Karl Wallinger Was One of the Good Ones

I should be used to it by now. I’ve lost dozens of musicians and artists that I’ve adored over the years. Never mind the insane group of people we lost at the tender age of 27 (Hendrix, Cobain, Winehouse, Joplin, that asshole from the Doors). It was never some triumphant act that I outlived them. What’s weirder to me is I’ve now outlived Whitney Houston, Michael Jackson, George Michael, Robert Palmer, Adam Schlesinger (I may never get over his death), and legendary film critic Gene Siskel. And I’m only a couple of years away from catching up to Prince and Pete Burns.

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The Last Day of Our Acquaintance

“You look good, -ish.”

This is going well.

I’m at a diner, one with an affinity for Cuban-influenced fare. We haven’t even placed drink orders yet, and she’s already cast her first stone. I look good. Ish.

It had been 15 years since my college girlfriend Sam and I last traded messages, and decades since we’d last seen each other in person. I still had a working email address for her when her mother passed away, so I reached out to offer my condolences. I had also recently welcomed my first child into the world. She already had two kids, so I thought she’d be happy for me. We were adults now, doing adult things. That’s how this is supposed to work, right?

But she never wrote back, so between that and her opening salvo here, it seems like a no. Cool.

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Happiness is an Option

In 1989, Kate Bush released The Sensual World. On that album is a song called “Never Be Mine.”

Let’s look at the first verse.

I look at you and see my life that might have been

Your face just ghostly in the smoke

They’re setting fire to the corn fields as you’re taking me home

The smell of burning fields will now mean you and here

Kate does something clever with that last line. By associating a scent with a memory, the listener does the same with her song. For almost everyone who listens to “Never Be Mine,” the song becomes a fixed point that conjures a moment in time.

And given the melancholy nature of the track, it’s probably not conjuring a happy moment in time.

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What’s Up

This is an extended, revised version of the letter I wrote to go with our Christmas cards this year. I’ve received the occasional text asking, “How are things going?” This is how it’s going.

“Hello, Wisconsin!”

Of course I started the letter with a reference to “That ‘70s Show.” I’m not clever enough to think of something better. Plus, Cheap Trick performed the opening credits theme song, a cover of “In the Street” by Big Star, for all but the first season of the show. So, Cheap Trick.

It’s early January as I write this. A little over four months ago, we packed up everything we had collected over our 19 years in Ohio (!!!) and hightailed it to Madison (technically Verona, but also Madison, and Middleton schools, it’s weird). We lived in Ohio almost twice as long as I lived in Chicago, but it feels like it was the other way around.

My lovely wife is from Madison. Her mom is still here. Two of our nieces currently go to school here. My sister-in-law is a Senior Lecturer with the UW-Madison School of Business, so she’s here a lot. That is why we’re here. But it’s not the only reason why we’re here.

We were all ready for a fresh start.

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Movie Review: Elemental

Okay, maybe one more.

With my previous review, I said I was finished writing about movies, but I wasn’t 100% truthful about why. It has gotten harder to do, it’s true, but the fact of the matter is that when I move to Madison (for those not connected to me on socials, we’re moving to Wisconsin), I have to resign from the Columbus Film Critics Association, so bye bye early screenings. Once that happens, odds are you all will see more movies than I do. You probably already do, at this point.

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Movie Review: Guardians of the Galaxy, Volume 3

Can I tell you something?

It really feels like this will be my final review.

When I went to see “Guardians of the Galaxy, Volume 3,” that thought couldn’t have been further from my mind. When I sat down to write about it, though, something strange happened.

I didn’t feel like writing about it. AND I REALLY LIKED THE MOVIE. That doesn’t happen, like, ever.

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Movie Review: Avatar: The Way of Water

There’s a certain beauty to how much technical wizardry James Cameron inserts into details that don’t really matter that much. The Marines in “Avatar: The Way of Water” possess machinery and weaponry that are the stuff of sci-fi wet dreams, yet here they’re just part of the scenery. That’s what gets Cameron excited: the ability to show the audience something they’ve never seen before, while treating it as if it’s no big deal.

If only he paid that level of attention to his screenwriting. Case in point: early in the film, a commanding officer tells his men, “You’re not in Kansas anymore.” It’s 2022, and Cameron is putting 83-year-old pop culture references in his scripts. Jesus.

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Dizzy Heights #96: The Final

Features Hatchie, Elogy, The Lightning Seeds, Paul Oakenfold, and many, many more.

Hello. And, in all likelihood, goodbye.

This was not an easy decision to make. I was so close to doing my 100th Dizzy Heights show. That was the goal all along. I wasn’t sure what I’d do after I got to 100, but I really wanted to get to 100. However, between the timing of Mixcloud’s push to move everyone to the Pro tier, combined with what is shaping up to be a very busy 2023, it didn’t make sense to sign up for Mixcloud Pro if I’m going to disappear for months on end. And that will definitely happen next year.

Likewise, it killed me to take 90-95% of my shows down in order to make room for a handful of new shows. So, for the moment anyway, I’m walking away.

To everyone who listened these past six years, thank you from the bottom of my heart. I have greatly appreciated the support, suggestions, and inspiration.

Well, I guess that’s it. Bye.

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F*cking Off Is Always an Option

This is a true story. It took place in July 2022.

It’s late in the afternoon, and I’m an hour from home.

We started the day in Gurnee, Illinois. My kids go to a summer camp outside of Milwaukee, and on the way home, we often take 94 East, which takes us right by Six Flags Great America. Our kids know several kids in the Chicago area, either through camp or through us (and sometimes they go to camp with the kids they met through us), so we finally decided to stop and spend a day at Six Flags. It was a great day. Perfect weather, and the lines were not bad at all.

Anyway, that’s why we started the day in Gurnee.

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Dizzy Heights #95: 100% Acrylic

Features Sam Phillips, The Coral, Redd Kross, Elliott Smith, Ween, and more

I forgot to tell you the name of the band after my first talkie bit. It’s Slade.

I also forgot to tell you the name of a song in the first set. It’s called “Original Song.”

I am a consummate professional.

I also didn’t realize it when I was recording it, but this is likely my last show of the year. I started putting together a track list for a potential ‘Home’ show, and decided to scrap the idea. We’re on the road in two weeks, and no one listens to Mixcloud in December. I’ll see you in January.

Thank you, as always, for listening.

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