Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Happy Halloween!

I've been in a training class all day and am attempting to get all that I need to get done so I can cut out early, get home, carve a pumpkin, and take my little angel out trick or treating. Can't wait!

Check out IDM reader and frequent commentor Cool Momma in the costume she wore to work today. She thinks she's rock and roll, but really she's as country as they come (in the Marie Osmond kinda way).

Monday, October 29, 2007

I just need your card to fill the car up...

I don't know weather I should admire, mock, or pity this guy. Other than the fact that he graduated from Georgia Tech that is.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Time move so fast...

Whew! What a weekend. It feels like a month has gone by. Sorry this post is so late. I've had some technical difficulties at home and work that have just now cleared. We had a most excellent weekend past.

Picked Jackson up at the airport and took a drive up to Logical Audio to pick up the Nakamichi RX-202 cassette deck I decided to have fixed after discovering the entire collection of Coal Mine Sound (small 8 track studio we had up in NY while I was in college) and other assorted studio mixes when clearing closets to make the big move a month or two ago. The deck could be had for about the same price I paid to get it fixed from Ebay, but I decided to have this one fixed and ensure it got a good de-mag and azimuth set up. Glad I did. Discovered a gold mine of classic stuff on these cassettes and had some fun playing them for Jackson and a host of house guests Friday night.

Saturday was the big Army vs. Georgia Tech football game and tailgate. Jackson, the most awesome of chefs, assisted in preparing breakfast burritos for the crowd ahead of a noontime homecoming kickoff. The game proved to be one of two typical emotional rides for an Army football fan. Ride A is a total route from the get go by an oversized, overskilled, brilliantly executed, etc… opponent. In Ride B, Army plays well against said oversized, skilled, executed, etc… team for a quarter or two and then makes dumb mistakes and gets routed. This game was Ride B. My father turned back to me as the clock expired into half time and said, “They look like they belong out there, don’t they?” He was right. The score was 13-10 and Army had a touchdown called back due to a terrible holding call and GT intercepted us on 3 and goal. An Army fan knows not to get too excited with so much game left to play, but the three of us, me, Jackson, and my dad couldn’t help but be a little pumped not to be completely out of the game at the mid point. As is typical of Ride B, Army came out of the locker room and gave up two touchdowns right away and the route was on. 34-10 was how it ended.

My folks were grateful enough to take Mini Alva for the night to allow us to have some adult time. First stop was Earwax Records for some vinyl shopping. Both of us came away with decent stacks to add to our collections. Next was dinner with friends in Decatur and at place called Feasts. The food and company were great. We then headed to Eddie’s Attic to catch what Michelle Malone had to offer. The last time I saw her was my first week living in Atlanta back in 1991 when she and her band Drag The River opened for ZZ Top after the Black Crows were kicked off the tour for insulting Budweiser Corporation or some such bullshit. She and her band were great if not a little unpolished. This time around she looks and sounds much more mature and sticks to a slide guitar blues based sound. Her band of four was equally terrific. Mrs. Alva went right for the Bonnie Raitt comparison, but I thought she was much more authentic than Ms. Raitt really. The biggest struggle was trying to hang in after what was becoming a very long day of drinking, cheering, eating, etc… At 11:30 I called "No Mas" and we headed home. I hate leaving a show before it’s over, but I knew we had work to do the next day and I wanted to make sure we got at least the two man part of the job done.

Not only did we get something done, we finished it. Jackson and I completed the set up of the new Gray Cat Sound in one day! I have to say it was the least stressful set up I’ve ever done. I didn’t even curse that much! It may have been the least amount of cursing I've ever done performing this task. I have no idea how I can begin to repay my good friend for his help, but I will try to find away especially since we discovered as we sat down to a delicious meal my saintly wife had prepared for us that the Jets were on TV and we’d missed most of the game.

After I dropped Jackson off at the airport on my way into work the next rain soaked morning I got a little blue. Perhaps we spent too much time during his brief visit running around trying to do too much. After all, with good friends the best time we can have is sometimes just sitting down, spinning records, and sharing a drink until the wee hours. Maybe we get a chance to do just that soon.

Thanks again Jackson, you are truly my brother. I love you and owe you huge.

Here's some kickass photos Mrs. Alva took this weekend...

This photo makes me homesick for West Point. Every home game at Michie Stadium starts with a drop in from the Cadet parachute team delivering the game ball.

Mini Alva cheering her future alma mater on!!!

Jackson fully endorses this fat cat.

The new fully operational Grey Cat Sound with new/old Event 20/20 Monitors.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

My Favorite songs the world: Part III…

You’ve all heard Jackson and I debate the greatest Aerosmith album here on the blogs and I’m never a loss for words when it comes to presenting my case (I vacillate a great deal on which album qualifies between all four of the first records since strong arguments can be made for any of them), but this is actually a post about my favorite songs in the world and one of them anchors my position when I bestow the honor on the bands debut effort.

This first Aerosmith album is such a major staple of my listening life it seems that it plays in my head constantly. It was one of the first albums we were able to listen to while skateboarding and shredding ramps in Newport News, VA back in 1977. The advent of the portable 8-track player made this possible and one of the few 8 track tapes my buddy had was this album. Music was an important element to skateboarding back then and still is. After moving to New York, the album remained part of skate ramp heavy rotation (this time with cassette boomboxes) along with the other pre-plastic, pre-drug free Aerosmith albums. Back then, it was the rocker tunes off this album that got the most play; “Make It”, “Mama Kin”, “Walkin’ The Dog”, “Write Me A Letter”, etc… It wasn’t until I was in college and heavy into blues music study that I stopped lifting the needle when “One Way Street” queued up.

Aerosmith is a great band and they had a great sound, but Steven Tyler’s singing and clever lyrical delivery is what keeps me tuned in. He is simply one serious jive talkin’ mother fucker, and his vocal style is what stands out most to me when evaluating all the things that make the band great. This element is never better applied than on this first album and on “One Way Street” in particular. What I hear now when listening to this album after falling equally in love with the next three (Get Your Wings, Rocks, Toys in the Attic), is the overwhelming hunger for legitimacy and desire for success. Steven sings in “Movin’ Out”…

Good mornin' glory hallelujah to ya
What is the story
And what's been goin' through ya
Livin' like a king off the fat of the land
Workin' like a dog in a rock and roll band...

Working like a dog is exactly what these guys were doing and you can actually HEAR it on this record. Yeah, no doubt the fidelity sucks and the production is weak, but that’s what it’s supposed to sound like. If they ever put the multi-track tape back on the machine in an attempt to clean it up for some bullshit remix I’d fucking kill somebody. It NEEDS to sound like a basement tape because that’s what it IS. Kids today take note: Working like a dog is a rite of passage. If you skip this all to impoartant step, you will fail to ever be legit.

Some might conclude that the solo section in “One Way Street” might be a tad long, but I love it. It sounds like the band just got into that fucking killer groove and didn’t want to stop. And the guitar break with the hand clapping following Steven wailing “…and honey, your head’s a one way street, and I really feel I’ve got to be movin’ on”, HOLY SHIT that stuff cooks! If you’re not bobbing your head at a minimum at this point, I swear you must be dead.

So give it a listen and tell me what you think. I’ve added “Movin’ Out” to the Bandogo player also as a bonus track because, well, it kicks major ass too.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Family, Fall Foliage, & Black Rebel Motorcycle Club...

Sorry to have been away for so long. I took Friday off and drove the family up to Ashville North Carolina Thursday afternoon to visit my brother and sister-in- law in their new hometown. They actually live in an Ashville suburb (for lack of a better term) called Bravard, NC. What an absolutely awesome place to live! Who’d have thunk it? Ashville and the surrounding communities are all best described as colonies. Ashville has a UNC campus whose curriculum is all manners, disciplines, and mediums of art. The whole shebang is nestled in the western pointy tip of the state at 5000 ft. elevation into the Blue Ridge Mountains and barely three hours drive from Atlanta. Every preconception I had was wrong about the place. Very cool people, thriving economy, and paradise like vistas everywhere you look. I saw only one sign of ignorance and redneckism and that was some hunting lodge adorned in rebel flags on the way through the mountains and far away from civilization, thank god.

It was great to see my brother and his wife. They moved down from the frozen tundra of way upstate New York (the Governor tried to give this part of the state back to Canada, but the pseudo-Frenchie’s turned their already upturned noses at it) to the Ashville area this past July and all of us Atlanta based Alva’s are very excited about having them so much closer, and more importantly, accessible (try figuring out how to fly into Malone NY). After 3 years of grueling pharmacy school my sister-in-law seems finally to be at peace and much relieved to have a life again after all that book worming. My daughter absolutely loves hanging with the two of them as do the Mrs. and I. My brother is an avid music and sports fan, so we are never without something to argue, oops, I mean talk about.

Immediately after putting down our bags Thursday night, my brother and I took off to catch the Black Rebel Motorcycle Club at The Orange Peel in Ashville. Cool venue with plenty of room, great vibe, and polite fans. The orange peel sort of looked like it was once a roller skating rink at one time. The 50 foot long bar served a great selection of draft beers and had what I would say is the best system of running drink tabs I’ve ever seen. This may seem like an insignificant thing, but once you realize that instead of taking thirty minutes to get a beer for you and your brother, it only took three you’d appreciate what I’m saying here.

BMRC played a great gig. The band gets the most out of simple open tuned riffs then I’ve ever seen anyone attempt. Motorhead influenced lumbering bass rhythms with brilliant pop vocal melodies is how I’d best describe them. They all look like rock stars are supposed to and I really enjoyed the show. I’d say they might have to explore adding some dynamics to their next record given that their first four are somewhat similar in the sonic sense, but they certainly seem to be creative enough and possess solid enough song writing skills to pull off a move up the maturity scale. Perhaps work with an outside producer (they have self produced all their previous efforts).

We watched some football on TV before heading back and by the time we returned to our place in Atlanta I was confident that I might actually win this weeks football pool. Ended up getting 19 of 28 and STILL losing. Lost to a girl too. That blows.

This weekend is prime for some serious partying. I’m again taking Friday off to pick up the esteemed, the honorable, the impressible, the one and only Jackson who is coming to town to see Army get slapped around by Georgia Tech and assist me in getting my studio back on line. It all starts upon arrival at Hartsfield Airport early Friday morning. He’ll need wheelchair service to get him on his return flight. Who knows, with Jackson and a contingency of the Corps of Cadets in the house maybe our Army team deals an upset to the Ramblin’ Wreck from Georgia Tech. If it were to somehow miraculously happen, I would consider my life lived.


Monday, October 08, 2007

Winning Ugly and Enjoying the Weekend…

The only way my streak could have been better was if I had won the pool (close but no cigar) and the Jets and Falcons won on Sunday (looks like that won’t happen again at least this season), but as for the real action that took place on Saturday it was a rare instance of all my favs ending up in the winners circle.

Our good friends and former next door neighbors made the trip down to Peachtree City to watch my Maryland Terrapins go up 21-3 on Georgia Tech late in the second quarter. GT closed the gap on a Maryland fumble before the half making it 21-10 as the teams made their way to the locker room. In the second half, the Tech defense that we saw destroy Clemson last weekend showed up and kept the Terps from doing much of anything offensively and it looked like they were going to rain on Maryland’s parade. In the end, Fridge’s boys held out and with a few bad play calls and penalties on GT’s part, the Yellow Jackets had a chance to win with a 52 yard field goal by always on Travis Bell that luckily, for this author at least, sailed just a hair wide right. The loss crushes GT’s hopes for an ACC championship game repeat, but you never know. Are the Terps for real? I’m not ready to answer yes to that just yet, but Terrapin QB Sophomore Napoleon Dynamite shows promise for the future.

We watched a bunch of other games in high definition and were completely bummed that the Army vs Tulane game could not be had on ESPN’s Game Day Plan. My dad kept us up to date with laptop reports of Army stinking up the joint. Late in the fourth quarter, and after MANY drinks, my father contacted some good friends who were in attendance at West Point’s Michie Stadium. They had already retired to the “A" Room of the Kimsey Center and were watching the debacle through the large windows overlooking Blaik Field. “It’s awful Dave. This is the worst of the worst I’m looking at here” was what our man on the scene reported. As my dad hung up he said to his friend, “Well, see you in a week or so…”, to which his friend replied, “What? Oh yeah, Army vs Georgia Tech, OH GOD, WE’RE GOING TO GET KILLED!”

With only a couple of minutes remaining, Tulane up by ten, house full of exhausted kids, and the hour getting late, everybody called it a night and went home. Cathy and I retired up stairs and after brushing teeth etc… climbed into bed. I flipped on the TV to catch the end of the LSU vs Florida barn burner we’d left downstairs. As we both buried our noses into books, Cathy happened to look up at the screen and shouted, “ARMY WON!” As I called my dad to break the news I discovered his phone to be busy. I called his cell and he was getting the news from an old friend. WOW! Army is 3-3 on the season, winning in OT after a Hail Mary reception at the last second to force overtime. The first time Army has been .500 on the season since the early 1990’s. Being .500 would have fans of most teams looking forward to basketball season, but for Army who owns the worst W/L record in NCAA Div. 1A history (0-13), it's the equivalent of being ranked in the top 10. Hell, maybe they’ll actually score a touchdown against Georgia Tech when they’re here in two weeks.

Oh yeah, Penn State won too.

Friday, October 05, 2007

My Favorite songs the world: Part II...

I’ve always liked the Rolling Stones, which is to say in the language of a teenage rock & roll enthusiast hooked on heavy metal, I never hated them, but my total emersion into the Stones undeniable greatness began with a cassette copy of Sticky Fingers which I had serendipitously ganked from my sister. It was down in my basement living room that the transformation took place and for no other reason than to hear something different I tossed into the player. It was a slow draw at first. I remember the first thing that grabbed me and made me pay attention was the opening vocal intro to “Sister Morphine”:

Tell me Sister Morphine, when are ya comin’ ‘round again,
awe cause I don’t think I can wait that long...

Wow. Then the slide guitar. Now I’ve stopped what ever it was I was doing.

The scream of the ambulance is sounding in my ear,
tell me Sister Morphine how long have I been lyin’ here…

Now I’m sitting down on the couch completely captivated.

In the days that followed, I began bumming one of my siblings Walkman if I had to walk the dogs or run across the street to the PX and the only cassette I had within reach was Sticky Fingers. It was the headphone listening that really helped me hear the genius that is The Rolling Stones. I have to implore that everybody get a copy of this absolutely perfect album if you don’t have it already and listen to it with headphones on. There is so much that gets missed just cranking it up loud on speakers (not that this record can’t be cranked up loud, quite the contrary). With headphones you hear Keith and Mick Taylor just tearing it up with the twin guitar assault. You hear stuff that you missed the thousand billion other times it came on the radio like the acoustic guitar accompaniment in “Brown Sugar”, or the strange twisted piano parts in Sister Morphine, etc…

For weeks I’d play one particular side of that cassette, each time delving further into the deeper cuts. This is how I digest an album. Playing the songs I like repetitively and then letting it run a track or two into the others before lifting the needle/hitting rewind/hitting replay and going back to the familiar. It was during one of these instances that I discovered my favorite Rolling Stone song ever.

The mood was perfect. It was 3:30 in the morning on a weekday summer night, and I had just walked home after being out at a local bar with my friends. I grabbed the walkman before jumping into bed, dropped the cassette in, clicked play, and as my head hit the pillow Mick Taylor slow picked the opening G chord to “I Got the Blues”. In the distance, Keith answered the cadence of the straight picked chords with the saddest forlorn notes I had ever heard. I was blown away. Then, Mick Jagger’s vocal, “As I stand by your flame, I get burned once again, feeling low down, and blue...”. With the headphones on, you can hear him hold the tail note in “blue” as it blends into the guitar parts. I then understood that Mick Jagger was no slouch and clearly lived up to the hype. The guy knows his shit about singing blues music. From then on it was no longer just Mick the rooster flapping around and yelling “Shattered, Shattered…”. The A major break with the harmony gave me chills and just when they began to subside, Billy Preston rips into his organ solo and I knew I was going to be studying this song for years to come.

I must have rewound “I Got the Blues” twenty times before falling asleep that night. Pure perfection incarnated in the form of song. With each subsequent listen there were more perfect parts to be discovered. The song starts so sad in the beginning as he tries to let her go. He claims to want her to be happy with whomever she ends ups with. Then we get the horns (The horns, MY GOD THE HORNS!!!) loud and in front when Mick pleads with his unknown love during the crescendo finale. No more pretenses as he confesses that what he was saying before was bullshit, he wants her back and no amount of distance will change the way he feels.


It all comes crashing down in the ending as Mick in complete exhaustion belts,


We are left to wonder what her response was.

I’ve heard this song a billion times since and I get goose bumps each time I hear that guitar intro.

So here it is for your consideration and comment. Hit the Badongo player and give it a listen and tell me what you think.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Sure it was a gift...

Legislator gives presentation to high school students and as he inserts a thumb drive into his laptop, pictures of naked women appear on the overhead projector. "The thumb drive was a gift...", was his comment to the principal.

I would have gone with the, "I was just holding it for someone..." excuse.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Pic's of home...

As I mentioned before, my folks went up to West Point this past weekend for my dad's 45th class reunion. Here's my favorite photo's from their journey...

My dad's classmate, Commanding Gen. Wayne A. Downing who served as National Director and Deputy National Security Adviser was laid to rest in a ceremony prior to the reunion. A big fish like Gen. Downing gets all the stops pulled out for him. I think all soldiers deserve this type of respect.

Our family has lived in three different quarters at West Point through the years. The house barely visable through the tree canopy was the house we lived in when we returned to West Point in 1977. It is next door to the Holy Trinity Catholic Chapel. We saw a lot of funerals while we lived there. They always made my mom sad. This photo was taken where my old bus stop used to be.

Funerals for guys like Gen. Wayne Downing attract a few notable celebraties. Pictured with class of 1962 alum is Tom Brokow. Brian Williams broadcasted the NBC Nightly News from West Point that evening.

Next to Army/Navy spirit week, homecoming is a great time to be at West Point. Everybody goes the extra mile to make the place look nice for returning classes, and with so many grads now combat veterans, the word was that all the stops were pulled out for those able to make the trip back. This photo is of the pep squad doing their thing for the class of 62 at their luncheon at the Cadet Mess Hall. The Cadet Mess Hall is a fantastic building. Although it isn't on any tour stop list, anyone visiting West Point must find a way to get in to see it. Jackson and I can guide you in if need be.

Cadets hate parades by default. I kind of see their point especially on football Saturday, with this one exception: Homecoming. Tradition is prime at West Point and the most enduring principle other than Duty, Honor, Country and the Honor Code is the concept of The Long Gray Line. Every graduate becomes a member of this elite brother/sisterhood forever. Gen. Douglas MacArthur noted in his famous address to The Corp upon acceptance of the Thayer Award: "The long gray line has never failed us. Were you to do so, a million ghosts in olive drab, in brown khaki, in blue and gray, would rise from their white crosses, thundering those magic words: Duty, Honor, Country."
I'm sure it's lost on most of the cadets on the parade field on homecoming day, but the old men in the reviewing stands in front of them will BE them one day and they are worthy of the pass in review.
And finally, you can't have a homecoming without football. Great game, Army won.
I miss home...

Monday, October 01, 2007

Let's go spanning the globe...

That phrase is one that I miss about not being in New York. I’m sure New Yorkers are over Len Berman’s monthly sports fluff piece of sports bloopers, but I don’t care. I always enjoyed it.

What a wild, wacky weekend across our nations fields of friendly strife. As the Braves cleaned out their lockers for fall/winter vacation for the second year in a row, Tom Glavine was asking if he could borrow some baking soda to deodorize his cubby too. Wow. A seven game slide in two weeks, that is truly brutal. The Jets, my hapless favorite NY football team just can’t seem to get it together either losing to the equally hapless Bills. At least the Giants won (my wife was actually yelling at the TV which is usually my job). The Giants look like they may be solidifying as a team and I’m beginning to have my faith restored in Eli abilities a bit.

But the real story this weekend was college football folks. Seven of the top thirteen teams were upset and I was there for one of them. Number three ranked Oklahoma lost to an “also ran” Colorado University in the biggest upset next to Michigan losing to Div 1AA Appalachian State in their season opener. ESPN points out that, in the last 5 meetings, OU won all 5 and outscored CU 156-44. That’s big time.

I had picked Clemson to win on my card and was prepared to cheer them on against Georgia Tech Saturday, but as a walked to the stadium chugging my roadie beers, I observed Clemson fans attempting to pick fights with the far more geeky and helpless GT students, I had a change of heart.

I just don’t the GT football team. They are the definitive hot/cold team of the ACC, but their defense was most certainly on fire Saturday. They just shut Clemson down and allowed them nothing in the air or on the ground. It was a great game and I now feel like I’m getting my money’s worth out of the new stratospheric ticket pricing changes GT rolled out on us this year. Porkchop, you missed the game of the season my friend. Tashard Choice running out of the tunnel with a sledge hammer on his shoulder was quite prophetic and inspiring.

The Maryland Terrapins upset number ten ranked Rutgers in New Jersey which was an equal shock to the football system. I’ve adopted the Scarlet Knights, but had to root for my homies from College Park even though I didn’t pick them on my card. GT goes the Byrd Stadium across from my old dorm room in Ellicott Hall to take on the reinvigorated Terps next week. I wish it was in the budget to go to that one since both teams are looking to validate their new found positions.

Most surprising of all and far from gleam of top ranked teams, the Black Knights of the Hudson put up a win against the Temple Owls at Michie Stadium in front of a sell out homecoming crowd. It was great to see the stands filled to witness such a rare Army victory. Included in the crowd was USMA’s most distinguished class of 1962 attending the games as part of their 45th reunion festivities. My father and mother had a great time from what they’ve told me. Best quote comes from my mother who said: “Man, are those people getting old…”. Dad quoted the Superintendent at their luncheon as claiming, “I think we’ve turned the corner with the football program…”. Yeah, and we found WMD in a bunker in Baghdad.

To all those who have not fully jumped onto the bandwagon of the greatest sport ever that is college football, I’ll leave you with this quote from one noted scholarly individual: “…So all of you out there sittin’ on fence, get off your ass and get down here”.