j.j. toothman

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Month: September 2011

Best Tom Hanks films–non Gump division

There was a fairly interesting and amusing thread in Bill Simmons recent mailbag column on Grantland1 regarding the what people would select as their 3 favorite Tom Hanks movies if they weren’t allowed to pick Forrest Gump.  I’ve been spending (probably too way too much) time thinking about this over the past few days.  The question is being stored away in my “use this topic of conversation if you’re ever in an uncomfortably silent circle of people at a cocktail party” category for future use. And since I’m thinking about it, I might as well write a blog post about it.  So here goes. 

My three favorite Tom Hanks movie performances that are not named Forrest Gump (in no particular order).

Big – I haven’t grown tired of watching this film over the years.  I still secretly wish to live in large Manhattan loft with celings high enough to have a trampoline in it. In fact, I’m going to encourage some of my single guy friends to do that just to find out if the “hey, I have a trampoline in my apartment.  Wanna come over?” line works. 

Road to Perdition – Not sure why whenever I channel surf to this movie I end watching the rest of it, but I do.  Perhaps its because I’m amazed that one on the guys that used to star in Bosom Buddies can go toe-to-toe in a movie with Paul Newman.

Saving Private Ryan – Really?  Tom Hanks lost the Oscar for Best Actor that year to Roberto Benigni? That sounds like a future Trivial Pursuit question.

Now that I’ve done this little “exercise”, I’m surprised that Catch Me If You Can isn’t in that top 3.  I enjoy watching that movie more than any of the above.

  1. Grantland, btw, has cracked my top 10 web sites list 

Remembering R.E.M.

I was 15 years old the first time I can accurately recall hearing an R.E.M. song.  I used to listen to 105.9 WHCN in Hartford on this cheap Emerson brand AM/FM clock radio while I got dressed and ready for school in the morning.  And there it was – “Fall on Me.”  It had an immediate impact.  I went out and bought Life’s Rich Pageant later in the week and R.E.M. and I went from there.  R.E.M. became one of THOSE bands.  One of those bands was always with me while I growing up during high school and starting to figure out who I was during college. 

Rem Document Album Cover

It helped that back then, they had a new album out every year.  Document became one of my favorite albums of all time.  I purchased Green the first day came out.1Out of Time became the album of the summer of ‘912 and dancing to “Shiny Happy People” was a great way to meet girls during that time.3  Monster came out right when I was moving across the country and I listened to it continuously on some long days of driving. 

But then R.E.M. started to fade for me.  It was one of those cases of just not being able to maintain the high level of musical excellence they set early on.  Pretty much every album after Out of Time frustrated me to some degree, regardless of how much I wanted to like the album.  “Everybody Hurts” may be a great song, but I still hate it.  To me, it was a sign of the edgy college radio band I loved completely losing it.  The Michael Stipe started showing up places I could care less for him to show up in.  Like that show Iconoclasts on the Sundance Channel.4  In fact, in the last 15 years my favorite R.E.M. memory is the time Keturah and I went to see a Patti Smith concert in Seattle and Peter Buck joined in to play a few songs. 

R.E.M. will always be part of my youth.  And now that they’ve broken up, perhaps its time to for me to forget about how disappointed I am in what they became and recall how great they once were

  1. Bought it on tape actually.  Which I partially blame for not liking it the album so much 

  2. Summer of ‘91 was when I moved into my first off-campus house in Burlington, VT 

  3. But the more interesting girls knew that “Me in Honey” was the best song on the album. 

  4. And by the way, I’m not overly happy about Eddie Vedder being on that show either 

Wilco in Boston

Good show by Wilco at The Wang Theatre this past Tuesday night. Certainly not the best show I’ve seen them play1 but one of the better performances I’ve seen from them in recent years.

It helped that it was at the beautiful Wang Theatre in downtown Boston.  It helped that it was a standing show. Past few Wilco shows I’ve seen have been at The Greek Theatre in Berkeley.  Which itself is at a great venue, but less great when everyone decides to sit on their ass. 

It helped that the album Wilco is releasing next week is a bit more up tempo and exploratory2 than the most recent releases, especially the boring to tears Sky Blue Sky album.  The new album – The Whole Love – certainly isn’t Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, but then again Wilco will never make another album that great again. If you haven’t accepted that yet, you should.  Give it a listen if you haven’t yet.

One thing of importance I noticed during Tuesday’s performance was less reliance on Nels Cline.  He’s still great and ever present and I certainly can’t imagine Wilco without him.  But in past years, he was more at the forefront and the band would, at times, just get out of his wand let him explore his sonic space.  There was much less of that on Tuesday. He was more integrated with the rest of the band. The power drill he sometimes brings out was nowhere to be found.

Some final ruminations:

  • “Art of Almost” is a great song.  Nice direction the band is heading in with this one.  Actually, it reminded me of LCD Soundsystem and makes me think of what an entire album of that sound would be like from Wilco. In the future, I bet we see this take the role previously occupied by “Spiders (Kidsmoke)” during their live performances.
  • Speaking of “Spiders (Kidsmoke)”…first time I’ve seen them3 perform without that as part of the set list
  • “I’m the Man Who Loves You” really needs those horns.


2011/09/20 Set list.  Wilco at the Wang Theatre.  Boston, MA. 

  1. Art Of Almost

  2. I Might

  3. Black Moon

  4. I Am Trying to Break Your Heart

  5. One Wing

  6. Bull Black Nova

  7. At Least That’s What You Said

  8. One Sunday Morning (Song for Jane Smiley’s Boyfriend)

  9. Shouldn’t Be Ashamed

  10. Whole Love

  11. War On War

  12. Born Alone

  13. Handshake Drugs

  14. Impossible Germany

  15. Dawned On Me

  16. A Shot in the Arm 

    Encore –

  17. The Late Greats

  18. I‘m The Man Who Loves You

  19. Monday

  20. Outtasite (Outta Mind)

  1. Best show I’ve seen from them was at the Fillmore in San Francisco after they released A Ghost is Born. Among other things that night, they closed with a cover of “Don’t Fear the Reaper” 

  2. My friend Jeff refers to that as Wilco’s krautrock-y stuff 

  3. If my memory is correct, this was Wilco show #5 for me 

Mission Accomplished – Reflecting on moving cross country

Complete.  The long transition that Keturah, Mason, Jude, and I began in Northern California this past April and took us through a summer in Connecticut, finally came to a conclusion in Sudbury, Massachusetts on September 1 when we closed and moved into our new house.


Moving a family of four from one coast of the U.S. to another was no simple task.  I’m hard pressed to think of many things I’ve found more challenging.  I’m struggling to completely encapsulate all my thoughts about this journey, but mostly I’m happy it’s over.  I’m happy that the moving company showed up on September 3 with all the stuff we’ve been missing since April.  I’m happy that the cable company showed up on September 9, plugged me back into the Internet, and hooked me up so I can watch Red Sox games on NESN every night.1  I don’t even care that I’ll probably have cardboard boxes in corners of some rooms for months to come.

So instead of a structured post reflecting on the finality of the big move, I give you this random list of thoughts…

  • You can go home again. But don’t stick around too long.  Yes, it was nice to be back in Glastonbury for a few months, but it never felt like a place I could permanently be. My time there was over.  It was over when I was 18 to be honest.
  • Speaking of Glastonbury, it’s completely frightening how much Sudbury, MA reminds me of Glastonbury. Really scary.  I may not want to live in Glastonbury, but some part of me wanted to raise my kids in a safe place just like it.  Which means, Mason and Jude will probably grow up to be completely bored with Sudbury, count the days until they can get out, and kill time via meaningless acts of youthful rebellion.
  • There’s just no way you can totally outsource a cross country move with two little kids.  I’d say that I outsourced a lot of the heavy lifting and pain points, but I didn’t even come close to making things totally easy on myself.  I’m not sure it can be done.
  • I highly recommend Moovers Inc for any big interstate moves.  They were recommended to me by Delancey Street –  and anyone who has ever hired movers in SF knows that Delancey Street is the way to go.  Moovers Inc was totally professional, friendly, and fair priced.  They were definitely not the most expensive movers I spoke with. Far from it actually.
  • Things I missed the most while Moovers Inc was storing most (almost all) of our stuff: my roadbike, the king size bed Keturah and I have, and our espresso machine
  • Mostly what I was missing was having our own space.  It’s nice having our own closets, our own beds, etc.
  • Redfin was a great service for finding a house.  We started out with a list of about 12 towns in metro Boston that we were considering living in.  Redfin was instrumental in helping us quickly whittle that list down to towns that we focused in on (Sudbury and Wayland) and was also very helpful in helping us find preferred neighborhoods and schools. The people that work for Redfin Boston are great. Highly recommend them.
  • Many thanks to Ryan and Sheri Neuman for helping us with our financing.  Our personal finances are ridiculously complex and without their help, we never would have been able to acquire the great home that we have. 

  1. Despite the fact that the Sox are totally stinking right now. The Bad News Bears would shut them out right now, especially if Amanda was starting. 

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