The Album Experience

“Back when I was a kid”, we had albums that we put on the turntable, and then sat back, perusing the album liner notes while we experienced the album tracks, in order. We only needed to get up once to flip the album over. Side note: tip of the hat to Tom Petty for capturing this experience for future generations in the middle of his Full Moon Fever CD.

This was a wonderful way to experience the music. It was a mode of listening where the album got priority. We weren’t listening to it while the TV was on, or while we were studying. We just listened. And furthermore, we sat there and listened to the entire thing (the closest concept to “pause” was the nicer turntables that had a lever you could use to raise or lower the needle, so that you could lift it and re-lower it in exactly the same place).

This weekend my college crew and I were sharing memories, and trying to pick our favorite album experience. Days of Future Past (Moody Blues). Dark Side of the Moon (Pink Floyd). The Joshua Tree (U2). Red / Blue (The Beatles).

For me, I was torn between a few. So I cued up Brothers in Arms (Dire Straits) and All That You Can’t Leave Behind (U2) for my ride today. First of all, it was awesome to listen to albums completely again. No shuffle. No playlist mix. Just two albums, each in track order. I will definitely be doing more of that.

Brothers in Arms was the first album I bought. That’s not to say it took me a while to get into music. As the youngest of seven, I just got to use all the records, cassettes, and 8tracks my siblings were buying. And I instead spent my money on a stereo cassette player/recorder, allowing me to pull songs off the radio and make my own mix tapes.

But Brothers in Arms was the first time I bought an album. And I’m pretty sure I bought Run DMC’s Raising Hell at the same time. A great way to start my music collection. And I continued to go back to Brothers in Arms every time I was in the market for a new stereo. “Your Latest Trick” is a terrific song for testing speakers.

All That You Can’t Leave Behind is the album that accompanied me on my first retreat. I played that in order repeatedly during my daily long drives. So many great lyrics across all of those tracks, my top probably being, “I see an expression so clear and so true that it changes the atmosphere when you walk into the room.” Runner-up, “I’m not afraid to die. I’m not afraid to live. And when I’m flat on my back, I hope to feel like I did.”

It was close, but U2 won. 

High Order Bit

Standing in the ER
over my 23-year-old son.
Resting my hand on his shoulder
and massaging his head,
For far longer than he would
normally ever tolerate.

I want to protect him
but I can’t.
I want to scold him
but I don’t.
Instead I just comfort him
and stay, just, thankful.

His head
will heal.
The lessons
will, eventually, seep in.
My family
will survive.

121: Double Check Helmet

Annie Answer

My second Strava puzzle Annie Are You OK? was a little more difficult. That’s by design. I’m trying to make each puzzle a bit harder. Let’s see where we go from here.

This was a team effort solution by Neil and Jevan. Applause on the teamwork, much like the way we solve the weekly wsj meta crossword puzzle.

  • Step one: The single use of ๐Ÿ‘€ in all the titles was intentional. It drew your attention to the title “Third in Third”. Jevan at first said, “I know this title is important, I just don’t know what to do with it.” Neil added, “Well, the third letter in the third word is ‘i’.” I made an encouraging sound.
  • Step two: The last title tells you the length of the answer, but again there is another intentional number usage: five. Notice that all of the titles are between one word and five words long.
  • Step three: Neil said, “What if one-word titles use the first letter?” He then started spelling: R, E, M, E, M, B, E, R; Remember.
  • Step four: “Ah, okay, so then two-word titles form the second word by taking the second letter of the second word.” T, O; To.
  • Step five: Jevan jumps in, “Is it ‘Remember To Drink Your Ovaltine’?” Jevan knows my love for movie quotes, and Jevan is also a fan of A Christmas Story. I smiled and said, “Bingo.”

Another hint in the puzzle that they didn’t need to get them started. The ride titled simply “Be” is a one-word title that also makes the sound of the first letter in the word.

And then, post-solution connections were incorporated into this puzzle. This refers to connections that you can’t possibly make in the solving process, but once solved, you can look back on and see the connection. There was day 103’s title: “Frageeelay. It must be Italian!” which is another quote from A Christmas Story. And then there is the puzzle title “Annie Are You Okay?” a reference Little Orphan Annie, which is the club that Ralphie gets the decoder ring for and decodes the same message as this puzzle delivers: Remember To Drink Your Ovaltine.

Major Blunder: I embed this scene to tie the story together, and when I watch it, I discover I had remembered the line wrong ๐Ÿ˜ฎ. It was “Be Sure To Drink Your Ovaltine.”

SloMoPo Solved

My first Strava puzzle SloMoPo was solved pretty shortly after posting it. I was starting simple, so that’s not too surprising.

Ben saw the pattern in the alliterations. Nice work, Ben!

Step one: ignore everything that wasn’t the “activity of the day” (in other words, ignore every activity that isn’t prefaced with a day #)

Step two: break the activities into groups, where the dividing line is any ride that is not an alliteration. Hints for this included titles like “Spaced Out” and “You Deserve a Break Today”.

Step three: each activity group is a word, composed of the alliteration letters from each title (e.g. 1/14 – 1/16 was JOY: J (Jury-rigged Jaunt; Joking Justified) + O (Outing Offsets Obsessing) + Y (Yester Youth)

Put it all together, and you get the following Haiku:

Spreading Joy Slowly.
One New Character Per Day.
Don’t You Love Puzzles?

Annie Are You OK?

The Trail (Of Certain Death) Not Taken

I love Robert Frost โ€ฆ if you don’t believe me, check out: We can laugh about it now, weโ€™re okay. I wasn’t quite as committed to this mimic, so I followed the wisdom of the ages from The Holy Grail: “skip a bit, brother.”)

Two trails split on basically a cliff,
And sorry I could not turn around
Without some ridicule, I stood stiff
Then leaned to ’til the bars hit my midriff
Praying I would keep the rubber side down;


I shall be telling with voiced raised high
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two trails diverged on a cliff, and I–
I took the one where I wouldn’t die
And that has made all the difference.

Uh, because, duh, I wouldn’t be here to tell you this if I took the one on the right that basically bombs straight down a 30% grade. Pro-tip: switchbacks are your friend.

100: Prince Was Right About Repetition

Objectively Badass

Objectively speaking, I look pretty badass in this photo, right?

I’m no “Blue Steel”, but I’ve got my game face on, and looking pretty good at it.

Now, what I I add some context and tell you that the tune playing in my buds at the time of this photo is Debbie Gibson’s “No More Rhyme”?

What’s the badass level of this photo now?

PPV++, to snag an elusive tile in Mukilteo

-1 + -1 = -1

There’s an age-old equation used to represent synergy: 1 + 1 = 3. “Two or more independent things combine into a whole that is greater than the sum of its individual parts.”

I think there is a corollary equation: -1 + -1 = -1. “Two things which independently suck can be combined in such as way that their combined suckiness is reduced.”

Paul McCartney is not a name you would think would follow a sentence about sucking. He is a god on many levels. And yet, he produced the song “Temporary Secretary.”

Timothy Hutton has been in many awesome movies, and yet he also appeared beside Lara Flynn Boyle in “The Temp.”

As painful as each of these are to experience in isolation, I think that combining these two makes for a much more palatable experience. See for yourself. Play the above trailer muted, and kick off the above spotify track to play simultaneously.

100: Prince Was Right About Repetition

Power Through It

When the only button that works on my bluetooth headphones is the Play/Pause button, I am force to power through the crappy tracks.

My college playlist (VT Crew) was playing on this morning’s bike ride and when Tiffany came on (I will hope that song was added as a poor attempt at humor), I simply had to get through it. The only saving grace was that Paula Abdul’s Spellbound was waiting on the other end of the track.

“Spellbound”, unlike “I Think We’re Alone Now”, is so terrible it’s funny. And that irony is why it ended up on our playlist (cemented by the fact that, in my week-long cross-country drive with John, it was a requirement that “New Moon”, “Running Down a Dream”, and “Spellbound” were each played once every day of the drive).

“Spellbound” follows in the footsteps of Lisa Lisa’s “All Cried Out”.

Tiffany is just, different. I don’t know, it feels like a “not worth the ammo” situation.

But she did serve as a good reminder that we have to take the good with the bad. College was great, but that doesn’t mean every detail of it was great ๐Ÿ™‚

Kevin Nealon said it best:

99: CKC Now Connected