Wednesday, November 30, 2016

In these times we all need good news, and the news that Hiawata is back with new music is good indeed!

One of my favorite bands is Hiawata. I know, you probably have no idea who they are, and for that I pity you. They are virtually unknown in the States, but I hold the deep belief that if only I could get more people to listen to them, their stature would swiftly grow. They traffic in excellent indie-tinged power-pop and can write hook after hook, seemingly never having to rehash ideas.

C'mon, they are can't miss when it comes to the search for all that is groovy and right in the world! So if you are unfamiliar with the group, now is the time to grow acquainted with them.

They've been pretty quiet for a while, and various members have been tending to other musical projects, so I was beginning to worry that the band might be permanently on hiatus. Not so! According to a Norwegian music news site, the band is actually readying a new album for release, Hiawata 4EVER. So you can color me pretty excited.

Here's the first sample of what to expect from the new record. I see they haven't missed a step.

Dig it? Then I highly recommend delving into their back catalog on Spotify, iTunes, etc. Do it!

Monday, November 28, 2016

New week, new start—kick it off with a blast of sunshine to bring Pleasure into your life.

I know just about zero when it comes to Norway's Pleasure aside from that the band appears to exist only as a studio project by producer Fred Ball. I discovered them through Fluxblog years ago when he posted "Out Of Love" and it has been one of my go-to pick-me-up songs ever since.

I can't think of a better way to start the last week of November, a month that has been pretty dreary thus far, with this little laser beam of pop. Let's melt that fog all around us into a dozen smiling rainbows!

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Re: 'Best of' lists in November .... HEAVY SIGH.

Y'all already know how I feel about this. Though this year even I will end up running a list in December instead of waiting for January. At least I know there won't be any surprise 11th hour drops by Beyoncé, Radiohead or Kanye...

Friday, November 25, 2016

Did you go shopping in the middle of the night for Black Friday sales?

Hey, to each their own. You'll get no judgement from me. Pickle the Kitten, on the other hand? As you can see from the above photo, she has no problem judging anyone.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Gratitude. 2016 edition.

Just three of the things I am thankful for.
2016 has been a tough year all around. And I'll be honest, it doesn't look like it's getting any better, even with just a little over a month left in it. The general consensus around these parts is the quicker we show 2016 the exit, the better.

But I am still thankful for much, even amidst the dark eddies that swirl all about right now.

My wife, family, friends, cats, acquaintances, readers I either know or who I've never met, writers I've never met yet admired, writers who touched me by either making me happy or angry or both or really just made me feel, cute animal GIFs, inside jokes, kick ass box sets of either music or images or moving images or all of the above, Chicagoist, Bloom County, all the music both good and bad I listened to that proved that so many people are still striving to create and forward their art, friends getting their books published or albums released or art shown, clarity, hope, optimism, faith that people really do want a better future for all our kids even if we can't always agree on what that looks like or how we get there, finding a new pair of Doc Martens I love when I was worried that would never happen after the company retired the model of boots I depended on for 15 years or so, getting promoted at the 9-to-5, no traffic at all when coming back from the suburbs after Thanksgiving with my family, did I mention my cats (oh yeah, I did)—this woefully inadequate list only hints at all the things I have to be thankful for. I am full of gratitude for so much in my life.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

I am sore and my head is pounding.

Figure 1. My wife demonstrates proper bowling form.
Well folks, here we are at the end of another epically long day!

The 9-to-5 flowed right into somewhere I had to be between the office and bowling, which led right into an evening playing in the Chicago Media League, hampered by a headache I've had since last night that no amount of ibuprofen is beating into submission any time soon.* So if I'm walking down the street and my head spontaneously explodes now we know why.

After a first week's respite someone decided to play "Sister Ray"—a song that has been a long-running joke over the years of Media Bowling but I thought had finally been put to bed. Had it been earlier in the evening that would have been one thing, but it blasted on through our final 6 frames of the night and after three games as a three-person team rolling for four, not to mention my splitting headache, the tune couldn't have popped up at a worse time.

Ah well. I survived.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Poster Kids for rock.

Wrote a brief blurb about the Poster Children reunion shows on Wednesday at Schubas. Couldn't resist re-sharing the witty title I came up with. Get it? So witty!

Anyway, really looking forward to going back in time with this show since it's to celebrate the re-release of Dasiychian Reaction, an album that no matter how high I cranked the volume was never loud enough for me. I wanted to drown in those songs. And it still stands up as a really great album today, oh so many years later.

So, "If You See Kay"...

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Move ... your booty.

You know what? How about a new video with music that's just fin and makes you wanna groove. And a dash of Reggie Watts. I think that's just what the doctor ordered today...

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Now THIS is a box set!

Been digging through the Pink Floyd The Early Years 1965-1972 box set. Yup, I plunked down an ungodly sum of money for it. But it's also one of those rare box sets that actually, exhaustively digs through the audio and visual archives to reveal stuff that's must-have for fans. A bunch of the music has been available on bootleg form since forever but it is so lovely to hear cleaned up, original versions instead of 36th generation multi-cassette dubs.

And it came at just the right time. Prior to last Tuesday I was submerged in 2016 releases as I was starting to piece together my best of 2016 music list, but since last Wednesday I've found I've really just needed to submerge myself in sounds that reassure and are familiar. This set mixes the known with the thrill of discovery so it's been a nice salve. The video components are also pretty mind-blowing. I'm only on the first Bluray disc and already I'm seeing stuff I never saw. It's also a trip to see the band when they are so young. Roger Waters, in interviews, is already so Roger Waters, and seeing Syd Barrett moving around and talking gives a tiny glimpse that leads to a deeper understanding of just how oddly charismatic he really was.

Anyway, if you're a fan, and have the cash, this is really worth it (even the additional collateral is super cool).

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

The benefits of being REAL busy.

Mich and I have been running non-stop all day. Work was super busy for me (in the good way—the way where time flies and there don't seem to be enough hours in the day yet you still manage to get everything done) and then we both had after work commitments before we met up and kicked off the first night of the new season of the Chicago Media Bowling League (we beat AV Club/Clickhole, 2 games to 1, BTW). So yeah, right now I'm just sitting here exhausted, slightly stunned, and feeling pretty accomplished.

Wait, it's only Tuesday?!

Monday, November 14, 2016


First, this is not O.K. but before even that, a palate cleanser.

Look. Breathe. Then continue reading.

Do not protest the election results. They were legal. Were they incredibly flawed when you look at popular vote against Electoral College numbers? Yup. But they were legal.

Does this mean we should wait and see if this guy rises to the occasion?

Hell no.

If anything, Trump's election proves our process is fatally flawed. But it also shows a great number of us ( a HUGE number, if you will) hadn't a clue just how pissed off the other half of people that voted are. And I say "half that voted" because 50% or so of U.S. voters DIDN'T VOTE.


Trump doesn't know what he's gotten himself into.* He thought he could be a public figure with a supporting machine doing the actual work. When Trump met Obama it became clear he didn't even realize he'd have to create his own staff from the ground up.

(Which means he truly is a D.C. outsider since he's obviously never been close to any actual cog that, you know, makes the basic government work.)

That said, do we owe Trump time to see if he gets it right?

Hell no.

We need to watch the man. And watch his—so far, truly disturbing—staff appointees. And if you see someone who is morally reckless feeling that Trump's election entitles them to threaten any other human being it is now our duty to call those people out on it. And protect those who may come under fire.

Many repeat the "Not my president" phrase, but I think they need to parse that a little more closely.

Donald Trump is the U.S. President, but he's not the President that reflects the spirit of the U.S. I believe in.

Not even remotely.

Hell no.

*I have made this as a joking statement quite a few times ("Oh boy, isn't Trump gonna be surprised being President is actually a job and not a title!" said I, har de har) in the past amongst friends. It was funnier back then.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Nope. Not getting any better.

How do you know how to react to something that has no precedence? I simply can't see any way in which our political situation ends well. I am trying to be hopeful, and trying to believe this may spur actually community involvement by others just as stunned and in shock as I, but I don't know. I just don't know.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Taking it slowly.

There is lots I want to say, but I need time to figure out how to say it. Usually I can work through complicated emotions and situations by writing about them but, for the first time, that's not working for me. Yet.

Some things haven't changed. The people I love still love me, and I love them.

Together we'll figure this out.

We will all figure this out.

Wednesday, November 09, 2016

The day after.

Today was not a good day.

Tuesday, November 08, 2016

Monday, November 07, 2016

It's almost time.

I can't believe I'm this nervous about an election, again.

Friday, November 04, 2016


I love this photo.
My dad would have been 72 today. This will be his first birthday since he passed away that I won't be toasting his memory with Jim Beam—from what I recall one of his primary spirits of choice.

I think he'd be O.K. with that. In fact, I know he would.

Happy birthday dad.

Thursday, November 03, 2016

Cubs win! Cubs win?!

The Cubs know who's boss.
Wow. Wow. Wow.

I wrote something about the Cubs last year and it still holds true, only now the fans' story has a happy ending!

And here's something I wrote about the team in 2003, right after randomly happening to attend a game where they clinched a divisional title.

Random notes:

  • Usually I bristle at fans who say "we won" or "we did it" since IMHO it's the athlete's that "did" it. In the case of the Cubs I think the fans have 100% earned the right to say "we did it" given the century plus of suffering the team has put its hardcore fans through.
  • My posts i link to above both mention the same fear: winning the World Series wold fundamentally change what made the Cubs special. I hope I'm sincerely hope I'm wrong about that.
  • That final game was some amazing baseball, and filled with the appropriate amount of drama to mark such a landmark accomplishment.
  • I'm not gonna say who it was, but I may or may not be related to a lifelong Cardinals fan who I actually caught rooting out loud for the Cubs to win during Game 7.
  • Two things I thought would never ever happen actually happened—the Cubs won the World Series and I was sober for the whole thing.
  • It's a really good time to be in Chicago right now.

Wednesday, November 02, 2016

Hey, what's the deal with Letters To Cleo's reunion?

I did a quick interview with Kay Hanley of Letters T Cleo in advance of their Chicago shows this weekend. Read all about it.

Their new EP is really good. And if you want to hear Hanley talk about the '90s Boston music scene, she was also a guest on a recent episode of the Dig Me Out podcast.

Tuesday, November 01, 2016

Coping skills.

In the past I would treat anxiety by feeding it with even more anxiety. Now I treat anxiety by attacking the root of whatever is causing the anxiety and moving on.

It's something so simple, yet it took me quite a while to figure out!