Pancakes

We were driving home from an errand (dropping August and Dela off somewhere, not important). Suddenly I hear Ciaran from the back exclaim, “Pancakes are like heaven. If you don’t serve a good pancake, you don’t serve good food.”

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Music Monday: The Mighty Mighty Bosstones

This is a bit of a long post. You can skip to the last three paragraphs if you want to get to the point of the whole thing.

I think I’ve seen The Mighty Mighty Bosstones 8 times. The more I see the band and listen to their music the more they become one of my all-time favorite bands. Last week they played Seattle, and while I know it wasn’t because I asked them to back in December, I’d like to think my request had a small part to play in their decision to tour the west coast this summer.

I don’t remember when I first heard the band. It was probably 1992 with “Where’d You Go?” – the video showed up on MTV and while it didn’t get the major airplay other bands did at the time it was shown enough during their “alternative rock” blocks which I always watched for me to be interested. By the time the third album came out in 1993 I was a fan.

That third album would be their breakout, with the hit “Someday I Suppose” a song that affects me to this day. Actually every time they play it live I cry. There’s something about the wistful nature of the lyrics, the near regret, as well as my own failings of memory. I try not to analyze it too much.

Of course the band’s commercial breakthrough would be with their 5th album and the song “The Impression That I Get” which I thought was good at the time, and the more I hear it over the years the more I like it. It’s a great song, but I do wish some others had been their biggest mainstream hit.

It wasn’t until nearly 10 years after I became a fan of the band that I would get to see The Mighty Mighty Bosstones. If they came to Seattle to play I wouldn’t be able to go for whatever reason, and I wasn’t in a position then to travel to see a band. I think it was after the band’s 7th album, A Jackknife To A Swan and the subsequent tour when I finally caught the band live and I wasn’t disappointed.

A hiatus for the band followed that album and tour, and I wasn’t sure I would see them again. Disappointed? Sure, but at least I got to see them once.

In 2007 the band got back together, recorded a few tracks, put them together with some rarities and hit the road again. I had forgotten about the band for a few years, but this tour not only jogged my memory but really galvanized my affection for the band.

While The Mighty Mighty Bosstones didn’t break up, the band’s activity slowed considerably. The number of albums released didn’t come as regularly (but they came) and they toured, just not as extensively as they used to. Again, I had my doubts as to whether or not I would see The Mighty Mighty Bosstones again.

IMG_20111229_163218aaaThen in 2011 my friend Stephen convinced my wife it was a good idea for us to go to Boston for a couple of nights. The Mighty Mighty Bosstones have a tradition of playing their hometown every year sometime between Christmas and New Year’s Eve. This is known as the Hometown Throwdown. To see the band in their hometown with a party atmosphere? Yes, please!

For years I had wanted to see The Mighty Mighty Bosstones in Boston. The band is very much a Boston band, in the same way that Sir Mix-A-Lot is a Seattle rapper, you listen to the lyrics and there are shout-outs to local landmarks and whatnot. A hometown show always has a different energy than when a band plays on tour, and for this band that feeds off the audience, I was eager to experience it.

IMG_20111230_174719bbbbAnd it was a great show. Well, shows. The Hometown Throwdown had the band playing for 3 nights and I had tickets for 2 of them. Not only did the band play a massive set, there was a meet & greet and I not only got to meet the band and get a couple of things signed, but they posed for a picture with my son’s Flat Stanley school project. Really nice guys.

IMG_20111229_210826cccccI was struck as some differences in the set list between the second and third nights. They weren’t major differences, just a couple of songs and guest appearances, but there were differences. And then there was something lead singer Dicky Barrett said on the final night. He asked the audience who had been there all three nights. When a good chunk of the crowd cheered their response, he said “Those are the mutherfuckers!” praising those dedicated fans who stuck through all three nights. That’s when it hit me. If I was going to go to another Hometown Throwdown, it won’t be for just one or two nights, it would be for the whole run.

IMG_20131229_222503ddddAnd that’s what I did.

Last year I was able to return to Boston and see the band again, all three nights of the Hometown Throwdown. And I came prepared as well, armed with a couple of items to bring to the anticipated meet & greet to have signed. While there wasn’t an item from my kids’ school for the band to take a picture with, I did bring along a choice old album for the members to sign.

boston day 2 07I don’t want to go into this last trip too much as I wrote about it quite a bit already. Suffice to say that it was a very satisfying three nights of music and if it was the last I would ever see of The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, I would have been a very happy fan. The band played my request of “Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Love” (no, really, it was solicited via Twitter).

Still, that last night, as Dicky Barrett sat among the audience after the show signing whatever fans put in front of him, I said “Please come back to Seattle!” and he replied “We’re thinking about it.”

Now I’m not going to take credit for the band coming back to Seattle. Well, maybe a little.

bosstones aug 2014This summer the band went on tour again and Seattle was one of those destinations. As soon as I could I purchased tickets for Stephan and myself. While I didn’t expect them to play “Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Love” I was sort of surprised at some of the songs that were absent from the set list. Missing were “Where’d You Go?” and “Tin Soldiers” among some other staples I had come to expect. Still, it was an excellent set and the band was in top form.

After the show Dicky Barrett sat at the edge of the stage signing whatever fans would put in front of him. I debated for a minute whether or not to go up and have my ticket signed and thank him for coming back to Seattle, but the crowd surrounding him was huge and I needed to get home.

Instead I have this post which is a very long way of saying “Thank you” to The Mighty Mighty Bosstones not only for coming back to Seattle to play, but for the decades of great music and memories.

 

 

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Preferences

Ciaran is getting new glasses soon. My wife’s health benefits allow for this to happen on a regular basis, and with 5 of the 7 in the family using corrective lenses, that’s a big deal.

He first got glasses 2 years ago and had to have them replaced 6 months after that. I don’t remember what happened, something along the lines of skidding on the pavement and scratching the lenses (I think). Generally Ciaran has been really good with his glasses and taking care of them, but he is a 7 year old boy after all. There is a certain amount of wear and tear to be expected. That his current pair lasted this long is a testament to not only his wanting to take care of them but also the types of frames he has.

While it’s great the insurance covers glasses, the method of doing so is a pain in the … well, it’s not good. Our primary care physician, our family doctor, is part of a health management organization (HMO) which offers vision care. This is where we got our glasses the last few years before the insurance kicked in, back when we were paying out of pocket for individual insurance. The current plan allows us to see the optometrist, but not actually get the prescription filled where we have in the past. Now we have to find a location to get the physical glasses the insurance covers.

Finding a place to get the prescription filled is not nearly as user-friendly as it should be. The insurance website is cumbersome and not forthcoming with as much information as one could use. Still, we garner a fistful of places and set out. Because of his age (head size) he needs a certain type of frame. Kids frames are usually fairly easy to find, but the insurance we have is specific as to which places we can go. The first couple of places had frames, but not ones that we wanted – flexible.

Ciaran loves the frames he has. Mostly because they feature his favorite color – green. I wasn’t planning on getting the same frames, but those are what we found at the place we eventually wound up at. As soon as that option became apparent Ciaran wasn’t going to be deterred from choosing something different. He is a creature of habit.

He doesn’t like much in the world, but what he likes he does so with the fiery intensity of a thousand suns.

I guess that was the whole point of writing all of this down. I just wanted to mention that.

 

 

 

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Music Monday: Sigue Sigue Sputnik

frontBack in the early-mid 1970s a group of young punks formed a band in London. It went nowhere, but the individual members would go on to form such bands as The Clash, The Damned and Generation X. Two of the members would reunite years later – bassist Tony James and guitarist Mick Jones. They formed Carbon/Silicon (with James having switched to guitar decades earlier) about 10 years ago and are still active under that moniker.

In-between Generation X and Carbon Silicon Tony James played bass for The Sisters Of Mercy on the 1990 Vision Thing album, but that wasn’t his main gig. Throughout most of the 80s then off and on in the 90s Tony James was the main creative force behind Sigue Sigue Sputnik, a band that was punk in attitude, but in a very different direction musically.

I didn’t get into the band until after it had broken up, but it wasn’t James’ participation with The Sisters Of Mercy that got me into them. I had become a little familiar with a few songs on the “alternative” radio station and watching “120 Minutes” on MTV – and by the time I started record collecting in earnest the group had gone their separate ways.

Sigue Sigue Sputnik would reform a couple of times in the 90s but with no real promotion or success and very little came of these events. I actually haven’t gotten around to finding the albums the band released during these reunions – a couple of which were not widely available outside of import shops and have of course gone out of print.

Here’s “Hack Attack” the B-side to the group’s first single (which also comes in an extended 12″ mix) “Love Missle F1-11″.

I love B-sides. They are usually just as good as the regular album tracks, if not better in some cases.

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Difficulties

Sometimes it can be difficult to write. There are topics which can be too difficult because of their personal nature or maybe there’s a certain “angle” the writer is trying to approach. Other times the subject can simply be too “weighty” and the writer has difficulties conveying their emotions.

Sadly, my difficulties are much more ordinary.

I have plenty to write about, but my problem is I am not satisfied with any of it. From our vacation in Massachusetts, getting ready to head back to school, my birthday, and plenty of little parenting things, I am not short of topics. I just can’t stand the approach I have. Tevye is 3 months old now. There is a wealth of material with him and the relationship with his siblings and the world around him. I’m just disappointed in how everything I write turns out.

Instead of writing with any real insight everything has been just a sort of chronological regurgitation of facts or events. Less and uninspiring and more than disappointing.

So what am I doing here? Better still what are you doing here?

I didn’t want to turn this post into some maudlin diatribe of self-pity. And look, I’ve already done that. There hasn’t been any “real” blog posts on here for a while, and now you know the reason. I’m trying to work through the crap that I’m typing to “get to the good stuff” but am finding it even more difficult than usual. It is bothersome.

 

 

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Music Monday: Johnny Cash

I have always liked Johnny Cash. Sure I’m particular to his earlier stuff with Sun Records, but there are times when he equaled or even bested that work.

There’s no need to rehash his personal ups and downs, many of which contributed to his musical ups and downs. I do believe, however, that even when his output wasn’t good it was still better than most of what passed (and still passes) for country music.

outamongthestarsJohnny Cash had a number of qualities that made him an admirable musician, such as his disdain for “fake” or “inauthentic” music and people. He was unapologetic about who he was, a sinner, a man of great devotion and faith, and somebody who tried to better himself when he could. He also had a sense of humor.

For my birthday last week Laura gave me the latest Johnny Cash release. Out Among The Stars was initially recorded 30 years ago but shelved until this year. One of the songs showcases that humor – ” I Drove Her Out Of My Mind” which wasn’t written by Cash himself, but it sure sounds like it. It might have been expressly written for him.

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For Ciaran At 7

What a heck of a ride it’s been so far. You are the most particular of our kids with your own peculiarities that seem… I don’t know… we’ve always referred to you as an 80 year old, even from birth. You are the youngest curmudgeon we have ever met and so self-confident, so sure of yourself that we don’t worry about you at all.

2013 school first 03This last year for Kindergarten you went right in and tackled virtually every academic challenge. You started reading almost suddenly and on your own. You are smart and pick up on things very quickly. Perhaps dangerously so.

Sometimes you seem so old, and then there are things that remind us how young you really are. Still afraid of going to a movie theater, that’s your youth. Being totally secure and comfortable with it, that’s something beyond your years.

pham foto 1-3-14 3It’s an awkward age. Your favorite television program is still Octonauts, which airs on Disney Junior, but you are also discovering all these other programs for older kids. You want to participate in those conversations with your siblings and friends, and you do. Straddling that gap between age groups can be difficult when there are so many differences, but you walk that line well.

It can be difficult living in the shadow of your older siblings as well as not getting the attention for being one of the younger ones. You are making your own mark and forging your own path.

nov 13 chuck 02The last 2 years for your birthday we’ve been out of town on vacation, ant it’s not fair. Each of your siblings get the birthday party they want with friends and you’ve been stuck having your parents scramble to find something fun for you. Next year we’re going to try and get our vacation moved to earlier in the summer so you can have a more normal birthday. Heck it’s been a couple of weeks past your birthday as it is and I still haven’t posted this.

But you take all of this in stride. Your feelings are hurt but you keep moving forward.

While we worry about you, we aren’t worried about you. It may not make sense now, it will one day. I can’t wait to see what the coming year brings.

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Music Monday – CNR

Everybody is talking about how “Weird Al” Yankovic has the number one album with Mandatory Fun. It’s not only his first number one album, it debuted in that position, and it is the first comedy album to occupy that spot since 1963.

It’s about time.

But I don’t want to highlight any of that. Instead I want to showcase a song off of his previous album, Alpocalypse, and one of my absolute all-time favorite Yankovic songs.

 

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Shots

A friend came over to pick up Déla for a playdate while Tevye was simply just being very vocal about not feeling good. Laura told our friend that he had just had some vaccinations.

Discussion then turned to how vaccines have advanced, with new ones coming and even how now, such as this morning, three different vaccinations can be combined into one shot when just a few years ago many of them had to be administered individually.

We then relayed a story to our friend about how one time August required six different shots for his vaccinations. The nurse spent 10 minutes prepping everything and we were wondering what was taking so long. Suddenly she just started poking him with the needles and in about 20 seconds everything was done, including little bandages over where he got shots. It was over before he could even cry about the first one.

As we tell this story our friend turns to August and tells him not to worry, that she will prevent us from telling stories like this at his wedding. Chances are we’ll have forgotten about these types of stories anyway.

But that’s why I blog.

So I don’t forget.

And now I have no excuse not to remember this story at August’s wedding.

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Music Monday: Devo (Part 2)

Last week I started to go a bit more in-depth about my relationship with the band Devo. One of the two tattoos I have is inspired by the band as is the name of this blog.

Wednesday night the band was in town for their Hardcore Devo Tour. There were only 10 stops on this tour which exhumed songs from 1974-1977, the period of time before the band’s debut album arrived.

Songs featured were from the recently rereleased compilation album Hardcore Devo, previously available in two volumes now combined into a double album. Yes, there were songs like “Uncontrollable Urge”, “Jocko Homo” or even my personal favorite “Be Stiff” but the emphasis was on the (much) lesser known songs such as “Midget” or “Social Fools”. Here is the latter.

What I really liked about the set, other than the wealth of songs the crowd couldn’t sing along to, was the presentation – in chronological order. Devo presented a 2 hour history of the band. They started out in the basement with songs from 1974 and 1975 on through to 1976 and 1977 with props the band used at the time.

With no opening band Devo took the stage a little after 8 and played for about 2 hours. It was a fantastic set and I wish I had gotten pictures. My phone’s battery died and I didn’t bring my regular camera.

Here in “Midget.”

Two types of tickets were available for purchase to this concert. the regular admission ticket and a much more expensive VIP package which included a meet and greet with the band. Unfortunately the tickets to meet the band sold out so I only had the general admission ticket. I would have really liked to have met the band, had them sign my New Traditionalists LP and thank them.

Of course I somehow found a way into the meet and greet. The less said the better.

hardcore devo posterWanting something for the band to sign I ran to the merchandise table and picked up the (rather expensive but very nicely printed) poster for the tour. I stood in line and waited my turn. First up was Mark Mothersbaugh. He drew on my poster and I told him I started this blog and titled it inspired by the Devo song. He seemed a little surprised, but was cool with it. I shook his hand and thanking him for the inspiration the band has provided over the years. Sitting next to him was Bob Mothersbaugh (Bob 1) and he heard a bit of our conversation and noticed my tattoo as I shook Mark’s hand. He smiled and laughed approvingly then signed my poster.

Next to him was Josh Freese who is at this point as much a member of the band as anybody. While he isn’t the original drummer his time behind the kit has been longer than even original drummer Alan Myers. Finally Gerry Casale. He seemed touched when I told him the inspiration for my blog’s title. When I thanked him for the inspiration the band has provided over the years his response was “That’s the point, isn’t it?” As I was being told to move along (a little roughly probably because the security guys finally figured out I wasn’t supposed to be there) I got to give condolences to Gerry about his brother.

Of the three times I have seen Devo this was my favorite. Each of the three performances were fantastic, but getting to meet the band, tell them to their face how they directly inspired me on top of a fantastic performance of rarely heard songs makes this my favorite.

“Fountain Of Filth”

Now if only the band would release a live album from this tour. Please.

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