30 January 2013

Why Old Music Monday?

Yes, I know that in my original post, I said I'm using Old Music Monday as a vehicle to ensure I write more but it's also to take time to express my creative side which sometimes is blunted by the day-to-day rigor of my day gig.  But every so often, it crosses my mind that by the time Aidan is eighteen years old, I'll be sixty.

As we get older it's inevitable that we ponder what life will be like without us.  I'm not fixating on that, but with all of the social media we're engaged in, and I, a heavy-user, there's going to be amazing catalogs of material on us that one could use in tribute when we finally pass.

For me it's more about sharing with Aidan things that I may not take the time to do as he continues to mature and grow into the wonderful, young man he's going to be.  I think I'm doing a pretty good job of it right now by ensuring his iPad is loaded with a good balance of current and older music.

I'm amazed at which songs he gravitates to and which ones he doesn't.  It's actually become a bit of a game by me changing songs on his playlist to see what he picks up on the most.

But since life can be short and sweet, I might as well document songs and artists I love, give a tiny bit of history on where I was in my life or what was going on when I embraced it and hope that he learns to do the same.

So bud-bud, this specific tag is for you.

29 January 2013

Stop Making Sense - Talking Heads

OKAY, so this 'make up' Old Music Monday submission is actually a movie and album all in one kinda making this a Two-Fer-Tuesday (ha!).
I think, although I'm surely wrong, that this was the FIRST album (actually cassette, thank you) I bought upon my arrival at Marquette University in the Fall of 1984.

From top to bottom, I could sing the words to almost every song from the opening Psycho Killer to Burning Down the House, Once in a Lifetime (with many seizure-inducing actions straight out of the film) and finally, Take Me To The River.
Just classic songs to be hearing at the age of 18.  But what really happened with me here was that my music tastes were now being stretched.  Okay, it wasn't the FIRST time they were, but from this point on, I opened up to a lot more than Classic Rock & Roll, Metal, Hard Rock and AOR with a smidgen of Pop.

Not sure if we called this 'Alternative' back then, it was more New Wave.  Whatever, it got me listening to a hell of a lot more than I used to be.  Part performance art, part musical genius.  David Byrne really is something to behold.  Plus there was a Milwaukee link in that Jerry Harrison from the group was born and raised in the Brew City.

I never saw the movie until we decided to have a "Stop Making Sense" video/dance party at our Fraternity House maybe a year later, but that really didn't matter to me, I loved the sound, concept and performance.  I DO remember having to run over to some East Side shitty video store to get a VHS copy of the movie so we could play it on my stereo VHS player that I had bought the summer before.
"You may find yourself behind the wheel of a large automobile.  You may find yourself in a beautiful house, with a beautiful wife.  You may ask yourself, WELL, how did I get here?"

28 January 2013

Funk #49/Life's Been Good - James Gang/Joe Walsh

First of all, Yes, I know I missed last Monday.  Okay, so I failed a bit on my New Year's Resolution but to make up for it, I'm doing TWO entries this week, watch for one tomorrow as well.

Little did I know as a young man, how much I would eventually love Joe Walsh.

Now, there's no way in hell I heard Funk #49 when it was first released (1970) and if I did, well, then it was burned so deeply into my subconscious that when I did realize what I was listening to sometime later in the 70's, it resounded nicely.

The combination of Walsh's funky Cleveland/Jersey accent sort of drunk-singing was something unique (remember, unique sounds pique my interest in almost any kind of music) but add to that the Fender Telecaster through the Fender amp and you had a sound that Joe still uses today on just about every song he writes/sings.

I like this particular performance of it from the December 2012 Guitar Center Sessions show which plays on the Audience channel (only on DirecTV).  It's really an interview show with some of the artists' hit songs smattered in between.  Enjoy, you can see how much fun he still has playing it and of course, now, being 17 years clean and sober!

Okay, Joe gets two songs, as a solo artist (of course there's Eagles' tunes forthcoming) and the second one is Life's Been Good (1978) which is, of course, a song about the life of a Rock & Roll star and his tales from the road basically.

As an 'almost' teenager, this really struck a chord as you're still in the untainted dream stage of what you want to do in your life and hell, a musician was still a possibility!  That sort of life sounded like a LOT of fun and well, we all know now how much fun Joe actually had back then.  The lovely thing about this song is that you are going to get TWO videos for it, both sort of long but then again, the song was long to begin with.  I think the WLS on-air staff probably did a lot of bathroom/smoke breaks during this one.

First you'll get Joe's performance of it from the OTHER music show I love, Live from Daryl's House which was originally only a web-only show (love it!!) but now plays on Palladia and the second one was from May 2012 where Joe sort of told a little story about how he wrote the song from an appearance at The Troubadour in West Hollywood.

I think my love for Joe was only deepened as in the mid-90's when he started sitting in with Steve Dahl on his shows and then sitting IN for Steve when he'd go on vacation for a week.  "Howya DOIN?" became a regular catch phrase for me and it gave some insight into who the heck this guy was, plus he was 'real' in the fact that he had new found sobriety which Steve had just sort of found as well.

19 January 2013

Hey Kool-Aid!!!

Ahhh, yes, it's Cub Fan Convention weekend again.

Hope springs eternal.

Theo's stalker is locked away and it reminds me again that on our adults-getaway trip to the Dominican Republic this past November, all the help at the hotel only knew two things about Chicago.

Sammy Sosa and Alfonso Soriano.  Gee, thanks for that, you can keep them.  In fact, they'd make good bartenders and vibe managers.  Go for it sparky!!

Well, I said it last year and I'll say it again this year.  It probably can't get worse and, we're starting to see that Theo, Jed, Jethro and Granny aren't afraid to shake it up so that if it does all go boom, well, they can fully take the blame OR (hopefully) the credit.

But I am hopeful.
  • Hopeful that they they win more than 61 this year.
  • Hopeful that they might find something called a reliable closer and solid mid-relief bullpen.
  • Hopeful that they can offload Alfonso sooner than later in the season even though he keeps insisting he's here for the last 2 years of his contract.
  • Hopeful that a team of no-namers (for the most part) can beat the rest of the malaise that is the National League.  It really shouldn't be that tough.
  • Hopeful that Samardzija doesn't think that a fake girlfriend is going to win him any awards.  He's the Shark, not the Catfish.
  • Hopeful that I really don't hate the fact that they've brought back Dontrelle Willis too too much; that is, if he can even make the squad this year.
  • Hopeful that Robin Yount realizes that most guns of any kind are illegal in Chicago and to keep his hunting exploits of accidentally shooting Dale Sveum only on their trips.
  • Hopeful that Jim Deshaies isn't too much of a homer like Brenly but also that he realizes that he's really the ATBNL (announcer to be named later) in the fake firing of Milo Hamilton in 1984 which really was a trade to the Astros.
  • Hopeful that the new guys Valbuena and Jackson earn the money that they're getting paid and don't sit back and suck it up.  Valbuena is only on a one-year contract (wow, see THAT Jim Hendry, you can do that in MLB) so management is playing it smart where they can.
  • and finally, Hopeful that I can get to 2 or 3 games this year.   After a 11-year run, we didn't renew.  Not because we didn't want to but frankly, when they suck this bad, no one wants to own 25% of a season ticket and further many people don't want to buy the tickets off of you and would rather you'd just gift them away.
I know I can be a real negative nancy at times.  I used to have this nickname called the "Angry Fan" because frankly, I demand more.  I demand more for the 3+ generations of my family that have loved the organization and want demons to be put to rest especially in the face of continually increased pricing in tickets.

There was roughly a three year plan with Theo and this would be season number two.  80-85 wins would be a good way to test whether or not this three year plan is in full motion.  You usually need 90+ to get to the playoffs, so just missing and being in the hunt so the ballpark is 95% full in September is a really good indicator.

We'll see.  I'll still be watching although forgive me if I just take a couple more games this year watching the Class A club for the Cubs, the Kane County Cougars.  Another indicator of the future is the farm system.  It's been a bit of a wasteland as of late, the Cougars will be a good litmus test.

15 January 2013

Big Data - Data Integration #Fail

I know we're still in the early days of the whole Big Data/Data Integration/Data Intelligence experience, but there are some days where you see something and it's just not right and you have to analyze it.
As we're on our way upwards towards the 'Peak of Inflated Expectations', something like this appears in my LinkedIn timeline a couple hours ago.  This announcement was a surprise to me!
So, first of all, I check my brain and wonder if I really AM traveling soon.  I'm not.

Secondly, I know that I personally know of two other Brian LoCicero's (one even has the middle initial P, like myself) living in the United States (one in CA and the other in FL) and wonder if maybe our timelines got goofed up.  They haven't.

Thirdly, I realize that at one point, I integrated my "TripIt" account with my LinkedIn account because our corporate travel agency owns that site and well, it was fun to see when I was traveling, if any of my professional contacts were also going to be in those cities and hopefully, if they are competitors, NOT at my client ;-p. (You know who you are!!!)

Yes, that was it.  However, I added no trip to my TripIt account whereby _I_ was going to Memphis this week.  But I know someone who IS going there.

Ahhh, that's it!!  Separately, I also let the TripIt website connect with my personal email account where I forward all of my work travel plans so that it could periodically scan my email, pick up travel emails that have specific details and then integrate them into the TripIt site so my lazy butt wouldn't have to type all of them in.  TripIt also has a nice mobile app for when you're traveling which is a convenient place to find your itinerary.

But here's where the intelligence broke down.  My WIFE actually forwarded me her travel itinerary so that I'd know where she's going to be and when.  TripIt wasn't smart enough to pick up it wasn't travel for ME and integrated it and then LinkedIn picked up the feed off of there.

One could see how this sort of mix-up could make spouses get a little nervous that communication has broken down.  What if my boss forwarded me his travel schedule which coincided with a conference I was going to.  It could make people freak.

I'm sure this will all get sorted as we move along the hype cycle but it shows how wrong one could be without thoroughly checking the data.

Have fun in Memphis honey!

Our little puzzle master

As a kid, we never had Lego to play with.

Not sure if it just wasn't popular enough or if they hadn't figured out that by making pop culture translate into Legos, you can sell a hell of a lot or if it was just the fact that Tinker Toys, Lincoln Logs and other building kits were just more popular at the time.  It was the 70's so go figure.

And since we waited until later in life to have our son (he's 5 now) maybe we just didn't see the rise of Legos to the crazed frenzy that they now occupy in the lives of kids these days.

But our son is now a die-hard Lego builder and has more fun sorting through hundreds of pieces to build characters from his favorite shows or movies than I ever thought he could.

Now admittedly, from a very early age, he was enamored with puzzles.  He would do them, break them up and then do them again.  He started out with the very simple Melissa & Doug ones or just any good old 12-24 piece puzzle, but he would bang through them so quickly that we found it problematic trying to keep challenging him.  Before we knew it, he was up to 100 piece puzzles and knocking them out in less than an hour.

So it really shouldn't come as a surprise that he's attacked these 3-D puzzles so voraciously.  As of late he has been taking on the 120-150 piece Lego sets all on his own, and working with Daddy or Mommy for anything larger.

Until this past Sunday.  As Mommy got caught up with work from her normal gig and Daddy vegetated out watching some playoff football, little man took on his 452 piece Lego Ninjago Samurai X Mech and completed it in about 2 1/2 hours.

Here's a shot of our little wunderkind and his completed Lego set.
He and I have been working on Jabba's Palace (from Star Wars) which is 717 pieces.  But I will admit that for the most part, I just take care of finding the pieces for the next step for him and have only put on about 30 pieces on the set.  We're about 70% done.

Future in Engineering for him?  Who knows but the skills required are mostly critical thinking, ability to visualize and of course, following directions which could lead him in any direction.  Whatever direction he decides is going to be a real hoot to watch though.

14 January 2013

Cold As Ice - Foreigner

Although I fully do not intend to do this "Old Music Monday" series in chronological order, I will stick with 1977 (my Buddy Holly song came to me in '77) with probably Foreigner's most famous hit, "Cold As Ice".

Now, at the age of 11, there's no way I understood that this song was about some evil 'cold as ice' bitch but what I did know was that 4-part harmonies sounded like butter to my ears and this song was in massive heavy rotation on WLS-AM.  After listening to the lyrics a few hundred times I started figuring out what was being sung about.

Also, since I had my shiny new first cassette player, this is one of those songs that I would record off of the radio onto blank tapes.  You know, the press record and play buttons simultaneously while it sat NEXT TO my am/fm radio.  I'd always get mad when the DJ (John 'Records' Landecker most likely, as he did nights) talked up to the post or jumped in during the fade at the end.

Lou Gramm had one of those voices that stuck out in the crowded music I listened to.  With Mick Jones the guitar playing was a highlight on many of their other songs as well and given his pedigree (Leslie West Band, played with Frampton and George Harrison on some of their albums/tours) this band was destined to be a big hit and were.

For some reason on this one, the repeating/rhythmic keyboard sound got to me.  Also, what I learned later, was that there was this unique sound of a Hammond organ being used.  There's a couple of other songs I'll share later on where the famous Hammond B-3 is front and center.  This song wasn't the B-3 though.  Al Greenwood (the keyboardist) said in an interview in the late 70's that he was using the Hammond L-100 with an EML 101 synth.  He did say that in the early 80's he then switched over to the B-3 (a cutdown version)

Enjoy this video which was the official release from back in '77.  Loves me the 70's hair and who couldn't love this all being done by a Union Pacific Commuter train.  What the hell did THAT have to do with the song?  Remember, this is still before MTV.

08 January 2013

Stop doing me favors!!

Oh boy.

I've always known that Alex Jones was a conspiracy lunatic and frankly a bit unstable.  When you see boogie men behind every shadow, you may have a form of mental illness.

But then he goes on Piers Morgan to talk about a) his petition to have Piers deported and b) gun rights.

When you can make Piers Morgan look like a rational, logical, non-biased pinnacle of the press, you are NOT doing your side of the argument any favors.

Alex Jones together with the nuttiest of the nutty in the NRA do more harm with the more they say than any moderate gun owner in the United States can do in any normal debate.

Shut your overfed pie-hole you bloated asshole.

To quote comedian Jim Norton, that sweet little boy from the Opie & Anthony Show (SiriusXM 105) "for a guy who is so afraid of the government and who thinks the government is murdering our own people he sure holds a lot of faith in the FBI statistics that he wants to use to make his case".

07 January 2013

Everyday - Buddy Holly

Well, the first song to share is older than _I_ am.
Everyday from Buddy Holly and the Crickets

Totally stripped down in its original format.  As I got older, I realized that I was always drawn to very unique or different sounds in music.  Things like unique instruments or unique vocal arrangements will always capture my attention. 

Although it isn't the first song I can remember hearing, it's significant because it was a song I really loved on the very first Cassette Tape I ever bought with my own money.  Honestly, about five times through listening through it and I had the words down and would sing along.

For some reason buying my first cassette tape sticks out in my head because I bought it through a fund-raiser that my grade school, Fairview Elementary (now closed), was having.  I was in 5th Grade, Miss June Coradetti's class and it was Spring of 1977.

04 January 2013

New Year, New Feature

In a very forced attempt to ensure I contribute to my OWN blog on a regular basis, for 2013, I will be posting once a week about a song (or a couple from the same artist) that significantly shaped my life in one way or another.

They won't be long posts, unless warranted, but will, where legally allowed, have a link to a YouTube video (or other sources) along with why that particular choice was made.

In the industry, new records are released on Tuesdays ("New Music Tuesdays") but since these aren't new, I'm going to call my posts "Old Music Mondays".

I hope you enjoy a bit more about my life.

Pain & Suffering/Mental Cruelty

Anytime you see civil lawsuits and take a look at the actual 'action' that created them, you have to wonder if it's just greedy-ass lawyers wanting to pile on the desire for more money or if there's a real human condition that can be quantified called 'Pain and suffering' or sometimes 'Mental cruelty'.

While I think it's impossible to put a true value on what the cost of that condition really is, (does one count years of therapy, either mental or physical, or the relationship cost for those that have to live with the victim, or the loss of income due to the fragile mental state?) I think almost all of us can realistically know what it feels like whether we've been a true victim or not.

And we can because of the two most recent national news stories over the last several weeks, the Sandy Hook shootings and the Fiscal Cliff.

I am NOT going to get into the actual tragedy or political positioning for either of those, however, the 24-hour news cycle with both graphic images and details as well as political rhetoric in combination with social media is perpetuating some form of 'mental cruelty' on the American public.

The constant inundation into our lives probably drives 60% of America's psychological state on a daily basis.

Now, please do not take this post as a call for the death of the news media and profession.  But do take it as a human-to-human warning that we need to all step back and recognize when these constant images, commentary and 'liking and sharing' of any one of a millions memes starts taking it's mental toll on our psyche.

While Sandy Hook was horrible in every possible way, after the first day, I really just didn't watch the news and avoided the vast majority of posts or direct messages to me.  I'm not being cruel or insensitive.  I'm the Father of a five-year old and ensure that every day I do as much as possible to keep him safe but at the same time, I realize that there really IS nothing I could do to change what happened.

As for the Fiscal Cliff and our elected morons in Washington, when you step back and recognize that these same idiots are the same people who waited until the night before the final exams in college to cram and study to eek out a C so they could still get their degrees and are now employed next to you, you stop worrying about whether or not things are going to get done.

Whether or not their decisions put me or my great-grandchildren in better or worse financial position is out of my control.  Not to the point that I'm helpless but frankly, all I can do is play the hand dealt me every day, week and year.

Have all of our lives become so boring that we need to wallow in the misery that happens on a regular basis around us in the world?  Clearly so since we also feel the need to live vicariously through vapid, wealthy socialites like the Hiltons, Kardashians, Real Housewives and the ridiculously stupid white trash such as Honey Boo Boo, Cajun Gator Hunters and some Hillbilly Pest Control dudes.

Just watch, repeat and then treat with anti-depressants OR turn it off, block it out, recognize it for what it is (mentally draining on us all) and get out of the house and love your family and friends.  Trust me, your mental state will be much better AND the world will STILL continue to revolve around you.

03 January 2013

A Hearty Welcome...not!!

I just want to say welcome to the 113th Congress.

My expectations for you are lower than whale sh*t on the bottom of the deep blue sea, so you don't have to do MUCH to jump over that bar.  Remember, I'm sure whatever decisions you make, it's all about how you position yourselves for the mid-term elections and NOT how it helps the rest of us working stiffs.

Meet the new boss; same as the old boss.

There is ONE exception and that is Senator Mark Kirk (R-IL) who returns today after suffering a devastating stroke that impacted his speech and motor skills.  After a year's worth of therapy and the spirit of a true American Military Veteran, he will climb the 46 stairs into the Capitol building on his own today.

One man who frequently works across the aisle for the people of Illinois and the country.  The rest of you lot should learn from him.