Thursday, May 22, 2008

Kansas Vacation 2008

It was great to see everyone during our Kansas vacation this year. I must say that I really miss the place. I never would have thought that our old home could be such a great vacation destination that everyone here enjoyed. Here's a recap of the last week:

Thursday 5/15
- we woke up at 4am to catch a 5:30am flight. Wah-Wah usually gets up at this time, but she was actually up earlier. I guess she was excited. Anyway, after the horrible experience last year (being stranded in Denver over night), we had no problems and arrived at KCI in the early afternoon. Uncle Lovey (that's what he is called) picked us up and took us to Aunt Kim's house. That night, the kids and Wah-Wah went to visit Wah-Wah's dad, who was in town and staying at the Holiday Inn. The kids went swimming while I went to Homers to meet with A Forrest and Dust.

Friday 5/16
I rented a Toyota Prius and drove up to Iowa to see my old college friends, Dave and Doug. I enjoyed the drive in the Prius (and the gas mileage). That night, we had a couple of beers at one of our favorite places in Des Moines- the Royal Mile. It's a old style British pub that has as much charm as it's enormous beer selection.
Wah-Wah and the kids went to her older sister's Angie's house for a family reunion of sorts. Our kids really love Angie's home in Randoul. It is in the middle of nowhere, but has over a dozen horses roaming around. Woogy and Nibbles love spending time with their cousins. Woogy got to spend the night over there.

Saturday 5/17
-Dave and I went to the Des Moines Farmer's market which is every Saturday morning. I didn't actually see a lot of fresh produce, it was more like a lot of ethnic food and crafts for sale. Every time I'm in Des Moines, I can't believe how much it has grown. When I first moved their 18 years ago, it was a dump. It is actually turning into a pretty happening place. After breakfast at the Farmer's Market, I headed back out on the rode to visit my sister in Harlen IA.

(Aunt Angie, Wah-Wah, Nibbles, Aunt Kim, and cousin Jesse)

While I was driving around Iowa, Wah-Wah and Aunt Kim decided to take all the kids to World's Of Fun on Saturday. They went after 4pm and saved a couple of bucks. The kids had a blast (or so I'm told) at Camp Snoopy.

Here's all that went : Cheyanne, Woogy, Cody, Dusty, Aunt Kim, and Jessie (Nibbles isn't looking at the camera).

While everyone else was having a great time at Worlds of Fun, I was spending a quite afternoon with my sister. It was a pleasant visit and I got to see my baby nephew. My sister talked with me a lot about our mom's deteriorating health. That was kind of a downer, so on the long drive back to KC, I listened to Rosie Thomas's When We Were Small album. The album was a perfect back drop to the summer sunset driving across Missouri. I think Rosie has one of the warmest voices in music with some very introspective lyrics. I found myself being so retrospective listening to this album, that I had to hear it twice.
Sunday 5/18
On Sunday, we got up and went to Church. Overland Park really feels like a church home to me. I like were we are now, but Overland Park is were my faith really began. I missed most of Pastor's Phil's sermon since I ended up talking with someone about my job and foster care in general. Afterwards we went to Chuck E. Cheese with A Forest and his kids.

After Chuck E. Cheese, we went to A Forest's cousin's graduation party at Shawnee Mission Park. Here is a picture of A Forest shredding it up on a kind of a skate board. I have a nice video of this, but I can't seem to download videos on my blog for some reason.

Monday 5/19
On Monday, we went to Deanna Rose Petting Zoo. I use to go to this place all the time with the kids, but I've really come to miss it. We have nothing like this in Portland. You really begin to appreciate something when you no longer have it. We ended up running into our old doctor. I didn't want to bother him, but I did go up and tell him "thank you" for taking care of our family when we lived in KC. I think he appreciated it, and told me that he quit his practice a year ago. I told him I thought he was a good doctor despite acting very bored on some of my appointments. I reminded him of the time he gave me a spinal tap because he thought I had meningitis. I asked him to pose for a picture with Nibbles since he delivered her. I thought it might be neat someday to show Nibbles a picture of the man who delivered her.

After Deanna Rose, I met up with A Forest to go see the Cure at Starlight. We picked up some dinner at my favorite restaurant in the world-- Oklahoma Joes.

Sadly, I'm down to one Z-man a year (my arteries are grateful for that). The Z-man is the best sandwich I ever had. Nothing else compares. The fries are pretty good too.

After a delicious meal at Oklahoma Joe's, A Forest and I headed to Starlight to see the Cure. The Cure is one of my "pillar" bands. Meaning, I got into them when I first started listening to music back in the 80's and they have shaped my taste in music like U2, the Smiths, and REM. Starlight is a great for a summer night concert, and it was pretty crowded for a Monday night. Shows like this are great for people watching, but the Cure's audience is getting older (like me) so I wouldn't say we saw a lot of people "gothed up." The Cure played a lot hits from their massive catalogue and few new ones from their forth coming double album. All the new tunes sounded pretty good. However, it was clear that lead singer Robert Smith wasn't feeling so well and was having pretty bad voice problems. Unlike some singers (Depeche Mode 2 years ago), Robert Smith pushed on for almost three hours. By the end of the set, he could hardly sing the chorus of his songs. I've always thought he was one of the coolest singers ever.

Tuesday 5/20

On Tuesday, we spent the afternoon at Hillsdale Lake with Aunt Kim and Uncle Lovey. Lovey has a speed boat and was kind enough to take us all out on it for some tubing. Lovey and Kim even had some wet suits that fit us. I have never been dragged across a lake at 30mph. I think I would have enjoyed it a little more if Lovey would have slowed down a little.

Here's Wah-Wah in tow. Wah-Wah impressed everyone with how long she stayed on. Nibbles got a little upset when Wah-Wah fell off. She thought we were leaving Wah-Wah stranded out in the middle of the lake.

After a afternoon at the lake, we went out to the T.Rex Cafe with Dust and Golden. T.Rex seemed like a good idea if the kids started acting up. My thanks again for Dust for rescuing Woogy when he got trapped between a wall and a table.

Weds 5/21

On Weds, we spent the day at Aunt Angie's again. Nibbles picked up some new cowgirl boots and rode a rather stubborn pony.

While Woogy and Nibbles played with their cousins, I broke my own personal record for the "most amount of time on a horse" by riding for three hours. I found that there was something romantic about being on a horse. The hero always rides horse after all. Here I am on a horse named "Easy." I rode around the pasture for a while he did nothing but eat the grass.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Q vs. Paste

As a music fan who can't stand the radio, I have to look for new music in magazines and trust the editors judgement. This approach usually works for discovering new talent since I tend to agree with a lot of critics and writers. My two favorite magazines out there are "Q"- a British music magazine, and "Paste"- a pretty well rounded music magazine that emphasizes indie and relevant music and culture.
Lately I have thought that it is kind of a waste of money to have two subscriptions come to my house every month, since I really don't read the magazine more than once. I've decided that in these "economic hard times" to let my subscription to "Q" run out and stick with "Paste."
It is not that "Q" doesn't interest me anymore. "Q" usually covers all my favorite British bands that no body in this country really cares about. U2 and Coldplay seem to routinely be on the cover every month. Most issues have free CDs as well (although I never seem to get anything good on them). The fact of the matter is though- "Q" is one expensive magazine. Over $130 per year! Q never seems to have any specials either (except this month I get a free REM cd that I have anyway).
"Paste" on the other hand, only sets me back $20 for a year, and gave me an extra subscription (that I gave to a friend). "Paste" has also gives out a sampler every month of undiscovered talent. Lastly, Paste also has a better web site too that updates daily with all that is going on in the world of relevant music.
So it seems that Paste is the better deal. Q has already started sending me letters pleading for me to return. I hate those letters that make you feel like a creep for backing out. But the truth is, over $10 a issue is too steep for me, when I can get my news from the web for free.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

April's music

Overall, I would have to say that I had a great month musically. I discovered some good shoegazers, found rare eps, and two great bands return,- sums up my month.

REM Accelerate REM returns in a big way with this great album, but it was a predictable return. REM took a lot of crap over their last couple of albums especially 2005's Around the Sun. While I found the album enjoyable, their fans and critics didn't care for it . Most everyone complained it just didn't rock like their best material. REM decided to give it one more go by trying to make a straight forward rock album. They hired on one of my favorite producers- "Jackknife" Lee (U2, Snow Patrol, Editors, Bloc Party) and came up with their strongest and most politically charged album to date. I wasn't too impressed with the first single, "Supernatural, Superserious", but the rest of the album is spectacular. So far, album of the year.

Foxglove Hunt Stop Heartbeat I first saw Foxglove last year in a coffee shop with Joy Electric. With Ronnie Martin teaming up with Rob Witham (Fine China), it's impossible to go wrong. I remember when they played their set, their sound was terrible, and you can tell they didn't rehearse that much. However, I could hear the songs that came through, and they were pretty impressive. Later, I got a chance to tell Rob that I thought he was a great songwriter. I like the album and it reminds me of Fine China's first album. You can really hear the synth 80's influence here as well, making the album sound a little like it is in the wrong decade.

Fleeting Joys Despondent Transponder A great recommendation from itunes to any fan of shoegazing. Ethereal female vocals, walls of sound- everything a shoegazer loves. I can't wait for their next release, that is if My Bloody Valentine doesn't sue them for copyright. This album sounds an awful like MBV's shoegazer masterpiece- Loveless. I couldn't find this album anywhere except for itunes. The band is sold out of it. I suppose it maybe in a small little indie store somewhere. If it is, and you appreciate a good shoegazer album- buy it.

James Hey Ma Like all bands that break up, James got back together again this year after a seven year break. In that time, lead singer Tim Booth did a terrible solo album (proving he needs his band). I doubt this album will ever be released in the states. James is more of a British thing. The original album cover was banned in the UK, due to the picture. The band says that it is a take on a real life story of a baby being mistakenly issued a gun licence by the NRA. But to appease some critics, a orange cap was added to the gun on the cover. Musically, it is another great album by this band (their song "Laid" is featured in every "American Pie" movie). James gets a little political on this album and brings back their trumpet, ditching their "euro-techno" sound on their last couple of albums.

My Bloody Valentine Ecstasy and Wine A pretty rare fine indeed. I can't tell you how long I've been looking for some back catalog from the greatest shoegazers of all time. This particular album is a compilation of sorts, combining two of their early eps. It is interesting to hear how MBV evolved to the band that made Loveless. Here, vocals aren't entirely blended to the guitars like on Loveless. Guitars are not distorted as much either. I would describe them sounding like the Primitives with a jangly guitar and male and female swapping songs. Another band that is regrouped after over a decade of silence. Fans have been promised new material someday.

Air Formation Daylight Storms Another great recommendation by itunes, I had to download it after my first preview. Another great shoegazer album I found this month. More atmospheric and dreamy than raw energy, this is a great album to get lost in. I can't stop listening to it. One of the best albums of it's kind. I will have to check out more of their catalog.

My Bloody Valentine You Made Me Realise EP This rare and out of print EP, is a real treasure if you are into collecting MBV. Only five songs, but beautiful as MBV continue to develop their sound on the way to making Loveless.

My Bloody Valentine Feed Me With Your Kiss EP Another rare and out of print EP from MBV. It would be nice if these were rereleased in a box set or something. It's beautiful like all of MBV's back catalog.

James B-Sides Ultra Like all great British bands, James does pretty good b-sides. This a collection of some of them they released after they broke up seven years ago. It's good, but I've been listening to too much shoegazing music to care about it.