SotD: Rilo Kiley “Capturing Moods”

•September 24, 2014 • 1 Comment

After a long interruption, I’m bringing back the Song of the Day in a limited capacity.  I won’t be posting one each and every day like I had in the past.  The feeling that I had to post something every day, regardless if I was inspired to or in the mood to write, is what led to me completely abandoning this space for so long.  I’m going to take it a little easier this time and see if I can avoid burnout.  I’ll toss songs up here a few times a week when I have a particularly clingy earworm or discover a new piece of music that captivates me.

Today’s tune is a song that was bouncing around in my head when I woke up this morning.  It’s a classic example of what made Rilo Kiley such a great band.  Jenny is at her plaintive and emotive best, and Blake’s tricksy little guitar riffs stitch the patches of lyrics together perfectly.  Oh goddammit Blake, why couldn’t you have been satisfied with your lot in life?  You were a crucial piece in an incredible band and then you had to fuck it all up by getting butthurt about not being more front and center and blew it all up.  You know what happens when a song that you sing comes up on an RK album?  People press skip, that’s what happens.  Nobody has any patience for your reedy warbling except maybe your mother…and I’m not even sure about that.

But I digress.  There are no Blake lead vocals on this song, and for that we give thanks.

Another Dio-bolical Guest Piece

•September 8, 2014 • Leave a Comment


A couple of weeks ago, I did a guest piece for Drew Grosman’s blog, DioramaWatch.  Drew graciously/foolishly offered me the chance to analyze another of the Diorama Lady’s creations, the Back to School diorama.

Checking in on the Pumpkin Beer Fad

•September 8, 2014 • Leave a Comment

I decided to take a test last night to see if I still hate pumpkin beers. I asked for a sample of Southern Tier Pumking, which is supposed to be THE pumpkin beer according to palates that I trust.  I’ve been assured that this one tastes like pumpkin-enhanced beer rather than pureed pie and baking spices.

Did I like it?  Nope.

It wasn’t terrible, but I couldn’t have consumed more that the 3 or so ounces of the sample. It sure didn’t taste like a liquefied baked good the way some of the more awful pumpkin offerings do, but it wasn’t anything I could have gotten more than halfway through without surrendering.  The foundation of the beer was quite solid, but as soon as that earthy-sweet pumpkin note registered on my taste buds, the honeymoon was over.  As much as I love pumpkin bread or pumpkin pie, I simply cannot abide gourds in my beer.

At least stout and porter season is nearly upon us!

A Guest Spot

•August 25, 2014 • Leave a Comment

I recently was handed a guest spot on Andrew Grosman’s blog, DioramaWatch.  Drew’s blog centers around the diorama window on a local (to him) woman’s home.  She puts together dioramas to mark major holidays like Memorial Day or the Wisconsin State Fair.   The assortment of dolls and props used range from campy to creepy to oddly macabre.  A while back, I did a guest piece on a Valentine’s Day diorama, and it was so well received that it only took five years for me to be offered another go at it.  The piece published yesterday is about an odd, transitional, not-quite-diorama that’s currently on display.  I’ll also be giving my take on whatever appears next in the magic window.

I know I’ve said it before, but I’m going to try to get back to weekly posting if not a few times a week.  My last post talked about how I was emerging from a down period, and then I immediately went through a huge upheaval in my life that is still being sorted out.  As it stands now, some days are great, some days are ok and some days are downright miserable.  Who knows how long things will be this all over the place and unstable.  At the very least it should make for interesting writing.

SoTD: Broken Bells “The Ghost Inside”

•June 23, 2014 • Leave a Comment

Soooo it’s been a little while since I last posted.  I don’t know exactly how long, maybe two months or so?  I didn’t really run out of things to say, that may not actually be physically possible.  What happened was that I found myself in a pervasive state of mental ick.  Sometimes a bad mood rolls in and doesn’t roll out for a couple of months.  There has been an effort on my part to not externalize gloom or negativity.  I’ve taken a considerable step back in my social media presence.  While some might find entertainment in my rants against those who offend my sensibilities, I was feeding a monster.  This has happened before where my exaggerated grumpy old man persona has outgrown the corner of my mind it usually inhabits and takes over everything.  I cease to be able to find joy or positivity anywhere, the storm clouds simply obscure everything that doesn’t feed them.  In short, I become a singularity of negative thought and consume everything within my gloomy gravitational well and decided to try to keep it to myself and ride it out.

Today was the first day in a while I felt like I had something to say other than to whine.  Hopefully I’ll be back to semi-regular posting.  Enjoy some Broken Bells and Christina Hendricks.

SoTD: Oysterhead “Pseudo Suicide”

•May 2, 2014 • Leave a Comment

I’ve been AWOL this week.  After making a post about how I was keen to start living a healthier life, I was promptly struck down by bronchitis.  Between spending a couple of days gasping for breath and a few sleepless nights, it hasn’t really been a fun week at all.  I’m finally on the mend and the medication I received yesterday is clearing out my chest in a hurry.  I’m pretty pumped to be feeling closer to normal and just in time for the weekend.

Today’s song is from an ephemeral melding of Trey Anastasio, Les Claypool and Stewart Copeland.  Their project only lasted long enough to produce one outstanding album and a smattering of touring.  I keep hoping the three of them will revisit the idea sometime soon.  It’s been eight years and I’m still hungry for more Oysterhead.

Envying Oysters

•April 26, 2014 • 3 Comments

The pearl oyster (which oddly enough is not actually an oyster) has a well-known adaptation for dealing with irritants.  When some particle or parasite invades the inner mantle of a pearl oyster, it is wrapped in layer after layer of calcium carbonate until encased in a smooth and roughly spherical capsule we call a pearl.  This is quite an effective method of dealing with anything abrasive or dangerous that gets within the oyster’s shell.

The Kanye Face expresses exactly how I feel when dwelling on the negative

The Kanye Face expresses exactly how I feel when dwelling on the negative

I also have an adaptation for dealing with irritants that get under my skin, although I’m talking about irritants of an intangible nature.  When I find myself irked by something, I do nothing as effective as covering it over so that it ceases to be a problem.  My mechanism for dealing with annoyance is to latch onto it with a kind of mental death grip and rake it back and forth across my consciousness until every molecule of my being is inflamed with anger.  If I feel the negative thoughts and emotions associated with that irritant subsiding, I grab onto it again and jab my mind with it over and over until my blood is up again.  Using this technique of repeatedly reminding myself that I am supposed to be pissed off, I can ensure a sustained storm of negative vibes for 24 hours or more.  I am a professional dweller who possesses as much stamina for willfully prolonging a shitty mood or terrible attitude as a marathon runner trudging along a road course.

Everyone who has known me for any length of time knows to give me a wide berth when I am in a bad state of mind.  Not only will I resist any attempts to console or suggestions for breaking free, I will actually defend my need to ruminate on the negative and do so with a snarl.  Eventually, people learn to just let me burn myself out.  The only truly effective counter I’ve found for this pattern of behavior is to smoke a big bowl of weed, which is more an escape than a remedy.  Since I’m not falling back on that vice anymore, I find myself at a loss when it comes time to extricate myself from another shitstorm in my head.

The question then is how does one become more like an oyster?  How do I learn to take irritation, disappointment and anger and smooth it over instead of perversely reveling in its jagged edges?  In the past, meditation has been suggested, but blowing all thought out of your mind doesn’t actually deal with the problem.  In a way, it’s the same as burning one down.  You are obliterating the negativity with distraction rather than actually processing it and moving beyond.  Defeating a self-perpetuating angry mindset is one of the three greatest challenges that I present myself, and so far I am at a loss as to how to overcome.

Changes for the Better

•April 25, 2014 • 4 Comments
Nobody's going to come along and get my stuck parts moving again.

Nobody’s going to come along and get my stuck parts moving again.

Consistently nicer weather is here, and I think it’s time to capitalize on that and make a change in my daily routine.  It’s time to start setting the alarm clock earlier and so I can go for a nice 45-60 minute walk before work.  Not having a commute gives me plenty of time to get out of the house and get my blood flowing and senses awakened with some physical activity.  The winter was so long and cold that it almost feels like rust has set into my joints.  I don’t have any wayward Kansan girls to fetch an oil can for me, so I guess it’s on me to increase my activity level and get my body moving again.  A morning walk will also give me a chance to flush my mind of the previous day’s stress and aggravations and start the morning off feeling refreshed and relaxed.

My diet also needs some altering.  I am a carb fiend and that definitely contributes to a little ample extra dough around the midsection.  I eat a lot of midday meals that feature bread and other carbs that could easily be replaced by a filling, protein-enhanced salad or wrap.  I’m also a sucker for potatoes and obviously I like to indulge in the liquid bread we call beer.  It would certainly be worth tapering those down a couple of levels.  The main issue I have with rebuilding my eating habits is that I do not enjoy many vegetables.  I’ll eat a pile of roots and tubers at the drop of a hat, but when it comes to things like broccoli, asparagus, tomatoes, or zucchini, I’d rather pass.  With some of them, it’s a texture issue and with others its a flavor problem.  I need to be a little adventurous and find some other forms of plant matter to eat that don’t fall into the starch category.  If anyone has suggestions about good veggies and how to prepare them (i’m not a fan of raw) please leave a comment below.  Recipes are definitely welcome as well!

SoTD: The Dead Weather “I Can’t Hear You”

•April 24, 2014 • 1 Comment

Holy shit, this is one dirty, grimy, sleazy little bit of musical magic.  If sound waves could smell like smoke, sweat and whisky, that’s what this song would reek of.  It’s bluesy and abrasive with a little early Zeppelin Jimmy Page-ness poking through here and there.  It’s got me so hot and bothered. I think I need a cool damp towel to wipe my brow.  After listening to it four or five times straight, I feel worn out and just clinging to the hope that I’m still respected in the morning.  And if I’m not, oh well.  The earfuck was so good, it was worth being used.


SoTD: The Shins “For a Fool”

•April 21, 2014 • Leave a Comment

I dropped some birthday cash on picking up a cheapo pawn shop Squier Stratocaster so I could get back into playing Rocksmith.  I also found a deal on the 2014 version of Rocksmith that only ended up costing me $10.  I’m finding the new Rocksmith to be a little more polished and user friendly than the original.  It feels more like a teaching tool and less like a Guitar Hero clone.  After cycling through a few of the default tunes that come with the game, I’ve really taken to today’s featured song.  I’ve actually made substantial progress after an early bout of extreme frustration.  It’s starting to feel like learning to play guitar could actually become a reality, much more so than my first abortive attempts.




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