Nov 22

More from Newfields

As promised, here’s a bit more from yesterday’s adventures. These are the first 90 seconds of the Monet at The LUME exhibit. You cover a fair amount of ground with the impressionists in the next hour or so. It’s a fine presentation. Go see this when it gets near you.

The giant image of an aging Claude Monet near the end of the exhibit, and before the gift shop.

Try as we might, and we tried mightily, we could not talk the folks into buying a beret.

We went back to Newfields after dinner to see the Winterlights demo. Much better weather this year. A lot of smiles, a lot of happy children. A lot of adults looking with the eyes of a child. (Just imagine if they’d seen someone wandering around in a beret.)

Had a nice bike ride today, I put 40 more miles in the books. That’s almost four loops on this specific Zwift course.

Someone decided two circuits, 21.50 miles, should be a Strava segment. Strava tells me I’ve done that segment seven times. And, today, I shaved two minutes off my best time.

Not bad for being under-caloried.

Nov 22

The beginning of Thanksgiving

I finally figured out how to take photos of autumn leaves. It is the shutterbug’s lament, how to express the majesty of autumn. Even the best, high definition lens, top-of-the-line processor, perfectly saturated image leaves something out. You can’t get the emotion, the smells, the crispness of the air and the texture of the foliage in a photograph.

So, of course, here we are at the end of fall, the beginning of winter (it has been snowing again) but I finally figured out something important.

Night, and light.

This stand of American sweetgums is right by the parking deck I use on campus. There’s a nice set of street lights that, just now, are doing some quality work. Those red and greens are terrific.

I would have stayed to admire them, but I mentioned it has been snowing again meaning it is just cold. All the time.

I stopped by the grocery store, hoping to get ahead of the holiday rush, and found I might have been already been too late. There are turkeys …

… but not the size we want. On the left side of the case a bunch of eight and nine pounders. On the right side they go well into the 20+ pound range. I got a bigger one (More leftovers!) but it is sensibly oversized. Someone else needs that 29-pound bird. I need to leave room for all of the other tasty things that will be on the table.

We wondered about freezer room, but that’s not a problem. I could put this thing outside, in the shade on the windward side of the house, and it’d probably stay frozen. I did not — we have coyotes within earshot, after all — but I could have. It’s cold, is what I’m saying.

There are also turkeys living on the hillside behind us, but I don’t think those turkeys and this bird would … ahhhh … get along, seeing as how mine doesn’t have much to gobble about.

Since I mentioned, yesterday, the band playing in the studio, here’s that show. Hank Ruff and The Hellbenders:

He’s popular, and the studio was full of people who enjoyed their set. Tonight was sports, and, because we’re in the upside down, World Cup soccer talk, in November. I spent the rest of the evening reading, and being smothered by cats, who are presently desperate for attention, and body heat.

It’s cold.

Nov 22

A last word on election coverage; more words about riding bikes

They started planning their election night livestream in September. I was pleased to see my friends at IUSTV trying something new and so ambitious. They held several fax out practices. They prepped for days, huge binders, names, contests, context. I was happy to see all of that prep, and I was excited to see them collaborating with Indiana Daily Student and WIUX.

The different outlets work together on a few projects here and there, something The Media School has been hoping to see. I’ve always advocated for that to happen organically. Building natural momentum and enthusiasm from seeing the impact and the benefit of their ideas, will create lasting success.

It was an entirely student-conceived, produced and delivered project. They got great support from my colleagues in bringing together a few technical achievements, but everything else was theirs and, last night, they covered a lot of ground, all of those reporters. It was a great experience for them, a fine service to their community.

Ella Rhoades and Ashton Hackman were on the desk at the top of the first hour. They rotated out over the course of the evening with some great reports from Carly Rasmussen, Anna Black, Haley Ryan and a lot of others. They did drop-ins with their colleagues at WIUX. They ran packages, had scheduled panels with IDS reporters, they even did their own big map segments. Olivia Oliver and Emma Watson were just a few of the star producers of the evening, which ran for almost four hours. Andrew Briggs was his usual indispensable self, producing this, directing that, making it all come together.

Not everything went perfectly, live productions don’t go perfectly, but there are plenty of lessons in that, and they handled the rough spots with grace and good humor. It was an impressive lift. They’re in the middle of their school semester, after all. Some of them left one studio and one show to come directly into another studio to run this stream late into the evening.

So, while I was pleased they had the idea, and happy to see their substantial preparation, and excited for the collaboration with their peers, the best part was watching them work, off camera, on deadline.

That’s where the real magic happens. A lot of people showed us last night that they’re figuring that out. Could’t be prouder.

And their attitude was infectious!

This morning, on one of the last beautiful days before winter arrives and sets in between now and April, I got out for a little bike ride. It was sunny and in the 50s, so it seemed important to get out for a few minutes.

It doesn’t matter to anyone but me, but I keep a record of my annual mileage. I am sneaking up on some of my best years now, and so I wanted to get just a few more in before I have to put my bike on the trainer. If I threaten my record, it will most likely be in a muggy bike room, wondering why there’s an actual puddle of sweat below me.

But today, I’m merely moving up the ranks of my annual chart. After today’s little spin 2022 is now fourth place, all time.

The year 2013 was a very good year. It was a comeback year, and that’s a big part of why it is third all-time. The second and top spots are 2021 and 2020, respectively. No surprise there. Couldn’t really do much except ride my bike during the hardest part of the pandemic.

Between now and the end of the year, I have plenty of time to move 2022 into second place. Hitting that 2020 mark … that’s going to be a real challenge.

Now that I’ve written about it here, it is, of course, a big thing. I’ll keep you updated. And hopefully a few of those updates include some version of “and I got to ride outside today!”

Those are good days, just as this one was.

Hope yours was a dandy, too!

Nov 22

A mishmash, a hodgepodge, poorly covered

OK, one more Catober bonus. Phoebe and Poseidon thank you for your attention. Now they want some more pets. And, also, some snacks, if you have any.

If you somehow didn’t come to this page every day in October, then you might have missed out on some kitty cuteness. Fear not! This link has the complete Catober collection.

I have no content filler for November. I should really work on that.

Visited the grocery store last night, for the third time in as many days. I had to pick up a few birthday cards. If you stand there, muttering, long enough, you can find a card that isn’t outrageously priced. That’s what I learned last night. Took some time to learn that lesson.

Also strolled by the produce section, and thought I’d pick up a few different varieties. An economist inspired me.

So, for today’s lunch, I present you with the Autumn Glory.

I can tell you this about my first Autumn Glory. It was surprisingly juicy. It holds a mild, even sweetness. The label at the store, and what I’ve found online, said I’d find hints of cinnamon and caramel. But my palette might not be sophisticated enough — or perhaps my peanut butter sandwich overwhelmed it — and no cinnamon or caramel notes were detected.

It had an odd skin texture, almost rubbery. But the apple was surprisingly consistent all the way down to the core.

I suspect I will eat an autumn glory apple again, if for no other reason than I purchased two of them.

I’m finally making real progress in Andrew Ritchie’s biography of Major Taylor. This is when the champion cyclist was traveling and racing around the world — an exhausting proposition at the beginning of the 20th century, I’m sure.

I worked my way through his peak racing years, his retirement, return and final retirement. This is where biographies get tough, particularly in Taylor’s case. He fell into obscurity and some sort of financial difficulty. There’s two decades to work through. Two decades after you’ve been either the toast, or target of racist hatred, depending on where he was. What happens in those years?

I guess we’ll find out in the next few nights. There’s another book to get to, after all. There’s always another book.

We can quickly work the two most recent CDs from the Re-Listening Project. One is hardly obscure … Stone Temple Pilots “Purple,” was their second record. Scott Weiland had quickly hit his stride and was stepping away from the grunge prototype. Seattle was still in there, but this was STP as they should be. “Purple” debuted at number one, was six-times platinum in the United States, three-times platinum in Canada, two-times in Australia and also in New Zealand. It was, in fact, one of the best selling albums of the 1990s.

This record is also one of the ways I know I had too much free time in my freshman year of college. We realized that each of the evenly-numbered tracks were huge, or going to be. (The odd number songs are all pedestrian, at best.) Indeed, we were right. I have a recollection of exactly where I was standing in our place when this epiphany set in.

Track 2 was “Vasoline,” track 4 was “Interstate Love Song” track 6 and track 8 were “Pretty Penny” and “Big Empty,” respectively. The first two topped the Mainstream Rock chart and hit number two on the Alternative Airplay chart. “Pretty Penny” somehow stalled out at number 12, “Big Empty” got to the third spot. Track 10 was never released as a single, but it has its moments.

The best song on the record, then as now, is the hidden track … and it’s number 12. And this, weirdly, isn’t even performed by a member of the band, but by a Seattle musician named Richard Peterson.

Somehow, learning it isn’t one of the STP guys changes my impression of the whole thing. (So … thanks … world wide web …) But it also deepens the hilarity. (So thanks, world wide web!)

From magazine interviews:

Scott: “The guy is a kind of autistic savant who has this bizarre obsession with Johnny Mathis. He follows him around on tour when he’s in the north west, and he collects money on the street to fund his own recordings. We kept playing this song on tour before we went out, and it seemed fitting to put it on the end of the album.” (Melody Maker – 6/4/94)

Scott: “No one would be able to write a song like that for us. We had it played before our live shows.” (Sub-Line Magazine Germany – 8/1/94)

That song wasn’t on the Japanese edition of the disc, and they lost out. (They had, for whatever reason, a David Bowie cover.)

The fun of the Re-Listening Project to me, aside from the occasional flash of some place or time or activity associated with a song, is the mystery of what’s going to play next. I am putting these in my disc changer in order, but I don’t read the disc first. So that beat between one and the next is kind of fun. Do I remember what’s next? Am I going to like the first track? How much of this am I going to skip over? What poorly constructed paragraphs am I going to write about this? Does this hold up? Do I still like it? Did I ever like it?

The answers, this time, were “Not this time. Nope. A lot of it. Not much. Not at all. In no way. And, finally, not really, no.

There was just something weird going on in 1995 that let 311 rise to major airplay. I bought this — or picked it up in a giveaway stack, I don’t recall — on the strength of the single and have pretty much regretted it ever since. The record hit number 12 on the Billboard 200, and topped the Heatseekers Albums
chart and “Down” found it’s way atop Modern Rock Tracks, and the blue album sold three million copies, so I’m not kicking anybody here. And, the band is still doing it. They’ve released 13 studio records over the years, so good for them. But, man, this whole record is one riff, off-key harmonies and somehow a bunch of white dudes from Omaha put a little ska and reggae together with two chords and decided to rap and … we … accepted that?

This was not quite two years before Dre unleashed Eminem, so that explains a lot, or so I have convinced myself.

This is the only song that sounds different than the rest of the record, and they could only keep that uniqueness for 52 seconds.

OK, this one is a little different from the rest, too. But you can’t hear it without thinking, “Guys from Omaha. Yep.” And you can get that sentence out exactly twice before that same lick comes back.

It’s the whole album, and it never gets played, and this is why. Though they are still touring, music venues, Hard Rock hotels, festivals, cruises, so this works for some people. But it’s never worked for me.

Tomorrow: No music, more apples, and a bike ride!

Oct 22

Scenes from a walk

Just about the time you get inside, get the shoes off, get the stuff out of your pockets and all that stuff, take your coat and tie off and put some lazy clothes on it is time to sit down. Then you can sit down. And a moment or two after that it is time for a walk.

You’d almost think it’s deliberate, but it’s not. The sun is on the clock, and dusk brings a chill, so if you’re gonna go outside, doing it six minutes after you get to the house and 45 seconds after you sit on the sofa is the right time to do it.

Gives you good views, at least. My apologies for walking into someone’s yard for this on.

This sycamore was ready for its closeup.

Just two minutes later, and 180 degrees the other direction.

Direct light this time of the year is fairly dynamic. One last hurrah before everything is diffused in clouds, I guess.

That’s one big leaf!

Yeah, this one is a little blurry, I guess, but that’s how you remember the leaf turn anyway. It’s a mass of color, more than the separate leaves. They only count up there in the altogether.

Down here, you might look at them a bit differently.

But you can’t do that unless you go on the walk.

Let’s briefly return to the Re-Listening Project. Of course, we just spent a whole post on this yesterday, but if we get in one more right here I’ll be caught up for the moment. Today’s installment was at least a contemporary record when I bought it, though it was probably still part of this batch purchase. But I listened to it a lot more because it was the music of the moment, and, in 1996, the harmonica had a moment.

This was Blues Traveler’s fourth album, and it’s the one that has the songs you know. They’re still doing it, by the way. Their 15th studio album came out just last year, did you know that?

Did you also know that John Popper, the guy doing the singing and harmonica playing, was originally in another band with the core guys from Spin Doctors? That group was called The Trucking Company. One day I’m going to look for some of their music, just to see what it sounds like.

Anyway, Blues Traveler sounds like Blues Traveler. And a lot of people liked that sound! This record peaked at number eight on the Billboard 200. The band saw this record land in the top 40 of the year-end charts for both 1995 and 1996. And, of course, there are the two top 10 hits to consider, too. “Hook” hit number eight on the Mainstream Top 40 chart. “Run-Around” peaked at number two on the Adult Top 40 chart, and only Seal could keep them from the top spot, but “Run-Around” stayed on that chart for an impressive 66 weeks.

No wonder, then, that “four” was certified as a platinum record six times. Also, there’s a Grammy tied to this record. Not a bad moment in the sun.

It was a big hit at parties, at a time. I’m sure it got played around our place a lot in college. And it was a good soundtrack for sunny days in the car with the windows down. Popper’s voice needs room to breathe. And let us acknowledge that he can make a harmonica sound like most anything.

I’m going to let “Uncle John,” the last track on the album, and a joyous jam song, play us out. I admittedly don’t listen to the record a lot because a little goes a long way, but this time through, this song caught my attention the most. It has almost all the key ingredients.

I’m going to offer one small quibble, and it isn’t even with the band. If you look on Wikipedia, the post covering Blues Traveler lists their genres: jam band, blues rock, folk rock, alternative rock, all of this is fair in that this group has enough diversity to fill in all the blurry areas where those genres coexist. But to call Blues Traveler southern rock … this band is from New Jersey. The parts that aren’t from Canada.

Anyway, the best Blues Traveler song is a cover, but we should be getting to that soon enough. I say should because while I’m playing these in order, I’m not looking at the discs ahead of time. It’s almost a little surprise with each one.

And that’s enough for now. I hope your Wednesday evening, or perhaps your Thursday, has some little surprise as well. The pleasant kind, if I have any say in it.