Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year!

Wow, my 300th blog post! A way to end the year! Certainly a different ending from last year... As I recall, I was watching the Three Stooges Marathon with my son last year. All alone and depressed.

This year, I've got barbecue chicken pizza, cheese and crackers, cookies and other goodies on the kitchen table. My girlfriend, her daughter and my son are waiting me to play a game of cards on table. I'm enjoying myself for a change.

How did I get this way?

Last January saw a depression surrounding me. Heartbroken and alone. Found myself chasing dreams that I'll never see...

In February, a horrible and criminal incident occurred between my family and friends. Something too terrible to blog about just yet. Mostly because the case is STILL open and may go to trial. What I can say is that it put me into a tug o'war position in having to chose sides when I'm trying to remain objective..

From March to June, slowly I was able to climb up from the depths and regain myself. I focused on trying just to being ME again..

June was a turn of events. I finally said goodbye to my past. I didn't want to at first, but I HAD to. I needed the peace between the heart and mind. Shorty after, I started seeing a lady from northern Wisconsin. This woman just rolled up her sleeves and jumped into this relationship. No questions asked, no second thoughts and no drama. She has an uncanny ability in keeping me together. I feel loved, spoiled and treated like a king.

In July, I saw Yes and Rush in concert at Summerfest. Both great shows!

Between August-December, I made frequent road trips Up North seeing my girlfriend and my family. My girlfriend and I eventually moved in together. I even spent the holidays with my family, the first time in years! I feel more alive and happier than I've been in a LONG time...

2011 sounds quite promising....

Thursday, December 30, 2010

My Top 25 Albums 2001-2010

It's that time of year where most everybody gives out their year end reviews...So here's mine even though I haven't finished off the '90's. That'll come someday soon. Anyways fast-forward to now.

Maybe, it was the sign of the times and things to come. Woodstock '99. The three days of peace and love in concert, that was marred by a barrage of heavy metal and rap acts. A show of superheated sun and four dollar bottles of water. This was a buildup that lead to riot that left the place burnt to the ground. What happened here? Was it the greed and the allure for instant self gratification? The power of commercialism? Well. it's a trend I'm seeing these days.....

Things didn't get much better from there. As luck would have it, my relationship/marriage of 16 years crumbled and then failed. The divorce was a pathetic nightmare that I wish to never repeat. All that I worked for, my family and my home, gone...all because of instant self gratification.

Instant gratification seemed to run its course throughout the 2000's. The Internet fed thousands of downloaded tunes to I-pods everywhere. While technology made lives easier, it created the faster, better and more mentality. I saw music regressing. Fewer people bought CD's to listen to as a whole. Bands came and went faster than I could up with with. Songs got shorter and solos became almost non-existant. Seems like attention spans get shorter. In spite of it all, I managed to uncover some great stuff!

Let's check it out!

Gov't Mule High & Mighty-2006 It may be a surprise to many see this album number one on my list! For starters, this album is very personal to me on so many levels. Especially the climatic "Stairway to Heaven" like anthem, "So Weak, So Strong" Secondly, this Allman Brother Band spin-off musically reached a new plateau. Warren Haynes and the boys muscle their way through southern fried rockers, blues-even a little reggae! Bonding the elements with wailing guitars and haunting vocals! Gov't Mule is the real deal!

Neil Young Le Noise-2010 One man, one guitar. That is all that was needed here. Neil Young pours his soul into the most personal and reflective album in a decade! The absence of any other instrumental elements just amplifies the heart and soul is the very essence of this album! Young just rocks my brains out here!

Robert Plant/Alison Krauss Raising Sand-2007 Led Zeppelin front man Robert Plant collaborates with a most unlikely source, country/bluegrass crooner/fiddler Alison Krauss. Together, they dive into a world of country, blues, rockability and American folk. The results are surprisingly brilliant! Plant may no longer have the voice the old Zeppelin days, but its filled with more emotion and passion than ever!

U2 No Line on the Horizon-2009 The days are gone when U2 were trying to keep it simple—at this point, the lads have realized that over-the-top romantic grandiosity is the style that suits them, so they come on like the cosmic guitar supplicants they were born to be. Here U2 pushes forward with beautiful lyrics and diamond like guitars! As the U2 train keeps on rolling like a locomotive, one has to wonder if they are ever going reach a zenith...

Allman Brothers Band Hittin' the Note-2003 I really really loved the Haynes/Betts guitar combo. Boy, was I ever bummed out over the dismissal of founding member Dickey Betts. Thought that would be the end for the Allman Brothers. Miracles do happen. Enter young slide guitar prodigy, Derek Trucks! This new combo rejuvenates the band with a fresh new set of songs, quite possibly their best since 1972's Eat a Peach!

Davy Knowles & Back Door Slam Coming Up for Air-2009 "A legend in the making" were the words spoken after the concert that we've seen in the summer of '09. Young guitarist Davy Knowles just wailed and played with such an unbridled passion that I haven't seen in a LONG time! This guy is on the right path towards success...Oh yeah, he is a real nice guy. Very humble about the position that he is in. He seemed glad to shake my hand.

Rush Vapor Trails-2002 Following the deaths of drummer/lyricist Neil Peart's wife and daughter, Rush takes a five year hiatus. Peart then travels cross country on his BMW motorcycle to mourn and reflect. Armed with a chock-full of ideas, Peart's return brought out an album that was very personal and devoid of any keyboards. Rush boldly enters a new era!

Metallica Death Magnetic-2008 Metallica ROARS back in into action after a few year gap between albums. This time, they return to their roots of epic speed metal with their signature time changes. A first since 1988's ...And Justice for All. This was the album that the die hard fans were waiting for!

Black Crowes Freak 'n Roll...Into the Fog-2006 A live album that features the most popular line-up of the Black Crowes. Recorded live from a performance at The Fillmore in San Fransisco. This show is nothing short of being magic! The band just rips and burns through their classic and obscure numbers showing their strengths in the Allman Brother like jams, the horns and the gospel singers. Breathless I am!

Counting Crows Hard Candy-2002 Hard Candy is the sound of a band at a creative and poetic summit. Adam Duritz and the rest of the band moves through varied musical territories as a way of conveying emotion through performance, texture, and nuance, the place where the mood meets the heart meets the mind. This is storytelling at its best!

Queen+Paul Rodgers The Cosmos Rock-2008 The second coming of Queen! You can't replace Freddie Mercury, no one can. Instead, Bad Company's vocalist Paul Rodgers joins the surviving members of Queen and they put their own stamp on things. Kind of like having a whole new band! There are powerful catchy hooks here as well some amazing guitar work from Brian May!

REM Accelerate-2008 After their dismal 2004 release, Around the Sun, REM was desperate for a comeback. And they found it with Accelerate! Accelerate corrals 35 minutes of the fastest songs Stipe and Co. have written in decades, all performed with a sense of joyous purpose that clearly comes from a "Fuck it, let's just do this" attitude. It's the bare bones sonic riff filled attack that has kept me the edge of my seat! I love it!

Pearl Jam Riot Act-2002 Pearl Jam always have been an interesting band to me. They never followed trends, in fact, they create them! So why should this album be any different? Here they explore the more artier side of rock. They managed to seamlessly blend politics, electronic experimentation, ballsy hard rock, acoustics with other odds and and ends together in a restless, passionate record that delivers musically and emotionally!

Los Lonely Boys (s/t)-2004 What you get when you cross Santana and Stevie Ray Vaughan? These guys! Inspired by the rock and roll basics of Chuck Berry, the Beatles and Ritchie Valens, this trio of Garza brothers blend them with the Latino Tex/ Mex sounds of Santana and Freddy Fender. This stew is rich not only in history, but energy, songwriting craft, fine singing, and amazing playing! And there's the blues! At moments I feel that I could hear the ghost of Stevie Ray Vaughan playing...Contains the hit single "Heaven"

Widespread Panic Earth to America-2006 There is something about jam bands that I love. I could easily listen to long instrumental breaks and still feel the emotion within. In this Widespread Panic album, they fill that role perfectly. Not only that, they'll take on a variety of musical genres. There's the hard rocking of "Solid Rock", the Latin flavored "You Should be Glad" and the acoustical "Whiskey and Ribs" It'll be interesting to see how this band evolves...

Deep Purple Bananas-2003 This album, Bananas has every sign of being a disappointment. Jon Lord's grandiose keyboards and Richie Blackmore's fiery guitar were always a focus, but they're gone. Surprise! It's fantastic! Replacements Don Airey and Steve Morse provide the perfect backdrop to vocalist Ian Gillan's dry and witty delivery. There's the light funky reggae in "Doing It Tonight" to the winding and pastoral "Never a Word" Loose, but tight is the best way to describe this album!

Bon Jovi Have a Nice Day-2005 Bon Jovi has certainly come from a long way from the days of "You Give Love a Bad Name". Gone are the glitter, glam and the big hair. The boys from Jersey have strengthened their songwriting skills as they made their shift from pop metal to a more visionary Springsteen like landscape. I can see the American Heartland in here!

Bruce Springsteen The Rising-2002 America suffered a huge loss in the 9/11 attacks and the Boss answered the call magnificently with a killer album! Here the music is often fierce in its execution, but in essence it is a requiem for those who perished in that sudden inferno, and those who died trying to save them. Springsteen grandly salutes their innocence and their courage, and holds out a hand to those who mourn them, who seek the comfort of an explanation for the inexplicable. My hat is off to Bruce!

My Morning Jacket Evil Urges-2008 Perhaps the most unique band that I've heard in ages! They are so hard to pigeon hole to any category! They're NOT a neo-psychedelic outfit, an alt-country group, a jam band, or the contemporary torchbearers of Southern rock & roll. They're none of those things -- or perhaps they're ALL of those things, as Evil Urges offers the widest swath of musical fare in the My Morning Jacket catalog. There's rock & roll ("Aluminum Park," "I'm Amazed"), country ("Sec Walkin'"), rootsy pop nuggets ("Two Halves"), ballads about sexy bookworms ("Librarian"), and the aforementioned trips into Funkytown. "Touch Me I'm Going to Scream, Pt. 2" concludes the album with eight minutes of kaleidoscopic sound!

Iron Maiden A Matter of Life and Death-2006 I had fallen out of touch with Iron Maiden since their 1988's release, Seventh Son of a Seventh Son. The main reason for that was the constant line-up changes. Well, they're back together in their most popular line-up with the addition of a third guitarist, Janek Gers. I'm glad that I stumbled across the album! If you take a look at it, the whole record is a loosely-knit song cycle with war at its core, they exhume prog rock complexity and discipline yet manage to bristle with the kind of small-club intensity usually reserved for acts half their age.

Blues Traveler Bridge-2001 After the death of their bass player, Bob Sheehan, John Popper and the boys take time off to heal and reflect. Resurfacing as a five piece with their addition of of keyboardist Ben Wilson, the band takes a more personal direction. There's a sense of peace and maturity to the record that's appealing, especially since it's weighted with an undercurrent of loss and experience.

Them Crooked Vultures (s/t)-2009 Damn! As I was writing this blog, I realized that I had forgotten about this album! Kinda late to rewrite this blog to place where it should be. No matter. What matters is how sensational this album is! A supergroup staring Led Zeppelin's bassist/keyboardist John Paul Jones, Queens of the Stone Age's vocalist/guitarist Josh Homme and Nirvana's drummer David Grohl. This trio can play grippingly musical hard rock, where power is secondary to interplay. And while there are melodies and hooks that certainly dig into the skull, what impresses is chemistry, how the three play together, how they instigate each other, and how they spur each other on, to the point where their familiar tropes sound fresh!

Wilco Yankee Hotel Foxtrot-2002 Favored among many critics! Unwilling to change the album to make it more commercially viable, the band bought the finished studio tapes from Warner/Reprise for 50,000 dollars and left the label altogether. No matter! This long-anticipated album continues their genre-jumping and worthwhile experimentation. Front man Jeff Tweedy takes the band on a evolutionary journey that few dare to tread....

John Mayer Heavier Things-2003 I really don't care about what is said about John Mayer in the tabloids. What matters to me the most is the music! This is mood music here, slick, smooth and streamlined, perfect for a romantic date. Here Mayer keeps things simple, concentrating on how the record sounds and feels. His music just floats through the speakers, leaving a lush laid back feeling...

Muse The Resistance-2009 With its titanic guitar solos, symphonic suites, and multi-layered melodies, Muse's fifth album operates under the assumption that bigger is better. This is the very definition of a super-sized album, an album that takes its cues from Queen, its lyrics from science fiction novels, and its delivery from rock opera. Presiding over the mix is frontman Matthew Bellamy, a man who seemingly aspires to be both Brian May and Freddy Mercury! He plays guitar, pounds the piano, and composes the album's orchestral parts, but his strongest asset is his voice, a sky-scraping tenor dripping with so much emotion that it's almost lewd. He croons, whispers, annunciates, and belts with confidence! This album is a must have!

So here it is, my top 25 for the decade! Weather you agree with me or not, that's fine...After all music is a matter of taste. This list is not even set in stone. I go through my phases...Anyways, those honorable nominees that almost made my list-Train Drops of Jupiter, Rolling Stones A Bigger Bang, Bob Dylan Love and Theft, Black Country Communion (s/t), Heart Red Velvet Car, Green Day American Idiot, Phish Round Room and others! So what's your list?

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Packer Week # 16

The Packers stomped the New York Giants this afternoon 45-17

Here are my thoughts of the game...

The Packers pretty much dominated the entire game.
The Giants committed six turnovers in the game.
Packers QB Aaron Rodgers threw for 404 yards and four touchdowns.
Giants QB got picked off four times.
Great game overall, the Packers NEED to win next week's game against the Bears to make the playoffs!

More on the game here.

Lake Effect Snow

Just got home from being Up North a couple of hours ago...I had a great time among my family and friends! Presents, great food and good times!
The weather was perfect for travel. Traffic was basically light, not a problem there. The roads were clear both ways, ...until I got close to home.

As we turned from Highway 100 (just south of Milwaukee) on to Highway 32 towards Racine we were in for a surprise! SNOW! Lots of it! About six inches of the white stuff covered the landscape-including the streets. The plows were not even out yet! Kinda scary driving through that shit...

With no snow in the forecast, I immediately recognized it as lake effect snow... What is lake effect snow? Lake effect is best described a production of cooler atmospheric conditions when cold winds move across long expanses of warmer lake water, providing energy and picking up water vapor which freezes and is deposited on the leeward shores. In other words, snow bands forms over the lake that dumps huge amounts of snow over a centralized area. It often happens suddenly, without warning and very difficult to forecast. It's a common phenomenon around the Great Lakes region. Not so much here, but places like Syracuse, NY and Gary, IN have gotten dumped as much as four feet of snow in a matter of hours on a more periodic basis. I wouldn't want to live in those places!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas!

In the morning, I'm leaving for a road trip to Northern Wisconsin. There I'll spend a couple of days visiting my family and friends. I would like to wish you all a very Merry Christmas! May your holidays be blessed with lots of love and good cheer!

Monday, December 20, 2010


♫Oh, signs, signs, everywhere there's signs
Blocking up the scenery, breaking my mind
Do this, don't do that, can't you read the sign?♪

Those who know me well, know that I'll come up a song for just about everything. And I usually do... What do they expect from a music lover like me? I still say music is the window to one's soul.

Thanks to Aria for tagging me this on Facebook....

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Packer Week # 15

The Packers lost to the New England Patriots tonight 31-27.

Here are my thoughts of the game...

I originally thought the Packers were going to get skunked in today's game.
QB Aaron Rodgers sat out for today's game because of last week's concussion.
Back up QB Matt Flynn played well, throwing 3 touchdowns.
The Packers were leading in most of the game until the forth quarter.
New England clinched a playoff spot in the AFC.

More on the game here.

Thursday, December 16, 2010


A blogging friend of mine, Perplexo, introduced to me a new band I'm stoked about hearing. Yoso. Yoso is the latest arrival as supergroups go. The band features Bobby Kimball-the vocalist from Toto, Tony Kaye-the keyboardist from early Yes, Billy Sherwood-who played the guitar for Yes from 1997 to 2000 is on the bass and vocals. Touring with them is Scott Conner-a drummer from a Genesis tribute band and Johnny Bruhns-a guitar player from a Yes tribute band.

They are presently on tour in Europe.

From what I heard from them, they sound a bit like a cross of the 90125 era Yes and Toto with a twist. I know what you're thinking...Toto and Yes are as far apart from the rock spectrum as one could get. Maybe an unlikely combination, but it works!

Hopefully, I'll get this one for Christmas. Heck, maybe I'll just buy it myself. Check it out!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Sunday, December 12, 2010

The Blizzard...

The winds are howling and blowing outside with so much force that I hear my back door rattling. A huge storm has bared down on the Great Lakes, leaving much of the Midwest crippled. We escaped disaster much due to the lake effect from the warm waters of Lake Michigan. However, the rest of Wisconsin wasn't so lucky. Although Racine only got about four inches of snow, much of the state got as much as 16 inches! Roads were shut down and businesses were closed.

Elsewhere in the Midwest, the roof of the Metrodome in Minneapolis, MN collapsed under the weight of the snow. This unfortunate incident forced the postponement and the relocation of the Minnesota Viking vs. the New Giants game to tomorrow night at the Ford Stadium in Detroit, MI. That'll give the players another day of rest.

As the winds blow, the temperatures are expected to drop to the single digits with a wind chill to a minus zero readings. It's f@#&ing cold out there! Once the temperatures rises, it'll be snowing again. The cycle begins....As I'm heading off to bed, I'll be warmed up by layers of blankets and some warm bodies. I'll be dreaming of summer tonight....

Packer Week # 14

The Green Bay Packers lost to the Detroit Lions this afternoon 7-3.

Here are my thoughts of the game....

Sloppy plays on offense by both teams.
Fumbles, sacks and interceptions plagued the Packers.
The defense on both sides of the ball were impressive.
Packers' QB Aaron Rodgers was out of the game in the second half due to a concussion.
I wish I hadn't watched this game...

More on the game here.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Independence Road

It's that time of the year to go out and look at Christmas lights. On the western side of Racine, we a subdivision that we affectionately call Independence Road. On this street and the other surrounding ones, EVERY house is all decked up for the holidays. Dazzling! Should've worn my sunglasses!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Remembering John Lennon

Thirty years ago today, passed away one of the greatest musicians the world has ever known, John Lennon. We all know John for being an accomplished singer,songwriter,and musician. He also tried to bring peace into this world. I loved his music with the Beatles as well as his solo career. He may be gone, but his words and music are not forgotten. Here's one of my favorites...Imagine. Enjoy!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Fantasy Football Update....

My fantasy football season came to an end this week. Yep. I'm done, belly up, kaplut! I didn't even make the playoffs. My record for the season was 6-7. Oh well...better than last year....

The standings are...

Hale-Bopp's Half -Astrophysicists 10-3
SER's Potato Heads 9-4
Real Debate Wisconsin's The Debate Team 8-5
Homemomof2 8-5
kkdither's KK Krunchers 7-6
RW Wacko Stu's Fighting Mongrels 7-6
drewzepmeister's Racine Irregulars 6-7
Orbs Corbs's Orbliterators 4-9
forgetfarve 3-10
Milwaukee Machine 3-10

Next year I plan on drafting Superman for quarterback. Quicksilver and The Flash for running backs. Airbud for a wide receiver. On defense, The Hulk. Maybe I'll win a few more games...

Good luck to all that made the playoffs!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Packer Week #13

The Green Bay Packers beat the San Francisco 49ers this afternoon 34-16.

Here are my thoughts of the game...

The 1929 throw back uniforms worn by the Pack really, really sucked..
The Packers struggled in the first half.
The second half the Pack dominated...
Packers wide receivers Donald Driver and Greg Jennings both had impressive plays for touchdowns.
The Packers are now 8-4 and are still in the hunt for the playoffs...

More on the game here.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

News of the World

♪I read the news today oh, boy
About a lucky man who made the grade
And though the news was rather sad
Well, I just had to laugh
I saw the photograph
He blew his mind out in a car
He didn't notice that the lights had changed
A crowd of people stood and stared
They'd seen his face before
Nobody was really sure
if he was from the House of Lords♫

Here I was, cooped up inside my home on a snow ridden day, going though the internet and reading news clips from around the world...It's something I don't do very often. Some of the articles were something like this....

Ivory Coast
Ugly Betty Murder
Caledonia officer charged with pointing gun at another officer
14 year old hitman

Depressing isn't it? This is why I don't read nor watch the news very often. Maybe it's the hippie inside of me that prefers peace over war. I guess that's the reason why I'm not a news junkie....

Friday, December 3, 2010

Santa Stories

This is an actual conversation between my girlfriend and I the other day as we were watching TV together..

Her: Here's something to watch, "The Dog Who Saved Christmas".

Me: Let me guess-this one Santa gets kidnapped, abducted, beaten, tortured, raped, sodomized, maimed, murdered, killed and set on fire. Along comes a lovable canine, perhaps a talking puppy, rescues Santa from the perils of Hell and saves Christmas. For that, all the children in the world are happy.

Her: So you've seen that one before?

Me: No. All these new Christmas movies are the same. Something happens to Santa and he gets rescued by some kid or dog and Christmas is saved. It gets old and mundane after awhile. I'd rather watch paint dry.

Her: So you don't like Christmas movies?

Me: I like 'em, but I'd would to see something original for a change.

Her: Like what?

Me: How about a drunken Santa, despondent over the loss of Mrs. Claus, crashes into the side of a 747 with his sleigh, killing everybody aboard? Think about the legal repercussions about that one...

Her: You're crazy...

Me: You have no idea...How about Santa in the Philippine jungle gunning down terrorists? Like Rambo? That ought to be a hoot! Or an elf murdered in Santa's workshop. A CSI crew comes in a clears Santa as the prime suspect. I could go on...

Her: Please don't...

Me: Or Santa can do a romantic comedy...

Thursday, December 2, 2010

The 53rd Annual Grammy Awards

Here's something that I haven't watched in years, the Grammy Awards. Why? Because it's a joke! For last few years, most of the nominees are the overplayed, commercialized, music industry driven drivel. It's mostly stuff that I don't like! This year is no different. Lady Gaga, Eminem, Justin Beiber, Beyonce, and Kate Perry are some of the nominees I'd pass up.

Then again, everybody has different tastes. I've noticed that Robert Plant, Neil Young, Them Crooked Vultures, Ozzy Osbourne and Iron Maiden are some of the nominees. Some great stuff there! I only wish I could see more musicians like these guys nominated...

There are other reasons I feel the Grammys to be a joke. I remember in 1989, progressive band Jethro Tull, beat out Metallica's ...And Justice for All for Best Hard Rock/Heavy Metal Album with their album, Crest of a Knave. I have nothing against either of these bands. In fact, I think both albums are great! Somehow, I just don't consider Jethro Tull to be heavy metal.

Then there was the greatest Grammy plunder. Milli Vanilli. In 1990, the duo lip-synched their way to the top of the charts, earning themselves a Grammy Award. Once the truth was told, they were stripped of the award...Geeze....

On a personal note, is music really some sort of a contest? If so, I don't see where nor why. I don't pay to much attention to the charts nor care about the sales. Does it really matter to who's number one? Who out sells one another? Who's the most popular? It's really all a matter of taste. If you like listening to so and so, that's great! If not, oh well....