Thursday, October 28, 2010

Screaming Trees & Musical Habits

Yo,

Just sitting here at work with all my music on shuffle (seems that 90% of my blog posts start this way – is it the music that makes me want to blog or is indicative that I’m sitting in front of computer and my mind is wandering? Hmmmmm…..)

Most of the time I have the music on shuffle and I can span a great variety of music with a few CTRL+F taps. However, I have an internal rule that whenever a Screaming Trees song comes up in the mix that I have to stop and listen. Do I like the Trees? Yes. But do I love the Trees? Well, I mean love is a strong word…. I’m not sure why I came up with this rule, but I’m almost superstitious about it now. To the point where I get nervous if I do skip it, have to go back and play it. Just one of those weird things that I, now subconsciously, do. Wonder if it’s the onset of mid-life grunge related OCD.

You got any weird musical requirements when listening? Hope so. Make me feel normal, please….

-Mark

Dear Mark

I do have some weird musical pairings and things now that you ask. Nothing so superstitious that I can't skip a song. I'm more of mood player. I guess one superstition I have is that when I come into work and hook my iTouch up I never continue playing the album, artist, playlist, etc that I was playing when I left the office. I like a clean break.

Another thing I do is that Fridays are Artist Shuffle days. Inspired by simply getting the Led out on Friday. I bounce around from shuffling all songs from Alice In Chains, Led Zepplin, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, Queen, Rush to name a few. In fact, tomorrow I'm going for an artist I've not shuffled all day long come to think of it, AC/DC. That's a winner.

I have some music that I admittedly close the door to the office before any hears. I'm a grown man and I am okay with everyone knowing that I like to sing a little Lionel Richie every now and then (okay daily) or that I still listen to Seattle band music from the early 90's that no one has heard of before. I can only imagine what you do in your cubicle when Goodness comes on the shuffle... shudder.

I have some funny mixes too. For some reason my smart lists will bounce from a Pearl Jam song to a Shakira song in Spanish to Led Zepplin to Flock of Seagulls to dance techno Lady Gaga to a Buffy Musical song. I'm literally all over the board.

Right now Temple of the Dog is playing ("Wooden Jesus") and I've got to get back to work. Talk to you soon.

Cheers
Jeff

Friday, October 22, 2010

Pumpkin Patch

Dear Mark

Halloween is upon us. Lavi and I have been introducing Jack to it more and more. Two weekends ago Jack "helped" me put up decorations outside the house. By help I mean he walked around wearing work gloves and carrying tools while I did the work, with Lavi's help too of course. The decorations are pretty random, but they show that we support the holiday. If you come a knocking at our door you'll get some yummy treats. Actually you will get a double fist full of candy from Lavi because she goes absolutely giddy over the event. It is adorable beyond belief.

My favorite decoration is a skeleton that I have mounted on bicycle. I leave it stored under my front porch all year. It is right next to my dryer exhaust. So over the year it builds up dryer lint and it looks scarier. Every year we add one or more items. This year we added some orange lights along the ground. Not the Griswald's of Halloween yet though.

We've been reading books about Halloween to Jack. We have ghost books and counting Halloween books. We go through them each night. Jack has a new favorite. We've read extensive "The Story of the Jack O'Lantern" for a few weeks. It's actually not a "nice" story but it reads in a way that doesn't scare. It's interesting what things I pick up now and then that I determine he's not old enough to understand just yet.


Lavi took Jack on an adventure to go pick out pumpkins at the store a few weeks back. The weather has been really mild and nice the last few weeks. The good weather prompted a trip last weekend to the Pumpkin Patch to pick out more pumpkins. We took a tractor ride, saw some animals and stomped all over a pumpkin patch. We found 5 more pumpkins. Here is a neat slide show of our trip. You can see how nice it was. Jack had a good time and so did Lavi and I.

This weekend we plan to carve up the pumpkins. Jack wants them to have happy faces, not scary faces. I hope to manage sneaking in one surprise face. It will be a good activity on a rainy weekend.

Jack has said that he plans to be a firefighter for Halloween. A great idea seeing how he loves playing with his fire trucks so much. We also got him matching Run DMC outfits to wear with Calvin, just in case.

Halloween is a fun time around here. I hope to really enjoy it with Jack. I wonder if he's too young for Charlie Brown Halloween special. Lavi and I are trying to start small traditions around the holidays to do with Jack. Just to make things fun.

I'm not sure if I'm dressing up or not. We'll see. Do you all get many trick or treaters? We don't get a lot. We end up with 25-40. I do think Lavi's reputation for the double fisted candy give out is spreading though.

Happy Halloween!
Jeff

PS - Follow up. The Jack O'Lanterns turned out great!

East Coast Hum & Whistle

Jeff,

I think the Lowenbrau commercial is before my time. I was watching that for the first time I think.

Now me, yeah, I hum and whistle too. Mostly I stick to two main songs

Sanford and Son theme. I’ve never watched the show, but a guy in my technical drawing class back at Blanchet was humming it one day and it stuck.



The other is the Old Spice theme. Not sure what that says about me. I know I smell good … most of the time. Couldn’t find a good clip on youtube, I didn’t spend more than 5 seconds looking though

Other musical things I do well…

Often if I’m just short bursting something, perhaps as an alert that I’m coming around the corner or into a room, I’ll go with the Strange Brew call. If you don’t know it – WATCH THE MOVIE!!



Now I have an internal music song that ‘s going on most of the time I’m mosey-ing through my life



This is why I’m bobbing my head most of the time.

-Mark

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Alice In Chains and Memories

Dear Mark

This past Friday it was a trip down memory lane as my friend Jamie and I went to the Alice In Chains concert. It was the Black Diamond Sky tour. Deftones and Mastodon. I had not seen Alice In Chains since the Lolapalooza III tour in 1993. I began thinking that I had seen Alice In Chains four times and it all occurred between January 1992 and that tour in 1993. As you know I really love Alice In Chains. I was very tired from a long work week and not much sleep. I thought of bailing but Lavi was wise when she said I'd regret that. She would have been right. I'm very glad I went.

My friend Jamie and I had some dinner before and then headed to Key Arena. Hard not to think of the Supersonics when you go there. High School football was playing at Memorial Stadium. I wished we had time to watch the bands play. I never appreciated them as much when in school, but sure get a kick out of them now.

Crowds were not bad. Being Males and with no bags we walked right in. If you brought a female date you had about a 20 minute wait in line to get through their security check. Opening acts were good. We missed Mastodon to my friend Jamie's dismay. Deftones I had not heard before. Good show, lots of energy, tremendously loud, but not too bad. During the break we noticed all the cameras and learned they were filming the concert in 3D.

Then the lights went out and AIC started...

I remember the first time I saw Alice In Chains. I had their first album by then. But they were not the band we had bought tickets for. They were opening for Van Halen. At the time no other band was more my favorite than Van Halen. I had not seen them in concert ever, missing previous 5150 and OU812 tours. I was stoked for the show. My friends and I (Jason, Tim) stayed up over night at Tower Records to get tickets first thing. The show was in the Tacoma Dome (terrible). We got our tickets and had to wait. When the show came around Sammy's voice had gone out and he had to cancel. Rescheduled for 3 months later. (I even have the cut out from the paper still)By the time we got to the show Alice In Chains was getting a lot of play on the radio with "man in the box." I was actually really stoked to see them open. For an arena show they sounded okay. I think this was one of the first shows where Layne (lead singer) had cut his dreadlocks off. He was pretty sedate and I remember thinking they lacked energy. I do remember the sound was good and I liked all the songs. It got me to listen to them more when I got home. Van Halen rocked it silly for me and I was all a tither.

The concert was awesome from the start. The new lead singer does a good job. He sounds good and the sound remains Alice In Chains. I prefer Layne of course, but I am glad that they found a front man who could carry on the sound of the band. Some will dismiss the band without Layne. That's fine, I get that. Nirvana would never survive without Kurt, but Alice in Chains is different. Jerry Cantrell and Sean Kinney are also driving the music. It wasn't all Layne. In fact, I think their last album before he died was mostly Cantrell, which I admit is why it is my least favorite one. I think Layne was in a bad way for that album.

I can't remember all the songs in order that they played. I know they kicked it off with Creep and I heard We Die Young, and No Excuses early on. They played from every album except SAP.

SAP was really the album that I got into them with. It is just a 4 song EP but I love everyone one (yes there is a silly 5th one on there, but it's not a song). During the summer of 92 I listened to that over and over. In fact, we heard Alice In Chains was coming out with a new album and doing a small warm up tour. They would be playing in the Yakima Civic Center that summer. Rod, Tim, Jason and I got tickets and headed out on a road trip. It was one of the best weekends I ever had with those 3. The concert was raw and amazing. They were on a stage that was literally 3 feet high and just pulsing with sound. I can't remember if Dirt was out by then. I don't think it was. So we heard a bunch of songs first live before the album, which we now couldn't wait for.

This picture is one of my absolute favorites. I get emotional just looking at it. Writing about it almost chokes me up. I love these guys and I miss Tim every day. I love this picture because it just captures how close we are/were and what a great weekend that was. I still have the shirt from the concert.



The sound was really good. They lyrics were clear and they kept playing songs that the crowd loved. Will does a good job of sounding a lot like Layne, which is good and bad. The songs of the new album were great live. Songs that I remember were Bleed the Freak, Them Bones, Rain When I Die, Down in a Hole and Angry Chair. Rooster was a huge hit with everyone.

Rooster reminded me of the 2 times we saw Alice In Chains in 1993. They had become a big band. We saw them at Mercer Arena and Lolapalooza. Both events were memorable. Screaming Trees opened for the first one and I'm a big fan still to this day. The Lolapalooza tour Primus headlined and all of us could care less, we came for AIC. They had changed for sure though. Still a silly band but just bigger. I think it was the first time I saw the hard life affects on Layne. He kept getting thinner and would just stand in one spot. Cantrell's guitar was just nuts but it all sounded tight. Tim, Jason, Rod and others with us for all of this. All 4 times I saw AIC they were there. I regret not getting Lavinia to come with us that year (it was the year we started dating). She never got to see Layne. I need to apologize for that.

The concert ticked along and every song was great. I really enjoyed seeing Will and Jerry mix it up on vocals. The encore was "Black Gives Way To Blue," "Love, Hate, Love," "Man in a Box" and finally ending with "Would." The crowd almost out sang them on the last two.

"Black Gives Way To Blue" is a great song. The lyrics are haunting ("no plans to take the path that takes them lower," and "tomorrow is haunted by your ghost"). The tribute to Layne is memorable and Elton John is playing piano. I was very glad that they played this personal song for the Seattle home crowd.

After the concert I found an interview with Jerry Cantrell. It's good and admittedly a tough read if you care deeply about the band. Reading about Layne and how he contributed and how Jerry and him relied on each other for their song writing was pretty amazing.

I'm always going to love this band and I'm glad they are continuing. They remind me of great times, provide lyrical examples of what a hard life can do to one, serve as a reminder that the addiction of dark things can have only one outcome if not checked and continue to make me rock out as if I was 21 again. For me they will probably be my Zepplin. If I could meet Jerry Cantrell I simply say "thanks" for all the great music and effort to keep it going.

Cheers
Jeff

Monday, October 4, 2010

Whistle & Hum

Dear Mark

As you know, I'm not that musically inclined despite our Mother's best efforts to culture and instruct us. I like the music I like. I tried to play piano, my chariots of fire is purely definitive and I failed at trumpet because having my lips vibrate all day as a result was off putting. I never had the desire to learn guitar, drums seemed interesting until I saw that all the greats seemed to OD and die. I have a musical voice for newspaper print and thus only uncork a power ballad after many beers at the Karaoke bar.

Yet, despite this apparent (and obvious to everyone) lack of talent I find that I do enjoy singing and even whistling and humming. My singing is usually confined to my office or car and mostly definitely by myself. I have from time to time had my co-worker Paul come over to ask politely to "keep it down" as I belt out some Alice In Chains. I'm sure that our Mother's over promotion of show tunes and musicals has something to do with this, I'm just sure of it.

There are quite a few things that I seem to be stuck on and I wonder if you have similar tunes that never leave your head.

Here's a short list.
1. Lowenbrau commercial jingle
Yes, here are to good times and tonight is kinda special. The beer you pour should mean something more some how… tonight, let it be Lowenbrau.
I whistle this all the time. I can't think for the life of me why. I've never consumed the beer. Perhaps that commercial played too much when we were watching Sunday afternoon Seahawk football in the 80's. Still I do hum and whistle it as I walk. Lavinia asked me just the other day what it was. I told her and her response was "that is what you've been whistling for 18 years?" I think I died a bit realizing that.


2. Guns n' Roses - Patience
Very similar to the one above. Often I'll start with one and go to the other. It's catchy and had a lot of radio play time in high school. I can't seem to shake it.


3. Mary Poppins - Spoonful of sugar
Seriously, this one comes up in the most embarrassing situations. Mostly embarrassing because others will recognize the tune, publicly judge me and laugh. It hurts, but darn it I like the tune. It was playing at Jack's daycare the other day when I dropped him off. As a result I hummed it all day.


4. All Night Long - Lionel Richie
Yes, this is my Karaoke favorite. I love singing this song. It makes me think of Tim, who is still to this day the only individual who in an Irish bar would cry out for the band to "PLAY LIONEL!!!" Awesome.


5. Man in a Box - Alice In Chains
I think it is mostly the intro bass/drum line that mimic. Just has the sort of you're walking to home base as a baseball player ready for bat and the crowd is going nuts because bases are loaded, two outs and you might just have a walk off grand slam kinda moment. I guess I dream as I hum.


Well, this has me thinking of some other songs that I need to go shuffle. I doubt many will be as good as the ones above.

Cheers
Jeff

Sunday, October 3, 2010

A day with Dadna

Dear Mark

Yesterday Jack and I had a day together. It was a lot of fun. We had the day to ourselves as Lavi was hosting a baby shower for Jackie. Jack and I started by taking the bus to Fremont in the morning. It was not his first bus ride and he was very good. I think he secretly wanted to ride it all day long. Once we got to Fremont I took him up to see the troll under the Aurora Bridge. He was leery of the Troll. On the walk down from there he said "that Troll scared me Dad-na" almost matter of fact and then we kept walking.

After visiting the Troll we walked through a small park on the way to my work. I had left our bicycle there at work on Friday. We took some elevator rides and got our bike out of the bike cage at work and started out. So already in the morning we had taken a bus ride, walked around, visited some parks and were now on our bike.

From Fremont we headed to Woodland Park Zoo. We had not visited their playground yet and it seemed like a good idea. I rode us up Fremont Ave to the zoo. The new bike handled pretty well up the hill, even better than the bike with the trailer. We played at the playground for a while and then saddled up and headed to another playground that has a few really long slides at Phinney Ridge Center.

We took another ride to the Gorditos and had some lunch. Then we cruised home for a nap. Both of us got a little nap in.

That sounds like a good long day but it wasn't over. After nap time we saddled up again and headed to Salmon Bay Park for Jack's friend Marin's birthday party. We rode over the park, had a great time and rode home.

It was a long day, but a lot of fun. Jack is 3 and with that comes new challenges. He is more and more physically capable of handling himself these days. He does real well on the sidewalk, wants to walk more and more on his and less with holding hands. He's getting so big. He can climb up and down the play structures very well. He even handled himself on the zip line at Salmon Bay park.

Do you remember Salmon Bay park? It was where we'd go with the Boys & Girls Club in the summers. How many hours did we spend in that park? Too many to count that I guess. It is pretty neat to see Jack running around the hills of the park with his friends. It reminds me of times we had there as kids.

Jack and I rode home before dark, got him a bath and then off to bed. It was a very full day, but lots of fun. I have slide show here for you to check out. Enjoy!