Dominic Turns 1

.

Today is Dominic Thomas’ first birthday.

He is bright and loving and joyful and curious. He laughs and smiles a lot and doesn’t cry much at all. He makes his pterodactyl sound, for everything, occasionally throwing in a yeah, yeah just so we know he can talk if he wants to, and he’s steady holding himself up but doesn’t trust yet that he can take that first step. He loves remotes and phones and balls, not necessarily in that order, but most of all he loves to be looked at and smiled at. He lights up every room he’s in. He is one of those people, those gloriously relaxed and happy people, and will always be.

Today is Dominic Thomas’ first birthday, and I love him so.

Classical – Reborn

This is not your grandparent’s cello filled classical music.

I just spent a good 15 or 20 minutes at the 2Cellos YouTube Channel listening to these guys play. I’m amazed, astonished, and astounded. I was completely bowled over by this.  The musicianship alone is incredible.

Wow.

10 Word Review – Civil Wars Self-Titled Album

I’ve been working on the blog, more info to follow, and while I’ve been at it I’ve been listening to the Civil Wars self-titled album from 2013. I’d previously posted a 10 Word Review for the song Dust to Dust from the album and at that point I hadn’t really listened to the album in its entirety. Wow. In my opinion this album is nearly perfect. My 10 Word Review: Beautiful, haunting, harmony, lyrical, writing, heartfelt, story, graceful, amazed… YES.

On Shuffle

I was perusing Facebook earlier today and noticed one of my many cousins posted a meme relating to iTunes on shuffle.  It went something like, open iTunes, put your songs on shuffle, and post the first 10 that play.  I enjoyed looking at her playlist so I thought, hey, I’m going to do that as well and see what pops up on mine.

Before I post my list you should probably know that I’m a bit of a music nut.  A collector and a connoisseur of fine sounds.  I’ve loved music since before I could walk and have had many musical influences in my life.  Those influences have insured that my tastes are broad, far-reaching, and eclectic.  There are nearly 20,000 songs in my iTunes Match and a whole passel of vinyl in storage.  I can’t regularly tap into the vinyl, sadly, but I can access all those lovely sounds in iTunes.  It’s an amazing thing, to have most of your music collection available with the tap of a key or the click of a mouse.  Heaven, for music lovers.

OK, so without further ado…  my list.  I should say there are a few more than 10 here because once I got going I kept wanting to know what would come up next.  I stopped when we had to go out and run a few errands.  While in the car we listened to music, loud.  We usually do.  Here’s the list, in order.

The Airborne Toxic Event – Half of Something Else                                                                                       Headphones on stack of CDs

Marvin Gaye – Ain’t Nothin’ Like the Real Thing

K.D. Lang – Nowhere to Stand

Marc Broussard – S.O.S.

Gordon Lightfoot – Canadian Railroad Trilogy

The Rolling Stones – Let’s Spend the Night Together

Def Leppard – Love Bites

Zac Brown Band – No Hurry

Jonatha Brooke & The Story – When Two And Two Are Five

Ben Harper – When It’s Good

Great Northern – Houses

Billie Holiday – Lover Man (Oh Where Can You Be)

Collective Soul – After All

Dixie Chicks – Cold Day in July

Melissa Etheridge – My Lover

Josh Groban – Vincent

Bon Jovi – Bad Medicine

Philippe Entremont: Vienna Chamber Orchestra – Mozart: Symphony #29

 

 

Music To My Ears

I just spent the better part of the last two hours alternating between watching the snow fall out the window over my desk and looking at/listening to best album lists of 2013.

I pride myself on being somewhat of a music aficionado (a word I can say and understand, but apparently not spell correctly without help).  Music has always been more than important to me and I’ve spent a lifetime making playlists on cassette, when cassettes came in to play, so to speak, followed by CD mixes, and digital mixes for the iPod.  I’ve always done this, for myself, my friends, my family, and anyone else I could get to listen to the groupings of music I’d created.  It brings me an untold amount of joy and the doing of it is a big part of who I am.

Something I particularly love is to find new music.  Most of the time this means new music to me, not brand new to the cosmos.  Discovery.  We used to be dependent on radio stations to find something new.  New releases blasting out, spun by knowledgeable DJs who scoured the planet for the best tunes.  I’d look for odd stations, like college stations that played stuff that sounded like it came from funky back rooms and strange far off places.  I’ve also always been able to cull new sounds from family and friends and the music they love, and loved.  Exposed to very differing kinds of music growing up (big band, twang country, disco, pop, rock and roll, gospel, new age, afro-jazz, classical, jazz… the list goes on), I was lucky.  There was never any one kind of music we listened to in our house, not one kind my grandparents listened to either.  Music was and is a tapestry of sound and I was fortunate enough to get hear so many different kinds.  I had a great education in this regard and I appreciate that musical education more than I can say.  Hearing music the people in my life loved, and love, has always been a thing of beauty to me.  A true reflection of who they are, a better look into their souls.  Deep stuff, but true none the less.  Just as hearing the stuff I love probably lets the people in my life know who I am just a bit better.  We learn about each other through the power of the music we love.  We discover.  It’s a never-ending evolution of beautiful sound.

I wax on… back to mixes and music and watching the snow fall, it’s still falling.

Looking at various best of album lists for 2013 I realized I hadn’t even heard of some of the people and bands that made the lists.  For as plugged in as I think I am, there’s always a whole exciting world of unknown sound I haven’t heard.  I love that.  It means there’s a world of music, doors yet unopened, for me to explore. Today I put on my headphones, I listened, and was transported.  Music does that.  It’s a magical thing, a gift.  And since I’m always making playlists, I thought I’d cue up some of the stuff I heard today and do a playlist right here on the blog.

Some of these people I’d heard of before, and may even own some of their earlier work, some not, but all the music I’m presenting here was new to me today (except for The Lone Bellow’s You Never Need Nobody that I discovered in 2013 and just had to include here).  It’s been an amazing couple of hours.

The list is eclectic and in no particular order.  Put on the headphones, and enjoy….

Thoughts on The Grammy’s

I, along with nearly everyone else I know, save for those people who were watching the première of Sherlock, watched the Grammy’s last night. I admit, we record it and then start watching about 45 minutes after the start so we can fast forward through stuff we don’t really want to watch. What we like, what everyone probably likes, are the musical performances. Some good, some strange, some sad, and some just plain great. One never knows what you’ll see when you tune in. Some years have been disastrous, others spectacular. I guess that’s what makes the viewing so intriguing. Train wreck or triumph.

I’d say last night was a triumph, in most respects. The performances were, by and large, pretty great. We loved Lorde, Macklemore and Ryan Lewis with Mary Lambert and Madonna, Carole King with Sara Bareilles, Keith Urban and Gary Clark Jr., and even Beyoncé and Jay Z. The last of those was at times uncomfortable, but in a totally good way. That’s obviously one hot marriage.

Other performances made us uncomfortable in an off-putting kind of way. Sir Paul is past his prime, and should know it. It was cool seeing him and Ringo play together, but to be honest I turned down the volume. Worse, and harder to watch, was Blake Shelton with The Highwaymen. Shelton was good, as he usually is, and thank god he was there to hold it all together, because to watch Willie Nelson not play the guitar, and not know what or when he should sing, it was heart wrenching. Was it only us? Add to that a rough Merle Haggard, and Kris Kristofferson, who for his part seemed the same as always, and it was a tough bit to get through. We wanted to fast forward, but were in so much shock we had to keep watching. Whose idea was this anyway? It wasn’t over quickly enough. We felt bad for him.

The best performance, in my opinion, was John Legend’s. Just a guy and his piano singing a lovely song flawlessly. To quote Montell Jordon, “this is how we do it”. No frills, no production, and no loud music to drowned out that he might not be able to sing well live. He can, and he did, without any of the fluff.

If production is actually something you’re into, P!nk stole that horse and rode it. Once again she was high-flying, and awesome. You could hear, at various points during her performance, that she was actually breathing hard. Who could blame her. She must have worked at Cirque du Soleil at some point in a past life. If not, they’re probably hiring. She rocked it out.

I’m sure we’ll be tuning in again, or should I say recording again, next year. Who knows what will happen, other than my usual line, spoken again this year… I have GOT to look up that artist (insert Gary Clark, Jr.) and check out their music.

Wrapping up I have to include Macklemore & Ryan Lewis (with Mary Lambert & Madonna) doing Same Love. Every time I hear this song I cry. Put all else aside, love is love. Music sometimes says that best.

Best Finds of 2013

I’ve been reading a lot of best of lists in the last several days, everything from albums of 2013 to recipes involving bacon.  Everyone seems to be making a year end list.  I thought, why not jump on the bandwagon.  So here we go.  This isn’t a top ten or even a list with any sort of theme.  These are just things (songs, movie houses, art, tv shows, food, etc.) I discovered in 2013 that will stay with me long into 2014 and beyond.

Let’s get to it….

The Lone Bellow came into my life via iTunes and a free download.  I instantly became obsessed with them.  Great lyrics, excellent harmonies, and catchy tunes that stay in your head for days.

The Cinnamon Crunch Bagel from Panera.  This thing is addicting.  I’m so glad we discovered them, and so sad at the same time.  It’s all kinds of deliciousness in a small round baked good.  Toasted with butter… so damn tasty.

cinnamon

Kickapoo State Park, Illinois.  We’ve lived in Illinois now for nearly two and a half years.  Surprisingly there are many things we’ve come to appreciate and even truly like about living here.  One thing we haven’t is that there isn’t as much water as we were used to living in Oregon.  We’ve done our best to travel to nearby towns with river walks (there aren’t that many) and to find state parks and such that have a decent amount of water, in whatever form we can find it.  One such place, to our delight, is Kickapoo.  First, you have to love the name, c’mon, it’s kind of awesome.  But more importantly, it has water.  All sorts of little lakes and a stream, running through it.  There are canoe rentals in the summer, and loads of trails.  We went in the fall, when the colors of the foliage were stunningly beautiful.  We will definitely be going back.

1534876_10152212584160802_2075198641_o

The Golden Harbor Restaurant.  With a huge menu, free tea by the pot, and a cool old school vibe, this place rocks. Plus, the food is great.  How can you go wrong with spicy green beans, salt and pepper mushrooms, and plates full of sweet and spicy chicken.  The menu on the wall is enormous and all in Chinese.  You can pick up an english language menu from the little table by the front door if you like.  Write down the numbers of the things you’d like to order, take it up to the counter, and moments later your tasty hot food starts coming out as it’s ready.  We love this place.

SliceMenuWall

Season tickets for the University of Illinois women’s volleyball and basketball.  What a great deal.  We’d been to games before, but this all inclusive $35 dollar ticket package gets you into all the home games for both sports.  We’ve had hours of enjoyment at these games.  The atmosphere, the competition, supporting the local university, and eating an occasional stadium dog… all worth it.  Can’t beat it for good sporty entertainment.

1471313_10152118417475802_1262614362_n

Cris Cab.  I can’t even remember how I stumbled on this young gent.  All I know for sure is that his music is catchy and I’m semi-addicted to it.

Dominic Thomas was born.  I don’t know if you can call him a discovery, but as he grows, and has one discovery after another of his own, we have discovered a little more about him, and ourselves.  I think that’s part of the beauty of little people.  As they grow and change and develop we see the world through them, and it is an amazingly wondrous place.

966861_10152212598445802_1963504907_o

The fun of riding steam trains.  Taking a five mile ride on a steam train isn’t exactly something I would choose to do on my own.  Maybe an over night or a several night journey, one with sleeper cars and a nice dining car, but not a shorty ride on a steam train that goes one way forward and then backs up on the return trip.  But, somehow, with the help of the excitement of a three year old, short trip steam trains kinda rock.  We went a couple of different times and I’m sure we’ll be going again this year.  Our mini engineer in training loves it and, consequently, so do we.

1399146_10152032865670802_954895830_o

The Blacklist.  James Spader is just plain awesome.  He’s an amazing actor.  In lessor hands this role, and the tv show connected to it, might not be as riveting and interesting as it is.  But with James Spader at the center, a decent supporting cast, and top notch writing, Blacklist keeps you hooked.

The-Blacklist

Portland, Maine.  We took a little road trip for our 10th anniversary to Portland by way of NY, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, etc.  We loved New England.  It’s beautiful, it’s people are great, and it’s beautiful.  Portland, the destination for this trip, didn’t disappoint.  We met in Portland, Oregon.  It’s our city, as we like to call it.  We love it there.  I had, however, always wanted to go to the other Portland.  To check it out.  To see what it had to offer.  My honey felt the same.  Seemed fitting that on our 10th we would take a trip to that other Portland to see what we could see.  It was great.  Good restaurants, excellent scenery, really nice people, and funky in it’s own way, we enjoyed it very much.

893068_10151671209620802_1987702919_o

Roadtrippers.  I love this website.  We travel quite a bit.  Most especially, in recent years at least, we’ve gone on some major road trips here in the U.S.  This site allows you to plan your route and then see what sorts of places might be along it.  From practical to strange Roadtrippers has them all.   They also have an app, which rocks.  I couldn’t recommend it highly enough.

1094041_10151884167640802_293897564_o

Cafe ZoJo.  It’s a local coffee shop that’s fairly new.  I’m not sure if we actually found this in 2013 or the year before, but never the less, I’m including it here.  The staff are friendly, with quick helpful smiles, the atmosphere is eclectic and comfortable, the food is tasty, and the coffee is sublime.  ZoJo is our go to for take away coffee.  I’ve never had better drip coffee in my life.  That’s saying a lot.

zojocovercoffee (1)

Sleepy Creek Vineyards.  We actually discovered this place by way of a thing called the Fork in the Road Tour.  A few local farms, their goods, a nice drive with good friends, and we ended up, last stop on the tour, at Sleepy Creek.  We were given a tour of the vineyard,  an explanation of the bottling process, and then a tasting.  The wine was good, but the people were great, and the atmosphere was awesome.  Later, like a month or so, they hosted the Salk Fork River Art Festival.  Again, great setting, great wine, great people.  We were hooked.  They do several events a month including things like film festivals, live music, art festivals, weenie roasts, and of course wine tastings.  It’s worth the drive east.

1269536_10152006322545802_173713000_o

Cinnebarre in Salem, Oregon.  We live in Illinois now, but we still spend a significant amount of time in Oregon.  It’s where I’m from, and where my honey lived for over 30 years.  It’s home.  My mom lives in Salem, in the same house we lived in when I was in high school.  Salem is the capitol city, and has always been considered, amongst people who live in Portland anyway, a lessor town.  But in the last several years Salem has grown up a little, and funked out a bit as well.  To prove this point they now have a movie place downtown called Cinebarre.  It’s a chain, though there are only about seven or eight locations around the country.  The fact that one of those is in Salem is very cool.  Cinebarre is a movie theater and it’s a restaurant.  You get table service during the movie, which seems like it could distract you, but it doesn’t really.  Walk in, look at the menu before the movie starts, fill out your card, prop it up, and the wait staff comes to take your order via your card and then brings you the food while the movie is going.  You can keep ordering if you want to, they also have beer and wine.  It’s a kick and a unique movie experience.  I like it.

l

Honda PCX 150 Scooter.  We used to own motorcycles.  Big motorcycles.  Hogs.  We had all the gear, went on rides, and thought we were slightly above all those scooter riders out there.  That’s the way it goes.  If you ride motorcycles you think scooter riders, or scooterists as I like to call them, are slightly beneath you.  Not really in an arrogant way, it’s just that as a motorcycle rider you’re cool.  As a scooterist you’re nerdy.  Until, of course, we gave up the motorcycles and bought a Honda scooter in 2013.  It’s beyond awesome.  It hauls buns, can carry both of us, is fun as hell to ride, and seems easier.  Maybe the easier part is just because you don’t have to shift, I don’t know.  But it’s zippy, and it makes a fantastic second car.  I so love to ride it.  Who would’ve thunk, those few short years ago, we would prefer a scooter, but we do.  I guess if that makes us nerds we proudly own it.  I’m a scooterist.  Damn straight I am.

13_Honda_PCX150_1

Here Comes The Sun

For some reason this version of Here Comes the Sun by Nina Simone makes me feel warm and happy.  Warm and happy seems like a great way to start off the New Year.  Here’s hoping everyone has a warm, happy, joy-filled 2014.

Thankful Everyday – Twenty-Two

22.  I’m thankful for YouTube.  I’m not someone who watches loads of silly videos and in fact I haven’t done that hardly at all.  Mostly I watch, and listen to, music videos, live performances, and such.  Once in a while I use it for movie clips or trailers as well, but mostly it’s all about the music for me.  And what a wonderful thing it is to be able to sit with headphones on and listen to recordings of live performances.  I’m a tad obsessed with music, as I said in an earlier 30 days post, and YouTube is just another avenue for music listening.  I adore it.

Today I listened to this…

Even If I Tried – Even If I Wanted To

I just really listened to the lyrics of this song and it made me cry. Crying is not unusual for me, I’m emotional. It’s just that this basic message is one I want to shout from the rooftops — we are all people, all living our lives. So be kind, don’t judge, and love your fellow human for being just that, your fellow human. The end.

Thankful Everyday – Day Thirteen

13. I’m thankful for the music in my life.  I was fortunate to grow up around people who love, listen to, and play all types of music.  It instilled in me a love for all types of amazing sound.  Nothing fills the soul more than a fantastic piece of music.  My tastes are eclectic and varied, which was also a gift from a myriad of people, and thankfully I have music in and around my life every day.

3760512539_94ae467bc3_b

Say Something

Every once in awhile a song comes along and just grabs – at my heart, my head, my soul.  This is one of those songs.  So powerful.  Besides which, I’m a sucker for strings in a pop song.

Driving Back From O’Hare

I took Martin to the airport on Monday. It’s a long drive, nearly three hours one way. The drive was uneventful and the weather was gorgeous. On the way home I decided to semi-document the drive. I recently found a case with a bunch of old mix CDs I’d made. We’ve been working our way around that case since the find. I had one in on Monday. So here it is… Illinois countryside, in bits, accompanied by the track that happened to be playing at the time. There are a few of these, peruse them at your leisure, or not. I find this amusing… but then I would. It combines music, driving, and a bit of the tech stuff I love. The first video is a tad long. Feel free to skip part of it should you need to move on. This is just one of the quirky things I find myself doing. Enjoy…

To See or Not to See

This is an amazing story about beauty, perception, art, and what we see, or don’t see, as we go about our daily lives. Do you stop and notice, enjoy, live in the moment with something beautiful or do you walk past without a glance, without a thought for what’s happening right in front of you. What would you do?

For My Honey

Every day I am thankful for you. I couldn’t agree more with the lyrics of this song. I am blessed and lucky to have… This kind of love….

One of My Favorite Local Portland Bands

I was just perusing some stuff and came across this great review of Sneakin’ Out, a local Portland band that happens to be one of my favorite local bands… I would probably put Pink Martini first and these guys second.  This clip is great because you get to hear some of their music, which is awesome.  These guys, three of them in all, play amazing music.  There’s Cheddar on base… this guy knows how to have fun, dancing around, making some great faces, always with a sense of humor, always making you chuckle.  Then there’s Dave on mandolin.  This guys fingers are so fast you need stop action to see them.  He does some really big things with a relatively small instrument.  Last… Don on percussion.  Oh, Don…  xylophone, bongos, maracas, so many other things… and… a typewriter.  Yes, there’s a first… a typewriter.  He has impeccable timing, great for a percussionist yes, and also a wonderful sense of humor.  These guys don’t only play, they entertain.  There’s a truly groovy thing that happens… a sense of whimsy… I don’t know what else to call it…. when they start into one of their covers.  Paint it Black to Beethoven… spectacular.  There is one thing you always know for sure when you go out to hear these guys play… Sneakin’ Out will give you a great time.  You will smile, you will laugh, you will be amazed at their naturally hypnotic musical talent, and you will want to know when their next show is going to be so you can get there early to get a good seat.

Check out this review… and get  a little sampling of the joy.

NPR Review of Sneakin Out

 

 

The Donnybrook 100… A Response.

I was perusing my Facebook feed today and noticed a repost of an article at The Donnybrook Writing Academy .  You have to check out the article, but the gist is this… they got together as a staff, poured down a few beverages, and came up with a list of 100 songs that should never be played on the airwaves again.  I looked over the list, sad to see some songs that I still enjoying hearing, and had this to say back to them…

I woke up this morning, a brown eyed girl who was born in the USA, feeling a little down. I heard the folks over at Donnybrook  said good riddance to 100 songs I, and many other girls a lady and a loser all happen to get more than a feeling from.  It’s not that I want to call them creep or suggest they have a black hole sun for a heart.  That’s not it at all.  I mean, come on people, can I get a baby one more time from all you on board the crazy trainDon’t stop believin’ people!

Once upon a time there were people who said don’t speak, listen, hold my hand, jump on the love rollercoaster, and quit bustin’ my humps!  Don’t give in, don’t be a zombie.  What a wonderful world this could be if people just got over the wicked game of radio censorship, put on their poker face, and like the speed of sound, like lithium, let that sound wash over them.  It’s magic man.   Or could be.

What’s with the haters?  Don’t they know a love story when they see one or have they lost that lovin’ feelin’?  I think Jeremy or Janie’s got a gun and they are out for a super freak on a leash named Fernando, the fortunate son he is, who only wants to experience the feeling of how to save a life through the beauty of jammin’ in Margaritaville to some classic tunes.

Can you hear me people?  Or is the tubthumping too loud for you Luka?  Am I livin’ on a prayer?  Am I just a jump around pretty fly gettin’ the run-around?  This censorship, this banning of the music that knows how to start me up, taking me on a stairway to heaven, it’s wrong.   Am I getting too baba o’riley?  Do I need to chug a little black velvet, cry like a free bird, pour some sugar on me, and take it easy?  Maybe I need to take a moment and when I touch myself with a Kleenex to the eye, I should feel it in the air tonight… the feeling of fireflies, but maybe not… maybe it’s enter sandman, stage left.

I don’t want it to be so.  God bless the USA, I want the good times.   I want there to be a higher calling. If I had 1,000,000 for every time someone said I want to hold your hand, I want to know what love is, and I can’t help falling in love with these tunes man, I would be rich!

I feel like I’m making a Lisztomania here.  Completely freaked out by the thought of losing the don’t worry be happy feeling of listening to some great tunes because a group of peeps at Donnybrook randomly decided, in a drunken stupor, that these sounds don’t make them feel like making love anymore.  It’s like getting rid of American pie filled with apples.  It’s like watching grandma who got run over by a reindeer.  It’s theft, that’s what it is… they’ve been caught stealing.  They are a bunch o’ bad to the bone peeps who might just blister in the sun if they keep going on like this.  Robbing the tunes from the people who still want them.

I know this diatribe is turning into a bohemian rhapsody.  It’s just that the boys of summer and I, who were born to be wild, want to say that if this heresy doesn’t stop it will fade into you and the longer it lasts the more you will lose that Friday I’m in love feeling.  This is no celebration. This is no butterfly taking wing and whispering bawitdaba. This is a time to stand up, a time to light my fire and yours.   This is a time to give up Santeria, crow like a rooster, whip it into shape, and take back our airwaves.

I want to say to these drunkards, though the thought of this does make for a good thriller, that the ants are marching now one by one, the boys are back in town, and we are going to take the money money and run yelling mony mony. There is no kryptonite that can stop us cuz this is nuthin’ but a G thang gangstas.  I know without a doubt that when Stevie says I just called to say I love you, you, wastoids, will say I melt with you Stevie, and you won’t be able to stay at the YMCA, or look at waterfalls, or go walkin’ in Memphis again without wanting to listen to one of these songs.

It’s closing time on this missive, but I want you to know, you lit up fools, that you shook me all night long with this idea, but I know I wouldn’t be the gambler in saying that most of your body is a wonderland, your body of work that is, and I do appreciate it.  After all of this, isn’t that thought just a little bit ironicyeah?