My Grandfather, My Friend

My whole family probably has a number of stories about my grandfather that we could share. There’s no one story or anecdote about Grampa begins to do him justice. But I know that all of the small moments that I got to share with him, that all of us got to share with him add up to a up to a great, wonderful man.

I’m probably not the only one who thinks this, but I always felt like I had an extra special bond with my grandfather. That was what was so great about him. All of his grandchildren and all of his children felt like they had a special connection with him. My favorite memories of my grandfather are from my childhood. I was too young to remember it, but my parents loved to tell the story of Grampa setting me down in a mud puddle in my diaper and jumping around yelling “Cheerios!” It didn’t take much from Grampa to put a smile on my face, even back then. And everyone said, and I believe it, that he and I enjoyed our childhood together. It was my first, and his second.

I spent my early years with my grandparents living right next door to me. As our family expanded, they were kind enough to let my parents lived in the house while they moved into the upstairs apartment. As a kid, I used to love to climb the stairs up to the apartment where Grammy and Grampa lived (they had cable, after all). But I got to spend time with them whenever I wanted. I can remember sitting at the dining table on Sunday afternoons watching him count up the church offering and sometimes getting to help roll up the coins, or at least trying to. I can remember how happy and excited I would be whenever he would come home with fried clams and share the leftovers with me. Small things like that still stick in my mind.

We got to play a lot of games with him, usually Uno indoors and croquet outside during the summer months. He would take us bowling. He took us up to the summit of Mt. Washington. Uno was always a blast to play with Grampa, as anyone could tell you. As a kid, I used to love sitting next to Grampa because he would let me see his cards ALL THE TIME. He made me feel like his teammate, his cohort, his partner in crime.

Some of my fondest memories as a kid were spent in the backyard with my grandfather in the summer. Croquet was played at every summer family gathering at the Haskell residence. And my grandfather was good. And I wanted to play too. And be like my grandfather. As a kid, I can remember having dinner out back and then me and Grampa playing croquet by ourselves until dark, just the two of us. And in my memory at least, it seemed like every summer night. Just he and I going around the course, him teaching me and me enjoying every minute of it. Looking back, I’m sure there could have been more productive ways for him to spend his evenings, but I don’t think he would say that.

One of the most “traumatic” moments of my childhood was when my parents moved us from Kezar Falls to Cornish. The hardest part wasn’t just moving away and not having my best friend living just a few blocks away, or knowing that I was going to be going to a different school, but that my grandparents weren’t right there. There was that immediacy that I was used to. It took a long time, but I finally forgave them a few weeks ago. I think.

As I grew up, my relationship with Grampa deepened. I appreciated his strong Christ-like example of love and joy that he displayed to so many people in so many different ways. He’d dress up like a clown to entertain kids at church. He taught Sunday School. Grampa was probably the most gentle-hearted person I have ever known. I think I could count on one hand the number of time I heard him raise his voice at me or anyone. And when he, did, that was a clear sign to me that I was definitely out of line and in the wrong, because Grampa just doesn’t get mad. Making Grampa upset would make you feel like the worst kid in the world. But if you made him laugh, you felt like a million bucks.

We laughed a lot; especially around the table playing Uno. It wasn’t a game of Uno until Grampa was laughing so hard he was crying. Any game of Uno around the table with Grampa you were guaranteed at least one period of sustained, hysterical laughter at the table. Usually he was the one making everyone laugh, either by something he said or did or by his reaction to what someone said or did.

I always got to spend all of the major holidays with my Grandparents; Christmas, New Year’s, Easter, Memorial Day, 4th of July, Labor Day, Thanksgiving. I cherish all of those. Honestly, I wish I had a better memory so I could recount all of the many fun times I had with Grampa. Sometimes it just feels like a big blur of smiles, and laughs, and love. And that’s maybe the best thing I can say about him, that there were too many good moments to choose from to pick out the best moments. The most important takeaway for me about the time I got to spend with my grandfather isn’t the games or the activities that we did. It’s not about how we spent our time together. It’s about the love he conveyed through that time.

There’s a very good movie called The Shawshank Redemption, based on a book written by Stephen King. The movie is about two imprisoned men, Andy, played by Tm Robbins and Red, played by Morgan Freeman, and the bond of friendship they form over their years in this prison. Since the movie has been out for nearly two decades, I’m not going to feel bad about spoiling it for you by saying that toward the end of the movie, Andy eventually escapes and makes his way down to Mexico. Red, our narrator, and still in prison, laments the loss of his friend by saying this:
“Sometimes it makes me sad, though… Andy being gone. I have to remind myself that some birds aren’t meant to be caged. Their feathers are just too bright. And when they fly away, the part of you that knows it was a sin to lock them up DOES rejoice. But still, the place you live in is that much more drab and empty that they’re gone. I guess I just miss my friend.”

My grandfather battled Parkinson’s the last 12 years of his life. He slowly became more and more a prisoner in his own body as he came closer and closer to the end. It makes me sad, my grandfather being gone. My grandfather was not meant to be caged in his own body. He was too active and vibrant in life. And now that he’s flown away, the part of me that knows it was a sin for him to be locked up like that DOES rejoice. But still, the place that we live in is that much more drab and empty now that he’s gone. I guess I just miss my friend.

The movie doesn’t end there though. Red later is paroled. And eventually makes his way down to Mexico, breaking his parole. Some of the last lines of the movie say, “I find I’m so excited I can barely sit still or hold a thought in my head. I hope I can make it across the border. I hope to see my friend and shake his hand. I hope the Pacific Ocean is as blue as it is in my dreams. I hope.” I look forward to one day being reunited with my grandfather. And I know the reunion will be as sweet as it is in my dreams.

When Grampa passed away Saturday it was really tough to deal with. As I started going through pictures to put together that slide show we watched a little while ago, a friend of mine thought it would be really hard to do that. That couldn’t be further from the truth. I got to laugh and smile and remember moments and memories that I had forgotten. We had so much fun. We all had so much fun with him.

Arguably the most famous Bible verse is John 3:16, which says “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son, that whosoever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life.” A popular thing I’ve heard some people say about that verse is that you can say “For God so loved that he gave” or “For God so loved” and stop right there because that is such a powerful statement. As Christians, we are called to be ambassadors of Christ in the world, to show God through how we live our lives. I know my grandfather did that. Because of all the stories, of all the memories I have of my grandfather, the best testament I can give of him is that he loved. He so loved.

~Moose

My Top 10 Albums of 2012

10. Band of Horses – Mirage Rock
This album had a slightly new sound from the band that on their previous records.
Favorite tracks: “How To Live” “A Little Biblical” “Shut-In Tourist” “Everything’s Gonna Be Undone” “Heartbreak On The 101″

9. Mumford & Sons – Babel
The highs on this might not be as high as on Sigh No More, but there is a lot of really good music on here.  Glad to have Mumford & Sons back with new music.
Favorite tracks: “I Will Wait” “Lover Of The Light” “Below My Feet”

8. Band of Skulls – Sweet Sour
Some of the bluesiest rock of the year was on this album.
Favorite tracks: “Sweet Sour” “Bruises” “The Devil Takes Care Of His Own” “You’re Not Pretty But You Got It Going On” “Lies”

7. fun. – Some Nights
The best Queen-influenced album in a long time.
Favorite tracks: “Some Nights” “We Are Young” “Carry On” “One Foot” “Stars”

6. Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros – Here
I feel like I’m listening to an AM folk station from the 60s when I listen to this band.  In a good way.  A really good way.  I feel like this is the kind of music the Dharma Initiative would have listened to on Lost.
Favorite tracks: “The Man On Fire” “That’s What’s Up” “I Don’t Wanna Pray” “Dear Believer”

5. Fiona Apple – The Idler Wheel Is Wiser Than the Driver of the Screw and Whipping Cords Will Serve You More Than Ropes Will Ever Do
Extraordinary Machine remains my favorite album of hers, but this is such an impressive album and I really wish she was more prolific in her song making.
Favorite tracks: “Jonathan” “Werewolf” “Anything We Want” “Hot Knife”

4. Jack White - Blunderbuss
Jack White, completely unfiltered.  Not limited by the structure of The White Stripes, or the collaborative nature of The Raconteurs.  And culling influences from the entire breadth of rock/blues history.
Favorite tracks: “Sixteen Saltines” “Love Interruption” “I’m Shakin’” “Trash Tongue Talker”

3. Japandroids – Celebration Rock
As The White Stripes, The Black Keys, Wye Oak and others have reminded us recently, sometimes less IS more.  This is the hardest rocking album of the year, and the most aptly titled album of the year.
Favorite tracks: “The Nights Of Wine And Roses” “Fire’s Highway” “Evil’s Sway” “For The Love Of Ivy” “Adrenaline Nightshift” “Younger Us” “The House That Heaven Built” “Continuous Thunder” (Yes, that is ALL of the tracks!)

2. The Lumineers – The Lumineers
These guys tried to take back the sound of folk and Americana from British imports Mumford & Sons.  They mostly succeeded.
Favorite tracks: “Flowers In Your Hair” “Classy Girls” “Submarines” “Dead Sea” “Ho Hey” “Slow It Down” “Big Parade” “Morning Song”

1. Of Monsters and Men – My Head Is An Animal
The Lumineers mostly succeeded, because this Icelandic group swooped in and caught everyone unawares.
Favorite tracks: “Dirty Paws” “King And Lionheart” “Little Talks” “Six Weeks” “Love Love Love” “Sloom” “Lakehouse”

~Moose

20 Favorite Alternative Rock Songs of the 90s

I compiled this list with the one criteria that I couldn’t include any of the “big” bands of the 90s Rock scene.  So Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, Smashing Pumpkins, R.E.M., Stone Temple Pilots, Rage Against the Machine, Radiohead, U2, Foo Fighters, and a few others were excluded.  They’re not exactly “deep cuts” and a few of them were big hits, but a few of them have also probably gotten lost in the shuffle.  Almost every time I hear them, I’m transported back to high school.

20. Filter – Hey Man, Nice Shot: Before “Take My Picture” there was this song.

19. Collective Soul – Run: Varsity Blues soundtrack

18. Counting Crows – A Murder of One

17. Barenaked Ladies – Alternative Girlfriend: I love two lines from this song. 1.) “Your parents understand, but you don’t care.” And 2.) Old at being young, young at being old.”

16. The Eels – Novocaine for the Soul: Before I sputter out…

15. The Dandy Warhols – Not If You Were the Last Junkie on Earth: Heroine IS so passe.

14. The Nixons – Sister: I had forgotten this song and was very happy when I stumbled across it a few years ago.

13. The Presidents of the United States of America – Peaches: Always loved these guys. Hard to pick between this and a few other songs.

12. Schtum – Skydiver: This song makes me think of the Saturday Morning Recovery Show on 94.3 WCYY.

11. The Sundays – Summertime: I wish this band had been bigger. I love the voice of the lead singer. Also great is “Here’s Where the Story Ends.”

10. Local H – High-Fiving M.F.: “Your glory days are over and so’s your stone-washed jeans.” Yeah, take that, hair bands… (NSFW because of language)

9. The Flys – Got You (Where I Want You): For the teens who didn’t watch Dawson’s Creek, this song, for the Disturbing Behavior soundtrack, made us fall in love with Katie Holmes. Also, the rest of their album sounded NOTHING like this song.

8. Butthole Surfers – Pepper: Quiet, loud, quiet loud. “They were all in love with Di and they were doing it in Texas.”

7. Spacehog – In the Meantime: I still don’t understand all of the lyrics, but I love this song.

6. Seven Mary Three – Lucky: “Cumbersome” is a grungier song, but I loved the stripped down nature of this song.

5. The Bogmen – Suddenly: Just a fun, funny song. I shout this one out in my car whenever it comes across my iPod.

4. Soul Coughing – Super Bon Bon: Awesome awesome awesome beat.

3. Everclear – Santa Monica: The best Everclear song. Great guitar riff. And one of my favorites of all time.

2. Rustic Overtones – Iron Boots: Horn section in this song is so awesome. Hard to find a clean version on YouTube because they’re not well-known outside of Maine. But this is easily one of my most favorite songs of all time.

1. Temple of the Dog – Hunger Strike: I said no Pearl Jam and no Soundgarden, but I didn’t say anything about Eddie Vedder and Chris Cornell together in the same song. Again, one of my most favorite songs. Ever. Period. Special bonus, I’m posting the music video AND the surprise performance that they sprung on the world a few years back that gave me chills.

~Moose

Most Anticipated Movies of (the Rest of) 2012

I should have done this list at the beginning of the year.  In fact, I made the list up at the beginning of the year, but forgot to put it on here.  It would have included The Hunger Games and Chronicle for sure, both of which I did enjoy.  So minus those two movies, here are 15 that I’m looking forward to in 2012.

15. Stoker - TBD 2012 – Chan-wook Park’s first American film.  After killing it in South Korea for the last 15 years or so, Park takes a stab at exporting his horror/thriller sensibilities to America.  With an interesting cast (Nicole Kidman, Mia Wasikowska, Dermot Mulroney, Matthew Goode) I’m going to be keeping my eye on this one.

14. The Campaign - August 12 – A comedy featuring Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis about two rival North Carolina politicians on the campaign trail running against one another, directed by Jay Roach.  Sounds like a quality trio of hilarity.

13. Gravity - November 21 – Alfonso Cauron’s first directorial feature effort since 2006′s Children of Men.  This movie stars Sandra Bullock and George Clooney.  Bullock plays a woman returning home from a space mission by herself to reunite with her daughter.  Cauron is famous for having long, extended takes in his films, and I heard recently that this one has a 17 minute uninterrupted opening take.

12. Brave – June 22 – Pixar attempts to get back on top of the animated mountain after their first real blemish with Cars 2.  I believe this is going to be a slightly “darker” and “grown up” Pixar movie (relatively speaking, of course).  Everything I’ve seen so far has looked amazing.

11. Only God Forgives – TBD 2012 – Drive was one of my favorite movies of 2011.  This movie has the director (Nicolas Winding Refn) and the star (Ryan Gosling) of that movie getting back together for a movie about a police officer and a gangster settling their differences in a Thai-boxing match in Thailand.  I’m willing to go wherever these two are taking this movie.

10. Skyfall - November 9 – I like the Bond franchise, but I’m looking forward to this one more than the usual Bond film.  Daniel Craig and Judi Dench are back.  But it seems like they have decided to blow the doors out on this one, by surrounding Craig with great talent that has maybe never been equaled in a Bond movie before.  Ralph Fiennes and Javier Bardem are in this movie along with Naomie Harris and the director is Sam Mendes.  I’m especially intrigued by Mendes, as a franchise film in the Bond series is such a departure from anything he has ever done before.

9. The Master – October 12 – Paul Thomas Anderson’s first movie since There Will Be Blood.  This is a very tight-lipped production.  Not much is really known about it.  Most of the speculation is that it is loosely based on L. Ron Hubbard and Scientology, but most likely as a jumping off point for a more fictional tale as opposed to an outright biopic or in-depth portrayal of the Hollywood “religion.”  I’ll be interested to see as its release nears how the Scientology folks in Hollywood will react to it.

8. The Cabin in the Woods - April 13 – The only movie on this list currently in theaters.  I am seeing this movie on Friday.  I have been anticipating this movie for a while, as it has been on the shelf for 3 years after multiple delays.  The studio that produced it closed up shop.  Then the studio that bought it wanted to convert it to a 3-D feature.  Then that plan was scrapped.  And now it’s getting a release a few weeks before The Avengers, the “other” feature film that Joss Whedon and Chris Hemsworth are attached to this year.  Reviews for this movie have been through the roof!

7. Seven Psychopaths - TBD 2012 – One of my favorite black comedies of the last few years was In Bruges.  While it has some dark subject matter, dealing with hitmen lying low in Bruges after a job gone wrong, it had a hilarious dialogue and great performances from Colin Farrell and Brenden Gleeson.  Writer/director Martin McDonagh actually got an Oscar nomination for the screenplay, which was totally deserved.  Here, Farrell and McDonagh re-team for another gangster comedy, along with Woody Harrelson, Christopher Walken, and a great supporting cast.

6. Looper - September 28 – Joseph Gordon-Leavitt, Bruce Willis, and Emily Blunt should be enough to warrant interest in a movie for me.  But what really puts this movie over the top is that it is written and directed by Rian Johnson, the man behind Brick and The Brothers Bloom.  Not only that, but it’s a movie about time travel.  And not only that, but he also had Primer writer/director/actor Shane Carruth consult on the movie.

5. Django Unchained - December 25 – Quentin Tarantino is back this Christmas with the sure-to-be bloody tale of a slave-turned-bounty hunter who sets out to free his wife from a notorious plantation in the pre-Civil War South.  Jamie Foxx, Leonardo DiCaprio, Christoph Waltz, and an all-star cast easily make this an event to see.

4. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey - December 14 – Peter Jackson returns to Middle Earth!  This project has been long in the making and once had Guillermo Del Toro attached to direct with Jackson only serving in a screenplay and production capacity.  Del Toro left and Jackson stepped back in to finish the job.  Very excited for this.  Love the cast.  Interested to see how they treat this story as they are breaking the book into two movies and expanding on some parts of the book and adding in some extras of their own.  But I trust Peter Jackson, despite his misstep with The Lovely Bones.  He could make a quality Hobbit movie in his sleep.

3. The Avengers – May 4 – This movie has had a long build-up, starting all the way back in 2008 with the first Iron Man in a scene at the end of the credits between Robert Downey Jr.’s Tony Stark and Samuel L. Jackson’s Nick Fury.  Since then there has been a Hulk movie, a second Iron Man movie, a Thor movie, and a Captain America movie that have all built toward assembling them all in this movie.  They went a got Joss Whedon to write the screenplay and direct the movie, a move that is sure to win over the fanboys.  Everything is suggesting that this will be a huge kickoff to the summer movie season.  More importantly, the early buzz is that the movie, especially its last act, is awesome.

2. The Dark Knight Rises - July 20 - “Whaaaaaaat????” you may be asking yourself.  How is it possible that there is any other movie I am looking forward to more this year than the conclusion of Christopher Nolan’s Batman saga?  Well, I’ll get into that coming up, but make no mistake, I am eagerly awaiting this movie.  Christopher Nolan is a director I trust implicitly.  I do not think the man has made a bad movie yet.  And I think he will nail it this time around and give the audience a proper ending to his trilogy, something that is apparently hard to achieve in superhero movies (damn you, Spidey 3…).  I love the casting of Tom Hardy and Anne Hathaway as Bane and Catwoman, respectively.  And you’ve also got JGL and Marion Cotillard in supporting roles.  This is going to be the biggest movie of the summer, no doubt about it.  I am hoping/expecting it to break all kinds of box office opening weekend records.  Could it be the first movie to break the $200 million opening weekend mark?  I think it’s got a shot.  I have nothing but love for The Dark Knight and this movie is really more like a “1b.” than a “2″ for me.

1. Prometheus – June 8 - For the longest time, whenever the words “movies” and “2012″ popped into my head, the only thing I could think of was The Dark Knight Rises.  For another movie to come along and knock it out of the #1 spot for me would require a “Once in a Generation”-type of potential.  And for me, Prometheus has the potential to reach that level.  It started out as a full-on prequel to Alien.  Then it shifted a bit and we were told it would merely “exist in the same universe” that Alien had established.  And then the trailers and stills and promotional material and viral videos started to come out for the movie and it was clearly more than just a movie that existed in the “same universe.”  It is a prequel, whether director Ridley Scott wants to call it that or not.  However directly or indirectly, it is a prequel to Alien.  It takes place on the same planet that the Nostromo goes to in response to a distress signal at the beginning of Alien.  It’s got the famous “space jokey” in the trailers.  It doesn’t have Sigourney Weaver’s Ripley or (as we’ve been told repeatedly) a Xenomorph alien, but for all intents and purposes, this movie will set the stage for the conditions that the original Alien starts in.  And this is a BIG DEAL.  Ridley Scott is returning to the sci-fi genre for the first time in 30 years.  His other two sci-fi efforts were the aforementioned Alien and Blade Runner.  Those two movies are all-time greats.  If there were a Mt. Rushmore of sci-fi movies they would be on it right beside 2001: A Space Odyssey and Star Wars.  They are pantheon-level movies.  So for the director of those movies to feel like there is something there worth still exploring, that is something I am excited about and am going to take notice of.  Alien is one of my favorite films of all time.  I can still vividly remember the first time I watched it as a teenager.  All of the promotion for this movie has worked like a charm.  I am captivated.  I would take on a face-hugger for this movie!  And it’s got a great cast.  June 8th cannot come fast enough.

~Moose

Bill Belichick Is Bold

ESPN writer Tim Keown wrote an opinion piece on ESPN.com about the end of the Super Bowl.  He says that while the decision by Belichick and the Patriots defense to allow the Giants to score a go ahead TD in order to get the ball back with enough time to have a chance to score was the right call, it was not a fitting end to the Super Bowl.  While he makes an interesting case about how it is a situation unique to the game of football, I think his argument fails to be compelling because he doesn’t accurately understand what kind of coach Bill Belichick is.

His premise about Belichick being the “great defender of all that is manly and stoic and arrogant in the world of the National Football League…” is flawed to a fault.  As a Patriots fan, there are plenty of examples of Belichick playing the percentages and doing what seems counter-intuitive over doing what is deemed conventional wisdom.  There are two prime examples.

First, the 4th-and-2 play against the Colts back in 2009.  Conventional wisdom was to punt, give the ball back to Manning, and take your chances with a struggling defense that was tired and had been shredded in the 2nd half by Manning as he charged back to make it a close game.  They went for it, and failed, but the percentages at that time, according to people who do the numbers crunching on percentages for these things said he was actually making the right call based on the percentages.

My favorite example, however, remains the Monday night game against the Broncos in Denver back in 2003. The Pats were going to have to punt out of the end zone, down by one, late in the 4th quarter.  Belichick instructed his long snapper to snap the ball over the punters head and out of the end zone for a safety, putting the Broncos up by 3 points.  This eliminated the possibility for the Broncos of a blocked punt recovered for a TD at best or excellent field position at the very least.  Instead, the Pats were able to free kick from the 30 and change the field position, get a stop, and come back and score on a TD pass to David Givens to win the game.  It remains one of my favorite games of the Brady-Belichick era.  It seems obvious that it was the right move, aside from the favorable outcome, if for no other reason than the change in field position, but the conventional wisdom is to never put points on the board for the other team.  There is nothing arrogant, stoic, or manly about giving away free points, whether 2 or 6.

The fact is Belichick has the freedom to do things unconventionally because of his success.  It’s a luxury that few coaches probably do not feel like they have, which is why more teams do not do things like this.  But Belichick has never been a completely conventional coach either.  It’s why he plays Troy Brown or Julian Edelman at CB, Mike Vrabel as a goal-line TE, or Dan Klecko as a blocking FB.  It’s why he played nearly an entire second half against a Drew Bledsoe-led Bills offense with nobody on his defense in a 3 point stance.  He takes chances all the time, whether the rest of the league, his critics, or the Patriot fan base thinks it’s emasculating or wrong, because he doesn’t care about the perception of things.  He’s interested in putting his players in the best position to actually win the game.

~Moose

Super Bowl XLVI Preview

The Patriots are back in the Super Bowl.  I am very excited.  I did not expect them to make it this year, because of how porous their defense was.  In fact, as recently as a few weeks ago, I was saying I did not want the Patriots to even make it to the Super Bowl, because I figured they would be playing the Green Bay Packers or the New Orleans Saints, and would get blown out in such a matchup.  But you never can predict what will happen in football.  And the Patriots are going to be heading into the Super Bowl in two weeks as the favorites to win.  But to win it, they will have to go against a good New York Giants football team that matches up well with them.

This is going to be a tough couple of weeks for me.  I still can’t properly deal with what happened in Super Bowl XLII.  As far as I’m concerned, the game never happened.  I treat the 2007-2008 NFL season and playoffs like I do the 1994 baseball season.  I just say that the Patriots went 16-0 in the regular season, breaking all kinds of records.  And then I choose to believe that as soon as the season ended, there was a strike and there was no Super Bowl, just like there was no 1994 World Series in baseball.  It’s a coping mechanism and it helps me get by without having to think about the football atrocities I witnessed.

But now I am forced to acknowledge my Voldemort.  I am forced to recognize the game-that-must-not-be-named.  Not just because it will be all over the news for the next two weeks and there will be countless replays of the worst moment of my life as a sports fan.  But I will have to acknowledge it because I want revenge and redemption.  Any true competitor wants to beat the best in the game to be champion.  And while San Francisco or Green Bay or New Orleans would have been exciting matchups, I think any true Patriots fan wanted to meet the Giants in this Super Bowl because of Super Bowl XLII.  We want another shot at them.  I don’t know what the outcome will be this time.  The Patriots could get their revenge or they could lose.  We’ll see in two weeks time.  But they’ve got a shot at it at the very least, and that is all you can ask for.

One theme that Pats fans have been talking about a lot in the last week or so is that this playoff run is shaping up to be a “Godfather scenario” where the Pats settle all family business, Michael Corleone-style.  The Broncos beat the Patriots in 2005 to hand Brady his first playoff loss.  The Ravens handed Brady and Belichick their worst playoff loss and the team’s worst home playoff loss in 2009.  Now they have vanquished both of those opponents.  All that remains is the Giants.  And they will have the chance to do it in Indianapolis, on the home field of their nemesis, Peyton Manning and the Colts.  The only thing missing from this playoff run is the New York Jets, but even the fact that they didn’t even make the playoffs is sweet and savory.

I don’t know what will happen in two weeks.  I do know that, win or lose, another Super Bowl appearance further validates the Patriots and this amazing run of dominance they have had.  Tom Brady will be playing in his fifth Super Bowl.  Only John Elway can say that.  The next two weeks are going to be torturous for me, but I hope the end result is worth it.  And even if it isn’t, it won’t be as devastating as XLII.  So I got that going for me, which is nice.

~Moose

Artists I Want To Hear From In 2012

10. Tool – We’re closing in on six years since Tool released 10,000 Days.  I’m sure they’re not everyone’s cup of tea, but they make really great rock music.  They are known to take their time in between albums, with 5 years in between Aenima, Lateralus, and 10,000 Days.  But when they do come out with new material, it is rock solid.  Lateralus was one of my favorite albums of the previous decade and 10,000 Days had some great singles in “Vicarious”, “Jambi” and “The Pot.”  If they come out with anything this year, it will be a welcome addition to the 2012 rock landscape.

9. Muse – Muse seemed to really hit it big with The Resistance in 2009, becoming one of the biggest rock bands in the world.  They make big, anthemic progressive rock and when that works, it really works.  The Resistance produced a lot of big singles, but I sometimes wondered what exactly it was that they were resisting and raging against in their songs.  In the long run, it didn’t really matter, as they make great big music to sing along to.  There is talk that they are working on a new album already, so we’ll see what 2012 brings from these radio-friendly rockers.

8. Mumford & Sons – These guys had a monster 2010 and it looks like they are readying for a follow-up album to be released this year.  It is going to be interesting to see if the indie folk genre is sustainable or if there will be too many bands out their replicating their sound to be able to achieve success again.  If they can make an album that is as enjoyable and accessible as Sigh No More, then things will be alright.

7. Kings of Leon – It feels like their star has faded a bit, like they peaked with Only by the Night and the smash hits “Sex on Fire” and “Use Somebody.”  Come Around Sundown was released in the latter half of 2010, and they usually put out music at a steady clip, with releases in 2003, 2004, 2007, 2008, and 2010.  So it is possible that they would release something toward the end of this year, but they could take a step back like their ‘04-‘07 period.  As divisive as their musical progression has been for some of their fans, I still enjoy their sound, though I wouldn’t mind a return to the grittier sounds of their first few albums and away from the polish of their last couple.

6. Anything Jack White – The White Stripes are done.  I’ve shed my tears, rent my garments, covered my head in ashes, and started to piece my heart back together.  In the wake of that, I’ll take anything “full-length” that Jack White has to offer musically.  Whether it is in the form of a new Raconteurs album or The Dead Weather or a solo album or some other collaboration he is prominently involved in.

5. Damien Rice – This guy seems to be notorious for taking his time to release new albums.  It seemed like I was waiting forever for 2006’s 9, a follow-up to 2002’s O.  And while 9 wasn’t as good as his first album, it was still enough to keep me interested.  But now we’re closing in on six years since his last release.  And there is no hint of anything new on the horizon.  I wonder how much of an effect his breakup with Lisa Hannigan had on his music.  She was a longtime collaborator and girlfriend and their relationship ended poorly.  Since that time, she has produced two really good albums and he’s gone rather silent.

4. Band of Skulls – These guys have a bluesy rock sound similar to The White Stripes and The Black Keys.  However, as their debut album, Baby Darling Doll Face Honey, showed, they are a very versatile band.  It seems like they have 2 or 3 competing influences and give them all a chance to be aired on the album.  They’re listed as having a February 21st release for their second album, Sweet Sour.  I’ll be interested to see if a dominant influence emerges.

3. Arcade Fire – Arcade Fire have released three very impressive albums, with the last one The Suburbs, winning the Grammy.  They have usually gone 2-3 years between albums, so 2012 might be a bit early for a follow-up to Suburbs, which came out in August 2010.  But I can hope.

2. The Shins – The last Shins album was 2007’s Wincing the Night Away.  Since then, James Mercer, the lead singer, replaced all of the other band members with new performers.  And he has had a successful run with Danger Mouse in forming Broken Bells, releasing one EP and LP.  So this new album will be different, but hopefully not too different.  On March 20th, Port of Morrow will come out.  This makes me happy.  This new album with a new lineup will be different, but hopefully not too different.  At least one of my musical appetites will be sated this year.

1. Fiona Apple – It’s been seven, SEVEN, calendar years (six years and about 3 months) since Fiona Apple released Extraordinary Machine in October of 2005.  It may come as a surprise to some that I would list her at the top, but, man, do I missed her voice.  She is easily my favorite female artist.  As far as I’m concerned, Norah Jones, Alicia Keyes and any of these other singer/songwriter ladies are merely pretenders to the throne and Fiona puts them all back in their place whenever she releases something new.  Nobody else on this list has had as much time elapse between when they released their last album.  She has stated recently that she made new music that has been done for over a year and it’s just sitting on a shelf.  Given the difficulty she has had getting Extraordinary Machine released, it is no surprise, but I hope it sees the light of day sooner rather than later.

~Moose