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Been too swamped to post (unlike Wil Wheaton, who’s just letting the man get him down). I officially received control of another division today, which gives me about 300 more people whose out-of-state travel requests I will be denying. Had a farewell party for my counterpart, Susan, who is retiring, although we expect she’ll be keeping her hand in on some particular projects. I have always respected her advice and cherished her friendship, and am not sure where I’ll turn now that she’s gone, though my immediate boss is also a great sounding board. All that love and respect we were showing didn’t keep her farewell party from devolving into an arm-wrestling contest for her office, which has the best views in the entire building. It was a little unseemly, actually, but it’s all part of my new attitude: cranky and unhelpful. I’ve been the nice guy for long enough. Time to channel my inner Wilfrid Brimley. Believe me, he’s in there.
It’s very cold (again) (still), and is supposed to dip below zero again tonight. Agency ski day at our ski area is tomorrow, but I was saddled with an afternoon meeting that I really should use as an opportunity to learn about some things I’ve been ignoring for years, so the plan now is to run over to Jiminy first thing in the morning, ski my ass off for 3.5 hours, and run back to Albany in time for the meeting.
Speaking of asses, got two weird hits today. First was from someone searching for the phrase “my ass”, and this blog scores higher than you would expect, since I’ve only used the phrase once. Thrice, now. Second was for “erotic whipped cream photographs,” which must have left someone disappointed when they found out I was talking about making whipped cream and reviewing a movie that had “erotic overtones” or some such thing. Had some more hits for “duckhunting” this week, too, and the endless march of people seeking information about our favorite drink additive continues.

25% healthier

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At least, one person in the family got out of the house today, which would be me. Others are getting better.
Didn’t even get to say that I had a great ski day on Friday. Went with a friend and co-worker who’s also a ski instructor, so I probably held him back some but the conditions were fantastic, just like a dream. It snowed before we got there and well into the afternoon, so things just stayed wonderful. Tackled a couple of diamonds, and he showed me how to take the bumps in one of the groves, which is fantastic fun once you know what you’re doing and can avoid hitting the trees. Not hitting trees is a key part of grove skiing. Keeping both your skis on the same side of any given tree is also a key part. The rest of it was sweet powder, clear skies, and fun, fun, fun. Sis-in-law wants to come up and do adult ski this weekend, which I would love to do, though there’s a certain amount of self-imposed guilt over taking a day away when Patient Wife has been home with sickies (and has been sick herself).
I know. I’ve become a skiing asshole. That’s a lot like a golf asshole, but we wear better clothes and participate in an actual sport.

Strep! Strep for everybody!

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Not sure who was the Typhoid Mary for this particular episode, but during the night every single one of us got sick with what is, at the least, strep. Hannah was vomiting all night, Bekah had the throat stuff, Lee has an ear infection, and I was intensely nauseated. Fun, fun, fun.
There’s a John Garfield movie on TCM tonight. If I can make it to the couch.

Aimee Mann at the Egg

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  • Yes, she looks in person pretty much the same as she looks in videos — lanky, stunning eyes, and a type of introspective presence. But she could rock out and she even cracked a smile now and then.
  • She didn’t even do “Ghost World” or “Red Vines,” which seems hard to imagine, but she had so much good material it didn’t matter. She did do “(The Other End of the) Telescope,” with an audience member singing backup, and although she lost the words to the last verse, I was thrilled to hear her sing it, and surprised that so many other people seemed to want to hear it.
  • I had just this week really started to get “Lost In Space,” and her performances really drove it home. Incredible album.
  • When calling out for songs people wanted to hear (Aimee and the rest of rock ‘n’ roll, please, let’s cut out this obligatory encore nonsense and go the Ray Charles route: play ’til you’re done, then leave), someone yelled out for “Free Bird.” She said, “There’s always some jackass who says ‘Free Bird.'” She then explained that they didn’t know “Free Bird”, but they did know “Sweet Home Alabama,” and proceeded to launch in to that, with the participation of the original jackass. A light moment, but not a song I ever really need to hear again. The whole time I was thinking of Zevon’s line: “Sweet Home Alabama / Play that dead band’s song / Turn those speakers up full blast / Play it all night long.” Beats the hell out of having to hear “Free Bird.”
  • Duncan Sheik opened and did the impossible: he performed songs that I actually forgot as I was listening to them. Much preferable to hateful songs that stick with you, I know, but he was really a non-entity. Many in the audience disagreed, including a block of Duncan Sheik fans who appeared to have bought their seats together. He had a couple of major flubs as well and the stage presence of a bottlecap. I placed him in the top three worst opening acts I’ve seen, including The Brains (for The Kinks, Landmark Theatre, 1980) and The Hooters (for Squeeze, JB Scott’s, maybe 1986?). He did, however, contribute nicely with a dead-on impression of Noel Gallagher, teaming up with Aimee on Oasis’s “Wonderwall.”
  • Lots of people were “missing Matlock.” Years ago, I was at some event where some old guy looked at his watch, proclaimed, “Jesus Christ! I’m missing ‘Matlock’!” and raced off for home. Like whatever was on TV was more important than what he was doing in real life. Since then, we’ve said of the people who leave shows early that they’re missing Matlock. This is the first show I can think of where there were a LOT of people MUCH younger than I am who were missing Matlock. (For the record, when we tore out of the Cracker show like a bolt of lightning this summer, it was not because we were missing Matlock, but because we really wanted to get on the road ahead of the drunken crowd. If you’d been there, you would have supported the decision.)
  • As if we were actual adults, we stayed up AFTER the show and watched Saturday Night Live. And, it was funny. Or perhaps we were just very tired (witness an earlier assessment of “Dude, Where’s My Car,” for which I’m still apologizing). But it seemed funny for the first time in years.
  • “Missing Matlock” would be a great name for a band. So would “Gumdrop Pentagons,” which would take more explaining than I’m up for right now.

Johnny Cash’s sins will be forgiven.

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Mine, not so much.
Listening to the latest, and many say the last, Johnny Cash album. “Personal Jesus”? In music, he invented the personal Jesus; somehow he conveys his faith without wielding it like a club. In his cover of The Beatles’ “In My Life,” he misses nearly as many notes as he hits, and damned if that doesn’t work with this song. If this is what a dying man sounds like….

Mastercard, I’m . . .

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Is there anyone else who misses the vague sense of menace and mischief wrapped up in James Coburn’s dangerous smile when he said, “Mastercard, I’m bored”?

Forgive me, I have a cold and I’m not getting much sleep.

Syracuse, 1979

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Some loyal readers already know about this, and the rest of you truly won’t care, but for those of us who spent countless nights pogoing to The Flashcubes in the Jabberwocky back on the cusp of the New Wave era, it can only be a pleasant shock to find that not only is Flashcubes frontman and songwriter Gary Frenay still on the scene, he has posted a webpage with the lyrics to all the old Flashcubes, Screen Test and other songs from way back when. We’ll never throw up in the Jab again (at least not without ruining all the shiny new computers that are housed there now), but for just a second or two we can go back and remember when songs like “You’re Not the Police” and “Wait Till Next Week” seemed to say what we needed to hear. My whole life I’ve waited to be as thrilled again as I was when the Flashcubes would close their set with “Money (That’s What I Want)” and we would dance ourselves into a heated frenzy and then spill out into the chill Syracuse night, wired and happy.

If you knew the songs, here’s the lyrics, sing along. There’s even a newer page with pictures of the band reunited. Apparently, they contributed to a Raspberries tribute album. Wouldn’t you think I would have known that?

A poem<

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The fine line between fair use and infringement gets crossed when a poem consists of a single word and a piece of punctuation. But I saw this poem by Gavin Ewart on Writer’s Almanac this morning, and I liked it, so here it is:

The Lover Writes a One-Word Poem


At the recent bacchanal/poetry reading, I was going to tell a long-winded, entirely fictional story of a tempestuous relationship on a cross-Canada expedition, which supposedly culminated in my epic poem, “I Wouldn’t Fuck You If You Were the Last Girl in Saskatchewan,” which reads, in its entirety: “I wouldn’t fuck you if you were the last girl in Saskatchewan.” At the last minute, I decided that the entire thing was a terrible idea and abandoned it. People are thanking me still.

Shocking, just shocking

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Truly, the shocking thing is that it took this long for Phil Spector to snap and finally shoot someone.

Speaking of Phil Spector, sort of, now there is a Ramones tribute album. Honestly. With such luminaries as Kiss. Yes, I am curious as to what Tom Waits is going to do with “The Return of Jackie and Judy,” and I’d like to hear how The Pretenders handle “Something to Believe In.” But other than that — Eddie Vedder? The Offspring? Rob Zombie? This is the best they could do? One of the great things about The Ramones was that every song was a Ramones song, even their covers. They just weren’t songs that it was easy to imagine someone else covering. Unless you were a Ramone, you just weren’t going to be able to bring what the song needed. There is no “interpretation” needed, no new nuance to be discovered in “Beat on the Brat”. Please. If Joey weren’t dead, he’d kick your asses…..

Is a broken collarbone an injury?

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Yes, yes it is. So, Hannah’s little tumble on the moguls run turns out to be a broken collarbone. Not badly broken, no setting required or anything like that, but she’s out of gym for several weeks, will have to take it easy at ballet, and probably can’t ski either.

She was having such a breakthrough day. One perfect little turn after another. Well, in a month, there’ll still be plenty of skiing. I tried to tell her that every single racer she watched on OLN yesterday has broken his or her collarbone. Put her in the athletic sisterhood. I’m not sure she was buying it.