1. While there are still some i’s to dot and t’s to cross, it appears that we have a buyer for our home in Latham. Conceptualizing the relocation to Iowa just became orders of magnitude easier.
2. I don’t watch much television, other than feature films that I nab from pay-per-view. Currently, the only serial show that I enjoy is “Breaking Bad,” and a few shows and shorts on Cartoon Network that I watch when I’m bored. I do find, however, that I can park myself in front of the television happily and vegetate whenever there’s an NFL game on. The only other regular sporting event that appeals to me in similar fashion is the NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Tournament. While watching the Bills-Giants game yesterday (and not enjoying the outcome), I got to thinking about why these sporting events appeal to me, when other related ones (e.g college football and NBA basketball) don’t. In the case of football, I think it comes down to my absolute antipathy against the Bowl Championship Series (BCS), and the myriad evils inflicted in its name. Other than the Army-Navy and Navy-Notre Dame games each year, there are really no other college football games that do much for me, although I might get excited if it ever comes to pass that two non-BCS schools end up playing for the (so-called) national championship within the rotten BCS structure. In the case of basketball, I think it’s because I like the length and tempo of the college game (two 20-minute halves) much more than I like the length and tempo of the pro game (four twelve-minute quarters). I also watch college players and generally feel like I am observing a sport played by human beings, whereas NBA games occur at such an ethereal level of performance that they don’t look as spectacular as the games played by smaller, slower college students. The pros make it looks easy, and easy is boring to me.
3. I mentioned earlier that I’m ready to part with my rather large CD, DVD and music book collections as part of our move. I am targeting the evening of Wednesday, November 2nd to hold a big movie and music sale accordingly. If you’re interested in participating, shoot me an e-mail offline. It’ll be a cheap way to add all sorts of weirdness to your own collection.
4. There are a number of classic albums from the ’80s and early ’90s that have remained incomprehensibly unavailable in CD or digital formats over the years, among them Human Sexual Response’s In a Roman Mood and the entire Tragic Mulatto catalog. I was delighted recently to discover that another series of lost classic albums is now readily and legally available from iTunes: Andy Prieboy’s solo albums and the last two studio albums he recorded with Wall of Voodoo. Now . . . I know that when I say “Wall of Voodoo,” you say “I wanna go to . . . Tee-ah-WAHN-ah . . . eat some bar-bee-cued ee-GUAN-ah.” That’s a shame, since “Mexican Radio” doesn’t really do justice to the clattering first incarnation of the band, which imploded soon after that release when nasal singer-songwriter Stanard Ridgway and pots-and-pans drummer Joe Nanini (now deceased) left the group. Wall of Voodoo soldiered on after that, though, with two studio albums and a contractual-obligation live album featuring new singer-songwriter Andy Prieboy and his longtime accomplice, drummer Ned Leukhardt, along with returning prodigal bass player Bruce Moreland and stalwarts Chas T. Gray and Marc Moreland (immortalized in Concrete Blonde’s hit “Joey,” and also now deceased) on keyboards and guitar respectively. Personally, I consider the two Prieboy-fronted albums, Seven Days In Sammystown (which featured the MTV demi/alt-hit “Far Side of Crazy“) and Happy Planet, to be the group’s greatest work, offering some brilliantly lyrical and melodic songwriting and powerful, charismatic baritone vocals from Prieboy. Wall of Voodoo’s rhythm section also became much stronger with Bruce Moreland and Leukhardt anchoring the proceedings, while Marc Moreland and Gray maintained the group’s signature spaghetti western soundtrack flavor. There’s not a clunker among either album, and I consider “The Grass is Greener,” “Don’t Spill My Courage,” “Elvis Bought Dora a Cadillac” and “Blackboard Sky” to be among my favorite songs from that era. If having those albums available wasn’t exciting enough, Prieboy has also issued a two volume set of albums (Volume I, Big Rock Finish: 1990-1993 and Volume II, When The Dream Is Over: 1993-1995) that summarize the best bits of his first two solo albums and related singles from those years. The first set features two of his best known songs: the exquisite “Loving the Highwayman” (covered by Linda Ronstadt and Emilylou Harris) and “Tomorrow Wendy” (originally a duet with Johnette Napolitano, and later covered by her band, Concrete Blonde), but the deep catalog is equally remarkable, covering an insane amount of stylistic ground, with dozens of earworms that will stick in your brain as soon as they penetrate it. I most highly recommend scoring these four albums (legally, not by downloading the samples I linked above) to get a taste of one of the most talented, though largely under-appreciated, performers and songwriters of the period.