A Very Dark Place

This week’s focus in speed:  greasy fast, lightning speed.  And what that really translates to is lots o’ quick n’  dirty intervals to build leg strength as well as some anaerobic conditioning.

Today’s intervals, however, had a bit of a different flare in that the participants were divided into teams so that while one group was sprinting, the other was recovering and offering encouragement.  The intervals themselves took place over a series of hills and flats to add a little variety.  The “dark place” came when I asked for that one ounce of effort more during those last few seconds of each 15 second, 30 second, 45 second and minute long sprints; you’re already drained, but being asked for that little bit extra.

“You can do this!”

Today’s playlist:

  • Leave Somebody – The Wilderness of Manitoba
  • She Sells Sanctuary – The Cult
  • Money City Maniacs – Sloan
  • Livin’ In the City – John Butler Trio
  • Sick Sick Love – Chris Wollard & the Ship Thieves
  • If I Live or If I Die – Cuff the Duke
  • Tumbling Dice – Linda Ronstadt
  • Bodysnatchers – Radiohead
  • Running on Empty – Jackson Browne
  • What ARe You Willing to Lose – Lucero
  • Elephant – Tame Impala
  • Rise of Fall – Black Rebel Motorcycle Club
  • Before – Plants & Animals
  • The Promise – Sturgill Simpson
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Tempo Run (8k)

This morning’s run almost never happened.  The plan was to get up early (6:00am) and slip in about 45-50 minutes out on the road before heading to work.  Thing is, at 5:00am it was teeming down with rain so I said, ‘fuck that‘  and turned off my alarm and headed back to bed.

Unfortunately, no one informed Oscar the cat of this change of plans and at 6:00am he was still expecting his breakfast and after being pawed at for a few minutes I reluctantly got up to feed him (as well as his sister Tina who lets him do all the dirty work, of course) and, low and behold, no rain.  Crap.  So figuring that since I was up anyway, I’d proceed with the plan as originally intended.  Likewise, I had something that I was especially excited to listen to as well, namely the ‘Sleeping Operator‘  album by The Barr Brothers.

The Barr Brothers, Andrew and Brad, were formally of the improv-based trio The Slip (of which, I was a huge fan) hailing from Boston, MA.  At the conclusion of a show in Montreal in 2003 at Le Swimming a fire broke out in the sound booth, setting off fire alarms the moment the encore ended causing the whole bar to be evacuated.  When everyone was forced out onto the street, Andrew met a native Montrealer after offering her his coat.  That chance encounter led to a relationship which created a bond between the brothers and the city.  One year later, Andrew and Brad Barr relocated to Montreal and became neighbors with harpist Sarah Page.  Along with Andres Vial, they formed The Barr Brothers.

You could best describe the band I suppose as “alternative folk”, which utilizes a bizarre mix of instruments to create an ethereal feel to their music.  There’s a xylophone through the the opening track into ‘Love Ain’t Enough‘ (my favorite song on the album), a soaring welcome that uses a three-note progression like a back-and-forth rallying call.  And there’s other interesting stuff as well, like the African stringed instrument the ‘ngoni’  which fits right in alongside bongos, and a fan-made instrument called a “cardboardium” which is just as entertaining as an upright bass, a hammered dulcimer, pedal steel, harp, and the list goes on.  The blues number ‘Half Crazy‘  which, for the record, helped me maintain a decent pace back into the sleepy downtown core, sees the band dropping twangy guitar lines over a series of hand-claps and a metallic, grungy bass.

‘Sleeping Operator’  shaved an original 40 songs down to 13, many of which saw the help of Arcade Fire’s Richard Reed Parry, Patrick Watson’s band, and members of The Luyas.  The end result is a mix of African influences and devilish American folk for dancing around the campfire or, as in my case, keeping my pace and heart rate to a steady 70-75% of my max effort – something I haven’t done regularly in a while.  And then it all wraps up with a bedtime story ‘The Bear at the Window‘, which was perfect for a brief warm down walk around the block after a pretty solid 8k tempo run.

PB:  3rd best effort for the ‘Bernard> Ridge Rd. Tempo‘ Strava segment (9:28)

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Vinyl Sunday

After yesterday’s 10k charity swim I celebrated today with a little light yard work, a few beers, some chicken wings and a whole lotta buckus.  That is until this evening when HRH  and I are finally settling down to enjoy some black gold with the ‘Maple Sugar:  Songs of Early Canada‘  album. Maple Syrup When HRH  and I attended our first record fair this was one of the albums she expressed an interest in but, shortly afterwards, she discovered the ‘Red Knuckles’ album and, of course, that was what we went home with.  I figured this album would be easy enough to find at other record fair’s.  It turns out it wasn’t and she’s been looking for it ever since.  Personally, I gave up hope of ever finding it again long ago figuring it was one of those rare albums that only turn up once in a blue moon, but she’s remained vigil that it would turn up again.  Then last weekend, we were invited to dinner by friends of ours and whilst there, she was invited to peruse through a stack of old records and choose anything of interest that she could add to her own collection and, low and behold, there it was!  What were the chances?  I guess it was meant to be.

Maple Sugar:  Songs of Early Canada‘  is a 2-disc LP set released in 1973, featuring early logger jigs, paddling songs, some pipes, election songs, a couple sea shanty’s, just about everything under the sun, in both English and French.  Before this record was put out “Maple Sugar” was a festival of Canadian Folk Music at the University of Guelph, and the album combines live recordings from that day as well as studio recordings from afterwards. In the liner notes it says:

“Maple Sugar is dedicated to all those
guitar-pickin’, banjo-fralin’, harp-blowin’,
country-fiddlin’, sod-busters, gold-dusters,
tree-choppers, and train-hoppers who stole this land
from Winter and didn’t get away with it, buried
now beside good women, but ready to drink, dance,
or sing with any of us who’d care to knock on
the graves, that being the way of people who get
involved with stringed instruments.”
Whoo-boy!  Does that sound like fun or what?  It really is quite a collection of Canadiana, including songs from notably Canadian folkies like ‘Stompin’ Tom Conners, Harry Hibbs, Eleanor Moorehead (Queen of the Canadian Fiddle) and the University of Guelph Folk Choir.  It may be a bit campy, but HRH  is loving it nonetheless.  And, hey, if she also happens to pick up a thing or two about Canadian folk music and custom while she takes it in over a bowl of ice cream, so much the better.
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Easy Run (5.75k)

Even though I’ve had two tough days of training in the legs, I’m forcing myself outside for another run.  By next week, the Frank & Friends 10k Swim for Strong Kids will be behind me and it’ll be time to finally begin stepping up the run/bike program.  So while I’m only taking it easy today, I’m also starting to familiarize ‘ol Thunder n’ Lightning with regular wear n’ tear this week (this will be my 4th run of the week since Sunday)…i.e. running fatigued.  So, this afternoon, the point is to just enjoy the fresh air and sunshine and metaphorically throwing a “shrimp on the barby”  for this run while slipping in a bonus 5.75k at a relative easy pace set to the ‘Diesel & Dust‘  album by Midnight Oil.

After my drill run on Tuesday (click HERE), I kind of unwittingly slipped into an Aussie 80’s mode.  After all, the 80’s is where Australian music was finally put on the map thanks to the likes of great albums by INXS, Dead Can Dance, The Birthday Party, Crowded House, Men at Work and the Little River Band.  This album, particularly scores high in the very best that the Aussies had to offer in the 1980’s.

It was actually the 6th album released by the band (1987) but their first that gained them international notoriety.  It is a concept album about the struggles of Indigenous Australians and environmental causes, issues that were very important to the band (lead singer Peter Garrett would go onto become a prominent environmentalist, activist and politician). It drew inspiration from the Blackfella/Whitefella Tour of remote Indigenous communities with the Warumpi Band and Gondwanaland in 1986. The album peaked at #1 on the Australian Kent Music Report Albums Chart for six weeks and in 1989, Rolling Stone magazine ranked it #13 on their list of the 100 Best Albums of the 1980’s. In October 2010 it was listed at #1 in the book, 100 Best Australian Albums.

I didn’t know any of this at the time, however, but I sure had me a cassette of the album that I played over and over again ad nauseum.  I still have that cassette buried in the back of my closet somewhere as well.  ‘Beds Are Burning‘ was the huge mega-hit off the album and probably the reason why I purchased the album through Columbia House.  But there are other great tunes on this album that have certain withstood the test of time as well, including the poppy ‘Dreamworld‘  and ‘The Dead Heart‘ (which, I admit, prompted a bit of a sing-a-long on my part mid-run.  Less obvious, but nonetheless excellent tunes, include ‘Arctic World‘, ‘Warakurna‘, and the haunting ‘Whoah‘.

I really enjoyed reconnecting with this album today and, I have to say, there was lots of reminecing and flashing back to delivering papers as a kid going on along the roadways of Ridgeway and Crystal Beach this afternoon, that’s for sure.

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Brick Run (5k)

After a week in Texas eating BBQ it’s back to the grind this week including this weekly Brick run on the treadmill following my Thursday night Master’s spin class.  It also needs to be mentioned that tonight marks the last for my Master’s class so we’re having the gauntlet thrown at us.  And given that I completed the final session in the Brock oven yesterday, ‘ol Thunder n’ Lightning are complaining just a little bit, so tonight’s run is intended to be at an easy (rolling hills) pace set to this 2012 EP by Shakey Graves, ‘The State of Texas Vs. Alejandro Rose-Garcia‘.

Graves (aka Alejandro Rose-Garcia) became known for his one-man band set up and most of his debut album ‘Roll the Bones‘ is Rose-Garcia playing unaccompanied by other musicians.  When he began working on his sophomore album, ‘And the War Came‘, Rose-Garcia added musicians to his recording set and live set.  Regular invited band members included ex-Paper Bird member Esme Patterson, drummer Chris Boosahda (son of 70’s and 80’s Christian music singer Stephanie Boosahda), and Patrick O’Conner, from the LA music scene, playing guitar and bass.  Rose-Garcia is also occasionally accompanied by another ex-Paper Bird member Macon Terry on double bass and Aaron Thomas Robinson on steel guitar.

On February 9th, 2012, the Mayor of Austin proclaimed a “Shakey Graves Day”.  Rose-Garcia might have spent Shakey Graves Day 2012 celebrating by playing laser tag, but in each subsequent year he has put on a concert with other local bands and musicians.  Also, on Shakey Graves Day (and for the two days following) all of his music is available on bandcamp for pay-what-you-want prices.  Fans can download unreleased albums, including this one, but these are only available 3 days a year.  Cool, right?  And that’s where I actually picked up this EP.

As far as the music goes, Graves himself has admitted that this EP was “haphazardly thrown together”  from old homemade recordings and more recent live performances, and that eclecticism is evident. It never really gels into a cohesive whole, but the songs are so awesome that it doesn’t really matter.  For 27 minutes, I literally turned my brain off on the series of rolling hills I was currently running on the treadmill and pretended I was in some dingy backwater bar somewhere listening to some dudes on acoustic instruments playing awesome music and bullshitting with one another between numbers.

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Drills/Easy Run (7k)

After the deluge that poured from the sky yesterday it’s fairly nice out today so I’m taking advantage over my lunch break this afternoon to get out and enjoy a little bit of it.  To ensure I enjoy tit, I’m listening to an old favorite of mine that I haven’t listened to in years, the ‘Starfish‘ album by The Church.

‘Starfish’ represents the 5th studio album by Australian alternative rock band, released in February of 1988.  Known as the band’s big breakthrough album, ‘Starfish’  went gold in America and has remained the band’s most commercially successful release.  The album sold 600,000 copies in the United States alone. and it’s first single ‘Under the Milky Way‘, charted well into the American Top 40, peaking at #24 and #2 on Mainstream Rock Tracks leading to significant exposure of the then relatively underground Australian act.  In Australia the track climbed to #5, and ‘Starfish’  reached #7 on the album charts, the band’s highest positions ever in their home market.

Under the Milky Way‘ was (it still is) definitely my favorite – rockin’ bagpipes n’ all – but it is in no way the sole standout on the album.  The album’s lead-off track ‘Destination‘  was a strong opener and ‘Myrrh‘, the slower paced and much more mysterious of the two, combines a really beautiful piano through the song’s steady pace.  ‘Spark‘, is a vicious, tight rocker that captures some of the best ’60s rock edge and gives it a smart update and the equally strong ‘Reptile‘  is no disappointment either, with an appropriately snaky guitar line and rhythm punch offset against weirdly soothing keyboards.  There’s the strong guitar waltz of ‘Antenna‘ (with great guest mandolin from David Lindley) and the final closing charge ‘Hotel Womb‘  to round the 45 minutes (7k) or so of hopping, skipping and jumping along the Friendship Trail and back through the side roads of rural Ridgeway.

I tried like hell to really get into The Church after this album but no other album really struck a chord with me like this one did.  ‘Sometime Anywhere‘ had it’s moments, but overall this was my introduction and my end with the Aussies.  Soon afterwards I discovered AC/DC, INXS and Midnight Oil anyway, so there was no looking back.

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Fight Club

10428693_10102437043372563_3834228109538848268_nI missed last week seeing as how I was in San Antonio, Texas, but I’m back this week and I’m back with a vengeance.  Let the butt kicking commence with lots of “race pace” intervals with some short sprints thrown in for good measure; something I conjured up during my speed run around Woodlawn Lake last week (click HERE).

With the nicer weather finally here, I might be losing participants to the great outdoors and I certainly can’t blame them, but those who made it tonight would sure be able to hang with the roadies if given the chance (and I couldn’t be prouder).

You can take that shit to the bank!

Tonight’s Playlist:

  • Gallows Pole – Led Zeppelin
  • Devil Woman – John Butler Trio
  • Figure It Out – Royal Blood
  • Madness – Muse
  • Who Made Who – AC/DC
  • Thunderstruck – AC/DC
  • I’ve Been Working – Van Morrison
  • Begging You – Stone Roses
  • Snow White & the Huntsman – Florence & the Machine
  • Hells Bells – AC/DC
  • Greyhound – John Spencer Blues Explosion
  • Guru/Sinnerman – Plants & Animals
  • One Sunday Morning – Wilco
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