Wednesday, November 21, 2012

50 States in 5 Years?

Ever since my first of two cross-country trips, I've been interested in tracking my quest to some day notch visits to all 50 states. That quest was going good for a while—in fact, I reached 35 something like 20 years ago—but it's been slowed in recent years as family priorities have taken over.

In late 2006, I logged states #39 and #40 (Alabama and Mississippi), then in 2008 and 2009, respectively, I added #41 (Nebraska) and #42 (Oregon). But, in the three years since, I've remained stalled at that number, with Alaska, Hawaii, Montana, North Dakota, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Louisiana still on the list to visit. (However, I did spend 2 1/2 weeks in Italy with KJ, so I'd say that offsets the fact I haven't yet made it to Oklahoma or Arkansas.) Unfortunately, none of those states are looking like potential destinations in the near future.

So, of course, like a lot of people in my situation are inclined to do, I've started thinking about living vicariously through my son. When I realized the little traveler had already been to nine states, it was pretty much a no-brainer we had to plan a trip to the closest one he'd yet to visit. The added bonus being that destination happened to be where his mom and dad got married.

Our trip to Vermont the weekend before last was LC's 10th state in his first year. Obviously, I have no expectation he'll be keeping up that pace for four more years, as the post's title suggests. In fact, since KJ and I would be taking him, that would make the living vicariously thing kind of a moot point. But, 10 states before the age of one is a pretty cool "accomplishment" in my opinion.

Our wedding locale, the Old Tavern in Grafton—now called the Grafton Inn—was the destination. This is honestly one of the few places that, when visiting, we could be content with parking the car and not going anywhere else for an entire weekend. And it's not because there's so much to do there—although the inn does have tennis courts, bike rentals, cross-country skiing, etc.—but rather that it's such an enjoyably relaxing place to stay. One that easily allows even someone like me to forget about all the everyday stresses of living in an urban area. [This makes me feel like breaking out into Neil Young's "Country Home."]

To say Grafton is a quaint little town doesn't come close to properly describing it. I've used the term quaint before in reference to touristy villages that have qualities that kind of resemble small cities.

Grafton is not like this. Those touristy villages I just described always have some semblance of commercialism, but the Windham Foundation, a not-for-profit organization that owns much of the town, is dedicated to ensuring that doesn't happen.

Grafton Public Library
Grafton Public Library

Grafton Historical Society
Grafton Historical Society

Grafton Fire Station
Grafton Fire Station

The inn kind of dominates the town, but the locals are part of the experience, especially when they come out for a music night at the Old Tavern's Phelps Barn. But, even when the inn is completely full, the town is still quiet. It might just be one of my top five places on earth, a list I honestly haven't given much thought to until now.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Carl Hubbell vs. Sandy Koufax: A Hall of Fame Inner Circle Debate

My latest for High Heat Stats, is a debate between myself and Replacement Level's Bryan O'Connor regarding the Hall of Fame "Inner Circle" merits of Carl Hubbell and Sandy Koufax. There's even a poll where you can offer your opinion on which pitcher was more inner-circle-worthy and who you think won the debate.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Frequent Spins (2012.5)

This is probably going to be the final Frequent Spins of the year. I've still got a bunch of albums I hope to spend more time with as this month progresses, and then I can start my annual ritual of ranking them in order.

Meanwhile, here's a bunch of albums I've listened to fairly regularly since the last installment:

Band of Horses - Mirage Rock
Frankly, I have to admit this one's kind of disappointing, especially considering it will surely end their brief run of two consecutive albums in my top ten.

Dinosaur Jr. - I Bet on Sky
In my opinion, the third installment in this band's resurrection of its original lineup—which began almost 20 years after the original Mascis/Barlow flap—is better than the second, which was better than the first.

Patterson Hood - Heat Lightning Rumbles in the Distance
I used to give my fair share of thought to the question of who is my second favorite musician to Neil Young. Names that have been part of that discussion at different times include Jay Farrar, Steve Earle, Joe Pernice and Spencer Krug. I think it's time to consider Patterson Hood a candidate for that distinction.

James Iha - Look to the Sky
I've been saying I'm the world's biggest Pernice Brothers fan for years. That might be a bit of an exaggeration. What's not is that I'm possibly the biggest fan in existence of James Iha's 1997 solo debut, Let it Come Down. 15 years later, the former Smashing Pumpkins' rhythm guitarist's follow-up is nowhere near as good as that one, but it has its moments.

Jens Lekman - I Know What Love Isn't
Simply more witty, melodic indie pop from this Swedish singer/songwriter, just with a little more cynicism this time around.

Mumford & Sons - Babel
I've been an album late jumping on the bandwagon of a lot of next-big-thing indie acts, and this band is no exception. That might at least partly explain why I don't understand all the lukewarm reviews of this one.

A.C. Newman - Shut Down the Streets
What I said earlier this year about Andrew Bird basically applies to everything A.C. Newman does as well.

Tame Impala - Lonerism
Despite the inauthenticity of the band's moniker—my first car was a '77 Impala, and it could not be tamed—they rock.

Neil Young & Crazy Horse - Psychedelic Pill
OK now, this is the Crazy Horse return to glory I was expecting. Well, not exactly expecting, but it's certainly along the lines of what I was hoping for. "Walk Like a Giant" fits right in as the successor to a long line of Neil Young epics. It's no "Cortez the Killer" or "Cowgirl in the Sand," but then again, what is?

Thursday, November 01, 2012

A Look at the Potential Hall of Fame Pre-Integration Era Ballot

My latest for High Heat Stats is kind of a wish list of the names I'd like to see on the upcoming Hall of Fame Veterans Committee Pre-Integration Era Ballot.

Paul O'Neill's Final Game at Yankee Stadium

Every time a significant player participates in his final home game, I'm reminded of what was perhaps the greatest impromptu send-off by the home team's fans ever, which happened to occur 11 years ago today:

Whether you're a Paul O'Neill fan or not (and I know he has his detractors), you really can't argue that was a special moment.