Thursday, July 28, 2011

In Your Ear-7.28.11

Drive By Truckers

Southern Rock Opera

Over the July 4th Holiday, the crew at the Sound Opinions Podcast interviewed Patterson Hood of the Drive-By Truckers. I wasn’t familiar with their music and didn’t particularly enjoy their in-studio songs, but I listened to his stories and his influences and decided to give them a try.

The downtown library had their first release, a double CD, which as is an homage to the South and to Alabama in particular. Heavy guitar driven tracks with lots of twang and blues and references to Southern culture and history. The alternating vocalists provide a nice change of pace as you make your way through songs.

A couple of songs that I really liked:

Shut Up and Get on the Plane

Life in the Factory

Birmingham (reminded me of the time I lived there)

72 (This Highway’s Mean)

KEXP—Music that Matters Podcasts

Episode 250: Mix of techno based of songs. Very chill. Golden Child by Okay Colour was my favorite track.

Episode 251: Mixture of different sounds and genres.

Fave tracks:

Blue Sky Black Death - Our Hearts Of Ruin

New Division - Bucharest

Moby - Sevastopol

The One AM Radio - Sunlight

The Kills - DNA

Episode 256: Lots of electronica songs. OK on in the background but only Numbers in Action by Wiley caught my attention.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Feature Presenation--A Home Run and a Couple of Singles

Breaking Bad Season 2

I watched Season 1 of this show and thought it was ok. Interesting story lines, tricky situations, and really enjoyed performance of Cranston.

The second season starts with a bang and really moves. Each episode starts with a clip in and around Walter’s pool and the show builds on it the entire season. There were several plot lines that I thought it foreshadowed but the eventual circumstance was beyond belief. The dynamics between Walt and Jesse continue to be a rich source of story telling, providing tension, humor and life lessons. Odenkirk is a fantastic addition as the sleazy lawyer and I hope he stays on. The finale is dripping with tension and Skylar's decision sets up some great plot lines for season three.

I realized early in the season that the show is Weeds meets The Wire—character turns to drugs to meet financial needs and then has to figure how the drug system works, staying ahead of law enforcement while battling the competition.

Get into this show.

I watched three movies recently that I don’t know if I love or hate.

The Propostition

This was recommended to me by a co-worker and it is a brutal story set in Australia. Ray Winstone is great as sensitive yet hard edged colonizer for the Empire trying to humanize this savage country while battling the natives and unsavory elements on the fringes, and his character’s choices contribute to a jarring, unnerving and terrifying conclusion. Guy Pearce gives a great performance, providing the springboard for the plot to develop. The movie is slow in places and the violence, seen and unseen, is horrific.

The Darjeeling Limited

I have wanted to see this for a while, only because I love Rushmore and enjoy most of the other Wes Anderson films (haven’t seen Life Aquatic). The movie is a variation on the road trip formula, with the characters using a spiritual search to work through their familial issues. I imagine me, my brother and sister doing this, so my liking and simultaneous dislike is somehow wrapped up in that.

The Fountain

This movie caught my eye at the library and it took me a second to realize what it was. As I turned over the movie to see the director, it clicked—Darren Aronofsky. He creates a weird film (shocker) with elements of the genesis of the world, the Spanish Inquisition, the love and pursuite of science blended with scenes of everlasting love and the end of the universe. Thought Hugh Jackman was quite good in his multitude of roles, with Rachel Weisz providing an excellent love interest.

All of these are worth seeing once. After that, I don’t know what to tell you.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Plan the Work, Work the Plan

My vacation plans fell through for this summer. Usually I go to the Neshoba County Fair, spending a couple of days with extended family in ridiculously hot conditions, having some beers, watching people and catching up on cousins, aunt, uncles, that sort of thing. This year I was planning on going to Atlanta during that time with Erin to spend a couple of days away, but that plan was put on hold because she couldn't get out of work (two experienced co-workers left, leaving her as the most senior employee). I then started looking into doing a soccer trip, either to the East Coast to see Juventus, Manchester United and FC Barcelona on tour, or to the Pacific Northwest to check out the Portland Timbers, Seattle Sounders and maybe the Vancouver Whitecaps. Between money and time, that trip never came together. It's something I definitely want to investigate for next summer.

So an extended trip away is probably not going to happen this summer, which is fine. But what to do what my vacation days from work? I've decided to try to attempt a practice sabbatical. Written into our employee handbook itstates:

After every five years of full time service, full time employees will be eligible for a three month paid leave of absence.

Guess what? On January 2nd, 2012 I will have put five years in, and I have already put together a tentative schedule.

Possible Sabbatical Schedule (sometime in May through end of July):

Euro 2012
June 8 - July 1
Site: the bar(s)

MLS trip?
Pacific NW

Neshoba County Fair
July 27- August 3
Site: Neshoba County, MS

So come back from the Fair and back to work just in time for the Annual Franchisee Meeting.

Besides watching soccer, what else am I going to do? I plan to finally sit down and write, type up and edit all the crap I've been jotting down over the years. I have an idea for a second story, but first I need to edit and post the first one. That will be job one. Job two, will be to assemble the raw materials for my next whatever it is I do. This is all assuming that I edit and finish all previous materials over the winter. To prepare for all of this, I plan to take long weekends, four to five days, where I simulate what this might look like. You have to practice? Absolutely. If I have time off with no plan, ie nothing to do, I will do nothing. I mean I'll play FIFA and read and watch TV and sit around but I won't get to this stuff sitting in the corner of my closet.

I plan to use these days to help set habits to be the most effective. I start this weekend, taking Thursday and Friday off, plus having Saturday mostly to myself, to get my new soccer blog ready. I have been wanting do this for a while and things came together to launch it in anticipation of the upcoming season. I want to have a lot of new material ready ahead of time to supplement some older posts and the new posts that will be generated from the events of the season. Discipline is the only way the blog will be dynamic. If I wait until the mood hits, the blog will be boring (even more boring that it may be) and will die a slow death. So Thursday morning I am going to get up and hit the ground running, and this will be the first day of a ten month process to get me ready for my sabbatical next summer.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Strip Club—FC Barcelona Dollar Dance

It’s a less than a month until the new soccer season kicks off. I was going to do a semi-comprehensive review of upcoming kits for the 2011-12 season but @footballfashion has already done most of the heavy lifting and I’m lazy, so I strongly encourage you to visit their site (they cover a lot of ground) and get ready for some eye candy and horror shows for this campaign.

Also, @avoidingthedrop did a winners and losers post for this year:

It’s a nice smattering of kits, with an emphasis on the EPL. Follow the comment thread for comments from the readership.

Instead, I will focus on the clubs I follow and some of the items that have caught my eye as I have browsed the interweb.

FC Barcelona


For this season, Nike went to thinner stripes with some sort of asymmetrical design, and after a couple of views, the kit grew on me.


I love the black away kit. FCB is going to look badass in those (can you imagine them wearing that in the Bernabeu next year—all white versus all black?!?!) and this jersey is ten times better than the yellow, neon yellow, mint green, salmon and teal versions of the last couple of years.

Now there is some consternation re: the sponsors. I admit I don’t know enough to say whether The Qatar Foundation should or shouldn’t be sponsoring a team. FCB joined the 21st century and is getting 125 million Euros over the next 5 years. Enough said. UNICEF gets pushed to back(side) but what are you going to do? Money talks.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

In Your Ear-7.12.11

Blood Pressures by The Kills

I came across this band listening to KEXP podcasts and found their latest album, which is pretty rocking, at the library.

The records opens with Future Starts Slow, a track I absolutely fell in love with, drawn to the stripped down instruments amplified by a hypnotic guitar part. My other favorite track is DNA, which haunts and rocks at the same time. Tracks 5 and 8 are completely at odds with the rest of the album. The first time through I thought my CD was broken. Really did not like Wild Charms (5), The Last Goodbye (8) is ok. Baby Says (track 7) doesn’t hit the heights plus the sound quality seems very odd.

Halcyon Digest by Deerhunter

I listened to the album a couple of weeks ago on Grooveshark and it didn’t really grab me. I must not have been playing enough attention because there are several great tracks on this album.

Fountain Stairs, Memory Boy, Revival, and Don’t Cry are short, unique pop songs that are pure Deerhunter, which Wikipedia describes as: Noise rock, Ambient, Shoegaze, Post-punk revival, Indie rock. If you say so. I just know that this band doesn’t sound like anything else I’m familiar with. Coronado uses the sax to create a light, fun pop song. My favorite track by far is Desire Lines. I could listen to the chorus and the end of the song forever, the instruments fusing together to create a sound that is out of this world. I love this about this band!

Recent Tracks I’ve found:

You’ve Got the Love by Florence and the Machine. They opened for U2 a couple of weeks ago and my brother suggested I check them out.

Cheated Hearts by Yeah Yeah Yeahs. I came across the song during a rare listen to commercial radio on the Impact 89FM. Went online immediately and found it.

I Luv UR Sneakers by Poly Styrene. Sound Opinions featured this song as they remembered her influence and her passing.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Feature Presenation--Draper, Dud, and The Devil

Mad Men Season 4

After listening to recaps on Tony Kornheiser, I was eagerly anticipating this season. Of course, I had forgotten much of what had been said, so nothing was ruined.

The opening episodes were quite depressing and having a cocktail, in the spirit of the show, was not the way to go. After two episodes, I was curled up in a corner, not wanting to come out.

Don Draper was in the quite the shame spiral as his tight knit, well constructed life unraveled quickly, and he spent a while on the bad choice mat, sleeping with his secretary, losing potential clients and allowing an award to go to his head.

Plus there were weird asides like hooking up with the doctor (to whom he reveals his real identity), journaling (goes introspective and then ditches it) and the return of his ex-f*** buddy who has become an artist (which reveals that this guy just has money to burn).

The season ends with him proposing to his secretary, which cannot end well. But we may never see how it ends as circumstances are coming together which may delay the next season, dare I say end the show. I would like them to at least go one more season and wrap up some of the loose ends but you never know.

If you’re not on the bandwagon by now, I don’t know what to tell you.

War Inc.

This could have been good as a commentary on nation building, Halliburton’s role in the military and the industry of celebrity, but ends up falling flat with a convoluted story involving the main character (Cusack), his love interest (Tomei) and his newfound daughter (Duff). The ending never seems to end and the credits are a welcome entrance back into reality.



Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead

The performances by Hoffman and Hawke make this worth watching. Hoffman’s life is totally falling apart and he will stop at nothing to try to use money as a problem solver. His intensity is palpable as he lies to, coerces, and manipulates everyone around him. Hawke, usually the good looking lead, plays a timid, luckless mama’s boy who lurches from one failure to another. Everything he touches turns to shit and the key point of the film is no exception.

The film is not only what would you do for money, but the consequences of those actions, and the movie is very deliberate in taking its time towards a stunning finale.

See it.