Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Would you like some wine with this?

Had it not been for Caryle a couple weeks ago, who knows how long it might have been before I thought of the Dolly Parton song "Me & Little Andy" again? We had a good laugh about it one night when she and Jeff were here - we were trying to explain the comedy behind such a freaking depressing song to Jeff and Heidi, but they mostly weren't having it.

The song tells the story of a little girl (Sandy) and her puppy dog (Little Andy) that show up at Dolly's house "late one cold and stormy night." Predictably, Momma has run off again and Daddy's drunk again in town - and they're wondering if they can stay with Dolly. I remember it from the classic HBO concert "Dolly Live In London" that I watched ad infinitum as a young kid (see, my taste was impeccable even then!) - look out below:



I don't know, there's something about Dolly doing that little girl voice - it's oddly endearing and cringeworthy (tipping mostly on the cringeworthy side - although my 10 year old self would have never believed that!!)

Dolly's written a lot of great songs - she's truly a treasure in country music although country music won't recognize it now. As I've said so many times before, beneath all the makeup and wigs and big boobs is a truly gifted songwriter. Of all my star-crushes, I think Dolly would be the one person that I'd truly like to meet and have dinner with.

But as depressing Dolly Parton songs go, my favorite will always be "Down From Dover."

Walking through the apocalypse

It's a rather unpleasant winter evening here in Iowa - it's very damp and cold out. Not bone chillingly cold like it was a few weeks back, but hovering right around freezing which seems to make everything seem all clammy and cold. It's analogous to humid days in the summer. Suffice to say, it's not the most pleasant thing in the world. And we're due for more snow and ice - lovely!!

My walks home from work the last couple nights have been like walking through some kind of post-apocalyptic frozen wasteland. Traffic is always light when I leave work at 10:30 at night, but Monday and Tuesday nights were almost completely devoid of cars. Add to this the fact that I pretty much have to walk on the streets all the way home (streetwalking?) as there are still branches down all over the city, many of which make walking on the sidewalk akin to playing some frozen version of "Pitfall!" - ducking under fallen limbs and avoiding icy patches all along the way (no crocs though, as far as I could tell - and no gold bars either, dammit!) And as if this weren't already enough, streetlights are out all along the way, especially on our street. So all in all, it's a bit like walking through the ending scene of Resident Evil, only I know that there aren't hordes of undead around the next corner - but I have to admit, it would be kind of cool if there were.

I'm going to do a proper blog post here in a day or two - not just lists of songs (thanks to all who played along) or pictures or memes. Those are fun, but I would hate for my blog to devolve into that. And no matter what anyone tells me, I will probably never quit writing about my favorite pop music in excruciatingly minute detail, so if that kind of thing really isn't up your alley, you can probably avert your eyes and wait for other posts. Here are some things I have cooking:
1) A review of Casey Stratton's fabulous new record The Crossing. I'm still digesting it, and I feel like it's only fair to give it a week or two before putting my opinion out there.
2) Some thoughts on spiritual journeys and where mine is taking me these days.
3) A brief history of Dan & 10,000 Maniacs - and why I think I can only listen to In My Tribe.
4) More utter rubbish than you can shake a stick at, but hey, it's my blog and my utter rubbish!!
So stay tuned, I guess, if that kind of stuff floats your boat.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Seven songs

I found this over at Casey Stratton's journal and figured, what the hell. I'm way too tired to write anything coherent this morning and this might be just what I need to kick the funk off.

List seven songs you are into right now, no matter what the genre, whether they have words, or even if they're not any good, but they must be songs you're really enjoying now. Post these instructions in your blog along with your seven songs. Then tag seven other people to see what they're listening to.

1) Marlene on the Wall by Suzanne Vega - Suzanne Vega came out of nowhere to finish #2 on my most listened to artists last week on last.fm. And this is one of my favorites. Yes, she did do more than just "Luka."

2) Isaac by Madonna - Call me crazy, but hearing Anna sing the chanting in the back seat of the car just makes me want to listen to it over and over again. Plus, Madonna humming just hits me in the exact right spot.

3) Say You, Say Me by Lionel Richie I had this on my iPod shuffle the other day and you know, say what you will, but I was really liking it. I was thinking of the video where Mikhail Baryshnikov says right after Lionel sings "From behind the walls of doubt/A voice was crying out." - Help me! And that breakdown part in the middle - too much.

4) Projector by Casey Stratton - One of my favorite tracks from his new record The Crossing - I promise there's a review coming of that.

5) Theme from "Maude" - That funky organ gets me EVERY SINGLE TIME. Plus "Maude" is coming out on DVD in March - looking forward to experiencing Dorothy Zbornak in beta.

6) Left of Center by Suzanne Vega - See, I told you Suzanne Vega came out of nowhere. It's a practical Suzanne Vega renaissance! I always like this song because it reminds me of my political views - "If you want me/You can find me left of center."

7) Dead Man Walking by Mary Chapin Carpenter - A track from Chapin I had never heard before that has been in my iTunes forever, and now I can't stop listening to it.

You're supposed to tag seven people, but I'm nowhere near that popular, but the following people can consider themselves tagged: Heidi, Caryle, XO, Auntie P, Orange Anubis.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

I'm gonna tell you...about snow

We made it to our Oscar destination with minimal difficulties - and Heidi has a Flickr photo show up documenting just how much snow we got - and how much havoc it can wreak on a tree-lined street.

But just for comparison's sake, I have to post this picture of Narnia - after the snow was pretty much done falling.

More pictures at Heidi's slide show - click here.

She always gets her man

In honor of today's Oscars, I give you one of the best live performances EVER of a Best Original Song nominee (and eventual winner!) as well as one of Madge's best live performances EVER (despite being visibly nervous - check out her shaking hand!)

The weather has not cooperated very well with us (pictures to come later on. If you thought that last one looked like Narnia, just wait!) so we may or may not be able to make it to our Oscar party. But we'll see. It's still snowing, and the roads are completely snow and ice covered so perhaps driving on the may not be the smartest thing ever. I mean, I know the Oscars are important - but I certainly don't want to die trying to get there!



Talk to me General Schwarzkopf! Tell me all about it, wooo!

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Aim for the head

OK, I tried to blog this post earlier today, but as I was about to hit "publish", the lights went out, the computer went out and whoever was singing via iTunes (I think it might have been Celine Dion!) suddenly went quiet. You knew it was going to happen. You don't get a quarter inch of ice and then some in Iowa and not lose power. Admittedly, I didn't take it very well even though I knew that it was bound to happen - I was a bit petulant and irritated and well, not at my best. I went up and took a nap because I hadn't slept well last night and when I woke up, Heidi and Anna decided that we were going to head to Happy Joe's since the power was still not back on. But just as soon as we decided to do that - the power miraculously came back on. So YAY! for that.

We still went to Happy Joe's where Heidi and I ate a whole pizza between the two of us (Anna had her own 4-piece personal pepperoni pizza.) We came back to the house and the power was still on so here I am - about to try to reconstruct the blog post that vanished into the ether earlier tonight.

I went out earlier today to get the mail - not really thinking there'd be anything as really, the weather is not conducive for much of anything except staying indoors. But, amazingly enough, we did have mail and in it, there was a package. And it was for me even! Usually packages we get are for Anna from my mother-in-law of of Heidi from one of her myriad writing friends sending her something random - which she totally loves. But rarely is the package for me. However, today it was!!

I opened it and inside, there was a shirt. I was puzzled - I hadn't ordered anything and to my knowledge, neither had Heidi. It even came from allposters.com - which was even weirder. Anyway, upon closer inspection, it was a Shaun of the Dead T-shirt!! Heidi had found it when she was searching for something and just decided it had to be mine. She knows me waaaaay too well. But I suppose that's for the best, being married to me and all.

So behold:

I had to wear it over something long sleeved so as not to freeze my arms off! And on the back, there's a quote "You've got red on you!" which sadly, I don't recall from the movie but that means I'll just have to watch it sooner rather than later.

What a day - and just for comparison's sake - here's a shot out the front door taken about an hour ago.

I think it looks like Narnia!!

Ice ice baby

This is the view out the front door this morning.

And if that's not impressive enough, check out this close up of the lamp post.


That's right, we woke up to a quarter inch of ice on everything this morning. It's probably the worst storm we've had all winter, and the rain/sleet/ice is still coming down. If it were snow, it would be manageable, but since it's ice, it's pretty much made us housebound today. This is not an altogether bad thing - as Heidi said, it's a good thing we like each other, to which I sarcastically retorted "that's what you think!" (she ignored me, natch.) Anna missed dance class for the third week in a row and the weather is putting a serious crimp in the plans for Oscar tomorrow. The snow's supposed to start tonight - up to 8 inches by tomorrow morning.

And, you know me - all I can think of is the movie The Ice Storm - one of my faves. Funny how ice coming from the sky can make you think of key parties.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Photoshopped Britney

I've hesitated blogging at all about the media circus that has been Britney Spears in the last few days, mostly because I really feel sorry for her. Can you imagine having a breakdown like this in front of the whole world? I think of myself at my worst and how I didn't want ANYONE to see me, and yet, the cameras just won't stop rolling for her. Case in point is the headline that was on MSNBC the other day: "Get a front row seat for the Britney Breakdown!" I just sighed.

However, Stereogum had a photoshop contest that featured Britney's new shaved head. There are some very inspired entries. This one is my favorite, which will come as no shock to anyone who knows me well.

Dang, I wish I'd thought of that one.

No deposit, no return

Eeek, I'm totally messed up because I fell asleep when I was putting Anna to bed tonight and now it's 10:38 PM and I'm not really all that tired. Honestly, I didn't think I was that tired when I laid down in bed to read her book to her and wait for her to drift off, but alas, I did. And now here I am.

Earlier tonight, I went to take the pop cans back to the store to collect the deposit and pick up a few odds and ends that Heidi had forgotten when she was at the store earlier today. Normally, this would not be a blog worthy task, but bear with me. Taking the pop cans back is one of those jobs that is just not very much fun. For one thing, each pop can nets a grand total of 5 cents each, so a bazillion pop cans gets you something like 2 bucks. You go in with this huge amount of cans and such a paltry sum hardly seems fair. Secondly, the redemption center at the local Hy-Vee is just nasty beyond words. And tonight was no exception. I think that a cesspool has a good chance of having fewer germs per cubic centimeter. Grocers have been trying to get the Iowa legislature to repeal the bottle bill almost since its inception in 1979. And I'm starting to see why. Everything in that place is sticky. Half the time, the machines don't work (like tonight, the one accepting glass was completely full, beeping like a truck backing up the entire time I was in there) and usually it smells like stale beer. It's worse on the day after an Iowa State football game, but generally, you breathe through your mouth the entire time you're in there. However, I will never support repealing the bottle bill as it has been a major factor in keeping trash off the Iowa landscape for the last 30 years.

So I got the cans back (except for the glass - which immediately made me think of that line in 9 to 5 where they've got Hart tied up and they're removing all the stuff he could use to get out and Dolly says "And all the glass - just in case!") I went in to the store to get the few items on my list - a gallon of milk, eggs, pop for Jeff, gummy worms from Sunday's Oscar party's dirt dessert, a green pepper and an onion. For whatever reason, I was totally in tune to other people and it seemed as if everyone I ran into was talking on a cell phone. This has got to be one of my biggest pet peeves - the fact that people can't stop talking on their phone for two seconds when they're grocery shopping. Or driving. Or at a restaurant with loved ones. Yes, I own a cell phone, but I swear, it's a losing proposition for me because I use it probably twice a month and that's if we're going somewhere that might separate us and then we use it to find each other again. That's pretty much it. I'm fond of saying (and I'm relatively certain that I didn't come up with it) that when Arthur C. Clarke envisioned 2001 in 2001: A Space Odyssey, I'm relatively certain that he did not envision us talking on our phones all the time everywhere we go.

As I was leaving, I dawdled a bit by the newspapers - and realized, to my complete and utter amazement that you can buy the New York Post at Hy-Vee. IN AMES, IOWA. Back when I was in college, I had this love affair with the Post, thanks mostly to its prominent placement in one of my favorite books at that time Bright Lights Big City. Truthfully, I love that book even today - too bad Jay McInerney was never able to follow it up with anything that even came close to Bright Lights' level of greatness. I remember writing to the Post for back issues in 1993 - using the phone books in the Iowa City library to get the New York Post's phone number and then sending a check in for a couple of back issues. (this was in the days before the internet, folks!) Granted, the Post is now just a conservative rag, and the fact that you can buy it in Ames, Iowa (I still can't get over it!) certainly has caused it to lose its appeal.

So what an eventful trip to the store. This is my life folks. And I wouldn't trade it for anything in the world, even though the incredible stress of work continues unabated.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Feeling undead

I'm feeling much like my beloved zombies from movie monster lore these days - not in the wanting to eat a human brain type way, but in the feeling just a little bit more than dead. I was thinking while I was waiting for Anna to be done with her dance class tonight that there really is no reason for feeling as tired as I have been. Does everyone's job wear them out as much as mine does? Granted, today was a bit of an extreme day by any measurement, but still, I come home from work more days than not completely zonked and just thinking about how early I can get to bed. It's why there haven't been more updates here, why I can't seem to summon up the gumption to e-mail people (sorry to all who are on my to-be-emailed list, I promise to get to you sooner rather than later) and why I wake up tired. Every. Single. Morning.

There are days I wonder - is this life? Is this what everyone experiences and I'm just a monumental wuss that can't handle it? I prefer not to think that, but some days, it really feels that way. It's not like I'm out digging ditches or putting up drywall all day - you know, something very physically demanding. Granted, what I do is very mentally draining which can be just as bad. But for Pete's sake, I'd love to have at least a little bit of a brain at the end of the day for things that I want to do. Heck, I'd love to have enough of a brain to just play My Little Pony with my daughter without feeling like I am about to fall asleep.

I think a lot of it has to do with winter. While I do like the winter very much, I am getting eager for spring. Most years, I am not eager for spring because in Iowa, we jump from freezing your ass off cold to insanely humid summer with little of the in between weather that makes the changing seasons so great around here. I am vowing to be more active once spring gets here - hopefully shed some of this winter weight and get to feeling better about myself and life in general. Don't get me wrong - I'm not insanely depressed or anything, but mostly just a little bit weary. I think that once spring gets here and we shake off some of the winter blech that's kind of settled around here, things should be better.

In better news, Casey Stratton released his brand spanking new record The Crossing today!! YAY!! I've been listening to it today. Expect a more coherent review later this week. In the meantime, order it here...it's a pre-order for now, but you get instant digital downloads save 2 tracks which will be on the physical CD (out in April, more than likely.)

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Weekend update

It's been quite a weekend. Heidi's pretty much recovered from her tooth experience, although if I try to kiss her cheek too close to it, she flinches. We got a new vacuum this weekend with the tax refund and we never realized how dirty the carpet has actually been until now. The living room is the cleanest it's ever been ("do you like my f***ing clean house?") and we could hardly believe we'd been living in such squalor.

I also took 20 dollars and bought a new outfit at Kohl's - an orange button down shirt and a pair of cords that. The cords were only 8 dollars (marked down from 40) so they were an automatic purchase. I have a bit of a mixed history with orange shirts. Most orange shirts seem like really good ideas in the store, and then you get them home and you would swear it's not the same shirt you tried on at the store. But despite that, I purchased the orange shirt anyway - I'll probably wear the ensemble to work tomorrow. Perhaps I'll have Mrs. C. take a picture of me and I'll show the world my 20 dollar outfit.

And to top it all off, we stripped wallpaper for most of the afternoon. It's been something that we've been "gonna do" since we moved in here. But one thing or another kept us from it. And since Heidi was enjoying a sudden post-tooth extraction burst of energy, we stripped the most god-awful ugly white wallpaper with black stripes off our bedroom walls in preparation of trading bedrooms with Anna. Whoever invented the wallpaper steamer should be sainted. Seriously.

I have every intention of blogging this week's "Step Back In Time" post - but currently, Blogger is being dunderheaded (imagine that!) and not allowing me to upload pictures. So that may have to wait till tomorrow morning. And now I think I'm going to go watch Little Miss Sunshine so that I can say I've seen at least one Oscar movie. I also have The Departed from Netflix, but let me tell you, reading the description on the DVD envelope makes it seem like homework!

Saturday, February 17, 2007

#19, the full story.

To read the full story of Heidi's tooth drama and the additional drama that surrounded it's eventual demise, you simply MUST go to her blog.

There's a reason why she's the writer in this family.

Friday, February 16, 2007

If teeth could sing...

Well, I just heard from Heidi, and unfortunately, they can't save the tooth. And if the tooth could sing, it would undoubtedly be singing Diana Ross - more specifically "I'm Coming Out."

Next stop, implant city.

A music meme - brought to you by the letter P

I'm gakking this from Caryle - I just couldn't resist.

List 10 songs that begin with the letter given to you and explain why you picked them. Comment and you shall receive a letter.

Well, I couldn't wait for a letter to be bequeathed to me, so I just am following Caryle's lead and using the letter P.

1) Pineapple Head (Crowded House) - A song that is perpetually on my favorites list on my iPod. It's just so cute - apparently it was written for Neil Finn's feverish son who, while babbling incoherently, said "Detective is flat" and "getaway car." Finn went down to his in home studio and did a demo for "Pineapple Head" right then and there.

2) Penny Lane (The Beatles) - This is one of the first Beatles songs I ever remember hearing. I also recall a very silly cartoon video that was played on MTV back in the day. I think one of the reasons I love it so much is that it's, well, very British!

3) Passionate Kisses (Mary Chapin Carpenter) - One of Chapin's biggest hits and a spectacularly written song - although she did not write it, Lucinda Williams did. Pens that won't run out of ink, cool quiet, time to think. It's a bit of a modern day version of "My Favorite Things" don't you think?

4) Please Mr. Please (Olivia Newton-John) - Did anyone else think, growing up, that there was someone named Mr. Please playing songs on the jukebox? I'll admit to it, I did. Not for long, mind you, but I did. So it always makes me laugh just a little bit when I listen to it.

5) Potential New Boyfriend (Dolly Parton) - Where do I even start on this song? The very first video that Dolly ever did. Completely aimed at pop crossover - almost new wave-ish in ways. Extreme 80s cheese. But you know I love it.

6) Prove Your Love (Taylor Dayne) - Taylor Dayne seemed to kind of fall off the Earth, didn't she? I know that she was headlining Houston Pride last summer (and the only reason I know THAT is because Casey Stratton played there as well) but there's nothing like her debut album to lift your spirits. Completely reminds me of coming back from State Jazz Championships in 1988. And for 80s cheese, it has surprisingly not aged all that badly. OK, maybe a little bit badly.

7) Push (Madonna) - There were a lot of Madonna "P" songs - "Physical Attraction," "Promise To Try," and "Pretender" immediately leapt to mind. However, I settled on "Push" because it has the distinction of being the last song I warmed up to on Confessions on a Dance Floor. I don't know why, but it just never grabbed me all that much. But now, I do enjoy it quite a bit. Not as much as "Jump" or "Future Lovers" but I still enjoy it.

8) Piano In The Dark (Brenda Russell) - I guess the reason I picked this song is the same reason that Angel likes "Mandy." It's pretty.

9) Penthouse Girl, Basement Boy (Sarah Cracknell) - What a fun little song - "I'm living in the penthouse/Basement boy, stay away!" I have Mike to thank for all things Saint Etienne and Sarah Cracknell. And pretty much any time I listen to either, it's impossible not to think of Mike. *waves to Mike*

10) Pavement Cracks (Annie Lennox) - A gorgeous track from Annie's Bare album. It should have been a hit - perhaps it was somewhere (probably the dance chart, as it did have some killer remixes.)

The power of good credit

To paraphrase Madge herself, there is no greater power than the power of good credit.

And when you factor in the bank owning our very soul - well, there's not much that can't happen.

Like I mentioned in the previous post, I went to the bank to see if they could help us out with some credit card debt that seems to have creeped up on us. I was fully expecting to have to sign my life away to some insanely complicated consolidation program. In the end, the meeting took 10 minutes and ended very well.

With one call to the credit card services, the personal banker got my 10 something percent interest rate lowered to ONE POINT NINE PERCENT! For only 12 months, granted, but hey, I'll take what I can get. That should help a lot.

So that's a good thing. And with any amount of luck, number 17 in Heidi's mouth is feeling a whole lot better. Her mouth is probably damn sore, but like she said the yesterday, at least it'll be the kind of sore that means you're headed in the right direction.

A Friday morning

It's nearly the weekend, and for that I say YAY!! I work the evening shift today, which normally is no big deal, but today, it's as if I were being asked to run to the moon and back. This week has been one hell of a week. I've worked all sorts of weird shifts - two evening shifts and two 10AM shifts which effectively excise the entire productive portion of my day. Thank goodness I worked at 7AM yesterday - it was the closest thing to a real shift I've worked all week.

And to add to my weird work schedule, Heidi's had a crappy week dealing with a tooth in which the root canal has "failed." After a couple days of serious drama of not being able to get into an endodontist until March (can you believe there's only ONE endodontist in all of Ames?) she and Anna are on their way to Iowa City to see the endodontist that she credits with saving her mouth a few years back. I really wanted to go, but the boss is gone these two days and to take family sick would really have required his approval. So they're off by themselves. I worry about them whenever they go off by themselves on the road - but to sit and worry really invites that kind of energy, no? So I'll just wish them traveling mercies and go about my business.

I had honestly hoped to get some of the house cleaned up this morning - between my weird work schedule and Heidi's tooth, the house has fallen into a bit of disarray. I would go up now, but I have to get ready to go to the bank and talk to a banker about getting some credit card consolidation done - even though it seems like we just did that. But between medical stuff last year and two computers going belly up, it's not a pretty sight. So we'll see what kind of magic they can work.

Mostly, I just feel very overwhelmed by life - which is why there have been no blog updates this week. I am really hoping that the weekend will bring relief from the craziness. However, with Mercury being in retrograde until March 28th (!!) I'm not holding out a lot of hope. Usually, I don't really go for the whole astrology thing - it seems like so much utter rubbish - but based on how crazy things got the last time Mercury was in retrograde (October 2006), I'm inclined to be, at the very least, gently respectful.

And I just realized that I'm going to have to walk to the bank, so I'd best be getting going!!

Sunday, February 11, 2007

SBIT: Anna hearts Cher edition

I was totally stymied by my scanner this week and so you're going to have to settle for this - one of my favorite pictures of Anna - instead of seeing me in my awkward stage (for those keeping track, it's scheduled to end sometime before 2050.)


As I said, this has always been one of my favorite pictures of Anna. Yes, it was posed, but the effect is still there. From the very early days, I would watch Cher's Believe Tour on DVD while rocking Anna - either to sleep or just to keep her from wailing at the top of her lungs. She loved the lights and the quick cuts and it really seemed to calm her down. Naturally, as she grew a bit older, she really grew to like Cher. In fact, the very first pop song that I recall Anna singing was "I Found Someone." One day - after we moved to Ames, I'm certain, I caught her singing the "Maybe, baby, maybe, baby" lead up to the chorus. (And what a good bridge that song has! It almost makes me forget it's a Michael Bolton creation.) I wish I had thought to record it. But knowing Anna, if I had made any kind of noise about it, she wouldn't have done it at all.

The inevitable consequence of this early pop song singing (and the indelible mark my genes have made on her) had to have been last night when we were coming back from Cedar Rapids and I had the iPod on. We were listening to the playlist "Dan's Favorites" which has all sorts of stuff on it, but Madge's "Erotica/You Thrill Me (Confessions Tour Version)" came on. Suddenly, from the back seat, I hear "Elonic! Elonic!" followed by a demand to hear the song again once it was over. That's my kid.

When I listen to her singing along with Madge or Cher, I'm immediately taken back to my own childhood, singing along to my mom's 8-tracks and 45s. Those songs really make up a considerable foundation of who I've become - I can remember them as if they were yesterday. I hope that 30 years from now, she'll have similar memories.

Look in the card catalog

I found this quite by accident while seeing if anyone else was writing about Casey Stratton and thought I'd give it a go. Here's my blog if it were filed in the card catalog. At my high school. 20 years ago.

(via)

Friday, February 09, 2007

Lightning strikes...maybe once, maybe twice

I've been listening to Mirage tonight - a CD that I really don't listen to all that much any more. When I was in high school, I went through this incredibly intense Fleetwood Mac phase - it all got started because of Tango In The Night. I had never consciously sought out any Fleetwood Mac and then all of a sudden, I was really wanting to buy Tango In The Night. And so I did. On vinyl even. And before long, I purchased Rumours and I was well on my way. But there's something about Mirage that I truly do love. What it is, I'm not quite certain.

I first bought Mirage on a trip to Ames with my high school English class. We'd gone over to see a production of "The Crucible" at CY Stephens Auditorium and of course, there was a requisite trip to the mall. Coming from a relatively small town to the relatively large city/town of Ames, I was looking forward to purchasing Mirage as it was the only post-Stevie and Lindsey album of theirs that I didn't have yet (excepting Live, which, oddly enough, I still don't have.) I bought it at Musicland and listened to it all the way home on the bus. I was so pleased to hear it - as the most recent Fleetwood Mac album I'd acquired had been Tusk, which, while periodically brilliant (I'm thinking specifically "Beautiful Child" and "Angel"), is overly long and incredibly self-indulgent. The sweet pop perfection of "Love In Store" set the mood just perfectly. It seemed as if they were returning to the Rumours formula which had worked so well. Years later, I would read that this was exactly what they were attempting - so I had a similar experience in 1988 that many other Fleetwood Mac fans had in 1982.

I've always been most fond of Stevie Nicks' contributions to Fleetwood Mac albums. While the three main singers/songwriters blend well and complement each other quite wonderfully, there was always something about the witchery and mysticism of Stevie Nicks that really appealed to me - then and now. And although it did seem that Mirage got the Bella Donna leftovers, what leftovers they were. "Straight Back" is classic Stevie - a minor key, intense lyrics and a great vocal by Stevie whose vocal performances at that time were a bit hit and miss. And then there's "Gypsy." What can I say about "Gypsy" that probably hasn't already been written somewhere else much more eloquently than I could ever hope to? Simply put, it's classic Fleetwood Mac, the second Fleetwood Mac single that I ever owned - it was the B-side to the 45 of "Hold Me" when it was in the "Golden Oldies" section of Musicland. (Good heavens, how I miss shopping for singles - that's an entire blog entry on its own.) It's mystical, it's bizarrely non-conventional for a pop song with no real verse-chorus-verse-chorus set up. Well, I'll just let the song speak for itself.



(look fast because Viacom is likely to yank it!) -- 2/11/07 EDIT: Too late. Stupid Viacom.

I think it's the bridge that gets me - and that's nothing new as it's usually the bridge that gets me in any good pop song.
To the gypsy that remains faces freedom with a little fear
I have no fear, I have only love
And if I was a child
And the child was enough
Enough for me to love
Enough to love
And then there's the end - the gorgeous "Lightning strikes/Maybe once, maybe twice/And it all comes down to you." There's an extended version of "Gypsy" on The Chain box set which, when I heard it, I realized that I had finally heard "Gypsy" as Stevie intended - her additional vocals on the end are fabulous.

Mirage is a good but not great record. Lindsey Buckingham still goes a bit crazy (but nowhere near the batshit crazy he did on Tusk) with tracks like "Empire State" and "Eyes of the World." As I mentioned before, it tries a little too hard to replicate the successful formula of Rumours.

But I do love it, flaws and all. Perhaps it's because, whenever I listen to it, I remember that 15 year old kid riding the bus back to Carroll from Ames listening to it for the very first time - 6 years after its inital release - like it was brand new.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Light blogging week

And I thought that last week was a light blogging week? Apparently, this is what light blogging really is. It's funny, I've had times where I've gone weeks and weeks without updating the blog and not really thought anything of it. But things change, I guess. I'll never be a world class blogger like Daily Kos or any of the other A-list bloggers - and really, I don't want that anyway. Despite the fact that the internet seems to bring out a "this is who I am, you can like it or not!" ballsiness in me, I'm actually a pretty private person. And being an A-list blogger is a bit like being a celebrity which I don't think I could ever take.

This week has been a challenge in so many ways. There are times that I wonder if I have the wherewithal to get through it all, but that is yet another example of me hanging onto the drama and not seeing things for what they really are. If there's any one thing I love in my life (and I have this in common with every other Enneagram Four on the planet) is the drama. I'm in love with it in so many instances. And it gets hard for me to see where the drama ends and the reality begins - or vice versa, or upside down, inside out, or whatever. I think I'd be a lot happier (and infinitely healthier) if I learned to jettison the drama and just concentrate on what's real. And it's not real if you're not looking at it - as so many Sevens say.

I wish life were as calm as that picture of Anna and me in the previous post. But even that picture is an illusion. I remember when she was that small and things were SO not that calm. They were full of nights of little sleep and times where she wouldn't quit crying no matter how much we held her. So I guess it just goes to show that nothing is ever quite as simple as it seems. Someone at work said today "it was all so simple in high school, wasn't it?" Erm, no, actually, for me it wasn't. But perhaps, for her, it was.

Right now, I'm listening to Confessions on a Dance Floor and it has never sounded better than at this very moment. Which is really saying something.

Celebrate me for who I am, dislike me for what I ain't, indeed.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Step back in time III

I'm going to have to come up with a better way to title these posts, no? But for now, this'll just have to do. And I'm SO making this a Sunday night thing. Kind of like my version of PostSecret, only without the postcards and without the secrets.

This one's not that far of a step back in time - just to 2002. It's me with no facial hair which is hard for me to remember. There are days that I really want to go back to no facial hair, but I do think it looks good on me and it's going to look especially good as it goes gray along with the rest of my hair. So it stays. For now. And besides, Heidi really likes it.

And Anna? Well, she's a bit of a wee one in this one. Again, something I barely remember - I can't believe that she was ever this small, but the camera certainly doesn't lie. I also have a hard time believing that she ever slept at that age, but once, again, photographic evidence is hard to dispute, even in this age of Photoshop.


She looks like she's punching someone out just off camera, don't you think?

Cold

Damn, but it's cold outside!

I was under the impression that this had been a light blogging week, but in retrospect, it wasn't too bad. Probably about average for what I'm doing these days.

Well, it's Sunday afternoon and the weekend that was spread out before me on Friday is now behind me (for the most part.) I must say that I didn't do anything too terribly productive with the weekend - mostly was just lazy. I did, however, go to a birthday party with Anna (the brother of of one of her little preschool friends.) It was a bowling birthday party - and I was not really looking forward to it as I'm not much of a bowler and I was mostly just wanting to sit in the house under a blanket as it's been so goddamn cold these last few days. Well, I went, and I'm proud to report, that for the first time in recent history, I broke 100 bowling. I scored 115!! Granted, that was with the bumpers up so that it was impossible to get a gutter ball. And my 5 year old bowled an 88. So maybe that's not something to be so proud of, but hey, I'll take what I can get!

I watched the first episode of that HBO mini-series "From The Earth To The Moon" this afternoon. The last time we were in Minneapolis, we went to the IMAX at the zoo there. They were showing a moon movie and were giving away the first episode on DVD for free with admission. Granted that was probably a year and a half ago, so yeah, it's taken me a while to get to it. I really enjoyed it - so much that if it were more than 3 degrees outside, I would trek down to the library and get the rest of it. But since it's so blessedly cold outside, I decided to stay in and put it in my Netflix queue. Of course, that's going to require that I watch the Netflix I have out right now (Bram Stoker's Dracula - which I haven't seen since it was in theaters.) Heidi wants to watch it with me and trying to schedule time for us to watch something together is already negotiation enough - but then you have to factor in the whole "Anna can't watch it" aspect and well, you can understand why we've had it for two weeks now.

I also finished the book I've been reading - Darkly Dreaming Dexter - and what a great book it was. I thought the ending was a bit rushed, but the concept of a serial killer who works for the police department who kills only people who deserve it. I can't recommend the book enough because it really was well written and Dexter - despite being a serial killer and pretty much a sociopath, was oddly likable. I have the next one in the series (Dearly Devoted Dexter) thanks to Kevin who gave them to me for Christmas. It's always nice to find a new author to read - hopefully, his style won't grate on me like Christopher Moore's and John Irving's eventually did. Whether I pick up Dearly Devoted Dexter right away or try something else in the meantime is still up in the air. There are simply too many books to read and not enough time in which to read them. I'm very eager to start watching the Showtime program based on the books (and especially glad that there are torrents, us of no cable.)

And I would be remiss if I didn't mention that today is Super Bowl Sunday and nearly every other red-blooded American male is probably psyched beyond words. Me? I couldn't possibly care less. Last year, Jeff and I went to Brokeback Mountain (me for the second time) during the Super Bowl. While it's a great and funny joke, I have to admit that I do feel a bit separated from my own gender because I don't enjoy sports - televised or otherwise. It's not something that I think of all that much - at least not now - but it does exist. I am sometimes very envious of men that can talk to each other at length without the awkward pauses and feeling distinctly different. Perhaps I'm overanalyzing it, and it is certainly not something that I think of constantly or anything. And perhaps I should remember that I have people that I can do that with - it's just different strokes for different folks.

I think I'm going to go take a shower and get into a clean pair of pajamas. In any event, I have to go upstairs as I've lost the feeling to my toes. That's how cold it is in my basement office.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Friday night

It's another Friday night chez Dan - well, really, it's early Saturday morning, but I really don't think that the night pivots on itself and becomes early the next morning until around 3:30 or so, but hey, maybe that's just me. I remember when I was keeping journals in college and I would write after midnight, I'd still date them the previous day and time them the correct time. It's all very confusing when I go back and look at them now. Granted it hardly matters and I don't go back to them often so really, not a matter of life and death.

I was talking to Heidi earlier tonight about how Friday night is my favorite night of the weekend. The week is behind you and the whole weekend is spread out in front of you, full of possibilities. Monday seems like an eternity away. This has been pretty standard for me for as long as I can remember. Although I remember spending a lot of Friday nights by myself when I was in high school and college, they have always been my favorites.

So for the last hour and a half, I've done nothing but listen to music. I've sent a couple emails and thought about blogging. And here I am, finally doing it. The week was very uneventful which pretty much describes my life right now - uneventful. And you know, that's not all bad!

Here's to the weekend, although it's going to be damn cold. All the more reason to stay inside.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Proud

This is what Anna and I did last night. I swear, she made me more proud than I had any right being. She didn't do this on her own, but as we worked on sounding words out, I could see the gears turning in her little head. She sat there and worked SO HARD at writing the words in her little left handed writing - and you could see how proud she was of the fact that she was writing real words.

Not the best picture in the world (sorry) but it gets the point across.

And to think - the first thing she wanted to write was "the train went to Rainbow Canyon to pick up the ladybugs." I told her "Honey, why don't we just try 'train'?"