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Living in Chicago, by way of Dayton, OH and Havertown, PA. Contact me at atozpod@gmail.com.



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Wednesday, February 27, 2008

from He's On The Beach to Heaven

Day 617, Session 114:
Wednesday February 27th - Whirlwinding my way around Netherstorm
First song: He's On The Beach by The Lemonheads
Last full song: Heaven by Warrant
Progress: 1822-1844 of 5763
Total Songs Heard: 1469

After a long narrowing down process, The Wife and I chose Heart Of Mine by Peter Sallett as the song to be our first dance at our wedding reception. When I say long narrowing down process I mean it. I went through every song in my library to narrow it down to a list of 40. From there The Wife got involved and we narrowed it down to 20, then 10. Once we got to 10, we started eliminating songs based on how common we thought they would be at weddings. We didn't want to dance to the same song everyone else did.

Finally, when we got it down to 5 songs we were so sick of the whole thing that when The Wife said, "How about that glitter gold song from that priest and a rabbi movie?" ("Keeping The Faith" with Edward Norton, Ben Stiller, and Jenna Elfman) I shrugged and agreed.

That actually was my general part in the wedding planning as a whole. A lot of agreeing (less shrugging.) I took the approach that whatever The Wife wanted was what we both wanted. It's not that I was totally uninvolved. It's just that I knew the more things I had a hand in, the more chance there was for things to get messed up.

In the end, I had 3 things that were specifically my contributions to the day.

1) I made the mix cd that played during dinner. It saved us from the usual dinner mix of soft rock and cheesy instrumentals.
2) It was my idea to replace the normal wedding cake with an ice cream sundae bar for dessert. People loved the ice cream sundae bar.
3) I brought the larger than life sized cardboard cut out of Mace Windu to the reception for all of the guests to have their picture taken with.

Here is Father Ed giving a blessing to Mace. Mace then used The Force to convey that blessing onto the rest of the reception.

Father Ed and Mace

As far as the actual first dance itself: I remember not moving a whole lot because the part of The Wife's dress that was supposed to be holding the train up for dancing purposes had come undone. I remember laughing with The Wife at the ridiculousness of dancing in front of a room full of people. Most importantly, I remember being happy to be there.

Everything about that day was fantastic, and the credit for all of it goes to The Wife (and our mothers,) but I was glad that I got to play a little part in it.

Heart Of Mine - Peter Sallett

Monday, February 25, 2008

Falling Slowly Oscar Update

The academy did the right thing. Falling Slowly won. We can call off the investigation. (It's been tough staying ahead of the innernecks censors who don't want this video to be available, this it the third version I've posted. If it says video not available, just head over to YouTube and do a search there, I'm sure someone will how found a way to keep this performance alive.)

The long version with Colin Farrell intro

Just the song from another site that hopefully won't back down to the Academy:

Online Videos by Veoh.com

Although I'm annoyed that they 1) cut the song by about a minute (in the second verse a line or two are cut and the outro was hacked,) 2) over-orchestrated it (the original recording doesn't add strings until the last 1/2 of the song,)
and 3) then spent too much of the time focusing on the orchestra instead of, you know, the folks who were nominated and actually performing the song. Also, those 3 women in the front row who were didn't applaud at the end... punches in the nose all around.

Ok, I got a little obsessive here. This is probably why I should not break my own rules.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

from Hard Headed to Haywire

Day 612, Session 113:
Friday February 22th - In the living room, playing through Nottingham Forest's 1st Premier League season.
First song: Hard Headed Woman by Cat Stevens
Last full song: Haywire by The Jayhawks
Progress: 1803-1830 of 5784
Total Songs Heard: 1446

Ok, so I know I made up a set of rules for this project and one of those rules was no going backwards but...

The Oscars are this weekend. I know, I know, you probably don't really care. Honestly, for the most part I don't really care either. I've seen two of the best picture nominees, "Juno," which I liked it, but I hardly think of it as a Best Picture type of movie, and "No Country For Old Men," which I liked better, but again, didn't make me think best. movie. ever.

There is one category I care a lot about this year. Best song. The nominees include 3 songs from the movie "Enchanted" (which I'll probably never see,) 1 from the movie "August Rush" (which I certainly will never see,) and 1 from my favorite movie of last year, "Once."

So good is that song, that I'm breaking the rules and going back to highlight the Oscar nominated tune Falling Slowly. I'm not going to go into all the details of the movie, I know at least 4 of my 11 (this is a guess) loyal readers have already seen it. All you need to know is a guy and a girl (awesomely, their character names in the movie are Guy and Girl) meet and make beautiful music together. Falling Slowly is the first time they work together.

To make sure you understand how I feel, I'm going to use words that aren't normally part of my vocabulary.
This song is lovely. It brings tears to my eyes every single time I hear it. The movie is charming and full of joy. Amazingly, "Once" was not nominated for Best Picture. The very least they can do is make sure this song is recognized.

I feel so strongly about this that I'm filing this entry on Saturday night even though I know practically no one will see it until Monday when it may be too late. So if you're reading this Monday, and Falling Slowly did not win the Oscar for Best Song please call your congressperson and demand a federal investigation.

Right after Arlen Specter finishes investigating the New England Patriots.

Falling Slowly - Glen Hansard & Marketa Irglova

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

from Happy Birthday to Happy, The End

Day 604, Session 112:
Thursday February 14th - In the air between Chicago and Nashville.
First song: Happy Birthday by Clem Snide
Last full song: Happy, The End by The Innocence Mission
Progress: 1786-1796 of 5773
Total Songs Heard: 1418

It was time for my biannual trip to Nashville. (BTW, did you know that biannual and semiannual mean the same thing? You did? Oh. I had to look it up. As far as I know the prefix 'bi-' means 2 and the prefix 'semi-' means 1/2, so how can biannual and semiannual mean the same thing? English man... just one more reason to move to Finland and learn to speak Finnish.) There's about 40 minutes of usable air time between Chicago and Nashville and most of that time was spent hearing songs about different types of happy birthdays.

Seeing as how I am just 2 weeks removed from a birthday and then I hit this particular run of songs I took the time on the flight to order a jack and coke and reflect on birthdays past. Here are the ones I remember:

1978 - I turned 2. I don't actually remember this birthday, but according to photographic evidence I made a real mess of myself while enjoying some chocolate cake. Guests included my parents, Great-Great Grandmother and next door neighbors.

1981 - I turned 5 and we had a party at my house. Using the power of static electricity (and probably tape) my name was up on the dining room wall constructed entirely of balloons. I thought this was pretty much the coolest thing ever. Also, somewhere my parents found gigantic balloon. I spent a lot of the party wrestling the balloon with Zach Hafer playing the role of my tag team partner. Other guests included Mike Vardaro and Eddie Atkinson.

1984 - I turned 8 and we watched Herbie Goes To Monte Carlo in the basement of my house. This was a big deal because at the time, my family didn't own a VCR. We actually had to rent one (along with the movie) from the local West Coast Video (why West Coast Video was a big chain on the East Coast I still don't understand.) This was a big deal at the time. Guests included Mike again and the girl I had a crush on at the time Alanna. At least I'm pretty sure that's her name (Mike will confirm once he reads this.)

1987 - I turned 11 and a few of the guys came over for a sleep over. At this point we owned a VCR so I'm sure some type of movie was watched. If I had to guess I'd say there's also a pretty good chance we spent part of that overnight watching the Playboy Channel which came in scrambled (but not very well) on channel 19. What can I say, even at age 11 boobs were fascinating. Guests included Mike, and Brendan Roan.

1992 - I turned 16 and my parents through my one and only surprised party. The surprise totally worked. I had no idea. My dad told me he needed my help moving some boxes at his office and offered to pay me for my time. Since I didn't actually have any Friday night plans (yep, I was a winner back then too) I agreed. I had just had my hair buzzed almost entirely off, and it turned out that under all that hair, I had a very tiny head.
Any time I think about getting my hair cut extremely short I think back to the pictures taken at this party. Guests included Mike, Brian McIntire and my cadre of K-named girl friends Kristin, Kerstin, Kierstin, and Kate.

1995 - I turned 19 at college. We played Twister in Joey and Ryno's room. We also played the very dangerous game of "how many people can we fit on the top bunk of that bunk bed?" (The answer was 14.) To the best of my knowledge, no alcohol was served this night. This would be the last time that would happen. Mike was not there, Joey, Ryno, Missy, and Mary were.

1996 - 20, still at college. This year we had 21-year old connections. We filled the mini fridge with beer and played Revolution (a more genteel version of Asshole.) Guests included Joey, Ryno, Jay, and Becky.

1997 - 21. I became the 21-year old connection as I was the first one in our house to hit the milestone. I celebrated my birthday proper by walking into the UDF at 12:03 am and buying two 40s. Which Joey and I then enjoyed on the porch of our house on the dark side. Later that day I bought my first keg. The house was full of people all party long and any time anyone saw me with less than half a beer, they poured some out of their glass into mine. Eventually I was drunk to the point where I knew I had to stop drinking, so I wandered upstairs and put myself to bed. The party went on for a few more hours without me. Guests included lots of people I didn't know, but who seemed to know me.

1999 - 23. Went to a Fruvous concert where the guys proceeded to play a multiple song encore dedicated to my birthday (this track will be posted when we hit the 'M's.) I think this is my favorite birthday. Guests included Joey, Sarah, Betsy.

2005 - 29. My sisters both came to visit for the weekend. We ordered deep dish pizza and they baked me a cake. A few days later we watched the Eagles in the Super Bowl. Even though it was my birthday, they refused to win. Except for the losing Super Bowl part, this birthday was pretty good too. Guests included The Wife, Kate, Alicia, and Potsie.

As you can see, I got a lot of remembering done during the very short flight. I saw recently there's going to be a game show where you're quizzed on things that happened in the course of your own life. I think I would be pretty good at it. (As long as they don't quiz me on too many things that happened this past weekend. I often come back from Nashville a little foggy.)

Happy Birthday - Clem Snide
Happy Birthday - Sufjan Stevens
Happy Birthday - Weird Al Yankovic

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

from Halloween to Happy At Last

Day 602, Session 111:
Tuesday February 12th - Another fascinating trip to Jewel.
First song: Halloween by Dave Matthews Band
Last full song: Happy At Last by Josh Joplin
Progress: 1754-1765 of 5733
Total Songs Heard: 1407

A really nice run of 12 today. A little too nice probably. While I was walking through Jewel (the local grocery store for you non-local readers) I'm pretty sure that I was both singing along and walking/dancing the cart in rhythm to whatever I happened to be listening to at the moment. Except for when Jewel's (the singer) Hands played. Then I was mumbling to myself once again about the presence of Jewel (the singer.) Little known fact: Jewel's hands are small and she is aware of it. It was crowded in the Jewel (the store) in front of the yogurt when Jewel (the singer) came on but it quickly cleared out as my mumbling became more animated. I caught one person looking at me like I was crazy, but I'm not sure if it was because they didn't see the headphones and thought I was talking to myself, or because they did see the headphones and they realized I was listening to Jewel (the singer) in Jewel (the store.) Either way, if I had seen me, I would have avoided me too.

As I walked out into the snow (another little known fact: pushing a full shopping cart through snow is good exercise) I hit the Hanukkah portion of music. In this case, Hanukkah consisted of two songs, both by Barenaked Ladies. I grew up in an area with a reasonably heavy Jewish population, so I've always had a soft spot for Hanukkah. We spent many an elementary school holiday music class singing both Christmas and Hanukkah songs (now I wonder if either are sung in school or if it's all completely religiously neutral "winter" songs.)

When I was very young, I actually thought Hanukkah and Christmas worked together. During Hanukkah, candles would be lit, then on Christmas, since it was baby Jesus' birthday, you would blow the candles out. Actually I'm still a little disappointed that's not how it goes.

Hanukkah Blessings - Barenaked Ladies

After Hanukkah I hit the beginning of the happy songs (or at least songs titled Happy "Something.") So let's see, what to be happy about? Well, first of I'm happy I downloaded Harvey Danger's last cd from their website. I hadn't thought much about the band since Flagpole Sitta came and went from the music scene but they offered their last cd, "Little By Little" for free so why not give it a chance? You might want to give it chance too, if for no other reason than to enjoy Happiness Writes White.

Happiness Writes White - Harvey Danger

Finally, I'm happy that Josh Joplin has come out of semi-retirement and has started limited touring again. He'll be in Chicago at Schuba's on March 1st and I'll be there along with the wife and good friends Jon and Lori.

Happy At Last - Josh Joplin

Friday, February 08, 2008

from H.R. Pufnstuff to Hallelujah

Day 596, Session 110:
Wednesday February 6th - To and from The Playground for a Wing Night show.
First song: H.R. Pufnstuff by Various Artists (written by Paul Simon)
Last full song: Hallelujah by Jeff Buckley
Progress: 1736-1745 of 5708
Total Songs Heard: 1395

By the time I discovered Jeff Buckley he was already deceased (death by accidental drowning.) The album "Grace" and the song Hallelujah are so damn good that I'm a little sad every time I hear them because I knew from the first time I heard them that there weren't going to be anymore.

This specific time I heard it I was cold and sad as I walked through the snow covered streets of Chicago. Despite birthday goodness I haven't been in the best frame of mind recently but oddly, hearing this song this time, instead of making me sadder convinced me that it's time to perk up and try to make things better.

I highly encourage you to take a chance on "Grace" if you haven't heard it already. Even if you don't like it right away I think you'll eventually come to appreciate the wonder of Jeff Buckley's only completed cd. (Much like Rolling Stone did when they originally gave the cd a 3(of 5) star review and later named it one of the 500 best albums of all time. (#303)) You'll also note in the original review that they say

The young Buckley's vocals don't always stand up: He doesn't sound battered or desperate enough to carry off Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah.
and yet later they named Hallelujah one of 500 greatest songs of all time (#259.)

The moral of that little story... it is possible to change your mind and recognize things are better than you thought (and don't trust everything you read in the Rolling Stone.)

Hallelujah - Jeff Buckley

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

from Grey Ice Water to Gypsy In The Mood

Day 594, Session 109:
Monday February 4th - Sitting around the house trying to figure out how there can be a thunderstorm at the beginning of February and whether that's a metaphor for something grander.
First song:
Grey Ice Water by Modest Mouse
Last full song: Gypsy In The Mood by The Jayhawks
Progress: 1709-1733 of 5700 (one skipped podcast)
Total Songs Heard: 1385

Grim Heart/Black Rose
by Converge has been deleted. It was from a 2006 mixtape from some trendy music site. Obviously I do not have trendy taste in music.

One thing today: A Bruce Springsteen performance from exactly 33 years ago today... which also happened to be 364 days before I was born.

If I had tried to draw up exactly when I would hear Growin' Up, could I have timed it any better than hear it on my birthday? Probably not. And seeing as how the whole aversion to growing up thing is kind of a recurring theme around here don't I have to share it? I found this recording over at Fuel Friends and the first time I listened to it I was struck by the fact that voices of this bootleg recording were younger than me when this recording was made... and now they are old. Not just Springsteen either... during the intro you can clearly hear voices in the crowd. The contradiction between the life and energy in the recording (and really, I could feel it bursting from the headphones) and the vast distance of time (my entire life!) that has passed since is kind of messing with my head. Combine that with the fact that recording was made in Bryn Mawr, PA (the next town over from where I grew up) and now I'm faced with the thought that the crowd voices in this recording could be people I grew up around. It just makes it all so very real.

Of course I realize that every recording ever made is exactly the same. It was made on someone's birthday in someone's hometown and so we are left to think... What kind of mark am I leaving here? Will someone come back here in 30 years and find this and think... "Wow, this guy is sitting in his house in Chicago, listening to music,
sharing his thoughts...thoughts that are older than I am and yet they still seem so immediate, so real."

I hope so.

Growin' Up - Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band (recorded Feb. 5th, 1975 @ The Point in Bryn Mawr, PA)