Flying into the weekend

Look who is passing back through. The nearby ponds are a stopover. And since they’re only here for a short time, and since their presence is a welcome signal, we welcome the site of the Canada geese. The squeaking, honking, flapping, fluttering geese are back.

May they fly north with great speed, and may warm weather be in their wake.

We’ll see 50s and 60s for the next few days, and some sun. I’ll happily take a few more weeks of that, and then complain internally until the real spring weather arrives.

Timing is everything for spring weather. Those geese know it. That’s why they’re heading north now. Some of the trees understand it. That’s why you’ll see buds emerging at some of those naked little twigs. The days are getting longer and the insects are noticing all of this, too. Now we just need to prevail upon the prevailing weather patterns.

Spring will arrive in 54 days.

I’m doing a bit of a silly thing. As regular readers likely recall, I’m working my way through all of the routes on the Zwift bike riding game. It’s a great way to work up base miles, between outdoor riding seasons and trying to tackle all of the routes at least provides some variety. There are 124 routes and growing. I started that at the beginning of January, ticking routes off this checklist. Not all of the routes are available every day, and, of course, I have to work around my regular schedule, as well. At some point all of this will get a little more demanding, because of that selectivity, and because I started crossing the easier routes off first.

And now we come to the silly part, I am going to try to knock off three of the more demanding courses this weekend. The gimmick being that if you do all three, your Zwift avatar gets a nice new Rapha kit to wear.

So, tonight, I rode the first of the Rapha Rising stages. I wound up climbing 2,500 feet, all of it felt nice and easy, but it will get more demanding. There are another 7,400+ feet of climbing to go tomorrow, and Sunday.

That’s a fair amount of work to do for a virtual kit, I think. But I need to get those three stages off the list anyway. It’ll dominate the weekend’s fun, and just might impact how I feel about stairs on Monday.

In this installment of the Re-Listening project, where I am playing all of my CDs in the order that I acquired them, we find ourselves firmly in the summer of 1996, and listening to Tonic’s debut album, “Lemon Parade.” It went platinum and featured three singles, including “Open Up Your Eyes,” and the smash hit “If You Could Only See.” The former got a lot of rock and alt rock attention. (This will come up in a future edition of the Re-Listening project.) The latter topped the Billboard Mainstream Rock Tracks, and number 11 on the Billboard Airplay Hot 100. That single spent 63 weeks on the chart. The record itself peaked at 28 on the Billboard 200.

There’s a lot of texture and distortion in the guitars, but the rhythm section deserves some attention throughout the record, too. And we’ll come to that, but first, the one that was, I guess, inspired by Steve Earle or The Pogues, or perhaps both.

You can hear what I’m hinting at with the drums and the bass line, if you listen all the way through. And that’s great, but the ballads are, to me, the best part of the record.

Here’s the other standout. And there’s a video, which is … odd. This wasn’t a single. Fine little ditty, though.

Tonic struck at the right time. The sound was just right for loud big speakers and soaring, noisy solos. Along the way, they earned a few Grammy nominations. I’m listening to this in the car, trying to imagine having all of this in headphones or earbuds. It seems a challenge.

They released five albums, the first and the second saw their biggest chart success. It was the mid-late 90s and pop music was about to change underfoot. They self-released their last record, in 2016, as a lot of people were doing by then. On the website they’re now a three-piece, and there’s one show listed this fall, in Oregon. The lead singer, has released three solo albums. The other two guys do a fair amount of work scoring TV and movies, it seems.

Up next in the Re-Listening project was a John Mellencamp maxi-single. This was a radio station giveaway, I’m sure. It features four tracks, one of them the single he was promoting that summer, and two B-sides you already knew, so we won’t spend a lot of time here. But this, which I had no recollection of at all, really captured my imagination last night.

Like you, I had no idea I needed Mellencamp to cover James Brown, but now I realize the error of my oversight.

In 2018, Netflix released a documentary-of-sorts. It was a live concert from 2016, with Mellencamp doing voiceovers, telling extra stories about life and art and whatever else. It was worth watching, if you ever found yourself nodding along to Johnny Cougar.

He released his 25th studio album last year, and, a few days ago, the 71-year-old set out on a North American tour that will keep him on the road through June. Maybe that’s what the geese were on about.

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