2 More Announced For The Fair

The musical announcements for this year’s Washington State Fair are coming in at a fair clip. Pretty soon we should have the full lineup.

Recently announced were two new additions. First up Casting Crowns appearing Monday, September 18 with Matthew West. Then it is Thomas Rhett performing Wednesday, September 20. Here is what the total lineup looks like so far:

Tickets for most shows are available now at www.thefair.com where you will find information on all The Fair has to offer this year.

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Music Monday: Transformer – Artist Of The Year Lou Reed Part 3

This is the album Lou Reed would try to live down for many years, most of his career even.

I had heard this album years ago but did not have my own copy until I picked up the RCA & Arista Album Collection. it has been, probably 20 years or so since I sat down and listened to Transformer from beginning to end. Certainly I was familiar with several of the songs as several of them are “hits” and gathered on compilations or played on the radio from time to time.

Several of the songs here are absolute classics, perhaps the most noteable is “Walk On the Wild Side” – a song about several real characters Lou Reed knew from Andy Warhol’s Factory. And that’s not even the best song on the album.

Well, in my opinion.

Actually I’m not sure which is the best song on the album, but “New York Television Conversation” certainly would be a contender.

Transformer kicks off with “Viscious” a song that was suggested by Andy Warhol, then another song, “Andy’s Chest” about an attempt on the artist’s life. Like his solo debut album, there are songs on here Reed had written for his previous band Velvet Underground, though fewer this time around. “Andy’s Chest” is one such title.

“Prefect Day” is a newer song, and could be about spending the day with a person you love or heroin. My personal opinion is that both theories are correct.

One of my favorite songs on the album is “Satellite Of Love” which really shows David Bowie’s influence in the recording.

Another favorite on the album is “New York Telephone Conversation”, one of the songs originally written for the Velvet Underground. It takes what could be a mundane topic and turns it into a fantastic story, which is what Lou Reed does so well.

Transformer saw Lou Reed, with the help of producers David Bowie and Mick Ronson (who provided lead guitar on the album as well), fully come into his own as a solo musician. Here the stories come to life in a way that we have not heard from him before.

Interestingly, this album, like his previous one, was recorded in London. Certainly it was an odd choice for a New York City based musician to be recording in London as much as he did, but I suspect this was more due to the record label and booking of studio time.

It is easy enough to see why David Bowie would be chosen as a producer, since both David Bowie and Lou Reed were on the same record label at the time. There are touches of Bowie’s “sound” in the album, but by and large this is more Mick Ronson’s effort, being more credited with the guitar sound of the album as well as playing lead.

Disappointingly what we get in the box set is a reproduction of the album, which means this is not the 30th anniversary reissue which included two bonus tracks, demo versions of “Hangin’ Around” and “Perfect Day” –  so I’m going to have to pick that up separately.

Transformer might be, well, it certainly is one of Lou Reed’s best albums. If you are looking for way to check out Lou Reed beyond the “best of” compilations,  Transformer is a fantastic album with which to be introduced to Lou Reed.




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War In Everett?

War is tough, as in the cost is great in both material resources and human life, not to mention anything about the effect on those who survive. But what causes a nation to commit to such costs? The Flying Heritage Collection in Everett has a new exhibit opening Saturday March 4 titled Why War: The Causes of Conflict.

This exhibit looks at the major conflicts in America’s history in an interactive manner exploring “common causes and roots of military confrontations.” Visitors to the Flying Heritage Collection will get the chance to check out a number of interactive components to the exhibit, including “98-inch touchscreens, rare historical artifacts and full-scaled, detailed replicas.”

To learn more about The Flying Heritage Collection and the Why War exhibit check out the following official online places:


Photos courtesy of The Flying Heritage Collection

The Flying Heritage Collection is located at 3407 109th St. SW in Everett, at the south end of Paine Field.

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I don’t get it.

And maybe that’s unpopular to say. I think a lot of people feel the same way but are sort of afraid to admit it.

Thing is, there’s a lot I don’t understand, but I also know that’s me. I don’t know what it feels like to be identified as one gender but feel as if that is wrong. What I do know is at conception we have a set of chromosomes that define what we are supposed to be, but that doesn’t always correspond to what comes out. Let’s look at men’s nipples. What are they for? And then why do some people develop breasts yet still have a penis? Weird.

Some people are born one way, but they feel differently. Born, strictly for example, as a boy, anatomically, but for whatever reason, they feel as if they should have been born a girl. That must be really confusing for the child because internally they feel as if they are a girl, but their parents from birth have been raising that child as a boy.

I can only imagine what a parent might feel. You spend a number of years raising a child only to be told you were wrong. I can see how it might be taken that way.

We as a society treat boys and girls differently. Expectations, clothes, hair, even the most “aware” of us, we who make every attempt to treat our differently sexed children equally, we still treat our boys and girls different. Because they are different.

And different can be scary.

What if one of my kids came up and said they felt transgender? What would I do? I’d get pronouns wrong, I can tell you that much. I struggle yelling out the correct name when somebody is in trouble. “Xavier… er, Ciaran, er, YOU! KNOCK IT OFF!”

What I would not do is love my child any less or any differently.


Why, if we are made in God’s image, are some people born one gender but identify as another? Some would dismiss this as confusion, or rebellion, or even a mental illness.

That feeling, that notion, that sense one has of identity, it has to be pretty strong to cross the gender line. Born anatomically one way but to identify as another, that takes a heck of a self-reckoning.

Being born one way but knowing, knowing, that you should be something else.

It is something I just don’t get.

You know what I do get? Homosexuality. That’s something I can wrap my head around and understand. You don’t choose who you love. And I say this as a man who has been attracted to women his whole life. Being gay I can understand. Some people are wired in a way that makes them like a certain thing.

Alright, here is where the audience is going to turn on me.

Sometimes I think what makes understanding transgender difficult for me is that it is too vague of a term. What does it mean? Is it a male who identifies as female? A female who identifies as male? A gay male who identifies as female but still likes guys? A gay female who identifies as male and now likes guys?

Yes, lumping sexual orientation into transgender is not doing anybody any favors, and I know I am not helping matters any. Transgender is far too loose of a term. Who can come up with a specific term for a straight male transitioning into a gay female as opposed to a straight male transitioning to a straight female? How do we know who is what when we are told somebody is “trans”?

But hear me out.

This confusion only fuels the fear that people have.

What is it people are afraid of?

I am not referring to the disgust some people have for transgender people (I’m looking at you evangelical supposed Christians – but you stopped reading this a long time ago). Instead I am referring to those who profess to not care about however people want to live their life but would vote against allowing transgender people to use the public restroom of their choosing.

And I don’t get it.


What is it that you are afraid of? A man at birth, who identifies as a woman, and is living now as a woman, just wants to pee. So why can’t she go into the women’s restroom? Are we afraid some sexual assault will happen?

Growing up I have forcibly been made to see the inside of a few toilets in the restrooms at schools. And let me tell you, every time I was beaten up or assaulted it was by another boy. In the boy’s restroom.

Somebody told me in an argument against allowing transgender people to use the restroom of their choice (and I am paraphrasing somewhat here) that if a guy needs to pee and there is a long line he can say “I feel like a woman” and go into the women’s restroom. And he genuinely thought that would happen.

Maybe if it did happen that person should be prosecuted.

What is it that makes people so uncomfortable about having a transgender person use the same public restroom?

I’m uncomfortable using a public restroom, no matter who is in it.

If you live in a city, you have already shared a public restroom with a transgender person. I guarantee it. And I am betting nothing happened.

So why not let somebody who identifies as a man use the men’s restroom and a person who identifies as a woman use the women’s restroom?

Is it the fear of some sexual assault?

Maybe if we actually prosecuted sexual assaults in this country that might not happen.

Regardless of which gender you are or identify as.



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More Upcoming Fair Fun

The Washington State Fair is known for being a large event. Part of this is the main stage and the musical acts that perform there. Earlier it was announced Nickelback would kick off the main stage with Jason Aldean closing things out.

Now more acts are announced.

And some rodeo.

With more announcements to come.

Perhaps the biggest name in this round of announcements is Steven Tyler. The Aerosmith frontman is touring behind his debut solo album We’re All Somebody From Somewhere. Then there is the country group Lady Antebellum who have a new album coming out later this year. Other country performers announced as appearing at the Washington State Fair this year are Easton Corbin and Granger Smith.

Then there is the Professional Rodeo Cowboy Association rodeo – the 84th held during the Washington State Fair. This multi-day event is one of the top rodeos in the country and an important step on the way to the PRCA finals which are taking place in Las Vegas in December.

By all means this is not the end of the announcements for mainstage entertainment during the 2017 Washington State Fair.

So far the schedule looks like this:

DATE PERFORMANCE TIME PRICES (incl. Fair gate admission)
Sept. 1 (F) Nickelback w/special guest Daughtry                                                       7:30 p.m. $100, $90, $80
Sept. 2 (Sa) Lady Antebellum w/special guests Kelsea Ballerini & Brett Young 7:30 p.m. $100, $90, $80
Sept. 3 (Su) Steven Tyler 7:30 p.m. $90, $80, $60
Sept. 7 (Th) Rodeo Playoffs – Evening Performance 6:30 p.m. $30, $20, $15 or $66 for family of 4 thru 9/4
Sept. 8 (F) Rodeo Playoffs w/Granger Smith Concert 6:30 p.m. $40, $30, or $40 for concert only (dirt GA)
Sept. 9 (Sa) Rodeo Playoffs – Matinee Performance 1 p.m. $35, $25, $15 or $66 for family of 4 thru 9/4
Sept. 9 (Sa) Rodeo Playoffs w/Easton Corbin Concert 6:30 p.m. $40, $30, or $40 for concert only (dirt GA)
Sept. 10 (Su) Puyallup Rodeo Finals 1 p.m. $40, $30
Sept. 24 (Su) Jason Aldean w/special guest Kane Brown                          7:30 p.m. $150, $140, $100

Season passes for the rodeo will be available for $95 or $185 depending on location.


Head over to www.thefair.com to get ticket information, such as when certain events go on sale as well as to sign up for their newsletter and get notifications of other upcoming events around the Washington State Fair.

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Music Monday: Lou Reed (Self Titled) Artist Of The Year Lou Reed Part 2

It took a few songs to figure it out. Something was off. The problem wasn’t consistent, but it kept popping up.

Not having heard the self-titled debut album by Lou Reed in, like, well, ever, I was certainly eager to put this one in my player and give it a listen. I had heard several of the songs before from a couple of compilations, so the album did sound familiar.

Coming a couple of years after he left The Velvet Underground, Lou Reed (the album) features songs Lou Reed (the performer) had written for his previous band. While still navigating a more traditional rock and roll path there is still plenty of poetry, literally, in Lou Reed’s songwriting and delivery.

And that ultimately is what makes Lou Reed a great musician.

“Walk And Talk It”

This first solo album was recorded in London with session musicians, two of whom were members of the band Yes. I haven’t read to many things about Lou Reed in the early 70s so I am not sure if he was fully expecting to get back into recording and performing, which might account for the fact that it was even recorded in London.

Of the 10 songs on this album, two were newly written. Reed had left the music behind so he did not have a ready catalog of songs when he signed his record contract. “Berlin” would be rerecorded a couple of albums later as the title track for that album. Most of the other songs had been recorded with the Velvet Underground, but not released (though most are now available in box sets or as bonus tracks on reissues).

“Berlin” (original version)

As an album it is a bit uneven, the storytelling is not his strongest, but it really does lay out the groundwork for the rest of his career.

But back to the problem I mentioned earlier.

The first half of the song “Lisa Says” sounds as if Lou Reed is channeling Bob Dylan with his vocal. The second half, which is almost a completely separate song, sounds like Lou Reed. This is an album where he is finding his voice. Yes, he sang with Velvet Underground, but here he is finding his own voice, which is different.

“Ride Into The Sun”

It’s a good album, but definitely not the one to use as a starting point to learn about the man’s career and music.

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On Break

No, I’m not taking a break from blogging.

Instead I am referring to the inconsistencies with breaks in the school calendar.

Let’s take this weekend for example.

President’s Day, or Presidents Day, or perhaps Presidents’ Day – choose your preference because I can’t find an official grammatical presentation for the holiday.

On the school calendar this holiday coincides with mid-winter break, the vacation time of no school that occurs between winter/Christmas vacation at the end of December and beginning of January and spring break, usually in April.

My kids, who go to Catholic school had a half-day on Thursday, were off Friday, and have Monday (the actual holiday) and Tuesday off, then back to school on Wednesday.

Laura, who teaches in public school, has Monday (the actual holiday) through Friday off.

This means there are only two school days where everybody will be off school.

We are asked, and most people are, when a long weekend like this approaches, “Are you doing anything for ___?”

The answer is most invariably “No.”

And not just because the different school calendars have different break times. Spring break for the kids is the full week after the same vacation for public schools the full week before. One week Laura will be home while the kids are still in school and the following week I will be home with the kids while Laura has gone back to work.

So this time? Why aren’t we doing anything special or going anywhere?

Mostly it has to do with teeth.

There is a dental appointment on Monday and two orthodontist appointments on Tuesday. Combine that with the inconvenience of a 6 month old’s nap schedule and any “quick” getaway is pretty much pointless.

Even summer vacation has different start times.

Some day we will be able to have a mid-year break other than Christmas together.

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Music Monday: Lou Reed RCA & Arista Album Collection Box Set (Lou Reed Part 1 – Artist Of The Year Intro)

I saw Lou Reed perform in 2002 at the Bumbershoot festival. He was getting ready to release The Raven, an album consisting of material inspired by or with lyrics taken from the works of Edgar Alan Poe. There were some of the classic songs of course, but he was certainly eager to showcase the poetry he was setting to music.

This is what I imagine to be the driving force behind Lou Reed’s career. The man offered up your typical rock and roll music, but he also used rock and roll and an art medium. Where Bob Dylan raised the stakes with rock and roll as poetry, Lou Reed saw rock and roll as art, all the way starting with his original band The Velvet Underground.

I had known about Lou Reed for a while before I picked up my first album at some point in the mid-80s, his first “greatest hits” compilation Walk On The Wild Side: The Best Of Lou Reed. It was a cassette, and I played the heck out of it so much it began to wear out. Then in 1989 his album New York came out and I picked that up. It remains one of my favorites of his to this day, but that’s another story.

It wasn’t until the 90s I started getting more into Lou Reed, but not in the same way I have with may other bands and musicians. I would pick up an album every now and then, picked up another compilation of his earlier stuff, and eventually got to see him perform.

Over the years I have grown to appreciate more and more Lou Reed’s artistry and his use of rock and roll as an art medium.

Last year my “artist of the year” was Queen. I had wanted to finish collecting all the band’s albums in a project I should have chronicled, or even acknowledged better in some way on the blog. When it came time to figure out who my “artist of the year” would be for 2017 I took some time to figure it out. Dropkick Murphys had just released a damn good album and I still had a couple to pick up and complete my collection. I’m working on finishing my collection of Blue Oyster Cult as well.

While contemplating the artist I would focus on this year I saw the Lou Reed RCA & Arista Album Collection box set had been released, and there was Lou Reed The Sire Years collection as well. I thought to myself I wonder if it would be cost effective to pick either of them up as I already had a few Lou Reed albums.

Looking into The Sire Years box I found out that I already had half the albums in that box making it not very cost effective. Looking into the RCA & Arista Album Collection I noticed that I did not have any of these albums, save one or two on cassette. How did that happen?

I had a few gift cards to Best Buy and the price of the box set would just be covered, so I decided that Lou Reed would be my artist of 2017 and this purchase would take me most of the way there.

So I got it.

I really like this set. The focus is clearly on what matters, the music. There are some drawbacks, such as having a recreation of the albums as originally issued means we are missing the bonus tracks released on whichever deluxe reissue came out (such as Cony Island Baby). As a whole, however, this box set is much better than my previous big money box set purchase. The Pink Floyd box sets have a lot of extraneous material that is cool, but ultimately drove the price higher than necessary.

When I don’t know what else to write for Music Monday I’ll be going through Lou Reed’s catalog, starting off with his solo debut album. I am looking forward to my “artist of the year” project, partly because I will have all of Lou Reed’s albums in my collection but also because this will hopefully be an interesting series of posts.

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Being Vegetarian

“Oh, the beefless Tips are back in stock. I love those!”

The cashier at Fred Meyer seemed inordinately chatty, but I had sufficient coffee so I didn’t mind. I replied,

“Yeah, I’m fortunate because I’m making stew tonight and really needed them.”

“I’m vegetarian, so I really like these. Are you a vegetarian as well?”

“Yes, I’ve been a vegetarian for… a few decades now.”

I am pretty sure I have been a vegetarian longer than the cashier has been on this earth. It started back in 1988 when I was in the Army. during field training exercises the way pork was prepared was absolutely disgusting. As a result I gave up pork. That included ham, which I will get to in a moment.

A few self-reflections later and I wound up giving up pretty much all meats over the course of the next year so that by the time I was discharged in the summer of 1989 the only thing I at was fish, and only then it was the occasional fish & chips, but that ended by 1990.

While I wasn’t raised vegetarian, apparently my mother was for most of my life. I don’t really remember separate dinners, but I guess there were. When I decided to become vegetarian there were a few meatless products, such as Morningstar Farms brand Grillers burger patty. Then there was TVP (textured vegetable protein) which could be molded into various other items, such as “meat”balls – though the effectiveness was lackluster (at best).

When veggie crumbles were introduced I was thrilled. Morningstar Farms found out that many of their customers (like me) would take the Grillers and crumble them up to use in other recipes. The company would go on to introduce a number of products in the mid- to late-90s which would expand my options for cooking, along with other brands which started to come to market. What I distinctly remember was in 1991 there were Grillers, tofu (and it is surprising the breadth and variety of tofu available now), TVP and posibbly tempeh.

And I didn’t really know how to cook with those ingredients, teaching myself to cook and learning to be a vegetarian at the same time.

I remember when I got out of the Army in 1989, I was living with my best friend from high school and his girlfriend.She made dinner one night, knowing that I was a vegetarian. It was stir-fried rice with vegetables and ham. I started picking out the small pieces of ham and she got so mad. I told her that I stopped eating pork first over (at that time) a year ago and was becoming vegetarian. I reminded her that she knew this and her response was the pieces of ham were  small so it didn’t matter. Or if it did, why should she bother to make separate meals. I continued to pick the ham out and she got angrier and angrier eventually leaving the table. I appreciated her cooking dinner, but that wasn’t enough. She wanted me to eat what she cooked, a meal she knew I was not going to eat as intended. I wasn’t mad, I just didn’t want to eat the ham. She was so offended I wasn’t going to eat  the meal she prepared, despite knowing I was a vegetarian. Her justification was the pieces of ham were small and therefore inconsequential so I should just eat it. I remember this evening because it was when I fully resolved to be a vegetarian despite whatever opposition and obstacles I would inevitably encounter.

Once when Laura and I were travelling (just the two of us, before kids) and we were spending the night somewhere in Wyoming. Cody, I think. The trick to travelling when you are a vegetarian, at least it used to be this way much more than it is today, is ethnic food was the choice. Chinese food is good, but the middle of Wyoming can be a bit suspect. A Mexican restaurant is also usually a good choice. We went to a Mexican restaurant and on the menu there were sections for beef, chicken or pork with a variety of dishes under each variety of meat. Then there were sections for the types of food. Tacos, burritos, etc. Under the burrito heading, there was beef, chicken, pork, or bean & cheese. I ordered the bean and cheese burrito. The waitress asked me “Do you want that with beef, chicken or pork?” I replied that I wanted the bean and cheese burrito, as it was on the menu. She looked at me confused, completely unsure of what I was ordering. As if the concept of vegetarianism was so completely alien to her.

Why didn’t my mother raise me vegetarian? I don’t know and I’m not going to worry about it. What I find interesting is when people find out I am a vegetarian they ask me if I am raising my kids vegetarian as well.

Yes, of course I am. Why wouldn’t I?

I mean, when you find  out when somebody is Jewish do you ask them if they are raising their kids Jewish?

Alright, so that might not be the best analogy or parallel, but it is a similar reasoning.

The fact is, it is so much easier to be a vegetarian today than when I started. Not only is there a wider variety of product, there are multiple brands offering choices. If you want (mock) chicken nuggets there are a few different brands to choose from. The fact is there is almost everything you could want or use in a substitute these days. While they all may not have the exact same taste as their real meat counterparts, they are good.

Part of the menu for this week looks like this: beef stew, casserole, spaghetti & meatballs, and then fish & chips.

What am I denying my kids by raising them vegetarian?

It isn’t nutrition, because they are certainly growing well and getting good grades in school. They aren’t being deprived of flavor because they have plenty food and a variety of it to eat.

This past summer when we spent a couple of weeks at Yellowstone National Park we stayed outside of a small town. It is now so easy to be a vegetarian the two small grocery stores had several vegetarian substitutes. No, not nearly as many as there are in the grocery store here in Seattle, but still, enough that we didn’t want for options.

When people tell me their child wants to be a vegetarian they often ask me for advice or how I feed my kids. It’s easy, really, living here in a major city. There are plenty of options, you just have to look. There is still the misconception that you just eat vegetables and pasta, which simply isn’t the case.

The only thing I miss is pastrami. There simply hasn’t been a good substitute for that yet.

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Music Monday: Grace Vanderwaal (Perfectly Imperfect E.P.)

Like many I first heard about Grace Vanderwaal through Facebook. It was a video of her first appearance on “America’s Got Talent” that got a lot of attention.

A while later there was another video of her on “America’s Got Talent” and showing it to my kids we were interested in what might happen, so we did something we never had before – watched “America’s Got Talent” (and more than once).

We were happy for Grace as she won that season’s competition and wondered might happen next for her. Then I heard she had her first CD out. Perfectly Imperfect is an E.P. containing five songs, all originals written or co-written by Grace.

Don’t think if you saw her performances on “America’s Got Talent” that you have heard these songs. Well, you have, but they are slightly different. There are some different arrangements, a few extra lines, added production, etc.

Each of the songs presented are originals. Four of them she performed on “America’s Got Talent” and a fifth is new to the CD (though I swear I heard it before). My favorite song here is probably “Light The Sky” because of the lyrics – “If they don’t like it they can close their eyes, because we’re not the same, and we don’t have to try.”

If you saw her competition performances and liked them at all I highly recommend picking up this CD. This is an artist at the beginning of her career, and a very promising one at that. I am incredibly interested in seeing what her career will be like in 20 or 30 years.


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