No More Baggy Pants!

An article in today’s New York Times exposes another aspect of the widespread crime of fashion known as “sagging.”  In the case of the subject in this photo

No More Baggy Pants!

we can’t blame the low-flying pants on the lack of a belt.  Maybe it’s an attempt to limit collateral damage in the event of being “pantsed.”

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From (Almost) The Other End of the Telescope

School’s Open - Please Drive Carefully!

Over at BrianKaneOnline, my friend Brian has posted some thoughts about his daughter’s first day of school.  This time of year has been filled with a sense of possibility for me since I began my career as a schoolchild (I’ve since moved on, thank you) at the same time Brian did.  The September sky, crisp morning air, the smell of new school clothes, notebooks (the ones with paper, not the ones with keyboards), pencils, and classrooms that had been shut up since the previous June, combined with new teachers, new subjects, seeing kids I hadn’t seen all summer and meeting new ones – all of it fed an almost giddy air of expectation.  Having taken that journey ourselves and now watching our children set sail for the distant shores of their futures, at least for me, brings that all back.

Our three daughters are further into their journeys than Charlotte is now, being a junior and sophomore in high school, and in seventh grade, respectively.  While the first day of school is, at this point, not the emotional experience it was watching them each taking their first turn disappearing into the school bus, it still has a bittersweet air.  Their futures are waiting to be discovered and, while I know things don’t always turn out the way you thought they would or that you would have hoped, those futures seem so full of promise.  It won’t be long before we’re looking at colleges in a far more serious way than we have been so far, and wondering where the little girls who first stepped onto the school bus went.

SPAM!

SPAM

Only four days it took before my site got spammed.  I feel so special.

On a more serious note, hacking and identity theft have hit uncomfortably close to home.  We’ve had a rash of people having mail stolen out of their mailboxes.  Credit card transfer checks have been used fraudulently, causing innumerable headaches with businesses, credit card companies, credit rating agencies, and law enforcement agencies.  And I found out my account on eBay had been hacked – fortunately, I don’t keep bank or credit account information there.

Sheesh.

Spaced Out

For years I have been a fan of space music.  Space music, you say?  Yes, space music.

space.jpg

It creates a sense of openness, a sense of the vastness of space in its slow – or absent – sense of rhythm, its ethereal tones and airy quality.  During this same time, I have been a rather-more-than-occasional fan of “Hearts of Space,” probably due to my predilection for the romance of extra-terrestrial travel and the incredible, unfathomable distances and terrible beauty of the outer reaches of the universe.

Sucks that HOS is now charging for access to its programming, other than a weekly play of its program.  Sucks even more that I was sucked in to PAYING for access to the weekly program anytime I want during the week.  But it helps me focus and get more work done.  Does this qualify as a deductible work-related expense?

If only wishing made it so.

Traveling Star

James Taylor

This last week my wife and I went to see James Taylor in concert, a show that was part of his “One Man Band” tour.  The concert tickets were part of my birthday gift to her earlier this summer.  It seemed that August 20th would never get here – but it did, I’m happy to say.

“One Man Band” is a bit of a misnomer, since James Taylor appears with keyboardist Larry Goldings, with the help of “Bigfoot” (link to YouTube video), and with his band and members of the Tanglewood Festival Chorus by pre-recorded video.  Interweaving stories of his early career, family, and a few oblique references to his struggles with substance abuse along with photos and film clips, he was able to create a really informal, almost intimate feel.  Granted, the Cumberland County Civic Center is not the largest of venues but, still, for a couple of hours it was just us and James Taylor and six thousand of our closest friends.  Old favorites, some of his newer work, stories, photos, and all delivered with a low-key approachable style, signing autographs, shaking hands, and Taylor’s interacting with the audience all made for a memorable experience.

I wouldn’t consider myself a huge JT fan, but I can honestly say I have always enjoyed his music.  He is also the only big-name entertainer I have seen perform in person more than once.  Twenty-four years ago, as it turned out, my then-future wife (whom I had not met yet at the time) and I attended another James Taylor concert at the civic center, and probably even sat within a few rows of each other.   What a coincidence.

66

[Another update of a post at “Confessions of a Reluctant Blogger,” this time from March 2006.  I’ll stop recycling soon, I promise.]:

Three years ago my father died unexpectedly.

Unexpectedly.  Yeah, if ever there was a word that didn’t say it all.  My grandmother had been sick since the holidays.  I had been preparing myself for the fact that she was, after all, 87 and might not recover from what turned out to be cancer.  Getting a call in the middle of the night that Dad had died while he and Mom were vacationing in Florida was as close to getting whacked on the side of the head with a two-by-four as I ever want to imagine.

It’s been a long three years, in some ways, and has flown by, as time has a habit of doing, in other ways.  I have had bouts with what would probably be classified as depression.  I have been angry, sad, scared, sometimes all at once.  But I have also been grateful.  Grateful for the all-too-little time that Dad and I got to spend enjoying each other’s company as adults.  Grateful for the friendship and wisdom.  Grateful for his example of perserverance in the face of life’s setbacks and challenges, and enjoying simple pleasures.  Grateful for not having any “unfinished business.”  Grateful for having the last thing I said to him be, “I love you.”

Thanks, Dad.

It’s now been almost four and a half years, and tomorrow would have been Dad’s sixty-sixth birthday.  There are still the random events – a song, a place, a situation – that remind me of him, and how he is no longer here.  Reading an early blog entry last night from Shelley at Cynical: A Life again confirmed for me that a loss is still a loss no matter how suddenly and unexpectedly it happens, or if it comes after a long illness or period of decline.  We never “get over” the death of a loved one, we just learn to live with it.

Rush Hour

Rush Wall

[An update of the original post on “Confessions of a Reluctant Blogger“]:

Since stumbling across the “Overture” (YouTube video) to Rush’s 30th anniversary tour concert in Frankfurt on YouTube late last year I began devising subtle schemes to get my mitts on a copy of the R30 deluxe edition DVD/CD set. Thanks to Santa Claus Amazon.com, I was able to do just that, and it did not disappoint.

For 25 years I have been a fan of Rush, the Canadian progressive rock band. To me, early Rush clearly carries influences from Led Zeppelin (though, I confess, I am not a big Zeppelin fan), and were known early on for conceptual pieces based on science fiction, fantasy, and classical literature. Some of their music has been criticized as being lyrically pretentious. Returning to it with a more critical eye twenty-plus years on, I can definitely see that. I can also better appreciate how Geddy Lee’s voice is not everyone’s cup of tea. However, Rush’s use of odd time signatures, intelligent lyrics, and rich musical textures always more than made up for these “faults” in my mind.

Rush has long since moved on from their early conceptual days and has really made a career out of reinterpreting their sound without losing touch with their roots (sort of reminds me of U2 in that way, though they are completely different musically). The R30 DVD is good enough in itself and it is a lot of fun watching these guys play together. Geddy Lee’s voice has not held up especially well (the more generous among us would say his voice has “matured”) but, given all the high-pitched wailing he did during the first couple of decades, it really isn’t all that surprising. He has to transpose some of the earlier music down an octave (or six) and sometimes can’t even quite manage that. But the fun comes in watching these guys that I *sort of* grew up with, and in watching them having a good time, too.

So this has also given me an opportunity to think about rebuilding my Rush collection (most of which is still on vinyl in the attic). Most, if not all, of their earlier work has been reissued on remastered CDs, something to listen to while reading Neil Peart’s Ghost Rider, an account of the drummer’s journeys by motorcycle following the tragic deaths of his daughter and, not long after, his wife.

Yep, they’re all fifty-somethings now – both Neil and Alex look a little heavier and more middle-aged and I’ve already commented about Geddy’s voice – but we’re not getting any younger, either. But we can still enjoy some of the same things we did all those years ago, if colored by more experience, both good and bad.

Postscript:  Since writing the original post last January I have filled in the holes in my collection and have all of Rush’s studio albums on CD, including their most recent, Snakes and Arrows.  I’ll have to say that my previous appraisal of Geddy Lee’s voice was not very generous and, while he is not able to hit some of the notes he could in his twenties, he and his band-mates have acquired a more ‘experienced’ sound that resonates with those of us of a <ahem> certain age.  That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.