Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Anthony Ryder and Dorothy Ryder

This evening, I mark the passing of two great people. Anthony Ryder and Dorothy Ryder.

Uncle Tony died on Monday at the age of 95. He was my father's oldest brother and an amazing man. I have many great memories of Uncle Tony. My favorite happened back in 1984. My wife and I had just married and we went on an adventure across the country in our affordable Ford Escort (no air-conditioning). Our first stop was at Uncle Tony and Aunt Bea's house in Massilon, Ohio.

We had never been there, and Uncle Tony was anxious to show us his town. First he drove us in his plush sedan, by Massilon Tiger football stadium. He explained that high school football in Massilon is something of a mania with over 14,000 people showing up for Friday night games. Then much to our amazement, he took us onto his golf course, in his luxury sedan...I mean right down one of the fairways! He said that he could do whatever he wanted since he was a charter member! I'll never forget driving down that fairway and Aunt Bea saying, "Tony...what are you doing." he pretended not to hear her.

Aunt Dot was my Godmother. She was preceded in death by her husband, my Uncle Stan. Aunt Dot and Uncle Stan were quite close to my mother and father. In fact, when my mother got her first job teaching, she and Aunt Dot became fast friends. They went to dances together and enjoyed hanging out. My father was the youngest in the large family and Stan was the next oldest. Unfortunately, he passed away in the late 70's from throat cancer.

Aunt Dot (82) was always fun to visit. As I got older, the cooler she became. She would take me dancing at the local American Legion Post. Sometimes, she'd just sit me down and talk to me and find out how I was doing as a young teenager. I'll never forget her.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Richard Thompson Favourites

Richard Thompson Favourites

I came to Richard Thompson rather late in life. I had never really listened to his stuff until 2003. My sister gave me a copy of Mock Tudor. I loved it. Since then I’ve gone back and listened to all of his solo work. I still haven’t delved back to his collaboration days with Linda Thompson nor have I listened to very much Fairport Convention from the early 70’s. I saw him when he came to The Jefferson center a couple of years ago, but I missed his appearance with Loudon Wainwright in Charlottesville last week.

A friend of mine saw him in 1988 at Roanoke’s Iroquois Club. That was a unique concert. He had just started a low-key tour of America and was playing very small venues in very small cities. At the concert, he worked alone playing his new electric guitar. It may have been one of his first electric guitar concerts. My friend ended up with the soundboard recording, and I treasure listening to it to this day.

These are a few of my favorite Richard Thompson tunes by album. I found a lot of them at Grooveshark and Sonza

Daring Adventures 1986

· Valerie

Amnesia 1988

· Waltzing for Dreamers

· Jerusalem on the Jukebox

· I Still Dream

· Turning of the Tide

· Can’t Win

Rumor and Sigh 1991

· I Feel So Good (Top 100 Hit)

· 1952 Vincent Black Lightning

· I Misunderstood

Mirror Blue 1994

· Beeswing

· Easy There Steady Now: One of my favorites.

· I Can’t Wake Up to Save My Life

· I Ride in Your Slipstream

· Taking My Business Elsewhere


Mock Tudor 1999

· Cooksferry Queen

· Hard On Me

· Crawl Back

· Hope You Like the New Me

· Bathsheba Smiles

· Sibella

The Old Kit Bag 2003

· Gethsemane

· A Love You Can’t Survive

· I’ll Tag Along

· Jealous Words

· Outside of the Inside

· She Said It Was Destiny

Front Parlour Ballads 2005

· Let It Blow

· When We Were Boys At School

Sweet Warrior 2007

· Dad’s Gonna Kill Me: This is a true protest song for the modern age. Thompson delves into the Iraq war.

· Mr. Stupid

· Poppy-Red

· Johnny Far Away

Miscellaneous Tunes

· Dear Janet Jackson: A complete goof on Janet Jackson’s “Wardrobe Malfunction” -warning it may not be save for radio.

· Oops I Did It Again: Laugh if you must. This song, popularized by Britney Spears is brought to life by RT.

· Woodstock: The song by Joni Mitchell is mournfully sung by RT. This one may only be available on video.

· Smiffy’s Glass Eye

Friday, October 23, 2009

My Mother Just Called

My mother just phoned. It was a simple "Hi, how are you? Where have you been lately?" call.

We chatted about this and that for about ten minutes. Then she said goodbye. As I hung up the phone, it occurred to me that I am so very lucky to be a fifty year old man and still get calls from my mother.

Mom and Dad haven't been doing especially well over the summer and into the fall, but my mother called me today.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009


Sigh. You know what? We live in unfun times. It's at professional times like these that I like to draw on a monologue by The Firesign Theatre's "Waiting For An Electrician of Someone Like Him" album.

Hey, man! Don't let him bring you down, now. There's a lot of young people in this country, just like myself, who really know where the Indian's at. And don't worry. Soon we're all gonna be out here on the Reservation, livin' like Indians, 'n' dressin' like Indians and doing all the simple, beautiful things that you Indians do. Hey - got any peyote?

Please understand that I personally don't subscribe to the physical manifestation of the ideas presented in that thought, I just dig it.

Belfast, Maine is a beautiful town. I could live there...soon.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Movie Silliness

For some reason, I have decided to come up with a list of my sixteen favorite movies of all time. After about five minutes of research, here's what I've come up with.

16. Ben-Hur: I love watching this movie. I love how Charlton over-acted. I remember as a kid being very confused by the Leper scene. Why were those people all bundled up and living in a cave? The chariot scene was rather bloody. Strangely, I rather liked it.

15. The Sting: I learned the art of the con. These lessons served me well in my career as a weight guesser and carney.

14. The Mission: Another world. Another time. Such an epic, thrilling, and sad tale. It's a movie that teaches a timeless lesson that we'll never learn.

13. Braveheart: Another movie where I was transported back to another time and place. Always interested in English history, I enjoyed the portrait from those times, especially the early Welsh scenes.

12. Gladiator: A similar tale to Braveheart and to Ben-Hur to a certain extent. No movie has ever captured the eternal bond of love better.

11. Patton: Ballsy. George C. Scott became Patton in one of the greatest acting roles of all time.

10. Dancing With Wolves: For me, this movie, which lasts seemingly forever, is pure escapism. The scene is so authentic. I've traveled to North Dakota and Montana, and the pure expanse of beautiful desolation captured on film is what I remember about my visits there.

9. 2001: A Space Odyssey: I've had many conversations with HAL. I find him to be so logical; yet so frightening.

8. The Last of the Mohicans: Daniel Day Lewis pounds away at the screen with a relentless driving saga that ends in tragedy and despair.

7. The English Patient: Such a love story. Powerful and lasting. Gut wrenching. This movie builds and builds like the climax of a great orchestral piece. Some say the movie drags. I beg to disagree.

6. Monty Python and The Holy Grail: Goofiness at its best. Later it spawned my current favorite play, SPAMALOT.

5. Platoon: If everyone saw this movie, there would be no more war.

4. The Shawshank Redemption: Morgan Freeman delivers a stunning performance in perhaps the best all-around story ever filmed.

3. The Lord of the Rings: I wish I could go back in time to anticipate these three great movies one more time. Turning such a powerful, rich, and beloved book series into a successful, quality movie series was perhaps the greatest directorial achievement in cinema history.

2. Life of Brian: Goofiness with an edge. The Pythons handled a volatile topic with clever adroitness. It's a movie where Loretta (Stan) espoused his (or her) right to have babies and where Pontius Pilate lisps his was to "kwoosifiction?"

1. Noises Off!: What? Noises off!? never heard of it. Your loss. This tiny movie starred Michael Caine, Jon Ritter, Carol Burnett, Marilu Henner, Nicollette Sheridan, and Christopher Reeve. The plot is simple. A drama troupe works to get a play ready for Broadway. We see the rehearsals, the backstage shenanigans, and snippets of the real play. By the end of the movie, you pretty much have the script memorized if you can unroll yourself from the floor.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Humorous Political Cartoon

Signe Wilkinson from the Philadelphia Daily News has captured a lot of truth.

Monday, October 12, 2009


Deep chest cough
crashing headache

That's what I currently have. If the fever does not break tomorrow, I'll have to miss my third day from school this week which trips the school division's doctor excuse clause.

Last week, I had 1/4 of my homeroom class out and many others from other classes. More than once, I'd have sick kids come to me and cough on me as they told me they didn't feel well.

I guess it was only a matter of time.

So I went in to make lesson plans this morning after I had spent several hours last night creating and managed to put together a nice set, easy to follow, yet productive. Not a day to waste here. So I went in after school to make plans for tomorrow and discovered that my easy plans had been mismanaged and my desk was piled high with incomplete tasks for me to uncover. So in the end, I spent about three hours this afternoon/evening coming up with simpler, yet productive plans for tomorrow and mined my desk.

I can't wait to see the carnage after tomorrow when I have to make another set of plans.

Monday, October 05, 2009

You Too

I gave a good fortune to visit Charlottesville on Thursday evening October 1 to fulfill one of my greatest desires, to see U2, the world's rock band, perform live in a stadium concert.

My wife, daughter, sister, and I had seats low in the stands at what could best be described as the back of the arachnid stage. If it were a football game, I would have been able to leap onto the field within seconds. As it was, there were more yellow-shirted event staff than UVA football players on a Saturday (or fans for that matter).

Muse, another wildly popular band, opened for U2 and blew up the sound system with their unique homage to Freddie Mercury and U2. Bono and company appeared on stage to the countdown from Bowie's "Space Oddity."

From the first moment, the set exploded with sound and energy. No greater rock show have I ever seen. I'm rather old-school U2, so I really appreciated the performances of Sunday Bloody Sunday and Mysterious Ways among other classics. However, their Go Crazy and Boots performances were quite astounding as well.

Usually, I end up uncovering quirky stories surrounding the events in my life. This concert experience was no different. The crowd was remarkably varied with many, many people older than me in attendance. In fact, as we were stuck in traffic for a moment before the show, we observed a car filled with four OLD people stop and the inhabitants asked a scalper how much the tickets were going for. They were ready to make the purchase when they realized that the concert would be in an open air stadium and not inside. That's when traffic became unstuck in time.

After we got to our seats, we discovered that our neighbor was a 50+ year old man AND HIS MOTHER who were traveling around the country following the U2 tour. The mother, who was smiling and probably close to 80 years old, was sporting a U2 360 Degree Tour Chicago shirt. Libby informed us that the man, who was sitting next to her, couldn't really hold a tune. At the end of the concert, however, he was able to give us a point by point run-down of how the show was different from all the other shows he and his mother had seen.

Please enjoy some of these songs captured on You Tube.

Mysterious Ways

Most of the videos I've linked below were taken by some intrepid concert goer who just happened to be positioned right in front of The Edge at the foot of the stage. I find it interesting that the sound that close to the stage is not nearly as imposing as it was from our seats. Perhaps that's by design to protect the aging star-studded ears.

Space Oddity/Breathe (From Boston Concert in HD)
This is how the concert began in Charlottesville as well. The Charlottesville set may have been even more massive than the one in Boston.

Sunday Bloody Sunday
This classic never gets old. U2 uses it to make political statements.

I'll Go Crazy If I Don't Go Crazy Tonight
This song is like U2 on acid. The faces on the 360 degree screen are mind-blowing.

Get Your boots On
High energy new stuff. I imagine that eventually they will create a thousand different dance mixes to this one.

Walk On

You simply won't find a more peculiar performance. The giant spaceship set/arachnid begins to speak and then Bono appears on stage all lit in red laser lights swinging from a red steering wheel/megaphone microphone. Definitely over the edge.

Moment of Surrender

Amazing Grace/Where the Streets Have No Name

Amazing Grace/Where the Streets Have No name (Boston version in HD)
I believe this song was the highlight of the show. Bono began it and it built into Streets.

Stuck in a Moment
Another mellow moment.

I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For
Another Classic

Your Blue Room
A lot of people sat for this one, but I found it oddly comforting.

To hear the Hooish crowd get jacked was something to behold.

Uno dos...

Muse brings a certain energy that few bands can muster.
Muse Uprising

Muse Hysteria

Muse Knights of Cydonia

Sunday, October 04, 2009


The following story was translated from Spanish to English for Big Pop


October 4, 2069

Pop, Junior, and me linked up for an old-fashioned talk out the other day. I had forgotten how happy they could be. Watching another people shout out to conversation and bring answers is something that I havent seen done for some time. In todays hectic world, sometimes we forget to hook up with our familys and friends and speak with other peoples.

During our linked talk out, Junior, who is all of 10 cycles, prodded Big Pop into thinking back to a time long ago. A time when USwags were the house name in NCAA Football.

“Big Pop, how good were the Swags back when you were a kid?”

“Oh Junior, they were beholding. You know, there was no one better. Most peoples forget that five editions were the best in the land. NCAA1983, NCAA1987, NCAA1989, NCAA1991, NCAA2001. That’s no lie.”

“NCAA2001? Man, that’s better than MaddenNFL2001!”

“Yup, NCAA2001…thats right. You know some history.”

“But Big Pop, that’s not far ago, is it?”

“Nope, thats from when I was your size.”

“Thats too much to belief Big Pops. I mean they not no good no more.”

“Thats ‘They aint no good no more.’”

“Sorry Big Pops.”

“But you right on Junior. They aint. But back then they was. You know that back then they wasnt called no Swags.”

“Really? What was they called?”

“Now if I remember this right, they was ‘The U Hurricanes.’”

“So how did they get the name USwags? I heard that a Swag was a swamp gata. You know…a swag?”

“So many questions! Thats what everone thinks. What you need to know is this. Swag aint really no swamp gata. Swag actually comes from the tude. My Pops told me that back in NCAA1991, The U was so good that the playas would dance around on the field and nobody could touch them. Peoples started calling that Swagga. My Pops said that sometimes the Swagga would go away for cycles and then it would come back. Peoples began celebrating the Swaggas return. Sometimes people said Swagga was back but it werent. Peoples were swagga this and swagga that. Soon peoples started calling the team the Swags. And since the team was Universal they was called USwag. And thats where we are today.”

“Big Pops, have you ever been to see the USwags play the game?”

“Naw, nobody ever see the USwags play for as long as I know. Its better to watch them on the wall. Seeing the game at the grass is only good if its the Fins playing.”