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

It's Beginning To Look a Lot Like Christmas...

Just got my place all decked up for Christmas...

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....

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Packers Week # 12

The Green Bay Packers lost to the Atlanta Falcons this afternoon in this nail biter of a game 20-17.

Here are my thoughts of the game:

Both teams played well on both sides of the ball, they were evenly matched.
It felt like I was watching a playoff game.
Packers QB Aaron Rodgers fumbled on a QB sneak into the end zone-the first Packer turnover in 15 quarters.
Atlanta's kicker Matt Bryant made the winning field goal with 9 seconds left.

The Packers are now 7-4 and are still in the race for the playoffs. It didn't help that the Bears beat Philly today.

More on the game here.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

(Winter) Wonderland of Northern Wisconsin

I just got back from celebrating Thanksgiving in the northern woods of Wisconsin. I had a great time with family and friends! Musta gained about 20 pounds on the turkey, ham, mashed potatoes, sweet corn, the casseroles, stuffing, chairs, ice cream and I'm stuffed!

The weather? It was blustery cold when I arrived at my folks place just south of Crandon. Temperatures hovered around seven degrees. There was about two inches of snow that covered the ground. The lakes and rivers were starting to freeze up there giving it a more of a surreal landscape.

It was rather pretty up there...

Arbutus Lake

Lily River

Grass Lake

The Wolf River

So how was your Thanksgiving?

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tomorrow morning, I'm heading off to the desolate wonderland of Northern Wisconsin for Thanksgiving. There, I'll bask in the glow of family, friends and loved ones. Enjoying a splendid meal of turkey and the trimmings-maybe I'll burp out a chair or two.... Anyways, this year promises to better holiday than last. Why? I have so much more to thank for....Let me count the ways...

My job-I know I sometimes I whine, bitch and moan about my job. Yeah, sometimes I feel like I'm overworked and underpaid.Yet, I'm thankful for having a decent job that pays the bills with a couple of bucks to spare for a moment or two for a luxury or two. There are people out there that are unemployed.

My car-It may be a battered piece of junk that is held together by two bolts, a nut, a wad of bubblegum and a roll of duct tape, yet it gets me to points A and B quite effectively. And it's paid for!

My music-Nothing soothes the savage beast in me better than music. It's the window to my soul...There is nothing better than after a hard day's work than a beer and some great tunes!

This computer-My gateway to the world...

My friends-Both online and off....What would my world be without my friends? Absolutely dismal! I'm forever thankful for those whom has lent me an ear or a hand in times in need. The smiles, laughter and joy in time of fun!

My family-Where would I be without my family? I would hate to find out...

My girlfriend-She's something else! She has rolled up her sleeves and dug into this relationship without any questions nor any second thoughts. Somehow, someway she has managed to keep me in stitches. Her charm, wit and laughter has brought brought a smile and peace in my heart that I've been longing for....

Sunday, November 21, 2010

My Top 25 Albums 1966-1971

Funny how I get into music this old. I born in 1966. So I really have little or no recollection to what I was doing back then. I haven't even started school yet! To top it off, I wasn't really exposed to rock and roll then. My folks never had any albums from the Beatles or the Doors. It wasn't till I was a teenager before I stumbled across this music.

Yet when I look back at this age of classic of rock and roll, I find myself imagining being there in a somewhat older form, wishing to have experienced Woodstock. Rock and roll was an experimentation back then. A garage sale of ideas, evolving, not this big corporate money hungry blather we have today.

So let's go back in time and relive this experience. Shall we?

Led Zeppelin Untitled-1971 Let's face it, the first 6 albums from Zeppelin are classic. This one, however, is their Mona Lisa! Page, Plant and the boys pulled out all the stops in this masterpiece, including a battle with Atlantic Records over the album cover. What was considered a bad career move turned to be 22 million worldwide gain in sales! The diversity of tunes like "Rock and Roll", "Black Dog", the folkish "Going to California" and AOR hit "Stairway to Heaven" proved Zeppelin was more than just a passing fad.

Beatles Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band-1967 I had a hard time deciding what Beatles album to make this list. I had Revolver, The White Album and Abbey Road in my mind. This one, however, stands out! Don't get me wrong, all these albums are great! Sgt Pepper's stand out because what it meant to rock and roll per say. The Beatles experimented with multi-tracking here, opening the the floodgates to what is rock and roll today... No longer rock music was just entertainment, it was art!

Rolling Stones Let it Bleed-1969 Another one filled with decisions! Between this, Beggar's Banquet, and Sticky Fingers, it is a hard decision. The Stones were on the roll here! The shimmering "Gimme Shelter", the apocalyptic "Sympathy for the Devil", the bombastic "Brown Sugar", nothing could stop the Stones! Unrivaled by anybody at this point, they still remain a household name.

the Who Who's Next-1971 Yeeeaaaah! As Roger Daltrey screams in unison with Pete Townsend's guitar hammering. This classic masterpiece can make me pump my fist into the air with delight and yet, make me cry...Tunes so great that they found their way on television themes. Quite surprisingly, all came from a scrapped rock opera!

Blind Faith (s/t)-1969 It was love at first sound! Eric Clapton's wailing guitar and Steve Winwood's silky vocals-a great combination that sent waves of euphoria to my brain! Unfortunately, this hailed supergroup released only one album...

Jimi Hendrix Experience Are You Experienced?-1967 Considered by many the greatest guitarist ever lived! Hendrix opened the doors and paved the way for others to follow in his footsteps. Iconic tunes like "Purple Haze","Fire" and "Foxey Lady" helped shape of we think of music of the '60's...

Derek and the Dominoes Layla-1970 An album that is close to my heart. Eric Clapton, Duane Allman and rest of the gang creates an excellent blues rock album! The blistering blues solo on "Key to the Highway" has left me breathless! "Bell Bottom Blues" gives me the goosebumps. Who could forget the epic title track? Not only the lyrics are beautiful, the piano coda is awesome!

Creedence Clearwater Revival Chronicle-1976 I'm going break a few rules here. CCR albums tend to be inconsistent. So, picking my favorite CCR album would be difficult. Chronicle offers pretty much the best of what I love from CCR. John Fogerty's guitar playing and songwriting are unbelievable! This Sacramento, CA based band can make you feel like they are from the swamps of the South!

the Doors (s/t)-1967 Although tunes like "LA Woman" and "Riders on the Storm" are my personal favorites from the band, their debut album is one best one the sums the best of Jim Morrison's baritone poetry. Tunes like the hit "Light my Fire" to the Oedipal ending of the 12 minute epic of "The End". There is not a wasted note here!

Black Sabbath Paranoid-1970 The Godfathers of heavy metal! Ozzy, Tony Iommi and the rest of the gang creates that doomsday grungy guitar and satanic lyrics to the masses! This sound influences many heavy metal bands to this day to do the same!

Yes The Yes Album-1970 Guitarist Steve Howe joins the band after their dismal first two albums. He gives the band the much needed color and landscape the band sorely needed. The tunes got longer and craftier. A picture was being painted!

Cream Disreali Gears-1967 There are words spray painted on the underground station walls in London "Clapton is God". It's easy to see why. Clapton sure has made his presence felt in the '60's and '70's. This time with a powerhouse trio of Cream! Kicking it with Ginger Baker and Jack Bruce, they bring their own brand of psychedelic blues to the world! Awesome!

Grateful Dead Workingman's Dead-1970 The Grateful Dead was always more of a live band than a studio act. Even so, both of the American Beauty and Workingman's Dead albums creatively brought some killer folk and country influences to the masses-often lacing them with drug references. More importantly, the Dead was a huge part a the hippie sub culture that prevailed during that time!

Traffic The Low Spark of the High Heeled Boys-1971 There are SO MANY great Traffic tunes out there! Tunes like "Dear Mr. Fantasy" and "Medicated Goo"are my favorites. For some reason, the Low Spark album stands out for me. Could it be the great guitar work on "Light Up or Leave Me Alone" of the memorizing piano of the title cut? Find out for yourselves! Prepared to surprised!

the Faces A Nod is as Good a a Blind Horse- 1971 Straight forward barroom blues rock at its best! No frills, no filler, no junk! Grab a beer, pull up a chair and let your foot do the stomping! Rod Stewart, Ron Wood and the rest the gang delivers a one/two punch that will knock your socks off!

Bob Dylan Blonde on Blonde-1966 Bob Dylan was practically the face of the '60's! Lyrically, Dylan can't go wrong! In this critically acclaimed double album set, Dylan swaggers, brags, sighs, loves, loses, smiles, grieves, pleads, lusts, swoons and trips! A must have for any collection....

Big Brother & the Holding Company Cheap Trills-1968 Initially titled and rejected as Sex Dope and Cheap Thrills... Here Janis Joplin's unmistakeably raspy vocals grabs your soul and takes it for a ride! Her influence over female vocalists would stretch for decades to come!

Crosby, Stills and Nash (s/t)-1969 A band made famous by the Woodstock concert...This album and the follow-up, Deja Vu, with Niel Young are both awesome! With perfect folkish harmonies and social conscious lyrics, it's no wonder why they made it so big! I could sing along with these guys all day!

Santana Abraxas-1970 Oh my God! Mind blowing stuff here! Guitar god Carlos Santana and his band combine rock and roll, the blues, jazz, salsa into a mixing bowl with a Latino beat. Instrumental displays of power are shown here in tour de force with tunes like "Samba Pa Ti" and "Oye Como Va"!

Jethro Tull Aqualung-1970 A flute player in a rock and roll band? Sounds intriguing if you ask me... Rock and roll was still experimenting at this stage. Not only that, singer/flutist Ian Anderson provides great lyrical vision to complement guitarist Martin Barres hard rocking/acoustic abilities!

the Beach Boys Pet Sounds-1966 I'm not a huge fan of the Beach Boy's surf sound, but critics from all over raved about this album. It's easy to see why. Moving away from their typical surfing formula, Brian Wilson with a reluctant band, experimented with new sounds. This inspired bands like the Beatles and the Stones to do the same!

Allman Brothers Band At the Fillmore-1971 As I was writing this, I wasn't planning on mentioning ANY live albums. Yet I LOVE the Allman Brothers! Their first two albums doesn't do justice to their live music. In my opinion, this album would be WAY MUCH higher on this list...that would take a rewrite of this entire blog post. So, I finally gave in to mentioning it here. To me, no one could compare to the Allman Brothers as far as instrumental jams go!

Jefferson Airplane Surrealistic Pillow-1967 Descended from the Haight/Ashbury days in San Francisco, Jefferson Airplane creates an album that defines the time! Blending folk rock with psychedelia, the Airplane brings "White Rabbit" and "Somebody to Love" to the disheveled world...

the Band Music from Big Pink-1968 Was considered Bob Dylan's backing band, The Band proves that they're worthy on their own. Yes, with a little help from Dylan himself, The Band blends country, rock, folk, classical, soul and R&B in their own distinctive form! This and their second self titled album are must for any album collector!

Pink Floyd Meddle-1971 Pink Floyd was expanding their horizons even further at this point, setting a tone to what is yet to come. David Gilmour whips his steel guitar in the instrumental "One of These Days" into a frenzy while "Fearless" was a laid back acoustical masterpiece. The 23 minute "Echoes" remained a concert favorite for years to come!

I know I'm missing a few here! I could easily place albums from Buffalo Springfield, the Byrds, Velvet Underground, the Kinks, George Harrison, MC5, Steppenwolf, King Crimson, Genesis and a slew of others here...My God, what a list that would be! This was an era of exploration and experimentation here. Fueled by a culture of strife, confusion and drugs, rock and roll was going to change to world we live in.....

Packers Week # 11

The Packers swept the Minnesota Vikings this season, beating them again, 31-3. Here are my thoughts of the game....

In the first quarter, the Vikings held the Pack to only eight yards.
For the rest of the game, it was all Packers...
Packer QB Aaron Rodgers threw for 301 yards and four TD's.
The Vikings ARE in a mess...there was squabbling on the sidelines.
Me thinks Viking's coach Brad Childress is not coming back next season...
Neither will Brett Farve...

More on the game here

Friday, November 19, 2010

The Orange Pilgrimage

There was a shortage of co-workers at where I work today. Why? Some them took their annual pilgrimage to the northern boondocks of Wisconsin. Deer rifle season opens tomorrow morning. Over the next nine days there will be an ocean of orange dressed hunters filtering in and out of the woods, hoping to get lucky. Some will be driving home a dead deer on the roofs of their cars, others will not.

My Dad is one of these hunters. Every year he goes out there with his buddies and tries to be one of those lucky ones. He's gotten lucky a few times, including a nice (I think) seven pointer. It's something that he's done every year since he was old enough to handle a gun.

I do not hunt. The idea of sitting of an elevated, frozen deer stand, waiting with a .22 just to have a shot at "Bambi's dad" does not thrill me. I'm much to restless for that. However, I'm not against hunting either. It is a necessary "evil" that helps to reduce an over populated deer heard to a more manageable level. With an out of control deer population, the deer are subject to problems like extreme starvation, disease and more frequent auto/deer collisions.

What about the natural predators? We do have bears and wolves here in Wisconsin. The bears are basically omnivorous creatures. They'll basically eat anything, if it's an easy catch. A bear would rather grab an easy meal of grubs, berries and small animals than take down a healthy deer. And the endangered timber wolf? Although Wisconsin has one of the larger wolf populations in the lower 48, it's still not enough to to bring down the heard to size.

So that leaves it up to the hunters to solve the problem. Most hunters I know, not only they love the sport, are wildlife enthusiasts as well. Many of them follow the laws, rules and regulations set by the DNR to the book. Yes, there are a few bad apples. I'm completely against poaching.

Hopefully, my Dad will get lucky this year, I'm craving for venison steak and eggs for breakfast.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The End for the Racine Post

As I was going though my JTI blog, I was shocked to find out that one my favorite reads, the Racine Post is going "off the air". I've always liked the Racine Post their coverage on local events and their inside look on Racine's political scene. The stuff that isn't covered too well in the The Journal Times. Local bloggers Dustin Block and Pete Selkowe (I have met them both) founded the site in 2007. Ever since their beginnings, they have maintained a "real" approach to the local news without all the sensationalism, thus keeping their integrity. Within three years they have gotten to be well respected media site.

Dustin has accepted a great job as a regional editor for Patch, AOL's ambitious $50 million effort to establish hundreds of local news websites around the country.

I wish the best of luck to Dustin....

More on the story here.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Packers Week #10

The Packers are on a bye this week...So let's talk about Super Bowl predictions. About mid season I try to make my Super Bowl predictions. Usually I'm spot on each year. This year, It's going to be tough.

The AFC teams, this year are on the strong side...As of this point, the New York Jets leads the AFC with a 7-2 record. New England and Pittsburgh are both 6-2 while Indianapolis and Baltimore are 6-3. Also in the race with a 5-4 record are, Miami, Oakland, Tennessee, and Jacksonville. Kansas City leads the West Division with a 5-3 record.

Based on this I'm taking New York or New England to take the AFC spot.

The NFC seems much easier to predict. Atlanta leads it with a 7-2 record. The New York Giants, Chicago, Green Bay, New Orleans, and Tampa Bay are all tied with a 6-3 record. Philadelphia is in the race at 5-3. St. Louis and Seattle are both tied on the top of the West Division.

I kind like seeing the New York or Atlanta being in.

What's your prediction?

Friday, November 12, 2010

Thought I've Seen it All...

There are some days I think I've seen it all...Yet people continue to surprise me. After a recent trip through Oshkosh revealed me the three Farves, made me wonder about the Three Stooges..

Wednesday, November 10, 2010


All it took was the sticker on the cellophane wrapper the protected the album. It read- Asia is Geoff Downes, Steve Howe, Carl Palmer and John Wetton. I had heard of these guys before. Carl Palmer is the drummer from the Emerson, Lake & Palmer fame. John Wetton was the bassist/vocalist from bands like King Crimson and Uriah Heep. Geoff Downes was known for his key work in Buggles and the Yes Drama album. My main interest was Steve Howe, the guitarist for Yes. In my hands was an album created by a super group! How excited I was!

Besides, I thought the album cover looked cool!

My excitement didn't last long....The first time I played this record was everything short what I expected. Where was the long jams that I got used to from listening to Yes and ELP albums? The choruses? Awfully repetitious...It felt like I was listening to a washed out progressive rock band heavily influenced by the '80's new wave. I quickly shelved the record in dismay.

Then I read a magazine article about them. I don't remember what magazine it was, but does it really matter? Anyways, as I was reading this article, it was saying something about them not having any individual soaking nor hogging the spotlight. More or less bringing balance to the group. They've got a good point.... I remembered hearing ELP's Works Vol.1 and thought it was WAY too indulgent. C'mon, a 20 minute piano solo? Great...but BORING!

That shed a new light on the record....

Shredding away the pompousness, the band decided to keep it simple and to the point. A great idea if you ask me. Less is more sometimes. The more I listened to this album the more I liked it! This album grew onto me! It soon became one of my best albums of the '80's

This album is basically power prog rock that is suitable for arenas. Sort of like Yes meets Boston, Journey, Styx, Foreigner...and so forth. Tunes like "Heat of the Moment", "Wildest Dreams", "Time Again" and "Sole Survivor" are driven, packing a punch! Mellower moments like "Only Time Will Tell" sounds great without being sappy. Throughout this album each member rises to the occasion without going over the top! The solos are there, but trimmed down nice and neatly. Perhaps this this would have been the new direction for prog rock...

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Packers Week #9

The Packers slaughtered the hapless Dallas Cowboys 45-7 tonight.

Here are my thoughts of the game...

The Packers just dominated the game through out.
Dallas' QB Tony Romo was out for the season with a broken collarbone.
GB's superstar defensive lineman Clay Matthews intercepted a pass and returned it for a 62 yard TD.
The only sign of life for Dallas was a TD late in the first half.

More on the game here.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Preparing for Hiberation....

It was a balmy 43 degrees outside today. I could feel the cold wind biting my skin through my winter jacket. Looking around, I see squirrels digging holes in the ground storing walnuts for the upcoming winter months. There was this flock of geese flying overheard in V-formation. The trees are getting bare-stripped of their leaves. All classic signs of autumn's end.

Much as I hate to admit it, I'm not looking forward to what's around the corner. Winter. The land of ice and snow. Yes, the sub-zero temperatures, the howling blizzards and perilous drives in the snow. I hate the cold and the boredom of being cooped up inside.

As I'm writing this, I'm getting snow tires on my car, putting my concert T-shirts away and donning on my Packer sweat shirts. I'm going into hibernation....

The 6th Street Bridge over the Root River in Racine...

Thursday, November 4, 2010

A Company Divided

So it begins...or is it the calm before the storm? The lines are being drawn now in the company I work for. I more I hear, the more uncomfortable I am being at my workplace. The union talk has stirred up a hornet's nest. I'm waiting for someone to get stung...

Here are the latest news:

The company DOES NOT want the union. Well, duh! I heard that my company spent $50,000 on a weekend boat trip wooing a possible customer...Kinda sounds like AIG to me.

Several employees, including me, were individually pulled into the office for a chat about the union. All I told them that I was skeptical and wasn't sure about the union. Which is true. If anything sounds too good, there HAS to be a catch.

I also heard the union is full of empty promises. One story told to me was about a company they represented in Fond du Lac. Instead of better wages, the pay was cut and frozen for seven years! Not the kind of thing I'd want to be working for....

Now some of our employees are acting REALLY stupid! Someone hacked into our computer system software and obtained information on the employees' wages! My company is PISSED OFF about this! This is illegally obtained info! No doubt that this is going to the union for negotiations. My company has offered a hefty reward for catching the person responsible for this incident.

Here I am, chasing the American Dream. Yeah, I'd love to exchange my apartment for a house, trade my clunker for a decent car and maybe hang a plasma TV on the wall. After 23 years there, something would be nice... Reality wise, I'm just glad that I have a somewhat decent job.

I plan to to keep my eyes and ears open, and my mouth shut. Just move along with my day to day stuff at work. Just keeping my heads up above this maelstrom...

Wednesday, November 3, 2010


Sorry, if these pics were posted up late. I had several blog ideas that I started and later shelved. Here are some pics from Wabeno, WI. Wabeno is a small town with 1,264 people. It's only 20 minutes east of my folks. It has a logging museum that's cool and refreshing water that's branded with the town's namesake...

Wabeno Logging Museum

An antique logging train

The river that flows through town