Thursday, August 26, 2010

Naaaaaa Naaa Naa, NA NA NA NA!!!

From: Dad
Sent: Thursday, August 26, 2010 5:18 PM
To: Immediate family
Cc: My uncle
Subject: I Remember

Today (Aug. 26th) back in 1968, the Beatles released Hey Jude.

A week from Saturday (9 days), remind me to tell you a story about the Beatles.



Saturday, August 21, 2010

2010.5 List

It has arrived. Maybe I said something about return artists, maybe I didn't. Miike Snow removed...

1.) You Will Leave A Mark - A Silent Film
2.) Breakin' the Chains of Love - Fitz and The Tantrums
3.) Cigarettes Will Kill You - Ben Lee
4.) The Devil's Tears - Angus & Julia Stone
5.) Better Things - Sharon Jones and The Dap-Kings
6.) Hold On Magnolia - Songs: Ohia
7.) Tornado - Jonsi
8.) Cigarettes In The Theatre - Two Door Cinema Club
9.) Mango Tree - Angus & Julia Stone
10.) Sugarfoot - Black Joe Lewis & The Honeybears
11.) Tighten Up - The Black Keys
12.) Electric Feel (acoustic) - Katy Perry
13.) XXXO - M.I.A.
14.) Black & Blue - Miike Snow
15.) Blaoodbuzz Ohio - The National
16.) Fixed - Stars
17.) One by One - Robert Francis
18.) Birthday Boy - Drive-By Truckers

I've been getting emails from Blogger taking down posts with mp3 links. Therefore, if you are interested in a copy, please let me know.

Here's some of the Deets:

1.) You Will Leave A Mark - I heard it in June and was sold on it being the intro. If nothing else, you should get your foot tapping.

4.) The Devil's Tears - I really, really, really like this song. It has some sentimental value, but only because of its lyrics. Angus & Julia Stone are my favorite band right now and The Devil's Tears is a great song about love.

5.) Better Things - Bought the Vinyl at National Record Store Day. Quite catchy and dance to it each time it spins on my turntable. By myself??? Probably...

6.) Hold On Magnolia - An intro song to a UYD episode. If you aren't listening to the podcast yet, then that is your own loss.

7.) Tornado - Actually, I like quite a few of Jonsi's songs, but his voice is an acquired taste so I only put Tornado on. Probably needless to say, but the build-up in this song is great.

10.) Sugarfoot - On a Thursday, my friend asked me if I'd like to see Black Joe Lewis & The Sugarbears at The Bottleneck in Lawrence FOR FREE! Having heard of the band but no recollection of their songs, I obviously said "Yes!" 1000% worth it. Horns. Skinny black ties. Retro R&B. Boom!

11.) Tighten Up - I'm smitten with a girl who is a fan of The Black Keys. Their songs help her cause.

12.) Electric Feel (acoustic ) - I had the original version on an album two years ago. Katy Perry's first appearance.

13.) XXXO - Some people will not appreciate a Club Hit being on the album. Floyd will. It's really catchy and I like it. Screw everybody else.

15.) Bloodbuzz Ohio - Not one song over the last 4 months has rang through my ears. Maybe it's the fact I'm a drummer at heart and the intro is awesome. Maybe it's the lead singer's baritone voice. Maybe it's The National being a fantastic band. You decide.

16.) Fixed - I'm headed to NYC in September to see Stars live for the first time, and am quite excited for it. Judgment pending.

17.) One by One - This song was a regular on the online radio station I listen to at work. I really like it. ----- I had my reasons of not liking this song written here. However, I'm going to reserve those comments until others share their opinions of it. Please share via comments or in person and I will explain my reasoning.

18.) Birthday Boy - Saw the Truckers in Memphis. Awesome. Saw them a second time in Tulsa. Awesomer. There's a lyric in this song I really like:
"The prettiest girls from the smallest towns
Get remembered like storms and droughts
That old men talk about for years to come
I guess that's why they give us names
So few old men can say they saw us reign when we were young."


Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Overseas Adventure (Part 3)

Overnight Train from Moscow to St. Petersburg
* My berth-mate was Maxim. A St. Petersburg citizen who owned his own Telecom business.
- Wondered who I voted for.
- Wondered how long the shitty economy would last.
- Knew little about hybrids and alternative energy.
- Looked a little nervous, but was interested in meeting an American out of coincidence.
- Wondered why Jon was so interested in Russian history that he studied it in college.
- It was extremely interesting because we both knew we would never see each other again, and therefore willing to talk about U.S. and Russian leaders.
~ I think he was hesitant to give his honest opinion about Putin & Medvedev until I started ragging on the Bush administration.
~ It sounded as if he wishes some of the country's communist economic elements were still in place.
- I was uncomfortable sleeping in the berth with a stranger, and thus only got about an hour or two of slumber.
* Upon arrival, we walked by cabbie after cabbie until we stopped to talk to a man named Sergey, who loved his Mercedes. So much so, that I heard "Mercedes" about 6 times from the time he picked us up until dropoff at the hotel.
* It was cool though, because he proceeded to point out landmarks throughout the city along the drive, while telling us of his experience singing in a choir at Carnegie Hall.

St. Petersburg, Russia
* Day one in St. Petersburg was very similar to day one in Moscow. We got in town and went sight-seeing right-off-the-bat.
- Walked down Nevsky Prospect (the main thoroughfare, offering wonderful architecture and shopping.)
- Church of the Spilled Blood
~ mosaics all over the interior, which had to have taken many years to finish.
~ the difference between St. Basil's (Moscow) and the Church of the Spilled Blood was the age (St. Basil's - 1561, Spilled Blood - 1907) and the Western influence was evident.

* All of St. Petersburg had a greater Western European influence from Peter's time spent in Italy before his return to rule, and establish St. Petersburg as the capital of Russia to take advantage of its access to the Gulf of Finland.
*The Hermitage (formerly the Winter Palace for emperors and empresses in St. Petersburg)
- It's F-ing Huge
- The architecture was the most interesting aspect.
~ The Garden Room - has fountains along all four sides, with four more fountains all similar to each other throughout. Pillars supporting its large area, the entire room was once filled with fresh plants, having woven walls of marble to support ivy-like greenery. It was really spectacular.
- The Thrown Room - The largest and most extravagant room I've ever been in. When I walked in, I immediately thought of The Sound of Music. It felt like I was at an extravagant ball in the 18th century.

Pushkin, Russia (suburb of St. Petersburg, named for the poet - Alexander Pushkin)

* Remember Sergey? During our ride to the hotel from the train station, he had me flip through a three-ring binder of tours he offered while simultaneously giving a taste of his Tour Guide capabilities. Well, one of the tours was of Pushkin and the Summer Palace, which we decided to do in the a.m. before our departing flight. Finally learning that navigating Russia was about haggling, we were able to hire his services (including dropoff at the airport) for about 1/3 of the listed price in the binder.
* Amber Room
- Welp Thrown Room (from above), I take it back. The Amber Room was and likely will be the coolest, most intricately assembled room I will ever see in my entire life. The entire room was constructed using amber (dried sap, used to store mosquitoes for dinosaur recreation.) The walls, ceiling, molding, and even the intricately molded frames surrounding mirrors and windows in the room. ++ In fact, if you would like to learn more about the Amber Room, a podcast that I listen to did an episode on it (upon my recommendation, I might add.) Stuff You Missed In History
- Unfortunately, pictures are not allowed in the room. Wah-wah.

Misc. Notes
* KU beat Missouri - Suck it, Slavers.
* Renaissance Marriott - St. Petersburg is the nicest hotel I've ever stayed in.
* I didn't eat 3 meals in a day the entire trip, and actually ate 1 meal multiple times.
* I smoked 1 shitty, dried-up Cuban cigar… and 2 Awesome Ones, giving me a good buzz.
* Interesting Quotes:
- Life has started.
- Pay attention in each moment. You will never get that moment back.
- Do unto others… You can't retract your actions.


Monday, August 16, 2010

Overseas Adventure (Part 2)

Moscow, Russia
* Five years ago, my brother-in-law Jon went to Moscow with a tourist group. Apparently, it was a different time then because he was pulled aside and taken to a windowless, cinder-block room separated from civility by a stainless-steel door. Fittingly, he describes the room as also having a stainless steel table and hanging heat lamp serving as a light. With no way to communicate with the three corrupt security guards, he solitarily explained the possessions he was bringing into their country until the tour guide had the wherewithal to assist by pounding on the two-inch piece of steel protecting the government employees bribery causes. A simple payment of 100 Rubles (~$4.00) let him off the hook with no injuries, however a bruised ego and extraordinary tale would suffice. He told us this story on the flight from Paris to Moscow. Therefore, the immediate relevance of this story lies at the forefront of my/our minds as we enter customs upon landing.
* By sheer luck, we were greeted at the baggage claim by a man originally from Boston (and extremely proud of that fact), who just-so-happened to work at the U.S. Embassy! He was waiting for a friend landing soon.
- "Should we take the Green or the Red?" - Red: an attendant cracks your bags and goes to town. Green: tourists exit the terminal without claim of any of their possessions.
- "Go Green. In fact, I just walked through the side door over there without so much as saying 'Hey' to somebody, let alone a metal-detector^^," Boston said.
* The Green exit was barren. It was a 30-foot long horseshoe with abandoned stainless steel podiums, tables (with accompanying chairs), and a dusty baggage x-ray that has stood idle for quite some time. (This description is miles from giving the room justice, but an American taking a photograph of the ghost-room likely would have gotten me arrested, or worse.)
* On our drive to the hotel, Nichole pointed out that our newly acquired contact at the U.S. Embassy actually tailed us to our exit to confirm we were not hassled. "Why didn't we get his name?" she asked in the same breath. "Yeah, that probably would have been a good idea," all three of us simultaneously thought.
^^ (Pertaining to the metal detector) When meeting our driver after exiting the airport, we were unaware of how we were supposed to tip/pay him. Therefore, upon re-entry to the terminal I was one of two people to walk through the metal-detector while four gentlemen walked right by the security station. It was appalling, ludicrous, and hilarious all at the same time. Honestly, if I had the option to never have to mess with security when boarding a plane, I would take it.

* Billboards I saw on the drive from the airport:
- One encouraging people to read.
- A McDonalds one promoting the GreekMac
- A brand-new Infinity for under $10,000 - Which Nichole, Jon, and I decided we would do it, but wondered what our family would think if we all returned, rolling in Infinities. Also, can you imagine the popularity of a 'Duty-Free' car purchasing program? I can and it would be glorious.
* 97% of Russian women can pull off the outfit they are wearing. Right now, it's the tight jeans with knee-high boots, and It's Awesome.

This was the entrance to Red Square, and my favorite photo of the trip.

* Lenin's right hand in a fist?
* Met a dude that lives in Prairie Village in line to check out Lenin's Mosuleum.
* Walked through St. Basil's
- very old (1400s?), staircase was awesome.
- windows now cover the openings, but likely didn't in the old days and the arms for the torches were still there.
* Later we thought about how poorly everything was cared for. It seems as though there is little preservation of the artwork and history.

* I bought an $18.00 cup of Bailey's & Coffee that was about 6 oz.
* Also at the hotel bar, Jon & I met a couple from New York. They were very curious about the Detroit Lions score (which we did not know), come to find out she (Bree) was from Michigan (went to Michigan St.) and he was originally from Boston.

* The Armory @ the Kremlin
- The coolest part (for me) were all the carriages used to transport dignitaries from Moscow to Europe.
~ One was a huge sleigh (which makes sense) constructed entirely of wood with iron runners. Large enough to hold eight people, covered (obviously), and drawn by 8+ horses, the thing must have weighed 3 tons.
~ On the other side of the aisle, there was a very small sleigh intended as a toy for 1 or 2 children, likely pulled by a pony.
- Other cool shit:
~ Tsar's chairs and pedestals
~ Guns (where the pins pulled forward)
* During our walk to the Church of the Ascension we ventured along the Kremlin wall next to the Moscow River. As we neared the end of the Kremlin's wall, 1…2…3…4 dark gray, militaristic trucks passed with the bed covered by a heavy fabric with rib-like metal supports from side to side. The rear was bare, however, giving us view of multiple Russian soldiers complete with long, gray coats and ushankas. Then 5…6…7…8 passed before we made a comment about it and pressed forward to the Church of the Ascension. 9…10…11…12…13. "I'm definitely more aware of my surroundings than earlier," I said.^^ The actual number of trucks (and larger number of soldiers) is unclear, but it seemed like something out of a movie. Like the Russian military was in search of someone or something, but not in an actual war-like scenario. Good thing I was wearing a mustard-yellow jacket to stick out like a stupid American amongst all the black and gray donned by those used to the dirty, sand/salt-filled streets.

^^ (pertaining to the above statement about 'being aware of my surroundings') - This is my favorite part of traveling. When experiencing life in my corporate job, there is little that varies from day to day. It becomes monotonous. Boring. Being aware is the essence of being human, and is the driving force for learning and remembering. Personally, whenever I am in an instant or episode where I am enjoying myself, I make an attempt to listen more acutely and look around to gather as much from the scene I can. Later in life, I'll have more detail for telling others about this experience. If you know me, I'm a bit of a storyteller… a bullshitter, of sorts. Getting the best stories requires being aware. Feeling alive.


Sunday, August 15, 2010

Overseas Adventure (Part 1)

Friday night, I was discussing some upcoming trips with a friend. One next month to NYC and a second next summer to France. Coincidently, the next day, in a bedroom drawer I stumbled on a Legal Pad with notes from a 2008 excursion to Russia with my sister and brother-in-law. I've transcribed those notes here. If nothing else, it should waste some time as you browse the net.

Islip, New York
* "Who are the assholes that get a stretch limo from Islip?" - We had a car service pick us up from the airport and drive us to the City. They were out of TownCars, so we rode in a limo with complementary drinks.

New York, New York
* "Take the '2' Train to 96th, then the '1' to 116th, and double-back to 2911 Broadway." Directions to meet friends for dinner.
* I took the '1' to 96th, then followed signs to catch a shuttle-bus taking the place of the '2' (under construction) and got off at 116th.
* I was lost. In Harlem.
* After reconvening with Lindsey, part of my trek to Havana Central took me through Morningside Park, where (according to Adrienne) "People get pistol-whipped there."
* Lindsey has never failed me with restaurants. Havana Central was delicious. I had the pork.
* Went to 'Le Monde' for dessert.
- Adrienne's Port and Dave's 'Mona Lisa' would have been the ultimate combination.
- 'Innis & Hull' was not available, so I requested the waitress "Give me a beer you consider fit for a king."


Thursday, June 17, 2010

Prepare Yourselves

Was in Salina last week. Saw some friends and made some new ones. This weekend, I'm headed to Tulsa for a meeting with my sister and brother-in-law to determine our next international venture. I'll also be taking in a Drillers game and seeing Drive-By Truckers in concert (their last show before opening for Petty.)

Currently, I'm preparing my 2010.5 compilation album. After the 2010 Set List, Dn recommended I do a July release and he will take care of the winter album. There's quite a few songs I'm excited about. Having only 6 months to gather the materials many don't have sentimental value, however there are some pretty catchy tunes and nearly every artist varies from the previous winter album.

Talk to you soon!


Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Our Nations T.J.

As many of you know (all of you, probably), I went to a wedding in D.C. over the weekend. If you need a recap, visit Dn.

This is T.J.

(Please note that I emailed a fellow traveler to obtain one of the photos to create the animation before Dn posted his .gifs. Not that it matters, just that I'm not a total copycat phony.)

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