Wednesday, July 30, 2008

A Wired Prayer

Having recently replaced my ailing laptop with a generic desktop, I have come full circle from a time not long ago when I thought I had to have a laptop in order to be fully mobile in this digital age.

I hereby offer my wired prayer to the gods of Technology:

My BlackBerry and my iTouch iPod, they comfort me. And my Kindle provides unlimited reading material when I lie down in green pastures.

They restoreth my soul.


Weeds Season Four

I figured out how I finally got addicted to “Weeds.”

I had watched parts of several episodes from Season Three without a clue as to where the show was going and I just could not connect with any of the characters.

But then I got it – we’re not meant to like any of these people. “Weeds” is just like one of those classic Marx Brothers movies from the 1930s -- “Night At The Opera” or “Duck Soup” -- totally anarchic, with everybody and everything made fun of and nothing left standing at the end

Religions, ethnicities, sexual preferences, physical disabilities – “Weeds” protects none of them, which is certainly refreshing and invigorating in these hyper-PC times.

So now I’m totally into the new season, wishing that each week’s episode ran longer than thirty minutes. (Click on the title to get caught up)

Monday, July 28, 2008

Mad Men Season Two

Mad Men Season Two began last night on AMC (basic cable, free OnDemand from Comcast). Season One ended on Thanksgiving Eve 1960, a couple of weeks after JFK’s election, as Don Draper’s world imploded, with Don sitting alone in his house in Ossining, his wife and kids off to spend the holiday without him at her father’s house in New Jersey. As Bob Dylan sings “Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright” over the closing credits, we’re left wondering (like Don) what could possibly happen next.
Season Two picks up the story on Valentine’s Day 1962, and I’m looking forward to discovering over the next several weeks what happened (and is happening) to these people as the world around them changes from the Fifties to the Sixties.If you missed Season One and are interested, click the title to get caught up

Friday, July 25, 2008

Like a Train Wreck

We recently went to see Lucinda Williams and her excellent band Buick 6 at the Lowell Summer Music Series. It was a beautiful Saturday night in early July, outdoors in Boarding House Park against a backdrop of the restored buildings where the “Mill Girls” lived at the turn of the twentieth century. I’ve been listening to Lucinda’s songs for a long time, but Gail had never seen her before.
Couldn’t be nicer, right?
To start with, the concert was General Admission in an actual park – bring your own lawn chairs or blankets. We arrived when the gates opened at 6PM (for a 7:30PM concert) and were surprised to only find two cramped spots on the lawn for our camp chairs – apparently people can stake out their spots any time during the day, and a whole lot of them did. That made for some seriously pissed-off concertgoers, especially those who arrived after 7PM and ended up having to stand out on the street behind the park.
Also, the Series is a subscription event (you can buy single-show tickets too), so there were a lot of people there who weren’t familiar with her intense lyrics, which can get quite explicit, and many of those people brought little kids. “Learning How to Live” is not “Puff the Magic Dragon.”
I’ve seen Lucinda in concert before, and after a while she made it very clear that she didn’t want to be there, playing for that crowd.
I enjoyed the music, Gail not so much, but -- click on the title to check out what some of the other people who were there with us had to say

Hell in a Handbasket - US Edition

“If I were 25 or 26 and getting married, a bracelet, necklace or matching earrings would be fine,” she said. (click on post title)

Hell in a Handbasket - China Edition

“Keeping your grip is the hardest part,” she said. “It’s really easy to slide downward.”
And people say the United States no longer has anything to export... (click on post title)

Thursday, July 24, 2008

NFL Ticket Prices

A colleague at work is selling his season tickets to a few Patriots regular season games this season. His seats are in the corner of one of the end zones. He's asking $468 for a pair of tickets (face value for the pair: $234). Even if he were selling them for face value, who could afford to take a son or daughter (or even himself and a friend) to a game? Outdoors in New England on a late December Sunday night (game time 8:30PM), against the St. Louis Rams? After paying $35 for parking and God knows how much on food and drink? And why would you want to, if you could watch it at home on a 42" plasma high definition television, with all of the cool network camerawork and replays? I don't get it -- but then I never got tailgate parties and getting fall-down drunk, either. I'm just a fan who loves to watch the game.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008


It WOULD be irony if contained in a thought-bubble above a charicature of Rush Limbaugh or Michael Savage. Instead, it serves as catnip for those who already think the Obamas are Manchurian Candidates

Girls Like Us

As I read Sheila Weller's great new book "Girls Like Us" (weaving together the lives of Carole King, Joni Mitchell and Carly Simon into a Sixties tapestry) I recalled a concert Gail and I went to in late 1969, at an old theatre (long gone) between Kenmore Square and the Boston University campus. (Weller places it in Cambridge, but it was Boston.) Joni Mitchell was the headliner, known to us through covers of her songs by Judy Collins and Tom Rush. Her opening act (and, according to Weller, main squeeze) was a very young James Taylor, making his US debut after recording his first album in the UK for The Beatles' new Apple label. The buzz about him in Rolling Stone had been building for some time. It was something special -- two of the finest singer-songwriters ever in an intimate setting for about 500 people. They did separate sets, and a couple of duets; James really was the opening act. The vibe in that room was so powerful that you didn't need anything artificial to generate a high.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Great White Wonder

I bought my first bootleg LP, "Great White Wonder," almost forty years ago at a head shop on Mass Ave in Cambridge MA, halfway between Harvard and Central Squares. I paid $6 cash, which was a lot. (The head shop is now a store for gamers)
"Great White Wonder" was the first of what would be many Bob Dylan bootlegs to appear (and the first bootleg rock album), and we had all read about it in Rolling Stone -- our newspaper of record. The double LP (which I sold on eBay a few years ago for $125) was a collection of live performances and basement tape stuff with The Band. I bought three copies -- one for myself and copies for two of my co-workers at a bookstore on Boylston Street in the Back Bay. The trip and purchase ate up my lunch hour and my lunch money for the week, but the album was selling out everywhere and we had to have it.
The sound quality was pretty good, and there was something exhilirating about the whole experience of acquiring it -- sort of like early Napster.
I was thinking about this the other day, while listening to my second bootleg recording -- "The Rolling Stones Big Bang Boston 08-21-05," which captures the entire opening night concert at Fenway Park, one of the best concerts I've ever attended. The recording is pretty good, considering that it was captured surreptitiously from somewhere in the audience that night.
I bought it on eBay for $9 with PayPal -- a process that was less exhilirating but a whole lot more convenient.