1. I have written before about the Loneliness of the Long Distance Royals Fan, so after 18 years of being the only Kansas City Royals follower in the state of New York, it seemed that one of the benefits of moving to Iowa might be living in a part of the country where folks might conceptually like the same baseball team I do, since it’s the closest major league franchise to Des Moines. This sense of possibly being able to connect with others was heightened during Spring Training this year, when the Beloved Royals inspired a good number of sports writers to opine that 2012 might be the year that they would finally arise from the American League basement. There was hope! And maybe someone to share my enthusiasm with! Huttah! Three weeks into the regular season, however, these optimistic thoughts have been thoroughly dashed, as the Royals sit at a Major League worst record of 3-13 (.188), after a twelve game losing streak. Oh well . . . at least I have extensive experience in how to handle the Royals’ failure in solitude, which is helpful, since it appears that Iowans don’t care much more about them than New Yorkers do. Sigh.
2. I lived in the Washington, DC suburbs in 1974 when the Washington Capitals hockey club took to the ice the first time. They were one of the southernmost National Hockey League (NHL) teams in the nation at that stage, and there wasn’t a whole lot of pent-up anticipation and interest in the sport as best I could see. But the marketeers of the day did a good job whipping up enthusiasm, and they captured my attention and held it, so the Caps have been the one and only professional hockey team for which I’ve ever held a manly sports crush. Which, for the record, has been even more futile than my aforementioned life-long love of the Kansas City Royals, as the Caps have zero Stanley Cups in their history, compared to the Royals’ one World Series title (now almost 30 years old). Over the past few seasons, the Caps have been particularly aggravating, racking up record-setting regular season records, then folding up like tacos when the postseason arrives. This year, they had a fairly marginal regular season, and I was actually rooting for the Winnipeg Jets to pass them for the last playoff berth in the Eastern Conference, since missing the playoffs might actually force management to disassemble the skilled, but generally heartless and gutless teams that the Capitals have put on the ice for the past half decade or so. Unfortunately (?), the Caps made the post-season, and now they are within a game of knocking off the defending Stanley Cup holding Boston Bruins. They will probably go on to win the Cup this year, just to aggravate me. I do not intend to notice, unless they win the whole shooting match, in which case I will claim to have loved them all along, through thick, thin and thoroughtly gutless.
3. The new Jack White solo album, Blunderbuss, is superb. I resisted his most well-known band, White Stripes, for many years, because I disliked their whole schtick of no-bass, drum-and-guitar bashing about, played by a divorced couple who pretended to be siblings. Jack was clearly a world-class talent, sure, but drummer/partner Meg was not, and it was just uncomfortable to watch her play the same couple of patterns over and over again. I always felt bad that she had to play so many high-profile gigs with so few chops after the group broke huge, and it didn’t surprise me that she had a breakdown after a few years of that. So I was relieved when she stepped aside, and I hope that she is happy and healthy in her post-rock band life today. She deserves that. I have enjoyed Jack’s other band gigs with Raconteurs and Dead Weather (especially the latter), but was excited to finally hear what he might do on a disc released under his name. My excitement was rewarded with Blunderbuss, which stacks up great song after great song, many of them arranged for keyboards rather than guitar. While it seems weird to say this, the album that this new disc most clearly evokes for me is the Grateful Dead’s masterpiece American Beauty, which merged great folk and blues songs/arrangements with stellar instrumental performances and weedy, but compelling, vocal tricks. While Jack White doesn’t really sound like Jerry Garcia, exactly, his singing voice does crack and wobble the same ways that Jerry’s did, and when you mix that tenor/treble warble with fantastic lead guitar or keyboard lines, magic happens. This album will definitely end up on my Top Ten of 2012 list, and after a few listens, I’d honestly be surprised if anything knocks it off as King of the Hill.
4. It occurs to me that I should explain the title of this post, since the stats page tells me that there are a lot of Indie Moines readers who might not have read Indie Albany before it. During my years of blogging at my own website and at a commercial site where I wrote, I often titled omnibus posts (like this one, covering multiple topics) with the title “Odds and Sods,” riffing off the classic Who compilation album of the same name. When I realized that I was over-using this title cliche, I started titling omnibus posts with the names of other Who songs, until that got old, and I went through a phase of titling such posts with Bee Gees song titles. Then that, too, got old, so I started titled omnibus posts with Emerson, Lake and Palmer song titles. Until (yes, you guessed it) that got old, too, so I started using Frank Zappa song titles, including the title to the post you are reading right now. So for newer readers, there is method to my madness, even if there is madness to my method . . .