Wednesday, August 31, 2011

I just wasn't made for these times

I don't make a point of reading the comments on YouTube, but while I was digging through it for old music videos, I noticed two strains of thought emerging around the common theme "they don't make 'em like they used to".

Predictably, one set of commenters were reveling in nostalgia. They wrote how the music of that era was so much better and how these songs take them back to times when things were perfect in their own way. Keep in mind that I was mostly looking at music videos of the 1980s, although some were from the '90s. In other words, these are not people who are on the porch in the rocking chairs reflecting on the good ol' days...or they shouldn't be. (Also, the '80s wasn't exactly an easy, carefree decade.)

Clearly I'm not immune to the allure of nostalgia. What was I doing but clicking on videos for songs I haven't heard in ages. Granted, my interest was more in hearing with new ears what was once familiar. (The same idea is behind my current kick of watching pop cinema of the '80s and early '90s.) Nevertheless, it's impossible to do that without triggering memories. But people--and I'm speaking to my generation--must we already be resigning ourselves to cementing our cultural tastes and wistfully recalling high school?

The other set of commenters were teens wishing they were growing up during that time when the music was good, etc. What's funny to me is that '80s pop culture was not particularly well thought of at the time. I do feel like I can say it is not considered a rich time for rock music.

I suppose this way of thinking is common enough. I knew people in high school who pined for life in the '60s, which, you know, also had its share of social upheaval and other stuff that might take the shine off it.

For those who believe the pop culture of their youth was the last gasp of creative excellence, chances are they're reliving it through a rose-colored prism and forgetting about all the garbage or that they didn't like it quite as much as they recall. For those who believe the pop culture of a time before theirs is superior to anything done now, they can't see the forest for the trees. They're living through the sorting and canonization for their time rather than approaching it after it has been settled. People talk about the golden age of Hollywood or the early days of rock and roll. Guess what? There's plenty from those eras that no one gives a second thought to and for good reason.

Now excuse me while I go look up videos for pop songs I learned how to play on piano when I was in grade school.

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Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Pop music

While I try to get my head together from another long day on the clock, enjoy this recent performance by Fountains of Wayne. I don't know of many bands these days that can strictly be categorized as pop, but I think they fit the bill quite nicely. Their new album is pretty good--this single sounds better on it, for what it's worth--and just the thing to listen to as the summer approaches its end.

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Monday, August 29, 2011

Early to bed

Lots accomplished at work today, tons yet to do tomorrow. I'd thought of continuing to work from home tonight, but I've realized that I don't have it in me to do that.

In fact, I'm going to call it a night very early so I can get up early and get a jump on things while no one is around for a couple hours. It isn't what I'd prefer to do, but there's not a better solution.

This is going to be a tough week, no question.


Sunday, August 28, 2011

Turn, turn, turn

It comes as no surprise that today I hit the wall I've been speeding toward. This has been a busy summer at work and in recreation. On top of that, it is a short summer. So this was the perfect recipe to cause me to crash this morning. I woke up and promptly decided to go back to sleep for another three hours. I didn't really get up until 1:30 p.m. or so. I never do this.

Facing up to the punishment for taking a vacation, I intended to work this morning and afternoon, but clearly my body and mind had other ideas. Considering the rate at which I've been running around these last few weeks, it's probably for the best that they overruled my plans. I needed to take a day to vegetate. While I regret what will inevitably a stressful next couple of days, there's no doubt that I needed the rest.

Classes resume tomorrow, which is earlier than usual. My employer has switched to semesters, which accounts for this August start and the abbreviated summer. In the past the academic year has not begun until a week after Labor Day. I am in no way prepared for this, especially having just come off vacation, but like it or not, it is here.

So the seasons are changing on my calendar. The weather even got a jump on things, as it has been a cooler August than we typically have. I'll get to extend summer for five or six days with a trip to Toronto and its film festival in less than two weeks, but it's time to gear up for a different season and daily ritual.

I've had a good summer, and I look forward to what's coming up. I just wish I felt ready for it.

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Saturday, August 27, 2011

Marking time

The details are sort of fuzzy, but best as I can determine from this article, there are male inmates at a New Zealand prison taking part in a knitting program.

You'd think I'd have more to add regarding a story about men knitting but I don't. Just another entry to tide me over for a day. Something substantial tomorrow. Promise.

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Friday, August 26, 2011

Suit up

Busy times over here at Knitting Confidential HQ. I'm not feeling energetic enough to write a proper blog post, so with a hurricane expected to hit the East Coast, here's something from a few years ago that ties into the moment. I hadn't seen this before, but it made me laugh.


Thursday, August 25, 2011


-I drove by an apartment complex that had a sign outside with "Pets free" on it. I assume that means there is no charge to have a pet while residing there, but couldn't one reasonably think that it means there are no pets in the complex? (I'm not going to propose that one might be misled to think they are giving away pets.)

-Difference I noticed between visits to New York City in March and August: going up flights of stairs from the subway platform was less taxing. Exercise on the recumbent bike has made a difference.

-I need a vacation from coming back from vacation.

-It would seem that my new common wall neighbor is quiet. Since they've moved in, I've not heard anything from that place. Color me relieved.

-While I was out of town, I think the person who lives below me moved out, but I can't say for certain. If so, I can open up the glass sliding doors and sit on the balcony more. The previous (?) occupant smoked really rank cigarettes.

-While working out tonight I saw an ad for a pizza place I haven't been to in a long time. So of course I picked up dinner from them on the way home. Advertising works sometimes.

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Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Minding one's knitting manners

What might Miss Manners say about knitting in public at events, whether in church or at recitals? Now you can find out.

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Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Lost in the supermarket

While I was away on vacation, I absentmindedly left out some bananas. Naturally, I returned to an apartment with more little fruit flies than I'd care to be sharing my space with. I was advised that setting out some vinegar in a container and covering it with plastic wrap that has a hole poked in it should get rid of the pests. I had no vinegar and no plastic wrap.

On the way home late tonight I stopped at the grocery store to get these items. I found the vinegar easily enough, but for the life of me, I could not find plastic wrap. I looked and looked and looked. The closest I could find was parchment paper, but that wouldn't do. (Plus, I have that at home.)

I tracked down an employee and was finally pointed in the right direction. This isn't unusual if I'm buying something I get infrequently. I guess that I tend to buy the same things over and over and am blind to everything else. That makes sense, I suppose, but I thought I was more observant than that.


Monday, August 22, 2011


You can forgive a guy for not doing much in the way of daily blogging when he's coming off six days of a fairly intense vacation, at least in terms of movement, and driving more than five hundred miles today, right? Let me put it this way. I think the earliest I was back home for any evening was about 10:30, and that was on the first night when I was running on five hours of sleep.

Let me put it this way: three professional baseball games, two Broadway plays, likely somewhere in the area of 1200 miles driven, and probably a few hundred city blocks walked. I've been a busy bee...and I don't really feel like saying much more than that at the moment.

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Sunday, August 21, 2011

Sunday in the park and more

In an effort to make my last day of this trip to New York City count, I sacrificed sleep so I could get into midtown Manhattan early enough to get a good spot in the TKTS line. I'd decided to forsake a Mets game at Citi Field in favor or another play. Professional baseball games are readily available to me; Broadway productions are not. Since most of the performances--and all of the ones I was interested in--were matinees, I needed to be up and about fairly early.

I got my top pick, which surprisingly has some knitting content in it...but more on that in a moment.

With my ticket in hand I set out north for Central Park. I didn't have anywhere in particular I wanted to see. I just wanted to get a good sense of the place. I walked around for close to 90 minutes and had little sense of where I was in relation to anything. When I thought I surely was close to the Upper West Side, I was instead over by the Upper East Side. I entered at 60th Street and emerged at W. 90th and Central Park West, if that tells you anything.

The park was gorgeous, and I wish I'd had more time to explore (or get lost). A much-needed lunch beckoned, and I had 45 city blocks south to walk. Sure, I could have taken the subway, but I figured I needed the exercise and could see the city more this way.

I went to see How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, which stars Daniel Radcliffe and John Larroquette. Yes, Harry Potter is in it. He seemed to be quite a draw, if the raucous reception and crowds by the stage door are good indicators. He's fine in the play, although he still has a lot of growth to undergo as an actor. (Also, he's short. Maybe it's exaggerated when he stands next to Larroquette, but he doesn't seem to be very tall.)

Anyway, in the play Larroquette's character is a more or less secret knitter to alleviate stress. It gets some laughs, especially when Radcliffe's savvy character pretends to be a knitter too to hit it off with the company president.

I could say much more about this day in New York City, but as has been the theme with this trip, I'm getting to bed pretty late. Since I'm driving home Monday, I need to get to bed and thus wrap up.

This has been a very busy vacation, to say the least, but I've had a lot of fun. Before I left I was kind of feeling like I was ready to be home. I haven't missed it while I've been away, and I'd love to have more time in NYC. Still, I'll be glad to be back at my place by this point Monday night.

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Saturday, August 20, 2011

Saturday in the city

Another full day in the big city. I had a couple locals I met at a film festival who helped show me around, which made for what felt like a bit more authentic experience of New York. Above you'll see the food truck event at the South Street Seaport where we began the day. Some of the lines were awfully long, especially at the Korean trucks, so one had to pick wisely.

I wanted to see some of Brooklyn, and Prospect Park seemed like a good reason for going to the borough and getting a breather from the throngs in the city.

And since I need to get up relatively early so I can get back to The Big Apple on Sunday, I'm going to wrap today's post here. More details and ruminations on what's been a busy and fun trip to follow.

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Friday, August 19, 2011


I stopped at this rest area in Delaware simply because it meant I could remove all ambiguity over whether I could count it as a state I've been to. (I drove through it once before but never got out of the car.) I planted my feet on the ground and bought breakfast there. So cross it off the list for certain.

I left early--and on five hours' sleep--so I could get to this place in time and stand here in Times Square. It's the TKTS line. Long story short, I got a half price ticket to see Anything Goes at the Stephen Sondheim Theatre. It was a terrific show, but I'm wiped out. As with so much else on this trip, time's a-wasting and not there for a-writing.

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Thursday, August 18, 2011

On the move

I had a busy day in Washington, D.C., although it wasn't what I initially set out to do. I planned to visit the Newseum, but I got into the District at the start of lunchtime and figured I ought to grab something to eat first.

I just signed up for Foursquare on my phone, in part to help me find places to eat here and in New York City. I found a pizza place that was about a mile's walk from the Newseum, so I headed out in its direction. I was a little disoriented and wasted some time going the wrong way, so I ended up getting lunch later than initially expected. I didn't realize I was going to a place that Top Chef's Spike runs.

I got a slice of pepperoni, a slice of Hawaiian, and a homemade grape soda for what turned out to be a lunch worth going out of my way to get. I guess those Top Chef folks know what they're doing. I also had some frozen yogurt with fresh blueberries, strawberries, and chocolate chips to cap the meal and sat in front of the Library of Congress's James Madison building to eat it.

By that point going to the Newseum really didn't make any sense, so I wandered over to the Capitol and took the tour. I'd seen it from the outside on a previous trip to D.C. some years ago, but I'd never gone in. I didn't have a gallery pass to see House or Senate chambers, but it was still a neat experience. From there I wandered over to the Library of Congress's main building through the adjoining underground tunnel. I arrived just as that tour was starting, so I got to get a look around this beautiful building.

The Supreme Court was nearby, so I decided that I really ought to see it. I snapped some pictures, walked up the steps, took some more photos, and then approached a cop to find out if the Metro stop on the line I needed to take to the ballpark was closer than the one I had arrived on. He suggested walking (!) to the stadium and explained how to get there. I was a little dubious, but I had the time and thought that it would let me see more of the area.

Sure enough, I didn't have any trouble finding it and saved a couple bucks in train fare.

The Reds lost, and thus went 1-2 while I was here to see them play. Still, I had a good time in this brief visit to D.C. Now I head north to New York City. A Broadway play is definitely on the docket. A Mets game may be too. Beyond that, who knows?

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Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Front row seat

Keeping busy here in the greater Washington, D.C. area. Today was slower, as I took my time getting around and met a friend for lunch at a Vietnamese restaurant in northern Virginia. By the time I got back to the hotel and dealt with some other stuff, I figured I really only had time to go to the baseball game. So that's what I did.

I'll have to do one post dedicated to Nationals Park, especially since I don't feel like doing it tonight. Anyway, as you can see from the photo, I was in the first row of fixed seating on the first base line. All praise the secondary market, which offered this up at a great price and thus put it into my range of what I was willing to spend. And to think I landed one on the third base side for Thursday that's just seven rows from the field and paid even less!

What I'm saying is that I never sit this close. So that's making this fun and letting me see different parts of the stadium. A Reds win tonight didn't hurt.

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Tuesday, August 16, 2011


Up at 6:05 a.m., out the door and into the car around 6:30, at the hotel in Maryland around 2:50 p.m., out the door around 3:30 p.m. to get to the Metro station, and meeting up with a longtime internet acquaintance at the Washington Nationals' ballpark in Washington, D.C. by about 4:15 p.m.

Quite a whirlwind day with plenty to say, but I need to be getting to bed. I think things should be a little less rushed for Wednesday. I'll try to share details then.

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Monday, August 15, 2011

Off and on the clock

Although I'm on vacation, I needed to pop into the office to take care of a couple things. No problem, I'll be quick and then head over to work out.


I should know better, but I ended up working for a couple hours in the afternoon. If I'd gone unnoticed, maybe I could have avoided it, but I found out about this and that and suddenly I'm dealing with other items. To be clear, this was by my choice, not at anyone's insistence.

So let that be a lesson that I didn't really need to be reminded of. When I'm on vacation, be on vacation as much as is possible. Fact of the matter is, work issues may come up that I need to deal with in some manner. This time, though, I brought it on myself.

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Sunday, August 14, 2011

Fingers crossed

That didn't take long.

The Friday before last I noticed that a maintenance worker had removed the lock box from the door to the recently vacated apartment next to mine. Would somebody be moving in so soon? As it turns out, yes.

Since I've not been home much these past couple days, I haven't seen who lives there now or if they're even fully moved in. There are two names on their mailbox, so at least two people will be occupying the adjoining apartment. Fingers crossed that they're already settled in because there's been no noise at all so far. I welcome this continuing.

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Saturday, August 13, 2011

The future is now

Having noted that at least two family members are using Skype to keep in touch, I decided that it was worthwhile for me to get a webcam and sign up for the service. It blows my mind that there's no cost for me to use my computer to communicate face to face (so to speak) with someone else. This is serious futuristic stuff.

I've probably asked it before, but do we realize and appreciate how amazing a time we're living in from a technological perspective? The ability at our fingertips to access information and communicate with anyone is virtually unlimited and relatively inexpensive.

To be sure, the ease of finding what we want when we want and being able to contact people regardless of where they are opens up issues that we haven't entirely figured out. Obviously there are drawbacks. Yet I can't help but think that for the most part this is a good thing.

Testing Skype with my mom drove home how far things have come from what I knew for my first twentysome years. From today's perspective, those were practically technological dark ages. Even ten years ago looks limited compared to now. How enormously will our lives change through technology in the next ten?

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Friday, August 12, 2011

No big hair

I never expected to write about Warrant, but with nothing much else jumping to the fore and the death of lead singer Jani Lane in the news, I guess this will have to do for today's blogging.

Warrant and other hair metal bands were inescapable when I was in high school. I liked some of it. Certainly if you listened at all to the mainstream rock radio stations in town, you were going to get plenty of it mixed in with the '70s standard bearers. It was pervasive on pop radio too. I can't say that the music means much to me, although it's not unpleasant to sample stuff I haven't heard in ages. Still, while I heard lots of hair metal in its heyday, I bought very little of it. (I do have a Slaughter cassingle, though. For shame, right?)

News of Lane's passing caught my eye, perhaps because he had an Ohio connection. With this story being out there, I watched some of their videos for the first time in a long time. Frankly, as far as I can remember, I was never all that crazy about Warrant. The videos don't shake that opinion, but I can respect the ability to write catchy--sometimes maddeningly catchy--songs. For instance:

Look, I can't in good conscience or in good taste call "Cherry Pie" good, but try to get that chorus out of your head. The video was ridiculous when it was released and is even more so now. If the straightforward lyrics left any room for doubt as to the song's undisguised subject matter--trust me, teenage boys were not missing the finer shadings--the promotional clip couldn't spell it out any more directly. It would be worth being offended by if it weren't so unbelievably dumb. (And this peaked at #10 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart!)

If I had to pick a favorite Warrant song, I'd probably have to go with "Uncle Tom's Cabin". Not that I've looked all that hard, but wasn't the video for it controversial for a blip on the pop culture radar? While I have nice things to say about Warrant, "I Saw Red" is a solid hard rock ballad.

I now return to my regular listening habits.

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Thursday, August 11, 2011


Returning to my place for a few days between being at my parents' and heading east was supposed to give me some time to kick back at home. How's that working for me?

Today: dental appointment, work out, home for a shower and lunch, movie at one place, and two movies at another place.

Friday's plan: movie at one place, two movies at another place, and one movie at a third location.

Saturday's plan: two movies, which may or may not be at the same location.

Plus, I'm trying to pin down my plans for D.C. and New York City next week. And I'm up until nearly 2 a.m. this evening. (Yeah, yeah, it says I posted this at 11:59 p.m. Not true.)

I wouldn't do it if I didn't get enjoyment out of it, but this is a bit much right now.


Wednesday, August 10, 2011


-Although I'd been to it once before, it was really kind of wonderful yesterday to see a movie in a building surrounded by corn fields on three of its sides.

-Aside from the space in their new house, one of the best things about where my parents now live is that there are places to go within a five-minute drive. Yes, they're still essentially in the country, but they're not quite as isolated. Even if it's just to run to the grocery, to get a coffee, or go to the movies, all these places are within easy reach. That should help with keeping one's sanity while visiting, although the house won't be as cramped anyway since two of my brothers live just a couple miles from them.

-I have returned home to find that the vacated apartment next to mine is still empty. Is it too much to hope for that to be the case for awhile?

-Speaking of neighbors, upon my return I was confronted with a decision whether to be a good one or not. I noticed that the dome light was on in the car driven by the woman who lives in the unit below mine. It was nearly 10 p.m. Do I knock on her door? (Keep in mind I've only a had a couple brief conversations with her.) Ultimately I figured it wouldn't hurt to try, especially since the likelihood was high that she'd otherwise get up to a drained battery. She answered and was grateful I let her know. It may seem weird even to question whether to do this, but what's the likelihood you'd answer the door that late to someone you don't particularly know?

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Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Blink of an eye

It's no secret that the experience of time is relative, yet it can be weird to recognize that every once in awhile.

I've been at my parents' since Saturday--four whole days--and will be returning home at some point on Wednesday. Since I spent most of last Thursday and Friday away from home, you could make the case that I've basically been out and about for six days. I don't feel like I've been gone that long.

Today is a perfect example of how the hours dissolve while you don't realize it. I slept in and finished off breakfast by the time my parents' visitors arrived at 10 a.m. A mother and daughter who had been my mom's parishioners came over to see the new place. The daughter is also a hairdresser who has been dying and cutting my mom's hair, so her professional duties figured into the visit as well.

I sat around listening to the conversation and posting things I've needed to get online for awhile. Eventually I ended up in the chair getting my hair trimmed--I could use it--and then it was time for lunch on the back porch.

The visitors left early in the afternoon, my mom took off for a doctor's appointment, and my dad elected to take a nap. I decided that I might as well go see the new Planet of the Apes movie, especially since I had nothing to do and the theater is five minutes or so from their home. After the movie was supper, watching the Reds game, and then hey, wait a minute, the day is basically over.

It's not as though I did a lot or that the day was filled with excitement. The time just disappeared. That's kind of how these last six days have been. I haven't been in a hurry for much of the time, yet it's gone very quickly. The speed with which it is vanishing is somewhat disconcerting. Maybe it'll grind to a halt a bit when I'm home for a few days, but I sort of expect not.

I need this time off to recharge and steel myself for what's sure to be a hectic fall. So far, so good, but let's slow it down a smidgen.

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Monday, August 08, 2011

Family time

My dad wanted me to join him for his church's men's breakfast this morning. I didn't really have any desire to get up early, early, early, but I decided to make him happy and go. And now I am dead tired at a time of night that I'm usually still bright eyed.

The day was otherwise uneventful. After I suggested bowling but found that the lane in town isn't open Sundays, Mondays, or Tuesdays, my parents and I ended up playing two games of miniature golf. I played pretty well the first time and won but had a terrible front nine the second game and lost to my mom by a stroke.

As for now, I'm struggling hard to stay awake to make it through the end of the Reds-Rockies game on TV. Nothing fancy for the day, but it usually isn't when we get together. That's OK. Just don't ask me to start another morning before 7 a.m.

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Sunday, August 07, 2011

Meet the Beatle

At the age of 69 it is sort of incredible how long Paul McCartney played and how good he was during his concert in Cincinnati's Great American Ball Park. He still seemed quite youthful, and his voice has held up very well. If neither of these qualities were in place, I can't imagine that he would have played a nearly three hour show, which is what we got. His songbook certainly could sustain such a lengthy performance, one longer than that even. Still, how many people his age can you think of capable of doing this and doing it so well?

This was the last stop on his North American tour, and it wouldn't be out of the question to wonder if it might have been his last ever on this side of the Atlantic. Honestly, the chance that this was my final opportunity to see him live was a big motivation in my decision to buy a ticket. Maybe those thoughts factored into the setlist, which featured far more Beatles songs than I expected. Sure, it's not like he could go wrong playing some of the most popular songs ever. The size of the catalog he can draw from is staggering. His career in Wings and as a solo artist were represented, but The Beatles ruled the day. I suppose it was only appropriate. I certainly won't complain.

I got the chills several times hearing him enthusiastically perform classic songs that he's surely played long past the point where they interest him. Whether he stuck closely to the recorded versions or went with different arrangements, the results were thrilling. Among the highlights were a ukulele-led "Something" (not even one he wrote!), his solo acoustic playing of "Blackbird", "Maybe I'm Amazed", and the concert-capping "Golden Slumbers/Carry That Weight/The End". He hit a stretch in the middle of the night where I was astounded to be reminded of how many truly great songs and popular hits he's written. How could you not love this?

I don't attend many big concerts like this, and when I do, it can be hard for the artist or band to shrink the venue. Most turn to big production values. There were a few of those during McCartney's concert--pyrotechnics during "Live and Let Die" were the flashiest--but for the most part the strength of the songs and the performance were relied upon to make the stadium feel smaller. To my amazement, he accomplished that. No, I wasn't doubting his abilities. After all, he's had plenty of practice. But it takes a lot of skill to make anywhere with a sold out crowd of 41,500 is intimate. To that end, McCartney's jovial attitude and anecdote sharing went a long way in making this massive space seem like a small party. Plus, say what you will about the peace and love vibe from the '60s, but the joyousness in his music is as pure and enduring expression of it as one might hope for.

The label "living legend" gets carelessly applied, but in the music world I can't think of many who are on equal footing with McCartney. What are the chances that any musical artist in the future can reach across as many generations and cultures for going on 50 years? (I'm not even sure the same goes for former bandmate Ringo Starr.) Initially I second guessed if I should go, but I'm glad I did. What a great night of music.

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Saturday, August 06, 2011


All the running around and late nights on the road the previous two evenings have caught up with me something fierce tonight. See you tomorrow.


Friday, August 05, 2011

Up north

After heading south on Thursday, I turned to the north on Friday and drove to Ann Arbor, Michigan. Since I arrived home pretty late from Thursday's activities, I was slow getting around and didn't get to spend as much time in this lovely downtown as I would have liked. I did see a movie at the theater with this lovely marquee.

This theater is just a few doors down in what was quite the hopping downtown. The sidewalks were packed, and it seemed like something was going on. There was a really good energy to the place.

My visit was spurred by the chance to see Bruce Robison and Kelly Willis again. I figured that since they don't play often in the region, I might as well take the opportunity and make the trip. I've previously been to The Ark, the place they played tonight, and really like the venue. I also had planned to use this day as an excuse to check out more of downtown, but I left home later than I intended.

I didn't quite realize it until I almost passed them, but on the way from the movie theater to the club, I walked by them on the street trying to get into a guitar shop right as it was closing. (Turns out they needed something.) As it is with small shows like this, I did get to speak with them briefly after the concert, which was nice.

I didn't plan it out this way, but on consecutive nights I attended drastically different concerts. Thursday: Paul McCartney, stadium show, hundreds of feet from the stage. Friday: Kelly Willis and Bruce Robison, small club show, a few feet from the stage. The ticket fees for McCartney covered what it cost to get into tonight's concert. This isn't a knock on seeing the Beatle. Both shows were terrific in their own ways. It's just interesting to consider the massive differences between these experiences.

And I write this to you from my parents' home in Indiana. I've driven quite a lot these two days. Time to stay put for a few.

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Thursday, August 04, 2011


Vacation commences, so I hit the road and set Cincinnati as my first destination. I was in town for a big event later in the evening, so I wanted to get into town early. I used the extra time there to take in a movie at the Esquire Theatre in Clifton. I really liked how its exterior makes the building stand out.

Going to and coming from the parking lot I saw this sign painted on the back of a building. I have no idea what's going on there.

I capped the day by going to see Paul McCartney at Great American Ball Park. More on that to come in the next day or two. (Spoiler: it was a pretty great concert.)

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Wednesday, August 03, 2011


How does working more than twelve hours on the last day I plan to work before taking vacation come out in my favor exactly? So, I'm fried and have nothing to say. In my stead, enjoy a three-man mariachi band playing for a beluga whale.

And if you've already seen this making the rounds today, enjoy it again.


Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Listen to what the man said

In anticipation of seeing Paul McCartney in concert on Thursday, I've been listening to some of his post-Beatles albums. Some I'd never heard, some I know from having checked out cassettes from the library when I was a budding Beatles fan.

I was born after The Beatles broke up. I remember when John Lennon was shot and killed but don't know that I realized how big of a deal it was in popular culture at the time. What I'm getting at is that I came at the The Beatles more from a historical perspective than as something that was part of my life.

As I've listened to McCartney, McCartney II, and Band on the Run, I've started to associate the songs I know with the times I first heard them. Suddenly these songs are no longer things I plucked out of history or a pre-pop culture consciousness but part of my life. It seems weird to say that seeing McCartney, who I've never seen perform live, will be a nostalgic experience, yet there's no doubt that such will be the case.

Nowhere is that truer than with his 1989 album Flowers in the Dirt. Until recently it was the only McCartney studio album I owned. On cassette, no less. [I also have the succeeding double live album Tripping the Live Fantastic on tape and the live albums CHOBA B CCCP and Unplugged (The Official Bootleg) on CD.] Looking up songs from it on YouTube, I'm struck by how familiar they are even though I haven't heard them in who knows how long. I listened to that album a lot at the time.

If forced to pick, I'd probably select McCartney as my favorite Beatle. Perhaps it's because he was the most visible in my formative years. Perhaps it's because his impeccable pop instincts hit a sweet spot.

The knock on McCartney is that he's prone to sappy sentiment. Fair enough. At least with the songs I've sampled, I'm amazed by the positivity emanating from them. I find it refreshing, though. I certainly can't say who Paul McCartney is or know if his art is as sincere as it appears, but when so much of what I see and hear seems to be at arm's length, it's breathtaking to come across an artist who's putting himself out there even if it won't win points for being cool. (Seriously, an ode to long-term marriage that doesn't make your teeth hurt isn't the sort of thing you're going to come across much in pop music.)

Initially I questioned if I should get a ticket for this concert. I haven't kept up with his solo work in a long time. Ultimately I decided to go because it's surely the last chance I'll have. As I've returned to his work, I've become genuinely excited about seeing him perform songs I've loved for a long time. I expect I'll be among the younger attendees. No doubt I have a different relationship with his music than those who came of age with The Beatles. Nevertheless, I look forward to this journey into the past, in part because I haven't been there for so long.

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Monday, August 01, 2011


After a busy day that was more stressful than I anticipated when it began, I just wanted to kick back and watch the Reds game tonight. OK, watching the Reds can be a stressor in its own right, but that's beside the point.

I turned on the TV, but the channel I wanted came up with a message that it was currently unavailable. I unplugged the cable box and let it reboot. Still nothing. I turned to online customer service, waited through the chat as the rep refreshed the signal going to my box, and finally could see the channel. Great!

It hadn't been ten minutes when the image froze and stayed that way. By the time I opened another chat window with customer service it had unfrozen. Then it resumed freezing and unfreezing every few minutes for the next half hour. Back I went to online support.

I was told that there was a problem with that particular channel and that it should resolve itself within the next four hours. That's all well and good except the game would be over by then and nothing would be on the channel. I asked if I could get a credit for the service disruption and was told that I could if I contacted the cable company again once the problem was resolved.

Why they couldn't (or wouldn't) give me the credit then and there wasn't stated, although it probably had as much to do with figuring I'd forget or not bother to follow up on it. I will say that it was much easier dealing with this in an online chat than over the phone. Since I was told I could request the credit via chat, I was raring to ask for it an hour later.

And what do you know? They gave it to me without any fuss. Sure, it's just $5.28, but it is in part the principle of the matter. I spent about an hour and a half trying to get this taken care of so I could watch what I wanted to watch. Was my time and aggravation worth only $5.28? Probably not, but based on other conversations with a cable company, it feels like a well earned win. And that, in this instance, is good customer service.

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