Sunday, January 31, 2010

January 30, 2010 Pond Hockey

It has been about five years since I played hockey on a pond. I can remember as a kid playing on ponds, lakes, creeks and flooded fields that froze over during a cold spell. We used to skate on outdoors rinks on Algonquin Street in Park Forest, the park along the tracks in Flossmoor, the park at 183rd & Western Ave in Homewood and we played many a hockey game at Lansing's Lan-Oak Park. Before my senior year in high school, I easily played more hockey games outdoors than indoors. After our league game this past Thursday night, the McDonnell brothers were talking about playing in the Labatt's Blue Pond Hockey tournament in Wisconsin next week. That is when our goalie, Mike Deegan, told us about the rink he has on the pond behind his house. By the time we left the rink, we had invited ourselves over for a game on Saturday. It was a beautiful sunny 20 degree winter day, perfect for a game of hockey. Mike had some chairs around a fire pit out on the ice with a case of beer sitting in the snow. We laced them up, a little trash talking and let the games begin. There were about 15 of us and we played 3 on 3 for the entire afternoon. Outdoor hockey, beers, chasing errant shots across the pond, taking off layers of clothing as the games heated up, friends telling pond hockey stories from their younger days. What a great way to spend a winter day.

Monday, January 18, 2010

January 18 The Power Of Music

The power of music continues to amaze me. My friend Roger Goode turned me on to this you tube video. Check it out.

Here's the link for the website of the Young At Heart Chorus.  It is an amazing story about people doing something good for others while keeping themselves young at heart.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

January 9 My Favorite Albums of 2009

I don't think 2009 will be remembered as a banner year for music, but I did find several albums that really caught my attention. A couple are by long time favorites of mine, a couple by  bands that I have enjoyed over the years and they caught me by surprise with amazing releases this year and one by a band I had never heard of before this year. Here's the list in no particular order.

"Natural Forces" by Lyle Lovett
I have been a die hard fan since his first release 1986. He has consistently released great albums for over 20 years now. In concert, he is one of the best performers you will ever see. This album continues his style of social commentary, the extremely well written "Natural Forces" and clever humor, "Keep It In Your Pantry". If you like singer songwriters, Lyle is one of the best. His albums with his "Large Band" are just as good. He'll make you think and laugh, it's a good combination.

"I and Love and You" by The Avett Brothers
I had never heard of this band before this year, my loss. The title track is one of my favorite songs of the year. It is a great love song about breaking up. This is a hard thing to do, "A Letter to Elise" by the Cure is a great example of this type of song. The fact that it is so full of despair and hope of a new beginning in my hometown, "Brooklyn, Brooklyn take me in Are you aware of the shape I'm in" might be a reason I loved this song too. The lyrics always draw me into a song and these guys can write great songs and they sing them like all great songwriters do, with all the emotion of someone who has lived the lyrics.
"When nothing is old, deserved or expected, And your life doesn't change by the man that's elected
If you're loved by someone you're never rejected, Decide what to be and go be it." from a "Head Full Of Doubt, A Road Full Of Promise" is an example of this. There are a few songs on the CD that don't live up to these examples but this was still one of my favorites of 2009.

"Let The Dominoes Fall" by Rancid
Yes, I am too old to list a punk album as a favorite. Too bad. I think my ability to enjoy all types of music is my one and possibly only good trait. I can enjoy dancing in the aisle of a beautifully refurbished theater to Lyle Lovett's gospel sing along "Church" and also love moshing in the pit of some shithole theater to Rancid's classic "Ruby Soho". It has been six years since their last album. Nothing has changed, the still crank out classic old school punk mixed with ska and reggae. Social commentary dominates the lyrics and throughout the songs these old punks come across a lot smarter than most of our leaders. It's all about loving your country and hating what the assholes do to it while bashing out melodic punk songs. Hey, the message is important no matter how it is delivered. "Disconnected" and "The Bravest Kids" are good examples. There are problems in our country and Rancid covers them better than the talking heads on TV.

"Wilco (The Album)" by Wilco
Some have said this is their back to the basics album. Maybe. But Wilco never disappoints. Some of their records I haven't liked at first. But repeated listening always amazes me at the consistent quality of every album. This album I loved from the first time I heard it. There a some bands that never reach super stardom but have a smaller group of die hard fans that sing the words to every song at the concerts. The Tragically Hip, the Bodeans, Conor Oberst, Flogging Molly to name a few. Wilco is another one. They actually pay tribute to these fans with a bit of humor in "Wilco (The Song)"
"Are times getting tough?
Are the roads you travel rough?
Have you had enough of the old?
Tired of being exposed to the cold?

Stare at your stereo
Put on your headphones
Before you explode
Oh, oh, oh, oh

Wilco, Wilco
Wilco will love you, baby"

"You and I" is a fantastic duet with Feist and  "You Never Know" is a classic Wilco song. The common thread of all my favorites is great songwriting and performing the song for maximum effect. Wilco should be in your record collection, Ipod or wherever you store your music nowadays.

"Ratitude" by Weezer
Over the years, I have enjoyed the hit singles, "Pork & Beans", Islands In The Sun", "Buddy Holly", "Hash Pipe" by Weezer. "I Want You To" was easily my favorite song of 2009. If this perfect power pop song doesn't make you sing a long and dance, visit your doctor immediately. Like most classic power pop songs, it is about falling in love. This song covers the whole life of the relationship so perfectly with clever details and heartfelt honesty that I am posting all the lyrics...

The moon was shining on the lake at night
Your Slayer T-shirt fit the scene just right
Through smeared mascara I looked into your eyes and saw a light

You told me stories about your chickadees
They didn’t like BB guns or stupid archery
You charmed the lifeguard, He let them use the pool all day for free

Then the conversation stopped
And I looked down at my feet
I was next to you and you were right there next to me
Then I said

Girl, if you’re wondering if I want you to (I want you to)
I want you to
So make a move cause I ain’t got all night

The rest of the summer was the best we’ve ever had
We watched titanic and it didn’t make us sad
I took you to Best Buy You took me home to meet your mom and dad
Your mom cooked meat loaf, even though I don’t eat meat
I dug you so much, I took some for the team
Your dad was silent His eyes were fixed to what was on TV

And the conversation stopped, and I looked down at the ring
Your folks were next to you
And you were right there next to me
And I said

Girl, if you’re wondering if I want you to (I want you to)
I want you to (I want you to)
I swear it’s true (swear it's true)
Without you my heart is blue
Girl, if you’re wondering if I want you to (I want you to)
I want you to (I want you to)
So make a move (make the move)
cause I ain’t got all night

So much pain may come our way
There may come a day when we have nothing left to say
When the conversation stops and we’re facing our defeat
I’ll be next to you and you’ll be right there next to me
Then I’ll say

Girl, if you’re wondering if I want you to (I want you to)
I want you to (I want you to)
I swear it’s true (swear it's true)
Without you my heart is blue ooooooh
Girl, if you’re wondering if I want you to (I want you to)
I want you to (I want you to)
So make the move (make the move)
Cause I ain’t got all night

The rest of the album is just as catchy. Only the Fountains of Wayne make power pop records as well as Weezer did this year. "I'm Your Daddy", "Can't Stop Partying" and "The Girl Got Hot" are just a few of the great songs on this record. My friend, Cindy who went to the Weezer concert with me, says Rivers Cuomo is to old to write about what it is like to be a kid nowadays. I disagree because he has captured that late teens / early twenties feeling perfectly in songs for years. And don't we all look back on those years and wish we could relive them in some way. Yes you can, just listen to this album.

"Backspacer" by Pearl Jam
So what happens to one of best bands of the early 90's grunge movement after 20 years. They release one of the best albums of 2009. Aging gracefully in rock and roll is extremely difficult, dying young is sometimes better. Jimmy Hendrix, John Bonham, Kurt Cobain are forever young in our minds. Elvis Presley, let's face it, your first thought was that fat fuck died taking a shit. Pearl Jam follows some of their heroes, Neil Young, Bruce Springsteen for example that have managed to grow old while still maintaining some respect. The songs might be a bit mellower, maybe more reflective but still just as powerful. Pearl Jam pulls this off beautifully on Backspacer. "Just Breathe" and "Amongst The Waves" are my favorites.

"Remember back, the early days
When you were young, and less amazed
Suddenly the channel changed
The first time you saw blood

Cut to later, now you're strong
You've bled yourself, the wounds are gone
It's rare when there is nothing wrong
Survived and you're amongst the fittest

Love ain't love until you feel it
Up riding high amongst the waves"

Yes, Jeremy spoke in class today and he has written a song that describes growing older perfectly. As someone who loves to ride the waves, this song really hit home for me. The calm feelings of floating over the waves while waiting for the perfect one to ride is one of my favorite sensations. So is the violent rush of the waves crashing all around me as I am propelled toward the beach. It is the sudden changes that life brings that make it so wonderful and Eddie Vedder captures that on this album.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Jannuary 7 Some Thoughts on 2009

I did it. Some said I wouldn't be able to write a blog update every day of the year. Some wished I hadn't written a blog at all. Most of the world doesn't even know I have a blog. So it goes. My goal was to write something and photograph something every day. I accomplished my goal. Yes I used other people's photos some days, but only when more interesting than my photos or so I could write about something besides what I did that day. I will continue to update the blog, just not every day. I hope you find it interesting or amusing or thought provoking. Thanks for paying attention. Now get back to work, this economy needs more production. Here's a picture of my favorite dog, Fluffy. She is about 11 years old, she isn't much to look at, bad fur, skin issues, not much of a tail, dental issues and walks with a limp when she gets up. But she is the most loyal, loving dog I have ever been around. She's a tough old girl that sleeps most of the day but jumps right up when I ask, "Who wants to go for a ride?" She gets all excited, does her happy feet dance and jumps into the car. Fluff will walk for hours with me at the beach, in the woods or along the lakefront in Chicago. Rain, sunshine or a snowy cold winter day, she just loves going hiking. Mans best friend indeed.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

January 1 2010 Happy New Year

It's a new year, let's start by correcting the problems we created either by indifference or refusing to believe the system would take advantage of us. Trust me, it always does. So let's start by attacking the causes of our problems. First up, banks too big to allow to fail. Here's an idea, let's not allow any bank, company or corporation to become so big. One hundred years ago Teddy Roosevelt realized the danger of allowing a few to control the whole country and broke up those corporations. We allowed it to happen again and this time we paid them for destroying our country. Why?

December 31 New Year's Eve Party

I DJ'd the Paddles T. Otter New Year's Eve party at the skating rink in Deep River Waterpark. Chrissy brought her sister's kids along. I also saw several friends, Jimmy, Dave, Naveed, Keith & TJ with their kids. The temperature dropped from 30 degrees to about 10 degrees but a good time was had by the kids. Dave & Jimmy's were the last ones off the ice at the end of the night.

Here's Chrissy with her mini-me, Kristian

My nephews, Kennedy & Kyle DJ'd while I went skating

putting on my hockey skates

Kristian toasting the New Year with sparkling juice which apparently gave her this drunken appearance

December 30 The New Furnace

It was like having a baby on the last day of the year. Our new furnace was installed today which means we can get our tax credit on this years taxes. We replaced our noisy, slowly deteriorating furnace with a high efficient Trane furnace. Now we can barely notice the furnace is running except for the warm air filling the room.