Monday, June 17, 2019

Baseball Review //
Ulbrich Steel @ Record Journal Expos
[June 12th, 2019]
@ Ceppa Field

Official Box Score :::

More Photos Can Be Found in this Facebook Album ::: //

This game started at 7 pm instead of 6 pm (like the two previous games at Ceppa Field) but I still showed up around 6 because I wanted to make sure the website was correct and I didn't have anything else to do.   I thought it'd be better to sit outside for an hour than show up at 7 and miss an hour of the game.   A.J. Hendrickson pitched for the RJ Expos- my second time seeing him pitch here- and the Ulbrich Steel had four different pitchers.   Right away, the Steel put up three runs in the first inning and it didn't look good for the Expos.  This time, my keeping score / track of innings in my phone actually was accurate.

After the game, I thought about this a lot, and not to get ahead of myself, but one of the things I really like about the GHTBL is that they don't use the scoreboard at Ceppa Field.  As a society, we are so in touch with our phones and just... easily distracted.   Going to see the Yard Goats last Friday, it was so easy to just look at the scoreboard and know what the score was and the inning, but I see that more as a crutch than anything else.  To follow these games, to appreciate that excitement and drama of it all, you must be 100% focused on it and I don't think I've ever focused so much of my attention on one thing before.

I can't find a stat for this on the box score, but I feel like there were at least four HBPs in this game, three of them by the Steel.   Tensions got high at one point as well.   It was getting later, people wanted to go home, and in the 7th the Expos could've won it.   At one point, this huge shot went to center field but was lost in the lights.   The Expos center fielder said something like "This is why we shouldn't start games at 7".   I'm just glad they put the lights on at Ceppa Field.

Now, I thought that the GHTBL could end in a tie, which apparently is not true as this went eight innings, which was more than they normally play and starting at 7pm... this would've been a good game to start at 6, but hindsight is always 20/20.   There was also this thing where the home plate umpire kept saying to play, then would get mad when the pitcher would pitch and say that it wasn't time to play yet, and, yeah... the Expos dugout got warned by the infield umpire at one point and that was my first time seeing that in the GHTBL.

Speaking of firsts, I saw my first homerun at Ceppa Field this season.    Thank you to Peter Barrows for making that happen, as he hit a three run shot deep to left center.   After the game was over, I totally walked out there and found the ball, which I now have in my collection.  I'm some kind of museum.

At one point, it looked like the Expos won but the homerun shot went under the center field fence, but with bases loaded and a Will Kszywanos bunt (he had several key hits during the game) the Expos walked it off.    This was such a wild game because it felt like the Steel put down the foundation for a win early and it took a while for the Expos to really mount their comeback.   This was really a lot of what baseball should be about, with the whole "it's not over until it's over" mentality.   I also don't know where Will Musson came from, but he brings the heat.  Every fan of baseball should see him pitch at least once in their life.

Baseball Review //
Bristol Blues vs. Nashua Silver Knights
[June 14th, 2019]
@ Muzzy Field, Bristol, CT //

More Photos Can Be Found in a Facebook Album here ::: //

One thing that I've always tried to do with baseball is go to different places to see it being played.   It's different, to me, than music because you might have your local club which hosts bands you want to see, and yes there are home teams in baseball, but still, going to different stadiums and fields to see baseball being played is sometimes as much fun as the game itself. 

I'd known of Muzzy Field for several years and was finally able to get out there on Friday.   Much of what is online about the Bristol Blues is unclear as to what other baseball places tend to do.  I saw tickets on their website as a ten pack, but it wasn't until that day I saw on Twitter that tickets were $5 in advance and $6 at the doors.  (How do you buy tickets in advance?) I assumed since the game started at 7:05 we'd be able to get in by 6, so we got there around 5:45 and people were already going in.

We had to park behind Muzzy Field, which was nice because the parking is free, but if someone hit a huge homerun it would surely be in a car windshield.  Once inside Muzzy Field, we got a program and copy of the Bristol Press for free.   My dad bought Quentin a souvenir bat and hot dog because apparently he was hungry.   Then we went back to the merch area later on and purchased two hats and a t-shirt for him.  Tickets for the three of us to get in were $16 and so I thought "We won't spend a lot" but with food and hats and such we spend four times that once inside.   This just supports my theory if baseball didn't charge ticket prices (or kept it $5 and under) they'd make all their money on concessions.

Since we were among the first people in, we wandered around the stadium since we had never been there before.   Some combination of New Britain Stadium and Dodd Stadium, I really enjoyed being there in any seat and unless you get into some outer bleachers all seats are behind a net so you don't have to worry about getting hit by a ball so much.   This also makes it much more difficult to catch foul balls, but more on that later.  Being early though had Quentin doing an on the field game, which was kind of funny because as Quentin ran away from me I saw these two girls following him and knew they were going to talk to him.

In the middle of the first inning Quentin competed against another child in an attempt to see who could put a uniform on first.  Quentin had an obvious lead with the pants on, but then the pants fell down, he got stuck in the shirt (which was backwards) and he lost it- which was hilarious.   Sometimes, it's not about winning or losing but it's simply about having fun (Which he did)

I always wonder about the actual baseballs teams use and since this is the FCBL I wondered if they had their own balls.  It seemed difficult to get one, so Quentin asked an employee to help him out.   A short time later, the employer came back with a used one and sure enough, it has the FCBL logo on it.   Now I want a brand new one because I think it would look so, so nice. 

We also went to this other employee who said they would help Quentin get a foul ball signed.   The employee went off and got the bullpen to sign the ball while Quentin played with BB, the mascot.   The Bristol Blues also have a mascot named Chunky, who is a tomato and Quentin loves him.  I was talking with the employee about the connection between the music and the name and basically... there isn't one.  But I did learn that the first player to ever hit a homerun at Muzzy Field was Babe Ruth and that's kind of cool.

After seven innings the Blues were down 9-2.   This was the final score and we left because it didn't seem like they were going to come back, it was already after 9:30 and Quentin was getting a little bit cold as well.   I want to try and go back to Muzzy Field for the weekend of 4th of July as it's a fun place to be and seeing the Blues win a game would be nice as well.   I don't own as many baseball hats as I used to (I had to drastically downsize my collection once upon a time) but having a Bristol Blues one in my collection is a bit of pride for me now.

Cassette Review //
"Dorys & Eli"
(Sweat Records Records)

$9 // //

Harm me with harmony.   When you see a name like Dracula, you might expect that this is going to be in some sort of horror subgenre (shout out to Werewolves in Siberia) but the only thing which makes this scary is how dark it is and how much it reflects so casually on death.    While you will hear vocals from both Dorys Bello and Eli Oviedo, sometimes they are at the same time and other times one takes the lead over the other.   They have certain songs where they sing together and certain songs where one takes the lead.

Along with these most powerful vocals you will find an acoustic guitar at all times, plucking notes and strumming the chords.   There are very few other instruments on this cassette and when they do appear (such as a trumpet) it is not for very long.   So it is fairly accurate to think of these dreamy melodies as being mostly just vocals + guitar.   In this way, it has a folk sense about it, somewhere between Simon & Garfunkel and Johnny Cash & June Carter.

Some songs are in Spanish, some are in English and by the end they do a cover of the "Princess Monoke" theme which just leaves me all confused about languages.   Imagine someone watching a Japanese film with Spanish subtitles... Yeah, I probably know people who have done it, but it's just a concept that didn't occur to me before this cassette made its way into my speakers.

Through this beauty you will find lines, such as in "Cruel War", of "I'll pass as your comrade / No one will ever know / Won't you let me go with you" which reminds me of the story of "Mulan".    Somewhere between "Desperado", "Rango" and a little bit of "Coco" this just seems to be writing its own film.    While "Butcher Boy" can feel upbeat in the music it has a defining dark side to the lyrics, as it is about a suicide and then "Down In The Willow Garden" is just a confession to murder.  In that sense, these songs- lyrically- remind me of Two Gallants.

In some ways these songs remind me of ghost stories.   They seem innocent enough when you consider the music and the way the singing just flows with pure beauty and love, but then when you really pay closer attention to the lyrics you realize that they might very well give you nightmares.  I definitely enjoy that contrast of styles- to be crude it's like if there was an acoustic lullaby version of songs by the Misfits.   This just works-- they just make it work-- and it's so delightfully haunting.

Cassette Review //
"Exponential Bummer"

$7 // //

This one starts off with some wild, distorted chaos.   Tones come in during the mayhem and it has this grinding feeling to it as well but... is electronic distortion a genre because this might be it.   Massive amounts of drumming now with a flurry of jazz horns to create a scene of total devastation. 
Just percussion now.   Horns slowly make their way in and this has a jazz feel to it.   While it's breaking down into what could be described as jazz noise, it has a heavier influence on the jazz side of things.   There becomes an animalistic type of howl to the sounds and then it just finds itself venturing into this stone cold groove.   

It begins to sound as if it is breaking down now, all instruments at full capacity.   A bit of laughter takes us into the next blast of jazz mayhem.    There is some more laughing at the end of the song and then it takes on this whirring / glitch sound during the onslaught of percussion.   It almost has a swarm of bees vibe to it.   By the end you can begin to feel as if one of those space blasters is shooting through at you.

This leads us into an upbeat, sort of marching song that feels like we are building towards a purpose.    This doesn't last for very long, however, and then we reach the end of the first side of the cassette.

Heavy drumming and frantic horns kick things off on the flip side.  Through these droning type sounds it drops off and begins to sound like a pinball machine gone out of control.   Whirrs come in like frequency changes.   Lone beeps come through now like sonar as the percussion builds behind it.   Frequencies again and the vibe here is somewhat like a sci-fi movie for sure. 

I enjoy perhaps most how this can have some sounds which are considered by a lot of people to be "out there" but they are all seemingly grounded by this stellar drumming.   The horns hold up their end of the work as it just feels like everything is falling apart right now.   The horns take on more bass and begin to drone in a way which might upset the neighbors.

A bass feeling comes in that makes me think of a flat tire while cymbals are banged around like pots and pans.   A steady rolling now.   This cymbals rattle now as space crashes down around them.    An engine stalls.  Cymbals crash.   It becomes frantic and the math rock version of jazz now.   It grows into this error feel, cuts off and then comes back, horns and cymbals ablazin'.     This all comes to an end with a slow growl and it's such this journey you need to take more than once to fully appreciate but also just to drive during the middle of the night and stay awake.

Music Review //
Andy The Crocodile
"Scars & Wounds EP" //

When I was a kid we had these neighbors and one of them was much younger than us but he had this stuffed panda bear he had asked my mom to sew because it was ripped and it went into this dresser we had in our kitchen never to return because they eventually moved away before my mom gave it back to them.  That kid was named Andy so we always thought of it was "Andy Pandy" which is funny when you think of Andy The Crocodile (why not Lyle?)  That dresser disappeared from my parents' kitchen at some point in time and I don't know what happened to it or Andy Pandy.

The songs on the "Scars & Wounds EP" are melodic and diverse.    "Hope" has that indie rock vibe with something playing the bells on it, while "Sleep Well My Child" really sounds like a lullaby.   "The Whammy Girl" starts off with this country type part (which even makes reference to that) and then just kicks into this big rock sound which sings about how "Anything can be a rock song / All you need is a little heart"   "Just Another Love Song" gets acoustic like folk and it is about what the title says, which is nice that at least it recognizes how many love songs already exist.

Though it is not easy to put Andy The Crocodile into a category for comparisons, as these songs sound like other songs but don't at the same time, I feel like I can at least put this music into a similar genre where you can say "It doesn't sound like ____, but it could be made around that same time".   This takes me back to a time in the 1990's when I listened to bands like Stroke 9 and Wheatus.   It's that sort of distorted but diverse rock that you can hear coming out in this EP which makes me enjoy it so much.

At time same time, this EP has that Weezer quality (at least from their first album) where every song just feels like an album unto itself.   With four songs, this feels like a lot more rock than what you might think based on the length in that simple way.  This also makes me curious as to what a full length album would sound like from Andy The Crocodile: each of the twelve songs an album unto itself, searching for that one that is a little bit weird and just doesn't seem radio friendly but I would be totally into.   Yes, this is a good introduction to Andy The Crocodile but I want to get to know this music so much more. 

Music Review //
Jesse Merineau
"She Knows" //

As someone who listens to a lot of music, I hear songs from people who have millions of plays and people who have less than ten plays and rarely do I tell the difference between them.   What I'm saying is, I have a fairly poor perception as to what is on the radio right now and what people know or don't know in terms of current pop music.

Several years back, when it was popular, I went to this afternoon baseball game and there was a school group there.   They played that "Shut Up and Dance" song- which I somehow knew- and when the chorus hit... all those kids sang along.   I believe "She Knows" has that type of quality about it, where people could sing along that much.

The song itself is upbeat.   In a radio way, it's somewhere between Twenty One Pilots and fun. (but maybe just because I was listening to "Some Nights" last week)  There is also this element of Andrew McMahon In The Wilderness as well.   This song should certainly be on the radio and it's appropriate to be hearing it now because it's a summer jam-- windows rolled down, blasting out of your car speakers in that way.

One thing I don't feel like music does enough is explore and push the boundaries of lyrics in terms of singing.   A line in this song such as "I can't take it slow-oh-oh" is just so perfect because, first off, you hear people sing like this, yes, but not as often as I would probably like to hear it.   But most importantly, the fact that adding that "-oh-oh" to it just kind of drags out the words, so it takes you longer to sing them, so in a sense, you take it slow... which is what the line is about... which is the type of little details I miss in pop music that should still exist.

When it comes to songs- singles and EP- I always listen to them not just in a way that says "Hey, this is a good song", but to hear the potential within them as well should more songs come about in the form of an album.    Just within this song you can hear breakdowns and little variations of what you heard before.   I think it demonstrates itself in enough ways that you know an album from Jesse Merineau would be so diverse, yet tied together that I'd already consider it to be an album of the year contender.

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Baseball Review //
East Hartford Jets @ Record Journal Expos
[June 4th, 2019]
@ Ceppa Field //

Photos on Facebook :::

This was my second GHTBL game with the RJ Expos in as many days.  It was also their second game this season, which is kind of nice because it means with this win they went from 1-0 to 2-0.    For this game, I arrived slightly earlier than the night before and this helped me to get to my seat and ready for the game before the first pitch. 

During this game, I tried to keep score myself just by thinking about how many runs each team scored per inning and then being able to add up on the notes app in my phone what inning we were in.  Yes, I have blank score card books at home, but sometimes taking pictures or answering texts can distract me and so I don't feel like I'm as strict with this following along as I should be.

When this game hit the last inning- which was the top of the 7th- by my count we were only in the 6th and I apparently did not count the scoreless second inning, as I'd find out looking at the box score at home the next day.   This is important because it means that the Expos somehow put up one run, then none, then three and then repeated this pattern - 103103- which is one of those baseball number things I enjoy so much.

One of those things which makes the GHTBL different than other leagues is not only the players in it, but what these players contribute to the team.    I didn't think this was possible and didn't confirm it until home to read the official score the next day, but all seven innings of this game were pitched by A.J. Hendrickson.   He wears the number five and while I thought people were cheering and calling for "AJ" as the catcher, as he was the night before, I realized he was pitching.   When have you seen someone player catcher one night then pitch a full game the next and get the win?

Interestingly enough, the only other time before this season I saw the GHTBL (that one odd game in 2016) also had James Kukucka pitching only instead of being on the East Haven Jets, he was on the Ulbrich Clippers, who are now the Ulbrich Steel.   In some weird way, this nicely ties together the first three games I've seen of the GHTBL overall with these two games from this week. 

At one point during this game, a sprinkler on the field (along the third base side but closer to home plate) came on and eventually the players pushed it back down so as to stop it.  If I was going to be more clever about writing about each game this season, I'd say the first game would be called "The One With Two Booms" and this one would be called "The One With The Sprinkler"  Perhaps one day I can officially name my reviews as such, but for right now I will at least think of them like that.