Orange you Glad

In Uncategorized on 24 October, 2010 at 12:32 am

It’s October.  While the fall is my favorite, if all-too-brief season thanks to gorgeous colors, perfect days to be spent in the kitchen, and boots-and-sweater weather, it’s also one last nod to the summer sports by playing host to their postseason. This is both a blessing and a curse:  If you’re anything like me, you’ll find ideas popping into your head for posts all day long, only to be shoved aside in the evenings by an obsession with a little sporting event called The Fall Classic.

I grew up in an area where baseball did NOT rule the sports landscape – it was, and is, ALL hockey, ALL the time.  To be fair, football gets a fair nod in the fall, until the weather turns cold enough for everyone to flood their backyards into ice rinks.  But baseball was never on the radar – the closest MLB team is a 6+ hour drive away.

Funny how one sport can steal your heart when you date a lifelong, die-hard Red Sox fan.  To become that intimately acquainted with the game, over the course of not one, but two postseason knock-down drag-outs with the Yankees, much less the fans of both, left a huge impression on me for the seasons to come.  I fell for the Americana factor of baseball; I fell for the vast variety of backgrounds players came to the game from; I was done for by the boyish charm of grown men jumping like children and erupting in joy with each progressive postseason win.  Grown men, all unified by the drive to win and a tiny glimmer of misfit personality in each of their eyes.

Unsurprisingly, I’m a huge fan of this man:





The Giants’ own No. 55 and proud owner of back-to-back NL Cy Young Awards, Tim Lincecum, aka “The Freak” and “The Franchise”.  Watching this kid throw, with a wicked fastball and a downright nasty changeup, my appreciation for the game – and anybody who’s able to get a decent hit off of him – grows mightily.  Watching him, as well as the rest of his very underrated team deny the Phillies of a third NL pennant tonight, was pretty damn sweet.  These Giants are a mix of youngsters and journeymen, SF veterans and players brought on who were making their way through the fold – case in point NLCS MVP Cody Ross.  It’s a team with a mix of a scrawny ace pitcher and an infielder affectionately known as “Panda” for his overwhelming size.  Nobody but their fans saw these Giants coming, and they fought their way on to my beloved sport’s grandest stage.

Orange October didn’t just get an extension.  It’s just warming up.


The Soundtrack of My Life

In Uncategorized on 10 October, 2010 at 9:07 am

Lately, I keep coming across the “15 Albums in 15 minutes” thread making its way across Facebook profiles, and when Claire‘s “20 Most Influential Albums” post popped up in my feed, I knew I could avoid the topic no longer.  I have a serious love of lists, and a serious history with music, so I knew this post was going to be a doozy in the making.

The thing is, for the past 3 days, I’ve been trying to narrow my list to 20 albums, and it’s just not gonna happen.  My Dad’s a music teacher, so I grew up very much surrounded by every genre of music imaginable, in the best ways imaginable.  Between listening to NPR every day on the way home from school, to my grandfather playing classical music during every Sunday night family dinner, to 9-hour drives to visit my extended family filled with the sounds of Santana, Huey Lewis and the News, Eric Clapton, Paul Simon, and so many others — How could I possibly attempt to put margins on such a huge part of my life?

For the sake of the threads, I’m listing albums that have had, and hold, a deep impact on me – just their names take me back to a specific time and place.  Some of the highbrow among you may scoff at some of the entries, and that’s fine.  I see the entries, and I see – and hear – the 1-mile-exactly bike ride to my grandparents’ house. The sleepovers with my girls. The church youth group that made up so much of my high school experience. Dad’s band hall in my high school, and the crisp fall nights spent in a marching band uniform at football games and parades. The morning I left my hometown for college. The all too brief days where my brother and I felt 2 and 1/2 years apart in age as we actually are rather than the 7 it often feels like (which is a whole other entry unto itself). Driving a friend home from rehab. The radio playing in the ER when I’d dislocated my shoulder. A then-boyfriend surprising me at work with flowers in the middle of The Gap. Flying across the country to a new city to visit someone I loved. Flying across the country to a new city to start a whole new, scary and exhilarating life. When I hear a piano being played, I immediately recall the years I sat in front of one, practicing and practicing and practicing and practicing; I can’t bear the sound of musicboxes because it’s a reminder of the end of my parents’ marriage.  These aren’t just hollow tracks. These are breakups and celebrations, triumphs and tones of solace on the harder days.

On with the list, in no particular order:

  • Bloc Party / Silent Alarm
  • Ben Folds Five / Whatever and Ever Amen
  • Semisonic / Feeling Strangely Fine
  • Foo Fighters / The Colour and The Shape
  • Birdmonster / No Midnight
  • Sheryl Crow / Sheryl Crow
  • Santana / Supernatural
  • Janet Jackson / janet.
  • Coldplay / A Rush of Blood to the Head
  • Jars of Clay / Much Afraid
  • Elvis Costello / My Aim is True
  • Alanis Morrissette / Jagged Little Pill
  • Weezer / Pinkerton
  • Lisa Loeb / Firecracker
  • Third Eye Blind / Third Eye Blind
  • Rilo Kiley / More Adventurous
  • Fleetwood Mac / Rumours
  • Counting Crows / Recovering the Satellites
  • Sting / Ten Summoner’s Tales
  • Paul Simon / The Rhythm of the Saints
  • Tina Turner / What’s Love Got to Do With It
  • Sarah McLachlan / Surfacing
  • Carole King / Tapestry
  • R.E.M. / Automatic for the People
  • Lauryn Hill / The Miseducation Of Lauryn Hill
  • U2 / How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb
  • The Strokes / Room On Fire
  • Stone Temple Pilots / Purple
  • Pearl Jam / Vs.
  • Franz Ferdinand / Franz Ferdinand
  • Johnny Cash / Orange Blossom Special
  • Andrew Bird / Noble Beast
  • The Cardigans / First Band on the Moon
  • Blues Traveler / Four
  • Snow Patrol / Eyes Open
  • No Doubt / Tragic Kingdom
  • Dido / No Angel
  • Barenaked Ladies / Stunt
  • Jem / Finally Woken

There are countless other artists I could list, whose entire catalogs would have made this list.  Here’s to the next handful and then some that will get added over the years ahead.  Happy listening, everyone, to my list and your own.

From just over my shoulder

In Uncategorized on 8 October, 2010 at 5:05 am

…and nearly into the rearview goes the Summer of 2010.  These days when the seasons seem to weave in and out of one another are my favorite:  warm yet crisp, busy yet languid.  Before I break out my sweaters and boots, I had to dig out one of my favorite poems:


The Summer Day


Who made the world?

Who made the swan, and the black bear?

Who made the grasshopper?

This grasshopper, I mean–

the one who has flung herself out of the grass,

the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,

who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down–

who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.

Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.

Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.

I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.

I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down

into the grass, how to kneel in the grass,

how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,

which is what I have been doing all day.

Tell me, what else should I have done?

Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?

Tell me, what is it you plan to do

With your one wild and precious life?


-Mary Oliver