Monday, October 24, 2011

Monday night at the hospital

I'm tired, but for a very good -- GREAT -- reason!  My son was born this afternoon and both he and my wife are doing very well.  But everyone is very tired and I'm missing my little girl, who is over at her grandparent's house for her first non-parent overnight since she was born.  So, as you can expect, blogging will be a little light this week as we'll be at the hospital until mom recovers in a couple of days.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Thursday video - Bob Dylan

A VERY quick one.  Busy day/evening at the HillcrestBlogger abode.

Dylan.  His best.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Tuesday video - The White Stripes

Seems like not-so-long ago that The White Stripes were one of my favorite "new" bands.  That they've been on my radar now for over ten years is more than a little shocking.  This was one of my favorites from White Blood Cells:

I think my favorite White Stripes album was Elephant, when their monster sound really came together with some exceptionally tight songwriting.

And then there's this one, which I like so much because it just sounds like some sort of frenetic sludge (in a very good way):

An ode to this awesome weather

Not very often are you going to hear a person get excited about 53 degrees with wind and rain, but you are going to hear exactly that from me today.

After months of humid*, oppressive heat, AUTUMN** is finally here. So, bring on the rain and let the leaves drop from the trees, just in time for Halloween season.  Here here!  THIS is truly what is known as "football" weather, as opposed to the mid- to upper-80's we've been seeing.  And, when it eventually gets here, like it did during the overnight hours last night, Arkansas does "football weather" about as good as anywhere.

*  But hardly any rain.
**  My favorite season, by far.  And, I've decided to start using the term "autumn" instead of "fall."  It sounds more...refined ;)

Monday, October 17, 2011

Monday video - Weezer

Let's hit up a little Weezer this Monday evening why don't we?  And, like the Nirvana "Teen Spirit" video, I am going to slightly deviate from my live-music-only aim for music postings and have Weezer's first offering be the fantastic early 90's, Spike Jonze-directed vid for "Buddy Holly" in all of its Fonzie-ness glory:

The Blue Album is so very much my senior year at the UA.  While "Buddy Holly" was likely Weezer's biggest hit off the album, this song was my favorite:

After the Blue Album, Weezer released Pinkerton, which I liked, but it didn't get near the attention it deserved until years later when the emo generation offered it as a prime influence.  Then, the band took a long hiatus before releasing the Green Album, which was fantastic and featured this song:

For the last clip, I'm going to offer up a song the band recorded in honor of and in support of the United States Men's National Team as it prepared for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.  This song was reportedly playing in the locker room after Landon Donovan's stunning extra-time goal that propelled the team to the Round of 16.  Still thinking about that moment and watching this video still gives me chills.

Multiple updates from the HillcrestBlogger

Sorry the blog has been largely content-free for the last week (aside from the abbreviated music video postings).  My wife ended up not delivering last week, but was instead put on bed rest and is scheduled to deliver next Monday.  Which means that I get to not only be excited about the prospect of my soon-to-be-newborn son for another week but I also get to shoulder double the chores- and kid-load for another week since my wife cannot physically exert herself.  Now, before you think I'm whining -- I'm not!  I understand its part of the job and know that my wife will be assuming a much greater job in giving birth and being mommy to another cute kid.  But man...It. Is.  Exhausting.

Update #2 is that, after reverting back to an all-protein diet one week ago, I finally moved off the weight-loss plateau I've been on for the last several weeks and now have a new weight-loss low since June 20, when I decided to lose the weight.  I'm now down 21.8 pounds!  Hit the twenty mark!  Now, I'd like to hit the thirty mark by Thanksgiving.  I think that's a doable goal.

Update #3 is that I continue to kick ass in my fantasy football leagues.  I'm in four of them.  In two of them I'm 5-1.  In another I'm 4-2.  The other I am only 3-3, but have won three straight.  I think it is a very real possibility that I'll be in the playoffs for all of my leagues.  Sure, that's a super-dork thing to be excited about, but I'm excited nonetheless.

Update #4 is that my soccer team finally put together a good, solid half of play yesterday.  We still lost, but we were a discombobulated mess for the first half yesterday, which was par for the course so far this season (which, it should be said, has been highlighted more for injuries sustained to top players than anything else).  However, a couple of minor halftime tweaks and we outscored our opponents in the second half yesterday, 3-2.  Like I said, we still lost the match, as we have all season long, but maybe we finally will have turned the corner.

How about a little switch-up?

Do you like the new layout?  I thought I'd give it a whirl.  There are several interesting templates offered up by Blogger so I figure I'll go through a couple over the next couple of weeks to see which one I want to stick with for a while.  Feel free to let me know if you have a preference.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Thursday video - The Who

Let's keep with the British Invasion (especially since I'm writing this last Tuesday evening, post-dating some music posts in the event my son has-been-already or soon-will-be-born).

Love, love, love the Who.  While I really like their stuff around the Tommy- and Who's Next-era, what I consider the pantheon of their catalog, the band's stuff before and after is also great.  And, their live performances are beyond reproach: 

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Wednesday video - The Beatles

Here's one that's quick and easy.

There are literally 50 Beatles songs that are mathematically quantifiable as Freaking Awesome, so I can't really go wrong here.  The only drawback about Beatles songs is that the band effectively stopped touring after 1966, so there's really not much out there in the public domain of them playing anything from Revolver, St. Pepper, the White Album, Let It Be, or Abbey Road live.  Which is probably 75% of their original catalog.  Still, what is out there is so great.  But you knew that.  Enjoy.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Blogging will be sporadic for the forseeable future... my wife might deliver our son any day now.  We spent all day yesterday at the hospital for a false alarm, but the doctor said that delivery would likely take place this week.  My wife is fine and the baby is fine so no worries there (and, in fact, the baby will be full term this coming Friday).  It is just that he'll be coming 3-4 weeks prior to when we were expecting, so we'll be doing some last-minute scrambling to get everything in order before the birth.

Long story short, if I get some time to breathe, I'll try to post some stuff (and maybe try to post-date some music posts tonight to pop up later in the week), but don't be surprised if a week goes by without a current post.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Friday video - Buffalo Springfield

This has been a long week.  For the second week in a row, a co-worker died.  I just need to get to Saturday, when the family has a trip to the pumpkin patch planned, a tour of the maternity ward scheduled, and of course, college football all day long.  Just something to distract me and hopefully elicit some grins and laughs (which I'm sure those things will).

And, in honor of those folks currently occupying Wall Street, a little 60's protest music.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

We ALL have rights, right?

Bank of America's CEO says that it has a "right to make a profit" in defense of that bank's decision to start charging the must-discussed and vilified $5.00 debit card fee. 

Ok, then.  Don't get me started on the fact that Bank of America was given free money by taxpayers in order to save that $hitty company from its horrible investments in the subprime mortgage market.  Yes, I know that  BOA repaid the TARP funds in full, but if not for the taxpayers of the United States of America, BOA would not still exist.  So, as a thank you for rescuing BOA from the grave and for insisting that the banking industry, you know, didn't continue to engage in predatory and reckless practices, they've decided to make you pay if you use your debit card as anything more than an ATM card.  And, please note, that as I understand it, you will NOT be charged the fee if you keep a minimum balance of something like $20,000.00.  Because BOA doesn't want to piss off the rich!  How silly would that be?!?  No, its you poor saps (like yours truly) that BOA wants to hit with the fee.  Read that again:  Bank of America is targeting the not-wealthy people -- the poor people -- with the fee that is designed to make it a profit

So, yeah, I guess that they have that right.  This is a capitalist country, after all.

And, in that vein, we as consumers have a right to not leave our money with Bank of America

Everyone!  If you bank with a huge multinational banking conglomerate -- Move Your Money!  There are dozens of banks in your area (whether it be Hillcrest or Little Rock or Arkansas, or another state) that will gladly let you house your money there and not charge you for checking or the use of a debit card for purchases.  Be a capitalist!  Or pretend to be one!  Use the better and cheaper product!

This is your public service announcement for today.  I hope you consider it.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Don't feel much like blogging today

When I arrived at work this morning I discovered that a co-worker had been killed last night -- hit by a car driven by an 80-year old man who was driving shortly after dusk.  This, after another co-worker was murdered two Sundays ago.  Like two gut-shots, two very fine people are senselessly gone.  As you can imagine, my workplace today was somber and I'm just not feeling it.  I'll be back at you tomorrow night, perhaps.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Tuesday video - Pink Floyd

In honor of Rolling Stone not putting some half-dressed, teenage, talentless flash-in-the-pan on its cover for its most recent issue and instead going with a Pink Floyd cover, here's a little bit of that band's fantastic music.  This is pre-Dark Side of the Moon:

And this was taken from the 1994 Division Bell tour*.  Here's a great version of "Us and Them":

I was also always partial to Animals.  It is clearly the best album ever recorded using animals in an allegory about the human condition and human failings.  Well, at least since Pet Sounds ;)

*  I saw that tour, in Dallas, on April 28 of 1994, of that year with my good friends Andy, Carrie, and Constantino.  An unbelievable show.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Monday video - Fugazi

After taking a week off from posting videos, I'm back at it.  This time, how about something from Fugazi?

I saw Fugazi live in Little Rock at the Rivermarket pavilion ten years ago or so with my good friend MC Spookytooth.  I literally heard it on the radio on the way home from work that Fugazi was playing a show a couple of hours later and immediately called Spooky.  We met up shortly thereafter and reveled in the mosh pit and slam dancing*, which was made even better by Ian McKaye chastising the unruly crowd for acting like brainless, violent idiots.  How often do you get to see a hyper-literate, extraordinarily talented bandleader call out his core constituency for engaging in moronic behavior and have the targets of his derision love him even more for it?  A weird relationship, certainly.  Sufficed to say, the show was fantastic.

Here's another one of my favorites:

 One more? OK, twist my arm:

*  HillcrestBlogger was not one of the slam-dancing moshers.  I was not nearly in good enough shape ;)

Back after a long weekend

Well, as you can see from my lack of posts over the last handful of days, I've been a little busy.  It all started with my daughter running a fever on Thursday night, which segued into taking off on Friday to be home with her.  Then, Saturday presented a family baby shower for my wife in the morning, which bled into the Razorbacks/A&M game, which led to Saturday mid-afternoon (read: more football watching).  Sunday was chores and NFL, topped off by beers with my buddy Marco Sunday evening at the neighborhood pub.  And here we are.  Now that I've accounted for my whereabouts since Thursday night, here are some thoughts:

1.  The Hog game.  Wow.  Whoever is Texas A&M's offensive coordinator should first be fired, then drawn and quartered.  The Aggies could run at will all game long.  Why they didn't just run it 75 straight times is beyond me.  But they didn't and decided throw it, which led to some Hog chances and also lengthened the game.  Then, before you knew it, the Hogs D got a little better and made some timely plays while the Hog O geared it up and started scoring points.  By the time A&M went back to the run (after the Hogs took the lead), they failed to get a couple of yards when they needed it most -- on a 4th down play -- effectively ending the game. 

I've seen this phenomenon more times than I can count.  Some football coach (or, really, ANY sports coach) wants to do so many different things, "change things up", and look multi-dimensional, or whatever.  This, instead of what they REALLY should do, which is do that one thing they do best, over and over.  It was very clear very early on that A&M could run at will.  They didn't need to pass the football to win.  Sure, running the ball 75 times a game might get monotonous and bore the fanbase, but would the fanbase rather watch a somewhat-boring win or a multi-dimensional, exciting loss?  A&M fans know the answer to that*.

2.  So Bank of America is the worst company in the United States.  Well, there are others, but BOA is making the headlines with their recent announcement of the $5.00 monthly debit card fee.  The HillcrestBlog family has been transitioning out of BOA since the revelations about BOA's behavior leading up to and during the Great Recession (2008-current), but we still have a couple of random accounts there.  They are not used much and instead we retain them to sock away money into dedicated savings accounts.  At least we do now...maybe not for very much longer.  Instead, we moved our day-to-day banking to Delta Trust, a local, neighborhood bank.  So far, two years in, we're very happy**.  If anyone is listening, definitely move your money to a local bank and out of these huge Wall Street banking conglomerates.  Its better for the economy and you won't keep getting jerked around by the likes of BOA. 

3.  Ahhhh...the weather.

4.  Attention: runners.

5.  Mark your calendars, Hillcrest HarvestFest in two weekends!  Do you make a mean cheese dip

6.  Is this a movement?  I find it very interesting.  There's a website, but no real overriding organization.  What I do know is that Wall Street needs to be tamed.  Perhaps this is the beginning of something.  I guess we shall see.   

*  So do Nebraska fans.
**  Personal service, no phone trees, no lines at ATM machine, no lines at deposit window, no lines inside at teller window, easy and accessible on-line account and bill-pay, convenient location on Kavanaugh, etc.  

Friday, September 30, 2011

At home today...

...with a little girl recovering from a cold.  So, yeah, spent last evening at the Arkansas Children's Hospital after-hours clinic with my daughter, who was running a fever.  However, after some drugs and some good sleep, she's well on her way to recovery.  She is spending the day with me because she cannot be at daycare having had a fever in the previous 24 hours.  Not a big deal -- we're enjoying play time together.

Currently, she's back in her crib, doing her best to resist naptime ;)  So I figured I'd take a moment to write this quick post and say hello.  AND to wish everyone a happy, fall-like weekend.  Gotta run, looks like naptime is over!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Operation: Lose Weight Update and a Wednesday video (Joan Armatrading)

Wow, I totally blanked on yesterday's post, didn't I?  Yesterday was kind of a fragmented day (an eye appointment, another work-related appointment, friends dropping by after work, etc.) and I guess I couldn't get into my normal groove, leading to my forgetting to post last night.  No big deal.  I'll just double up today ;)

First, though, I'd like to note that, after a slight plateau (and some backtracking over the weekend) in my ongoing attempt at shedding some pounds, I've lost* a belt size and am back at my highest loss point so far (19 lbs).  Hooray for me.  Maybe I can hit TWENTY by the weekend?  That would be pretty sweet.  I'd like to be at thirty by the time my son comes in mid-November so I can spend part of my four-week paternity leave from work starting up a walking/running regimine.  I'd resisted so far because 1) I'd like to shed as much weight before running on a hard surface to help out my knees a bit more and 2) I'm still a little bit on the lazy side**, especially after I get home from work.  I'm hoping that during paternity leave, while my daughter is in daycare and my wife and newborn are napping during the day I can get out for 30-45 minutes.  I believe that if I'm down thirty by that time and if I have a month's worth of running/walking sessions, I could be down forty by Christmas.  In June I would have thought that was unpossible, but I think I see a path to that number.  Cross your fingers!

OK, on to a video.  While I don't think I'm overstating the case that I have a very wide breadth of music knowledge, especially established artists from the mid-60's through the late 90's, I'll easily admit that some slip through the cracks.  I'll credit my wife with introducing me more fully with Joan Armatrading*** in recent years.  How I never learned to appreciate her when I was knee deep in Blue or Tapestry, I'll never completely understand.  I guess better late than never.  This song is one of my favorites.

And this one is fantastic as well.  Enjoy.

*  Or is it gained?  I'm not sure what the proper term is.  In any event, I cinch the belt on additional belt loop, making the circumference of the belt circle smaller.  Whatever that's referred to, that's what I'm describing ;)
**  Aside from my Sunday afternoon soccer matches, in which I still fully participate for ninety minutes.  Goalkeeper, sure, but I'm out there the entire game!
***  I had actually heard of her before and knew she was "like Joni Mitchell" but hadn't ever listened to her music.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Hog game recap (ouch...still smarting)

Well, that was some weekend, wasn't it?  Fantastic weather and a solidly unfantastic Hogs/Tide game.  I haven't watched such a complete domination between two opponents that were allegedly in the same vicinity, skill-wise, in quite some time.  It is clear that the Razorback offensive line needs some serious work.  And it is doubly clear that, four years into Willy Robinson's tenure, the Hogs still cannot tackle a person carrying the football.  That being said, the Hogs were on the road, in a formidable and hostile environment.  Three of Alabama's touchdowns were scored unconventionally* and were not the result of a sustained, end zone-to-end zone drive.  And the Hogs were missing some very key players (Bequette and Knile Davis to pre-game injury, and Tenarious Wright to an injury during the game) whose presence surely would have helped the Hogs' cause.  But even if those things were in different and instead in the Razorbacks' favor, there still was no answer to the Tide's defensive front, both against the run and the pass.  We just got eaten alive.  No running game meant no play-action pass options and at least six defensive backs on every down.  Unless we tame that defensive front five, we never stood a chance.

If this game had been played on October 24 instead of September 24, I think the Hogs play much better.  We just weren't ready for Alabama.  On a brighter note, however, is that I do believe we will continue to improve.  This is why I still like the Hogs to win out, even against LSU on the last game.  A&M presents a challenge next week, although their pass defense was exposed by OSU pretty badly and I think the Hogs passing attack, while not quite as good as OSU's, is good enough to do the same.  And, let's face it, we're not going to face a better D-line than 'Bama's for the rest of the year.  But then it is Auburn at home, a terrible Ole Miss team in Oxford, a slightly better but still not good Vandy team in Nashville, and then South Carolina, Tennessee, and Mississippi State all at home.  I believe those will all be wins.  And then LSU to determine who goes BCS bowling. 

*  A fake field goal, a punt return, and an interception-and-score. 

Friday, September 23, 2011

Friday video - The Hold Steady

This Friday I've decided to post a video of a much more obscure band than yesterday's generation-defining Nirvana, but rest assured that the musicians The Hold Steady great in their own right.  The band writes and sings songs that are more stories than anthems*.  This particular one is pretty great.  If you've ever been to a big outdoor rock show or festival, you're probably familiar with the "chillout tent," which is where you go if you've taken more recreational pharmaceuticals that you probably should have ;)  In any event, this song sings to the virtues of the "chillout tent" in The Hold Steady's best bar-band way:

*  More than one rock critic has compared them to Bruce Springsteen in that regard and the comparison is not unjust. 

My favorite Razorback memory

In anticipation of the BIG SHOWDOWN tomorrow against Alabama's Crimson Tide, I thought I'd share my favorite in-person Hog memory*.  At least the one I witnessed in person is without a doubt the 1999 Tennessee game in Fayetteville.  My parents, who normally attended the home games, were unable to make it for some reason and handed their tickets off to me.  I gave my spare to my good friend Rob and the two of us, along with fellow hungover friends Ian and Carrie**, marched the 11:00 a.m. kickoff.  I remember Tennessee was ranked #2 at the time, defending national champions, riding a multi-season winning streak.  And then this happened.

WARNING:  The first 45 seconds are painful for Razorback fans of any age.  I would highly recommend not having eaten for the hour prior to watching it.

A secondary (some might say primary) memory of that day is seeing the goalpost from the south end zone torn down and carried to Dickson Street, where it was propped up at the front of what was then the Ozark Brewery.  People were signing it.  I know I signed it.  I also hoisted my fair share of celebratory hefeweizens while joining the throngs of Hog revelers mockingly singing "Rocky Top" and cheering whenever highlights were periodically played on the TeeVees in the pub.***   Dickson Street ended up being blocked off by the city for the entire day and evening as the party lasted well into the night. 

Bonus footnote **** :)

*  I have a feeling it among the favored memories of the other 60,000 people in the stands that day as well. 
**  Well, I just assume the other three were hungover.  I was :)  Friday night on Dickson Street the day before the know how it goes.
***  I also knew one of the bartenders, my buddy Bryan, who continually allowed me to cut in line and served me first despite the packed house.  Big ups to you, Bryan!
****  Rewatching the highlights, I'm struck by two things.  First, remembering how good of a freshman tailback Cedric Cobbs was.  Just so talented.  Second, how freaking good and aggressive our defensive front was that game and that year.  There were some monsters on that line.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Thursday video - Nirvana

Heard this on NPR this morning, so it was obvious to me whose video(s) I'd feature on HillcrestBlog today.

Normally, I prefer to put live clips on my video posts, but for Nirvana it would be sacrilege to show anything other than the Video That Destroyed Hair Metal and Saved Rock:

Really, that video is still so f*cking awesome, twenty years in.  I remember exactly where I was when I first saw it.  In my dorm room, a first-semester freshman at the UA, watching it on MTV's Headbanger's Ball.  It was like nothing I'd ever heard before*.  It was a beautiful shock to the senses.  And it reshaped modern music, leading to what I think was the Second Golden Age of Rock n Roll** (the first Golden Age obviously being 1964 through 1969).

One confession, however.  However great Nevermind was, my favorite Nirvana album is their follow-up, In Utero.  I'm not really sure why, as it doesn't have a song with the sheer power and beauty of "Smells Like Teen Spirit."  Its a bit looser, a bit more ragged***.  Kurt Cobain seems maybe like he's about to lose a little bit of himself (which, sadly, turned out to be the case).  Maybe a combination of all those things.  Regardless, its one of my favorites, and this song is a highlight:

Watching that clip and noting that he is now an major figure in rock in his own right with his band Foo Fighters, I had forgotten how freaking good Dave Grohl is behind the drums.  He's a monster.  And, one more for good measure (warning: there's an extended sonic freak-out "solo" in this clip that's going to leave you saying WTF?  Still, pretty awesome :)):

*  I had not yet learned about Pixies, Hüsker Dü, Black Flag, or any of the 80's hardcore bands.  All of which are great. 
**  Specifically, the fall of 1991 through late 1996.  TenExile in GuyvilleSiamese DreamSlanted and EnchantedBadmotorfingerOdelay(What's the Story) Morning Glory?Achtung BabyOut of TimeDirtMetallicaUse Your Illusion I and IIIll CommunicationDookieHollywood Town HallAnodyneBee ThousandThe Downward SpiralWeezer...And Out Come the WolvesUnder the Table and Dreaming.  And those are just a couple of the more notable examples.  There are many more.  Here endeth the lesson.  
***  It was produced by Steve Albini, after all. 

Irrational exuberance

Or maybe it is rational.  Whatever.  The point is, I have not been this excited to see a movie in a long time.  I can't even remember when.  The Return of the King...maybe?  Anyway, I posted before about my excitement over Moneyball and now, here it is, hitting the theaters this weekend.  And because this is my blog, I'm going to fully utilize the embed video function available to me:

First, the trailer, so you can remember what it is about -- baseball and numbers dorks!

A bonus scene?  Well, of course!

How about a "making of" featurette?  Why not?

Anyway, there you go.  Oh, one more thing

...(looking at the movie itself, like it was a sentient being)...


Wednesday, September 21, 2011

My Concert Series - Wilco in Little Rock, 9-18-2007

The second time I saw Wilco was five years after the first time*, and five years after the band released their best album, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot**.  I think this was the first time Wilco had played in Little Rock, and I don't think they've been back***.  And that's a shame, because the show was fantastic.  After my wife and I had some pre-concert beers at our local neighborhood pub with our friends Brett & Jackie, we drove the three or so miles from our neighborhood**** to the concert venue and enjoyed every moment.  Luckily, YouTube has come through with several concert clips, three of which I've embedded below for your viewing pleasure (sorry for the video and sound quality, though):

*  Boston, 2002
**  The making of the album, an unquestionable triumph, was caught in all its ugly glory in the documentary, I Am Trying to Break Your Heart.  Highly recommended.
***  NOTE TO WILCO:  We'd welcome you back with open arms!
****  One of the many Best Things about our neighborhood, Hillcrest, is how close it is to the downtown area for events such as this.

Wednesday video - R.E.M.

Well, this is a bit of sad news.  R.E.M. is over.  Thirty years in, the band apparently thinks that it has run its course.  Admittedly, R.E.M. hasn't been a significant cultural force in over a decade and, really, probably fifteen years.  But when they were, they were.

And, thirty years.  Wow.  It puts all the hoopla about Pearl Jam's 20 year reunion in perspective.  They're only 2/3 of the way to R.E.M.'s mark*.

I'll admit that when R.E.M. was at its highest point**, I was not a fan.  Indeed, part of that time was during my younger, metal/classic rock years and I was actively not a fan.  But, like any good college-going music lover in the early 90's, R.E.M. was hard to ignore and it grew on me as I scoured their back catalog of Murmur and Document et al.  To this day, this song is one of my favorites:

And, one more for good measure:

*  And, good God, compare that to the Stones' FIFTY years as a band.  Sheesh.
**  I think there's a pretty solid consensus that 1987-1993 is your basic timeline here.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Tuesday video - The Shins

Speaking of phantom limbs...

Or, if you are in more of a Natalie Portman mood:

Quick hits

1.  My long nightmare is over -- my previously belly-up iPhone 3G has been repaired!  Thank you Little Rock iPhone Repair.  Very quick turnaround and very reasonable price.  Being without my iPhone was like having a phantom limb -- I kept reaching for it and looking for it, but it just wasn't there.  No texts for ten days, no internet and e-mail access at my fingertips.  How did I ever survive?!  I love you, iPhone -- I will never go that long without you again!*

2.  Its one week out until Major League Baseball concludes its regular season and, more importantly, I conclude my fantasy baseball season.  Currently, I'm in second place (with a bullet!) in one of my leagues, making a strong move to win this sucker.  I'll admit -- its hard to pay attention to baseball now that the NFL is in full swing.  Its not like the Cubs are doing much this year.  But the payout disparity between finishing 1st and 2nd in this league is too much to ignore, so I'll soldier on for another week.

3.  Don't Ask Don't Tell.  Good f*cking riddance.

4.  Tonight is Rhea Lana preparation night at the HillcrestBloggerFamily household.  We topped two hundy at Duck Duck Goose.  Looking for a similar performance this week.

* Until Friday.  That's when I'm going to self-upgrade to a used 3GS (thx KLL!)

Monday, September 19, 2011

Monday video - Son Volt

Been playing catch-up today, so here's a quick one.  To those who know me well, I've said just about everything there is to say about Son Volt and the band's first album Trace.  So I won't belabor the point.  Simply put, if there is one song I want to be played at my funeral, however old I might be, I want it to be this one.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

My Concert Series - KISS in Little Rock, August 24, 1990

Although my very first rock concert was seeing The Romantics in the parking lot of the University of Arkansas at Little Rock in the summer of 1990*, my very first real concert was KISS at Barton Coliseum in Little Rock later that August.  I went with my friends Ira and Sean and I have to admit, I was a little intimidated at 17 years old being surrounded by metalheads and old 70's rockers**.

I don't have really any solid memories of the show except that, up until that point, I had no idea how freaking LOUD rock n' roll could get.  Plus, the Sphinx-head backdrop.  Oh, and chicks with big hair wearing either 1) not much, or 2) less than that.  Still, not a bad way to break into the rock concert scene.

Remarkably, I found this clip:

And this:

Sure, I wish one of these were "Detroit Rock City" or "Love Gun" instead of the kinda late 80's lame KISS songs, but how freaking awesome that, after twenty-one years, I can find even a couple of bits of this show on YouTube.  Remarkable. 

*  I assume as part of a student activity series because it was free? 
**  Remember, this was before the big KISS revival of the late 1990's when they decided to go back to full Kabuki makeup and pyrotechnics and all that.  This show didn't have the nostalgic fans you saw at those shows.  These were the fans that had been with KISS through the long haul. 

Friday, September 16, 2011

Friday video - Radiohead

Friday afternoons/early evenings don't engender the desire to post blog entries much, do they, fellow bloggers?  As such, I'm not going to feel a bit guilty about posting just this video for you today.  I mean, its Radiohead.  "Let Down" from OK Computer.  Please tell me what's wrong with that? ;)

Have a good weekend, everybody.  If I can find time to post tomorrow or Sunday, I will.

I had to repost this video

From Gawker:
"A Phoenix man became trapped inside his SUV on Thursday after he lost control of the vehicle, causing it to roll over and strike a utility pole. In the process, the driver rear-ended another vehicle driven by a man named George Lindell, who later described the events to local Fox affiliate KSAZ-TV in this amazing interview that you must watch immediately." (Interview starts at 1:25 mark)

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Two articles worth a read

Two very interesting posts I read today.  One is pretty short and is an encapsulation of one of my favorite topics du jour -- the eventual death of suburban America (as we know it).  I'll post something regarding my own thoughts on this topic in the near future.  The other is pretty long and it involves the NCAA and the myth of the "student-athlete."  It is a great piece of journalism.  I've long thought our colleges should pay athletes that play for their sports teams.  This article only bolsters that opinion.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

My Concert Series - Phish in Kansas City, October of 1995

OK, so this is a cop-out post.  I don't care.  If there is one thing that YouTube is 100% on the awesome side of the ball with it is going back and seeing if any video exists of shows I attended when I was younger, poorer, dumber, and with enough free time to be able to travel to see concerts :)

Today's inaugural My Concert Series post is the Phish show in Kansas City in October of 1995.  On a whim, I blew off some of my 1L law school classes and traveled up the road from Fayetteville to the Kansas City Municipal Auditorium with a mixed bag of some law school friends (Dana, Russell, Stewart) and other friends to catch the live act of one of the most dynamic bands around.  And I was not disappointed.

I'm not going to excerpt the entire concert below, but you can click here to go to a YouTube channel that has the entire show in 12 different clips..  It was so, so, so good.

Wednesday video - Pearl Jam

It is hard, and sometimes difficult, to believe that Pearl Jam's debut album Ten is twenty years old.  That also means that Nevermind is twenty years old, that I moved into my freshman dorm* at the University of Arkansas twenty years ago this fall, and that I've essentially been "grown-up"** for twenty years.  Being thirty-eight years old, married for five years, and being a father already once over (and soon to be for the second time), it is becoming increasingly more unsettling to realize that I'm approaching the fulcrum where I have more life behind me than I have in front of me.  This is not meant to be morbid in any sense -- I mean "unsettling" in the sense that there's that weird sensation, a realization, that you've lived in this world for a long while now and seen, heard, and experienced so much.  And that memories you have, such as listening to Ten (or Nevermind or Siamese Dream) for the first time happened a long time ago.  That there are "grown-up" kids that moved into their freshman dorm at the University of Arkansas this fall that were not yet born when I was air-guitaring to "Black," "Alive," or "Even Flow" -- which in 1991 and 1992 were fantastic new songs by this new band Pearl Jam!

Well, enough of all that.  As a live band, PJ have few peers.  Here's a 1992 performance of "Alive" from SNL.

And here's a bonus live clip of my favorite track from 1993's album Vs.

*  My dorm was Gladson-Ripley, which at the time was one of the co-ed Honor's Dorms.  I lived in Room 113 my freshman year with my friend Mark and in 114 my sophomore year by myself.  Glad to see that they finally got air-conditioning, which was not an option way back in 1991.
**  If the definition of "grown-up" is limited to someone else cooking or preparing your everyday meals for you that is not your mom.

Two very exciting things (dork edition)

Well, that may be overstating things a bit, but I cannot seem to contain my joy regarding the following:

1.  The weather forecast for Central Arkansas shows highs in the mid-70's for the next handful of days.  And rain.  Oh, the rain.  Perhaps we can now put the Summer of Hot fully behind us; and

2.  Our minor/major kitchen renovation is complete.  Minor, because it was only the installation of a new countertop, new sink/faucet/disposal, and a new diswasher.  Major, because my wife and I have been without a fully-functioning kitchen since August 8th*.  Literally, our stove resided on a piece of cardboard in our dining room during this time, waiting to be reinstalled.  It basically crapped up the entire house, which we are not used to, even with a 21-month old running things.  But now it is completed and it looks terrific.

Oh, and I almost forgot -- new TeeVee shows begin this week.  No more reading pesky books for..."entertainment" ;)

*  Due first to unreliable countertop contractors who either would not get back to us regarding an appointment or would delay in getting us the estimates themselves.  We ultimately went with a DIYish granite-tile installation by our general contractor.  But then the tile took 10 days to ship from Home Depot.  Ugh.  It was a frustrating mess. 

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Tuesday video - The Replacements

Actually am a little busy today so this video post will be very short.  Ladies and Gentlemen, The Replacements!

Run, don't walk, to your local record store* and pick up the album Tim, from whence this song came.  It is fantastic!

*  By that, I mean, order it off of Amazon or iTunes.

The wi-fi racket

This is not a novel idea and not one that I think is available to everyone.  But if, like me, you find yourself in the position to be able to do this, I think it is definitely worth the effort.

I'm talking about cutting down your wireless internet bill -- significantly -- by sharing a wireless signal with a neighbor.  I got the idea several years ago when my wife and I lived in a Hillcrest condominium and, through sheer luck*, my wife became condo president.  Well, at the time we were paying Comcast well over $100 per month in packaged internet and cable fees.  It was a ridiculous amount.  I am of the opinion that Comcast is a crap company that rapes consumers because there is not that much else out there for consumers to choose from**.  Anyway, it occurred to me that, due to the nature of wireless internet, there was no reason why eight different condo units each had to pay for their own internet.  So I went to Comcast, got the condo association set up on a business account, set up a main wireless internet modem and router and, viola!, all of a sudden each tenant's share of the internet costs was a small fraction of what they had been paying. 

When we later moved out of the condo into our house, I had to go back to setting up an individual account since there was no shared signal into which I could tap.  I opted for AT&T since there is no way I am ever going to do business with Comcast again short of a law mandating that I do so.  And, at $40 per month, it was manageable.  That is, until two weeks ago when my router went belly-up.  A replacement of course was going to run me $75 or so.  Of course.

It was then that I decided to approach my neighbor, with whom I was friends and who has been living next door for about a year now, with the proposition to share her existing internet signal.  The arrangement is easy -- I pay half her internet bill each month and she lets us tap into her wireless router.  She agreed and now my monthly internet bill is $12.50, or around one-third of what I had been paying***.

So, the moral of the story is Comcast sucks.

*  No one else wanted to do it.
**  You tell me why I have to pay for all the crap channels that I never watch just so I can get the handful that I do?  And I have to pay how much?  Be sure that this is a future blog post all its own.
***  For a savings of about $330 per year.  Not bad. 

Monday, September 12, 2011

Monday evening musings

Aside from domesticity, not much going on up HillcrestBlog's way.  A very fun and productive weekend, highlighted by my wife and I taking our daughter on a stroll through the throng of Razorback revelers at War Memorial Stadium.  My little girl loved the scene, with the music and sights and BBQ and red.  She especially liked the white and red pom-pom she scored and shook with abandon.

Other highlights of the weekend include the inevitable Hog victory, the one-step-closer-ness of our kitchen countertop being finished, my winning three of my fantasy football games yesterday, and the 100 pieces of tagged-and-ironed clothing I'll be delivering to the DDG consignment sale in an hour or so.  Lowlights of the weekend include the coma-like state my iPhone is currently in and the loss of my soccer match yesterday.  But the highlights definitely outweigh the lowlights.

Monday video - The Rolling Stones

And here's the other side of the argument.  The Rolling Stones rehearsing "Tumbling Dice" from Exile on Main Street in 1972.

I love this version because it embodies so much of what it was to be the Rolling Stones back when they were producing the best rock albums of the Golden Era.  It is clear in this video that they're really not on sure-footing with this song, as Mick keeps having to reference the lyrics and the rambling instruments miss more than a few licks.  In fact, Charlie Watts seems to be the only person in the room with any real sense of musicianship.  Yet, the song is so fantastic in shambles and you know -- you KNOW with an absolute certainty -- that if you just gave the Stones another couple of takes (and maybe some time for the booze and drugs to wear off), they would tear this song apart.  Because, well, they are the fucking Stones. 

And, like I did with The Clash, here's an extra bonus live track from 1968.  You might recognize it.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Sunday video - The Clash

Its a tossup, really.  The Rolling Stones' Exile on Main Street or The Clash's London Calling.  That is, what rock album do I think is the best of ALL-TIME.  Its a question I'll likely take to the grave, forever tormenting me.  Ah, but what a torment.  At least I get to bathe in all of those wonderful tracks as my brain ties itself in knots ;)

Today, I'm giving you a double dose from London Calling, as well as an added bonus.

I, of course, was seven years old when London Calling was released, so I never got a chance to see them play live (and, sadly, with Joe Strummer now rocking the afterlife, I never will).  Nevertheless, despite learning to adore this album well after its original release, I do not hesitate to call it a masterpiece of the highest magnitude.*

Hooray!  You made it to the end of this post!  And now for your bonus!  My favorite Clash song, from their debut album:

*  What, you say?  Too over-the-top??  Oh, pardon me!  Have you ever heard London Calling?  If you think I'm overstating things, then obviously you have not.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Friday video - Pavement

The first track off of the best rock album released this side of Nevermind*, Pavement's "Summer Babe" is so much more than the seemingly thrown-together, simple-chord patterend, noise-and-slacker-nerd rock** that it embodies on the surface.

I love this band so very much -- even some of its more inaccessible stuff (i.e. a bunch of Wowee Zowee).  I discovered them in my second year of law school and have not looked back since. 

*  Or Ten.  Or Exile in Guyville.  Or OK Computer.  Or Trace.  Alright I get it.  Lots of glorious albums in the 1990's.  But Slanted and Enchanted is Top Five.  Easy. 
**  Is it possible to be a "slacker-nerd"?  Not usually, although I think that Pavement is the answer that proves the question.  Or something like that.

The Incredible Shrinking HillcrestBlogger and weekend plans

Did I say seventeen?

Try nineteen (as of this morning) :)

In other news, its been a busy day so far, with work and then, once home, a house totally in disarray thanks to being in the middle of a minor-major kitchen remodel (new countertop, sink, etc., and other minor updates) as well as gearing up for the children's clothes consignment sale by Duck Duck Goose, which my wife and I are going to participate in next weekend*.  So, sufficed to say, I don't have a lot of time to dedicate tonight to writing posts.  And tomorrow is the first Razorback game of the year for War Memorial Stadium, which means the undeniable Greatest Tailgating Scene in America**, so the odds of a post tomorrow are also quite large.  And Sunday brings both the NFL's first weekend of games, plus my own soccer team's game.  I guess what I'm getting at is that whatever I can muster here before I crash out for the night is probably what you're going to get for the weekend.  We shall see.

*  Yes, you read that correctly.  When my boss said she made $450.00 selling her own kid's outgrown clothing at the last Rhea Lana consignment sale (a different, but very similar consignment business), I was sold.  No pun intended.  Let's see, clear out closet and storage space PLUS make not-insignificant money?  Oh yes.
**  Including you, Oxford, Miss.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Red banana update

As you, dear reader*, might have remembered, I've been posting about some red bananas I recently bought at my local Kroger.  I tried one last Friday and it was terrible!  Well, after letting them ripen up some more, I bravely peeled one this morning for breakfast and am now very pleased to let you know that it was pretty good.  I would recommend them, as long as you let them get a little smooshy first and not just dive right in and try to eat them when they're hard and chalky.  Just give them a little time to mature, that's all :)

Oh, and just in case you think I'm just telling you that I ate one and it was good to try to save face and didn't instead just chunk the whole batch, here's photographic proof:

So that should put an end to all the banana blogging.  I hope you are not disappointed :)

*  All, what, four of you? ;)

Thursday video - Boston

Yesterday I did 80's hair metal and today I'm going back another decade to 1970's stadium rock.  Specifically, the song that I would vote as the #1 All-Time Summer Rock Anthem of All-Time -- Boston's "More Than a Feeling."

I mean, you cannot argue with me about that.  The album from which the song came was released on July 25, 1976, which was our nation's Bicentennial and the album went on to sell, by 2003, 17 million copies.  Every single person in America has since 1976 listened to this song over the car radio with the windows rolled down, or perhaps while lounging 1) poolside, 2) lakeside, 3) riverside, or 4) on a boat, or maybe they heard a cover version by a local band at the State Fair.  Or maybe even at the State Fair by Boston itself!  Every aspiring guitar player learns the opening lick within a week of picking up his or her instrument.  And every guy wants to grow a mustache like Brad Delp.*  As far as it being a summer anthem, there is no arguing here.  There is no debate.  When you think of this song, you do not think of fall, or winter, or even spring (well, OK, maybe late spring).  It is summer, all the way.**  

There is one enduring mystery, however, for which I still have not seen a satisfactory answer.  How did "More Than a Feeling" not make it into the soundtrack for Dazed and Confused, the essential period piece for former and wanna-be post-hippies?  It was the movie that defined a generation!***  I mean, it was set in 1976!  The year Boston's first record**** was released!!  Should it not stand to reason that this huge hit would have dominated the soundtrack of every American teenager that summer?  The fact that "More Than a Feeling" didn't make it on to the soundtrack is a miscarriage of justice.  There should be an investigation.  What a travesty!***** 

*  Well, maybe that's just me.
**  And, ironically, I really hate summer.  Especially our recent global-warming summers.  Since I graduated from the last of my educational institutions and recognized that "summer vacation" didn't carry over into the grown-up universe, summer has no longer held any appeal to me.  It is just too freaking hot and humid here in the South.  This is a testament of how much "More Than a Feeling" trumps all other summer anthems: that it represents the season I like the very least, yet still I love it so.
***  Even though it was released in 1993.  At least the director, Richard Linklater, was 16 years old in 1976, so he had some point of reference.
****  For those kids out there, this is what a record is.
*****  Aha!  Trick question!  I totally smoked you, dude!.  I win, one-to-zero!  Ha ha!  See, D&C was about the last day of school in 1976 and if you had been reading this blog post closely, you would have noticed that I noted the day the record was released, which was in late-July!  Yep, you see it now, homie?  Its all about chronology!  The annoying guy Ben Affleck played and McConaughey's pervy dude and that Ukrainian chick would not have known about "More Than a Feeling" yet because it wasn't in record stores yet on the last day of school of 1976.  So there you go.  Mystery solved!