As a fan of a wide variety of popular (and not-so-popular) music from the 1950s (and sometimes even earlier) up through the present, one of my bucket list projects for years has been to put together a list of my 100 favorite songs of all time. At some point I decided that, once I got around to figuring that out, I could put it out on a blog, for the infinitesimally small proportion of the Internet world that might be interested. So, here we are. While the Top 100 will be a major focus, I also plan to post on a variety of other musical (and occasionally non-musical) topics, in which you may or may not be interested. (If a particular posting doesn’t ring your bell, you’re only a few clicks away from a dancing cat video on YouTube.)

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

May 19, 2019 – Cubs 6, Nats 5 – Nationals Park

Weather: 87 degrees, Partly Cloudy.
Wind: 7 mph, R To L.
Umpires: HP--Wolf, 1B--Lentz, 2B--Iassogna, 3B--Holbrook.
Time: 3:15
Attendance: 23,244
Things did not begin well.
Veteran Nats starter Jeremy Hellickson, who depends on command to make up for the lack of an imposing fastball, walked the first 3 Chicago batters he faced, throwing only 2 strikes in the process and generating early action in the home team bullpen. He hit Willson Contreras with a pitch later in the frame, but after a double play managed to escape with only a single run on the board.
Hellickson then stopped walking people and started allowing extra-base hits, allowing single runs in the 2nd and 3rd. Kyle McGowin made his season debut for the Nats in the 4th and continued the trend. Meanwhile, Washington didn’t get a runner on base against Kyle Hendricks until Rendon drew a four-pitch walk with 2 outs in the bottom of the 4th.
Things started to look up an inning later, as McGowin retired the visitors in order and the Nats ended the no-hitter and shutout on singles by Suzuki and Parra followed by a Dozier groundout. Unfortunately there would be no shutdown inning, as the Cubs responded with 2 runs in an ugly top of the 6th, during which McGowin uncorked two wild pitches and was charged with an error on Hendricks’ bunt. This was especially painful since Washington finally figured out the Cubs’ starter in the bottom of the inning, but they still trailed by 2 runs after Rendon’s 3-run blast.
Howie Kendrick cut the deficit to one with a leadoff HR after the seventh-inning stretch, and the Washington bullpen blanked the Cubs over the final 3 innings, but they were matched by Chicago’s Steve Cishek, who notched a rare 7-out save, allowing only one hit in the process.
While we were not happy earlier in the week to hear that the game had been chosen by ESPN for its Sunday night broadcast, the decision worked out well, given how hot it was in the afternoon. Things were much more comfortable for the 7:05 start, especially in the shade.

Thursday, May 16, 2019

May 15, 2019 – Nats 5, Mets 1 – Nationals Park

Weather: 72 degrees, Sunny.
Wind: 6 mph, Out To RF.
Umpires: HP--Blaser, 1B--Diaz, 2B--Randazzo, 3B--Nelson.
Time: 2:28
Attendance: 29,673
Patrick Corbin seems to be Washington’s designated bobblehead-game pitcher this season. Like the last time we saw him pitch, he turned in a top-notch effort, both times fanning 11 while allowing only a single run. Fortunately for the Nats, a few things were different this time, resulting in a 5-1 victory instead of an agonizing extra-inning defeat.
While in our April encounter the Nats scored only 2 runs while Corbin was in the game (one of which he had to drive in himself), tonight they exceeded that total by the end of the first inning. Perhaps inspired by Corbin fanning the side in the top of the frame, Eaton walked, advancing to second on a Robles bunt single. That was followed by consecutive RBIs by Rendon (double), Soto (ground out), and Kendrick (single). They added two more in the third, on a Robles homer and doubles by Rendon and Kendrick.
Meanwhile, Corbin sailed through the Mets’ lineup, with the 3rd inning being the only time he allowed a runner past first base. Most importantly, he had a quick 1-2-3 inning in the 7th, allowing him to pitch the 8th before having to turn the game over to Washington’s bullpen. With the team badly needing a victory, Davey went to Doolittle to close things out in the 9th, despite having a 4-run lead.

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Richard Thompson – Rams Head on Stage, 5/13/2019

Table 102, Seat 4 – front and center, 4-person table. Oddly, 2 of the seats remained vacant, although the show was sold out.
As usual, Thompson mixed it up nicely in his 21-song, 110-minute show, with just two songs from his latest album 13 Rivers (plus “They Tore The Hippodrome Down” from the slightly-less-recent Acoustic Rarities). He went back 50 years to Fairport Convention for “Genesis Hall” (which I hadn’t heard before) and Sandy Denny’s classic “Who Knows Where The Time Goes”, and did 4 songs from the Richard and Linda Thompson days, ending the main set with “Dimming Of The Day” as he did last year at The Birchmere. Naturally, the usual crowd favorites were all there as well.
The high point for me came with the first encore, when a guy from the next table requested my all-time favorite, “Al Bowlly’s In Heaven”. RT hedged a bit, saying that he was more used to doing it with a band, but proceeded to crank out a great rendition. I also particularly enjoyed the hilarious (but unfortunately never-recorded) “Crocodile Tears” and the somber wartime ballad “Woods Of Darney”.

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Alexa has been eavesdropping on you this whole time

"I listened to four years of my Alexa archive and found thousands of fragments of my life: spaghetti-timer requests, joking houseguests and random snippets of “Downton Abbey.” There were even sensitive conversations that somehow triggered Alexa’s “wake word” to start recording, including my family discussing medication and a friend conducting a business deal."
Not for me, thank you very much.

Serendipity #77

Fire Away – Dawes

Heard 5/7/2019 around 12:15 at Zoe’s Kitchen (Germantown)

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Favorite Musical Artist: Bruce Springsteen

I guess in some ways it’s appropriate that I post this just a few days after The Boss announced the upcoming release of his 19th studio album, and dropped its first “single”, “Hello Sunshine”. I like the song, but it’s not nearly as upbeat as the title might suggest. Rich Russo played it on his syndicated radio show this weekend, immediately followed by the Beatles’ “Good Day Sunshine”, and the contrast was pretty striking. (What it REALLY reminds me of is Danny O’Keefe’s 1972 hit “Goodtime Charlie’s Got The Blues.”)
Although I do own all 18 of Bruce’s previous studio recordings, plus some (but not all) of his live and/or previously-unreleased stuff (yes, I have the four-disc Tracks set), I’ve been a relative slacker compared to the true diehards in terms of seeing him live, with a modest total of five shows to my credit:
October 20, 1974 – Dickinson College (Carlisle PA)
November 11, 2007 – Verizon Center
September 14, 2012 – Nationals Park
April 20, 2016 – Royal Farms Arena (Baltimore)
September 1, 2016 – Nationals Park
I decided to see if I could find out a little more about Jon Landau’s legendary “rock and roll future” comment. A slightly longer excerpt is below; you can find the entire (lengthy) column from which it was taken here.
But tonight there is someone I can write of the way I used to write, without reservations of any kind. Last Thursday, at the Harvard Square theatre, I saw my rock'n'roll past flash before my eyes. And I saw something else: I saw rock and roll future and its name is Bruce Springsteen. And on a night when I needed to feel young, he made me feel like I was hearing music for the very first time.
Favorite songs:
Rosalita (Come Out Tonight)
Hungry Heart
The Price You Pay
My City Of Ruins
Jersey Girl
4th Of July, Asbury Park (Sandy)
Dancing In The Dark
Darkness On The Edge Of Town
Blinded By The Light
Stolen Car
Born To Run
Pink Cadillac
Shut Out The Light
Kitty's Back
The Promised Land
Spirit In The Night
Wrecking Ball
One Step Up
And of course there’s his classic cover of “Santa Claus Is Comin’ To Town

Monday, April 29, 2019

April 28, 2019 – Nats 7, Padres 6 (11 innings) – Nationals Park,lock_state=final,game_tab=wrap,game=565908
Weather: 70 degrees, Sunny.
Wind: 6 mph, Out To CF.
Umpires: HP--West, 1B--Cooper, 2B--Fletcher, 3B--Little.
Time: 4:03
Attendance: 30,186
To put it kindly, things did not start out well for the home team this afternoon.
Noted San Diego “slugger” Greg Garcia homered off Nats starter Jeremy Hellickson in the top of the first, and the visitors pushed across another run an inning later. Things really went south in the 3rd: infield single, error, RBI single, 3-run 1-out homer by Eric Hosmer.
With a 6-0 deficit and an overworked bullpen, the initial plan seemed to be to let Hellickson absorb a few more innings, so he was allowed to hit for himself to lead off the bottom of the 3rd. After Robles beat out an infield single (the Nats successfully challenged the initial “out” call) and Dozier singled, Juan Soto changed the course of the game with a 3-run shot to center. Washington pushed across another run and loaded the bases with 2 out, leading Davey to pinch-hit Adam Eaton (who struck out) for Hellickson the second time around.
With Hellickson now gone after just three innings, the Nats turned to Erick Fedde, who had been called up earlier in the day for just this sort of emergency. He more than rose to the occasion, pitching four scoreless frames while facing only one batter over the minimum.
Meanwhile, Washington completed its comeback on solo HRs by Robles in the 4th and the recently-promoted Carter Kieboom in the 5th, making MLB history along with Soto as the only trio of teammates under 22 years old to all homer in the same game.
With men on first and second and one out in the bottom of the 7th, Martinez rolled the dice by pinch-hitting for Fedde, who had thrown only 49 pitches, far fewer than the 88 he tossed in his minor-league start 5 days earlier. Unfortunately, Yan Gomes and Robles fanned to end the inning, meaning that the Nats weary (and largely ineffective) bullpen guys would have to cover the rest of the game.
Kyle Barraclough, Joe Ross, and Tony Sipp kept the visitors off the board for the next 3 innings, although Ross had to retire Manny Machado with the bases loaded and 2 outs. Washington missed a great scoring chance in the bottom of the 10th, when their first two batters reached base and the Padres were forced into a makeshift defensive alignment after shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. had to exit due to injury. San Diego reliever Matt Wisler, however, retired the next 3 Washington batters to keep the game going into the 11th.
Fortunately, there would be a happy ending, as Justin Miller retired the side in the top of the inning, and Matt Adams led off with a massive homer to right field to send what remained of the crowd home happy.
A cluster of dark clouds passed ominously over the field in the middle innings, but there was no rain, and much more sun that we had expected. For the last several innings, the wind was blowing hard from left to right, knocking down several fly balls hit to left and almost blowing Adams’ game-winning shot into foul territory.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

April 17, 2019 – Cubs 6, Marlins 0 – Marlins Park

Weather: 80 degrees, Partly Cloudy.
Wind: 10 mph, L To R.
Umpires: HP--Ripperger, 1B--Kellogg, 2B--O'Nora, 3B--Hoye.
Time: 2:25
Attendance: 10,247
Section 15, Row 12, Seat 14 – 8 rows farther back than last night, just to the left of home plate
Same as it ever was, same as it ever was …
Cubs take an early lead, check. Scoreless drought for both teams in the middle innings, got it. Another Javy Baez homer in the top of the 8th, you bet. And I go oh-for-Miami in terms of the home team scoring a run.
There were a few differences. For one, this time the Cubs more or less broke the game wide open with a 4-spot in the 3rd off Sandy Alcantara, which started innocently enough with 2 outs and Kris Bryant on second.
Meanwhile, the Marlins went down 1-2-3 in six of their nine at-bats. Jorge Alfaro’s second-inning single was the home team’s only runner in the first 6 innings off Cole Hamels; he was promptly erased on a double play. They did mount a one-out rally in the 7th, with singles by Martin Prado and Alfaro sandwiched around a Bryant error. Things got more interesting when Hamels fell behind 3-0 to Starlin Castro, but he recovered to fan Castro and then retire Miguel Rojas.
I’d certainly recommend the pulled pork sandwich at La Pepa (one of two stands curated by José Andrés), a reasonable ballpark buy at $12. Having 25% more people Cubs fans meant that the in-game lines were longer than Tuesday, so I went to the La Familia stand out in the right field (shorter lines) to get my $3 Nathan’s hot dog after the fifth inning.

April 16, 2019 – Cubs 4, Marlins 0 – Marlins Park

Weather: 77 degrees, Partly Cloudy.
Wind: 12 mph, L To R.
Umpires: HP--Hoye, 1B--Ripperger, 2B--Kellogg, 3B--O'Nora.
Time: 2:49
Attendance: 8,137
Section 20, Row 4, Seat 1 – lower level, 4 rows in back of the “premium” field-level seating, halfway down the third base line.
The game brought to mind the image of a boa constrictor swallowing a small furry animal (perhaps because I spent a few hours earlier in the day at the Miami Zoo). The visitors notched single runs in the 3rd and 4th, and tacked on insurance runs off the Miami bullpen in each of the last two innings – most notably on a long 8th-inning homer by Javy Baez, who seemed to have most of his fan club sitting a few rows behind me.
Meanwhile, the Marlins didn’t threaten Cubs starter Jose Quintana, as the only runner to reach second base in his 7+ innings of work was left-fielder Austin Dean, who doubled with 2 outs in the 7th. They did generate some momentary excitement in the bottom of the 8th when, with 2 out and 2 on, catcher Jorge Alfaro crushed a long fly to center field that Albert Almora caught just in front of the 407-foot sign. In terms of results, their high point probably came in the top of the 5th, when right-fielder Isaac Galloway nailed Daniel Descalso attempting to advance to third on Kris Bryant’s fly out.
I drove to the park, since neither staying within walking distance nor taking public transit seemed like a particularly attractive option. It wound up being 15-20 minutes each way, with a couple tricky spots but no real difficulties, although the initial parking lot I had targeted turned out to be prepaid-only. The park is a lot better than the team, especially in terms of its concession offerings – more Latino items than I could possibly try in two days. Of particular note is their new “3o5” menu: $3 hot dogs! $3 pretzels, sodas, and bottles of water!! $5 for a pair of large, meat-filled mojo pork tacos!!! (Washington Nationals, please take note.) The in-game lines at one of the two stands offering the bargain menu were a little long, but moved quickly.
The informational displays were also quite good. The large main scoreboard included the batter’s picture and info, the full lineup of the team that’s batting (with uniform numbers but not positions), and (for the team on defense) a diagram of who’s playing what position and a list of the three batters due up next. A smaller video screen down the left field line provided some trivia about the current Miami batter or pitcher, and showed replays in sync with the main board. A pair of horizontal auxiliary boards in left-center and right-center displayed a set of running in-game information for each current pitcher, including total number of balls, strikes, and pitches thrown. They also showed who was warming up in the bullpen (or, in a first for me, the number of challenges left if no one was warming).
While Nationals Park has a large dedicated area for showing out-of-town scores, including base runners and number of outs, the Marlins have a smaller area along the left-center wall that rotates games four at a time, showing score and inning only. Interestingly enough, while the Nats show scores during innings but replace them with ads between innings, Miami does the opposite, which I actually prefer.
And of course, when playing a team such as the Cubs with a national following, the atmosphere is kind of … backwards. If you’re out on the concourse and hear a burst of loud cheers, it’s probably NOT good news for the home team. (Incidentally, the in-game radio broadcast was clearly audible in the men’s room, but not so much in the concourse itself, although there were plenty of TV monitors.)