September 30, 2007

When It’s Springtime In Alaska

Where have I been in the past week? My head was buried in the dirt for much of it, embarrassed for my Nittany Lions after talking them up so much.

And after another loss yesterday, what can you really say? Anthony Morelli has done all he can in the quarterback spot—it’s hard to criticize a college player because he’s not a professional athlete, he’s young, and he’s uncompensated for his performance on the field and whatever he shit he takes off the field. But I don’t think all of this is his fault—it’s his coaches. We’ve seen the Paterno Quarterback Club before—it is rare that one of them will rise up. Michael Robinson did this, and perhaps that’s why so many expected big things from Morelli. I shared some of these thoughts with PC—he said, “Yeah, but remember everyone said that two years ago and then you won the Orange Bowl.” That’s true. But Paterno hasn’t adjusted the game plans one bit this season—nothing exemplifies this more than out their play against Michigan. All we had to do was open up the offense and spread it out. And we sure didn’t do a damned thing. I love JoePa, he’s done incredible things for Penn State and its football program, and he’s a legend of the game. Hell, he’s one of my heroes. But I’m not going to be an apologist anymore—much of this is his fault. A quarterback’s confidence is based on how much confidence his coach has in him. Unfortunately, Joe plays to not lose. He hasn’t been playing to win. And that’s how Morelli has been playing. Those three interceptions in Illinois, I think, were his attempt to win, but he wasn’t able to step up, mainly because JoePa has never fully dropped the leash. And now, I fear that we’re in for a long season. Special thanks to PC for calling me and giving play-by-play throughout the last half of the game. Seems Comcast can't get The Big Ten Network and that both parties are assholes. But PC is getting it in Chicago, which is great. Also, I'd like to formally apologize for ESPN analyst Kirk Herbstreit. He talked up Penn State before the Michigan game, ranked us at number five, and picked us to win the championship. We made Kirk Herbstreit look like an asshole the past two weeks. Kirk, thank you for believing in us, and I'm sorry. By the way, I had no idea that you are an avid Star Wars fan.

Coconut Grove – The Lovin’ Spoonful

Autumn Almanac – The Kinks

Rings – Cymarron

Please Don’t Talk About Me When I’m Gone – Nina Stern

Piece of My Heart – Erma Franklin

Saginaw, Michigan – Lefty Frizzell

When It’s Springtime in Alaska – Johnny Horton

Don’t Hang No Halos On Me – Connie Eaton

White Lightening – George Jones

Gather ‘Round – Love
Note on this song: discovered it at The Rising Storm. Check out that blog (it's linked on our side) for some amazing songs.

There’s a great essay in the New York Times today by Stephen King. I may not always love the man’s fiction, but his “Pop of King” column in Entertainment Weekly is first-rate and I always enjoy hearing his thoughts on writing. The essay laments the state of the short story—it seems Uncle Stevie thinks that most stories read as if they were written for teachers, writers, or would-be-writers. The stories don’t make you want to know what happens next—which, as I remember, is what made me first love the art form of storytelling so much. My grandmother knows this—it’s how she tells stories. There is suspense, humor, drama, and a beginning, middle, and end. But above all, her stories are entertaining. And that’s what writing should be—there’s an audience who just wants a good story. Of course that audience is shrinking by the day—as King rightfully points out, many people who read literary journals like Zoetrope of Ecotone are teachers, writers, or would-be-writers. And yet, many of these people, it seems, don’t consider the actual story of a story.

I could count on one hand how many times people told me to write a good story in graduate school—however, that story is much different for undergrad. Sure, there’s a place for lyricism, for a stunning poetic sentence, but if you can’t tell me a story, why should I listen or read what you’re offering? And more often than not, many can’t tell a story and their lyricism is hazy and abstruse—it’s like looking out a window while having cataracts on your eyes. King’s reference to Bob Dylan’s line about “the true meaning of a pear” was hilarious but strangely relevant. I wonder if either of these men have read lyric essays or literary criticism?

Here’s a bonus song:
I Am Drinking Again – Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy

September 21, 2007

Don't Talk to Me. Don't Sing. Shut Up, Asswipe.

I'm tired, but I want to make a little post before bed. A little instrumental mix to send us off to dreamland.

Alice in Chains: Whale and Wasp

I love these guys and wish they were still making music. I think many people think of their musics as barrels of sludge, and while that is most often right, sometimes I think it's barrels of moss with a few wildflowers strewn about. Such a gorgeous tune off of the great "Jar of Flies." Hints of Metallica in this song. I think they toured together.

Off of "The Transfiguration of Vincent." M Ward is a wonderful guitar player and I wish he'd put out an album of instrumental numbers like this.

I'd be remiss not to put a track off of Fahey's "The Transfiguration of Blind Joe Death." We post him a lot on here. For a reason. No need to discuss it further. Just listen.

Off of "Bare Trees," an album I recently bought and am currently in love with. It's nice.

Ah, fuck it.

I love Lambchop, I really do. But I don't listen to them enough. It's weird.

Well, yeah.

Gorgeous like first ice in winter.

Night night. Go Bucks, Go Nittany Lions.

A Trip to the Shit House

Last year on our now defunct IDM blog, I made a pre-game post for the Michigan and Penn State match-up. A few hours later, I made another post simply titled “Fuck Michigan.” That pretty much speaks for itself. Michigan ruined Penn State’s 2005 season, with quarterback Chad Henne connecting a touchdown pass to Mario Manningham in the final seconds of the game, and thus winning the game. As recently as a year ago, I still dreamed about that game and woke with a ball of pain in my stomach. Out of all the sporting events I’ve watched in this my life, this was easily one of the worst moments, right up there with the Cub’s disastrous play-off run in 2004. With the game at Beaver Stadium in 2006, the game was supposed to be revenge for Penn State. Unfortunately, and there’s no better way to say this, Michigan man-handled us. We walked away bruised, battered, and embarrassed yet again.

But it’s a new year. Penn State is a better team. Michigan is, I hope, a worse team. And we’re going back to The Shit House to play them again tomorrow. It’s a huge rivalry and the game is going to be tough, even if Michigan did start out their season at 0-2. It’s Big Ten ball and anything can happen. If Michigan wins, then they’re back on track and could make a run for the Big Ten title. If Penn State wins, we’ll be the team that everyone else will try to knock us off.

I hope lots of Penn State fans make the trip to Michigan—and of course, don’t buy anything while in Michigan, a long-standing tradition PC’s Green Hornet Society has abided by. Never contribute to Michigan’s economy. My friend Nick made the trip in 2005 and felt his heart turn to cement in a matter of seconds. He’s making the trip again this year. He deserves a win against the Wolverines. We all do.

Do you know what wolverines are? They’re weasels. They prey upon animals that are injured. They’re strong and sneaky—they’ve been known to kill moose. Basically, they sound like real asshole animals to me. So I guess it’s no surprise that Lloyd Carr is the coach of the Michigan Wolverines. This man is the biggest whiner, sourpuss, and asshole in the Big Ten and all of college football—sorry Fupa Weis. The fact that he created two extra seconds in the 2005, which decided the outcome, makes him akin to the devil in my book.

But Carr and his Wolverines can’t escape the Nittany Lions this year. Mountain lions can kill prey seven times bigger than they are. All they need is a single bite at the base of the skull to break their prey’s neck, much like Dan Connor drives offensive players into their graves. Normally, lions like to snack on the larger animals (maybe Trojans?), but they will eat smaller pests, such as wolverines. And I think on Saturday afternoon in Ann Arbor, MI, the Penn State Nittany Lions are going to just pure fucking devour some pansy-ass Michigan Wolverines.

Here’s a little PSU vs. Michigan mix.

Heartbeats – Scala and Kolacny Brothers (The Knife cover)
This somber, piano-driver song reminds me of the heartbreak Penn State has suffered in the past eight years to Michigan. I like to reflect on those past losses—the sadness, strangely, motivates me.

Of Fortuna – Carl Orff
A classical music, sporting event staple. The soaring choir and the rocketing build-up are a prelude to battle.

This Will Be Our Year – The Zombies
Took a long time to come.

In the Air Tonight – Phil Collins
The drums are at the 3:41 mark, for those wondering. Oh Lord.

Welcome to the Jungle – Guns ‘n Roses
Nothing like some GNR to shred some strings and get you fired up.

Penn State Fight Song – The Penn State Blue Band

Oi! Oi! Oi!

20th Century Boy – T. Rex
Loud and full of glam.

Whipping – Pearl Jam
Don’t need a helmet, got a hard, hard head.

Search and Destroy – Iggy & The Stooges
The one who searches and destroys.

Seek and Destroy – Metallica
We’re looking for you to start up a fight.

Mama Said Knock You Out – LL Cool Jay
I still all the lyrics to this after fifteen years or so.
The Nittany Lion – The Penn State Blue Band

Numb (Encore) – Jay Z with Linkin Park
I don’t even like Linkin Park, but this song is great.

Right Now – Van Halen
Eight years losing? It’s time to turn this thing around, right now. This song also makes me want to drink a can of Crystal Pepsi.

Lose Yourself – Eminem
Listening to those opening lines—yeah, I know it’s about a rapper, but I like to think it’s about Anthony Morelli, ready to drop bombs.

B.O.B. (Bombs Over Baghdad) – Outkast
Is this the best rap song ever recorded? It’s definitely in the top three. Don't pull the thang out, unless you plan to bang!

The Final Countdown – Europe
There’s no way I can hear this without thinking of Arrested Development. Look at banner, Michael!

Eye of the Tiger – Survivor
The epitome of 80’s cheese and sports cliché, but damned if I care. I love it.

Zombie Nation Remix – Kernkraft
Oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh.

The Nittany Lion’s Roar

September 18, 2007

Summer Is Over: Disc Two

Another week of pro and college football has passed. Both of our teams—PC’s Buckeyes and Browns, and my Nittany Lions and Steelers—came away with wins. Good weekend for sports. And the weather was perfect. Chilly fall days, crisp blue skies, and cool nights. Nothing better. PC criticized the title of my last post—yes, it wasn’t entirely accurate, but then again, since I’m a Penn State fan, I can’t exactly take up Ohio State’s cause. I just hope that anyone who plays Michigan ends up beating them.

As promised, here’s disc two of the annual fall mix. The first mix has expired, but if you have a request, I'm sure we can get a few back up.

Ghost Riders In the Sky – The Ramrods
A mix of surf instrumental and cowboy punk—I don’t know what you’d call it other than original and great.

Dreamer – Jenn Grant
Another original soung—Jenn Grant mixes up traditional folk, found sounds, and some good beats. She’s every bit as good as Feist but isn’t on an iPod commercial.

Monkberry Moon Delight – Paul McCartney
I consider this Sir Paul’s most underrated song off the largely forgotten album Ram. It sounds as if Paul, along with those back-up singers, snorted five pounds of coke before the producer hit the record button. He screams the lyrics and sounds like a maniac. But it’s loaded with energy, absurd lyrics, and a bass line that propels this thing into infinity.

In Your Veins – The Soundtrack of Our Lives
This Swedish band has been around for years and sound like the perfect throwback to the sixties. This melancholy tracks, with the strings, the delicate piano, and the haunting vocals are sublime.

No Moon – Iron & Wine
Nothing like some dusty, old-timey sounding music for the fall.

Place to Be – Nick Drake
Not there is anything to say here that hasn’t already been said.

Milk and Honey – Jackson C. Frank
Check out the history of this guy. Music this pretty only comes from someone this tortured—see above song.

King Harvest (Has Surely Come) – The Band
Scarecrow and a yellow moon,
and pretty soon a carnival on the edge of town,
King Harvest has surely come.

Friday Night at the Drive-In Bingo – Jens Lekman
This song just reminds of driving around with friends in high school, with nowhere to go, except somewhere we didn’t want to be.

Sunny Sunday Mill Valley Groove Day – Frank Black
I love this song, but damned if it isn’t hard to sing along with that chorus.

Forget Marie – Lee Hazelwood
Gonna go as far as fourteen dollars will take a fool like me…

These Dreams – Jim Croce
Another great artist who died way too young—seems there are too many on this mix. Croce had his own guitar playing style and voice. He’ll always remain one of my favorites.

Seasons – Chris Cornell
One of my favorites off the Singles soundtrack. Cornell’s voice, as always, is amazing. And the acoustic guitars. I love it.

House on the Lake – Rosanne Cash
This is my favorite song off her very good Black Cadillac, an elegy to the famous lake house Johnny and June shared.

Round the Bend – Beck
Sea Change makes my desert island list, the closest anyone has gotten to recording a Hank Williams album since Hank stopped doing it in 1953. The straight-forward lyrics, the finger-picking, the misery and heartache, the strings—this is his masterpiece and I don’t think he’ll ever top it.

California Dreamin’ – The Mamas and the Papas
All the leaves are brown. And the sky is gray.

Pretty Ballerina – The Left Banke
That off-key piano reminds me of leaves falling.

Laid a Highway – Tift Merritt
If country music still had any balls left, Tift Merritt would be a fucking star—sorry Faith Hill, but you suck. Tift is a great songwriter, singer, and has a great stage presence. I could listen to her all day.

Route 23 – Chatham County Line
A fine bluegrass band from North Carolina—saw them open for Tift Merritt during my former life. Another song about a road passing a town by. Reminds me of what recently happened in the area where I grew up.

I Saw the Light – Hank Williams
I’ve said this many times—Hank Williams is one of the best songwriters because he never wasted a word. This gospel song is poetic, beautiful, and tragic, considering the vices that eventually killed Williams. His voice is alive and strong in this, as it always will be.

All the Young Dudes – Mott the Hoople
Yes, maybe the only time Hank Sr. and glam rock have been juxtaposed with each other. The soaring chorus, the angst-soaked delivery of the lyrics—it was all written by David Bowie, who claims the song is about the apocalypse, not a trashing of the 60s as most thought.

Long May You Run – Neil Young
An elegy to his first car, but it could just as well be about anything.

September 14, 2007

We Don't Give Damn for the Whole State of Michigan

Columbus , OH (AP) - A seven-year old boy was at the center of a Franklin County courtroom drama yesterday when he challenged a court ruling over who should have custody of him. The boy has a history of being beaten by his parents and the judge initially awarded custody to his aunt, in keeping with child custody law and regulation requiring that family unity be maintained to the highest degree possible.

The boy surprised the court when he proclaimed that his aunt beat him more than his parents and he adamantly refused to live with her. When the judge then suggested that he live with his grandparents, the boy cried and said that they also beat him.

After considering the remainder of the immediate family and learning that domestic violence was apparently a way of life among them, the judge took the unprecedented step of allowing the boy to propose who should have custody of him.

After two recesses to check legal references and confer with the Child welfare officials, the judge granted temporary custody to the University of Michigan Wolverines , whom the boy firmly believes are not capable of beating anyone.

Tick Tick Boom – The Hives

The “tick, tick” you hear? That’s the sound of Penn State’s Dan Conner running up behind you. The “boom” is him pummeling you eight inches into the ground. Once PSU gets through Buffalo this weekend, we're going to The Shit House and taking on those Wolverines for some long-deserved payback.

Be back Sunday for the second disc of my fall mix.

September 13, 2007

Deep in the Soil


Pale blossoms, each balanced on a single jointed stem,
The leaves curled back in elaborate Corinthian scrolls;
And the air cool, as if drifting down from wet hemlocks,
Or rising out of ferns not far from water,
A crisp hyacinthine coolness,
Like that clear autumnal weather of eternity,
The windless perpetual morning above a September cloud.

--Theodore Roethke

Bobby Bare Jr.'s Young Criminals Starvation League:

The Heart Bionic

Bonnie 'Prince' Billy:

One with the Birds

Mont de Sundua:

My Morning Jacket:

I think this is the best song written in the past 30 or so years... I need to think about this more before I get verbose, but I seriously think it's the best since...

Bob Dylan:

Have a good weekend. Santa called me the other day. He's sees every last one of you fuckers.
Go Bucks.

September 10, 2007

Summer Is Over: Disc One

The second week of college football has passed—Penn State climbed to number twelve and their defense has yet to give up a touchdown in a game. PC’s OSU Buckeyes are ranked ten and will hopefully stay undefeated until Oct. 27, when PSU obliterates them at Beaver Stadium. The NFL caps off their first weekend with a Monday night double-header tonight. Yes, fall is in full swing in my mind, no matter the temperatures. It’s time for wood smoke to fog the air, time for leaves to fire over with the colors of autumn, time for baseball playoffs, and time for chilly evening breezes.

Continuing upon PC’s excellent fall-themed post from a few days ago, I’m presenting the first disc of a fall mix series. Two years ago, PC gave me a mix CD called “Longing for the Midwestern Autumn.” It remains one of my favorite mixes to this day and featured that great Kingsbury Manx song he posted. I’ve lifted a few off that mix, reused some from last year’s mix, and stole a few from others. No matter where I got them, let this mix be your soundtrack to fall.

Elysium Number Five – Sir Richard Bishop
If you’re not familiar with Richard Bishop, do yourself a favor and buy everything you can. His solo work is supposedly largely improvisational, all the more impressive considering that he’s one of the very best guitarists alive today.

The Summer Is Over – Gisela and the Spirits
I wish that I knew something about this late-60s track but unfortunately, I can’t find a thing on it. It’s a sublime little song about the loss of summer. The guitar work sounds foreboding to me—maybe because it reminds me of the classic Don Knotts movie The Ghost and Mr. Chicken.

The World Is Cold Without You – Nirvana (U.K.)
No, not that Nirvana, but the late-60s British progressive rock band. Their chamber pop definitely takes a page from The Zombies, but never received the attention they deserved. This song is a small masterpiece that should be a staple on every oldies station.

Honey Dove – Lee Fields and the Expressions
Maybe the best R&B song that wasn’t recorded in the 1960s? That grooving, slow burning guitar mixed with Fields’ passionate delivery sells this song. Throw in an organ and baby, you got yourself a stew!

I’ll Be Around – Bobby Bare Jr.
His dad’s a country legend, but Bobby Bare Jr. is a great artist in his own right. This comes from his 2002 album, but he’s got a new one and I hear that PC loves it—maybe he’ll give us a little sample?

A Little More Time – John Doe
I’ve been digging “A Year in the Wilderness” for about a month now. I’ve always loved John Doe—I’m not an X diehard, but once they went Americana on their later albums, I was hooked. This track features guest vocals but our next artist…

Summerlong – Kathleen Edwards
The voice, the lyrics, the music—Kathleen Edwards is pretty much perfect in my book. This is off “Back to Me,” surely one of my top three favorite albums released this decade. It’s a masterpiece straight through.

Downbound Train – Bruce Springsteen
This was originally going to be on “Nebraska”—I’d love to hear how Bruce stripped it down for that album. Instead, he jacked it up for “Born in the U.S.A.” and it retains its darkness—that desperate run through the front door at the end is one of my favorite Springsteen moments.

The End of the Summer – Dar Williams
My love for this song is unhealthy. I first heard it about a year ago and have listened to it at least once a week since. The imagery is poetic—that’s a cheesy description, but there’s no other way I can say it. There are lines in here that take my breath away: “I passed the farms that made it through the last days of the century.” Williams perfectly captures the loneliness and desperation of youth and America in just over four minutes in what is her finest song.

Flowers in December – Mazzy Star
Dream pop at its very best, Mazzy Star always stops me in my tracks, largely because of Hope Sandoval’s dusty, haunting vocals.

I’m On Nights – Richard Hawley
Here’s a guy who needs more attention. Hawley’s beautiful, acoustic songs are show-stoppers. “I’m On Nights” reminds me of that perfect fall evening, sitting on the porch, wearing a Covington.

I Wish I was the Moon – Neko Case
Oh Neko… Her voice can cure all that ails you.

Crazy as a Loon – John Prine
I was a late bloomer to John Prine—sure, I’d heard of him, but never really listened to him. This one is off his last album and it’s a doozey. He’s a master at the story song. By the time we up in the north woods at the end of the song, you’ll never want to be anywhere else. Relaxed and smooth—exactly how I hope your fall goes.

Committed to Parkview – Porter Wagoner
Another country legend, Wagoner has seen a spike this year with his album “Wagonmaster.” This song, supposedly based on real life experiences, is spare and haunting.

Lately I’ve Let Things Slide – Nick Lowe
Lowe doesn’t get enough respect as an artist. The guy can craft a perfect pop song but damned if no one listens. I love the laid-back shuffle to this song, perfect juxtaposition to a guy who’s watching his life slide away.

Let It Ride – Ryan Adams and the Cardinals
I’m going to see him on Friday and I’m hoping I get this song, among many others. This is a live version, taken from the Loft Sessions, and it’s slowed down from the album. Still, it remains on my favorite songs by him—there’s a restless, aimless draw to this narrative.

Make A Plan to Love Me – Bright Eyes
Yes, lots of people hate him—I’ve been trying to get PC to buy this album since it came out last spring. The strings, the background vocals—it’s like our girl group post all over again.

Hard Sun – Eddie Vedder with Corin Tucker
A cover off the upcoming “Into the Wild” soundtrack which Vedder contributes many songs to. The original, by Indio, is quite good, but a bit too lo-fi for my tastes. I love how big this song sounds—I can imagine it fitting well against shots of traveling America.

Kaleidoscope of Life – John Morgan
Turn it up—the rip’s a bit quiet. But for a seven minute song, it’s well worth it.

Be back later in the week for the second and final disc. Happy fall-ing!

September 08, 2007

Autumn Begins

Autumn Begins in Martins Ferry, Ohio
By James Wright

In the Shreve High football stadium,
I think of Polacks nursing long beers in Tiltonsville,
And gray faces of Negroes in the blast furnace at Benwood,
And the ruptured night watchman of Wheeling Steel,

Dreaming of heroes.
All the proud fathers are ashamed to go home.
Their women cluck like starved pullets,
Dying for love.

Their sons grow suicidally beautiful
At the beginning of October,
And gallop terribly against each other's bodies.

September 06, 2007

Falling up

Inspired by JV, I'm going to get in on the Fall mix... It's my favorite season, after all. I just wish it was here already! Here's to hoping. At least football is back.

The Kingsbury Manx: "Piss Diary"

One of my all time favorite songs by one of my all time favorite bands. They've yet to disappoint, album after album, line up change after line up change. Gorgeous tunes, great melodies, grace--they've been the soundtrack to so many moments of my life. Buy their work now! And see them live! Down to earth guys from NC doing what they love. This song is fall. Just listen. This whole album (Self-titled, their first) is like listening to the transition from fall to winter.

To see what they're up to, head over to their website:

Sweden's own. Can't really remember how I discovered him, or if JV told me first or I told him, but we both fell for him at the same time. He has such a particular writing style. And his delivery, well, just listen.

A fall classic in my book. Reminds me of growing up. I think Zep does that for everyone. This one goes out to my buddy Ryan.

This song, of the album "Deserters Songs," is so wonderfully haunting. The whole album sounds like fall to me. Sadly, I'vd never seen this band perform.

Off of the classic "Oddysey and Oracle." I bought this album in the fall and it will always remind me of the season. Such a great group. Still going at it too!

Neil Young: "One of these Days"

Anything off "Harvest Moon" would suffice, but I'll choose this. I'd like to sit down and write a long letter, too, most days.

No fall post is complete without these guys. I think of JV now when I hear this... he's my 'Rag Time Willie"... We'll sit in a couple rockin chairs in October, when the Buckeyes and Nittany Lions clash...

Off of the great, underrecognized "Wilderness."

Yo La Tengo: "Autumn Sweater"


That's it. Happy (soon to be) fall!

Go Buckeyes!


September 04, 2007

100th Post and Site Redesign

You might notice a different appearance here at 77 Santas. During our late summer hiatus—we’ll return full-time on Saturday—we contacted Lemonade Designs to redo our page. Though we’re obviously biased, we think the new look is quite fetching. And what better time to update than our 100th post?

Our annual Christmas blow-out will start on November 1. And we’re already writing content, cataloguing songs, making a list and checking it twice, and so forth.

In the coming week or so, expect an annual fall music mix (something we started at the old site) along with some posts about college football. Lots and lots of posts about college football. September is one of my favorite months because it’s the start of college football season, which builds through the crisp fall evenings, and into December, which is of course our favorite month.

So, here’s a little preview of what’s coming—you can debate about whether this is a Christmas song or not. What’s not debatable is the fact that man on the right is the greatest football coach in history.

Hazy Shade of Winter – The Bangles