Monday, May 30, 2011

On my turntable: Nat King Cole - Those Lazy-Crazy-Hazy Days of Summer

I found this LP earlier this week for 50 cents. Aside from being sealed nothing could make this record closer to mint condition.   
Those Lazy-Crazy-Hazy Days of Summer (1963) is supposed to be a collection of songs assembled for wonderful, fun summer days. As the liner notes instruct us listeners,
...break open the popcorn, fill up a giant-size pitcher with root beer, and listen to some of the happiest music in a long, warm century of summers!
I can't listen to this record without thinking about how much the "good old summertime" was a myth. For privileged middle-to-upper class straight white kids, summer probably was a pretty sweet time fifty years ago.  But for everyone else in America the civil rights movement was percolating pretty fast, and it was not a pleasant era if you were anything else but straight, white, and privileged in this country. You wouldn't know it by looking at this album though, with its 20-something white couples frolicking on the beach. Nat King Cole, the record's actual artist, is pictured on the back of the album cover.

All of the social commentary aside, Cole was a great singer, and this certainly is an interesting and pleasant album.  I chose it today because Memorial Day always seems to be the kickoff to summer (at least in snowy states like Minnesota).  To all our service men and women past and present, thank you for all of your sacrifice.

And to all my readers: I hope you have a badass summer!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

On my turntable: Joni Mitchell - Chalk Mark in a Rain Storm

We're facing possible severe weather again in Minneapolis at the moment.  WTH? 

There's not a whole lot that I've got to say about Chalk Mark in a Rain Storm (1988). I remember when the album came out (I was working in a record store at the time), and learning that Wendy & Lisa sing on at least one track. Other big names in the credits include Ben Orr (The Cars), Peter Gabriel, and Don Henley. By the time of Chalk Mark Mitchell's voice had become considerably hoarsened from heavy smoking. If it weren't for her unique phrasing and style it would be easy to imagine that this deeper-voiced Mitchell was a completely different singer.

I had an attitude about Joni Mitchell for many years that prevented me from enjoying her work. After giving Blue an honest chance, followed by the amazing Hissing of Summer Lawns, I became far more interested in her prolific body of work. As of this writing I'm indifferent about Chalk Mark in a Rain Storm. It's pleasant enough, but it doesn't grab me like her early work does. Still, it is good enough to warrant future listens, so who knows how I'll feel about it in the future.

OK back to watching the weather news...

Friday, May 27, 2011

5:45 PM

A typical afternoon in the lives of Simon & Austin: Eat, poop, sleep, look cute, repeat.
Austin

Simon

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

On my turntable: The Rascals - See

For the past 20 or so years The Rascals' Once Upon A Dream (1968) has been one of my must-have 'desert island' albums, and I expect that it will remain in my Top 20 for as long as I'm alive.  I have loved the song "See" since my mp3 days when I was scouring the internet for new music, and have owned the See album for a couple of years, but it didn't officially blow my mind until yesterday.

Yesterday on the way home from work I stopped at one of my record stores and found a sealed original Atlantic copy of See for $5. It was flawless, and I couldn't pass it up. Listening to a virgin copy of this record really made my ears perk up, and I noticed for the first time what a diverse and masterful collection it is.  If Once Upon a Dream is the Rascals' Sgt. Pepper, then See is the band's White Album.
Love is really everywhere, to see it is to fly...
~"See"
The title track kicks things off with the rollicking, dirty sound of Felix Cavaliere's organ, followed by words of love & hope that convey the LP's overall message. Musically the album is all over the place (hence the White Album comparison), with rock, R&B, gospel, and eastern Indian styles.  One thing that is noticeably not all over the album is Eddie Brigati, who's songwriting credit is limited to one song ("I'm Blue"), which he co-wrote with Cavaliere.  In contrast, guitarist Gene Cornish penned two songs on the album, including "Remember Me" which is so bubblegummy that it could have easily been recorded by The Archies (and I mean that as a compliment).
Know if you seek you'll find
Love
Be a star up in the sky
Close your eyes begin to fly
Let your body flow away
Feel the truth yourself today
Be with everyone
Love is everyone
~"Stop and Think"
"Stop and Think" is easily one of my favorite tracks on this album. Most bands in the late 60's experimented with Indian music (following The Beatles' lead), but too often it came off sounding disingenuous and trendy. The Rascals always managed to sound sincere with their musical experimentation, and "Stop and Think" (as well as "Nubia" which opens side 2) is a good example.

It is easy to look back at the late 1960's as one big love-in of peace, flowers, and sunshine.  I know I am sometimes guilty of romanticizing this musical era as more than it really was (in my defense I was only three when this album came out).  The reality of the late 60's was far less glamorous, with wars in Vietnam, riots on college campuses, and fighting in the streets. Young people were trying to create a new reality in response the hatred, misunderstanding, and discourse in the world. For a while, in the earliest days of the hippie movement it seemed as if they were really on to something, but the drugs became heavier and "flower power" was snatched up by popular culture and advertisers.  By the beginning of the 70's the movement had burned itself out.

Sometimes I wonder if we are on the verge of another "love movement" in reaction to the hatred we're seeing in the world right now. In Minnesota, as you may know, a bill was just passed to put gay marriage rights on the 2012 ballot. At a rally held this past Sunday the overall message was that we must counter all of the hate and lies with love, compassion, and understanding. It won't be easy, but I think there's a lot of logic in not responding to hate with hate.

With all that's happening regarding the human rights of folks such as myself, it makes sense that See has resonated so much with me at this moment in time. I've always been a believer that music can sometimes connect with us when we need it most. Sounds sorta cosmic, but it has been my experience more than once. Regardless, I'm grateful that this record connected with me this week when I needed to experience its message.

Peace to y'all.  Stay strong.

12:42 PM

SMiLEY

Monday, May 23, 2011

Together we will fight...

...and together we will WIN.

Leo & I at yesterday's Harvey Milk march
This weekend was a mess of highs and lows for equality in Minnesota, a state that has a reputation for being relatively fair-minded.  For those that don't know, Minneapolis was recently named the gayest state in America for godsakes. With all this gayness everywhere, it might be surprising that after hours and hours of deliberation Saturday night the MN house voted to put an anti-gay marriage amendment on the 2012 election ballot. The civil rights of a minority are now at the mercy of the majority.

The good news is that Minnesota tends to lean towards equality. The bad news is that the GLBT community has suddenly been handed the task of winning over the hearts and minds of non-supporters over the next 18 months. We'll need to do it with kindness and love, understanding that not all people hate us -- many of them simply don't understand us because they don't know us. It's like tofu -- it's easy to be afraid of it until you've tasted its delicious soy goodness (perhaps not the best example - I think more people are afraid of tofu than they are of gays).

Our Mayor speaking at the Milk rally
Yesterday in Minneapolis was Harvey Milk Day, as officially declared by our rockstar ally Mayor, R.T. Rybak. As part of the day's events there was a march down Hennepin Avenue, followed by a rally in Loring Park. There was a good turnout despite the rain, and Leo and I marched proudly, shouting with a crowd of smiling gays and allies. As we marched practically every car that drove past gave us a honk and/or a thumbs up and a shout. It was a heartwarming way to follow the crushing defeat from the night before at the state Capitol.  As many of us shouted yesterday, "We have just begun to fight!!"

Friday, May 20, 2011

Beauty + Beat = 30

The 30th Anniversary edition of the Go-Go's classic debut, Beauty and the Beat (1981) was released this week in digital, CD and vinyl formats. The vinyl (shown below) is 140g and PINK.  It sounds very nice, almost audiophile quality.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

2011 RSD booty: The Sequel

So after last month's Record Store Day I was feeling a little bummed that I missed out on two of this year's exclusive RSD items I wanted most (45's by The Cars and Duran Duran). But, as I learned from last year's Record Store Day, it ain't over till it's over, bitches!  As it turned out, RSD inventory continued to trickle into local stores throughout the following week. By Tuesday I had my hands on a copy of The Cars' "Sad Song" 45, and on Friday I found DD's "Girl Panic!".
The Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger La Carotte Bleue EP, The Cars "Sad Song",
Beastie Boys "Make Some Noise", Duran Duran "Girl Panic!"
On eBay I snagged one of 500 copies of the blue vinyl La Carotte Bleue EP by The Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger (I've since learned that it was also for sale on the Chimera Music website), and then TODAY  my copy of the Beastie Boys' "Make Some Noise" 7" finally arrived in the mail. The single went on sale at 5:00 am the morning of RSD through the official RSD website, and it wasn't announced until later that only 500 copies were pressed, so I got my hands on a pretty rare record with that one.

And with that my 2011 Record Store Day journey has come to a successful conclusion!  'Twas a very satisfying journey indeed.

Neutral Zone

I'm sure I've written about William Bridges' book Transitions here before. It was a textbook I read years ago for a class called "Counseling the Adult in Transition".  Life itself is a mess of transitions, so Bridges' work makes sense to me. According to Bridges, there are major events in our lives that can force us into transition (the loss of a loved one, a new job, major illness, etc), eventually requiring us to adjust to or create a new reality for ourselves. For example: When my mom passed away recently, there was no way that I could go on with life pretending that she was alive. Thus, I am in the process of structuring and understanding a new self-identity, that of someone with no living parents (my dad passed in 2007).
In my soon-to-be former office,
5.19.2011

This process of creating/finding our new identity can feel a lot like being lost in the woods. Bridges calls it "The Neutral Zone", and I am in the dead center of it right now. I am doing well -- there are exciting things happening in my life -- but it all contributes to a huge period of adjustment.  Next week I leave a teaching position that I've held for four years.  As I write this I've got a pretty good idea of where I'll be working in the fall, although I never consider it a done deal until I receive the job contract. Also, this past semester I completed the last of my PhD coursework, which is a major milestone, but it is also an academic ending.  From here on I will take on the role of researcher as I work through my dissertation.

Physically the stress I've experienced has taken its toll. I am 10+ pounds lighter than I was just a few months ago. The good news is that I am able to wear shirts that have not fit me in ages, but all of my pants are two waist sizes too big. As a Crohnie I'm used to being "slim", but I prefer not to be "skinny".  In my head, slim = fit, while skinny = sick, and sick is a road I prefer less traveled.  Being someone who lives with a chronic illness, I need to be more health-conscious.

One positive change I've made is to learn more about meditation, something I've dabbled in for most of my adult life but never maintained. Earlier this week I had what felt like a breakthrough session, where I was able to calm myself and clear my head of thought. It seemed like it could be the start of something useful, as long as I continue to practice.  Next on my list is to add more exercise and reduce my intake of processed foods.  We'll see how that goes.  Baby steps.  My point, if there is one, is that stressful or even devastating life events can sometimes initiate positive change.  My hope is that I will create opportunities for myself that result in a better, healthier me.

Thank you for reading!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Cars pic posted by First Avenue

From last night's show, just posted by First Avenue to Facebook:

5.17.2011 (photo credit: First Ave & 7th St Entry)

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The Cars @ First Avenue, 5.17.2011

Outside of 1st Ave prior to the show
WHAT a show. Rarely have I seen First Avenue so packed; I was mighty glad that it was not an August concert, because it can get so unbearably hot that the walls tend to sweat when the room is that full of bodies.  Of course the downside to such a big crowd was constantly having to shift around trying to get a good look at the band. My brother and I had a decent spot for the first two songs, after which we decided to look around the club. The band sounded great, offering a set of songs that contained only one dud (in my opinion), the sluggish "I'm In Touch With Your World."

The Cars onstage in Minneapolis, 5.17.2011
The setlist did not differ much (if at all) from those played so far in other cities, although after what we thought was the final song they asked if they could test out a song they practiced during soundcheck, "You're All I've Got Tonight".  They seemed genuinely happy to be playing to a sold-out house of enthusiastic fans. I for one left immensely satisfied.

Setlist (songs from the new LP marked with *):
  • Good Times Roll
  • Blue Tip*
  • Since You’re Gone
  • Up and Down (!!!)
  • My Best Friend’s Girl
  • Hits Me*
  • Touch and Go (Greg Hawkes played Ben Orr's bass on this one)
  • I’m in Touch With Your World
  • Keep on Knocking*
  • You Might Think
  • Drag on Forever*
  • Free*
  • I’m Not the One
  • Heartbeat City
  • Sad Song*
  • Let’s Go 
  • Encore: Moving in Stereo
  • Just What I Needed
  • You're All I've Got Tonight (impromptu last minute add!)

On my turntable: The Cars - Move Like This

Move Like This (2011)
So if you've been reading over the past few ays you'll know I've been listening to The Cars quite a bit lately, especially their newest album (released one week ago today), Move Like This.  Production credit on the outer sleeve, given to "Jacknife Lee and The Cars", is slightly misleading as it gives the impression that this was a joint production. Inside the gatefold the specific production credits are listed; half of the tunes are produced by Lee, and in my opinion they are by far the standouts on the album. "Blue Tip", "Sad Song", "Free", and "Hits Me" are some of the best Cars songs ever committed to wax. Lee has nailed the classic Cars sound, even managing to kick the energy level up a notch.  Fantastic stuff.

The other half of the album, the tracks produced by The Cars, took more time for me to appreciate but after a week of listening I'm definitely on board.  Without question this is a true Cars LP, despite the obvious absence of founding member, bassist & singer Benjamin Orr (who passed away in 2000).  I had read somewhere recently that keyboardist Greg Hawkes used Ben's actual bass for the album's bass parts (the guitar was in drummer David Robinson's possession), which is pretty damn cool.

I was reading some listener reviews of the LP at Amazon.com and opinions are mixed about the LP's cover art. Personally I think it's one of their better covers, and on 12x12 the colors are vibrant and sharp.  The vinyl edition also comes with a free digital download card, so there's really no reason to even consider the CD.  If you don't own a turntable here's your excuse to start shopping for one!

Monday, May 16, 2011

On my turntable: The Cars - Door To Door

I have no emotional attachment to this record whatsoever.  Unfortunately, I have a feeling that The Cars didn't either.

By the time Door To Door (1987) was released most of the band had been involved in solo or side projects (the most engaging of which, I think, is Elliot Easton's excellent Change No Change (1985)). It had been four years since The Cars had released a full-length album of new material (1984's Heartbeat City), so expectations were probably high.  Door To Door generated some attention with the top 20 single "You Are The Girl", but then quickly faded from sight. Overall the album is bland, sounding like a tired band that knew its days were limited.  The Cars quietly disbanded within the next year.

EMI confirms The Beach Boys' "Smile Sessions" street date

Who knows if it will actually honestly truly happen for real this time, but EMI has reportedly confirmed that The Beach Boys legendary SMiLE sessions will indeed be released in multiple formats on August 9, 2011.

Currently it appears that the vinyl version will only be available as part of a deluxe box set, which will include 4 CDs, a hardcover book by SMiLE expert Dominic Priore, plus 2 LPs and 2 vinyl singles. Sounds awesome and expensive, and I'll probably buy it.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

On my turntable: The Cars - "Tonight She Comes" 12"

"Tonight She Comes" was the one new track on 1985's multi-platinum The Cars Greatest Hits compilation.  This import 12" also includes the tracks "Just What I Needed" and "Breakaway".

I don't own Greatest Hits (just the single), but the album is one hell of a collection:
  • "Just What I Needed"
  • "Since You're Gone"
  • "You Might Think"
  • "Good Times Roll"
  • "Touch and Go"
  • "Drive"
  • "Tonight She Comes"
  • "My Best Friend's Girl"
  • "Let's Go"
  • "I'm Not The One"
  • "Magic"
  • "Shake It Up"

On my turntable: The Cars - Heartbeat City

With Heartbeat City (1984) The Cars were propelled into a whole new level of famedom.  High rotation on MTV kept the band in the public eye long enough for the LP to generate five hit singles: "You Might Think" (which had a highly inventive and eye-catching video), "Magic", "Drive", "Hello Again", and "Why Can't I Have You". 

I remember this album very well, even though I never bought it until this morning. My brother bought the album when it was released in the spring of '84 and I was a senior in high school. Over the summer when my bro was home from college I heard Heartbeat City and Purple Rain a lot. In the fall when I myself went off to college I heard Heartbeat City constantly in the dorm. Thus, I never felt compelled to own the album until this weekend when my Cars marathon came to a screeching halt following Shake It Up. Luckily it's not a tough album to find - the store I visited had about 20 very nice copies collecting dust in the racks.

I find it so interesting how albums can become virtual time-capsules of our lives, especially if the music shares our space for a specific, concentrated period. It's probably been 26 years since I've heard Heartbeat City from start to finish, so hearing it today brought back a flood of very vivid memories from 84-85.  One song after another it was like a rusty door in my memory was being opened, and I was almost 18 again.

On my turntable: The Cars - Shake it Up

After listening to Panorama (1980) I felt the need to hear Shake It Up (1981) right away, even though I didn't own the album. Then I remembered seeing a sealed copy of the LP at the wickedly awesome Hymie's records. So I ventured out to Hymie's, and sure enough the LP was still there & soon tucked under my arm.

I gotta say my memories of this album were better than the album itself. "Shake It Up" was an infectious great single, with a fat synth bass line. The rest of the album is good, but not great. It was, however, more commercial & accessible than its predecessor and its success put the band back on the map.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

What, no Nesmith? Get Over It. No really.

Hey Hey they ARE the Monkees:
Tork, Dolenz, & Jones in the UK, May 2011
I love this picture.

The Monkees are currently in the midst of the first UK concerts of their 45th Anniversary Tour, and they appear to be having a grand old time.  But I've got a bone to pick - not with the Monkees, but with a handful of their obsessive fans, the ones who can't seem to fathom the idea of The Monkees without a certain Michael Nesmith.

Seriously? Is there any real Monkees fan out there who needs to ask "Where's Mike"?? How can anyone possibly be surprised that Nesmith is absent from these proceedings?? In the past 25 years Mike has done one short tour of the UK with the band (in 1997) - and that's it. Otherwise it's been the other three carrying the torch and keeping The Monkees brand alive. And I say God bless 'em.

Yes, Michael Nesmith was a Monkee, and you could argue that he always will be (like Davy Jones says: "The Monkees is like the mafia - once you're in, you're in"), but let's be real. Dolenz, Jones, and Tork ARE The Monkees, and have been since 1986. Every once in a while Nez will show up at a concert and sing a couple of songs, and people go apeshit like he's Moses or something.

Don't get me wrong - in the 45 year history of The Monkees I fully understand how important Mike Nesmith has been, but frankly at this point it's time to enjoy what we've got, and stop whining about what we haven't got. The Monkees are terribly entertaining with or without Mike. As a trio they've got tight comedic timing and for the moment they appear to be getting along. Personally, I'm over the moon that these three have decided to come together again for a summer tour and possibly more. My advice to the Nesmith fans: quit yer bitchin', and let the rest of us enjoy the damn show.

On my turntable: The Cars - Panorama

Panorama (1980)
The Cars escaped the 'sophomore slump' with their career-defining 2nd album, Candy-O (1979). With two big-sellers under their belts, perhaps The Cars believed that the time was ripe for a more daring, darker third LP. Despite the chart success of Panorama's first single, "Touch and Go", a lot of record buyers disagreed with the band's decision to veer from their proven hit formula. Compared with the first two LPs, Panorama (1980) was considered somewhat of a flop. Does that make it a bad album?  Hell no.

Personally, I quite love Panorama and think it contains some of the band's most bold, in-your-face songs. In my opinion, "Up and Down", "Down Boys", and "Gimme Some Slack" are some of the greatest tunes in the band's catalog. Thirty years after its release Panorama holds up better than its more successful follow-up, Shake It Up (1981).

On my turntable: The Cars - Candy-O

Candy-O (1979)
We've all heard of the 'sophomore slump'.  In the dog-eat-band corporate music biz of the late 70's it was almost expected that  bands with hugely successful debut albums were destined to release a disappointing second album. Major labels were notorious for signing bands to two-album deals, with contractual renewal dependent upon the financial success of both albums.

For as rare as it is for a band to experience the success of The Cars' iconic first album, it's doubly uncommon for bands to follow-up with an even better second album.  I can't think of many bands that have done it, but with Candy-O (1979) The Cars managed to escape the dreaded ol' sophomore slump.
Sticker found on initial retail pressings

Candy-O's first single, "Let's Go" was the first Cars record I remember buying. It remains, in my opinion, one of the great 45's of all time -- made for radio and an unmistakable hit. I didn't actually buy the full Candy-O LP until a few years ago (I found a brand new copy for $2, original sticker intact), but in '79 I had my homemade cassette copy, taped from of a midnight airing on our local stoner radio station. 

Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab has a re-issue of Candy-O that is supposed to be coming out soon. Based on what I've read, the pressing (created from the original analog tapes) is stunning. It's also expensive (averaging around $30), but I'm almost tempted to buy one if I can find it cheaply enough. If there was a New Wave hall of fame Candy-O would be in it, plated in gold, secured under glass, surrounded by an invisible laser security system and three or four vicious attack dogs.

Friday, May 13, 2011

SETLIST: Monkees at Echo Arena (Liverpool)

The Monkees on opening night of their 2011 tour (photo: Liverpool Echo)
Monkees 5.12.2011 Setlist:
I’m A Believer
Mary Mary
The Girl I Knew Somewhere
She Hangs Out
Randy Scouse Git/Alternate Title
Your Auntie Grizelda
It’s Nice To Be With You
I Don’t Think You Know Me At All
Look Out Here Comes Tomorrow
Words
Cuddly Toy
Papa Gene’s Blues
Listen To The Band
That Was Then, This Is Now
All Of Your Toys
Hard To Believe
What Am I Doin’ Hangin’ Round
Sometime In The Morning
Valleri
No Time
Circle Sky
Can You Dig It
As We Go Along
Long Title: Do I Have To Do This All Over Again?
Porpoise Song
Daddy’s Song
For Pete’s Sake
When Love Comes Knocking At Your Door
She
A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You
Shades of Gray
Last Train To Clarksville
Goin’ Down
I Wanna Be Free
Saturday’s Child
Someday Man
I’m Not Your Steppin’ Stone
Daydream Believer
Peter Percival Patterson’s Pet Pig Porky
Pleasant Valley Sunday

On my turntable: The Cars

The Cars (1978)
My next five days are all about The Cars. On Tuesday I will see the band perform at my favorite venue in the world (First Avenue), but most importantly, I'm going to see the band perform!!

I remember the day I found out Ben Orr (Cars bassist and co-lead singer) had died. I was in a doctors office flipping through People magazine and found a short blurb about his death. I was outraged before I was sad -- how could such an important figure in rock music pass away so secretly? How did I not know about this? My sadness was not just about losing someone from my youth, it was also the realization that I would never get to see a Cars reunion.

But sometimes hell freezes over and pigs fly. Today (according to Amazon.com's estimated delivery date) I am expecting the arrival of the *NEW* Cars LP Move Like This (2011) at my doorstep. In celebration of this most auspicious event I'm spinning through the band's catalog, beginning with one of the greatest debut albums of all time, 1978's The Cars.

This album reminds me of summer, shooting hoops in the driveway of my parents' house. My brother had a stereo set up in the garage, and this was one of the albums that got a lot of play. The trio of songs that open the album are an indisputable powerhouse: "Good Times Roll", "My Best Friend's Girl", "Just What I Needed".  Bam, Bam, BAM! The rest of the album became FM classic rock standards. Was "You're All I've Got Tonight" even a single? It seems to me that the song got a lot of airplay on our local 'album-rock' station. The bottom line: very few bands have the fortune of seeing their debut album become as iconic as this one.

Breaking Update: My Move Like This LP just arrived and it's very fancy!!  Review to come...

Thursday, May 12, 2011

8:31 AM

So yesterday was the big day in Minnesota when senators voted at the Capitol to determine whether the people of the state would be allowed to vote on gay peoples' right to marry. Our very own Prop H8. I watched about 45 minutes of it in my office before I knew I had to shut it off. To their credit, some democratic senators gave some very thoughtful, compassionate and smart comments (Senators Ron Latz, John Harrington, Kathy Sheran, Patricia Torres Ray, to name a few), but they were simply outnumbered by the republican majority.

Breakfast @ The Purple Onion,
Dinkytown USA
Thanks to the skills I learned in therapy I quickly recognized my physical reaction to the discussion - it felt like I was being bullied. I took a moment to assess the situation and did what I knew was best for me in that moment, which was some short meditation followed by a bus trip to the record store! Actually, I went to the coffee shop across the street from the record store first, to use the restroom, grab some coffee and study for a while, but man oh MAN did I score some vinyl gems after that. I walked out with forty-six 45's, most of them pristine promos, and many of them stereo/mono. Total cost: around ten bucks.

The experience gave me a useful reminder about what I have control over and what is a waste of my energy. As a Crohnie, I need to manage my stress in order to remain healthy. This is something over which I have some level of control. As a queer activist I can also get involved at the local level, to help raise awareness between now and election day. What I cannot control is the actions/attitudes of others. I may be able to influence them by showing up with my husband and being my authentic (and dare I say charming & delightful) self, but I am basically powerless over the actions of others. Acceptance of this fact can be horribly frustrating but also liberating. If there's one useful thing I learned from growing up in an alcoholic home, it's the 'Serenity Prayer'.

That's all for now. I am off to have a mindful, fantastic day. Thank you for reading!

Sunday, May 08, 2011

Saturday, May 07, 2011

On my turntable: colored vinyl

The Donnas - Bitchin'
Various - KISS My Ass


The Birds, The Bees & The Monkees

R.E.M. - Chronic Town

On my turntable: High Llamas - Talahomi Way

Talahomi Way (2011)
My first encounter with the High Llamas was Hawaii (1996). I'd read about the album and how much it was influenced by The Beach Boys' SMiLE period. I still consider Hawaii to be the Llamas' masterpiece, although Talahomi Way (2011) is a very good record. I've appreciated the band's last few LPs, but this new one seems to be more cohesive and upbeat. It's definitely a great sunny album for spring!

Friday, May 06, 2011

When one door closes...

5.5.2011: In my office calculating my students' final grades
In a couple of weeks my office door on campus will close for the last time, and my role as college instructor will end for now. I consider it a temporary change of direction, as I expect to teach again in the future, but there's still a bittersweet feeling to the close of this chapter in my professional career.

Four years ago I joined a team of graduate instructors teaching classes about strategies for college success. The courses have existed at the university for decades, probably saving thousands of students from academic armageddon. Although this was not my first teaching job, it felt weird teaching some of the course topics, since I was not particularly proficient in all of them myself.  Eventually I got to the point where I saw my own academic abilities improve as a result of teaching the subjects to my students.

Professionally I cannot think of any job I've held that has been this rewarding. So why am I leaving if I love it so much? Most instructors for these particular courses teach for up to two or three years. After that we run the risk of becoming stale or feeling less challenged from teaching the same material over and over. As a result of these past four years I feel much more confident as an instructor and an academic professional. My final class this past Wednesday was probably the best group of students I've ever had the privilege to teach. I consider myself terribly blessed to be ending on such a positive note.

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Monkees rehearsing for tour

The Monkees Tour facebook page has been posting some of the incredible tunes that the band is rehearsing. I've seen virtually every US tour since 1986 and have never seen them do some of these songs. Check it out:
  • "Someday Man"
  • "Saturday's Child"
  • "I Don't Think You Know Me"
  • "As We Go Along"
  • "All of Your Toys"
  • "Daddy's Song"
  • "You Told Me"
  • "Long Title: Do I Have To Do This All Over Again?"
  • "What Am I Doin' Hangin' Round"
  • "Cuddly Toy"
  • "Listen To The Band"
  • "The Girl I Knew Somewhere"
They also posted that for the UK shows the band will be performing all of HEAD for the first time ever. Amazing.