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almost warm enough.


I know winter’s not done. But at the moment, it’s almost forgotten.


It’s not really warm enough to drive to work with the windows down. But doing so reminds me that the days when it will be aren’t that far off.

So the windows stay down — even if the heater in the car has to run at the same time — and I’ll start thinking about nights on the porch, smoke from the grill, a cooler next to my seat.
What’s missing?

Oh. The music.


I had one of those moments, the first one of 2008, this morning when I left for work. I’ll have a few more before the weather actually turns enough that I won’t have to keep the heater on.

The warm air rushing through the open windows is a big part of the experience — you can smell spring, even on March 3. As it is with nearly any situation I can imagine, the soundtrack is important as well. I have almost an hour in the car each morning and each evening — undisturbed, uninterrupted, especially if the music is loud enough that I can’t hear the cell phone ringing.

The music can vary widely depending on my mood, but there are a few staples that I seem to come back to, when the moment strikes. Here’s a sample:

“Coconut,” Widespread Panic. I saw Panic play this at IC Light Amphitheater on a sticky July night a couple of years ago. The lyrics aren’t deep, but they evoke all the right things: “Jackie likes the smell of cut grass/He used to play ball on Saturdays/Just playing in the sun.”

“Sugar Magnolia>Scarlet Begonias,” Grateful Dead. A specific version, from Alpine Valley, Wisc., in 1989. “Sugar Mag” is an essential summertime song anyway, but this edition veers quickly off course when the band reaches the first instrumental break and Garcia starts the choppy “Scarlet” intro almost immediately. Unexpected — and a perfect example of what made GD so good.

“The Road to Gila Bend,” Los Lobos. This is a good example of how I always hear music before lyrics — the song is about a Mexican scrambling through the Arizona desert, dodging the border patrol, but what always gets my attention is heavy fuzztone and chugging rhythm.

“Wasting Time (Isla Vista Song),” Animal Liberation Orchestra. Hazy memories of a past life.

“Mexican Radio,” Wall of Voodoo. Pretty specific for me — spring during high school, meeting friends at the park by Griggs reservoir and doing things we shouldn’t have been doing while we were in high school.

“U.S. Blues,” Grateful Dead. Summer shows in sheds all over the eastern United States. The last notes roll out from under the pavilion roof. We stand and cheer for a while, even though we all know they’re not coming back out again.

just listed.

Remember back in November when I successfully completed my first shot at NaBloPoMo? The at-least-one-post-a-day thing that nearly had me in tears a few times while I tried to come up with something worthwhile to say each day?

It’s back. Kind of.

Actually, NaBloPoMo threw us a curve at the beginning of 2008, suggesting that any month would be good for NaBloPoMo … and that things might be made even more interesting by offering a theme each month.

I hadn’t mentioned this before, because I didn’t want anyone to think that I might try to do something crazy like attempt to do this every month. But the list thing was intriguing, and I thought I’d give it a try this month.

You’ll note that today is March 2. You’ll also note that technically,  I blew it already. But I’m going to forge ahead anyway, confident that I’ll come up with enough lists to satisfy the spirit of NaBloPoMo by the time the month is done.

To start, I offer this: The Top Five Reasons Why Uncle Crappy Already Screwed Up NaBloPoMo:

5) My computer was buried in a snowdrift.

4) March Madness struck me a day early.

3) That bottle of Victory’s Baltic Thunder was so good I was unable to concentrate for nearly two full days.

2) Sometimes, Seven Springs is more fun than the internet.

1) The Wife has been sick this weekend, and I’ve spent most of my time trying to be Super Husband while she endures horrible coughing fits.

There’s one thing you can do to help. I’ve started working on a list of potential lists for the month — how’s that for convolution — but I’d be happy to hear suggestions from you about lists you might want to see from me. Leave a comment or send an email — I’ll give almost anything a try.

No. 1 is true, by the way. So is No. 2. And No. 3 is pretty close.