Monday, October 31, 2005

Not sure what to think of this...

It's one of those "spit the coffee across the keyboard" mornings thanks to Post Secret...

What's that all about???

God, I love Post Secret. Even though half the time I wonder if the secrets are made up.

Monday, October 24, 2005

A CD lives up to its title

I've been fond of saying that this is the best fall ever for new music. There's been something new released just about every week in the last couple months that I've been interested in--and it's going to get capped off with Confessions On A Dance Floor on November 15th. But one of the CDs that's been getting all sorts of play on my iPod this fall is Barbra Streisand's new CD, Guilty Pleasures. I was a bit leary of this CD, as she really hasn't released an album that I've liked since 1994's The Concert, and that wasn't even new material! I mean, let's see, we've got 1997's Higher Ground (yawn!), 1999's A Love Like Ours (even more yawns!), 2000's Timeless: The Concert (a pale imitation of 1994's The Concert), 2001's Christmas Memories, and 2003's The Movie Album (how about singing some songs from some movies some of us have actually heard of, Babs?) So needless to say, it's been a rough 11 years for me as far as Barbra's music. Say what you will about her politics, she's definitely got the voice.

And the voice is what shines through on Guilty Pleasures. It's the most successful attempt she's had at a solid pop album since, well, Guilty. The biggest problem with most of Barbra's latter day albums have been all the songs sound the damn same, and while there's a few songs on here that get dangerously close to that, I feel like even the ballads are distinct enough that they don't just blend into one long insipid cheesefest. She clearly benefits from Barry Gibb's songwriting, and even though the production is a little bit to clean and pristine, it's okay because the songs are interesting in and of themselves.

The highlights for me are definitely "Stranger In A Strange Land" and the disco number "Night of My Life." I had given up on ever hearing Barbra cut loos like that again, and even though some argue that the track is a train wreck and that Barbra can't sustain a disco track, she does a pretty good job. Gibb's harmony vocals give her support and she seems to be having fun recording for the first time in forever.

Her perfectionism and pristine production aside, it's a very capable record that definitely exceeded expectations considering her pretty dismal track record over the last 11 years for me.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

First impressions on "Hung Up"--since I know you're all waiting with bated breath.

1) A great sample. It's a perfect example of how a sample should be used--it's there just enough and it's not like it's just Madonna singing over ABBA.
2) A wonderful return to pop music by Madonna--and pop is something she does so effortlessly. Say what you will about American Life, but that album was decidedly not effortless. It's an album that I end up having to make more excuses for than anything else. I think this is going to be decidedly different.
3) I love the throwback to the Prince duet from Like A Prayer--"Time goes by so slowly for those who wait and those who run seem to have all the fun."
4) I think it's going to be huge in the clubs. I still can't quite decide whether radio will pick up on this or not. For her sake, I hope they do. She can't really afford another commercial failure.
5) And I agree with what someone posted on a Madonna message board--"Hung Up" did the impossible--it made "Gimme! Gimme! Gimme!" even gayer than it already was. *hehe*

It's been played 5 times on my iPod and 8 times on iTunes. And I'm sure it'll get played a lot more in the weeks to come.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Who knew insanity and murder could be so dang happy?

This is pretty good, and yeah, it's a lame blog post since it's probably on everyone's blog now, but it's still funny.

The Shining Redux

I especially like the use of "Solsbury Hill."

(via Cynical-C Blog)

Monday, October 03, 2005

Chester

Here's Anna playing one of her new favorite games--chester (or even better, sometimes it's just "chest.") It's too funny to correct and I figure, what the hell, she'll figure out it's called chess soon enough. My m-i-l took this picture the last time she was visiting us. We taught her the names of the pieces which she mostly remembers--"look Daddy, this is the pawn--pawn starts with 'p'!!" And the way you play, the black pieces have to go on the black and the white pieces go on the red. Hey whatever works.

Have you seen my civil liberties lately?

I finally got my hands on the Disappearing Civil Liberties Mug this weekend in Iowa City. I purchased it on Friday when we were all hanging out downtown, but I put it down somewhere and apparently forgot to pick it back up again. So I went and bought it again on Saturday on our way back home.



The mug has the Bill of Rights on it, and when you fill it up with a hot liquid, portions of them disappear--thanks to the Patriot Act, so the box says.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

And I wonder why...

...some people might think I'm gay, even though I'm not. This is the image from the back window of our car a couple days ago.

Not posed or anything--just how the books happened to be situated as I buckled Anna into her car seat.

Farm Boys

Just finished probably one of the best books I've read in a while--Farm Boys by Will Fellows. My wife had read it as part of her research for a novel she's working on in which one of the characters is a gay man farming his dad's land. She couldn't put it down and told me after she finished it that I really had to read it. And she was right. It was one of those books that once you start, you can't put down until you've finished it--or at least you don't want to.

Fellows put ads in gay papers in large cities throughout the Midwest in order to get the subjects for his book. He interviewed around 75 gay men who had grown up on farms in the rural Midwest. What follows are narratives describing their experiences growing up gay on farms where it is usually not the best environment for being different in any way, let alone homosexual. The stories range from a couple pages to long, drawn out descriptions of rural life. The men were anywhere between 30s to 84. It's an exceptional read.

I couldn't get over the similarity of the stories--isolation and loneliness figured prominently for many of them. Some moved to large cities after high school, others either stayed on the farm or moved back, unable to get the farm completely out of the boy. At times, it's heartbreaking--I'm thinking specifically of the stories involving the man who died of AIDS and the man who committed suicide shortly after his interview after battling a lifelong clinical depression. Other times, you just want to stand up and cheer the bravery of some of these men.

I would encourage everyone to read this--you don't have to have a rural background to follow it, and you certainly don't have to be gay to enjoy it. The voices of these men really resonate--I think that everyone who is unsupportive of gay rights or homophobic or whatever you want to call it should read this book. It put a very human face on what to many people in the rural Midwest is still a foreign and threatening concept.

Read it. Today.