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Thursday, June 30, 2011

Last we left off...

The father was rushing to get his daughter moving.  He has struggled in recent weeks with guilt and angst. Since school ended he has seen or spent time with his only child for maybe a few hours a day.

He wakes her from a sound sleep and whisks her to camp.

He picks her up from camp and tries to feed her tired bones before racing her to a softball event.  He picks her up from softball and tries to feed her again before some bad TV (I am talking to you Big Time Rush!!!!.)

Next day more of the same.  Tonight marks 11 days straight.  Games.  Practices.  Ice Cream parties.  Matter of time before you is in the front seat of a friends BMW on her way to the high school.  And it might be eating at dad a bit.

On the other hand the experiences and friendships she builds are essential.  Part of a team and community.  Learning what it takes to sit on a bench and support, rather than be the focal point.  Feeling the anguish of losing.  "How come we keep losing the lead in the last inning??"

About an hour passed after the heartbreaking 2-1 loss last night before she even spoke.  "Stop talking about it!!" she commanded.

Dad thought the old cliche:  "They will come into your building in a few weeks and you can exact revenge" line was gonna make it all better.

"What does that even mean dad?"  she muttered back, holding in tears.

"Learn, take it all in, remember the feeling"  I shot back.

That was it.  And soon a break.   "Get through practice tonight and I think it's time you act like a 9 year old for a few days."

It is summer after all.  Pools and fireworks beckon.  And did I mention the mandatory computer homework and three (effin 3!!!) books she has to read???

Thought she had learned all there was to learn during one of the taxi sessions over the past week.  When I discovered she was painting her nails in the backseat I calmly asked her to stop.

"The smell from that in a closed, air conditioned car is making me nauseous.  I would hate to have a hemorrhage on I-78."

"Well dad, you know the person that invented nail polish actually created it in a car" she politely responded.

Of course, how could I have forgotten?

Redemption does await.  Summers might not be the same as when I was a kid.  But there are plenty of things to get excited about.  I will be careful not to forget how she began this summer compared to how she begins 4th grade.

Soundtrack from early summer 2011:  You will be surprised at some of these

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CFWX0hWCbng

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FG_RDy0Ybj4

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-alNv_rtA6U&feature=related

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-alNv_rtA6U&feature=related

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=goURleTbaMc

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tb1o42RdVzA

to name a few...  more tomorrow.

Final note:  may the NBA never come back!!!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Catching Up...

And this is where I lose it.  I was just about to post something I worked nearly two hours on and somehow I deleted it.  I am literally short of breath.  I do not have 2 hours to lose.  And the irony is that I what I was writing about.

How, after 2 days of solving shelving emergencies and going back and forth to softball games, therapy sessions and grocery stores I was ecstatic about getting in front of the computer.

I went on and on about Bridesmaids.  I thought it was funny.  I mentioned Jill Clayburgh as Kristen Wiig's mother.  I thought her passing earlier this year was a giant loss for Hollywood.  For a time she was a huge star who took enormous risks.  Rent "La Luna", or "An Unmarried Woman" for a small example of her strong work.  She was a woman with enormous talent and super sexy.  I was glad her last film was in a light-hearted comedy.   Wiig is a force and I was glad to see her get her star turn.  It is her ability to play off others that makes her even more special.    Melissa McCarthy, (of the fatty romantic comedy Mike and Molly) is exceptional as Megan.  Her crass, butch, sister to groom Megan has some super-sized laughs.

It is Wiig's show and she does a tremendous job (and that includes her script.)  Only a matter of time before she leaves SNL and has a series of bad movies on her wake.

I went on a old man tirade about  Hollywood and the movie going experience too.  First, the film was supposed to start at 4:20 (stop giggling pothead) and did not get to screen until 4:41.  Do I really need 7 trailers and as many commercials???  And how many times do you need to tell folks to turn their phones off.  The person that needs that message is going to ignore it anyway.  And does anyone on Earth not know you sell popcorn and sugar water???  And given the ad space you sell and price of those concessions you mean to tell me it is still every bit of $40 bucks for 2 people to see a matinee??  I had a popcorn and box of candy.  $35 including the tickets.  Robbery I tell you.  If Hollywood had an original thought I might be more willing to take the abuse.

For example, most of the trailers and generally what is being made today is a retread.  Just because 80s music has been revived does not mean the movies need to follow suit.  Red Dawn?  Total Recall?  Ghostbusters?  Child's Play?  Tron?  Karate Kid?  Fright Night?  Teenage Mutant Ninja? Smurfs?

If they aren't ripping off video games they rip off movies already made: and poorly at that.

I am fed up with it and proposed an original screenplay of my own.  Figured what do I have to lose?  I remember writing it might be more interesting following me around this evening.  Two softball games, two towns, two age groups.

Scene:

At a local park complex, anywhere USA, several cars arrive at the parking lot.  One by one woman start gathering their cleats and making their way to a common bench.  The woman look like they may have been working all day, or at least caring for one, if not many, of their children.  Their attitude is loose.  They laugh and smile as they discuss the events of the past few weeks, or even year.  It is opening night in the Ladies Slow Pitch softball league.  The sun shines brightly as one of them mentions:  "It is so great to be out here.  What a beautiful night."

On the other side of the fence the opposing team is gathering itself.  Cleats are laced tightly.  Armor is carefully put on.  Shin guards, eye black, maybe even a jock strap.  This team is younger, and maybe a little scary.

A few words by the manager are mumbled before they take the field for BP and stretching.

The older gals continue to laugh and assemble a line-up and position assignments.  There are some unknowns at game time.  This one had to work...  This one is on vacation.  You know, life stuff.

Meanwhile, several 9 and 10 year old girls are loading into SUV's for their first ever night game a few towns over.  Some of them got their hands on a cheer booklet.  Moms throughout town are now reciting "Watch the pitcher, watch, watch the pitcher" without even knowing it.  Ok, some dads are doing it too.

They moan about how much running they did at practice last night.  They sing along to Kesha's "Blow."

For a moment they are innocent and joyful.  Then they arrive at the field, and turn on their game faces (or there best impression of one.)  They heard things about their opponents.  They have pitchers that bring it.  They breed softball players.  Hell, they have lights at their field!!!  Only lights they have played under to date where headlights from parents.  Time to bring it.

They take BP too as the other team looks on.  Parents gather on bleachers and lawn chairs anxious to watch the proceedings.  "My kid is better than yours!!"

"My town is better than yours."

At the adult field the husbands and children take their spots too.  Will they offer encouragement?  Will they ridicule?  Both?

Umpires make their way from aged sedans to go over ground rules and other pertinent details.  "Play Ball!"

The adult teams gather for strategy.  One team who covers second on a ground ball and the other where drinks will be had afterwards.

On the youth field kids are in a huddle ready for the action to take place.  "We can do this!!"

Camera pans in on each pitcher.  The ladies league pitch released high and soft as the pitcher smiles.  The younger pitcher winds up, violently swings her arm forward and releases; a picture of concentration.

Each hitter gets ready, uncorks the bat, and...

In about 24 hours I could probably write this conclusion.  Because as we know truth is stranger than fiction.  And these events are not to be ignored.  They are the moments that define us.  Once we start ignoring them we become less aware.  I can't wait to be aware this evening.  First pitch 3 hours away.



Other news:

Caveman Band will be releasing their debut album 9.13.11.  For a free download and concert info I urge you to check out below.

http://www.thefader.com/2011/06/27/caveman-old-friend-mp3/#.TgtHoyY5c6M.facebook

http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=195613650491615




Sunday, June 26, 2011

The weekend that was, the week ahead...

Finally able to sit in front of the computer.  First time in about 60 hours.  Summer hours in full effect.  Translation:  weekends are HARD work.

You could argue 10-12 hours watching 10 and under softball is not really work.  True.  Today we left the house at 8am and arrived back home around 4pm.  A nice eye opener for sure.  Our town competed in a local 7 team tournament.  Certainly my first exposure to the "travel" summer softball world.  We played the host team Friday night.  Their town has 2 teams.  Seems like they pull from about 10 districts.  Each girl was every bit an adult.  Gave all the parents plenty of time to joke about it.

"I think this pitcher missed opening pitch because she was at the DMV getting her permit."

"I saw the first baseman in the ladies room and asked her to borrow a tampon."

"The left fielder is going to prom tonight."

You get the picture.  Girls were big and talented.  They brought 4 pitchers to the game Friday and each one threw gas.  You better believe we got no hit.  Makes me look a little better touting our rec league to develop pitchers.  We have 1 very good one.  Not fair to her one bit.

Naturally we angered their squad when we played them again earlier today.   Our team pitched another girl who finds the plate but with little speed.  They groaned and protested not so quietly.  "We can't hit slow pitchers!!!"

Well we can't hit fast ones!!!

We played 4 games and lost them all.  2 of them were very winnable.  3-3 yesterday afternoon after 6 in game 2.  Turns out there is a tie breaker in softball.  Put the girl who makes last out at 2nd base.  No outs.  Begin.

I guess this is about the same as starting at the 25 in College Football overtime.  You guessed it...  they got 4 and we didn't score.

In the late afternoon consolation game we watched an 11-4 lead disappear in the last inning.  12-11.  Start the car.

Amazingly I take away plenty of positives.  And not just with the youngest, smallest and only one who has my blood on the team.  Although, after looking overmatched and out of her league Friday night, she played very well today.  One of the Amazons that struck her out Friday night had more of a battle today. She got her tiny body around on a solid fastball and bunted it down the 1st base line nearly beating out a single.  Later in the game she was just behind a ball grounding out to 1st base.  Baby steps.  I was told we did not get a hit until close to 70 batters over the weekend.  If my 55 pound, 4' tall peanut is gonna stand in against Jennie Finch and not p$#@ her pants I claim it as a victory.  I have no doubt I would have gone hitless against some of these girls.

I was only half kidding when I asked to see their birth certificates.

No rest for the weary either.  1st regular season game tomorrow, another on Wednesday, and practices each other night.  The first full day of camp begins tomorrow too.  Staring right in the face of:  leave house at 8am each day and arrive back around 10pm.

Thinkin lots of take out, and little time to write.  I have an actual writing assignment too.  Close to getting this nonsense I carry on about in actual papers.  Editor has asked me to do a writing sample.

"Can't you just take a look at the several posts I have done over the past 6 months" I asked.

"Well, I have read a few of them and they are good for blogging.  Lots of incomplete sentences and perhaps too long.  You would have to work under the constraints of 500 words or less."  she calmly replied.

"Oh.  Um, yeah, I guess I can do that."

What of the links though?  Will this translate to print?  Am I barking up the wrong tree?  Worthy?  Able?

Should I be writing that right now?  By not writing it now am I sabotaging myself?  And what should that weekly column be about?  Over and over I tell myself "if you write it they will read it."

Still dreaming.

Good stuff below:

Still very much on the Decemberists this week.  New album is full of gems but this one still stands out:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oLSOzcEQjiE

Come the war
Come the avarice
Come the war
Come hell

Come attrition
Come the reek of bones
Come attrition
Come hell

This is why
Why we fight
Why we lie awake
And this is why
This is why we fight

When we die
We will die
With our arms unbound

And this is why
This is why
Why we fight
Come hell

Bride of quiet
Bride of all unquiet things
Bride of quiet
Bride of hell

Come the archers
Come the infantry
Come the archers
Of hell

This is why
Why we fight
Why we lie awake
This is why
This is why we fight

And when we die
We will die
With our arms unbound
And this is why
This is why we fight
Come hell
Come hell

This is why
Why we fight
Why we lie awake
This is why
This is why we fight

When we die
We will die with our arms unbound
And this is why
This is why we fight

So come to me
Come to me now
Lay your arms around me
And this is why
This is why
We fight
Come hell
Come hell
Come hell
Come hell



http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ABYnqp-bxvg


Feist "1,2,3,4"  


An oldie but goody for sure.  Had not heard it in a while until it came up during this writing session.  Feist is strong, funny and engaging.  This is feel good pop at it's best and the video is outstanding.  Try not to smile.  Man you are jaded.


A lesser known Feist song that also happens to kick ass:  "Mushaboom" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cYF0qU5WSew




Finally, came across this if anyone wants a closer look at the band Caveman I have been raving about for months.  Here is a performance from the show they did at CBGB's/John Varvatos.  "Easy Water"  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T46GZpqLsa0&feature=related  Shows how they transform a mens retail store into concert hall too.  Neat.


May the work week be kind to you my friend.


Friday, June 24, 2011

Download This (brought to you by the letter B)

Still reeling from an endless birthday celebration day (read: month!!!)

Next week full day camp begins so I can thankfully get back to work!!!  Sad I actually miss dealing with shelving emergencies and long, unfulfilling commutes.  Thankfully when I am back at it my trusted music sources will be there to make it a little more worthwhile.  You can count on some of these tracks making the "suckish Monday morning mix." 

Slowish Nancy Boy tracks:

I catch a fair amount of heat because I am partial to Sirius XM's Spectrum channel.  Admittedly, it is as soft as my pick-up basketball defense.  David Gray and Dave Matthews and Coldplay and the like.  Nothing progressive or hard at all.  What do you want from me?  I grew up with Culture Club and Duran Duran ruling the charts. 

That said, I have been worn down by a few notable tracks/artists lately.  First up, Northern California's Brett Dennen.  Now 4 albums in, and with some notable TV soundtrack work, Mr Dennen has won me over.  A guitar, some smart lyrics, and a voice that only a mother could love.  Right up my alley.  And thank you Spectrum for not having a video feature.  He is an odd looking fellow.  Like I should talk.

http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=7363111n  Live version of "Sydney" from his latest album LoverBoy

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F58TfYHqLak  "Makes You Crazy"  So soft and creepy I am almost ashamed to include it.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j_iFqz87TXQ  "There is So Much More"  I am being fitted for a new skirt as I write this.

While I am getting all sensitive I bring you Regina Spektor.  Russian born and Brooklyn raised, Ms Spektor compliments Dennen pretty well.  Unusual voice and piano rather than acoustic guitar.  They both sing the high notes.  Again, not a new act.  She has been making records/music for about 10 years.  She gets extra credit because her last two years of high school were spent in Fair Lawn, NJ.  Travis Bickle pretended he lived there, didn't he?  Some good stuff here: 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wigqKfLWjvM  "Fidelity"  Her biggest hit to date.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xzrC72Xv6pE  "Us"  If you saw (500) Days of Summer you will notice this one. 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UskSU5BoyZs  "You Don't Know Me at All" featured with Ben Folds.  Terribly disturbing video that Spektor does not appear in.  But the song rocks and you need not see her to get the idea. 

And since I left off with Ben Folds, allow me to bring some more B songs from the archives. 

Band of Horses:  Still stinging from not seeing them open for Pearl Jam last year.  Pacific Northwest angst and longing.  Grunge with a heart. 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cMFWFhTFohk  "The Funeral"  My favorite.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eYhrCsgHa0k  "Detlef Schrempf"  Be patient with this one.  Lots of effort and hard work.  Much like the Sonics forward it is named after.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JK716RqoUms  "Is There a Ghost"  Haunting and fulfilling.

Beth Orton:   English songstress who is notable for this song.  There are others, but who has the time.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uJ35dnfYKrQ  "Stolen Car"  Indie film director Hal Hartley directs.  Simple and effective.

Boy Least Likely To:  English boys create catchy tune.  It plays forever and finds immorality in the underrated and laugh out loud funny Baby Mama.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-tknrTkxBeU  "Be Gentle With Me"

The Bravery:  New York Hipsters who play well live and think we too much of themselves.  They can bring it though.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rv2OyI0nXEE  "Believe"
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=spKOib_D5YY  "Time Won't Let Me Go"  Will bring out the nostalgia in you.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O8vzbezVru4  "Honest Mistake"  HUGE 80s influence here and elsewhere in their catalog.  Throw the Members Only jacket (or if you were like me Club Member: too poor for official one) and jam.

Broken Bells:  Much has been made of this so-called supergroup.  James Mercer (brains behind The Shins) and Danger Mouse (brains/producer behind nearly everyone else) form this power duo.  Needless to say the beats are infectious, the songwriting: expert, and songs first rate.  It is rumored all of their other side projects are over.  If their first album is an indicator of things to come, good for us.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rVxTsXRjNTw  "The Ghost Inside"  w/ Christina Hendricks of Mad Men.  Can someone please explain her breasts to me???  They can't be real right???

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TFkDCU2b7Ow&feature=relmfu  "The High Road"  performed live and incredibly!!! 

Lots of Bs I find.  Might have to continue it next week.  Until then off to more softball, and softball, then softball. 

Will maybe try this tomorrow: http://www.rocksoff.com/shows/1362 anyone want to join? 

Happy Weekend.



Thursday, June 23, 2011

A Birthday Wish

As my daughter celebrates her 9th birthday I take a moment to reflect with my eyes very much looking forward. 

I think of my first 18 months with her.  Looking for what we still refer to as "Time Killers."  A walk to the park.  A trip to the zoo.  An afternoon at my parents place.  Something to keep this little girl active, engaged.

In hindsight probably treated her more like an adult than child.  Hell, I had never changed a diaper before and BAM.  Next thing I know I am a stay at home dad.  What did I know about parenthood?  You might argue none than and less now.  She showed me.  Walking at 9 months.  Talking trash somewhere around 2.  Bringing me laughter and joy the entire time.

And as she graduates from dolls, to sporting goods, to gaming systems, Apple products, and now a Yamaha keyboard, I look in her eyes and recall those early days.   She was a terrific baby.  Happy and smiling throughout each day.  Joyful and loving with each passing moment. 

I see now that the child I once pushed around town in a stroller is a maturing young lady.  She spends hours away from home with friends.  She can play online and read.  She downloads illegal apps on her iTouch.  She has practices for competitive sports.  Dropped off and picked up.  More like my old limo days really.  Is it a pick-up or wait and return.  Hope I get a cash tip.

Each year brings her closer to high school, and more specifically, adolescence.  And maybe I lament that time moved too fast.  How many more Fridays do I have when she wants to hang with us?  When will the movie dates end?  Will I actually miss Jack Black??? 

I think I remember Star Wars as the last movie I saw with my parents.  Soon after it was 5 or 6 friends dropped off at the Eric.  "See you in 2 hours!!!"

Will I even make it through the summer?  I think I could trust her to stay in the theatre next to me.  Too bad I cannot trust anyone else.

I write all the time of keeping your own identity during parenthood.  I enjoy certain things and fail to see the benefit in abandoning oneself simply because you have a child. 

At the same time I want to share in all her joys and experiences.  I want to capture all of these moments, lock them away, and have them all my own.  Not an easy dilemma to negotiate. 

But halfway to her adulthood(legally speaking) I know today we have done the VERY best we can do.  That ain't perfect. 

Happy Birthday and thank you.  You continue to impress.  You give me incentive to be better.  And without question you inspire.




A Birthday Wish:

That you remain committed and dedicated to keeping your grades steady.  Will be looking for little, if any behavior issues in school.  I understand you will have a big mouth and try to make the others laugh.  That is in the blood and may come back and bite you.  Don't want the ditching classes to smoke.  No to the acting up and disrupting class please. 

Hope like hell the friends you have continue to be respectful and thoughtful.  A wish you stay away from petty battles with cliques.  May all socioeconomic wars evade you as you enter Jr high on the lower rungs of our town's social landscape.  Friends will like you for you.  And you will see the worth of each and everyone by their character, not bank account.

I want you to continue searching for things that make you happy.  And PLEASE, please temper your expectations.  There will undoubtably be road blocks.  But when the Dunkin Donuts gut fails to put glazed munchkins in the carrier...  move on and come to grips with it.  More often than not most of your problems are going to have tangible solutions.  See how daddy went back to the store and got the correct Munchkins!!! 

Have adventures, find successes, and have fun. 

And I trust when you can vote good things can happen:

We will be out of the Middle East, which by then will be a peaceful haven of opium dens.

Our 2 party System will have been abolished by President George Clooney.  Nothing by write-ins. 

Reliance on Oil is a thing of the past.  Hovercrafts and other alternative fueling machines rule the Earth. 

Obesity is down in America, cancer is cured, and life expectancy is still around 75.   Optimistic we don't over-populate our food sources. 

Global Warming talk has gone away (and such Al Gore!!  YEAH!!!)

The major sports reach an epic agreement to never strike again.

The Kardashians are no longer on tv.

And you are about to head off to a college of your choice.  And you are happy.  And maybe one Friday you will chill on the couch with me and watch a movie.

Too much to ask for 9 years out?  Ever?


Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Was gonna get all political, but a gushing music blog followed...

It has happened a few times in my life.  See a concert, get a bit pissed the band plays mostly new material, then proceed to fall in love with the songs I bitched about.

Exhibit A, June 2011, The Decemberists "The King is Dead."  I will not go through it again as I spent a fair amount of time on it last week.  But if there is anyone out there who ever liked a  Neil Young album, or Paul Westerberg, or John Hiatt,  or REM...  So many influences yet most distinctive.  Alt meets Pop meets Hillbilly meets fun.  Start to finish a success and I am a better person for knowing it.

Notable tracks:  "This is Why we Fight" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oLSOzcEQjiE

"Rise to Me" Here live and awesome!!!  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5F1Mmr6kHpA  I couyld very easily see this on "Exile on Main St" or anything Willie Nelson was doing in the 70s.  Expert songwriting, steel pedal and harmony.  Doesn't hurt that my name is mentioned.  Dying for Emmylou Harris to duet with Colin Meloy somewhere in the near future.  Crack open a Pabst, ease into the easiest of chairs, and chillax.

"Down by The Water" feat Gillian Welch from Conan Live.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RpnAb2KJ8n0&feature=related  Indigo Girls, KD Lang and all things in between on this piece of saccharine pop goodness.  Nothing overwhelming or for complex for that matter.  Straightforward and fun.  I am not gonna argue.  Also, a bit partial to the harmonica neck thing.  I imagine if I had any ability I might want to do that.  I would probably wear a bad flannel too.
 
"Calamity Song"  live from Jimmy Kimmel http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VSMLoxdos2w  Liked that Meloy has offered Michelle Bachmann this track for her campaign.  More pop candy and nothing more.  Extra points because they hit it out of the park live, in whatever they do.  No producer using auto tune and massive overdubs.  These guys can play and perform.  Pay close attention to the bass line that keeps everything together.

Enough said, you have far worse on that ipod.  I mean seriously, did you just download Pitbull/J Lo??  Shame on you.

One more while I am surfing the web:  Civil Twilight live version of "Is Anybody Out There?" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TKHhmPv2KoQ  This was the first track they played 2 weeks back and it set the tone.  It is not if, but when I see them again.

Funny, after all that I forget why I even sat here.  I could refer to my note pad.  But now, with the amazing Dr Dre Beats (http://www.beatsbydre.com/)headphones pounding the tunes into my altered brain, I think not.

I can get into gay marriage, teachers salaries, Roger Ebert taking heat for stating the obvious, why all field hockey coaches all look like Richard Marx (circa 1986), and a host of other nonsense.

Not tonight...  another hour home alone.  Seize that moment and don't let go.

And a find another:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ImNCxrtu3HQ  DAMN!!!  This is an incredible version of "Letters from The Sky."

And another:

New Zealand's Naked and The Famous new track live:  "Punching in A Dream"  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h5pmua0IT7o&feature=relmfu. All sorts of MGMT present here but chick can bring it.  Big voice and good synth stuff going on here.  I was reluctant to get on this bandwagon but more and more I am seeing myself going to their fall show.  Blast you YOUTUBE!!!

Shout out to the boys from LA Foster the People too.  Seeing them in August and a trusted source told me they destroyed Bowery last night.  That bodes well.

You decide:  Pumped Up Kicks http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2e1gznKajpI  from Jimmy Kimmel  Think I might have to source some mushrooms for this show.  They still around?  Terrific bass line here too.

"Helena Beat"  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2PYLBJXGamE&feature=relmfu  Scissor Sisters may have started all this club beat, alt groove, lady beat...  but it has been improved.

And special props to Jimmy Kimmel for having these acts play out during final credits.  Leno is a fraud and Letterman, although great with getting talent on, never allows a second track.  Great sound quality and terrific exposure for these up and coming bands.  Play on Mr Kimmel and thanks!!

I could do this for hours...  but I will spare you.







Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Greetings from the Middle Class

AS I feared my poor daughter hit the wall last night.  She never wanted to play lacrosse again.  She was tired from an exhausting softball practice.  She was starved.  And then I thought I would ask for summer homework. 

Why do I think of this exchange when thinking of Suburbanites: 

Cue: Hyman Roth:

"There was this kid I grew up with; he was younger than me. Sorta looked up to me, you know. We did our first work together, worked our way out of the street. Things were good, we made the most of it. During Prohibition, we ran molasses into Canada... made a fortune, your father, too. As much as anyone, I loved him and trusted him. Later on he had an idea to build a city out of a desert stop-over for GI's on the way to the West Coast. That kid's name was Moe Greene, and the city he invented was Las Vegas. This was a great man, a man of vision and guts. And there isn't even a plaque, or a signpost or a statue of him in that town! Someone put a bullet through his eye. No one knows who gave the order. When I heard it, I wasn't angry; I knew Moe, I knew he was head-strong, talking loud, saying stupid things. So when he turned up dead, I let it go. And I said to myself, this is the business we've chosen; I didn't ask who gave the order, because it had nothing to do with business! "

This is the business we've chosen!!!  To strive to give our kids everything.  To put them in the greatest postion to succeed.  To do or be exposed to all we were not.  Anything is possible.

To keep pace it is imperative your gas pedal reaches the floor and you have kindly removed the brakes. 

And that is why I spent about an hour and a half  with my pediatrician this afternoon.  I was able to strong arm my daughter into her 9 year wellness visit today.  The reason I love my pediatrician is because the yearly visit is an hour long de-briefing on parenthood, child raising, and all things developmental.  She is thoughtful, smart and easy going.  There is a reason her waiting list for appointments is months long.  Think NoBu with a stethoscope.  Nevermind she is overweight.  Her dedication and care make me, most jaded of all, to look past it. 

Today may have been the last time we see her.  After almost a year long fight she and our insurer, have reached an impasse.  If we want to continue with her services it MUST be out of pocket.  I asked:  "What if we send our daughter to our doctor for sick visits and stay with you for wellness."

She replied "We like to see you for all visits."

That ain't happening.  Now I barter.  Can I have paperwork detailing all per diem services?  Anything in Excel would be great. 

Nope, still too new for them.  They can tell me this:  $175 for 25 minute visits, $125 for 15 minute.  Testing TBD.  20 % off if you pay in full. 

OK, that isn't awful, is it?  I mean how many times will we be there? 

Then I think of this past winter.  Strep after strep.  Broken bones.  11 year old vaccines are not far off.  Can I rationalize having health insurance coverage from employer and opting NOT to use it?  More to the point, can we afford it???

Then I start getting pissed.  My wife texts me:  "What happened to Obama care?"

Right.  I seem to remember a giant debate, some legislation, and a great sigh of relief.

Um, not here thank you very much. 

We continue to shop for dentists, which around here are crazy in both price and treatment.  For instance, the dentist we just left said my wife had 8(YES, EIGHT!!!) cavities.  She brought her x-rays to another dentist and wouldn't you know he said 0 (YES!!!  ZERO!!!) cavities.

I really do hate people.  But not you, you're cool.

But what of Universal Health Care?  When will we stop being bullied by money hungry HMO's?  Big medical still calls the shots as far as I see it.  And Pharma too (sorry Pharma workers: you are killing me.)

A mildy healthy family, with paid health insurance, still lays out a lot of dime in health coverage.  Once again the middle class is more the victim. 

I will not even get into mental health coverage.  Pretty sure I would be driving the car that Jackass guy drove into a field if I had all that out of pocket scratch back.

I guess it really doesn't matter.  Seems our House of Reps has its hands full with, well either filling their hands with parts of their body or taking handouts from lobbyists eager to push their own greed filled agendas.

Thank God I could not get through "Inside Job" last week.   I would have been too much for even myself to handle.


Tuesday Morning Quarterback:  US Open Summary

Love that Rory McIlroy quickly put the disaster at Augusta behind him.  He is a deserving champion poised for greatness. 

Problem is who will be there from our Country to provide healthy competition?  I think it is now 5 straight majors without an American victory.  And Northern Ireland has come here twice in a row to win OUR Championship.

Do we miss Tiger that badly?  Will he ever be able to come back and do anything close to what he has done in the past?  Has Phil Mickelson become this irrelevant? 

Or does it speak to the lack of fire we are teaching our kids?  Better to be YouTube stars than winners.  Maybe that is why this image has been stuck with me for days:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PM2NocuEihw

4 of today's top golfers are doing crap like this instead of practicing to be the very best.  Congrats guys!!  You went viral with a video that makes you all look like giant tools.  And while you were doing that McIlroy and Jason Day, and Charl, and Westwood, and Donald, and hell even Ernie Els, were on the range doing what they can to WIN. 

If you aren't into that perhaps a part time writing gig on Colbert might be more your speed.

OK, I would love that job too.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Summer Break?

Not sure you call it time off...  but there was not writing over the weekend.  And really, how could there be?  Prepping the house Saturday, followed by semi-final softball loss.

A moment on that if I may.  The team was a joy to be around and the season has to be considered a success.  When I drafted the girls my plan was to get coachable, positive girls.  The hope was they would get better as the season went on and gain/maintain an interest in America's game.  I feel we exceeded those expectations.  That said, I was more than relieved to hand the equipment bag in today.  It is, in a word, exhausting.

Naturally we hosted our daughter's 9 year old birthday/end-of school party/sleepover right after.  Slip and sliding/grilling/yelling/screaming/last minute cake purchase/whining/smore making/movie watching/and sometime around midnight...  sleep.

Father's Day was restful and mellow for the most part.  The girls that slept over left around 10am after a nice breakfast.  I count myself lucky that my daughter has met quality friends through school and athletics.  I fear it could end at any point.  We catch a lot of grief at the size of our house, or appearance of our 97 Altima.  My hope would be to teach her that we may not have as much as others, but that does not define her, or us, or anything for that matter.  Say please and thanks.  Do the best you can at whatever you are doing.  "Decide what to be and go be it."

Now if only I can practice what I preach.

Big relief that the Spring soccer season ended yesterday.  Did a 40 minute drive to a 4pm game top the list of what I wanted for Father's Day?  Not quite.  But a sunny day watching my pride and joy hustle her ass off scoring goals and leading her team to victory was pretty sweet.

I did feel a bit guilty crashing at 7:30 once we came home.  As I near 40 these whirlwind weekends bring me down like lewd pics topple Government officials.  Weird that an 8 year old tucked me in?  Who cares?  I needed to sleep.

Which is what she will need to do this evening.  Her first day of summer most certainly knocked her for a loop.

9am Lacrosse camp.  Her first foray into this sport.  I figure she may as well give it a shot.  I am uncertain why the whistle blows so much during the games.  I think the game lacks excitement and overall pizzaz.  But everyone in this suburban mecca seems to dig it and she may just excel at it.  I do not want to force her into anything by any means.  Want her to see everything that is out there and decide for herself.  Except ice hockey!!!  She has mentioned it a few times but I a) do not want to drop the dime on equipment b) deal with absurd ice times c) get her hurt.  I will admit to being selfish on that one.  And really, she is still my little girl.  Ice Hockey???  I just watched the NHL wrap up and am convinced those folks are less than human.  Probably explains why my wife thinks they are all so hot.  Do I want my little princess toothless and checking people into the boards?  Pass.

Able to outsource her to a friends for a few hours before a party at 4:30.  More outside time which I was told she complained of a headache.  Think when I pick her up in 30 minutes she will be jazzed about going to a 2 hour travel summer softball practice?

I am thinking I am gonna get a tongue lashing.  Is it fair to take a girl out of the house at 8:30am and bring her home at 8:30pm?  Will ice cream make up for it?  This is her 1st day of summer break and girl be running all day.

Tomorrow I must make it up to her.

I got it!!!

Her 9 year annual exam.

Poor girl.  Pool seems to be in order and fast.  Maybe a nice movie in the air conditioning?  Anything but this day repeated.

I can hear the anguish in her voice already.  I am ready to accept the scorn.  So funny I am scared of a 45 pound girl.  If you knew her you would understand.

Looking for a good home once puberty hits.  Send all info to the Suburban Man.  C/O Safe House.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Download This, Episode 2

As the rains wash away another softball game this evening (this season may never end) I have a free moment to share some music for your last Spring weekend of 2011.  Some other housekeeping before I begin.

First, I see Rory McElroy has shot up the leaderboard at the US Open.  This has a familiar ring to it.  I am hopeful he can quickly put his epic meltdown at Augusta behind him and take home the trophy.  Truth is, with Tiger very much an afterthought and not playing this weekend I am not interested AT ALL.  Love him or hate him Eldrick Woods is the kind of guy the PGA needs.  Perhaps McElroy, with his youth and European "I am better than you Yanks" attitude might bring some life back into the tour.  But for this weekend I am checked out.  Not that an American is gonna win anyway.

Now, on to the show:

Bought tix for an August Cut/Copy and Foster the People show in Brooklyn's Prospect Park.  Felt we all needed a do over from the rain soaked night we spent watching the Decemberists.  I have written about both bands in the past, but for those of you new to the blog, take a look at the below tracks and see whatcha think.

Cut/Copy:  "Need you Now" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tb1o42RdVzA   Has been a pretty sold two weeks of listening (and watching the video) of this track.  This defines the 80s resurgence and I am happily sold.  OMD meets Alphaville meets Yaz meets Human League meets...  you get the picture, I am nostalgic for the 80s.  Now please hand me my Rubik's Cube, but not the giant wire glasses I wore or Toughskins.  Unsure how this will all play live...  but not at all concerned.

Foster the People:  "Pumped Up Kicks"  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SDTZ7iX4vTQ  I will be the first to admit this song has been OVERPLAYED to the max.  LA trip hop with some funky grooves and cool mic effect.  Here is the video presented without MTV editing:  meaning you can hear the words "gun" and "bullet."  Imagine an anti-gun/bullying song being edited for content thus blurring the intended message.  That is the World you are living in folks.  Guess it should not surprise anyone.  Afterall, weren't we about 5 seconds away from Armageddon when Janet Jackson's nipple was exposed.  I hear several people were blinded.


Miike Snow:  "Animal"  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mVWeqAPQUXc  Not much to say about this.  Swedish Indie Pop.  Weird guys, catchy tune.  This track is from their debut album a few years back.  I know nothing else about them but am ready to learn.

Death Cab for Cutie:  "Doors Unlocked and Open"  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_zxeo_N3Z0c   Another band that does not need my help with promotion.  The hype and buzz surrounding their newest album, "Codes and Keys" has been huge.  They released "You are a Tourist http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qkk5wViJo-I " first, but this track is far better.  Ben Gibbard can write songs.  Try as I might to discount them, I must give credit where credit is due.  I call it Coldplay Syndrome.  They also have one of my favorites of the 2000s too:  "Soul Meets Body" is an elegant, well crafted pop song:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uizQVriWp8M

The last "newer" band I urge you to try is XX.  The British trio, who met at some fancy Brit school, have a unique, albeit simple sound.  Soft voices, easy bass lines and good, clean fun.  You may notice their beats as backgrounds for commercials and they also have appeared on tv soundtracks.  Some notable selections off their debut album:

"Islands"  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PElhV8z7I60
"Crysallized" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pib8eYDSFEI
"Intro" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L73OLaG4_kA   Took me a while to remember this was the score for the brilliant 24/7 Pens/Capitals series on HBO that ran this Winter.


Suburban Man's IPOD classic selections:

Today brought to you by the letter A:

Arcade Fire:  "Keep the Car Running" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=edPMGBY8tJ4  As an added bonus I found this video someone made using the song with montages of Mischa Barton from the campy, but sorely missed soap "The OC."  So silly and absent of any logic that I am smitten.

"Intervention"  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZO7ZWfvCjBE  Another absurb home made video.  Here, intercut with a 1920's film.  What hath you internet for inflicting such nonsense??  If I had to watch so must you...  or multi-tab browse like I do and listen.  Both of these tracks are from their album "Neon Bible."  While "The Suburbs" won a Grammy and brought them to the mainstream.  This album for me shows their maturity and depth.  Hard to ignore.

Aimee Mann:  "Freeway"  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TQF5CXV9cos  I have a special place in my heart for this one mainly because it served as a teaching moment for my daughter.  "You got a lot of money but you can't afford the Freeway." 

She asked me over and over what this meant when it hit airwaves several years ago.  Ever try defining irony to a 5 year old?  Hell, I am an adult and I barely get it.  Like the scene in "Reality Bites" when Winona Ryder is posed the question...  "I don't know what it is, but I know it when I see it."

Exactly.  And the irony here is Aimee Mann is far more than "Voices Carry" a generation ago w/ Til Tuesday.  And she is more than Mrs. Michael Penn, who I love too...  for a small sample of his best work look here: 

"Try" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hox7UOaQffI
"No Myth" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h1BGebtVHzM
and why not, he and Aimee together covering "Two of Us" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hBgVJMuSh-I

Mann, is an accomplished writer, sometimes actress and total babe.  A far cry indeed from the tall, one long braided girl compelled to lash out at the opera:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uejh-bHa4To  What is with that dude in the video anyway?  Why couldn't he be happy for the band's success???  And is he the same guy from "Love is a Battlefield" video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CjY_uSSncQw)?   Please raise your hand if you learned how to do Ms Benatar's dance in front of your bedroom mirror?  Cue me giggling at you. 

Boy the 80s were super weird.

No wonder I am happy they are back.






Thursday, June 16, 2011

School is Out... (gulp)

A bittersweet day for sure.  I enjoyed the gym sing-a-long to celebrate the final day.  Fortunate we have a guitar playing Monsignor who really seems to care.  Having done the Parochial school thing most of my life there is a certain nostalgia I get inside the school walls.  Then, the joy of seeing my daughter rush to show me her report card.  Her smiling and hugging teachers and classmates.  Last week she told me of her yearbook signing.  One boy has caught her attention, although she would never admit it.  She said "Dad, I wrote this in his yearbook:  I can't believe I am writing it, but HAGS!" 

I asked her, "What does HAGS mean?" 

"Dad (in exasperated voice), it means Have a Great Summer!!" 

Of course.  Now I am the out of touch dad.  Just a matter of time before I am wearing high black socks with white Keds.

And why today did she feel the need to lotion herself, put perfume on and some lip balm?  Could she possibly be turning into a young woman?  Maybe this summer will move more rapidly than I am ready for?

She has the wild mood swings and advanced maturity?  Maybe time to look for a safe house in preparation for puberty.  It is established I am very poor at manage women's expectations.  Last thing I am prepared for is another woman in the house.

And these days summer is not really a cakewalk for a 9 year old.  Especially with parents like us. You know the type, they work and stuff.

Next week 3 hr lacrosse camp.  6.27 thru 7.8 camp at local high school. That camp runs all day and is a few towns over.  Not ideal, but necessary.  Week of 7.11 is right now wide open.  Huge question marks here.  Grandparents?  NYC interning for a few days?  Pay for a babysitter?  However you cut it that week will have some suckish moments.

The following week is basketball camp at another high school not altogether close.  That will bring us to vacation 1.  A few days tucked away in the Poconos.  Could be good but I am concerned about internet connections.  At this point I cannot be away from civilization.  What if Snooki gets arrested or something? 

Damn, I am not even into August and I am exhausted writing about it.  I did not even mention the summer travel softball leagues: for both wife and daughter!!  Thankfully I get a break from coaching, although I have assumed General Manager role for wife's team.  Think Buttermaker from the 3rd row.

Oh, and don't get me started on the schoolwork.  That's right, I think we will be reading, doing computer work and/or tutoring at least 5 days a week.  There are mandatory assignments with a timeline.  Heading into 4th grade seems to be headed toward a speed my Nancy boy behind is ill prepared for.  Hate to speak out of both sides of my mouth; but either go to school year round or curb the summer work!! 

Bla, bla, bla.  Big cry baby has a tough life.  Who doesn't?  I think it is fair to wonder if there is a better way.  Probably because if I didn't I would be lying in the fetal position sucking my thumb.


Quick Stanley Cup Recap:

Look to the archives and you will note I predicted a Bruins victory.  Granted, my 2-1 prediction was a touch off, you get the point.  As soon as Nathan Horton was knocked out of the Finals on a vicious, senseless hit by Canuck Aaron Rome, that series changed.  I love physical play and the aggression NHL hockey brings.  But you have got to be careful to harness emotion.  Otherwise, as we have seen here, the opponent can seize momentum and turn the tables.

Boston did nothing the first few games in Vancouver.  In a moment that all changed.  Horton goes down and Boston outscores the Canucks 21-3 the rest of the way.  And last night's pivotal game 7 was not competitive.

Goalie Roberto Luongo was dejected and not confident.  The stellar offense and power play went missing.  Apparently the crowd was outside too, because I did not hear a thing once Boston scored first.  Way to stand behind your team Vancouver?  Perhaps they were building up all their hatred for Commish Gary Bettman?  They made his Stanley Cup presentation a joke by booing him off mic.  The fans were quick to cheer after going up 2-0.  In an instant they were gone.

Until that is they rampaged the streets.  Seriously, riot gear and teargas required to stop fans from destroying the City?  Embarassing and shameful, just like their team.

All this from a Boston hater!!  Now that town has another Champion.  Celtics, Patriots and Red Sox have all tasted recent successes and here we celebrate their Hockey club.  Jeez, if this all isn't an indication of End Days I do not know what is.

Now, onto baseball season.  For me, more misery.  I took a look at the standings for the 1st time in a while today.  Who do you think roots for the worst team in baseball?

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The Decemberists, Prospect Park Bandshell 6.14.11

Granted, headed into NYC for work early yesterday, back out to pick up daughter, then right back in, this time over both the Hudson and East Rivers, is not an ideal Tuesday.  But, I am alive to write about it.  Furthermore, I find myself having fond thoughts of the experience. 

Only a few miles from the Manhattan and Brooklyn Bridge lies Prospect Park.  Surrounded by the very quaint brownstones of Park Slope I am already itching to get back.  It might have something to do with the driving rain that accompanied most of the show.  Thinking I need a weather do-over.  Rain or shine shows are dangerous going in.  You roll the dice for sure.  Nevermind I left (2) umbrellas in the car!!!  I really hate umbrellas.  Seems they are more cumbersome than effective.  Ask me how many times I was drenched with umbrella spill off last night?  Consequently I was soaked and really could tell you very little about opening act Best Coast.  They are a trio.  2 of the 3 are women.  Their sound was something like happier Runaways meets, as my sister observed, the Pixies.  Lots of similar sounding riffs and lead singer/guitarist  Bethany Cosentino has a fine, powerful voice.  Maybe I am a bit down on them cause they are LA folks calling themselves Best Coast.  Tough to swallow that if you're from Jersey.  Even if I am from the Jersey with cornfields. 

We were all more concerned with getting to the headliners to pay them much attention.  I guess the fact that I was not blown away tells you all you need to know.

Big props for the Mrs for sourcing some cardboard from the recyling area to provide dry (at least for a moment) seating.  Amazing really...  I knew for months this was an outdoor show and failed to a) have a blanket packed b) have proper raingear c) give a damn.  It is a concert, deal with any and all conditions or stay home.

As Colin Meloy and the his fellow Decemberists took the stage (a full half hour after Best Coast:  Not cool!!!) we took shelter under a tree.  The rain let up for most of their set.  All very much worth it from that point on.  Thanks to Twitter and the band I have an entire playlist!! 

July, July!
Down by the Water *
Calamity Song *
...Rise to Me *
The Bagman's Gambit
We Both Go Down Together
Won't Want for Love (Margaret In The Taiga)
The Crane Wife 3
Don't Carry It All *
All Arise! *
Rox in the Box *
The Rake's Song
O Valencia!
The Perfect Crime #2
This Is Why We Fight *
--
Raincoat Song
When U Love Somebody
The Chimbley Sweep
--
June Hymn


Playing this leg of the tour without keyboardist/vocalist Jenny Conlee did not slow down the Portland, OR band.  Conlee is currently battling breast cancer.  For more on her story check this out:  http://nymag.com/daily/entertainment/2011/05/the_decemberists_jenny_conlee.html.  I am fully aware this is an all or nothing band for most.  I dragged my sister and a friend along in the rain as more a cruel joke than anything.  Somehow took some weird satisfaction that they were both out of their element and (GASP!) rain.  Meloy brings the BIG nasally voice and most of their set was Alt Country at its finest.  Pedal Steel twang was the choice instrument of the evening.  That speaks to their latest release, the REM influenced "The King is Dead."  Peter Buck plays on 3 of that album's tracks and only 3 of the 10 tracks were not played last night (* next to them on playlist.)

Meloy got a nice laugh from the leftist crowd inviting Michelle Bachman to use "Calamity Song" for any and all of her campaigns.  Highlights included a sparkling instrumental jam on"The Crane Wife 3" and a pitch perfect rendition of one of my new favorites, "This is Why We Fight."  This is a well polished, smart and talented group of performers.  Not for everyone?  You bet.  Maybe too much new material for a New York crowd?  Possible.  We sorely missed "16 Military Wives" and "Sons and Daughters" from last nights performance. 

Next time perhaps.  Thinking inside and smaller might better suit their talents too.  Judging from the few shows I have seen you could tell Conlee was missed too.  They bring a nice full sound, but it was not quite as full.   Get well soon Jenny! 

Some notes on the venue:  Concession stand was run by The Farm on Adderly:  http://www.thefarmonadderley.com/  Good, good stuff and super healthy.  I did some research and this is a relatively new Brooklyn organic co-op of sorts.  It is both restaurant and caterer.  Instead of crap fried food we were instead offered fruit, hummus and maybe the best granola I ever had.  Insert cliche here:  granola eating hipster at granola band concert.  Whatever.  I accept your scorn (crying on the inside.)

Bathroom facilities were super limited.  The lines were unreal 1 song into the Decemberists set.  Good thing the beer selection was poor.  And no liquor.  Smoking of all kinds was permissable even with the NYPD very much present.

Street parking was near impossible but there is a nice garage on 11th 1 block south of Prospect Park West.  $24 was very reasonable I thought. 

There are only 5 "Benefit" concerts during the summer season.  Proceeds from those events go back to Brooklyn and the park, I am told.  The rest of the schedule is totally free.  I am hoping to get back as I see Cut/Copy and Foster the People play there August 11.  Sufjan Stevens is making an appearence too.  Plenty of kid friendly stuff too so I am mapping out the Brooklyn day for the family.  Take a look at the schedule and see if something fits.   http://www.bricartsmedia.org/performing-arts/celebrate-brooklyn/2011-season

Here is a map of the park itself.  Very nice indeed:  http://www.prospectpark.org/visit/interactive_map

Again, good to be away from ordinary.  Hoping to do it again real soon.

Monday, June 13, 2011

On Half Days, LeBron, and end of Season softball...

Last week of school and of course their are 4 half days.  In fact, we just got an email saying Thursday is earlier than a half day.  Assembly at 10:30 with dismissal right after.  To which I ask...  why go at all?  Is there any learning going on?  They have a party tomorrow during the half day so I think it is fair to call that day a wash.

We were able to get some homework/cry session in last night in between all the activities.  It is a tremendous time to add fractions/division to the mix during the final week.  I bit my lip for as long as I could before pleading with my daughter to listen to me regarding the work she was handing in.  She would not do it.  Consequently she handed incorrect work in this morning.  I know I will be blamed.

Seems like I have been taking the blame for our softball team loses too.  Last night we dropped a 3-1 decision.  We come into tomorrow's playoffs as the 3 seed.  Not bad, but we probably could have done better.  If all goes well we will be playing tomorrow, Thursday and hopefully Friday for the Championship.  Add in last nights game and a concert in NYC tonight this week is crazy busy.  So, half days are off NO use.

Did I mention Thursday is the 9th birthday sleepover extravaganza??  It is.  And if we have a game I have no idea how we are going to make it all work.  8 girls sleeping over in our modest house will certainly be fun, and exhausting.  Tempted to provide my home address so my loyal readers can send any unused pharmaceuticals my way.  Summer cannot come soon enough.  Then I will bitch and moan about all the drama that brings.  Can't be any worse.  I do not sleep now so no biggie.  Least my jump shot was falling last night.  I will try to forget the forced 35 footer at game point I missed badly.

Which brings me to LeBron James and the Miami Heat...  I said it when he signed and I will reiterate it now...  he was in a no win situation the moment he left Cleveland.  Win a championship or several in Miami and everyone will say:  "Of Course, you are surrounded by legends and are a legend yourself.  To not win is unacceptable."  And if the Heat lose, well, you see what happens.  "How could you not win?  What happened? "  I even watched game 6 in its entirety and he looked nothing like the man I saw in Cleveland.  Somewhere between bored and disinterested is what LeBron resembled most.

And that speaks to coaching, and intensity, and drive.  Jason Kidd, Jason Terry and Dirk Nowitzki WANTED it more.  They are deserving champions.  I want to hate Mark Cuban, I really do.  But all he has done is taken a moribund franchise and given it life.  He has filled the arena year after year and brought them a Championship.  Mad Dog Russo said it well yesterday in his monologue:  Sunday was a great day for American Sports.  Teams can overcome superstars.  Teamwork is the foundation for success.  LeBron tweeted something about "God saying it isn't his time" and "For all of you who rooting against me I'm gonna keep being me" yesterday.  This all speaks to his immaturity.  God, should he exist, certainly does not care about the NBA Finals.  Although he might be curious that its TV ratings were through the roof.  And we all could care less that he is going to continue being LeBron.  He is rich, and could do whatever he wants.  So what?

We want our superstars to WIN!!!  And if they cannot do it they should at least give everything they have.  Karl Malone and John Stockton did all they could for the Utah Jazz several years ago but were always a bit short.  I will remember them more fondly than James.  In fact, the Cavs of the 80s garner more respect these days.  No Jordan over Craig Ehlo moment this year I am afraid.  That suits me just fine.

And please get yourself in front of NBC tomorrow night to watch the Stanley Cup Final.  Game 7.  Best of 1.  It has been a very weird series so far.  Each team has won at home as it heads to Vancouver.  As much as I hate Boston I think they have what it takes to sneak the road win and hoist the greatest trophy in sport.  Tim Thomas Finals MVP in a very tight game:  2-1 Bruins.

Boy that hurts just writing it.

Stay tuned tomorrow for a review of Decemberists in Brooklyn.  The dreaded 2 trips to NYC in one day event.  Should be fun, if not rainy.  As I keep telling folks, you only live once.  Start living and have a great week!!!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Only Child

I have often lamented having only one child can present several issues.  Mainly, there can be a constant need for attention.  Every story and thought has to be shared.  Every attempt at entertainment must include you.  Hardly anything to bitch about, but tiring to say the least.  There are times I just don't want to have a contest or race as it pertains to eating or getting dressed.  And I am the first to admit that I get too bothered when asked to guess something.

"Guess what I did today?"  "Guess what Jack said to Ms. X?"  "Guess what the score is?"

I have been left guessing too many times in recent history.

Guess where the mortgage payment is coming from?  Guess where you are sleeping tonight?  Guess what you just paid to fill the tank?

Sometimes I just want a declarative sentence.  Think I am getting that this evening.

Having an only child can be most rewarding.

And I am not ashamed to say it speaks to how selfish I am.  After a 4 hour play date earlier today that freed us up to hit Target and watch chess documentaries, we are now hosting a sleepover.  For the record, Bobby Fischer Against the World is, like Mr. Fischer himself, fascinating.  Should you have HBO I encourage you to take a look.  For additional info:  http://sundance.slated.com/2011/films/bobbyfischeragainsttheworld_sundance2011.  How many quality movies can be made with his name in the title?  I never pretend to be a historian, but I dare you to find more a more compelling American figure in the past 30 years.   I totally relate to genius and how haerd it can be to deal with mere mortals.

Now let me get back to wasting away at the computer watching videos.  Where was I?  Oh, yes, selfish me.  I happen to like some down time.  I happen to like my life and personality.  If I want to listen to music or shoot some baskets so be it.  Maybe I want to have a drink with friends, catch a show.  Tonight, I get to spend the evening with the woman I love.  And she will be the only one asking questions.  I can handle them (for the most part.)

These evenings need not end when children enter the picture?   For the first few years I willfully concede it does.  There are times I still wonder how we made it through the toddler stage.  Working 4 am to 7am.  Watch child as wife works 12 hour day.  Go back to work at night.  Is it any wonder we got further apart?  We were living entirely different lives all the while raising a child.  Umm, a bit unhealthy I think.

And how many others are doing the same thing?

The dust settles and you might realize the only thing keeping you there was history.  That can be trouble.

Don't get me wrong, I think of raising a son and all the joy that would provide.  I know my wife questions it and might regret all of it and resent me more as time moves on.

Tonight I enjoy seeing my only child bond with her best friend.  She laughs and goofs around watching horrible Miranda Cosgrove vehicles.  A young woman in the making.

And I can sit back and relax a bit on a rainy Saturday night.  I look forward to The Decemberists on Tuesday.  I imagine possible set lists and question whether we might be able to crowbar a trip to the Botanical Gardens.

I search for more tracks from a new discovery, Cut/Copy, and once again question why I gravitate to super queer soft music?

Any way you look at it all is good.


Until it isn't.

Music from tonight's blog included:   (I am stealing from Dawson's Creek, One Tree Hill, Gossip Girl playbook)

Cut/Copy:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tb1o42RdVzA   Crazy how I cannot get enough of this.  And the video is too cool.  You can do anything!!!  It is sooooo  1984 and you don't even know it yet.

Think Phoebe Cates and Ally Sheedy getting ready for prom.  Judd Nelson is somewhere working on a car.  Paul Gleason is burying his head in a drink.  If there was ever a montage scene song this is it.  I can see myself writing a screenplay with this song as the only inspiration I need.  If I only had an original thought.

Also listened to the aforementioned Decemberists.  Colin Meloy is not for everyone.  I however, am sold.  Hoping these tracks make the playlist in a few nights.   Check in late next week for a review.  I start with Best Coast as they are opening up.

Best Coast:  "Boyfriend"  Live at Coachella http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=90PL4NV3ExM   Chicks singing, drumming and rocking.  Dig it x 10.

Decemberists:  "16 Military Wives"  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E7fzUGR8ZH4&playnext=1&list=PL3D950909FC4E99F5   My wife's favorite, and who can blame her.  Horns bring a nice full sound to the proceedings.

"Sons and Daughters"  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E5H8DwJI0uA  Seems appropriate as I wrote of children this evening.  Like that Meloy works dirigibles and cinnamon into the lyrics.  Heard them do this live in Montclair a few years back and they brought the house down.  Always a sucker for the slow progression.

"This is Why We Fight"  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oLSOzcEQjiE  Favorite song from their new album and maybe of the year thus far.  Can listen to it over and over.

And I spoke to soon...  getting told I should go to my room now so the sleepover can be parent free on the lower floor.  Sent to my room?  Right, not a punishment at all.

Night.





Friday, June 10, 2011

Download This

Last full day of school for the little one.  Maybe the last time I can have 2 hours on a Friday to change perspective, listen to music alone and write.  I will take advantage.

No secret I question who, if anyone reads this.  My stats indicate I have readers in Poland, Norway, and I low up in Denmark.  Could be an elaborate hoax or my delusions.  Either way I know I have hated "Guilty Pleasures" for a bit now.  The more I wrote under the name I felt like a fraud.  Nothing guilty about me liking Kesha or The National.  I am happily all over the map and not afraid to accept the scorn that comes with it.  Music and art can save lives.  Should you get off listening to Shania Twain and Foreigner, have the hell at it.  These days I am happy discovering talent.  Realizing most assuredly that I am "an aging hipster."  So out wit da old and in wit da new.

Should you care, should you be curious, give these bands/songs a shot.  Maybe you find a something for the ride to grandma's next week, or Parkway South, 80 West, OBX, Hamptons, et al...

Download this:

Since I am listening to them now and still affected by their show last weekend...  please start with A Civil Twilight.  Who knew South Africa had anything other than Artists Against Apartheid http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OjWENNe29qc?  Their live act was brilliant and their debut album is  a seamless marriage of power and finesse.  To wit:  "Anybody Out There" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xUolwC6rDxE and "Letters from The Sky" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Wa7dFR09vU.

Since I am on the other side of the World, take a look at Australia's Cut/Copy.  Techno homage to Manchester 1985 and real good at it.  See: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tb1o42RdVzA  "Need You Now."  If this isn't big hair, black clothes wearing, head bopping pre-game drive to house party I don't know what is???  Fun, campy video too.  Holy S%^* I just flashed back to 7th grade dance.  Think I got to 2nd base.  (lies)

Cambridge, MA elctropop band Passion Pit has its debut album out.  And as much as I have wanted to hate "Sleepyhead" grew on me.  Really have nothing to say or no defense.  Sorry:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5bfseWNmlds

Kentucky's Cage the Elephant does not embarrass me at all.  Their 2nd album, Thank You, Happy Birthday provides several highs and the race is on to catch them live.  All indications are those shows are amazing.  Given there studio work is high energy, I can understand why.  Some notable tracks:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v27TRan1SBI "Shake Me Down",  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S0tsm0EhCJM "In One Ear", and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=74rlZNy7leo&feature=related "Back Against The Wall."

Classic Recommended Downloads:

Ok, so classic could be 5 years ago, but nonetheless.

A few years back I had an infatuation with Doves.  The band, not the bird.  Although the birds are quite striking.  All the English trio has is some rocking grooves and smarty songwriting.  If you haven't heard of them before, see/hear what you might have missed.  http://www.youtube.com/watch? v=KqlIFLb6jU0 "Catch The Sun,"  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VaEWlYHrF6w&feature=related "Words", and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ERulrmjfucc&feature=related "There Goes the Fear."

Dan Wilson has been in the business forever.  He will forever be linked with SemiSonic and their huge hit "Closing Time."  He will be less known for writing and producing.  He won a Grammy working with the Dixie Chicks, and  has written for Adele and Josh Groban.  I happen to think his album "Free Life" is amazing.  A few of my favorites:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-mi3CTN3Ufg, "Free Life", http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s3iQ7fkB2XY&feature=related "Cry", http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M4q9DU5pBvg&feature=related  and why not, here is some SemiSonic, at NOT "Closing Time" :  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zhS3YP04Fjk "Breatless (live.)  In a side note, I may have read 1 book in the past 5 years (I know, sad and pathetic) but it was the brilliant "So You Wanna be A Rock Star" by SemiSonic drummer Jake Slichter.  Worth a read: http://www.amazon.com/Wanna-Rock-Roll-Star-Machine-Gunned/dp/0767914708

Not much to say about Lucinda Williams.  She rocks, you listen.  One of my daughter's early favorites:   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LhGt6KktfS4 "Joy", http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kx1ffuDoy6I "Righteously", http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ainIBDO6a8E&feature=related "Car Wheels on A Gravel Road", and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cckroKLPsqg&feature=related 'Drunken Angel."  All live versions and you can understand why.

Finally, I should leave with Guster.  Another Boston area band with a long history and plenty of quality. Having released their 6th record last year I think it high time we give them a hand.  Folksy, good natured alt rock and I like it.  3 selections here from 3 different albums.  Crack one open and enjoy the weekend.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dxyw3Ew5LGw  "One Man Wrecking Machine"
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dxyw3Ew5LGw  "Satellite"
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=svugXFeZQnA  "Architects and Engineers"

Morality, what is it good for?

As I enjoy a healthy bowl of Mini Wheats and peruse the web looking for inspiration, I am further mystified.  We are all way too fascinated with minutia.  And I don't mean the summer reality shows or over-coaching/living vicariously in our children's sports teams.  I mean seemingly bigger issues.
The Today show started their program today with Newt Gingrich's top aides leaving.  Non-story.  See: http://www.theonion.com/articles/handmade-antiobama-sign-currently-frontrunner-for,20680/

I was engaged in a healthy debate on Facebook last evening about Anthony Weiner and the hypocrisy of morality clauses.  The argument is if a teacher did what he did they would be canned on the spot.  I argued, to no avail, that the fact that teachers influence and/or associate with children make it slightly different.  That opinion apparently makes me sexist.  Listen, I love teachers, and like policeman and other emergency personnel, I think they are grossly underpaid and underappreciated.  Fact is, there are probably countless teachers texting inappropriate things to other consenting adults as I write this.  The blogopshere and mass media are not concerned about them.   If the teacher somehow gets famous rest assured someone, somewhere, will have pics to share to the the masses.  This is TMZ's world folks, and we are just living in it.

Until we stop buying the magazines and downloading the pics nothing will change.  Instead, it will only get worse.  I used an analogy that I might be concerned more with someone handling my food than someone writing laws.  Again, that fell on deaf ears.  In reality, those hard working folks laboring for crap money at Whole Foods or Stop and Shop affect my life far more than Anthony Weiner.  I realize that speaks to how disenchanted I am with big government and how the democracy in this country has long ago stopped speaking for the middle class.  Morality is imporant for sure and I certainly do condoning Caligula in the White House.  Although I might like to see Malcolm McDowell and Helen Mirren there.

But Clinton and Kennedy and countless European leaders have all had issues with morality.  When the dust settles there questionable personal behaviors become more a footnote to their overall governing skills.  What Weiner did was lewd, creepy and offensive.  Far as I can tell no laws have been broken.  Move on, let him attempt to do his job, and let's all wait for the next scandal to break.  I do wonder if Arnold Schwarzenegger paid Radar Online to get Wiener on the front page.  His craziness seems like a distant memory now.  And with that I close the zipper on Wiener-gate.  I will speak of it no more (unless prompted.)

There were other non-stories that fascinated us (read: media) over the past few weeks.  Gov Chris Christie chartered a helicopter to see his son play baseball.  Really not a huge deal, unless you are the helicopter.  Can I really trust a man who has let himself go this badly?  He looks so unhealthy yet he is responsible for balancing our State's budget and handling the Nation's most corrupt government.  I wanna like the guy so badly but I am way too superficial to get beyond the appearence. 

Reese Witherspoon used the MTV Movie Awards to rail against Hollywood starlets resorting to sex tapes and "leaked" nude pics.  This speaks to my earlier point about morality.  Meaning, thanks Reese, divorced mother of 2, for telling others how to act and behave.  The rules for you might not apply to everyone.  There are those who cannot sing like June Carter Cash, and be born with the beauty you possess.   In the culture we live in today folks will do what they have to in order to get ahead in life.  We may not like it, but you ain't gonna stop it.  I did like Edie Falco's take on the whole reality tv world.  Leave it to Carmella to put everything in perspective:  http://realitytvmagazine.sheknows.com/2011/06/10/whos-keeping-up-with-the-kardashians-not-edie-falco/

For stories you should be concerned about I suggest the e-coli scare in Europe.  It will be either a killer virus or bacteria that brings our kind to a screaming halt.  Take a break from Kitchen Nightmares and pay attention to this one.  Make sure you clean your fruits and vegetables too.   I knew there was a reason I stayed away from sprouts all these years. 

Poll question:  When the apocalypse arrives will the world look more like Mad Max or Blade Runner?  Fight for water or replicants taking over?  I wonder, I really do.  And sadly I think I fare poorly in both scenarios. 

And as summer vacation season begins I do look to our depraved Congress to lower the gas prices.  Will I be alive for a truly energy efficient automobile?  And will it be affordable?  More and more I think there are more folks working against this innovation than for it.

Finally, look to the Dow folks.  Another ugly day today and too many negative numbers in recent weeks.  As we become more and more dependant on other Nations to produce our goods we further dig ourselves into certain doom.  What do we make?  What can we do better than others?  What are we teaching our children?

Participate and you win.  I'm not buying it.  Probably cause America is selling it.


PS...  saw an ad for Glee reality show...  End of Days much closer than I thought.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Do I actually miss Winter???

With 100 degree weather and a softball game to coach in an hour, I might.

Trying very hard to make it through a day that started with last minute Math studying.  As I entered the Holland Tunnel the school nurse called to tell me my daughter had been in with a sore throat.  I raced home after finishing all I had to rescue her from school, get her to the doctor for the infamous strep test, and now out again.

Wish like hell I could fast forward and put this day in the books.  But since I am angry I do have some bullet points to rattle off.

1)  Can Sabathia put a fastball in David Ortiz's ear tonight?

2)  Can LeBron show up and have a Jordan over Ehlo moment one time?

3)  Can Wiener resign so I don't have to hear the story anymore?  And his wife pregnant???  Classy.

4)  Can schools stay open in the heat?  A friend posted on Facebook today that in our day the teachers turned off the lights if it was hot.  More evidence we are raising a Nation of Nancy Boys and quitters.

5)  Hot weather sucks!!!

6)  Cold weather ain't much better.

7)  I am not looking forward to the juggling that occurs when school ends.  For more see my blog:  http://madison.patch.com/

8)  I will forge ahead with Guilty Pleasures column tomorrow regardless if anyone reads it or gives a sh&*.  I like it and that is good enough for me.

9)  We are gonna get destroyed tonight and sweat like Albert Brooks in Broadcast News.

10) I hope everyone else is not as effed up as me.




Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The Suburban Man's Guide to Somewhere: Wiener Roast

The Suburban Man's Guide to Somewhere: Wiener Roast: "Far be it for me to be the moral compass here, there or anywhere. Fact is I have no legs to stand on. Worse, my arms and most of my manho..."

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Wiener Roast

Far be it for me to be the moral compass here, there or anywhere.  Fact is I have no legs to stand on.  Worse, my arms and most of my manhood are locked safely away in a master bedroom.  And I would love to know which bedroom.  Anyone?  Anyone?  Just a hint would be great.

Somehow my mouth is functioning, and in turn the keyboard.  So, if you will indulge...

Could we all just move on from the moral collapse of Congressman Anthony Weiner?  He clearly digs the ladies and has a tough time expressing himself.  Step in line if you have acted like him or have been very close to someone who has.  Ok, now that EVERYONE is here, let's all get a freakin grip.

Far as I can tell his biggest crime is wanting to be in public office.  Because once you find yourself in the public eye all bets are off.  The very nonsense I write here is being written on a much bigger and hate-filled stage all over America.  Radar Online, Huffington, Drudge and others make it their business to expose hypocrises.  Believe in something and make it your cause...  you will be taken down.

And enough with the left versus right garbage too.  The John Edwards story along with said Weiner, have taught us depravity and hypocrisy know no party lines.  Men are universally shady and the women they pursue are likely NOT as they seem.  That wreaks of a volatile mix if their ever was one.

Can Wiener do his job effectively?  That is what I am concerned about.  If he is chatting and texting on social media from sun up to sun down we may have problems.  But if, during the course of his afternoon or, hopefully, when the work day is over, he chats online looking to fill a void or let off steam, I could care less.  Now, his toothy wife is another story.  And between them, both talented and career driven professionals, they can come to a compromise and move forward, then good for them.

I will be expecting him to show up at Capital Hill every day and fight for his district.

Some other lessons to be learned here.

1)  Never deny.  If someone has the goods on you come on out and talk.  Go to Letterman with your own phone and strut your stuff.  Weiner brought in hacker conspiracies and "not with certitude" quotes.  Epic Fail. 

Think how NY would love him if he showed up last week with Letterman and went hog wild.  "Well Dave, it gets lonely in DC.  Sometimes I just sit there in front of the cpu and go crazy.  I know you do too Dave.  Think I forgot about the intern thing from a few years back???  We should go out sometime and scope babes."

Sorry, but why do I think his approval rating would sky rocket and they would be stenciling his name on the Mayor's office door.  We need refreshing, honest candidates.  Instead he went on the defensive and made himself look more pitiful.  I do give him credit for coming clean (no pun intended you sicko!!)  and holding the press conference.  More credit for his wife for NOT attending.  But he loses credit for taking questions.  That will never work and inevitably he was heckled by Howard Stern associates.  Entertaining for me, but him, not so much.

2)  Enough with the social networking/email.  It's today's paper trail and it will destroy you.  I love my smart phone and am probably on Twitter and Facebook more than most teenage girls.  However, I am not in the public eye.  And you better believe if and when I am those days will be over.  Do you mean to tell me there is not enough on the internet already?  You really need to strike up conversations online with strangers?  Is there no concern that you are talking with a Republican strategist or even Sarah Palin?  Use your imagination a bit.  Cinemax?  NO COMPUTERS or SMART PHONES ever.  Of this I can speak with much confidence. 

3)  Finally, stick to the issues please.  It is the Weiner scandal that beautifully illustrates why government should stay the hell out of the morality business.  We have had an debate between these four walls for several months now regarding normalcy.  It had long been said that I was the more sane/normal one in our marriage.  Turns out that notion was politely murdered, put in suitcases and thrown into the Susquehanna River.

My contention has and will be that we are for the most part flawed.  Men and women want different things.  Men and women feel differently and respond differently to situations.  The miracle is that at some point we find agreement and peace and get along at all.  Parents all over are ruining their child's perception of the World.  Then, that child meets another child who is equally damaged.  Waa-laa.  The cycle continues. 

Arnold, and DSK, and John Edwards, and Wiener, et al.  troubled, juvenile, sick and twisted the lot of them.  But he who hasn't sinned, please feel free to cast the first stone...

Figures, Roger Ailes and Rupert Murdoch are first in line.  Wait, there is Arianna Huffington, and Jon Stewart. 

Damn.  Guess nothing is gonna change.