29 September 2009

The Pen Is Mightier Than The Gun

For the longest time, I've been troubled by the notion that one must be entitled to own an arsenal "for protection."  The criminals have 'em, so we should have 'em, too, we're told.  Only recently did I realize just why this doesn't compute: A gun is only an offensive weapon.

Simply put, if you want to be "protected" against gun crime, you should be promoting everyone bulletproofing their cars and receiving vouchers for Kevlar vests because only things that stop bullets are truly defensive measures against guns.

"But the best defense is a good offense," you say.  Maybe on the football field that's true, but in a gun situation it's meaningless.  Having more destructive bullets is unnecessary; a .38 can kill just as dead as a .45.  Having more bullets is helpful in a battle of attrition, but we're told that every responsible owner of firearms is a skilled shot and won't be loosing whole volleys at a time to score one hit on their target so even the quantity argument seems suspect.  Moreover, if the hypothetical armed intruder at the heart of the fear-driven debate does happen to find his way into your home, how is he supposed to know you have this awesome arsenal at your immediate disposal to fear it?  Those "This home protected by Smith & Wesson" stickers on your back door?

"Oh, you're just another anti-gun, bleeding heart, elitist liberal," you say.  Not true.  First of all, I don't believe all life is sacred.  I stand in defense of my principals and beliefs, not other people, when I take a stance on an issue.  I could care less that the hypothetical homeowner might be one of my own family, or that the hypothetical armed intruder might be one, as well.  What I care about in this situation is language.  Simply put, guns are not a defensive weapon, and the notion that they can be used defensively is flatly wrong.

"You only get to say that because your second amendment rights guarantee your first amendment rights," you argue.  Wrong again.  Plenty of other societies have all kinds of guns, without the freedom of speech.  What gives me the freedom of speech is our society's shared belief in having it.  I don't own a gun, and I don't care to.  As far as I'm concerned, gun ownership is just another hobby that never appealed to me.  I don't care if you feel the need to own enough weapons to overthrow a small world country; if that's your thing, then by all means, knock yourself out.  Stock up, hit the firing range every chance you get, enter sharpshooting competitions, whatever makes you happy.  I have no desire to see your collection diminished or taken away from you, any more than I want football fans to have access to fewer games on TV or art fans to have less galleries to tour.

All I ask, in the name of language, is that you quit using the wrong phrases and words to justify your obsession.  A gun simply is not a defense.  You can hold one to my head and I still won't say it is.

27 September 2009

"You Never Hear Any More of [Insert Name] on the Radio"

Okay, here's something that baffles me and I hope someone out there has an answer for me.  I understand why programmers have historically discarded artists once there's a sense that their hit-making days are behind them.  After a while, we began having oldies stations dedicated to the hits of yesteryear (generally an era roughly thirty to twenty years ago).  And that makes sense to me; let your parents hear the hits of their young adulthood on an oldies station while your disc jockey spins your generation's hits.  Fine so far.

What I don't get, though, is why no one plays current recordings by older artists.  Let's take country music as our example.  A radio programmer determines that today's young audience is more interested in Kenny Chesney than George Jones.  That makes sense; Chesney is likelier to speak to the younger crowd targeted by the sponsors and such.  Okay, so the Possum is "out" at contemporary country.

Along comes a classic country station, though, and all of a sudden "Who's Gonna Fill Their Shoes?" and "He Stopped Loving Her Today" are back on the airwaves.  Someone is convinced there are people out there who still listen to radio and still want to hear George Jones's music.  Why, then, aren't they convinced that those people would want to hear something new by George Jones?  His last radio presence was "Choices" in 1999, followed by the ignored "The Cold Hard Truth" later that year, and then the aborted single "Beer Run (B Double E Double Are You In?)" with Garth Brooks in 2001.  Jones and Brooks both included that duet on their respective solo albums in '01, and nothing else from The Rock: Stone Cold Country 2001 by Jones was even acknowledged by radio.  Neither was anything from his subsequent albums.

Jones is still recording, though, and so are most of his surviving contemporaries.  Kenny Rogers, Dolly Parton, Loretta Lynn, Merle Haggard and Ray Price have all issued new material in the last few years (Dolly and Hag have released nearly annually for years now).  And that's not even including Willie Nelson, whose regular volume of output can only be described as "massive."

Sure, Waylon Jennings and Johnny Cash have passed away; but they, too, were still recording until their deaths, and those recordings were also ignored.  Cash is perhaps the best illustration of this odd situation; the music video for his single, "Hurt," won a ton of awards and acclaim in 2002--while failing to crack the top 40 on contemporary country radio.  The album on which "Hurt" appeared, American IV: The Man Comes Around, became the first album in Cash's discography (exclusive of compilations) to be certified gold in more than thirty years.  It is currently certified platinum, and all that without so much as a handshake from contemporary radio.  Imagine how much more successful the Rick Rubin-produced Johnny Cash albums might have been had someone bothered to play the songs on the air aside from a handful of rebellious college campus stations.  The Grammy voters might not have been the only ones who knew just how great those recordings were until everyone became obsessed with Cash after they saw the video to "Hurt."

If I sound simultaneously bitter that Cash could have been more commercially successful than he was while begrudging how successful he was, it's because I'm both.  As a Cash fan myself, I wish there had been some kind of outlet for his 1990s work at the time.  As a Waylon fan, though, I am convinced that had it not been for the music video to "Hurt," very few outside the country music world would have commented upon the Man in Black's passing in 2003.  That one video single-handedly made Cash important again, and it just goes to show what role radio could play in restoring some relevance to the old-timers it has been content to discard.

Another anomaly in all this is Hank Williams, Jr.  Bocephus is considered part of the "old guard," because he made his debut at such a young age all those years ago.  And yet, Hank, Jr. is scarcely four years older than Ronnie Dunn (of Brooks & Dunn), who is still seen as "current" and viable.  Having distanced himself from his substance abuse of years past, Hank's music of the last decade or so has been largely more thoughtful than even the hits on which his reputation has been built--and only the most dedicated fans even know he's released three albums in the last seven years!

So, if anyone reading this works in radio or is studying broadcasting and can tell me why programmers are so certain that there is no audience at all for the new recordings of these established artists, I would love to hear about the reasoning.  If you'll excuse me, though, my external hard drive became jacked up a week ago and I have to get back to re-importing my Willie Nelson CD's into my iTunes library.

09 September 2009

2009 CMA Nominations

It's that time again. Today, the Country Music Association released the final nominees for the 11 November awards show telecast. As others have already noted, there aren't any real surprises to be found. Here are the categories, nominees and a handful of observations:

Entertainer of the Year
Kenny Chesney
Brad Paisley
George Strait
Taylor Swift
Keith Urban

Congratulations to Taylor Swift for earning her nomination in the top category. I think she's surprised everyone with her career so far by completely shattering the expectations of a teenage girl in the country field. She writes her own material, plays her own guitar and clearly has a strong sense of what she wants to do with her career. Kudos.

Female Vocalist
Miranda Lambert
Martina McBride
Reba McEntire
Taylor Swift
Carrie Underwood

At first glance, I wonder how many voters will cast a vote for Underwood here, suspecting that Swift should be content to be recognized as an EOY nom. Radio-wise, each had a strong presence this year but Swift was on tour behind a top-selling album while Underwood coasted off the tail-end of her 2007 release. This should go to Swift.

Male Vocalist
Kenny Chesney
Brad Paisley
Darius Rucker
George Strait
Keith Urban

Is George Strait nominated? Then he should win. That's my philosophy. For those who don't have such an unshakable allegiance to King George, Brad Paisley has emerged as a bonafide superstar this past year or so and should probably walk away with this.

New Artist
Randy Houser
Jamey Johnson
Jake Owen
Darius Rucker
Zac Brown Band

I'm told each of these artists/acts is very talented and offers much to the field. I can't say I've gotten around to exploring their material.

Vocal Group
Eagles
Lady Antebellum
Little Big Town
Rascal Flatts
Zac Brown Band

Eagles? Really? Two years after their country-marketed album and they're still on the ballot? Not that it matters, anyway: Rascal Flatts continues to win this.

Vocal Duo
Big & Rich
Brooks & Dunn
Joey & Rory
Montgomery Gentry
Sugarland

I love Joey & Rory's debut album and I hope they have a long career. Speaking of long careers, Brooks & Dunn are calling it quits and one wonders whether they'll win what for so long was jokingly called the Brooks & Dunn Award one last time. But the truth of the matter is, Sugarland has done everything a duo can do this past year and it should be theirs.

Single of the Year
(Award goes to artist and producer.)
“Chicken Fried”
Zac Brown Band
Producer: Keith Stegall
Atlantic Records

“I Run to You”
Lady Antebellum
Producers: Victoria Shaw and Paul Worley
Capitol Records Nashville

“In Color”
Jamey Johnson
Producers: The Kent Hardly Playboys
Mercury Nashville

“People Are Crazy”
Billy Currington
Producers: Carson Chamberlain and Billy Currington
Mercury Nashville

“Then”
Brad Paisley
Producers: Frank Rogers and Chris DuBois
Arista Nashville

No remarks for this category.

Album of the Year
(Award goes to artist and producer.)
American Saturday Night
Brad Paisley
Producers: Frank Rogers and Chris DuBois
Arista Nashville

Defying Gravity
Keith Urban
Producers: Dann Huff and Keith Urban
Capitol Records Nashville

Fearless
Taylor Swift
Producers: Nathan Chapman and Taylor Swift
Big Machine Records

Love on the Inside
Sugarland
Producers: Byron Gallimore, Kristian Bush and Jennifer Nettles
Mercury Nashville

That Lonesome Song
Jamey Johnson
Producers: The Kent Hardly Playboys
Mercury Nashville

There was a time not so long ago when I could browse the Album of the Year nominees and own all five. This year, I've heard Swift's Fearless and that's it. Granted, I've wanted to pick up the other four--I just haven't done so.

Song of the Year
(Award goes to songwriters.)
“Chicken Fried”
Songwriters: Zac Brown and Wyatt Durette

“I Told You So”
Songwriter: Randy Travis

“In Color”
Songwriters: Jamey Johnson, Lee Thomas Miller and James Otto

“People Are Crazy”
Songwriters: Bobby Braddock and Troy Jones

“Then”
Songwriters: Brad Paisley, Chris DuBois and Ashley Gorley

A chance for Randy Travis to win a CMA Award again? I'm all over it, especially for a song that he released almost 20 years ago and should have won then. Yay, second chances!

Musical Event
(Award goes to each artist.)
“Cowgirls Don’t Cry”
Brooks & Dunn featuring Reba McEntire
Arista Nashville

“Down the Road”
Kenny Chesney (with Mac McAnally)
Blue Chair Records, BNA Records

“Everything But Quits”
Lee Ann Womack (duet with George Strait)
MCA Records

“I Told You So”
Carrie Underwood featuring Randy Travis
19 Recordings/Arista

“Old Enough”
The Raconteurs featuring Ricky Skaggs and Ashley Monroe
Third Man Records, Warner Bros. Records

Okay, first things first. On "Cowgirls Don't Cry," it seems to me that it should have been a Reba song, with Ronnie Dunn singing the final chorus, instead of being a Brooks & Dunn song with Reba singing the final chorus. Anyway, as much as I'd normally be tempted to root for George Strait, I have to throw my support behind Carrie Underwood & Randy Travis's "I Told You So." It was nice to hear his voice on the radio again, and the fact that she selected this song for her second album--and then saw it released as a single for airplay--earned her some serious credibility in my book. And say what you want about making the song too pop, but the truth is that Randy's Always & Forever album leaned heavily in that direction in the first place anyway.

Music Video
(Award goes to artist and director.)

“Boots On”
Randy Houser
Director: Eric Welch

“Love Story”
Taylor Swift
Director: Trey Fanjoy

“People Are Crazy”
Billy Currington
Directors: The Brads

“Start a Band”
Brad Paisley (duet with Keith Urban)
Directors: Jim Shea

“Troubadour”
George Strait
Director: Trey Fanjoy

On the one hand, "Troubadour" is sort of George Strait's version of Johnny Cash's "Hurt," being that it's a career-spanning montage. On the other hand, "Love Story" is a full-on production in every sense of the word and sometimes it's nice to watch excess. This could go any way, I suppose, and it's odd that for once I don't feel like Brad Paisley has the video award locked up.

Musician of the Year
Eddie Bayers — drums
Paul Franklin — steel guitar
Dann Huff — guitar
Brent Mason — guitar
Mac McAnally — guitar

Mac McAnally wins this by virtue of being on the ballot elsewhere as Kenny Chesney's duet partner on "Down the Road." Recognizability carries the day.

05 September 2009

Why Is The "C" Word So Offensive?

It shouldn't bother anyone, but it does. We don't like to acknowledge it even exists, and when it becomes impossible to ignore, we're quick to dismiss it as vulgar. Well, I'm here to tell you that compromise isn't evil.

You might recall the Republican primary election campaigns and debates of last year, and if so you might have noticed that many of the would-be candidates tried to associate themselves with the legacy of President Ronald Reagan. For many, President Reagan's legacy is either one of being tough on foreign policy and favorable for the anti-tax crowd; for others, he was a hapless puppet whose domestic policies made life even harder for the downtrodden.

Strangely, and nearly ironically, the president himself would likely have wanted a different legacy than either of the prevailing interpretations. Ronald Reagan, above all else, championed collaboration and working together to improve things. You can debate how successful he was, and just whose circumstances really benefitted from his work all you want, but he sincerely believed that his agenda would better not only our society, but through the political equivalent of the chaos theory, the world itself. To achieve this, the Great Communicator did two things better than nearly anyone else.

First, President Reagan excelled at rallying his own supporters. Sure, you think; it's easy for a Republican president to get and keep the support of Republicans in Congress. Granted, Republicans have had an easier go of maintaining solidarity in the last few decades than the Democrats, but it's hardly a lock. To be successful in this, a president has to have an agenda that speaks to the wants and needs of enough people that they feel included, while avoiding the sort of watered-down concepts that can be dismissed as pandering to the lowest common denominator. Because these men and women then have to go back home and find a way of convincing the citizenry at home--who holds the power over their employment--that what the president is trying to accomplish is worthwhile.

President George W. Bush likened himself often to President Reagan, and in the sense of being the leader of his own party he was largely correct. It wasn't until his second term of office that Mr. Bush vetoed any legislation, and while his fall from popularity by the end of his second term was so dramatic he was largely excluded from the 2008 GOP Convention, he was still plenty capable of shepherding through some items on his to-do list.

Where things have gone awry, though, is the second--and possibly more important--part of Mr. Reagan's skills. Rather than running roughshod over his political adversaries, Mr. Reagan emphasized clever maneuvering and was open to compromise. Eighty percent of something was far more valuable to him than one hundred percent of nothing, he would tell his cabinet and party members. Each time he set out to address an issue, he knew what his ultimate goal was while acknowledging that it was unrealistic to expect. So, he shrewdly set about pushing society toward his goal. He couldn't force the Soviets to surrender overnight, so he chipped away at them. He was vocal in his condemnation of their unacceptable behavior, while keeping open a diplomatic door. Other presidents might have smelled the scent of collapse and taken a more aggressive line, to accelerate the inevitable. That may well have pushed the Kremlin into a more reckless approach, believing it better to go down fighting and take someone with them, than to accept that their social model had failed.

Somewhere along the line, though, our political arena has characterized compromise as an admission of weakness to be avoided at all costs. Each socio-political issue expands the gulf between the two parties, moving us farther into a world where he who shouts loudest destroys everyone else. Politics has long been a dirty word in our society, but it used to be with a sense of wry humor. Now, there's an earnest animosity behind that resentment.

What am I suggesting, then, you ask? Simple. I say we go back to the Gipper. His approach to every issue was the same: Ask where things stood, and then ask what options existed to improve them. That can still help us, but there's something important we need to do to pave the way for our elected officials to re-engage in that style of politicking. We need to quit watching cable news talk shows.

Wait, what? You're telling me the way to make politics better is to ignore them? Isn't that dangerous? I mean, isn't that like saying your approach to fighting crime is to ignore criminals? Not at all. But see, cable news talk shows are as much a slave to the ratings game as sitcoms. Believe me, the moment Keith Olbermann and Bill O'Reilly drop too far in viewership, they'll be replaced. Trust me, they're aware of that fact: that's why they work very hard at keeping their viewership. To do it, they have carved out a very prominent and fierce spot on the political sidelines, working a role that is part cheerleader, part referee and part commentator.

Here's the problem, though. In the 1980s, when President Reagan had to deal with press scrutiny, they were just referees and commentators. They weren't cheerleaders. Every journalist had the same information to work with, and the competition was to be the first to deliver it. TV drastically reduced the madness, because it's much easier to get immediate news reports on the airwaves than into print. Now, thanks to advances in technology, that race is effectively over. If you're not the first to report something, it's okay because your report goes up within a few moments of the competition's.

So, if being first isn't as important as it once was, what is? Well, being the one to "tell it like it is" has become the thing. The late Walter Cronkite reported the facts; his journalistic descendants cannot merely tell us things. They must interpret those facts for us, because that's what makes their shows stand out from the network news. And, in the talk show arena, all bets are off; people are regularly derided in arguments so lacking in civilized decorum that few parents would approve of their young offspring seeing or hearing such behavior for fear it would shatter their disciplinary efforts to mold polite, cooperative children.

Simply put, we don't need someone to "tell it like it is." What we need is someone to tell us where things stand, and what options are being considered to change things. Tell us what we believe the likely outcomes of those options are, and let us discuss them. Instead, the Olbermanns and O'Reillys are not just cheerleaders, they're on the field of play! Their interpretations and drawn conclusions are taken as facts--rather than as interpretations and drawn conclusions of facts--by many of their viewers.

Don't believe me? How about the fact that studies have shown that 75% of FOX News viewers believe the "death panel myth" about President Obama's health care reform efforts? In President Reagan's era, such a myth would only have been given any consideration by someone in the government itself; only the tabloids would have entertained the notion of publishing such accusations. Today's world, however, invites and even rewards such wanton presentation under the premise of "telling it like it is."

Until we stop listening to interpretations of facts and return to listening to facts and forming our own interpretations, things will only continue to deteriorate. President Obama has proclaimed a desire to cooperate with the Republicans in Congress, and I believe him. I'm sure the Republicans would like to cooperate with him, and find a way to address these issues that have gotten entirely out of hand. We need to get the cable news talk show hosts off the field of play and back onto the sidelines where they belong, and then win one for the Gipper.

03 September 2009

Insomnia, Sound Unwound & Music Video Games

A few days ago, my guts started to get more cranky than usual and I elected to resurrect my on-again/off-again relationship with Prednisone. This is why I am now blogging at 5:16 AM with a throat full of heartburn. Want to know what I've been doing to while away the insomniac hours during this week? Well, I will tell you anyway.

There is a website operated by Amazon called Sound Unwound and it is an editable music database. It's something of an amalgamation of the Internet Movie Database and Wikipedia. Users like you or I can log in with our Amazon account information (you do already have one, right?) and begin filling out the discographies and credits for our favorite artists and albums; reviews appear, but they are imported from the Amazon website reviews. You're not being asked to provide diatribes about why a particular artist rocks or sucks; just help build a comprehensive list of where you can find that artist's work. The "just the facts" approach is more in line with IMDb, whereas the anyone-can-edit style is more Wiki.

Anyway, I am now the 20th ranked editor on the site, with 110 edits pending. You'd be surprised just how many edits you can rack up simply by pulling out the liner notes to a favorite album. Between the musicians performing various instruments, the songwriters, producer(s), engineers and even the design team, there are quite a lot of oft-ignored people who contribute to the music we enjoy. You might be surprised to notice some trends; perhaps some of your favorite songs were written by the same person; maybe the album art that catches your eye was crafted by the same design artist; you may even discover the name that goes with the amazing tocamarimba solo that you've been in love with for seventeen years.

So far, the coolest thing I've learned is just how awesome Metallica really is (are?). At this point, anyone who knows me at all is aware that I am not a listener of Metallica's music so they're surprised to find them name-dropped here. Well, truth be told I'm thinking about looking into getting my wife Guitar Hero or Rock Band games for Christmas (and since she never reads any of my blogs, I'm in no danger of her learning about it here, unless you open your big mouth) and so I've been raiding my uncle's classic rock library to get a feel for some of the music. (RIAA and related parties don't fret; I'm just giving them a spin on my CD player and then returning them; no copying or distributing involved.)

Among the samples I borrowed tonight was Metallica's Master of Puppets album. Owing to my recent Sound Unwound participation, I couldn't help but peruse the credits section of the included CD booklet. There, in the very last paragraph of the very last page is the following text:
"Also xtra fucken yahooz to...Carlsburg Beves; Sushi; Absolut Vodka; Alka Seltzer; The Young Ones; Remoulade; Skykow; Boom Shankar; Teenage Mutant Ninja-Turtles; and most of all...Edna!!!!"
Now, I should tell you that they hyphenated "Ninja-Turtles," not me. More importantly, the production date on this album is 1986. The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles debuted in 1984 in comic books, but the animated series did not appear until 1988. That means that Metallica was into the TMNT before it became a cartoon, which means they were fans in the black & white indie days! [Craig Ferguson voice]I know![/Craig Ferguson voice]

Also, I discovered today that Harmonix has addressed the instrument issue, vis a vis cross-studio compatibility with Activision's Guitar Hero equipment. Time was, if you wanted to play Guitar Hero, you had to have Guitar Hero instruments (and the same for Rock Band). It's like you had to have a Warner Bros. ballcap to watch a Warner Bros. movie. Now, most equipment is pretty interchangeable (except the first Rock Band game, which I suspect Harmonix simply doesn't consider worth the trouble to update)

What happened, you ask? Well, remember how a few years ago everyone went ga-ga over the first Rock Band game, stunned that a box would contain everything down to a drum kit? Yeah, and remember how many of us blanched at the price? Okay, follow me now...remember how each summer the last couple of years, stores have been almost desperate to free up some shelf space by nearly giving away those massive boxes at half or even less of their original MSRP? Well, apparently Harmonix's bean counters have done the math and decided that they're not making nearly enough money cluttering video game accessory aisles with these peripherals and have elected to abandon doing so altogether. They're focusing exclusively on software henceforth, and they've made sure you can use your Guitar Hero equipment to play their games as part of the getting out process.

As someone whose music taste is predominantly country, I am stoked because this means I can buy the standalone Rock Band: Country Track Pack for the Wii and throw down on 21 country and alt-country tunes without needing to purchase any additional Rock Band hardware or software. Yes, as a Wii owner I'm disappointed that Harmonix still hasn't worked out DLC for my console of choice (which means I still don't get to play any of the six Toby Keith songs they have, including "Beer For My Horses"), but still it's nice to have a collection such as this. I already had 16 of the 21 songs from that game in my iTunes library and even though I confess to not being completely in love with all of the songs, I still think it'll be fun to play songs that I actually know. (Besides, it's got "The Gambler" by Kenny Rogers; how can this game not be worthwhile?!)

There you have it, then, boys and girls. A music-related blog entry composed within a half an hour and including a covert shout-out to at least three of my peeps. Can you find the reference intended for you? Let me know if you do...there might just be a prize in it for you.

I Should Be Sleeping




02 September 2009

"The Yankee Years" by Joe Torre and Tom Verducci

The Yankee Years
Joe Torre and Tom Verducci
Date of Publication: 3 February 2009
Cover price: $26.95
512 pages

Publicizing The Yankee Years as a Joe Torre book is misleading. This is Tom Verducci's work all the way, from start to finish. He chronicles Torre's twelve years as manager of the New York Yankees, telling Torre's story for him. To be fair, Verducci obviously collaborated with Torre and in fact quotes from interviews with the esteemed manager throughout to give a semblance of involvement. The third person perspective alone makes clear that this is not, in fact, coming from the pen of Joe Torre.

Despite his admittedly impressive resume (including a co-author credit on Torre's earlier memoirs, Chasing the Dream), Verducci's work here is underwhelming. Each chapter reads as little more than an expanded version of an article Verducci might composed for Sports Illustrated and longtime fans are not likely to walk away with any more insight into the era than they already had. Then there's his tendency to namedrop players only by their surnames, so newer fans might not know--or care--who's being discussed throughout various passages. (If you're frustrated by not being able to remember a player, you'll be surprised how much more frustrating it is to be given his last name and not be sure what his first name is without doing external research.) Lastly, Verducci occasionally employs a metaphor for humor's sake that likely serves him well in magazine articles, but is out of place in a book. I meant to record it verbatim, but the gist of the worst offender is a remark early on about how a disgruntled player was best approached wearing a hazardous material suit. Really?

Still, even a broken clock is right twice a day and where Verducci succeeds is telling the story of the relationship between the New York Yankees and the rest of Major League Baseball from 1995-2007. Especially well-researched is the chapter on the rise of steroids culture (and no wonder; performance-enhancing substances is a favorite subject of Verducci's). Indeed, the most illuminating passages step outside Yankee Stadium altogether and explore the changing landscape of player behavior, fan expectations and the revolution among owners to overhaul the very nature of the front office and how it meets its objective of finding and fielding a less costly, yet competitive, team.

Ultimately, there are no new insights shared in The Yankee Years, and history will not be restricted to its documentation of the era covered. Fans of Verducci's writing are much likelier to be pleased than are fans of Torre's.

An earlier draft of this review was originally published by me on iLike.

01 September 2009

iTunes - August 2009

139 songs, 8:59:48 total time for August 2009. What? 139 songs in all of August? But...but...how?! Oh, right. I played CD's again for the first time in a long time. You might remember those; they're the little round things that file-sharers used to copy music from so they could share it online. For starters, I must've played George Strait's Twang album three times within a day of buying it. You may recall my exploration of music via free digital samplers from Amazon, and I burnt many of those to CD and played them that way (I love the Far Out Recordings: Brazilian Sampler!) Also, I was busy working on some mix discs and I decided to burn them and then play them back, rather than playing the mix on my iPod. Mostly, this was because I planned on playing them in the car. So, even though my iTunes Library counts are minimal, I did actually play quite a bit of music in this eighth month. So, what got more than one play?
  • Eternal Baroque, Various Artists [free Amazon digital sampler] (5)
  • Spa Moments Playlist, Mark Baldwin & David Huff [free digital sampler] (5)*
  • "Violin Concerto No. 1 in A Minor, BWV 1041: I. (Allegro Moderato)," Julia Fischer & Academy of St. Martin in the Fields (3)
  • "The Four Seasons: Concerto in E Major, Op. 8/1, RV 269 - 'Spring': II. Largo," Lara St. John, The Simon Bolivar Youth Orchestra of Venezuela & Eduardo Marturet (3)
  • "Lullaby," honeyhoney (2)
That's it. Other music played in August included: Music from the MGM Motion Picture "The Thomas Crown Affair" by Various Artists, The Funky Headhunter by Hammer, Honky Tonk Heroes by Waylon Jennings, Tuff Gong Worldwide Sampler by Various Artists, Romantic Moments Digital Sampler by Various Artists, Set This Circus Down by Tim McGraw, Teatro by Willie Nelson and not a whole lot more, really.