Monday, December 28, 2009

Thursday, December 24, 2009

The Story of the Pajama Elf

Long ago, there was a little elf in Santa's workshop who did not know how to build wooden toys. Despite all of his effort, and try as he might, he just couldn't seem to get any of the toys to work properly. One day he asked Santa how he could help, because he ever so wanted to make the little children happy. So, Santa invited the little elf to join him on Christmas eve to help deliver presents. As they rode around Santa mentioned how all the little boys and girls would try to stay up late to catch a glimpse of Santa. And the later the children stayed up, the harder it was for Santa to deliver all of the presents without being noticed.

"I know!" exclaimed the little elf. "Whenever I get new pajamas, I always sleep so soundly and comfortably. I will make new pjs for everyone so they can get a good night's rest." And so the little elf decided to make pajamas for all the little boys and girls and deliver them before they go to bed on Christmas eve.

So every Christmas Eve, the people of the town would place a lighted candle on their doorstep to light the way for the Pajama Elf. And the Pajama Elf would bring new pajamas to everyone that night so they could all fall fast asleep in snuggly, new pjs. This also had the added benefit of preparing the young children for pictures the next morning (once cameras were developed (pun, pun) hundreds of years later) as they would bound out of bed and rush to the tree in sparkling, new pjs.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Oh ho ho, it's on - Santa vs. Blitzen

Blitzen Calls Out Santa

Santa Responds

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

9 Months!!!

Nathan is 9 months old today. (more pictures coming - I haven't had a chance to download new photos yet. If you're good I'll even drop in a video.)

His 9 month well visit went, well, well. (that probably sounds funnier in my head that written down).

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Santa Baby (and 28 Day Round Up)

Santa Baby

Wow, I can't believe it's been so long since my last post. Man I'm a slacker. Actually, no, just been a little busy. Well, maybe a little slacking, but I have been busy with some side projects.

"My Teenie Thanksgiving"

Well for Nathan's first Thanksgiving, he managed to sleep through not one, but two turkey dinners. We hosted the Taft clan for a noon gathering and the teenie guy managed to take an hour long nap just before dinner was served. He didn't even really get to use his turkey bib, but he did sport his "My First Thanksgiving" onesie to much fanfare.

Unused Turkey Bib

As we started feeling the effects of the tryptophan, we had a choice two remedies: either TripToCaribbean or a power nap. Since we we short on time, we choose a little rest before venturing out to my brother's house for round two where Nathan continued his Thanksgiving tradition of sleeping through every possible Thanksgiving dinner he could get his hands on.

First Birthday as a Dad
The Saturday after Thanksgiving was my first birthday as a dad. So instead of heading out to the clubs and getting wasted (which I don't think I've done in several years) we went to Buffalo Wild Wings to watch ASU vs. Tucson Tech in, apparently, the Territorial Cup. Man that's a dumb name. I prefer The Duel in the Desert. Well, actually I prefer ASU winning. They can call it the Cereal Bowl for all I care, just catch the damn punt! Sorry I get a little worked up when we play our rivals.

"ASU!! ASU!!!"

Nathan's first December!!!! I am getting carried away with his "firsts?"

Tree Lighting
Being Chandler residents we represented by heading downtown to watch the annual lighting of the tumbleweed tree. Yes, tumbleweed. Yeah, I know. It was quite chilly, but at least I got to hold our portable heater - one of the benefits they never tell you about having a baby in the winter, they are little heaters. As for the teenie guy, he geared up in his Santa outfit, and oh my god, cuteness. Seriously, check the photos, I'll wait....

Santa Baby

"All I want for Christmas is you"

Santa's tired

Overall the tree lighting wasn't very impressive, but we still had fun.

Monday, November 16, 2009

8 Months Old Today!!!

"hmmm, what can I get into..."

"Look what I found!"

"I'm ready for round two, butternut squish!"

Sunday, November 8, 2009

The Return of the Carrot

Nathan tried solid food for the first time yesterday, well semi solid, maybe more like a mush. We picked up some organic carrots at Harvest Handfuls this week and Laura prepared them for Nathan on Saturday afternoon. A little rosemary, a little garlic, grilled for about 12 minutes with applewood chips for some smoky flavor. If anyone wants the recipe, hit us up in the comments.

Here is the happy baby, excited and eager for his next experience. His facial expressions were priceless.

Part II - The Return of the Carrots

So I guess he didn't really care for the flavor and he decided to return the carrots. I can't wait to see how he reacts to the next one.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Observe & Report

Nov. 7th - Watchpost #5 - Guarding the new grass.

   - 8:54am - It's cool outside.  The ground is moist.  Possibly a light rain fell last night...or maybe just the sprinklers.  All is quiet.

   - 9:01am - Birds chirping, yet they stay away.  Can they still see me?  Must stay still and silent.  Can't let the birds get the grass seed.

   - 9:09am - The first bird arrives.  Must be a scout.  Will wait for main group before springing the trap.

   - 9:10am - A second bird arrives to investigate the grounds.  They seem to be communicating something back to the rest of the group.  Can't understand their chirpy-chirp language.

   - 9:12am - Multiple birds arrive.  OMG I can't believe they can't see me...this is so cool.  So many birds and no one knows I'm here. hee hee hee

   - 9:15am - I've been still for 5 minutes now and the birds have no clue.  I'm so sneaky.  I should be a ninja.  Ninjas are so cool.

   - 9:17am - Wow, these flowers are nice.  They have a lovely scent.  And they're purple.  I like purple.

   - 9:18am - What was I doing....

Monday, November 2, 2009


For the last several years, we have created a haunted house in our garage.  Mainly because it is fun to do while passing out candy.  But there's also the side benefit of getting to scare little kids and the occasional adult (Liz).  I mean seriously, why would you just sit inside trying to watch a movie when every 18 seconds the doorbell rings with kids at the door begging for candy because their parents don't feed them and never taught them not to take candy from strangers.  Besides, there's nothing more beautiful than seeing a little child's eyes light up with fear just before he begins shrieking at the top of his lungs while his parents can't help but laugh. 

But alas, no haunted house this year.  We just didn't have the time to set it up now that we have the teenie guy.  Instead, we decided to have a casual party.  We opened up the garage and put out a fire pit and kicked it with family and friends while passing out candy to all of the ninjas and princesses and vampires and other assorted creatures. 

Nathan, after attacking the candy.

Surprisingly, several trick-or-treaters really missed our haunted house.  Some even looked visually devastated, though that may have been make-up.  But really, 10-15 people asked what happened to the haunted house because they were looking forward to it all night.  Instead they had to settle for a measly, little candy bar.  Well, maybe we'll be back in full force next year.

Anyhoo, here are some photos from Nathan's first Halloween.  As you can see Nathan was a bee.  Laura was a butterfly, Sonoma a lady bug.  And Gary?  Well, Gary decided to be a flower.  Yeah, a flower. So wassup?!?!?!  You want a piece of me?  You want a piece of me not.  You want a piece of me?  You want a piece of me not.

Help! The bee is attacking me!

So yeah, I'm a flower - I thought it would be fun if we matched and since bees like flowers and I was likely to be holding him at some point...  Besides, wouldn't it be weird if you saw a vampire holding a bee?  I mean, c'mon, they're allergic to bees.  However, I think I made my flower petals a bit too big.  But, hey, large petals run in my family.  All in all, not to bad for a homemade costume, if I do say so myself.

*So I tried to put the last two pictures side by side - anyone know how to do that?

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Monday, October 26, 2009

Zoo! Membership Has Its Benefits.

We are now officially zoo members.  It has been so long since either of us have been to the zoo, and I believe the last few times, it was for zoo lights when all the animals were sleeping.  Well, okay, not the nocturnal ones.  Or the party animals.  But I digress, we haven't been to the zoo to see the animals in possibly 10 years. 

This was also Nathan's first time to the zoo and we were so excited to take him.  On top of that, his buddy, Brady, and his parents We-Lisa and Shaun also joined us.  They are actually Platinum members, having been members for decades, so we let them show us the ropes, lest we fall in and get stomped by an elephant.

Nathan and Mommy

If you look closely you can actually see a monkey.  I know it's hard with all of the green around, but just to the right of the hot lady you can see the cutest little monkey face peering out.


Actually, there is a monkey in this picture.  No, really, there is.  And I don't mean Nathan.  In the cage just to the right of Nathan's cute little head.  Yes, just past the adorable baby.  Stop looking at the baby.  If you want to see the monkey, you have to stop looking at the teenie, tiny, widdle, cuddly....Sorry about that.  Back to the story.  Ahem.  Where was I?  Oh yes, the monkey.  I didn't have time to read the info, so it may not actually be a "monkey," but it is in the monkey family.  Maybe a distant cousin.  Twice removed.  Likely tossed out by security for an "item" throwing incident.

"Not my toes!"

Here I am feeding Nathan to the giant tortoises.  Actually, if the fence wasn't there Laura would have been eaten by not one, but two, giant tortoises because, A) she's slow (I keed, I keed), and B) despite their size, she didn't see them.  Nature might be on to something with this whole camouflage thing.

Fun at the zoo

And finally, the giraffes.  Nathan has been waiting his whole life for this.  He has a little giraffe toy, Sophie, that he loves and he was so excited to see a real life Sophie.  Though, the real ones don't squeak when you squeeze them.  Well, actually, I've never squeezed a real giraffe, so maybe they do squeak.

And that was our first family zoo trip.  We only saw a fraction of what the zoo has to offer.  We didn't even make it to the lions and tigers and (we did see a bear, at least part of one - he was sleeping).  Even outside of all of the animals, there are tons of other activities and events to enjoy.  Good thing we have a membership now, especially since admission runs $16 per person.  As long as we go more than 2 times, we will pay for the annual membership cost and since many of our friends have memberships, I'm sure we'll be back monthly, if not more.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Blog Re-design In Process

Well after about a year, I've decided that I should finally learn some more about html and css to do a little re-design of the blog - leave the default layout nest and start creating my own. Let me know your thoughts or suggestions.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Review # 6: The Beatles - Rubber Soul

Uh, oh. Looks like they turned to drugs. Just looking at the cover you can tell they're high. Hopefully this translates into good music, because looking back, they seem to be hit or miss (though missing mainly because of cover songs and lame ablum filler).

  1. Drive My Car - Wow, you must really like her Paul. She can drive your car? Actually, that's not what the song is really about, but not a bad way to start the album.

  2. Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown) - I love everything about this song: the melody, the mysterious lyrics, the Law & Order twist at the end, the sitar played by George who was influenced by Ravi Shankar, father of Norah Jones, who was in "My Blueberry Nights" with Jude Law, who was in the "Road To Perdition" with Tom Hanks, who was in Apollo 11 with...Kevin Bacon.

  3. You Won't See Me - The longest song of the Beatles career thus far and it feels like it.

  4. Nowhere Man - A pretty good song that sounds like it was influenced while under the influence of the ganja. Also, Nowhere Man could be a pot-head getting lectured about the path he's taken - somewhat ironic considering their new hobby.

  5. Think For Yourself - As stipulated in his contract, Georgie gets his very own song that he can show his mother and impress the ladies. Though, I'm pretty sure only his mother like this one.

  6. The Word - Before the bird was the word, the word was the word. Or something.

  7. Michelle - A good song with some dumb lyrics, but somehow it works (and somehow won a Grammy for Song of the Year). On a side note, Slick Rick (the rapper) mis-interprets the French lyrics "sont des mots qui vont très bien ensemble" as "Some dumb monkey bumped his head on." I know, a Grammy, WTF?

  8. What Goes On - While everyone is high, Ringo, joking around, hits record and starts singing a song that didn't make the first album...this piece of crap. Maybe it's funny if you listen to it while your high. Speaking of which...

  9. Girl - A good song, but it sounds like they are taking a hit of weed everytime the title is mentioned. An early form of a drinking game, perhaps, but with weed, because The Beatles were gangsta, bitch!

  10. I'm Looking Through You - Well after that much weed, I might be looking through you too. Actually this song is about Paul's girlfriend of 5 years. This is almost as bad as breaking up by email. The songs not that bad though.

  11. In My Life - In a moment of clarity, John writes this great song.

  12. Wait - Don't tell me what to do.

  13. If I Needed Someone - After finding out the Ringo recorded another song, George pulls out his contract and demands another song. This is the result of that little tantrum. The world would be a better place without that contract.

  14. Run For Your Life - John gets high and goes psycho: "I'd rather see you dead, little girl, than to be with another man." All while a little Eminem listens intently at home.

Well, it turned out that the drugs helped do the trick. They seem more relaxed and free. The good songs are really good and the bad songs, well, they still sort of work in a drug influenced kind of way. All considered, this is a pretty decent album.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Puppy Party

Here are some highlights from the Sonoma's 4th birthday party. Yeah, I know, can you believe she's 4 already?

The first game we played was musical sit (similar to musical chairs, get the picture). The photo is of Sonoma coming in 2nd, mainly because she sits like a girl, taking her sweet time, finding the right spot, careful not to get her fur dirty. Otis on the other hand (the lab on the right, who won) was more like, sit-boom-okay dad, what's next.

All the doggies lining up for a little race. Sonoma smiling for the camera.

And they're off... Otis won this one too, but gratiously offered his prize to the runner up. Man, he's good.

Happy Birthday to Sonoma! Yes, we're those kind of parents. Laura baked a cake for her baby-puppy with all the things a little puppy likes, including sprinkles of bacon on top.

Thanks to everyone for coming out for Sonoma's 4th birthday party.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Review #5: The Beatles - Help!

The first step to self improvement is admitting you have a problem and need some help. Finally the Beatles reach this tipping point, although being a little self conscience, the decide to mask their cries for help with flag signals. Unfortunately, the photographer thought that H - E - L - P in flag signals wasn't visually appealling so they instead spelled out: N - U - J - V! Apparently they need help in more ways than one. Let's see if they manage to get any.

  1. Help! - I'm assuming this is the first of many pleas for help - and I fear that if they don't get any help they might turn to drugs and begin to resent one another. Oh, and this song is pretty decent.

  2. The Night Before - Keeps the album moving, not bad, but nothing stellar. The lyrics don't seem to make much sense: "when I think of the things we did, it makes me cry" - what the f did you do?

  3. You've Got To Hide Your Love Away - Another of my favorite Beatles songs, this time for sentimental reasons, as I had a crush on my wife when I first heard this song and I had to hide my love away.

  4. I Need You - George gets his first of two songs, this time writing for himself. meh.

  5. Another Girl - Combined with the last song, the ablum is losing steam quickly. Paul seems to be rubbing it in his girlfriends face, maybe the one from track 2, not nice.

  6. You're Going To Lose That Girl - Another dud, that's three in a row. It seems to be a response to the previous track as John threatens to steal one of Paul girls.

  7. Ticket To Ride - A nice song about losing your girl. Given their schedule, I don't see how John has time to stalk and stifle so many women. Trivia Time - according to Wikipedia, the song title's meaning is in dispute, According to wholesome Paul it is supposed to be "Ticket to Ryde" - Ryde being a city in England somewhere, where his lost love is headed to. According to sex-obsessed John, it refers to a prostitute with a doctor's note declaring her free from disease and thus "Ticket to Ride (a prostitute)" - Ride being slang for having sex. The lyrics seem to support Paul. I think John is messing with someone.

  8. Act Naturally - Ringo gets ahold of the mic while everyone is out of the room and presses record...

  9. It's Only Love - In 1980 Lennon said: "I always thought it was a lousy song. The lyrics were abysmal. I always hated that song." I am in 100% agreement.

  10. You Like Me Too Much - George's second song, keeping him one up on Ringo as stipulated in his contract. So if you're keeping score at home: George 2, Ringo 1, Listeners 0. I hope whoever allowed that into the contract was fired.

  11. Tell Me What You See - Nice instrumental, but other than that I don't see too much in this song. Wikipedia, on the other hand, suggests this unmemorable song is pivotal in the growth of the Beatles. Although I could see it growing on me.

  12. I've Just Seen A Face - This sounds like what Simon and Garfunkle would sound like if they did a country song.

  13. Yesterday - A great song, possilbly better known by its original title, "Scrambled Eggs." No seriously. Try singing it for yourself.

  14. Dizzy Miss Lizzy - Aaaaaand were done.

Yes, they need help, and hopefully they find it somewhere before they turn to drugs. Of course after hearing this you may want to take some drugs too. The good songs on here are really good, but the rest simply suck. You'll find what you need on the greatest hits disk that you already picked up instead of album #2. And who knows, that may also save you from experimenting with drugs for first time.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Temecula Trip

We just took Nathan on his first ever trip/vacation and he was amazing throughout the whole weekend. We were a little nervous about how he would take the 6.5 hour drive to Temecula (normally 5-5.5 hours, but we were expecting a few baby stops. No, not small stops, like baby steps, but stops to tend to the baby, you know feeding, diaper changes, that sort of thing). But to our amazement and delight, Nathan was perfect. He sat in his little car seat either sleeping or looking around the whole way. Even when he was a little fussy it was only for a few minutes when we were looking to stop for lunch and he was getting hungry. Even during the wedding he was a calm, happy baby and instead of loud crying at bedtime (which he has been known to do) he simply fell asleep, even with the loud wedding music playing. I don't know what everyone is talking about, this baby thing is cake! (knock on wood and all that stuff so as to not offend the karma guy from high atop the thing)

This was also our first time to Temecula, heading out there for one of my best friend's wedding at Falkner Winery. And since we enjoy wine country, we stayed an extra day to do a little wine touring. But first the rehersal dinner and wedding.

Rehearsal at the winery: Nathan rehearsing his crawling while daddy rehearses walking down an imaginary aisle.

Nathan enjoying the winery

"Fake grass? But it feels so real!"

"ASU!! ASU!!"

So we didn't think Nathan could get any cuter, and then we put him in his little ASU jacket and took turns squeezing him to bits.

Friday night at the wedding:

And then we put him in his little red vest and took turns squeezing him to pieces.

In the hotel room (obvisouly):
Don't you just want to pick him up and squeeze him?

Winery Picnic:

We only visited two wineries on Saturday. Normally (as in the few times we've been to Napa/Sonoma) we hit 4-5 wineries per day, but we figured we would need to cut back to accomodate the teenie guy and stay relaxed. Also, we usually plan a winery picnic during our tour because, well, it's fun, we get hungry, it helps to sober us up, and it refreshes our palate for the next round of tastings. So to continue with our tradition, we picnicked on the picturesque hill atop which sits Cougar Winery. Picturesque, beacause, well I took this picture. A little arid, but still not a bad way to enjoy some grub with the teenie guy. The wines were so-so, but we did pick up a rosé that was surprisingly good.

The other winery we visited was Ponte, which turned out to be better than our first impression. I say that because as we entered it was packed and looked very commercial, which in our experience tends to coincide with a lack of personality and character and when tasting wine, we like a little character. But we bellied up to the bar at the right place because our server was friendly, knowledgeable and engaging. On top of that the wines were pretty good too. We each had 6 tastings and the bartender offered generous pours, which was fine since we had planned to eat an early dinner there anyway.

If you are considering a trip to wine country, Temecula provides a great value as it is a short drive away and offers a variety of unique wines that you will not find anywhere else, mainly because the wineries are fairly small and are not sold anywhere else. So if you've never been I would recommend a visit.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

You Can't Stop Him, You Can Only Hope To Contain Him

"Me and my castle"

So our teenie guy has been mobile for about a month now and he keeps getting better, stronger, faster. We originally set up little speed bumps when he was just rolling around and those seemed to work well - he would just roll and stop. Then he would go the other way. Then, he learned to crawl and he would crawl up to them and contemplate what to do. Sometimes he would manage to figure out how to get past them. Since they were just velcroed to the floor, he sometimes kicked them loose or crawled up to them, grabbed them, and ripped them loose, holding the bumper in the air in celebration before seeing something else, getting distracted and rushing after the new object. Which brings us to now...

"Me in my castle, a.k.a. The Fun Zone"

I want to be over there and nothing will stop me, grrrrr. Except when we accidentally rolled out of control onto the tile and waaaAAAAAHHHHHHHH! That wasn't very fun, but darn it, I still want to go that way. So we had to buy this lovely little baby gate to contain him.

"Hey, that looks interesting!"

And what does he do? He starts to pull himself up!!! Seriously, stick with crawling for a bit. It can't be old yet, you just started. Savor the moment, enjoy it for a while. But no, Nathan wants to stand, so every chance he gets he tries to pull himself up. It's kind of funny too, every time he gets standing he looks around for us and then smiles really big like, "Look at me!!! Look what I can do! Hee hee."

"Look mommy, one hand!"

And of course the baby gate is just short enough to leave a small opening, just enough for crawl through. And guess who should happen to find it immediately and ever since be automatically be drawn to it like it has its own magnetic pull?
"I'm FREE!!!"

And speaking of magnetic pull...Nathan can seem to find any and every little hazard that we should have baby proofed for. And not only that, the stuff we can't move or block just yet, he remembers where it is. I thought that it was "out of sight, out of mind" for the first year. But, no, once he found the speaker cord and realized how wonderful it tasted (kind of like french vanilla ice-cream, I suppose) he heads straight for it. I will pick him up and put him back in the fun zone and he is immediately off and crawling through the opening, around the sofa, and behind the speaker until it's back in his tiny little hand. I think he has a little map somewhere...

And he's getting faster too, he can now cross the room about as fast as I can. So whereas we used to have time to put him at one end of the room and make a sandwich (while still watching him, of course) before he could get into any trouble. Now, he's crawling out of the room with us, side by side. So he has been keeping us on our toes.

Sonoma too. Now that he is mobile he enjoys chasing Sonoma around. Luckily for Sonoma, she is faster than all of us, but I'm sure she gets sick of moving all the time to escape the little fur grabber.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Review #4: The Beatles - Beatles For Sale

Okay, seriously, who buys beetles? I mean, really, that's just gross. Unless you are referring to these guys, but still, c'mon, look at their hair, it looks today. Get a haircut!

Anyhoo...fresh back from Hollywood, the Beatles released album number 4 just in time for Christmas 1964. So, let's see, that's what, another 5 months after that last album. hmmm, I'm thinking this might be a little rushed. And when checking the Wiki-man, yep, 6 covers all in an effort to hit stores for the holiday shopping season. And who doesn't love a good sale?

Judging by the cover, these guys are either tired or starting to get serious. And since it's their 4th album in 21 months, I'm going with tired. Let's see how they did.

  1. No Reply - The album starts off on a somber note - John's girl is avoiding him and no wonder, it sounds like he's stalking her - peaking through her window and calling all the time. A nice bouncy tune with a little pinch of crazy; and then it ends abruptly.

  2. I'm a Loser - After losing his girl in the previous song, John loses a little self-esteem, though with some nice voice inflections, I might add.

  3. Baby's in Black - I am going to assume that Lennon is mourning his girl from the first song, probably after John killed her in a bout of depression he suffered in song two. It's fairly short, likely to prevent John from incriminating himself. I didn't care for this so much.

  4. Rock and Roll Music - Now this is more like it. Lennon again jacks Chuck Berry, but this time doesn't seem to care if he breaks the song or not - he's out to prove something here. Or maybe he is just partying after stalking and killing his last girlfriend and getting away with it.

  5. I'll Follow the Sun - Slowing it down here, but with a nice melody. Apparently it only takes 1 minute and 49 seconds to break up with your girlfriend to wander aimlessly around the world hoping that she'll figure out what she's lost, though by then you're both alone...poor Paul.

  6. Mr. Moonlight - What the hell is this crap?

  7. Kansas City/Hey, Hey, Hey, Hey - They apparently combined two songs as an ode to a city I doubt they ever visited.

  8. Eight Days a Week - A nice fade in to a classic track to make up for the last two songs. I've always liked how the chorus slows down a bit. Word on the street is that Lennon refused to play this song live as he didn't like it, probably because it was a love song and not a stalking, freak-out-your-lover song.

  9. Words of Love - Covering Buddy Holly this time and not too badly either. At least they are not afraid to show their personality anymore.

  10. Honey Don't - Ringo again draws the short straw and gets stuck with this miserable excuse for a song. I think the bad thing about covering songs from the '50s is that they are lacking any resemblence of an actual verse and just repeat the chorus or song title over and over again.

  11. Every Little Thing - The instrumental is far better than the lyrics here.

  12. I Don't Want to Spoil the Party - Yet they do with this song.

  13. What You're Doing - hmmm, I could have sworn this was just on.

  14. Everybody's Trying to Be My Baby - Apparently George's contract stipulated that he will get to sing more songs than Ringo so they added this cover to finish off the album and shut him the hell up.

Overall, John sounds depressed on this album as his girl leaves him, he decides that he's a loser, (probably kills her), and by the end of the album his date stands him up at a party. So much for Beatlemania. Paul even leaves his girl for the sweet warmth of the Sun and after working 8 days a week, it's no wonder the album cover shows them sad and a little pissed off. Maybe they were really having a fire sale to rid the shelves of the crap before creating better albums. The first half sucks (to put it nicely) and the second half starts nicely before taking a turn for the worse so unless you enjoy feeling like crap, I'd say pass on this album as your "best of" disc (that you bought to avoid album #2) will have the good songs from this album too.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Happy Birthday, Sonoma!!!

Our little baby puppy is turning four today. I can't believe she is already four. I can still remember bringing her home, how tiny she was, back when Laura could still carry her (I still can, but at 75 lbs, not very far). She has adjusted well to having a little brother around who I'm sure will begin to torment her more and more as he gets more mobile. As it is, now that Nathan can crawl, he chases her around the room, but luckily he's not too quick yet, allowing Sonoma to slowly move away. Once he's old enough, I'm sure they will have fun playing together, we'll just have to teach both of them how to not share their toys.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Review #3: The Beatles - A Hard Day's Night

Five months later and another Beatles album. Either no other bands existed at this time, or these guys were popular and talented enough to create compelling material, though after the last album...

Album #3 is actually a soundtrack to a film of the same name, likely to capitalize on Beatlemania and make a quick buck - why else would you cast 4 guys with no acting experience in a movie? Surprisingly, the film was nominated for two Oscars, one of which is for writing. Also of note, it was "the first Beatles album to feature entirely original compositions," according the the always correct Wikipedia (the main source for my Beatles info). The title was the brainchild of Ringo in a Yogi Berra moment (without the wit or intention), later to be continued with the song 8 Days A Week, and I assume the coining the phrase "giving 110%."

Again, a short album without a single song breaking the 3 minute mark. I guess that's what happens when you only have a few days rest between albums. This album was also the first 4 track recording for the Beatles, so feel free to cop the stereo version if you don't have a soul and want to wipe your muddy feet on the art that the Beatles created.

  1. A Hard Day's Night - Things kick off nicely here with one of their more recognizable songs, that appears to be about coming home to your flat and shagging your gal. Is that a cowbell I hear? More cowbell, I need more cowbell!

  2. I Should Have Known Better - I could take it or leave it. On a side note, Wikipedia says John had a little hissy fit about his harmonica during the recording of this song.

  3. If I Fell - A warm and fuzzy love song with a nice melody. Unlike the cover songs on the first two albums, this feels like they are feelin' it. All in all, it's okay. For those of you who care, "this was also Kurt Cobain's favourite Beatles song" or so says the wiki-man (with an extra "u" too be snooty).

  4. I'm Happy Just to Dance with You - Mood and lyrics fit - a happy, bouncy tune that picks up the momentum, though the lyrics are quite basic.

  5. And I Love Her - One of my favorite Beatles songs, of course the guitar solo in the middle kind of sounds like someone is learning to play, in my opinion.

  6. Tell Me Why - The momentum picks back up, with John interograting his crying girlfriend (or wife) as to why she lied (or he lied if you assume he's talking to himself to confess about his cheating). There's a weird Peanuts cartoon-sounding section about half way in that doesn't really fit.

  7. Can't Buy Me Love - Another classic Beatles song spawning numerous covers, a movie (not theirs), and a collectible lunch box. As noted by Wikipedia, this song has the opposite meaning of their last money song, Money (That's What I Want). But after 1 year, 3 albums, tours, and a movie I would assume that they have money now and realize its limitations. Or to further the analysis, the song Money (That's What I Want) was a cover so not their true feelings, but this song they wrote which may reflect their actual views. No?

  8. Any Time at All - Keeps the energy going even with Lennon's unsual pronunciation of "at all" as "uh TAll." Must be a British thing.

  9. I'll Cry Instead - ehh.

  10. Things We Said Today - This song caught my attention and may be my 4th favorite on the album behind the 3 that made the greatest hits. This song seems to have more depth to it - I enjoyed the instrumental shifts and changes in tempo.

  11. When I Get Home - According to my iTunes player, this song was just on.

  12. You Can't Do That - John's big threat to his girl talking to another guy: "I'll let you down." Ooo, I'm scared. Unless in British English it means something else. Beyond this, it reveals a controlling Lennon "I told you before, you can't do that." No, no ladies, control yourself, he's all mine. (I think there might be cowbell in here, too.)

  13. I'll Be Back - After the previous song, I'm a little creeped out when Lennon says, "I'm the one who wants you." I think he might try to stalk someone at this point. Sequnced differently, I might like this one.

This album feels more like an album versus a collection of songs as the first half seems to follow a love theme (well I guess the whole album does), though the interwebs suggest that the "concept" album wasn't yet invented by the Beatles, so I credit the cohesiveness of the soundtrack to attempting to follow the theme of the movie (which I haven't seen). However, it was nominated for an Oscar for its writing so I have to assume that there's a story to follow in there somewhere.

While the good songs outweigh the bad, this album is still just average in my opinion. Of the three albums reviewed thus far, with is on par with their debut. If you are inclined to pick this one up you should know the stereo version of this album doesn't have the left/right feel to it, so either mono or stereo works well, maybe more so on the stereo side since it sounds cleaner (which should help if you have dirty feet).

Friday, September 18, 2009

The Beatles - with the beatles

So this is the UK version, the U.S. version was titled meet the beatles and released a couple months later with an altered track listing. According to Wikipedia: "released on 22 November 1963, the same day President John F. Kennedy was assassinated." I imagine it didn't do so well that first week, but then again, Jay-Z's The Blueprint was released on 9/11/01 and sold half a million copies the first week. Okay, so it was released in the UK in 1963 so they sold about 500k. The U.S. release came a few months later as Meet The Beatles.

So after their first album, they decided to take a whole four months off before recording this album. I imagine the 7.5 pounds they earned wasn't enough for them to go on holiday any longer. Again, a short album, with the longest song only 3 seconds longer than their previous record (no pun). Initially, this sounded like the album picked up in the middle of a song...suddenly, John is yelling at me that it won't be long (I know, your previous album was released just a few months ago, geez). I'd hate to see these guys the day before Christmas. Man, don't they have any patience?

This album had 8 original songs and six covers - let's see how they did...
  1. It Won't Be Long - John does a decent job with this, but overall it's just average as they try to kick off the album with some energy.

  2. All I've Got To Do - At this point I still can't tell John and Paul apart, but this song is better than the previous one, maybe because it sounds a bit more like Paul singing in my opinion.

  3. All My Loving - Paul goes solo with probably the best song on the album.

  4. Don't Bother Me - George takes the lead here with an average song that does nothing for me, in fact it kind of bothered me a bit. The music doesn't really fit the mood of the lyrics. The instrumental is just a bit too happy while George tries to sound...depressed?

  5. Little Child - Apparently, John wants to dance with some little child - not sure what the point of this song is. In fact, he kind of sounds like that strange uncle who is a bit too friendly until he scares them away with his harmonica. Pass.

  6. Till There Was You - First of 3 covers in a row - continuing the tradition of the previous album with a lack of passion (though, again, having never heard the original, maybe this is how it's supposed to sound).

  7. Please Mister Postman - The Beatles cover the first number 1 hit single for Motown - always a crowd pleaser. Nice job with this, but I prefer the original, mainly because of the background vocals.

  8. Roll Over Beethoven - Sticking with their cover band roots, they jack Chuck Berry this time. Not bad but they sing this like they're borrowing it and don't want to break it. Chuck Berry sings it like he owns it, which he does. It does a nice job keeping the energy high in the middle of the album though.

  9. Hold Me Tight - This was a reject from Please Please Me and should have been a reject here too. Paul sounds like he's fighting his way through this one. I wonder if this would sound better with a little AutoTune featuring T-Pain?

  10. You Really Got A Hold On Me - After the previous song, this sounds a bit better than it actually is. Pass.

  11. I Wanna Be Your Man - Ringo was hoping to redeem himself in case people misunderstood his previous ode to boys. I think he goes a bit overboard. Quite repetative too, as I think he repeats the title 98 times. Were verses not invented yet?

  12. Devil In Her Heart - Another cover that seems to drag on and it's only 2:30. It's like he's on a first date or an interview on his best behavior before allowing his personality to come out.

  13. Not A Second Time - This seems a bit ironic to me as this album feels like a second version of their first, but minus the good songs.

  14. Money (That's What I Want) - A cover song trying hard to be this album's version of Twist and Shout. Also this may be just them explaining that they were just trying to capitalize on the success of the first album and put this out to make a quick buck - seriously you only put 4 months work into this effort, it kind of shows.
I think they may have had a little sophmore slump going on, but then again, they only had 4 months so was do you expect. Speaking of which, over the course of about 8 years, they released 13 albums. In today's market, I doubt anyone would expect solid material on all those albums. In fact I'd bet the reviews would be horrendous if today's most popular artists dropped an album every 6 months. So 13 albums in 8 years, I'd expect them to be a bit watered down. Though since everyone raves about The Beatles, maybe they are the one group that can pull this off, but so far it is looking doubtful unless they continue to fill their albums with covers, but let's be honest, how far can that really take you?

Unless you love cover bands, but hate going to bars, I'd say pass on this one. In the end, you can find the highlights on a "Best of" disc that you'll probably need to buy anyway if you want to get all of the hit singles that never made the albums.