Wednesday, October 26, 2011

I am weirdly protective about some things.

So the World Series Game 6 (edit) was tonight (before it got cancelled by rain,) and it has by all accounts been a pretty fantastic series. Just about every game has been wrought with intrigue and games have been decided by small margin of errors. Game 2 saw the Cardinals blow a lead in the 9th... Game 3 saw Albert Pujols have perhaps the single greatest World Series game of all time... Game 4 featured a two hit shutout... and Game 5 saw the Cardinals lose because of miscommunication on the phone. It's been pretty great.

So obviously, we can only hope that the next game or two are as memorable as the ones preceding it, right?

Wrong. Texas needs to win 6-1 tomorrow in the most pedestrian way possible to close out this series.

Why? It's simple. Because the 1991 World Series is... and will be, the greatest World Series of all time. And having this series end in a rather mediocre way will prevent anyone from thinking otherwise.

Back in 2001, I had to listen to a bunch of pundits extoll the Yankees/Diamondbacks series as "the best of all time." Which it wasn't. It came down to the final out and provided an absolutely riveting ending... but at least three games were just OK. Whereas the Twins/Braves series had about 5 classic games... with the two pivotal games being absolute classics in each their own regard.

But it was annoying hearing everyone claim the Yanks/DBacks series as the best... because they were wrong. So this is what we're trying to avoid here... pundits and fans erroneously thinking that this series could possibly be the best of all time. Because they WOULD be wrong. Unless something drastic happens, like a team down 15 coming back in the 9th to win it. But that isn't going to happen, so...

(Oh, and also... I heard people saying that the Angels/Giants series in 2002 was perhaps the "best" once the series ended. Which is even stupider... but no one really believes that anymore.)

I know I am totally biased in this regard. And that it's stupid to be cheering against drama and good games. But I am. The 91 World Series is pretty much *the* thing Minnesota fans have to be proud of, so I'm going to be protective.

The fact that it's also ACTUALLY the best helps my case, too...

Tuesday, October 25, 2011



Brian Wilson just released an album of Disney cover songs. It's about as good as you could hope a musical genius nearing his 70's covering Disney could be. (That is... it's OK.)

But the real thing is that they are finally putting out the Beach Boys' Smile album, after about... you know, 45 or so years. Well, they're putting it out as "The Smile Sessions", which means that I'm not sure if you can really count it as the true thing... but it's the closest we're ever going to get.

The plan is that the version coming out is going to feature Brian Wilson's 2004 version as its basis... which makes sense, because it's the only official finished version. But I've got a bootleg of the album that also uses the 2004 version as a basis, and I'm curious as to see where it differentiates from what's about to come out.



Might sound something like this... (this video also includes Gee at the beginning, for whatever reason...)

So yeah. I'm excited about that.

One thing I've been thinking about a lot is that I am starting to suspect that my favorite 60's group are no longer the Beatles.

The main problem is overexposure, most likely. Right now, I'm on a rather major Beach Boys kick... one that I never really experienced. I had heard of their supposed genius as a younger version of myself, but it was harder for me to correlate the progression from Surfin' Safari to Good Vibrations than it was for me from I Want To Hold Your Hand to A Day In The Life. But now, all of a sudden, Pet Sounds sounds brilliant, Smile is probably one of the greatest albums of all time (assuming it's as great as the hype...), and Brian Wilson suddenly equals the genius of Lennon and McCartney.

Whereas The Beatles... I heard them throughout my entire life. My parents always listened to them on the radio, and then when I was about 13 they pretty much singlehandedly made me realize that music was worth obsessing over, after a brief period in which I tried to understand my peers' inclination towards Top 40. (I heard "Hey Jude" on the radio one day... and was flabbergasted, because the coda to the song was something that I thought I came up with on my own. Then I liked them.)

But... I mean, I've heard all the songs before millions of times, and thus I don't ever really feel the need to revisit Rubber Soul or whatever. I mean, I still recognize their greatness and everything. They're still the best band to have ever existed and all. But I've heard them millions of times.

Another thing, too. There's no hesitation in claiming that the Beatles are the best band of all time... but I don't think they came close to making the greatest album of all time.

I like cohesion in my albums. If the Ramones play 15 songs that sound exactly alike for one album, that's OK with me... as long as that song is good. The problem with the Beatles is that they're trying to pretty much tackle every single genre of music... which is great, but it means that I'm not going to turn to them when I'm in a certain mood. Also, the fact that songwriting duties are pretty much split up between Lennon & McCartney (with a couple from Harrison... and one dopey Ringo song per album) means that there are going to be some jarring transitions. Lennon's Tomorrow Never Knows is preceded by McCartney's Got To Get You Into My Life. I Am The Walrus and Strawberry Fields Forever (two of the greatest ever penned by Lennon) is split up by Hello Goodbye... which might just be one of the worst songs of all time (and technically, I AM The Walrus is the end of the Magical Mystery Tour EP, with Hello Goodbye starting a string of tacked on singles... but everyone treats it as a single entity).

And it's not just the fact that Lennon & McCartney morphed into two very different songwriters. The Zombies' Odessey & Oracle has long been my favorite 60's record... and that album had two separate songwriters. But it still sounded cohesive... whereas The Beatles just had a bunch of albums with a lot of f***ing great songs.

(Also, their two albums that seem to be a cohesive unit... Sgt. Pepper and Abbey Road, both have their faults. Sgt. Pepper really only has three or four good songs, while Abbey Road has this professional sheen that I can't shake, mostly because I know they were done as a band at that point and were just showing up to work...)

Anyway... here's a ranking of my favorite 60's albums, for the hell of it.

1. Zombies--Odessey & Oracle
2. Beach Boys--Smile (bootleg version)
3. Beatles--Rubber Soul
4. The Band--s/t
5. Beach Boys--Pet Sounds
6. Beatles--Revolver
7. Bob Dylan--Highway 61 Revisited
8. Love--Forever Changes
9. King Crimson--In The Court Of The Crimson King
10. Rolling Stones--Let It Bleed

Bit of a boring list, but... I couldn't think of any other way to finish this.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Well...

At least the Vikings hung in there.

For the record, I predicted the Vikings to win... just because I'm an idiot and a homer, and I thought that it was sort of a trap game for the Packers, where it was a rivalry game where they were heavily favored.

But good gravy Aaron Rodgers is too good. I can't see how they're not going to win the Super Bowl this year... and the next year... and the next year...

Maybe I should start getting into hockey.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Let me tell you about all the stuff I got at the thrift store today.

I originally went so I could find the cheapest, weirdest birthday present I could... but then I found a lot of stuff.

Oh, before I go any further, let me just say that I am sometimes awesome. I decided to go to this one thrift store... without any particular clue how to get there. I mean, I'd been there before, but I always took a route that was essentially in the exact opposite direction that I was in... and I knew how to get there not by street names, but rather by stores and whatnot. Yet who pretty much took the most direct perfect route there imaginable using only my spidey sense? That would be me.

Anyway, I got there... and I immediately spotted PET SOUNDS BY THE BEACH BOYS. Except that it was just the album cover. And the album inside was instead All Summer Long. Which is still a classic... but in terms of classics, Pet Sounds is Hamlet and All Summer Long is one of Shakespeare's not-so-famous plays. I still got it.

Also discovered, The Beach Boys' Wild Honey (which was one of their first post-Smile fiasco releases) and The Beatles' Something New. None of these were in particularly great shape, mind you... all the covers seemed as if they've been doused in water, and the records themselves seem to be scratched up beyond belief. But still. I got them. I don't really listen to any of these anyway... it's just nice to know that I have them. And they were all for around a buck.

I went over to their three buck album section... hoping that there would be a copy of All Summer Long with the Pet Sounds record sitting inside it. But it was not meant to be. But instead... I found an even worse for wear copy of Bob Dylan's Blonde On Blonde, and a pretty in tact copy of The Crazy World Of Arthur Brown. Which I'm listening to right now... and it's really good. It's really drugged-up, but soulful as well. This is the song I'm listening.



Oh, and a 45 of White Room by Cream.

Then I went to a couple other stores, and I found a Lucky Charms bobblehead. Which means that I now have a breakfast cereal section in my bobblehead collection. I had Count Chocula as one of the first I ever got, and then I got this one named Fruit Brute (I don't know who he is either... but he's holding a bowl of cereal, so...). In terms of other subsections in my collection, it's not as weirdly specific as my Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, N Sync and Goldy Gopher sections... but it'll do.

Then I found a White Bear Lake polar bear bobblehead. Which I thought was cool... if only for the fact that I've been to White Bear Lake, and I know how hardcore they take their polar bear lawn ornaments (and I'll go ahead and assume that everyone there has a huge collection of polar bear crap.) So now I'm prepared if I ever move there.
This is what I saw yesterday.

It's a Youtube video, but I'm linking to it, because it is part one of a 34 part series highlighting the 80's wrestling feud between Andy Kaufman and Jerry Lawler. Not that any of you are going to watch any of these, because it's professional wrestling--but both Andy Kaufman and the whole idea of wrestling are endlessly fascinating to me. And I've never seen a comprehensive recap of the feud such as this.

Essentially, if any of you would like a summarization: Andy Kaufman--the "comedian" whose performances were more designed to be sort of a meta-commentary on performing itself rather than to elicit laughs--had a bit where he would simply wrestle women picked from the audience, claiming to be the "intergender champion". He then got the idea to actually perform a variation of this in the actual world of professional wrestling, and he ended up going down to the Memphis territory (back then, wrestling was divided up into regional territories. It's not that way now) in order to start a year long feud with Jerry Lawler, the main good guy in the territory.

And this is still back in the day where quite a few people thought that wrestling was still real, and the business in turn presented it much more legitimately (not that it's at all "legitimate" when there's people intentionally trying break each other's necks, fireballs, and bounties to injure people--all things that would land a person in jail... but you know. It's less of a spectacle than it is now and tries to be more "sport".) So basically, a TV star--one with a successful TV show, countless notable appearances on talk shows, and notoriety for being one of the most unconventional comedians of his time--travels down to a city in the South with the explicit purpose of getting people to hate him beyond belief.

Anyway, it's pretty great--as far as wrestling feuds go. Kaufman is pretty much the quintessential stuck-up heel, constantly ranting about the intellectual inferiority to the South compared with Hollywood--ducking physical contact whenever possible and threatening lawsuits as opposed to fighting in the ring--coming up with ingenious plots to get back at Jerry Lawler. It makes me wish that attaining this type of true vitriol was still possible--I mean, it is... but I'd have to either kill someone famous or star in a reality show. But I mean--being truly hated as performance art. I would kind of love doing that.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Baseball

Currently watching Game One of the World Series on the internet. On an illegal stream, because my place can't get good network reception. And Lord knows why they don't stream network television online.

So it's a little bit difficult to watch.

On the plus side, I am watching an overseas stream, which means that I am getting announcers other than Joe Buck and Tim McCarver.

-So since I am on the subject of baseball, I'm going to link to an article that discusses how to "fix" the World Series. It's pretty stupid. It bases its idea that the World Series is broken because nobody is tuning into the games. Which is true... it's lower than it's ought to be, but it's not because the World Series is inherently flawed... it's because the media only covers the Red Sox and Yankees. So your average joe isn't going to be interested in tonight's game because no one in the media wants to talk about the Cardinals and the Rangers.

I think this is the root as to why I'm preferring the NFL and the NBA (although I'm not going to be seeing that for a while)--the media (or the league) knows how to market their product better. I mean, right now one of the bigger stories in the NFL is the fact that the Denver Broncos are now starting Tim Tebow at QB. The Broncos are one of the worst teams in the league, but they're still remaining in the limelight. If the media focused on football like they do the MLB, the last week would have just been nonstop Patriots/Cowboys speculation and highlights.

Anyway, the article's stupid. It suggests that the AL and NL switch the DH rule for the postseason.

It also suggests-in a way to update the World Series to the 21st century-that there be pregame concerts. The band suggested to play this concert that'll make the World Series hip and current? Pearl Jam. (Well... I suppose it's better than the Super Bowl Halftime Show...)

-Some forum I was at was also discussing tweaking the current playoff system--in this case because people were complaining that the regular season was being rendered pointless and the teams with the best regular season records keep bowing out early. The suggestion to fix this is to allow even fewer teams into the playoffs. This is also stupid.

1) Baseball already allows the lowest percentage of teams into their postseason.
2) This would mean that the Yankees would have an even greater chance of winning (I'm assuming that a lot of people who are suggesting this are just bitter Yankee fans.)
3) The playoffs are unpredictable. That is good. Unpredictability is good. And you're not forsaking your entire regular season for unpredictability (like the NHL) since you're already allowing only 8 teams into the postseason.

So basically, I don't understand why people are assuming that the problem with baseball is anything other than the perception that only 2 or 3 teams matter in the entire league...

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

I'm listening to Tom Waits' new album, entitled "Bad As Me." It is now streaming. It is literally the only musical release I've been actually anticipating.

It is good.

There isn't any reinventing the wheel. If you've heard most of Waits' stuff already, you're going to be in familiar territory. And that is a good thing. There's the thought that as an artist, one needs to be constantly evolving in order to avoid stagnation. But Tom Waits has been around for a while, and he knows what works. And his albums still sound fresh. So screw it. He could put out the same album for the next 30 years and it'll still be quality.

I'm trying not to go too in-depth, because I doubt any of you are going to go out of their way to stream this at this moment (since you have to go through a sign-up process and all...). And I'm going to post some YouTube videos, but they will most assuredly not be here by this time next week. But after a couple listens, here are a couple tracks that stood out for me.



Psycho blues. Unrelenting horns come charging at you from the very start. A snippet of this was played during the preview video put out a couple weeks back. I knew that it would be a favorite once the album finally came out, and it just happened to be the first track. That put me in a good mood.




This is the sort of manic rocker you'd expect from the man, with handclaps and a little bit of machine gun providing the rhythm section, a little bit of sinister guitar work... and I think some vaguely Middle Eastern backing vocals about halfway through the song. It sounds about as insane and incomprehensible as the war it's portraying .



This is the closer. It has that maudlin, empty feeling that he does so well. And then he breaks into a rendition of Auld Lang Syne. At first it sounded a bit out of the blue, but it works so wonderfully in that wistful, drink yourself to sleep sort of way. And... really, some songs were just meant to be crooned by Tom Waits.

The man has a gruff, beautiful voice. I couldn't think of a better way to close an album.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

This is going to be a freewheeling post.

I'm currently at Hard Times. Came here because it seemed like a good idea in order to try to get things done... but I'm not sure. Mostly I've just been eating.

-There's a guy right next to me, also sitting on his laptop and browsing the internet and such. I feel a kinship to him. Not because he's doing what I'm doing... but because his laptop cord is being held in its socket by duct tape.

I don't necessarily need duct tape anymore, as I went out and bought a new adapter... but still. I know what it's like.

-(The following is sort of sports related, but moreso about the stupidity of... business, I suppose. So you might want to read it even if you don't like sports! Actually... you probably won't.)

So I've been following college football a little bit, and by that, I mean... I watch it on television when I'm at work and there's nothing better to watch on Saturdays. But what's really caught my attention is all the conference wheeling and dealing, where one team leaves to go one conference, and that conference steals another team from another conference, and so on and so on.

So... I've always sort of like geography. And I used to do this sort of thing when I was younger, where I would rearrange sports teams and put them in different conferences/divisions according to the best/closest geographical arrangement. And it used to be this way in NCAA too... SEC was centered in the south, Big East was in the East, and the Big 12 was in the Great Plains/Texas area.

And a lot of conferences are now making plays to become more powerful conferences, usually by stealing from lesser powerful conferences. Which has resulted in the conferences that are now lacking a squad or two scrambling to put some sort of plan together where they can remain relevant in the new landscape (because... remaining relevant=getting an automatic BCS bid, which means more prestige and more money in case you didn't know.) The problem is that all the realignment has gotten so out of hand that the conferences are going WAYYYY out of their regions in attempts to attract schools from thousands of miles away.

The reason for this is I believe is because the regions want to attract more markets. As in... getting a team from say far away Texas is better than grabbing a team from an area you've already established a foothold in. So ostensibly it means more money. But mostly it's just stupid.

So the Big 12 (which currently features 10 teams... while the Big 10 features 12 teams) and the Big East have been the major conferences that have lost members to other conferences. The Big 12 added one team in Texas, which actually made sense... but they've also been trying to add other teams in order to get back to 12 teams (or, to just stay at 10, because there is speculation that Missouri is trying to go to the SEC, which again... is the Southern Conference.) So the teams they have been apparently looking at are Air Force (in Colorado... makes sense), Louisville (more East than any current team, but it's somewhat close), West Virginia (who is currently in the Big East... and possibly also trying to move to the SEC... and does not have any Big 12 team close to them), and Boise State (all the way up in the Pacific Northwest.)

The Big East, however, has just topped that. Apparently they have just extended offers Boise State, Air Force, Central Florida, Houston and SMU (in Texas). The conference, again, is called the Big East. Featuring teams in the Eastern Time Zone (or... you know, teams that are east ENOUGH). Extending invites all the way out to Boise.

There are a couple problems. One, if they accept the invitation, Boise State will have to travel 2000 plus miles for any road game that they have, which would put a small dent mentally and financially. Two, one of the thing that make college sports great is all the rivalries, which (like most rivalries) develops when two teams operate within close proximity of one another. Shoehorning a bunch of non-Eastern teams into the Big East means that there are no regional rivalries that will quickly develop. Three, the cumulative effect of this (if there is indeed a lot more shuffling and teams from other regions get put into conferences in regions outside their own) is that the conferences will begin to lose their own identities... and instead just seem like a random cobbled together group of schools that play each other frequently.

But apparently this is the way the NCAA is going. And it probably won't stop until there's a bunch of 20 team conferences that expand across the entire country. Resulting in Texas playing Indiana every year.

-Did you know that we are currently in the midst of the Oscar season, and that I have seen exactly 0 of the possibly-to-be-nominated movies?

This might be a low for me this year. Although I might change that later this week, cause I'm thinking about seeing Drive and Moneyball. But there are no guarantees that they'll get any nominations either. Unlike The Ides Of March. That's gonna have nominations coming out of every open hole in its body.

I don't know why I haven't gone to see more films out this year. I mean... I do. I have this habit of being into something heavily for a period of time, then moving on to something else. I think in the last year I've been catching up on all the acclaimed television series I missed out on, as well as recently... playing music all the time. But I *could* go see more films. Nothing's stopping me.

I think this has been a problem with me. I'm interested in a lot of things... but I'm not an "expert" in any sort of category. Which means that my film criticism career is dead in the water, my music history interest wanders in and out, and my television screenplays never get finished.

So that's why I float around, I suppose... instead of trying to become better in one single area. But then I suppose I won't derive as much enjoyment out of life. Or maybe I would, cause then I could claim I'm knowledgeable about one thing, instead of merely being not-ignorant in many categories. I don't know.

-I'm probably going to stop writing now.

I have work in less than an hour.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

I am stuck in 2000.

I was reading the Wikipedia article about Roy Orbison earlier today, and I got to the section about his death, and read that he died in 1988. My initial thought was "hmm... he died about 12 years ago then." My next thought was that I'm an idiot for doing this all the time.

Seriously. This is what I do... take any historical event you can think of, and I will always calculate how many years ago it was by taking the year it took place and subtracting it from the year 2000. Sgt. Pepper came out 33 years ago. JFK was shot 37 years ago. End of World War II was 55 years ago. And so on. And then I marvel about how the hell I get that wrong every single time, and then wonder about how fast time has flown.

I have a couple theories as to why I do this.

A) 2000 is a very round number. And it is easy to calculate time past with it in place.
B) I must have tried to calculate the years past a lot around the year 2000, and it is somehow still sticking with me for no apparent reason.
C) I am old, and refuse to admit that things that came out in my childhood are almost 20 years old. (Rocko's Modern Life is 18 years old. That was my favorite show as a kid. It used to be new, you know.)

It's probably a combination of the three.

I don't know why exactly I'm writing about this. Maybe in the hopes that someone else does this too and I'm not just abysmal with my memory.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

I have listened to William Shatner's new album, called "Seeking Major Tom". I'm going to talk about it. It is available via all your usual legal or non-legal channels.

Some things to know:

1) It's entirely composed of space-themed covers, with songs influenced by David Bowie's Major Tom character providing the thread that ties things together.
2) There's about 600 guest artists here, with Bootsy Collins, Dave Davies and John Wetton being my favorites (I mean, I know who they are...)
3) Most of the songs end with a callback/repeat of a snippet of an earlier song. I think this is to give credence to the idea that this is more conceptual than being just a covers album. In particular, you hear parts of Shatner's rendition of Space Oddity at the end of the next 5 songs that follow it on the album.
4) The album is about 3 hours long. (It's actually about half of that, but still. Robert Johnson's entire recording output is not nearly this long.) It's a bit much.
5) Most of the songs are done in Shatner's usual spoken word delivery. But there are your exceptions. For instance, he actually sings on Iron Man... (I'm not sure if it's better or worse than what it would have been in his normal style, but it's still entertaining enough.)



6) In general, the performances other than Shatner sound pretty much like what they are: bad cover version. But, the main attraction is Shatner here. And for the most part, he delivers. I thought it was going to be a case where the songs you like were bound to be your favorite covers, but my favorite coming in (Space Oddity) has a pretty straightforward reading, and doesn't really feature any the usual overly dramatic bombast.

7) His version of Bohemian Rhapsody certainly delivers, though.



8) Other highlights include a spirited (drunk?) version of Space Truckin', a more melancholic version of Rocket Man than his famous live rendition, a funk(!) rendition of She Blinded Me With Science featuring Bootsy Collins, and a healthy dose of bombast in Struggle, the only original here.
9) Bootsy throws out a shoutout to the mothership connection in the middle of She Blinded Me With Science, which made me make a list of other space-themed songs that should have been included here.









All of these would have provided more intriguing covers than most of the stuff on the back half of the album.

Oh well. Maybe you can hold out hope for a sequel...

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

I've been in a depressed mood all morning.

(I thought that dogs were supposed to lift your spirits a little--being a "man's best friend" and all that. But they seem just as depressed as I am. Am I rubbing off on them or something? I mean... it's probably because they're used to a full house, and I am not exactly a bundle of excitement... but still.)

So I've been listening to a lot of depressing music.

I think some people, when they're feeling down, tend to put on more upbeat and cheerful music in an effort to lift their spirits through hearing others sound joyful. Your Stevie Wonders or your Monkees or whatever. I do not do that. I like commiserating. And so songs about crippling fears and depression tend to help me out a lot more than "Good Day Sunshine" or "Walking On Sunshine" or any other sunshine related song. I don't know if a lot of other people are like that.

And so I'm going to post some of the songs I'm listening to. Because that's what I do.

All of these most likely sound similar, for the record.



1. Heard this on Spotify. I feel like I should be hating the thing, but then I hear a bunch of great stuff I've never heard of...
2. Fact #1 about Alex's musical tastes: if you record a dark and depressing song, pile some strings on it and there is a 100% chance I will like it.
3. Nice segue--the next artist covered this on one of his albums.



1. This is actually comedic--in an extremely dark way, but still.
2. Nick Cave doesn't have a lot of songs that really knock me out. But I appreciate the hell out of his ethos.



1. Again... dark and depressing--with strings included.
2. I got into Nick Drake during the awkward, extremely shy teenage years, so you would think that I would pretty much adore him, considering by all accounts that he was the most introverted person of all time. But no. He's got some dark and lovely songs, though.



1. Hyperbole: this is one of my favorite bands. This is one of my favorite songs.
2. Someone told me recently that they liked the singer's voice. I somewhat think it was a mistake, cause I've never met anyone who has come close to sharing my enthusiasm for this band. Like, maybe the volume wasn't loud enough for her to be turned off by his ultra-deep voice... I don't know.
3. This song exudes such an extraordinary intensity and desperation.
4. Probably would not have chosen a flaming guitar as the image for this song, but oh well YouTube...

Monday, October 10, 2011

I came up with a new blog just about an hour ago.

(it's right here if you want to click)

It's very much a work in progress, but it's essentially an experiment where I just write out small bits of dialogue until I figure they've reached their logical conclusion.

I've been doing this for a while, but I figured that it'd be better if others were to read it instead of just taking up space on my hard drive. (And by others, I mean... maybe 3 people... but maybe I'll tell others about it.)

I don't know if it's worthwhile at all, but... I'm going to try to update it every so often.

That's about it.

I'm at home. I have to sit for three rambunctious dogs while the rest of my family takes a vacation up to Duluth. I don't really know anything about dogs.

At least I'm not getting paid.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

The Minnesota Lynx won the WNBA championship last night.

It actually seemed pretty inevitable ever since the offseason when they lucked into the first pick in the draft, so it's nice to see something actually come to fruition. The thing is, though... I'm kind of mixed on the Lynx actually winning.

On one hand...

It's nice to see a Minnesota team actually win something for a change.

On the other hand...

I've pretty much embraced the town's losing culture. And... if the Vikings or Twins or one of the other major sports teams aren't going to actually go ahead and win a damn title, I kind of secretly want them to be spectacularly bad, or lose in spectacular fashion. It's a wholly unhealthy inferiority complex, and I want us to be the most tortured fanbase if we can't actually watch a winner.

And, the WNBA is a minor sport, and I don't have nearly the emotional investment in the Lynx that I do in the other teams in town. And... I don't want the Lynx's victory to be an argument against the Twin Cities being the most tortured sports cities.

Not that it's actually going to happen, since most people would probably just count the major sports. But still. I'm glad they won and all, but... it makes me feel we're now losing the race of tortured sports cities to Seattle and Cleveland.

We'll probably start getting even more tortured as a way to make up for the Lynx winning anyway. Like Adrian Peterson blowing out his knee tomorrow or something.

God, why did I write that?

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Country

One of the good things about Spotify is that it takes absolutely zero effort to hear music you're interested in. (There's a lot of bad things, too... it's not nearly as comprehensive as I would like, it crashes on me every so often for no particular reason... and I'm probably going to end up spending $5 a month once my free subscription runs out.) For some reason I've been feeling country as of late. Or "country-rock", or whatever label one might apply to indicate that it's not-crappy-country.

I'm going to post some YouTube videos whether or not anyone listens to them. Cause that's what I do.



Gram Parsons joined the Byrds for a moment enough to help them release Sweetheart Of The Rodeo, which was considered to be *the* seminal "country-rock" album. I listened to it once. It's... okay. But I much prefer Gram Parsons' next project, the Flying Burrito Brothers. (Which, for my money, has to be one of the greatest band names of all time, although that might be my own strong bias towards burritos influencing that opinion.)

This song is pretty poppy, plus it features some prominent electric guitar work, so I guess it's not strictly country. But they're wearing those swank suits, so it doesn't matter.



My entry point for this guy was through the Big Lebowski soundtrack, with a cover of the Rolling Stones' Dead Flowers, which he probably made pretty much his own with minimal effort. I hadn't really listened to anything else by the guy other than a couple of songs here and there, but I kept coming back to the Dead Flowers cover and how wonderfully road-weary his voice sounds.

Not that I'm posting that song, but here's another one. It's a little different than the one I was listening to, but it's close enough. Dark and melancholic music always sounds good to me.



You know, if I judged a song strictly by the lyrics, I'd most likely hate this quite a bit. You know, on account of the fact that I don't like to drink, do drugs, carry firearms, and other general redneck-y manners. But the banjo player sure can shred, and there's so much rebellious attitude seeping through every inch that lyrical content doesn't matter a bit. And I suppose the lyrics the whole "outlaw" persona anyway, so...







And... Ween.

One song is completely devoid of any satirical edge and is wonderfully pretty. One song has fantastic harmonies and I would say should be played on radio stations were it not for the vulgar lyrics. One song features The Greatest of All Time. It's up to you to figure which ones are which.

It's easy, though. You just have to actually listen to the songs.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

I'm going through the Rolling Stones' entire discography at the moment.

This was inspired by a conversation I had with Sara recently... apparently she went to a record store with a friend, who found the Sticky Fingers LP--complete with zipper and all--for a reasonable price, which I felt the slightest bit of envy for. Then later on that day, we made our way to a thrift store where I found none other than the zippered Sticky Fingers LP for a cool, brisk $1. Or $1.05, if you want to be accurate.

I've only made it through their first few albums, most of which are from their period where they rhythm and blues men playing your usual covers. It's largely unimpressive from a modern standpoint, where blues songs mostly sound trite at this point. But then slowly but surely Jagger and Richards started writing their own originals, and the songs become much more notable and lively.

The four songs I'm posting were all released--for the most part--consecutively as singles during a period in 1965.



Their first #1 in the UK that Jagger/Richards wrote, although really it's based off of a traditional arrangement by the Staple Singers. But honestly, the reason to pay attention to this song is the riff that Keith Richards came up with, which might rank up there as one of my favorite riffs written by Richards.

Honestly, I don't know who would comprise any list I'd make of the "greatest guitarists of all time", but Richards would have to be up there. It's not as if he was virtuosic in the Hendrix/Clapton sense where you think they could play anything with their guitars... but in terms of churning out precise riffs and possessing an absolutely impeccable sense of rhythm... I doubt anyone's better.



I don't know if there's really anything to say about this one. Considered one of the greatest rock and roll songs of all time. Keith Richards came up with the riff in his sleep.

Honestly, it's not my favorite. I'm really only including it because it connects the songs I do want to write about in terms of single release order, but it *is* a good song. Just the fact that I've heard it millions of times makes it lose its luster a little bit.



This was written as a follow-up to "Satisfaction". But it's better. The riff is a little more playful (even if you can barely hear it in the mix), the drumming is impeccably solid, and in general it sounds like there's more swagger in Jagger's voice this time around.

It's also one of the songs that will just randomly pop up in my head from time to time, and I have to fight a terrible urge to belt out the chorus as loud as I can. It's not even a *great* chorus--but the call and response is great. I have sometimes tried to get others to participate in the call and response, as I'll just shout out "I said HEY" and let the others respond. It never works.



OK. So here's the thing. I'm much more interested in the Rolling Stones' "pop" period than I am in any of their normal bluesy rock stuff. It's generally looked down upon because essentially, they were just trying to duplicate the success and growth of the Beatles. Which especially for a band that had more of a "purer" rock and roll sound than the Beatles, makes it seem more like selling out than growing artistically.

And to be honest, they probably did go in this direction because the Beatles were heading this way. But I guess since I like their output from this period, I see it more as trying to prove that they can do everything the Beatles were doing, instead of just trying to copy their sound.

As far as this song... I mean, the Stones were probably not best suited to be writing soft ballads with sweeping strings. And people (wrongly) describe it as their attempt to write their own Yesterday, which doesn't help matters. But give this song to Donovan or any other troubadour pop outfit of the 60s, and everyone loves it. It's just that you don't really buy Mick Jagger singing this.

Nevertheless, it's a nice pop exercise. And it's the first song ever penned by Jagger/Richards (it was a while before they actually recorded).

I'll probably write more about the rest of their albums at some later point this week. I don't care if no one wants me to. It's interesting to me.
I have realized that I've been 3-0 in terms of picking Vikings games accurately. (This wasn't actually difficult... it just required the usual amount of skepticism needed to cheer for the Vikings.) So before the game starts in a couple hours, I figure I should chime in so I can DIRECTLY AFFECT THE OUTCOME OF THE GAME WITH MY PREDICTION.

Vikings 20, Chiefs 16.

Which is kind of boring, but... I mean, we were close in a bunch of games with playoff contenders. Chiefs are not anywhere near to being a playoff contender.

Of course, we can still blow it since A) we're really not that good, and B) we haven't won in Kansas City in about 40 years.

But we'll hang on. Or KC will blow it. The latter is probably more likely.

MUSIC: