Nine Ways to Say I Love You

1. Last week’s Navy vs Notre Dame game was a heartbreaker, made more painful when they showed David Robinson (arguably Navy’s most famous athlete, with the possible exception of Roger Staubach) wearing Notre Dame regalia. David was in my Naval Academy company his plebe year (he and his room-mate and I and my room-mate used to play a lot of acey deucy late at night, when we were all supposed to be sleeping or studying), and I like, respect and admire him. I am also delighted that his son is an accomplished football player with the Irish, since I know that the younger Robinson will be every bit the fine scholar-athlete that his father was. But, you know, maybe neutral colors for the Navy-Notre Dame game, huh? Just saying? Nicely enough, Notre Dame followed up on their success by tanking in a game against Pitt, while Navy pummeled Hawaii at home. Good bounce back, Mids. Very proud.

2. Just for the record: Navy quarterback Keenan Reynolds deserves to be a Heisman Trophy finalist, if not the winner of college football’s most famed award. What he does week after week after week with a small offensive line against major college programs is just remarkable. And knowing what he has to cope with, week after week after week, in terms of his academic and military responsibilities makes him all the more everything that a great student-athlete should be. Are you watching and listening, Heisman Trophy voters? You should be.

3. Andy Prieboy‘s “Bands” is one of my favorite songs of recent years, since it does a brilliant job of describing the obsessive mindset of the serious music geek, and also sounds just gorgeous in terms of the language, words, rhymes, alliterations and rhythms that Prieboy uses in telling his tale. He’s an extraordinarily gifted songwriter and storyteller, right up there with my other long-time favorite tune-smith, Jed Davis. This band, that band, every damn band, every damn band know to either God or man, indeed . . .


4. Robert Fripp is one of my favorite musicians, and also one of my favorite philosophers and writers. After a period of retirement as a performing player, he is bringing back King Crimson in 2014 with a new seven piece lineup. I very much loved this quote from his online diary (which I read regularly) about part of the reason why he is re-embracing the venal world of the professional player: “Simply put, my life is closer to Paradise than I might reasonably hope for. The danger with Paradise: we fall asleep in the wonderfulness of it all. At that point, time to bring out The Pointed Stick.” I like and get this. It helps explain my masochistic tendencies.

5. One of the nice things about having Katelin living nearby is that we can get together when we have something special to do, or we can get together when we just feel like hanging out and being lazy. A couple of weeks ago, she was here in the afternoon while we just slugged about and watched football. She was sort of paying attention, while also reading a book, and it occurred to me that I had never actually seen her actively watch or had a conversation with her about football. So I asked her if she had any idea as to what was actually happening on the television. Here’s what she told me:

So the kicker kicks the football, and then they all run after it, and if they catch it, they generally run faster. And the kicker wants to get it as far away from scoring a touchdown as possible, but they want to get it to the touchdown. A lot of tackling happens, and there are four downs, and the downs have to do with when they’ve been tackled the most often. And when a touchdown happens, the kicker gets to do this again, to kick the ball to get it, I am blanking on what the thing is called, the pointy thing, and if that happens then they get an extra point, and the defense players are bigger than the offense players, and they don’t really look like humans. And the positions are quarterback, linebacker, kicker, running back. I don’t know what they do, but I know the linebackers are defense and they are the biggest guys. I know what the quarterback does: he is the head of the team, so he does the huddles and does the counts and tries to get the ball across. Oh, there is a center, too.

6. I have really been enjoying listening to some of the classic Little Feat albums recently. As I was looking for footage of them at the peak of their live capabilities, I found the great version of “Dixie Chicken” from Burt Sugarman’s The Midnight Special linked below. It is interesting how many times a search for great live performances from the ’70s bring up links to this amazing television show. With forty bazillion cable channels now, how come we can’t have nice things like this today?


7. G.B. Trudeau’s Doonesbury has been on hiatus for several months now while he works on other projects, but he’s started producing new Sunday strips in recent weeks, and plans to come back to his full daily schedule in the next month. I miss his his insightful daily takes on our modern times, but am glad to have strips like this one again, even if they only come once per week.

8. So let’s say you are lucky enough to have Dale Crover (he’s on the left in the linked video) as the drummer in your band for 30 years, even though he did not participate in your very, very earliest demo works. So then let’s say that your original drummer from way, way back in your pre-Crover days turns up and wants to play with you again. Obviously, the answer is to kick him to the curb and tell him he missed his chance. Unless, of course, you are the Melvins, in which case you switch Crover to bass and let prodigal drummer Mike Dillard handle the skins again. That should be a recipe is futility, if not disaster, but in true Melvins fashion, they make it work brilliantly on their new record, Tres Cabrones . . . which is the best thing they’ve done since their last counter-intuitive move of incorporating Big Business into the band for their brilliant 2006 album (A) Senile Animal. “Civilized Worm” from that record is one of my favorite live clips ever, even if it didn’t appear on Burt Sugarman’s The Midnight Special.

9. The title of this post comes from an album by the legendary Albany band Section 8, who I interviewed and wrote press material for back in the ’90s. They played one of the ten greatest live shows I ever saw, at the late lamented QE2 in October 1997, then broke up soon thereafter. In January, they’re playing a two-night reunion stand in Clifton Park, and the tickets for the event sold out almost as soon as they were released. I just wish the bastards had done it before I moved to Iowa.

Status Back Baby

1. 23 is a significant number for me, and always had been, even before I knew of the whole 23 Enigma. I should have been born on May 23 (5/23 . . . 5 = 2 + 3), but I applaud my Mom’s initiative in welcoming me into the world one day early, on May 22, so I could claim to have the rarest birthday in the United States. Of course, to balance out that little glitch, I had to get married on the 24th of a month, so that my two most significant days averaged out to 23. As it turns out, that day was June 24th, 1989 . . . 23 years ago today. Happy anniversary, honey!

2. I’ve often lamented how little attention the general public pays to space exploration anymore, even though we are arguably in the glory days of planetary exploration and discovery right now. But even given the low level of interest in space exploration, I’ve been amazed at how little coverage the emerging Chinese space program is garnering in the American media. Did you know that right now, as I type, three Chinese Taikonauts, including the first Chinese woman in space, and China’s first repeat space traveler, are orbiting above us, with their Shenzhou-9 spacecraft having docked with their Tiangong-1 space lab six days ago? This seems a big deal to me, but you wouldn’t know it based on the coverage in the American press.

3. It’s always nice when some lost material by a long-gone favorite band turns up, and my brain today is about to explode with pleasure as I marvel at the incredible and unexpected three-disc collection of Can: The Lost Tapes, which offers a wealth of great stuff, and not the usual dregs and cutting room floor materials such large, late archival collections tend to include. The collection features the amazing and influential German group with both their singers: Japan’s Damo Suzuki and America’s Malcolm Mooney. I love their whole oeuvre, soup to nuts, but I’m especially fond of the early music  that they made with Mooney. There was something transcendent when the technical, tick-tock, Teutonic tendencies of the German musicians was leavened with Mooney’s fabulously soulful, emotional and often story-driven delivery. Here’s the promo video for the new box set, featuring a Mooney-led song, and it is magnificent:

4. I’ve read G.B. Trudeau’s Doonesbury pretty religiously since the early 1970s, and consider it to be an epic, sweeping work of great cultural and artistic accomplishment, with many important and meaningful story arcs over the years. I’ve been particularly impressed over the past few weeks as Trudeau has documented the wedding of Alex (uber-geek daughter of series protagonist Mike Doonesbury) and Leo (gravely injured Iraq veteran and up-and-coming recording engineer). There are some beautiful grace notes in the words and images Trudeau uses here, and I have been awed at his marvelous depictions of the challenges our Iraq and Afghanistan veterans face, both in country, and upon returning home. Bravo! If you want to read the wedding cycle in order, start here, then click through the “next strip” links for a couple of weeks. It’s gorgeous work.