House MD Finale and My Thoughts

So, House is over.

Oh, wait … if your name is TROY, better stop reading. I’m about to spoil the crap out of this episode.

Or if you simply don’t want to know what happened, then by all means, read elsewhere. Or … here.

Still here? Great.

Yah, House is over. Not sure what we’re going to do with the other hour of our Monday night. Probably weed, since our yard looks like crap. That’s always fun. Ranks right up there with plucking hair off your upper lip.

Now … way back at the beginning of this final season, I called it: “House will commit suicide.” For those of you who have seen the last show, you know just how close I was to being right! I thought for sure that he’d do himself in. The leg pain, losing Cuddy, his best/only friend having 5  months left to live, avoiding jail … the man was a train wreck. However, the way the show ended was just perfect. House found the ultimate solution to his grandest puzzle.: how do I help support my friend? Committing “suicide” allows him to 1. stay out of jail, b) tool around with Wilson on their motorcycles for the next 5 months or however long Wilson has left, c) in a lot of ways, it frees House to live whatever life he wants from here on out. I especially liked the name badge under the chair trick. “Hi. Still here. Not dead. Just playing. See ya. Or … not.”

I read this funny article on how one person thought the show would end (read #3). While I find it humorous, it would have been almost tragic to end the show like that. I guess. Actually, it wouldn’t have been funny cuz I would have been wrong. THAT would have sucked. As it is, I was only partially wrong.

However, reading that article got me thinking about the “sarcoidosis” inside joke. Not that ANY disease is funny or has an entertaining element, but come on … imagine you’re Hugh Laurie, or Omar Epps, Or Jesse Spencer, or Olivia Wilde, or ANY of the actors who played on the show and had to say, “Well, umm … it could be sarcoidosis …” I’m guessing there’s a bell curve to the number of takes it took to actually say, “sarcoidosis” without breaking into hysterical laughing fits as the number of eps increased  in which it featured as a possible threat.

Sarcoidosis "bell curve"

Well, okay … not so much a bell curve. More like an upright cucumber followed by a large span (read: rest of the life of the show) of “Really? Of the hundreds of thousands of diseases, this has to be our default diagnosis for every single show?” Yah … if I were the cast, I would have boycotted. “Find another disease. I don’t care if it’s tennis elbow, mad cow, proctalgia fugax, witzelsucht, rhinotillexomania, or gynecomastia … come up with something else.”

Well, thanks to the House team for 8 years of awesome. Gonna miss the show, but thankfully it lives on in digital.


This morning, I came in to work earlier than normal. A buddy of mine stopped by my desk and asked about some stuff, and we got to talking. Eventually the conversation migrated to the new Rush single, “Headlong Flight.”

“Hey man. Have you heard the new Rush single?”

Buddy: “Not yet. Is it any good?”


me: “Here. Take my phone and listen to it.”

About 10 minutes later, he came back to my desk, shaking his head. “Really, I don’t need to say anything, do I?”All I could do was smile and nod in agreement.

What’s mind-boggling, is that these guys are 58 and 59. Peart will actually be 60 this year. The three songs that have been released from the upcoming CD are some of the best they’ve ever written. Specifically, my favorite is still “BU2B,” but “Headlong Flight” is starting to take over.

Clockwork Angels now comes out June 12, not May 22. Not sure what the reason for the delay is, but whatever. I can listen to these three tracks for now and be happy.


CD Review: Paisley Rose – Milk and Honey

First off, all apologies to Jennifer and Anthony for the ridiculous delay for writing this. Jenn told me that it was available for download over on CDBaby a couple of weeks ago. It’s been playing non-stop since then. (With a few interludious [yes–“interludious”] distractions by Muse. Some addictions simply cannot be shaken. That bass line in “Hysteria” … I mean … COME ON!)

But here it is. To be fair, I didn’t want to just dive in and write my first response to the new music. I wanted to take it all in for as long as possible before putting finger pads to keyboard. In essence, I wanted to get it right.

Just like Jenn and Anthony have.

Now … to be fair, I came at this with a slant towards their previous songs, “Exist,” “Murder of Crows,” and “I Was a Child of God.” All of those songs were as organic as it gets. Deeply layered instrumentation, the vast majority of which is completely acoustic and … and ….. I mean … sick with emotion, pathos, and amazement. Rarely do you hear such harmonies. Mamas and the Papas, Alice in Chains … I mean, we’re talking *that* level of insane harmonies.

Now, having said all that, I immediately went to CDBaby’s, downloaded the new CD, fidgetdly waited for it to finish, popped it into iTunes and onto my phone. Grabbed my headphones, turned off the lights, and settled in.

First sound: Champagne cork popping, and bubbly being poured. I can only assume this is in recognition of them FINALLY being able to release their life’s ambition. Laughter, yet … there’s some distinct foreshadowing to the echo in the sound.

Then “Incognito kicks in … and I’m left flabbergasted. I wasn’t ready. I expected more along the lines of “Exist” and Crows. Instead, I get a thunderous drum, trumpet, and completely plugged in guitar?! What?!

A completely different direction. Talk about a curve ball. Which, using my least favorite sports metaphor, they hit out of the park, over the Green Monster, and whetted my appetite for the rest of the CD.

Far and away, one of my favorite tracks on the new CD is the next track, “Head in the Clouds.” I love this song for so many reasons. The dueling guitars. The subtle synth. The lyrics. The harmonics. The dynamics. This is the first time I’ve heard Jenn simply BELT IT. And holy sweet Halloween candy bag full of Skors … can she let it out. I’ve had my suspicions–that there’s a lot more force to her voice than she had previously let on. I was so much more than just right. It’s like when you’re watching some incredibly plot-twisty movie, and you kind of see hints of what’s coming, and then you get the big reveal, and it’s exactly what you thought, and you have that “YES! I NAILED IT!” That’s how that track hit me.

“Venus over Mars” is another guitar-driven track that  has to be heard to be believed. Words simply cannot describe it adequately. So … please–just get the CD.

But that’s not the end of the review. Oh … not hardly. 🙂

See, after “VoM,” there is a complete shift. “Space Hibernation” is a completely piano/strings/drums piece that will completely mellow you out to the point where you very well may forget to actually breathe. It’s that relaxing.

“Visuva” is a great choral piece that reminds me of an old, abandoned Catholic church, in which all the benches are rotting, the stained glass windows missing half their panes, but through those broken panes shines beams of sunlight that highlight the choir standing at the front, where once stood the pulpit and communion table. I don’t know. It just has a really incredible vibe to it. If this were a video, that’s how I’d shoot it. Dramatic shots of the instruments being played, close-ups of the choir members, shots from the back of the church, showing the age and demise of the building, yet echoing through the once hallowed halls resounds these angelic voices. I love this piece.

For the rest of the album, they return to an acoustic sound, returning to their roots. “Rowboat” is an awesome a capella track that makes you want to get up and travel to just about ANYwhere. “Dancing in the Rain” … if I’m not missing my mark, this could almost be called, “Jenn’s Anthem.” 🙂 “Island Song” sounds like a non-reggae track that has a really awesome island vibe to it.

This is their first CD. It already leaves me thirsting for more. Not because it lacks anything–quite the contrary, it is an amazing first full-length offering. No … it leaves me wanting more because I *know* there’s more kicking around in the back of their collective mind. They have more in them, and now that we’ve this incredible music to gnaw on and ponder, I’m already anxious for them to put out MORE music. Selfish of me, I know … but I’m a music junkie. I need more.

EDIT: Just read Jenn’s Facebook page. Apparently, “Head in the Clouds” is her favorite track too. That makes me smile from ear to ear.

On This Date in Literary History

Last year, I wrote about Dr. Seuss’ birthday. The admiration I have for him has not abated over the course of last 365 days; if anything, it’s increased.

Today, my 2nd grade daughter is having “pajama day” at school. Her class earned the right to have a book party for reading the most out of anyone else in the school, and they are being rewarded with some pretty cool stuff (by 2nd grade standards, anyway). She was allowed to bring her favorite books to school. Being that it’s Dr. Seuss day, she opted to bring “Horton Hatches an Egg” and “Oh the Places You’ll Go.” I couldn’t be more proud of her. What a great way to celebrate Mr. Geisel’s accomplishments.

Maybe tonight, we’ll watch “The Cat in the Hat” with Mike Meyers. Actually, I kind of doubt we will. That movie was horrible. “The Grinch” is pretty good though … unfortunately, I like to keep my movies in their proper season. For that very reason, my wife and I only watch “Groundhog Day” once a year.

Happy birthday, Mr. Theodore Geisel. Your writings are as engaging and amazing as they were 10, 20, 50 years ago!



Open Letter to Marissa Nadler

To the immeasurably talented Marissa Nadler,

I cannot thank you enough for your incredible music. My desk job is infinitely more welcoming, knowing that I have your music to keep me company. Yes, I like other music–other genres. Huge fan of Tool, old Metallica, SOAD, Rush, love Suzanne Vega, Alela Diane, Brahms, Vivaldi … kind of a broad spectrum. And to be sure, they all have their place in my queue, but there is something *ridiculously* soothing and stirring about your music that I can’t quite qualify or quantify. Also, that last sentence may just win The Most Words Using the Initial “Qu” Sound. Yay me. I guess.

I know you’ve played here before, I think most recently with Alela Diane, at Kilby Court, towards the end of November 2009. That was 2 years ago. Now … I know the world is a *gargantuan* place, and there are a million places you haven’t even played yet, so it is entirely possible that this request will fall by the wayside while you explore the as-yet-to-be-played locales … but it can’t go unasked.

When you can, will you please come back to Utah? I’m sure we can find you a great venue! There’s no shortage of awesome places to play: The Depot, Kilby Court, The Urban Lounge, In the Venue … there are tons of amazing stages here!

Please consider it. I know your schedule is uber-busy, which is certainly understandable. Please … just don’t forget about our lonely little state. 🙂

Thanks Marissa.

Concert Review: They Might Be Giants at The Depot in SLC

I will be the first to tell you that I *hated* They Might be Giants for many, many years. Yea–decades. I blame my idiot college roommate my freshman year Flood had just come out, and he played it incessantly. He had one other CD–NIN’s Pretty Hate Machine. That got precisely 3 spins the entire year. Needless to say, I got sick of TMBG right fast.

Not to mention I came from the background of *guitar rock*, not accordion rock. In fact, my musical background forbade the concept of such. It was a completely oxymoronic term. No good band could possibly incorporate such a niche instrument and pull it off. So pretty much the entire CD was full of crap, in my book.

Then there was the lyrical content. “I returned a bag of groceries accidentally taken off the shelf before the expiration date …” I mean … come on. Really? It made no sense to me. At all. I couldn’t wrap my head around this band, so the only logical thing to do was to dismiss them. Right?

Right …?

Class, the answer is “WRONG.” No, I should not have. I always considered myself a broad appreciator of music. I thought my tastes were diverse and well-ranged. I like Tool and Yanni. The pendulum doesn’t swing much more widely than that.

Over the years, I’ve had my TMBG hate-wall nicked a few times. Such as the year I noticed that “Malcolm in the Middle”‘s theme song sounded oddly familiar. After a quick Google search, I learned that, indeed, it was The Johns that brought to pass that quirky little ditty. Then after my two girls got to the age where they could sit through “The Mickey Mouse Club House,” again there was an air of familiarity with the music and vocals. Not only did I find out that TMBG had been busily occupied providing the theme song and additional music to that show, but I also learned that they had a whole series of kids’ music. “Okay … how bad can these two be? Musically, I might not appreciate everything they do, but I can at least give props to the magnanimity behind the music.

Last Wednesday, I had to do some work at a remote location with some other people from my office. Not driving, I used the opportunity to catch up on email, Facebook, and see what concerts were on the horizon. To my surprise, TMBG were scheduled to play at The Depot (one of my favorite venues in SLC). I quickly ordered 2 tickets, then texted my wife and told her we were going to go on a “surprise date.” She loves those. Generally, they consist of every idea we have devolving into a couple hours of geocaching. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but when plans go awry, it’s nice to have a better back-up plan than an old stand-by.

Somehow, she found out about the show and called me to tell me what she thought the mystery date was. I was slightly disappointed, but at the same time I was relieved cuz I *hate* trying to keep things secret. I suck at it, for one thing. For another, the mounting pressure to keep my yapper zipped is exponentially harder the closer we get to “game time.”

We dropped our kids off at our friends’ house, and we drove to SLC. We got to the area, parked, and grabbed a quick bite to eat at Panda Express. The walk from Panda to The Depot is short; they’re in the same complex, so it made it nice and easy. That’s another reason I love that venue so much; the food options are astounding. One of these days, I *have* to take her to Ze Tejas. She’d love that. But I digress.

As I’ve mentioned in other posts, The Depot is patterned after the House of Blues. There’s a nice bar with assorted snacks and adult drinks, which sits a few steps above the main floor. On the perimeter of the floor are bar tables and stools that sit well above the floor level. There’s a balcony that surrounds the perimeter as well. There isn’t a bad spot in the house from any vantage point. Well, unless you’re sitting on the steps that lead to the balcony, in which case yah–you’ll have a pretty obstructed view. Other than that though, no–not a bad seat anywhere.

The sound at The Depot is unparalleled. It has just the right acoustics to pick up every little nuance of sound. High hats sound like high hats; the bass is clear and distinct. This isn’t like the Energy Solutions Arena (or, for the locals, “The venue formerly known as ‘The Delta Center'”). This sound is pristine.

Jonathan Coulton opened the show. His set was short, but it packed a great, light punch … if there is such a thing. He was gracious and funny. It was just him and his guitar, since his band was occupied elsewhere. I dunno … I like acoustic sets. His was just phenomenal. My favorite was “Je Suis Rick Springfield.” It’s sung mostly in French, with the exception of a few key words that keep it pretty obvious where the tune is intended to go. If you do know French, it’s pretty funny.

TMBG opened with “Celebration.” Well, okay … I’m jumping the gun a bit. They opened with John Flansburgh introducing the band, who currently consists of Dan Miller on guitar, Danny Weinkauf on bass,, and Marty Beller on drums. THEN they jumped into “Celebration,” after which they played “Why Does the Sun Shine?” Ironic to the entire first 9/10ths of this post, that’s always been one of my favorites of theirs. I even threw my wife for a loop when I switched out the first two words of the song for, “Your mom.” If you’re familiar with the song and if you’re drinking or eating anything, you may want to take some time to wipe off your monitor and/or keyboard now.

Or maybe you’ve already done so. I do not know.

Anyway, the set was pretty great. 2+ hours long, I recorded the whole thing and posted a few vids to YouTube. “We Live in a Dump,” “Dead,” even the Avatars made a guest appearance.

Here’s a vid from the show. It’s my wife’s favorite. Or close to it, anyway.

I had a similar experience with U2, where I was kind of luke warm to the band, but afterwards, I was just so blown away that I was instantly converted. I would say that this is more than true here because of the level of disdain and for the length of time I spent just not liking them at all. For all their intelligence, wit and whimsy, it’s almost impossible *not* to like them.

CD Review: St. Vincent – Strange Mercy

I love days like today. New music abounds, blu-ray releases are all over the place … and I get to listen to the new St. Vincent CD. Sweet lemonade in ice form–the girl’s gone and done it again.

When last we left our ravenous NYC brunette, she had left us reeling from her at-the-time most recent release of Actor. A venerable tour de force of layered electronica and pscyho-blazing instrumentation, mixed with her searing and smoldering vocals.

2 months shy of 2.5 years have come and gone. The Packers have returned to the top of the NFL, the Bruins, Blackhawks and Penguins all won Stanely Cups, I got a new 58″ plasma TV, and I have worked in 3 different positions. In relative terms, it’s only been a short while. However, when it comes to music of Annie’s quality and talent, 2 and third years might as well seem like  an entire millenium.

Usher in the newest epoch of St. Vincent music. We may now add to her illustrious timeline a new achievment–Strange Mercy. Feel free to thank your lucky stars. Or, better yet, thank her yourself. Of course, this is just my opinion, and you’re welcome to agree or disagree, but I think this is her strongest work. Very personal, very emotionally evocative.

One of the stand-out tracks for me is “Cruel.” The juxtaposition of up-beat, dancy music with the depressing lyrics caught me really off-guard. Reminds me of 9o% of The Smiths discography. 🙂  “Hi, I’m alive. Does anyone notice? Care?” Apparently not–not even with flares waving. Yah. Upbeat music, tragic lyrics. Sad.

The next track immediately after “Cruel” is “Cheerleader.” It kind of grabs me as someone who loves her land, but is tired of trying to play the apologist. On a more “in the weeds” analysis, it also strikes me as someone who is tired of people milking tragedy for everything they can, be that sympathy, financial gain, or whatever. But musically, it’s just great. “I-I-I-I-I don’t want to be a cheerleader no more …” which repeats a couple of times. On each “I,” there’s this off-key keyboard sound that’s absolutely beautiful in its dissonance. Great.

Big fan of “Champagne Year,” too. A little more minimalist start on this track. Some bass drum samples, some synth, and Ms. St. Vincente’s sultry intoxicating vocals dangling on the edge of sadness. The track evolves into some very Sarah Fimm-style music and vocals. For anyone who’s read my take on Sarah Fimm’s music, See what I mean?

The best news about this CD release is that she’s going on tour, with a date in SLC at the Urban Lounge on October 11th. Pretty good place to catch her live. Small, intimate place, no bad seat in the place … yah. That’ll be a great show.

So yah. Time to get out and buy this. Or sit at your desk and download it from iTunes. or … from your phone ….. sheesh. Is there any place left where you can’t get new music anymore?! Well whatever your outlet of choice is, go get this immediately and improve your quality of life. GO! NOW!!


Weekend Music Ripping

I have a stack of CDs sitting behind me that I’m in the process of ripping. Two stacks, actually. Had to split it up cuz my daughters kept knocking over the one stack. Don’t ask how … they just did. I didn’t realize how much I had accumulated over the last couple of months until I started counting. Ha ha ha.

Skip ahead two weeks. No new stuff, other than a couple of iTunes purchases. While we were in Yellowstone, my wife had a hankering for They Might Be Flood CD, so I downloaded it for her. Yah–I’m that nice.

Anyway, so tonight is actually CD ripping night. It’s actually going to be CD-ripping weekend, but whatever.


Aaaaaand it’s Saturday now. I ripped through 11 CDs before getting dragged away, kicking and screaming voluntarily watching our kids while my wife went to bunco. Here’s the stack:

  • Rabbi – Bulla Ki Jaana
  • Trembling Blue Stars – Exploring the Shadows
  • Slick Shoes – Far From Nowhere
  • Abigail Washburn – City of Refuge
  • Sarah Jarosz – Follow Me Down
  • Feral Phantasms – Polar Goldie Cats
  • Kate York – Sadly Love
  • Tam – Self-Titled
  • Johnathan Rice – Further North
  • Alex Wise – Front Porch
  • Pedro the Lion – Winners Never Quit

The sounds are pretty divers, too. Feral Phantasms is all instrumental stuff. Great mood music. Sarah Jarosz has one of those voices that leaves me all melty-drippy-swoony. Slick Shoes is kind of Dream Theater-esque, but not as technical and pretty good straight-forward rock-out music. Rabbi … man. Great middle-eastern-sounding stuff. Overall, a great mix.


App Review: TuneIn Radio

I grew up in western New York. Buffalo area, to be specific. The radio station I listened to for sports out there was WGR 550. When I moved out here in the mid-90s, I lost the ability to keep home-spun tabs on the Bills and Sabres. Of course, that was about 15 years ago–right around the time the Internet was breaking wide open world-wide.

Streaming media came along, and all of the sudden, I was able to tune in to my favorite sports radio station from anywhere. However, the requirement was a desktop or a laptop; I couldn’t just plug in using my little Sanyo PM8200.

And along came smartphones. As phones got more and more smarter (see the grammatical humor there?) with more and more capability, apps like Pandora and Home Radio hit the app store. WGR thought they could jump into the fray and make their own app. And they did, right? What a great idea! It’s one of the most robust radio station apps I’ve seen. All kinds of awesome interaction–emailing the studio, texting, calling (hi … it’s a phone, after all), audio vault for past programs … great app! If only it would run well on something other than wi-fi.

What it touts as being its best feature in the ability to stream audio live (or at least as live as it can get with a pretty large buffer) becomes its greatest weakness; unless you’re at full bars or on wi-fi, forget it. The app will freeze up, and the only way to get it to function is to close it out and restart it. LAME.

I brought this up on the Sabres message board a few days ago. A bunch of people chimed in and said that they too were having issues, and they really hate the app cuz it’s so worthless. Fair statement. Then someone posted a comment about TuneIn Radio. This person kept raving about how it’s so great, the buffer is strong, and it’s never died on him. With free agency looming, I *had* to find some way to stay connected. I downloaded the app, and … wow. Just wow.

So here are some key excellent points.

First off, the app is an extension of the website, Great name. Easy to remember, very simple. Like it a lot. On the website, the first page you see is a list of local radio stations that you can stream. It lists 8, but you can click the “browse all local radio” link and get a full list. A few of the stations might be greyed out due to a lack of streaming address, so don’t freak out if you run across that. For example, the local radio station at Weber State is KWCR. While it’s listed on TuneIn’s website, it’s not available to stream. Boo. Hiss. I’m going to make some phone calls on Tuesday and find out if they have a streaming address cuz they need one. However, KRCL out of Salt Lake streams. Excellent!

So that’s the website. The app is about the same as the website … but *mobile*! Which, you know … should be, since it’s an app. The beauty of this thing is the sheer number of stations you can pull in with this thing. Fact: you can stream folk music from the Antarctic. Trust me–I know this because I’ve done this. So when I tell you that you can stream stations from ALL over the world, I really do mean ALL OVER THE WORLD. I’ve found stations from Portugal, Russia, Iran, Uzbekistan … that’s right–Uzbekistan. UZR1. No idea what they’re saying, but I’m digging the music.

If you hear something you really like, you can record it to your phone and play it back later. It store a list of your recordings in the Recordings section on the buttons tool bar.

Editor’s note: it should be pointed out that the Uzbek station sounds like it’s broadcasting under water at about 11000 khz. Any semblance to even a decent mono feed is purely coincidental. So while I’m not totally overwhelmed with the broadcast quality, I am more than just whelmed that I can actually pick up Uzbek radio at all.

There are lists according to local radio stations, recently visited, recommended, music, talk, sports stations … you can browse by location or language. Have a hankering for some exquisite Mandarin Chinese? Look it up! Want to eavesdrop on those retarded chowderhead beantown Bruins fans sports radio talk? Look it up! THERE IS A STREAMING STATION FROM BARROW ALASKA. Name of the station? “Top of the World Radio.” HA! That’s freakin’ awesome.

Because I want to come back later and check out what’s going on up there, I’ve added it to my presets by pressing the little heart icon in the top right corner of the Now Playing screen. You can do that with any station or feed. That way you don’t have to come back to it later.

There are two versions in the app store: free and paid. Pony up for the paid one. The free one “only” streams 45000 stations and broadcasts. 🙂 Because let’s face it: 45000 radio stations just isn’t enough, is it?

Now … I know there are other apps that do this kind of thing, with the streaming radio stations. I’ve used them. I’ve even liked some of them. This app, though … man. I just love it. The interface is clean, simple and intuitive. The number of available stations and locations is sick.

Give it a shot. It’s worth it.

New Music Friday

List isn’t incredibly long, but you know the phrase: quality vs. quantity. Picked up some gems that I thought I had, but upon an actual inspection,

  • Marissa Nadler – Saga of Mayflower May
  • Kate York – Sadly Love
  • Sarah Jarosz – Follow Me Down
  • Alex Wise – Front Porch
  • Tam – Ecstatic Peace
  • Polar Goldie Cats – Feral Phantasms

I like the instrumental sounds of PGC. Alex Wise was a pleasant surprise, while I was equally surprised to find that I didn’t have Miss Marissa’s Mayflower May CD. That’s been remedied. 🙂


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