday night and gave her a hug and thanked her for spending the time with me. I floated back to my apartment and could hardly sleep that night because for the first time in my life I had been in the company of a woman who set my soul alight. We had another date the next night, and it only took me a few weeks to tell her that I was going to Marry her. And 32 months later I did.
It was, and still is the best thing that ever happened to me. I love you now more than ever baby. Thank you for being you.
Saturday, December 02, 2006
That ho is Britney Speers. There have been three or four stories about Britney's panty deficiency over the last few weeks prompting me to wonder when US Weekly will begin a regular segment on poon spottings. Or maybe the E! network will begin a "Britney snatch watch" soon. I think I heard that Ryan Seacrest was attached to host.
Listen, I know she finally got rid of that stupid husband or hers, and she's out for a little fun. But didn't anyone ever tell her to play just the slightest bit hard to get? Hell, in the picture above you can see that even Paris Hilton is pulling Brit's legs together to prevent her from winking at the camera's again. When Paris is trying to stop you from being a dirty tramp you know you've gone too far.
To make matters worse, there have been all these stories about her shopping spree at a Hollywood lingerie store last week. Some reports put her final bill at five thousand bucks! What the fuck is she doing with those thongs? Flossing? It must hurt the poor people in the world to know that she can drop this kind of cash on drawers and then just not wear them.
Although in the end the joke may be on all of us. After all her good pal Paris is basically famous because she showed the world her cooter. Maybe Britney is just trying to get famous again. Christ, I just hope there's no sex tape with Kevin.