Tuesday, March 31, 2015

I Know I've Been Crabby

At work, there is so much ridiculous ass-kissing going on and it's totally inappropriate...thankfully, the shenanigans end after tomorrow.

I have a student that failed my course last semester because, well, student is an arrogant, self-important, asshat. Student didn't like me, I am cool with that...but student didn't follow the rules and though they didn't apply.

Here's the crazy thing, same student decided to take my course again this semester...and picked up right where left of with the asshattiness.

Then there's the legislators that wanna make it law that business can choose to not serve someone based on their sexual preference. yes, it's slightly more complicated than that but only in a way that makes it even more ridiculous and inhuman.

Finally, I have had it up to here with the robo-calls and solicitations - it has to end!

Done complaining.

Monday, March 30, 2015

One Week Until Mad Men....

When I first got into Mad Men, I was so excited at what I considered to be something really special. I would say the first three seasons were pretty solid.

I think it was somewhere in season 4, I could be wrong, it might be 5, doesn't really matter - the writing started going a bit south and becoming very uneven.

By the time last season, technically, the first half of the final season, came along - I actually dreaded having to watch the show....there were still some good moments, but overall, they had lost me.

For the first time in my life that I can recall, I am only looking forward to the start of the season so that that it can end and I can be done with this series.

I know, some of you might say, if you don't enjoy it anymore, why not just stop watching. I could do that, but really, I can't...I have so much invested in those characters, I really need to see where it all ends up.

Hopefully, it will be good.

Dad

Having this blog for as long as I have makes it increasingly more difficult to write something original on the anniversary of the death of one of my parents. My dad passed away 21 years ago today - it's no easier not having him around today than it ever was.

I think with the passage of time it becomes a little bit easier to accept that he is gone only because there will come a time where the age he would be were he still alive would make no sense.

I'm not sure if they have the Internet wherever my dad is - but if you can see this, know that I miss you every day and I do try hard to use all that you have taught me.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

In My Ears 2015 Vol. 6

Here is the latest installment that includes what I've been listening to since the last installment.

The Bottle Rockets - Lean Forward
The Bottle Rockets - Zoysia
One of those bands that somehow passed me by. I never heard of them, until I saw them live opening for Marshall Crenshaw, then serving as his backup band. Fantastic group with a 20 year history, hailing from St. Louis - check them out.

Steve Earle - I'll Never Get Out of this World Alive
Earle has bounced around the music business while in and out of getting in and out of trouble with drugs and doing time. His hard life adds an edge to his songs and style while his playing and songwriting take care of the rest. I've been a fan of Earle since his debut record Guitar Town and this record, released a few years back is a superb piece of art.

She & Him - Classics
Love me some Zooey Deschanel and M. Ward, but I was nervous at the title of this record. However, I am happy to say it is classy and beautiful and worth every minute.

Yellow Ostritch - Cosmos
Cloud Nothings - Here and Nowhere Else
Empires - Orphan
These selections came from listening to All Songs considered on NPR, All are cool - I've been turned on to so many cool things from that show.

Jules Shear - Horse of a Different Color
This is a retrospective that covers many different recording projects of Jules Shear, better known as the songwriter of a number of pop hits by the Bangles, Cyndi Lauper and others. This is a rather hard to find item, I paid almost twenty bucks for a used copy but really wanted to own this.

Beck - Morning Phase
Around the time the Grammy's aired I made comment about how Beck is hit or miss with me. Someone suggested I give this record a listen and I am glad I did, it really is a beautiful record.

Fall Out Boy - American Beauty/American Psycho
Coming off a really strong record last year, this one is pretty close. Some solid songs and really cool vocals.

The Warren Brothers - Barely Famous Hits
Aside from being good songwriters and performers, these guys clearly have a sense of humor. Victims of poor record company support - this was a way to fulfill a contractual obligation without going into the studio since they were left abandoned. There is a lot of good stuff here.

The Nylons - Fabric of Life (Vocal Percussion remix)
by Matt Cohen, [The "Vocal Percussion Remix" of The Nylons' Fabric of Life is everything I was hoping for from The Nylons and more. Not only have they finally gotten rid of the drum machine and replaced it with some vocal percussion on most of the tracks, but they've added a twist. They picked eight different vocal percussionists, one for each of the tracks featuring vocal percussion.]
by Me  I freaking love this record!

The next two selections were played on Vinyl today:

J. D. Souther - You're Only Lonely
Probably the only guy in the music business that Don Henley will drop his enormous ego over, Souther is a singer/songwriter and one of the most famous people in the music business that many of you may not ever have heard of. The title cut got some airplay in its day - solid record.

Howard Jones - Dream into Action
Just saw him live a week or two ago and wanted to hit up a vinyl store to have something of substance to try and get autographed but it just didn't happen. Rumbling through the scattered bins at Deja Vue Records with my buddy John yesterday, guess what I come across?

Happy 50th Kathy!

Kathy's husband Chuck and her sister Sarah, threw together a 50th birthday celebration for her. The cake you see here was even more magnificent in person - it was quite the spectacle and quite delicious.

It had been quite some time since I had eaten a piece of cake but I just was unable to resist giving this one a taste and boy, was it worth it.

In the words of my dear friend Dan, I may have risked a toe for it, but it was worth the risk!

Note:
I dozed off in my chair while typing this...oh, my God!

Friday, March 27, 2015

Degas and The Kid

From WikiPedia:

Edgar Degas (US /dˈɡɑː/ or UK /ˈdɡɑː/French: [ilɛʁ ʒɛʁmɛ̃ ɛdɡɑʁ dəɡɑ]; born Hilaire-Germain-Edgar De Gas; 19 July 1834 – 27 September 1917) was a French artist famous for his paintings, sculptures, prints, and drawings. He is especially identified with the subject of dance; more than half of his works depict dancers. He is regarded as one of the founders of Impressionism, although he rejected the term, preferring to be called arealist.[1] He was a superb draftsman, and particularly masterly in depicting movement, as can be seen in his renditions of dancers, racecourse subjects and female nudes. His portraits are notable for their psychological complexity and for their portrayal of human isolation.[2]
At the beginning of his career, he wanted to be a history painter, a calling for which he was well prepared by his rigorous academic training and close study of classic art. In his early thirties, he changed course, and by bringing the traditional methods of a history painter to bear on contemporary subject matter, he became a classical painter of modern life.[3]

My daughter had some sort of assignment for her French class; I do not know the specifics of the assignment but what she did was to replicate a piece of art by impressionist painter Edgar Degas called "Dancers in Pink". There was a 5 year span from the time Degas started this painting until he completed it; here is what it looks like:

Dancers in Pink, Edgar Degas
Armed with a blank canvas (I saw it myself), four colors of paint, a variety of brushes and talent far greater than either of her parents - here's the rendition my daughter surfaced with in just a few hours:

Dancers in Pink, My Daughter
Something to keep in mind, I did not take a professional photo of my kid's painting. This was shot in a poorly lit home office with a cell phone camera and the shaky hand of a half-asleep 50 year old dad (albeit a very impressed and proud one).

The Comeback Kid

I have this black, collarless shirt I wear on occasion. Usually, I keep the top button undone but today, I wigged out and forgot to wear a v-neck undershirt - so in order to not have my crew neck shirt revealed, a fashion faux-pas, I have the button closed.

Almost every time I wear this shirt, one of my colleagues, always makes a silly wise crack inferring that it makes me look like a priest. I was barely funny the first three hundred times, marginally annoying the next thousand times, and now is just stupid....but she always says the same stupid jokes.

Today, she said "what time is confession, I wanna do confession." My quick and sharp response, "Who's got that kind of time?"

ZING!!!

I win! Plus, one should never make a remark about another's wardrobe until they've looked deep into their own.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

The Levin Brothers

Tony Levin is a masterful Bassist and all-around musician, master of the Chapman stick and well known for his work with king Crimson, Peter Gabriel, The Stick Men, and a host of other works. Last night, I saw him perform in a jazz ensemble with his brother Pete and some other terrific musicians. The venue was intimate, the music was wonderful and after the show, I got the meet one of my musical heroes; here are the pics:



















Tuesday, March 24, 2015

The Best Damn Song in the World

This past Friday night, several of us were out in a pub watching live music and celebrating JP's birthday. There was talk between JP and the Meesh about writing a song called "The Best Damn Song in the World"; or at least that is what I heard.

I thought I would attempt to offer a verse or so, so I grabbed a nearby Keno ticket and pencil and used it for something more useful than Keno. Here's what I came up with:

It's the best damn song in the world
and it ain't about a boy and a girl
it's a simply melody that I wrote
when you hear (it)
you're gonna love every note

We then all dropped the subject and made for some odd, yet interesting moments on the dance floor. I know that sounded like I said dance floor, and I did, yes, it was odd...but also interesting, and so funny!

Monday, March 23, 2015

Mid Semester Startup

Today is the first day of class for the mid-semester, 8 week accelerated class I am teaching. It baffles me when people sign up for an online class and don't bother to log in on the first day...makes zero sense!

Last week was spring break on campus, it was nice to be rid of the students for a week but it was also good having them back today; well, most of them anyway.

Today was the return of "Bow Tie Monday", which isn't really a thing but it was the second time ever I have rocked a bow tie and both times were on a Monday.

Again, lots of positive reactions, almost all of it. My friend Laja doesn't like it, she actually said, "I don't like that bow tie." My response, "I don't care, I didn't wear it for your approval."

Then Gia downstairs, interrupted the conversation we were having to say, "why are you wearing that bow tie?" It was at that very moment I realized that in fact, there is such a thing as a stupid question.

I really don't give a crap about who doesn't like it, I like it and that ultimately is all that matters. It's totally okay with me if someone doesn't like it, but to be rude about it is unacceptable; especially when it's friends that are being so rude.

Finally, I don't recall if I have mentioned here that I finally began to watch "Parks & Recreation". I am 10 episodes in to season 2 so far and enjoying it.

Later!

Sunday, March 22, 2015

How they Vend at Nashoba Valley

This is the vending machine inside the lodge at the Nashoba Valley ski area lodge:


What?

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Howard Jones - Live

 "The Verve" is the name of a Crown Plaza hotel in Natick, MA; it served as the venue for a Howard Jones concert performance on his current tour. I had seen Howard Jones back in either the late 1980's or early 1990's and have always love his music - so I was excited to see him perform again.








Jones was in good voice and had a good handle on entertaining the responsive crowd. I do wish the venue had seats, but I did find myself dancing throughout the entire performance.

  

If I had only one quip, it was a fairly short set - about 75 minutes including the encore. However, for teh $25 ticket cost and the fantastic performance, it's forgivable.





Friday, March 20, 2015

4:45 a.m. is Early

Yet, that is the time I woke up this morning, 4:45 a.m. At least that is the time the alarm woke me up, my body, in some cruel joke, did so at around 2:30 a.m. first.

My daughter is heading into NYC via bus trip to explore a number of art museums with her art class. I'm excited for her to have this experience but she's always going to be my little girl, so I also have to have a tinge of worry - but mostly, I know it's going to be a great time for her and her classmates.

Cracks me up that when I normally wake her at about 5:45-6 am, she's all crabby and a pain in the ass to get up but this morning, she popped right out of bed and got ready - I guess it's an adrenaline thing.

Looking forward to hearing about her trip...

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Writing Credits

Over the last month or so, I got together with my little song writing group again and had a hand in two more songs.

For "An Ode to Peas", I almost feel like I shouldn't have gotten a credit at all, my participation for this one was minimal, but my presence was there and felt; it is silly and funny!


"Shinny Shiny Things" was a different story. I actually came to the session with three verses. While not all of my verses are here, the first verse is mostly me with a tad of shifting and pepper from Barry. While we always have a good time at these sessions, this one was one of my favorites.


You can find your way to more of the specific songs I've had a hand in writing by clicking here. All are available for purchase using a name your own price concept and all money goes to charity; no pressure though, you can listen via web stream all you want for FREE!

Invitation to a Be-Shedding

The title of this post is a homage to a Nabokov novel. I am going to go on the picture is worth a thousand words theory from here:

This is, or rather was, the storage shed on the campus where I work. While there has been a great deal of thawing, there is still such a great deal of snow around. We did by the way achieve the distinction of it being the snowiest winter on record, probably one that most of us that lived through it are happy to let it sit as the record for the rest of our lives.

There have been some hints of spring, but winter is not going away quietly - not a surprise at all here in New England.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

St. Paddy's Day Message from an Anonymous Source

Happy St. Patrick's - celebrate life, celebrate culture, enjoy some corned beef and cabbage and perhaps a pint, maybe even two. However, if you think this day is about going out and getting "shit-faced", then you might be better off finding a meeting instead of a pub and if you do decide to get behind the wheel on the same roads as smart, intelligent and good people, be sure it's only yourself that you kill you moron! -"the author of this remains anonymous but lost a loved one to drunken driver on St. Patrick's Day"

I do not know the original author of this, but I share their sentiments.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Somebody Else's Bucket List

I don't like the expression bucket list and as such, I don't want to make one. However, I did steal the bucket list of a friend and extracted from it things that I wouldn't mind doing at some point in my life time. her list had 100, of her 100, I will keep:

  1. Hike the Grand Canyon
  2. Visit the Great Wall of China
  3. Take a Cross Country Road Trip
  4. Ride a gondola in Venice
  5. Take the Beatles tour in Liverpool
  6. Have lunch somewhere in Provence
  7. Stay at a villa in Tuscany
  8. Walk across Golden Gate Bridge
  9. See a kangaroo in Australia
  10. Go to Greece
  11. See the statue of David in Florence
  12. See da Vinci's Last Supper Walk in the Forum in Rome
  13. See the Leaning Tower of Pisa
  14. Refinish a piece of furniture
  15. Ride on a zipline through the jungle/forest
  16. Eat a deep fried Mars bar in Scotland
  17. Take a night train from one European country to another
That's it? Only 17 out of 100? LOL!

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Recipe: Corned Beef & Cabbage in the Crock Pot

This is the Betty Crocker version of the classic New England Boiled Dinner using a slow cooker. I made this recipe today for me and my daughter; it was delicious - I will offer annotations and comments where relevant.

Ingredients:
Beef and Vegetables

  • 4 medium red potatoes, unpeeled, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 4 medium carrots, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 medium onion, cut into 6 wedges
  • 1 corned beef brisket with seasoning packet (2 to 2 1/2 lb)
  • 1 can (12 oz) beer or nonalcoholic beer
  • Water
  • 8 thin wedges cabbage

Sauce

  • 1/4 cup applesauce
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

Directions:

  1. Spray 5- to 6-quart slow cooker with cooking spray
  2. In cooker, place potatoes, carrots and onion
  3. Top with corned beef; sprinkle with contents of seasoning packet
  4. Add beer and enough water to just cover corned beef
  5. Cover; cook on Low heat setting 10 to 12 hours
  6. Remove corned beef from cooker; place on serving platter and cover to keep warm
  7. Add cabbage wedges to vegetables and broth in cooker
  8. Increase heat setting to High
  9. Cover; cook 30 to 35 minutes longer or until cabbage is crisp-tender
  10. Meanwhile, in small bowl, mix sauce ingredients
  11. To serve, cut corned beef across grain into thin slices
  12. With slotted spoon, remove vegetables from cooker
  13. If desired, skim fat from juices in cooker
  14. Serve vegetables with juices and corned beef with sauce

Expert Tips
If your corned beef doesn't have its own seasoning packet, place 1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns, 6 whole cloves and 1 dried bay leaf on a piece of cheesecloth and tie with string; add the packet to the cooker

My Two Cents
I didn't make the sauce, though it does look good. No particular reason for not making it, I just chose to leave it out this time.

About 10 hours in, I simply added the cabbage into the pot and served it all about an hour or so later; this worked out fine as well.

In My Ears 2015 Vol. 5

Here's what I've listened to since last we had an "In My ears' post. A few of them I spoke of at the end of February as part of the "12 Flawless Albums..." posts; I won't say more about those ones here but you can refer to those posts.

Dr. Dre - 2001

Foo Fighters - Foo Fighters
I was in a record store in Cambridge with my kid and she bought two used CD's that we listened to in the car, this was one of them; this debut by the Foo Fighters sounds as fresh and fantastic as it did when it was released.

The Pleasures of Merely Circulating - The Pleasures of Merely Circulating
In their debut release, this Texas based band crosses the lines between genres to record something clearly unique. I can't say it's a work of genius or anything like that but after a couple of listens, I like it more and more and it it certainly is refreshingly unique.

Alice in Chains - Jar of Flies
Smashing Pumpkins - Siamese Dream

Beck, Bogert, & Appice - Beck, Bogert, & Appice
This was one of those "super group" things, released in the early 1973 and recognizable by their cover of Stevie Wonder's "Superstition", for me, this group of stellar musicians never quite adds up to the sum of its parts.

Various Artists - The Art of McCartney
I think people are either going to enjoy this collection of McCartney tributes/covers or mock it. For the most part, I think it's a lot of fun and a really nice tribute with some solid performances.

Blake Shelton - Bringing Back the Sunshine
This guy makes solid records and is just so darn likable.

Ed Kowalczyk - In Concert: Sydney 2014
Former "Live" front man performs Live's "Throwing Copper" in its entirety to mark the 20th anniversary of its release (and then of course, a few more songs for good measure).

AC/DC - Rock or Bust
A brand new record from these boys and I have to say, surprisingly fantastic, I can't for the life of me figure out how Brian Johnson hasn't had an aneurysm, but I am so glad he hasn't...I really like this record a lot.

Foo Fighters - Sonic Highways
The latest from the Foo's and again, just killer tunes from a killer band.

Lenny Kravitz - Strut
New material, good record!

The Nylons - One Size Fits All
I had this on vinyl when it was released in the early 1980's. Often referred to as an "a capella' group, I think it is more accurate to refer to them as a vocal ensemble because they do use rhythm machines and some (though very little) musical accompaniment. That said, I've always loved them and listening back to this record that I haven't listened to quite a while was lots of fun.

Visqueen - King Me
Just love me some Rachel Flotard.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Been a While Since the Last Limerick Off

I've got three limericks that I wrote here, the first challenge was to use the word "prize" to end either the first, second, or fifth line; here is what I came up with:

She wanted to win the prize
for eating the most french fries
wound up with potatoes
protruding from her nose
and ketchup all over her eyes

The second challenge was to use the first line, "A fellow who just made a pass"; the limerick I came up with:

A fellow who just made a pass
by pinching the ass of a lass
startled by what she had done
to go and spoil all the fun
the lass had passed him some gas

Finally, the challenge was to write a limerick with the following first line, "This dude who loved to compete"; my limerick:

This dude who loved to compete
tried to do so with everyone he would meet
'til one day he lost
and realized the cost
and his ego must take a back seat

Give it a try, it's fun!

Friday, March 13, 2015

Trinity Knot and the Colombian Zipper Nipple

I had seen this tie know in pictures and always thought it was super cool (you can see a larger version of the picture by clicking on it) but had never really thought to attempt it until this morning.

With about 10 more minutes than usual, I grabbed the tablet and poked "trinity tie knot" into a YouTube search and followed along to the video, stopping it a few times along the way, and on the first go, there it was.

I think it is a super cool knot, it is pretty complex, I can't remember it at this point from memory but I can always refer to YouTube again!

I must say, it did get quite a few stares that led to complements at work.

Now, you must be asking yourself, what the hell is this "Colombian Zipper Nipple" you speak of Chris? Well, weekday mornings, one of the morning shows here does a bit can the "7:15 Senseless Survey" where they prank call someone kind of tricking them into thinking it the Census and after what appears to be one seemingly legitimate question, they quickly get ridiculous and see how many questions they can keep the person on the line for. Sometimes, "Kevin" will start asking things like, "have you ever been on the receiving end of a Mississipi Mud Flap" (that was more of a "for example" rather than an actual sample). As I was typing the name of this post, it just came to me that "Colombian Zipper Nipple" would be funny in that context, so I threw it up there because I just thought it sounded funny.


Thursday, March 12, 2015

Boiled Dinner

As we approach St. Patrick's day, last year marked the first time in a very long time, that I didn't have a nice plate of the traditional "boiled dinner', Corned Beef & Cabbage; and I missed it!

My plan for this year is to incorporate the boiled dinner into the whole Crock Pot thingie I have going on right now and enjoy it with my kid this coming Sunday.

Interesting thing about March 17th, in addition to St. Patrick's Day,:

  1. Evacuation Day is a public holiday in Suffolk County (including Boston), Massachusetts, in the United States on March 17 each year. It celebrates the date when the British troops evacuated Boston during the American Revolutionary War.
Before a recent change in the union contract that I work under, I had "Evacuation day" off as a guaranteed holiday. I always made jokes about it saying it was the day we all get off poop.

It a Secret

I am not planning to disclose anything that I vowed not to, but I was at the Boston headquarters of a publishing company serving in an advisory capacity and being compensated generously for such services...they made me feel important and valuable; it was a nice experience.

I arrived in he city early enough to get a street spot and I took advantage of the opportunity to use the relatively new "ParkBoston" cell phone app which allows you to pay for your parking meter via cell phone. I have to say, it was maybe the most impressive thing I've ever seen from a municipality - very simply to use and really cleverly designed.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Got Lost at Lunch Yesterday!

Geez, my brain was slightly toasted yesterday. At lunch, I started out at Whole Foods, made my usual trek around the store looking for anything that might catch my eye, bargains, and of course, samples. For lunch, I had a slice of pizza (I know, I am wild).

While eating lunch, I decided that I was going to go to Walgreen's, in the plaza just across the street. I got into my car, drove across and into the lot and somehow found myself at Trader Joe's. WTF? I had no intention of going to Trader Joe's but since I was there, I went to look for one particular item that I normally get there and when they didn't have it, I was a good boy and just left. After all, I still needed to get to Walgreen's, plus, I had gotten a phone call and couldn't really hear inside the store.

I did make it to Walgreen's got what I needed, then made it back to work in time.

I unfortunately didn't go to bed as early as I should have last night though and fear my brain may be friend today as well-only time will tell. I unfortunately didn't go to bed as early as I should have last night though and fear my brain may be friend today as well-only time will tell.

Monday, March 09, 2015

The Pictures I Promised in the Last Post (actually the post before that, same day, different post)

This is a little shop on Newbury street. It's almost as entertaining on the inside as it is on the outside.

This is a view of the Prudential Tower from Newbury street.

I referred to this picture as "Goth-Sicles" because it's a church.

Had a brief daydream I was on a date with Audrey Hepburn.

This was on Copley Square, an event called "Cranes on the Square", organized by a Japanese teacher in the Boston Public Schools to commemorate the anniversary of an earthquake and tsunami in Japan back in 2011.

The Hancock Tower, a rather fantastic picture I took of it I must say.

Locks, These are on a fence over the Mass. Ave, bridge right next to the Berklee College of Music.

These bikes are a bit, oh, stuck!

Finally Took the Bow Tie Plunge

I had been wanting to try the bow tie thing for a while now. I had also really wanted to learn how to tie a bow tie because it always looks impossible to do, despite watching it be done.

While mozying about this past Saturday, I stopped in Koh's and found some great deals on some Garcia ties, but also found a deal on a bow tie and thought it was a message that now was the time to take the plunge.

I have to say, the response was overwhelming and almost all positive. In the end of course, I really liked it and look forward to purchasing a few more bow ties.

These were the three ties I bought,. The picture of the three ties shows off the color of the bow tie way better than the picture of me wearing it.

Each of these ties carries a $40 retail price, I paid $16 for all three.

SCORE!!!