Friday, December 29, 2006

Friday 1-Track

I have been on absolute cruise control this week and therefore had no motivation to put together an 8-Track. But that does not matter because it's almost New Year's and there is only one NYE-themed song that anyone ever need concern him/herself with.

"Pop open a bottle of bubbly, yeah. Here's to another goddamn New Year..."

Jesus, I miss this band. I really do. Anyway, this is the ultimate NYE song because it is actually about that night rather than any metaphorical themes surrounding the notion of a "new year." Plus the tune f'ing rocks and it's got one of the greatest audience shout-out-loud lines if you were seeing them at the 9:30 or especially The Cat, "Oh, I'm fine mom -- HOW'S WASHINGTON?!?!" Spend $0.99 from one of the many iTunes gift cards you received and obtain this song. Then go out and buy all of their albums. And then have a very Happy New Year.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Gerry and Henry

I thought this was an interesting snippet from Henry Kissinger regarding the temperament, so to speak, of the late President Gerald Ford:

"The modern politician is less interested in being a hero than a superstar. Heroes walk alone; stars derive their status from approbation. Heroes are defined by inner values, stars by consensus. When a candidate's views are forged in focus groups and ratified by television anchorpersons, insecurity and superficiality become congenital. Radicalism replaces liberalism, and populism masquerades as conservatism."

There is no denying Kissinger's brilliance, however it is a shame that he will leave behind a legacy that could at best be described as controversial. While I sympathize with (and "endorse") the pragmatism of realpolitik, I think Kissinger brought a dangerous fatalism and misanthropy to his practice of it which directly led to US-backing of some of the more despicable regimes of the late-twentieth century.

Like Ford when when he pardoned Nixon, perhaps Kissinger thought he was doing what was best for the country. Something about "the road to hell" springs to mind...

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Shoulder To The Wheel

Shortened by a day and firmly lodged between two major holidays, this is probably the oddes work week of the year. For one, the office environment is a bit askew when you come in each day and I wonder sometimes if I am in the right place or right time. Traffic is light to nonexistent, the days are inevitably short, the vibe is super casual, and it is almost if we are getting paid to do nothing at all. Unsettling. I would not be at all surprised to find cellophane flowers, tangerine trees, and marmalade skies when I step back outside.

I would take it all in stride and enjoy this long strange trip if I did not have so damn much that needed to be done. Contracts funded by federal tax dollars never go unworked and I have a lot of shit to do irrespective of the slack-induced haze of the holday season. Eating non-stop for the last two days (and thinking about drinking non-stop in the coming days) has made me bloated and unfocused. As I suck down my morning coffee and and attempt to mentally compile the list of things that I will fail to accomplish today, my mind keeps returning to thoughts of a heavy lunch and an even heavier nap.

Of course adding to the difficulty are the extracurricular social "burdens" I have put on my back to carry around between now and the end of 2006. In addition to my daily paycheck-justifying activities I somehow ended up with a gig to play, a wedding to attend, and a black tie New Year's Eve party to host. All within a 72-hour period. Fortunately I know how to prioritize everything on my To Do List:
  1. Learn how to tie a bow tie before Sunday.
  2. Try to return to the office after lunch each day.
  3. ...

Fuck it.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Bats, Christmas, Acrimony

I thought I had Christmas shopping down to a simplified science of Spartan efficiency. Outside of one gag gift, I was only going to buy gifts for my immediate family. My sister and I brilliantly decided to divvy up the ‘rents this year with her buying something for my mom and me shopping for my dad and both of us taking credit for everything. Cake. I got online and ordered one big box item that was delivered to my door. Then I went to Williams Sonoma, bought one big box item for my sister and with very little sweat or aggravation was done shopping. Or so I thought.

It turns out that I have one more present yet to buy, here on one of the worst shopping days of the year. And were it not for some sense of social obligation I would not be shopping at all for this person. I typically reserve gift-giving for friends and family but this individual I consider to be one of my arch-nemeses. He is my parents’ neighbor and he is 5 years old.

Our families are good friends and we have spent the last several Christmas Eve’s together with this year being no different. It is somewhat awkward because everyone feels compelled to do the gift exchange, with them usually giving me some well-intentioned gift for which I have absolutely no use -- last year was a CD by some female “jazz” vocalist which may still be somewhere in my parents’ house bound in its unopened cellophane. (Yes, I know that I am not a very good person.) Gifts to them, on the other hand, are usually just gifts for their little boy with whom I have a sometimes genial but often adversarial relationship.

For the longest time he was the apple of both his mother’s and my mother’s eye. She often babysat him and as an infant he seemed to be a very loveable little guy. It was cool as I though he could serve as the ersatz baby brother I never had. Well as he’s gotten older he has grown a lot more precocious and moody. The frightening irony is that he is growing to be more and more like me each day and we can therefore never be pals. I think there is some theory or phrase about people not liking other people who are most like themselves (is that self-loathing?). Anyway, that nicely characterizes our relationship.

When we are together there will usually be an argument of some kind. He is too smart for his own good and feels the need to interject his nascent opinion (usually about how badly or wrongly I am doing something) regarding everything. As a person with the nasty habit of correcting people’s grammar and always needing to trump the anecdotal knowledge of others, this fucking drives me nuts. Accusations of being a jerk or “meanie” are hurled about, when his mother is not looking I will knock him over (I think he has some inner ear issue and is therefore easily toppled), he in return has punched me in the junk on more than one occasion, use of my parents’ computer has been fought over (he always wants to play some stupid game on the Nickelodeon website -- a site for which I get in trouble for blocking), I have gone into long diatribes about how the Power Rangers suck and would shit their pants at the mere site of The Autobots, he has only seen the awful, awful Star Wars prequels, and so on. Obviously this feud is intractable and will no doubt end in a “pistols at dawn” scenario.

But, he is 5 and I am not which means that I must somehow be the bigger person. And this year that entails me getting him a present so I am leaving work early today to find something kid-appropriate that has anything to do with bats. Bats. He is in a bat phase and loves shooting his mouth off about all the bat facts he knows. “Did you know that bats sleep during the day?” No shit? I have a Master’s Degree and that somehow escaped my knowledge. “What’s a masterz pee?” Nevermind.

So fine, I’ll buy him a picture book or something and have my sister wrap it. I’m gonna make a great dad one day.

Friday 8-Track

It's Christmas time kids, so today's theme was yet another no-brainer. I only wish I could have come up with a Festivus-themed selection. I got all nostalgic with this week's installment and it came surprisingly easy. Enjoy.

Run DMC - "Christmas in Hollis" - A Vey Special Christmas

Hearing this song is always one of the more sublime holiday moments for me. Sampled from Clarence Carter's "Back Door Santa" (itself a fantastic Xmas tune), Run, D, and Jam Master Jay add their own chapter to the Christmas Legend. An illin' reindeer indeed.

Mariah Carey - "All I Want For Christmas Is You" - Merry Christmas

I am seriously "gay" for this song. There are a number of reasons for this but even the pseudo-anonymity of the internet will not get me to go into detail. I think it is safe to say that this song is from the waning days of Mariah's pre-skank era which is a shame because she could have been a very classy performer. Honestly, this is a really well-written song. It's got the feel of a Phil Spector or Brian Wilson-produced classic and you can't beat those sleigh bells. Plus, who wouldn't want to hear that sentiment from a woman?

The Chipmunks - "The Chipmunk Song (Christmas Don't Be Late)" - Christmas Wih The Chipmunks

Perhaps my favorite holiday tune, with enough booze in me I can do a pretty accurate take on this song. Maybe it's the "childish" timelessness of this song but everything about it always seems perfect. From the lilting syncopation of the piano, to the chattering in the intro ("Alvin? Alvin? ALVIN!?!?"), the simplicity of their Christmas wish list, and of course that minor chord turnaround at the end of the chorus, Ralph Bagdasarian hit this one out of the park.

Bruce Springsteen - "Santa Claus Is Coming To Town" - Christmas of Hope

I'm pretty sure this recording well pre-dates the album it appeared on becasue it defintely has the sound of those live E Street glory years. I could probably do without the Boss's little talky parts that he is so fond of but if that is the price to pay, then so be it. I love those huge hits on the chorus and Max's big drum breaks on the "you better be good for goodness sake" part. This is a prime example, and sadly one of the few, of a rock version of a holiday classic done right.

Vince Guaraldi - "Christmas Time Is Here" - A Charlie Brown Christmas

Last weekend I went to the Kennedy Center to see a friend who performs with the Washington Master Chorale. They do a holiday concert each year and it is always enjoyable. This year's very pleasant surprise was Vince Guaraldi's "Christmas Time Is Here." It has become a cliche at this point, but this song is just so damn pretty. What I think is really brilliant about this song though is how Guaraldi very subtley captures some of the underlying sadness of the Peanuts cartoons within the melody. The way that first line drops a whole step and adds that 9-chord, it's very moving.

Arthur Fiedler & The Boston Pops - "Sleigh Ride" - Pops Christmas Party

This song will always be significant for me. I was very fortunate to have moved to the school district in Herndon where I spent my formative years because we had one of the finest high school band programs in the country. Some of the pieces we played over the years were absolutely incredible and rivaled anything most college symphonic bands were capable of. Anyway, every winter we did a holiday concert and this arrangement of the Leroy Anderson classic was one of the main features. When I hear those performances in my head they sound just like the Pops' classic recording -- perhaps it's a bit of revisionist history on my part. I met one of my best friends in 6th grade band and we are lucky enough to still be playing music together almost 18 years later. He is a drummer and I was always jealous that he got to play the wood slap part in this song. You know the part, just listen for the big "THWACK."

Nat King Cole - "The Christmas Song" - Nat King Cole Story

The moments when I actually think there might be some kind of Higher Power are often when I hear a voice that is seemingly handed down from on high. Neil Finn and Grant Lee Phillips are two people who come to mind and without a doubt, Nat King Cole. The man had a voice that was so honey smoothe you would swear it was otherworldly. I like this song because of the strong imagery and it is just so damn beautiful.

King's College Choir - "Gloria In Excelsis Deo" - King's Christmas Collection

Catholicism does weird things to you. This song will be forever burned into my mind during Christmas time because of all of those damn midnight masses. But that's cool because the Eccard composition of the Roman Catholic doxology is pretty badass. Not quite up there with the "Messiah" but powerful nonetheless. Yet another part of my youth that I will never shake.

Happy holidays!

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Sir, You Make Me Laugh

I've always been a little jealous of Post writer David Segal. Mostly because he got to interview GBV and play with them on stage at a show in Philly, and because he gets to publish things like this in a national newspaper:
Donald Trump's business acumen and net worth have been fervently debated
for as long as he and his inexplicable hairdo have preoccupied this city. But
there can be little question about the guy's hunches as a publicity-ravenous
egomaniac and preening huckster. In that department, the man is an artist -- and
Tuesday, quite frankly, he made his masterpiece.

And here's a blast from the past. I was at this show and recall it vividly (especially the part about Nate begging for a joint).

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Holidays On Ice

Tonight is the annual Fellas Night Out in honor of the holiday season. Stretching our heterosexuality to the limit, a group of me and my buddies get together each year for the Double Secret Santa Gag Gift Exchange followed by a Caps game (Jesus I hate hockey, why can't Christmas be in the spring?). I'm rather proud of the gift I picked up this year as it has everything to do with my buddy living across the hall from his ex -- check that -- twice ex'd girlfriend. Stupendous.

However, it is a bit of a bummer since this year could be the last year that we do something like this. One recently married friend is moving away in the spring, another we suspect will soon get engaged and move away, a third is engaged and already relocated to the know how it goes. So hopefully we can make the most of it and we'll get a repeat of last year when a group of sorority sisters was sitting near us at the game and they all had, swear to g-d, lollipops. I'm serious, they were sucking on lollipops for the entire first period. My lascivious thoughts alone warranted at least a misdemeanor charge.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Friday 8-Track

Happy Hannukah, kids! This week's 8-Track is dedicated to some of my favorite Hebrew rockers.

Rush - "2112" - 2112

(Gary Lee Weinrib a.k.a. Geddy Lee) A seven movement prog-metal suite about a galactic revolt in a far away and future world -- fuck yeah. One day Rush will get their full due.

Jane's Addiction - "Three Days" - Ritual de lo Habitual

(Perry Bernstein a.k.a. Perry Farrell) While Dave Navarro is mostly a C-list reality TV celebrity these days, this 10 minute masterstroke will remind you what a badass guitarist he was. And if you also forgot, what an incredibly layered band Jane's was.

Kiss - "Shout It Out Loud" - Destroyer

(Chaim Witz a.k.a. Gene Simmons) The amazing thing about this song, is that you know this song. Even if you've never ever heard it before, trust me, you know this song. They were corny as hell, but man could they write an anthem. When the chorus kicks in I dare you to try and not..."Shout it, shout it, shout it out loud!"

The Cars - "Magic" - Heartbeat City

(Elliot Steinberg a.k.a. Elliot Easton) Well after their classic new wave period and smack dab in the middle of their MTV heyday -- I love this video. I was young enough to think that I could somehow rig up a way to walk on the water at my pool. Oh well. Good song, cheesey, but good.

T-Rex - "Get It On" - Electric Warrior

(Marc Feld a.k.a. Marc Bolan) A dirty track from one of the kings of glam. This song has got a great groove and aged much better than a lot of its contemporaries.

Van Halen - "Everybody Wants Some" - Women and Children First

(David Lee Roth) This song, for me, will be forever linked with the hamburger claymation scene in Better Off Dead. Plus this tune just f'in rocks. Dave's dirty talk at the end is alwys a nice touch but seriously, could any other band ever touch these guys at their peak? Probably not.

Guns n' Roses - "Nightrain" - Appetite For Destruction

(Saul Hudson a.k.a. Slash) "I drink my Molotov cocktails with a match to go, I smoke my cigarette with style." If I could make a Les Paul sound the way Slash does, I would be a very happy man.

Robert Zimmerman - "Hurricane" - Desire

(Bob Dylan) The true story or Rubin "Hurricane" Carter, this is one of my fave all-time Dylan tunes. Considering the wordiness of the story it is amazing how well he shapes it into lyric prose. But what I really dig is how he marries the bitterness of the story to the odd, off-beat, and angry score he wrote for it. Great song and used for a great sequence in Dazed and Confused.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

I Wrote A Letter

Shipped 'em. 27 Christmas cards and counting. I don't even like Christmas that much but I always do Christmas cards. It must be one of those nature-nurture things that you just cannot stamp out. The list is the usual mix of friends, family, and friends' for one. One card for which I wrote at least four revisions. One card that I honestly do not know why I am sending. Alright, that's a blatant lie.

So, how does one say "hey it's been a while and I was thinking of you but don't worry about me because I am nonchalant and cool and could really care less that you switched coasts and this really has nothing to do with my desperate need to be desired?" Easy. You buy a Shoebox Greetings card with a picture of two pigeons about to shit on a kid in a Santa hat. Now that is fucking classy.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Alphabetical - Chronological - By Genre

Today's WaPo had an obit of sorts for Tower Records, the currently liquidating and soon to be out-of-business music store chain. I will miss their Fairfax store that although pricey, always had a pretty decent selection where one could find back catalogue albums not typically stocked at Borders, Best Buy, and the like. While the article reported on the impending closure the main thrust of it was a lament over the impending death of the tangible, physical album due to the multitudinous legal and illegal music downloading mediums. And I sympathize. I wonder how long it will be before market forces make it no longer feasible for labels and distributors to pour resources into the manufacturing of CD's. Even worse, will consumer demand for the physical album dry up altogether?

Not too long ago a friend of mine emailed me stating that he had "just made the leap." He had cashed a check for $1200 given to him by a local record trader in exchange for the entirety of his somewhat substantial collection of CD's. Being a devout member of the Apple/Mac cult and having transferred every piece of music he owned to his hard drive, he no longer felt the need to suffer what he saw as the "burden" of an album collection. I just don't get it. I could believe he did it as it was a long time coming but I could not empathize with his rationale. It seemed wasteful. It seemed betraying. It seemed as if he had somehow lessened the music that he owned.

I love my albums (disturbingly so). I love that with a single look I can absorb with my eyes what would take hundreds of hours to do with my ears. Their presence makes my home complete. I need the ability to reference lyrics, credits, release dates, labels, etc. without having to turn on my computer. And to be quite honest, I foolishly believe that I will marry the woman (or at the very least take her out for a steak dinner) who is seduced by my albums. "What a great collection, you have such incredible taste. Hey, can I get your opinion on this I underwear set I just bought at Victoria's Secret?" Yes it is true, all of my sexual fantasies involve ego-stroking, the validation of my cred, and of course frilly underthings.

So you see I must maintain my albums. I am chained to my compact discs because without them I would doom myself to a life of solitude. Of course some have intimated that it is in fact my weird obsession with such congeries that keeps me single. Paradoxes abound...

I, Concede

I hated Titantic. I never even saw the entire movie but I just thought it was a lot of overwrought blokbuster swill. Seeing Kate Winslet semi-nude was kind of awesome (I think there was a bare-ass shot but that may be a bit of revisionist fantasy on my part) but I mostly thought the movie sucked. And because of that, I never bought into the hype about Leonardo Dicaprio. I thought he was good, fine, passable, whatever but all of the talk of his brilliance and depth as an artist -- I didn't see it. Not in any of his films.

However yesterday I finally got around to seeing The Departed. For starters, it was fun seeing Jack Nicholson in a way reprising his Joker role from Batman. And Matt Damon is really good. I was already sold on him because of the "Bourne films" and the Kevin Smith cameos (and his lip-sync'd performance of "Scotty Doesn't Know" in Eurotrip) but this was yet another reminder of why he is more than a pretty face. Dicaprio though, finally won me over. This movie was so good and he was so convincing in it, even more convincing than Depp in Donnie Brasco, that I am giving in. Is Leonardo Dicaprio the "actor of our generation?" Not definitively but I am putting him in the running.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Grammys Shmammys

The nominations for this year’s Grammys are out and it is of course time for me to chime in with my quickly-depreciating 2 cents. Lest you think I am some cranky contrarian obscurantist tilting at Establishment windmills, let me be clear that I bear no grudge against the Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences itself. Its members get together annually to categorize and rank the year’s musical releases and then celebrate their choice. That is their trip and that’s cool.

What does irk me however, is the general public perception that this award show is somehow, I don’t know, true. As if the Grammys actually mean anything or even deign to acknowledge noteworthy artistic achievements. I enjoy list-making as much as the next hipster poseur, but I would never assume the activity to have any real import. The opposite, I think, is true of the Grammys. Here is my wholly subjective and unsubstantiated argument:

The Colour and the Shape. Like any organization of its size and influence, the Recording Academy has a shape and feel to it. Collectively it cannot help but possess certain political and social proclivities. Fro example, the Bush-whacking pop of the Dixie Chicks earned three nominations while Toby Keith’s waaaaay right-leaning jingoism got zippy. (As a corollary, the Country Music Association opted to not recognize the Dixie Chicks at all this year.) Style- and talent-wise, I think it is fair to say that the Chicks and Keith operate within the same stratum of Corporate Country fluff but it seems as if it was their politics that distinguished each of them this year.

The lady doth protest too much, methinks. The Grammys love volume, as in quantity. Be it awards or nominations, if you are going to do it, do it with gusto I suppose. Mary J. Blige gets the most love this year with 8 nominations (one of which is for her horrible U2-collaborated retread of “One”). Eight. That seems excessive to me. John Mayer and the Dixie Chicks each got 5 nominations while the Red Hot Chili Peppers got a whopping 6. And again, really? I guess it just raise my eyebrow (either Shorty or Kevin) when I se the Academy dole out honors in chunks.

Bring out your dead. Speaking of which, Mary J. Blige? The Chili Peppers? Neil Young? F’ing Dylan? Come on. Is it really necessary to continue recognizing artists who are well past their artistic prime? It is much like the old broken down veteran occupying a spot on the roster. Remember the Mary J. collaboration with Method Man after 36 Chambers was released? That was cool. Mother’s Milk and Blood Sugar Sex Magic were albums that caught my ear. But all of that was a long time ago.

Safety first. One of the hallmarks of a Grammy list of nominees is that it is unchallenging. It’s safe. James Blunt, Corrine Bailey Rae, the Chili Peppers, Carrie Underwood; for all of their merits none of them are taking any chances. The listener is not going to be challenged by these artists which I would think would be a contributor to a major artistic award. Gnarls Barkley is this year’s token “edgy” selection but would they be here if “Crazy” was not a huge Top 40 hit? Doubtful. Very doubtful.

So what is the point of my bitter, old man, Andy Rooney-like rant, you ask. It is that I just wonder sometimes, I just wonder what the uninitiated music listener who enjoys the kinds of albums and songs recognized by the Grammys, would think of the albums that the proactive music-obsessive gushed over this year. If you came in neutral and sat down with James Blunt’s album and Tommy Keene’s, would you really that “you’re beautiful, you’re beautiful” song is that great? I gotta believe not.

Friday 8-Track

It's 80's Movie Soundtrack Day!

John Parr - "St. Elmo's Fire (Man in Motion)" - St. Elmo's Fire

I think I've seen this movie more times than I have actually hung out at Third Edition. Not the best Brat Pack film but perhaps one of the best cheesy tunes to come from one. This song has got L.A. Big Studio Production all over it and I love it. Dig those synthesized bass and horn parts.

Kenny Loggins - "Footloose" - Footloose

Seriously, this song kicks ass -- that frenetic walking bass groove is excellent. My old band used to play this and the crowd always got into it; unironically so. Probably one of many movies where the theme song was better than the film, I still can't help but get down with the big dance scene at the end. Did my friends and I used to breakdance in the basement? Yes. At 7 was I a better dancer than Chris Penn? Yes.

Huey Lewis & The News - "The Power of Love" - Back To The Future

I guess "Back In Time" would be the choice more lyrically germane to the film but this was by far the better of the two songs and it was what the Pinheads played in their dance band audition before abruptly being cut off by a cameo-ing Huey Lewis because they were "just too darn loud." Huey Lewis et al will probably always be thought of as "80's artists" but they were a real band with serious chops. The songs were often corny as hell but they could play their asses off. And what a good movie.

Ray Parker Jr. - "Ghostbusters" - Ghostbusters

Speaking of Huey Lewis, he ended up sueing Ray Parker Jr. for allegedly ripping off "I Want A New Drug" for this song. Whatever, it spawned one of the most ridiculous videos of my MTV-addled youth. This song has not held up well over time but not matter because the film has. As outrageous as it was, the humor was brilliantly dry. "Janine, someone with your qualifications would have no trouble finding a top-flight job in either the food service or housekeeping industries."

Psychadelic Furs - "Pretty in Pink" - Pretty in Pink

This might be the only song in today's 8-track that isn't cheesy schlock. For starters, no John Hughes film from his glory years could ever be considered that and neither is this tune. Social D did a pretty rockin' cover of this song but the original is always the best. And if you are going to the original, then go to The Original. The song helped to inspire Hughes' film and was subsequently re-recorded for the soundtrack. But the original session off of Talk Talk Talk, that is the one for the money. Richard Butler's voice says it all.

Harold Faltermyer - "Axel F" - Beverly Hills Cop

Remember when music stores (I'm talking musical instrument retailers) used to be in the mall? Every one of them had some big electronic keyboard display and this was the song I would rather weakly play everytime I was in the vicinity of one. Of course sometime after I saw Big and it was all "Heart and Soul" from that point on. Can you still buy those gigantic floor keyboards?

Limahl - "The Never Ending Story" - The Never Ending Story

The dance-mix version of this song has tried to ruin my youth but I shall not let it win. Me and my Luck Dragon are damn-near invincible. I had a crush on the princess of Fantasia when I was 8. I figured that if I could come up with a better name than Bastian did, she would be my girlfriend. (How could I possibly still be single?) "Bastian, I need a name!"

Kenny Loggins - "Danger Zone" - Top Gun

The king of the 80's soundtrack gets to do double-duty today. I don't know why, but my most vivid memory of this song is listening to it in 6th grade gym class while doing shuttle runs. IT might have even been a 45 we were listening to. While I think it is pretty clear why K. Loggins gets top billing (Caddyshack, Footloose, Over The Top, and Top Gun), as to why I have chosen the theme song to the most homo-erotic "action film" of all time, well that I'm not so sure about. "You can be my wingman anytime." It's a good thing I didn't pick "Playin' With the Boys" -- yup, the volleyball scene.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Santa is early...

...and god bless him for that. I love shopping for myself.
BTW - Hats off to Joe Pernice and company last night. A great show and a perfect mid-week night out. What a good songwriter; listen, learn, fall in love.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Growin' Up

On Saturday my friends and I celebrated the 30th birthday of one of our good friends. As he is the first in our circle to watch the odometer roll over he is a little anxious about being alone in near-middle age. Of course in three months the remainder of the Class of '95 will begin to topple like dominoes so we can all together wallow in abject wheredowegofromhere. Which is very appropriate since, like everyone else in this little digital realm of ours, I constantly focus on four things:
  1. Me.
  2. The lack of sex in my sex life.
  3. The lack of female persons in my personal life.
  4. And, the recession of my youth.

The last item being something that a few of my cohorts and I enjoy talking about regularly since we are all suffering from the some condition; aging. It's not as if some switch is thrown the instant one turns 30, but there are noticeable changes (whether they be sometime before or sometime after that day) that are ultimately associated with one's third decade. I have recently discovered, at least for me, some important rules to the new 30 Paradigm.

Exercise. If you work out and are not doing it four to five days a week, you are wasting your time. Yeah, it takes twice as long now to recover from serious physical strain but it also takes three times as long to metabolize all of the carbs I can't stop eating. Listen to Yoda, "Do or do not. There is no try."

Running game. 30 is approcahing something like mature sexy. At least that is what I hear (or depserately hope for). The point is that at around 30 you can confidently get away with things you could not as when you were younger. Specifically going in dead cold, no introductions, to a group of women at a social event and simply saying "hi, my name is ----" actually works. At 23 you didn't have the ocnifdence to pull it off. At 30 you don't give a fuck anymore, you know what you want.

Owning property. You either do or you do not. If you haven't bought anything by now you are not going to unless circumstances drastically change for you. And that's just fine. Sign another 12-month lease and let everyone else sweat the interest rate hikes.

Mug Night at Whitlow's. It 's out of the question, just let it go. There are plenty of other options.

Work. If you are at all career-oriented, these are your Hall of Fame years. You are experienced enough to do just about anything but young enough (corporately-speaking) to keep accelerating your advancement. Now's the time to make your name and then you can ride it out through your 40's into early retirement.

Rock. You still can.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Friday 8-Track

For no particular reason, this week's theme is The British Isles...but not England (too easy). I was going to include any and all fromer British provinces but could not think of any cool bands from the Faulklands.

Thin Lizzy - "The Boys Are Back In Town" - Jailbreak

A few weeks back I mentioned something about starting a power pop band. Well, scratch that. Now it's going to be a hard-rocking band with lots of twin guitar leads. It seems like this is one of those "classic rock" songs that never waned in its badassedness. Great tune. Now, there are some people who would suggest that Thin Lizzy helped to usher in the "New Wave of British Heavy Metal. " If someone you know ever uses the term "New Wave of British Heavy Metal," you have my permission to punch that person in the face.

Big Country - "In A Big Country" - The Crossing

"Everybody Wants To Rule The World" may be my favorite 80's song (the 80's as a genre, that is) but "In A Big Country" might be my favorite song from the 80's, period (except for maybe every track on 1984 but other than that...). It's amazing what you can accomplish with a couple of guitars, endless studio hours, and an MXR Pitch Transposer 129. The guitar work on this record is really quite an achievement.

My Bloody Valentine - "Blown A Wish" - Loveless

If "In A Big Country" was an "achievement" then Loveless was a triumph. Often referenced as one of the "greatest albums of blah blah blah...", I don't find it as gripping as many of the albums I consider to be among the greats but as far as creating a truly unique sonic landscape it is unparalleled. I can't think of another album that actually reachs out from the speakers and envelops the listener.

Mclusky - "Lightsabre Cocksucking Blues" - Mclusky Do Dallas

Need I say more?

The Frames - "Star Star" - Dance the Devil

This is a really pretty tune. A cool band with a varied set of styles I would liked to have seen them live. They suffered from comaprisons to U2 (is every Irish band compared to U2?) but I think were a lot edgier and thankfully lacked some of that overwrought earnestness.

Catatonia - "Road Rage" - International Velvet

Cerys Matthews is a hottie and that mumbly Welsh accent of hers just kills me. That's pretty much it.

The Pogues - "Body Of An American" - Rum Sodomy & the Lash [2005 Reissue Bonus Track]

Shane McGowan resented Elvis Costello's methods as a producer but I think this album turned out pretty damn well. And what a great title. This song is a good example of the Pogue's Irish Folk-Punk which is a terribly reductive term for their unique brand of music but unfortunately I can't think of a better descriptor right now. It's good stuff.

Teenage Fanclub - "Alcoholiday" - Bandwagonesque

They're giving the Wren a run for the title of Most Appearances In A Friday 8-Track, but what list of British Isles bands would be complete without Scotland's greatest pop band? "Went to bed, but I'm not ready. Baby I've been fucked already." Indeed.