Friday, February 27, 2009

Kasim Sulton DVD release party

This weekend begins a string of concerts, over the next two months I'll see an average of a concert every two weeks. The smallest of these shows is the Kasim Sulton show this weekend. Here is a clip of my very favorite Kasim song, a few years ago he dedicated it to me when he opened for Meat Loaf. I'll post about the show on Sunday, I anticipate taking an abundance of pictures. The song is "The One Sure Thing", let's see if my baby step Blogger skills can manage to embed a video:

(And the answer to that question is no. I appear to have stunningly insufficient Blogger skills. I tried the embed tool on YouTube but it won't copy/paste the whole code...any advice from seasoned Blogger users?)

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

a date with orthodontic destiny

Today is Joey's last day without braces for the next 18-24 months. He made the most of it, eating an assortment of foods forbidden by the orthodontist once the wires and brackets are in place. He had "stage 1" of braces about 2 1/2 years ago, then enjoyed a year without dental encumberances as we waited for his 12 year molars to arrive. Tomorrow afternoon, "stage 2" begins. He used every bit of his manipulative powers in an attempt to avoid this second stage of treatment, from tears to bargaining to full out drama king proclamations that are so over the top I won't share them here for fear of embarrassing him later. Oy! One positive of getting this second stage so early is that he should be totally done with all orthodontic forms of torture well before he starts high school, while many of his classmates will still be fully braced out. He's really not seeing any bright side to this at the moment, but once the year and a half or so passes, he should have some mega straight teeth!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

In honor of veterans present and past

The photo that you see to your right is my maternal grandpa, Joe Ross. Sixty four years ago this week, he earned a Purple Heart in the most costly (in terms of casualties) battle the Marine Corps has ever faced, the battle of Iwo Jima. He didn't speak of the battle often, but when he did it was clear that it was important to him that the sacrifice of veterans such as himself were remembered. He was injured twice on Iwo Jima. The first time, he was injured on (If I remember correctly) his birthday (February 20) which was the second day of the five week battle. After recovering for a week, he returned to the island February 28th and was injured a second time (blast concussion) on March 12th. After that injury, he was evacuated from the island and sent to a military hospital in San Francisco. According to a newspaper article from his local newspaper at the time, when the battle was over all of his company was killed except the captain, a lieutenant and 16 men. This past week was both his birthday and the anniversary of the start of the battle, though he's been gone for just under 13 years I thought it was appropriate to remember him here. He is remembered in my home daily, as my son Joey is named in his honor. Thank you for taking the time to read about my grandpa, if you have the opportunity please take a moment to thank a living veteran for their sacrifice.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Eavesdropping on your iPod

Whenever I see someone listening to their iPod or similar music device (my friend Lisa calls her MP3 player an "anti-Pod") I always wish that I could eavesdrop on their music. I love to discover new music, and I think that knowing the top songs on someones iPod is a great way to discover songs that I might overwise have missed. As a result, I thought I might share my current top five on my iPod in the hopes that some of you might do the same and we can all perhaps discover some tunes that we otherwise would never come across. Ready? According to my iPod, my current top 5 most played songs are:

1. The Slide - NLCS - Atlanta Braves The Team of the 90's Ultimate Soundtrack
This isn't even a song, but it's the most played bit of audio on my iPod. It's late Atlanta Braves broadcaster Skip Carey's call of lead footed Sid Bream's mad dash from second to home on Francisco Cabrerra's hit to win the final game of the 1992 National League Championship Series and send the Braves to the World Series. I remember running around the living room at my parent's house screaming like crazy when this happened, and it never fails to give me goosebumps every single time I listen to it. I love how Skip gets so excited that his words all rush together and the ecstatic ranting "Braves win! Braves win! Braves win! Braves win! Braves WIN!" is the best.
Click here to watch a clip of this event, one of the most memorable in Atlanta Braves history.

2. All Summer Long - Kid Rock
I know that Kid Rock is super skeevy and mega-trashy. For goodness sake, the man was arrested for assault after tussling at a Waffle House in the middle of the night. Still, there is something about this song that makes me want to hang out with him on a hot summer day. Maybe some of his appeal is because he's from Michigan, the first stop my family made after getting off the boat at Ellis Island, I don't know. That would also explain my love of equally skanky and unbalanced rapper Eminem, another Michiganian. (Eminem's profane "Kill You" is in the top 25 on my iPod, held back from the top of the list by the fact that I can only play it when my son's wee ears are not in the house.) "All Summer Long" is pure joy and nostalgia, and I loved it from the first time that I heard it.

3. Land Of Canaan -Indigo Girls
(Click on the song title to watch a live video.) The Indigo Girls were totally my fashion role models in the late 80's/early 90's. I was all about the torn blue jeans, vests, Guatemalan bracelets and sneakers. I first saw them in concert when I was 20 or 21 and I was blissfully unware that they were a lesbian group so at first I couldn't figure out why there weren't ANY males at the freaked me out a bit, but eventually I ended up seeing them in concert maybe a half dozen times. I even met Amy Ray on the street in St Pete after a show in 92 and she was really cool. This is my favorite Indigo Girls song, I love how in live shows it has speeded up to almost thrash metal speed over the years.

4. Miami 2017 (Seen The Lights Go Out On Broadway)- Billy Joel
I have two versions of this song in my top ten (an album version and a live version), if I combined them this would be the top song on my iPod. Billy Joel was the first concert I ever went to, and now I've seen him 7 times since. This song, along with "Scenes from an Italian Restaurant" (with the lyrics, "cold beer/hot lights/my sweet romantic teenage nights") always reminds me of camping out on the sidewalk outside a mall newsstand for Billy Joel tickets in the winter of '86 with a great high school friend named Dianne. Sometime around 2AM, each of our painful unrequited crushes (Doug and Tim) came by to see us and we set up a basketball hoop on a stop sign and played basketball in the freezing weather with great friends in the middle of the night- I'll never forget it, and those two songs are a big part of that memory. (Click on the title to see a video of a live version of this song.)

5. Beautiful World (Alternate Mix) - Colin Hay
I was introduced to this song by my friend Marissa (thanks Riss!), and it's a really soothing song. I listen to it often, and I have tickets to see Colin Hay (former lead singer of 80's Aussie band Men at Work) in concert next month.

And (because I can scarcely be contained to a top five) two songs that are making their way into the top 5 with a bullet and will likely replace a couple of these songs in the next week:

Paper Planes -M.I.A.
This is one of many new songs that I found thanks to Sean Daly's Pop Life blog. It samples my favorite Clash song, "Straight to Hell" and uses both a cash register and gun shots as percussion. Good stuff, check it out if you haven't heard it before.

Longest Days - John Mellencamp
This is another one that I first heard on Sean Daly's blog that is now a big hit on my iPod. It's horribly morbid and depressing ("Nothing lasts forever/and your best efforts don't always pay/Sometimes you get sick/and just don't get better/that's when life is short/even in it's longest days") but the stark arrangement and, well, "Mellencampness" of it overcomes that and makes it compulsively listenable.

Alright, now it's your turn- let me know the top 5 songs on your iPod. Maybe you'd like to do it as a blog entry, if so please leave me a link to it in comments. As Public Enemy (another heavy player on my iPod) would say, "Bring the Noise!"

Monday, February 16, 2009

Concerts on the horizon...

If you know me, you are probably aware that I **LOVE** going to concerts. Unless I have a handful of concert tickets lined up on my kitchen bulletin board, things are not right with the world. I currently have the good fortune to have 4 shows lined up in the next two months, here's who is on the musical horizon:

Kasim Sulton, live DVD release party and concert Saturday February 28th at the Rusty Pelican in Tampa. Kasim Sulton is Meat Loaf's musical director and bass player, a longtime bandmate of Todd Rundgren and an amazing solo artist. I've been a fan of his for years, and he's been kind enough to both dedicate songs to me from stage when opening for Meat Loaf and to get me backstage when he comes to town with Todd Rundgren. In summary, he rocks. This is a very small concert, the ticket sales were limited to 55 people. It features a dinner party with Kasim followed by an acoustic show featuring songs from his new live DVD, An Evening with Kasim Sulton. I am very excited about this show, John is going with me to this one but the rest of the shows that I'm going to will be solo outings for me.

Todd Rundgren (featuring Kasim Sulton), at The Capitol Theatre in Clearwater, Florida on Friday March 27th. Honestly, Todd Rundgren freaks me out a little but I always go to his shows to see Kasim in the band. Even better, this show is at a theater built in 1896 that is reputed to be haunted. I haven't been in the theater since the late 70's (I think that I saw "The Empire Strikes Back" there!) but I certainly don't recall any scary apparitions back then. I last saw Kasim play with TR five years ago, this should be a good show.

Colin Hay at Largo Cultural Center in Largo, Florida (my hometown!) on Tuesday March 31st. You may not recognize Colin Hay's name, but you know his sound. He was the lead singer of the 80's Aussie group "Men at Work" and is the vocalist on their songs "Who Can It Be Now?" and "Down Under". He's since done some amazing solo work, his song "Beautiful World" is one of the top played songs on my iPod. I have great seats for this show, second row center.

James Taylor (swoon!) at Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater, Florida on Monday April 27th. I've seen JT in concert 3 or 4 times, and (having seen him as a tiny speck hundreds of yards away at at hockey stadium) I love seeing him in the cozy confines of Ruth Eckerd Hall. The last time that I saw him there, the teen girl next to me was on her cell phone for like 15 minutes during the show complaining about "having to see some gross old guy sing" with her parents. I gave her mother the steely stare of death and thankfully she made her put the phone away. I'll be prepared if that teen shows up again and attempts to ruin the JT show!

I'm hoping that a few more shows are added to this list in the near future, I haven't seen Paul Thorn or Rick Springfield this year so there are some holes to fill in my concert list!

Are any of you looking forward to concerts this spring/summer? Tell me about them in comments, I love to talk about music!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Camp Boggy Creek

We went to Camp Boggy Creek this past weekend, and as always we had a great time. It's a camp that Paul Newman and General Norman Schwarzkopf started for kids in Florida with serious illnesses- heart defects, cancer, sickle cell, etc. We go for the heart defects family weekends, it's a chance for Joey to spend time with other kids who face the same medical challenges as him and we get to talk to other parents whose kids have heart defects. This is our 8th trip there, and the 6th time that we've had "Mista Bill" as our camp pal who spends the whole weekend playing with Joey. He was the very first male volunteer approved when the camp opened 12 years ago and he's a great friend to Joey. Joey spent a lot of time in the woodshop making a cool gold sword and an ammo box for his BB guns, and he also did archery, swimming, fishing, boating and had a great time at the dance. He even took his camcorder and made a video of some of things he did that weekend. Here are a few pics, Joey's video (Joey only appears in the spaghetti eating clip, he was behind the camera for the rest) and a great video that I found on YouTube about the camp. The first pic on top is of Joey and his new friend Anthony eating spaghetti at lunch...with no silverware. This is a tradition at Boggy, eating spaghetti with your face! It's messy but a lot of fun. The second pic is Joey and Anthony with their hair colored and styled for the dance at Boggy, the third is Joey with Mista Bill at the dance and the last one is Joey at archery, one of his favorite things to do at camp. We had such a good time, Camp Boggy Creek really is a magical place.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Valentine heart candy word generator link

This is a cool website I found that allows you to create your own customized candy hearts. You can put two lines of text, with up to 4 characters per line. I think it's perfect for decorating your blog for Valentine's Day, check it out at:
AcmeLabs. The best part- you get to enjoy creating them but you don't have to eat them in all their chalky goodness!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

It's Congenital Heart Defects awareness week!

This week is Congenital Heart Defects (CHD) awareness week, and Saturday (Valentine's Day) is set aside as THE day to remember those effected by CHDs and to raise awareness of the need for additional CHD funding and research. Most everyone who reads this blog knows why this cause is close to my heart, but just in case I'll tell you. My 12 year old son Joey was diagnosed with a heart defect called subaortic stenosis at about 18 months of age. He had his first open heart surgery on September 13, 2001 and a second surgery in May of 2006. He has thrived after his surgeries, and is currently an honor roll student in 6th grade who has recently participated in the junior varsity bowling team and the advanced choir at his school. Here are a couple websites that you can check out to learn more about CHDs
Lastly, so you can see what a huge difference that excellent cardiologists can make in a child's life, here are two pics of my son Joey- one after open heart surgery and the other taken last summer. He's the picture of health, thanks to his excellent doctors.

Support CHD awareness!