Monday, December 31, 2007


Today was a great day for the University of Oregon Ducks football team and its fans! The following was also posted at the sports blog American Legends (see links). I write an occasional blurb there to provide a Pacific NW perspective:

Who is Justin Roper?

Until today, there were not many sports fans who could answer that question. After the University of Oregon Ducks' 56-21 victory over the University of South Florida Bulls, more people will know about the Ducks' redshirt freshman quarterback from Buford High School, in Douglasville, Georgia. In the first start of his collegiate career, and in a bowl game no less, Roper responded by completing 16 of 29 passes including four for touchdowns.

Most college football fans and pundits had given the Ducks up for dead after a season-ending knee injury to starting quarterback Dennis Dixon against the University of Arizona Wildcats November 15. Dixon was headed for a possible Heisman Trophy, and Oregon, 8-1 and ranked #2 in the polls at the time, seemed destined for a BCS bowl game... then Dixon, playing on a knee he and the team knew was damaged, went down early in the 34-24 loss to the 'Cats. Backup quarterback Brady Leaf took over, but the Ducks were unable to catch Arizona.

In the next game against UCLA, Leaf was injured, and with third-string QB Nathan Costa already unable to play due to a knee injury, Oregon was forced to use fourth-stringer Cody Kempt. Oregon's defense played very well against the Bruins, but the offense was unable to put any points on the board in a 16-0 loss. Oregon's quarterbacks were only 11 for 39 for 105 yards in that game, including a 1-for-5 performance from Roper in his first action of the season.

Roper got his chance to step up in the Civil War game versus the Ducks' archrival Oregon State Beavers. After Kempt failed to move the offense early in the game, Roper came in and nearly guided the Ducks to a win, completing 13 of 25 passes . Oregon ultimately lost in two overtimes 38-31, allowing the Beavers to finish ahead of them in the Pac-10 Conference standings. Oregon finished the regular season 8-4, and although there would be a bowl invite, many Duck fans were left thinking that any bowl appearance would only end up in another disappointing loss. The mighty team that appeared set to make a BCS splash seemed to be a shell of the group that was 8-1 prior to the Arizona game, and .

Oddly, instead of opting for the Sun Bowl, the Beavers chose a lesser bowl game matchup against Maryland in San Francisco's Emerald Bowl. Oregon State's argument was that they didn't want to go to the Sun Bowl two years in a row. The Ducks ended up with the Sun Bowl invite, which offered a payout of almost a million dollars more than the Emerald Bowl, but which appeared to offer Oregon little chance for a win in a matchup with South Florida which had also been ranked #2 earlier in the season until three consecutive mid-season losses dropped them to #21 in the BCS standings.

Enter Roper. The freshman guided the Ducks as if he had been doing it for a year or two, executing ball fakes and misdirection plays with skill. His stellar play, combined with 253 rushing yards from running back Jonathan Stewart and two interceptions returned for touchdowns, helped the Ducks vindicate their season. Their effort today proved, contrary to the belief of many college football fans, that Oregon could be a good team even without Dennis Dixon playing.

Today's win offers ample hope for Duck fans for the 2008 season. Although Dixon will have graduated and Stewart will probably have gone pro, only three defensive starters were seniors this year. With a number of offensive linemen graduating, it may be tougher for the QB to get adequate protection in 2008. Opening holes for RBs Andre Crenshaw and Jeremiah Johnson may also prove problematic, but Oregon has recruited well enough that maybe this won't be a problem.

Life isn't always fair, but today's 56-21 Sun Bowl victory over a ranked team should put Oregon back into the Top 25 in the final poll of the season. It should also put Justin Roper in the catbird seat among Oregon's quarterbacks... enough so that nobody will have to ask "Who is this guy?" Roper answered that question for us all today, in grand fashion.

Go Ducks!

Sunday, December 23, 2007


Blah blah blah.

Blah blah blah.

Blah blah blah.

Sunday, December 16, 2007


YES!!! I thought I smelled something familiar...


Time once again for...


It's time once again for people like this...
And especially ones like this...
...from outfits like this...
... to be spewing out bullshit like this...
... and this:
It's just about enough to make us all say "Bah, humbug!"...

... or to flat-out bawl like little children! Those nasty, awful "liberals"!

Watch out, people. He's desperate!!!

He'll lie about us, saying we want to do things like this...

Well, it's time to armor up, soldiers!

Time to become heroes in the effort!

Time to serve, and to serve proudly...
... because THIS WAR IS REAL!

Seriously though, folks, isn't it enough to raise a serious question like this:

I hope all those yo-yos can have a Merry Christmas, but theirs will probably look like this:

Anyway, I hope all of you have a Happy Hanukkah...

... and a Merry Christmas, too!!
Take heart! There are now less than 400 days to go in the countdown to 1/20/09, and that is certainly something to be thankful for during this Christmas season!

Friday, December 14, 2007

MY TOP CDs OF 2007

2007 is just about over, so now it is time for me to count down my top ten CDs of the year.

11. The Shins - "Wincing the Night Away" - Okay, okay, I know, I'm cheating. I said it would be a top ten, but I can't leave this CD off my list! While it lacks some of the immediacy and the "hey, look at me!" of their first two albums, this newest one shows the band retaining much of what makes it special in the singing and songwriting. The playing is more polished, the songs seem to be in more of a sort of formula, but hey... with a voice like James Mercer has, and with the playing and arranging skills these guys have, I think they are going to be around for a long time. If they are settling into a groove, it looks like it's a good one.

10. Porcupine Tree - "Fear of a Blank Planet" - Steven Wilson can do little wrong, in my opinion. FOABP is yet another amazingly good prog-rock album in a series of many by Wilson and his band. Guest artists on this one include King Crimson's Robert Fripp and Alex Lifeson of Rush. Listen to this CD and you will hear dreamy passages, rough moments, soundscapes and sonic structures of all types.

9. Blackfield - "Blackfield II" - Their first album "Blackfield" was my favorite from last year. This time around they are just as good. Porcupine Tree's Steven Wilson and Israeli star Aviv Geffen team up to create lush, melodic, introspective rock music. They are as great a "rainy day music" band as you'll find anywhere.
8. Wilco - "Sky Blue Sky" - Some people have been critical of this CD because they prefer the more experimental stuff Wilco was doing while band leader Jeff Tweedy was having his drug problems (i.e. "Yankee Hotel Foxtrot" and "A Ghost is Born", although when I saw Wilco this summer, the material from those two CDs translated extremely well in the "live" setting). Because I am more of a fan of Wilco's "Being There" and "Summerteeth", I find this album to be a real treat because the band is returning to doing more accessible, conventional-sounding songs; and I think that is what Wilco does best. Tweedy's reedy voice is great. Guitarist Nels Cline does some great work, and I believe the songs "Impossible Germany" and "Either Way" rank with Wilco's very best.

7. Andrew Bird - "Armchair Apocrypha" - I bought this CD on a lark because I loved the cover art. Turns out it is quite a nice album. Bird is a violinist, and he creates some cool sound textures by overdubbing bowed and plucked strings. He also whistles, and beautifully! I'd consider this to be quirky, light pop but not like other pop music you will hear nowadays. The track "Imitosis" has been used recently in television commercials, and is a great track. "Fiery Crash", "Armchairs" and "Scythian Empires" are other standout songs.
5. Annie Lennox - "Songs of Mass Destruction" - She is in fine voice, as always. Her songwriting is good, the production is great, the songs have good arrangements... and it all adds up to some of the best ear candy I have heard in a long time. If you like her voice, you have to check out this CD. In the new tradition of "Diva", "Medusa" and "Bare", Annie's post-Eurythmics career marches on, unobstructed, with "Songs of Mass Destruction". My album highlights are "Ghost in My Machine" and "Coloured Bedspread".
4. The Aliens - "Astronomy For Dogs" - Beta Band fans can rejoice, because three members of that defunct, revered Scottish band are back together for this reunion of sorts. This is a great load of fun psychedelic pop/rock with doses of whimsy, humor, and emotion. "She Don't Love Me No More" tugs at the heart strings and speaks of singer Gordon Andersen's time in an asylum, the 16+ minute "Caravan" hearkens back to the Beta Band's extended trippy tracks, and "Setting Sun", "Robot Man" and "I Am Unknown" are great, simple rockers. This one is vastly underrated, and well worth a listen!
3. Radiohead - "In Rainbows" - This band is still important, as those who have listened to their latest album know. No, of course "In Rainbows" isn't "The Bends" or "OK Computer", but it might be the next best thing to those two albums which represent the band's high water mark to most people. On "In Rainbows" the vocals are good like always, the guitar playing is as inventive as always, the drumming is as crisp and creative as always. The band still sounds experimental, yet several of the tracks on this disc are the most accessible they have recorded in recent memory. Check out "Reckoner", "House of Cards" and "Weird Fishes" ("I get eaten by the worms, and weird fishes..."), and you'll see what I mean. I don't know if or when this CD will be available in stores, but you can download it from Radiohead's website and pay whatever you think is fair for the privilege. And it is a privilege! (I think I paid them five pounds, or something like $9.30 for it.)
2. Arcade Fire - "Neon Bible" - I heard this CD before I saw Arcade Fire at the Sasquatch Festival at The Gorge Amphitheater in May of 2007 and I liked the disc a lot, but seeing the band perform many of these songs caused me to consider "Neon Bible" to be just about the best CD I had heard in the past few years. There is youthful energy, anger, sorrow, and enough angst in this material to move even the crustiest soul. Win Butler writes gut-bucket lyrics, and he belts with the best. The band is like a large organism, chugging along, self-sustaining, all parts equally important. See the band if you can, and get this CD for sure. The standout tracks are "Intervention", "antichrist television blues", Windowsill" and "Keep the Car Running", but the whole album is good.
1. Bruce Springsteen - "Magic" - The Arcade Fire CD would have been my #1, but then this disc came along! This was one I desperately wanted to like. I hadn't enjoyed much by Springsteen since "Darkness on the Edge of Town", with a few tracks from "Born In The USA" and "Tunnel of Love". It seems like the guy went on a long sojourn away from the mainstream to kind of do his own thing. Now he is back, in full force with the E Street Band, with songs that practically make me melt. The Boss is older now, and he knows it. He deals with this in a number of the album's lyrics, perhaps best in "Girls In Their Summer Clothes". Guys, those beautiful young women strolling by just don't get any older, but we do, eh... ! Springsteen and the E Streeters are in top form. Think "Born to Run" and "Darkness" with an edge of maturity, and you get this: sheer "Magic"!

Honorable mentions:

Film School - Hideout
Rush - "Snakes and Arrows" - This band gets better all the time.
Modest Mouse - "We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank" - Isaac Brock is an acquired taste, but I finally think I am beginning to figure out what he's trying to do. This is some well-played music, and some of the lyrics are hilarious.
Neil Young - "Chrome Dreams II" - Solid, not outstanding. Best thing he has done in a long time.
The Good The Bad And The Queen - "The Good The Bad And The Queen"
Pelican - "City of Echoes" - Epic guitar-rock instrumentals.

There were a lot of songs I liked in 2007, but here are 12 of my "songs of the year":

Arcade Fire - "Intervention", "Windowsill"
Bruce Springsteen - "Radio Nowhere", "Girls In Their Summer Clothes"
Radiohead - "Weird Fishes", "Reckoning", "House of Cards"
Wilco -"Impossible Germany", "Either Way"
Blackfield - "Epidemic"
The Aliens - "She Don't Love Me No More"
Andrew Bird - "Fiery Crash"

Stuff I discovered in 2007 that I liked, that had been recorded in years past:

Lambchop - "Damaged", "Aw Cmon", "No You Cmon", "Nixon", "Is a Woman"
The Beta Band - "The Beta Band", "Hot Shots II", "Heroes to Zeroes", "The Three EPs"
Tool - "10,000 Days"
Steve Hillage - "Fish Rising", "Green", "L"
Belle and Sebastian - I REdiscovered ALL their stuff... wow!
Sparklehorse - "Dreamt For Light Years In The Belly of a Mountain"
Grizzly Bear - "Yellow House"
Animal Collective- "Feels"
Dandy Warhols - first two CDs
John Cale - "Hobosapiens" - this is a truly outstanding CD

Stuff from 2007 people rave about that I still haven't heard (but which I have on order!):

LCD Soundsystem - Sound of Silver
The National - Boxer
Robert Wyatt - Comicopera

My disappointments of 2007:

Eagles - "Long Road Out of Eden" - It's o.k., but I think it could have been so much better. I would have enjoyed hearing Joe Walsh sing more than just a couple of songs. I liked it a lot the first time I heard it, but I like it a little less now each time I listen... and I am ashamed I entered Wal-Mart to buy it.
Interpol - "Our Love to Admire" - It's o.k., but I don't know if they will ever recapture the energy of their debut "Turn on the Bright Lights" or the power of some of the standout tracks from their second outing, "Antics". This newest one is kind of boring and has a very antiseptic feel to it... there are some decent tracks, but not much in the way of new sounds.

All in all, I think 2007 was a very good year in music for me. I hope you all had a good musical year too. What did some of you hear that you liked during this past year?

Thursday, December 13, 2007


Picture was actually taken 12/11/07. How cute can ya get??

Tuesday, December 11, 2007


I don't know about the rest of you, but hearing that Led Zeppelin was going to perform a 16-song reunion set sounded to me like a miracle, and hearing some clips of them playing on TV this morning was even better... it actually happened! With the help of the late John Bonham's son Jason on drums, Jimmy Page, Robert Plant and John Paul Jones delighted fans worldwide by getting back together, even if it is only momentary.

However, there are rumors of a world tour. If there is even a remote chance they will be coming to the Pacific Northwest, which would probably mean Seattle, you can rest assured I will be doing whatever I can to get a ticket to their show.

I fervently hope they are enjoying their playing together again, enough so that some new music and a new CD might come from it. They had been practicing for this week's show since June, which to me suggests they are getting along.

Here is a question for you... If you could hear a reunited Led Zeppelin play a 15-song set with two encores, which songs would you request? Here are some of mine. There are too many songs I like by them, but I'll toss out 15 + 2.

Communication Breakdown
Celebration Day
Nobody's Fault But Mine
In The Evening
Trampled Under Foot
In My Time of Dying
Over the Hills and Far Away
Good Times, Bad Times
Out on the Tiles
Misty Mountain Hop
The Song Remains the Same
The Immigrant Song
Black Dog
When the Levee Breaks

Whole Lotta Love
Rock and Roll

Saturday, December 08, 2007


I received the following from Randal Graves, and I believe I am up to the challenge. Here goes nothing!

Splotchy's Viral Theatre

The words of the man himself, laid out in presumably everyone's mother tongue. Follow them, or suffer the consequences. Like a pic of Randal in his underwear.

"This has probably been done before, but that is not stopping me, oh no.

Here's what I would like to do. I want to create a story that branches out in a variety of different, unexpected ways. I don't know how realistic it is, but that's what I'm aiming for. Hopefully, at least one thread of the story can make a decent number of hops before it dies out.

If you are one of the carriers of this story virus (i.e. you have been tagged and choose to contribute to it), you will have one responsibility, in addition to contributing your own piece of the story: you will have to tag at least one person that continues your story thread. So, say you tag five people. If four people decide to not participate, it's okay, as long as the fifth one does. And if all five participate, well that's five interesting threads the story spins off into.

Not a requirement, but something your readers would appreciate: to help people trace your own particular thread of the narrative, it will be helpful if you include links to the chapters preceding yours."

I woke up hungry. I pulled my bedroom curtain to the side and looked out on a hazy morning. I dragged myself into the kitchen, in search of something to eat. I reached for a jar of applesauce sitting next to the sink, and found it very cold to the touch. I opened the jar and realized it was frozen. (Splotchy)

I was used to the house being quite cold in the mornings, as the night log usually burns out around one AM when I am dreaming cozily under my covers, not normally waking to put a new one on until morning. I was surprised because on the rare occasions that it actually had reached sub-freezing temperatures in the house, I had awakened in the night to restart the fire. I would have been worried about the pipes before P-Day, but there hadn’t been running water in two years and that was one of the few advantages to being dependent on rainwater, no pipes. (Freida Bee)

Shivering, I moved through the cloud of my nearly-crystallizing breath over to the frost-encrusted window. Unable to see outside, I feebly attempted to brush the flakes away with my sleeve. I sighed, the warm exhalation upon the upper panes only further decreasing visibility. I thoughtlessly tried my fingernails, having forgotten that I continuously bite them when nervous. I've recently been nervous a lot. I didn't know why, and failed to give it a second thought. Shuffling across the well-worn wooden planks, strangely as cold as the jar, I opened a drawer to grab a spoon and begin the task at hand, chipping away at the frost. After some moments, I stopped to peek outside, managing to see only white. The window was again frozen.

There's no way it can be that cold, I thought to myself. I began to chip once more, with the same result. Frustrated, I sprinted the ten feet back to the drawer, taking a larger soup spoon and returned to my assault on the ice. Harder and harder I pushed the spoon into the wintry glaze, intermittently stopping to wipe the chill sweat from my brow, pushing harder, my arms flailing upwards, now coming down as if wielding an axe, ignoring the stinging salt of perspiration in my eyes, the ice growing along with my anger, overcome by a violence, a berserker rage, up and down I swung that makeshift blade into the white, into the red, grunting, screaming, my hands sliced open as the spoon blasted through the broken glass.

I didn't see anything but the dew-haunted lawn before I slumped down, fainting on the cold wooden floor. (Randal Graves)

I awoke to the touch of my cat, Scheiser, as he gently licked my cold cheek. His rough tongue against my cold, sensitive skin jolted me like electricity, popping my eyes wide open.

"Hey fella," I mumbled, propping myself up on one elbow. Scheiser purred in my ear, and I scratched his forehead with numb fingers.

I noticed the window was still encrusted with ice... if anything, it had thickened while I was out. I got myself onto all fours, then pulled myself up on the old couch. This was nuts. The lawn outside had been dew-laden, yet things were frozen in here.

Scheiser was at the kitchen door, meowing to be let out. Why not, I thought. Better to have him do his wretched business outside than in. Feeling sluggish, I shuffled to the door, unlocked it and opened it. Cool morning air filled my nostrils as I looked out on the front "yard"... not a speck of ice anywhere to be seen in the dirt and weeds. It actually seemed kind of balmy. I followed Scheiser outside into the day. (Snave)

Candace, your mission (should you decide to accept it) is to continue this tale of mystery and intrigue!

EVERYONE please go read Candace's posts about Intelligent Design in Texas and about Mitt Romney's religion speech. GREAT stuff at Chapterhouse !

Thursday, December 06, 2007