The Musical Treasure Trove

So, I have been thinking a bit about re-reruns (prompted, I must admit by a This American Life episode about re-runs). This thinking has dove-tailed with some of my thoughts about the repeatability of the cover song and the tension between one ‘performance’ and another. Part of this thinking is a tortured attempt to try to justify what I am about to do today: repeat one of our posts. What happens when you repeat a repetition?

Like my brother, I have found that the busyness of normal life (whatever that means) has gotten to be a bit overwhelming. The end of the semester has brought me a pile of grading, a CV-length of promised articles, and two children who are growing faster than I can imagine. This has kept me (guiltily) from having the time to write a quality post while also making me wonder whether or not this blog is doing what it should.

See, it has been suggested that the posts are too long and too discursive–and, as readership has ebbed and flowed, I have wondered what the worth is. This contemplation lasts a few minutes because, when it comes down to it, I enjoy writing this blog even if the act is entirely masturbatory.

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Springtime? Nope. Winter is Coming: Game of Thrones is Back, A Song List

TyrionLast year around this time I confessed (ok, reiterated) my own geekiness when I was hyperbolically excited about the fact that Night Riots has a song named “Berelain” after a character from Robert Jordan’s recently (and posthumously) completed Wheel of Time series. I must add, however, that my geek credentials are the real-thing: I get paid to teach about mythology and to write about ancient poetry.

(Well, the credentials are spotty. I mentioned earlier that I actually played a bard to the 21st or 22nd level in a role-playing game. At one point, I actually tried to write music for the fictional character to perform. I am so ever grateful that I don’t remember it and that the internet did really exist to record my follies back then.)

This week? I have been eagerly awaiting the return of HBO’s Game of Thrones. Now, as readers of this blog know, my brother and I occasionally get excited about television, but not too often. We both used to like The Walking Dead. We both really loved Breaking Bad. He gets into things like Doomsday Preppers while I love Buffy the Vampire Slayer (which he will not watch). But Game of Thrones is something that we share. And there is an important reason.

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Pets Playlist

I had to put down my golden retriever Remy on Wednesday because lung cancer had sprung up out of nowhere and taken over his body. I’m incredibly broken up about it and it’s taken all of me to just keep going to school and practicing music. It was our Dad’s dog that I inherited when he passed. Like this post says, he had a rough time following his death and I should consider myself lucky to have had the three plus years that I did. I’ll write a smaller post about this soon, but now the wounds are too fresh.  One thing I am sure of is that Remy has found my Dad and I’m sure the reunion was a happy one.

(Note: This post was composed after my brother told me about his cat)

My brother had to put down his cat today and I feel terrible for him. He never gets real emotional about things which is why I feel so bad because I know this kills him. Personally, no one liked or was liked by the cat except him which is why I feel so bad for him. It would routinely scratch me when I tried to pet it back when I was a freshmen in high school and would visit my brother at his undergraduate college. The fucking cat survived more than a lot of people I know can, including two big moves, a house fire, and multiple trips to the vet in.  She was tough, just like my big brother, and we should all mourn her.

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The Reggae Road to Damascus: A Conversion Story

Everybody was crying, crying
Sighing, sighing
Dying to see the light
And when they see it, they see it’s not bright
Can this be right?
–Toots and the Maytals, “Pomp and Pride”

The Younger J has recently defended reggae as a genre (although perhaps not as much as about his love for pedal steel)—he will defend it against detractors and argue that it demands respect. I won’t debate this with him (because he’s right), instead I want to tell you another story. It is not a real story in that occurred in real time; it is the fabricated narrative of the mind—the tale of how I stopped worrying and learned to love reggae.

This is a story because it has a beginning middle and end; it is Aristotelian even in that the main character—me—undergoes a reversal and recognition. (There’s even a prophet in it, if we can call my brother that.) See, I used to hate reggae. I used to loathe it. It gave me psychic hives. Now I like reggae, I even love some of it. That’s the reversal. The trip to the recognition takes a bit longer.

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First Days of School fo Real

People think I’m crazy for teaching Middle School. They don’t know any better and I feel pretty fearless about it. Give me three weeks.

After almost half a year of planning and gradually working more and more with identified students, my co-teacher and I have moved into our own space away from the mainstream middle school. It’s as exciting as it is scary with all of our curriculum and research now needing to be turned into action. As you can imagine, I’m running at a high-speed wobble. I’m actually writing this while my students do their daily journal writing because I intend to keep my promise of writing more while my brother’s life gets a little crazier.

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Hail to the Champions!

On the evening of October 30, 2013, the elderj and I were able to see our beloved Red Sox win their 3rd World Series championship in 9 years. My daughter and I left the frigid north to visit him and his family down in their adopted southern state. It was the first time in recent history that I was away from New England while the Sox were playing in the fall classic, but it was a nice treat to be able to watch the games with my older brother. We hadn’t watched a playoff game together in 8 years, and we’d never seen a World Series game together. Our kiddos were all asleep as we sat glued to the television during game 6 in Boston, and when Boston badass closer Koji Uehara struck out St. Louis’ Matt Carpenter, we rejoiced, watched a little bit of post-game celebration coverage, then said goodnight to the TV to head off to dream about yet ANOTHER Red Sox World Series championship.stay strong

What a crazy several years it’s been for the Sox and their fans! After an 86-year drought, the team won championships on the road in 2004 and 2007, then finally clinched it at home this year for the first time since 1918. What a way to pay tribute to Boston, the greatest city on earth, after a hellish year. Boston and its baseball team belongs to the entire region of New England, and throughout the country, fans basked in the glory of baseball dominance. The 2013 Sox had the odds stacked against them and came through to deliver a well-deserved championship to its club and all of its fans!

As my little one and I flew back from the south back to the north, I started thinking about how I could pay tribute to the 2013 team on my brothers’ blog. I thought about which songs I could discuss, and composed a brief draft of this entry in my head while attempting to keep my squirmy toddler in our seat. There are some obvious songs that come to mind when thinking of the Red Sox–“Sweet Caroline” (Neil Diamond), “Dirty Water” (Standells), and “Shipping up to Boston” and “Tessie” by the Dropkick Murphys. Those are the obvious ones and the ones I WON’T mention further in this entry. I’ll dig a little bit deeper and choose some other ones…here we go!!!!

“Baby, I grew you a Beard.” –Neil Halstead (I couldn’t find a video of him actually singing it–this is a cover)

Anyone who watched even one Sox game this year would be able to tell you about the scruffy beards each player sported. Some of the most obnoxious beards belonged to Jonny Gomes, Mike Napoli, Dustin Pedroia and David Ross. Others kept them short and close to the face–Jacoby Ellsbury, Xander Bogaerts and David Ortiz. Rumor has it that Dustin Pedroia and Jonny Gomes didn’t shave during the entire season!!!!! Even if the beards were short, every single player grew one. The guys bonded together, and the beards represented team unity. This team may not have been the best team to ever play in Boston, but they really knew how to play as a unit and each guy could be described as a team player. While most of the beards looked ridiculous and even disgusting, they represented a team and showed the world that the Red Sox players would do whatever it takes to win the trophy!

“Three Little Birds”–Bob Marley

This song was Shane Victorino’s entrance song and it got to a point where the fans would sing along as he came to the plate. His acquisition during the offseason was frowned upon, many were shocked by the money spent to bring this mediocre player to Boston. He knew this team was special. He knew that despite losses, errors and odds against them, that everything would be alright and that this team could and WOULD come through. Victorino delivered a game-winning grand slam in Game 6 of the ALCS, securing his spot in Boston Red Sox fans’ hearts.  He sat out Games 4 and 5 of the world series due to back pain, but he came through again in Game 6 of the World Series, when he hit a bases loaded, bases-clearing triple to put the Sox on top once again!!! During Game 6 of each best-of-7 playoff series, Victorino showed everyone he was worth every penny and that every little thing would be alright!!!!!

“We’re not Gonna take it”–Twisted Sister

When I think of the 2013 Red Sox, this song comes to mind because so many sportswriters and experts were against the team, spouting off stats that Game 3 losers only won the World Series twice in history, or that teams finishing in last place the previous season had no chance of taking it all the following year. (These are 2 examples of several odds stacked against them–and these aren’t the exact stats, just stated in general terms). But this team didn’t care about the negativity spouted by so-called experts. They weren’t gonna take the shit thrown at them, and they were going to be strong and play through the haters! And what did they do! They said screw you all, we can do this, AND THEY DID!

“Keep it Together”–Guster

I have to include this song because the Sox really kept it together and pulled off the World Series win. This was hardly the prettiest World Series ever played–it was full of errors, an OBSTRUCTION CALL TO END GAME 3,  and a pick-off to end game 5 (though this was in Boston’s favor!) Despite the errors made in the outfield and by seasoned players in the infield (Dustin Pedroia), these bearded ballplayers managed to keep their shit together and produce runs and play defense when necessary. The team knew what was at stake, and the outcome was exactly what they wanted.

“Hangin’ Tough”–New Kids on the Block

Because I am unable to think about any music without thinking of NKOTB, I had to include this song. However, it’s appropriate for several reasons. First of all, again, The Sox hung tough and pulled through to win the big prize. They overcame errors, injuries and negativity to capture Baseball’s most coveted trophy. But also…the members of NKOTB hail from Dorchestah, south of Boston, and are some of the most famous Sox fans out there! So how can I not include a New Kids song in this situation? The New Kids have played at Fenway, they wear Sox jerseys during their shows, and they, like my brother and me, grew up rooting for Boston sports teams. They experienced loss and heartache just like we did, and just like us, they have been lucky to see THREE WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS IN A DECADE!!!!! This song is also a tribute to the entire city of Boston. After the marathon bombing tragedy in April, the city hung tough and got through all the bad times. Boston Strong, bitches, and Keep hangin’ tough!!!!!!!

“We are the Champions”–Queen

Does this song really need an explanation?????

World Series MVP David Ortiz said that the 2013 World Series was the best of the recent 3 championships. He is the only current member of the team who has played on each championship team in the past 10 years. My brother and I disagree with him and believe that the 2004 championship was the most special, after Red Sox Nation waited for years for a championship. Some people lived and died without seeing their Sox win a World Series, and now, my daughter, niece and nephew live in a time when the Sox are nothing but winners! What a crazy few years it has been for Boston baseball and Boston sports in general. We are lucky to be Sox fans and every playoff win feels a little bit better.

What about you brother? What songs come to mind for you when thinking about the 2013 Team???

The Heist: “A Life Lived for Art is Never a Life Wasted”

Note: Today we bring you yet another post about Macklemore–who recently won the MTV VMA for best Hip-Hop artist–from a guest who has been a reader of the blog for a little while and a friend of the elder for much longer. The debate on Macklemore’s place in hip-hop seems to be flowing rather than ebbing, so we can’t promise we won’t chime in on the subject again. 

For now, here’s our friend and another teacher-extraordinaire, The Mr. and Only Moe.

I must start by saying that I grateful to the brothersj for allowing me to be a part of their endeavor, especially since my introduction is on a topic for which they have both sufficiently posted already. Before delving deeper into Macklemore and Lewis’s The Heist, some transparency is required. I agree with the elderj that my leftist political leaning effects my perspective on this album, but also I have found that the way in which I come by an album, where I am at in my life, greatly effects my affinity for an album as well, sometimes more.

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