I got tagged on Facebook wtih a "Random 25" meme where you hit shuffle on your MP3 player and report the first 25 songs that play. Well, I haven't updated my MP3 player (my G1 phone) in quite some time, so I figure I'll just use my computer collection. I don't really want to report the first 25 that show up on, though, because there are a lot of samplers and one time downloads in there that I wouldn't count for real. So I generated a random playlist from the nearly 10,000 tracks on my computer and picked the first 25 that I would consider putting on my player . Here's the list:
It's not a bad sampling, although it is very light on any real new releases besides the Steve Mason & The New Pornographers songs. Lots of older songs, plenty of 80s New Wave and some rock classics. Not too embarassing!
Restarting ross's The Friday , wherein I comment on  things in the world of media that have attracted my attention over the past week or so.
Barnes & Noble has a new feature where you can subscribe to a magazine or newspaper on your nook and get a 14 day free trial, so I took the plunge and subscribed (well, re-subscribed) to the Boston Globe. We have been getting it delivered for years and years, but at almost $600 per year (discounted even), it just was too much. So we cut back to just the Sunday paper, but I was going into withdrawals, not having my newspaper. And it just wasn't the same reading it online. But I have really been enjoying it on my Nook. It can be a little slow navigating, but it is still the Globe and I love it. It is US$10 per month, which is much more reasonable.
My favorite radio station is WZBC, which is the Boston College radio station. It has some really great indie and alternative rock, as well as its block of No Commercial Potential sounds in the evening. You can download the shows from the past 2 weeks in hourly blocks here and I enthusiatically recommend Alexandra's Friday morning show, Melody du Jour.
Up (trailer) ★★★★✩ (PS3 Netflix Instant) : Really sweet animation about an old guy (voiced by Ed Asner) going for an adventure that he should have gone on with his wife before she passed away. The reflective scenes of a life well lived completely choked me up.
Notes on yesterday's Patriots game, after being there on a beautiful cool, breezy Halloween evening, and then settling in for a viewing afterwards:
Adrian Peterson still hasn't crossed the goal line. Not when we watched it live (from that end of the stadium even), not watching it on myriad replays on Gillette's often malfunctioning big screens, nor watching it later on TV. Jerrod Mayo had a spectacular hit on him and he was well short of the mythical "plane". Heck, the TV announcers didn't think it crossed the plane either. Not sure what replays the officials were looking at but we wuz robbed on that one. And it knocked Peterson out for a series even - that's how hard he got hit in mid-air.
On the other hand, Ben-Jarvis Green-Ellis was definitely in on his TD mid-air spin move. While it was on the other end of the stadium, it still looked good to us and replays showed it, although my home viewing did bring up the possibility of his elbow being down, which we didn't notice at the time. But even if his elbow did touch the ground, the ball was still over the line.
What's up with Tom Brady? There were very few of the pinpoint accurate laser beams we've come to expect from Tom Terrific. Instead, it was a parade of throws to the feet and, most commonly, behind the receivers. One thing I could really see from my end zone seats were just how many wide open receivers he was missing. Sure, his spin-a-rama TD throw to Brandon Tate was a thing of beauty, but I wish he'd start hitting the easier passes a little more frequently. The bizarre juggling catch Tate had earlier in the game, on the pass that should have been intercepted, never should have been that close. Tate was wide open but Brady was late delivering the ball and it was still behind him. Injury to the shoulder or elbow? Maybe the knee is still bothering him?
Speaking of the bouncing almost interception, what the hell was Childress thinking when he challenged the play? I'd love to know what he thought went wrong. The ball clearly just went through the defensive back's hands (you know what they say about defensive backs - if they could catch the ball they would be wide receivers), never came anywhere near the ground, and Tate most clearly had full possession when he was downed and even then never lost the ball. Very strange. Troy Aikman speculated somewhat incoherently that perhaps Childress was gunshy after blowing a few challenges earlier in the year, but I'm not sure that makes sense.
Think it is about time one of the Patriot linebackers start covering the back coming out of the backfield? Wow, a couple of times there wasn't a red jersey within 20 yards of the receiver.
Speaking of red jerseys, Troy said he really liked the look but as my friend said, they remind us too much of the bad old days. I actually prefer the away throwback jerseys anyway, white with red trim.
Still unexplained are the two half-hearted quarterback sneaks from the 1 yard line as the clock wound down after the Law Firm's wonderful 20 yard run. I was hoping for some info, or at least speculation by the TV announcers, but they were prattling on about something or the other and not even paying attention to the play. The sneaks didn't look very serious, more like time killers. I know the Vikings were out of timeouts, and it shaved about a minute and half off the clock, but still - a TD there makes it a two score game and surely that's enough? But it was like they knew they could score whenever they wanted and just punched it in on third down. Still, a little weird.
A lot of purple at the game. Not sure when the last time the Vikings came to Foxboro (it must be ten years or so), but the local Viking fans came out in droves. Probably the biggest showing for a visiting team after the Dolphins, who always have a ton of fans at the game.
For some reason, they felt the need to burn a Moss jersey in the lot where we tailgated before the game. I'd say the crowd was ambivalent at best. A smattering of boos and applause for the one Moss catch. Not sure what ovation he was talking about in his postgame conference.
Some short reviews of the books I've finished(!) in the past month or so.
Solar by Ian McEwan
My rating: ★★★✩✩Solar was a very strange book. It tells the story of Michael Beard, a dissolute former Nobel Prize winner late in life, just floating along between speaking gigs, government panels and spots on company boards. He's gaining weight, getting divorced (for the 5th time) and finds it impossible to get motivated. A few things happen (good and bad) and his life is chronicled. I almost gave up on this book, deciding to follow Hank Stuevers' 50 page rule but before the 50 pages were up, he traveled to the Arctic for some pretty interesting comic (mis)adventures and so I stuck with it. Still not sure why, as Beard isn't that attractive, interesting or clever a character. I guess I just wanted to see what happened to him next, and was wondering if it would ever be explained why an aging, overweight, egotistical blowhard like Beard could keep finding women, especially attractive women (it wasn't).
L.A. Outlaws: A Novel by T. Jefferson Parker
My rating: ★★★★✩L.A. Outlaws is the first in a series by crime fiction veteran T. Jefferson Parker. The series features LA County Sheriff Charlie Hood and in this one, his path crosses with Suzanne Jones, a teacher by day and car thief / holdup artist / Jesse James-like Allison Murietta at night. Told both from Hood's and Jones/Murietta's point of view (plus a few slightly jarring other first person bits), it was a good ride, telling an interesting story of robbery and redemption, with plenty of blood and violence as well. I listened to it "on tape" (actually, MP3s burned to CD from my library) and it was really well done, with a male and female reader who both did a great job. Pretty good story marred by an all too predictable and far too clean ending. I'm anxious to try the second in the Hood series, The Renegades.
Quicksilver by Neal Stephenson
My rating: ★★★★✩Quicksilver is a book I've been reading for quite some time - according to Goodreads, I started this book on April 29, 2009! I'm not sure why it took so long. I guess it is pretty dense and it is a very big book (about 1,000 pages), but I really loved every minute of it. What a wonderful cast of characters, great writing and some exciting scenes. Hard to really describe in a nutshell. A very meandering book, written in many different styles. One chapter could be a mini-play, another chapter written as a letter, yet another a normal 3rd person chapter, it basically tells the story of three people - Daniel Waterhouse, an English intellectual who is a close friend and supporter of Isaac Newton; Jack Shaftoe, a swashbuckling adventurer and "King of the Vagabonds"; and the very pretty and whip smart Eliza, rescued by Jack from a Turkish harem. The first of a monstrous trilogy, I can't wait to get started on The Confusion!
The Breach by Patrick Lee
My rating: ★★★✩✩The Breach was an interesting sci-fi'ish thriller, the first in a series, about a weird "breach" from which strange and almost magical artifacts come through, and how these powerful items, in the "wrong" hands, could destroy the world. It started of well, with the usually very compelling "average" man thrust into a situation where he needs to adapt (rapidly!) or die, but then it wanders off into some pretty weird territory. It includes some pretty hard to swallow scenes of total urban destruction, with little or no repercussions. In many ways, The Breach reminded me of Suarez's Daemon, with its near future plausibility and pretty mixed up storyline (both were first novels as well). It was a page turner though and I am looking forward to the next one.
The Shot by Philip Kerr
My rating: ★★✩✩✩The Shot is a Philip Kerr thriller about an assassination attempt on John Kennedy and the efforts of the Mob (!) to thwart it. A very odd book, with mostly repugnant characters, made it one of my least favorite Kerr books. It has a problem it shared with The Day of the Jackal, about de Gaulle getting assassinated - you know it isn't going to happen (well, tragically in Kennedy's case, not yet). Although he does make it all plausible in the end, and even hints of a conspiracy on the real assassination, it still wasn't a very compelling book. When your "best" character is a corrupt ex-cop hired by the Mob, you know you have problems.
One interesting thing about the above "books" is just how many different
ways you can read one these days. One was a borrowed hardcover (The Shot from a friend and ), another a library hardcover and then finished in paperback (Quicksilver), another a book on tape (L.A. Outlaws) and the other two were ebooks borrowed from my library and read on my Nook. I'm really enjoying my Nook, and A10.0 is reading Little Women on it and loves it too.
Ross has a special Friday Drabble today and I couldn't resist joining in! Join in with your own 100 word stories on Fridays, and tag them with
"friday drabble". Link to them in the comments and/or on Twitter with
the hashtag #fridaydrabble.
Of course, it would be a Halloween one, so here's mine.
The mist lifted as he struggled through the thick undergrowth. A weak sun fought both fog and leaves, giving him enough light to avoid the branches that had been whipping across his face as he raced away. He wiped the blood from his eyes, but not in time to notice a protruding tree root and he crashed to the ground. Scrambling to his feet, he looked wildly around for an escape. A break in the thick forest beckoned, but a massive hand grabbed him by the throat, lifted him from the ground, his legs thrashing. It squeezed. All went dark.
I finally finished this nearly 1000 page behemoth! And, actually, it was worth it. Never really a huge Beatles groupie (before my time - honestly!), but I have most of their albums and really like their later stuff. The earlier music, while catchy, just isn't sophisticated enough for me.
In this massive biography, Spitz starts with John Lennon and then Paul McCartney growing up in Liverpool, a grungy industrial backwater. Both had pretty tough childhoods - Lennon's father left the family when Lennon was very young, and Paul's mum died of cancer. Both turned to music as a refuge, as neither was a very good student. They quickly bonded and even began writing songs as teenagers, despite very little exposure, as during that time, only a few foreign stations carried any interesting music.
George Harrison, a few years younger, starting hanging with them and they formed a band with some other mates. The music business was even more insular and hard to crack than it is today, but they persevered and were off to Germany for some hard living and hard playing. 8 hours a day on stage, they honed their craft to a fine point. After they got back, they canned their drummer, Pete Best and hired Ringo Starr. Some say it was due to a lack of technical prowess, although Spitz also claims that part of it was jealousy on McCartney and, especially, Lennon's part as Best was drawing too many fans.
Spitz then chronicles the rapid rise of Beatlemania and just how crazy things got, as The Beatles tried to survive their crazy fandom. It is a wonder they toured even as little as they did, as it must have been very exhausting. Then, as they made money like the printed it, they spent it on various endeavors, from clothing to plays to music.
The book ended as they split up, in the late 60s, as jealousies really tore the band apart. John was mad at all the control Paul was trying to take, while George was tired of being the 3rd, unappreciated wheel. Even Ringo got tired of the bickering, so it was a relief to all when they went their separate ways.
able book with only a few nitpicks. I got tired of all the armchair psychology Spitz went into. Some of it was possible but plenty of it was junk. I just didn't believe the part about being jealous of Best, and a few other times. I realize these guys are high strung "artists", but they must have been a little more confident of their own strengths than Spitz makes them out to be. I also thought he delved into the childhoods of too many peripheral characters. While I realize Brian Epstein, their first manager, is an integral part of the story, there was just too much detail of his background, going back a couple of generations.
It was really eye opening just how little control The Beatles had over many things, from financial to even music. It was amazing how mangled their US releases were. The record labels just kind of picked and choose the songs that went on what albums, packaged new ones, all willy nilly and without anything The Beatles could do, especially in the early years, But even later, when they were the biggest thing on the planet, their music was turned over to Phil Spector for "production" without any of their input. It was crazy.
Spitz did an excellent job describing the music, though. Each album's creative process as described in fascinating detail, from the early days of just 4 of them playing intensely, to the wildly creative days of Rubber Soul, Revovler, and then, of course, Sgt. Pepper and Abbey Road, where they were just breaking new ground in music every song, or even every bar. What a heady time that must have been!
I really enjoyed the background into the phenomenon that was The Beatles. Certainly, it was a book that had its own soundtrack, as the songs constantly played in my mind while reading. Highly recommended!
We had our weekly cocktail & computer gaming session last night and we opened with a cocktial found in the latest issue of imbibe magazine, which showed up in the mail yesterday. While many of the cocktails in this magazine tend to use fancy, custom syrups (like this month's The Witch Hunt, which wants you to make "apple-cardamom syrup" ), there's always a few that are useful. In this case, we tried the The Kilted Pistolero, which is a very nice tasting mixture of tequila & Drambuie. It says the recipe was created to bring the bottle of Drambuie from the back of the bar (guess no one likes Rusty Nails or Stingers any more!)
The Kilted Pistolero
1.5oz blanco tequila (I actually used my favorite reposado, Cazadores
3/4oz fresh lemon juice
2 dashes Angostura bitters (I used the Fee Brothers Whiskey Barrel Aged Bitters)
Shake in ice-filled shaker and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
Same as above - pour liquors into Old Fashioned glass with plenty of ice. Stir and server with stirrer.
We followed that with a full icey mug of Sierra NevadaNorth Hemisphere Harvest beer, one of imbibe's 50 Best Brews for Every Season, in this case, the Fall beers. I went on a quest for the fall beers last month and found a couple. The Brooklyn Brewery Oktoberfest beer was only okay - nothing too memorable. The Ayinger Oktober Fest-Marzen was realy good while the Aecht Ochlenferla Rauchbeir was a truly strange tasting "smoked" beer.
I was also able to find the Southern Hemisphere Harvest beer (which was pretty good) but it wasn't until Michael found it that we got to try the Northern Hemisphere. A very hoppy beer. I liked the Southern Hemisphre better, as it was smoother but with as much character as the Northern.