The Friday Morning Listen: Horse Feathers – Cynic’s New Year (2012)

What have I learned in the short space between the day after Christmas 2013 and the first two days of 2014? Oh, tons of stuff. I took all of that time off from work with the intent of unwinding and catching up on my reading. What resulted was a week of the expanding mind. Sort of.

OK, so first thing: I didn’t just sit around reading and listening to music. Oh sure, I wanted to but then things just…happened.

Like the creeping crud that’s been going around. You’re fine one minute and then your throat feels like you swallowed the zest from a dryer sheet. A few minutes later and you’re coughing uncontrollably with eyes bugged out and snot running down your nose. What turned out to be a memorable lyric for Jethro Tull leaves a lot to be desired in person. Both me and TheWife™ have the creep crud. We haven’t slept through the night in several days. Those middle of the night coughing jags are beyond surreal. Ah, togetherness.

In keeping with the cold weather theme, let’s talk snowblowers. I had to go back to the “old” house to make sure that the driveway was clear. You woudn’t think it would be hard to hire somebody to clear a driveway, but apparently it is. So the better part of one day was spent driving to the house, pulling the snowblower out of the garage, and then clearing the six inches of snow that would be turning to solid ice as soon as the afternoon cold front moved in.

During a short chat with the next door neighbor about this chore, the topic of sheer pins came up. I made the mistake of saying that I’d only broken one pin over the ten years that I’d owned the machine. Sure enough, I broke one not five minutes later. In a house that’s half packed up, you don’t expect to find the bag of replacement sheer pins. Somehow, they were in the second drawer I opened. What luck! Would this luck continue in the search for the proper hand tools? No! Thirty minutes (and some choice words) later, the ratchet was found and the pin was installed. Yay, old technology! I finished clearing the driveway, stuffed the snowblower back in the garage, and drove off with visions of spring in my head. The next day, we found somebody to take over this job. I gave him my bag of sheer pins and the magic ratchet.

For a short time last week, Bruce Springsteen’s yet to be released album High Hopes was available for purchase at the Amazon mobile website. This may or may not have been a leak, but I happened to hear about it in time, purchasing all the songs (you couldn’t download it as an album) on my phone, and then downloading them from the cloud. The songs “Frankie Fell In Love” and “This Is Your Sword” struck me as a terrific 1-2 punch of fun. Of course, I then looked over at a Springsteen fan site and was informed that they were the two weakest songs on the album. It figures.

I don’t generally make new years resolutions or anything like that, but sometimes I do try to shove my pessimism aside at the start of a new year. So I was feeling kind of lighthearted and happy about things as I walked out of the grocery store on new year’s day. The van parked next to me had a bumper sticker on the back that read “If you can read this, thank a teacher. If it’s in English – thank a soldier.” Uh…right.

What did I learn over my Christmas vacation? Not a damned thing.

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Mark Saleski

Mark Saleski is a writer and music obsessive based out of the woods of central New Hampshire. A past contributor to Jazz.com, Blogcritics.org and Salon, he writes several weekly features including the Friday Morning Listen, (Cross the) Heartland, WTF! Wednesday, and Sparks Fly on E Street. Follow him on Twitter: @msaleski. Contact Something Else! at reviews@somethingelsereviews.com.