Phamily Foto Phriday 2-9-18

Surprisingly, I haven’t taken many pictures the last couple of weeks.

Of the pictures that WERE taken, here are the ones that are relevant.

Grace is figuring out how to “draw” only usually it’s on the wall.

Xavier was the “star” student last week, and needed a picture of his family for his “about me” poster. While everybody is living under the same roof again (yes, Kyle is back home) there is just no good way to get everybody both looking at the camera and/or smiling.

Part of being the “star” student is being able to bring home the class otter. Otters are cool.

Tevye’s hair after swim lesson. It is almost as good as Xavier’s was at this age.

We went to a (minor league) hockey game last weekend. August was there as well, just a few seats over. The boys really like hockey.

Went to pick up Tevye from preschool and ran into Xavier.

This week there was a presentation at the school as part of the registration process for next year. One of the slides featured a familiar face.

That’s it for this time.

 

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Music Monday: Robert Palmer

I listen to a number of different radio stations when I am driving around. Sometimes I listen to the classic rock station,  sometimes the “variety” station or the new/pop music station, the oldies or news, you get the idea.

One artist I heard crop up the last few weeks on a couple of different stations was Robert Palmer. Usually the songs played are the hits from the 80s, but there are a number of other great songs in his catalog.

Let’s start with his first hit, from his debut solo album, the title track.

1974’s “Sneakin’ Sally Through The Alley”

Sure, it’s a cover, but an obscure one that he makes his own. I’ve always like that tune.

A couple of albums later and he would find some more success with 1978’s “Every Kinda People” a song that didn’t have a video until 1992 when a second greatest hits album was being released.

His next album fared even better led by the single “(Doctor, Doctor) Bad Case Of Loving You). I think this is about when I was introduced to Robert Palmer.

The next album, Clues, released in 1980 has a couple of songs that I remember quite well. First up is “Johnny And Mary” which I remember more for the video than the song.

Then there is one of my all-time favorite songs of his, “Looking For Clues”.

At some point He hooked up with a couple of members of Duran Duran and made an album. Power Station elevated his profile quite a bit. Working with the others also gave his next solo album a bit of a harder edge to it and the result was a major hit.

Yeah, you know the one.

His next album was also a hit with “Simply Irresistible” also hitting number 1 on the charts. The late 80s saw Robert Palmer being nearly ubiquitous.

At the turn of the decade the hits did not come as readily.

In 1994 he released an album that might be the last “popular” one he had before is death in 2003 of a heart attack. It features a DEVO cover that I rather like. Robert Palmer makes it his own while keeping the sound of the original. The video is pretty bad though.

A couple of albums later and he would be gone, taken by a heart attack.

An interesting career, and I don’t know much about the band he fronted before going solo, unfortunately, and I don’t have nearly as many of his albums as I would like, but I have always enjoyed listening to Robert Palmer. I hope you do to.

 

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Are We Saying Goodbye To The Mariners Kids Club?

This is the first year in several that we are not going to sign up for the Mariners Kids Club.

No, I’m not particularly happy about it.

As long as I’ve had this blog we have been attending Mariners games with the aid of the Kids Club. It was a great deal because each membership included, among other things, $1 vouchers for certain games. With as many kids as we have, it just wasn’t feasible to get to many games, but these vouchers enabled me to take multiple kids to multiple games.

It was a good run for a long time.

Then a while back the number of games shrank or became inaccessible via the vouchers. Last year I posted that it seemed as if the Mariners organization don’t want the vouchers to be used. By taking away the weekend games when most kids can go to the ballpark, it seemed counter to the ideals of the Kids Club.

Alright, but it was still a decent deal, and I was going to be able to take the kids to more games than I would normally. Then an unannounced change to the policy reared up when I tried to redeem the vouchers.

Each voucher good for a $1 ticket must me accompanied by a paying adult. At this point in life I am taking 4 kids to the ballpark. I’m one adult.

 

Go ahead and do the math. I’ll wait.

This year I sent an email to the Mariners organization inquiring about this policy change and if it was still in effect for this year.

Here is the response I received:

Thanks for reaching out regarding the 2018 Mariners Kids Club. As always, we value your feedback and input on the program.

We do have the same policy as last year, in that each $1 voucher is valid when used with a regular priced ticket.  That being said, we have worked hard this offseason to create more opportunities for families to attend a game at Safeco Field at a great price.  Here are a few examples:

–          Increased the number of $1 MVP ticket voucher game options from 34 to 40
–          Added more weekend options for Kids Club ticket special games in 2018
–          Created new BECU Value games – 25 dates with $15 View or Bleacher seats and $30 Main and Club Level seats. This is nearly a 40% increase in discount nights.

Again, we truly appreciate your feedback and look forward to see you and your family at Safeco Field this season.

Alright, so a couple of my issues have been addressed, by a bump up in the number of vouchers and putting more weekend games back on the calendar. The BECU Value Games are a good idea but even then five tickets is going to be expensive (on top of concessions, parking, etc.).

The 2018 Mariners Kids Club calendar of available games for the $1 vouchers

Who takes their kid to a 7pm game during the week when they have school the next morning? The Mariners seem to be enabling some truancy with this schedule. And look at that afternoon home game in August. The only one at home during the day. It isn’t available. Only two (evening) games in the whole of the month? Neither of which are on the weekend? June and July are only marginally better.

It is that stickler of each $1 voucher ticket being tied to a full priced. This means I can only take one child at a time to the ballpark. This creates an unfairness as a parent that I can not abide by. Heck, a couple of years ago we purchased three Kids Club and was having a kid take turns not getting to to the game.

This year? I can buy one Kids Club membership, and depending on what our schedule is I don’t know how many games each of the kids are going to be able get to. Sure, there’s 40 vouchers, but let’s be honest, only half of those might be for games I could attend, then there are calendar restrictions that are coming from my own family, and at a best case scenario there’s maybe 10 games I could make it to giving each of the four kids I can take to a ball game only two  chances to attend. And two others to unfairly take two kids to an extra game.

What are we gong to do this year?

Well, it’s apparently not going to involve nearly as many baseball games as we used to attend. My kids are disappointed, naturally, but the way the Mariners are going, with attendance up and prospects are good for the team to hit the playoffs, it seems as if the organization doesn’t need or want us, or families like ours, in the stands.

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Music Monday: Versus

I have mentioned before that I do spin classes. I have also mentioned before that I don’t particularly enjoy them. It’s not the instructor’s fault, or any problem with the studio. It really is my own disposition, along with the disagreement my body seems to have with the process.

One of the things that I do enjoy about spin classes are the themed rides.  At times there are “Throwback Thursday” rides, featuring older songs, or perhaps better expressed as mostly songs I recognize. Occasionally there is a theme of pitting two artists against each other, billed as ___ vs. ___. One recent one featured songs by Flo Rida alternating with songs by Pitbull.

Naturally I have some ideas to combine the “Throwback Thursday” and “versus” rides.

How about Huey Lewis & The News vs. Hall & Oats?

I could totally get behind that ride.

More people could probably get behind this next idea – Janet vs. Michael.

How about Taylor vs. Katie? Something could certainly be made of that feud. Alright, so that one isn’t so much a throwback, but it would be fun.

There are plenty more options, but those are a good start.

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Phamily Foto Phriday 1-26-18

Alright, so  it’s been a couple of months, and I’ve addressed part of that earlier this week.

Let’s just jump into the pictures and catch up on things.

We’re going to start off with a picture of Grace, smiling as usual.

Tevye attended his first birthday party back in December. It was at a bouncy house facility and he had a heck of a lot of fun.

Of course Christmas came and we decorated the tree.

And attended the Christmas concert at school.

There was an opportunity for a service project a bit before Christmas participating in Wreaths Across America. I took August, Ciaran and Xavier to help lay wreaths  on veterans gravestones.

This sequence of three pictures as we were picking up Chinese food really starts with the expression on Tevye’s face.

Because once they start…

they just don’t stop.

Christmas came and presents were opened.

This is (mostly) family from Ireland. The night my dad passed away a bunch of us gathered at my aunt Mairead’s house. I can actively remember about half of these people’s names.

Getting back home Dela had another competition for Irish dance. It was nice to be away just the two of us.

And she got her first “up-do” as well.

She didn’t get the results she was hoping for, but it was still a good trip.

That’s going to be it for this time. Hopefully it won’t be nearly as long next time.

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January 2018 Geek Fuel

This month’s Geek Fuel box arrived and the contents were well met. There was a nice retro theme to the whole affair.

First up is the shirt. It is a pretty cool old-school Transformers design.

Then a journal, one of four possible, and it seems that August got the one he would prefer.

This month’s game is The Marvelous Miss Take – an action game where stealth and gadgets will help advance through the level, not your fists.

Finally there is the pin, and an lanyard to keep this one, past ones, and future ones all in one spot.

Here is August opening it all up for the first time.

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Absence Might Make The Heart Grow Fonder But Does Not Help Your Blog Post Count

As of today it has been over a month since my last blog post. There are three primary reasons for this, some more valid than others.

First up, and initially, there is inertia. A blog at rest tends to stay at rest. But that is nowhere near the whole story.

I was gearing up for my annual Beatles Week, something I look forward to every year as an exercise in keeping up with the blog during one of the typically slowest times of year for blogging as well as celebrating and exploring my favorite band. While clearing the decks, so to speak, for this event real life managed to step in and prevent me from spending much time on the computer, let alone to write anything.

Wednesday the 23rd of December was the last day of school for the kids. Then it was on to Christmas break. First there was the call dad was not doing so well and by Friday the test results came back and it was serious. Stage 4 lung cancer.

Dad and I in Ballycastle, Ireland February of 2010

Christmas day I was on a plane to Ireland.

That week was one of the most emotionally wrenching of my life.

I was the one holding his hand as he passed away on the 30th.

There is, of course, a lot more that can and should be said about all of this. I have tried to write about this a few times but just can’t seem to get anything coherent together. Maybe I never will.

I got back home ridiculously late on the 1st, and Laura went back to work the the next day. The kids were back in school the following day, and for the first time I was really alone since his death. That was a tough day.

Of course life goes on.

There are still days when it hits me and I am momentarily immobilized. Most of the time I just keep moving forward. having a bunch of kids in the house will do that for you.

Sometimes that forward movement is at a glacial pace. Case in point – I’ve been working on this blog post for over a week.

And this is where the inertia once again rears its ugly head. I use Beatles Week to stop the inertia, but wasn’t able to partake of it this year. And now? I haven’t posted in a month, and it’s not like anybody is asking when the next post is coming.

With a few of the grandkids, Belfast, Ireland, July 2013

This brings me to the third thing about my lack of blog posts, a general malaise about posting in general. I have been getting some comments on the Facebook link to posts, not not on the posts themselves. Are people actually reading the posts or just the summary on the Facebook link? If people are just going to comment on Facebook, why not simply post there instead of on my blog?

I have been feeling this way for a while, sort of down on blogging, and was really looking forward to Beatles Week to help reinvigorate things.

Combine a malaise with inertia, then the derailment of my dad’s death, well, that brings us to today.

This is my first blog post in a month.

It’s not a good one, but it’s a start.

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Lulu (Lou Reed – Artist Of The Year Part 25)

This was the album I wasn’t looking forward to. When I decided to examine Lou Reed’s solo career this year Lulu was the album I was looking forward to the least. I am not a fan of Metallica.

Lulu is a collaboration between Lou Reed and Metallica. I understand the two wanting to work together. I just couldn’t get past my dislike for Metallica to pick this up even though the idea of heavy metal Lou Reed greatly interested me.

Thematically the songs are based on or inspired by a German playwright Frank Wedekind’s “Lulu” plays – two plays that tell one story about the title character, her rise and fall from grace, or at least a version of what “grace” could be (prominence, popularity, social  standing, whatever).

One of the songs was released as a single, but the video for it is a couple of minutes shorter than the song as it appears on the album. You get the idea though, and some of the “fat” is trimmed off making for a more “streamlined” song, and there are a few of the songs that would have benefited from such treatment.

Spread over two discs the whole song cycle lasts almost 90 minutes. I didn’t dislike the album as much as I had feared, and probably would have enjoyed it a lot more if I was familiar with the plays the songs are based on or inspired by. Actually, this would have made a great rock opera.

As a Lou Reed fan I was intrigued by this release, but being unfamiliar with the source material, the original plays, none of it resonated with me. Lulu felt like a story your friend tells you about someone they heard  about but don’t actually know, but expect you to know. At least that was my experience with it.

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Hudson River Meditations (Lou Reed – Artist Of The Year Part 24)

There isn’t much to say about this album. It has four “songs” and the first two are approximately 30 minutes each. Lou Reed created these pieces to help in his meditation. So yes, this is mostly ambient music, a real departure from what we expect from Lou Reed.

There are two shorter pieces as well, one just under 2 minutes and the other just over 5 minutes in length. The second, longer of the two shorter pieces seems more like an edit of the two longer pieces, perhaps as a sort of sampler of what the album is supposed to be. Actually, I think the album was intended to be just the first two much longer pieces. This would be Lou Reed’s final solo album.

“Wind Coda”

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The Raven (Lou Reed – Artist Of The Year Part 23)

I got to see Lou Reed live in 2002, at the annual Bumbershoot festival. He was touring behind his previous album, Ecstasy, but also previewing his currently in-progress work, based on the poems of Edgar Allan Poe. I thought this was going to be a great album, a great marriage of Poe’s words and dark imagery coupled with Lou Reed’s “rock as art” aesthetics. His rendition of “The Raven” on stage was fantastic.

“The Raven” (Live)

On record we got something rather different. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a good rendition, but I was expecting something more along the lines of Lou Reed delivering songs with lyrics provided by Edgar Allan Poe, and not a bunch of guest artists. The version of “The Raven” we have on the album is read by Willem Dafoe, and is a good rendition, but is one of the more straight-forward adaptations of Poe’s works.

“The Raven”

“Hop Frog” is not so much a recitation or even a look at the story from a different angle, but merely seems inspired by. Then there are songs such as “I Wanna Know (The Pit And The Pendulum)” which seems to have no connection to the original.

“I Wanna Know (The Pit And The Pendulum)”

Or take “The Tell-Tale Heart” which comes in two parts and told from a first person perspective narrated by a few different people. And they are very short pieces.

Part 1

Part 2

Apparently this album is a sort of soundtrack to a stage production about Edgar Allan Poe and Lou Reed was commissioned to come up with the music. There are pieces that I really like on The Raven (I have the two-disc edition, which might be impossible to find now) and some that I still scratch my head over. Presumably those are the pieces that only work if you saw the show.

I would have rather had a single album of Lou Reed reciting Edgar Allan Poe, even just a straight spoken word album. That said, I am still very glad to have this because it is not only interesting, it is very much a Lou Reed project. Rock as art indeed.

 

 

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