Wednesday, October 29, 2014

National Cat Day 2014: High and Low Kittehs

Here are Milo and Otis doing their split-level napping (photo taken 10/21/14):

Milo (left) and Otis

I guess this is also sort of a three-dimensional Yin & Yang nap setup. 

Simon the Cat, 4/28/96 - 10/29/03

On this day in 2003, Simon the cat passed away unexpectedly. He was our first cat and he paved the way for making this house a cat home (we currently have two orange cats we adopted about a year later).

Here is the photo collage I posted in 2004 to mark the one year anniversary of his untimely death.

Thank you, Simon, for 7+ wonderful years: 4/28/96 - 10/29/03

We still love you and miss you.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Friday 80s Flashback for October 24, 2014

[Orchestral Manoeuvres in the US] -- Andy McCluskey and Paul Humphreys, who had known each other since primary school in Wirral, England, played together in various bands in the mid-70s. Out of the ashes of two of those bands -- the seven-piece ensemble known as The Id and the electronic quartet called Dalek I Love You -- they founded Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark (OMD) in 1978. Initially a duo, OMD played live gigs with backup help from a Teac 4-track tape-recorder (named "Winston" after a character in Orwell's 1984). In February 1980, OMD released their self-titled debut album in the UK. This record was pretty much the work of the core duo and Winston, but it also included some drumming by Malcolm Holmes (from The Id) and a bit of saxophone from local (i.e., Wirral) musician Martin Cooper. After a tour supporting the debut, OMD went back into the studio and recorded their second album, Organisation, which was released in October 1980.

With two hits ("Electricity" from Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark and "Enola Gay" from Organisation), OMD's record label must have thought it was time to conquer the US. There was no truly new material for OMD's first eponymous US release. It is a morphing of the UK debut and the second LP. The five tracks from the debut are "Bunker Soldiers," "Almost," "Electricity," "Julia’s Song," and "Messages." Organisation contributed six songs: "Enola Gay," "2nd Thought," "Statues
The Misunderstanding," "Motion And Heart," and "Stanlow." So, which tracks made it into this week's playlist? Read and hear more after the break. 

Friday, October 17, 2014

Friday 80s Flashback for October 17, 2014

[Walk it Off] -- My mother likes nothing more than burning off some excess energy, stress, and calories by taking a brisk walk. This has been the case for as long as I can remember. I once made her a mix tape so she could have some upbeat tunes to accompany her. She liked it so much she uses it to this day (albeit the cassette has been replaced with an iPod Shuffle). Well, she fell and broke her leg two weeks ago. Earlier this week, she had surgery to set it properly (apparently, the fracture wasn't where the doc wanted it to be after a week in a full-leg cast). She comes home on Saturday, and she'll be alternating between a wheelchair and a walker for the next two or three months. So, in honor of her recuperation, I have posted a workout music 80s playlist I found on YouTube. You can check out the songs in this playlist after the break.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Friday 80s Flashback for October 10, 2014

Open Novel on Shelf (image via

[Novel Ideas] -- I love music, and I love reading, so why not put the two together for a Friday 80s Flashback? This week, I'm bringing you a trio of tunes that are somehow related to a work of literature. The connection could be in a lyric, a title, or maybe just a bit of inspiration. You might be surprised just how many 80s artists were quite the literary connoisseurs. Well, maybe that is stretching the point, but a fair number of our fave performers looked to the written words of others to get ideas for their own works. Wondering if your favorite work of fiction is just a few degrees a way from a song in this week's playlist? Well, to find out, you can read and hear more after the break.

Saturday, October 04, 2014

Friday 80s Flashback for October 3, 2014 (On a Saturday)

[30 Years of Red Sails] -- On October 1, 1984, a mere 30 years ago this week, Midnight Oil released their fifth studio album, Red Sails in the Sunset.  It was the band's first #1 album in their native Australia, and it charted within the US Billboard 200. The album cover was a chilling "what if?" scenario, as in "What would Sydney Harbour look like after a nuclear strike?" Following on their previous efforts, the lyrical content of Red Sails focused on politics, consumer culture, expanding military, the auspices of nuclear war, and environmental threats. Two singles were released in the US -- "When the Generals Talk" and "Best of Both Worlds" -- but neither of them charted. Musically, there was enough polish (from increased studio wizardry) and the experimental rhythms and textures should have lured in new listeners, particularly from the college radio set. So, what kept the singles grounded? Perhaps it was lead singer Peter Garrett's judgmental tone. However, it was more likely Garrett's lurching and towering presence in the band's music videos. I recall thinking he was pretty cool, but I also recall my friend, Daniels, and I being on the receiving end of our classmates' scorn for liking "that Frankenstein dancing guy."  Anyway, Midnight Oil was about three years from breaking huge with Diesel and Dust. And when that album hit, fans finally started digging into Midnight Oil's back catalog to discover this gem. For a blow-by-blow appreciation of Red Sails in the Sunset, check out A Look Back At Midnight Oil's Landmark LP 'Red Sails In The Sunset'. You can also listen to a full playlist from the album on YouTube. And, of course, I've selected three tracks that you can check out after the jump.