Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Game Changer

Yeah, I know.  It's been a while.  Apologies all around as I've been all over the country (not to any place fun, unfortunately) and have been busy cleaning up projects, acclimating to my new position and recovering from the worst stomach bug in a generation.  My digestive system still isn't right.


Was that too much info? 


Leave it to television to spur me to write.  As most loyal readers know I'm an adamant 'Good Wife' viewer and even wrote about how it never rests on it's laurels by constantly changing the story.  Alicia as mother re-entering the work force, Alicia and Will as a possible couple, Alicia and Will as a couple, Alicia becoming admired and successful, leaving the firm to start her own.  Like life, nothing is static in the Good Wife universe. 


Everything is constantly evolving.


Now would be a good time to issue the standard 'Spoiler Alert' warning.  I'm about to discuss last Sunday's episode so if you haven't watched it yet, read no further.  Or skip down to other topics. 


Ready?


Last Sunday the show killed off Will Gardner.  In hindsight we should have seen this coming.  Will and Alicia's animosity had subsided a bit and they became mutual admirers.  They even shared a light moment during his last trial.  Throughout the previous episode before Alicia spent time reminiscing about how Will helped her get back into practicing law.  Before he died, he tried to convince Kalinda not to leave investigation since 'it's what we do'. The circle is complete. 


Hopefully this isn't a jump the shark moment, but I must admit that it will be fascinating to see how these characters react to losing a close member of their lives.  It also creates a power vacuum in the new Lockhart Gardner law firm and we all know how ruthless lawyers can be.  Plus the show has rewarded my skepticism at nearly every turn.


One more note.  Unlike other shows that make a big deal out of deaths and goodbyes (looking your way Jimmy Smits and 'NYPD Blue') Good Wife took out their lead male with barely a word.  One minute he was going about his daily activities, the next he's gone.  There were no confessions or last minute forgiveness or sappy soliloquies. 


Kudos, as well, for the entire cast and crew keeping this shocker a secret.  Usually we hear well in advance about an actor leaving a show, but this came as an absolute surprise.  That the case involved was introduced near the beginning of this season shows the creators were setting this up for a while.  Well done, Good Wife. 


Some other thoughts from my travels.


-  I've been to Dallas three times in the past three months.  This gets tired quickly as you can only eat the at the same places before getting bored.  Dallas has always felt like an impersonal city to me.  IT doesn't have a personality and, instead, tries to be everything to everyone.  There is an mammoth mall, restaurants all over the place, traffic for as far as the eye can see in nearly every direction, and more construction than I've seen since the Big Dig.


My lone saving grace is a heavenly place in Addison called The Elite Cigar Café.  On one side is a cigar store.  Attached is a pub with more TVs then the ESPN green room (I would assume).  Games of all sorts are on display and visible from every couch, booth and bar stool in the place.  If the weather is nice you can sit outside on the patio.  When I first stumbled across it I sent some pics and an email to Wifey: 'I found my Nirvana'.


Btw, the Elite Cigar Café shares the same plaza as a sex shop called 'Condom Sense'.  I'm a sucker for three things:  Great band/store names, blondes and great beer.  Well, any beer, really.


- Oh, that reminds me.  Big news here in the Boston area!  They've started selling Yuengling all over the place.  I have no reason to go to the mid Atlantic region at all any more.  Screw them.  I get my own Yuengling here now.   




-  Spent two days in Kentucky a couple of weeks back.  I went to the bar that shared the parking lot with my hotel and forgot they still allow smoking in the bars.  Didn't take me long to high tail it out of there.  While I was eating a dude next to me (who looked and sounded just like the serial killer from 'Silence of the Lambs') said to the woman next to him, 'My mom and dad split and she wound up marrying his cousin.  They had a kid so my half brother is also my second cousin'.


Do you think even West Virginia looks down on Kentucky?


-  Was supposed to visit Rochester NY the following night, but a blizzard knocked that plan for a loop.  Instead I drove from Boston the following week.  Does anyone else take the estimated drive time a GPS provides as a personal challenge?  The Garmin said 7 hours, but I made it in 5 hours and 45 minutes.  Garmin is a slow poke. .


-  I did get to visit with an old friend while I was in upstate NY, though, and she still looks fantastic.  We used to have lunch together all the time and I miss our conversations. 


-  Boat season is quickly approaching which means I probably won't be posting again until October.  Ok, maybe not that long.  I'll put up some pics of my fun times on the seas.  We're planning weekend trips to fun places along the coast and (possibly) bringing it up to Maine on our annual vacation.  That's up for debate since gas costs so much. 


That's all for now, friends.  Catch up with Good Wife if you haven't already. 

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

2013 In Review - Music

It took me ages to put this post together so you better fucking get the most of it.  I don't have a lot of time left in this life to be putting lists like this together.  I'm old, ya know.

I was going to embed the links to all the music within the post, but quickly realized this would become one of the most massive posts in internet history. Instead, just select the music you want to check out and enjoy.

Be brave, too.  Don't prejudge anything.  If I can get one of you to experience and enjoy some new music, then I've done my job.

Onward....

FAVORITES

Clutch - Earth Rocker:  Down and dirty blues rock that is my most listened to album of 2013.  More like this, please.

For your consideration:  What should be the theme song for the last two minutes of every NFL game.


Russian Circles - Memorial:  The inventive, instrumental band totally outdoes itself with their most beautiful music to date.  There is literally no bounds left for this band.  Evey time I think they've topped themselves they do it again. 

For you consideration:  The stunning 'Cheyenne'.


Future of the Left - How To Stop Your Brain In An Accident:  Another quirky, hilarious yet totally accessible release from one of my favorite bands ever. 

For your consideration:  An apparently stream of conscious, lyrical hodge podge called 'Singing Of The Bonesaws'.


A Day to Remember - Common Courtesy:   Slightly over produced and poppier than anything they're released before.  So why can't I stop listening to it?

For your consideration:  A hilarious video to 'Right Back At It Again'

Also, amongst the mayhem we find this little gem which makes me want to hear an all acoustic album of their current material. 



Alter Bridge - Fortress:  Iron Maiden for the new generation. 

For your consideration:  The official video for 'Addicted to Pain'.  As an added bonus here is an acoustic version performed for LiveWire.



Stone Sour - House of Gold and Bones Parts 1 and 2:  Yes, they were released separately, but these may have well been a double album.  If you want evidence against the argument that hard rock is dying, you can do no better than this group.  Getting stronger every time out.

Btw, I heard Corey Taylor wrote a novel that follows the story the albums follow.

For your consideration:  From Part 1 here is the double combo 'Gone Sovereign' and 'Absolute Zero' which is one of my favorite songs of the year.

From Part 2 here is a live version of 'Do Me A Favor'.  Not safe for work, btw, and proof positive these guys kick ass.

 

The Wonder Years - The Greatest Generation:  Punk pop combined with Springsteen's blue collar lyrical sensibilities.  Another band that seems to be getting better with every release.

For your consideration: An acoustic version of 'Dismantling Summer'.  You can start this at the 1:09 mark if you want to fore go all the chatter. 


The Joy Formidable - Wolf's Law:  Once or twice a year a friend will forward me an album recommendation that is prefaced with 'It's pop, so not sure if you'd like it'.  As I've stated before, pop is great when done correctly and it doesn't get any more correct that this one.  A bit Metro-ish so if you like that band, you'll enjoy these folks.

For your consideration:  A full live set from Seattle.  My little gift to you for the holidays.


Queens of the Stone Age - ....Like Clockwork:  Another stellar release from Josh and his gang of misfits.  Here's hoping he and Grohl are working on a new Them Crooked Vultures release for 2014. 

For your consideration: 'I Sat By The Ocean' from Letterman. 


Arctic Monkeys - AM:  Adding some classic sounds to their traditional Brit rock, these guys produce yet another quality album without sounding tired. 

For your consideration:  'Snap Out Of It' from the Jools Holland show.


OTHER AWARDS

MOST FUN

Robert Randolph and the Family Band - Lickety Split:  Probably the closest a studio recording has come to catching the energy and joy of their live shows. 

For your consideration:  The best workout/party song ever written.


MOST INTENSE

Deafheaven - Sunbather:  While there are moments of beauty here, this is not for the faint of heart.  I sort of wish they released this as an instrumental album as the screaming is indecipherable and gets in the way at times.  This is the 'listen to it on your headphones' release of the year. 

For your consideration:  Immerse yourself in DreamHouse


BEST THROWBACKS

Rival Sons - Head Down:  Continuing on their mission to resurrect classic rock for a new generation. 

For your consideration:  The video for 'Keep On Swinging'


Alice In Chains - The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here:  Apparently they never got the memo that grunge is dead.  Good for us.

For your consideration:  'Voices'. A video that created more business for neon signs than all the Seattle bars combined.


Fuzz - Fuzz:  Do you want epic guitar solos amid Sabbath-like rock?  Your wish is their command.

For your consideration:  Loose Sutures which might as well have been written by Tommy Iommi.


BIGGEST IDENTITY CRISIS

Kings Of Leon - Mechanical Bull:  Trying not to alienate what remains of their original fan base while also trying to swim in the mainstream.  Song really good songs here, but can't shake the feeling even they don't know which way they want to go. 

For your consideration:  Old school Kings flashback - 'Don't Matter'.  Should it mean anything that they didn't play this song on SNL and instead had Caleb dress in a pink sweater and play two songs that sound exactly like 'Use Somebody'?


HONORABLE MENTIONS  (without comment, but links to a song I enjoy)

Alkaline Trio - My Shame is True

Palms - Palms

The National - Trouble Will Find Me

Obits - Moody, Standard and Poor

Killswitch Engage - Disarm the Descent

Balance and Composure - The Things We Think We're Missing

BoySetsFire - While a Nation Sleeps

As always, I'm sure I'll immediately remember something I've left off this list and have to add it in the comments.

Feel free to suggest your favorites and I'll check them out.

Have a happy, healthy, and prosperous (but don't let it change you) 2014!