Archive | Uncategorized RSS for this section

The Latest from Erik Ritland

Erik Ritland is a writer and musician from St. Paul, Minnesota. His blog and podcast Rambling On features commentary on music, sports, culture, and more. He was also Lead Staff Writer for Minnesota culture blogs Hometown Hustle and Curious North. Support Erik’s music via his Patreon account, reach him via emailor find him on Facebook and Twitter.

Hello all,

This is an intimate message from the Ritland Rambler himself, one Erik Ritland.

I’ve been writing blogs under some semblance of the Rambling On name since 2012. It started with a weekly run of several articles (in a newspaper type format) in January and February 2012. I quickly ran out of funding to keep it going, and after a second attempt in the summer I had to reconsider my direction.

Throughout 2013 I wrote a few blogs under the Music, Sports, and Sunday Ramble names. Finally in April 2014 I launched the latest version of Rambling On, a regular blog and podcast, that I’ve been running ever since.

Speaking of, Rambling On is seriously fun commentary on sports, music, culture, and more. I encourage you to check it out.

I’ve kept each of the former incarnations/incantations of my rambles up for the sake of archive. Enjoy them but be sure to check out the latest and greatest stuff at http://www.ramblingon.net.

Erik Ritland Archive Sites

Rambling On (original series)
The original run of seriously fun commentary on sports, music, culture, and more. Archived winter and summer 2012.

Music Ramble
Longer articles about music of all kinds. Archived from 2012-2014.

Sports Ramble   Local and national sports coverage. Mainly baseball and football related but some commentary on hockey and basketball as well. Archived from 2012-2014.

Ritland Ramble
Erik’s former culture blog. Society, politics, current events, and more. Archived from 2012-2014.

Sunday Ramble
Religious commentary. Archived from 2012-2013.

Daily Ramble
Daily blogs covering sports, music, culture, and more from January 2014.

The Weekly Ritland
Short-lived site that linked to each article I had posted for that week. Archived September 2012.

Main Ramble
Articles about politics and culture from the original run of Rambling On in 2012. Archived fall 2012.

Football Ramble
Commentary on the first few weeks of the 2012 football season. Another project that ran out of funding. Archived fall 2012.

Erik Ritland is a writer and musician from St. Paul, Minnesota. His blog and podcast Rambling On features commentary on music, sports, culture, and more. He was also Lead Staff Writer for Minnesota culture blogs Hometown Hustle and Curious North. Support Erik’s music via his Patreon account, reach him via emailor find him on Facebook and Twitter.

Ritland Daily Ramble #19

Quote of the day
There’s a kind of rush that I can’t explain
Tearing off the cellophane
Reading off the card, cueing up side A
Starting up the car and hitting play
– Johnathan Rundman

Rambles
Cassette tape magic
I have sentimental attachment to cassette tapes. Along with thrift store LPs they were the only format I could afford to buy music on growing up, due in equal part to not having a lot of expendable income and CDs being stupidly expensive.

I always dreamed of making a cassette tape. When my friend Nate Houge sold me his TASCAM cassette recorder I went crazy. I began writing and recording songs for the first time in my life. I was like 15 and obsessed with David Bowie and Uriah Heep. I wrote really bad socially conscious folk songs, meandering love songs, and bad punk rip-offs.

When I was in high school I got as far as making artwork for a tape of my recordings called Lower than Lo-Fi, Cheaper than Cheap. The only problem was I had no way to transfer my music from my four track onto other tapes. I think I still have the artwork for it somewhere. Song titles included “Society’s Song,” “Giving In,” and the title track. Many of them I re-recorded for the first demo that I made once again with Nate Houge.

Evidently 2013 saw a resurgence in cassettes. Honestly, I have no idea why. LPs sound better, MP3s are easier to manage, and CDs are, well, nearly as useless only they have better sound.

In an article for Rolling Stone cassette obsessive Rob Sheffield makes a good case in favor of cassettes, though:

Why are cassettes back? It’s easy. They’re cheap and they make noise. They’re quick. They’re intimate. They have personality, not just another digital file. And they sound great, if you like the ambient hum of cassette sound. (I do.)..Tapes are the ultimate DIY format – bands can crank out their homemade goodies fast, design a groovy cover, stack them on the merch table for $5 a pop. It’s a way to indulge weird experiments or the drummer’s side project.

I can get behind this sort of romanticism. A lot of my favorite ideas are side projects that never came to fruition. If I could spend all my time making music I’d come out with a bunch of cassettes. I’d write songs forever and work with all my friends on a ton of different stuff. The romance of a person, or band, creating songs and releasing them will never lose its mystery.

Speaking of mystery, Shefflied continues:

They also have a bit of old-school mystery. You can’t just click on a cassette and get the back story. You have to let the tape roll in real time, asking yourself questions like “Where did this come from?” or “How long does this stupid thing go on?” or “Why the hell did anyone spend an hour of their life making this?” You have to forget what you know and surrender to what you hear. It’s a format that rewards the curious of ear and stout of heart.

I often bemoan that in our fast food, digital world people don’t take the time to immerse themselves in music anymore. Albums (not vinyl, but a collection of songs) are dying as a format. That you can’t skip over a song you don’t like right away forces you to listen to it and maybe find something you didn’t expect. Instead of “surrendering to what you hear” each song surrenders to the whim of the individual listening to it.

I had no idea that anybody made cassettes anymore. It’s a trend I can certainly get behind, though. After all, who doesn’t like a little tape hiss?

*                           *                           *

Picture of the day

tape

Ah, those were the days.

Erik Ritland is a journalist and musician from St. Paul, Minnesota. He is a contributor for Minnesota culture blog Curious North and writes frequent Daily Rambles. Ramblin’ On catalogs his writings on culture, music (including his own projects), sports, religion, and many other topics. You can reach him via email here.

Ritland Daily Ramble #10

Beyond conservative and progressive, the perils of contemporary capitalism, the disappearing of the middle class, Nostradamus, songs about the end of the world.

Quote of the day
The examined life is not worth the effort.
– Bizarro Socrates

Rambles
R.R. Reno on Economics
As I was doubting whether anything was worth caring about R.R. Reno was writing about how everything is worth caring about. In my first reflection on his piece I comment on the intelligence of his liberal economic theory. Essentially, what today is called “capitalism” is killing the middle class and furthering the marginalization of the poor.

*                           *                           *

Another quote, more Chesterton.
On the same topic, here’s a typically perceptive quote from Chesterton:

The whole modern world has divided itself into Conservatives and Progressives. The business of Progressives is to go on making mistakes. The business of Conservatives is to prevent mistakes from being corrected. Even when the revolutionist might himself repent of his revolution, the traditionalist is already defending it as part of his tradition. Thus we have two great types–the advanced person who rushes us into ruin, and the retrospective person who admires the ruins. He admires them especially by moonlight, not to say moonshine.

*                           *                           *

davinciPicture of the day
In 2010 I watched one too many documentaries about 2012 and the end of the world. It all seemed to make so much sense back then, you know? Many of the songs I wrote around that time were based around end of the world themes. For example, “Firelight” (Eden burns through the night/I see past the firelight) and, even more explicitly, “I Can See the End of Everything” (life will end with a thunder/it will happen soon).

This picture is from Nostradamus. There’s a lot of convoluted meaning behind it but I don’t remember it. Pretty foreboding though, eh?

Erik Ritland is a writer and musician from St. Paul, Minnesota. His blog and podcast Rambling On features commentary on music, sports, culture, and more. He is also a contributor for Minnesota culture blog Curious North. Support Erik’s music via his Patreon account, reach him via email, or find him on Facebook and Twitter.

 

Ritland Daily Ramble #9

Quote of the day
Loving the world is the same as fighting the world.
– G.K. Chesterton

Rambles
Each small candle lights a corner in the dark
Am I too negative? Well, maybe sometimes. In today’s longer ramble, which you can read here, I explain why it’s important to write about and discuss important topics, even if it means occasionally being too overly critical. I also describe a little bit about how I went from being a Protestant to being Catholic.

*                           *                           *

My boy.
NPG x6021; G.K. Chesterton by James Craig AnnanG.K. Chesterton is a 300 pound, beer drinking, cigar smoking saint. Okay, so he hasn’t been canonized, but he’s a saint. He’s also my hero.

I have a long way to go before I become like Chesterton in any way (except as a Catholic convert which I will become in April). At my very best I’m like Chesterton at his worst through a mirror, darkly. He has taught me to look beyond what is presented to me. To be a truly critical thinker. To look towards the eternal.

This means looking at the world critically, which he did. Chesterton may have seemed negative but he was only looking at things for what they are. He perceptively saw what was wrong with the world (he wrote a book with that title, actually) and explained it in such a funny, charitable way that even those he disagreed with loved him. He understood what he criticized because he put it in the broader perspective of the eternal.

I try to do that but I have a long way to go. I’m not as perceptive about what I disagree with, I’m certainly not as fun or funny about it, and I barely have a clue about the bigger picture that it all fits in to. My only hope is that the more I read, the more I write, and the more I observe the better and better I’ll get.

Erik Ritland is a writer and musician from St. Paul, Minnesota. His blog and podcast Rambling On features commentary on music, sports, culture, and more. He is also a contributor for Minnesota culture blog Curious North. Support Erik’s music via his Patreon account, reach him via email, or find him on Facebook and Twitter.

Ritland Daily Ramble #8

Quote of the day
There is a condition worse than blindness, and that is seeing something that isn’t there.
– L. Ron Hubbard, the creator of Scientology

Rambles
Tell it like it is
Wikipedia doesn’t refer to famous people in history by their titles. So St. Paul becomes Paul the Apostle, King Henry VIII becomes Henry VIII of England, and so on. This is because technically a person’s title isn’t a part of their name, but I argue that it is actually more influenced by the hubris of academics. Read my thoughts here.

*                           *                           *

My passion legitimized
beerA recent study shows the benefits of moderate alcohol consumption:

Medical science has known for years that people who drink moderate amounts of alcohol actually have a reduced risk of death. In general, they are healthier and have better cardiovascular function that those who don’t drink alcohol at all.Now, new research from Oregon Health & Science University adds a fascinating twist: moderate drinking may actually bolster our immune system and help it fight off infection.

I always get laughed at when I say that I don’t drink to get drunk. Sure, I like getting a buzz occasionally, but I always consider it a failure when I get drunk. But, as this study shows, not only is moderate drinking possible, it is also beneficial.

Even the good book agrees, explaining that God created wine to “maketh glad the heart of man” (Psalm 114:15a). The joy of those who enjoy an occasional drink, or smoke, is also what helps them live longer and healthier. The positive medical effects of joy can never be quantified.

*                           *                           *

Bdu9a_rCUAAgY7M.jpg large

This boat is worth as much as my house and was selling for how much I have left on my mortgage after paying it off for 3 years.

The Sportsman’s Show
This week I’ve been working the Sportsman’s Show at the convention center in Saint Paul. It always trips me out because half the RVs and boats cost more than my house did. Sadly, they are probably more useful. And certainly more durable.

I wonder how long it’ll be before the Sportsman’s Show get its name changed to the Sportspeople show. If that does happen I guarantee the campaign will come from someone who doesn’t care at all about hunting or fishing that just wants to force their morality onto others. These, of course, are the same people who criticize the Church for forcing their morality onto others. In our culture today irony is the rule, not the exception. See the L. Ron Hubbard quote above.

Erik Ritland is a writer and musician from St. Paul, Minnesota. His blog and podcast Rambling On features commentary on music, sports, culture, and more. He is also a contributor for Minnesota culture blog Curious North. Support Erik’s music via his Patreon account, reach him via email, or find him on Facebook and Twitter.

Ritland Daily Ramble #7

Quote of the day
Just imagine…we could be the greatest band in the world for two weeks and then a year from then people would be made fun of for still listening to us…
– Timberwolves analyst Casey Carver on if we had a band that made an album in Pitchfork’s Top 50 of the year

Rambles
Where the soul of man never dies
howlin-wolf-fifties-460-85.130130107_std38 years ago today the world lost bluesman Howlin’ Wolf. Wolf is one of the most unique and influential voices in rock music. His 6 foot, 6 inch, 300 pound stature matched his large, booming voice. Sam Phillips of Sun Records, who discovered Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins, Roy Orbison, and others, called Wolf his greatest discovery. “This is it,” he said of his finding Wolf. “This is where the soul of man never dies.”

That’s about the best way to describe the Wolf’s voice – and his music. Seminal Wolf songs you should check out include “Evil,” “Spoonful,” “Back Door Man,” “Killing Floor,” and “Smokestack Lightening.” The feel of the songs – and that voice – combine to make transcendent music that will give you the chills.

I suggest, however, not listening to Wolf’s stuff on computer speakers, probably in the middle of the day, while surfing the web like you may be doing. It’s best to listen to at night. And you have to give it your undivided attention. If you do you’ll understand why there’s nothing like it.

To read more about Wolf check out this entertaining multimedia biography.

*                           *                           *

The underrated Jim Croce
Soft rock songwriter Jim Croce would have turned 71 today had he not died in a plane crash in the ‘70s. It’s a shame that he doesn’t get a lot of airplay and recognition beyond his one novelty hit “Bad Bad LeRoy Brown” as many of his songs – “Operator,” “Time in a Bottle,” “I Got A Name,” (my personal favorite) and “I’ll Have to Say I Love You in a Song” are very high quality, and his other novelty hits “Rapid Roy the Stock Car Boy,” “You Don’t Mess Around with Jim,” and “Working at the Car Wash Blues” are all better, and funnier, than “LeRoy Brown” (although “Jim” is literally the same story).

*                           *                           *

The Hawk, Ronnie Hawkins
On the opposite end of the spectrum is unheralded rockabilly legend Ronnie Hawkins. Best known for fronting the Band before they were the Band, Hawkins was the last rockabilly refugee. His energy, on-stage antics, and twisted sense of humor are legendary. His appearance at the Band’s Last Waltz is only an inclination of what he could do in his prime.

Today Ronnie turns 79. Long live the Hawk!

*                           *                           *

Kick the can
This morning as I stepped out of my car I dropped my can of carbonated water. It got me a little wet before it hit the ground. Half for fun, half out of anger I kicked the can. Usually when I do something like this it ends up embarrassing. I’ll either miss the can completely or it’ll dribble a few feet.

To my surprise, though, the can went flying. It must have gone 20 feet in the air. It hit a light pole and the water went everywhere. It looked like fireworks. It was quite pretty and even more satisfying. Though I wasn’t any less thirsty.

Erik Ritland is a writer and musician from St. Paul, Minnesota. His blog and podcast Rambling On features commentary on music, sports, culture, and more. He is also a contributor for Minnesota culture blog Curious North. Support Erik’s music via his Patreon account, reach him via email, or find him on Facebook and Twitter.

Ritland Daily Ramble #6

Quote of the day
Which do you prefer, music or art?
– Will Farley

Rambles
Elvis and Bowie
Yesterday was the day of birth of both Elvis Presley and David Bowie. To celebrate I wrote about three of each of their “lost classics.” Read it here.

*                           *                           *

Trick voices
Unfortunately today I heard the Four Seasons’ song “Big Girls Don’t Cry.” Sure, it’s got that classic ‘60s sound, and I’d rather listen to it than all those new bands with stupid names that try too hard to be different, but it’s so lame. Songs can be lame and still be tolerable, or even good, if they have something else to go along with them (a great arrangement, solo, vibe, etc.). But the cheese of this song overshadows any of its redeeming qualities.

I do appreciate the quirky, girly falsetto of Frankie Valli’s voice though. In the early 20th century and before this type of vocalization was called using a “trick voice.” People would do fun stuff with their voices to entertain crowds. They’d make animal noises, imitate noises of trains and other objects, and do impressions and the like.

Sometimes this spilled on to record. The last of the blackface singers, Emmett Miller, used his trick voice to great effect over the dozen or so singles he released in his lifetime. If you think that blackface is simply a racist throwback to a backwards era, read Nick Toches’ brilliant book Where Dead Voices Gather to get a broader perspective.

Each of Miller’s songs are fun and worth listening to but his all-time classics are “Lovesick Blues,” which Hank Williams, a big Miller fan, made famous, and “Anytime,” his signature song. They’re fun throwbacks to a by-gone era and his chilling falsetto alone make them worth listening to.

*                           *                           *

Definition: Contemporary
Contemporary (actual spelling CONtemporary): the current false (con), impermanent (temporary) beliefs, trends, and fads of a culture.

Example: Universities, TV shows, movies, music, the press, and the people that submit to them worshipped at the altar of the contemporary.

Erik Ritland is a writer and musician from St. Paul, Minnesota. His blog and podcast Rambling On features commentary on music, sports, culture, and more. He is also a contributor for Minnesota culture blog Curious North. Support Erik’s music via his Patreon account, reach him via email, or find him on Facebook and Twitter.

Ritland Daily Ramble #5

My dad, turtle-hippo love, Chesterton, St. Francis, the dependence of life, Yasiel Puig.

Quote of the day
You can pick your nose, and you can pick your friends, but you can’t eat your friends.
– Michael Ritland Sr.

Rambles
The eternal horizon of Chesterton’s acrobat
English author G.K. Chesterton wrote that St. Francis of Assisi came out of his cave standing on his hands. Upon seeing the world suspended, seemingly a miracle that the massive stones he saw suspended didn’t fall, he realized how fragile, and dependent, life is. This is the point of a recent article by David Fagerberger in the most recent issue of Gilbert Magazine and you can read my reflection on it here.

*                           *                           *

Yasiel Puig and his run-in with the law
On December 28th Los Angeles Dodgers star Yasiel Puig, one of the most talented and talked about young baseball players today, was arrested for reckless driving. He was clocked going 110 mph in a 70 mph zone.

What’s extraordinary, and pretty funny, is that there were passengers in the car with him. Sitting in the front seat: his mother. In the security footage an officer is shown chiding Puig in Spanish, “This is your mom? Oh, you’re going to jail. You are putting your mom in danger, oh hell no.” Puig, who is known for being outspoken, was humble and asked for forgiveness. The officer was unrelenting, though, informing Puig’s mother and the other passengers in the car that “The reason why we are in this situation is because he didn’t care about his mother’s life or your lives, and he’s going to jail.”

*                           *                           *

Picture of the day
a-tsunami-02My first band, Floating Bridge, had a short residency at a dive bar in North St. Paul. I created posters for those shows and they predominately displayed this picture. After the tsunami in 2004 this adorable hippo and turtle, Owen and Mzee, brushed up on the coast of east Africa together and became pals. Learn their story here.

The posters were as big of a joke as the bar we played at, but at least it was intentional. I described my band’s sound as “highly sexualized energy” and claimed we were “supporters of hippo-turtle love.”

Erik Ritland is a writer and musician from St. Paul, Minnesota. His blog and podcast Rambling On features commentary on music, sports, culture, and more. He is also a contributor for Minnesota culture blog Curious North. Support Erik’s music via his Patreon account, reach him via email, or find him on Facebook and Twitter.

Ritland Daily Ramble #4

Quote of the day
Donny, you’re out of your element!
– Walter Sobchak

Rambles
Our stuff is just stuff
My friend Travis Mataya published a post on Amazing Stories Magazine today about the differences between being a geek now and when he was growing up. He argues that the books, movies, and video games that geeks enjoy have become such a part of mainstream culture that it’s becoming harder to differentiate between actual geeks and people who just like the stuff casually: “So what differentiates a geek from just a normal person who grew up with all the same entertainment? The answer is becoming muddier with every passing year as the crowds at various cons grow bigger, video game sales skyrocket, and comic book films continue to take over an industry.”

This observation about geek culture is an example of the general watering down of everything in our consume everything now, fast food culture. With the world at our fingertips on the internet it has become impossible to tell whether anybody legitimately likes, or has a passion for, anything. Indeed, it’s made it difficult for people to be legitimately passionate about anything. “Today, our stuff is just stuff,” Travis says. “It’s so easy to obtain that it doesn’t reflect much on our passions.” Slowly, due to this, our passions are becoming less and less passionate.

*                           *                           *

Good times, great oldies
Coffee shops, especially chains, usually play fluffy, inoffensive new pop music, the sort that makes up 90% of the playlist on the Current. While writing this blog at Dunn Brothers on West 7th Street in St. Paul, though, I was transported back to the oldies stations that used to exist when I was a kid, only better. Songs included “Bad to Me” by Billy Joe Krammer and the Dakotas, “A Whiter Shade of Pale” by Procol Harum, and “Quinn the Eskimo (The Mighty Quinn)” by Manfred Mann. The last song was especially cool to hear because I inherited my mother’s 45 of it when I was growing up and it was written by Bob Dylan during my favorite period of his songwriting, the Basement Tapes.

So yeah, coffee shop owners take note: not everybody wants to be lulled to sleep by Neko Case when they’re drinking their coffee.

*                           *                           *

goodmanPicture of the day
Jive Time Records in Seattle, one of the coolest record stores in America, posted this picture of John Goodman and I had to share it. While I was unsuccessful in finding out any information about it I did find the hilarious Fuck Yeah John Goodman tumblr account which proudly proclaims:

WE FUCKING LOVE JOHN GOODMAN.
DO YOU FUCKING LOVE JOHN GOODMAN?
SUBMIT YOUR GODDAMN PICTURES OF JOHN GOODMAN.

Fuck yeah, John Goodman.

Erik Ritland is a writer and musician from St. Paul, Minnesota. His blog and podcast Rambling On features commentary on music, sports, culture, and more. He is also a contributor for Minnesota culture blog Curious North. Support Erik’s music via his Patreon account, reach him via email, or find him on Facebook and Twitter.

Ritland Daily Ramble #3

Syd Barrett, Minnesota weather, beer, wrestling

Quote of the day
Lime and limpid green, the second scene
A fight between the blue you once knew
Floating down the sound surrounds around the icy waters underground
Jupiter and Saturn, Oberon, Miranda and Titania
Neptune, Titan, Stars can frighten
– Syd Barrett, “Astronomy Domine”

Rambles
Remember Syd Barrett
Today would have been the 68th birthday of legendary Pink Floyd founder Syd Barrett. I wrote a short reflection on what Syd means to rock music which you can read here.

*                           *                           *

Could stand the weather
I’m constantly surprised at how weak Minnesotans have become regarding weather. When I was a kid no snow storm or cold snap would ever get us talking about the weather constantly, much less fearing for our lives. Judging by local reaction and coverage by weathermen every small storm and subzero temperature is tragic.

That being said, the last few days in Minnesota have been seriously arctic. In the Twin Cities our “high” today was -13 and we saw as lows around -20. Factor in the wind and even a short amount of time outside is unbearable.

I don’t mind it, though. The deep freeze is what makes us strong as Minnesotans. We can either deal with it courageously or cower like, well, cowards. Let’s make a concerted effort to choose the less embarrassing option.

*                           *                           *

Beer
beer
One reason I was able to bear the cold so well today is because I had the day off. I slept till noon and was still able to find time to take a nap.

Mostly, though, I drank a bunch of beer. The lovely picture to the left displays everything I drank except for a late-night Grain Belt. Old Style tall boys are classic; Schell’s Snowstorm, which is different every year, is a golden Belgian ale that is one of their best Snowstorms in recent past; Accumulation, New Belgium’s 2013 winter beer, is a hoppy, satisfying white IPA; Corsendonk Christmas Ale is a high-quality malty, darker holiday beer.

The best of the bunch, though, is Southern Tier’s 2XMAS seasonal, an “Ale brewed with figs, orange peels, and spices, two varieties of hops, and 4 types of malts.” It’s borderline excessively malty but is balanced out by the hops and spices. Definitely worth the $11.99 a six-pack.

*                           *                           *

Old School RAW
The WWE is in the middle of an unlikely, quiet resurgence. Their storylines have been better than they have in years and their talent, both on the microphone and in the ring, may be its most consistent ever.

Each year they bring back old legends for an always memorable old school show. Highlights this year included a fun opening with Ric Flair, an entertaining segment with Rowdy Roddy Piper, and something nobody saw coming: the unlikely return of Jake the Snake Roberts. It’s unlikely because Roberts has recently been destitute, lost in a haze of drugs and alcohol. With the help of his friend Diamond Dallas Page he has resurfaced, though, happier and healthier than he’s been in years. It was heartwarming to see him once again, and looking good, too. Hopefully this won’t be the last time.

Erik Ritland is a writer and musician from St. Paul, Minnesota. His blog and podcast Rambling On features commentary on music, sports, culture, and more. He is also a contributor for Minnesota culture blog Curious North. Support Erik’s music via his Patreon account, reach him via email, or find him on Facebook and Twitter.