Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Feats of Daring Week

As usual, we stumble into a theme by sheer force of laziness and desperation.

We established yesterday that I'm a mediocre mountain biker. Today, an endeavor at which I'm far more accomplished, yet still miles (inches?) behind the art's most sublime practitioners.

Chinese driver Han Yue recently set the world's record for tightest parallel park, squeezing his Mini into a spot with only 3.15 inches to spare.

Enjoy his stunt parking stylings.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Balls, Wall, Heart, Throat

There's a point in time when you realize you don't have 'it'. Situational, that 'it'. Talent, some days. Motivation, others. Still others, simply will.

Today's one of the latter days.

I'm a mediocre mountain biker. I enjoy it, but I'm not very good at it, especially when the terrain gets technical. Partly because I don't spend enough time practicing, but - if I'm being honest - mostly because I just don't have the balls to let it go, trust the bike, and just wind out down the steepest descents.

Danny Macaskill, on the other hand, has it. Just watch. And if your heart doesn't catch in your throat around the 4:45 mark, then maybe you have it, too.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Dying At the Bottom of a Pit in the Blazing Sun

So many songs to choose from as we parse the wee one’s orders to create riveting musical content by listing our favorite ten songs. However, I chose to write about just one song – the greatest song in the history of rock and roll. Not Stairway or Baba or Born to Run. I’m talking about the greatest, most indulgent, grandiose, vocally spectacular, wailing 9+ minute rock opera of them all – Meatloaf’s Bat Out of Hell. Before you scoff or chortle, you need to acknowledge (as I do) that a small part of the brilliance of this song is the spectacularly 1970’s-ish feel of this tune. It does not attempt to be transcendent. It lives within the confines of 1977, but turns the conventional pop-rock composition concept on its head. The video below of a live performance of this song is absurdly over the top and of low quality, which makes it all the more fantastic from a dramatic and unintentional comed perspective. If you want the studio version of the song, which features a less masturbatory intro, get it here.

Allow me to indulge you with possibly more than you ever cared to know about a song that was deeply impactful to my early appreciation of rock and roll. It is also a part tribute to my deceased mother, who was a hip, hip lady who turned me on to a lot of cool music as a kid and even quietly tolerated my Weird Al phase when I was eleven.

Background. While the majesty of this song is nothing without the power of Meatloaf’s pipes, his imprint on the song is vocals alone. The brainchild behind the album was arranger Jim Steinman, who wanted to make a good old rock opera. Without his ego and courage, this whole bizarre album would not have happened. And it certainly was bizarre. It had Phil Rizzuto (Phil Rizzuto!)! It had motorcycle sounds! It had a pre-Night Court Ellen Foley! And it had more graphic sexual imagery than you would want to hear from a young, husky Meatloaf.

Why the Hell Do You Care About this Song and Album So Much, TR? Let’s start with that album cover. I have vivid memories of being a young boy and going through my mom’s album collection with my older sister. It’s a shame that music won’t be as vivid a multi-sensory experience to future generations as it was to me growing up. An album was a THING. You could hold it, stare at the front, the middle, the back, the lyrics in the middle and wonder about all the thought that went into the packaging. As a kid, I remember the Beatles’ Yellow Submarine album, the Stones’ Tattoo You album, which featured a goat hoof in a high heeled shoe, and, of course, Bat Out of Hell. As a kid, you could not help but be drawn to it. It was evil and enticing all at once. There was a dude on a motorcycle. Exploding out of the ground. At night. In a cemetery. While a mega-bat sitting on a mausoleum squawks in the background. How badass is that? Very. It felt like I was doing something I wasn’t supposed to when I was staring at that thing, which made it that much better, probably because it had “the H word” on the cover. I’m not sure how much I would’ve liked Devil Went Down to Georgia at that same age without the “I’ve told you once, you son of a bitch…” line. Cursing was cool to five year-old me.

Part I - The Intro (0:00 to 1:45). I don’t know of any song that goes from 0-60 quicker. The first 105 seconds of this song (the first 100, to be precise, since it really starts ripping five seconds in) are EPIC. Pure bravado and excess. It reminds me of the conclusions to some of my favorite old Phish jams. And that’s just the start. I dare you to crank this part in your car and not feel better about your life for having done so.

Part II - The Story Unfolds (1:45 to 2:57). There is a bit of mystery as to a possible secret meaning to the lyrics. Many see it as a Springsteen tribute or Springsteen parody. Making this more intriguing is the fact that E Street Band pianist Roy Bittan and drummer Max Weinberg were the session drummers for the entire album. Bittan’s ivory tickling here is especially E Street Band-esque. We’re getting an opaque orgy of dismal imagery, offset by a boy’s love for a girl. But it’s just a tease. Meatloaf hasn’t even started wailing yet! This song was actually part of a Neverland-themed play that Steinman had composed in the past. But that’s less relevant. Who gives a shit about Peter Pan?

Part III - The Chorus (2:57 to 3:37): Meatloaf starts wailing! When I was younger, I used to think the lyrics were about a one-night stand, but who the hell knows. This part can be interpreted many ways. But most involve visualizing Meatloaf making love, so let’s not go too deep here.

Part IV – Motorcycle Conquers Teen Angst (3:37 to 5:23): Segue to traditional teen anthem – motorcycles, decaying city, teen angst. Speeding on a motorcycle will prove to be a bad thing later, Meatloaf! This section also features my favorite cheesy lyrics in the song: “Nothing really rocks and nothing really rolls.” I love this, because Meatloaf’s voice pulls off all the goofy lyrics. He could read the ingredients in a bag of Doritos and have me riveted. Maybe that’s just because I eat too much and love Doritos. But Meatloaf is pretty clear here – he is qualmless about being damned for dancing through the night with a special woman. Pretty minor offense to be damned for, IMO.

Part V – Chorus Reprise (5:23 to 6:12): Same chorus, but extra em-PHA-sis on the last words. And we get the motorcycle revving at the end, letting us know it’s time to get back on our hog for one last fateful trip.  

Part VI – Solo (6:12 to 6:54): Dueling motorcycle-piano solo!  You never hear Asia, Styx or Boston doing that. 

Part VII – Motorcycle Accident! (6:54 to 7:40): Speed proves to be Mr. Loaf’s problem, as he “…never see(s) the sudden curve ‘til it’s way too late.” More motorcycle sounds are added to reinforce the obvious. There’s been a wreck. And it's bad.

Part VIII – Is Meatloaf’s Heart Jesus Christ? (7:40 to 8:52): My favorite verse in the song gets repeated twice. First slowly, then with the power of those pipes. “I’M DYING AT THE BOTTOM OF A PIT IN THE BLAZING SUN.” Fuck. Yeah. And then we get the cathartic after-math. His heart, still beating, is breaking out of his body and flying away, like, you guessed it, a bat out of hell. And if you’re scoring at home, that’s eight seconds that he takes to hold that least hellllllllllllllllll. After his sixth time of saying that line. You try to do that shit and see how it goes. Song fades out and we all take a deep breath and think about having a smoke.

Part IX – What Comes Next on the Album: We get this gem. Tremendous intro.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Week Are We Almost Done With This Picking Thing?

Yeah - not gonna lie to ya - I won't be sad when we are done with this weekly assignment. I motion for 2 games per week in 2015. All in favor?
As I was sitting here on the couch beginning at 545 am thanks to our youngest who just has to get up and into our bed at about 515, I realized after having put the computer away that not only had I not produced my picks but I hadn't a clue on this week's matchups other than knowing it was a crap week - the worst, by far this year.

Boston College +17 at Florida State
Mark is correct, betting against FSU each and every week would prove profitable. They are targets. They are in many eyes, numero uno. They have that Heisman guy as their QB. BC has had a week off after losing to Louisville at home by 19. Is Florida State looking ahead to next week's game against in-state rival Florida? Could THIS be the week FSU finally stumbles and is shocked by the far less talented catholic fellas from the Northeast? It's highly unlikely but they'll cover.
Boston College

Missouri +3.5 at Tennessee
At 8-2 with a head scratching loss to Indiana, Missouri heads to Knoxville for the game of the day. At 5-5 Tennessee is fighting for its life and bowl eligibility. Should be an interesting one. For more insight and analysis on this one, give me a call today and I'll walk you through it.

Louisville +3 at Notre Dame.
Ahhhh fuck it. The implosion that is happening before our eyes in South Bend brings joy to many and literal madness to others. Why on earth would anyone bet against a "trend" of turning the ball over more than 3 times per game over the last 7 and simply not assume that trend is a habit, learned behavior that for whatever reason is impossible to alter for this team and more specifically their QB? Faith, I guess. Do you know this line started at -9? Touchdown Jesus H. Now, it would be very surprising if Louisville hasn't watched the tapes of the last month+ to learn how to score a shit ton of points against the Irish. I'm sure they did, but with adjustments and coaching of the young'uns that have had to fill in for the wounded, along with a W in the turnover battle, ND wins handily.

Mark is working today. Sucks to be him. Here are his picks.

Eastern Kentucky +30.5 at Florida
Finally, our long statewide nightmare is over. Will Muschamp is no longer the Head Coach of Florida Football. Well, technically he still is for another week but he's not coming back and, maybe, Florida will hire a coach who doesn't treat offense like the proverbial red headed step child. I think the Gators rally around Muschamp and give FSU a game next week. This week though? I expect a sloppy unfocused effort. Florida probably won't lose to EKU like they did to Georgia Southern in this spot last year but they're not winning by 4+ TDs. EKU.
Stanford at Cal +5.5

One of the more underrated rivalries in America. Also the rivalry with the dumbest, unoriginal name. The Big Game? Really? With all the smart, creative thinkers these two schools produce and that's the best they can do? Anyway, Cal's been better than expected this year and especially tough at home while Stanford is an anemic offensive outfit with a very average QB. Golden Bears cover and maybe even get a win.

Missouri at Tennessee -3.5
Missouri has killed me this year. I've missed the mark on them 5 times this season so it makes sense that I'm running it back one more time today. Because, you see, I'm not very smart or particularly good at learning from mistakes. The insertion of Josh Dobbs has changed the Volunteer offense and energized the fanbase. Missouri is playing for the SEC East title but they won't be able to pull out a late road victory (as has been there M.O. this year) in Knoxville. Get ready to hear 'Rocky Top' approximately 130 times tonight as the Vols win.

Friday, November 21, 2014

I Procastinate Even While I'm Procrastinating

Still working on my top 10(ish) songs opus, but it's turning into a serious project. I might release it in chapters.

Until then, in celebration of the 20th anniversary of the Old 97's (a band that will certainly factor into my list) debut album, Hitchhike to Rhome, a pair of versions of my favorite tune from that album.

First, the original studio recording, which has since morphed from a bluegrass head-nodder into a straight-ahead rocker:

And, for Shlara and KQ, a sweaty Rhett version that rocks, though the sound quality is brutal:

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Regularly Scheduled Dipshittery

At Clarence's request, something to take our minds off of the terrifically shitty news of the day. It promises to get better, though, as President Obama's scheduled announcement regarding U.S. immigration policy will undoubtedly be met with universally bipartisan hosannas and an as-yet-unseen coming together of the body politic on Twitter.

Ah, fuck it. Look at this picture. It's the top response when you do a Ghoogle image search for 'regularly scheduled dipshittery'. We win the internet.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Gheorghe Photo of the Week

Two great tastes that go great together, NFL Hall of Famer Darrell Green and G:TB Hall of Famer Gheorghe Muresan.

I have a DG 28 jersey, and Rob has a Gheorghe 77 jersey.  We will be re-enacting this photo the next time we hang out.