Tuesday, October 30, 2007

I Still Don't Think I Care For This, Mom!

So if you feed a baby sweet potato baby food he smells like sweet potatoes for the rest of the night - for a little while, anyway. Then he smells like sweet potato shit.

After looking at those pictures when I posted this, I noticed something you lovely readers might wonder about. But fret not! Jackson does, in fact, have arms.

Walking Irvington

Amy and I packed Jackson into the stroller this afternoon and took a good long walk, which is one of our favorite things to do. We love being outside when the weather is nice (and sometimes even when it’s not so nice), but the summer was so hot after Jackson was born that we didn’t get the chance to do much walking around. Now that the temperature has finally broken, we’ve been out and about a lot more. We’ve had a couple of long walks around downtown and a week or two ago we walked the Monon Trail from Broad Ripple up to Nora. Today, we walked around Irvington - specifically lower Irvington, south of Washington Street between Audubon and Emerson, drifting south to University Avenue.

For those who don’t know, Irvington is in fact a charming little neighborhood, and the heart and soul of it is winding streets and beautiful old houses. There are parts of Irvington that are sketchy, sure, but there are pockets that are just amazing - and to catch some of those pockets on a cool afternoon with clear blue skies and the fall foliage almost in full flame rivals any other scenic walk you could take around Indianapolis.

We headed out from our house and went over to The Bread Ladies for lunch. This is a little annex of a shop in Greenfield started by two ladies who had some extra bread left over one day and parlayed that into a business. The Irvington location is in the Irving Theatre building and is connected to Lazy Daze Coffee House (more on the food, and on the Jockamo Pizza adventure from last Monday, in a future post). After lunch we got coffee and headed out on our walk.

I wanted to take a look at the little park at Irving Circle, a roundabout at the intersection of Audubon Road and University Avenue. It’s reputed to be haunted, but there were no ghosts in evidence this afternoon - just the fountain surrounded by bricks with people’s names on them and a bust of Washington Irving, the author for whom the town of Irvington was named, facing you as you approach the circle going south along Audubon.

After that, we took Audubon down to Oak Avenue and walked along that until we came to University Avenue. The three pictures that follow were taken on the sidewalk in front of a very purple house that I am pretty sure is on Oak, although I did not make precise note of that while we were out. You can see the purple color on the fence pickets - the house has the same colors going on. It doesn’t look the same in a picture as it did in real life this afternoon, but those leaves on the sidewalk and in the yard were so bright and so orange and so lit by the sunlight that it literally looked as though the yard and sidewalk were on fire.

Then we picked up University, walked past the Guardian Home, and took Downey Avenue down to the Benton House, a beautiful old house that was once the home of Allen R. Benton, the former president of Butler University, which was originally located in Irvington before moving to its current digs north of downtown. The two pictures that follow are of the Benton House.

Next we followed University Avenue all the way out to Emerson and then took Emerson back to our house after stopping to snoop around the empty house where Amy grew up. We didn’t go in or anything - it’s all padlocked anyway - but we did peer in through the windows, and we talked to next-door neighbor Jim who told us about some of the things that the guy who bought the house after Amy’s parents moved did to the place. After that guy was foreclosed on, someone apparently broke in and stole all the copper out of the basement.

Next: Jackson still does not care much for solid food.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Accio Controversy

Probably everyone has heard this already, right? I'm always behind those dang times. On the off chance that you haven’t, there’s a story on Newsweek’s website that talks about an appearance Jo Rowling made at Carnegie Hall in New York last night. After reading from the seventh Harry Potter book, she took some questions.

One of the questions was whether Dumbledore had ever loved anyone. She smiled and said, “Dumbledore is gay, actually.” The article goes on to say that the crowd for several minutes shouted and clapped and that Rowling said, “I would have told you earlier if I knew it would make you so happy.”

The ABC News website has its own story on the revelation, one that mentions a few of the other things that Rowling said in New York on Friday. Apparently she let David Yates, the director of the sixth film, know the little tidbit about Dumbledore when she “spotted a reference in the script to a girl who was once of interest to Dumbledore.”

She is also quoted as having encouraged her readers and fans to “question authority.” Sweet action! Not only is she the greatest writer of fantasy fiction not named Tolkien (and the greatest writer of children’s fiction period), she’s also a bit of a rabble rouser. I’m all for that. I’m all for people’s eyes being opened a little bit wider so that they can see some of the things in the world that they would never have seen for themselves if they had not been helped to those sights by someone else.

Like Tolkien, Jo Rowling has written more than just a book (actually in her case, seven books - yeah, whatever!) - she has created a world and brought forth from it stories to share with the real world. I don’t imagine that the world she created is quite as rich and detailed as Tolkien’s - in producing the most perfectly written novel in English, Tolkien told but a tiny bit of the history of the world that he had created - but there is a similarity between the two with respect to the fact that all which was created has not been told.

I suppose you could be narrow-minded enough to argue that this revelation is little more than sensational tabloid-style hype - you would be wrong, of course, but you could attempt to make the argument; but the truth is that by smashing taboos and prejudices and fears, revelations like this make the world a better place.

But that’s just me. What do I know?

Friday, October 19, 2007

I Don't Think I Care For This, Mom!

Clearly, Jackson was not impressed with his first foray into solid food.

Jockamo Upper Crust Pizza

I know I tend to give Irvington and the east side a hard time because it seems like all we have going on around here are hookers and pit bulls and In God We Trust license plates polluting the landscape, but it ain’t all a low-rent vice squad wet dream.

No, something I hope will be good is about to happen out here in Irvington, and it’s the opening of a new pizza place on the northwest corner of Washington and Audubon. The place is called Jockamo Upper Crust Pizza, and it’s owned by two couples who live here in Irvington. One of the guys, Mick McGrath, has spent the last sixteen years as the general manager at the Bazbeaux in Broad Ripple - and those cats know a thing or two about pizza.

They had a little table at the Irvington Farmer’s Market this past Sunday and were handing out menus and talking up their new establishment, and I got a menu but dodged the small talk. There’s a lot to remark on the menu, including a number of sauces you won’t find at your standard dumb fuck delivery chain - pesto sauce, house special creamy parmesan, and even hummus! - and specialty toppings including Kalamata olives, chorizo sausage, goat cheese, and ricotta cheese. They also tout a basil and garlic crust that is made in-house.

The Star had an article about the new joint about a month ago. They open on Monday, October 22nd - full report to follow once we’ve had a chance to try them out.

(Aside: I’ve been blogging for a bit over a year now - and this is my 200th post. Thanks to all of you who stop by the Blog-O-Rama from time to time to read my idiotic ramblings and look at pictures of my kid.)

Monday, October 15, 2007

Rush Geek Week (Part John-O The Second)

I’ve contributed but one post to this Rush Geek Week business, so here’s another one - my rankings for the eight Rush studio albums that did not make my top ten. So without further ado...

18. Rush
Placing this one here is a no-brainer. It’s not exactly bad...but it’s as close as Rush can come. Sonically it’s utterly unremarkable (they stole the riff for “What You’re Doing” from Zep’s “Heartbreaker,” right?) except for the fact that Alex is out front in a more vital way than he is on the other records; and lyrically it’s completely unremarkable. Without “Finding My Way,” this record might actually suck. (Yes, I discount “Working Man” because it is the most overplayed, overrated Rush song ever. I like it, don’t get me wrong - I just don’t know if I ever need to hear it again.)
Best song: “Finding My Way”

17. Caress Of Steel
A no-brainer for me at second-to-last because I just don’t dig their prog stuff as much as the actual songs. Some might say “Lakeside Park” is silly and sappy, but I like it. And “Bastille Day” is not only the best song on this album, it’s also the best song on the first four albums.
Best song: “Bastille Day”

16. Test For Echo
I like most of these songs, especially “Resist,” “Dog Years,” and “Totem,” I just don’t think they’re all that good. And for some reason, as an album, it just doesn’t work for me. The theme of resisting the superficial trappings of the increasingly fast-paced modern world seems like a good idea to work with, but it feels dated, somehow, in these songs. It’s dark and brooding in places (“Test For Echo” and “Time And Motion”) and upbeat and almost poppy in other places (“Half The World” and “Totem”). Again, not exactly bad...just a little sub-par.
Best song: “Resist"

15. Snakes & Arrows
Speaking of dark and brooding, this one’s got that in spades. This record hasn’t exactly set with me yet, so it’s possible that the test of time might change my mind on it, but this position seems about right for now. Starts just fine with “Far Cry,” but then gets bogged down with “Armor And Sword” and (spin)drifts somewhat passively before reigniting near the end with “Faithless” and finishing strong with “We Hold On.” The album art is pretty cool, though.
Best song: “Far Cry”

14. Grace Under Pressure
Part two of the early-eighties crap-fest, but I don’t like this one as much as Signals. Bears the dubious distinction of containing what I think are two of the worst Rush songs ever (“Kid Gloves” and “Red Lenses”), but also contains one of my favorites (“Red Sector A” - which lately got added to their live set, pleasing me to no end). “Afterimage” is also really good, as is “Distant Early Warning.” Has the same flat, tired sound as Signals, just doesn’t speak to me as much.
Best song: “Red Sector A”

13. 2112
After I wrote my top ten post the other day, I gave this one a spin at work to get re-acquainted with it, and it still really doesn’t speak to me. “A Passage To Bangkok” just sounds bad compared to the live version on Exit...Stage Left. This album had to come along when it did, or Rush might have ceased to exist as we know them - but it would have sounded a lot better if it could have come out when Hemispheres did.
Best song: “2112”

12. Hemispheres
Though much of the album is the second part of the prog orgy “Cygnus X-1,” we’ve also got “The Trees” and “La Villa Strangiato,” which are both delightful. I think this album actually sounds a little bit better than A Farewell To Kings, but I like the songs on the earlier album better. Probably the best of the four prog albums.
Best song: “The Trees”

11. Roll The Bones
The title track has so many interesting musical layers that I get lost in it no matter how many times I hear it; it’s groovy, it’s funky, it’s space-age, it’s electronic, and it’s got great guitar work - not to mention that rap in the middle. And it’s got the best best best chorus of any song in their catalogue, answering more of those mystical questions in a perfectly rendered take on Ayn Rand: “Why are we here? Because we’re here. Roll the bones.” And yet...not the best song on the album. We’ll get to that in a moment. The only thing that kept this record out of my top ten is that it containts “Neurotica” and “The Big Wheel,” which would join those two songs from Grace on a “Bottom Ten” list of their songs, though neither song on this album is as bad as either song on the earlier album. The other eight songs are all excellent - had this been an eight-song album (or maybe nine, with another instrumental as good as “Where’s My Thing?” stuck in there between “Ghost Of A Chance” and “You Bet Your Life”), it might have been #1 on my list. Yes, Presto is a better album (even if you take “The Big Wheel” and “Neurotica” off of Bones), but as good as it is, Presto does not contain “Dreamline,” which is not only the best song on this album, but top five of all time. It’s got a structured three-part keyboard melody that Alex noodles along on underneath, powerful, explosive drumming, a laser-beam guitar riff to open, and a blistering solo that Geddy noodles along to underneath. A carefully controlled, perfectly balanced composition that filters mortality and immortality through the lens of those dreams we keep telling ourselves will come true one day.
Best song: “Dreamline”

Friday, October 12, 2007

NFL Power Rankings - Who's #1?

I came across this list of NFL power rankings on MSNBC this afternoon by clicking on the front page link that said something to the effect of that the Colts were at the top of the rankings - for now. They say that the Colts and Patriots are “more 1 and 1A than anything else,” and then they go on to make a case for why this is so; and it almost sounds plausible until you dig into the schedules a little bit.

(The reason you have to dig into the schedules is because the numbers are so much in favor of the Patriots. To make an argument for the Colts you have to start talking about "quality opponents," which is a legitimate argument but fails in favor of the Colts in this case.)

Their first argument is that the Colts have wins over three quality opponents to wins over no quality opponents for the Patriots. This is true, except that the quality division teams the Colts have beaten (yes, on the road) are quality because they have played pretty bad teams. The Texans and Titans between them have played Kansas City, Atlanta, Miami, and New Orleans. Those teams combined have three wins - and one of those wins was Atlanta beating the Texans. The Patriots have division wins over the Jets and Bills, who have played teams like Pittsburgh, Baltimore, NYG, and Dallas.

That’s really picking at nits maybe, but the fact is that the Colts have beaten teams that are considered quality because those teams beat bad teams; and the Patriots have beaten teams that look crappy because those teams lost to good teams.

The other argument is that the Colts beat two preseason “favorites” (their word) in New Orleans and Denver. I agree that the Saints were preseason favorites, but to call Denver a preseason favorite is stretching it. Even in the preseason, the AFC South was a lock to send at least one team to a wild card game - if not two; and it was likely that the AFC North would send the other wild card team if the South didn’t get both. Thus, Denver was a favorite to do what? San Diego was clearly the preseason favorite to win that division.

The Patriots beat San Diego and Cincinnati - and I don’t care how you slice it, those teams combined were better thought of during the preseason than were the Saints and Broncos. (Sorry, Broncos fans, but Jay Cutler does not a team make. As a Colts fan I say this from experience - it helps to have a rush defense.)

Bottom line - neither the Colts nor the Patriots have really had a test yet. Yes, the Colts have won two division road games that they did not win last year - but the Patriots are beating teams with a precision and ferocity the Colts cannot ever hope to match. The Patriots don't have to come out in the second or third quarter with solid adjustments because they're not lazy enough to let the other team into the game at all. The Colts are content with letting the other team dictate the style of play and then make adjustments. The Patriots come out gunning to beat you to death in the first fifteen minutes.

I’m not unwilling to rank the Colts ahead of the Patriots - but I’m not going to do it just because the Colts won the World Championship Of All Football last season, and I’m not going to do it just because they’re the home team. I’m also not going to do it just to go against the grain. You can imitate President Bush and cherry pick the data to make it look as rosy as you want it to in spite of the actual facts - but the truth will out.

Draft Gore 2008

DraftGore.com is an effort by a group of self-proclaimed grassroots Democrats who have created an online petition and web site aimed at trying to convince former Vice President Al Gore to run for President in 2008. You can click the above links to visit their web site and sign their online petition in support of the former Vice President and the guy who actually won the election in 2000.

Mr. Gore has been coy about his plans to run again for President, not (yet) saying yes or no. Personally, I would be leery of the system - would you want to run for President again after having won a Presidential election and then been told by the only nine people in the country who got to vote twice that you were not going to be allowed to serve? I’d grow a beard and go into hiding, too. I do, however, hope strongly that Mr. Gore will take seriously the fact that he has an enormous amount of support among the people of this country - and I also hope that he will consider serving our country again if called to do so. It would be especially poignant if he were called to do so by Hillary Clinton if she wins the Democratic nomination for President.

I believe that Mr. Gore would make an excellent Vice President to serve with President Hillary Clinton - he was a capable Vice President during the eight years that he served with President Bill Clinton, and his experience, coupled with the experience Mrs. Clinton gleaned from eight years as the First Lady, would be an enormous benefit to our country during the time of healing and progress that will begin on January 20, 2009. If he is not asked by Mrs. Clinton to be her running mate, or if he chooses not to accept, then certainly appointment to the post of Secretary of the Interior - or perhaps administrator of the Environmental Protection Agecny - would be in order.

The prospects look bright for the United States - come 2009, at any rate. The Democrats have a strong field of candidates and the Republicans are in a shambles. The dark days of a failed, disgraceful President are nearing their conclusion. Maybe I’ll even be proud to be an American again. Someday. In the meantime I’ll take a bit of pride in groups like Draft Gore and the good work they are doing - and I’ll sign the petition, too.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Rush Geek Week (Part John-O The First)

Over there at Prime Mover, Josh has proclaimed that this is Rush Geek Week. He teed off with his top ten Rush albums yesterday and followed that today by ranking the live sets. Both are fun posts if you dig on Rush, so I’m hoping that Jason and Mike will have a chance to bounce over there and have a look. Here's my list. Please feel free to bail at this point if you're not into Rush.

First, a note on an album that I feel I should have included but did not:

2112 - As Josh correctly notes, this is the album that saved Rush. A critical and commercial success, it saved their Canadian bacon (there’s a ham-handed pun) from being dumped by their record label. It erased the notion (posited by the first two albums) that these cats were nothing more than Led Zeppelin knockoffs; and it also dispelled the notion that their concept stuff was crap (which you might have wondered about if you listened to Caress Of Steel - the only sub-par album other than the first one, although Caress does contain “Bastille Day,” which is an excellent song). It took them four records, but the real Rush finally appeared on this record. Come to think of it, maybe it should have been in my top ten. Only problem is that I haven’t spun it enough. Other than “A Passage To Bangkok” and the first two parts of “2112,” I don’t know the songs very well.

And now...

10. A Farewell To Kings
The title track contains the line “Can’t we find the minds to lead us closer to the heart?” The song “Closer To The Heart” contains the line “You can be the captain and I will draw the chart.” The song “Xanadu” (inspired by the Samuel Taylor Coleridge poem “Kubla Khan”) talks about “the last immortal man.” Musically and lyrically rich, it uses post-apocalyptic themes to tell the story of a world that has moved on - and of a band that is moving in a new direction.
Best song: "Xanadu"

9. Fly By Night
I could have put 2112 here, but I really like this album - it’s got a nice blend of soft songs and hard rockers. It’s the first album with Neil Peart, but that’s not really saying anything, as there was only one album with that other drummer (John Rutsey, who left the band because he was worried that their increasing popularity and rigorous touring plans would have a negative impact on his diabetes). They shake off the last of the Zeppelin comparisons (this is a poor man’s Led Zeppelin IV) and begin to find themselves.
Best song: "Anthem"

8. Hold Your Fire
Best 1-2 lead-off of any of their albums other than Moving Pictures, with the songs “Force Ten” and “Time Stand Still.” After that, the record sort of wanders into 1980s mediocrity for the next four songs, before finishing strong with “Mission,” “Turn The Page,” “Tai Shan,” and “High Water.” “Force Ten” is a stunning composition, both musically and lyrically, as is “Time Stand Still.” The strength of those two songs could carry the album. Not at all a bad album, but it feels very “produced,” and is sandwiched between two albums that are vastly superior (Power Windows before and Presto after).
Best song: "Time Stand Still"

7. Signals
This, and its follow-up, Grace Under Pressure, are the two crappy Rush albums. Poor production quality, flat drumming, and an overabundance of keyboards drag the songs down - and yet, I really like this album, and even Grace is okay (the first half, mostly). Every time I listen to the drums on “Digital Man” I ask myself what the hell is wrong with Neil. How did he even think of that? He was being difficult on purpose, I’m sure of it. “Subdivisions” is just a classic, though, and “The Analog Kid” is at turns romantic and desperate and is a joy to listen to.
Best song: "The Analog Kid"

6. Vapor Trails
There’s a chance that I could be putting this in here, and this high, only because I have been spinning it in my car over and over lately. Even though I might be biased at the moment, it’s still a great album. After the tragic deaths first of his daughter and then, just a few months later, his wife, Neil certainly could have called it quits - but he held on, went on a motorcycle ride, and wrote a whole bunch of great songs about redemption and the triumph of the spirit. Geddy’s vocal range is still intact, and there is a dreamlike quality to almost every song. This album came out five years removed from its predecessor (the largely forgettable Test For Echo), and we all knew about the tragedies in Neil’s life and the rampant rumors that the band was done. Thus, to hear the opening drum explosion of the first track and first single, “One Little Victory,” was to be blown away and to realize that the band was by no means finished.
Best song: "Earthshine"

5. Permanent Waves
Here we get into the albums that, for me, don’t have any weak songs at all. Like A Farewell To Kings, this is another record that shows the band going in a new direction. The prog sound is almost entirely gone and the record opens with two big radio hits “The Spirit Of Radio” and “Freewill,” the former being the most recognizable Rush song other than “Tom Sawyer.” Funny thing about “Spirit,” though, is that it calls out the radio format for being less about the music and more about the corporate money. “Freewill” distills Ayn Rand’s philosophy respecting religion into a five-minute scorcher featuring some of Neil’s tightest drumming and a bridge that contains the most amazing Geddy Lee vocal in the band’s recorded catalogue. Oh, and there’s a bass solo, too - right before a blistering Alex Lifeson guitar solo.
Best song: "Natural Science"

4. Counterparts
Another new direction! Actually, this is more of a return - to a less keyboard-oriented sound than dominated their records in the eighties. It’s also another bacon-saver, although along with Grace this is the record the band is the least happy with, as goes the production. Had they not stripped out the keyboards and brought Alex back to the front, he might well have left the band that he founded. This is a themed album, with the songs tied together loosely by one theme, as opposed to a concept album where the songs are tied more tightly together and form parts of a story. The theme is that of one person relating to another, or to others. There are love songs in here, too, though you might not think it - or even hear it, the first time around. The best song is “Double Agent,” or in Bob Dylan parlance, “Talkin’ Disgruntled Lover’s Blues.” “Leave That Thing Alone” is the band’s best instrumental that does not contain a reference to an airport, and “Everyday Glory” is one of those great “last songs on the album,” a cheery sort of hope-for-the-future sort of thing.
Best song: "Double Agent"

3. Power Windows
I prefer the two albums I talk about next, but this is really the best one. Wide-ranging in theme and scope and remarkably balanced musically, there is not only not a weak song on here, there are also no songs that are merely “good.” These are eight of the band’s best songs, and Alex’s best solo is contained in the amazing “Marathon,” which is the second-best song on the album after “Middletown Dreams,” a haunting lament of life gone wrong somewhere along the line but perservered through anyway - still with hope that all might turn out well in the end. Slick production gives it a glazed, medicated feel that adds to the song rather than glossing over its imperfections. It relies too much on keyboards, but when you hear Alex on guitar, it’s a blistering, bullet-like effect. Like the rest of the songs, it contains excellent vocals - only on Presto does Geddy’s voice sound so good, but the songs are not of the same caliber. A masterpiece.
Best song: "Middletown Dreams"

2. Moving Pictures
From the opening keyboard splash of “Tom Sawyer,” this is an album that burns with energy and intensity and passion. “Tom Sawyer” is the band’s best known song, a prog rock anthem condensed into four and a half minutes of precision that showcases some of the best vocals, guitars, bass, and drums in the band’s catalogue. Also contains my favorite Rush song, “Red Barchetta,” another complex musical number about a future where motor cars are outlawed but man’s free spirit is alive and well. “YYZ” is their best instrumental number, and must be listened to with headphones to get the full effect - one of Geddy’s most melodic bass lines and a frenetic passing back and forth of the song’s main riff. “Limelight” has one of Alex’s best solos, “The Camera Eye” one of Geddy’s best vocals. “Witch Hunt” and “Vital Signs” round out this gem, the first touching on xenophobia in a dark, haunting way and the latter a robotic study of the things that give life to man while at the same time stripping that life away bit by bit.
Best song: "Red Barchetta"

1. Presto
If music can solve any problem - or if the music is the ultimate solution or the ultimate salvation - the central idea in “2112” the song, then these eleven songs are the object lessons. If that were the case - which, of course, is not the truth. If it were the truth, it would be magic - Presto! Since there’s no such thing as magic, though, you have to make the most of what you’ve got to work with - and so these songs are still the object lessons. Everything that the band does so well is presented here in perfect balance at the end of the keyboard age. From the search for truth in “Show Don’t Tell” to a pointed rejection of suicide in “The Pass” (one of the band’s favorite songs) to the impotence of bombast and media hype in the amazing “Superconductor” to the search for truth again, though this time in nature, in the even more amazing “Available Light” - this is nearly the same kind of masterpiece as Power Windows, though in a different way. There is a playful tone here - the band saying “these are just songs, sure - but we really mean it.” The production quality is there, but it feels different - the difference between Peter Collins, who produced Power Windows and Hold Your Fire and Rupert Hine, who produced this one. The difference is subtle, but it’s there, almost like magic - Presto!
Best song: "Superconductor"

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Just Think Of It!

Helena and I were talking about houses today and it occurred to me, as I mentioned to her that I had read recently that the house Kurt Vonnegut had grown up in was currently for sale, that I had planned on writing a blog about that and had not done so. So here it is:

Back in the September 19th issue of NUVO, David Hoppe had a very good column about the legacy of Kurt Vonnegut, during the course of which he talks about a house that is for sale on north Illinois Street, in the Butler-Tarkington area.

It’s the boyhood home of Kurt Vonnegut, at 4401 North Illinois Street (MLS #2721607, pictures of which can be found here), where he lived from birth until the age of seven. The house can be yours for a cool $989,000. But away with those checkbooks! The Hoppe article also talks about a committee (with which he is involved) that wants to create a Kurt Vonnegut Center here in Indianapolis - possible located in the Athenaeum building, which was built by Vonnegut’s father, who was a noted Indianapolis architect.

The first thing on the agenda for this group is the ambitious goal of rounding up donations to buy the Vonnegut house, with the idea of turning it into a place that puts on various programs for writers and such. I have to say that I like the sound of that. We can certainly do with more culture and literature around here...

I could see such a place being something on the order of the Thomas Hart Benton home in Kansas City, which I was fortunate enough to see when Amy and I went there with my parents to visit my brother a couple of years ago - although that does not seem to be the plan. Whatever happens to it - if this thing gets off the ground, it will make a delightful addition to Indianapolis.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

6-0 The Humanity!

Illinois just knocked off #5 Wisconsin and shortly before that Indiana dispatched Minnesota by twenty. That puts Illinois - yes, Illinois! - in sole possession of first place in the Big Ten at 3-0. And but for the turnover festival two weeks ago in Bloomington, that might be the Indiana Hoosiers at 3-0 atop the Big Ten. That would also have meant that the Hoosiers were 6-0 for the first time in how long? Ever?

Either way, IU is 5-1 and looking at the real possibility of a bowl game - if they can eek out one more win in the remaining six games. The only problem is that the schedule gets a whole lot tougher from here on out - Michigan State, Penn State, Wisconsin, Ball State, Northwestern, and Purdue. Those teams are a combined 22-10 on the year. A win on the road at Michigan State would not just earn the Hoosiers the coveted Brass Spittoon - it would probably also mean vaulting into the top 25.

Of course, the football Hoosiers do this to me nearly every year - come out of the gate flying and then crash back to earth in the second half. But they've also never led the nation in sacks, as far as I know - which I believe they were doing coming into today's game.

But as I mentioned once before - football is exciting again in Hoosier Nation. Now if it could just start to actually feel like fall outside. That would be something!

The Last Song On The Album

Josh had a nice review of the new Rush album, Snakes & Arrows, on his blog last month, and one of the things he mentioned, in blurbing “We Hold On,” the last track on the record, is that Rush always seems to close their albums with really good songs. This was something I had never really pondered before but which, upon consideration, proves to be true.

I just listened to “We Hold On,” which popped up on the party shuffle feature of iTunes between the Benaroya Hall version of “Thumbing My Way” and “Storm Front,” and it opened up to me for the first time. Why did it open up to me? There’s a line in there that goes, “Straining against a fate / measured out in coffee breaks.”

Measured out in coffee breaks is strikingly similar to the line “I have measured out my life in coffee spoons,” which is from the T.S. Eliot poem “The Love Song Of J. Alfred Prufrock,” which is my all-time favorite poem.

Not the thinking person’s rock band for nothing are these cats. It’s not the first time they have referenced Eliot’s poetry - though the only other example I can think of off the top of my head is, “So many decisions, a million revisions,” which is from “Double Agent,” the best song on the very good Counterparts album. And not just Eliot - “Losing It” from Signals has not one, not two, but three references to Ernest Hemingway. And, of course, Ayn Rand - whose influence is most notable on “Freewill” and “Prime Mover.”

Not only that, but “We Hold On” is also the most balanced song on Snakes, though “The Larger Bowl” is close - its folkiness detracts from its balance because Rush is not a folky band. The song is fine, but it’s not a quintessential Rush song - “We Hold On” is such a song, with open and clear vocals, power chords in places, searing guitar licks in other places, patient arpeggiation in yet other places, and a driving rhythm line that knows enough to get out of the way of the vocals and guitar work.

And it’s a great last song in a long line of great last songs. Josh mentions the following tunes in his post:

Mystic Rhythms
High Water
Carve Away The Stone
Out Of The Cradle
Between The Wheels

These are not the only ones. Others include:

Natural Science
Vital Signs
Available Light
Everyday Glory
La Villa Strangiato

That’s ten of their eighteen studio albums (though I’m not entirely on board with “High Water”) - with honorable mentions to:

Working Man
You Bet Your Life
Closer To The Heart (from A Show Of Hands)

There seems not to have been much point to this post, other than to acknowledge Josh’s point about great last songs on Rush albums - but I hadn’t blogged in awhile, and the only thing I had on the radar was complaining about the new Oprah book. This is much more positive!