Thursday, October 25, 2007

Red Sox 1, Rockies 0

Things to remember:
  • It's a seven-game series. Winning by twelve runs does not give you an automatic lead in any of the next six games.
  • If they were going to lose, it was going to happen against Beckett.
  • The Rockies hadn't played a live baseball team for eight days. Now they have, and they've got their blood flowing again. Scrimmages and practice sessions are no substitute for the real thing.
  • They got embarrassed last night. This is the most important thing to me. Last night left them bruised, battered, and embarrassed. A team in that condition is a dangerous team to face.
The Rockies hadn't lost in over five weeks before last night's debacle. Now they remember what it feels like to lose. They also might be remembering that feeling of ... well, failure. The Colorado Rockies have been also-rans since their inaugural season in 1995. Now that they got spanked in their first World Series game, pundits and commentators all around the country are questioning whether they even deserve to be there. (This came out before game 1, but here's a particularly noxious column savaging the Rockies.) So they've got something to prove - again, that only makes them a more dangerous team.

The Red Sox are feeling proud, cocky, confident. The Rockies are feeling angry, humiliated, and hungry for revenge.

Advantage: Rockies.

Let's see if they can bounce back tonight and make it a series.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Something Like a Review - "In Rainbows"

You really don't want me to post a song-by-song review of this album, do you? I mean, seriously, people. There's scads of reviews all over the internet. My two cents won't change your mind one way or the other. But I'll share a few random observations with you.

Random Observation #1: Around 6:30, I was driving home when I was seized with the urge to hear "Bodysnatchers." Usually, the Radiohead songs that inspire me in this sudden-urge way are crunchy numbers like "Electioneering," "Just," or "The National Anthem." "Bodysnatchers" is a fun, crunchy song and will make you accidentally drive over the speed limit.

Random Observation #2: This is a headphone album. Some songs work on speakers, played at top volume, like "15 Step" and the aforementioned "Bodysnatchers." But you'll want to savor this record like fine chocolate. Put on the headphones. Sit in a comfortable chair. Enjoy it. There are moments on this album that will pass right by you if you're not paying attention, and these are the moments that you want to appreciate. The killer bass work throughout the album. The gentle pulsing beat of "Reckoner." The mesmerizing, haunting ebbs and flows of "Nude." This is an album in which to invest time and attention.

Random Observation #3: I read one review that described "All I Need" as Thom Yorke fronting Boards of Canada. I hate those "it sounds like x mixed with y" lines, but that one seemed particularly well chosen.

Random Observation #4: I never heard the early versions of "Reckoner" or "Nude" (once called "Big Boots) or "Videotape," so I'm not offended by any versions here. The artist always has the right to change songs any way they wish. Hell, I've heard at least four versions of Patty Griffin's "Top of the World" and I like all of them.

Random Observation #5: There isn't a second of dead or wasted space anywhere on this album. You can see the five guys in a room together, staring intently at each other, nodding or exchanging knowing smirks at each other. This is a band that is playing its heart out.

Random Observation #6: The guitar work on several songs is almost unfathomable to me. I once looked at the chord patterns to early Beatles songs, and couldn't believe how many chord changes George Harrison would cram into a dozen beats. Jonny Greenwood is playing out of his mind here. Especially check out the tasteful if bewildering work on "15 Step" (I find myself thinking of Wes Montgomery's clean style) and the baffling chord progressions on "Weird Fishes/Arpeggi".)

Random Observation #7: Is there a singer out there with the range of Thom Yorke? Imagine anyone else swinging from screaming banshee to churchlike whisper. Very few singers would even attempt what he does effortlessly. Again, break out your headphones and check out his vocals, especially on songs like "Weird Fishes" where he layers multiple vocal tracks behind his lead. The effect is often otherworldly.

Thom Yorke is a man in complete control of his instrument here.

The verdict: I love this album. There - I said it. I love it. I've played it maybe a half-dozen times, and I think it's right up there as one of my favorite Radiohead albums. Right up there. The boys did good.

Can't wait to hear the second CD of songs they've recorded.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Radiohead - In Rainbows

I haz it.

I'm going to give it a few listens before I post a review, but I like what I've heard.

From the Times of London:

Quite how it all ranks alongside other Radiohead albums – well, let’s be honest. It’s far too early to tell. In time, the excitement of waiting for a new release by one of your favourite bands to land in your inbox will separate from the role it will go on to play in your life.

For what it’s worth, In Rainbows was sent to me at 6.30am. Three hours later, this insidious index of sonic surprises is stacking up in my mind, like planes waiting to land. The trick, I guess, is to give your fans what they didn’t know they wanted. Radiohead, old hands at this, have been doing it for over a decade now. With In Rainbows, they appear to have done it again.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

How to Double-Swaddle a Baby

It's time for a trip back in time. We're going to go back, ladies and gentlemen. Way way back. Back to the days when this was how Oliver slept.

That's right. It's time to revisit the popular topic of double-swaddling.

I'll confess - I learned about the magical art of the double swaddle through a parenting class. I've never seen it described in any book. It seems like one of those secrets that's been passed down from mother to daughter (because, until recently, most fathers just never got that involved) for generations. I learned about it when Oliver was wiggling and wriggling around for his naps, and the customary swaddling technique just wasn't cutting it. Someone in the parenting class suggested double-swaddling him.

I said - and I remember this distinctly - "Hunh?"

She proceeded to take her own little ball of squiggleness and demonstrate the technique, bundling her kiddo up into a perfect knot of swaddle. It was astonishing. She was wrapped up tight as a mummy and looked happy to be there. After a little practice and trial-and-error, I got down my own technique, which I will demonstrate for you right here and now.

Let's begin with the basics. You need two blankets. You'll want large blankets because you're going to be wrapping both of them around your baby. Don't skimp on length. (See the end of this post for my personal recommendation.)

Lay the first one down in a diamond shape, like this. Fold the top corner down.

Lay a second blanket down over the first one, and fold the top corner down in the same way.

(Pay attention to how far you fold these corners down. If you've got a little kiddo, you can fold these down a fair amount. The bigger your kiddo, the smaller you want this fold to be because it affects the length of blanket remaining.)

At this point, I should introduce our stand-in baby, Winnie T. Pooh. (Oliver's entirely too old to be swaddled these days.)

Take your baby and place him/her on top of the blankets, right at the top. The shoulders should be just about level with the top of your blankets, as shown here. Fold one side of the first blanket down over your baby's arm - and here's the important part! - tuck it under your baby's body. (I found it helpful to rock Oliver to one side gently while I tucked the blanket under him.) Make it snug.

Then fold the other side over your baby's other arm (the order doesn't really matter - here, Pooh gets the left arm swaddled first and then the right arm). Don't forget to tuck the blanket down and under the body, also. Make sure it's snug on both sides.

Notice now that baby can't move their arms! Here's why this method is sheer genius: your baby's own weight is what keeps their arms from getting loose. (Snicker snicker.)

Pull the remaining blanket up under baby's legs, so it sits loosely over the diaper area and maybe on top of his/her tummy. (Don't worry: unless your baby is ten inches long, like Pooh, you won't have this much material remaining.)

You have now secured your baby's arms nice and tight. Use the second blanket to swaddle your baby in the usual way. You can also use one of those Miracle blanket deelyboppers, provided it wraps around the first blanket. Make sure you swaddle your baby nice and tight.

Presto - it's a double-swaddled baby!

The arms are being held tight by the first blanket. The second blanket holds the first one in place and also holds the legs in place. Your baby should now look like it's in a soft cotton cocoon.

Now let's see what a real baby looks like in a real double-swaddle.

See? Snug as a bug!

(Pardon me for a moment. I just got all misty-eyed seeing little Oliver like that. I miss those days.)

This lasted us well into Oliver's second year, when he just plain outgrew swaddling altogether. You'll know when it's time - Oliver started wrestling his way out of both blankets when it was time to give it up. But it took a long long time to get there.

Now let's talk blankets. We got the best swaddle blankets imaginable from the Birth and Beyond store in Seattle - you can order them online here. The blankets are large (42 x 42), thin, and soft as any blanket you will find anywhere.

Email me with any corrections, tips, or thoughts. One last tip: practice on your baby while they're awake. They'll think it's hilarious. Have fun bundling your baby!

Monday, October 01, 2007

Rockies win!!!

I don't believe it. I just watched the game unfold on ESPN's GameCast, and I still can't believe they won.

The Colorado Rockies won their one-game playoff with the San Diego Padres in 13 innings. They were tied after 12 innings. They fell behind by two runs in the top of the 13th. And then they came roaring back, scoring two quick runs and completing the comeback with a sacrifice fly. Game over.
They did it for the fans who were lined up at 7 a.m., filling every parking spot on Blake Street. They did it for the folks who hold up the purple Helton sign underneath the Rockpile on anonymous summer nights. They did it for Ed the parking attendant who didn't have to tell the arriving players what he wanted for his birthday. They did it for those who didn't leave after four hours, whose voices were gone from screaming and arms cramped from clapped.