Sunday, November 27, 2011

Odd Bits - The Thankful Edition

So far, it’s been a successful holiday weekend.  I worked on Black Friday, and am taking Monday off instead.  It was weird working on Friday.  There were only a couple of us there on my floor for most of the day.  By leaving time, I was the only one left.  It was like I was a marble, rolling around an empty boxcar.  In fact, all of downtown was a ghost town, which is a huge improvement, in my book.

Uncle Bluz
I went to my brother’s house for the Thanksgiving feast and had a wonderful time.  But even better was getting to come back on Friday night and baby-sit.  My brother and his wife were going to dinner and then to see Bob Seger, (who still rocks, according to Bluz Brother).

So I packed a bag and went directly from work.  I had to pack a bag because the Penguins were playing and I had to be dressed in the appropriate game jersey for the occasion.  Even “on the job,” I still have my mojo responsibilities.

Once we settled in, we had some time before the game started so we watched the AC/DC concert movie, “Let There Be Rock.”  (I wrote about it a while back.)  Because you can’t seem to buy a decent Blue Ray package anymore that doesn’t also include the DVD, I figured I’d give my DVD copy to my nephew.  I made up some cover art, provided a jewel box and produced a nice little package for him.  (I did the same with the latest Harry Potter and Pirates of the Caribbean movies too.  When are the movie studios going to realize that they might be able to gouge us out of an extra $5 for the bigger package, but they lose on a whole other sale?  Because who really needs both movie versions to use for themselves?)

As I’ve mentioned before, my nephew Daniel (12) is an AC/DC freak now, so I felt I owed it to him to show him the band at their performing prime.  It was cool.  Sammy (6) was unimpressed though, and rolled over on the floor and had a nap.

I had to take Daniel to his basketball practice at 7:30, so we paused the game and ran the errand.  When we got back, Sammy perched up on my lap and we watched the game together.  I tell you, the kid is pretty observant for a 6-year old.  He knew all the players and everything they’d done lately.  It was some really nice Uncle/Nephew bonding time.  We get very little time for the two of us because when Daniel is home, he tends to dominate the conversation.

We paused the game again to go pick up Daniel and them came back to watch the end.  (Pens crushed Ottawa, 6-3, in a game that wasn’t really as close as the score indicates.)

Then, because my brother’s TV setup is different than mine and had a jillion different channels, we just scanned around to the other hockey games in progress.  It was really just background noise though, because we mostly just yapped the rest of the night.

Daniel and I tend to get into very detailed music conversations.  He tells me what he likes and then I tell him what I know about the artist.  Sometimes we have to go to the YouTube to provide examples.  God, what I wouldn’t have given for that kind of technology when I was a kid.

I’ve had this other idea kicking around in my head for a while now: a way to help guide Daniel in his musical journey… to steer him toward high-quality rock and roll, and away from the noise that passes for music today.

I pitched the idea to my brother first, that I could set the boy up with an email account, to which I would maintain access.  (That way, I could monitor use and dump the inevitable inappropriate spam.)  Once a week, I would email Daniel a song of choice, along with any relevant information.  For example, I’d tell him why I like the song, what the cool parts of it are, what to listen for, and most importantly, seek his feedback on what HE thinks of it.

My brother told me not to bother setting up a separate email.  He would just add an account onto his current email, for Daniel’s use.  Fine by me… whatever works.  I was just trying to minimize what anyone else would have to do.

I pitched the idea to Daniel on Friday and he was all over it.  I don’t get to see the boys as often as I’d like, so I figured he was old enough now to take advantage of the tech we have available.  (Yes, I know we could be doing Skype… one step at a time!)  He’s into texting, too, so we traded cell numbers. 

My goal is to teach the boy HOW to listen to music… how to seek out the bass line; how to appreciate a solid opening build; how to pick out the guitar riffs on multiple guitars; and mostly how to appreciate real people playing real instruments that do NOT include the abomination that is auto-tune.

I’ll let you know how it goes, once we get going and the email account is set up.

Buckeye Bluz
ESPN has been hyping the Ohio State/Michigan game as “The Game.”  While I may be all “Pittsburgh” for pro sports, in college sports my family rolls with the Buckeyes.  We lived in Columbus for 5 years, my mom taught and got her Masters there, and my brother graduated from there later.  He and I saw our first college football games there, and it stuck.  So the OSU/Michigan game has been a big deal for us since we were kids.

While I was at my brother’s place on Friday, it reminded me of a story, which I then told to the boys.

When I first moved to Baltimore and was staying with my brother and his wife, on the morning of the OSU/Michigan game I was awakened by the sound of the Ohio State Marching Band, aka The Best Damn Band in the Land.  My brother was playing the CD on the house stereo.

When I cleared my head, I stumbled downstairs and saw my sister-in-law in the living room.  I asked where my brother was.

She said that he was outside putting up the Buckeye flag.  Then she added, “At least this year, he’s not running up and down the street with it.”

That was the funniest thing I ever heard her say.  The “visual” just slayed me.

Alas, we lost the game yesterday, thus breaking a 7-game winning streak against That Team Up North.  Oh well… 7 out of 8 ain’t bad.  Yinz kin look it up.

The Mojo Boogie
The Steelers play the KC Chiefs tonight on Sunday Night Football, at Kansas City.  For the Steelers to win the division they need to win out the rest of the season AND have the Ratbirds lose one, otherwise, it’s Wild Card City.  So we need this one.

I decided to wear the same gear I wore the last time I watched at home while the Steelers were “away.”  I could have gone with what I wore the last times they were on SNF, but the results were inconclusive.  So for tonight:
White Polamalu jersey, gold-sleeved throwback tee, flannel Steelers jammy pants with the Hot Arizona Auntie-approved Steelers socks.

As I have the day off tomorrow, staying up late will not be an issue.


Mary Ann said...

Palamalou for me too. If my LeTang MaJo worked last night maybe #43 will bring the goods for SNF.
SNL with the Boyz sounds like fun. What's better than an evening alone with bachelor Uncle Bluz. Undivided interest, attention and antics. The "Naughty Man", Sam enjoyed, I'm sure. ("You know, the man who always gets in trouble, #92"). Sammy does indeed remember.
Ed should run around the block on OSU game day with his flag, boom box and Boyz, a Buckeye parade in staid Catonsville.

DG said...

A very belated Happy Thanksgiving, Bluz! Sounds like you had a good one. I have lots to be thankful for this year but hope to add a Steelers win to that list. AFC North did us no favors this week.

I am going to relate the story of your brother and sister-in-law to Mr. DG. Every once in a while I feel the need to remind him I'm not the craziest sports fan out there. Although, I may be in the running.

Best wishes. This is, by far, my favorite time of year. Cookies next weekend!

bluzdude said...

Mary Ann,
A night with the boys is like playing with a barrel of monkeys.

Thanks, my friend. I'm writing this at halftime and am pissed that we've outplayed these clowns so badly, yet are only up by 7. #WastedOpportunities

There's no telling what sports fans might do. I have it on good authority that one in particular tracks his gameday apparel via spreadsheet. Maniac...

Deb K said...

Oh no...I should have figured that you were an OSU fan being that you hail from Ohio. But our house is made up of diehard Michigan fans. I could post weekly garb photos similar to your Steelers weekly clothing posts on game day. It's been a really rough few years in our house and yesterday was a cause for celebration. Truth be told, I'm a Penn State grad but never followed college football much. Given that hubby has lots of relatives from Michigan and is an alumnus, I've adopted the school as my own. It's so much easier on our marriage.

bluzdude said...

Well then I apologize for making life tough in your household for the last 7 years. I'm sure Saturday was very cathartic for you all.

I like our chances next year. I think our QB is a lot like your QB, only without any experience yet.

A Beer for the Shower said...

Congrats to the Steelers for a win over KC last night! I don't think I have to tell you that as a Broncos fan I smile any time KC goes down. And so does God. Because everyone clearly knows that God is a Broncos fan. Just ask Tim Tebow.

bluzdude said...

Bryan (Beer)
Thanks... that was far more stressful than it needed to be. Glad we could do you the favor.

Can't believe the Broncos' winning streak... doesn't anyone remember how to play college football?

Cristy said...

Hello again, Bluz. Sorry so long no read. :( Life's been a bit nuts.

Love that you're educating your nephew on music. I'm sure Tom would like to do that with me and break me of my pop addiction. :)

Regarding football, I *really* wish our teams (WVU and Cowboys) would stop this last-minute garbage. Both teams won within the last minute (or overtime) this weekend. It stresses T out. I'd like to order him some blowout games for Christmas this year. Think Santa can pull that for me? :)

bluzdude said...

Yeah, I've been simmering that idea for some time now. I'm glad it's seeing the light of day. And my brother came through this weekend, setting up the email account. Now it's up to me.

I'd be happy to arrange some Cowboy blowouts, as long as they're against AFC teams. You know... if I could...

Cassie said...

I love Odd Bits!

You should have your nephew set up a Pandora station, too. Those are great because then you can thumbs up or thumbs down artists and he can better fine tune what he loves.

Also - video chatting is a big hit in the house for the kids and family that is far away.

bluzdude said...

Thank you for loving Odd Bits. I think you're the only one... except me, because it lets me empty my mental Inbox of the things that don't warrant their own posts.

I think I'm going to be Daniel's personal Pandora station. The worry all along has been his lack of available time. The kid is BOOKED... between all his homework, sports leagues and now, the GIRLS with whom he's been texting, his time is at a premium. That's why I only plan to send him one song a week.

sherry stanfa-stanley said...

I love sharing music with my kids. The only downside is that the majority of my CDs have disappeared. My oldest is now writing and recording his own stuff--and it's GOOD stuff. (Not pop, country or rap, thank God. I'd hate to have to lie and tell him I like it.)

What a fun uncle you are.

bluzdude said...

I'm a great uncle! Part confidant, part scamp, part raconteur, part sugar daddy, part teacher, part instigator and part watchdog.

So much easier than being a parent.

Christy said...

About a year ago my nieces started with the IM and took up texting with me shortly after. I'm still in shock they do that. They were still too young last time I looked.

I think it's wonderful that you can spend quality time with them.

bluzdude said...

Funny how you blink and next thing you know, these kids are running rings around you technologically. When I was 12, I could barely talk to a girl, let alone text.

Well, actually in my case, texting might have been easier.

Jessica R. said...

You're such a good uncle Bluz. Way to educate the kid early.

bluzdude said...

Gotta lay the groundwork now, while they're still impressionable, before they start listening to their idiot friends.

Anonymous said...

Hmmm. Ohio State may have the best band, but I'm afraid Michigan has the best fight song. Better than Notre Dame and USC in my book. And I hate both Michigan and Ohio State.

Didn't know that Blue Ray discs also include the DVD. Probably for people with laptops and portable travel DVD players who don't want to have to buy it twice.

bluzdude said...

Well, they do if you want the special features included with the package. Now, in order to get those, and for a movie geek like me who's into production stuff, it's essential, you have to get the combo pack. Otherwise, you can usually get the stripped down Blue Ray package by itself. Plus, they often pack in the online copy.

Unapologetically Mundane said...

That OSU game was the first football game I've seen since leaving college, I do believe. And I only saw it because my great-uncle had it on in the background while I was over at his house playing cards. And I couldn't really concentrate on it because of the cards, so I kept wondering who that guy with the dreads was that they kept showing every five seconds.

Despite all of this lack of spirit, I still kind of love your brother.

bluzdude said...

The guy with dreads is Michigan’s quarterback, Denard Robinson. He’s a very good player and he handles the ball on every offensive play for Michigan, so he gets shown on TV a lot.

Maybe you could run up and down your street with a big Donut Flag or something… That should liven things up on your block.

Mrs. Bachelor Girl said...

Good Lord, your brother is the northern version of The Guy.

bluzdude said...

Mrs. Bachelor Girl,
Then there must be versions of him running around everywhere.