Saturday, February 27, 2010

New Music

I received an iTunes gift card from a friend for Christmas, and I have finally gotten around to using it. When I started thinking about what I wanted to get, I realized that I almost always go back to the same ol' groups, and genre's where I buy more of the same. There are a few songs that have been banging around in my head thanks to The Current (which I listen to pretty much everyday regardless of the fact that I live 1200 miles away.) I think if somebody decided to give you an iTunes gift card, you should let them know how you decided to spend that money. Since I only had couple of songs that really wanted to purchase, I petitioned friends to recommend one song they felt was a "must have." Here is what we came up with.

First I will go with the songs that I wanted:

Brother Ali:
  • Truth Is: I remember going to see Brother Ali at "The Entry" when he was opening for Atmosphere and I remember thinking that he was an weak rapper with little creativity and an over-inflated ego (of course when you are opening for Slug, you are pretty much going to suck in comparison). Truth Is - bounces from the beginning and is one song I could listen to ten times straight and still hit the back button just one more time.
  • Fresh Air: The smooth beats and lyrics make this song for me, and I would bet that anybody who has listen to BA over the years feels like this song reflects the maturity of age.
The Avett Brothers:
  • Head Full of Doubt / Road Full of Promise: I am a sucker for piano, and this song (heck, the whole album) has great piano. This album makes me think about the mountains and open spaces and friends - like a great road trip where you know the most memorable parts are completely unexpected and you will talk about them less each year as life takes you each in different directions. However the connection will always remain.
  • Kick Drum Heart: Fun Fun Fun - This song is like a Dum-Dum sucker, every time you have one it is a fun little surprise you never expected.
  • Laundry Room: Piano takes a backseat on this one, and makes way for guitar and vocals. I especially like the call and response section about halfway through the song. The song is calm.
Josh Thompson:
  • You Ain't Seen Country Yet - Heard a review of this album on Fresh Air on Friday and really liked the catchy songs. I have heard a number of other songs off this album, namely "Beer on the Table", because Mrs B listens to country radio pretty much all the time now. I have listened to every song on this album and just liked this song. Although I spent a number of summers throwing hay for Grandpa, I am not country by any stretch of the imagination, but I am pretty sure I will be cranking this song when we head out to Bertram next time.
Now we have gotten to the section where I solicited song recommendations from friends. Here are my initial thoughts on each song. On that note, I will start with the recommendation of my best friend, Mrs B.

Zac Brown Band:
  • Chicken Fried: As previously mention she is pretty much country all the time in the car, but this song makes her want to move out to, or at least visit, Bertram. We may complain how far away it seems, but the truth is, we always have a great time being country for a couple of hours. We don't get to shoot guns at anybody else's house and what can be more fun then playing washers and drinking beer (I can't think of anything).
The XX:
  • Intro: This song was recommended by Pat, an college buddy with a funny Philly accent. He liked the dark and moody beginning. After listening to it a number of times, I just keep hoping it would go longer - this seems a little too hipster and electronic for Pat, but times do change.
Justin Townes Earle:
  • Can't Hardly Wait: Recommended by Julie, wife of my former roommate. If the last song surprised me because it wasn't what I expected, this song delivers exactly what I expect out of the Maas Clan - guitar driven alt-country. As it so happens, I can't get enough of this crap, I make it a point to listen to The United States of Americana every week and this song would slot right into that playlist. I keep hitting repeat - very enjoyable choice.
The Rosewood Thieves:
  • Untitled #1 - Recommended by Aaron, former college teammate and bandmate. Never hear of this group before tonight, but I will admit I had a difficult time choosing a song because they all had a melancholy folksiness which is the kind of thing you want to listen to while sitting on the back patio drinking bourbon. I settled on this one because of the upbeat opening.
David Bowie:
  • Heroes - Recommended by PleasureDan, educational philosopher and chef. Not really a big Bowie fan, but in the spirit of experiment I didn't question the choice, I just bought it. What was with the weird background singers toward the end of the song? Will have to listen to this some more to see if it grows on me.
Mary J. Blige:
  • Just Fine (feat. Lil Wayne) - Recommended by Dr. Nelson, coffee fiend and diversity queen + low context communicator. She just shot off the first thing that came to her mind, and this is what she came up with. She wasn't sure I would like it, or at least it wasn't what I was looking for. She was wrong. Come on.....Lil Wayne, Mary J. what is not to like. It appears to be a hit with "the boy" as well. This song is hopping right into the party mix.
Justin Nozuka
  • After Tonight - recommended by Kristi, teacher and tennis freak. Never heard of this guy either, which was the point of this whole experiment. My first thought as I was listening to this song was "booty music." That may still be the case, but it is also catchy, and what is wrong with booty music anyway.....not a damn thing, that is what I say.
That brings us to the end of the gift card. I did receive a number of recommendations I already had, or got to me to late for this time. I will add them to the "Wishlist" for future gift cards. On a related note, if you want a free nine song sampler, you can go here and get songs from bands that will be performing at this years SXSW in a couple of weeks.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Wait....when did I get fat?

I went in for my yearly check-up last week and I have been feeling like I am finally starting to feel my age. I just don't seem to be able to do some of the things I was, in recent memory, able to do. Or if I am able to do them, I just feel slow and uncoordinated (I am sure some of you reading this are already saying "Weren't you always slow and uncoordinated"). Needless to say, I haven't felt unhealthy. In fact, I feel like I eat healthier then almost everybody that I know. Mrs B and I have nearly cut all processed food out of our diet, and we are eating far less meat then we have in the past. Most of our friends just chalk this up to our liberal tendencies, but in reality we have just been influenced by a number of things we have read or watched. I know that I am going to get older and my body isn't going to be able to hold up to the rigors of soccer and running forever, but I am trying to string that along as long as I possibly can.

Having three kids under the age of three means that I don't have a ton of time to workout. All that being said, when I went to see Dr. Goodbody (Mrs B calls him that) I had an unexpected experience. In preparation for seeing the good Dr, you have to do all the normal medical foreplay activities with the cheerless nurse. She took my height and weight, asks me the standard questions about life style, casting a dubious eye my way when I said that I only had a glass of wine per night. "What, you think I am lying? I am sure that most people you know with three babies at home don't have time to drink - but we each have to find ways to prioritize." I have actually gotten quite good at balancing a baby bottle with my moobs (man-boobs) while leaving the other hand free to hold a lovely glass of Two Buck Chuck. Once the nurse has finished with the questions, she leaves, and indicates that I need to strip down do we can do my EKG. When the nurse returns, she brings in a buddy (medical student), who must have been icing down her hands before being called in to put little band-aids all over me. Interestedly enough, the nurse said that if I my legs amputated, one of the probes would have to go on my groin instead of somewhere on my leg....seemed like a bit of an over-share but who am I to judge.

Having passed my EKG with flying colors, I settled in for the long way for the good doctor. He came in and we talked for a few minutes. He then looked at my chart and said "That can't be right" and rushed out of the room. Not the kind of thing you want to hear at the doctor's office. He came back and was holding what appeared to be an extra large XBox controller, but I knew from my experience with the disapproving nurse, that it actually measured body fat or mass, or maybe both. The good doctor proceeded to tell me that according to the measurements of the nurse, I was borderline overweight (i.e. fat) - but he didn't think that was a good reading, so we were going to redo. The second result you ask.......exactly the same....DAMN. Well at this point the good doctor tells me this really isn't an exact measurement, and according to everything else I was in great health. Now don't get me wrong, it is always good when your doctor is willing to make excuses, but if I was being truly honest, all I heard was ......."blah, blah, blah you will be just fine Mr. FatA$, blah blah blah"

So, in what may have been a brilliant use of reverse psychology, I am considering a number of ways to get back down to Fighting Weight - but I think that I will ultimately fall back on the old standby "the Matrix of Buffness" - if you want a peace of the action let me know.

Update: Just heard back from the nurse, and she said that everything is well within the normal range except my "Good" cholesterol - which was really low. In her cheery little voice told me that all I needed to do was exercise more. I asked if the good doctor also provided babysitting so that his patients could exercise. She indicated she didn't think so.

My Olympic Dream

The Winter Olympics are nearly over and as is always the case, I will be just a little depressed for a couple of days following the closing ceremonies. I have watched more biathlon, Nordic combined, and curling then should be legally allowed. I don't know about everybody else, but each time the Olympics roll around (summer or winter) I spend more time crying over Olympic moments then I ever did at weddings (including my own), funerals, or significant life events (birth of all 3 boys). There is something about the soothing tone of Tom Brokaw's voice over the soaring inspirational music, telling the story about the Polish sheep herder, whose brother was a killed in a freak sausage making incident, fighting to do the unthinkable and win the first Polish curling medal.

I also spend lots of time thinking about what Olympic sports I would still be eligible to participate in based on my age and level of fitness. Granted this was always a fairly limited list, because there are just something's I just don't have the body type or physical ability to do.

Ski Jumping - is it me, or do these dudes look like anorexic middle school kids - I am way to fat to fly
  • this also eliminates Nordic Combined (combination of ski jumping and cross country skiing)
Short Track Speed Skating - I am not Korean or a long haired french speaker (French and Canadians)

Cross Country - this looks a lot like much work
  • using "to much work" as an excuse probably already disqualifies me from ever being an Olympian
Figure Skating - I don't look good in corsets

Skiing and Snowboarding Events: I certainly have the mentality and the right attitude, if Alberto Tomba can squeeze himself into some racing tights why couldn't I? But alas, I live where people call off school when it snows (or even threatens to snow) an inch.

That leaves Curling. Having looked at the bio's of the currently Olympic Curling team, I think that I still have a shot to live the Olympic Dream. I will know I am old when I can finally cross Curling off the list of Olympic sports I still have a shot at making my Olympic debut.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

We're wearing underwear!!!!!

It isn't quite what I expected, but sometimes you just have to take what you can get.

Oh well, at least they are clean.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Week Update

It has been a busy week, but at this point aren't they all busy. I thought I would take a few minutes and provide an update on the latest happenings in Casa Baker. It has been a rainy week, and to avoid sounding like some kind of geriatric weatherman - I won't bore you with the specifics, but the backyard is starting to look more like a muddy bog and less like a weed infested, poop filled construction site. This wouldn't normally be a problem, except for the fact we have a dog that snorts a few lines of meth (do you even snort meth....I honestly don't know) to begin her day, and when she doesn't get to go out and run around she is a bit restless. "the Boy" does his best to provide her with a little exercise by chasing her around the house with is little plastic shopping cart. Mrs. B and I have tried to cut down on the chasing, because it is annoying as hell, but when it is raining, all bets are off, because if they aren't chasing each other around the house, they are all in our business. One of the apparent benefits all this rain is that lake levels are on the way up to normal levels. According to Facebook status updates, people are willing to put up with a sloppy spring, in order to spend more time on the lakes this summer. Now if we can just get those boat owning friends of ours to take us out more often we will be set.

The blogging world welcomed the Wehr sisters to the droves of people writing stuff that nobody except mothers care about. I am particularly excited to have both of them writing again. Mrs. B has spent countless hours in front of the computer preparing for the most perfect blog launch ever. For more months then I care to count, she has dealt me excuse after excuse on why she hasn't been publishing (some more valid then others). The most creative and entertaining excuse of all was given less then two weeks ago, when Mrs. B said she had concerns about starting her blog because she was afraid she would be inundated with an endless supply of products from companies looking for a mommy blogger endorsement. Although this can be a problem as detailed here, here, and humorously here, I pointed out to the lovely and talented Mrs. B that people actually had to read what you were writing, and that meant you actually had to write something for people to read. Now that she has the blog up and running, any company looking to market to a niche following of grandmothers in their mid-50's currently living in Missouri and Minnesota, and teacher friends living in Central Texas, please contact Mrs. B at, she promises to rate your product with integrity....especially if you send it to her for free.

Apparently Daddybloggers are not nearly the advertising force, but just in case any companies are out there looking for a daddyblogger....I am your guy. I am especially interested in reviewing luxury cars, single malt scotch, pretty much any music, and snowboards (although for me to adequately review your snowboard, you would also need to provide compensation for travel cost since the snow hills in Texas have all but shutdown for the year.)

Also entering the world of blogging is Mrs. B's sister who is currently studying abroad in Finland. If you would like to know more about architecture and her adventures in Finland follow her stories here.