Thursday, September 24, 2009

Prince Howard

Just thought this was noteworthy. Prince Fielder (my new favorite non-Red Sox player) and Ryan Howard both hit their 42nd homers last night, both going to the opposite field on ridiculous pitches. These dudes are serious fuckin' hitters. Fielder hit a pitch that almost woulda been in a right-handed hitter's ear to send Bernie Brewer down the slide. Howard cranked a down and away pitch where only Miami Dolphin fans seem to buy tickets. Fat kids are pretty cool.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Monday's Poem: Orion Watches

Orion Watches

Orion hangs high above me
flirting with the horizon
of a hill
huge, like a god's eye
looming and leering

as if watching over me
in its brilliance this night
and I laugh at myself

the farcical notion
that a cluster of stars
spaced by thousands of light years
from each other and
millions from me
would throw a care
across the cosmos for
a miniscule being
such as myself.

but the hope
is part of the light
continuously bouncing
back and forth
between us, so
I keep imagining
with feigned naivete
that Orion watches over me.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Princely Dreams

Buster Olney, over at ESPN, speculates that Prince Fielder may be traded away from Milwaukee by the start of next season and I have to say that in my greediest moments, I would love to see that dude in a Red Sox uniform. With his insane left-handed power, he could do some serious Fenway damage. If not that scenario, then he is surely welcome here in Seattle, where I could go watch him every week.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Dice-K's Return

Let's have a little live blogging on this game, shall we?
Oh sweet! A leadoff walk to Chone Figgins and the Dicey fucker only took 7 pitches to do it.

Figgins steals 2nd, one out. Ooh, Abreu flies out and we have 2 down...there's hope yet, because he only has to deal with Bad Vlad. Wow, Dice-Fillet gets Vlad to ground out and only needed 18 pitches to get out of the first. Matsuzaka must feel like he just scaled Everest in a lazy afternoon hike. I mean, he only went to full counts on 2 of the 4 batters he faced.

By the way, I'm only commenting on my hate for Dice-K during this post. I wanna enjoy the rest of the game.

Top 2nd: Okay, I bitch about Dice's pitch count, but it did take John Lackey 23 tosses to get out of the 1st, sooooooo.

He gets Hunter out on 2 pitches! Things are lookin' up. Holy SHIT!!! Inning over in just 7 pitches. Are we sure this isn't a Dice-K replicant controlled by the ghosts of Hideo Nomo past??? And he's got a no-no through two (I know this is sacrilege and against the unwritten rules, but come on, it's Matsuzaka we're talkin' about here, he'll labor to stay under 100 pitches by the 6th...).

Top 3rd: First up is Eric Aybar. Dice's first offering to Aybar is about 8 inches outside. That's my boy!! Again, I shut my mouth, as Aybar pops out on 3 pitches. Seven straight retired. Jeff Mathis strikes out!!! This is getting tasty. Back to Figgins now, maybe he can walk him again. Oh damn, I be a soothsayer as Figgins-Newtons is on 1st after a free pass. Yeah, Figgy really is someone to cower from while on the mound. Why don't you go ahead and put a speedy base-stealer on two straight times. Well, at least Maicer Izturis is good at flying out to Drew to close out the inning. I guess Dice just bothers me with that look of "I don't have the drive to do anything." I mean, at least Kaz Sasaki broke himself out of the game while drunk, but Dice-K is just a Nietzsche passage away from slumping into a puddle of ennui and slinking into a dark corner forever.

Top 4th: Sadly, my man Ellsbury was thrown out trying to steal 2nd last inning. Oh well, at least Dice just struck out Bobby Abreu (who I've always thought would look nice in a garbage compactor, since his days with the Jankees). Even after 50 pitches (halfway through Hunter's at-bat), Dice still only throws strikes 50% of the time. Hunter pops out, no-no through 4. One nice thing? Lackey's had to throw more pitches than Matsuzaka. This is certainly an alternate reality moment.

Top 5th: On a hanging breaker, Dice gifts Morales with something to smack for a single. No more no-no. Rivera flies out, but Aybar gets the second hit of the inning (and the game) for the Angels to move Morales to 3rd. Gettin' scary. And Aybar steals second. Looks as though Dice-K doesn't care about that, specially since he likes having the bases drunk, so maybe he'll walk Mathis just to get comfortable...oop, nope, Mathis strikes out swinging. Wait! With Figgins up, he will be able to fill the bags with 2 out. Yippee!! Wow, Figgy strikes out and Dice is out of the 5th after just 72 pitches (usually a 3 inning count for him). Now if only the offense could give him some support.

Top 6th: With one out, Abreu doubles...God I hate that guy. That little self-congratulatory clap and grin that he pulled into second with makes me want to take a cheese-grater to his face (I need psychological help, maybe...or maybe everybody feels this way about Abreu). Bad Vlad's up! Out on strikes and then Hunter lines out to Peppah (Mike Lowell, for those of you not in the know). And who's that Terry Francona plain-clothes look-alike in the Sox dugout over the right shoulder of Dave Magadan??

Bot. 6th: Okay, that bunt single by Ells was the shit! I love how freakin' fast he is. And then Pedey bunts 'em up and the error on Lackey's throw make it 1-0!!!! Bay walks, bases chucked and Big Papi comin' up!!! Holy 2004 version of the Large Father!! Sox up 2-0.

Top 7th: Alright, got some mac n cheese and about to have to get ready for work, but let's see what's cookin in the 7th. Dice back out there with plenty of pitches to go, I guess. Get that bullpen warm boys! I was right. Morales walks and in comes Ramirez. This will end my Dice-hate-fest online for the night as I have to get ready to go sling beer to all you fools.

The Diceman Cometh To Give Me A Stroke

This nervous, sweaty-palmed, plate-nibbling mother fucker is gonna start for the Sox tomorrow. I wish I was a sports book so that I could make odds on how many batters faced the Dice will go to full counts on, how many batters he'll face total just to struggle to get through five innings and be in line for the loss and how many Red Sox Nation suicides will coincide with the inevitable train wreck of a start for Matsuzaka. Don't get me wrong, I'd love the Dice of the previous two seasons (at least record-wise, though he still threw too many pitches), but I really don't think that's what we're getting. I'm also perplexed as to why Teets and the Theos need to start him in the thick of a Wild Card race. Is this a contractual obligation that that demon Scott Boras added into his paperwork?
It also doesn't help that he's squaring off against John Lackey, who looked pretty fabulous in hyis last start, holding the Mariners down like Louis XVI at the guillotine.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Nosaj Thing: Drift

So, I'm a little behind in chattin' y'all up about this one. Who gives a fuck?!? This record is fantastic. A perfect blend of future-Tron synthesizers and crunchy beats with a great sensibility for crafting 'songs'. "Light 1" has a beautifully touching breakdown where everything vanishes except a loving, yet still crusty keyboard. If Nosaj is a disciple of J Dilla (others have said it, not me...), he has surely run into new territory with this album. A true sign of a quality album is how long it endures to secure a spot in heavy rotation and how it is listenable in various situations (in the car, at work, working out, vegging out...). Certainly recommended.

Score: 8/10

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Olafur Arnalds: Found Songs

Olafur Arnalds laments for your soul. This short little record displays a sense of beauty that puts him in a class with Max Richter and fellow countryman Johan Johansson. While brief in time, this EP is filled with timeless beauty that expounds upon the limitlessness of love and wanting. If you haven't yet heard of or heard Mr. Arnalds, I strongly suggest you check him out, as he is currently composing some of the most attractive Neo-Classical tunes around at the moment.

Score: 7.5/10

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Quiet Personal Electronics

One last bit of HipHop to throw your way today (tonight? this morning?), before I quit for now. QPE (aka Quiet Personal Electronics) has put out a pretty interesting platter of instrumental beats for our listening enjoyment.

Some of the rim shot and cymbal sounds on this record remind me of that gritty style of drum programming I've always associated with the metallic pinging of slide-action pistol noises. The association has nothing to do with the violent force of guns, but just the sounds made by them (I hope y'all can divorce yourselves from that so you don't make some stupid assumption like that I'm making associations with tools of violence because it's HipHop. You'd be dead wrong. Pun intended.). The squishy, bean-bag chair bass sonics make a nice wide seat for the rest of the sounds. Occasionally, there are Boards of Canada-esque synthesizers, but then a lot of arpeggiated noise, too. QPE likes to throw in these angular, incongruous drum sounds at times and at first, it sounds like shit, but then you give it a chance on the second go 'round and discover that they add an oddly psychedelic texture along with early digital phone tones.

Good headphone beats to rock while biking, skating or something else of the like.

Score: 6/10

The Coolest Celebrations in Baseball

The Milwaukee Brewers might just be the coolest, hippest baseball team in the majors. I say this based solely on their creative celebratory style. First, when Ryan Braun or Prince Fielder hit a home run, their own bash brothers hand jive is the sparring jabs of a boxer and his trainer. Now, I thought that was pretty fuckin' cool and innovative. But then yesterday, the Milwaukee Brewers blew my freakin' mind. When Fielder squashed, I mean absolutely swatted, a walk-off dinger in the bottom of the 12th, their home plate fracas of fun was one of the greatest things I've ever seen in baseball. When Fielder gets to home plate to be greeted by his teammates, I fully expected the same old mobbing that David Ortiz or anybody else would get, but...that wouldn't be. When he lands on the plate, his teammates all fall on their backs the moment he lands, signifying a grand explosion, and then he looks to the heavens, arms outstretched in a way that almost made him look like an anime character, and basks in the glory of what he has just done. So, follow the link provided and watch the first video clip from that game and you'll see what kinda magic I'm talkin' 'bout!!

Monday, September 7, 2009

Onra: Les Chinoiseries

French DJ/Producer Onra (who's of Vietnamese descent) took a trip to Southeast Asia and returned home to Paris with a bundle of old Vietnamese Pop records under his arm. The dust, crust and pops of old, worn wax shines through in a gorgeous way on his LP Les Chinoiseries. All the cuts are enjoyable and certainly head-nod worthy. "The Anthem" is one of the funkiest ass tracks I've heard in a long time (anywhere from a week or so to a year, you figure it out), with a horn section and strings lending each other a hand in a backbeat double dutch of delight. Meanwhile, speaking of funky tracks, after about 27 straight listens to "I Wanna Go Back", I just had to go drop the needle on some older J-Zone shakers. I love that, just like a cluster of capillaries blown up under the miscroscope, somehow you can find the most distant, string-thin connections through the HipHop SpaceTime Continuum. With ears like mine, you could say I'm the Stephen Hawking of the musical goldmine, the way I process sounds and beats and spit it back out with words so fine, I even make the moon happy enough to go shine when it's go time....
...Whoah, uh sorry, er, not really. I guess I just felt the HipHop spirit and had to let loose on a rhyme, just to illustrate how good this album makes me feel.

Also, does anybody else feel like the picture on the cover art almost looks like some dude pretending to be Bruce Lee with that pose?? I dunno why, but I just keep looking at it and seeing scenes from Enter the Dragon.

Score: 7/10

Dak: Standthis

Aside from my endless appreciation for Jay Dee's beats for the Pharcyde back in the day, I was never on top of the J Dilla love fest until, sadly, just about the time of his death. It wasn't a dislike or opining of low-quality HipHop, but I just didn't feel it, hadn't come around to the chopped up approach to HipHop funk. Well, I've come full curcle for sure; not only do I dig Dilla's cuts, but the whole new sub-genre of cut-up, wonky HipHop. In fact, the likes of Dilla, Paul White, Dr. WhoDat?, Onra and many others have gifted me with a fully rejuvenated hope for HipHop. And, they have all proven me wrong in my frumpy, all-too-quick pronouncements of the death of HipHop. I learn my lessons, it just takes me a while occasionally.

So, yet another LA producer comes with a bangin' set of beats this year, on the trail of fellow SoCal beatsmith Nosaj Thing. The style is choppier than Dilla, but maintains the ability to move butts (whether sitting in front of a computer while writing or dancing). I love the use of snare rolls nearly to the point of excess and the sparse '70s elevator Jazz samples and Soul vocals that exudes an early People Under The Stairs crate-digging aesthetic. Continuity and flow are never lost in Dak's chopped-up style, which is key in my mind, because HipHop, as a descendant of Jazz, must always retain that swing.

While this release is basically an EP by standards of length (a hair over 24 minutes), being spread out over 12 tracks makes it transition more like an album. Maybe this is what the EP was really supposed to be, a short work that never reminds you just how short it is, instead, it works tirelessly to expand your sense of time while listening.

At a time when there are no more coast wars in HipHop, I am proud to say that I currently live on the coast that seems to be most concerned with keeping the artform alive. Kudos to Dak for a work well done and I look forward to more to come. This is definitely a recommended release!

Score: 7.25/10