Friday, December 19, 2014

Friday, November 21, 2014

Friday Night Videos

Young MC's only hit from the 80s, "Bust a Move," is certainly catchy and infectious. And the video is amusingly charming in its own 80s way. But you know what I always remember about this song? That maniac bass player with the stuffed animal pants. That's just magnificently weird, and I've never gotten that image out of my head.

Previously on Friday Night Videos... Pink Floyd.

Now Playing: Dave Davies Unfinished Business
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Friday, November 14, 2014

Friday Night Videos

Well, it's no "Wish You Were Here." It's not even "Learning to Fly." Polly Samson is never going to be mistaken for Roger Waters. But "Louder Than Words is the last new Pink Floyd song we're ever likely to get (not counting a handful of early unreleased recordings, including pre- and post-Barrett material), so that's worth celebrating. The album, The Endless River, is apparently not too much like the long-rumored The Big Spliff, even though it repurposes some of that material--notably Rick Wright's keyboard tracks. There are sections that don't quite hold together, and "Talkin' Hawkin'" amounts to table scraps from "What Do You Want From Me." But the album is enjoyable overall, with echoes (see what I did there?) of Dark Side of the Moon, A Momentary Lapse of Reason and Wish You Were Here. It's not a masterpiece, but it's no Final Cut, either. And despite its shortcomings, "Louder Than Words" has its moments--not to mention a video filmed at the Aral Sea. Enjoy.

Previously on Friday Night Videos... The Jacksons.

Now Playing: Pink Floyd Animals
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Monday, November 10, 2014

That was the move that was

This past weekend, we moved. And moved. And moved some more. I know because today I am sleep-deprived and very, very achy. I broke my kneecap in a car wreck 30 years ago, and halfway through Friday it started to swell on me and spasm in protest against all the work I was making it do. It's probably been close to 20 years since it acted up thusly. My hands ache. My fingers are swollen and sincerely do not want to bend. I'm certain I became dehydrated several times over the course of the weekend, and ended up taking multiple showers each day because I reeked that badly.

Still, the move is completed. Mostly. This is something that, at times, I doubted would ever happen. Back in July when we first decided we desperately needed a new residence, we pretty much expected the process to take a year or more. When we rented a storage garage to being packing things away, we purposely left out all of our Christmas decorations, because we expected to live in our old house through the New Year at least. But then our house sold that quickly when we put it on the market in September (shocking everyone) that we were suddenly faced with the prospect of being homeless and having to find a short-term rental. At which point the ordeal that was 3148 Oak Hollow in New Braunfels inflicted itself upon us. As I've said elsewhere, this was the first property I saw online at the beginning of summer that convinced me a move to something nicer and more suitable for our family (ie more distant neighbors and more land) was within our means. That the Oak Hollow house was still available, with its 3.5 acres of land, when we were ready to buy seemed a sign from above. Myself, The Wife and kids fell in love with its potential. But then the realtor started jerking us around and once that was settled and we were under contract... well, the disastrous inspection report resulted in us getting out of the contract very quickly. That was rough. Very, very rough. The Wife likened it to a painful breakup, and I have to agree. We went through a period of mourning, even a brief bargaining session with ourselves where we asked "What would it take to make it liveable, and viable for our budget?" But it was not to be. We had to put it behind us.

Fortunately, we had one heck of a rebound waiting for us. While negotiating for the Oak Hollow house, we looked at another on the market nearby. It was gorgeous. It had lots of space, a pool, solar panels, a 5-car garage (which could be converted into a nice studio for Lisa On Location Photography... in truth, it was more swank than normally befits the Blaschke family. And it had flaws--a homeowner's association, which we'd wanted to avoid, and only one acre of land as opposed to the 3-plus we wanted. It was also out of our price range. Not a lot, but enough to tell the kids not to get attached to it. So when the Oak Hollow deal officially died, following a whirlwind viewing of countless houses in our price range that didn't offer much more than the home we'd already sold, in desperation we made an offer on the rebound house, now dubbed Plan B. It was a big offer for us, but less than the sellers were asking. They countered. We countered that. They countered again and we accepted--even throwing in a 5-day pre-lease prior to closing, because we really didn't want to be homeless.

From Thursday afternoon on through Sunday we moved. It was brutal. Saturday was hot. Piano, refrigerator, washer, dryer, beds, dressers... if it hadn't been for my brother and sister-in-law driving up to help with a huge trailer in tow, we'd never have made it. Even last night The Wife and I were at work, me collecting the beagles, fish (30-gallon aquariums are heavy even when empty), pet chicken and on suspicious outside cat, while she went over the house one more time making sure all the cleaning had been completed properly and not undone by someone's muddy boots tracking through the house (someone, namely being me).

Today I went back to the old house during my lunch break to drop off the final key, so that the new owners (a young couple married barely a year) could get in a little big ahead of time. I dropped off a map/key of all the fruit trees/plants I've been growing in the yard, with harvest/care instructions so they won't think all the pears bad (pears don't ripen properly on the tree--if they drop, they're already overripe and gross). The Wife had left a scrap book on the kitchen counter for them, a photo essay of the old house's first 10 years with all our family's milestones chronicled, with a lot of blank pages for the new couple to add their story to the book. To be honest, it choked me up. Hell, I'm choking up now just thinking about it. A tremendous amount of our lives were spent in that house. We made it ours. The new house, as nice as it is, still isn't ours, so to speak. We've moved in, but haven't put our mark on it. We missed the old house in Temple when we moved, but never like this. I hope the new owners love it as much as we did, because leaving the key and locking that door for the final time was far, far more difficult than I ever imagined.

Now Playing: Jimmy Buffett Boats, Beaches, Bars and Ballads
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Friday, October 31, 2014

Friday Night Videos

Here's a little "Torture" to set the Halloween mood. What? You were expecting "Thriller" or something? Too obvious. Now, I'm the first to admit that this single off the Jacksons' reunion album was underwhelming, especially in the very long shadow cast by Thriller's parade of chart-topping hits. But you know what? This video is so nuts that the music is irrelevant. It makes no sense in the way Captain Eo makes no sense, but this one has dancing skeletons and spider-people, but near as I can tell, no Michael. So, yeah. Happy Halloween!

Previously on Friday Night Videos... Lindsay Stirling.

Now Playing: Pink Floyd The Journey Suite
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Friday, October 24, 2014

Friday Night Videos

This video of "Roundtable Rival" is gloriously gonzo. Crazy old west steampunk, outrageous dance moves and production values that are amazing in this era where YouTube is the only real outlet. Very impressive. And Lindsey Stirling is fantastic. I mean, she's an excellent musician, clearly. But to play the fiddle and bust those dance moves? Nobody else can do that. She has a magnificent sense of showmanship.

Beyond the video, the music is quite catchy, too. Frankly, I'm astonished at her popularity. Not because she doesn't deserve it, but because this type of neo-Celtic sound has been around for a long time but never broken out beyond a niche audience. Her style reminds me of some Cape Breton-style fiddlers, and her sound reminds me of Leahy, but nothing I've read about her online indicates any kind of Celtic/folk influence on her. Which I find hard to believe, given how her music dovetails so neatly with that genre. Perhaps she'll serve as a gateway drug to these other sounds?

Oh, and that Kodak Ektar lens? Not period.

Previously on Friday Night Videos... Kasey Lansdale.

Now Playing: Various artists Celtic Moods
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Monday, October 20, 2014

The story so far

Today, The Wife and I signed away our home. We've lived here 11 years, and closing the sale was bitter sweet for us. Our real estate agent was actually concerned we'd back out. But we'd made a commitment to the young, newlywed couple who are giddy and eager to settle into their first home together, and it would be cruel to renege on the agreement. So, we are no longer homeowners. We have a three-week lease-back, and after that, we're homeless.

Yeah. That's proven to be an "interesting times" situation.

We had settled on a house, 3148 Oak Hollow Drive, New Braunfels, Texas, to be specific. You can Google it if you want. On the surface, it had everything we wanted--almost 3,000 square feet of living space in a house with some quirky charms. There was a detached three-car garage with a garage apartment that could be converted into a spectacular photo studio for Lisa On Location Photography with minimal effort. It was quiet and rural, with plenty of space (and woods!) between us and potential neighbors. Oh, and did I mention it came with more than three-and-a-half acres? It was just about as perfect as we could ask for.

Except... it was a forecosure. It'd sat vacant for more than two years, and was owned by Fannie Mae, which had a reputation of being difficult to work with. The house and apartment needed work. Siding and soffits and such had suffered damage over the years of vacancy. An above-ground pool had devolved into so much scrap metal. It looked like it needed work, but we could make it our own. So we began negotiations. And negotiated, and negotiated. Fannie Mae and their representing agent, ***** ******* of ******** ******, were indifferent at best, slow to respond to our offers and insulting in their counter-offers. Very inflexible. Most of the time it seemed like they didn't care if the house sold or not, which you have to wonder about, since it was a foreclosure taking up red ink on their books. After nearly a month of back-and-forth, we reached an agreement and got the property under contract. Then we had our home inspector take a look (they were selling it "as-is" with no disclosure) and that's when everything took a turn for the worse. Raccoons had invaded the attic, destroying all the HVAC duct work, ripping out a tremendous amount of insulation and leaving feces and fleas everywhere. Our inspector was repulsed by the mess and so concerned about hanta virus he insisted with both wash down with massive mounts of sanitizer. Squirrels and rats and found their way inside as well. All the wiring in the house turned out to be a do-it-yourself kind of job, violating pretty much every building code known to man. The foundations were solid--very solid, in fact--but laid in such a way to almost guarantee water would seep into the house. And yes, we found copious evidence of water damage. The water well wasn't functioning properly and... well, I'll be here all night if I try to write it all out. I'll save us all the trouble and just let you read the actual 3148 Oak Hollow Inspection Report

Suffice to say, the house was unliveable. Our lender wouldn't finance unless the most egregious of the hazards were addressed by the seller, so we wrote up the list and submitted it. Seeing as how our option period expired that Saturday, and Fannie Mae is closed over the weekend, we were eager to have some sort of closure so we wouldn't risk losing our earnest money. So when our rep contacted the listing agent that Friday, she was rewarded for her hard work on our behalf with an ass-chewing. The listing agent was quite rude, and concluded the sad affair by saying, "I don't have time for this." She's a realtor. That's her job. She doesn't have time to do her job? So we rescinded our offer. By that time we had little faith they'd be responsive to the problems with the house anyway, so we thought it best to cut our losses and preserve our earnest money.

The downside is, of course, we have no home awaiting us in three weeks. We do have a Plan B, but that's a story for another time. Fingers crossed.

Now Playing: The Kinks Give The People What They Want
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