Thursday, March 20, 2008
For your listening pleasure, I've collected 6 songs that remind me of spring for various and sometimes undefinable reasons.
Drive-by Truckers - A Ghost to Most
The Delays - Long Time Coming
Annuals - Fair
Jimmy Barret - New Love
Old 97s - Friends Forever
Rilo Kiley - Spectacular Views
Friday, March 14, 2008
I named today Bruce Springsteen Day, for no good reason other than my love for the Boss. And in the interest of sharing some Bruce-themed goodness with you (yes, all four of you), I've collected a few songs for your listening pleasure.
Follow the links to files--we don't have direct downloading capability, because we are cheap.
First we have my all-time favorite song: "Badlands." This one is best listened to in the car, turned up loud, singing along for all you're worth. You might also want to thump out the beat on your steering wheel. I do.
Next up, a bit of interesting comparison. "Thunder Road" is another favorite of mine, so I was thrilled when a friend posted this next song in another forum a few days ago: "Wings for Wheels," live from 1975, is an early version of what would eventually become "Thunder Road." Some of the elements are the same, but some are quite different, and I find myself loving this song almost as much as the classic it would become.
And of course, I have to give you my favorite cover of "Thunder Road," Tori Amos' abbreviated live version.
The Boss has undoubtedly had an influence on many musicians in the past 30+ years. Very recently, I've seen more than one review comparing current artists' work to his early sounds. One instance in which I think this is very apparent (and I mean that in a good way) is Josh Ritter, particularly the song "Wolves." He certainly has his own voice, his own imagery, his own stories to tell; the sound references Springsteen without ripping him off. Homage, I suppose you could call it.
NPR has a whole page of Bruce Springsteen related articles.
Thursday, March 6, 2008
History would show that the Thrashers are a spotty team at best, making heroic and inspiring runs, followed by confusing, and often frustrating losing streaks. They have been a come-from-behind team and a give-up-the-lead team. Now, with a scant 14 games left in the regular season, the Thrashers have seemingly given up. It was bad enough when they hit the 6-game-skid mark again, but they then surpassed it, losing their 8th game to Division rivals, the Carolina Hurricanes. The game was important if they wanted to stay competitive in the race for the playoffs. Hold the Canes at 73 points while simultaneously taking those 2 points, making the slow march closer, shortening the gap. Fat chance. The Thrashers fell, yet again, 6-3. But when your goalies are facing 37 shots on goal because your defense doesn’t know what the hell its job is, how do you stand a chance? You don’t.
This goes back to the deal Don Waddell made at the trade deadline. We dumped a high paid sniper and a second decent forward for two promising young forwards and a great prospect. Okay, fair enough, but why? Why, I ask? WHERE IS THE RETURN? It’s not like this shots-on-goal issue is a new problem. It’s been the same every season, and I’m starting to mold my own theories. Unless you can get superstar defensemen like Zdeno Chara or Chris Chelios, your trades aren’t going to make the headlines. Is that what it is, Donny? Do you like to see you face on NHL.com? Because that’s the only way your deadline deal makes sense to me, buddy. We didn’t need any more offense. You fix the defense, get the puck in the other zone for more than 5 minutes a period, and you’ll start to create scoring chances for your kids. We have Mark mother-f*cking Recchi, we have Ilya on-his-way-to-50-goals Kovalchuk, and Bryan Little, and 1st rounder Jimmy Slater, who, in my humble opinion, would create many, many more scoring chances if given better linemates and defensive help.
The Thrashers are pretty much out of the playoff race at this point. They are the 28th team in a 30 team league, and it’s embarrassing. They've won a total of 15 games in regulation. They've been out shot, out scored, and out hit in most games this season. This, right here? This is me calling for the head of Don Waddell. The man has had a decade to make this team a contender, and he has failed. He had some moments, I mean, he did draft Ilya, Kari, Bryan. He did make the deal for Hossa in the first place all those years ago. He is not without a few successes, but overall, this team will never contend for the Stanley Cup as long as he is the one deciding their future.
It's frosty cold here in Atlanta, after a lovely warm weekend, and so of course I'm daydreaming about spring. Spring in Georgia is this weird thing, almost nonexistent--the temperature goes 50, 60, 60, 90, usually in the space of a couple weeks. The 60 degree days are our spring. I love them for what they represent, all the promises of summer mostly without the unbearable heat and sweat. Those 60 degree days start me dreaming.
I always tell myself that this spring, this summer, will be the best one ever, I'll do all the stuff I always mean to do, have more fun than I've ever had, get more tan and drink more beer and party harder and worry less. It's hard to live up to; spring and summer now ain't like when we were in college. But I still try, every single year. I plan and plan and write down ideas and come up with crazy trips to take and party themes and spring-related music to listen to and books to read.
The best summer I ever had, actually, was the summer right after I graduated from college. I worked at the theatre in residence on campus, lived in a basement apartment a little ways north. Days at the theatre meant hanging out with friends, working in between long conversations and jokes and lots of silly things found on the internet. Getting off work before dark meant walking through the woods on campus, basking in the last bits of daylight, waiting for the show to end and everyone else to get done working. Then we'd spend our nights in the dorm parking lots, playing guitar and singing along, drinking more than we should've, getting into any kind of trouble we could think of. Weekends meant cookouts and trips to the lake to swim. I got tan and I got happy and I'm still trying to beat those three months.
The best springs were those college springs, especially when I lived on the third floor of the dorm that faced the woods. I slept with my window open, woke up to birds chirping, went to sleep to the sounds of frat boys partying on Greek Row. I sat out on the roof under our windows and read for class, soaked up the strengthening springtime sun. I watched shirtless boys play ultimate frisbee on the quad between classes. I laid down in the grass and felt like I had all the time in the world to enjoy these things.
Lots of stuff is different now, but better, I think. Jenny and I have office jobs and we live in an apartment surrounded by kudzu and pine trees. We have dogs, and a lake to walk them around, and a huge back porch to drink beer on. I'm going to miss those impromptu parking lot parties, but instead we have roadtrips and beach houses--though not enough musician friends.
This spring I'll walk my dog a lot (and maybe hopefully housebreak him so I don't have to clean up so much pee). This spring I'll go to North Carolina to see some hockey, to Alabama to see some country music. I'll make plans, get ready for an all-out, throw-down kind of summer. I'm still working on squeezing in as much fun as humanly possible--and getting a tan. A tan would be nice.
What we didn't tell you in our introduction is that Alex and I are married. Not married married, just hetero-life-partners married. Now, I have noticed a trend among the other married couples I know (real and hetero-life). Each couple has one planner and one go-along-er. After reading Alex's blog, you could probably guess which one she is.
So what does that mean for my spring plans in the south? Mostly, it means that I'll do whatever she puts on our wall calendar that we plan to buy imminently. Volunteer Jam in Alabama, AthFest in Athens, trips to Lake Lanier. These are things that I know will happen. They will happen because Alex will plan them, and I will get in the car.
Now, there are two varieties of go-along-ers. There are those who merely follow the planner, and only dream of making their own plans, and there are those who actually make their own plans. I am the former. What this means is that I have a few ideas of my own, but I have no illusions as to how probable their follow-through will be.
- Georgia Shakespeare opening nights -- there are three. Three chances to get dolled up and show some of my favorite people how much I've matured over the past 5 years. Three chances to reinvent what those opening nights mean to me. Three chances to catch up with old friends.
- Alex and I have a palatial back porch (for an apartment). Sitting on the porch in the dead of summer, listening to Otis Redding and Van Morrison, drinking cold Abita Purple Haze with our dogs lying (quietly) at our feet. This is my dream.
- A few weeks ago I went to Lake Sinclair with my main man and a few of his friends. We assumed 65+ degree, sunny, calm weather. We got 50ish and wind. Riding or rocking on a pontoon boat, fishing, enjoying my time as the only girl among good ol' southern boys, basking in rays of sunshine, belting David Allen Coe (the non-racists, non-sexist albums) and Willie Nelson. Possibly with a dog at my feet, again. Wrapping my sunburned skin with light cloth as the sun goes down, watching the bonfire in the back yard, and making s'mores.
- Road-tripping with people I love to a beach house in a crusty town, cooking in breakfast, lunch, dinner, or a combination of all three, eating ribs from Pineapple Willy's, seafood from just about anywhere, telling ghost stories or gossip stories, playing truth or dare, and drinking just because we can.
Barbecues, parties, sunburns, good beer, good friends, best friends, country music, classic rock, family dogs, road trips, bare feet. This is the summer I hope for.
Spring will be spent trying to train my dog.
Thursday, February 28, 2008
Anyway, in the past week or so, we've gotten: news that TNT ordered 13 episodes of his new show, Leverage, the announcement of a short show in Nashville on Monday, March 3rd, and new song clips posted at MySpace. I think "Let Me Go" will be my new favorite. The way he says Texas makes me feel all warm inside.
Wednesday, February 27, 2008
For those of you unaware, Marian Hossa is one of the best players playing professional hockey today. That may be a childish statement, but if you look at his stats (26 goals, 30 assists, decent on the power play AND the penalty kill), you can't really argue (as long as we ignore that pesky -14 rating...shh!). With Mats Sundin and Peter Forsberg taken care of yesterday, Hossa was the prize, the one to get. Everyone knew he would get traded. He will be an unrestricted free agent this summer, and he hasn't been lighting up the boards in Atlanta like he did last season. Both the Thrashers and Hossa needed a change of pace, something to light a fire under their respective asses, and a trade with Pittsburg was such a fire (or so Don Waddell hopes).
I'm sorry to see such an attractive player go (read THAT however you'd like). Even in his "slump" he was still providing goals and offensive power, something that isn't guaranteed with the newbies we obtained. And he wasn't too hard on the eyes either (good grief, what a hottie. --Alex). But he's gone, and so is Pascal Dupuis, so let's look at what Don Waddell got us in return.
Colby Armstrong - According to NHL.com he has been even-or-better in 21 of 25 of his last games (+9) and ranks third on the team with a plus-eight rating, and he's got 9 goals and 15 assists in 54 games with the Penguins.
Erik Christensen - Just came off of a rehab stint for a shoulder injury, has had an even or better rating in 37 of 49 games played this season, and he's got 9 goals and 11 assists.
We also acquired Angelo Esposito, last year's first-round draft pick, who seems to have a lot of potential. AND we stole this year's upcoming first round pick, which is sorely needed after last year's Tkachuk rental cost us most of our 2007 and 2008 early round draft picks.
We also traded with the Caps: Alexandre Giroux for Joe Motzko (and sent Joe to the Wolves). I don't know much about them since they're still both minor league players, but from what I hear, it was an even trade.
Overall, I think we did okay yesterday. Not great, not poorly, just okay. We got some offensive help, but our defense wasn't touched and that's a problem. Kari and Moose are facing upwards of 40 shots a game, and that can't happen for a playoff contender. Don Waddell made a big mistake in not moving Holik or Zhitnik for some large defensive players with power, but there it is.
As for the trades he actually made, I think they were good moves. Our roster is a little full right now (read: some kids are getting put on planes to Chicago very soon), but it's also younger and bigger. Size has always plagued us. Don Waddell wanted to make a smaller, faster team, but he failed, pure and simple. So...new plan! We just got ourselves a youth movement with physical presence, which I think will help us out in the long run. He also called up some of the great rookies that showed so much potential earlier in the season. I'd really like to see a game full of Little, Stuart, Kiwi, Armstrong and Christensen. You get these guys out there with some of the bigger players like Kovy and Recchi, and maybe we'll see some magic happen.
Plus, while Hossa was out the door a long time ago, Pascal Dupuis said that he enjoyed playing in Atlanta and wanted to stay here. So even though he's in Pittsburg right now, he is also an unrestricted free agent this summer, and cheap enough that we can buy him back. (And then we can yell "Du-pwweeeeeeee!" again at games. These are the things that matter. --Alex)
So while I wouldn't say that these moves just guaranteed us a spot in the playoffs, it did give us a boost. It will be hard going, thanks to moves around the league, especially moves that Washington made (see here, here, and here), but there you go. We're not out of it yet, we're only 8 points away from the 8th spot with 18 games left in the season. True, we are second to last in the conference, but it's such a close race right now that after these trades anything is possible.
Tuesday, February 26, 2008
Anyway, The Can Kickers are three boys from CT who play country/bluegrass like a punk band. Wide stances, fast paced banjo and fiddle, intense drums. And then they throw in a funk beat and everything goes crazy. I have never seen so many of the cool kids dancing at a show. At one point the drummer was standing up, going nuts on a washboard and still playing his kick drum, and I thought, this has to be the best live music moment I've had in years. (And, because these things are very important, of course--their drummer was totally cute in that didn't-I-go-to-high-school-with-you kind of way).
The crowd was full of good energy, dancing and clapping, for the Kickers, but then The Pine Hill Haints came on and everything went completely nuts. Rowdy, drunk, hipster-redneck mosh pit nuts. It was kind of surreal. I danced and tried to avoid any unpleasantness, but it was hard. I ended up having to watch the last few songs from the back of the room, where Jenny had retired long before.
I had no idea the Haints had such a following, but it seemed like everyone there knew the words to all the songs. A few fanboys spent the whole show calling out requests, and the band snarked at them about how crappy their taste was, and it was good fun. The band kept saying how insane and kind of terrifying the crowd was, but no fights actually broke out, and I think everyone survived.
Anyway, all this riled up craziness was well-deserved. The Haints blew me away. They're very rockabilly, and their stage show is unified without feeling purposefully thematic. They have an old radio mike with a painted box stand (it says WPHH), play a homemade stand-up bass made from a washtub, broomstick, and string, and they sing songs about ghosts and trains and whiskey. It's very fun, and feels very real--like they live the same life offstage that they present onstage. I heard one of the band members talking before the show, and he said he lives on old family land in Northern Alabama. I realize that authenticity doesn't necessarily make you any better, but these guys are good, and none of it is gimmick.