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Month: June 2011

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers – Hard Promises

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers – Hard Promises

I just love the anachronism that is the cover of this album. I’m not talking about the plaid shirt Tom Petty is wearing (which is in fact cool again thanks to hipsters), or his leather jacket. No, I’m looking at the racks of records in the background, and especially the display stand of 45 single records. No doubt the goal of the photo was to put Tom in a cool and hip situation, and I say “mission accomplished!”. Styles are cyclical, and LP records are presently cool (this time only partly thanks to hipsters, but also to luddites who like the sound of analog music), but 45 singles are much more rare now. My theory is that the kind of person who will get up out of their seat to change or flip a LP, instead of clicking a mouse a couple times, is not someone who would buy just a song or two from an artist. They buy the whole album and listen to it while drinking their microbrews and eating non-pasteurized cheeses. Single-song purchasers are the ones who now go to iTunes and download the latest hot single from the latest generic pop music sensation.

On to the actual content of the album Hard Promises by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers (TPatHs). I’ve been a fan of TPatHs for a while, so I had already heard many of the songs on this album. There are a few weaker songs (like “Insider”) but overall the songs are entertaining. It’s typical TPatHs. I have, in fact, actually seen TPatHs live, in Atlanta, of all places. I can say that Mike Campbell is an excellent guitarist and that Tom Petty was definitely high during the concert.

One of the stated goals of this project is to see how popular music has changed over my lifetime. TPatHs are kind of a counter-example to this. TPatHs are still making music that doesn’t sound all that different from what they were doing 35 years ago. This is not a bad thing, per se, because good music is good music. I will say that if TPatHs have changed, they have gotten less rock ‘n’ roll and a bit more bluesy, but it’s not a big change.

In summary, if you like any TPatHs, you should check out this album.

Last: Van Halen – Fair Warning

Next: Santana – Zebop!
Van Halen – Fair Warning

Van Halen – Fair Warning

Yet again, I’ve fallen behind on my album schedule, so this will be brief. Fair Warning by Van Halen, hasn’t made much of an impression upon me. I will say that this photo of the band from 1983 is awesome and will serve as a guide for how I live the rest of my life, starting now. Contact me if you want to apply for the position of either a) alcoholic addict bandmate or b) groupie.

Last: Kim Carnes – Mistaken Identity

Next: Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers – Hard Promises
Kim Carnes – Mistaken Identity

Kim Carnes – Mistaken Identity

I was going to accuse Kim Carnes of being a one-hit wonder with “Bette Davis Eyes” (which went to #1 on the charts, is the lead track of Mistaken Identity and the only song I had heard from this album previously), but I suspect that’s because her main genre is Country, and I never listen to Country. She is apparently very prolific and is active even today as a producer with the popular act Kings of Leon.

But the fact that she’s not a one hit wonder doesn’t change the (other) fact that I generally found this album to be merely fine. Not at all terrible, but not interesting to me. To her credit she has an excellent singing voice, the music is not slipshod, and the lyrics are not nonsensical, but it just didn’t appeal to me. My recommendation is to skip this album. However, if you do listen to it and you like it, I won’t accuse you of having bad taste in music. Now, if you admit to liking Yoko Ono’s music

Last: Phil Collins – Face Value

Next: Van Halen – Fair Warning
My New Amusement Park

My New Amusement Park

Yesterday the Valmont Mountain Bike Park opened up to the public, and today I went over to check it out. The park has been discussed for many years, and developed over the last few, so it’s quite a moment for cyclists in Boulder. The park is oriented towards rider development of all ages. Each type of feature, such as cross-country or aerial areas, have options targeted towards riders of all ability levels. And even if you get yourself into something you can’t handle, there are bailout options to get around things.

Dirt Jumps in the foreground, Boulder in the background.

The park is quite extensive and the designers have taken advantage of all the space they had available. Each trail feature is accessible by shared bike/walk trails, so parents can keep an eye on their kids even if they aren’t on a bike. Running down the middle of the park are two irrigation ditches (which is a crude description of them, they are much nicer than that) which splits the park into smaller sections. The smaller sections keeps things more intimate which is good in a park that will tend to get very busy. Nearly all of the single track trails are one way, which is very nice. Right now the vegetation is low so it actually isn’t a huge problem, but it is always very startling to come around a corner upon someone coming the other way.

A small section of the park. Click for the full PDF of the trails.

To be honest, much of the park makes me feel like I have no skillz (yes, that’s skills with a ‘z’). Even the Skillz Loop, which is designed to be a place to learn skillz without being pressured by better riders to get out of the way challenges me. I tried most of the trails today, but not all of the technical options, especially stuff like this:

The park has two pump tracks, and I had fun riding one of them (Mesa Top) many times. The other one (Creekside) I did once, but it was very muddy and I didn’t want to ruin the pump track or get any dirtier than I was already.

The Mesa Top Pump Park

I’m really excited about this new facility, and I hope to slowly improve my skillz over time at the park. It’s only a couple kilometers away from where we live, so it’s really convenient even if I only have an hour free. My only complaint right now about the park is it’s clear they haven’t quite figured out how to do the drainage from the sprinklers, because there are more than a few muddy spots around the park that contribute to trail destruction at an accelerated pace.

The Corkscrew, with steeply banked corners, viewed from the top.
The Slopestyle aerial trails area.
Someday this could be me!
The Closest Non-Intersecting US Interstates

The Closest Non-Intersecting US Interstates

On our recent driving trip to Yellowstone and Montana, I had lots of time to think about random things while behind the wheel. One of them was to wonder of the major US Interstates, which two come the closest without actually intersecting? My guess was that it’s some place on the East Coast, but due to my general lack of knowledge of East Coast highways, I had no idea which two it is.

Being a huge dork, I decided to figure it out.

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