Saturday, February 21, 2015

Winter Vs. Summer, Movies, Music and Memories. It's TTOT!

I'm sitting here looking at 12 inches of snow and sub-freezing temperatures, reminding myself how much I enjoy cold weather.

It's really not that bad.

My first memories of cold weather are much worse.  I was with my parents atop the ice of my grandparents pond.  They were ice skating and I was just sliding.  I remember trying to duplicate their grace on the ice, but my butt kept hitting the ice.

They were enjoying themselves atop the ice, as already mentioned.   

I found a way to do it 
through the ice.

Since the pond was only a few feet deep, I probably wouldn't have drowned.  (That would explain their casual attitude towards rushing to save my tail.)  I remember attempting to hold on to the ice as my parents finally came to my rescue.  Luckily, I had on a snowsuit that had been tailored by the same haberdashery that made the astronauts' spacesuits.

It still got wet ... and cold ... and pretty much frozen by the time they were able to get me inside the house. (If they would've shoved a stick up my tail the ice cream truck could've have sold me for a couple of bucks!) 

What a welcome to the world of cold weather!

After that cold weather was a piece of cake!  (Angel Food, I think.  Either that or white cake.  Not that I'm discriminatory, just remembering the way is was back then.)

In contrast, I remember many summers at the beach.  Usually, the first weekend resulted in me going to the doctor and having blisters drained as my back and shoulders were a natural magnet to the sun's ultra-violet rays.  He would first pop and drain the huge blisters, which I always wondered, "Why is he smiling?"  

Then he'd apply four bottles of lotion and wrap me up like a mummy with seventeen rolls of gauze so we could go to the grocery store. There, my mother could tell everyone that I had gotten my sunburn because of how impossible I was to get out of the water (which really meant "let the kid play as long as he's not bothering us").

Should never have let me fall through the ice, mom!

I also recall many hot summer days mowing our five acre yard with a push mower, by myself.  Bugs flying in my mouth, dust filling my nostrils, salty sweat in the eyes, and rocks hitting my bruised shins bring back glorious memories of that time of year.  It also helped me to become somewhat of a masochist. ("Beat me, Beat me!") 

Yeah, I think I like Winter better.

I also lost a girlfriend as she attended a Summer Bible School in another area of the state.  (Damn Summer trauma session, it was!  Who the hell breaks up in the middle of Summer unless they're a real bitch ... er, confused individual?) Oh, we got back together, but it kind of ruined the cement I thought we'd had in the relationship.  (This is the same girl I've previously mentioned that broke our engagement because she was lonely walking the high school halls by herself after I'd graduated.  Yeah, I never learn!)  

Then, there was a couple of dogs I lost playing outdoors in the summer as they were run over by cars that they'd jumped the gun in chasing. (You can tell I never had a smart dog, can't you? "You chase the car after it goes by, not before it goes by, dummy!") Summer weight lifting sessions in a gym that wasn't air conditioned also come to mind.  Oh, and I'd almost forgotten, my heart attack, a few years ago, took place during the Summer season.

I'm liking Winter more and more!

Winter meant high school and college basketball games, the end to a football season, Christmas and New Years celebrations, making snowmen, sledding down a hill at breakneck speed and falling down on the ice and joining everyone else in laughing about it!  (No, I didn't drink or do drugs in high school.  That came later in college.)

Summer meant very few kids to play with as I lived in the country. (I think my parents did that on purpose to keep their liability factor low.) In my teen years, my father found pleasure in nagging me that my Summer birthday was a constant reminder as of how I was supposed to be getting more mature and responsible with every passing year.  (And, I reminded him that he wasn't getting any younger, either!)   And, as an adult, 34 years ago, a Summer wedding anniversary became a thorn in my side as I experienced the losing of one's freedom to become a faithful husband forever and ever ... and ever ... and ever ... and ever.

And, once upon a time ...

I DO like Winter better than Summer.  I've every reason in the world to appreciate it and hate the Summer months.  No, I don't mind this 12 inches of snow on the ground.  It got me off work this week and we'll be going home early for the next few days!  That never happens in the Summertime.  Never!

Then again, you never see this in the Winter months!
I think I'm missing Summer a little more than I was.  
Yep, old but still hetero!

Which brings us to another round of Ten Things Of Thankful!!!

This week, I'm thankful for:


WAIT!  Hold the presses!   

I'm going to change gears this week and freak everyone out!  Normally, I do sarcastic news articles here.  Instead, I'm going to call upon my past and do something completely out of the ordinary by becoming an entertainment reviewer! 

At one point in my life, I reviewed movies and music for both radio and newspapers.  So, since this week's primary news revolves around snow, snow and more snow, let's move on to something that might help you decide how to enjoy your time indoors (as making love and masturbation can only be done so many times).

Much of what you'll find here can be found on and other sites for downloading so you don't even have to leave the house.  So, without further ado, pop some microwave popcorn, drag out the booze, and let's get to the fun!

1)  Gotham.  This is a tale of Batman before Batman.  Jim Gordon, who later becomes Commissioner Gordon in the Batman series, is an

honest cop in a less than honest police force.  This is his battle to overcome police corruption in his department, as well as the inner battles of many others.  You'll see the origins of The Penguin, Catwoman, The Joker, The Scarecrow, and several other future criminals here.  

Okay, so you don't like comic book heroes.  Do you like suspense movies or soap operas?  How about lesbian love affairs or tales about powerful women in business?  Gotham is not a movie, but a television series that has a full sixteen episodes available at the time of this writing.  There's none of the typical Batman here (since he's not even around, yet) so you can't use that as an excuse to stay away.  

Gotham is one of my recent favorites that shows a television program doesn't have to be stupid to be popular.  Leave the typical network crap for the viewing by your neighbors with the yellow shutters and pink curtains and prove yourself to be of superior mindset.  Rating *****A

2)  Fury.  OMG, it's Brad Pitt!!!!  Here's a movie for hardcore guy viewing and shallow female viewing (Or, hardcore female viewing and out of closet guy viewing, if you will.)

Basic World War II tank crew story where they save the day, but suffer casualties along the way.  Decent special effects and storyline, but you'll find it dragging at times, This will give you plenty of time to go to the fridge and get another beer or glass of wine.  Oh, and regardless of popular opinion, Brad Pitt is getting older and shows it in this film.  Rating ****B+

3)  John Wick.  Okay, so you're looking for a movie to calm down the kids and get them ready to go to bed ... right?  Well, don't pick this one!  Not unless you want them practicing kill moves in their sleep, that is!

John Wick is a story of revenge ... for stealing a car, receiving a beating, and the killing of a dog.  Okay, that's all the spoilers I'm going to hit you with.  Keanu Reeves probably did this project between major films as it requires little versatility in acting and very few lines of any effort.

Beyond my understanding, John Wick was loved by many who saw it. The storyline is so weak that Dumb And Dumber is made to look intelligent next to it.  Basically, this is a grade B movie made into a grade A production by some producer that didn't want to have to pay a writer for a good story.  Still, if you're in the mood for mindless action upon action upon action, John Wick will probably be for you.  Rating ***C+

4)  The Best Of Me.  And Hollywood brings us another chick flick!  Guys throughout the land are running for the garages and workshops in hopes that it won't be a winner so they don't have to listen to all the details over and over again.

  I bought this for my wife for Valentine's Day (along with a bunch of other stuff for those of you that think I'm a cheap guy) and told her the one stipulation was that she watch it some time I wasn't home.  She did.  She liked it.  I'm a great guy (in her eyes for buying it for her).  In fact, she said she'd like to watch it again. So, as far as a rating is concerned, I'm going to let her opinion rule the day here. (I feel I must warn you, though, she's blonde, from Alabama, and chews gum.  See what I mean???)   Don't you wish you had a husband as easy to please as I?Rating****B

5)  The Great Gatsby.  What the hell do you mean that you're surprised I watched this one?!?!  True, I enjoy science fiction, action, and old Westerns, but there are times I attempt to expand my realm of understanding and enjoyment ... even though I no longer do drugs!

Even I have a little class from time to time.  Why is that so hard to believe?  Geesh!

Actually, I put off watching this movie for months.  Why?  Two reasons ... one is that I've really grown tired of Lenny DeCaprio (or Leonardo if you're a perfectionist) and his weak ass character role acting skills, and two, I'd seen the original years ago and didn't feel as though anyone could duplicate Robert Redford's portrayal of a man competing with the silver spoons for power, money, and society equality.

I was right about the duplicating part.  
Robert Redford wins hands down.
(Us double "R's" gotta stick together!)

However, even though DeCaprio was almost tolerable in this role, Toby Maguire came to the rescue and basically made the movie something I had a hard time pulling myself away from to take a bathroom break.  

I keep attempting to figure out what I like about Toby.  Could it be that he's not the typical "Look at me I'm f**king amazing to look at" star that Hollywood seems to be obsessed?  Or, could it be that he actually knows how to act?  

This is a movie that you'll like a little and be proud of yourself for making it all the way through.  Give it a shot as Toby does know how to act.  His performance is the heart of the film, regardless of DeCaprio's supposed star power.  Rating ***C+

And, now, it's on to the music!!!

6)  Bob Dylan, "Shadows In The Night."

Okay, so I liked Bob Dylan in the 60's.  He was a teller of tales and a writer of emotions.  In the 70's, I believe he wrote two of his best albums ever with "Desire" and "Blood On The Tracks."  The 80's and 90's brought us some highs and lows (mostly lows) as Bob began to believe he was a singer more and more, instead of a teller of tales (earlier discussed).

Now we have "Shadows In The Night."

Diehard Dylan fans will have much to say about this one.  However, only those enthralled with the legend will like this album.

There are moments you want to like it.  Times when you say, "Oh, that's definitely a nice Dylanesque twist on that one".  But, those times are far and few between.

Like Rod Stewart, Lady GaGa (w/ Tony Bennett), and a host of others, taking a trip back to the musical standards of the 40's & 50's seems to be the growing fad.  Many have voices that can handle these songs that require great range.  Bob Dylan does not.  

Sample this one before you ever buy it.  In fact, sample, "Some Enchanted Evening" and then make up your mind after you come back from retching in the commode.  It's like eating a banana.  You pull back the peel that's yellow and all tastes great.  An hour later, you look at the peel and it's brown and disgusting.  It's time for Bob to realize that the colors are changing.    Rating **D

7)  Meghan Trainor, "Title."  Remember how much you hated "Happy" last year, or "Blurred Lines" the year before?  For those of you old enough, do you recall how you still get nauseated every time you hear the opening notes to "The Macarena?"  Well, welcome to an album of similar memories by the "stick my finger down my throat before I go to bed so I don't get sick and puke while I'm sleeping girl", Meghan Trainor!

Yeah, so you liked "All About The Bass" the first thirty times you heard it.  Do you still?  Not unless you're brain dead, you don't!  

I feel like this album should be broadcasted as one of the old K-tel television specials to get it out and sold to as many as possible before word gets out and people stand in line five miles long for refunds.  Sorry, the hype about catchy tunes is better reserved for an album containing TV Commercials.  The only thing that I can say is thank you for giving us a tune that makes it easy to make up words for satire tunes!  Rating *D-

Well, it's all about the ass, bout the ass, bout the ass,
you Kanye,
it's all about the ass, bout the ass, bout the ass,
you Kanye,
etc, etc. etc.

8)  Urban Jazz Coalition "One Step Closer."  Now, I like to rock it out, taste a little country from time to time, and even some alternative.  You can lay the R&B on me (as long as there's no rap included), take a trip back to some Motown Soul, and journey into the 80's Funk.

So, why do people think I'm trying to put them down if they don't add some Jazz into their musical diet?

Jazz comes in many forms.  I'm not going to describe them all, as Wikipedia can do a much better job and use their space in doing so, as I'm trying to keep my post a little shorter.  

I take musical safari's into the land of Jazz.  Why?  Because there's so much to listen to and only so much time to enjoy.

Like all music, there's going to be a time and place to enjoy.  What is called "Smooth" jazz is what I love.  And, the Urban Jazz Coalition does it oh so well.  You have melody, beat, and a mass array of instruments that are doing their best to pull you into their world.  You'd be a fool to refuse.  Give them a shot!  Otherwise, you're keeping yourself from some much needed listening pleasure.  Rating *****A

9)  Hard Working Americans, "The First Waltz."  If you've never heard of Todd Snider, don't feel bad.  Many haven't.  He's had a less than stellar solo career, and just released his second album as lead singer for a band called the "Hard Working Americans."

This is one of those albums that you have to listen to several times to truly get the magnetism it provides.  It has fast tunes to tap your toes to, and songs so slow you feel they're pulling you into them molecule by molecule.  Sooner or later, you'll become a part of them, whether you want to or not.  

This is an album I need to listen to more.  My problems stem from being an obsessive music addict and purchasing 8-12 albums a week.  I listen to them once and that's about it.  I liked this one, felt its pull, and will give it more of a chance in the future.  Won't you join me?  Rating *****A-

10)  Bjork, "Vulnicura."  I like Bjork even though I sometimes find listening to a whole album by her a task.  I've followed her for years and have most of her albums.  Sometimes, her versatility amazes me,

other times it confuses me.  If it wasn't for her pixie smile and captivating eyes, I probably would have given up on her years ago.

But, I haven't.  Bjork just released "Vulnicura" a few weeks ago.  I've given it two listens.  The first time I almost fell asleep while driving.  The second, I did fall asleep at my computer, fingers on keyboard, x's filling pages into the future.

Haunting?  Yes!  Melodic?  Yes!  Toe Tapping?  No!  Recommended?  No!  Well, not unless you either need to get some sleep or you just like captivating eyes and a pixie smile!    Rating **D+

*     *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *
So, since most of this music has been graded fairly low, you're probably wondering what I do recommend.  Recently, has had a bunch of oldies albums on sale for $5.99 or less.  This has allowed me to complete my collections of The Allman Brothers Band, Nazareth, Emerson-Lake-and Palmer, Elvin Bishop, Humble Pie, Joe Walsh, Wet Willie, Cactus, and many others.  These, of course, are all classic rock additions from the late 60's and early 70's.

If there is one band I would have you try that you've probably never heard of, it would be the Mark-Almond Band.  These guys had a unique blend of rock, alternative, and jazz that was way ahead of its time when they released most of it in the 70's.  In my estimation, their best album is:
Mark-Almond  "Rising"
They have several other releases, including a Greatest Hits cd/download that you can purchase.  They'll lay you back, tuck you in, and carry you into a world of depression, give you love and provide pure bliss.  If you dare, try them!

So, that's it for a very different TTOT from me.  

Hope you enjoyed!


*** Btw, some of you joined me in participating in 1000 Speak yesterday.  If you haven't had a chance to read my post there, please take a moment to view it here.  It's something entirely different from me that may hopefully touch you.