Thursday, October 27, 2011

Hitting! Pitching! And all kinds of derring-do!

I must admit that the Fox network has cleaned up its act during the World Series. I mentioned in a previous post that the the Volume was swinging wildly up and dow; it wouldn't stay at a consistent level, and so far that hasn't happened during the World Series. Also, Fox hasn't broadcast its promos for an obviously annoying TV series about 4 Nerd-guys and 1 Nerd-girl. The promo's stated that the program would air three nights a week, and I know why: They wanted to get as many shows on the air as possible before the program got cancelled. Now if someone could get that really annoying commercial featuring big beefy out-of-tune guys singing, "it's the most wonderful time of the year" off the air...please?. I run for the remote when that one comes on. I think it's promoting some kind of a sports-TV package, and I cringe just thinking of it.

In one of the most exciting Baseball Games I've Ever Seen, St. Louis beat the Texas Rangers in game 6 of the World Series, forcing a Game Seven, tomorrow (Friday) night. Twice, the Cardinals were down to the last strike, and twice they hit their way out of it, got a couple of home runs along the way, and beat the Rangers. I'm finding I want St. Louis to win out; why, I'm not sure. Must be something about Being the Underdog; I've heard that the Cards came back from ten and a half games out to claim their division on the last day of the regular season. Being a Seattle Mariners watcher during the regular season means that I never get to see some teams except on the highlight reels. I was on the edge of my seat while watching this game. It was a privilege to watch this game, drink in the fervor of the crowd and trying to Will the Cardinals to win. Regardless of what squad wins the Series, tonight's game, as Tim McCarver said, "is a classic".

There was more excitement in this one game, than in two-thirds of the entir eSeattle Mariners 2011 season. One could almost forget that fans Actually Cheer For Their Team. One might forget that any team, at any given time, can pose a threat. One might forget that hitters actually GET HITS with men on base. One may not realize that with some teams, pitchers actually get RUN SUPPORT. These are the kind of games you see when you watch WGN, or TBS, or any of the games you see on other Big Networks. You can see plenty of that when you watch the Mariners on "ROOT" Sports, if you don't mind that it's the OTHER TEAM that does all the hitting/scoring/winning. Every year is a rebuilding year, or so we're told, but if the M's can't win HALF of their games, it's going to be well into the next century to see the M's in any kind of post-season action.

UPDATE: Tonite, the St. Louis Cardinals are World Series champs. The Texas Rangers actually walked a couple of hitters with the bases loaded which contributed to the Cards' 5-2 victory. No one expected St. Louis to get to the series, let alone win it. And, this game was strangely anticlimactic on the heels of last night's wild game. In the end, the Cardinals' pitchers seemed to have more depth. It could also be that Texas, after getting their hearts torn out last night, was a bit flat tonite, but that's only speculation. And the 2011 Baseball Season is now over (snif).

As a reward for you putting up with my gripes this far, I figure I should give your eyes a break, which I've tried to do with the pictures I've enclosed below...The Southern Oregon Coast is usually fairly warm this time of year, but this year, we seem to be having more wind and cold temperatures so far. Still, most of the tourists are all done touring, and it's a good time to visit the area to see what you can see. These were taken about a week and a half ago, when things were still fairly warm...

Taken at low tide on the the foreground you can see a guy who's clamming; when the water's this low, you can walk right up to that big maritime warning scaffold. In the background, that big rectangular thing is a barge being towed up the bay to pick up wood chips. This photo gives you an idea why the bay needs to be dredged now and then.
Just what you wanted to see...a seagull eating (or trying to eat) a starfish. Those birds with the cast-iron bellies will try to eat anything. This was taken from up on the pier. The tide always leaves a bunch of sea garbage in its wake, which makes makes me think of those who get great nutrition by dining on seaweed. Isn't it supposed to contain mega-protein? I think I'll pass...
This is my really Artsy Photo, designed to appeal to those with a sense of Perspective. I'm just hoping it HAS some perspective. This one's called "Water through the Weeds".  Isn't a photo supposed to make the viewer see things in a new perspective? I can only hope this photo does that. It's a different way of looking at weeds, if nothing else. Weeds and beachgrass.

Back to baseball for a moment, many of us who post on the Seattle Times Mariners' blog page, game after game, year after year, really miss Dave Niehaus who passed away last November 10th. Dave deserved to call more games like this 6th game of the World Series. While watching the M's this past season, there were times where I could almost hear Dave's voice calling the play. He is missed greatly by a lot of folks, among them I.

Friday, October 21, 2011

...well, they say admitting it is the first step of recovery...

When I don't have 'em, I crave 'em. When I have 'em, I can't get enough. Oh, how images of them dance through my mind until I can get to my supplier and score another batch. Yep, it's those little white pills I'm addicted to. Most everyone takes 'em and those who take too many of 'em can't stop what they're doing either. Or so I tell myself. When I open up a new batch, I know my senses are more than ready to experience that terrific rush once again. Sometimes I buy two cases, so I have a ready supply while home, as well as in the car. I'm so hooked on 'em that I take 'em while I'm driving. Or walking. Or sitting at the beach. It's gotten so bad that I now take 'em in public; what do I care? Let 'em point their fingers at me! Some days I'm stronger than others; sometimes I haven't had any little white pills all day, but sooner or later I experience that familiar yearning feeling once again, and I can't stop myself.

Just now, I took another little white pill. That's right, folks; I had to pause mid-blogpost to take another one. You are reading Affected Blogging. Don't say I didn't warn ya. I don't think my habit is controlling me, though. I mean, I can stop anytime I want to, right? Sometimes my cravings are non-existent, and then all of a sudden, over coffee, or out shopping, or straddling my exercise bike, my brain yells to me, "Stop what you're doing Now, and take another Little White Pill!" I fear that I'm becoming a slave to chemicals. But I can always tell myself the Little White Pills aren't hurting me. I don't have to cook any potboiling substances; I don't have to mix in gallons of Clorox with cases of antihistamines and pieces of tar that fell off my roof during last year's winter winds .All I do is lay down the money, stick 'em in my pocket, and then look all around me to make sure no one noticed my furtive actions, and then rejoin the rest of humanity, who may or may not be as addicted as I.

The culprit? TIC-TACS! They're out there, at every grocery or convenience store. They're even at my drugstore, and best of all, I DON'T NEED A PRESCRIPTION! They only contain 4 calories per pill, but I've taken so many that I probably won't have to be embalmed when my time comes. They don't increase my heart rate, they don't make me perspire, they don't interfere with my coordination, and I Can Get Them Anytime I Want. In fact, I can't get away from them; they're EVERYWHERE!!!

What brought this on, you ask..It's a long sordid story, filled with peaks and valleys of cascading emotions and desperate yearnings. Those of you who've suffered all these years trying to make sense out of what I write will remember (or are trying to forget) that I had to have All My Teeth pulled out back in '08...or was it '09...the time seems to be going so fast these days. For the most part, I'm fairly comfortable with the equivalent of two hockey pucks in my mouth. I understand that some people SLEEP in their dentures. That doesn't work for me. I've tried it and when I'd wake up, I'd feel like I'd been subconsciously banging my head against the wall. Nope, not for me. The ol' mouth needs a rest once in a while.

Dentures are cumbersome things that feel slightly better in your mouth than an old pair of Converse Sneakers. Sometimes after a meal, I get a really weird taste that reminds me of three-day-old Milk left out in the sun too long. (I had to take another Tic-Tac after that last analogy...) And that's where Tic-Tacs first entered the picture. Wow! That refreshing relief bursting into my mouth, like a cool ocean breeze. It's a rush, all right. And although I've never been a smoker, I think I might have at least an idea why people smoke Menthol Cigarettes. After a Tic-Tac, my mouth is Fresh as a daisy! Wheeeee!!! But I still maintain that I can quit anytime I want. Really. I don't have a problem. Do I?

I'm part of that age demographic which is known for purchasing Dentu-Creme, Polident, PolyGrip, Fasteeth and whatever else. (all Registered Trademarks). My demographic is  known for consuming Ensure by the case. My demographic is content when we find a laxative that works. (No, I don't O.D. on those.) (Although I crave, I'm sinking fast...) My demographic hasn't been aware of which singer/group is the latest musical sensation in the last 25 years. And I'm a full-fledged, card-carrying member of The Denture Society. The sheer irony of my situation is (almost) hilarious. I actually have two teeth still in my jaw, which serve as the anchors for my lower denture. And I spend more time cleaning those two remaining teeth than when I had a full set of choppers.

Imagine what our founding fathers went through, getting their teeth pulled. I heard that George Washington wore wooden dentures, which is probably the reason why ol' Georgie-boy isn't smiling on the One Dollar Bill.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

...bring your huddled, your downtrodden, your musically-deprived ears...

I've been recording many of my record albums to CD, after which I donate the records to Goodwill, basically because I'm too lazy to try and open up an Ebay account and sell them piecemeal. One group whose records were gonna get donated was  "America"...but after recording one of their LP's onto CD, I became highly enamored of it, because it is REALLY GOOD. The album didn't feature any chart hits, other than "Muskrat Love", which is the only Really Bad Song on this LP. But it's the first song, and it paves the way for all the fine music which follows. The album is titled "Hat Trick", which is their third album. And of course "Hat Trick" is a Hockey term, for all of you Iceheads out there. I don't watch Soccer. Which is why I don't watch hockey.  After the players end up kicking or punching each other for a while (in each sport), I just get bored. So why use this title? I think a "Hat Trick" refers to a hockey player who scored three goals in a game. And "Hat Trick" was their Third Album. So now you know.
The Front Cover...
But back to the original topic (I get led astray very easily), most of us became familiar with America when "Horse With No Name" was getting played all over the wide wond'rous world of AM radio (This was in the days before FM stations began rocking), and what a huge song it was. I've heard that some people thought the song was sung by Neil Young, and lead singer Dewey Bunnell's voice does bear a resemblance...anyway, long ago, I played the record for my Dad, and he said, "the singer's singing only one note!!!" Well, yeah, "Horse With No Name" isn't the most melodious song ever, but it's more of an "atmospheric" musical "rumination". (See how I slipped my blog title in there?) And then, "I Need You", their second single from that LP, came out. So America got real big, real fast. (Sorta like our nation in general.) For some reason, I never bought America's albums when they first came out (I was too busy studying the music of Black Sabbath and Deep Purple, you see...).  I got America's albums at thrift stores (Hey, I can't afford new prices for Everything, y'know. Their first two albums, "America" (Later titled 'Horse With No Name), and "Homecoming" were released within half-a-year of each other. Then, over a year and a half passed before "Hat Trick" came out.

...and, the flip side.
In the process of putting "Hat Trick" onto CD, I thought, "Hey, this music is really good." The title track, "Hat Trick" is actually a suite of three songs which is reminiscent of The Beatles' "Abbey Road" or Badfinger's "Wish You Were Here" . The music comes in all flavors; slow dignified ballads, breezy pop numbers and a couple of heavy tunes to keep things honest. Records that flow well from song to song, with good vocals and well-structured songs attract me every time. This is the most eclectic album America Ever Made.It's obvious that everyone involved lavished a lot of love and care on this record. And it's made my top 20 list of "desert island albums". The way this album sounds, it's obvious that America, the group, really wanted to do a Great Album. And they did.I didn't know they had it in them. From what I've read, the members of America got to know each other in England, where their families were serving military duty. And so that's how those Military Brats got together, guitars in hand. So, perhaps, "America" is one of Britain's best exports. I've always liked the sound of acoustic guitars, and for sure, America's music has plenty of that. And the contrast between Acoustic rhythm guitars and Electric guitars is all over the place on the group's albums.

America recorded several later albums with Beatles' Producer George Martin, and with him, the group recorded such toe-tappers as "Tin Man", "Daisy Jane", "Sister Golden Hair (a #1 hit), "Amber Cascades" and "Today's The Day". The last two weren't real big hits, but every other artist back in the late '70s had to fight off disco fever, and many pop/rock groups fell by the wayside during that time. Later on, group member Dan Peek quit the group to focus on a religious music career. America continued on as a duo, and of course everyone remembers "You Can Do Magic" from the early '80s. That was a huge song, and their last big hit. It comes to mind that if one of the members of the Duo (which America had become) left, the remaining member could be called An "American"? And I must go on record here and say that I thought group member Gerry Beckley's "Daisy Jane" is about as sappy and spineless a tune as I've ever heard. He seemed to write the group's sugary-sweet stuff, and if you listen to "Daisy Jane" too much, your teeth will rot and fall out of your mouth. Still, it beats "Muskrat Love". Of course, Flatulence coming out of a speaker beats "Muskrat Love". Later on, The Captain and Tennille recorded their version of "Muskrat Love" in which The Capitan's synthesiser is supposed to sound like two rodents gettin' together in the pond. Uhhh, no thanks...

The titles of America's '70s albums are "Horse With No Name", "Homecoming", "Hat Trick", "Hideaway", "Holiday" and "Harbor". Their greatest-hits album was titled "History".(See a pattern here?) Their 'live' album, tho, was titled "America Live". I thot, why not call it "Highlights?". Or "Hoe-Down?" Or "Happening"? But the group showed it had "Humor"...they broke the mighty spell of "H-word" titles, calling one of their later albums "Silent Letter". Although...I have a 1998 album they recorded, titled "Human Nature".

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

...well, at least I'm being HONEST...

I've never been the type of person who enjoys deadlines, requirements, policies, etc. I remember getting in trouble in 5th grade for not finishing my homework. There were cartoons to watch when I got home, after all. Of course, that was the time in my life where I had a witch as a teacher, a kommandant in the principal's office, and I had to go behind enemy lines at the end of the school day because everyone wanted to beat me up. And I didn't have a Tiger waiting for me when I got home. (You know, the "Calvin and Hobbes" tiger...) So I'll just let my mind wander here in yet another "dandruff" post (You know, 'off the top of my head'...)

THE WORLD SERIES: No, that's not happened yet. But I have been watching the Playoffs, which is a lot different than watching the Seattle Mariners. After all, in the playoffs, there is excellence, there is professionalism, and actual timely pitching and hitting. Dare I say, Actual Competition! Turner Broadcasting service is carrying all the divisional playoffs. And what you don't see on TBS, can be found on TNT, another Turner network. Gosh. I remember when the Federal Communications Commission used to outlaw monopolies in broadcasting. I have a complaint, tho. The Volume Levels wildly fluctuate up and down, with commercials louder than any of the game broadcast. And then, during the broadcast itself, all of a sudden the volume will nosedive to a barely audible level, before (gradually) returning to anything like a normal noise level, just in time for them to blast me out of the water with another ultra-loud commercial. I think this issue has to do with some sort of signal compression. How about this, guys...make the volume at least EQUAL for both commercials and gamecasts! So far, tonite's Phillies/Diamondbacks game has gone smoothly, but things were pretty lousy on preceding sportscasts.

THE GREAT CAMERA DILEMMA: A while back, my Canon Powershot camera was stolen. I replaced it with a cheap Vivitar camera, which is a good camera, but it only has about half the "zoom" that my Canon had. Just for kicks one night, I looked online, and there was the same model of Canon Powershot camera for only $50 bucks! So, I bought it. Now I have two cameras. I could probably take the Vivitar to the Pawnshop, where I might get $10 or $15 bucks for it. So I haven't done that (yet). I'm inclined to use the Canon more than the Vivitar. But when I choose one camera or the other, I feel like I'm "jilting" the other camera. This situation sort-of "jilts" me. Then again, I tend to personalize inanimate objects, and I know it's terribly silly, but I feel Guilty, would you believe, for preferring one camera and leaving the other camera out. This is the point where a typical blog reader is going to throw his hands up in the air, screaming, "GET A #$@# LIFE!!!" And I think I'd agree. Anyone gotta life for sale cheap?

KNEELING AT THE FEET OF THE MASTERS: No, no, no Hare Krishna chants here. I was thinking more along the lines of The Big Bands. I have acquired the Original January 16, 1938 Carnegie Hall recording featuring Benny Goodman and his multi-talented band. The way that band could play Swing Music just leaves me speechless. This is back when Lionel Hampton (vibes) and Gene Krupa (drums) were in the band. Oh, and don't forget Harry James on Trumpet; finally, Teddy Wilson on Piano was little short of magical. What a band! 

It Swings, Swings, Swings.
The album was recorded using a single overhead microphone, and transcribed onto two huge master disks. A copy of that set was made and ended up in the Smithsonian, and the other set disappeared. Folklore has it that someone approached Mr. Goodman the next day and said, "somebody should have made a record of it." Mr. Goodman replied, "someone did!" 

In 1951, Mr. Goodman's daughter found that other master disk set in a closet, and said, "Daddy, What's This?" The recording had lain dormant for 13 years. By then, long-play albums were being made, and the entire concert was etched in vinyl, and in spite of the primitive recording methods in 1938, the resulting album is one of the most exciting records I Have Ever Heard. Benny Goodman may have been a bandleader, but he was no slouch; he put himself out there every single time with absolute whirlwinds of clarinet notes and runs. And with the band he had at the time, well, the whole thing is just MATCHLESS. The band's Really Big Showcase, "Sing, Sing, Sing" turns me on just as much as "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida" ever did. Gene Krupa absolutely played drums with a rock and roll intensity and can be seen doing so on various YouTube videos. The Carnegie Hall Concert was noteworthy, because it brought elements of Jazz together, and proved that Jazz could be respected by even the stodgiest Carnegie Hall Concert Attendee. 

Finally, some Good News: Sarah Palin said today that she is NOT running for President. We can all now Breathe Easier. Although, if she were Prezzident, she could save on traveling expenses; instead of using Air Force One, she could fly around the world on her BROOMSTICK.