October 2012 Archives

#220 What I Was Listening To ... 40 Years Ago: August 1972 Playlist, Part 1 of 2

October 31, 2012

220 Post-1 Depositphotos_2286999_XS.jpgThe difference between a good song and a great song is complicated. However, when you really think about the idea, it all comes down to two things: riff and memory. If the song has a killer riff or two, chances are that you are going to love it, no matter what and no matter who the artist is. And if a powerful memory is somehow melded to this song, then a merely good song has now become a great one. At least, that's how it works with me.

So, for me, great songs and great memories are very often paired. My wife finds it odd that I can remember certain aspects of my life with uncanny precision. What she doesn't know is that I am able to do this through matching a great song with a great memory.

I can very often remember precisely what song was playing at a given time in my life if the memory is right. Conversely, depending upon the song, I can call up thousands of different memories from my youth. It's just the way my mind works. This is not at all surprising to me given that I have spent almost my entire life listening to music almost daily. Music seems to be the one constant in my life, though the music is always changing.

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#219 Halloween

October 31, 2012

219 Post-1 Depositphotos_2951896_xs.jpgOther than the obvious choices of Christmas and one's birthday, Halloween has got to be every kid's Third Favorite Holiday. After all, a holiday that celebrates getting the bejesus scared out of you - and candy? Who doesn't love that!? Halloween is, of course, one of the Lesser Holidays and I know judges that roll their eyes whenever I bring it up in court. "It's not a real holiday", I've heard from judges too many times to count. Uh-huh. Tell that to any kid who is not yet a teenager. While I understand that judges simply do not want to have to micro-manage the logistics of Halloween between warring parents, I also understand that judges (the really good ones) never lose touch with their inner child - and they know damned well that Halloween is a Very Big Deal to almost all children.

And, quite frankly - Halloween is a real holiday. And a very ancient one. In fact, Halloween, or All Hallows' Eve, is older even than Christmas itself (unless you count Saturnalia as Christmas). So have a little respect. Halloween is nothing more than the evolution of the ancient Roman feasts and festivals of Parentalia and Pomona, and the Celtic festival of Samhain. So, if you are of Celtic descent (as am I), yeah, Halloween is usually a big deal.

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#218 Hell Night

October 30, 2012

218 Post-1 Depositphotos_1303333_XS.jpgIt's Hell Night!

Ah, yes ... Hell Night. Ah, the memories those two words bring back! Think of it as what teenagers graduate to from Halloween. Treats are over with; time for the tricks! I've heard it called other names as well: Mischief Night, Satan's Night, Devil's Night. You get the drift: a certain kind of kid gets their ya-yas out on this very particular night. How do I know this? Well, as luck would have it, I was just such a kid.

Granted, I went in for the tamer stuff like TPing houses, trees, and cars. Soaping windows. Setting off out-of-season fireworks. Egging the occasional car or person or house. Okay, maybe we happened to be involved with one or two instances of flaming bags of crap on stoops, but it was all in good fun.

But it could also quickly spiral out of control into the realm of hardcore juvenile delinquency. How do I know this? Let's just say that we neighborhood kids knew that there was a cadre of older teenagers who would do just about anything on a dare. Maybe as many as a dozen or so kids. They engaged in behavior that would become legendary among the younger crowd.

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#217 Twentieth Anniversary As An Attorney

October 30, 2012

217 Post-1 Depositphotos_1084893_XS.jpgBack on August 25, 2012, I passed a milestone. I was unaware of it until later in the evening: I have been an attorney for twenty years. Hard to believe it's been that long already. Of course, when I take the time to sit down and think back to how it all began, and all of the jobs I've had - both good and bad - it very quickly adds up to twenty years.

I hadn't always dreamed of being an attorney. Some people I know have wanted to become attorneys since they were little kids. Not me. I came late to the dream. Somewhere in my sophomore year of college, it occurred to me that I happened to be quite good at both written and verbal rhetoric. And I heartily enjoyed it. As I was quickly discovering that I was not cut out to be an engineer, it dawned on me that I just might have what it takes to become a decent attorney.

So, I left M.I.T. and transferred to Siena College and prepared for a career in the law - but only because I wanted to become a member of the U.S. Foreign Service. I was conversational in French and I was learning Russian, as languages came easy to me. I figured that I'd start out as low man on the totem pole somewhere in the State Department and work my way up through the ranks. And the edge I thought I would need would be a law degree.

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#216 Hurricane Sandy

October 29, 2012

216 Post-1 Depositphotos_1601424_xs.jpgCall me a cynic (and, indeed, I know you will!), but when one lives this far inland - and several meters above a small floodplain (the Mourning Kill flows through my property), it's hard for me to take seriously all of the alarmist "run for the hills" chatter about Hurricane Sandy. Yeah, yeah, I know, I know: better safe than sorry. Sure, sure, I get it. Look, we vacationed through Hurricane Irene last year, on the ocean shoreline in Maine, and let me tell you that I have a newfound respect for the unfathomable power of nature. I am now fully aware of what a hurricane sounds like and how terrifying its winds can be. And, yes, I'm grateful that I was not a resident of Vermont or the Schoharie Valley during the terrible time of Irene. I suspect it's the once bitten, twice shy mentality of hurricanes.

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#215 August

October 29, 2012

215 Post-1 Depositphotos_11081834_XS.jpgAugust, since my early childhood, has always been the month of the year when I call a time out and take a much-deserved vacation. Hopefully to somewhere exotic or - at the very least - on the ocean. And, of course, this year was no different. However, this year, we opted to leave the country altogether and fly to Ireland for almost two weeks. Very nice.

As a kid, I'd see my summer vacation as three distinct parts: the euphoria and freedom of June, just after we got out of school; the sizzling heat and the daily life of literally living in a swimming pool of July; and the final month that preceded the inevitable return to school and reality - August. August was king. This was probably because August was spent entirely with my family. And every August, my family would pull up stakes and travel to places like Florida, Colorado, and California. When I would return to school in September, I'd be filled with all sorts of stories about our myriad adventures in the far reaches of the United States. My head would be filled with wonder at the amazing possibilities of life. August fed my imagination and my desire for something more in life.

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#214 What I'm Listening To: August 2012 Playlist, Part 2 of 2

October 28, 2012

214 Post-1 Depositphotos_2286999_XS.jpgAs you may have been able to tell, I'm also a HUGE fan of Britpop and post-Britpop, like say ... the Arctic Monkeys, Ash, Bloc Party, Blur, the Boo Radleys, Coldplay, Echobelly, Elastica, Franz Ferdinand, the Fratellis, Gene, James, the Kaiser Chiefs, Keane, the Kooks, Lush, Oasis, the Ocean Colour Scene, Pulp, Radiohead, Ride, Snow Patrol, Spacehog, the Stereophonics, Suede, Supergrass, Travis, and the Verve. So, if it's British, smart-assy, and with a lot of hooks - it'll be listed here sooner or later. You can count on it.

And here are the new artists and albums for the month:

1. Adele, "21";
2. Atlas Sound, "Parallax";
3. Bjork, "Volta";
4. Broken Bells, "Broken Bells";
5. Company Of Thieves, "Running From A Gamble";
6. The Editors, "An End Has A Start";
7. Brandon Flowers, "Flamingo";
8. Fun., "Some Nights"; and
9. The Heavy, "The House That Dirt Built".

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#213 What I'm Listening To: August 2012 Playlist, Part 1 of 2

October 27, 2012

213 Post-1 Depositphotos_2286999_XS.jpgYes, I know, I know, I'm slacking off here. However, personal and professional obligations have forced me to cease almost all blog posts for the past three months. So, in the hopes of getting back into the swing of things, I figured I'd post some of the oldest matters first and just get them out of the way before moving on to more recent matters.

Artists and albums retiring this month are:

1. The Airborne Toxic Event, "The Airborne Toxic Event";
2. Aqualung, "Strange And Beautiful";
3. The Ataris, "So Long, Astoria";
4. Death Cab For Cutie, "Plans";
5. Hard-Fi, "Stars Of CCTV";
6. The Raconteurs, "Broken Boy Soldiers";
7. Silversun Pick-Ups, "Carnavas";
8. Supergrass, "Supergrass"; and
9. The Ting Tings, "We Started Nothing".

Given the twenty-two albums retired last month, I expected just as many this month. I was very pleasantly surprised to find this group a bit longer-lasting. Plus, in retrospect, it's becoming pretty obvious the kinds of artists I love to listen to. I tend towards the harder stuff, though there is always a place in my heart for melodic pop, no matter how soft or smarmy. If it's got a hook, I'll probably like it.

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