Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Top 6 cds of 2009, IMHO:)

It is that time of year when everyone and their dog releases a top 10 list. With the explosion of blogs and everything related, you can hardly surf the web anymore without tripping over someone's thoughts about the year that was. I usually will glide on by unless it is top 10 related to music or movies. I must admit that most names on the 2009 versions are unknown to me as I don't listen to the radio very much anymore.

Nevertheless, I do follow somewhat the goings-on of the music world. Recently I made a comment on my facebook about the current state of music and my friend Dave sent me to his blog which had his Top 5 cds of 2009. He wrote that since there were not enough quality cds released this year he had to do a top 5 instead of a top 10. I thought, I can list at least 10 great cds from this year. I made my list and then did some research and realized that several of my choices were not released this year but were actually from 2008. I was unable to list 10 good cds from this year which is sad.

Here's my list:
Rodrigo y Gabriela - 11:11: If you haven't listened to these guys yet, stop reading and go find something of theirs. This is their second cd and it is amazing. Anyone who plays guitar will find their jaw routinely dropping as this duo. For the uniniated, Rodrigo y Gabriela are a duo from Mexico who play acoustic guitars but it is unlike any other instrumental acoustic music you have ever heard.

AFI - Crash Love: I am not one of those AFI fans who has been lamenting the change they have undergone since their cd "Black Sails at Sunset." I have listened to this cd about 20 times and I love it more every time. Their progression as a band seems to always track where I am in my life. This one is best when cranked to the maximum volume possible.

Brad Paisley - American Saturday Night: There is no other guitarist currently playing that makes me want to play more than Brad Paisley. A great set of songs which is funny as well as amazingly played.

Manic Street Preachers - Journal for Plague Lovers: not very familiar here in hte U.S. which is a shame because they are one of the top selling bands in the U.K. EVER! They are super liberal which may put off some listeners but the songs are amazing.

Tom Waits - Gloom and Doom Live: Tom Waits would make this list whenever he puts out a record which is increasingly rare these days. I love his work and this is a live set from his most recent tour and focuses on his later work. Plus there is a bonus cd of Tom telling stories!

Morrissey - Years of Refusal: My wife and her brothers are huge Morrissey fans. I have never been much of one until I heard this album. Of all the cds on this list, I have listened to this one the most. Depression has never been so much fun:)

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Random Thoughts....

1. It is hard for me not to think of the opening sequence of the old cartoon show, Duck Tales, when I hear that New Moon debuted this weekend to the tune of $140 million...particularly the scene where Uncle Scrooge goes swimming in his money.

2. The longer I live in oregon, the more my assumptions about it are blown away. The strongest chapter of the KKK west of the Mississippi was based in Ashland, Oregon and it was illegal for African Americans to live in Oregon until the mid-1900's

3. There is no lonelier place on a Sunday night than the University library

4. It is interesting what would have happened to my career in film if YouTube had existed when I was a film major.

5. What exactly does Twitter mean?

6. It took me 35 years but I can finally type without looking at the keyboard. Somewhere my pencil is silently weeping.

7. I miss the old-school guitar intros in rock songs. The ones where you immediately knew the song and it made you want to pick up your guitar and play.

8. Why am I increasingly disturbed by the stories I hear about what my country in doing to people in my name? I get madder every day, especially since our current President vowed to stop these abuses.

9. I wish I was big enough to play rugby.

The end is in sight....for the semester at least

I am so close to finishing my first semester as an LLM student and it cannot come fast enough. Granted I have a ton of stuff to finish before the final bell but this experiment has been an incredible trial. Most of the fault for that lies with me and my unrealistic expectations. I came back to school mor ethan a little bit cocky. I thought that since I was already an attorney and had passed the bar, that everything would be easy. that I would not have to try very hard to get good grades. this has not been the case....far from it actually. Additionally, the program itself has not been what I wanted or perhaps even needed. It is not managed very well, there is a poor selection of courses and nobody in the administration seems to know what to do with me.

Maybe I should have thought this through a little more...but then again I did recieve an answer ot my prayers to bring my family to Oregon. Doubt and faith cannot exist in the same person at the same time. Perhaps during this break for Christmas, I should work on my faith. I certainly could use the help in that area.

The sun was out today for the first time in a week. I really enjoyed it.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Music I have been jamming to lately....

Crash Love by AFI
Futures by Jimmy Eat World
Appeal to Reason by Rise Against
Forth by The Verve
Alter the Ending by Dashboard Confessional
American Saturday Night by Brad Paisley
The Best of Morrissey by Morrissey

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

I haven't posted in awhile. Just been feeling overwhelmed and underperforming. Liz and I both got the flu which was frustrating and scary. My grandpa is dying in the hospital with pancreatic cancer which has effected me more than I thought. School is winding down in three weeks and I have an seemingly unsurmountable amount of work to do before Thanksgiving. And Sammy is due to make his debut in January.

Wow! I am such a whiner:(

I am truly blessed when I trhink about it!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Orientation Day

I had my first day of orientation which was really interesting. It was in a large auditorium and I was one of 3 LLM students. The other 120 or so were 1Ls. Most of the orientation was geared towards them and rightfully so as their trek will more difficult than mine right now. I kept thinking to myself, "They have no idea what is ahead of them." I know it is a very paternalistic thing to think but I am about to be a father and I am several years ahead of them.

I remembered my first day of oreintation for Loyola. It was hard to believe that I had made it into law school and that I had just moved myself to New Orleans, LA. I looked around my class that evening and I was filled with a sense of elation. Things were going to work out great, I thought. Little did I know that 10 days later, i would be in a stranger's home 3 hours north of NOLA, watching Hurricane Katrina rip the city apart. Nor did I know that I would attend three different law schools and end up practicing law in Chicago, Illinois over the next 4 years.

The students this morning, similarly, had no idea what was ahead of them. It may not be a natural disaster which will be taught to their children in history class but they will not be the same. And under Willamette's strict grading policy, at least 12 of them will be out trying to figure out another career because they failed out. I felt sad and oddly happy for them. It will bond them to their classmates in a way that I never got to experience. It may also be more than some can handle. Law school is rough, probably rougher than most practices of law. Maybe it is meant to be that way, a sort of initiation rite to join the fraternity. It does create an instant connection to other attorneys once you start practicing.

In the end, I envied them a bit since they have three more years before the bite of reality will first sting them. As tough as law school was, it is a sort of fairyland place where growing up can be put off another couple of years. Not that law school creates perpetual Peter and Patricia Pan's but that you can just be a student for a little while longer before you have to figure out careers and lives that will carry you to retirement.

I know this sounds sad and depressing but I am excited to get another crack at school and try to improve my family's situation.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Moe's and the matter of effort.

My wife and I went to the Oregon Coast this weekend, Lincoln City specifically. It was a sunny but cool day which was beautiful and restful. On our way home, we decided to visit a restaurant called Moe's which is very well known and popular here. (

The line was out of the door when we arrived. We decided to stay anyway since every one we have met in Oregon has asked us if we had eaten here. I can say a few things about Moe's and none of them are very good. The service was atrocious and the food was mediocre. The plates were sloppily maintained. More importantly, it cost $40. Now I am not usually one to complain about food. I have shared a meal of dogs and horses with a thousand flies before while seated on the dirt floor of a thatched roof hut but I find as I get older my tolerance for laziness and incivility has diminished.

Anyway, my wife and I discussed it for awhile on the two hour drive back and came to the conclusion that Moe's is simply a victim of its own success. At one point it was no doubt a small mom and pop chowder stand that did well during the tourist season. However, it had grown too big (6 locations) to maintain quality or perhaps they had just stopped trying. I think it is probably a mixture of both. On my way out, I asked the cashier, as I pointed to the line of at least 50 people spiraling slowly out the door, if it was always "this" busy and he replied with exhausted eyes, "Yes, always." I asked myself if I would keep trying hard every single day if even my most mediocre efforts were rewarded. I didn' t like the answer I gave myself...*sigh*

Friday, August 7, 2009

Salem, Oregon

I recently moved from the thriving metropolis of Chicago to the bustling burg of Salem, Oregon. The reasons and events of that trek are a whole entry, perhaps several. Just a couple observations about Salem:
1. It must be against the law for men to have sleeves on their tee shirts as no one but me seems to have them.
2. Salem has a high density of obese people.
3. Everyone in Salem smokes.
4. The capitol building is a couple of blocks from my house and looks like an LDS Temple.
5. The golden statue actually is a pioneer man with a long golden cape which makes no sense
6. There are a lot of trees here.
7. The city of Eugene, Oregon hosts a festival every August called Fairyworld and it is a very bizarre event.'
8. It is also legal in the city of Eugene to be naked though no one who chooses to do so is anyone you would want to see naked.
9. It is our new home.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Books I have read in the last year

Dracula by Bram Stoker
Yiddish Policeman's Union by Michael Chabon
Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
The long Halloween by Jeff Loeb and Tim Sale
Rats by Robert Sullivan
How to be Alone by Jonathan Franzen
Specimen Days by Michael Cunnigham
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
Usagi Yojimbo by Stan Sakai

Sunday, March 8, 2009

I am sitting here on a Sunday morning looking out the window by the computer desk and watching the rain drip off the trees. It has been dark and gray the past couple of days here which is a drastic change from the 70 degree weather we had on Friday. The thing that most impresses me is that spring is truly on the way. This is one of my happy thoughts since the winter was so brutal this year. I have a couple other happy thouhgts. My wife is the most amazing person I have ever met. she gets me through the day. Some days when things are really brutal in the courtroom, I will flip open my phone and look at the picture of her which pops up. It makes any situation easier to handle.

lately I have been obessessing over three things: Thelonius Monk, Lil Wayne, and learning how to make a good gumbo.

Thelonius Monk was one of the great jazz pianists of all time. Sure, he was a little unstable, like so many great artists, but I just really connect with his sound. I have recently begun to really explore jazz which is a art form I have never really taken time to try and understand. I played in some jazz bands in high school but I never really listened to it outside of rehearsal time. I was too obsessed with death metal and the like to give it a chance.

I think my current interest started when I picked up a John Coltrane cd, "A Love Supreme", on a whim at the public library. I loved it and decided to check out some other stuff. The interesting thing is that I have yet to look into any jazz guitarists which for anyone who knows me is surprising given the fact that guitar was my life for many years.

Perhaps it is the "different-ness" of it that intrigues me... which is also probably why I obsess over Lil Wayne. I have only listened to a couple of his songs, usually edited versions since he is particularly fond of several euphemisms which I have been stubbornly trying to eradicate from my vocabulary. He is just fascinating to me. I will watch some of his videos at the gym when I am on the treadmill and I think that he is more of a rockstar than most working in that genre today.... and Lil wayne is from New Orleans and I have for some reason been missing New Orleans alot lately.....*sigh* New orleans is one of the few remaining places in America which is truly unique. It has a culture and atmosphere all of its own. I encourage anyone reading this to go and visit it once in their lifetime. It is not all Mardi Gras and drunken coeds lifting their tops. There is an amazing art scene and the food is awesome and you can avoid the seedier elements if you want. Check out a little place called the Gumbo Shop, 630 St. Peter Street, just a block away from the cathedral. When I lived there I took everyone who came to visit me there. I just found out seconds ago while I was researching the address that the place has a new owner who plans to turn it into a franchise which is a terrible terrible idea but desperate times call for desperate measures, i suppose.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Ladies that rock

I was looking through my music collection several months ago and I noticed a troubling trend. I had almost no female artists in my collection. I decided to do something about it and focus on trying to discover some good female artists in an attempt to rectify the disparity. Here some artists I found that I really dig now:
Sinead O'Conner- Okay, she is a little weird but I love her voice
Ani DiFranco- That girl can play some mean guitar and is a true independent spirit
Adele- so young and with such talent
Duffy- not the Amy winehouse clone some claim she is, i love the production on her album
PJ Harvey- dark, disturbing, and very cool
Rodrigo y Gabriela- I know one member is a guy but the true hero here is Gabriela
Ella Fitzgerald- old school but such a great voice
Nina Simone- She had me with her first note
Dido- so chill and a great songwriter
Shakira- her new English stuff is not that great, but her earlier Spanish stuf is awesome
The Pipettes- love the harmonies

Interesting that most of these are either singer-songwriter or jazz singers. I didn't find any metal or rock acts that were mostly female that I liked. Still looking....

Sunday, January 4, 2009

New Year, New Promises, New Me

I have made a couple of resolutions so far and the thing I find most interesting and even a little sad is that they are all repeats from last year. I always seem to have the same goals: play more guitar, start painting again, finish my novel, get back into running and yoga. It is also sad-interesting that these are all things I used to do, things I used to love doing and now are only memories. The question becomes: are these still things that I want in my life? or is the reason I no longer do them is because I have changed? If I have changed, then am I a better person? Or am I merely trying to recapture something I lost?

Okay, that was several questions but it really does boil down to why I stopped doing these things that I used to love. Something to think about.