Sunday, November 26, 2006


It's the "I Drove 600 Miles and I'm Very Tired" edition!

1. Automatic Situation/Joseph Arthur (8)
2. Future Foe Scenarios/Silversun Pickups (3)
3. Razzle Dazzle Rose/Camera Obscura (9)
4. Christopher's Revolt/Brendan Benson (8)
5. A Glow/Okkervil River (3)
6. Pale Green Things/The Mountain Goats (3)
7. The Dishwasher's Dream/Marah (4)
8. Understanding Salesmen/Eels (3)
9. Dreamer In My Dreams/Wilco (3)
10. Iron Woman/Devin Davis (3)

Friday, November 24, 2006


I meant to post about this before I left but oh well. One of my big projects for any vacation is what music I will bring with me. My CD case has 24 slots in it, so that's what I have to work with. When you're only gone 5 days, it's not so bad. But still, you want music to drive to and to be able to relax to at the hotel. The process is a bit different these days since I have so much music that is just on the computer. I burned six albums onto disc for the trip and brought 2 more I'd burned for summer vacation. Anyway, here's the list; it's a good look at what I've been digging recently...

Beck/The Information
Centro-Matic/Fort Recovery
The Decemberists/The Crane Wife
Drive-By Truckers/A Blessing and A Curse
The Essex Green/Cannibal Sea - burned for summer vacation
Golden Smog/Another Fine Day
Harvey Danger/Little By Little - burned for summer vacation
The Hold Steady/Boys and Girls in America - newly burned
Ben Kweller/Ben Kweller - newly burned
The Long Winters/Putting the Days to Bed
Margot and the Nuclear So and So's/The Dust of Retreat - newly burned
The Mountain Goats/Get Lonely
My Morning Jacket/Z
The National/Alligator
Pernice Brothers/Live a Little - newly burned
Tom Petty/Wildflowers
Portastatic/Be Still Please - newly burned
The Shins/Chutes Too Narrow
Silversun Pickups/Carnavas
Simon Dawes/Carnivore
Sparklehorse/Dreamt for Light Years in the Belly of A Mountain
Matthew Sweet and Susanna Hoffs/Under the Covers Vol. 1
John Vanderslice/Pixel Revolt
M. Ward/Post-War - newly burned

I'm in a hotel in Williamsport, PA as I write this; I've been at this hotel over Thanskgiving weekend for a number of years now and in Williamsport for almost every Thanksgiving of my life. It's tradition.

We left on Wednesday and actually got to leave earlier than we ever have - 6:45 or so when we hit the road. It was nice to make the drive during the daytime and we made good time. It was weird to be among the first members of the family to arrive rather than the last. I stayed up too late that night visiting with my cousins but I just went to bed earlier last night.

We had 21 people at the dinner yesterday, ranging in age from my 98 year-old step-grandfather to my 9 year-old son. The food at the restaurant was very good as usual - I had a cup of creamy pumpkin soup, a fantastic house salad with blue cheese dressing, and a main entree of horseradish-encrusted prime rib, mashed potatoes, and broccolini. I didn't have dessert there because later on in the evening we had our traditional homemade ice cream and pie (I had a piece of shoofly and a piece of apple crumb). Good food and good company.

Today the men and the women separate for lunch and there will be various shopping excursions (Jill and Grant are on one now) and more euchre later on (I haven't gotten any in yet!). It's a nice relaxing day. I just finished reading a story (in book #36) and am listening to KEXP. I have to call soon to make the men's lunch reservation and I'll probably swing by the local comics shop later. I can see down into the hotel pool. The sun is shining brightly. Hope everyone else has had a good weekend so far and that it will continue.

Sunday, November 19, 2006


It's the unluckiest shuffle of them all...or is it? It probably isn't. I've been in shuffle mode all week so I'll be interested to see if some of the same songs pop up or if I get ones I haven't heard all week. I've pushed a lot of songs into double digit plays this week too - will the shuffle reflect that? Let's find out...

1. I Must Be High/Wilco (7) - Last played Oct. 28
2. Sweetness and Life/Portastatic (7) - Last played Nov. 9
3. Today's Undertaking/M. Ward (13) - Last played Nov. 16
4. Boys, You Won't/The Wrens (2) - Last played Sept. 28
5. The Lovers' Rights/The Rosebuds (9) - Last played July 27
6. Confetti/The Lemonheads (1) - Last played when I last listened to It's A Shame About Ray on CD
7. We're Just Friends/Wilco (6) - Last played Sept. 29
8. Call To Arms/Black Angels (6) - Last played Aug. 18 (also includes a bonus track at the end)
9. She's A Jar/Wilco (8) - Last played Oct. 8
10. The Delicate Place (4) - Last played Aug. 12

Only one song in double digits and one song I've already heard this week - and it's the same song! I see we're back to the high Wilco content, which reminds me I need to get that mix out to Paul (it's coming!). Next Sunday we'll be driving back from PA, so the shuffle may have to skip a week. Horrible thought, I know.

Friday, November 17, 2006


I've been on an adrenaline high the last 28 hours or so and it's finally starting to wear off. Why? I started writing a new song on Wednesday night, finished it yesterday afternoon, had Graham work out a guitar solo/accompaniment to it, and then we performed it last night right around this time. It got a good response from the crowd and friends - the owner of Front Porch even came over to tell me it was a good song, a keeper. That made me feel very good. I am proud of the song and I'm still surpirsed at how quickly it came to me. It's called "Holding Pattern" and when I get around to recording it will definitely make the cut.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

52.21 - 52.26

DC's weekly series hit its halfway point the day after Halloween and we're still getting more questions than answers, though that ratio will have to shift in the second half if 52 will ultimately prove to be worthwhile. There's definitely enough happening to keep my interest 26 weeks in, which is enough for now.

Much of these six issues deals with the growing "family" of Black Adam - Isis's missing brother is found and becomes Isis. They change the terms of their deal with China and meet with Dr. Sivana's family. We also see more of Intergang and The Crime Bible. Bruno Mannheim is up to something...

The Question and Renee Montoya parts ways with the Black Marvel Family, meeting up with Richard Dragon. The question once again comes up - who is Montoya?

Lex Luthor's metagene project and his new heroes of Infinity Inc. are also a heavy focus. We see Luthor take away the powers of one of his team, resulting in her death. This concerns the Teen Titans, who are seen in full for the first time in the series. Steel is always continuing his investigation as well.

We are introduced to Super-Chief, see him in a new version of the JLA led by Firestorm, and die. Why? It does tie-in somewhat to Ralph Dibny's tour of magical places by Doctor Fate's helmet in search for his dead wife. Wow, that sounds really odd when you write it down.

There's been no sign of our space heroes; we see more signs that Skeets is up to something terrible. Ambush Bug turns up with the new JLA and it's as funny as ever. The sees of Checkmate are sown. And what's happening at the island where all the mad scientist have gathered... Egg Fu?

Who is Supernova? What is Luthor really up to? What is Black Adam really up to? What is Skeets up to? How will all of this tie together? 26 issues to find out...

My second post a year ago talked about how I had achieved my goal of 36 books read; I had even accomplished that goal a few weeks before the post (on November 11). I was also confindent that I would reach 40 books read by the end of the year; in reality, I only read 2 more books the rest of the way.

For comparison's sake, I am currently working on book #33 and have just under 100 pages to go. I am hoping to finish it today, though I will be distracted by football and the laundry (I suppose blogging counts too). If I manage to finish, I'll have 49 days left in the year to read 7 more books. The margins for falling behind just get worse and worse. Oh well. I'm enjoying the process anyway.

It's the golden birthday of Sunday Shuffle! Ha ha heh. Here's the music...

1. Little Round Mirrors/Harvey Danger (38)
2. Monday/Wilco (6)
3. El Otro Lado/Josh Rouse (7)
4. On a Freezing Chicago Street/Margot and the Nuclear So and So's (4)
5. 6 String Belief/Son Volt (3)
6. Sounds Better In The Song/Drive-By Truckers (1)
7. Ain't That Enough/Teenage Fanclub (1)
8. Little Lover's So Polite/Silversun Pickups (2)
9. Dinu Lipatti's Bones/The Mountain Goats (3)
10. Oxygen/Aux Send/Grandaddy (7)

Fun Fact: The totals plays for the last nine (34 combined) don't even add up to the Harvey Danger track (38)

Friday, November 10, 2006


Yep, it's been a year since I made my first post on my third blog. Today is my 153rd post, which means I've average one every 2.4 days or so. That's not too bad for me. Thanks for stopping by and reading my ramblings; I hope you continue to do so as I begin year 2.

To help me celebrate, go here and watch this spiffy new trailer for "Spider-Man 3." Can't wait!

Thursday, November 09, 2006


Second month with a higher number of downloads and now that they're changing the pricing structure, I'm very happy that I upgraded. Anyway, here's what I grabbed...

Portastatic/Be Still Please - Lots of string and trumpet on this nine song set, which is very very good. I especially love "You Blanks."

Yo La Tengo/I Am Not Afraid of You and I Will Beat Your Ass - This is my first experience with Yo La Tengo and I'm glad I grabbed this album. Lots of jazzy touches. My only problem is that it's a bit too long; a few songs are disposable. But come one, how can you not love "Mr. Tough?"

Margot and the Nuclear So and So's/The Dust of Retreat - Huge indie band from Indianapolis that works both in the small and more epic musical styles. The more I hear it, the better it gets. Current favorite (it shifts with every listen) is "Jen Is Bringing the Drugs."

Okkervil River/Black Sheep Boy - Yes, I know I'm behind the times on this one. Their "The President's Dead" single is what made me finally grab it. So, so good. It's hard to go wrong with "For Real" or "Black" or "A Stone."

The Mountain Goats/We Shall All Be Healed - Since I can't stop playing the new one, I figured I should delve into the back catalogue. I've only listened twice so far but it's good.

The Decemberists/Picaresqueties - Same thing here, although I've already started grabbing their back catalogue. Nothing major here but it's solid.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006


Today's news that Donald Rumsfeld will no longer be the Secretary of Defense makes me very very very happy. In fact, it almost makes me happier than the election results do. Almost. Democratic control of the House and Senate (looks like); a woman as Speaker of the House; a black governor elected for only the second time; even a Muslim candidate winning. Wow. Makes me feel good about the country and goes a long way towards erasing the despair from a couple years ago. A good day.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006


I did this afternoon around 2:45. It was very quiet at the polling place, which meant a quick in and out. I was flabbergasted to learn that our method of voting has changed since the last time - we now have to fill in bubbles on paper! How does that happen? Sure, the punch hold method we used to have wasn't exactly state of the art but using a pen?!? Technology did come into play at the end of the process, as we fed our ballot into something that looked like a copier. Wha? Anyway, I hope I wake up tomorrow in a world where the Republicans took some serious losses.

I also made another vote this week, one with my purchasing power and palate. For a number of years, I would use Taco Bell brand taco mix - I always liked eating there and the taste was fine. However, it would give me pretty good heartburn and I've been going longer and longer between having them for dinner. Well, this week I decided to try Old El Paso, a package that included both hard and soft shells (a necessity in our family). I just finished eating dinner a short while ago and I quite enjoyed the taste. Plus, no heartburn (and their hard shells are pretty good). Sure, not as hard-hitting as an election but important to me nonetheless.

Monday, November 06, 2006


We added a DVR to our cable subscription at the end of September. We immediately loved being able to record something on the main TV without having to leave that channel on. I also started using the ability to pause and rewind live TV while watching football and baseball. Then we discovered you could record 2 things at once, which comes in very handy when no one is home to watch anything. It's been great.

Naturally, I took advantage of the opportunity and captured a lot of the new fall shows. My days would be spent trying to catch up on the previous nights' TV, albeit at a faster pace. I've noticed something, though. All that TV is starting to dwindle.

I gave up "The Nine" after only a few episodes. I tried and discarded "Help Me Help You." Just tonight I have given up on both "Heroes" (which started out so promisingly) and "Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip." I've still been watching "Gilmore Girls" but I'm not really sure why, which means chances are good it will be gone soon.

There are still good shows to watch, of course. "The Wire" remains one of the best shows ever on television and this season has been fantastic so far (I watch it On Demand before it airs on Sunday night). My new favorite show is "Battlestar Galactica," which is just incredible. How did I ever live without it? And while "Veronica Mars" started out slow, it's still really good. Yes, I'm still watching "Lost." I'm having some frustrations with how the story is being told but part of that is having too many characters to focus on. The last drama I'm still watching is one of the new ones, "Friday Night Lights." I've always found Kyle Chandler interesting to watch, as well as Connie Britton (plus, she's hot). And the story has been good if not incredibly original.

And the comedy side, there are only 3 (at least until "Scrubs comes back in a few weeks) - "How I Met Your Mother," "My Name is Earl," and "The Office." All three still make me laugh several times a half hour but "The Office" is the cream of the crop ("Tuna!").

Oh yeah, still watching "The Amazing Race" too. The only reality show I still find worthwhile.

Hmm, 7 1/2 hours of TV a week not counting sports. Well, it was worse...

Sunday, November 05, 2006


This feature doesn't feel quite so pointless now that I've posted some actual content this week. Your mileage may vary...

1. Them & Me/Brendan Benson (4) - Wonder if we'll get a new Brendan Benson solo album or a second Raconteurs album first?

2. Broom People/The Mountain Goats (3) - I really need to do a review of their latest album - it's so so good.

3. the sun fell on you (ps 119:82)/The Prayers and Tears of Arthur Digby Sellers (17) - They have an EP up at their website for free that is well worth grabbing.

4. Mother Mary/Eels (3) - I bet it's not too long before we start hearing talk of a new Eels album.

5. The Slow Decay of Some Radio Afterglows/The Prayers and Tears of Arthur Digby Sellers (4) - Long song title; long band name; long song (7 minutes plus).

6. Paper Kitten Nightmare/Margot and the Nuclear So and So's (4) - Second song of the year with "Meow meow meow" as a lyric, along with "Where I'm Anymore" by Grandaddy.

7. Might/Archers of Loaf (6) - I still haven't picked up Eric Bachmann's solo disc from a few months ago - anyone have it?

8. Oceans/The Format (5) - Check out TJ's site for a scary promotional e-mail he got from this band.

9. Questions?/Dramarama (1) - Is Dramarama one of the most underrated bands of the last 20 years? Yes.

10. Fireflies/The Drams (6) - These guys have been touring with Drive-By Truckers - that's a show I'd go see.

Saturday, November 04, 2006


I've got plenty of music to listen to - albums I've barely had time to digest, all sorts of stuff on podcasts, lots of great music from earlier this year that I haven't played in a while, let alone all the great stuff from previous years. But is that enough? No. I'm listening to streams of Silversun Pickups (Oct. 27 at around 3 PM) and The Shins (yesterday at 1:20 or so) on KEXP and The Long Winters from the other day on NPR. There's also a Decemberists concert to get to, also from NPR. Now if I could only get paid for it...

Friday, November 03, 2006


Drove down to DeMotte tonight (about 25 miles away) to meet my wife and parents for dinner before an open mic at a local place. We ate at a Mexican place that makes great burritos (chicken and pork combo!) and it was good as usual, if a bit slow due to a large crowd. We were just finishing right before 7:00, so I ducked out early and went across the street to the open mic. Well, there was the opposite of a big crowd. The host was there by himself. We waited for a few minutes but no other performers came and the only potential audience members were supplied by me. So, we packed it in.

The good news is I finished a new song about 20 minutes before we left, the first one I've finished in a couple months and my 6th song overall (#5 has only been played once and won't really outside of a band setting). I did go to the open mic in Valpo last night for the first time in almost 2 months, which was nice. And now I have something new to play next week; I also have another song that just needs lyrics and should be done by Thursday.

What am I doing instead of performing? Having a beer and using up the rest of my current eMusic downloads while watching basketball on mute. Go Bulls!

Thursday, November 02, 2006


It's been a while since I mentioned books around here, so I thought I'd give an update. I have managed to get myself back on pace to read 40 books this year; the pace is actually a fast one since I still have 8 books left to go. The good news is that I hit September with 16 books left to go, so I know I can read 4 in a month. And it won't be the end of the world if I don't make it; I read 38 last year, so if I at least get to 39 I'll be happy. Anyway, here's what I've been reading the last two months...

25. Infoquake/David Louis Edelman - A different sort of SF novel, with an economy set up around Bio/logics (upgrades for the body, such as NiteFocus 49) and a possible revolutionary change in that business. The main character, Natch, is an ass but an interesting ass. I really liked the book and eagerly await the two sequels that are forthcoming.

26. The Book of Fate/Brad Meltzer - I picked this up because I read the first chapter in an issue of Justice League of America, the comic Meltzer is currently writing, and was intrigued. The book falls more in that John Grisham vein, though it's more concerned with power and the Presidency than the law. It was a page-turner but nothing that blew me away. Let's put it this way, I won't be picking up any of his other books (and his JLA is losing steam too but that's another post).

27. The Washington Story/Adam Langer - This contiunes the stories of many characters from Langer's debut, Crossing California. I really liked that book and this is more of the same. It is set in Chicago, so I recognize events from my childhood, and it deals with the college adventures of several characters. Art, sex, relationships, radicalism, loss, longing, and hope. And more, of course.

28. Fragile Things/Neil Gaiman - The new story and poetry collection from Gaiman, one of my favorite writers. As is the case with all collections, I liked some stories better than others but the overall quality is very high. I particularly enjoyed "A Study in Emerald," which involves both Lovecraft and Doyle, and "Sunbird," a story about an eating club with mythical aspects.

29. The World to Come/Dara Horn - This novel falls in the category of an "everything" novel for me, a book that concerns itself with multiple ideas and characters. It deals with Vietnam, the Soviet Union, art, stories, twins, relationships (both romantic and familial), theft, Jewish life, and more. It's very well-written and very very good.

30. Third Class Superhero/Charles Yu - This is a small story collection, the debut by Yu. The title story appealed to me the most, a look at a super-hero longing to join the big leagues. The stories are not the norm and have some math apsects to them as well. Yu reminds me of George Saunders in tone if not it content (though sometimes in content too). Solid.

31. The Ladies of Grace Adieu/Susanna Clarke - I loved Clarke's debut, Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell. This is a set of stories set in the same milieu with some of the same characters popping up. Most of them deal with the intersection of Faerie and "the real world" or with magic or sometimes both. Written in unusual dialects or structures, the stories are very rewarding. I'd still start with the novel but this is well worth your time.

32. Stardust/Neil Gaiman - Yeah, I'd never read this before. But one of the stories in the Clarke collection shares a setting with this book (Wall, where you step through a gap in a stone wall and into Faerie) so I thought I'd finally read it. Now I can't believe I put it off. It's full of whimsy and wonder, action and humor, wonderful ideas. I highly recommend it and can't wait to see how the movie turns out (coming out in early 2007, I believe).

Wednesday, November 01, 2006


Outside of the cold tempartures for candy-hunting yesterday, the day was pretty much a treat. Sure, I could have done without the 45 minute break between classes but I can't blame the kindergarteners for not coming down to swim - they were in costume. Grant got compliments on his costume (Superman) and his fake black hair and filled his pumpkin to the brim with candy (then promptly rejected half of it, which isn't a bad thing). A good day overall.

Today has been a little different. The tip of a cotton swab fell off while I was cleaning my ear this morning. My attempts to get it out only lodged it in further. Jill was at work, of course, so I enlisted some of my co-workers to help (susbstitute wives, who are all married and therefore used to dealing with idiot men). Two of them couldn't see anything but after being in the pool I knew it was still in there - my ear was closing up and not immediately unclogging. After I was done for the day and my boss took a look, thinking she spotted it. I had brought some tweezers along in case that happened and she was able to successfully remove it. What a relief.

We've had a clogging kitchen sink drain the past few days, which periodically happens in our old house. Jill put some stuff down it to loosen things back up and then I heard her shout. The pipe was leaking under the sink, spraying nasty gunk all over. Turns out there was a crack. She went out to Menards and got some supplies and was able to fix it. Plus, the drain seems to be fine now.

Hmm, maybe the moral of this day is that the women in my life are awesome and I'm not so useful....or it was just a bad day made better by others. Either way, I'm hoping for a calmer tomorrow.