As good as it gets

... On 'West Wing,' the Santos Administration is moving in and Arnold Vinnick could be the next chief of staff ...

... On 'Desperate Housewives,' Gabby just lost her baby (hello, Eva Longoria!! ...for once, she turned in a performance that was convincing dramatic and, dare I say, Emmy-worthy...) and Lynette is talking dirty to her boss's wife (HA-larious ...)...

... and on Grey's Anatomy, well ... it's simply the best all-around show on TV...

... Oh, the days when Thursday nights (and NBC) ruled TV land. ...that is no more.

... Television has never got the week off to a better start ...

PS: Dear ABC, Sure 'West Wing' won't be around next year -- heck, it's not even your show to worry about -- but don't even think about fiddling with your Sunday night lineup ...

Playing in the rain

Fresh off a brisk 3-mile MS Walk in the rain this morning ... here I am, watching the Zambrano (see today's Sun-Times) and the Cubs losing to the Brewers ... again ...

Yesterday, while most sports fans I know were watching the NFL draft ( ... why? I'll never understand. I can't stand watching the thing. To me, it's endless trail of talking heads and wannabes liek Mell Kiper spouting speculation and shout-outs with the announcement every thirty minutes or so of some lineman I never heard of ...), I, of course, was watching the Cubs game ...

Actually, as I told a family member at a party last night, during an endless string of teasing, the Cubs didn't play. The Brewers played. The Cubs didn't.

16-2. ... Six homeruns by the Brewers. Two of them by Prince Fielder. ... and seagulls descending on the outfield. Yowsers.

Turns out it was a productive day throughout MLB ...
a Tigers rock Twins 18-1; Yanks spank Jays 17-6
a Baseball in April has extraordinary performances
a Selig: No Ruth fete for Bonds

Further Sunday reading ...
a Instant-messaging 'away' notes relate comings and goings
a Frisco: It Has Its Faults Quake Centennial Stirs Grim Curiosity
a Eric Monte lives in a shelter and keeps his dreams on his laptop


Singing the same song

... I love it when you're driving and a glance at your rear-view mirror reveals the driver behind you is jammin to the radio -- just like you. ... It's even more fun when you realize the person behind you is listening to the same station and singing to the same song.

... I was singing to the Hollies' 'The Air That I Breathe.' ... so was the woman in the minivan behind me.


Remembering ...

There’s no doubt in my mind ‘United 93’ will top the box office at the end of the weekend. Some say it’s too late, some say it’s too soon … either way, it’s here, and count me among those who are glad it is, not in the form of an over-hyped, over-produced, computer-generated, explosive-packed Jerry Bruckheimer movie. But a simple film that remains true and accurate to the heroism that occurred that day.

With other things filling our schedules and movie tickets rivaling the price of a car, it’s likely Kates and I won’t see it until it’s on DVD … when the time comes, though, I will be more than ready and willing to take it in …

If it’s anything like A&E’s ‘Flight 93,’ which I saw earlier this spring, ‘United 93’ will be a powerful and historic account that will grip you from the very beginning, conjuring up all the heartache and horror we felt on 9/11. No doubt, as there were in the A&E film, there will be scenes that are tough to watch, but the scenes are very real …

Like JFK’s assassination, like the Titanic sinking, like the Challenger explosion -- 9/11 remains one of those mystifying, historic tragedies that will fascinate me forever. It's the news junkie/history buff coming out in me. The historic magnitude of it (and the fact I’m a pack rat …) is why I’ve collected a VHS tape full of documentaries and footage, a stack of magazines and newspapers from that daze of a September week and two CDs worth of audio clips and music inspired by the attacks …My way of remembering and honoring the victims, I guess …

It’s also hard to deny the lessons we’ve learned and the things we no longer take for granted since 9/11. We're reminded of that daily …

I know I’ll never forget it.

Even in rural Missouri, it was a sunny, gorgeous Tuesday morning and I was returning to my college apartment about 9 a.m. from an early rhetorical writing class I rarely made … and on the radio I hear the DJ give some vague report about the Twin Towers ‘leaning.’ Then the editor of my college newspaper, my gut told me there might be something to this and I promptly turned my car around to head to our student publications office (I hadn't yet come into the cell phone age so simply calling someone wasn't an option) …

Blowing through the door, I said something to a desk worker, who said she heard something too, but didn’t know for sure what was happening. I remember a race to find a television or radio before finally finding our newspaper adviser’s office. And there she was in her desk chair, glued to the TV coverage. And there it was, one of the towers on fire, thick black smoke pouring from it …

The more we watched, the clearer it became how real and serious this day would be …

Before the second plane crashed into the towers, I was on my way to my apartment to grab a camera and begin searching for reaction shots throughout the community. There was my roommate -- aka: our newspaper’s photography editor -- stumbling out of bed and getting ready to take a shower. All he had on his mind that morning was meeting a previous obligation to mow our adviser’s lawn. He had no idea what was going on and couldn’t have cared less about journalism at that moment in time. I'll never forget our intense exchange, me the hard-working editor, trying to clue him in on the enormity of the situation …

‘Well, John, we kind of have an American tragedy happening right now!’ I shouted, racing around our apartment putting together a camera and loading film …

…Minutes later I was popping in and out of the downtown shops and municipal offices to get reaction from residents and photos. The Super Wal-mart was eerily empty and quiet … and at the schools, the kids were virtually locked in classrooms, some were allowed to watch TVs, but most were shut out from anything outside their school’s walls …

And I’ll forever remember speeding out of the high school parking lot, my adrenaline flowing at full speed, with a cop and his flashing lights pulling up behind me. I had my license out and ready before he even got to my car, I knew I was going about 10 over, but I’m thinking ‘There is no way he can give me a ticket today …’ … He asks me where I’m headed. ‘I’m the editor of The Missourian and I’m just going around town to get some reactions and photos from the attacks this morning,’ I told him. If he needed any proof I was telling the truth, the camera was strapped around my neck in plain sight …The officer goes back to his car and returns a few minutes later, letting me off with a warning …

Then there were the frantic calls to the members of our newspaper staff, calling an early afternoon meeting. We were halfway into our production and ripped apart all the stories and pages we had planned for the week to start from scratch. And I begged everybody to just work together and help wherever they could.

There was the scramble to gas stations and then the lines, as we all feared gas prices were going to skyrocket. There was the call to my parents, as Peter Jennings and so many other TV analysts were urging, just to let them know I was thinking of them. There was the memorial that night around the bell tower in the center of our campus … I get chills thinking of it now. There were the members of our staff crowded around the television that night to watch President Bush’s speech … And there were several days of little sleep, skipped classes and endless, endless television coverage.

My memories.

Movie reviews & news...
a 'United 93': Is America Ready for the Movie?
a FAA Chief Relives 9/11 for the Big Screen
a Baltimore Sun: 'United 93' revisits the terror -- and the humanity -- of 9/11
a Arizona Daily Star: 'United 93' unflinchingly chronicles passengers' heroism
a Washington Post: 'United 93': Agonizing Heroism
a 'United 93' contributing to memorial
a For Paul Greengrass, a Connecting Flight

Other 9/11-related reads ...
a Freedom Tower work begins at WTC site
a Sept. 11 terrorist attacks claim latest victim
a Trying to Fill a Void Left by 9/11
a Lone Lawmaker Blocks Flight 93 Monument in Pa.
a 9/11 Museum Taps Holocaust Museum Official
a NY Times: Complete Coverage: The 9/11 Records (Oral histories and audio files)

Good day, sunshine

...It's Friday. Nothing better than driving into work to the B-side medley of 'Abbey Road' on The Drive.

... and then interviewing O.A.R.'s Richard On. The reason: On and his bandmates are going to be in town for a show next week. ... The interview went well, I thought. On's about as professional, and down-to-earth and nice a guy as they come. That, and it turns out he's part of a pretty decent band I should've started paying attention to a long time ago ...

...not that I wasn't 'paying attention.' I just didn't care for them much. I first heard of OAR a few years ago when a guy I was in a wedding party with talked about them almost non-stop (it seemed) for the entire weekend. ... course he was from Ohio. The land that made O.A.R. kings of the grassroots, indie genre.

... even when my editor told me a few weeks ago O.A.R. was coming to town and I my get the interview, I shrugged it off ... Lo and behold, listening to their recent stuff and preparing for the interview over the last couple days, they grew on me in a way I never anticipated ...

... The New York Times, and On sort of agreed, hit the nail on the head a few months ago when they called O.AR. 'Matchbox Twenty plus Maroon 5 plus UB40.' ... Add a little 311 in there too and O.A.R.'s catchy, rock raggae sound and tight jams is like nothing out there currently. Seriously how many bands draw comparisons to other bands spaced as far apart as Dave Matthews Band and UB40!?

... Their lastest album, 'Stories of a Stranger' is full of feel-good upbeat jams, mixed with some mellow beats too -- and plenty of singable melodies. ... and like that I'm hooked. ... Although they really had me the moment I learned Toby Lightman did back up vocals on a couple of the tracks, including the fourth one, 'The Stranger,' which is arguable the most beautiful song on the album.


... And to cap off my afternoon? I caught up on more of 'Love Monkey' during my lunch ... Again, thank you VH1!

Good day.


'Office' humor

I've said it before. I'll say it again ...

I love 'The Office' ...

Tonight's episode was HA-larious!!! As usual ...

Pam and Jim are adorable ...

Gently down the stream

After work today, my buddy Sean and I took to the harbor for some kayaking. ... The water was a chilly 46 degrees and a few people thought we were kind of crazy, but none of it beat how exhilarating it felt to be back on the water ...

nothing but water ahead of us ...

passing some colorful yachts...

heading home...



So I had Barry Bonds on my mind, and I'm sitting down to write quick post about it ... and then I spot the headline that Bonds hit No. 711 early today ...


And I thought it was bad enough that last night he hit No. 710. ... This from Sports Illustrated's 'Morning Call' ...

Rare is the morning that Barry Bonds, Babe Ruth and Brett Favre share the front page of the sports section, but the Three B's made some noise last night. First, ESPN.com reported that the 36-year-old Favre has told Packers officials that he will return for the 2006 NFL season, presumably ending the "What will Brett do?" talk that has enveloped Green Bay over the winter. By the end of the night the sports spotlight had moved to San Francisco, where Bonds hit his 710th career home run, knocking a 1-1 pitch from Mets' righthander Steve Trachsel (who as a Cub gave up homer number 62 to Mark McGwire in 1998) into the leftfield seats. The solo shot in the second inning was the only run the Giants could muster in a 4-1 loss. It was Bonds's first homer in San Francisco since Sept. 18, 2005, but the night ended on a sour note for the Giants leftfielder: Closer Billy Wagner induced Bonds to fly out to center for the final out. Bonds now trails Ruth by four home runs for second on the alltime list. Career leader Hank Aaron is 45 away. The Giants are home for another six games before heading to Milwaukee (otherwise known as commissioner Bud Selig's hometown, and a couple hours from Green Bay) for a two-game series. Somehow we get the feeling that's when Barry will pass the Babe
... God, for the love of baseball, I hope he doesn't break it ... at least Hank Aaron's record is quite a bit more out of reach.

Besides his recent homerun barrage, I'm riled up about Bonds again mostly because I finally fired up the DVR today and started watching the ESPN series 'Bonds on Bonds' (... I had yet to watch an episode until today, but last night when the DVR warned me it had no more disk space, I had to make some quick choices and delete off the last three Commander-in-Chief episodes I had to watch -- no matter, the series seems to stink more each week, and I was only watching it out of habit -- and a few Saturday Night Live episodes I'd been saving for Kates. Alas, 'Bonds on Bonds' and Love Monkey -- thank you VH1! -- among others survived the cuts ...).

... While guys like Peter Gammons and Mike Schmidt raised some interesting points about Bonds alleged steroid use during the documentary -- when he started taking them there were no rules, no tests and yada, yada, yada -- the rest of the clips and Bonds sit-downs left me feeling little sympathy for him and more as though it's all one big act for him. He speaks repeatedly about his lack of care for others and it comes through in shining colors ... That and the fact his father pushed him so hard he developed an attitude of stopping at nothing to beat anyone who challenges him ... even if it means 'killing' his kids ...



Favre to play?

According to ESPN.Com: Sources: Favre decides to play '06 season for Packers

Right ... Last time 'sources' told us Favre had made up his mind we got a dull press conference and Favre teasing news crews for traveling all the way down to Mississippi to hear him say he'd yet to make up his mind ...

I'll believe it when I hear it from Favre's mouth ...


Cubs win!! Cubs win!!

... WHAT ... A... GAME!

... wish I could say the same for the Bulls tonight ...

... The Cubs were doing nothing tonight and the lackluster Marlins were on cruise control by the seventh inning ...

... then Juan Pierre leads off the bottom of the eighth with a double. A couple timely walks. A dropped throw to help Pierre and the Cubs get on the board. A clutch-hit from Matt Murton. And a beeeea-utiful homerun from Jacque Jones. Before you knew it, the Cubbies were up 6-3 and Ryan Dempster was settling on cruise control ...

I was screamin' so loud, I'm surprised our roof didn't cave in ... That, and my fist-pumping didn't propel me off the stationary bike I was riding ...


Sunday reading

Happy Sunday to ya ... here's some of the stories I found particularly interesting from this last week ...

Life as we know it ...
a Mark Patinkin: Suddenly, there I was, in the land of righteous retailers
a Make as much fun of him as you want ... My parents love listening to John Tesh. And yeah he's inspiring and interesting to listen to (sometimes) ... but, yeah, he's easy to make fun of ...
a 'Fido' is so last year: Everything you need to know about naming a dog
a In Texas, the Biggest Box Gets Mighty Fancy Trimmings ... Sorry. Not buying it. As luxurious as this Wal-mart sounds, I still side with those who percieve it as 'soulless' ... that and I wish life were so easy that I too could have a 4,000 square foot home and earns $145,000 a year ... Then, there's this related news: Cart Blanche? The Megamarket's Savings Don't Come Cheap
a Own the ultimate Elvis collectible ....if only ...
a Last writes: Dead men (and women) do tell tales -- in obituaries that are often full of life ... fascinating.

Tech reads ...
a Finding the hidden costs of downloading music
a At 30, Apple Is Mainstream -- And a Target
a Cell phones find a new calling ...and I hate it. Hey, I love my cell phone as much as the next guy. But -- aside from the Tetris game I enjoy playing to pass time in the airport, on the train or wherevere else -- I want nothing to do with having a cell phone that plays music, shows TV shows and all that other mumbo jumbo, let alone have to pay for it. Just let me use it to make phone calls.

Blogging reads ...
a Productivity Tip No. 1: Check Out the Blogs
a Mother makes room for MySpace ...a fascinating story about a 'cool' mom, her teenage daughter and the adventures of parenting ... and the Internet.
a New Trends In Online Traffic ... interesting stuff. I'm glad to contribute ...

TV reads ...
a Our 'Idol' obsession: The LA Times asked network executives, historians and even a comedian to explain why "American Idol" has come to rule the airwaves. ... I don't care what they have to say, I still haven't caught on ...

Music reads ...
a Blunt's music speaks (softly) for him ... say what you want about his voice. It's a great album ...
a Bedingfield is quietly taking over the charts ... I fell in love with 'These Words' immediately. And the video for 'Unwritten' hooked me immediately as well. But my jury's still out on the rest of the album ... She sure is admirable though ...
a Teddy Geiger is on the edge of stardom at 17 ... Give him credit -- he's extremely mature, he's a self-taught musician, and Ben Folds is one of his heroes. It helps that his music is pretty darn good too. (his CD has been in my stereo and near the top of my iPod's 'recently played' list since I got it a couple weeks ago ...)

Baseball reads ...
a Clubbies turn clubhouse into dollhouse


Shaping up

I haven't felt this good in a long time. Physically, I mean.

For the last several weeks, I've been hitting the basketball court at the college. ... The first night out was all about working the rust off, as expected. I probably hadn't shot a basketball in three, four years.

But after last night, I think it's safe to declare my basketball game back on track.

Excuse me while I gloat a bit.

I was hitting my shots in warm-ups and had a feeling I was about to have a good night. I soon got into a pickup game, playing well and hitting a three-pointer in the first game. Our team won, hitting 25 -- by ones -- faster than the opponent.

But I wasn't done.

The team I was playing with next hooked up against a group of stocky black guys who looked as though they'd have a better shot on the football field than the basketball court. Nonetheless, the game got underway and I matched up with a shorter guy, about my height. ... And I realized quickly that I could challenge him under the basket.

Soon, I was driving up against these guys and alternating my shots in the air -- a la Michael Jordan, thank you very much ... I was blocking 'em out, snatching rebounds from 'em, and shooting some swell lead passes to my teammates. … I couldn’t believe how 'on' I was!

Making it even sweeter, my burly opponents began joshing with me. ‘Watch for that little guy, he's strong! He don't look that strong!’ they'd tell each other. …It was HA-larious and I was eating up every minute of it.

I ended up playing for almost two and a half hours, and it felt sooooo good.

But I still wasn't done.

Today was the baseball workout for the upcoming adult men's baseball season.

First up, ground balls. We each got five hit to us and we had to throw from third to first. Other than a bloop fly ball that I couldn’t get back on, and a couple of low throws, I showed up well.

Round two was fly balls. I did pretty good there too, but still let a couple get over my head.

Round three: hitting. If anything I did attracted some eyes today, it was my batting practice. ... I've never been a power hitter. But I am good at making contact, and today was no different. I spread the field with hard ground balls and slapshot line drives. And I walked from the batter's box feeling pretty content.

In the three-hour practice, I competed well with the other 40-some guys who truly have a passion for baseball. And I couldn't be more excited about playing the game again this summer after stumbling through a couple softball stints and having to deal with the ego-maniac, beer-guzzling, clique-y hotheads that permeate the leagues I found.

And on Monday, my company begins its annual corporate challenge -- a month-long challenge and competition of exercising and fitness activities.

I'm pumped.


'TomKat' Hoopla

Uh, congratulations, I guess, to Tom Cruise (Tom Cruise is nuts) and Katie Holmes on the birth of their baby ... I, ah, hope you all have a happy life together ... (yeah, like that's ever going to happen ...)

Other fun reading: ABC News: 'TomKat' Hoopla Recalls Lucy's 1953 Birth


Somehow I've managed to stay up every night this week and see every waking out of the Cubs in Los Angeles -- a matchup featuring two of my favorite franchises of all-time and one that evokes fond memories of me as a child begging my parents to let me stay up -- only if the game was on a Friday night, of course -- to watch the games ... although, I was usually asleep on the floor in front of the TV by the fifth inning ...

Either way ... this week's series was as exciting as ever, especially last night with Ronny Cedeno driving in the winning runs.

... Although the exciting win did little to ease the painful sight of Derrek Lee cradling his wrist after colliding with Furcal at first. Not to mention Scott Eyre limping around the infield after he dove for the ball in the first play ... talk about Cubs carnage...

... A lot of the Cubs fan I know, myself included, were more optimistic than usual about this season. ... But all that seemed to dissipate in an instant last night ...

Let's pray it's not as bad as it looked ... in the meantime, Cubbies, let's win some -- ok, let's win a lot -- for Derrek ...


Where does Bonds belong?

I know I've said on this blog before I think Bonds' pre-steroids stats merit him getting into the Hall of Fame ... but this column raises some good points and has me thinking he doesn't deserve a hall vote after all ...

Meanwhile, I anxiously continue to watch the baseball highlights each night, anxiously waiting and letting out a deep sigh of relief when Bonds has failed to hit a homerun ...

Everything's peachy

...writing a paper for her master's class last night and reflecting on her reading assignment for the past week, Kates actually used the phrase 'peachy keen.'

She wrote: "As I mentioned at the beginning, Day 6 was not a 'peachy keen' lesson. I need some more time to think and reflect on it before I type it into my report. I am curious to see how the rest of this week goes after a rough start ...'

We had a good laugh about it when she showed it to me.

... and it's yet another reason that makes me love her so.


Bonds threatens to quit if bone chips worsen

Bonds threatens to quit if bone chips worsen

... Please! Do it, Barry! Just walk away! Save yourself ... and the game ...

Movie night!

So Kates and I finally got around last night to watching the 'Crash' DVD that's been sitting above our TV for, oh, a couple months and weeks before anyone had an inkling that the little film would win an Oscar for Best Picture over all the "Brokeback' hub-bub ...

But first I joined Kates who already had started watching 'The Prince & Me' ... cute film and fun to watch (it also helped that it included a lot of Wisconsin culture...), but the ending was terribly cheesy and completely out of nowhere ... Still, my admiration for Julia Stiles made it a little more bearable ...

But 'Crash' ... Wow. The tagline: "A Brentwood housewife and her D.A. husband. A Persian store owner. Two police detectives who also are lovers. An African-American television director and his wife. A Mexican locksmith. Two car-jackers. A rookie cop. A middle-aged Korean couple. They all live in Los Angeles. And during the next 36 hours, they all will collide."

Not the best film ever. But I can see why it won Best Picture, and deservedly so. It's a movie that will be finding a place on my 'Movies that made me say Yeah!' list shortly ... I always seem to fall hard for films with large-ensemble casts and interwoven storylines, and this one was no-different. Not only is it well-written, the themes of race and the tension it causes were remarkably played, and so true ... What's more, it's the notion that everyone, even the good cop, has their flaws ...

... that, and it left me no urge to visit Los Angeles any time soon.


Gasing up for a long summer

...This morning I paid $15 ... for five gallons of gas. FIVE gallons. A HALF TANK of gas!


...Oh, how I long for the days that I could fill up a 10-gallon tank on a $10-bill.


Vinyl fantasy

For weeks I’ve been posting here about my newfound love for vinyl records, now that me explain the reasons behind it … (See the one that started it all from 3/11, this one from 3/14 and this one from 3/30 ...)

In a nutshell, I guess it’s an attempt to recapture some of the innocence of my childhood, an attempt to hold on to something that’s dying …

Some of my most cherished and enduring childhood memories revolve around me squatting next to my orange and brown Fischer-Price record player and playing 45 after 45 after 45, pulled from the brown paper sleeves of my dad’s old record collection. In fact one of my first-ever memories of anything having to do with music is the evening when my dad introduced me to his collection of 45s. It must’ve been a birthday, perhaps it was the night they gave me that Fischer-Price record player. I was all of 4 or 5 years old, but I remember it so clearly. I even remember the first record we put onto the turntable -- The Buckinghams, “Kind Of A Drag.” The record hangs in a frame on my wall now (for nostalgia), but even without it, I’d still remember that red, white and blue -colored USA Records label as clearly as though it were yesterday.

For years afterward, I played those records endlessly and they laid the foundation for my vast music knowledge (even though my mother has long contended my musical interests probably started even while I was in the womb and she worked at J.C. Penny while the songs of the era played on the store’s stereo all day long). Virtually every weekend I gave concerts to parents, baby-sitters, whoever would listen. The featured songs almost always included “I’m Into Something Good,” “Downtown” “Sweet Pea” “Help Me Rhonda” “Pleasant Valley Sunday” “Bus Stop” “I Feel Fine” “It’s Good News Week” and “I Wonder What She’s Doing Tonight.”

Then there was my uncle Doug who never said no to my cousins and I when we asked him to take us to his bedroom and play some records for us. He was the one who introduced me to Bon Jovi, Chicago and Michael Jackson. And because of him my affection for The Beatles and The Monkees was cemented.

And once I was old enough to have my own boombox, the cassette tapes started piling up -- dubbings of my favorite records from my parents collection. I was 9 or 10 now, and like “the day the music died” that old stereo system that stood in our living room rarely played anymore (it wasn‘t as convenient as popping in a cassette tape). So the albums -- “Beach Boys: Endless Summer,”Godspell,” “The Birds, The Bees & The Monkees,” “The Carpenters Now & Then” -- got transferred onto cassette tapes so I could play them on my own …

And finally in my mid-teens, CDs invaded our home. The old turntable sat on a shelf in our living room, no longer played. And Dad’s collection of 45s sat high on a shelf in my bedroom closet, no longer heard.

In the next decade, I would go to college, move out of the house, get a job and settle down with my wife. I held on to those 45s for awhile, but somewhere in all the transitioning they landed back at my parents' house …

So when I asked my mother one afternoon a couple years ago about getting some of those old records back in my hands, I was nearly crushed to the point of tears when she told me my father had sold all of them to a record dealer just a few weeks earlier. You know those stories about our grandmothers throwing away our fathers' old baseball cards -- it was like that. I can’t blame them for getting rid of the records, they hadn’t realized how much they meant to me, and I guess I didn’t express my interest in them enough. But it stung that a huge part of my childhood was given away within the blink of an eye …

So I all but demanded to have my parents’ old stereo system -- knowing they'd never use it again -- not long afterward. I became interested in building a record collection of my own.

* * *

It started last month when I discovered a newly-opened record store a few blocks from our house. Inside it, a Rolling Stones tune blares on a stereo system and a musty air perforates the long, narrow space where John Hardin is sifting through stacks upon racks of vinyl records.

It sounds like a scene from 1967, but it played out a few days ago at the store, one place where audiophiles like Hardin are going to search for music in a form that takes them back to an almost-forgotten era.

“I think people just have an appreciation for the nostalgia,” said Hardin, 20, who inherited his father’s turntable and record collection. “Hopefully they have an appreciation for the way that records were made. Back then you didn’t have all the digital production.”

Even in this digital age of iPods, Internet downloading and hi-definition sound, the crackle, pop and hiss of a spinning vinyl record is part of the reason young adults like Hardin, as well as the older generations who made them so popular, are still attracted to vinyl record 20 years after compact discs knocked them off the music racks.

For vinyl fanatics like Natalie Kingsfield, a vivacious local college student, owning a vinyl record is like holding history.

“It feels pure,” Kingsfield, 19, said, thumbing through her vinyl collection with her cousin and fellow vinyl collector Sean McMullen, 18. “When you listen to a CD, it is so clean that it doesn’t seem real. When you listen to (vinyl), it’s almost like listening to a live album. It feels like you have a better connection with the artists. And literally it’s the vibration of sound.”

Kingsfield has acquired copies of classics from The Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin and The Who, in addition to popular ’80s albums like the “Top Gun” soundtrack and Olivia Newton-John’s “Physical.”

“When I’ve had a bad day, I’ll play that one,” she says. “And the Led Zeppelin is amazing; there’s no scratches on it.”

Kingsfield was immediately attracted to vinyl after finding a turntable in her attic. Now, she uses it almost daily.

“There’s a sound quality and it goes into a connection you have with the generation that made it,” she said. “You kind of gain a little bit of respect for people that originally listened to records. Like my parents, for instance, we can connect on Three Dog Night and stuff … I bring up Fallout Boy or something, they’ll have no idea what that is.”

Part of the fun, Kingsfield says, is the search. She purchased the Stones’ “Big Hits (High Tide and Green Grass)” for $4 at a thrift shop after seeing it for $24 at a different store. And she uncovered a near-mint copy of Michael Jackson’s “Thriller,” the top-selling album of all-time, at a book sale for 10 cents. She looks for anything she can find, from cha-cha music to classic rock.

McMullen, meanwhile, couldn’t care less about Zeppelin and other classic artists. But an appreciation of current singer/songwriter Sufjan Stevens, who’s launched a plan to release albums commemorating all 50 states, has made McMullen a vinyl collector, too.

McMullen’s small collection includes Stevens’ colorful, postcard-like Michigan and Illinois albums, in addition to The Dave Brubeck Quartet’s “Time Out,” a jazz album released way back in 1959.

“I’m not buying like every album I see,” McMullen says. “But I really like Sufjan Stevens, he’s one of my favorite artists, just like Elliot Smith, so I’m going to buy this stuff as like a collector’s item almost.”

Both Kingsfield and McMullen own large CD collections as well, but even some newer vinyls from current bands are including bonus tracks and features unavailable on CD versions of the same albums, McMullen noted. Few people know current bands like The Shins and Radiohead are still producing vinyl in limited batches.

“I look at it just like my CDs, I want to keep them nice,” McMullen says. “You open them up and they have more stories and a lot more writing. Especially when they’re double editions, there’s a lot more artwork.”

Collectors who are attracted to vinyl records often insist they possess a warmer, richer sound than their CD counterparts — as if the listener is in the studio with the band, or listening to a live performance.

Although Hardin says he still listens to his fair share of CDs, he prefers listening to records and ranks Bob Dylan’s “Blonde On Blonde” and James Taylor among the favorites in his vinyl collection.

“The crackle’s nice, the nostalgia’s nice, but the sound is just really good. I like the analog,” he said.

* * *

Len Valeo, who owns a novelty store with his brother Ron, also points out artists like Jimi Hendrix, who recorded during the heyday of vinyl, used the inherent noise in an analog recording.

“Most of the ’60s bands made use of it,” he said. “So when those recordings were digitally transposed, they seemed a bit hollow and empty because they were missing some of the static, crackle that we remember those songs having.”

While a vinyl recording’s analog sound pours from an amplifier and speakers, an album cover’s elaborate artwork and interior can make the experience even more enriching. Records came with fold-out posters, band photos and song lyrics — all features lost when plastic gem cases downsized albums in the ’80s.

“The package was sort of folk art,” Valeo said. “The ease of storage, because they didn’t take up much physical space, the reasonable price tag and the continuous flow of new albums made it simple for lower and middle class people to collect them like bubble gum cards … The artwork on the physical album covers was sometimes done by some of the greatest artists of the generation and certainly had an allure to the consumer.”

Valeo, who remembers receiving a notice warning about the demise of 8-track tapes, quit selling vinyl records about 15 years ago, seeing the inevitable avalanche of digital music over analog systems.

Although Valeo cheaply sold a lot of his best stuff, like collectible Hendrix albums and rare picture discs, he does have a few tucked away in a closet. Somewhere he has a Japanese Pink Floyd import with different artwork than its American counterpart and Yes albums pressed in Germany.

“I personally dumped some very valuable vinyl LPs because I thought they would seem silly and quirky 10 years later,” he says. “I really thought there’d be a generation that didn’t know what a record player was. But I think every kid, especially thanks to hip-hop DJs, knows what a vinyl record is and what you can do with it, and how you play it. It hasn’t been forgotten.”

* * *

Jamie Galgano, along with his father, John, purchased a local music store, a couple months ago and reopened the space as Galgano Music. It’s a third-generation store; Jamie Galgano’s grandfather was an original employee of Columbia Records and founded the family business in downtown Chicago during the 1940s.

“People come in and they can’t believe their eyes,” John Galgano said of his store. “There’s almost 40,000 LPs in here. Everybody’s happy when they come in. They can’t believe all the records. One guy came in for a Kendalls record. He went over to the Ks and he found it. He says, ‘Holy Cow!’ Another woman bought a couple Al Martino records.”

One man recently stopped at the store in search of a Humble Pie “Thunderbox” album, but left with copies of Bachman Turner Overdrive’s “II” and The James Gang’s debut “Yer’ Album.”

Posters of the Beatles and Stones and Yardbirds clutter the walls, creating the feel of a vintage record store, while a guitar signed by female rocker Sheryl Crow and framed pictures of more recent stars also appeal to a younger generation.

“Half the wall was blue, and I’m like, ‘you don’t have to paint it,’” Jamie Galgano said. “Our racks are orange, blue, red, wood color. The ceiling’s green. The carpet’s green. You want the old record store feel.”

With turntables still in production, Club DJs using vinyl for scratching and mixing, and a young subculture gravitating toward vinyl, Jamie Galgano says there’s an absolute market for the old-fashioned recordings.

“People are willing to pay the price,” he said. “I think it’s amazing that somebody will buy a used record that’s $19.99, but they complain about buying a brand new CD that’s $12.99.”

Still, most records filling the racks at Galgano’s sell for a few bucks. The rarities and collector items go for much more, however. A copy of The Beatles’ “White Album” is tagged for about $75, while a copy of the Stones’ “England’s Newest Hitmakers” is marked at $199.99. The rarities inside the store include a Hitler record colored with the red and black Nazi symbol, and a 10-record set from Japan featuring Kiss.

But if you’re reading this and thinking your record collection might be a gold mine for record collectors, don’t expect to get hundreds of dollars in return. No matter how old that jazz record is, unless it’s extremely rare or sealed, it’s worth just a few bucks to dealers and most collectors.

“Just because you have an Elvis album that’s 20 years old, doesn’t mean it’s worth hundreds of dollars,” Valeo said. “Now eBay roots out the less savvy. If somebody’s willing to give you $300 on a record that’s worth $4, hey, that’s their decision. The truth of the matter is, that even albums you think might be rare are not rare at all.”

The Galganos agreed, saying people often dump entire collections at their shop.

“There’s probably more Beatles records going around than people realize because everybody had the same idea,” Jamie Galgano said. “Original John Lennons, that would be a different story.”

Few vinyl collectors are purchasing albums as an investment, Valeo said. Rather, the albums are a lost piece of history.

“They are mementos of a different generation’s youth,” Valeo said. “Other than DJs that still use the vinyl medium for their craft, folks that are buying vinyl albums on eBay, are doing it because it’s a chunk of history, their own history.”

Vinyl Collection

(Last updated: 09.02.15)

… Since brushing the dust off my parents’ old stereo system and turntable, I’ve been making regular stops at a nearby record shop and the thrift stores in town in search of good-sounding, good quality records at bargain prices ... I've tried not to buy anything I don’t already have on CD, cassette or some other medium, but that hasn't always been easy ...

Here's where's my collections stands ...

... ABBA: Greatest Hits (UK edition)
ABBA: The Singles
America: Greatest Hits
... America: Hat Trick
The Animals: Animalization
Annie: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
... The Association: Insight Out
... Badfinger: Straight Up
... The Beach Boys: American Summer
... The Beach Boys: In Concert
The Beach Boys: Today
The Beach Boys: Wow Great Concert
... The Beatles: Help!
... The Beatles: Rubber Soul
... The Beatles: Rock 'n' Roll Music
The Bee Gees: Horizantal
Billy Joel: The Stranger
Billy Joel: 52nd Street
The Buckinghams: Greatest Hits
... Carly Simon: No Secrets
Carole King: Tapestry
The Carpenters: self-titled
The Carpenters: A Song For You
The Carpenters: Close To You (… I bent my rule on this one. There’s just something about the vinyl sound. And would you believe it -- the track listing on the record is different than my original cassette.)
The Carpenters: Now & Then
Cat Stevens: Greatest Hits
Cat Stevens: Tea for the Tillerman
Cat Stevens: Teaser & the Firecat
Chad & Jeremy: Yesterday’s Gone
Chicago II
Chicago III
Chicago: Live at Carnegie Hall III, IV
Chicago IX: Chicago’s Greatest Hits (I bent my rule for this one too …)
Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young: So Far
Crow: Best of
Cyndi Lauper: She’s So Unusual
... The Cyrkle: Red Rubber Ball
... The Dave Clark Five: Greatest Hits
... Electric Light Orchestra: Out of the Blue
Elton John: Don’t Shoot Me I’m Only The Piano Player
... Fleetwood Mac: self-titled
Fleetwood Mac: Rumours (I adore this album so much, I’ve got three copies of it … don’t ask…)
... Frank Sinatra: Greatest Hits
The Go-Gos: Beauty & the Beat
The Go-Gos: Vacation
... The Mamas & The Papas: self-titled
... The Mamas & The Papas: Deliver
... Michael Jackson: Thriller ( ... I got it at a garage sale for a dollar, just weeks before his death.)
... The Monkees: self-titled
... The Monkees: The Birds, The Bees & The Monkees
... The Monkees: Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones Ltd
.... The Moody Blues: Days of Future Passed
... Nancy Sinatra: Boots
Neil Diamond: Hot August Night
James Taylor: Mud Slide Slim & The Blue Horizon
... James Taylor: Sweet Baby James
... Jim Croce: Photographs & Memories: His Greatest Hits
John Denver: Greatest Hits
Journey: Evolution
... Paul Revere & The Raiders: The Spirit of ’67
Peter, Paul & Mary: The Best Of, (Ten) Years Together
Petula Clark: Greatest Hits Vol. 1
The Pretenders: Pretenders
... Rolling Stones: Big Hits (High Tide and Green Grass)
... Rolling Stones: Let It Bleed
... Rolling Stones: Still Life (American Concert 1981)
... Saturday Night Fever Soundtrack
Simon & Garfunkel: Bridge Over Troubled Water
... Simon & Garfunkel: Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme
Simon & Garfunkel: Sounds of Silence
Starship: Knee Deep In The Hoopla
... Supertramp: Breakfast In America
... Supertramp: Paris
... Toto: IV
... The Turtles: Happy Together
... Van Morrison: Moondance

Part of Americana ...

... So this morning, on my way to work I stopped at a convenience store for some flavored water.

... As I passed through the door, I was immediately met with a 20-something woman, laced with piercings and tattoos. She was pounding on a bathroom door telling someone -- who I later realized was her preschool-aged son -- to hurry up...

I ignored her. And went about my business, reaching into a cooler and selecting a grape-flavored water...

Then I met up with the young blonde, and now her son (who's curiously studying the security exit and lifting up the rug), at the checkout counter. I started paying more attention when I heard the girl mutter something to the cashier like 'What'd you think I was going to do steal it?' ...Then I watch her stuff a small package of crackers and a juice box into a paper lunch sack, snatch a pen from the cash register (without asking the cashier) and scribble the child's name on it.

...Obviously, he was having a cold lunch today ...

I paid for my water and was walking back to my car just in time to see the mom shove the kid into the backseat of her giant SUV ...

Any bets on whether he was even wearing a seat belt?

When you're so tired ...

... that you can't enjoy it.

... Exhausted from a hard, albeit productive day in the yard, I wanted to do nothing last night but curl up on my favorite couch, under my Cubs blanket and watch the guys on 'Sunday Night Baseball.'

... I was out by the third inning ... (falling alseep to a baseball game, another one of my favorite pastt imes).

...And I woke up somewhere during the seventh inning...

... I managed to keep my eyes open long enough to see the Cubs were losing and showing few signs of a comeback. And long enough to see the Cardinals thrower walk a couple batters to open the eighth ...

... And then my eyes closed again ...

... The next images I saw on the TV were those of 'Sportscenter.' And I turned it off, half frustrated I couldn't keep awake to cheer on the Cubs and half blaming myself for another loss, walking upstairs to get ready for bed...

...I flipped on the TV in the bedroom to 'Sportscenter' again and started watching the scores scrolling along the bottom. ... I noticed 'Cardinals 4 Cubs 8' and my jaw dropped. I took a double-take and said out loud, 'Nah...'

But it was true. The Cubs won. Michael Barrett was the hero again, hitting a grand slam to win it for the Cubbies ...

And I slept through it.


Cubs win! Cubs win!

Today was a good day.

Kates and I made our first pilgrimage of the year to Wrigley Field ...

But first, how wonderful was Brett Favre this morning in 'the press conference heard 'round Wisconsin!?' ... Good lord, the entire cheese state was put to bed last night with the news that ol' Brett would announce his decision whether to play next season at a 7:30 a.m. press conference ...

Up at 7 this morning... I turned on the TV and flipped to the local Fox station. No surprise, they had all their sports anchors lined up behind the desk and via satellite, spouting and speculating about what Favre would say, in between highlights of his career ...We waited. And waited. And waited ... until Favre finally appeared, sat behind a mic and told the journalists gathered for the press conference: 'I don't know what you guys are doing here... I don't have anything to say...' ... or something like that.

I bellowed a large laugh ...

Partly because, as usual, the media were gullible and desperate enough to trek down to Mississippi on a 'rumor' that Brett was going to announce a decision -- once again, completing igoring the more important news and larger issues of life for some multi-million dollar athlete. And partly because Brett is inconsiderate (... or just plain smart) enough to push off his decision this long ...

Then again, you gotta admire the guy for not giving in and making up his mind on his own time. He was right last weekend when he said, 'What're they going to do, cut me?' ... If the Packers have/want to move on, it doesn't have to be on Brett's shoulders. ...There's nothing wrong with him laying back the entire offseason and deciding just before training camp that he has no desire to play next year ...

Leave the guy alone ...

* * *
About that Cubs game ...

The iPod plugged in and the music of 'Grey's Anatomy' playing on it, Kates and I hit the road at 9:30 and caught our train just after 10 ...The train glided down the tracks. Kates and I caught up on our reading. And we people-watched as fathers and sons, and sorority girls, and frat boys, and other couples -- all dressed in Cubs gear, of course -- boarded the train at each stop ...
... The most memorable stretch, of course, was riding the Purple Line from Howard to Addison, with a talkative man about our age, and his similar-aged buddy from Colorado. ... the talkative man spent the entire ride telling us -- in a far more hilarious and animated way than I could ever explain here -- about his foray into building a case for all of his autographed baseballs. Long story short: Some guy tried to sell him a case for $300, but he ended up doing it himself for $75 with a trip to Home Depot and a hobby store ... Also with us were a young couple from Northwestern -- whom we learned later in the ride had broken up a couple days earlier, but were still using their tickets to the Cubs game ...Oh, and by the way, she's a hockey player... Cool!

Finally at the ballpark, Kates and I honored tradition, and habit, with a cheap lunch at the Clark Street McDonald's ... We then made the rounds, scanning the memorabilia shops for cool pickups, but found none that fit our budget ...

Once inside the ballpark, though, we got a refrigerator magnet Cubs schedule, and I followed tradition again, getting a program and scorecard ...

... A few minutes later, we were at our seats, deep down the third base line, just under the overhang in section 205. The ballpark, as usual, looked beautiful. And the bleacher expansion, as scary as it might have been for Wrigleyville purists, was barely noticeable ...

Pregame ceremonies included Derek Lee and Michael Barrett receiving their Silver Slugger awards ...We watched a cool guitar-saxophone combo perform the national anthem ... The Cubs took the field, the first pitch was thrown ...

... and we proceeded to freeze.

With the temperature holding steady at a blustery 40 degrees, it felt like 20. I was wearing four layers, plus my heavy fleece, gloves and ear muffs. Kates was wearing several layers herself, plus my hooded windbreaker. We were both huddled up beneath our Cubs blanket and still couldn't keep warm ...

... it probably didn't help that I was drinking an icy Mountain Dew either.

With Chris Carpenter and Carlos Zambrano locked in a pitcher's dual, the good news was the game was moving at NASCAR pace. The bad news was neither team was scoring ...

... Finally in the bottom of the sixth, thanks to a couple horrid Cubs errors, the Cards scored two runs. ... No matter, most fans in the park were already so numb from the cold, we hardly took notice ... That was until the Cubs finally warmed up their bats and Michael Barrett tied the game in the seventh on a thrilling pinch-hit homerun. ... High fives all around.

... But the bad news. The score's tied. Again. ... and there's still no signs of the weather getting warmer.

... Then Derek Lee came to the rescue of 40,000-some fans and hit a homerun to win it in the bottom of the eighth ... high fives all around again.

Cubs win! Cubs win! ... 4-3 was the final.

... and then we scurried home to warm up.


Wednesday night TV

'Amazing Race'... so sorry to see ya go, Dave & Lori. It was a lot of fun while it lasted, my fellow Kansans ... Let's go hippies! (They're the only team left that's more than half-likable ...)

'Lost' ... whoah. Another episode to blow your mind. And if you didn't see it ... I'm not gonna explain it . So go here ... (Although, this Dave guy apparently didn't like it as much as I did ...)

... and then a thrilling Brewers win to cap it off and a sweep to start the season.

... I think we should start calling Derrick Turnbow 'the new big bird' ...

The old big bird ...

... The new big bird

John Mayer who?

… I fell in love with Teddy Geiger’s music the first time I heard him on the killed-off-way-too-early ‘Love Monkey.’ … And now I’ve fallen in love with his music all over again.

… I got a copy of his new release “Underage Thinking” yesterday and popped it in the stereo tonight after work … I’m listening to it now for a second time.

Geiger inevitably will draw comparisons to John Mayer, but then again Mayer drew pretty heavy comparisons to Dave Matthews when he exploded onto the music scene in summer ‘02 … Nonetheless, Geiger’s release isn’t just for 16-year-old daughters, as one reviewer I read this week puts it. Instead, I find Geiger’s music even more edgy and rock-heavy than Mayer’s mainstream pop/rock releases (… unfortunately for fans like me, Mayer’s in blues-heavy lal-la land right now …). Plus, Geiger’s melodies seem even more fanciful and lush, in addition to a pleasant mix of piano and guitar ... Perfect for after a tiresome day of work.

The album opens with “These Walls” and a piano intro reminiscent of The Beatles’ ‘Let it Be.’ And then there’s the sweet, catchy chorus of a rockin’ second track ‘For You I Will.’ ... the album continues to evolve between smooth acoustic-like ballads, danceable pop songs and rockers. Also notable are the bouncy No. 9 track 'A Million Years' and the heartfelt last track, 'Love Is A Marathon.'

Yep. Teddy Geiger has arrived.


A day in the life

... A quiet, relaxing day at the office -- working my page design magic ...

... a thrilling Cubs win (of which I caught that exciting first inning during my lunch break)...

... an opening day Brewers win (of which the radio DJ I was listening to on the way home from work remarked there hasn't been this much excitement surrounding the Brewers since 1982 ...of which, with apologies to Robin Yount, I tend to agree) ...

... watching Barry Bonds go homerless and then have a syringe thrown at him ...

... and, well, Florida capping off (I was cheering for UCLA) what was arguably the most memorable NCAA tournament in my lifetime ...

... 'One Shining Moment' is playing on the TV ...

...talk about chills (and smiles)...

...and spring is here.


Sunday reads

Some good reads on this rainy Sunday afternoon ...

... what are they thinking?
a Man Accidentally Divorces Wife in Sleep ... Kates often talks in her sleep. I shudder to think ...
aApple Corps, Apple Computer feud over logo ... John, Paul, George and Ringo: I like you guys a lot -- but get over it!!!
a `Grey's Anatomy' climbs in ratings, may move to Thursday ... Why! why! WHY! can't TV execs keep from tinkering with good shows!! It's a hit and it's working just fine on Sunday nights! Please don't kill it ...

... good, old-fashioned fun.
a Beverly Cleary, Age 90: Before Harry and Hermione, there was Ramona the Pest ... truly a classic.
a Of Flab and Flimflammery: Veteran Prankster Behind Esquire's 'Fat Tax' Spoof ... I've been in on some good pranks in my day, but this is top-notch.
a Dixie Chicks address that grudge in their return to radio ... I never understood all the hub-bub about their Bush comments in the first place ... The Chicks are still a heckuva threesome, and I'll enjoy them whether they're against our stupid war or not.

... I can relate.
a The square minimum? A cubicle ... I hate the cubicle ...
a Mark Patinkin: 'Make mine a Shirley Temple, barkeep, and hold the grenadine!' ...I'm a straight-beer-man.
a A foul-mouthed America ... I get teased for this occassionally, and now that I think about it, don't really understand why, but -- I don't cuss. ...It's not that I can't do it. I just don't. And it's not like it offends me all that much when someone does... but seriously. What's the point? Is your life really that messed up? Was the driver who cut you off really that malicious? Was the telemarketer you just hung up on that rude? ... whatever happened to the simple 'shoot?' Let's relax a little, America. That's all I'm saying ...

Spring training ...

So I got the e-mail yesterday ...

My spring workouts for the city's new men's baseball league start on April 22 ...

90 percent of me can't wait ... 10 percent of me is dreading it because I'm still nowhere near the shape I want to be for the start ...

On Friday night, I went to the local college for an open gym night. ... I had a ball and felt great mentally. It was the first time I'd shot a basketball in probably four years. And I'd like to think I looked pretty good in the pickup game I got into. I was pounding the ball hard inside, picked a couple passes, blocked a shot or two ... but physically -- yikes ... I was trying pretty hard not to show how sick I was feeling ...

Then again, if I can keep working out consistently the way I have been the last couple weeks I might be ok ...

It helps that this weekend Kates and I have been again taking care of the world's most adorable and cuddly pooch -- Kates' parents' dog, Chloe ... she pushed me on those long morning walks too ...


Opening day!

So many questions ... so few answers. It wouldn't be opening day otherwise -- which by the way, I agree, should be a national holiday ...

(insert 'Baseball Tonight' theme music here...)

If you want predictions (go here ... or keep reading ...), not much has changed since I wrote this lengthy post last fall ... The teams I'd like to do some good remain the same. Add to that, the Blue Jays are looking pretty good after their offseason ... But you won't see me pulling for the Mets or Yankees one iota. I have little sympathy for teams that display their power in terms of finances, without any sense of team chemistry, style or motivation. Aside from their NL championship in 2000, the Mets busts have been the laughing stock of the league, from Mo Vaughn to Kaz Matsui, and the Yankees have done a good job of following in their underachiving footsteps the last few years ... here's hoping it continues.

Bottom line? I'm a baseball fan. Pure and simple. Sure I cheer my heart out for the Cubs, but I'll cheer harder for plain, old, good baseball in its truest form ...

So you'll see me pulling for the Marlins to stay in Florida, Jim Leyland to turn around the Tigers, Leo Mazzone to help the Orioles back to respectability, as well as a combination of young players and veteran coaches bringing the Brewers back to respectability ...

... and of course the Cubs playing deep into the post season ... Sure, the Cubbies face a lot of questions this year, but what team doesn't? Looking at them on paper, and with the additions of Juan Pierre, Jacque Jones and Wade Miller, I'm more optimistic for this season than I've been in years ...

You'll also see me begging for Bud Selig to be more proactive -- for once (even though I see this whole investigation of steroids as totally a PR move -- baseball had the knowledge and should have done it years! ago ... and that's while ignoring the whole 'greenies' issue too...) ... And I'll be hoping Barry Bonds blows out his knee, forcing him to give up on baseball for good and preserving the records that mean something ...

Want more on Bonds and the'investigation'? Have at it ...
a Humor: Bonds Demands Drug Tests for Media
a Jim Litke: Selig Can't Really Get Bonds
a Bernie Lincicome: Inquiry to bring shame but it won't ruin game
a Tracy Ringolsby: Bonds tops the watch list this season
a Gene Collier: Don't be surprised if Bonds is called out for steroid use
a Patrick Reusse: More fish to fry than only Bonds
a Tim Dahlberg: Bonds finds another reason to sue

Imogen Heap here I come!

... in preparation for an upcoming feature story next week, I discovered the other day that Imogen Heap is coming to Milwaukee's Rave in May ...

Woo ... hoo!

Her stuff has been at or near the top of my iPod's 'most played' since I discovered her ... but to actually see her perform ...

My heart be still.

My call has been made. The ticket has been reserved. It will be in the mail on Monday ... And I'll begin counting down the days to May 24 ...

...in the meantime, for your listening and viewing pleasure Imogen's 'Hide And Seek' video plays on my sidebar ...