Saturday, December 27, 2008
First, some background. Understand, I'm a musician. I've played before thousands in groups big and small and, on occasion, solo. By the time I was a senior in high school, I was playing Austin clubs. Liberty Lunch, Joe's Generic, etc. I continued playing while in college. It was mostly rock in high school, and branched out into jazz afterwards. Now, it isn't currently my vocation, but for a time, it was a huge part of my life, and music has always meant a lot to me.
And additionally, I was blessed with the opportunity to lead supporters groups for both the local Dallas professional soccer team for ten years and the US Mens National Team in two World Cups as well as numerous qualification matches leading up to them - most often playing snare in a samba band or with other musicians. When you tie in music to the emotion and passion of sports at that level, mixed in with samba and other Latin influences in the stands, on the field and in the music, those were some of the most intense moments of my life. Playing samba, surrounded by hundreds of fans, on the storied Cotton Bowl concourse in celebration of a Dallas win? A full stadium in Kaiserslautern, Germany, with 10,000 of my closest friends as the US played the eventual World Cup champions to a stalemate down to nine men? "Implausible Dreams" indeed.
My tastes in some ways are very sporadic, but in others very similar. "The only thing I'll ever ask of you - you've got to promise not to stop when I say when." Be it Metallica and Rage Against the Machine or Adagio for Strings, make it passionate, make it intense, make it have meaning. As a musician, I appreciate technical ability, but really appreciate someone who not only has technical ability but also is very expressive. Jimi Hendrix comes to mind as probably the best example I can come up with to illustrate that idea.
One of the musicians I have the highest respect for is Stevie Ray Vaughn, and not just because he was from my hometown of Austin and played Texas blues, but rather because he played it with a level of soul that few have ever matched.
And for perspective, I've seen Texas guitar virtuoso Eric Johnson up close and personal - in a room of 150, from about ten feet away. (If you like Texas music, or enjoy quality guitar work, and haven't listened to Eric Johnson, do so.) I've seen great acts like U2, The Police, Metallica, Linkin Park and The Cure, as well as SRV. I've seen great technical acts like Yes, Rush, Stuart Hamm, along with Eric. I've seen emotional acts like NIN, Alanis Morrisette, Indigo Girls, James Taylor, Tori Amos. I've seen legends - Jimmy Paige, Eddie Van Halen, Pink Floyd, Tom Petty.
I say that so you understand the context in which I make these statements. I've been in the presence of - and that close to - greatness before.
Friday night, at the legendary Austin venue, Antone's, I heard an act that blew away any previous musical experience I have ever had: Passion at levels way beyond what I was emotionally ready for. Musicianship and technical skill that I have rarely been exposed to, despite my thirst for music at that level. A synchronicity on stage that you see only in the greatest of acts, the ones who have played together for years, who have overcome all the maturation issues that a band faces when breaking through. "I can't pretend a stranger is a long awaited friend" and all that.
To set the scene a bit more, we were there because Janice's friend, Else Maria, "knew" the band personally and said they were pretty good. Actually, she said she was going and she thought it would be great if we came along. In my mind, I was expecting a pretty good Austin band, like so many others that were talented and skilled, able to play to a crowd well enough to sell a few CDs, waiting for a big record company to notice that the next ZZ Top or Stevie Ray Vaughn was out there, ready to explode on the scene. I mean, it was Antone's after all - you usually don't get slouches in there.
To add to the scene, the earlier act was blues legend Pinetop Perkins. Thirty minutes before the act we came to see took the stage, we were in a packed crowd in THE Austin blues bar, listening to a 95-year-old, graveled-voice blues master. That alone was worth the price of admission. I mean, it was Antone's after all. So while I probably should have been a bit more ready for the quality of the act, I wasn't really paying attention to the signs and portents coming at me. I was frankly just happy to be back in Austin for the holidays, that Janice and my family were getting along, and that we had gotten a chance to meet up with Elsa - someone Janice doesn't see very often but they are very close. The fact that we were in Antone's, getting ready to hear from a band that Elsa Maria knew - always a cool experience.
By the chorus of the first song, they had my attention - way more than what I was expecting. Talented, engaging, passionate....
By the end of the second song, I admitted my surprise to Janice's friend.
By the fifth song, I was asking Janice's friend, "Are you ******* kidding me?!?!?!?"
And when it was all over, I was completely drained. I had been wrung dry, pushed and pulled beyond my envelope of experience. Me, the guy who always wanted more, needed passion in excess - drained.
Who was this act?
Del Castillo, a Latin Rock group from Texas that I found out was amazing anyone who heard them.
To be fair, note that I have always loved classical guitar - the sound and feel of nylon strings rather than steel. And the passion and intensity of Latin music, and the true sense of home that comes with Texas music, has always had a very special place in my heart. I love Texas - its land, its people, its culture - and I think a big part of what makes Texas special is the influence that Mexican and other Latin culture has had in shaping what makes Texas what it is. Throw in the friends and friendships and resulting experiences I've had through soccer (one of the major reasons why I left practicing as an attorney to work for the local Major League Soccer team, FC Dallas), and it is safe to say that I was ripe to be impressed by this group.
I would also say that things like the Gypsy Kings, Los Lobos and Paco de Lucia have always impressed me, but also left me with a sense of "they could do more with that." Even Santana - a band who has done very impressive things with Latin music - has sometimes left me thinking that there was more ground to cover. And not necessarily musically, but that you could add more of a rock element to drive it home, if you will.
But oh my. After Friday night, I am left wanting no more. What an expression of life through music!
As I describe my impressions of the musicians, bear in mind, they are just that: impressions. I don't know them personally - this is just the sense I got from the front row at Antone's Friday night. "One fellow's opinion" and all that.
The Del Castillo brothers - Mark and Rick - are the guitarists, and they are phenomenally talented. And not just in terms of speed or technique. Anyone can play fast and furious. (Well, not anyone, but you know what I mean.) But they use the full range of dynamics - soft, loud, fast, slow, simple, complex, traditional or avant garde.
They alone are worth the price of admission. I was constantly amazed by their solos and how they shaped the music, every moment trying to drink in every note (even at breakneck speed) but also hungering for more. I probably had more than I could handle by their first break, but obviously wasn't going anywhere until they finally called it quits after over two hours.
The key? Every note (and silence) had MEANING. It dripped with intensity, passion, life. And it was at a speed I wasn't expecting, so I never really caught up, emotionally.
And on top of it all, they were having a blast! I've never seen musicians smile so much while playing such intense music for so long. And they have a youthful exuberance that just screams how wonderful life is and can be.
But those are the guitarists. On top of that you have the singer, Alex Ruiz. Imagine Robert Plant, Jim Morrison and Perry Farrell mixed into one, and then give him the same passion, Latin and South Texas perspective that the guitarists bring to the show, but with an added touch of grit. His face, and his singing, is lined with experience. I remember k.d. lang once saying in an interview that, "We're only as deep as what is carved into us" and Alex's singing drips with that sense of reality. When he sings about brotherhood or forgiveness, you get the sense that he has walked the dark sides of those streets and his words have real meaning - belief in the face of reality, rather than naive, blind faith in the goodness of life.
And then there is the rhythm section. We are talking about Latin music, remember? The bassist, Albert Besteiro, is as rock-solid a bass player as I have ever seen, playing those deep, full, rhythmic bass lines that drive the bus that is rock music. And he does it all the while the engine that drives the activity on stage. He is always smiling, always engaging with either other musicians or stage hands or fans. Everyone is his best friend and he makes sure they are all having a blast. His notes were as aggressive as could be without taking center stage or overshadowing the other musicians, and even if he had just stood there, stoically playing the part, I would have been impressed - although it probably wouldn't have had the life that came off the stage.
And then there is the drummer. Last, but by no means the least, Mike Zeoli was the thumping heart that pounded its way throughout the night. Make no mistake, while this is most definitely Latin music, it is also definitely rock, and I'd kill to see Zeoli play anything from Led Zepplin to Metallica. (They actually slipped in what sure sounded to me like four measures of "One" for good measure, and it was a very cool touch.) Not only am I confident he could pull it off, but he could bring his own energy to it. That should give you the scope of what was sitting behind the kit. They had someone else playing some other percussion bits - unfortunately, I can't remember his name (if someone knows it, comment and I'll add it), but he also brought a lot to the table. But clearly, it was an added layer that raised the bar rather than helping Zeoli fill any gaps in his play. Oh, and I was pretty sure I sensed influences of Neil Peart in some of Zeoli's solos - which I'm sure you know warmed my heart.
As for the songs - Each had its own feel - not the over-consistency you get from some artists trying to "define themselves" - yet there was a definite style above and beyond the fact that you had a set instrumentation and a somewhat consistent placement of the back-beats. And it was so refreshing to see a band not bat an eye at long, involved solos in almost every song - and that each solo had its own presence. Again, like the songs themselves, each had their own nuances and differences, but were definitely "their own."
The nice thing I found on the way home listening to the CD - enough of the feel from the solos and the concert makes it to the album. Obviously, they couldn't put all of the solo work on a studio album, but there is enough of it that you don't feel like the CD is a neutered version of the band. I got "Brotherhood", and if you want to check it out on iTunes, listen to the clip of Este Amor and you'll get a touch of Alex's singing and the brothers' guitar playing. If you get or have the album, I'd also throw in Arena Al Viento, Vida Latina and El Corrido De Don Lulai to get a sense of what assaulted me Friday night.
And the stage presence and showmanship? Again, I've seen The Police, U2, Metallica. I've seen bands who grab the audience by the throat - however gently or firmly - and take them for an emotional, passionate ride. Del Castillo (Wiki) is right there with the best of them. I mentioned the atmosphere on stage - like a band of brothers who have come to peace with themselves and enjoy each other's company. Well, they invite the audience into that same atmosphere, but with the added connection of the intensity of the music.
And then there are the times the musicians - especially the guitarists - going into the crowd while they play. For those who don't know Antone's there is a VIP area up some stairs to the left of the stage (from the audience's perspective). At one point, during one of his long, colorful solos, Mark walked up there and gave his wife a simple kiss on the cheek. The cool panache of the moment was most impressive, especially considering that the intensity never wavered. Both Mark and Rick took turns walking through the crowd during their solos, as did Alex from time to time, adding to the personal contact the band has with its audience.
The highlight of the night for me was about halfway through the second set. Mark was doing a solo and it was the first time he had wandered the crowd. Most of the crowd was standing, but there were a few tables set aside for VIPs. One of those were near me, and he walked up and sat down and there I was, leaning over his right shoulder, watching him play music that I had been trying to breath into my soul the whole night. Understand, I was overwhelmed with their music fifteen minutes into the show, so you can imagine how I now felt having better than literally a front row seat.
Eventually, the show was over. I was tired. I was sore. I was emotionally drained. And I loved it. I read up on them, and they are definitely on the radar screen of some people. They have been used for the soundtracks of Kill Bill, vol. II and Once Upon A Time In Mexico - not exactly small ventures. Will they make that jump to true stardom? I have no idea. But if they do, I think they will strike a chord with so many. I mean, if Gypsy Kings can get a hit, surely this band can do the same. And in my humble opinion, if they do, there may be no looking back.
Bear in mind - I'm not a music critic. I am relatively musically knowledgeable, but I'm not trained in the ways of critiquing a band. And I'm here sharing my personal experience, not here to give a critical analysis of their performance. And I certainly wasn't prepared for what I was about to experience.
But that being said, what I've seen of Del Castillo is enough that I will support them in the way that I support Rush. And as I've done here, I'll spread the word to anyone that they are a band worth listening to at least once - with the smiling "warning" that if it strikes a chord, it will strike hard. The last band I had that kind of insight about was Pearl Jam - before they had a single out on the radio or video.....
Del Castillo is the height of what music can be, especially in this vein - it IS Latin Rock - and most certainly capitalize that R.
"Vida Latina Amor" indeed.
For more on Kevin's takes on music, check out Chaotica.
Saturday, October 18, 2008
Going west on I-635, about five miles into the ride, I have to reach into my reserve tank, which, again I've got a five mile buffer so I'm cool, right?
Well, then I'm going north on I-35 about ten miles later and I come across and accident that has traffic backed up for about a mile. I thought I got through it relatively quickly and still had some buffer to go, but then 25 miles into the reserve, I run out of gas......
Short story long, as I'm about a mile into walking my bike about two miles to the next gas station (you're right - it sure could have been worse), I notice a truck pass me and then start backing up. WTH? Then I notice a sports bike in the bed of the truck and realize my good fortune. The gentleman stops, asks what is up and when I tell him I'm short on gas, pulls out a gas can and drops in some. We introduced ourselves - his name is Ron. As we talked, he said he is learning to ride and his brother apparently is pretty good, and he couldn't let another rider get stuck. Needless to say, I thanked him sincerely and wished him the best.
It wasn't until he started to drive off that I realized that this was Karma in action. See my earlier post about Why Motorcyclists Wave. For a variety of reasons, Ron was very helpful today and saved my butt. Thanks tons, Ron! Best wishes! Here is hoping that when it is your time for Karma to come your way, it does with the same speed that you came to my aid today. You're a good man and a good friend in my book.
FWIW, props to all who reach out to help others - it isn't just a motorcycle thing. I just mention it here because it seems one of the communities I know where you really see it in action.
As for the trip, it was a great ride. The guy who suggested we ride is guy I've known for a while and we grab a ride from time to time. This time, Steve called me Thursday or Friday, and I hadn't been planning on riding but had the time and I know we've missed each other in the past, so I jumped on the opportunity.
We took another Shadow of the Valkyries ride - going north of Denton, up to 902 through some back roads, then over to 289 south to 121 over to Tioga and Clark's Outpost for BBQ. Up until 121, it was all new roads for me and it was really cool. (If you want to try it out, look for 3002 east from I-35 and map a route up to 372 and 3496.) Some of the roads were high-twisties, but also not in the best condition.
After a late lunch, we went over to 75 via FM 455 and 543 - my two favorite roads in Texas in large part because they were the first real twisties I ever took (thanks, Mer and Randy and all you Beginner Biker folk). Those roads are still great for turns. Disappointinly, 543 is a little rough for wear with some washout areas, but it still was a good ride. Thanks, Steve - great suggestion and it was great to hit the roads with you again.
So, to sum up - Texas is still beautiful for riding, and Karma is still good currency.
Coda - so it is now 2012, and nothing in this post has changed. Texas is still beautiful for riding, and Karma is definitely still good currency.
Thursday, July 31, 2008
Every once in a while, especially on Twitter (drumrboy93) and Facebook (kevin.lindstrom1), I'll mention El Capitan, usually in reference to an FC Dallas game.
What is El Capitan you ask?
See Wiki - and yes, I'm the one that fires it. As described in the Wiki entry, it is a Civil War Era, muzzle-loading mountain howitzer. El Capitan ain't no two shotgun shells and a pull-string, that is for sure.
Love the smell of gunpowder. Smells like . . . victory!
Saturday, July 26, 2008
For now, a few things. First and foremost, if you are a new rider, learn as much as you can. Motorcycling can be a great experience, but it does take more than just hoping on and going. It certainly is more involved than driving an automatic transmission car, truck or van.
The statistics about new riders is awful - a large portion of motorcycle fatalities happen in the first year of riding - so learn what you need to so that you don't join those statistics. (The other large factor is riding drunk...)
A great resource for that is BeginnerBikes.org. It is a great community of riders who are either new and learning or experienced and willing to share their experience in a positive way. I can't recommend it enough.
If you have specific questions, you are welcome to email me.
Also, take a look at one of my most popular articles, Why Motorcyclists Wave.
Beginning Riders: Get In The Saddle (my original BR resource page) - Beginnerbikers.org
More advanced Riders: Highway Child (my original resource page w/ info about me) - Beginner and Beyond.com
Get In The Saddle has a number of good sections, including stuff about information sources for bike evaluations, insurance options, used bike evaluation tools, along with a number of notes about how I learned to ride and the things that challenged me and the things that helped me. Ideally, GITS is an all-encompassing resource page for beginning riders.
Beginnerbikers.org is a wonderful internet discussion site that has a bunch of great contributors. Especially for a beginning rider who doesn't have people they personally know to ask questions of, or if you're just looking for a community that has a positive attitude about riding (have fun, be safe), it is a wonderful place to check in to.
Highway Child was my original website and chronicles how I got into riding, a number of the notes and comments from GITS but in a more raw form as a lot of it was written as it was happening. The GITS stuff is more condensed. It also includes Stephanie's Corner, a section of websites geared towards women riders.
Beginner and Beyond.com is a website that is - as the name implies - for beginning and more advanced riders. It includes some of the Beginner Bikers stuff, but also has stuff for riders that have been around the block a few times, so to speak.
I intend on revising GITS and Highway Child through this website down the road, but for now, here is a good starting point.
Also, I came across an interesting website out of Oregon - HinesSight. An interesting set of (wait for it....) in-Sights! (Sorry, couldn't help myself.) Seriously, very cool take on the world.
Thursday, July 17, 2008
Motorcycle riders wave to each other. It usually is a small thing - a simple raise of a few fingers or nod of the head in a lot of instances. This article includes some of my thoughts on this great practice.
It has always given me a sense of community and never ceases to put a smile on my face. It means we're brothers and sisters on the road.
Today, though, it became a lot more - a reminder of what it really is all about.
I was riding home from work when I saw a guy riding a Harley coming into the intersection from my left. He waved, and as I was holding down the clutch with my hand, I just nodded. Then he entered the intersection to turn left in front of me. His front tire lost pressure, his bike lost contact with the road and he dropped the bike.
It took me about three seconds to really get what had just happened. Once it sunk in, I pulled my bike to the median and went over to him. As bad as things can be when you drop a bike, he was relatively okay. But I stood with him and made sure everything was okay. We checked out the bike and noted the scrapes and scratches, and then he got his bike back up and I followed him down the road to a gas station where he refilled his front tire. We talked a bit, making sure that he was good to ride home, etc.
That experience was a bit startling, but not what really drove home to me the issue of why motorcycle riders wave. What drove that home was one of the stories he shared - about a night where he was basically ridden off the road by a van and left behind in oncoming traffic, and about how no one stopped to help until two motorcyclists stopped and helped get him out from under his bike and out of the road.
My point? In many instances, we're all each other has. I've stopped a number of times for riders who look like they might be in trouble. This is the first time for someone who had dropped their bike, and I'm damn glad I did. Thinking back, I am sure I could have handled a situation like that on my own, but I'm sure I would appreciate having someone who understood riding (or even just someone to make sure I was okay) there to have my six, so to speak.
On the rest of the way home, I saw a number of riders. Bikes of all kinds - cruisers, crotch rockets, touring bikes. And every time someone waved, I could feel the camaraderie - and the underlying "when we waive, we celebrate enjoying riding together, but we also say 'I've got your six', too."
So if you ride - thanks. Thanks for being a part of that family that takes care of each other.
If you don't ride, please, watch out for the motorcycles out there. Car and truck drivers have a tendency to not notice motorcycles because they are more focused on the larger vehicles like themselves. I'm asking you to be proactive in noticing the motorcycles out there, and if you happen to see someone on a bike in trouble, consider checking to see if they are okay. The vast majority of the riders out there are not the stereotypical biker gang dude, but rather people who have found the joy of riding motorcycles.
If you are considering taking up motorcycling, PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE consider taking a Motorcycle Safety Foundation course. The VAST majority of serious motorcycle accidents happen in the first year of a person taking up riding. Reduce those odds by taking a MSF course and then riding carefully for at least six months.
If you want more information, take a look at my old "Get in the Saddle - A Motorcycle Rider Beginner Basics" page. It has a lot of solid information about how to evaluate bikes, links to resources, etc. Some of them are outdated, and I plan on doing a revised version here on this Blogspot page, but for now, it is still a useful page.
Also, in checking out articles about riders and waiving, I found an old friend, so to speak - BeginnerBikers.org! This was a wonderful resource from when I started riding. It included a forum that was great for discussing all things a learning rider needed to see and read and talk about. I met friends there who rode with me in the Hill Country - what a great ride! Unfortunately, that version of the organization apparently hit a road bump or two and was offline for a bit, but apparently it resurfaced and is back, stronger than ever. I HIGHLY recommend it to any rider with two years experience or less, and would even recommend it for experienced riders who just want to stay in touch.
Keep the shinny side up, folks. And remember - when riders wave, it not only means "ain't this cool?", but also "I've got your back."
By the way, there was a follow-on article that happened soon after the events that inspired this post. It resulted in this article, "Karma = Good (Motorcycle Version)."
Saturday, June 21, 2008
If not, what rock are you stuck under, and what do we need to get you out from under it?
ESPN and ABC could not have asked for a better year to take this great tournament into mainstream America. What incredible games. It isn't too late to start following the games - they are in the quarterfinals now and if things continue at this pace, people are going to start dying of heart attacks from all the incredible drama.
As usual, I have made some more additions to most of my pages, including the page about Janice and her radio show, my Dallas Stars page Cygnus X-1, and the US Soccer Links page.
FWIW, I transitioned my June 9 entry into a mini-Rangers page. I also added a few things to the links on the right - including some basic stuff I use regularly (CNN for news, the Dallas Morning News and Fort Worth Star Telegram for general local sports, Weather.com, etc., and some general working links like MapQuest, Wikipedia, Google).
For now, take a look at the following pages:
Janice and The Music Therapy Show
Cygnus X-1 (Dallas Stars)
Neil Peart Condolences Page
US Soccer Links Page (a bit under construction still, but recently revised)
Texas A&M University Sports Page
Soon to come/under construction (current link to old page):
Motorcycle Beginner Basics Page
Chaotica (my music)
I don't plan on updating The Red Book (originally about the Dallas Burn, now FC Dallas) as I work for the team and I'm going to leave that stuff up to the official team sources, the media and the fans.
I also will probably not update the original idea that sparked Implausible Dreams, my World Cup Resource page, as I probably won't have time to. If that changes, I'll consider it. But for now, use the US Soccer Links page to get access to that stuff.
Here is the original post, "Implausible Dreams Returns!" It contains a more detailed description of why we're back.
For those so interested, here is the link to my old Main Page. And then there is the link to my REALLY old Main Page.
For those visiting for the first time or otherwise not familiar with my old site, here is a (somewhat) brief summary.
"Why Implausible Dreams?" THIS is why. I'm pretty happy that I've been able to experience a number of them come true, including a number of USA soccer triumphs on three continents and the construction of an incredible soccer specific venue in the DFW MetroPlex, among others.
As mentioned above, the original idea for Implausible Dreams was to put together a World Cup Resource for the 2002 World Cup, and things just grew from there.
Monday, June 9, 2008
And now we're deeper into the 2012 season and we know the following: Yu is a good pitcher, the Rangers are a good team (although the torrid pace of April has slowed some) and the Angels are 6.5 games back. Lots of players are locked in for the near future and we're ready for another run at the playoffs. Anything can happen, but all the indicators are pointing towards another deep run.
So we're just dipping our toes into the 2012 season. Good news, Yu has intestinal fortitude, Nefti made a great first impression (and has yet to give up a run as a starter in the Majors), the Rangers offense can manufacture runs and score in bunches. Bad news, say it ain't so, Joe! Two losses for the Rangers and he has both. All told, an overall good start to the season.
On the other hand, the team that claimed all off-season they were going to re-take the West, which led to this whole "huge rivalry" discussion in the national media? The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim? Yeah, they're already in last place in the division and 2.5 games back of the Rangers. I know it is very very very early, but that ain't a good way to start off, boys.
It was a bit hectic this past winter, with a few big moves, none bigger than the addition of pitching phenom Yu Darvish from Japan. A tall, athletic right-hander, the Hurling Darvish was scouted extensively by the Rangers throughout 2011 and the team made a move to acquire his rights then sign him for the 2012 season. When they closed the deal, Texas now had a pitcher who claims 7 separate pitches. Scary thing is, upon review, that is probably an accurate assessment.
The addition of Yu Darvish was thought to counterbalance the loss of CJ Wilson to - of all teams - the LA LA LAs. Oh, I mean, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. I joke about their name, but their team isn't one. Adding Wilson to an already solid rotation, then adding Albert Pujols among a number of other front office moves, the Angels have stated very clearly that they aren't going to take the Rangers' improvement lying down.
It should be quite a wild ride in the west this season!
The Rangers also added Joe Nathan as a closer, moving Feliz into the 5-spot in the rotation. With Colby Lewis, Derrick Holland, Matt Harrison, Darvish and Feliz, Texas has a good, mostly young rotation, with Ogando and Feldman in the wings should any of those starts falter.
The lineup is basically the same, and that is a good thing.
The Angels have said they want the West back. They are going to have to Come And Take It, and it ain't gonna' be easy.
I didn't get around to writing about this season, but it basically was 2010 2.0 - won the West, beat Tampa Bay in the first round, but then beat Detroit rather than the Yankees to make the World Series again. It would be another year without a World Series victory, but the team played a brilliant series with St. Louis and it took an amazing comeback from the Cardinals to take the Series.
If nothing else, 2011 proved that 2010 was anything but a fluke, and that your Texas Rangers were here to stay - now as one of the best teams in all of baseball, and comfortable with the expectations that come with that.
October 18, 2010 - Pre-game
But the bullpen, while redeeming themselves to a large degree, didn't completely erase the concerns, and now you have two of the best post-season pitchers in the game going head-to-head - anything is possible. Tonight has the potential to be a heck of a game - and is huge in terms of where this series is headed.
For the most part, the Rangers got out of the first two games what they wanted - proof that they not only deserved to be in the ALCS, but that they could very well win it. The Rangers slogan went from "It's Time" to "It's On!" But all that means is that the Yankees are now on notice that they can take the Rangers starting pitching for granted at their peril. Same for the offense.
Tonight is definitely a huge-swing game. Win this game, and either team is in the driver's seat. Lose, and it is panic-just-a-little time.
So get out there, Texas - show what you're made of!
October 16, 2010 Update
As for my thoughts going into the game, I don't think Cruz' out in the first falls into the "too aggressive" category - how often does a wild pitch bounce so hard off the wall?
Obviously, CJ showed he can shut down the Yankees for the most part. And the Rangers can get to anyone, even CC Sabathia. So those are good things going forward.
But between Oliver and Young, you sure would have expected more from these veterans than what we got from them in the 8th. Other than that (and a few other shaky pitching performances), the Rangers did everything they wanted to do.
So lots of huge positives thrown away. Now their backs are completely against the wall. Lose Game Two, and Lee won't really matter.
So let's see what you've got, Rangers.
October 15, 2010 Update
This is the Texas Rangers team I had always wanted to see. Pitching, defense, timely/situational hitting.
It is one thing to hope to see it, to know it is possible. It is something entirely different to see it put in practice - in the playoffs no less!
But now we have ourselves a thing. Called the American League Championship Series. Against the Yankees.
"Big Time" indeed.
So here are some thoughts and observations going into tonight's huge game and the rest of the series.
I think it is all about Game One. CJ v. CC. With Cliff Lee pitching Game Three and available for at least Game Seven (if necessary), a win in Game One puts the favored Yankees under immense pressure. Right now, it seems they have a sense that they are heavy favorites, and think it is a fair evaluation. Losing Game One to CJ would shatter that confidence and change the tone of the series. It would probably excise some playoff- and Yankee-demons from The Ballpark in Arlington and inflame an already passionate Rangers fan-base.
I worry about the Rangers aggressive base-running. Not that it shouldn't be done, but that they might try too often, at the wrong times, trying to be more than what they need to be. What do they need to be? One of the best teams in the AL in 2010 - and if they play within themselves, it will be a heck of a series between two amazing baseball teams. Yes, you can still be aggressive at the right times (Elvis, Vlad). Just don't be aggressive at the wrong times (Cruz) because unlike the Rays, the Yankees probably aren't going to make defensive errors.
I also worry about the Yankees seeing how the Rangers bats responded to junk in Games Three and Four of the ALDS.... How much of the series win over the Rays was simple matchups? Was it as simple as the Rangers beat the fastball pitchers and lost to the off-speed pitchers...? I don't think so, but we'll just have to see.
I think Cliff Lee has no choice but to continue to be his absolutely amazing self. Yes, technically he could be slightly off, lose (he is going up against this Andy Pettitte guy...) and not lose much luster. But he isn't that guy. He is the Michael Jordan/Lance Armstrong "I don't lose" guy. And he simply isn't going to have an off game. If the Rangers lose a game Lee pitches in, it is because the Ranger bats don't find a way to beat the Yankees pitching.
So with that in mind, back to tonight - CJ, PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE continue your Cliff Lee impersonation. Throw strikes, throw strikes, throw strikes. Do that, and the Rangers have a chance to continue this amazing season.
Win Game One, with Cliff Lee on the horizon, the Rangers would be completely in the drivers seat in this series. Frankly, win either of the first two games and the Rangers are in good shape. Winning Game Two is possible, but harder and wouldn't have the momentum that winning Game One would have.
So Mr. Wilson, do us proud. Rangers, bring out the Claw and Antlers, play Wash-ball. Pitch by the Maddux book, hit by the Hurdle book, and let's see how far we can take this thing!
I'm okay with no big move for a pitcher because I'd rather bet on two of Holland, Feliz and a few others paying out over six years rather than knowing we'd have Halladay for a year and a half. After seeing what Feliz can bring, and what Holland did on Thursday, I think that is a good bet. (Thank you, Mark T and the Braves!)
I'll just admit that I'm a little sad to see the potential dream season come back to Earth a bit. Sure, things can change. A series sweep of the Angels and/or Boston and we're back in it. I'm just not sure that a team that is young and new to this whole playoff race business is going to have the endurance for it.
On the other hand - and this is my key for this season - it is good for this team to grow as a team and learn this process AS a team. The Bulls had to go through Detroit and I think they were better for it. Same for a number of teams who were significant champions. Hopefully this is the beginning of a run where the AL is dominated by the Angels, Rangers, Yankees and Boston. I'm okay with that.
But to be at THAT level, you can't just pull something together overnight. See the Marlins, Rays, etc. There has to be a core, a foundation.
And with players like Salty, Elvis, Ian, etc., I think we definitely have that. I'd rather be slower developing and miss the playoffs this year with the chance of long-term success on one hand than blow our wad this season on the other. We're one of the biggest sports markets in the country with a great ballpark, for crying out loud. And Texas (the state) is known for good baseball. There is absolutely no reason why the Texas Rangers can't be one of the premier teams in baseball.
That's my story, and I'm stickin' to it.
Late July 2009 Update
What in the Wide Wide World of Sports is a goin' on hea'? - Slim Pickens
I feel like Annie from Bull Durham during the Bulls' winning streak (you know the line I'm talking about) - although in more of a just-baseball kind of way. The Rangers defense and pitching is phenomenal, but their bats can't seem to hit enough. And will the Angels lose a game sometime? Seriously!
It looks as if the Rangers are just going to have to catch the Angels by beating them head-to-head because rare is the day when the Angels lose of late. Hey, props to them because they have lost Vlad and Torii for stretches, and haven't missed a beat.
Interestingly, it looks like the Wild Card might be in play, as well. What is MLB going to do if the Wild Card doesn't come out of the AL East for once?
I take confidence from a stat I heard yesterday - that the Rangers have the best record in baseball against winning teams. I like the sound of that not only for the playoff race, but also for the playoffs themselves. But yes, let's get there first.
And we're just about to start August, too. Fun, fun, fun!
July 2009 Update
Oy. Scary June, there, huh? It would appear that the Rangers have clawed their way out of that mini-slump and just recently swept the Tampa Bay Rays (still not 100% comfortable with the new name....) Now they go into the lion's den and play the Angels in California. One win is pretty much needed from a confidence stantpoint, but winning the series would be another significant shot across the Angel's bow.
June 2009 Update
Interesting how things change in a year.
Last June, 2008, I wrote the following:
Earlier, I had asked if I was going to have to put a Rangers page together. In typical Rangers fashion, they told me to tap them brakes just a touch. I'm not trashing the idea, but I am setting it on the back burner for now. Let's not have to drop a starting pitcher because he can't get along with the rest of the team first, huh?
This June, the Rangers seem to have something going that is more than just a hot set of bats. Efforts to improve the pitching - especially the starting pitching - and the defense have yielded a team that has held the best record in the American League more than once this season, and has been in first place in the AL West - by more than three games - for much of May and June. They even survived the issues that were eerily similar to the Sidney Ponson episode last year (quality starting pitcher with "team chemistry challenges") - this time they found a way to keep the pitcher (Padilla). At least for now.
My question is this - what happens later in the hot summer? Do the Rangers take their foot off the starting pitcher pedal and ease the workload so that they don't burn out? Is a fresh bullpen more able to handle that added work? Does the focus on defense continue?
There are other questions - how aggressive are the Rangers at trying to stay in first place/try to win in the playoffs? Do they make trades for an extra bat, etc.? (I'd prefer they let this group learn together - win or lose.) And what I consider to be the biggest question, especially if the pitching and defense continue to be successful - when/how do they transition from a free-swinging club to one that can manufacture runs. No significant playoff success can be had until that happens - at least, in my personal opinion.
But all of that aside, it is great to see this team playing well and making improvements. Tip of the cap mostly to Nolan Ryan for injecting confidence and professionalism into the ballclub. And "well done" to Washington, Daniels, Maddux and Rudy. This time it looks like we might have the foundation for the kind of team North Texas deserves.
The womens' soccer team should continue to dominate.
The baseball and softball teams should also translate well.
The men's and women's basketball teams have done really well of late, including the national title two seasons ago, although the men struggled a little last year.
The gridiron football team has a new coach - this time from the University of Houston. He should be able to recruit well, but the adjustment to playing in the best conference in college football is a big one.
As you can probably tell, in general, this is more of a personal page - allowing me to tap into the sports I like the most, so forgive me for not having some of the other sports listed here.
Go here for the overall page.
Thursday, May 15, 2008
On the Stars front, we're watching the team that knocked us out of the playoffs tear Pittsburgh a new one. Looks like we lost to the team that is going to win the Stanley Cup and unless Pittsburgh can muster up a win in Detroit - a place it has yet to score a playoff goal - we will have been the team that gave them the hardest run.
Am I going to have to put a Rangers page together? I want them to do well, of course, but they have been mired in mediocrity for so long.... yet now they are not only above .500, but are close to being second in the division. I'm not ready to declare them the next dynasty just yet, but they sure seem to be doing the right things - patient hitting, pitching, defense, etc. And it sure seems like the minor league teams are doing well also.
|FC Dallas||MLS||General Soccer|
|3rd Degree||Pro Soccer Talk ||Fox Sports|
|Big D Soccer||CNNSI|
|The Inferno||USA Today|
|Guardia Roja||Goff Blog||Yahoo|
|Los Toros||Ives Blog|
|Big Soccer||Big Soccer||MLS Teams below|
|Official||NASL ||WPS (ceased operations)|
|WPSL Elite |
|Sams Army|| |
US Open Cup
|American Outlaws||Fan Page|
|American Soccer History Archives||NTPSA|
|National Soccer Hall of Fame||CONCACAF|
|Dave Wasser's Historical Soccer Videos||FIFA|
|Team (Official)||Big Soccer||Supporters Group(s)|
|CD Chivas USA||CD Chivas USA||Legion 1908|
|Chicago Fire||Chicago Fire||Section 8||Ultras|
|Colorado Rapids||Colorado Rapids||Centenial Firm||Class IV|
|Columbus Crew||Columbus Crew|
|DC United||DC United||Barra Brava||Screaming Eagles|
|Houston Dynamo||Houston Dynamo||Texian Army||El Battalion|
|Kansas City Wizards||Kansas City Wizards||Mystics|
|Los Angeles Galaxy||Los Angeles Galaxy||LA Riot Squad||Galaxians|
|New England Revolution||New England Revolution||Midnight Riders|
|Real Salt Lake||Real Salt Lake||Loyalists|
|Red Bull New York||Red Bull New York||Empire SC|
|San Jose EarthQuakes||San Jose EarthQuakes||The Casbah||Club Quake|
|Toronto FC||Toronto FC||Red Patch Boys|
|Seattle Sounders||Seattle Sounders||Emerald City Supporters|
Here is a link to the old Soccer Links page.
Sunday, May 11, 2008
Now, at the time and even now, I get that. And certainly, I and most of his fans want to respect that.
On the other hand, while certainly not as directly affected as he was, I think many of us were touched by Neil and that his experiences impacted us as well. As such, I put together the Neil Peart Condolences Page. It was designed to be a voice for those who wanted to share their thoughts and feelings about Neil and Rush and how they impacted our lives.
The original page detailed a few more things, including the incidents in question and Neil's journey after that, up to the writing of the book Ghost Rider. And I had a number of people email me their thoughts that I have shared on that page.
Unfortunately, I lost the ability to update the page a few years back and until recently didn't have the avenue to include other submissions I received. Thankfully, now I can. I will periodically update this section of my page with new entries. A note about entries - which you can submit via email to email@example.com: Please proofread them well as I am going to be a reluctant editor.
For now, though, please take a look at the original page and let me know your thoughts.
Monday, April 28, 2008
Based on inspiration from FlyLady and Jonathan Roche, Janice has put together what looks to be a great information source for people who are interested in Music Therapy through a Blog and Radio Show. The radio show is called The Music Therapy Show with Janice Lindstrom and airs via Blog Talk Radio every Friday at 11:00 CT. I was really excited about its potential because there isn't anything like it out there, and she is a pretty educated person when it comes to music therapy - and as I had hoped, she has done great! Take a look at her blog to get more information.
She was kind enough to let me write, perform and record the music for her show. Thanks to Ace Radio Live of The Footie Fetish Show fame for the technical help in getting it uploaded! It was pretty cool to get back in the swing of things in terms of playing and writing.
The intro piece is called Marie, and is something I wrote in college. Completed, it will be a full instrumental piece with drums, guitar and a lead instrument (probably bass), but right now it is just the basic bass line. Mostly this is because we just need a bit of an intro piece and nothing too complex, and it was easy to record the bass line.
The exit piece is College Station Blues, and is another piece I wrote in college. I'm still playing with ideas for the name a bit, but College Station Blues will work for now. Again, it is just an exit piece. I haven't written a lead or words to it yet.
For the May 17 show, I did another guitar break - "Texas 287." It is a song that I've had for a while and although I've never put lyrics to it, it always gave me a feeling of movement, of hope - sort of like a road trip. I've taken a lot of road trips on Texas highways, and one of my favorite is Texas 287 that goes up northwest on the way to Colorado and New Mexico. We're going to use it for the break before the History of Music Therapy segment.
For the May 31 show, I introduced another piece, Open Skies. It is similar in feel and idea to Texas 287.
I'm hoping to record a few other things to use as breaks, assuming Janice likes them. It has been a lot of fun working with Janice on this - taking my journalism background and putting it to good use on the blog and radio show. She comes up with the creative and we work on the logistics together. There have been some understandable growing pains (of course as neither of us has actually done a radio show before), but mostly it has been very cool to work with her on this.
Saturday, February 16, 2008
Also, I've added a new fan-page/blog - The Sign Girls. It contains some cool stuff from some fans who really care about the team and aren't afraid to show it!
Official | NHL Official Page |
ESPN | Stars Team Page | Schedule/Results | Roster | Stats
ESPN | NHL Page | Standings | Scores | Schedule
Stars Fan |
I also wrote an article a while back looking at potential realignment options.
And Hicks decides that he wants to go with GM Joe, and Nieuwendyk goes with Marc Crawford as his new coach. See my blog post for the Dallas Stars Podcast for most of my current thoughts about the changes. I'm not sure it is fair to Tippett as he seemed to be given some pretty tough cards to play, but that is life in the big city. Tipp will be back and I'm glad for all that he did for the Stars.
2008-2009 Season - Well, at least it is over
2008-2009 Season - so far, not so good...
Back to Reality
Stars Win! Stars Win! Stars Win!
Game Five - Dallas 2, @ Detroit 1!
And we have ourselves a series. It took a lot of hard sledding, and needless to say, it ain't over yet. But rather than just win one game for pride on Wednesday, the Stars have now injected themselves into the series. No time to think about winning the series just yet - now is the time to focus on Game Six and nothing further. Especially considering that it has taken everything the Stars have just to get to this point.
So let's reflect on what we've seen so far. Wednesday, we saw the Stars play their guts out and dominate the game. Today, we saw them play their guts out and eek out a win. But in both situations, it took maximum effort for 60 minutes to get the wins. How much more do the Stars have in the tank at this point?
The other thing - both games relied on Dallas getting the lead. Does Dallas have to keep Detroit from scoring first to win?
What is new?
Last year, the Dallas Stars Havoc Fanatics were formed. Rather than do the gimmicks that have been done by the Dallas Mavericks, etc., the Stars decided to try to rustle up some real rowdy fans – and it worked! The Fanatics were born. Located in Section 332 (sometimes called the Asylum by Stars color analyst Razor Reaugh), these fans are as active as any fans you’ll see supporting any team anywhere. They’ve borrowed and stolen from traditional hockey fans, soccer fans and good ol’ American sports stuff to create a fun atmosphere for every game.
But make no mistake – this isn’t about fun. It is about supporting the Stars – it just happens to be a lot of fun to go all out for your team. I’ve had a lot of experience doing this for the Dallas Burn and FC Dallas, and when I saw the Fanatics for the first time last season, I fell head over heels in love. Imagine my surprise when they reached out to me via my job with FC Dallas! Now I get to be a fan again, and I’m having a blast.
HERE is their website – check it out!
Feel free to email me if you have any questions or comments about what the Fanatics are or how to join.
Well well well. What have we here? Is it the rebirth of the Stars as a perennial Western Conference power?
It sure smells like it. While we've had some tough times since after the 2000 Stanley Cup Playoffs, and especially since the 2003 playoffs when we last won a playoff series before this year, this year has seen us defeat our divisional nemesis, the Anaheim Ducks - who just happened to be the defending champs - as well as the division winners, the San Jose Sharks.
While we're in quite a dog-fight with the Detroit Red Wings and need to get a win Monday night, winning the past two series sure seems like vindication for Marty Turco and Dave Tippett. It sure feels like a team that is in its ascendancy.
Here you will find my favorite Dallas Stars players with a bit about them and why they are my favorites. Currently this is a simplified version of what I want to have in the end, but you have to start somewhere, right?
Jere Lehtinen – Gritty, aggressive, with the ability to score. He is what I would want to be if I were a hockey player. I love the idea of outworking the other team, but not just being a grinder – being someone who can put a bulge in the old onion bag, too. He is my favorite hockey player in the NHL for that reason.
Brenden Morrow – similar to Jere, but also the captain of the team and seems to have learned at the foot of his father in law, the great Guy Carbonneau. I love the ties to hockey tradition with this team – all the Canadiens personnel who helped make the Stars what they were in the 1990s. Brenden seems to me to be a legacy player of those times.
Steve Ott – Cut from the same cloth as Jere, although not everyone is blessed to be that good. On the other hand, he has a nastiness to his game that seems to get under the skin of other teams and while not necessarily a fighter, isn't afraid to drop the gloves.
Sergi Zubov – While he isn’t a grinder, he is probably the smartest and most skilled player on the ice and I love watching him make things happen.
Stephane Robidas - NEW - WOW. Where did this guy come from? Tough as nails, making huge plays on offense and defense. Incredible. I'd put him in my top three right now, with Morrow and Jere.
Stu Barnes - NEW - he has shown a whole heck of a lot in the first two rounds, and I wonder how much of the team's recent struggles relate to his absence...
So thanks for checking my website out. As always, comments are welcome. How can I make this site better? What do you agree with? Disagree with? Fire away!
Check out my other sites as well. Right now, it is just the main page, Implausible Dreams, but I hope to have the other sites I mention on that page up and running over the next few weeks.
Why “Cygnus X-1”?
As with some of my other pages, this one has a Rush theme as Cygnus X-1 is one of their songs and mentioned in another. The song itself starts with a great rif that the band builds into, and the lyrics are about a journey to – and through - that black hole. By the way, HERE is the original version of that site.
Sunday, February 10, 2008
Keep an eye here as I'm going to create a blog page for each of my main pages with links to the old ones as necessary. And as always, comments are appreciated.
Here is the link to my old Main Page.
For those visiting for the first time or otherwise not familiar with my old site, here is a (somewhat) brief summary.
For starters, as to the question, "Why Implausible Dreams?" THIS is why. I'm pretty happy that I've been able to experience a number of them come true, including a number of USA soccer triumphs on three continents and the construction of an incredible soccer specific venue in the DFW MetroPlex, among others.
I've got a number of interests - not the least of which is soccer, but also motorcycling, hockey, Rush (the progressive rock band, not the radio guy) and Texas A&M University athletics (especially, football, soccer, baseball and basketball). I'll be creating a new page for each of those, especially the Neil Peart Condolences Page, as I've had a number of submissions that I haven't been able to publish.
Soccer - Dallas Burn/FC Dallas, USSF
There have also been a LOT of changes on the soccer front. The Dallas Burn is now FC Dallas. Jason Kreis and Eddie Johnson are gone, Pizza Hut Park has been completed, and I'm no longer just a fan, but now actually work for the team. To those who get it - Yes, it is as cool as it sounds. To those who may not - imagine working for the NFL in the late 1950s or early 1960s and being there when things were about to explode. (Implausible Dreams, indeed!)
Needless to say, I'm not going to be providing any inside information about FC Dallas. You won't see anything here that isn't already public information - and I would guess that the Blogger people wouldn't like sales information on this page, so that won't be here either.
The main page I'll be updating there, though, is my USA Association Football Links page. At the time, it had a number of great links to all the cutting edge information. And it still does in some cases. As you probably can imagine, though, over the past four years enough has changed that a few are no longer around and I don't have a few of the newer sites on there. I want to get the format right, so it might take me a little time to get that one republished.
Dallas Stars/Stars Fanatics
There have also been some changes on the hockey side of things, too. I'm now a part of the Stars Fanatics - the active fans who stand in Section 332 and make noise at the games. You'll see a number of additions to that page, but for now check out their site and also the Stars Podcast page.
Popular Pages and a few loose ends
The Neil Peart Condolences Page is one of my most visited sites. Along with the Neil Peart page, my other popular site is the Motorcycle Rider Beginner Basics page, and I'll be updating that as well. There are some other music and motorcycle pages, as well as the Texas A&M University sports page, that I'll have to look at in terms of signal to noise ratio.
One new thing that is a part of my life is Texas Hold 'Em. LOVE that game. I'll probably have to put a page together for that as well.
As for now, though, let me breathe a sigh of relief as now I can get my pages current again.