A Day in the Life of a Cat

art145973.jpgWe live on the second floor of an apartment building. We have a small porch on the back side of the apartment which overlooks a lovely forest area. It is a lovely little thing and we have made use of it with flowers, herbs and other assorted greenery. Also there two birdfeeders hanging down which are kept full and can generally be seen with various birds enjoying a free meal.

It has also become a favorite spot for our cat, Thumbelina. Generally her and the birds get along as the birds immediately flee when the door is open, and the cat doesn’t spend her entire day outside as to allow some good bird feeding. Once or twice the two have met and Thumbelina has landed herself some prey. This is something that the wife abhors, but I understand being the nature of the beasts and all.

Today, being a fine, beautiful October day, I opened the back door and allowed the cat to enjoy the sun as well. She loves it when the door is kept open as that allows her the freedom of to-and-fro. I enjoy it as well for it allows me to not have to continually open and close the door for a finicky cat.

Moments ago I found the cat inside chasing what I thought was one of her many play things under the couch. It wasn’t long, however, when I realized that this play thing, might not be a toy after all. For one thing, the cat was completely engrossed in getting this thing out from under the couch – normally when her toys become unreachable she simply gets bored and moved on. For another I heard a chirping noise, and none of her toys chirp. As you might have surmised, it was a bird.

I quickly tore the cat away from the couch and shuffled her into the bedroom, door closed. I then carefully began moving the cushions away from the couch and then pushed it away from the wall. Finding no bird, I wondered if I wasn’t a bit mad, but continued turning the ouch over.

Sure enough, a little bird flew out and banged its head against the window. Poor thing desperately wanted to escape, but wasn’t clever enough to recognize a piece of glass (and believe me this isn’t a crystal clean window like in the commercials.)

I opened the doors as to give it an escape route and donned a pair of gloves as to not get scratched or bitten. I then tried to grab the bird to throw it outside.

Whoosh it went, grazing my hair and banging into the far wall where it quickly slid down into the relative safety behind the book shelf. Removing many books I finally made my way to an opening where I could reach at the bird. Unfortunately, the cranny was too small and all I could do was move my fingers menacingly at it in hopes it would change position.

It did and flew to another bookcase, thins time landing in front. It was obviously frightened and pushed itself frantically at the books hoping to find another haven.

Finally I was able to grab it and let it loose outside. It moved like it was hurt in some way, but it was definitely able to fly and so I figured it has a decent chance of surviving on its own. The cat was then unleashed and has spent the rest of today desperately looking for it’s capture.

Advertisements

Random Shuffle – 10/25/06

picnic.jpg“Then Came Lo Mein” – Robert Earl Keen
From Picnic

I first discovered Robert Earl Keen through some friends of mine. I think I attended a concert before I’d ever listened to an album. It was a great concert and as I soon discovered, very typical Robert Earl Keen. That is to say full of great subversive country music, raucous and bawdy jokes and the biggest throw down of the year.

This is a great song and a great showcase of his songwriting skill. It is a love song with bad jokes and a heart full of something meaningful. It throws together lines like “I was steamed I was fried/But you stood by my life/When I had my nervous breakdown” to make a pun about the Chinese restraint they are in, and make an acute observation about the power of relationships.

The music is a soft, rolling thing made into a beautiful duet with Margo Timmins.

Keen is never going to find his way to the top of the charts nor be decried as the next Dylan. His music is like a pot of warm stew in February. It is hearty, filling, and sometimes all you need, but it won’t ever flash or glitter and get your attention like Crème Brûlée. But sometimes all you need is a solid songwriter to get you through the long winters.

f46592e9yd5.jpg“Wayfaring Stranger” – Johnny Cash
From American III

I think there are few songs that I love deep down in my soul like “Wayfaring Stranger.” I’m generally not one for religious lyrics in pop tunes, but this one hits me in a way few things can. I think it is the notion of being a traveler, not bound for one land for long that appeals to me most. I’ve spent most of my life moving about so I know the feeling of being a stranger, yet also understand the joy of coming home.

I don’t spend much time writing about my own spiritual beliefs, but the idea of leaving the harsh realities of this world and crossing over Jordan to that heavenly home sounds somehow comforting.

And when you get Johnny Cash to sing it, well, I think I’m already over that river and headed towards home. I love that Cash makes the recording sparse, just a fiddle, some light strumming guitar and that Voice. Johnny Cash had the voice of God.

If I get to choose the songs for my funeral, this one is going in.

lastwaltz.jpg“Ophelia” – The Band
From Last Waltz

Truth is I’m not much a fan of the Band. So much praise has been lauded on Music From the Big Pink, but I mainly find it a bore. I love “The Weight” and I think that love ruins the album for me. Where it has this great acoustical instrumentation, great lyrics and some perfect harmonies, the rest of the album sounds way too slow and the vocals are just one long whine. I’ve tried many times to relisten to it and find what all the praise is about, but always come up short.

I’d pretty much given up on the band, in fact, until I watched The Last Waltz on television awhile back. This is the Band I’d dreamed about. Great music, great performances and a group worthy to be the most famous incarnation of Dylan’s back up band.

It wasn’t just the assortment of all-stars, including Dylan, joining them for this last dance. The Band cooked like fried rice. These guys were obviously having fun and holding their own with some of the great artists in music.

“Ophelia” is just the Band, no celebrity filler and it still kills. This is the type of music that floats in my head most of the time. A big band with blazing guitars, thumping bass, keys and horns all meshed together in a brilliant ménage a groovitude.

your-arsenal.jpg“Certain People I Know” – Morrissey
From Your Arsenal

Morrissey, with or without the Smiths, is a musician I’ve pretended to love for many years. It’s not that I don’t enjoy his music, because I certainly do, but rather that I’m just not terribly familiar with it. Not enough for the amount of name checking I’ve done with him anyway.

The Smiths are one of those bands like the Sex Pistols or the Clash that give extra cool points to those who profess their love for them. I admit I have used them all to gain an edge on new friends, or to feel a little more special to an extra special girl.

Morrissey is the only one I actually really dug a record from (I’ve never managed to really get the Sex Pistols and only have recently found the joys of the Clash). Your Arsenal is the record of choice as it came about during my finer years and in the midst of the whole alternative is huge ordeal in the early 90s.

A recent run to the local library has yielded a bustle full of new Morrissey records and I am in the midst of a rebirth in his music. This one is an oldie, and one I’ve enjoyed for many years. Not exactly typical as it has a more rockabilly feel than most of his work, but still a good one.

Maybe now I can whisper to my wife how awesome I think the man is, and really mean it.

bruce_springsteen_we_shall_overcome_the_seeger_sessions.jpg“Buffalo Gals” – Bruce Springsteen
From We Shall Overcome

I’ve mentioned before that I’m not much for Bruce Springsteen. I can see he is a good writer and performer, but he’s always seemed just a tad to earnest for my tastes. Whenever I listen to Springsteen, or hear the devotion from his legion of fans, I get a little nervous. It’s a bit like having die hard Jesus freaks over for dinner. I get what they are saying, but they’re just a little too into it to make me feel comfortable.

At least I did feel this until I heard his Pete Seeger tribute. Man that album rules. “Buffalo Gals” is probably my favorite tune in the bunch. There is such joy in this music. It’s a group of outstanding players playing their hearts out and having fun at it. It’s the fun part that wins me over. This is Springsteen finally tossing out the fire and brimstone and enjoying himself.

This is a hoe down of a song, a real barn burner. It makes me wish I could play an instrument, or had some rhythm to dance to it. It makes me glad to be alive. It makes me happy. And if that aint the point of it all, then we might as well all give up now, and go home.

Lost: Season Three, Episode Four – “Every Man For Himself”

islands.jpg

New Revelations:

  • Desmond sees the future
  • Sawyer did time in prison
  • Jack, Kate, and Sawyer are on a second, smaller island

Plot:

Desmond is the new Locke.

At the beginning of the episode we see him approach Claire and tell her that she needs to move while he fixes her roof. Claire and Charlie look at the roof but see no problems with it. Desmond then borrows a golf club from a character we haven’t seen before and creates a big giant pole with it. The club is at the top has an electrical wire attached to it, stretching to the sand below.

Towards the end of the episode, Hurley and Desmond are talking, and Desmond asks Hurley to step back just as storm hits. Claire, Charlie and baby are soaked under the roof and a bold of lightning strikes the golf club, causing damage to itself but no one else.

I say again, Desmond is the new Locke.

The second island is the new hatch. Each season there is a single mystery that captures our attention for the duration. Last season it was the hatch and those numbers, this season it will be the second island.

In captivity we see the Others dragging a very injured Colleen past Sawyer and Kate. Sawyer uses this distraction to plan a means of escape. He uses his odd ball food distributor to create a puddle of water outside the cage, hoping someone will step in it allowing him to use the electrocution device to knock out an Other and him to escape.

Ben, having watched this plan on the video, comes to Sawyer, allows him to try the plan, but the electrocution has been turned off. Ben then beats Sawyer and drags him away. Inside several Others strap Sawyer down and stab a needle into his heart.

When Sawyer awakens Ben shakes a rabbit to the point of death. He tells Sawyer that the rabbit had the same heart injections, which stops the heart beating when it gets to excited. Sawyer now has a heart monitor and is told that if his rate goes above 140 he will die. It is also threatened that if Sawyer tells Kate about any of it, she will be given the same treatment.

Meanwhile Juliet asks Jack (who is forced now to watch cartoons) to help with Colleen, as she is dying. Jack tries to heal her, but she is too far gone, and without a defibrillator, he can do nothing but watch her die.

This displeases Colleen’s husband, Pickett, who rushes outside and beats Sawyer to a pulp. He repeatedly asks Kate is she loves Sawyer and only stops the beating when she admits she does.

Inside Jack is handcuffed to the table holding the dead Colleen until Juliet frees him. While there, Jack asks about the x-rays he saws on his way in. It appears this person’s spine has a large cancer on it, and Jack asks who it is he is supposed to save. (In next week’s preview, it appears it will be Ben.)

Outside, Kate learns that she can escape her cage by climbing through the bars at the top. She does so against Sawyer’s wishes and then attempts to free Sawyer. He begs her not to, and tells her to run. They argue over the Kate’s “love” while Sawyer continues to refuse to tell her what happened to him. In the end Kate climbs back into the cage.

Later, Ben takes Sawyer to the top of a mountain where he explains to Sawyer that the heart problem was a lie conceived to make Sawyer obedient. He then takes Sawyer to the top of the mountain and shows him another island. That island is the one where all the survivors are, while he is being held on this smaller “Alcatraz.”

The flashback sequence consisted of Sawyer being in prison for one of his cons. While there a woman shows up claiming she has had Sawyer’s child. Sawyer feigns disinterest, but later proves he has a heart.

Sawyer also learns another convict has ten million dollars stashed away. Sawyer earns this man’s trust enough to learn where the money is, and then uses this information to buy his way out of prison. By telling the feds where it is, they release him early and apparently give him part of it in return. This money he has deposited into a band for his daughter.

Rating: ****

The Sawyer heart injection was some of the most intense moments of the series. This season they’ve been making the Others out to be decent, if terribly mysterious folks and this moment put them right back to total evil territory.

I was quite relieved when it turned out to be fake as I was already tiring of the monitor. It was a good gag to have the warning beep go off when Kate was changing clothes, but then to have the monitor register the same amount when Sawyer was getting beaten was ludicrous. I began to fear they would be using this device continuously through the series, and I knew that would be quite irritating.

Desmond becoming some sort of mystic psychic is quite interesting. I hope it doesn’t diminish Locke’s role as the same, but his character could prove to be quite fascinating.

Jack starting to help the Others as doctor could go either way for me. It kind of ticked me off at first, because I felt that Jack would be so pissed off at them by now that he’d use it as a bargaining chip. But the doctor in him seems to be winning, and perhaps he is beginning to feel no other choice but to cooperate. We’ll see how it goes in the upcoming weeks.

I was reminded during the preview that they have actually only been on the island for two months. Being the third year for viewers it is easy to forget the actual time line is much shorter, making the situation slightly less desperate.

Overall I am still growing tired of the constant tension and begin to wish there was a conclusion coming. However, the show still has me hooked and the tension sure is exciting.

Brewster’s Halloween Bash

DSC06497As a middle aged couple with no children it often becomes difficult for me and my wife to take part in the childish things we love. My wife and I have a collection of children’s books – from Dr. Seuss to Roal Dahl – but no one to read them to. We have children’s films – from Bugs Bunny to Toy Story – but no one to watch them with. We fly kites every May and carve pumpkins every October.

For Halloween we throw a big adult party to disguise our love for such a children’s game.
We’ve made it a big annual affair filled with food, music, big prizes and lots of gooey pumpkin mess.

Each year the affair has gotten bigger and bigger. Originally, it consisted of a few friends and some snacks and has now ballooned to a house full of guests, a democratic voting on best pumpkin complete with generous prizes, and more food than anyone could possibly eat.

This year my wife went all out in the food department. We had sautéed chicken with a peanut sauce, home-made spinach artichoke dip, an enormous cheese plate with a variety of French and Italian breads upon which to place them, strawberries with a chocolate fondue, some kind of fancy cheese bread with bit of prosciutto melted into it. To top it off we served pumpkin spiced cheese cake with apple cider for dessert.

It was delicious.

DSC06491This was the first year I have used an MP3 mix tape for the proceedings. Normally I spend many hours sorting through my music collections making a handful of carefully selected CDs to spin during the party.

You see I am an old style lover of the mix-tape. A great mix is a piece of art. The flow of songs from Track 1 Side A through the end of the tape is something to be chosen wisely, the music should make a statement and be a true expression of the tape maker. Frankly, this year I just didn’t have the time to make the proper mixes and threw a large stew of my favorite MP3s onto one disk and hit Shuffle.

The guests arrived and we began enjoying the bountiful feast my wife had prepared. Being a graduate student in French Linguistics my wife’s friends tend to be an international lot, and this year was no exception. We had guests from China, Korea and Russia with us which made for a lovely mix of culture and ideas.

Coming from a family that makes any game, no matter how trivial into a full-fledged contact sport I laid down many a taunt over my supremacy in to pumpkin carving field. The boasting was made doubly so as I had one last year’s contest.

As what usually happens when I becomDSC06487e boastful, I screwed my pumpkin up royally. I had planned on being experimental this year, and chose a two sided pumpkin carving. The idea was to carve a ghastly skeletal ghoul on one side and his sickle on the other. This way, when fully lit and placed near a wall, the sickle would create an ominous shadow.

A prize winner for sure, in theory, but in practice it was too difficult. I accidentally cut to far into the face, destroying my skeletons eyes and right ear.

Disgruntled and cursing I took a peak at the rest of the gang. Our Asian friends, having never carved before, were creating a simple triangle eyed face. While on the other side of the spectrum, Daniel made a winking devil creature with his battery powered, electrified pumpkin jig-saw!

With a half pumpkin disaster, I had to start over on the other side and this time chose something simple – a young man looking into a mirror only to see a horrid reflection. As everyone was already finishing up, I rushed myself and once again screwed up. It looked more like a poorly designed ghost instead of an eerie mirror face.

DSC06492We took our pumpkins outside and placed them on the deck railing. Candles lit they created a eerie picture lighting the crisp night air.

Votes were tallied and our new friend Bryana, from Kansas won with a giant spider.

Dessert was served, and pictures made as everyone shuffled out to their homes. Well almost everybody, a few stragglers stayed for a few Simpson Halloween specials before I warned them off with a dozen yawns.

Around midnight my wife and I shuffled off to bed. A kitchen full of pumpkin guts, dirty dishes piled high, a contest lost, and dreams of next years bigger bash on my mind.

Concert Review: Tea Leaf Green – October 19, 2006

I should have known better than to attend a concert while still recovering from a rather rotten head cold.  “But it’s Tea Leaf Green,” my wife pleaded, and “we haven’t been out in so long.”  And so there we went out in the cold and the rain, sniffling, sneezing and all.

To tell the truth, it was a bit odd to hear my wife excited to see Tea Leaf Green as she wasn’t at all familiar with the band’s material.  Me either excepting for their recent DVD release, Rock N Roll Band of which I had recently played numerous times and reviewed right here.  But she had enjoyed what she had heard, and the idea of going to a concert always has its appeal.

We showed up early, nearly half an hour, as it was general admission and we wanted to get a seat, instead of standing for the entirety of the performance.  Early wasn’t needed, as the place was nearly empty.

We sat, the two of us looking ragged and full of head germs, and waited.  Nine o’clock came and still there were but a few folks gathered about.  We pondered the meaning of the sign announcing “56 Hope Road” and showing us a cute little deer’s head.   “Could it be a brand of beer?” we pondered.  “Or perhaps it is a new teen show on the WB.”  “I know,” I declared, “It has to be Locke’s home address on Lost.”

As it turned out it was the name of the opening band.  They played for the few folks standing about as if it was for Madison Square Gardens.  I was duly impressed.  They jammed out every song and had a good thing going, though it was hard to discern more than the electric guitar and drums from the distorted sound quality.

A few more folks came, including a large group of college kids who plumped down right next to us.  I feel like an old man on a rotating record when I complain about the kids today, but dang they sure don’t have any respect for anything.

Though there was a band playing their hearts out right in front of them, and though they had surely paid good money to hear this band, they paid no mind at all to the performance.  Instead the men applied their attention to the ladies, scooting their chairs right up against them so as to look deeply into eyes, and entwine legs like a spider.  The ladies meanwhile, retracted their cellular phones from their purses every two minutes as if they were expecting a call for the next world summit.

Meanwhile some sparkling good music played on.

56 Hope Road played a good hour set and Tea Leaf Green came on around 10:30.  The room had since filled up to about half capacity, but what was there was energized and ready for the headliners.

It is always an interesting thing to attend a concert where you aren’t familiar with most of the band’s work.  There are no songs to sing-along to, nor grooves to groove along with knowingly.  It’s all shake it as you can.  We remained seated as our bodies were in no shape to groove anyway.

Seated it was still a darn fine groove thing.  The band play like a well grooved machine and they know how to work the crowd.  The thing is on the aforementioned DVD it kind of irked me to watch the lead singer, Trevor Garrod, work the crowd like a crazed cross between a Southern Baptist preacher and PT Barnum.  Grabbing the microphone like a dagger he’d swagger and sway with the music while singing his lyrics like the Holy Word.  It irked me because I tend to prefer musicians who approach music with importance and leave the posing to those on TRL.  However, in person it is quite impressive, and it must be said that young Trevor hits the keys as much as he shakes it for the crowd.

Despite our illnesses, the wife and I both forgot everything and fell into the trance of great music.  I got up into the crowd and swayed and moved like a teenager once again.

The darned kids were still at it with their cell phones and make-out moves.  The two girls seemed to be texting each other back, while another guy somehow managed to talk to whomever, though standing but feet from a fat round of speakers.

Kids today and their rock and roll.

The first set concluded around midnight.  It was a high performance and we’d had a grand time, but old age and illness took a hold.  My wife declared that she could barely hold her eyes open any longer, and I knew I wasn’t long for this cognizant world, and so we headed home.

A younger me would have cursed they day I ever left a concert before the last note was played, but the older me has learned when I’ve had enough no matter how killer the show.

I’ll never know what madness occurred in the second set, but having seen the first half I’ll surely catch the band the next time they come around.

Studio 60 On The Sunset Strip: Season 1, Episode 6 – “The Wrap Party”

I haven’t watched Saturday Night Live in probably ten years. I pretty much stopped watching television in college, and when I started a TV routine again, SNL wasn’t included in my line up. This goes for most late night TV, actually as I usually hit the bed fairly early, or when I don’t it isn’t due to watching television. As I write this David Letterman plays in the living room and I realize it has been as many years since I’ve watched him.

I say this because I believe that Studio 60 On the Sunset Strip is the best new show on television. Scratch that, it’s the best show on television period. And I’m sure I’m not getting half the inside jokes.

I mean I realize that is kind of behind the scenes look at a SNL type show complete with a Lorne Green look-a-like, but other than that, if there are insider jokes I certainly don’t get them. But still it is a darn good show. I love the comedy, the drama and the extensive cast.

It’s even made me start liking Matthew Perry, and I hate Matthew Perry.

There has been a lot of talk about Aaron Sorkin and how the show is similar to his other shows, but having never watched any of his other shows, I wouldn’t know. What I do know is it has great dialogue, contains a lot more story than an hour show has any right to have, and is the best freaking show on TV.


Plot: A continuation of last week’s episode beginning with the show-within-the-shows wrap, and a wrap party on set.Danny is still out to set up Matt with some women in order to make him forget Harriet. His choice are three struggling bimbo actresses who can’t grasp the concept of Matt writing for the show and not wanting to star, but are quickly distracted by the real stars.

Tom’s parents arrive and it is apparent that his father does not approve of him living in Hollywood nor being part of such a thing as a television show. They also apparently have never heard the classic Abbot and Costello sketch, “Who’s on First.”

Jordan asks Harriett to be her friend (as she seems to not have any) and to get her an autographed ball from her baseball playing boyfriend. The two do become closer, but alas the boyfriend hits on Jordan.

An elderly gentlemen wanders back stage and Cal spends his time trying to determine who he is. As it turns out the man was a World War II veteran and a writer for the original comedy show that worked in Studio 60, but only got one sketch on air before he was blacklisted.

Simon takes Matt to a comedy club to hear a popular black artist, as he feels the show is discriminatory for not having any black writers. The comic tells lame black vs. white jokes and both men are angered by this. They remain in the bar and Simon relays his history of growing up in the ghetto and his desire to pull other young men like himself out of the mire.

Another comic gets on stage and completely bombs, though his material is smart and sophisticated. He is promptly offered a writing job on Studio 60.

Best moment: The ending with Matt, Danny and Cal talking to the elderly gentleman about the old times. It was sentimental and sweet, but I’m an old sap.

Rating: ***1/2
This episode was a little schmaltzy and not nearly as funny as previous ones. But it has some good dialogue and I really enjoyed watching Jordan try to make friend’s and Tom working things out with his parents.

Highlights:

  • Tom giving his dad a vinyl copy of “Who’s on First.” Again schmaltzy, and again I’m a sap.
  • Matt getting frustrated with the hot chicks. “When you say you write the show, what does that mean?”
  • Harriett on last week’s near kiss: “I nearly has a Matt relapse, but I’m fine now.”

The Office: Season 3, Episode 5 – “Initiation”

theinitiation.jpgPlot: Having been hired permanent, Ryan decides he needs more experience as a sales rep. Dwight is the top salesman in the office and as such Ryan asks him to take him on a sales call.

Dwight decides instead of an actual call he will create a fraternity like initiation, and takes Ryan to his family farm. There he lectures him about planting seeds, leaves him in the middle of the field and quizzes him inside a barn. There Dwight’s cousin, Mose, runs around wearing the word “fear” on his chest. Eventually Dwight declares the two must fight, as Ryan needs to cast out “fear.”

After Ryan runs out, Dwight takes him on an actual sales call, where they both fail miserably. Upset, Ryan chunks raw eggs at the building and Dwight joins in.

In Stamford Jim and Karen fight over a squeaky chair.

Back at the main office, Jan is getting sick of Michael’s work ethic and asks Pam to give a report on what he does all day. Pam is only able to write down two items: Imitates Cosby, and Waited in Line for Pretzel.

The pretzel comes from the free pretzels that the office gives away once a year and is a big hit amongst staff members.

As the show closes Jim calls Pam accidentally expecting her to already be gone, intending to get the automated menu as he forgot Kevin’s extension. The two exchange a friendly, awkward conversation before being interrupted by the returning Dwight and Ryan.

Funniest moment: The initiation questions: “What is Michael’s greatest fear?” “What is the Dharma Initiative.” Watching Mose prepare for a fight was brilliant.

Rating: ****
Once again the Office proves to be the funniest show on television, with a heart. It was nice to see Ryan get some screen time and Dwight’s initiation was priceless. He’s so incredibly awkward and dumb and unintentionally hilarious. Yet I’ve known so many just like him. Pam got great laughs keeping tabs on Michael.

The show tends to be ending on a sweet moment, and the phone conversation was an especially nice touch. I think we’ve all been in relationships like that, where there is so much to say, and yet no one says anything. I both hope Pam and Jim wind up together and hope they stay a part for years to come.

Best gags:

  • Pam accidentally renting the zombie flick 28 Days Later when what she wanted was the mushy Sandra Bullock comedy, 28 Days.
  • Ryan to Dwight when Dwight mentions that the temp agency could have sent him anywhere: “I think about that every day.”
  • The opening gag where Dwight quizzes Ryan with brain teasers and Ryan answers them all correctly, often before the entire teaser is spoken.
  • Jim singing “Lovefool” to the annoyance of Karen and the delight of Andy.

My Name is Earl: Season 2, Episode 5 – “Van Hickey”

Sorry for the long delay in these, I’ve been fighting a boisterous cold and haven’t felt well enough to write it up.

Numbers Scratched Off: #50 – Kicked Tom out of the band
#51 – Slept with Ralph’s mom

Funniest moment: Randy and Earl dancing in a strobe light to “Mr. Roboto”

Plot: Earl makes amends with Tom, an elderly gentleman they kicked out of the band (consisting of Randy, Earl, Ralph and Tom) just before their one and only performance. Seems Tom was making all the ladies a little weirded out.

Tom will only forgive Earl if he lets him back in the band. So they get the band back together only to have it disbanded again when it slips out that Earl slept with Ralph’s mom. You see the night after the one big concert Earl’s date fell unconscious and Randy’s mom was there and willing and…well one thing led to another.

The only way Ralph feels Earl can amend this problem is to let Randy kill him. He’s serious too, and places a large hand gun to Earl’s temple ready to do the deed. Earl manages to talk him out of it by vowing to marry Ralph’s mom.

They marry and everything goes well until Ralph realizes the marriage has not been consummated. Earl digs everything about the marriage – the home cooked meals, the conversation and house cleaning – except for the idea of sleeping with Ralph’s mom.

Once again killing is threatened, but Earl is saved by Tom who begins a relationship with Ralph’s mom after the band played their second gig.

Rating: ***
Ralph is a new character to me. I suspect he’s been around in other episodes, but he felt kind of tossed in for the gag, and as such kind of knocked the appeal of the show down a notch. If I see him more, I may warm up to him.

The band gag was kind of lame as was the concept of sleeping with/marrying the old lady. Jason Lee pulls it off as usual with his abundant charm, and I can’t not have anything but love for Ethan Suplee. There were a couple of great gags and that more than made up for the less-than-stellar plot

Best Gags:

  • Joy playing “Red Rover” with some elder folks at a home (which she is doing to help her pending court case). A lady with a walker is called and it takes her ten minutes to get across to the other side.
  • Randy to some groovy chicks: “We’re rock stars. You can tell from my rock star pants. See all the zippers. Guess what’s in this zipper – licorice.”
  • Groovy chick: Maybe I’ll see what’s in the other zippers.”
  • Randy: “more licorice”
  • Earl on sleeping with Ralph’s mom: “She wasn’t young, but she was conscious.”

CD Review: Tori Amos – A Piano: The Collection

toritop_600×150.jpg

I don’t believe there is a girl between the ages of 25-35 who didn’t fall madly in love with Tori Amos’ first album, Little Earthquakes. It was a perfect album for a perfect time. In the midst of grunge with all its loud guitars and thundering bass came this sprite woman plinking a piano. Forging a path through what stood for females in rock music – Paula Abdul and Madonna with their glimmer and shake – came a fiery red headed creature singing about God and sex in a voice that spoke – really spoke for her generation.

With songs like “Me and a Gun,” an a capella, heart wrenching retelling of Amos’ own rape, she ushered in a new era of songwriting. One that was introspective, brutally honest, and completely feminine. She doesn’t try to be the masculinized version of female that so many other artists have succumbed to, she is purely herself, and we related – by the millions.

little.jpgBy those same numbers, most of the people I know who fell in love with that first album, have since fallen away from the Cult of Tori through subsequent albums. Refusing to rest on her own laurels Tori’s follow up albums got heavier instrumentation and less immediately revealing lyrics. Adding in guitars, drums, synth beats and more her songs have become denser, layered things, which often obscures the straightforward intensity that made her famous.

Never-the-less she has continually stretched her legs as an artist, releasing albums with divergent styles and accessibility. Doing so she may have lost some of her original fan base, but she has grown an intensified, cult-like following.

A Piano: The Collection is a five disk boxed set that covers all of her albums from Little Earthquakes through The Beekeeper. Various alternate versions of songs, demos and B-Sides are included.

It comes in a lovely looking box that is shaped like a piano, with plastic keys and everything. In fact, when the Fed Ex man brought it I wondered why anyone would send me a synthesizer. Tori has made extensive notes on the collection detailing her experiences with each record and some of the songs.

rolling1.jpgFor someone who lost track of Tori after Under the Pink this is an excellent way to catch up with the ever experimenting singer. I’ve got to say though, that after Little Earthquakes, while she always maintains an emotional intensity in her songs, I’ve not been able to latch onto anything I’d like to keep.

Much of the problem lies in that I have trouble hearing exactly what she talking about, or bobbing my head along to the tune. I know that’s a rather juvenile approach to music criticism, but as a listener I need something to maintain my attention. On songs like “Silent All These Years” the lyrics were easily understood and filled with an emotional intensity, while with “Happy Phantom” the lyrics might be a little opaque, it was a jaunty little ditty and great fun to sing along with. While there is a certain poetry in “Suede” I can’t actually understand the words, and the music is so thick I can’t help but find it dull.

It is true that I’m not really Tori’s audience. I’m a middle aged male who’s musical tendency run towards the hippies and the hillbillies, not sophisticated, alternative feminists. My wife has been enjoying the boxed set, and I’m sure many others will too. It has enough alternate material to please the hard-core fans and covers her studio thoroughly enough to give a good scope of her recorded output thus far

As for me though, I think I’ll grab some Ralph Stanley from the record shelf and take a nap with a good book.