Saturday, April 30, 2011

On my turntable: Colin Blunstone - One Year

It's moody and rainy in Minneapolis today. I woke up to the reality of a messy house and a final paper to write for one of my classes.

I've written about One Year (1971) before, so I'll just say that side one + a blanket + a cup of coffee = a good level of comfort to get this day started.

Hope you all find a heap of comfort this weekend yourselves!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

8:37 AM


Early morning at a campus coffee joint, grading the last exams for the classes I've been teaching over the past four years. I gotta say it's bittersweet; I really enjoy teaching, but I'm ready to move on from this particular subject matter (college success strategies) for the time being. Professionally this has probably been the most gratifying work I've ever done, and I am wickedly grateful for the experience.

As for the fall, I have no idea what I'll be doing. My goal is to get another graduate assistantship, and for now I am being cautiously optimistic.  I have a meeting with my academic advisor this morning to map out plans for my dissertation research.  On to the next round...

Saturday, April 23, 2011

"Snacktime with Austin"


Of our two rabbits Austin is the shy one, except when it comes to cameras.  Austin makes virtual bunny love to ze camera, baby.  I tells ya, the second he hears the word "action!" he's on cue.  For this video he graciously allowed me to shoot over three minutes of footage in one take. What a pro.

The original soundtrack to this clip was a song by legendary French chanteuse Claudine Longet, which fit so perfectly -- it gave the viewer the impression that Monsieur Austin is dining in some fancy corner bistro du Francais (ooh la la!). Unfortunately when I uploaded the clip to YouTube they disabled the sound due to copyright infringement (!). SO, for YouTube I've replaced the audio with something legal, but here is the original video as it was intended to be seen.  Bon App├ętit!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

1:38 PM

Despite the really horseshit month that March was, I am recognizing how remarkably lucky I am today. 

Monday was my first day back at work since mom's passing on 3/31, and everyone has just been so generous and thoughtful. One of my classes gave me a sympathy card that they all signed, which was very sweet. Today my coworkers surprised me with, of all things, a toaster oven. I had mentioned to one of my colleagues that our oven at home has been out of commission for a while, so they figured a toaster oven would give us more food options at a time when we probably shouldn't be living on a Doritos diet. Grieving requires better nutrition, apparently (or at least hot food). 

It looks like I am unhappy in the picture above, but I'm actually sporting a look of contentment. Things are wicked busy now with the last 2.5 weeks of the semester upon us, but I feel fortunate to have a job that I love.  Since I won't be returning to this position in the fall I am trying to be conscious of enjoying my last few weeks with these outstanding people.  I've been saying this a lot lately, but thanks to everyone for everything.  You've helped me to appreciate how truly blessed I am.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Yesterday's RSD booty

pictured, top L-R: The High Llamas "Damby Delight", Beach Boys "Good Vibrations"/"Heroes & Villains" 10", Fistful of Mercy "Pale Blue Eyes". 
bottom L-R: R.E.M. 3 singles pack, Queen "Keep Yourself Alive"(remastered), Ramones/Red Hot Chili Peppers "Havana Affair"(red vinyl)
Well, despite having class from 8-4:00 (on an official record geek holiday!), I did OK. I ended up with five of the items on my list, plus one that wasn't on my list but should have been (a new High Llamas 45). I was disappointed (but not devastated) that I didn't find the Cars or Duran Duran 45s.  The coolest item on my list was the Beach Boys double 10" SMiLE preview. Of the five or six stores I visited I saw only one copy, which is the one I bought.

Despite the occasional annoyances (minor ones at that), I have to say that I quite enjoy the sport of RSD. I do not like crowds but I like a busy record shop. It gives me hope that brick & mortar stores are going to survive.  I love seeing young people with stacks of vinyl in their arms, because they are the ones that are going to keep the format alive for the next generation. Hooray for Record Store Day!! (I know that sounded really geeky but it rhymed).

Saturday, April 16, 2011

On my turntable: The Bangles - Sweetheart of the Sun (3 song EP)

"Anna Lee (Sweetheart of the Sun)" is the first track to be released from the forthcoming new Bangles album. This 3 song EP also features 2 acoustic tracks, "Hazy Shade of Winter" & "Let it Go", and includes a free download of all 3 tracks.

"Anna Lee (Sweetheart of the Sun)" is an exciting track. To my ears it sounds unlike anything The Bangles have done thus far, and yet the vocals are perfect, vintage Bangles.  The song was written by Debbi, Susanna, & Vicki, and is sung by all three. I have already decided that it is officially one of my favorite Bangles tunes of all time.

Sweetheart of the Sun is sold exclusively through the Maurices clothing store chain, so you need to physically go to a store to find it. I got my copy at the Mall of America for a nifty $5.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

On my turntable: Sonny Bono - Inner Views

Man oh man do I dig this album. 

Inner Views (1967) was Sonny's one and only solo LP.  Sonny & Cher enjoyed enormous success in 1965 with their breakthrough hit "I Got You Babe", but by 1967 their fortunes had already started waning. '67 was the year of the 'Summer of Love' and the explosion of a whole counter-culture of turned-on kids who rejected the mainstream.  'Squares' included folks like their parents, authority figures and, unfortunately, Sonny & Cher. 

Even though Sonny & Cher made some fantastically groovy records, they did not identify as part of the new drug culture, which put them on the outside. Despite a welcomed return to the top 10 in January '67 with "The Beat Goes On", Sonny & Cher's artistic ventures for the remainder of the year (and decade) flopped.  

Released in November, 1967, Inner Views was inconsistent and scattered, yet wildly fearless and often brilliant. The album consists of only five songs, a couple of which ("I Would Marry You Today", "My Best Friend's Girl is Out of Sight") follow the standard Sonny & Cher hit single formula. The remaining three songs are pretty far out, especially "I Just Sit There", a 12-minute freakout that is musically hip, but with lyrics that borderline on ridiculous (and not in a good way):
Ring around the rosey
Your Daddy's getting nosey
Your Mother's cookin' sturgeon
Your Sister's still a virgin.
Um, what? The album closes with the equally bizarre "Pammie's on a Bummer", a psychedelic trip with anti-drug lyrics (and as such, squaresville, man). The LP's back cover features the album's lyrics printed over a pic of Sonny's profile (a la Sgt. Pepper). Perhaps record buyers, upon seeing these lyrics, were convinced that Sonny was simply not tuned-in enough for their rapidly shifting musical tastes.  It makes sense -- how could Sonny possibly compete with the likes of Jefferson Airplane, Jimi Hendrix, and the Grateful Dead?  Still, I give the guy huge props for creating such an interesting album that will remain a fascinating part of Sonny & Cher's history.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

On my turntable (coffee table cleaning edition)

So I was laying on the couch, much like I have for the past week or so, and suddenly decided I could no longer deal with all of the shit on the coffee table. So I cleaned it off.

 As you can see from the before and after pics (left), I did a pretty bang-up job cleaning everything off the table.  Actually what I did was more like clear off the table, as evidenced in the next pic (above, right).  So cleaning the table was the easy part, while sorting through and putting things away was more of a pain in the tuckus.

Whist cleaning I listened to Ghost in the Machine (Police, 1981), Two Fisted Tales (Long Ryders, 1987), and Aerial Pandemonium Ballet (Harry Nilsson, 1971). I've decided that I need to listen to more Nilsson, because he wrote some pretty amazing songs.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

On my turntable: Foo Fighters - Wasting Light

After hearing nothing but raves about this record for the past week, I decided to take the risk and buy my first Foo Fighters record. I've listened twice, and agree that this is a damn good record.

Wasting Light (2011) was produced by the legendary Butch Vig, and recorded entirely analog (in Dave Grohl's garage no less). The album marks the official return of original Foo Pat Smear, who left the band in 1997. The double LP is pressed on heavyweight vinyl and plays at 45 rpm speed for maximum fidelity.

Saturday, April 09, 2011

On my turntable: Badfinger - Wish You Were Here

Wish You Were Here (1974) is not my favorite Badfinger album (my fave is probably No Dice), but I do believe it is their best album. 

Badfinger's story is both fascinating and horribly tragic. Basically they were handed a raw deal from the start. Wish You Were Here should have been a success, but battles between their former (Apple) and new (Warner Bros) record labels positioned the album at the bottom of WB's priority list.  Historically it's one of the best albums most people have never heard.

These days Wish You Were Here is pretty easy to find on CD, and not too tough to find on LP if you search diligently enough. If you're a Badfinger fan or just a lover of grade-A powerpop, it's a search worth your time.

Monday, April 04, 2011

Minneapolis: RSD at Hymie's 4/16/2011

The Cars' new MOVE LIKE THIS on ViNYL!!

Hells yeah! The first new Cars LP in ages (1987?), and it's coming out on vinyl on May 10th.  It certainly doesn't hurt that it's a great album cover!  Amazon.com is taking pre-orders now.

Quote of the week: Jane Wiedlin

I am in awe of great musicians, but I would choose a great song performed by a mediocre musician over a great musician playing a mediocre song ANY DAY of the year!
~Jane Wiedlin (Go-Go's)

Sunday, April 03, 2011

Mindful healing

Losing a parent is brutal. My brother was joking when he said "It's a good thing we only have two parents", but I admit I think there's truth in that. The death of a loved one pushes us into a period of transition (what author William Bridges calls "the Neutral Zone") where we are forced to change before we can move forward with our lives.  While we have no control over the loss of a parent, the good news is that we do have some control over our own healing process and how we construct a new life in the aftermath of trauma.  The Neutral Zone is typically not a pleasant existence, but it can be a period of profound personal change.  At the end of the Neutral Zone we emerge at the start of a new beginning as a different person, hopefully one that has grown in some way from having just experienced a life transition.

It has only been a few days since my mom's passing, so I am not sure that I feel like I'm in a transition, even though my head assures me that I am. I am trying to be conscious of self-care and doing things that I know are helpful for me in times of distress. Today for example, I did some long overdue housecleaning, including the bunnies' space and the music room. I filed away a sizable stack of LPs, being conscious of the joy that I get from alphabetizing and categorizing my music. Tonight I did some yoga and had some green tea while listening to music. Tomorrow's another day, and I don't need to decide how I will manage my time until I get there. My mantra right now is 'No Stress', or at least no self-inflicted stress, because one thing that I do have control over is how I take care of myself through this difficult time.

So that's what's up.

Om Mani Padme Hum.

Everybun says "Hi"

Simon

Austin

farewell blessing


May the long time sun
Shine upon you,
All love surround you,
And the pure light within you
Guide your way on.

Saturday, April 02, 2011

2011: Best of Qtr I

20. "Sloop John B (Amtrac Remix)" - Beach Boys
19. "My Only Drug" - The Roughs
18. "I'll Be Yours" - Those Dancing Days
17. "Under Water" - Acid House Kings
16. "It Happened Today" - R.E.M.
15. "Me & The Moon (Clock Opera Remix)" - The Drums
14. "A Warning Sign" - The Sunshine Underground
13. "Girl Panic!" - Duran Duran
12. "Comin' Home Baby" - Frank Popp Ensemble
11. "Discoverer" - R.E.M.
10. "Dance Floor" - Apples in Stereo
9. "Need You Now" - Cut Copy
8. "Blue Tip" - The Cars
7. "Morning Mr. Magpie" - Radiohead
6. "Move On Fast (Dave Aude Radio Mix)" - ONO
5. "Boys Keep Swinging" - Duran Duran
4. "Night Work" - Scissor Sistors
3. "Cauliflower (Offend Remix)" - dan le sac VS Scroobius Pip
2. "Take It In" - Hot Chip
1. "Mine Smell Like Honey" - R.E.M.

Pause & Reset

What a month. 

On March 31 at 1:35 am we lost our mom to cancer.  We had received the diagnosis only a few weeks before she died.  The past few weeks have been a blur, while life has been put on hold.  We lost a heckuva woman this week.

As Joey Ramone once sang, Life Goes On.  I'll return to the blog soon.  Right now the focus is on healing and all that other razzmatazz that comes with mourning and loss.  Thanks to my incredible extended family for all of your love and support.  Thanks to my mom for the unlimited love & humor that will continue to thrive in all that knew her.