Wednesday, July 29, 2009
Listening now, there are several things that are hard to believe - one, that it was 30 years ago (give or take a year) that this music was recorded. Second, that the band was able to produce four albums in as many years as brilliant as those four. But most importantly, that the band was able to make four albums that sound as different in their sound as those four. Though all four are easily identifiable as Talking Heads, they each have a distinct identity - none of them sound like the others.
On Talking Heads '77, the production was spare, and the band sounded (and looked, as evident in the above video) innocent, almost naive.
On More Songs About Buildings and Food, the band was produced by Brian Eno, who could almost be called "the fifth head." The sound was much fuller, and the band sounded a lot more confident than on their debut, almost as if they had begun to realize just how good they were.
Eno was still there behind the boards on Fear of Music, but the album's sound was an 180 degree turn away from its predecessor - where Buildings and Food's sound was full and warm, Fear of Music was ice cold - a perfect match to the music the band was now making. Nervous, edgy music - you could (and still can) dance to it, but you'd be just as likely to want to hit something.
And then came what is probably the band's masterpiece. There was so much going on that it wasn't easy to get into at first listen, but ultimately it was one of those few albums where a band was able to stretch itself to reach all the ambitions it ever had, and execute them perfectly. And this was definitely not the same Talking Heads that audiences had seen in 1977. Augmented by expert musicians like Adrian Belew, Busta Jones, Steve Scales and Nona Hendryx, Byrne and his bandmates - Jerry Harrison, Tina Weymouth, and Chris Frantz - proved themselves to be showmen of the first order. It was this version of the band that I saw perform in October 1980, and it remains one of the concert highlights of my life.
One band, four years, four wonderful albums.
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
But even if I have nothing interesting to say, I can point you to other people who do.
Steven Rubio, for instance. Steven writes a lot of capsule reviews of the TV shows and movies that he watches, and in the past few days he's come up with a couple of lines I wish I'd written:
About the TV show Kings: "...Well, if you look like you need to take a dump, you probably aren’t doing a good job." That one made me laugh out loud.
About the Mel Gibson Film Apocalypto: Actually, there are too many good lines in this one. Go read the whole thing!
Friday, July 24, 2009
The first single from Rumours was "Go Your Own Way" - predictably, it became a hit, but not a huge one. It didn't make it all the way to #1, and I'm not even sure that it made it into the Top 5.
In the late spring of '77, "Dreams" was released as a single - and it quickly rocketed to the top of the charts:
There's no question today which is the greater song. While "Dreams" is a good song, "Go Your Own Way" is a bonafide rock classic. Lindsey Buckingham doesn't get a lot of credit as a lead guitarist, but he absolutely shreds his solo here, and to this day I think it stands up to anything that Jimmy Page was doing at the time (there's a historical reason I make that comparison, but I'll save that story for another day). But the thing that has always struck me about the song is Mick Fleetwood's drumming - it sounds less like drumming than it does a man who is locked inside a burning house, pounding on the door for someone to let him out. A man with his life at stake.
When I listen to "Go Your Own Way" today, it doesn't conjure up any particular memories of the time that it was released. It feels as if it is of today, and that I'm hearing it for the first time. With "Dreams," it's exactly the opposite story. Every time I hear it, I'm immediately transported back to the Summer of 1977. I can remember what I was feeling, what I was doing, and almost as if I can smell the burgers that I was flipping at McDonalds at the time. It's as if the song is trapped in 1977, and it can't get out.
I don't know if there's any great meaning in that, but I do find it interesting.
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
And finally, I'm still having difficulty deciding between #1 and #2. Good thing I still have 25 weeks to sort that one out.
Just in case anyone was wondering.
Monday, July 20, 2009
I don’t recall ever, in a virtual lifetime of watching sports, being so completely emotionally engaged in the outcome of a sports event, period. I don’t think it worth discussing the playoff, so the comments below pertain to the regulation round. I could barely watch as Watson hit the short birdie putt on 17 (I was certain he would miss that one). In fact, I actually had my hands in front of my face and was looking at the TV between my fingers. Up until that moment, I did not really believe he could win. Ironically, only once it became believable that the miracle might indeed happen was reality to intrude and yank the possibility away at the last second. I know everyone will look at his putt on 18 and highlight how badly he gagged on it, but I personally will remember the amazing number of great shots he hit to get to that point.
Throughout the day, I was sure he was going to fold as the pressure grew. The hybrid into 17 from 260 yards away was absolutely amazing. The number of fairways he hit with driver under the extreme pressure of the moment, while all around him struggled to do the same was shocking as the back 9 unfolded. I would have bet anything on a missed fairway on 18. In the end, his full swing held up to the most immense circumstances and at 59 years old that just didn’t seem possible. Even the approach to 18 was another perfectly struck iron, directly at the flag.
That he was in position to win was a testimony to his long game being way better than anyone else on Sunday. Because, one thing for sure, he wasn’t going to win with his short game or putting. As anyone who has ever had the yips can attest (and I unfortunately am one of them), the less discussed side effect of them is that the fear of a 4 footer coming back results in consistently leaving makeable putts short. We saw that from Tom from the first hole on Sunday. How many putts from 15 to 25 feet did he leave a foot short and right on target? Earlier in the week, when the pressure was less, they went in. He consistently read those greens perfectly. I don’t know what the US announcers said about his choice of putter from behind 18, but the BBC guys were questioning it from the moment he pulled his glove off (as they did on his similar decision from behind 17). Again, I totally understood Watson’s decision making. If you are nervous and yippy, there is nothing harder than trying to hit a delicate, short chip shot. A bad putt would result in a makeable next shot, whereas a bad chip could leave you chipping again (and brings much higher scores into play).
One final note on getting up and down from behind 18; no one else they showed who hit it back there did so successfully. I think I saw Els and Wood and at least one other fail to make par from back there, too. Of note, they all missed their par putts on the same side as Watson did, suggesting a difficult read.
Cink was a worthy and classy winner. Interestingly, The BBC interviewed Padraig Harrington after he finished his round (and before the leaders teed off), and he picked Cink as the guy he thought would win.
I feel really bad for Westwood. It was really silly of him to play for a birdie when we all knew that bogey was a real possibility for Watson. Westwood hit one of the most amazing shots ever out of that bunker only to waste it with that bad first putt.
Turnberry was a real winner of a venue. It is my favorite course I have played on this side of the ocean. Though I really played a different course when I played it last year. I played from the same tees they did, the new back ones, but the wind was from the opposite direction. I couldn’t reach the fairway on 17 with 3 tries with a driver. It is about a 230 yard carry and it was into a 25 mile an hour wind. I ended up finding my second drive in the hay on that hole and making a 10 there. 18 was also into the wind and I hit driver and 2 hybrid to get there for birdie, whereas these guys were hitting 4 iron tee shots and 8 iron approaches down wind. I think I shot 86 that day. The first time I played it (a couple years earlier) from the previous back tees (about 300 yards shorter) on a day with little wind and shot 73.
It is remarkable to think that Watson is 13 years older than Nicklaus was in 1986 and we thought that was miraculous! Oh well, in the end, I think we all felt like we were experiencing Tom’s ride with him. We somehow were all fighting off the demons of age, pressure and anxiety as we watched him try to do so. Maybe that is why it felt like such a loss. Metaphorically, I guess we can’t beat time. I just hope we can persevere with the same fortitude and grace as Tom Watson was able to demonstrate yesterday.
Sunday, July 19, 2009
On the night of the wedding rehearsal, Gary and his wife Carol joined us for dinner. My entire family was there, as was my best man Craig and his wife Becky. I'll never forget something that Gary said that night, because it demonstrated that in addition to being a devout man, he was a man of good humor. He began talking about a trip that he and Carol had just made to the Holy Land, and just as I was beginning to wonder what life lesson might come next, it became clear that he was talking about a trip to Graceland. Now that's my kind of minister.
If memory serves, we saw Gary only one time after the wedding; when we attended church one Sunday at his parish in Carmichael. Shortly after that he left California, and we never spoke to him again. From time to time, as the years went by and we had kids, got older and presumably wiser, we would try to track him down, but just try Googling "Gary Smith" some time and see what happens. We'd give up, and then a couple of years later, we'd try again, but always to no avail.
A couple of days ago, Debra was going through some documents in preparation for son #1's departure for college in August, and found something with Gary's full name - "Rev. Gary D. Smith" - on it. Figuring there was nothing to lose, she Googled that name, and sure enough, for the first time, something came up.
It was Gary's obituary. He was killed in an automobile accident in 2003.
Reading his obituary, it's easy to see that Gary was an extraordinary man:
- as a teenager, worked with disadvantaged youth in his neighborhood.
- graduated from Stanford University in three years.
- obtained a Masters of Divinity degree.
- served as the Minister of several churches, in several states.
- earned a doctorate degree in Philosophy.
- served in the Naval reserves, and as a Chaplain during Desert Storm.
- became a professor of anatomy and physiology.
And, last but certainly not least, a member of the Harley Owners Group.
We never got that chance to thank Gary again, but I want to do so now by paying this tribute to him.
And to his family, should any of them ever stumble by accident across this post - you don't need me to tell you what an extraordinary man he was; you know it well. Just know that Debra and I will always remember him, for being with us on one of the most special days of our lives.
Thank you, Gary.
- Watson hits his tee shot way left, and that really could be it.
- They can't even find his ball.
- They've found the ball. Titleist 3. He's got no shot, and will just have to chop it back to the fairway.
- Watson: "I don't know if I can get it out of there, but I've got to give it a try."
- He doesn't get it out of the rough. Damn, this is sad. He gets it out of the rough, but he lies 3 and he's still not even close to the green.
- Meanwhile, Cink is in the fairway, and his only real opponent right now is his nerves.
- Cink's shot is on the green, and he is in command. Watson will need to hit a miracle shot, or hope that Cink pulls a Van de Velde on the last hole.
- Watson's fourth - on the green, but still away.
- Watson hits a great putt, but there's not much he can do at this point except hope for a complete Cink meltdown.
- Short Cink putt for birdie, which means he'll head to the final hole with a 3-stroke lead.
- Watson misses the bogey putt.
- Cink makes the birdie putt.
And I think I'm going to wrap it up. There was a time in my life when I would have cheered this Watson meltdown, but that was when I was younger and dumber. Sure, this was Tom's tournament to win, but his play at this Open is still one of the remarkable golf stories in some time - and in an era when Tiger Woods has made remarkable look routine, that's saying something.
Good job, Tom. Keep your chin up.
- Watson is in huge trouble off the tee - is it slipping away?
- Interesting situation for Cink. Outside of his family and friends, there probably isn't a single person on the planet rooting for him right now.
- Blind shot for Watson. No worries, Tom - just the most important shot you've hit since...say, 1984?
- Wonderful shot by Watson. Not a gimme par, but certainly he did what he had to. Even if he heads to 17 down by 2, he's got a chance.
- Jeez, Strange and Judy Rankin practically have Watson dead and buried right now. But we've seen Cink have adventures on the final hole of a major before, so I wouldn't say it's in the bag yet.
- Watson has about a 10-footer for par. It's in!!!! Strange (or is it Azinger?): Par of a lifetime!
- Now Cink has a tester, to keep his lead. He makes it, and they head to 17 with Cink up by one.
- Both Watson and Cink have hit their tee shots. Watson has the advantage, 20 yards ahead of Cink.
- Cink's approach shot is in the bunker.
- Watson is short of the green. Also in the bunker?
- Holy sh*t! Tom Weiskopf doing commentary? I can't remember the last time I heard him on a golf telecast.
- Watson's shot looks terrifying. North: a good shot would be one that gets within 15 feet.
- Cink's shot looks equally scary. But he hits a great one, and has a par putt.
- Watson leaves himself with a mile. Difficult two-putt ahead, just for bogey.
- Beautiful putt by Watson - he'll escape with a bogey.
- Cink makes his par putt; leads by one.
- Watson is studying the lie very hard. North says it is not that great.
- He's going with the putter.
- North: "to get a clean hit on this will be very difficult."
- Watson's putt is well past. He's left himself a real tester for the Championship.
- Watson. 9 feet. For the Open Championship.
- He pulls it, and heads for a four-hole playoff with Stewart Cink. And the crowd sounds like a balloon that has just had the air let out of it.
- Azinger: "I've got the sweaty palms going here."
- Watson on the tee.
- Watson's tee shot is away - and it's absolutely perfect.
- Azinger: "The guts of a burglar at age 59."
- Westwood addresses the putt. And it's well past. He's got to make the par, or Cink leads in the clubhouse.
- Watson walks down the fairway.
- Westwood misses the par putt, and his day is over. It's all up to Tom now.
- Andy North: "It's real simple. Hit a good iron shot to the middle of the green, and he's Open champion again."
- The shot is over the green. He's got a tester for an up-and-down.
- Strange: "Watson can control his destiny here." Andy North says the lie is not great. 207 yards.
- Watson's shot is terrific - slides just off the green; should be a fairly easy up and down to re-take the lead. Easy for me to say.
- Westwood on the 18th tee. He's in the bunker! Paul Azinger: "He cannot get to the green from there."
- Azinger: "It is a death trap for his Open Championship hopes."
- Watson is nearly ready to hit his third shot on the 17th green; waiting for Goggin to hit his putt.
- Good effort by Watson. Short putt for birdie.
- Strange: "This is amazing. This is like fantasy-land."
And he has the lead, by one, with one to play.
- Great shot of Westwood running out of the rough to see where hit shot ended up - maybe the best one since Sergio at Medinah in 1999.
- Watson's tee shot on 17 - it's good. Short rough, but Strange says that might even help.
- Cink drains the birdie putt on 18! He's tied for the lead.
- Time for a Cialis commercial.
- Cink hits a beautiful shot and has a birdie putt on 18.
- Goggin misses his par putt on 16, and looks to be finished.
- Watson's par putt - YES! And you hear a roar unlike many I've heard at the Open.
- Mike Tirico: "it's out there to take, and no one seems to want to take it."
- Watson's shot - 171 out - it's a beauty!
- Westwood from the 17th tee. Curtis Strange: "He has to do something here." At the last Open played at Turnberry, Nick Price eagled 17 to capture the Claret Jug.
- Westwood's tee shot is a disaster, nesting in what looks like a wheat field that has been let go to seed.
Could it be happening?
- Watson's tee shot on 16 is solid, but it just trickles into the rough.
- A poor chip from Westwood leaves him with a real tester of a putt.
- Cink misses an eminently makeable bride putt on 17.
- Westwood misses the putt! Watson leads by one.
Saturday, July 18, 2009
But make no mistake about it - Tom Watson winning the British Open, in 2009, at age 59, 32 years after his epic duel at Turnberry with Jack Nicklaus, would be the sports story of the year, if not the decade. The fact that he leads by one after three rounds is probably the sports story of the year.
Good luck, Tom - I'll be rooting hard for you tomorrow.
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
Nice job, Mr. Highway Patrolman! I bet it made you feel so...powerful.
Monday, July 13, 2009
The bad: our phone is working. We have a phone number, and are able to receive phone calls.
I really don't like talking on the phone.
I don't like the sound that a ringing phone makes.
I resent it when the need to answer the phone takes me away from whatever it is that I'm doing at the moment.
Because of this, I probably sound rude to whomever is calling. This is not a problem when it is a telemarketer or someone wanting me to contribute to Cal, the Fireman Fund, or a police charity (all of which we've contributed to, so please don't give me any crap, OK?)
This is a problem when the caller is, say...mom, dad, or a good friend.
And that, folks, is your Comcast update for the evening.
Sunday, July 12, 2009
Christian Bale's performance as Melvin Purvis is much less showy, primarily because Mann and the screenwriters give him less to work with. You never get a sense of what Purvis is like outside of his job - as far as the movie is concerned, he is his job. Bale plays him well, but the role doesn't force him to stretch much. Having said that, he does get what I thought was the best moment in the movie, when one of his underlings is brutalizing Billie, Dillinger's girlfriend, in an effort to find out his whereabouts. Purvis intervenes tenderly but firmly, and it is in that one moment that you see what he is about - justice, but not at all costs.
Kudos to the supporting cast, especially Billy Crudup as J. Edgar Hoover, and Stephen Lang as Charles Winstead, a grizzled veteran of the Texas Rangers that Purvis calls upon to lend his Dillinger operation some ferocity.
I'm not sure it's a great movie, but it's certainly a very good one.
Directed by Duncan Jones, the son of David Bowie, Moon evokes memories of past science-fiction classics like Silent Running, 2001, and Blade Runner, but at the same time is completely original. The basic story is simple. Sam Bell, the lone crewman on a mining station located on the dark side of the Moon, is within two weeks of fulfilling his three-year contract when strange things start happening - headaches, hallucinations, and an encounter with what appears to be a younger version of himself, one who believes he has just landed to begin his own three-year contract. All the while, Sam's only companion is a computer named Gerty (eerily voiced by Kevin Spacey) who appears to be helpful but can't always answer the most important questions.
It's essentially a one-man show, and Sam Rockwell - one of those actors who always seems to be just on the verge of becoming a big star - is terrific in the role. It's a great pleasure to see a film that is worthy of his talent, and even though it is a low-budget film appearing mostly on the art circuit, it could be the role that takes Rockwell to that next level.
It's a great movie - probably the best I've seen this year.
Friday, July 10, 2009
...if Jonathan Sanchez can pitch for entire games as good as he can pitch for single innings at a time...
A no-hitter? You've got to be kidding me.
I've got a feeling...
San Francisco Giants vs. Los Angeles Dodgers for the National League Championship?
Thursday, July 09, 2009
I think I knew this at some point in my life, but I had forgotten that the Jefferson Memorial has a direct line of sight to the White House. So when you stand at the base of the statue of Jefferson, you have an unobstructed view of the sitting president's home.
Wednesday, July 08, 2009
Tuesday, July 07, 2009
Fill in the following blanks with the name of a band or musician:
1. I've had to defend my love of _____________________ over the years.
2. As far as I'm concerned, ______________________ nearly ruined music.
3. One of my favorite bass players ever? That's easy: It's _______________________.
4. If I could go back in time and dance like crazy, crowd surf or join a mosh pit, I would do that at a ___________________ show.
5. If I were to frame one album cover and put it on my wall, it would be _______________________.
1. Jackson Browne
3. Dave Allen, Gang of Four
5. The Pastels' Mobile Safari
3. James Jamerson, Motown's house band
5. Bruce Springsteen's Born to Run (it's hanging in my office)
Monday, July 06, 2009
I had to come up with some rules for selection, and I'm not sure if they're consistent. I'm not going to include reissues or box sets, even if I ranked them in my yearly Top Tens, but I am going to include live albums - unless, that is, they are live albums of old concerts that were just recently released. I don't know why I came up with these rules; I just did.
One thing I realized while coming up with the final list is that there were very few albums that I enjoyed and relished with the devotion that I had for the albums of the late 1970s, the 1980s, and even well into the 1990s. That's probably a function of the different way that I listen to music now - I still buy a lot of CDs (compared to the normal person), but the bulk of my listening is on my MP3 player and in the car, where I put mix-tapes together trying to combine an eclective mix of new and old, and of various styles. So while the top 10 or so probably compare to the oldies but goodies, I'm not sure that the albums beyond that do.
Sunday, July 05, 2009
I also started making some changes in my blogroll - the first step was to eliminate some blogs that I never read that often myself; the second step will be to come up with new headings that more accurately portray the blogs in that category.
Saturday, July 04, 2009
Friday, July 03, 2009
Sandford is also great at coming up with interesting bad guys (or girls), and in that sense neither Invisible Prey nor Phantom Prey disappoint. The third book, which I've almost finished, is Dead Watch, in which Sandford introduces a new character, Washington D.C. fixer Jake Winter. As we all know there's a lot in D.C. that needs fixing, so we could be seeing a lot more of Winter in the future. He's cut from the Davenport mold, and even though the book isn't quite as good as the two Prey books, it's well worth a read.