Saturday, February 28, 2015

Like a Kid

I'm getting ready for two hockey games.

We will have the FCIAC girls ice hockey championship at 12:10 and the first round of the boys hockey tournament at 2:20.

Good luck to Darien and Ridgefield in game one, and St. Joseph and Ridgefield in game two.

But I was jumping up and down like a 12-year-old earlier, and I can't say why.

Just excited, I guess.

I'm blathering. On the air shortly.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Happy Birthday, George Harrison

George Harrison would have been 73 today. We lost him over 13 years ago. Far too young, of course.

In honor of his birthday, I'm digging into the Exit 55 archive to present a lost guitar solo from "Here Comes the Sun."

The full song is posted below, with the extended solo. It's quite amazing.

I recently gave a friend an entire catalog of Beatles music, along with some George. But as much you can lead the horse to water, you just can't make them drink. I hope one day, more people will discover how absolutely brilliant George Harrison was.

My Drive

Patriots Place/Gillette Stadium, Foxborough (wink wink), Ma.
If you're not new around here, you know I'm fairly fond of roads. I love a good road trip.

That being said, if you've ever gone with me, then you might know that I have a tendency to switch things up.

I went to Boston this weekend for the annual NENPA convention. It was a somewhat subdued weekend for me, not because I wasn't happy to be there, but because I dealt with some kind of sickness that made my Saturday a little lethargic.

Regarding the awards at the convention banquet, congrats to the winners, including Paul Silverfarb and my friends from the Darien Times among them, along with Aaron Marsh of the New Canaan Advertiser. Good, hardworking colleagues. Great journalists and editors.

Anyway, as I prepared to leave Boston, I decided that I wanted to shunpike my way home. In other words, I didn't want to give the Massachusetts Turnpike a dime (in part because I needed to update my credit card number on my EZ Pass account).

So I hit the road...heading south. Oh I could do 93 to 95 to 9 to 66 to 691 to 84. I could do 93 to 95 to 6 to 384 to 84. I could do 93 to 95 to 287 to the Taconic. I could do 93 to 95 to...

You get the idea.

Here's what I actually did.

I started on I-93 and took it to its very end at I-95 at the south end of what almost makes up a beltway around Boston. Then I took I-95 south, stopping off for gas and a quick visit to the home of the New England Cheatr...oops...the Super Bowl CHAMPION New England Patriots.

Very nice facility, by the way.

I stayed on US 1 and jumped on I-495 before going back to 95 long enough to exit 295 and enter Rhode Island (Destination: Quahog! GIGGIDY!).

I exited 295 at RI route 146, which crossed me BACK into Massachusetts. This is where I really got creative. I looked at my phone, examining different route options and decided to exit at MA route 16. I proceeded west on 16, passing through towns small and not-too-small. I passed the impossible-to-pronounce Lake Lake Chargoggagoggmanchauggagoggchaubunagungamaugg (you call it corn, but I call it maize). According to Wikipedia, some call it Webster Lake, or Lake Chaubunagungamaug.

That led me to Webster and MA 12 for a short jaunt before proceeding onto MA 197, which took me into Connecticut. I stayed on CT 197 until I connected with CT 171, before finally pulling onto CT 190, which connected with Interstate 84. I behaved and drove the rest of the "real" way home.

Some consider me nuts. I am. But it was still nice to have a little fun. It's why I love to drive.

I Don't Care Anymore

My mind goes to strange places.

I don't like ambivalence, least of all in myself. I've been one who - even when I say I don't care about anything - always cares.

And yet...

I've been sitting around thinking otherwise, and that leads me back to Phil Collins.

It got me wondering: is that the greatest ambivalence song?

I will always remember having this song suggested to me as I went through a life event. This isn't about not caring. It's about something completely different.

That memory makes me smile. Sort of. Somebody was looking out for me.

Anyway are there other songs that present such ambivalence? Come Exit 55 cul-de-sac (we certainly don't have a "nation" here)! What other songs am I missing? Is Phil Collins the perfect one?

Just random thoughts.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

A Scene Worth Watching

I was thinking about the scene in the embedded video below today.

You want romance? You want star power? This will do quite nicely.

The Philadelphia Story came out in 1940 and remains a classic.

Monday, February 23, 2015

The Gift

Thirteen years ago I was graced with a son.

Let me restate that: I was graced with a child. Sure, I wanted a son because I wanted the last name to carry on, but I wanted a healthy and happy baby.

His mother and I got that and so much more. Along came this beautiful little boy, with eyes that are reminiscent of my dad's, and a smile to match.

What I'm trying to say is that he was a great baby. We were truly blessed.

Thirteen. A teenager. Unreal. Where does the time go? Cliched, I know, but true.

We know the deal by now. He's not a sports fan. Yes, he has pictures of the Yankees and Steelers and Rangers in his room. He's met some athletes, but he couldn't pick them out of a lineup. It's fine. I like that he is himself.

I've loved the moments of talking about Pokemon, Transformers, Minecraft, and Doctor Who. I've loved watching Star Wars with him. I've loved our own things: trains and Waffle House and other silliness.

He's made mistakes. Good. He can learn from them.

But he's also made people laugh. He's shown class, grace, and dignity. He's learned from good people all around him: his grandparents, aunts and uncles,cousins, teachers, friends, and his mother. Hopefully he's picked up a thing or two from his father also.

I'm proud to be his father. Unless you're new around here, you know that.

The days ahead are scary. He's a teenager, and that comes with a whole new set of speed bumps. I just want him to stay grounded and level. I cherish  everything with him so much because it changes in a heartbeat. He still likes to have that moment when he is with me and he's going to bed. It's our moment. It won't always last.

My son, so named because we decided "Sam" wouldn't fly (um...Sam...ADAMS?) and given the middle name to honor his grandfather (thus Sean Robert), is a wonderful young man.

Thirteen years ago today, he came into the world.

He's a teenager.

Sunday, February 22, 2015


I love the Oscars.

I've watched countless Academy Awards ceremonies because I'm a movie buff and a history guy. I love the random nuggets, the montages, the conversation.

I love going on Radio Arts and Leisure, Fridays at one at to talk about movies when I can.

Yes, I can do without the red carpet stuff. I frankly don't care what you're wearing (I have a pair of Calvin Klein "lounge" pants and a Pittsburgh Steelers AFC Champions t-shirt on, if you're wondering). With all due respect, I don't miss Joan Rivers tonight or her daughter (much respect and RIP to Ms. Rivers, of course). I don't remotely care about Robin Roberts, Lara Spencer, Michael Strahan, etc.

Again, no disrespect, but this isn't why I watch. I'm not into the pretty people. I like when they have great performances worth discussing.

So I dig the show itself. I'm one of the few who enjoyed David Letterman and Seth McFarlane in the years they hosted. I love the honoring of the past, fused with the present.


We're 43 minutes in as I'm writing, and I'm bored out of my skull. I'm not interested in live-tweeting, blogging, or anything else. It's just not doing it for me so far.

Maybe it will get better.

I'm flipping to hockey. The Rangers are winning.

Carry on.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Love and Music

George Harrison...of course.
I watched the Grammy's the other night, and it crystalized for me how generally out of touch (Hall and Oates, 1984) I am with current music.

Sure I've heard of some of the names, and maybe even some of the songs, but overall, I'm lost. I'm not the target demo.

Quick side notes: Kanye West made an ass of himself, and in no way should Paul McCartney ever be a backup singer for Kanye or Rhianna.

Anyway, I found myself thinking about music. I still love it in the way that I love baseball. It's one of the passions of my life, whether I'm out of touch or not.

I'm often overwhelmed by my collection (numbering roughly 20,000 songs) so I sometimes don't know what to play, or play the same things occasionally. But I love the power of a song (and the Power of Love, 1985), and those who have read this blog (I hate that term, but it is what it is) know this.

Music takes me places. It reminds me of things. There's a song in my head every morning. It's the secret thing I would have done had I not screwed up my life by going into radio.*

* I didn't really screw up my life by going into radio. Well, maybe.

Of course, it can remind me of bad things also. Jon from R-Va gave me a Bruce Springsteen album in late 2007. I decided, given what was occurring in my life at that time, to give it one play and then shelve it until that era was over. For whatever reason, that's the only time I've ever played that album.

I go through phases. Since the late 2000's, I've largely not listened to U2, The Police, or the Eagles. I have my reasons, and they make sense. It's just the way it goes.

I mentioned love in the title of this post. I suppose I don't mean love in the traditional sense (so let's not overanalyze this). What I mean is loving to share music with people. When somebody tells me that they really don't know The Black Keys or George Harrison, I'm all about sharing that. I think that's exciting. Maybe it's the educator in me. I don't really know.

I love jumping into a spirited debate about music (or sports and so on). I recently had one regarding one mans list ranking every Billy Joel song. It's a fun exercise.

To his credit, Christopher Bonanos didn't select "Piano Man" as number one, though I'll let you read it for yourself. I thought he gave gems such as "She's Right on Time" no love, and that's the beauty of it. It's subjective.

Chris Kaelin detests Bruce Springsteen (yes, that's the proper spelling). To me, it's further proof that he's nuts, but opinions are valid. Some don't like The Beatles (blasphemy!) but that's their thing. By comparison, I'd be torn as to what I'd rather do: listen to "Shake it Off" on replay or anything by JC Mellancamp. Or just be water tortured.

I don't worship Michael Jackson or Lionel Richie. At the same time, I recognize talent. That's where I suppose the debate takes a turn. At least understand that there's talent. You might not get it, and that's fine. Just understand that some became popular for a reason. I'll never understand New Kids on the Block or Justin Bieber, for instance, but more power to them, I guess.

Yet as time goes by (you must remember this...) opinions change. Tastes change. Many songs in the 80s that I didn't like are remembered fondly now. Though some things never change ("shooting at the walls of heartache" lead me to want to shoot myself).

And there are great "guilty pleasures." You may go for Barry Manilow, while I cranked "Don't Pull Your Love" by Hamilton, Joe Frank, and Reynolds (1971) last night. We all have our thing. A verrrrrrry singable song for me.

On a different topic, I've begun to wonder if my concert-attending days are over. I don't have anyone to go with, for one thing, though that's not an end-all, be-all, but I've always believed that, as sacred as I hold music, it's something I want to share with a significant other. I love Paul Silverfarb, for instance. He's a great friend. But he's also happily married to Beth, and should go to shows with her. If I have someone, then OK, we can double date.

I want to share Huey Lewis, or Bruce, or McCartney, with someone. MY someone. Don't you want somebody to love? (Jefferson Airplane)

But there's more. Tickets have become overpriced (I just looked at attending a show by former Yankees outfielder Bernie Williams: $69.50!). Parking is obnoxious. Or transportation in general. I guess what I'm saying is a lot of factors go into it.

Would I like to go see Billy Joel again? Sure. With whom, and will I need a mortgage?

Sometimes I also wonder if, as sad as it is, was my ONE Springsteen show enough? I can't afford the tickets (that's been established) and maybe it's just as well to walk away when I caught him in '99. I didn't deal with Patti Scialfa hatred (yes, it's real) or disgust that Gary US Bonds, Tom Morello, Bruce's political stuff or some other factor out of my control sullied a potentially great night.

Maybe I'm just happy at this point seeing the smaller venues, and supporting people who are just trying. It's nice to see the cover band who is doing their best in a dimly lit bar and the guy who is playing his original stuff trying to get noticed.

Plus so few shows are just about, you know, the music. There are too many examples to cite. I'm a big show up and play type of guy. You play. I'll sing, wobble (I can't dance - Genesis), and hold my love. It works.

I went to great shows. Bruce in '99. Huey in '87 at MSG. Macca in '09 at Citi Field. The Eagles in '94 at Giants Stadium. I didn't go to that many shows (for various reasons) and I'm left to feel I'm not a real fan because I wasn't willing to put myself into a deeper poor house, but I cherish those I went to.

Of course, when you say you're a Bruce fan, you're overall mocked if you dare to say you've seen less than 20. That's a cross for me to deal with. I have my 10 HLN shows and I'm just fine with that. Just see them once, folks. Nobody is every disappointed.

I also went to a few dogs: Sting at Jones Beach and U2 (yep) at MSG in '05. They both had their reasons for being blech, but so it goes.

None of this deters me from loving music. Maybe I'll get back to attending shows. Who knows?

But it won't change. There's magic in the night.

I still love making a mix tape (though now it's a playlist for your iPhone). I'm always reminded of the fabulous book, Love is a Mix Tape by Rob Sheffield, and I will never be able to recommend that enough. Though I bought it for someone else at a different time in my life, I remember it hitting on so many pertinent things for me. It's basically the story of his time with someone he loved so dearly.

There are quotes from that book that have stayed with me. These are some good ones:
"It’s the same with people who say, ‘Whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.’ Even people who say this must realize that the exact opposite is true. What doesn’t kill you maims you, cripples you, leaves you weak, makes you whiny and full of yourself at the same time. The more pain, the more pompous you get. Whatever doesn’t kill you makes you incredibly annoying."
"Unlike me, Renee was not shy; she was a real people-pleaser. She worried way too much what people thought of her, wore her heart on her sleeve, expected too much from people, and got hurt too easily. She kept other people's secrets like a champ, but told her own too fast. She expected the world not to cheat her and was always surprised when it did."
"I know people for whom music is just background noise. They don’t listen to it. They just consume it. These people have never made a mix-tape for anyone. These people are not my friends. These people have no soul.”
For me, this is probably the money quote:
“I realize that I will never fully understand the millions of bizarre ways that music brings people together.” 
So as we glance towards Valentine's Day, the much-loathed and overrated clusterbleep that it is, let us pause to remember the role that music plays in love, in life, in good, and bad times.

I leave you with Frank Sinatra, and arguably one of the greatest pieces of music ever written, as performed by the master of interpretation. These feelings are so known. So relevant. So real. We've probably all had them.
"I'd sacrifice anything, come what might, for the sake of having you near. In spite of a warning voice that comes in the night that repeats in my ear: Don't you know, you fool? You never can win. Use your mentality. Wake up to reality. But each time I do, just the thought of you, makes me stop before I begin. 'Cause I've got you under my skin."
Perfection, with the Count Basie Orchestra in 1965.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

A Quote From Vin

I sent a Vin Scully quote along last night and it was greeted with a chorus of crickets, which is a fine metaphor for a summers night, listening to the master.

I'm posting one here, before pitchers and catchers report.
“Football is to baseball as blackjack is to bridge. One is the quick jolt. The other the deliberate, slow-paced game of skill, but never was a sport more ideally suited to television than baseball.”
I love football. Love hockey. Love basketball.

Baseball has always been my life.

This winter has just been terrible. Late March can't get here soon enough. I don't have high hopes for the Yankees again, and that's fine (though not really), but the idea of warmer weather and the game that has always fueled me makes me believe maybe there's a light peering through the very back end of this bad tunnel.