Thursday, May 28, 2009

Background for the Legendary Yearbook Note

I got a lot of feedback on whether or not to post the note, and I decided that I'm going to post some excerpts along with some pithy annotation. But in the meantime, some valuable background.

- Our first date was her Senior Ball, to which she asked me.

- I wore a powder blue tux on that date, with ruffled shirt. For reasons that are still unclear to me today, I parted my hair in the middle.

- I got home from that date at 4 a.m. Mom and dad were not pleased.

- We met at McDonalds, where we both worked.

- We dated for six months.

- In the last month of our relationship, she was secretly dating one of my "friends."

- Everyone we worked with took my side after the breakup.

- In the time we were together, we saw a lot of movies, including Rocky, Network, Annie Hall, and Star Wars. Now let that sink in for a minute. Four notable, if not historic, movies. She didn't like any of them.

- Her favorite movie of the ones we saw that summer was The Other Side of Midnight.

OK, you're almost ready...

Monday, May 25, 2009

The Legendary Yearbook Note - To Post or Not To Post?

As moral quandaries go, this one really scrapes the bottom of the barrel, but here goes...

As the 12 or so people who follow this blog on a regular basis know, I've been having some fun in recent days by posting what folks wrote in my high school yearbooks. The plan all along was to conclude the series by posting the entirety of what I am convinced is the single most embarrassing note ever written in a high school yearbook.

The note in question was written by my girlfriend at the time, and even 32 years later it's a bit painful for me to read. But at the same time, it is hysterically funny. My wife and a good friend of ours once spent the better part of a Friday evening having fun with it at my expense, and the laughter from that night still rings in my ears. But that was in a private setting.

This afternoon, I posted a "sneak preview" of the note, taking a photo of it with my trusty Blackberry and posting it on the blog. Little did I realize that when you opened the photo to its full size, the note was very easy to read (maybe not very easy, but easy enough). And since I'm cross-posting this series on my Facebook page, a couple of intrepid friends did exactly that. The consensus seems to be that hilarity would indeed ensue, but that the note was embarrassing to the point where it might seem horrifying should the person in question ever find out that so many people were having fun, essentially, at her expense.

So the question of the day, dear, or not to post? Am I poking fun at myself, or being needlessly cruel to someone whom I haven't laid eyes on for over 30 years? [Not that this is relevant, but she did dump me for one of my friends.]

You can weigh in here, or by commenting on my Facebook page. And in the meantime, I've taken the "photo post" of the note down.

Yearbook Autographs Part III

Part III - "My Friends Were Dorks"

First, an explanation of the photo. This is a picture of the 1978 Decamhian, my senior year, that is currently on sale on E-Bay. I'm not sure what is sadder - that someone would sell their old high school yearbook (for $65!), or that someone out there might actually buy it.

But no matter...on to the dorkiness. But again, these notes just make me cringe in contemplation of what I might have written in their yearbooks.

"For your info Jeffrey Marquette was the NCAA champ and Al McGuire is not a commi [sic]. They are No. 1. Wait till next year. Later, Tim. P.S. Marquette Rules."

- Marquette won the NCAA basketball championship that year, and I was not a fan. Based on this, I must have taken Al McGuire's name in vain at some point during the tournament.

"To Jeff: Wherever you go, whatever you do remember: THE OAKLAND RAIDERS RULE!! Mike"

- Except for those years down in L.A., I suppose.

"Jeff - Don't listen to Mike he doesn't know what he is talking about. RAMS RULE! Kevin"

- Those Rams, of course, being the Los Angeles variety. As things turned out, they never ruled.

"Jeff, I just want to say that I am the best basketball player in the world. Kevin"

- That was Kevin the previous year. Kevin was about 5'2".

"Jeff, I guess it was only sheer luck that I had you in only one class. Have a good summer and may Zaius watch over you always. Thomas



- Thomas and I had an ongoing debate over the relative merits of Roxy Music and Styx. I'd like to think that history has vindicated me. The Zaius thing still mystifies me today...but there were several guys that walked around saying "May Zaius be with you" for about four months.

Next installment: A sneak preview of the single most embarrassing yearbook note in the history of humankind.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Yearbook Autographs Part II

Part II - "Girls drop hints that I don't pick up on"

"Ladies Man" was never a phrase used to describe me in high school - or any other time, for that matter. And truth be told, these notes probably represent girls who were just trying to be nice. But then again, who's to say, 30+ years down the road?

"Jeff - I wish I knew you better than just practically your name. Hope I didn't bother you too much this year in General Business. Have a great summer! Friends always, Bren"

- Boy, that must have been some General Business class. Wish I could remember it.

"Hi Jeff! Didn't get to talk to you much this year. Hope we can fix that! Keep up the good work in school and stay nice. Have a good summer! Love, Nancy"

- I think I remember who wrote this. But since she didn't put down her last name, I'll never know for sure.

"Jeff - Even though we've been going to the same school since 6th grade, I really don't know ya very good but we still have 2 more years! Love, Cindy"

- Two more years didn't make a difference.

OK, so that was pretty dull, when you get right down to it. I think the next installment, "My friends were dorks," will be a big improvement.

Happy Birthday, Rosanne and Bob

It so happens that today is the birthday of two of my pantheon artists, Rosanne Cash and Bob Dylan. Wherever they are, I hope they're having a great time.

Saturday, May 23, 2009


Well, it may end being the Lakers and the Cavs like everyone predicted, but Denver and Orlando aren't going to make it easy.

The Cavs may have saved their season last night...excuse me, I mean that LeBron may have saved their season last night. On the cusp of going up 2-0 and heading home...well, just watch. Great stuff.

Friday, May 22, 2009

That's Right - I Got So Much Work To Do...

...So Much Work to Do

High School Yearbook Autographs

It's amusing and somewhat horrifying to go back 31 years later and read what people wrote in my high school yearbooks. It kinda makes me wonder what I wrote in theirs, which is not something I really want to give much thought to.

For the next few days, heading right up to the day of #1 son's graduation, I thought it would be fun to examine some of what I found. And on the last day, you'll get to read what I'm quite confident is the single most embarrassing note ever written in a high school yearbook - for me certainly, and I hope for the person who wrote it, if she even remembers. More I cannot say, but trust me that it still sends shivers up and down my spine. But at the same time, it's absolutely hysterical.

My Freshman and Senior years, our yearbooks came out late, so mine from those years are - mercifully - relatively clean. So today, let's begin with the Decamhian (stands for "Del Campo High Annual" - get it?) from 1976 - my Sophomore year.

[Note: last names left out, to protect the innocent and the clueless]

Let's start with the basics:

"Have a good summer." - Jon

- Hard to go wrong with that one, really. Incredibly dull, but at the same time embarrassment-proof. And Jon was a good guy; I saw him at the 30-year reunion last fall. So we'll give him a pass.

"Thanks for making the conversation more lively in General Business." - Will

- Yep, that's me; livens up every room he walks into. Although that doesn't sound too hard to do in General Business.

"To the bowler with all the troubles. Better luck next year. Have a nice summer." - Tim

- I really don't get this one, because I was a pretty good bowler. Must have been an early version of trash talk.

"To a good but quiet friend." - Greg

- I guess he wasn't in the class where I livened up the conversation.

"So mad you didn't do better." - Ben

- Gosh, I'm really sorry about that, Ben. I wish I could remember what the hell it was you were talking about.

Next edition: Girls drop hints that I don't pick up on.

Pop Album of the Year?

I've always been a sucker for a good hook, and I've always had a healthy respect for Euro-pop, even if I've never made it a steady diet. So it was probably inevitable that I'd like Wolfgang Amadeus, the new album by the French band Phoenix.

As noted below, this was a purchase by son #2, and I freely confess that I'd never heard of the band until he started talking about them two days ago. But they've been around for a while, and their music demonstrates a confidence that should turn this into a hit, however that is defined in this day and age. I've only given it a handful of listens, but I like it better than anything I've ever heard from Franz Ferdinand, and it sunk in a lot quicker than Vampire Weekend, just to name two bands that Phoenix remind me of.

The key with "hooky albums" is always whether the hooks will retain their power over time. You just never know; sometimes a song that sounds terrific for the first few dozen times becomes incredibly annoying after six months. But right now it feels like these songs have enough sophistication and variety to maintain their appeal - Check back in later, and we'll see for sure.

Favorite song, so far:

Task For The Day

Son #2 has given me an assignment for today - listen to the new album by Phoenix, Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix, and review it on the blog before he gets home from school.

It's a lot of pressure, but we'll see what we can do...

Savvy Veteran

I had to miss the game last night because of Senior Awards night, but this is awesome...hat tip to Mona.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The Good, Bad and Ugly of "24" - Season 7

The good news is that it was a vast improvement over Season 6. The bad news? That's not really saying much.

It wasn't terrible and it certainly had its moments, but it didn't approach either Season 5 or Season 4 in terms of drama and suspense. And even with Brannon Braga and Manny Coto at the helm, both of whom proved during their respective Star Trek tenures that they can spin a great yarn, the storyline was dramatically inconsistent.

Until the final night's episodes, I thought the writers had totally botched the use of Tony Almeida, and manipulated the audience to a point where they were far beyond caring about what would happen to him. But his denoument (though I doubt we've seen the last of him; for crying out loud, he's come back from the dead, this shouldn't be much of a challenge) was surprisingly powerful. However, knowing that his motivation all along was nothing more than revenge for his dead wife revealed how unnecessary the audience manipulation was. Looking back, had we known from the beginning that Tony didn't really care about anything but vengeance, and that he was the one manipulating Jack, Bill, Chloe, Larry and Renee, the story would have held much greater drama, and been a lot more dramatically feasible. What we were left with was sort of a ham-handed commentary on why Jack is a "better" person than Tony. What I would have enjoyed much more would have been keeping both of them within less defined shades of grey - and then let the audience make a judgment on their own about who was "right" and "wrong."

The ugly? The President's daughter. Take loathesome character, add two dashes of idiot-plot ingredients, and top off with some truly horrendous acting, and you get the picture. Runner up? The first dude. But I've seen him in other stuff, so I know he's a good actor. And while we're talking about ugly, how about the use of Kim? It wasn't as bad as it could have been, but nothing on "24" screams "turn off the TV, right now!" like the sight of her.

Most exciting episode? Siege on the White House. Most improbable episode? See previous.

Biggest waste? Chloe. Always great to see her, but not enough to do. Janeane Garofalo was a poor substitute. Runner up? Leland Orser. One of the more interesting character actors working today, so if you're going to have him on your show, give him something to do!

Best bad guy? He was only on for a little bit, but I've got to give it to Will Patton. And evil Tony wasn't bad either, though the squinty-eye thing got a little tiresome. Worst bad guy? The FBI weasel from the early episodes with the greasy hair.

Bottom line: is Jack Bauer still cool? Damn right he is.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

I'm Alive

Not that anyone was really wondering, but I'm still around...batteries charging. In the meantime, enjoy some fellow greybeards.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Considering Mike Tyson

A really good review of the film "Tyson," by Sheila O'Malley.

I'm looking forward to seeing it - there's no question that Mike Tyson was the last boxer with enough ability and charisma to transcend the sport and become a household name in his own right. Over time it became negative charisma, but Tyson himself bears a lot of responsibility for that.

Even setting aside the circus that his non-boxing life became (and Sheila's comments about the Robin Givens interview are spot on), Tyson too bears the responsibility for squandering his enormous talent. He was truly an awesome force in his prime - a truly great fighter, and from Sheila's review it sounds like he realizes that he indeed let it all go through a loss of discipline. After all, it's not as if anyone had ever hurt him in the ring (easy for me to say that, but you know what I mean).

I'm interested in hearing what he has to say about the infamous Holyfield fight, because I don't remember thinking at the time that Holyfield was fighting dirty at the moment when Tyson tried to bite his ear off - in fact, I remember thinking that Tyson was fighting dirty, that he was a desperate man, having lost to Holyfield the previous fall (in a tremendous fight) and realizing that even with the revenge factor and anger on his side, he no longer had the tools to compete with the best in the ring.

Howard Cosell once wrote about Sonny Liston that he could think of no requiem for this particular heavyweight. I'm looking forward to seeing what this film does for Tyson.

Friday, May 08, 2009


Listening to my Creedence tape on the way into work this morning, once again I was in awe of what the band was able to accomplish in such a short time. How one band - one man, really - come up with so many great songs in such a short period of time?

It's hard, if not impossible, to identify one single song as their best. But my favorite, since I was nine years old and look forward to hearing it every week on American Bandstand, is "Green River." The perfect example of their sound - even now, I can't figure out all the lyrics, except for this killer fragment at the end:

Old Brodie Junior took me over
Said you're gonna find the world is smolderin'
If you get lost
Come on home to Green River

What made Creedence was the sound - and that sound; dangerous and somewhat mysterious, never got better than it did on "Green River."

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Oh, This Is Good...

I mean, can't make sh*t like this up.

[Manny] Ramirez, a baseball source told, explained to baseball officials he was uncertain he was taking a banned substance and may have had a medical reason for using the substance.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Don't Forget...

...Scrubs finale tonight.

This is another show where we were late to the party, but thanks to one of the sons caught up on cable.

I think we've covered nearly every show on Comedy Central, in a little over a year-and-a-half.

It may never have been as popular as something like Cheers or Friends, but it is deserves to be mentioned in the same breath. A classic.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

More Words of Wisdom From George Carlin

Things I wonder about the FBI's list of the "Ten Most Wanted" criminals

Does the FBI search harder for number three than they do for number seven? I would. Otherwise why have the numbers at all? These are the kind of thoughts that keep me from making any real progress in life.

Let's Celebrate!

There's a new Star Trek movie coming out this weekend, boys and girls! Let's celebrate! Let's sing!

Monday, May 04, 2009

Cue The Ominous Music

Driving home tonight, I thought the clouds had an eerie, Close Encounters of the Third Kind feel to I snapped a picture.

And yes, I was going about 70 MPH at the time.

Be Afraid...Be Very Afraid.

Brett Favre is considering another season in the NFL.

Apparently, Brett is determined to pound the few remaining shards of his public image into dust.

It's his life, but at the same time, if it's true and if it happens it's going to be sad. And ugly, in all likelihood.

Answer To Question Posed In Previous Post

Baseball analyst Bill James, in the 2009 Gold Mine.

I'm enjoying the book much more than I did last year - not sure if it's because I'm used to the new format, or whether the material is more interesting. But there's a ton of good stuff in this year's book, including an exhaustive grouping of batters throughout history with similar tendencies, an article attempting to assess the non-batting skills brought to the game by its greatest catchers, and an excellent piece assessing the Hall of Fame chances of Alan Trammell (after all, who doesn't like a good Hall of Fame argument?).

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Who Wrote This?

[Answer forthcoming]

When a person begins with the larger question itself, he inevitably winds up confronting his own ignorance and trying to find ways to fill in the gaps in his knowledge. The person who begins with a position on the issue never sees his own ignorance, and in fact, deliberately avoids seeing his own ignorance. The person who begins with a position on the issue and argues for that position naturally tries to hide his ignorance of the smaller issues, since the things that he doesn't know are a weakness in his argument. The person who begins with the question itself, on the other hand, inevitably winds up reveling in his own ignorance, celebrating his ignorance, and sharing it freely with the world at large.

The person who begins with a position on the issue, by this process, becomes a borrower from the Bank of Knowledge. He borrows from the things that others know, and uses them to construct an argument.

The person who begins with the question itself, on the other hand, eventually becomes a contributor to the Bank of Knowledge. Forced to confront his own ignorance, he is forced to find ways to figure out the information that he is missing - ways to count things that haven't been counted, or ways to estimate the parameters of things that are unknown. Through this process, he winds up contributing things that were not known before.

Dylan Ups The Ante, Again

With each new Bob Dylan release since 1997’s remarkable Time Out of Mind, the stakes have gotten increasingly higher. Opening up each subsequent record, one had to wonder to themselves - just how long will Dylan’s late career renaissance continue? Will he eventually come crashing down to earth, as he did in the late 1970s? And when those subsequent releases – 2001’s Love and Theft and Modern Times, released in 2006 – were masterpieces at or near the level of Time Out of Mind, it had reached a point where one could almost be forgiven for hoping that Dylan would quit while he was ahead.

But quitting while he was ahead has never been in Bob Dylan’s nature. And after a week of living with Together Through Life, there’s little doubt in my mind that the album belongs in the same rarified air as the three classics which immediately preceded it. In feel and scope, it’s much different – this is one hard-boiled record, one that could easily serve as the soundtrack for a James Ellroy novel. The tone is set from the very first notes of the first song on the album, “Beyond Here Lies Nothin’.” When David Hidalgo’s accordion glides its way into the tune, you can imagine Bucky Bleichert in “The Black Dahlia,” making his way through a mysterious and dangerous Tijuana, in search of his partner Lee Blanchard. Nothing is as it seems, except for the possibility that death could be around every corner.

The album was recorded by members of Dylan’s touring band – George Recile on drums, Tony Garnier on bass, and Donny Herron on a variety of instruments – joined by two well-known guests, the aforementioned Hidalgo (Los Lobos) and Mike Campbell, the great long-time guitarist for Tom Petty. Hidalgo’s accordion drives the music on several tunes, most notably on the album’s closer, “It’s All Good.” This is the song that will be quoted most often, and for good reason – not since Bruce Springsteen’s “Reason to Believe” has a song more accurately depicted what people in this country are feeling at the moment – it’s funny, sardonic and tough as nails:

People in the country, People on the land.
Some of them so sick they can hardly stand.
Everybody would move away if they could
Its hard to believe but its all good.
Yeah... [chuckles]

Mike Campbell fits into the band as if he’s been a member his entire life, and serves as the perfect example of the absolute mastery Dylan has over his music right now. Because this sounds nothing like the Mike Campbell you hear on Tom Petty’s records. As Douglas Brinkley chronicles in an excellent article in the current edition of Rolling Stone, Dylan knows exactly what he is looking for with his current sound, and if that means he is the only person capable of playing the keyboard sound he wants, then so be it – behind the keyboard he will stand.

The sound of Together Through Life is a late-night sound, the sound of a band entirely sure of itself and ready to attack the songs, not just play them. Dylan’s vocals match the ferocity of the playing – he doesn’t sing so much as he growls, but it’s a voice with great power. Listen to him on “It’s All Good,” and compare that to how he sounded 20 years ago on “Everything is Broken” – there’s a weight to the voice now that just wasn’t there on the earlier tune.

There’s not a lot of lightness on the album, but one exception is the music of “If You Ever Go To Houston,” again featuring Hidalgo’s accordion. But then the words kick in, and you know that you’re back in familiar, dangerous territory:

If you ever go to Houston
Better walk right
Keep your hands in your pockets
And your gunbelt tight
You’ll be asking for trouble
If you’re looking for a fight
If you ever got to Houston
Boy, you better walk right

Real light-hearted, eh?

What this album proves, as if there should have been any doubt, is that one should never underestimate Bob Dylan. He’s going to plow new ground for as long as he stands on this Earth, and we should all be thankful that he still has the goods and the chops to pull it off.

Not Good

So here we are, first weekend of May, a bit of a wet and dreary affair, and what song is it that I can't get out of my head?

"Merry Texas Christmas, You All."

Gonna be a long year, no doubt about it.

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Friday, May 01, 2009

I Just Don't Get It

I was feeling in the mood to post something in the old "Jeff's Jukebox" category this morning, so I went on You Tube to see what was up in some of my subscriptions of users who would film the playing of old records. Well, as it turns out, all of those accounts have either been suspended, or removed from You Tube entirely. My guess, though I could be wrong, is that this was the result of the big media conglomerates deciding once again to clamp down on the use of what they feel they rightly own.

For the sake of argument, let's assume that I'm right.

That the record companies and conglomerates would do this has never made sense to me, and is probably one reason why record companies have become increasingly irrelevant as the years have gone by. Let's play this out - say I peruse a bunch of really cool videos of old reggae songs, and find one that I like. Isn't that going to make it more likely that I'll go out and buy the song, either on CD or one of the online music services? And if I were to make a mix tape and share it with a friend, and he/she hears something that they really think is cool, isn't that going to make them want to go out and buy the song or album?

The whole thing just feels so self-defeating. It would be one thing if the conglomerates were offering something as a substitute for us, the great unwashed, to sample their product. But no, they'd rather just clamp down, make threats against college students, and try to put people in jail. And then they sit around wondering why theirs is a dying industry.

I just don't get it.