Thursday, October 23, 2008

Random Tracks

The randomizer chose some surprisingly heavy tracks, considering this was a "light"* day for me:

"Bon Temps Rouler" -- T Bone Burnett
"Sweet Child Of Mine" -- Guns n' Roses
"The Criminal Inside Me" -- R.L. Burnside

The session did conclude on a light note:

"Everybody Wants Everything" -- Carolyn Arends

Post-mortem: I only have three GnR tracks on my player, but they come up with such frequency I'm thinking of pulling them. Have to admit, however, that Slash knew what it took to build a rock 'n' roll guitar solo. His playing on this track is elemental, sure, but it works brilliantly within the song's structure.

The randomizer also seems to like R.L. Burnside. I do too, for the most part. A friend was playing A Ass-Pocket Of Whiskey at a party. Someone asked him what he thought of Burnside. "He sounds like Robert Johnson screaming from the depths of Hell," said my friend.

The questioner was taken aback. "I kind of like Burnside," he said.

I guess the questioner missed the note of admiration in my friend's assessment.

Some months back I rented and watched Black Snake Moan chiefly because the filmmaker (Craig Brewer) cited Burnside as the basis for Samuel Jackson's character. The film is unintentionally risible in spots, but not without value: Sam Jackson communicates exactly why playing filthy blues in a juke-joint is the sole means of his salvation. Not many films do a good job of capturing that quality: at the moment, The Commitments is the only other flick that comes to mind.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Random Tracks

"Tush" -- ZZ Top
"I'm Bad, I'm Nationwide" -- ZZ Top
"Gone Gone Gone" -- Robert Plant & Alison Krauss
"Best Of My Love" -- The Commodores
"Take On Me" -- a-ha
"Someday I Will Kill You" -- Supersuckers

The inclusion of a-ha was a bit of a buzz-kill. Jet Li contends that happy music inspires better work-outs. "Take On Me" qualifies as a "happy song," but none of the (entirely pleasant) memories it conjures add to my iron-heaving will-power. Quite the opposite, really. Thank God for the Supersuckers.

Other songs: Chuck Klosterman once proposed that we respond to and remember bits of songs, as oppose to their whole. He enumerated several such bits -- the bagpipes in "It's A Long Way To The Top (If You Want To Rock 'n' Roll)" by AC/DC was the only one I remember. I think this theory, like so many he throws on paper, is half-baked but whimsical enough to stir the magazine reader's imagination. Suspending my criticism for a second longer, I'll propose that the cymbal work in "Gone Gone Gone" by Robert Plant & Alison Krauss is another such "bit." Remarkable how such a simple bit of "tic-tic-tic TSH-TSH-TSH-TSH TSH-TSH-TSH-TSH" gets the blood surging.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Thanksgiving Monday, 1:15 - 2:50

In a dry-heave clench of post-Thanksgiving remorse, I pulled a double-shift in exercise. First, the Random Tracks:

"Twist" -- Tones On Tail
"Goodbye Stranger" -- Supertramp
"Country Home" -- Neil Young & Crazy Horse

Then it was off to Wilfred. The song in my head on the way there was "One Long Saturday Night" by BR5-49.

Say, could you point me to the Interesting Music Shoppe?

Closed, of course. Actually, the owner is an avid cyclist -- we talk more about bikes than we do about guitars -- so I suspect he's doing what I'm doing, probably somewhere up the Bruce Trail.

Even with my father-in-law in the hospital, this year's Thanksgiving was an absolute delight in contrast to last year's. The song in my head for the journey home: "What A Good Year For The Roses" -- Elvis Costello.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Random Tracks

A "heavy" day generates a longer list of random selected tracks. My player took it easy on me today, indulging in only a pinch of nostalgia.

"Hero Of Nineteen Eighty Three" -- Peachfuzz
"Damn My Soul" -- Supersuckers
"Immigrant Song" -- Led Zeppelin
"Where's Your Boyfriend At" -- The Yayhoos
"Like A Rocket" -- Reverend Horton Heat
"Fishin' In The Muddy" -- Gurf Morlix
"Gospel Plow" -- Jason & The Scorchers

Gee, after a tracklist like this I wonder why I'm thirsty for a beer?

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Tuesday, 1:05 - 2:00

The Manilla Valley was one of my father-in-law's favorite sights in the Fall. Whenever I was a passenger in their car and we were passing the valley I could expect the old man to slow down to a crawl, the better to take in the view (and incite drivers behind us to road rage).

Looking at the pictures I've taken I can't get over how inert and pedestrian they are. There are good and bad ways to take landscape shots. These aren't bad, really, just ... there.

Alright, I'll admit it: the above shot is bad.

But then it's also a rare landscape that lends itself to dramatic photos. I suspect most landscapes incite a sense of drama via our capacity to move through them. Perhaps video is the better way to capture some of their emotional impact.

My father-in-law is a preoccupation because his health is very frail. He's been in the hospital for the last four weeks, and administrative staff have made it clear they cannot release him to anything but a long-term care facility. He has said he would rather die, and his body and spirit show every indication that this will be the likely outcome. He alone has emotional clarity in this matter.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Random Tracks: "This Is Me In Grade 11!"

A "light" day, so the track list is short (BTW, I'm serious about "light" -- the bar has 12 1/2 pounds on it):

"Burnin' For You" -- Blue Öyster Cult
"Photograph" -- Def Leppard
"Directory Assistance" -- Barnabas
"Roll With The Changes" -- REO Speedwagon

The randomizer was in a nostalgic mood, it seems. Just looking at this list is enough to bring out a rash of facial acne. The Def Lep was the most difficult track to endure, but BÖC and Barnabas were genuine delights. "Burnin' For You" in particular stirred an olfactory memory: the smell of my buddy's Plymouth Duster, an old but reliable slant-six he drove for five or six years. That car had a dusty smell that actually seemed to get worse when the weather was rainy. I recall spending a weekend with him and his cousin, and driving that car through a prairie storm of apocalyptic proportions that brought out all the frogs. Just cruising from Winnipeg to Headingley we must have mowed down 1000 frogs. It just seemed of a piece with the panoply of weirdness that constituted our late adolescence in the early 80s.

Later that night the three of us sat on the front porch, sipping "Pic-a-Pop" as we watched the lightning roll southwest. We didn't have a clue about anything, which was just as well for all concerned. What little knowledge we did possess only got us into trouble.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Thursday, 11:35-12:20

The bridge permitting entrance/exit at the east side of town has finally reopened. I figured lunch time was probably the best time to court disaster with gravel truck drivers and young yahoos driving half-tonnes. Any later and alcohol invariably becomes a factor.

I've avoided the highway to the east of us, and my reasons for doing so were confirmed when I finally traveled it. It is every bit as busy as the highway to the west of us, but it is not so well maintained. The apron to this highway is slighter than the apron to the western highway; it is also a shambles.

I spent the first 25 minutes riding on the left side of that white line -- NOT my preference. Whenever I heard a vehicle come up behind me I resorted to the gravel shoulder. Some spots were treacherously soft. No wipe-outs, and I eventually attained the Manilla Valley.

Vurrey purty, 'n' all, but I think the next time I'll attempt this trip is on a late Sunday morning when traffic is slight and I can chance an extended loop to the south, west, north and back east into town.

Over 400 Tracks To Choose From, And "Random" Gave Me This:

"Monkey With A Gun" -- The Yayhoos
"Snake Drive" -- R.L. Burnside
"Treat Me Right" -- Pat Benatar
"Holy Roller Novocaine" -- The Kings Of Leon
"Kick The Chair" -- Megadeth
"Brother, Where Are You?" -- Oscar Brown, Jr., Matthew Herbert Remix
"Rock Your Ass" -- The Supersuckers

"Brother Where Are You?" came on twice. I suppose if my player is trying to tell me anything it's that I could stand to substitute slower music for some of my, um, harsher tracks.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

(Reluctantly) Pumping Iron

The year I turned 38 was also the year of my very last killer workout routine (this one). I heaved and hoed, and bent myself in unusual shapes in hopes of getting unusual results. And, in fact, the results were impressive -- perhaps more impressive on the bar than they were on my bod, but impressive nonetheless.

As I was taking note of the new records I was setting, the penny slowly dropped: this was as good as I was going to get. Ever. Oh, I could take another stab at it after a two-month lay-off, perhaps paying stricter attention to my diet, but I knew there were aspects in which I had reached my physical limit. My elbows were especially clear on this matter: when it came to that hallmark of masculine oomph, the bench-press, I wasn't up for any further "progress."

When I finished the program, I took a break. The break grew longer than I'd intended, but eventually I dragged myself back into the garage and went through a few routines. And that's roughly what my "pumping iron" amounts to these days: a basic routine that gets the blood flowing and keeps the dust from settling in my joints. Ideally I do this twice a week, with one day heavier than the other. Most workouts last 15-20 minutes; I never break 30.

Five years on, this "program" has succeeded in keeping me fit enough to rake leaves in the fall and sand in the spring. It also allows me the chance to listen to workout music, which leads to my next posting...