Saturday, March 31, 2007

Making the Move

Yup.  If you've arrived here, you are discovering that I'm finally growing up and bringing my blog over to MY domain.  It'll still be called Rhodesschool, but in an attempt to make it more personal, I'm bringing it here.  I've got to try to figure out a way to bring all the old archives over from RhodesSchool.com, but in the meantime, all the old "stuff" should work.  The feed will be the same and I'll repost stuff here that I've recently put up at RhodesSchool.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

We're Living in THE Golden Age of Bob Dylan

What's that you say, Jake? We're where? The "Golden Age" of Bob Dylan. Come on, now. You can't be serious. You can't compare Bob Dylan of today with Bob Dylan of yesteryear. What about Blood on the Tracks or Blonde on Blonde or Nashville Skyline orDesire. 

Good questions, right? I agree. There are a ton, an absolute ton of fantastic Bob Dylan records. There are even a few spectacular "periods" where the output was amazing. Look at the first few years. While some of the tracks weren't his material, from 1962-1967, Dylan put out 9 records. That's almost 2 per year. And they were incredible. (Go here to get the full timeline breakdown of Dylan's records.) 

Maybe it's because the last 3 Dylan records are the 3 that I "came of age with", but I really think that these 3 can not only "stand up" to any period in his life, I think they are the best collection of 3 records in his career. The three that I am talking about are his last 3 studio records: Time Out of Mind in 1997, Love and Theft in 2001, and the just recently releasedModern Times in 2006. The first one came out when I was in college, but I didn't really give it the once over until after I graduated. I fell in love immediately. It has those slower numbers like "Love Sick" and "Trying to Get to Heaven",. "Standing in the Doorway", and the devastating "Not Dark Yet" that are just sooooo enjoyable to listen to. 

Then, when I was living with my buddies Neil and Matt, Love and Theft came out. WOW. That shook my musical foundations. I wasn't the only one. It was like things I had never heard before, but that I should have. It was rockin', drivin', dancin' music that just came alive. I just about wore that record out on the turntable. (seriously) Tour with this material, Bob did. I think I must have been to 8 different shows in Chicago where he was relying on this record heavily. It was great sounding live. Slightly rearranged, but still pretty straight forward. Good stuff.

Last fall came Modern Times. I grabbed this one as soon as it was released, but it took me a few months to really warm up to it. There are some really great tracks, and this is great driving tunes. Put this on and **zoom** you're already in Champaign. (or where ever you are driving) I've embedded a few songs from these years below. Yes...theWonderBoys cut Things have Changed isn't from one of these 3 records, but it's from this period. 

Is Bob Dylan washed up and is his best music from the '60's and 70's? Nope. I really think that to date, this is the best of his career. Will he put out another record? I sure hope so.

Each of these songs are teriffic. If you have a few minutes, go ahead and strap some headphones on. Give all of these a listen. Play one, then open up a new tab and do the rest of your work. You'll hit "play again", I bet. Have at it. Tell me this isn't some of the best music being made anywhere these days.

If there's one you should watch, it should be the first one, because Bob is playing guitar (which he soooo rarely does these days) and he seems to be having a lot of fun. And...it's a cool video. Oh...and if you have time, check out ScarJo in the last video. Yama-hama.








Monday, March 26, 2007

Starbucks Making Moves: First Macca, then Radiohead (maybe?!?)

First it was Paul McCartney signing with Starbucks to distribute his new records, then news came that Radiohead might be following suit. (that has since been denied by the band) It's an interesting trend and one that I think has merit. To me, the artists aren't so much signing up with a new label, as they are signing up to be distributed and therefore "co-branded" by Starbucks. 

As Lenore Skenazy wrote this week Starbucks, even through some of it's missteps, is still the "third place" we all seek. Its the place we linger, she says. I agree. I look around (even in my own family) and I see those white cups as status symbols. You have the fancy diaper bag, the Range Rover, the over-sized sunglasses, and the white cup. Soon, they'll have Radiohead. What's not to like if you're the artist? You get this great association with a solid, if not down-right great brand. Under the old system, your records would sell good and you'd have a following, but the closest the women I described above (Range Rover, over-sized sunglasses, etc) ever would get to your records was either if one of them hit the radio airwaves, they had a younger, cooler, more hipster sibling, or if they were at a party. Now, they're going to walk up to the cash registers with their Starbucks card, buy a Camel Macciado maybe a muffin, and probably grab your record. Your fans will still get the record. There still will be folks downloading your stuff, but now your audience has a much wider reach. As demonstrated by bands like Wilco, you don't so much need a label for the production reasons, as you do a place and system for distribution. More and more of that is moving online, but having a retail operation is very helpful. Just by going into a Starbucks, you declare to the world that you have disposable income. Why else would you pay 4 bucks for a cup of coffee? So, to me, you are a great fit for a targeted record buyer.

Starbucks thinks (as evidence by the Schultz Memo) that they're in trouble with their brand, but I would guess that many American's think that it's still riding high. Adding the record label, and the right artists, will go a long way towards a bright future. What's next? "Fill-er-up Stations" for your ipod? How about some free wi-fi first, then we can get to the rest of that stuff.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Looking For a Countdown Clock

I'm looking for an "off the shelf" countdown clock for our wedding blog. I've found thesebut they have the "epileptic" look of a myspace ad. Any ideas where I can find a cute, customizable one?

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Illie - The New "Mascot" of the University of Illinois

For a few years now, the guys and girls over at the Illiniboard have been having fun talking about what the University of Illinois new "mascot" should be. I say "new" mostly because the mainstream press... **ahem**...hacks **ahem**... decided a while ago that they were going to characterize Chief Illiniwek as a "mascot" when he clearly was not. He wasn't getting picked up by the Purdue Boilermaker Cheerleaders and getting "racked" with his legs all akimbo into the goalposts at Memorial Stadium. He wasn't going to the Grand Opening of the new Orange and Blue Carwash on University Avenue in Champaign. He wasn't a "mascot", he was a "symbol".

Nevertheless, he is only alive in our memories now. So...we have to move on. What's next? Although it's a pretty funny joke, I don't think we're going to be too far from this. 

Meet Illie. A totally non-descript orange blog that can offend absolutely no one. There's a whole gallery over there. Good stuff. 



Illie with the Beatles. Illie as Alice in the Brady Bunch. 

I point to these because they're quite simply: ridiculous. Is this where we're headed? If it's up to Emil Jones and his Chicago Democrat crew, I bet it is.

My 2007 Birthday Wishlist

My 29th Birthday is around the corner (next month) and Nat asked me this morning to put together a "list" of things I might want. I have to say...It's not exactly the easiest thing to do.

This post might be filed under the "Jake needs an editor" category, as it's totally gratitious and unnecessary, but it's just something that I've been noodling all afternoon. 

If there's something that I want, I usually either go buy it, or I can't afford it. So, what do I put on this "list". Things that I could "use", I guess. It borders on awkward for me to put together a list. What do you guys do?

My list this year included some of the old standbys and some new items.

Here's the list. 

1. A really good hammer.
2. Gold Toe Grey Athletic socks
3. A jumper from Patagonia
4. Armor All auto wipes. 
5. Anything that has Chief Illiniwek on it.

Iowa Hawkeyes Invade Soldier Field This Fall

I have high hopes for the Fighting Illini football program this year, but I understand that we won't be winning 8 games this season and we need to take one step at a time. Coach Zook probably doesn't want to undermine what he's doing by taking on an in-state school like Northern Illinois (even though Henry would probably love that...) because of the possibility of a loss and a setback that could hurt recruiting. 

That's fine and I understand. What I don't understand is how we're letting the friggin Iowa Hawkeyes come into Soldier Field and play those Huskies on our turf. Talk about great Chicago PR and recruiting "juice" for Coach Ferentz. That's what we need to be doing. Schedule something up there and get us in front of more kids. Isn't that why the hoops team played those moldy games at the Sears Center in Hoffman Estates? 

Come on, Ron Guenther. Get aggressive with the scheduling. Going to St. Louis for a match-up with Mizzou doesn't count.

Feeds in the Background

Darren Rowse is the "pro blogger". Although he has put together a nice piece on why readers unsubscribe to your feeds, I have to take exception with at least one of his reasons. He's right on with the partial feeds talk, though. I have talked about that before here on Rhodesschool.

Infrequent Posting (or the blog is effectively dead) - 29

Hmmm...I disagree with this. I use Google reader and it has a function called "only list updated". What this effectively does is it puts "dormant" subscriptions into hiding, where I don't really even remember that I subscribed to them in the first place. This isn't a reason why I would unsubscribe, but rather, one of the biggest reasons that I love feeds in general. I have a few friends who post all-too-infrequently, but when they do, I get it in my reader. 

Sorry, Darren. I understand where the rationale is coming from, but when the technology works the way it's supposed to, this is a exactly a big reason to use feeds.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Todd Scalzo for Wheaton City Council - Get Involved. Make a Difference!

It isn't often that I can say that one of my contemporaries and good friends is running for election to a local office. Sure...there are people that I have become friends with that are elected to various offices across Illinois, but this is different.

Todd Scalzo is running for one of the At-Large City Council spots in Wheaton, Illinois. I met Todd 11 years ago in Champaign-Urbana. We lived in the same Fraternity House and spent many a night enjoying ourselves talking about Bill Clinton and politics. We shared many political science classes, with Todd always doing really well (or at least much better than me!).

Todd is running to bring a new voice to the Wheaton City Council - one that will represent not only a new generation of people, but of ideas.



Todd received the 3rd highest vote total in Tuesday's Primary Election, which means he's heading to the April 17th, 2007 general election in Wheaton.

What does this mean for you? A few things, actually.

1. If you live in Wheaton, make sure you vote for Todd. 
2. If you know someone who lives in Wheaton, make sure they vote for Todd and Todd alone. A bullet vote in a 4-way race will make a big difference. 
3. Get Involved and help a young candidate get elected. Even if you don't live in Wheaton, we can use your help.
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