2022 – Some of My Favorite Things

We all have our own perceptions, thoughts and ideas. We have likes and dislikes. There are things we share and things we don’t. All of this makes us human and interesting, or in some cases, uninteresting. Which is why I do not expect you to read this. This is not meant to be a definitive list of the best things in 2022. It’s not a Top 10, 20 or any other number. It is what stood out to me, based on my experiences. Your list is likely completely different and that is OK. Would love to discuss our lists over a beer or bourbon someday.

Best Discovery

Leon Bridges, he of the album Gold Diggers Sound (2021) and more, led me to a great discovery that was, frankly, right under my nose. I noticed he had collaborated with Khruangbin, a trio from Houston, Texas, which is right down the road apiece.

I gave Texas Moon (2022) a listen; followed that up with Texas Sun (2020); and began acquiring as much of the Khruangbin catalog as I could.

The band is not easy to nail down to a single genre, especially because they infuse influences from music around the globe. They are often put into the following genres: psychedelic rock, surf rock, funk, instrumental rock, and dub. I do not want to be the person to pigeon-hole a band into a particular genre, but I would describe them as lush funk. It doesn’t really matter; this is music for any mood, music for the background, and music for when you want to listen closely. I just cannot get enough of this band.

Fun Fact 2022 or the Other Discovery

I am a white male in my 60’s who likes a young black woman who is living large and is not afraid to put herself out there. That’s right, I like Lizzo. Talk about a generation gap. I am not even sure how this happened. Well, I am sure of the details. I was looking for some music, went down a rabbit-hole, and ended up in the land of Lizzo.

Sure, I am a refugee of 70’s rock, but I do enjoy funk. soul and R&B and Lizzo has that wrapped up in an enjoyable, authentic groove. And she is fun. No matter your age, you should have some Lizzo in your life.

Stream It

Streaming is as good as it is bad. Let’s face it, in the race to provide “content,” there is some gawd awful shit out there. But to be fair (to be fair), there are some gems out there in the ether. Hacks (Season 2) was my favorite and I eagerly await Season 3. Jean Smart is the bomb. She brings so much to the screen, and she has built a character in Deborah Vance that you can love and hate in the same breath. Hannah Einbinder as Ava is great as a Z (Millennial?) that has everything figured out yet has nothing figured out. And the arc of Marcus (Carl Clemons-Hopkins) – well what the hell is next?

Speaking of awaiting season three, I binged through all three seasons of Derry Girls and three seasons was perfect. Derry Girls was fun, charming, emotional at times, and did not overstay its welcome. Yeah, there are a bunch of other runners-up, but this is not a list, and you probably have your favorites that you have validated with friends and family, so you don’t need the likes of me creating another list for you to compare to.

The Boulders

Nature rules! The Avenue of the Boulders (official name) is near Mill Creek Falls in the Prospect, Oregon area. You probably have not heard of The Boulders, but maybe you have heard of Crater Lake. These boulders were thrown all the way from Mt. Mazama, which is twenty miles away, when it erupted 7,700 years ago (barely a breath in the cosmic timeline). This eruption created the caldera which is now known as Crater Lake. Hey, we all just learned something.

The Boulders is my most favorite place to go and I got to go a few times in 2022. The sound of running and rushing water is something to behold, but it is more than that. It is the realization over and over again of what nature can do. There is always something beautiful no matter the power that nature unleashes time and again.

The Best Thing I Ate

I do not have a social media presence, although a friend of mine pointed out that this blog constitutes a presence. Irregardless of his correctness, I am not one to take pictures of every. single. thing. I eat which is too bad because I would like nothing more than to show you a picture that is dripping with deliciousness.

This picture would be of a hamburger. A hamburger called the Drunken Goat. The Drunken Goat features bacon, goat cheese, red-wine glazed onion and pepper-jack mayo. I guess, if I was going to be all hoity-toity, I would mention the hand-formed patties are grass-fed Black Angus beef raised in the Applegate Valley. Because we all know about the Applegate Valley…

I digress. This burger, as are all their burgers, is perfect. It’s juicy, but not to the point of falling apart in your hand. You get the beefy flavor you should get from a hunk of beef, and it is perfectly accessorized with just a few things that complement each other nicely. It’s a simple burger that is fancy without all the pretentiousness.

And for the record, this burger comes from Immortal Spirits, a distillery in Medford, OR. Meaning you can pair this hand-made burger with a hand-made cocktail, crafted with hand-made spirits right on the premises. My head is going to explode!

My Best Run

First, no sympathy required here. Empathy always over sympathy, by the way. But my running was essentially non-existent in 2022 due to back issues. Sometimes it really is about getting old. I did run two half marathons early in the year that were sub-par due to said back issues and things really spiraled after the second half marathon in March. The findings were/are two herniated discs and a pinched nerve and that put running out of reach.

From an active standpoint, it was a miserable spring and summer and a deflating fall. Especially late fall when the weather is perfect for running. And with each (minor) procedure on my back, the itch to run again grew stronger only to be met with disappointment after each procedure ended in failure. “We have to go through the checklist to find what works,” says the doctor. “I have gained 15 pounds,” says the patient who is becoming impatient.

But in late December, perhaps against my better judgement, I went for a run in Carlsbad, CA along the beach. First, it was more like a very slow jog and second, how can you not want to run along a beach!? Apologies, I am projecting. For me, it is almost a requirement. Anyway, I went out for a slow as molasses twenty-minute jog and it didn’t suck. Was it slow? Yes, I have been alluding to that quite a bit. But it was nowhere near as painful as expected. It appears that maybe all the physical therapy is helping after all. Possibly the only thing that has been helping.

As mentioned, it was only for twenty minutes, but it was nice to be moving faster than a standard walk. Yes, admittedly my slow jog was exhilarating. Will I be doing it again anytime soon? Likely not until I get official permission from official medical authorities.

And Finally

My favorite whiskey. I tasted a variety of really good whiskeys this year. I could certainly put a number of entries into the top spot or create an “unranked” tome of the goodness that passed through my lips. But, if I am being honest, there is one. This is the one I gave as gifts this past year when a bottle of spirits was appropriate (isn’t it always!). This is the one I always buy a bottle of if I hit the liquor store and it is in stock, just because. This is the only one I have three unopened bottles in reserve. Not to mention a fourth bottle from a good friend that is a different version that I am also excited to taste.

This is the ticket. Yes, my friends, it is Angels Envy – Rye Whiskey finished in Caribbean Rum Casks. I could be one of those pompous dudes and talk about the nose, the palate and the finish, but we all taste things differently because all taste buds are not created equal, and we each have our own flavor profile. So, I will just say that I like it.

The Wrap

These are some of the things that brought me joy in 2022. I sincerely hope that you too had moments of joy, whether with friends, family or by yourself.

If you have read this far, allow me to leave you with this. I mentioned above, “empathy always over sympathy.” There are many people in the neurodiverse community that never share their hardship. There is good reason for this as often there is a stigma attached. There are folks, such as myself, that have revealed our neurodiversity and are willing to talk about it. Granted, there is a percentage of people (neurodiverse or not) who tell their stories because they are looking for sympathy because they want attention. But there is also a growing number of neurodiverse individuals who share their story not because they are looking for sympathy, but because they are trying to provide awareness and understanding so they can have normal relationships with their friends and their colleagues.

The covid pandemic revealed there are a greater number of people who fall into the neurodiverse category than previously imagined. And it could very well be that being neurodiverse may soon be “normal.” Whether we are talking neurodiversity, race, religion, culture, etc. the more we understand and the more we are aware, the better we can all be together.

May your 2023 be all you are hoping it is.

This post was composed while listening to The Grand Wazoo and Waka/Jawaka by Frank Zappa as well as Special by Lizzo.

Walking with Tom – Refugee

This is where it started for me with Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. When I heard Refugee on the radio way back when, I immediately wanted the whole album. I talked about Louisiana Rain in an earlier post, but Refugee has always been the anchor of Damn the Torpedoes. I can talk about that album for hours, so let’s just get into it shall we.

Somewhere, somehow, somebody must have kicked you around some…

I could make an argument this should be the opening line of the song. But upon reflection, I understand this was a look back. The great thing about this line is that it can be what you want it to be. Is it about physical abuse, emotional abuse, or something else altogehter? For me, it was about emotional abandonment, which Tom sort of sums up in the line that follows:

Tell me why you want to lay there, revel in your abandon…

The word “abandon” really hit home because at that point in my life I felt I had been abandoned. Additionally, this conveys the thought that people often choose to stay in a bad situation because it is what they know; it is what they are comfortable with. Which is an awful place to be.

Later in the song, Tom captures the same feeling, but in a different way:

Somewhere, somehow, somebody must have kicked you around some
Who knows maybe you were kidnapped, tied up
Taken away and held for ransom

Again, for me, Tom walks the fine line between physical and mental. I think a challenge that many folks have is we look to the physical first because it is something we can see and understand. But this passage can just as easily be about the mental side of things. Anxiety, depression and other mental conditions can kidnap your brain and hold you hostage.

But throughout the song, Tom does offer hope:

Honey, it don’t really matter to me, baby
Everybody’s had to fight to be free, you see

This is super important on multiple levels. First, I always wonder if there is a person out there for me that feels this way. Second, and probably most importantly, Tom is conveying empathy versus sympathy. Sympathy will not sustain a relationship, but empathy will sustain lives.

And finally,

Don’t have to live like a refugee
(Don’t have to live like a refugee)
No you don’t have to live like a refugee
(Don’t have to live like a refugee)
You don’t have to live like a refugee
(Don’t have to live like a refugee)

And there it is. That bit of hope that can apply to nearly any situation. You don’t have to live like a refugee. If you have anxiety, you do not have to be a prisoner. There are people who empathize and can help. There is therapy and other treatments. It is up to you to determine whether you want to live like a refugee or not.

Walking With Tom: Straight into Darkness

In 1982 Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers released Long After Dark. I really loved that album and as wild as it seems, there are multiple songs I could choose from that album that would fit right into my life during the next year or so. In the Fall of 1982 at the “tender” age of 20 I had my first girlfriend. Folks who deal with anxiety are not likely surprised I was a late bloomer, so to speak.

Things were great right up until I came home one day to find all of her stuff gone, along with her of course.

There was a little girl, I used to know her
I still think about her time to time
There was a moment when I really loved her
Then one day the feeling just died

That is pretty much the naked truth right there. No hidden or deep meanings I am striving for, just an unadulterated life moment. For when I caught up to her a week or so later, her words to me were, I don’t love you; I never loved you; I was just using you.

Well then…

Straight into darkness
Out over the line
Yeah straight into darkness
Straight into night

Darkness can mean different things. It can be a place you go or are sent. It can be the unknown. It can be both. In the darkness you cannot see shadows and it can be a very scary place.

I was young and naive and that surely sucked. To have anxiety and to be in a relationship means there is an overwhelming amount of trust – or at least hope. And when that is shattered it is not only hard, but it also puts a few extra bricks in the wall that the next person will have to get through. And for me, that is what this darkness is about. It’s about immediately adding to the wall, making it bigger and thicker to protect from the unknown; to protect from the shadows that you cannot see because of how dark it is. It is a place I was sent and as long as I am there, I need that wall to protect me.

But even someone with anxiety can be resilient.

I don’t believe the good times are over
I don’t believe the thrill is all gone
Real love is a man’s salvation
The weak ones fall, the strong carry on

Yes, it may take longer, perhaps even years, but eventually we can get back up.

For the record, during this life moment two other songs from the Long After Dark album came to mind before this one took hold. The first was: You Got Lucky. As in, “you got lucky babe, when I found you.” This has a great video, but it is a little presumptuous as it paints me as a gift; a gift she threw away. And let’s face it, I was less a gift and more a proxy or tool for some other purpose.

The other song was Change of Heart. “You never needed me – You only wanted me around – It gets me down – There’s been a change – Yeah there’s been a change of heart.” The song is a real stinger, but… It feels like one of those things that comes to mind after the fact and you think “doh, if I had only said that in the moment.”

So here we are with Straight into Darkness, because that is where my first attempt at love took me. There will always be a few extra bricks because of my time in the darkness, but every now and again, someone comes along who doesn’t mind putting in the extra work of dismantling the wall.

Walking with Tom: Saving Grace

There is a highway interchange that I drove multiple times a week over the course of six or so months. Each time I approached this particular interchange, my grip on the wheel would tighten. Closing in on the interchange where drivers are making last second decisions; praying to an unknown god they have chosen the appropriate lane to be in. I know the lane I need to be in; I have been in the lane I need to be in. My knee is shaking uncontrollably. In the midst of the interchange chaos ensues as some drivers continue to jockey for their lane; others are looking for the fastest way out of there; and still others are apparently lost. I feel like I am going to poop my pants. The color in my hands reveals I have a death grip on the steering wheel. Through the interchange safely. A deep breath and a sigh of relief. I feel light-headed as my grip relaxes and the shaking stops. Maybe it will be better tomorrow. It will not be better tomorrow…

Anxiety is a multiplier. Stir in even a little anxiety and something simple invariably becomes a chore. Stir in a lot of anxiety and it becomes something you want to avoid.

I’m passing sleeping cities
Fading by degrees

These are the opening lines to Tom Petty’s Saving Grace (from Highway Companion). Damn, if there ever was an opening line written specifically for me, there you have it. I do not, or more specifically, my anxiety does not, like traffic. I am the person on the road before most people consider getting out of bed. I am the road-tripper who purposefully slinks through a city at 3:00 AM, like a shadow that was never there. Those are my times; little to no traffic and music on the radio keeping me awake and alert.

This is what this song evokes. It’s a rockabilly tune that is built for driving across wide-open spaces or slipping through towns under the cover of darkness. But like any Petty song, there is more to it than that.

And it’s hard to say
Who you are these days
But you run on anyway
Don’t you, baby?
You keep running for another place
To find that saving grace

Sometimes when I hear this, I feel like Tom is calling me out. That maybe Tom has insight to my secret. Until recently, nobody outside of me and a doctor knew I suffer from anxiety. For me, in the before days and even now, each new town or each new location is a chance to start over or reinvent myself – if only for a day or a night. But in the end, it never sticks, because we are who we are.

The song, in its whole, reminds us of that. There is this sense of a weary traveler on autopilot. However, this person is also painfully aware of who or what he or she is. They know the latest facade will only last so long. But they carry on searching for something that cannot be.

Walking with Tom: Louisiana Rain

Readers of this blog and many friends know I am a big fan of Tom Petty. To me, Tom Petty was more than a musician who had success and a lot of great songs. Tom was also a song writer who went beyond the angst and superficial emotions and imagery one would find in a typical rock song. And for a person who suffers from anxiety, Tom made me feel almost normal. He never said “anxiety” is normal, but he did convey time and again that everybody has problems and challenges; that everybody has moments of darkness; and that nobody has a perfect life.

For me, Tom’s songs could be emotional, they could stoke the imagination, or they could just tell a story. And I would like to tell my story of walking with Tom for over four decades now.

I was formally introduced to Tom Petty with Damn the Torpedoes. I played that album constantly, but I remember the first time I played it, the song that really stuck to me at the time was Louisiana Rain. I recognize Refugee is a song that anyone with anxiety can relate to and it is one of the reasons I wanted the album in the first place, but the haunting imagery created by Louisiana Rain is what stuck with me after the first listen.

South Carolina put out its arms for me
Right up until everything went black somewhere on Lonely Street
And I still can’t quite remember who helped me to my feet
Thank God for a love that followed the angel’s remedy

There are many ways to dissect this particular lyric. Tom obviously had something in mind when he put pen to paper, but he also wanted people to think for themselves. It was OK if you didn’t see what he saw, as long as you saw something.

What I saw was me – a person on the brink of suicide. I didn’t understand until decades later that it was anxiety that prevented me from going through it. It was anxiety that helped me to my feet. It was anxiety that was the angel’s remedy. And it was a few close friends who stood in for a love that followed and kept me sane through that particular moment in my life.

I feel it is important to note that I have not considered suicide since then.

Louisiana rain is falling just like tears
Running down my face, washing out the years
Louisiana rain is soaking through my shoes
I may never be the same when I reach Baton Rouge

Rain (or water) is often used as a metaphor for cleansing, but I took this to be more about change than anything else. Our lives are not a script and an event or moment can change the current path, just like rain changes the topography of a mountain, a desert and even a beach.

There were many songs on Damn the Torpedoes that spoke to me on a variety of levels. I didn’t know it then, but I would be walking with Tom for decades to come. Thank you for taking this journey with me.


Photo by Bryan Padron on Unsplash

On my walk this morning I encountered a skunk, my light illuminating its upturned tail and butt hole as it waddled down the sidewalk away from my general direction. It is not uncommon to encounter wildlife in my neighborhood. There are plenty of squirrels and ducks; just like many other neighborhoods; but we also have a healthy population of racoons, armadillos, turtles and deer. Skunks are either an oddity or just keep well hidden, but regardless, I made the quick decision to alter my route and let my new-found friend be alone with its thoughts, which likely were singular in nature: spray the motherfucker!

I half laughed or maybe I just chuckled a little as I considered what a Millennial or Gen Z member might have done. I suspect a picture would likely have been necessary, because we live in an age where if there is not a picture or video then it did not happen. The question is how far would someone have gone to get that picture? For one, it was dark. Also, skunks aren’t terribly large, so one would likely have had to have gotten close enough for – I don’t know – a selfie? Oh no, do not do it. The skunk does not want to be in a selfie with you. You will pay…

Which is almost hilarious, but it is not. There appears to be a very large group of people within our society who think all animals act like they are domesticated pets. These people tend to end up getting gored by buffalo in Yellowstone. The buffalo, like the skunk, does not want to be in your Insta feed or on Tik Tok. There is a reason zoo animals are behind fences or glass. It’s not to protect them from you; it is to protect you from them.

Revel from a distance in the silent majesty of the buffalo, or look in awe at the courageous skunk as you wisely back away from its rigid tail. It will be a much better memory than anything you post to your feed.

Almost Dancing

When I work out in my garage there is always music going. And sometimes the song dictates I make some random moves between sets. Some might consider these moves to be dancing, but I know better.

Hashtag – this guy cannot dance

However, this morning, whilst working out, a song by ABC took its turn in the mix and lo and behold my random movement constituted a bona fide dance move. You will need to trust me on this, but I know this to be true and I know both my nieces (Kadi and Juliette – dancers since they were youngsters) would be proud. Although I am very confident Juliette would still shake her head at my effort.

It took nearly 60 years, but I pulled off an actual dance move. So, there’s that…

Jackie Lee was My Second Kiss

She should have been my first…

Much ado is made about a first kiss and perhaps more about your very first kiss. I suspect, that like me, there are quite a few people whose very first kiss was less than it was “supposed” to be. Of course, there are likely many interpretations of what that very first kiss is supposed to be. I gather from numerous rom-coms and teen angst movies that your first kiss is reserved for your first love, but movies do not reflect life as much as we would like them to, and my first kiss was certainly not a “movie” kiss.

My first kiss was as surprising as it was unwelcome. My well-meaning roommate and his girlfriend felt it was important for me to get out there and set me up on a date without asking me. It’s probably important to know I never dated in high school and being a person who suffers from anxiety, I appreciate any “rules” to govern certain actions with the opposite sex, at least until they add to the anxiety.

The double date, as dates go, was average. It was not good, and it was not bad. As far as I was concerned there was certainly not any connection that would preclude us going out on another date, but she was a nice enough person to hang out with.

At the end of the date, I walked the young lady to her door, because I was brought up to be a gentleman and that is what a gentleman does. I expected nothing more than a few pleasantries and hoped there would be no empty promises under a dim porch light. Standing on the wooden porch, the pleasantries were brief because without warning her face was mashed against mine and a tongue that was not mine was in my mouth. I am certain this was not a new form of dentistry.

To say I was stunned would be an understatement. I thought there are rules to govern this. I was led to believe third date = first kiss. What the hell? Perhaps I was reading from the 1840’s handbook on dating. For her, it must have been like kissing a dead fish – not because of my breath, but because I just stood there, lips open yet unmoving under a dirty yellow light that seemed to be better at attracting moths than romance. I had no clue what I was supposed to do, so I just stood there like an idiot.

Fast forward in time and I was visiting my old haunts on the opposite coast (west), and I find myself on a much different front porch with Jackie Lee. A warm glow was cast upon the porch and the surrounding area. Or maybe the glow was because of Jackie herself.

I cannot speak for Jackie. For all I know this may have been a forgettable moment in her life. I certainly had no kissing skills other than a single pair of wayward lips on mine. But for me? Well…

In this moment, on Jackie’s porch, my anxiety level is super low and a kiss in this situation feels natural and right. And it was – all the so-called rules be damned. If I was a smart person, that kiss should have been the reference against which all other kisses are judged. I would like to use words like “fireworks” and “explosions” and you probably expect such proclamations because that is how kisses are supposed to be described. But no. This was better.

Her lips are soft, her tongue is small, and my first thought is “perfection.” A slowly building wave of warmth washes over my body, caressing not just my skin, but my soul as well. The moment is as ethereal as much as it is wanted. Everything on the physical plane is disappearing because it not necessary. No light, no sound, no porch, just us. I think I forgot how to walk for a moment.

The amazing thing for me is that everything felt natural. I know I already alluded to that, but we have to check in with anxiety for a moment. Because of anxiety, I often get caught up in thinking/worrying about what I am supposed do. Even in situations like this. But this time my lips and tongue moved naturally, in concert with hers. The embrace was what it should have been for the moment; not aggressive but still wrapped in each other. My brain had checked out and let my body do what felt right. And for someone who suffers from anxiety, that is a huge win.

Tom Tom Club

Not what you think!

Stevie Nicks is an awesome artist and she is still bringing it. But…

Tom Petty has been my favorite artist since 1979 and will continue to be through my last breath. I try hard to think of a Tom Petty concert I may have missed, but to the best of my recollection, if Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers came to town, I was there. I first saw them in 1980 and then so many times before I last saw them in 2017, just a few months before Tom died.

Though he has passed on, his music will stay with me now and forever. I won’t quite say that Petty is the soundtrack of my life, but I think I can safely say that a majority of songs from the soundtrack of my life feature Tom and the Heartbreakers. Maybe it was the timing or maybe it was coincidence. Damn the Torpedoes came out in 1979, my senior year in high school and when I really started getting into music. Not that I didn’t listen to or like music. I was rocking the Eagles, Elton John, Zeppelin, and Ronstandt like any good 70’s kid, but when Petty came along, that is when I really started listening and maybe, I thought, he was talking to me.

Recently, I acquired some Tom Petty artwork, so I finally have something “TP” to grace the walls of my new abode. I don’t consider this a moment, but I thought this might be a moment to share my Top Ten Tom Petty (and the Heartbreakers) songs, because, well, I can (hoo boy, that is a bunch of commas in a short stack of words!).

This is the artwork in question – although it is substantially larger and it is framed. I see this every day and it reminds me that I am still…

Learning to Fly (Into the Great Wide Open) – I think this may be the Tom Petty song I most identify with. Many folks think it’s about drugs (some people think all songs are about drugs) – it is not, so let’s get that out of the way. You can take this a few different ways, however I perceive it as always trying to go forward in life, even though you may not feel prepared. As someone with anxiety, this speaks to me and is a guidepost or reminder to keep trying.

I'm learning to fly but I ain't got wings
Coming down is the hardest thing

Refugee (Damn the Torpedoes) – This was the one that started it all. I received the album (Damn the Torpedoes) for Christmas (thank you Santa!) and when I heard this song that was that. This is an anthem that still stands on its own today and maybe more so than when it was released based on the political climate right now.

Honey, it don't make no difference to me, baby
Everybody's had to fight to be free, you see
You don't have to live like a refugee
(Don't have to live like a refugee)

Running Man’s Bible (Mojo). Mojo is a bluesy album that sounds like the band had a fun time making. This song stuck out in the first several chords and is one I go back to again and again. It is yet another great story from one of America’s greatest story tellers.

Honey here's one to glory
Here's to bad weather
And all the hard things
We've been through together

Runnin’ Down a Dream (Full Moon Fever) – Tom was always great at creating imagery, even if you saw something other than what he was thinking about. The imagery in this song is colorful and clear. You can feel the wind in your hair as Tom rolls through the verses.

It was a beautiful day, the sun beat down
I had the radio on, I was drivin'
Trees went by, me and Del were singin'
Little Runaway
I was flyin'

It’s Good to Be King (Wildflowers) – This has always been my favorite song off Wildflowers, but it’s extra special since I saw the Wildflowers tour with my good bud Tater (Jana T). The lyrics touch on the benefits of rock and roll stardom, but also that it is not the only reality. The point is that the reality you see may not be the reality that is real.

It's good to be king, if just for a while
To be there in velvet, yeah, to give 'em a smile
It's good to get high and never come down
It's good to be king of your own little town

Runaway Trains (Let Me Up (I’ve Had Enough)) – The song has a haunting flavor to it, not to mention a hypnotic guitar riff from Mike Campbell. It is not something you hear often (if at all), but it has stuck with me throughout the years.

She says "I understand
I'm used to being alone
And holding my own hand.
I'm stronger than you know"

Saving Grace (Highway Companion) – Coincidentally, this is a great driving song. It reminds me of driving late in the night on a highway you have to yourself.

I'm passing sleeping cities
Fading by degrees
Not believing all I see to be so

You Got Lucky (Long After Dark) – I will be honest, this song hits home because I don’t feel that some people really get to know me before they move on. And this one sticks out because of some life moments when it was released.

You better watch what you say
You better watch what you do to me
Don't get carried away
Girl, if you can do better than me, go
Yeah, go, but remember

The Waiting (Hard Promises) – My anticipation for Hard Promises was off the charts. I think I bothered the staff at the local record store every day for weeks until the album finally made it out. And it did not disappoint, with The Waiting as the leadoff.

The waiting is the hardest part
Every day you see one more card
You take it on faith, you take it to the heart
The waiting is the hardest part

Casa Dega (originally a B-Side – re-released on Playback and the Deluxe version of Damn the Torpedoes) – A friend told me about this song and it took me years to find it; not getting to listen to it until Playback came out in 1995. It’s a great story featuring a place that exists and it is so – well, it is so Tom.

Baby I think I'm starting to believe the things that I've heard
'Cause tonight in Casa Dega I hang on every word

Thanksgiving Rules; Christmas Drools

I said it and I stand by it. Fight me with your words if you dare.

I love Thanksgiving. If I am not spending Thanksgiving with someone, I am preparing delicious BBQ (because that is my tradition).

However, Thanksgiving continues to get short shrift and would likely pass most people by if they didn’t get the four-day weekend that comes along with the Thanksgiving Holiday.

Let’s face it, a week before the clock strikes midnight on Halloween, Christmas decorations are lining the aisles of box stores, home improvement stores and even the local grocery store. And once 12:01 AM arrives on November 1, the commercials begin.

So allow me to help you count the ways Thanksgiving gets the better of Christmas.


There are no Thanksgiving songs. OK, there probably are a few Thanksgiving songs, but you never hear them, which is why nobody knows if there really are any Thanksgiving songs or not. You might think this is a disadvantage for Thanksgiving, but slow your roll just a bit there.


There are approximately a zillion Christmas songs and each song has 50 odd different versions by 50 different artists. You would think with all those choices, it could be a Christmas music nirvana, but you kind reader, are wrong. First, you do not get to choose and second, there are only about five good Christmas songs out there. Most Christmas music is sugary tripe that is beaten into your skull for 45 days straight because every radio station goes to an All Christmas All the Time format.

I am pretty sure the murder rate goes up during the Christmas holidays because Christmas music permeates people’s cortexes for far too long – how many times can Grandma get run over by a reindeer… ADVANTAGE Thanksgiving!


There are no Thanksgiving gifts. That is not to say that some thankful soul will not bring a gift of appreciation (normally alcohol thank you very much) for being invited to a Thanksgiving gathering. But as a tradition, gifts are not required for Thanksgiving, even though “giving” is in the damn title.

Christmas on the other hand is gifts to excess. As much as I enjoy watching someone open a gift carefully cultivated by me, the stress of gift giving can be overwhelming. Have you ever been part of a family where there are so many Uncles and Aunts that only the kids get gifts, but all the parents secretly hate it because their kids are getting too much crap they don’t have room for? Or how about gifts from far flung relatives that have no clue Johnny likes GI Joe with the kung fu grip and Janine is a soccer nerd.

And by the way, a scented candle is not a gift, it is a cop out.

Additionally, we have entered this void that once a kid reaches double digits, all they want are gift cards to Starbucks, Panera and Jamba Juice or cash. Where is the fun in that?

All that being said, the joy of giving that one person the perfect gift and seeing their face when they open it cannot be beat. So let’s call this a DRAW.


Sure, I will play along, but let’s face it, Thanksgiving is built around food. Food that you will only eat once a year and wonder, why don’t we eat this more often?

I am not much into turkey, but any holiday that gives me an excuse to use my culinary skills and then lounge around in a food coma is fine by me. And doesn’t everything taste just a little better on Thanksgiving? Is it the extra butter?

Christmas gives us ham and fruit cake? First, I have personally met only one person who likes fruit cake. I am going to make no more comments on the matter. Second, nobody wants ham sandwiches for a month. If they say they do they are lying.

Food on Thanksgiving is not just a tradition, it is a production. Food on Christmas is, “it’s Christmas, we have to do something nice…” ADVANTAGE Thanksgiving.

The Weekend

Many companies (not all) give you a four day weekend for Thanksgiving. If you take the whole week off, you get nine straight days off for the price of three days vacation. That is winning my friends.

Christmas falls all over the place and unless you take vacation, you could be back at work the day after. Who wants that? Nobody.

Additionally, the entire Thanksgiving weekend is filled with football. Pro football, college football, family football and more football. Let’s face it, Thanksgiving weekend is built around kicking back and relaxing. It’s not so cold that you can’t send the kids outside and there are ready made leftovers in the kitchen, so assuming a reclined position is a breeze.

Do you know what you are doing after Christmas, weekend or not? You are listening to kids crying over broken toys; dealing with kids fighting over not yet broken toys; or standing in a line to return the clothes that are too big/small or toys kids don’t want or need.

ADVANTAGE Thanksgiving.

Christmas Ruined Thanksgiving

Some people may remember when Black Friday was not a thing. Instead, the day after Thanksgiving was a family day to relax together, go on a hike together, or do some other chill activity together.

Black Friday changed that and it changed Thanksgiving. Now instead of a trove of people in the kitchen making food, 40 different sales flyers are spread out on the kitchen table and a gaggle of adults are planning their logistics for Black Friday like they are trying to eliminate an enemy. This is war! And it is a war that most people will always lose, coming up short as their plans are foiled by a longer than anticipated line or by people who would dare start lining up the day before.

I don’t want to stand in any lines. I don’t want to stand in a line when I can be preparing and eating delicious food. I do not want to be standing in lines when I can be commiserating with the people I love and care about. I don’t want to stand in a line to save 70% on a cheap TV the store only has five of and there are 100 people in front of me. Fuck lines, and fuck Christmas for ruining Thanksgiving. ADVANTAGE Thanksgiving.

And, advantage to all the companies who have decided to take a break from Black Friday (and Thanksgiving Day sales too) and have given that time back to their employees.