Saturday, September 24, 2016

2016: Best of Quarter III

Since the onset of my big 8-track kick this year, I've been archiving my quarterly best-of's on the ancient tape format.  Working with 8-tracks adds an extra level of ritual to the process.  Some would call it a pain in the ass, I call it fun.  You say potato...

So here's what is likely be the final track list of my fave songs from the past three months, as they appear on the tape:
Track 1: "Insatiable" - Redd Kross
               "The Luck You Got" - The High Strung
               "Cricket and the Genie, Movement I: The Delirium"
                        - The Claypool Lennon Delirium
               "Action" - De La Soul
Track 2: "CBGB's" - De La Soul
               "Beautiful Thing" - Stone Roses
               "Simple & Sweet" - Yoni & Geti
               "Sreaming" - Redd Kross
Track 3: "Pleasure Seekers" - Jeff McDonald
                "2 Styx" - Kula Shaker
                "Smile More" - Deap Vally
Track 4: "Madeline" - Yoni & Geti
                "A Better World" - The Monkees
                "The Sharp Knife" - Dhani Harrison & Paul Hicks
As of now, it's looking like my 'album of the year' is going to be The Monkees' Good Times!. The Top Five, if I had to guess, will probably include Kula Shaker's K2.0, De La Soul's Anonymous Nobody, and maybe Weezer's White Album.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

When one door closes...

Yesterday morning I defended my doctoral dissertation, Finding Purpose: Identifying Factors that Motivate Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender College Student Engagement at a Two-Year Institution.  We're in the middle of a heat wave in Minnesota, and the conference room in old academic building I'd reserved did not have a window or air conditioning.  Despite the heat, things went very well.  I had a good number of friends in attendance, people I've met throughout my years in academia.  I was happy to have my husband there as well. 

After my presentation, there was time for questions, after which my committee had a closed door discussion.  I was then brought back in the room to answer questions from my committee faculty, before being asked to leave the room one last time, to allow the faculty to vote on whether I passed my final PhD exam. 

By noon I was no longer a Ph.D. candidate.  

I started this blog in 2005, shortly before I began what became a ten year stint as a student. A whole lot of shit has happened since then.  It's all here if you care to read.  Personally, I'm crazy excited to move forward.  Completing my Ph.D. is an opportunity to start over.   I'm happy, healthy, and I've got a loving home and incredible friends.  Today I have a soul filled with sunshine. 

Peace -
Jeffrey A. Anderson, Ph.D.

Sunday, July 03, 2016

2016: Best of Qtr II

April, May, June, 2016. Prince died, our house burned down, and hateful tragedy struck in Orlando. On the lighter side, The Monkees released one of the best albums of their career.

April, May, and June had a pretty decent soundtrack, but I think history will show that the May 27 release of The Monkees' Good Times! is what stands out most.  The Monkees' twelfth original LP (their first in 20 years and the first since the death of Davy Jones) is most likely to be my favorite album of the year.  The band released three digital singles from Good Times! this quarter, plus a fourth single ("Whatever's Right") that released by mistake.  Of these four songs, three made my quarterly "best of" list, my favorite being the ridiculously upbeat, "You Bring the Summer", written by XTC's Andy Partridge.  A few weeks ago an official animated video premiered for the song, created by Monkee offspring Jonathan Nesmith and Susan Holloway.

Here is my complete "Best of Qtr II" list (track order as it appears on my quarterly mixtape, pictured below):
  • <"indian wisdom"> unreleased Beach Boys track, circa 1968
  • "She Makes Me Laugh" - The Monkees
  • "The End of Things" - Bob Mould
  • "Funnel of Love" - Cyndi Lauper
  • "You Bring the Summer" - The Monkees
  • "Mr. Pleasant" (RSD release) - The Kinks
  • "IOU" - Annabel Jones
  • "Unicorn" - James McCartney
  • "Sometimes Accidentally" - The Goon Sax
  • "Come With Me" (RSD release) - Idle Race
  • "Trainwreck" - De La Soul
  • <"let's go crazy" (live at Target Center, 5/4/16)> Paul McCartney
  • "King of the World" - Weezer
  • "Me and Magdalena" - The Monkees
  • "Let Love Be (with u)" (single version) - Kula Shaker
My faves of the last three months, immortalized on 8-track.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Saying goodbye.

Yesterday morning at 4:55 we received a somewhat frantic call from our former neighbor in North Minneapolis, who said, "Your house is on fire."  Our scramble out to the car and onto the road felt painfully familiar.  Although the scenario was different, internally I was revisiting the deep sadness of driving to the hospital to say goodbye to my dad, which was soon followed by my mom's passing, and eventually my brother. 

As we approached the block in our old neighborhood, the place where we lived for twelve years, we were stopped by a half dozen fire trucks and emergency vehicles.  There was a pit in my stomach and a sense of dread as we walked closer to to the house.  The firefighters were still trying to get the fire under control.  The beautiful view of downtown Minneapolis that we used to enjoy was obscured by the smoke pouring out busted windows in our first family home.  It was heartbreaking. 

Leo and I moved out of our first house not long after my brother died in 2013.  We had been spending a few months rehabilitating my ancestral home, where my brother had been living.  He left the house in pretty rough shape, and I was determined to restore some happiness to the place. In the winter of '13/'14 we were hit with the bitterly cold "Polar Vortex", at which time we packed up some essentials and our rabbit Austin and headed to the family homestead for what was going to be a winter "staycation".  We never left.  The transport of our material stuff was completed last fall.  We're still unpacking the boxes when we find time.

Once the fire had been extinguished, an inspector attempted to enter the house to see if a cause could be determined, but she wasn't able to get very far into the building.  The second floor of the house had crashed down upon the main level.  The city deemed the house unsafe and told us that it would be demolished within a few hours.  For me, looking at the shell of our first home was like standing in front of a dead loved one who had just left their body.  Its spirit was gone.  We didn't stick around for the demolition; we chose to get breakfast instead. 

Later in the day we received pictures from a friend who was there when the house came down.  The final shot he sent us showed the front steps leading up to what was now nothing.  It was final.  In the end, we know that it was just a house.  More specifically it was an old house, built in 1900.  If we had sold the house, there is a good chance the new owners would have torn it down and rebuilt anyway.  Still, the pain we felt throughout the day was very real and sorrowful.  We packed a lot of living into the twelve years spent in that home.  Now we move forward to the next phase with hope and a reasonable level of optimism.  

Life goes on.

The final photo, after our home was reduced to a pile of kindling.

Sunday, May 08, 2016

5.8.2016 Mother's Day

A few years before she died, my mom said she wanted to go to the annual Pride parade with me and Leo. I knew she liked parades, but this was the first time I learned that she *loved* marching bands, so much that they made her cry sometimes. The parade was packed as usual; I think Mom was a bit surprised by the huge crowds. I was glad she was able to see all the families and dogs, and just the feeling of celebration.
We left the parade to go to the festival in the park (I think Mom got bored over the lack of marching bands). When Mom saw the PFLAG booth she proudly walked up and told the lady behind the table, "This is my son Jeff and his partner, Leo." It was one of the great moments of my life, not just to see the true acceptance from Mom, but also because of the PFLAG lady's response. She looked at my mom with this expressionless face, and I imagined her thinking, "Uh, yeah - welcome to Pride. There's half a million gay guys here, but thanks for the heads up on your kid." My mom took a PFLAG magnet that would remain on her fridge. Her journey wasn't an easy one, but she did it.

Friday, April 29, 2016

The Monkees: "She Makes Me Laugh"

Micky Dolenz, Peter Tork, & Michael Nesmith (known collectively as THE MONKEES) released a magical new digital single today. "She Makes Me Laugh", written by Weezer frontman Rivers Cuomo, is from the band's forthcoming LP, Good Times!, which will be released May 27 on CD and digital formats, and on LP in July.  DIG IT!

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

R.I.P. Prince

I thought about posting something here last week after hearing the news of Prince's passing, but at the time it seemed like too big of a task.  It still feels tough, but I feel like I should post something, so here's a note I wrote on Facebook on Friday.


Yesterday I felt a kinship with a special community of people. It was one of those moments when Facebook was a blessing. From noon forward there was this focus on what we were all feeling, as it happened. We all felt it together.

I called my good friend Chuck immediately, because I knew he would be in the same headspace. When he answered I realized it my first time hearing his voice, even though we've been friends for years. We were on the phone when AP confirmed the news. Our chat didn’t last long, but it felt necessary to check in.
A few minutes later my longtime friend Jim called. Since the 80's Jim and I have seen Prince (the Jam of the Year tour stands out in my mind) and experienced our city's live music scene together. Like my brief chat with Chuck, it felt good to just say "hey - you doing alright?". The next call came from Leo, who said, "I'm coming home". I was actually doing OK, but it certainly was better to have Leo with me. As you might expect, he lit a purple candle. :) I finished the day with my bandmates, who turned out to be exactly what I needed.
The one person I didn't get to call yesterday was my brother. Jay and I rarely missed a local Prince show, and the release of a new Prince album was always an event that included hours of discussion. As Minneapolis kids, it was part of who we were. When we were in high school, it was Jay who made me listen to Controversy and the first Time LPs. Despite his absence, yesterday was an opportunity to revisit some pretty incredible memories that Jay and I created over the years, over decades, all because of this gentleman called Prince.
Today I’m actually more weepy than yesterday. I suspect that yesterday was spent on grief autopilot. It was comforting to witness the city coming together as they did, with the purple lighting of our bridges, and the amazing late night gathering outside First Avenue. Watching the outpouring of love from Prince’s hometown was a helpful distraction from the inevitable. Today is a new reality. Let’s not forget that we have each other today just as much as we did yesterday. We’re still in it together. 
Much Love - J.

Friday, January 01, 2016

2015 Vinyl: Honorable Mentions

Here's some new vinyl I acquired in 2015 that did not make it into my "Top 16" but deserve mention nonetheless. Some are albums released in 2014, while a few are 7" or 10" format.
  • Uptown Special (2015) - Mark Ronson
  • The Sunshine of Your Youth (2015) - Cheerleader 
  • Completely Under the Covers (2015) - Susanna Hoffs & Matthew Sweet
  • Pipes of Peace (2015 2LP expanded) - Paul McCartney
  • Trans-Atlantic Psych Classics Vol. 1 (2015) - Electric Peanut Butter Company
  • Hedwig and the Angry Inch (RSD 2015) - Neil Patrick Harris
  • High Fidelity Soundtrack (RSD Black Friday 2015)
  • Smell The Da.I.S.Y (Da Inner Soul Of Yancey) (unofficial, 2015) - De La Soul x J Dilla
  • Brian Wilson (2015 2LP expanded, RSD Black Friday 2015)
  • The MGM Singles Collection (2015) - Micky Dolenz
  • Peanuts Greatest Hits (2015) - Vince Guaraldi Trio
  • Street Faerie (2015 first vinyl press) - Cree Summer
  • Goastt Stories (2015 10") - The GOASTT
  • Expanded EP (2015 10") - The Moonlandingz
  • "Help Is Coming"/"Anthem" (2015 7") - Crowded House
  • "Better Not Sting the Bee"/"Wolves" (2015 RSD 7") - Kate Pierson
  • "Happy Xmas (war is over)/"Atlas Eets Christmas" (2015 7") - Yoko Ono & Flaming Lips
  • "Brand New Year"/"Starting Over (live)" (2014 RSD 7") - Eric Carmen
  • Nights Like This (2014) - Eli "Paperboy" Reed
  • Recorded Live at Metropolis Studios, London (2014) - The Zombies
  • L.A. Forum (Live in 1975) (2014) - The Rolling Stones
  • Live at German Television - The Musikladen Recordings (2014) - Ramones
  • Oobu Joobu (unofficial, 2014) - Paul McCartney
  • Nostalgia (2014) - Annie Lennox
  • Heaven & Earth (2014) - YES
  • Strange Desire (2014) - Bleachers
  • Symphonica (2014) - George Michael
  • Long Gone (2014 10") - The GOASTT

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Happy New Year

Our semi-annual year-end family photo, the first to include our little girl Freddie. I don't know if it's obvious, but she highly disapproved of this whole activity.
Wishing all the best to you in 2016!! 


Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Top 16 LPs of 2015

So why 16 LPs, rather than 10 or 20?  Sixteen is the number of songs that typically fit into a 60 minute podcast. :)

My podcast for this week is a countdown of my fave LPs of the past year. My criteria for selection:
  • Must be available on vinyl
  • Must have been released in 2015 (must also have "2015" printed somewhere on the sleeve).
  • Reissues were considered if they included new material and/or packaging (i.e. remixed, bonus tracks, etc).
So here's the list!
  1. No Pier Pressure - Brian Wilson
  2. Begin the Begone - The Orange Peels
  3. Still Got That Hunger - The Zombies
  4. The Magic Whip - Blur
  5. Paper Gods - Duran Duran
  6. 1 (2015 remix) - The Beatles
  7. Music from Love and Mercy
  8. The Butterscotch Cathedral - s/t
  9. Let's Have a Party: Live at Emerald City, Cherry Hill, NJ 8/31/1981 - Go-Go's
  10. Tug Of War (2015 remix, expanded) - Paul McCartney
  11. LIVE! 8.24.1979 - the B-52's
  12. Recreational Love - The Bird and The Bee
  13. Real People - Lyrics Born
  14. Postcards From Paradise - Ringo Starr
  15. The BBC Radio Sessions - The Zombies
  16. No Cities To Love - Sleater Kinney
You can listen to the podcast here (link will remain live for about 8 weeks): 

Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Reviewing 2015

It's that time of year when music geeks around the globe engage in their annual reflection of the year's new releases in a sincere effort to assemble their personal "Best Of" list(s).  Non-music heads are prone to scoff at this tradition, but us music people take this task very seriously.

As of this writing I am almost half way through my vinyl purchases of 2015.  Of course I have my specific criteria for which releases qualify for potential inclusion (which will be included when I post my final list).

To my fellow music geeks, I look forward to seeing your lists! If you're so inclined, feel free to post them in the comments.

Happy listening!  JEFF

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

RIP Austin Pawers

Last Wednesday (12/9/2015) we said a tearful farewell to our boy Austin. He had started resisting food and water, which is never a good sign for rabbits. We made an emergency visit to the vet, who told us that Austin was having trouble breathing and that his heartbeat was extremely irregular. Our fella was tired.

Austin came into our family, along with his friend Simon, in 2004. Where Simon was very open with his affection, Austin played his cards closer to his chest. It took a couple of years and a lot of patience for me to develop a relationship with him. It wasn't until after Simon's passing two years ago that Austin respected me enough to give me kisses.  To be honest, I didn't expect to ever see such a level of affection from our guarded bunny. Over the last two years when I was dealing with health issues and living with the loss of my brother and Simon, Austin proved to be the ideal companion. We developed a friendship on his terms (as it typically works with rabbits), and he stuck by my side.  I could tell that he loved me, and he showed it the best way he knew how.

At the vet, a sweet and unexpected kiss goodbye.
As I type this I am tearing up again, thinking about my final moments with my little friend.  We were in a room waiting for the vet, and when Leo briefly stepped outside of the room Austin unexpectedly reached his head up to give me a thorough cheek wash. It was an incredibly sweet moment; I truly sensed that Austin knew he was ready to go, and that he was saying goodbye.  After we received his prognosis I spent a final five minutes on the floor with Austin, at which point he gave me a few more bonus kisses (which Leo captured on my phone).  At a time when I was trying to comfort him and assure him that he would be OK, he seemed intent on doing the same for me.  It was such an affirmation of the unlikely bond that we managed to form with each other, and a special gift that I will never forget.

Thank you, Austin, for all of the life that you shared in your eleven years with us. You have a permanent place in my heart. Rest in peace, my sweet boy.


Monday, August 24, 2015

Loss, Life, and Family

RIP: Burying my brother's ashes.
Saturday (8/22) was the 2nd anniversary of my only sibling's death. To recognize the day, Leo and I spent some time burying Jay's ashes. In some ways the experience was like picking at a scab, but it did provide an opportunity for acceptance and feeling better about moving forward. Leo burned some incense that smelled very Catholic, and I spent a few moments feeling my brother's ashes as they began to blend with the earth.

It's a girl! Me, Leo, & Freddie, after
the adoption papers were signed.
Saturday was also the day that Leo and I attended an adoption event held by the Minnesota Companion Rabbit Society. Our eyes were on a particular Holland Lop named Luna, a foster bun who was in need of a permanent home. We were immediately smitten with her, and soon she was in a carrier headed home with us.
We re-named her Freddie (after the character Freddie Brooks from "A Different World", played by Cree Summer), and it's been a joy having her as a new member of the family. She's a very curious, sweet, energetic, and slightly nervous bunny. I look forward to getting to know her better and seeing her personality develop.

Today is Monday and I'm still somewhat spent - emotionally, physically & spiritually - from the weekend's activities. The lesson learned: The reality of life is that everyone dies. I may have lost my birth family to death in the past few years, but at the same time my husband and I have cultivated a family unit of our own. I am proud and humbled to be a part of the loving home we're building for ourselves and our four-legged children.
Freddie's first selfie, taken just after we got home,
before she found the courage to come out of the carrier. 

Thursday, July 02, 2015

NYC2015 in 90 Seconds

Compiled of mostly one-second clips, shot over each day of my trip, from 6/19-25.

Thank you, NYC.