Not Music: Finally, Honesty In A Baseball Talk

RotoWire has graciously asked me to participate in the up-to-now Erickson/Liss Charging The Mound stream of consciousness blog and I’m doing so. Chris Liss has been mentioning this when I talk to him for a while (he posted it in this week’s blog) and it’s just too good to not post everywhere possible:

Cage Match: Greg Maddux v. Bill Frisell

frisellI did not get to see The Upper Crust last night, but my life-long mate Stephen Clayton and I did venture across the bay to San Rafael, to Terrapin Crossroads (Phil Lesh’s place) to see Frisell and his band touring behind the guitar player’s latest disc, Guitar in the Space Age. maddux(Note that I have wanted to see the guitarist for years.)

True, it ain’t rock, but, that does not mean the music doesn’t rock. These guys–for this video is the same band Stephen and I saw–were arguably the most talented collection of musicians I have ever seen playing live with one another. The interplay and musicianship and notes chosen by the collective was breathtaking (watch this and you will see what I mean).

But, in deference to my previous Edge  v. Tekulve post, I have started thinking of guitarists in terms of ballplayers, and this time, I could only think of the great Cub and Brave, Greg Maddux as a parallel.

Both can clearly paint the corners, and are artists with a true craft within their respective profession. And, they don’t really look alike, but do sort of have the same look in their eye in the above pics, huh?

Stylish, smart, never overtly overpowering, yet always dominant, Maddux could make the perfect pitch just as Frisell squeezes out the perfect note. Both Hall of Famers!


Cage Match: Kent Tekulve v. The Edge

tekulveAs I walked into BileTones (I guess that is the correct spelling) practice the other day, my mate Tom Nelson handed me a pamphlet that had a pic of Phillies hurler Rick Wise on the cover.

Tom told me he got the little handout–the title of which is Balk–at a Twins game at Metropolitan Stadium back in 2009. The whole little brainchild of Balk was by David Selsky, who along with former Pirates closer Kent Tekulve concocted an hysterically funny collection of baseball cards of bespectacled players.

The names and pics are priceless: Gary Gross, Rick Reuschel, Lee Walls, Carl Sawatski, Chris Knapp, and Craig Kusick (just looking at his beak on a card makes me wonder how he wound up a hitter and not a plumber?).kusick

However, the whole thing made me think of submariner Tekulve, and for some reason I contextualized his skill set with that of the Edge, the guitar player from U2 who I like and who Steve does not.

Let me say this to start: I have never had a friend quite like Steve. For some reason, about half the things we believe in and process could not be more simpatico; however, the remaining 50% could not be more diametrically opposed. Very strange.

Back to the philosophy, Tekulve was not a hard thrower. In fact, to the contrary, he threw underhand and lived on sinkers, location, and delivery deception to build a pretty successful career with a 98-90 record, 2.80 ERA, and 184 saves. But for sure, he did not overpower hitters a la Goose Gossage or Eric Gagne or Aroldis Chapman.

But, he got the job done, satisfactorily, and were he pitching today, Tekulve would be a well thought of Fantasy Baseball closer (1.250 career WHIP).

OK, so to the Edge, where the guitar player does not really approach his craft like Eric Clapton or Mick Ronson or Keef, who are clearly masters of the axe. edge

Edge relies more on sonics and harmonics–though he can play blues licks for sure–and pedals, along with dropping the fifth of the chord very often, to attain this signature chorusy shimmering sound.

Now, I get that Steve doesn’t really consider this playing, but my philosophical question to start the week is what the Edge does any less successful–and thus worthy of our approval–than was how Tekulve nudged his outs via groundballs by frustrated hitters?

Since I do like the Edge (and U2), and can not legally see without my spectacles, I approve swimmingly of both.

But, I guess it is a personal thing.

What do you say?

Night Music: Hoagy Carmichael (w/Lauren Bacall), “Am I Blue?”

Friday night, and as I was making dinner (this time cayenne fried chicken with mashed potatoes and gravy) this great song from To Have and To Have Not jumped the synapses.

Directed by the equally great Howard Hawks (Bringing Up Baby, The Big Sleep, Red River, and Ball of Fire to name a few), with a screenplay by Ernest Hemmingway, To Have and To Have Not is in fact based upon a Hemmingway short story. But, rumor has it, there is very little in the film that has anything to do with the story.

Which doesn’t mean the film isn’t just great. It was Lauren Bacall’s and Humphrey Bogart’s first film together (in fact this was Bacall’s firgst film, period, and she was 19 at the time) and the chemistry is undeniable.

This is the film where Bacall suggestively tells Bogart he knows how to whistle (“you just put your lips together, and blow”).

The film also features Walter Brennan as a tookothless rummy sidekick named Eddie, and a joke of mixed-up names, for Bogart’s name is Harry Morgan, but Bacall always calls him Steve, while Bacall’s name is Marie Browning, but Bogart calls her Slim.

Anyway, the equally wonderful Hoagy Carmichael (as Cricket) plays throughout (remember, this is a 40’s movie, and music and song were part of the equation), including this cool number where he starts solo, and where Slide m helps him finish up.

Tres cool for a Friday night.

Thanksgiving Breakfast Blend: Danny Kaye, “The Dodger Song”

As I have probably written before, when I was little, I did not realize I was contrary.

But, I was a Dodger fan in Northern California during the 60’s, so that should have told me all I needed to know.

In 1962, this song by Danny Kaye, made the local charts for obvious reasons.

And, Peter’s Wilco/DiMaggio posts made me think of this song (of which I can still remember all the words).

This is a pretty cool video, by the way. Leggo city (all we had were Lincoln Logs and Erector Sets).


Night Music: Wilco and Billy Bragg (Woody Guthrie), “Joe Dimaggio’s Done It Again”

Joe Dimaggio was born 100 years ago today. Last year we posted the great Teddy Powell Band tune, Joltin’ Joe.

This year, Wilco and Billy Bragg’s rendering of Woody Guthrie’s lyrics, from their second Mermaid Avenue album. Happy Birthday, Joe.

I don’t know why Joe Dimaggio has so many songs. There is, of course, that Simon and Garfunkel song, and Les Brown’s original hit recording of Joltin’ Joe. I think I prefer the Teddy Powell version.

Breakfast Blend: ? and the Mysterians, “96 Tears”

In the same vein as Hey Little Girl and the Music Machine posts of late, 96 Tears came bopping out of the KTKE stream the other day, and as much as I love that the station drops gems from the past into their mix without warning, I never understood why this song was such a big hit.

Like Incense and Peppermints or Spirit in the Sky, or (double gag) MacArthur Park, this song did and still does little for me. But, all those songs were big hits somehow.

OK, if you turn the volume up while streaming the vid below, it is not horrible, but certainly not any kind of a break through classic song. And, as a garage song, it does not compare with Talk Talk, or even Na Na Hey Hey (Kiss Him Goodbye) in my meager view.

I am sure this will rankle many, and I am sorry if you love it. Give me Jackie Wilson’s Higher and Higher over it any minute of any day of the week.

Algo diferente para ustedes

The professor of my Latin American culture class has us listen to a song or two before every class so that we can dissect them as a group. Today’s song was featured in the motion picture The Motorcycle Diaries. I just like it, and I thought some of you might enjoy it as well.

Breakfast Blend: Frank Zappa and Steve Allen

John Cage opens the door to this bit of silliness, which was also broadcast on a popular TV show on a network when there were only three channels. Lots of civilians watched.

Zappa is similarly affable, aware that he’s crossing the line and at the same time using that to expose people to a pretty radical idea. And Steve Allen is funny.