Thursday, December 31, 2009

Back on the Bank Block

On New Year's Eve, I find myself in Stauf's again, just like three years ago. The background music is The Pet Shop Boys and not a bad Hallelujah cover.

What have I, What have I, what have I done to deserve this?

I'm here because Emma's across the street at the dentist, not to sit and reflect on my life falling apart - as life was then.

Two years ago I was in Glasgow, wandering around a chilly damp city that was getting ready for Hogmanay. We drank champagne, hung out in a jacuzzi and watched Jools Holland ring in the new year. One month later my divorce was finalized.

Last year Emma was here, still on the tourist visa, and we went to Dave's and I sang The Candy Man. It was a perfect way to start the calendar year.

Today I wait here, post-bagel, drinking a french vanilla coffee and waiting to see what condition my wife will be in after her procedure. The music has changed.

Holiday, it would be so nice.

Oh man, now it's Shalamar.

I can tell by the look in your eye that you're a dead giveaway. I'm finding out what you're all about.

I did one of those year in review memes on Facebook, not going to subject it to you here. One thing though. There is a resolution. Something I need to do. Need is a very powerful words but when I see that number on a scale I know something has to change.

I see Limbaugh is in the hospital with chest pains. I do not want the man dead, but to live long enough so he can realize how wrong he is about so many things.

Speaking of death. Had only three hits in the deathpool this year, including the Farrah/MJ double. I know the day is not over but I have submitted next year's 40 to the proper compiler.

Had no idea at the beginning of last year that I'd abandon my live journal for this place. I think I'm happier here. It's hard to log on to live journal and see the deterioration. The people who have disappeared. If you're still there, I'm not picking on you for staying, not at all. It has changed, and it was a change that was hard for me to stay with. After the divorce, the drama stopped, comments dropped and I kept a lot of the personal stuff quiet. Good for me, bad for business. Losing a few friends was tough, and you miss some of that interaction. Moving forward is the new black though.

It's good to be here, on blogger. I see the number of hits increasing, but the comments are not increasing in proportion to the page views. I appreciate the readership. A lot. Thank you for coming. Please stay. Introduce yourselves. And have a happy new year.

And the train conduction says driver 8 take a break we can reach our destination, but we're still a ways away.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Books Read: 2009

Nothing really knocked me on my ass this year. King's return was noteworthy and long overdue. Conroy's book was a major disappointment, as was Doctorow. I've finally entered the word of Rebus, which is a cool place to be.

A Boy Alone provided the saddest twist to a work of non-fiction I've experienced in a long time. Denise Duhamel was a fine new poet to me.

If I finished it, the book gets two stars regardless. If the book is a cut above it gets three and four if really good.

It's been tough to find reading time this year. I'll be lucky to finish fifty in 2010. My wife is planning on reading a hundred. Good luck to her.

1) Boy A. Jonathan Trigell. 248 p.
2) George Being George: George Plimpton's Life. Edited by Nelson Aldrich Jr. 423 p. ***
3) On Purpose. Nick Laird. 65 p. ****
4) Berenice Abbott: Changing New York. Bonnie Yochelson. 399 p. (most. pic) ****
5) Ferenc Karinthy. Metropole. 279 p.
6) Charles Laughton: An Intimate Biography. Charles Higham. 239 p.
7) A Boy Named Shel. Lisa Rogak. 239 p. ***
8) Saved. Jack Falla. 276 p.
9) James Tiptree Jr: The Double Life of Alice B. Sheldon. Julie Phillips. 469 p. ***
10) Eat Me: The Food and Philosophy of Kenny Shopsin. K.S. & Carolynn Carreno. 260 p. ****
11) Indelible Acts. A.L. Kennedy. 191 p.
12) Street Gang: The Complete History of Sesame Street. Michael Davis. 379 p. ***
13) I Can See Clearly Now - Brendan Halpin. 272 p.
14) Love, As Always, Kurt Vonnegut as I Knew Him. Loree Rackstraw. 282 p. ***
15) Devil's Garden - Ace Atkins. 354 p. (Worst fiction)
16) The Fire Gospel - Michel Faber. 213 p. ***
17) The Good, the Bad and the Ugly: Heart Pounding, Jaw Dropping and Gut Wrenching Moments from Buffalo Bills History. Scott Pitoniak. 184 p.
18) Denise Duhamel. Ca-Ching! 86 p. ****
19) Watchmen. Alan Moore, Dave Gibbons. 419 p. ***
20) Angela Sorby. Bird Skin Coat. 79 p. ***
21) Rob Ryan. This is for You. (Unpaged) Horrible greeting card art and sad affirmation poetry.
22) Greg Ames. Buffalo Lockjaw. 304 p. ***
23) Roger Moore. My Word is My Bond. 336 p.
24) A Pint of Plain. Bill Barich. 242 p.
25) American Rust - Phillp Meyer. 367 p. ***
26) Brooklyn - Colm Toibin. 262 p.
27) Tea Time for the Traditionally Built. Alexander McCall Smith. 212 p. ***
28) Columbine. Dave Cullen. 417 p. ****
29) Let the Great World Spin. Colum McCann. 349 p. **** (best fiction)
30) The Real Animal House - Chris Miller. 321 p.
31) Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror - John Ashberry. 83 p.
32) Close to Death - Patricia Smith. 119 p.
33) I am Not Sidney Poitier. Percival Everett. 234 p. ****
34) Miracle Ball: My Hunt for the Shot Heard 'Round the World. Brian Biegel. 224 p. ****
35) Teahouse of the Almighty. Patricia Smith. 91 p. ***
36) Used and Rare: Travels in the Book World. Lawrence and Nancy Goldstone. 215 p. ***
37) Sarah Waters - The Little Stranger. 466 p. ***
38) Glover's Mistake - Nick Laird. 247 p.
39) Marcello in the Real World - Francisco X. Stork. 312 p. ***
40) A Boy Alone: A Brother's Memoir. Karl Taro Greenfeld. 355 p. **** (Best non-fiction)
41) Ian Rankin - Knots and Crosses. 256 p. ****
42) George & Sam: Two Boys, One Family, and Autism. Charlotte Moore. 296 p.
43) Richard Russo. That Old Cape Magic. 261 p. ***
44) Jim Beaver. Life's That Way. 299 p. ***
45) Pat Conroy. South of Broad. 514 p.
46) E.L. Doctorow. Homer and Langley. 208 p.
47) A.D. New Orleans After the Deluge. Josh Neufeld. 193 p. ***
48) The Impostor's Daughter. Laurie Sandell. 247 p. ***
49) Little Bee. Chris Cleave. 271 p.
50) Nick Hornby. Juliet, Naked. 406 p. ***
51) Where Men Win Glory: The Odyssey of Pat Tillman. Jon Krakauer. 416 p.
52) Hide and Seek. Ian Rankin. 224 p.
53) The Lost Symbol. Dan Brown. 509 p.
54) American On Purpose. Craig Ferguson. 268 p. ***
55) Highest Duty. Chelsey Sullenberger. 340 p. ***
56) John Irving - Last Night in Twisted River. 554 p. ***
57) Kurt Vonnegut. Look at the Birdie. 251 p. ***
58) Margaret Atwood. The Year of the Flood. 434 p. ****
59) I'm Dying Up Here: Heartbreak and High Times in Stand Up Comedy's Golden Era. William Knoedelseder. 280 p. ****
60) The Adderall Diaries. Steven Elliott. 208 p. ***
61) Last Words. George Carlin. 294 p. ***
62) Chronic City - Jonathan Lethem 480 p. ****
63) Under the Dome - Stephen King. 1074 p. ****
64) Denise Mina. Still Midnight. 368 p. ***

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Loss and Perspective

If you've been reading this you know I watch sports and write about it here. The teams I follow, at this point in time, are losing, badly.

The NHL Blue Jackets are in the middle of a nine game losing streak, tying the longest streak of futility in team history. If you know anything about the team's history, right now they're sucking hard. The time to do something about this was last month, and only now are we hearing rumors of a trade from General Manager Scott Howson. Shaking them up should have been done a month ago. Now, the rot has set in and this team is very unlikely to make the playoffs. While you can't fire 22 players, you can replace a coaching staff. The time to save the season is over.

The Ohio State Hockey team is in the midst of another season of below average play. Coach John Markell's contract is up at the end of the year. It's time for a change in the hockey program, one that has seen dwindling performance and attendance.

The New York Mets were dreadful last year and are showing me no indication that they will be improving the team next year. The outfield lacks power, there's no true first baseman and I could do just as well as middle relief than the slop that's been passing for a pitching staff.

I support the Everton Football Club in the English Premier League. As I write this, they are besieged by injuries and the club is close to being relegated to a lower league next year. I am hopeful that Manager David Moyes can pull the team toward the middle of the league in 2010 and keep the team together and fit next season to make a run at the big four. They're also still in the fray for the Europa League and F.A. Cup so there's potential for more play. MLS MVP Landon Donovan is being loaned to the team next week - it will be interesting to see if he can improve the team, as he gains some international experience.

Celtic F.C. in the Scottish Premier League is trailing Rangers, as it usually is in the Old Firm dominated league. It's sad to watch the Glasgow teams continue to be one-two as the rest of the league falters. It's a sad game to watch players who are not good enough for the better European league teams come to Scotland and its mediocre game. I'd like to see the quality improve, but with little cash it's unlikely to happen.

The Columbus Crew played well enough to win the Supporters Shield but got knocked out in the first round. Now the team's (and league's) best player, Guillermo Barros Schelotto is rumored to not being resigned for next season unless he takes a massive pay cut. The Crew have shown some very skinflint ways in its financial matters in the past. Letting a great player simply go away would be an insult to the fan base, and the ability of a great player.

Then there's the Buffalo Bills. An organization that is once again preparing to rebuild. There's no proven quarterback. No defensive line depth. No offensive line to speak of and the coaching staff needs a complete overhaul. The team's owner, Ralph Wilson is 91 and his obit could come over the wire at anytime. When he dies, the worry of the city of Buffalo is that the team will be sold and move. It will be a darn shame if that happens and the city and the team are entwined economically and in the very marrow of the residents. If this happens, my allegiance to the NFL will end. Heck, I've watched only about three Bills games this year. I've seen them lose before and know how that movie ends. It's not worth it anymore.

I'm excited about the World Cup, and am looking forward to June 12th, when the USA will play England. After that, we'll see how the rest of the draws look as June approaches.

Not much a follower of Ohio State Football. It's nice when they win, but they're not my team. College football is a mystery to me. Growing up on Long Island there really was not a team to follow.

My team rarely wins it all. I've had a World Series win in 1986, a Crew Championship last year and that's about it. Forty five years of fandom and two championships. In between there have been a lot of playoff losses and the big four straight Super Bowl losses in the nineties. I'm not sure what makes me go back to it anymore - to turn on the TV for a 2-1 loss. To watch my team lose 9-1 in person. To go to a sports bar for a 2-nil defeat. Is my money and time invested worth it?

Well, there's a game on tomorrow night, but so is Men of a Certain Age.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Vic Chesnutt 1964-2009

Back in June we saw him open for Jonathan Richman. I was not familiar with his music, and still am not. We were in the back of the room, talking to a former colleague from the library and his wife.

I liked what I heard. There was a wit, and a darkness. It was all understandable. It's not the sort of sound that I seek out. Found what the library had. Listened.

This morning the news was coming though that he had attempted suicide and was in a coma. Kristen Hersh's twitter page was especially poignant. There were unsubstantiated reports of his death that were retracted. Now, his death is confirmed.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

I'm really not feeling this cyincal

The house passed a health care bill. I really do not know what's in it because all I can see is a bunch of keyboard warriors still screaming socialism. When I ask a question, I get rebuked in Latin. Wait, that was about global warming.

I'd like to think we're all still going to be here tomorrow, Ok, most of us will be, and that we're in this together. There's still this us vs. them divide in this country we never got to properly thank Lee Atwater for starting. He's dead now. Thanks Lee, maybe you and the soon to be dead Bernie Madoff can raise a glass of hot lava together.

But it's Christmas Eve, peace on earth good will toward men and keep paying women less for the same pay.

Is that how it goes?

It's been a couple of years since I went out to eat and did not leave a tip. Last night was one of those rare occasions. Not going to name the place because it was not the fault of the entire establishment, and I'm sure we'll be back there at some point.

Where we went was busy, and we knew that, we could see it. We waited at least half an hour for our food, which would have been fine if the server had acknowledged this. Instead he brushed off my wife's asking where the food was, simply saying it was busy, no apologies. Nothing else. The food was fine. When it came to getting the check. He gave us someone else's, which was less. He did not thank us for being honest, but instead decided to blame the mistake on someone else when we pointed it out to him. Then he walked off. Rather than wait for him to take our payment, which may have taken even more time, I went to the bar and watched him stand there and chat with one of the other servers while the bartender took our payment. I know the place was busy and he was probably in the weeds, but this guy was rather inattentive and quick in blaming others rather than offer any sympathy. So that's why he got stiffed. Again, just the second time in recent memory.

I was listening to Jethro Tull's Christmas album while running the final errands this morning. It's a lovely record, honestly. I'm in for the rest of the day, until after dinner when I'll pack the three of us in the car and force feed Christmas lights and Phil Spector's music on to them. I still have a few places to check out. Still, the people behind us rule Columbus' Christmas lights scene.

Have to clean up my son's room and set up his present later. Got him a little tent with a six foot tunnel. Hope he likes it. So very hard to shop for a kid with autism. You have no idea what he will like. He's finally toying around with the ukulele I got him two years ago.

Wow, two years ago I was meeting my wife's family in Glasgow. Time flies, and I want to go back there so badly.

Christmas and holiday wishes on all of you. Still noticing a lot of page hits and views. Drop a comment and say hi why don't you?

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The Best for Last. Book #63

I read my first Stephen King book back in 1983. It was Christine and I was instantly hooked. Got everything I could of his from the college and local libraries. Devoured books about him, even looked for the Bachman's. It was an intense period of reading. He was, and still is, quite the prolific writer. There was a back catalog to catch up on.

But when the Tommyknockers came out in 1987, something had changed. Authors go through peaks, valleys, they write bad books. After that book came out, I believe his creativity declined, noticeably. I read he was doing some serious coke at the time, which would explain a lot. Yet, even after he got off of it, with great difficulty I understand, the quality of his writing had not returned. I still read his work, but no longer was interested in getting it when it was released. What I did read seemed uninspired. The plots were tired. The thrill ride had no thrills, frights, or fun.

Then on my 34th birthday and the night of no goal, King was hit by a car and suffered serious injuries. After that there was some serious rehab, talk of retirement and I wondered if he'd ever return to anything close to form.

He has.

I have to admit to being skeptical when Under the Dome was released. I've heard the term 'King's best in years' many times and the results were unsatisfactory. The 1,074 pages were also an obstacle. Could this book have used some more editing, (yes) some character depth (yes) and culling of plot? (also yes)

The book's title and cover say it all. A small town in Maine is suddenly covered by a transparent dome. Things happen.

From page one King puts the accelerator to the floor and you are in the passenger seat, going "Whooooo!" right along with him. Then he presses down, harder, and you're both going "Whooooo!"

All this while Warren Zevon's 'Play it All Night Long' is blasting out of the speakers.

King kills a lot of people, blows a lot of things up and causes a lot of mayhem - and he's having a ball doing it. Not since the first few pages of The Cell has King enjoyed creating such a disaster. This time he sustains it for the entire length of this massive book. From the opening scenes of a woodchuck's point of view to the final, inevitable explosions, I was held to the page. I can't believe I'm writing this, but I did not want it to end.

There's a lot of political allegory, an exposure of the cruelty of children, a smack down of self righteous Christians and, I think, a bit of a global warming statement within the fury of this novel. Do not be put off by its length.

The book is far from flawless. The editing could have stood a sharper red pen. Some of the dialogue was implausible and groan inducing. The conclusion reminded me of an episode of Star Trek and seemed a bit forced, but I will not allow myself to be mad at it. If this book was written in the fifties, it would be sold in dime stores, waiting for aspiring authors to find on a wire rack. In another world, King would be earning a penny a word, and deserving every cent. You fly through the thinness and savor the meaty parts of this book, and there are many, and they are worth it.

I admit to writing Stephen King off, that he would not be capable of writing a book with the intensity and thrills of his earlier work. After finishing Under the Dome I'm here telling you that I was wrong. He's back. Pass the crow.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Got this from Lis

1. Where did you begin 2009?
By singing The Candy Man is Dave's basement. Ha! That was sick!

2. What was your status by Valentines Day?
Apart from Emma, waiting for a visa.

3. Were you in school anytime this year?
The only school I was in was my son's, to visit.

4. Did you have to go to the hospital?

5. Did you have any encounters with the police?
None at all. I've been good.

6. Where did you go on vacation?
We went to Pittsburgh after the wedding for a couple of nights. Berkeley, but that was for IWPS and not really a vacation. The few hours we spent in San Francisco were fun.

7. What did you purchase that was over £100?
Various things from the Department of Homeland security. Trips to Pittsburgh and Berkeley.

8. Did you know anybody who got married?
Um, yes. Kym and J.J. too!

9. Did you know anybody who passed away?
An Aunt, parent of a friend.

10. Did you move anywhere?
Nope, trapped in this house

11. What sporting events did you attend?
Went to a couple of Blue Jackets games. One Clippers game. That has to change next year.

12. What concerts/shows did you go to?
Sadly, only two. Jonathan Richman and Camera Obscura. Again: that has to change.

13. Describe your birthday.
Pretty quiet, I think. Kym and J.J. got married the next day.

14. What is the ONE thing you thought you would not do, but did, in 2009?
Quit posting on live journal.

15. What have been your favourite moments?
May 30th. Seeing downtown Pittsburgh at night. Being blown away after winning the IWPS Grand Slam. Kanye-ing Tyrone. May 30th. Seeing my Father-in-Law served a Budweiser and getting a frosted glass. My son throwing things in the trash without our asking. My son swimming.

16. Any new additions to your family?
A wife.

17. What was your best month?
May was good.

18. Who has been your best drinking buddy?
My wife. Jim.

19. Made new friends?
Not sure.

20. Favourite Night out?
Any number of Writers' Block nights.

The photo of the year BTW.

21. Other than home, where did you spend most of your time?
The work thing, Kafe Kerouac.

22. Have you lost any friends this year?
Yeah, politics, they suck.

23. Change your hairstyle?
Same as it ever was.

24. Have any car accidents?
No no no!

25. How old did you turn this year?

26. Do you have a New Years resolution?
Nah, they just get broken by President's Day.

27. Do anything embarrassing?
Not really.

28. Buy anything from eBay?

29. Get married or divorced?
Why yes.

30. Get hit on?
Me? No, I don't shine like that.

31. Been snowboarding?

32. Did you get sick this year?
I get colds, eyestrain, an occasional migraine...

33. Are you happy to see 2009 go?
It's time to see another calendar.

34. Been naughty or nice?
Always nice.

35. What are you looking forward to most in 2010?
My son growing up. Staying married. Slam season.

Cheers to 2009. Bring on 2010

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Two to Four Inches of Snow is Light. Lighten up America!

Maybe I'm spoiled, insensitive and tough but when did the people of Central Ohio, heck, the rest of the country become so fearful of the weather?

Today is December 19th. The winter solstice starts on Monday.

It's December. This is winter. There is going to be snow, ice, sleet, freezing rain and cold weather. This is what happens in parts of the northern hemisphere during this time of year. What has happened to the culture of this country that has become so alarmist when there is a snowflake visible?

I spent a decade in the snow belt of Western New York and saw some serious snowfall. So back in March of 2008, when Columbus got twenty inches of snow - that was serious, the most I've seen here in twenty years.

I'm not a cold weather person, and I loathe ice on the roads. My car is the only Volvo in North America that does not start when the temperature is in the single digits.

So last night and into today, there was snow. How much? Two freaking inches and you'd think there was a nuclear war being waged. Blogs and Facebook statuses were updated with spewings of hatred and fear of snow. You'd think Osama Bin Laden was controlling the weather the way the venom was flying off people's keyboards.

And the weather forecasters on the news do not help with their calls of alarm. Their sending of reporters for live remotes to the city salt barn if the temperature drops below freezing and the sky has a dark cloud. What a waste of resources. Can't they report something more important? I remember Jym Ganahal on channel four years ago, practically crying on the air because there may be ice on the roads during rush hour and he said, "Our only hope is if the sun comes out to melt the ice." As if Satan and demons were conspiring to cause people to have to drive through inclement weather. As if the world could not be a perfect place unless temperatures are in the seventies year round. This is not Aruba. It gets hot. It gets cold. Sometimes it does not rain for a week. Sometimes it rains for three days straight. It's part of life.

An inch or two of snow is nothing people, drive sensibly and it will be gone in a couple of days. Deal. Be patient. Plan accordingly. Have a plan. I understand that many cities are not equipped with the resources for snow removal and it sucks when the power goes out because of excessive ice. The bad weather will end.

People, have a seat by your window. Turn off the news. Have something warm to drink. Watch the snow fall. It's pretty.

When did people become so afraid of nature?

Friday, December 18, 2009

Long Street, Across from the Lincoln Theater

It was good to get out to a new venue and read some work last night. I've never been to Zanzibar before and had no idea what to expect. It's a rather large and shiny coffee house cafe in the inner city. Kudos to the owners for taking a risk. I hope it pays off for them.

Nick Brown runs a good show. There was a very guitarist playing some tasty licks, open mic was solid with some angry women. There was also a guy who read a narrative that was longer than my set. It should have ended 'Name and Address Withheld by Request.'

Yes, it was like that.

It was late when I got on and part of the crowd had left (including Mr. lengthy narrative - show some respect. We sat though your episode) but I think the remaining audience appreciated my poems.

Set List:
It Was an Old Book
The Future and the Now (An old one I polished up)
Out in the Fresh Air
Nobody's Poet
After Birth
Spam Folder of Love (First time I've read that since the 'incident', always fun!)

Still need to work on my between poem banter and introductions to the poems but I thought it was a solid enough set.

Even had time to work on a couple of new, shorter pieces. I'll see how they look after I decipher my handwriting. Really have not written anything since IWPS, that has to change.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Before I Forget

Tomorrow night I will be featuring at Cover Me, 745 East Long Street.

Show starts at 9PM, admission is four bucks.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

2009 - The Music

2009 has been another year of massive changes, and for the better. As usual these songs are not necessarily from the best albums of the year but are the ones that kept my interest. I mean, the Beatles catalog was remastered, your best of is right there! Sadly, there is not going to be a complete download of this mix available, blame time and technology constraints. What I have done is included some MP3 links to a few of the songs, some links to various versions of a song on You Tube. If there's anything on here that interests you, shoot me an email and we'll work something out.

Fitz & Dizzyspells - Andrew Bird. I always look for an opening song. Usually it's one that hooks me from the first listen and tells me it's going to lead off the year end CD. The honor goes to Andrew Bird.Here's a video.

Zorbing - Storonway. There's something about the harmonies in this group from Oxford that grabs me. Thanks to the music blog The Pop Cop for this one. From Jools Holland.

You Can Have a Cell Phone that's Ok - Jonathan Richman. The man keeps going. We saw him live this summer. My third time seeing him in person and he's as exuberant as ever. And this is a song I can relate to! Give it a spin!.

Picture Perfect - Strawberry Whiplash. This is a pleasant little pop gem from a Glasgow based group. Has a good Julianna Hatfield vibe to it. So sweet!

Maybe So, Maybe No - Mayer Hawthorne. Twenty nine year old white guy from Ann Arbor makes groovy R&B record. Production values straight out of 1973. Dig the video.

Heaven Can Wait - Charlotte Gainsbourg. I'm going to listen to this new song she did with Beck instead of going to see her in Antichrist. She's easy on the eyes.

Looking Out - Brandi Carlile. She's an earnest one. Lots of people raved about her last record and the way her voice broke while singing The Story. It was a bit over wrought and custom made for Grey's Anatomy for me, much like the new one from Regina Spektor. Her new record is a bit looser, and has a lot more depth. Here's a live video from before the record was released.

Fabric of My Life - Zooey Deschanel. Yes, it's from a commercial. But have you seen the ad? Watch the ad! She's so damn cute. And the ad is for cotton. How can you be mad at Zooey Deschanel in cotton?

Doomsday - Elvis Perkins in Dearland. The young man has issues, lost his father from AIDS, his mother was in one of the planes that hit the WTC. Doomsday is a Tuesday for sure. But Elvis twists the sorrow with a joyous funeral dirge. Glorious! Great performance here.

Till Min System - Love Lindblom. This one's from Sweden. I have no idea what he's singing about, but I'm sure they're nice things. Then the horns kick in, the 'say wha?' chorus is infectious and you'll love Lindblom too. You can find the love here..

Go All the Way - Susanna Hoffs and Matthew Sweet. Twenty years ago I suggested The Bangles cover this song. When they broke up I kept saying Susanna should sing this one. People laughed at me. Who is laughing now? Dreams come true!

Liberator - Force Vomit. I got this one from a number of blogs who compile a selection of international, independent music each month. It's called the Music Alliance pact and it's introduced me to a wide array of music from around the world. This band is from Singapore, and they rock! Crank it!

Everything with You - The Pains of Being Pure at Heart. Indie Brooklyn rockers put out a cool sound. Nothing exceptional, but this one has a good hook.

Dog Days are Over - Florence and the Machine. I predicted big things for Florence Wright when I used one of her demos on last year's mix. I came close. Hopefully, she'll be able to follow up Lungs with a strong sound. Mercury Prize performance here.

Love Runs Deeper - Lindsey Buckingham. Each year I put in an obligatory song that was released late in the previous year. Gift of Screws came out in September and I did not hear it until earlier this year. He's still got the writing knack and displays some mad guitar skills throughout the record. I love this one because every acoustic guitar in the world is playing. Nice live performance.

People Got a Lotta Nerve - Neko Case. Her voice is amazing. Her phrasing is top notch. I wish her material was worthy of her instrument though. This is good, but if the writing quality was raised a few notches the results would be scary great. Live in Charlotte a couple of weeks ago.

Flatten the Hay - The Duckworth Lewis Method. I found out about Neil Hannon through the God Help the Girl soundtrack in which he made a guest appearance. My Scottish Wife suggested I listen to some of his music. She sent me a couple of You Tube links to Perfect Lovesong, Tonight We Fly and his Divine Comedy projects. I got hooked. This song is a collaborative effort between Hannon and Thomas Walsh. It's also about cricket, which I know nothing about except from seeing the movie Laagan. The music sounds a heck of a lot like XTC and that's fine by me. The Divine Comedy is releasing a new record in 2010, and I'm excited about it.

Musician, Please Take Heed - God Help the Girl. Stuart Murdoch of Belle and Sebastian is a busy man. He put out a blind ad looking for girls to sing in a group. I'm sure the audition process must have been a fulfillment of one of Murdoch's wet dreams. The end result is an Irish gal named Catherine Ireton, who sings lead on most of the songs on the soundtrack to a movie that has not been written or filmed. Stuart and his band mates can arrange a lovely song, but can Murdoch come through with a screenplay?

Nearly Home - Broken Records. Another song courtesy of the Pop Cop. This band from Edinburgh has a lot of the multiple instrument flair of Arcade Fire. Hell, a lot of bands are coming out sounding like them. I could have made a whole disc of songs by bands who sound like Arcade Fire. Anyway, I do like this song because it gets over the top at the end. Part of the band's power. Click to download.

I Don't Know - Lisa Hannigan. Another charming Irish gal. There are some very good songs on her See Sew album, and some not so good ones, but the videos are irresistibly cute. Here's the song to download. Here's a different mix of this song on You Tube, it's her in a snug in a Dingle bar performing this song.

Honey in the Sun - Camera Obscura. Well what do you know, another Scottish group. My Scottish Wife and I got to see them live, and met Francois Marry, their touring bassist, an old friend of Emma's. Also got to meet the lovely and wee Traceyanne Campbell, but that's another story! I like this song so much I turned it into a wedding slideshow.

After Leaving Mom on the Tarmac

Technology with its small buttons and indecipherable instructions frustrated me to the max yesterday then a certain title underwriter set me off with a new hoop to jump through, after I asked weeks ago if there were any more hoops.

At least J.C. Penney came through when least expected. Thank you large retailer.

Had not been to the Eastland Mall in years. When did every other store become a shoe retailer of some sort? Seriously, A Foot Locker, Finish Line and about a dozen stores sell footwear.

Since the Blue Jackets are unwilling to make a trade or replace the coach and desperately need a shaking up may I suggest replacing the team captain. I think R.J. Umberger is ready to lead. They stunk up home ice, again, last night.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Life offine

Been a busy few days. My Mom flew in Friday night and is staying through tomorrow. Been shopping, eating and hanging with Mom. My son's been a lot of fun too.

So busy I did not get to see most of the Everton draw on the road at Chelsea. I'll take that point! Even the Bills won today and I did not see a minute that that.

As for Ohio State Hockey, losing two to Miami this weekend, I really think the A.D. should consider a new coach for next year and not extend Markell's contract.

If all goes according to plan the tree will be decorated tonight.

Edit: Ok, the tree is decorated.

Merry Christmas, twelve days early!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Impossible to give a title

When a night ends in inter racial female arm wrestling you know something good happened. Such was the case last night at Writers' Block when we, sadly, said goodbye to British Chris.

Out of curiosity and, perhaps, sympathy, Scott agreed to let Chris host.

Chris delivered the goods. He even brought charts explaining how awesome Writers' Block is.

More awesome than a giant squid, and that's saying something!

The night was fabulous. There were poems dedicated to Chris, tears on stage, another chart, Smokey Oolong (yes!), teabags thrown, my Scottish Wife performing, Vernell's impressive boots and so much more.

Again. There was arm wrestling. With each arm. It ended in thumb wrestling. Hot action!

When you have a bad day, the night helps. It really does.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Answers I do not get to questions

Two and a half months later I'm still waiting for paperwork to be filed that would enable me to attempt to refinance the house. This is also paperwork that should have been filed almost two years ago. Her lawyer was supposed to handle this. It could have been done by now. There could have been a closing. So I wait. The bank waits, and for how much longer?

High wind warning today. Rain, sleet, snow, toads and who knows what will fall from the sky. Hope it does not interfere with my Mother's trip out here on Friday.

There's a holiday pot luck at work, Writers' Block tonight. British Chris is leaving and he asked Scott if he could host. There is going to be mayhem tonight.

Not much else happening. The kid went to bed at 9:30 last night and is starting to stir, which means it's time for me to get moving and face the day.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Bottoming out.

Somehow I had managed to be the back seat passenger in an old convertible that Lou Reed was driving. We were in Columbus, not in an area that I knew. Lou took a corner and we were on an elevated road. There were houses on both sides and you could see their rooftops and there was a steep incline leading to the houses, which were not very far away - twenty feet maybe. So Lou's driving and he loses control of the car and we end up going over the side of the road, plummeting to the ground.

Thanks Lou. Next time I'll drive, or take a cab.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

From the Mailbox

Came home on Thursday to find a package in the mailbox. It was from a friend's workplace and I immediately thought 'candy' as he's been known to send me music and things.

I open it up and it's essentially a complete collection of Jandek DVDs.

Here's his wikipedia entry if you're not familiar with who Jandek is.

A few weeks back, during the ill fated 30 poems in November project, I wrote a poem about WCVF, and name checked Jandek. I'm suspecting that's why I got the package.

My Scottish wife just happened to be at his first gig in Glasgow, and I found that DVD and had it playing when she got home. "Look familiar dear?" I asked as she came downstairs. She knew the drummer and we could not hear her clapping.

In October of 2008, I had the opportunity to see Jandek at the Wexner Center and wrote about it here. I hope Corwood Industries releases Columbus Friday, I'd buy that.

Included in the package was the Jandek on Corwood documentary, which is a fine primer to understand the guy's work. It was released before he started playing in public so some of the mystery has been taken out of it. I'm still trying to figure out if it was better not knowing who the guy is, or if he was better staying put - although I am grateful for the opportunity to see him live.

Friday, December 4, 2009

The Naughts

Here it is. The obligatory end of the decade list of the music this guy liked. It’s not a best of list. This is a personal compilation. It’s also not a list of the best albums. The rise of the internet and downloading has caused a big shift in my listening habits over the past ten years; I don’t really listen to new records anymore, but a bunch of songs.

Please, don’t be the guy who says the decade is from 2001-2010. My blog, my rules. Tried my best to pick out two songs from each year. If I failed to get two from each year, please be kind. Unfortunately time and technology limits my ability to provide a downloadable link to these songs. They’re out there, and you can find most of these on Youtube. If you’re intrigued and unable to find a song shoot me an email and I can send you an MP3.

What a decade, eh? For me it has been a whirlwind. Four jobs, two marriages, four cars, one house, one son – and after all the drama and shifting of rubble, as Elton John said, I’m still standing. Somehow, in all the madness, I got my ears going again. It helped keep me sane, and these little end of year liner notes have been fun to do, and complete. Thank you for reading and taking part in the journey.

Mambo De La Luna - Kirsty MacCall. I still mourn her tragic death after hopping on her bandwagon posthumously. Her Tropical Brainstorm release is a danceable, heartbreaking and independent display of her love of Cuban music. It’s very sad that there’s not going to be any more new music from her.

You Were Right - Badly Drawn Boy. When my son was small and did not sleep, unlike now when he still does not sleep, to calm myself down I'd put the Music Choice channel. The adult alternative channel played, and may still, a lot of music that was new to me. This song was one of them, and in a few songs an artist I really came to love would come along. I like this song and its breezy pop sensibilities. In a couple of years Damon would release One Last Dance, and that song really freaked me out during the time my marriage fell apart.

You Know So Well - Sondre Lerche. It was another of the many times my son would not fall asleep. I put Music Choice on to try and stay sane. Then this song came on and flipped me out with it's Strawberry Fields production and Donovan voice. I asked Laurie to write this down in case I forgot. I reserved it from the library. There was a short waiting list. Then it came through book drop while I was clearing it. The Faces Down CD was the only time I broke library rules and checked out to myself before the next person in line got their reserve. This is the first time I'm telling this part of the story. This is my confession. I really admire the music this kid from Norway has made.

Come Pick Me Up - Ryan Adams. Whiskeytown completely passed me by during its existence. It was not until after 9/11 that I started paying attention to Ryan Adams because of that video he made on 9/7, just a day before I was in New York City and had an incredible day there. I gave Gold a listen, found it alright but more than a bit self indulgent (imagine that!) then picked up Heartbreaker and was quite impressed. In March of '02, for our wedding anniversary we went to see him live. One of the worst shows I've ever seen. Back to the audience, no stage presence. After his next few records I almost wrote him off, even picked him in a death pool thinking he'd go the way of Gram Parsons. But a broken arm and some maturity showed me he's still relevant and I really liked Jacksonville City Nights.

Allt Som Ar Ditt - Sakert. I have the guy who was not interested in my wife to thank for this. He put it on his monthly downloadable mix and I was hooked on this song. It has a very Fleetwood Mac vibe. The lyrics are quite dark, there's revenge and an assault in there. The video is even darker. The artist is a Swedish woman named Annika Norlin. Her English alter ego is a group called Hello Saferide and the music is charming and quirky and you just want to hug her. So thanks Paul, and why are you blocking me on Facebook?

Sequestered in Memphis - The Hold Steady. For awhile I kept reading about this Minneapolis band on the blogosphere. There was a lot of universal love for them I could not ignore. So I checked out Boys and Girls In America, which did not grab me. At all. A few months later, I gave it another shot to the same results. So when Stay Positive came out and the same people were showing it the same love, I was skeptical. Then I heard this song and was instantly pulled in. Their best songs have a great riff, a story with a lot of dark corners and a sing along chorus. The whole record maintains the theme and it holds together well. I gave Boys and Girls in America an unprecedented third chance, nope.

 Doomsday - Elvis Perkins in Dearland. A now estranged friend sent me a copy of Ash Wednesday and I was impressed by his words and tone. I called him the Buster Keaton of rock music. That's a compliment. There's a lot of color in his world that has been darkened by the public deaths of his parents. His recent record is even better and this song with it's dance along funeral dirge and trombones is brilliant.

 I Want to Sing That Rock and Roll - Gillian Welch. She is one of the most important American artists of the past decade. She comes from Southern California but you'd swear she was raised in a Georgia holler. Her guitarist, David Rawlings, is no slouch either. Check out the guitar solo on this song.

 I Feel Better - Frightened Rabbit. The passionate rock and roll sounds out of Falkirk, Scotland. I like these guys and suspect 2010 will be a very big year for them.

 Intervention - Arcade Fire. The band that got me into new music again. The same person who got me onto Elvis Perkins suggested this group also. I got Funeral out of the library and thirty seconds into the first song I was devoted. It lived in my cd player, in my car and head for a long time. Then in late 2006, when this song was leaked as a preview of their Neon Bible record I was blown away. I cannot tell you how much I listened to this one song, and how much it kept me going during some very, very hard times in my personal life. Seeing them perform this song live capped it all off. It’s not so much a great song to me as it is an anthem. Three years later it still sounds fresh as it sends chills through me. This is the band of the decade. I await their next record.

 Dog Days Are Over - Florence and the Machine. My introduction to Florence Wright came from a Columbus blog called Donewaiting. It was a review of her performance at the SXSW festival. She was in a bar, jumping around on stage, then went into a small swimming pool and splashed around. I started looking around online and downloading as much of her material as I could. She has style, looks and energy. She could be a big star.

Sunset - Kate Bush. Ah Kate, where were you the past twelve years? It had been so long. I never forgot about you, I suspected you were busy having a kid and all. It takes a lot of your time. And when you released the double cd I was so pleased. Sure, you sang the first one hundred digits of pi on one song but that was ok, you can come over and sing the phone book to me. Disc two, a sky of honey, helped me sleep for months. This song is beautiful, just like you. Come back in less than twelve years, if you're going to be late you know where to find me.

 Muzzle of Bees – Wilco. Oh Mr. Tweedy you entered the decade with so much hope and promise, just like the rest of us. Then you lost your record deal, regained it, shook up the band publicly, went into rehab and came out of it mellower. What happens to artists who lose their creativity when they clean up? Since you and the late Jay Bennett broke up the band has not been the same. I’m not saying it’s worse, just different. Sure Nels is a hell of a guitarist, but you have not been giving him much to do. You’re only on this list because I could not leave you out. I’m not saying you have to rock in 2010, but to stop boring me. All the best.

 Funny Little Frog - Belle and Sebastian. Yeah. Scotland. Glasgow. At the beginning of the decade the country was not even close to being on my life’s radar. Now I’m surrounded by it. The Life Pursuit was the first record of theirs I took an interest in, back in that infamous year of 2006. Maybe I was reading Craig Ferguson’s book at the same time as hearing this song come out of the speakers, knowing then and there it would lead off the end of the year disc, and not knowing about the craziness the rest of the year would bring.

 In the Night - Joseph Arthur. Like Jeff Tweedy, the decade began with a lot of promise for young Joseph. Then, things got weird. Maybe his brief dalliance with Lindsey Lohan (I think I am the only one who did not but I had a dream about her) changed him. Anyway, he posts a lot of his poetic stylings on the web, seems to have sobered up and has stopped releasing records on the hour – which would be a good thing, if his recent releases were as profound as Redemption’s Son. I’m glad he’s well, and there’s still hope for him, and all of us.

 Love Changes Everything - Sam Phillips. Poor gal released an amazing record on 9/4/01. Then she and T-Bone Burnett split up. I get that. If you’re sad, Sam, come on over. I’ve got beer. We’ll just talk. Honest.

 Don't Ever Change - Amy Rigby. One of my favorite blogging musicians. She’s living in France with her husband Wreckless Eric. She writes about her new life in a foreign country, getting decent eye ware, the strains of touring. She’s an earnest voice in a sea of manufactured hype and it’s a damn shame she does not get the credit she deserves.

 2+2=5 (The Lukewarm) - Radiohead. One of the most lauded bands of the decade. I think their releases have been mixed in quality, and I still do not get Kid-A. I liked Hail to the Thief and especially this song.

 What a Wonderful Man - My Morning Jacket. These guys are from another planet and have made so many turns in their style that it’s become hard to categorize them, which is not a bad thing. This is one of their shorter, and straightforward songs. None of their reverb jam band songs here, and it’s hard to get mad at them because they soar. MMJ might be the best live band out there now.

 Knights of Cydonia – Muse. I’ve never really heard these guys, still not sure why I checked the record out from the library. Took it upstairs, was reading. It sounded ok, nothing earth shattering. Then this song, the last one on the record started. I stopped reading. This song has everything. Hints of Joe Meek, Ennio Morricone, the riff from Barracuda, Yes, Queen and so much more. I played it again, and again after that. What a great sound. I’m not impressed with their live act or stage presence, but this song plain out rocks.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

This is Not a Blog Post

Been listening to Walls and Bridges in the car this week. Lennon's 1975 release. In retrospect I'd make it harder, especially the guitar arrangements. More power chords. In Scared a sax solo that's low in the mix comes in when there should be a fierce guitar solo. Never liked Number Nine Dream much, and it has not grown on me. Old Dirt Road and Surprise Surprise (Sweet Bird of Paradox) still shine for me. Nobody Loves You When You're Down and Out remains classic. I would not change a thing.

Last night's Woman of the World Grand Slam was held last night. Vernell Bristow won and will be representing Writers' Block at the Women of the World Slam here in March. There was very little drama for first place. Vernell won the first round handily and no one else seemed to answer the challenge in the next two rounds. There was plenty of competition for the next five positions with just a tenth of a point separating second and third place, which went to Rose Smith and Rachel Wiley. Time penalties were happening in the later rounds. Something was missing. A lack of suspense and intensity. It was there, but there should have been more. I think it was the distance Vernell put on the competition from the start.

Open mic next week is going to be, well we don't know really because British Chris will be hosting. He's headed back to England and asked Scott if he could emcee. Scott agreed without thinking it through. I'm sure there will be lots of surprises next Wednesday night.

And where has Smokey Oolong been?

Hits and page views have increased eightfold this week. Who are you people?

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

With God on Their Side

Tonight our leader goes to West Point and will give a speech about escalating the troop levels in Afghanistan. This is the type of policy decision that makes me go third party. Since I can't change my vote I get to rant here and be one of those keyboard warriors.

Sure, Obama's consulted with the generals. Are they going to tell him to get out of there? Did he call Gorbachev and ask him how the Soviet Union's time in Afghanistan went? How about reading up on the Anglo-Afghan War? If that was not enough maybe a quick wikipedia look up on Genghis Khan could have given him a broader view on the subject.

No, it's the same old same old in Washington, this one allegedly has an exit strategy. I'm not buying it though. We've always been at war with Eastasia. The poppy fields need to be cultivated by the right people. Blueprints are up for pipelines and contracts need to be signed, with the right parties. Whose side are we on now? The ones who suppress women and religious minorities? The ones who blow up ancient Buddhas? We're spending billions, killing our citizens and theirs to attempt to control a country that has been bombed and brought back to the stone age and for what? For what this time?