Thursday, September 27, 2007

My favorite song(s) in the world: Part I...

I've pimped Peter Case's music pretty hard on this blog over the years, but now I get to offer you the tunes themselves thanks to my Badongo player in the right hand margin. Last week I posted those deep cuts from UFO's Obsession album as part of a catch up plan and I'd like to continue with that effort. I had no luck coming up with a clever title for this reoccurring post so it is what is. If someone wants to recommend something I'd be happy to consider any suggestion. Otherwise, it’ll be this until I’m inspired.

Anyhoo, "Small Town Spree". I've been calling this tune out at Peter Case shows for 15 years and he hasn't obliged me yet. At one show a couple of years ago, I was talking with him between sets and when he asked me if there was anything I’d like to hear in particular I didn’t hesitate a second and quickly blurted out “Small Town Spree!” He scratched his head and asked me, “Do you remember how the lyrics started?” I took it to mean that he didn’t want to play it and I quickly made another suggestion, “how ‘bout ‘Put Down the Gun’?” “No problem…” he said, as he set down his cup of coffee and took his place in front of the mic.

The story in “Small Town Spree” is one that most anyone can relate to. The reason I’m so fond of the lyrics to this song is that in addition to personally knowing a ton of guys from my wasted youth who could qualify to be the figure in the tale, I’m pretty sure that many of my old high school classmates have thought the same of me as they leafed through their dusty old yearbooks. The hauntingly percussive guitar is complimented by a fantastic string arraignment that builds as the song progresses and at one particular point of brilliance offers a sickly out of tune backdrop as Pete sings, “Heard you broke down on your way out to New York City…”. His harmonic provides another clever sound effect surprise a bit further up the road.

I love the way he ends it too. Perhaps he’s wondering if there were signs back then that his friend had this thing in him even back then. No question one of my all time favorite songs EVER.

There are so many great PC songs that I would consider my second favorite (I was considering both “Poor Old Tom” and “Put Down The Gun”) that I decided to go for the tune that was a little more diverse juxtaposed against Small Town Spree and go with the latter. This is a PC song with band accompaniment and it’s simply fantastic. The open tuned guitar gallop at the beginning matched with his picturesque lyrics grab you from the beginning:

On the hills outside of town there’s a hiding place
Where the green fields sway with lavender that stirs the Queen Anne’s lace
Where the silent clouds go sailing in a sea of Dutchman’s blue
And the lonesome tracks by the railroad cut make think of you

And the train we missed…

With that, he lands on an E chord and you know something is amiss. As the chorus emerges, the band is in full swing electric guitars and all. The songs’ peaks and valleys are pure perfection to me and T-Bone Burnett’s production is masterfully evident throughout.

“Small Town Spree” affirms that everybody has a myth of some sort built around them in somebody’s eyes. Sometimes you end up defying them, sometimes you end up living up to them, sometimes for better or for worse. At a minimum, it’s great to be remembered I guess.

“Put Down the Gun” gives us a story of someone talking a friend down from the ledge. Something we’ve all had to do at one time or another. That’s just what you do for friends.

As I write this, I wonder if I’m cheating you by not going with “Poor Old Tom” now. I guess that means I’ll have to feature it on it’s own at a later time.

Enjoy and let me know what you think…

“Small Town Spree” is from Peter Case’s self titled debut solo album on Geffen records. Sadly, this record is currently out of print, but it can be found used on “Put Down the Gun” is from Pete's second Geffen release “The Man with the Blue Guitar”. It is still widely available.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

I heart college football...

I hang with some pretty serious college football fans, men and women alike. Most are Georgia Tech fans with a deep love for their alma mater. We/they spend away game days glued to their TV's watching GT and everybody else give it all on the fields of friendly strife as Gen. Douglas MacArthur referred to the glorious game.

We also participate in an illicit gambling venture that enhances our fun on Saturdays during the fall. The pool costs us $10 per week to pick the most winners out of a list of 27 or so games. My brother in law (HUGE Penn Sate fan and alum) picks the games and ensures that the participants favorite teams are included on each weeks card to keep everybody interested.

Along with our card this week, he sent a link to a blog post which contained an embedded a link to a mp3 file that had me rolling on the floor. You want to hear a dedicated braodcaster/fan completely lose it? Check it out. I've had a few impassioned rants about the sorry state of my beloved Army team over the years, but this guy has perfected the art.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Hillary: "I am not a lesbian..."

Neither am I.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

TA's Diamond's In The Rough...

Well, I've been playing with the Badongo thing for the last few days attempting to get it to work the way I want it to and with a little help from their tech support I think I've figured it out. It takes a little doing to get the track lists to port during the upload process, but "they're working on it" is what they're telling me (it's a Beta service right now).

Before I begin, first let's outline the rules I'm going to play by here with this. I don't steal music from the internet PERIOD. All the songs I will upload to Badongo and post on my sidebar player I purchased as a CD or from iTunes. The only exception will be tunes I myself, or my friends/associates have recorded and have given me permission to post. If you like the tunes I post, PLEASE support the artist by going to your favorite on-line music store or to and purchase a copy.

With that out of the way, lets talk about mad ripping music.

Back at the beginning of December 2006 as I lost my job, my wife lost her gall bladder, and our Christmas vacation plans fell into ruin, I told myself I was STILL far luckier than most. That simple truth, along with family, friends and this album kept me focused on the positive future that awaited me:

Jackson and I traded several mutual admiration e-mails about it and a couple of blog posts too. Since I hadn't listened to it for awhile prior to that period of uncertainty, I had forgotten about some of the deeper cuts that are so good there are few words to accurately describe them. Two of them I've featured on the Badongo player in the right hand sidebar (click the playlist down arrow and click on the song). Both feature unfairly underrated guitar gun slinger Micheal Schenker just GOING OFF!!!

These two tunes were playing in my head constantly as I dealt with all the crap during the holidays and while I won't say they saved my life or anything that ridiculously dramatic, rediscovering the perfection of this album definitely made the road a little bit smoother.

What's cool is now I can actually share the tracks with you thanks to Badongo. It's been the missing link since I first started doing this blogging thing a couple of years ago. So consider this a retro post back to that time. More will follow. Click away and hold onto your shorts!

Friday, September 14, 2007

Cool Hosting Thingy...

Beth was unable to to put up her usual friday mixed tape post due to some issues with her hosting site. This got me to thinking... Why the hell don't I link to tunes using a hosting site? I ended up following one of her faithful readers advice and signing up at

Here's a link let's see if it works. I wonder if Beth will know the song...

UPDATE: I still can't get it to run directly from blogger, hold on...

UPDATE II: Okay, I embedded a player into the sidebar which I can move tunes into as a playlist. The song I linked to is in there now. Simply click the play button and away it goes...

Because Biko...

With all the attention focused on remembering the nightmare of 9/11 this week, I'm thankful that Jackson reminded me of another significant tragic anniversary which shares the same week and it shouldn't pass without our collective acknowledgment.

I too was exposed to Steven Biko's life and legacy through music. I hold a special place for those who give there life for just causes and there is no doubt that Steven's was that. I have to thank Peter Gabriel and Little Steven for helping bring the cause to American teenagers back in the eighties. I'd like to believe that keeping the ugly truth out in front for everyone to see helped push the issue over the right side of the tipping point. I remember as a kid first reading about South African apartheid, and saying "This can't be true. There's no way that this exists in the 20th century". It did, and it still does.

Everyday many women in the middle east wake up with the same hopelessness that black South Africans suffered under the strong arm of apartheid, their lives completely governed by Sharia Law. It will take someone like Steven Biko to expose the truth of their plight. I pray that one emerges soon...

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Remembering 9/11...

Fred says he won't post his thoughts about 9/11 on this day and I respect that, but I think it's worthy of a few minutes of "Where were you/What were you thinking".

I was scheduled to fly to Philadelphia for a quarterly manager's meeting at 2:00PM on 9/11/01. My wife was home pregnant with our little girl. I came to work to wrap up a few things before I headed to the airport. At the fateful point in the morning as news began pour in all over the wire, one of my employees ran into my office and said, "Dude! Someone just flew an airplane into the the WTC". After confirming that it wasn't a prank the guys were playing on me, the first thought that came to mind was I hope my buddy Jackson, his brother, and family are alright and immediately began to dial to confirm. Already the circuits were jammed. As I put the phone back into its' cradle, the second plane hit. HOLY SHIT! Then the reports of the Pentagon, Pennsylvania, and all the other false pandemonium that comes from being sneak attacked in such a way. I told my employees that if they had family in NYC that they could leave and go home, otherwise I asked them to be prepared to ship any needed communications gear that our network might need to get back up and running in DC and Manhattan.

I went home for lunch and watched news reports and came back to the office and filled my employees in on anything I thought they might not have gotten from the radio or the internet. Still no word from NYC friends. I knew it might be a while. By the end of the day, I had received confirmation that my NYC friends were safe. I had also heard too many stories of people being incinerated in their cubicles and offices and seen far too much video of people leaping to their deaths from twin tower windows. As my wife and I comforted each other that evening, I definitely recognized the events of the day as ones that would change the world forever. Before I left the office, I received a call from a friendly administrator at a company that I did business with in the UK. She just called to offer her condolences to me. I didn't know what to say. I was unhurt and my family and friends were safe, but I told her thank you and that I appreciated her call. I guess nobody else in the world knew what to do or say either.

I know I want all those responsible for the attack and those that supported and continue to support this kind of thing gone from this earth. If we've spent 6 years arguing about whether our government response has been carried out competently or incompetently, I hope the one thing we can agree on is that.

Other than that, I don't have much to add and have really spent little time looking for 9/11 retrospectives outside of my blogroll. I will leave you this link to Bobby's poignant post.

I can see clearly...

It's been an interesting past few days here. I was hammered by a cold since Thursday that now seems to be waning which I am at last grateful for. Catching a cold was as predictable as the sun coming up considering all the activity surrounding my life lately. One of the first symptoms of aging I fell victim to a few years back was the loss of my ability to stay up late without any side effects the next day, or beyond. Now if I wear myself out two or three days in a row with maximum amounts of activity and limited sleep, I will assuredly get a nasty cold as a result. This is tough to reconcile with the fact that I can be a very focused and determined individual and can ignore pain which only makes the impending cold that much worse.

That's been the case with the move. Neither my wife nor I can stand living in chaos. The idea of taking weeks to unpack and get organized is simply not an option with us, so we've been hitting it hard since the moving truck tail lights faded away last week. Thankfully, we're pretty much done. Of course, there are many little projects (hanging curtains, pictures, etc...) but the heavy lifting and piles of boxes stuff are done. The next big project will be wiring up the studio which Jackson is pledging to help me with. This should be easier than the last time I had to do it since there is so much more room to work in.

The worst part of this cold was feeling crappy for college football opening day Saturday. I was in no shape to partake in any libations hoping to just feel good enough to make it to my seat and not ruin anybody else's good time. While I did accomplish those things, it was almost not worth it since Georgia Tech scheduled a cupcake for their home opener and trashed poor Samford 69-14. We left at half time and returned to the tailgate site and watch games on TV where we were able to catch the last quarter of the Army vs. URI game. There was Army playing their "cupcake" home opener against a Div 1AA school and to mine, and many others I'm sure, they were locked in a 7-7 tie late in the 4th qtr. Army won it in over time, but with what I witnessed with the the Samford trouncing by GT, it will be a blood letting when my diminutive Black Knights come to Atlanta to play GT in late Sept. GT will score 70+ points against Army. West Point has made another huge blunder with their choice in head coach and again this mistake will be at the expense of, first and foremost, the cadets who suit up to practice and play each week and the entire Long Gray Line. They all deserve better.

Another challenge has been on the work front. My company announced a massive layoff of half our work force as part of a huge restructuring plan our new CEO is guiding (that's right, the day before we closed on our new house) . While some affected are sticking around until late Nov/Dec, most are leaving this coming Friday. Lots of disgruntled folks. Try attempting a brain drain on a person who's work you're supposed to be taking over when they've got nothing but venomous feelings for the company. I don't blame them at all. Many long tenure employees will be leaving and it's just going to be awkward and weird until Monday.

This weekend GT's got a night game against Boston College which will mean some VERY serious all day tailgating activity. I should be fully recovered and taking full advantage of my rejuvenated health to make the most of it. Let's hope that Army, The Falcons, and the Jets can find some footing this weekend and give us something to look forward to this season.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Anybody need any boxes?

I'm so sore from moving activity I can hardly stand up, but I have to say that we made good progress over the long weekend. Getting all the audio/video systems hooked up, all the cabling buried into the baseboards, and our new plasma hung up on the wall kept me from taking in many football games, although I did slap together a temporary system and catch the GT Yellow Jackets stomp some Notre Dame ass. It appears Army has blown it once again with their coaching choice and insists that they will somehow find a way to run a pro-set passing dominated offense instead of doing what the other service academies do and run the option. The cadets got beat by the Akron Zips 22-14. It wasn't as close as the score. The Terps, Penn State, and Clemson all won so I'm feeling pretty good about week one. Michigan leaned a lesson about scheduling cupcakes for home openers.

I was even able to take an hour respite and jump into our swimming pool for the first time. I tell you what... as long as it doesn't break down or before it fills with leaves in the fall, the pool is most awesome! I am amazed that all our crap fits into this house since we left a place with a basement for one without, but we're at 95% unpacked and there are actually places where things look sparse.

Mrs. Alva and I kept our date night plans and drove up to Decatur's Eddie's Attic to catch Tommy Wommack and Peter Case. We employed our niece Caroline as babysitter for the first time and it worked out well. Caroline got an iPod for her birthday not too long ago and only had 27 songs on it thus far. We paid her in iTunes gift card credits and she was happy as a clam. Peter Case played his third set of the day after a couple of appearances at the Decatur Book Festival and although he looked a little tired, he rocked his and our asses off. He didn't play a single song in standard tuning the whole night opting for his perfected Mississippi John Hurt style picking. The guy indeed makes a guitar sound like a band. And that voice!!! His set well represented his catalog girth with songs from his first to his latest. A great date night it was.

Last night, our good friends Bryan and Karen Caldwell dropped by to see the new place and provided us the perfect excuse NOT to do anymore unpacking and instead drink a couple of beers/wine and hang out in the listening room. Bryan's an old friend of Mrs. Alva and I and he and Karen moved to Peachtree City a year ago or so. We cannot believe our luck that they live so close.

Well, we've got our first home game tailgate next weekend and will be scheduling our house warming party soon. ALL IDM readers are invited. Be fair warned that there may be a slight chance that someone ends up going into to pool fully clothed at some point. Look forward to seeing you all there.