Till death do us part

The wife and kids are out of town for Spring Break and I’m left holding the bag… it’s a bag filled with doggie doo-doo because I have to take the family pooch (her name is Hope) for a walk every damn day while they’re having fun in the sun. (I’m not bitter.)

There’s a cemetery near our house and it’s a good place to walk the dog. (Does that sound too Tim Burton?) While Hope is sniffing every tree, leaf and blade of grass, I have a bit of free time to ponder my own mortality (the cemetery is a great place for that too). I found this headstone intriguing:

MW cemetery headsont

Seems like maybe the Spears family went for the “buy one engraving, get one free” special when David bought the farm, but either Jennie is the oldest living person in the world or she wound up somewhere else. Probably not that surprising when you consider Jennie was nearly 20 years younger than her hubby. She had a lot of living left to do. And David wasn’t really in a position to complain.

Side note: I wasn’t sure if I should use till or ’til in the title of this blog post. “Till” is the correct one, and actually has been around longer than the word “until”. The abbreviated ’til is “etymologically incorrect” according to the American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language. You learn something new every day… at my age though you’re lucky if you still remember it the next day.

Selling out

I wrote a post about the band Lucius and their new album Good Grief not too long ago. It’s great to see the early shows on their tour are selling out.

lucius

The madness is spreading

 

What’s wrong with this picture?

4 screens

Yesterday and today, during the opening round of the NCAA basketball tournament, this is how our living room is set up. Games are on 4 channels, so we need 3 TVs and a computer monitor. Maybe this is why it’s called March Madness.

A few observations from yesterday’s action:

  • Enough already with the Samuel L. Jackson, Spike Lee, Charles Barkley commercials
  • Ditto for the DirecTV “settlers” ads
  • There were quite a few players who slipped on the court late in the game, at crucial times. Could the NCAA’s “let’s install the same generic looking court at every venue” policy be to blame?
  • There’s nothing more fun than a first round upset by Yale… unless it’s a 2nd round upset by Yale (they’re playing the dreaded Duke Blue Devils).
  • The double OT game between Purdue and University of Arkansas-Little Rock was the most fun to watch.
  • Providence’s last-second layup was really the closest we’ve come to a buzzer-beater.

My Xavier Musketeers play late tonight. Saw this bus on the road yesterday:

XU on road to final 4

Let’s hope it was on the road to the Final Four.

A Sunday in March

This morning, March 13th, I ran the Cincinnati Heart Mini, a 15K race. This was the 39th annual Heart Mini, a fundraiser for the American Heart Association.

heart mini logo

Six years ago, on a Sunday, March 14th, 2010, my dad had a hemorrhagic stroke while attending Mass. He died 4 days later.

herb and olga wedding 2

 

Needless to say, it was easy to find motivation to run. A silent prayer with every step. This one’s for you, Herb.

The Bracket Racket

As a college basketball fan, I love the madness of March. But I do find the obsession with “bracketology” rather maddening. For more than 2 months, the bracket experts have been creating mock brackets, predicting which teams will make the field of 68 and which teams won’t.

Bracket

It just  seems a bit silly to me, all that energy expended on something that’s out of your control. Instead of worrying, gnashing your teeth and spending countless hours religiously following the latest “breaking news” on the “last 4 teams in” and “first four teams” out—which change on a daily or even hourly basis—here’s a novel idea:

A. Watch the actual conference tournament basketball games.

B. Tune in tomorrow night to see who makes the field and what their seed is.

Bracketology is not a sport, it’s an exercise in futility. I’m happy for people like Joe Lunardi (“Joey Brackets”) who have been able to make a living by being pretty accurate in predicting which teams will make the tourney. But to me it’s very similar to the old saw about “everyone talks about the weather but nobody does anything about it.” Unless you are one of the 10 people on the official NCAA selection committee, you’re wasting your time thinking about it.

blue blob

 

Up next: why “mock NFL drafts” are really just mocking anyone who believes them.

Tim, Take 2

Two years and one day ago, my old¹ college buddy Tim Condron nearly bought the farm, at a father-daughter dance at his kid’s high school. Ventricular arrhythmia took him down, but not out. Now he’s spent two years and one day making the most of what is literally a second lease on life.

Tim has written a great blog post about it on his “Second Takes” blog. Please take a few minutes to read it, as it has some wonderful food for thought, including these tasty nuggets:

  • I’ve learned that stress is self induced, and that I can have more control over how I respond to adverse situations

  • I’ve learned that negativity is too much of a downer for me, and that I can remove complicated situations and people from my life

  • I’ve learned that I don’t need position or money or stuff or friends in high places to create a life of fulfillment

  • I’ve learned to appreciate every single day and the experiences that come with each

Amen, Brother Timothy. That faulty ticker of yours is a precious gift to all of us who’ve had the pleasure of meeting you.

¹ I’m using the adjective “old” as in “long time” not as in “senior citizen”

Time to go to Chvrch

I like indie/alternative/cutting-edge music, but within that broad and hard-to-define genre, I tend to stick with bands that have a traditional guitar(s)-bass-drums setup ala my old favorites like the Replacements. I’m not a dancer (as my wife will readily attest) and usually don’t go for the newer bands that skew toward dance/electronic music. That said, I’m really digging the new album from Chvrches, a band that consists of two dudes on keyboards/synths/sequencers/whatchamacallits and a female lead singer.

chvrches band photooo

Check out this video from their performance of “Clearest Blue” from The Late Late Show. Granted, the instrumental break sounds eerily similar to Depeche Mode’s “Just Can’t Get Enough”… but it’s a real toe-tapper for sure, and I love the lead singer’s frenetic energy.

Lead singer Lauren Mayberry also has some strong words for the trolls that populate the interwebs. Here’s a key passage:

“It’s just one of those things you’ll need to learn to deal with. If you’re easily offended, then maybe the music industry isn’t for you”

But why should women “deal” with this? I am incredibly lucky to be doing the job I am doing at the moment – and painfully aware of the fact that I would not be able to make music for a living without people on the internet caring about our band. But does that mean that I need to accept that it’s OK for people to make comments like this, because that’s how women in my position are spoken to?

I absolutely accept that in this industry there is comment and criticism. There will always be bad reviews: such is the nature of a free press and free speech. When you put your work out there, you are accepting the fact that people will comment on it, but it is your choice whether you read it or not. (Kathleen Hanna sums this sentiment up nicely in this interview.)

What I do not accept, however, is that it is all right for people to make comments ranging from “a bit sexist but generally harmless” to openly sexually aggressive. That it is something that “just happens”. Is the casual objectification of women so commonplace that we should all just suck it up, roll over and accept defeat? I hope not. Objectification, whatever its form, is not something anyone should have to “just deal with”.

Chvrches new release is called Every Open Eye. It’s wonderfvl.

 

chvrches album cover

 

 

The miracles of modern technology

Our 7th grade daughter Leah is on the lacrosse team at her school.  Yesterday her coach—who is an adult male—sent out an email to more than 30 parents of 12-14 year old girls, and it had this subject line: 

panties are in

That missive was followed rather quickly by this email:

panties are in apology

panties apology body

 

He had ordered practice jerseys, also known as “pinnies“… not to be confused with panties, other than by smartphones.

pinnies

Redemption song(s)

This past Friday, I went to a concert featuring three local bands, The Ready Stance, Pike 27 and New Sincerity Works. The main impetus for going was Pike 27. I kinda/sorta know the lead singer and my friend Chris Comer was playing keyboards with them that night. But I’m mainly familiar with their drummer, Dave, via his wife Jacqui, with whom I worked at a small but mighty ad agency eons ago.

Pike 27, Woodward Theatre; Photo Credit: ORU Media

Pike 27, Woodward Theatre; Photo Credit: ORU Media

I’ve blogged before about Dave’s two bouts with cancer (Dave 2, Cancer 0 if you’re keeping score at home, btw). This was his first gig with Pike 27 since his second battle. It was great to see him behind the drum kit, rocking out and having fun. Drummers are often called “time-keepers” but a more apt description for Dave would be “time-enjoyer,” because he knows better than most of us how important it is to savor every moment, to cherish every day. With apologies to the Go-Gos, we’ve all got the beat… it’s how we turn it into our own song that matters most.

(Don’t worry, I don’t plan on referencing the Go-Gos too often.)

As usual, my friend Jacqui is much more eloquent in describing the magic of the evening. Here’s her blog post.

 

Forever Sounds… coming soon

Sometimes it seems like I’ve only written about 30 blogs posts and 15 of them are about the Cincinnati band Wussy. I’m actually OK with that batting average, although it’s probably a bit lower than it should be. They’re just so damn good.

wussy band photo

This past weekend I saw Wussy live at the Woodward Theater in Cincinnati’s Over-the-Rhine neighborhood, in what was billed as an “album pre-release” concert. The first half of their show was tunes from their new album, Forever Sounds – out on March 4th. The songs are definitely more sonically adventurous or “heavier” than previous Wussy releases. But they still have that unmistakable and inimitable vocal interplay between Lisa Walker and Chuck Cleaver, killer rhythms courtesy of drummer Joe Klug and bassist Mark Messerly, and the secret weapon of John Erhardt on pedal steel or guitar.

Wussy has always gotten critical acclaim from the likes of Robert Christgau. A recent Spin review of their new album offers high praise as well:

“To certain fans of Lucinda Williams, Crazy Horse, Mekons and R.E.M., Wussy became the best band in America almost instantaneously with the launch of their cult classic debut, Funeral Dress, in 2005. Their flawless document of ragged songwriting and modestly adventurous arrangements has only grown in dynamism in the years and albums that followed… America’s best songwriting band might now be among its best soundscaping ones.”

It’s probably a cumulative effect, but it feels like this album/tour might finally be the one that puts more fannies in the seats… and promptly gets them out of those same seats to rock out. Wussy certainly has earned it, and they surely deserve it.

 

Read more about the “Wussification of America” in this great CityBeat article.