What a wonderful way to start the weekend -- blogging and playing ball. As soon as I finish this blog, I'm going to head out and play some basketball with my son. But what makes this a great weekend was the Channel 25 weekend news show I watched when I first woke up this morning. The show included two interviews with "esteemed" (their words, not mine) local author Donna Gephart, author of As If Being 12 3/4 Isn't Bad Enough, My Mother Is Running for President.
Now onto the Playlist ...
Born Standing Up. Steve Martin.
Whether you thought he was wild and crazy or just a Jerk, you'll enjoy reading this memoir. Martin is humble and self-deprecating as he details how his successful stand-up act came together. It starts when he was a kid hanging out at magic shops and follows his path to arena-filling shows. He's filled the memoir with great stories, including his first appearances on The Tonight Show. He talks about dating the the daughter of Dalton Trumbo (subject of our Weekly Wikipedia link) and Linda Rondstadt, whose talent and beauty was a little too intimidating for Martin. She asked him after nine dates: "Steve, do you always date women and try not to sleep with them?" This is one of the most enjoyable non-fiction books I've read in years.
This is the band Tom Petty, Mike Campbell and Benmont Tench were in before they left Florida behind them and became Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. Mudcrutch left behind some wonderful pop-rock singles -- Depot Street and On the Street -- but little else. Petty recently decided to reunite the band, which also includes guitarist Bernie Leadon and drummer Randall Marsh. (Note: Petty plays bass as he did in the original Mudcrutch).
So 35 years later, how do they sound?
Different, that's for sure. There's nothing like the catchy Depot Street on this self-titled debut. But it's good. Mudcrutch plays a crunching alternative country/country rock set that clearly stands on its own. Some of the material is more reminiscent of Petty's solo albums, than his Heartbreakers work. At times, the dual guitars sound very Allmans-like. Good songwriting. Intense playing. A fun album.
The Abstinence Teacher. Tom Perrotta.
The author of Election and Little Children writes another book that could easily make the transition to the big screen. Perrotta has suburban life -- sex and politics -- down cold. The story revolves around Ruth, a sex ed teacher embroiled in controversy, and Tim, a Christian soccer coach trying to pull his life back together. Both are divorced with children. And both are struggling as parents. The book really takes off when Tim has the team pray following a big victory. Seeing this happen, Ruth pulls her daughter off the field and let's Tim have it. I'm interested in what others who have read this think about Perrotta's characterization of the Tabernacle Church and its members. Was it a fair portrayal? And, for me, the ending provided more questions than answers.
Other musical numbers I've tuned my ears to in the past several days ...
-- Don't Stop Believing, Petra Haden, Guilt By Association. The standout on this album of covers. Haden does the Journey tune pretty much acapella. Now I need to check out her cover of the entire album The Who Sell Out.
-- American Ruse, MC5, The Anthology 1965-1971. Loud. And essential.
-- Helena Won't Get Stoned, Tarkio, Omnibus. Colin Meloy's pre-Decemberists band.