Friday, November 29, 2013

Wait, what day is it?

I just spent all of today thinking it's Saturday and tomorrow's Sunday when in fact it's Friday and tomorrow's Saturday. Holidays can really screw with your internal clock. For once, this was in a good way!

Thursday, November 28, 2013


Photo by GalPal. Yum!
This year everyone in my family pitched in for the Thanksgiving meal and the results were delicious. Oh, and it was truly a lovely family gathering.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Boo to you, Christkindlmarket!

Every year the Chicago Christkindlmarket has these cute little mugs in the shape of boots and galPal and I have made it a yearly tradition to get there early and get a pair for ourselves before they run out (because they always run out). It's our special little thing that sort of kicks off the holiday season.

This year the organizers suddenly decided to ditch the boot and go with a new mug. It's horrendous. I mean, the boots weren't exactly painted beautifully but you could overlook that fact because you were drinking out of teeny tiny boot! It was cute! This thing is just plan ugly.

Upon learning the news, GalPal and I were thrown into a tailspin.


Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Kimye vs. Frangen.

You've seen the Kanye West and Kim Kardashian original version of the video for West's "Bound 2" and you've seen the James Franco and Seth Rogen spoof of said video, but you havn't seen them together … until now. 

There's debate over whether West's original is meant to be serious or if itself is already taking the piss out of over the top romantic imagery in a music video, but given his recent track record of displaying zero irony in his more grandiose statements, I'm gonna say I don't really agree with that reading. What I can agree with is that, whether he meant it or not, West's video is funnier than the Franco / Rogen parody.

Craft brewed Bud?

Friday I was all about chicken and farm fresh meals, and today it's beer. Fret not, I'm not turning into a foodie, this just happens to be circumstance. Or maybe the national food stuffing your face day of Thanksgiving is acting like a small sun pulling unexpected food-related pieces out of me and into its orbit. Come to think of it I also just wrote a piece abut my favorite comfort food in Chicago that will be like on Chicagoist later today, so maybe there is something to that theory!

Photo by GalPal
Budweiser sent GalPal some of their Project 12 beers a while ago and instead of just drinking them and sharing her own opinion she threw an impromptu tasting in her office at lunch time to try out three of the brewer's new "craft beer line" offerings. It's a good read and a refreshing way to review something, in my opinion. GalPal and I had our own Project 12 tasting session late Saturday night—the next morning our kitchen looked like we had a party with a dozen people in it since all our pint glasses were out since we used them to taste the samples, leading me to think we really need to buy some smaller glasses—and Batch 43229: The Beechwood Bock was my favorite, surprisingly. Usually I like my beers crisp and clean tasting—I'm not a huge fan of hops despite most craft brewers throwing those into the mix in outrageous amounts—but this brew had a darker and smokier taste that appealed to the more bourbon-happy portion of my palate.

Monday, November 25, 2013

The show review that isn't really a full show review but instead a couple brief observations collected best I could.

This lovely picture of Sky Ferreira at the 2013 P4K Music Fest taken by Samantha Abernethy
I'd love to review the Sky Ferreira show at The Vic last weekend but I can't since I could only pay attention to about 1/3 of it due to a very inebriated and extremely friendly gentleman who attempted to keep up an ongoing conversation with me during her entire set. I can say that she's already turned her emotional live set fem P4K Music Fest last summer into more of a finely tuned machine of a pop show now. She's lost a bit of the "aw shucks" you like me, but that does open up the game for a bit of additional confident swagger on Ferreira's part. It was a solid set, based on the snippets I enjoyed without interruption.

Smith Westerns played after her and despite headlining in their hometown did a pretty good job of greatly thinning out the crowd at The Vic a scan two songs into their set. I left after three. Over time their already pretty vanilla songs fem their last two albums have grown ever thinner in their pleasures, and the band's live set has done the same. That's too bad.

I didn't shoot the show—I'm never certain whether The Vic will have a barrier—but Prefix has some nice galleries for you to peruse.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Farm Fresh Feastin' in Chicago.

GalPal and I enjoy some farm Fresh Feastin'. Photo by Caroline Dixey Photography.
Earlier this week Bolthouse Farms and Thrillist (no relation to my own -ist) hosted a private Farm Fresh Fest at Carriage House in Chicago, and GalPal and I were one of the lucky ones to get invited to it. She's a more adventurous eater than me, though I can find just about anything to eat on any menu no matter how limited it might be*, so between the two of us we could provide a pretty honest appraisal of how the meal hit two very different palates. Cocktails were crafted with Bolthouse carrot juice, and while carrots ain't my thing GalPal thought the concoctions were pretty delicious, so yay for that.

The meal came in three courses, all overseen by Chef Mark Steuer, and the first was all GalPal since it had zero appeal for my particular taste buds. This was totally O.K. with her because the fried green tomatoes that came to our table absolutely knocked her out and my turning them down simply meant all the more for her to eat!

Oh that chicken. Photo by Caroline Dixey Photography.
Course number two had a fried chicken thigh topped with a honey and sweet potato hot sauce that it clearly didn't need since the thigh itself was absolutely delicious with a breading that had a pleasant kick to it the left the lips a little tingly and my stomach pretty happy. GalPal let me eat most of hers too as she dug into the shrimp and grits that rounded out the course. Her sacrifice was greatly appreciated on the chicken front, especially since she thought it was just as delicious as I did.

The third course had a crispy pork shoulder that, while not quite as great as the chicken, was still pretty outstanding. And it came with a low country boil that GalPal deemed rather tasty saw ell. For a picky eater like me facing a menu with limited options I was getting pretty stuffed by this point! They closed out the meal with carrot cake but I had to pass due to the aforementioned meeting of my gastric limit.

We get invites to these sorts of things all the time and I rarely agree to go, but I've gotta admit if Bolthouse Farms, Thrillest or Carriage house invite me to an event any of them in involved in I'll be saying yes as quickly as possible. It was truly a lovely evening.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Back in the saddle.

It's always weird to wake up in a city across the country and then find yourself sitting at your desk in your office in Chicago just a few hours later.

Weird times, man. WE'RE LIVING IN THE FUTURE!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

On the set.

Hanging out in an incredible house in Dallas with terrific talent and an awesome crew. Intense; in a good way. 

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

In transit.

My view of coming in to Dallas was very fluffy.

Monday, November 18, 2013


It's gonna be a crazy week. When this morning feels like it happened a month ago, you know you've been busy.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Friendly reminder about the return of DJ Tankboy (and other awesome stuff tonight).

Tonight The Dead On release their debut CD at Ultra Lounge and they have kindly asked me to join the bill that includes the amazing Ladies & Gentlemen and another band with whom I'm unfamiliar but am sure must be of high caliber to be included in this evening's festivities.

The night has suddenly gained even ore weight since we just learned it is the last night Ultra Lounge will be open so this will be it's final show, ever.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

There is no such thing as an excess of INXS.

What a babe, huh?
I have the entire INXS catalog on ye olde tankPHONE and this morning at the gym I queued up the first album and never bothered to hit stop. I'm on Welcome To Wherever You Are right now and my only regret is that there are only a handful of songs left before I hit the end of the Michael Hutchence era output.

On the bright side I rediscovered just how badass this song was, proving they could still pen a scorcher even in the latter post-superstar portion of their career.

Jam on it.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

The Who's super duper mega wocka-wocka deluxe edition of 'Tommy' is out.

I'm actually planning on writing the latest expanded of The Who's Tommy up for Chicagoist, but can't figure out if I want to do a stand-alone review or hold it for our gift guide. I'll probably do the later. I got a download of the Super Deluxe Edition sent to me and I actually found it illuminating, something I didn't expect from an album I've heard hundreds of times. If you do get this, I recommend listening to it in the following order: the demos, the remastered album, the live "bootleg." It's striking just how complete Townshend's vision was from his earliest tapes and it's astounding to watch it first get adapted for the record by the full band and then hear it blossom even further as they brought the rock opera on the road. If I had the dough I'd probably splurge and buy a physical copy so I can have the neat book and everything else, but the true gem in this is the multiple versions of the songs I thought I already knew inside and out and mistakenly believed would never have the chance to reveal anything new about themselves to me.

I don't mind being proved wrong.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Sea change.

This time last week I wasn't sure which end was up and today I feel like I'm walking on rainbows. Funny how that works, huh?

Monday, November 11, 2013

Hey, look who got the ol' camera out!

Photo by me.
Shot my first concert in a while and even though it was on a Sunday it was worth it. I've seen, and photographed, Sleigh Bells a bunch of times, and really like their first and third albums, but every time they're played it's been as a duo and it just hasn't been the sonic force I thought it should be. Well, now they're touring with a live band and that has solved that problem rather neatly. It was a really fun show.

Later this week I'll put the full photo set up at Chicagoist.

Friday, November 08, 2013

Organic perpetual motion machine.

I am always in motion. This is something I kind of knew since I'm always drumming, or swaying or nodding or any of a million other things, but a few times in the last weeks it's come out that I am probably abnormally kinetic. I have no idea why, maybe that's why I run a little hot? Is it all the excess energy trying to escape? I was told I look like someone set to explode from all the energy bouncing around within my frame—hopefully they meant that in a kinetic but nonviolent way of reading "explode"—and this was something I, lacking a full length mirror at al times, was completely unaware of.

It's not impatience; I can sit still and focus for hours reviewing documents or developing creative ideas. I do worry it might be read that way during conversation though so I'm actually actively trying to monitor that. But how did I get four decades in without really realizing ashy of this? It's not for lack of self-reflection, that's for sure! It does set comments that have filtered through over the years in a new light and explain why people thought I walked funny (I walk really fast, and must have a gait that reflects that cartoonishly at times) or thought I was nervous in a social setting (I may be initially shy but nervous isn't the word to ascribe me and I usually counter that with bluster shortly after scoping out a situation) or was just annoyed within an inch of their being and on the edge of screaming if my fingers and feet filled out one more drum fill on my desk or steering wheel. And I know there have been times I was DJing where I was jumping up so high my feet almost kicked the mixer across the room. There are a million examples.

So I have a lot of energy. An unusual amount of energy. What does that mean though? Does it explain anything about me? Offer any clues to my personality I maybe overlooked but everyone else sees plainly? 

I don't know. Now excuse me, I have some air drumming to do.

Thursday, November 07, 2013

Early warning: the return of DJ Tankboy!

My old DJ pal has a new band—The Dead On—and they are releasing their debut album next week. And it's really good; I've heard it. And I've agreed to DJ the CD release show on Saturday, November 15, thus cementing myself as the real-world Rob Gordon.

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

And then there are videos that really make you say hmmm.

This will blow your tiny mind.

You ever encounter a song that perfectly encapsulates your mood at that moment even though it's not lyrically relevant; it just feels like you feel?

That's how this is hitting me right now.

Jump to 1:20 if you want to skip the no-essential book-end dramatic bits that really have nothing to do with anything.

What could be wrong when everything is right?

When we're under great stress, people tend to do things that aren't always good for them or the people around them in an effort to process and / or alleviate that stress. I've seen this happen with many around me and have certainly encountered it in my own life in the past. But how do you explain people that continue that behavior even when the stressful situation is not only resolved but is actually replaced by a perfect situation?

I'm trying to figure that one out.

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Whither the pop that really goes POP?

Sky Ferreira has probably written the best of the latest pop albums.
Photo via her Facebook page
Katy Perry's album is abysmal. Lady GaGa's is better but lacks any sense of daring or adventure, causing it to sound already out of date. Miley Cyrus' album is slightly better than that (?!) but is still pretty awful. 

So who is doing well and creating pop music that still pushes boundaries? Lorde is all the rage and set to become this year's Adele. Sky Ferreira has produced an album that far exceeded even my high expectations. And Ellie Goulding is set to become an electro-pop princess. All three of these artists are riding an "us against the Majors" campaign but all three are products of the Major Label system, and none are groundbreaking. They're just writing solid songs, albeit with a little help from their friends.

Lorde and Ferreia have been in the system through most of their teen years and have cannily hooked up with excellent producers. This isn't to say their individual visions aren't impressive, but they're not out-of-nowhere success stories. And Goulding is an old hand at this sort of thing in modern pop years and was lifted to prominence with the help of a bunch of established songwriters and producers (including the legendary Frankmusic). And I have high hopes for Ke$ha's next round of work provided she can actually escape the smothering presence of Dr. Luke (who probably is most responsible for the disaster that is Perry's latest).

Oh, and M.I.A.'s new one is really good but after all the advance sneak peeks at her songs—and her certifiably being a senior citizen in the pop music world—this isn't surprising.

So I think it's safe to say that the superstars are faltering and the up-and-comers are rising. Same as it ever was, only the timetables from great to good to bad have severely shortened. Which also isn't particularly surprising. What is surprising is that none of the folks mentioned above is producing anything that's pushing any new boundaries, and that's a bummer all around.

Monday, November 04, 2013

It's my dad's birthday.

Check out that handsome devil.
My dad passed a way a few years ago, but I still like to mark his birthday.He was born on November 4, 1944 hut I could never remember the year when he was alive, which seems pretty silly when you realize it's just all 4's! How did I not notice that before?

On days I remember significant anniversaries in my dad's life I like to go back and read this piece my brother Sean wrote about him. It's really great.

I share a lot of my dad's qualities—both the good and the bad, that's for sure.

So if you have a moment, feel free to send a toast my dad's way on what would have been his 69th birthday today.

Friday, November 01, 2013

Well, that was fast.

I just realized it's November. Which means 2013 is almost over. For a year that so much happened in, it sure seems to have sped by pretty quickly.

Man, did I go through a lot this year or what?!