Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Rangers CF Brandon Boggs; Duran; Saltalamacchia

As I type this, Boggs has swung three times as a major leaguer; the three swings have resulted in two singles and a home run. He has neither swung and missed, swung and hit a foul ball, nor swung and hit a fly ball out or a ground ball out. For good measure, Boggs also has received a 4 pitch base on balls.

Even without having gotten the hits, Boggs would still look like a future hitting success because of his command of his own strike zone. This is very difficult skill/knowledge for hitters to acquire. So many minor leaguers and major leaguers a-l-m-o-s-t succeed, and only fall short because they never acquire this skill of commanding their own strike zone.

From Boggs very first AB in Arlington, it was clear he had this skill. He let teasing pitches, just off the strike zone, go by without so much as checking his swing. How many young hitters - with adrenaline pumping during their major league debuts - can confidently lay off of teasing pitches? It's clear Boggs knows exactly where he wants the pitch, and he knows exactly which pitches he will not offer at. Not many young hitters fully understand that. Some hitters never, ever understand that.

It's also clear Boggs is a cool customer.


After replacing an ejected Ian Kinsler in last night's game, German Duran is today's starter at 3B. Thank goodness. So far, tonight, Duran has a single in his only at bat. Duran, also, displays a strike zone prescience and confidence which Botts and Cruz, for instance, rarely displayed in big league at bats.

Watching Duran play, one has an odd sensation that nothing can keep him from succeeding as a major league player(even though he almost surely will return for a while to AAA). I don't know why I have this sensation when watching him. I've seen lots of young players display lots of varying levels of confidence. Duran just has a really solid game. It's easy to see he has no holes in his swing(he even has HR power), he has no holes in his defense, he has no problem with his speed or with his arm strength, and he appears to have the good face of a player who is focused, confident, and able to move through competitive ups and downs.

How can I look at Duran and be so confident of this? I don't know. I can only compare it to attending a spring training Dallas Cowboys practice last season. I especially wanted to watch Jason Garrett's coaching body language. By the end of the practice, I could tell, from 50 yards distant, Garrett had the "it" which he would need to succeed. You look at Duran and you get the same feeling.


Saltalamacchia, very happily, looks to have a much improved idea at the plate. Last season, Saltalamacchia was all about high adrenaline and swinging from the heels. This season, Saltalamacchia clearly has a plan for each AB, and he is following his plan. He looks much better. I liked him pretty well last season, I like him even better this season. He is now a VERY intriguing prospect - a VERY intriguing hitting prospect. His ceiling is now very high. Saltalamacchia has skills.


Update: in his second AB of tonight, Boggs ripped a line drive JUUUUST foul - just missing a double. He ripped his next swing for a single in the hole. Current Boggs: Five swings, four hits, 1.000 career batting average, one walk. If he retires now, he's at least tied for highest Batting Average of all time.

Jason Botts DFA'd

In my judgment, Jason Botts is very likely to become a championship quality hitter in the major leagues. Might Botts make it through waivers and be assigned to OKC with Nelson Cruz? I don't know how to handicap that. I hope Jon Daniels does.

Botts is PISSED OFF. I'm sure he's hurt. I'm sure he believes he should've been playing in the majors all of last season. I believe that also. If I were Botts, I would want the heck out of Texas. I would believe Jon Daniels, Ron Washington, Nolan Ryan, and Buck Showalter(for good measure) are all idiots. Botts could not have been jerked around by major league management any more than he has been. This season, he has 38 ABs scattered over 13 appearances. In his last 20 trips to the plate, Botts has an OBP of .400(second best on the team). And yet: bye bye. It's crazy. The Rangers have almost zero chance to win a playoff series, yet they jerk Botts around. Stupidity. Botts:
"I think I've been here for a pretty long time and I deserve a fresh start somewhere else. It's not the most negative thing to me right now that this has happened. I'm excited about it."

Asked if he thinks he'll get back to the majors?

"I don't know. I think there's plenty of examples of people leaving the Texas Rangers and going on to really great things. There could be something huge in my future. Kind of an exciting moment."
Think that's snarky? Unclassy? I say: truer words were never spoken.

Rangers management is brain-dead in other ways. Consider:

Blalock is injured. Prospect German Duran is brought to the majors, only to watch Ron Washington start journeyman Ramon Vasquez at 3B in three straight games as Duran sat. What the? What the heck is anyone thinking in Arlington? Is anyone thinking?

Consider: Washington said he would not platoon Ben Broussard. After 9 ABs against LH pitchers, Washington began platooning Ben Broussard. Way to give a guy a chance, Ron. The only guy Ron's giving a chance to is Ramon Vasquez.

Fire Ron Washington. Promote 3B coach Matt Wolbeck. He was an outstanding minor league manager before coming to Arlington.

Either micromanage Jon Daniels, or fire him.

The Soriano trade was horrible. The Chris Young trade was one of the worst trades in history. The John Danks trade looks horrifying. 2007 was over by April 15, yet Daniels allowed Botts to languish in OKC until Aug. 1, then got him semi-sporadic playing time after.

After Nelson Cruz began to destroy AAA pitching in mid 2007, he received extreme sporadic playing time in Arlington at the end of 2007. Nelson Cruz was jerked around, and was given no chance to get in rhythm. No one can effectively judge Cruz' ability based on that unsteady sampling. Cruz had a good winter, a good spring training, and now a good spring. There's every chance Cruz has turned the corner. The 2008 season is a perfect opportunity to give Cruz an extended look.

Daniels has some nice strengths, yet is overmatched in areas where he needs nuanced understanding about how to play the game, about how to mesh together a winning team, about how to judge the Rangers real chances of winning in the short term, and about how to manage his Managers.

If you fire Daniels, promote special assignments scout Jerry Narron to GM. Narron is the consumate baseball man. He understands how to identify and develop young talent - which is what the Rangers need, thanks to Jon Daniels' business strengths(i.e. buy low, sell high). If Narron were the GM, German Duran would be playing 3B in Arlington.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

My Little Ponies

Consistently cute for three straight seasons.

Obama "Obama-speaks"; distances from Wright

Obama said:
The person I saw yesterday was not the person that I met 20 years ago.
Does anyone buy that? Do you buy that?

Notice Obama's infuriating lawyer-speak and parsing. Strictly speaking: NO ONE is the person they were 20 years ago. Obama's parsing is so habitual and so strategic that he has to critique - as from a distance - his own speaking ... in order to be sure we clearly understand what he is saying:
And they[Dr. Wright's statements] should be denounced. And that's what I'm doing very clearly and unequivocally here today.
What kind of speaker has to explain he is denouncing someone? Here's what kind: a compulsive equivocator; a constant parser; a compulsive lawyerspeak-er. A normal person says "I denounce (whatever)" and is done with it. A normal person speaks clearly the first time.

Barack habitually believes his equivocating/parsing/lawyerspeak/good looks/charm will bail him out of jams. Will it? Will parsing/lawyerspeak/good looks/charm bail him out of 20 years in a pew listening to a racist fabulist? Will it bail him out of 20 years in a Black Liberation Theology church - i.e. a Marxist/racist church? If it does, we are not the nation I think we are. The tenets of Black Liberation Theology: Marxism and racism, ought disqualify any adherent from ever receiving enough votes to be President. I think our nation agrees - even if the Democratic Party does not.

Text of Obama's remarks

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Dr. Jeremiah Wright at NAACP

First: CNN studio host Rick Sanchez may as well don a cheerleading skirt, pom-poms, and a sweater which says "Barack". I mean ... REALLY. Sanchez is unbelievable. It's hard to think of a less competent, more biased American journalist.

Second: the NAACP offered this speaking slot in an effort to rehabilitate Sen. Obama. The rationale: a) Rev. Wright gives a non-racist, non-Marxist, non-America-blaming speech at the NAACP; then b) ipso facto, Rev. Wright has therefore never given racist, Marxist, America blaming speeches in the past. Instead, Rev. Wright has merely been taken out of context.

This is a non-sequitur. That this speech tonight might've been largely unobjectionable (did anyone expect different?) does not mean Rev. Wright has not given objectionable speeches in the past.

Further, the "out of context" rationale is specious. I've read very large excerpts surrounding Rev. Wright's recent famous statements(i.e. Goddamn America; U.S. Government intentionally infected blacks with AIDS; America deserved 9/11 because we bombed innocents). THE TRUTH IS the larger the Rev. Wright excerpt you read, the more objectionable Rev. Wright's comments become. Playing short excerpts actually does Rev. Wright and Barack Obama a favor. Obama and his supporters can only claim "out of context" b/c they know few will read the extended comments, and most will believe Rich Sanchez' assurances about "out of context."

Pre-speech: NAACP gives Wright an award "for speaking truth to power". Heh. The NAACP satirizes itself.

NAACP introducer (Dr. Wendell Anthony) emphasizes Rev. Wright was "taken out of context", and that is not going to happen tonight. The introducer compares Rev. Wright's persecution to MLK, Nelson Mandela, and Jesus. Rick Sanchez later says the introduction "makes very important points."

Dr. Wright's major theme:

"In the past, we were taught to see those of other religions as somehow being deficient." "...abnormal, subspecies, or somehow deficient." Condensed: we were snobs in many areas: music, culture, language, et al.

"We established arbitrary norms. But a change is coming, b/c we no longer see others who are different as deficient. We just see them as different."

The extended theme: Barack Obama (my protege! all hail me!) will lead the change.

The rest of the speech revolves around the theme, and amounts to: a scolding for believing "different" is "deficient"; an extended excuse for lack of black education and economic progress; and an exhortation for black people to become more educated and to make more economic progress.

I only want to note this about Dr. Wright's theme: I do not think different is deficient. I think deficient is deficient. I suspect most Americans think the same way I do.

Dr. Wright is very smart man. I suspect Dr. Wright understands our (mainstream?)American thinking perfectly well. I suspect Dr. Wright ignores his understanding of our thinking ... in the interest of advancing Black Liberation Theology(and it's inherent Marxism) ... and in the interest of advancing the fame and the power of Dr. Jeremiah Wright.

I suspect Sen. and Mrs. Obama fell into the trap of believing what Dr. Jeremiah Wright has been preaching. They didn't know any better - which is not a good recommendation for a President and a First Lady.

In a way, this election amounts to a national referendum on Black Liberation Theology, it's Marxist underpinnings, and it's assertions of white guilt. Does the nation believe in these concepts? Does the nation want a President who believes in these concepts?

The Anchoress has written that no one should be vilified for their religion. If religion and politics are kept separate, I agree. In such case, religion deserves to be a private matter, and a candidate ought not be expected to explain religious minutiae.

However, Black Liberation Theology is an intentional intermingling of religion, Marxist economics, and leftist politics. As such, it must be examined. It especially must be examined in this case, as Sen. Obama does not have a long record to run on. The nation is still trying to grasp who Senator Obama is. Many (even Sen. Obama's aides and advisers) say: "I 'believe' Sen. Obama believes this...." Few say, with conviction: "Sen. Obama believes this...." Sen. Obama is slippery that way.

Update - VDH:

As I said before, between Wright's racism and hatred, and Obama's contextualization of what he has said, we have so lowered the bar that the next racist (and he won't necessarily be black) who evokes hatred of other races and then offers a mish-mash pop theory of genetic differences will have plenty of "context" to ward off public fury.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

O'Keeffe "Canyon with Crows, 1917"

Blog vacation continues. I don't have things to express.

Last week, I visited Palo Duro Canyon, part of which is depicted in the Georgia O'Keeffe painting above. The canyon was bigger and better than I expected. It is a cousin of the Grand Canyon, and is geologist heaven: cut from a river running through for ages. The maroon, burnt orange, and other hues of the canyon walls are spectacular. The Red River originates to the west. It trickles through the canyon as no more than a creek(as far as I could tell).

A half hour before sunset, I counted 33 hawks floating on the thermals blowing through the canyon walls. I was down in the canyon, and soon enough saw rabbits on the canyon floor. You can't help rooting for the rabbits to get themselves into the underbrush, and away from the danger of the hawks.

Rabbits were food for prehistoric man. I'll bet the cousins of those hawks have been hunting the cousins of those rabbits ever since prehistoric men walked the earth. My own prehistoric cousins might've looked upon the same tableau.

You can drive into and through Palo Duro Canyon. You can camp, hike, bike, and rent horses to ride on guided tours(I can't remember the price, but it seemed very reasonable when they told it to me). Anyway: very nice. Like an intimate Grand Canyon. If Palo Duro were not so very distant from all major population centers, I think it would be more celebrated.

The drive into the canyon from the west is very flat - so flat you can see downtown Amarillo 20 miles to the north. To the south, the earth finally makes a tiny rise which cuts down the miles long views in that direction. Then you begin to see glimpses of the winding gorges of Palo Duro Canyon - and they are below you. The canyon is below the ground level of the flat expansive prairie. It cannot be seen until you are directly beside and on top of it. This was a surprising feeling: to be on prairie, looking down at mountainous walls. One is accustomed to looking up at mountains. Palo Duro Canyon is mountains in a cellar.

Monday, April 07, 2008

O'Keeffe "Red Canna"

After this post and the preceding "Mule Deer Skull" post, I declare blog vacation: all week, maybe longer. God bless.


One of my comments (edited) from this post at Rachel Lucas place
I disagree, in a friendly yet definite way, with your assertion that everything - or most everything - about a religion must be true if a religion is to be truth. I assert the exact opposite: If one miracle of Jesus is truth, then Christianity is truth. If Muhammad rode his flying horse even one time, then Islam is truth.

I also disagree with describing religion as a “system” of beliefs. I tweak a Southpark underpants gnomes scene.
Evangelical Gnome A:
See, "believe in Jesus" is Phase 1.

So, what’s Phase 2?

Evangelical Gnome A:
...(looks perplexed)... (shouts out:) Hey, what's Phase 2?

Evangelical Gnome B:
Phase 1: "Believe in Jesus."

Evangelical Gnome A:
Yeah yeah yeah, but: what's Phase 2?

Evangelical Gnome B:
(thinking hard) Well, Phase 3 is "Go to Heaven". Get it?

I don't get it.

Evangelical Gnome B:
(goes to chart on easel) You see, Phase 1: Believe in Jesus. (moves right)Phase 2...(shrugs arms out to sides, palms up. moves right again) Phase 3: Go to Heaven.

Oh. I get it.

No you don't, fat-ass!
Phase 2 is unique to each individual. It is often too profound to be categorized as a phase, a step, or as anything which can be conveyed. Doing so diminishes in a misleading fashion. Phase 2 is profound truth. It is demarcation. It must be lived and experienced. It cannot be transmitted as a tale or a story.
Maybe I come off as understanding Christianity better than I actually do. But, the comment does describe how I perceive this portion of the Christian experience.


Bonus, for the road:
MKH tries to match Barack's bowling score of 37. Can she do it?!

Bonus 2:
Brandi Carlile being positively delighted that Shawn Colvin sang with her and liked her song. The video is of "Calling All Angels", and the part not to miss is just a tiny moment in the final 15 seconds of the video. It's just a tiny human moment. But those are the best kind. Brandi says, with feeling: "Shawn Colvin!" as a way of inviting the crowd to acknowledge Shawn Colvin.

You can see that Shawn was into the song, and was thinking something along the lines of "this is a nice arrangement and a nice performance". After, Shawn whispers into Brandi's ear, and Brandi just beams like a puppy. And she says into the microphone, in an unconsciously big and beaming country twang: "Shawn Colvin", and Brandi is just as happy as a girl can be that Shawn Colvin sang with her and liked her song. Way cute.

I esp. like it (and I've now built it up waaaay too much) b/c Brandi fancies herself a 26 year old rock and rollish tough chick who: drops occasional f-bombs during interviews with alternative radio stations, and is some type of true-blue music rebel. But, sometimes, such as when Shawn Colvin sings with her and appreciates her music, Brandi momentarily forgets she is a tough chick, and she unconsciously reverts to a little girl with a big twang. It is funny. At least until she drops the next f-bomb during the next obscure internet interview - which even then reminds of how the little twangy girl is trying so hard to be the tough worldly chick - which is still fun and funny, albeit in an affected cynical f-bomb kind of way. Heh.

And, you know, now I've written 150 words about 1 tiny second of video. And I don't care. I liked the 1 second of video. I like the tiny moments.

I've watched a whole batch of Cayamo Cruise cell phone videos. It seems there were a bunch of veteran musicians booked for the cruise, plus Brandi Carlile. Was she sort of the mascot? Were the middle aged and older musicians tempted to rub her head and to chuck her lovingly on the chin? When they had a set scheduled, were they saying: somebody call Brandi and see if she'll come by and sing with us. ? Here's another view of "The Weight" performance on the ship. The audio is poor, but you can see (50 seconds in) Brandi being cued to come onstage by Edwin McCain's nodding cowboy hat. She has no idea when to begin singing her verse, so he cowboy hat cues her again(@1:54).
from "Calling All Angels", by Jane Siberry:

"But if you you think you would
trade in all the pain and suffering?
ah, but then you'd miss
the beauty of the light upon this earth
and the sweetness of the leaving."

O'Keeffe "Mule Deer Skull and Flowers"

The skull represents Texas Rangers pitching over the previous decade. The flowers represent the unfolding beautiful future.

The Texas Rangers soft-toss/control pitcher Starting Pitcher prospects
(these lists do not include the Rangers' sizable pool of talented young relievers):

LH Kason Gabbard: gutsy. smart.
Brandon McCarthy: finicky. I worry.
Luis Mendoza: this "control pitcher" listing is a bit unfair, as Mendoza can touch 91-92.

Potential Arrival 2009:

LH A.J. Murray: a personal favorite. I expect Murray to succeed somewhere in the major leagues.
LH Matt Harrison
Michael Schlact: Could quickly distinguish himself. 6'7" with intelligence and competitive make-up.
Doug Mathis

Texas Rangers low 90's heat Starting Pitcher prospects:

Scott Feldman(!) from Mike Hindman:
It (exhibition against Rangers major leaguers) was our first chance to get a look at Scott Feldman as a starter since 2004.
The all-new Feldman -- throwing from a high three-quarters delivery rather than the sweeping sidearm he'd employed previously -- was sharp, pounding the strike zone with a very lively 92-94 mph four-seamer, heavy 90 mph sinkers and some biting sliders. Through six innings, Feldman surrendered three innocuous hits and one mammoth jack by Ian Kinsler that cleared the street behind the left-field entrance gate. Feldy fanned six and walked just one.
Feldman is tall, competitive, intelligent, and can control his pitches. He has a good chance to gel, and it could happen quickly.

Update: I wrote the above before Friday night's Feldman performance(from Scott Lucas):
Scott Feldman carried a perfect game into the 5th and a no-hitter into the 7th. He grudgingly permitted one run and completed seven innings with only five baserunners allowed and two strikeouts. 14 of the 22 balls hit into play against him were grounders. As Feldman walked off the mound, he pointed at some indeterminate spot in the sky and bellowed, “You option me at your peril, Jon Daniels! I will smite you with my new three-quarter delivery!” Then he calmed down.
Dustin Nippert: works at 92-93, can amp up a bit more. Is 6'7", which helps 92 look fast. Nippert is in the major leagues, and is working to improve his fastball control. He's a starting pitcher if he does. He's a Fort Worth Cat if he doesn't.
John Patterson: a talented major league pitcher if he can get healthy. Is 6'5". Used to throw 95 with "a hook from hell."
Eric Hurley: 6'4". Works at 92 with outstanding fastball control. Can amp up faster.

Potential Arrival 2009ish:

Josh Rupe: works at 94.
Thomas Diamond: works at 92-93.

For once, the Texas Rangers have plenty of pitching. The Rangers can suffer pitching injuries, have solid prospects fail, and still have enough pitching at the major league level.


Saturday, April 05, 2008

O'Keeffe: Peach and Glass

Every spring, Google sends what I assume are fathers(and some mothers?) and Little League coaches to my blogpost: Everything I Know About Batting. I'm very proud of that post. It is meat and potatoes. It's important to not overcomplicate coaching instruction.

In this blog, I am not trying to "do" any particular good thing. I simply use this blog to express myself. If I could paint, sculpt, dance, or play the guitar or the piano: then I might be expressing myself through those instead. Everyone has things to express. This is my outlet.

If I have - on the way to selfishly expressing myself for my own enjoyment - accidentally accomplished one worthwhile thing, maybe Everything I Know About Batting is it. Googlers have read it - both last spring and this spring - at exactly this time of year: just as Little League is getting started. I am very happy about that. I hope it helps some of them.

Here's an example of a Google search: STOP SWINGING AT HIGH BALLS
Link This query called up approx 100,000 hits, and Everything I Know About Batting was #1 on the Google list. Hooray!

Ironically: I don't know, for certain, how to get a child to stop swinging at high balls. I suspect the solution is almost as much a spiritual fix as a technical fix. In the interim: "Swing level" is a good starting point. It's difficult to both swing level and swing at high pitches. At a minimum, it requires some unnatural contortion. The other thing is: never, ever swing at high pitches. Not in batting practice (this is a common mistake allowed by unknowing coaches pitching to tiny hitters); not in Wiffle Ball or softball (hit the softball chest high, and no higher); not at a birthday party Pinata. Not ever. Not EVER.

Whew. Just had to express that!

Friday, April 04, 2008

O'Keeffe "Calla Lilies"

Nothing else is as beautiful, or as truthful, as any of God's actual creations.

O'Keeffe is not trying for beauty. She is trying for how it feels to look closely at Calla Lilies.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

O'Keeffe: U.S. Postage Stamp

I write as the Rangers have a 0-1 record, and are losing 4-3 in the 8th inning of the season's second game in Seattle:

by golly, the Rangers are a legitimate threat to make the playoffs.

Key #1: Kevin Millwood is in shape, and looked outstanding last night.

Key #2: Vincent Padilla is in shape, and looked outstanding tonight. Padilla showed, tonight, that he was obviously injured last season. He worked at 95 mph, touched 97, and dominated Seattle with his fastball. Last season his starts were dominated by his curve; tonight he barely threw the curve. He alternated 4 seam and 2 seam fastballs. His 2 seam had sink in the heavy air, and Seattle never knew which fastball was coming at them. If Padilla played home games in Seattle, he might win 18 games.

Key #3: The Rangers hitting approach is completely different: they are grinding pitchers. They are unrecognizable as a Rangers batting line-up. Milton Bradley obviously dominates his own strike zone. Josh Hamilton has outstanding recognition of what is and is not a strike. Young and Blalock and Kinsler are working pitchers. Tonight, Blalock doubled down the left-field line. All good signs for the Rangers offense. The results have not yet shown in the win column, yet these are very good signs. And who do the Rangers send to the mound tomorrow(?): Jason Jennings - a solid and smart major league pitcher. Such has not always been the case with Texas Rangers #3 starters.

Next to Next to last - it's nothing which wasn't already known, but Josh Hamilton is about as fun to watch as a baseball player can be. He's the effing re-incarnation of Mickey Mantle. There's nothing he cannot do on a baseball field. He ought be nicknamed Superman: he's faster than a speeding bullet and more powerful than a locomotive. He throws big; he throws accurately. He has outstanding idea of the strike zone. He's beaten out infield hits both of the last two nights. Ron Washington says he can bunt for hits. He's run long distances - in both directions - to track down balls on the run. He Willie Mays-ed a basket catch going backwards, and soft crashed into the wall.

Next to Last - there's a lot of speculation that David Murphy caught a hot streak at the end of last season, and really is not as good as he looked during those weeks. That may be true, yet you can neither tell it by Murphy this spring, nor by Murphy in these two opening games. Murphy continues hitting line drives off both LH and RH pitchers. Murphy may actually be no better than a fourth OF, yet - both last season and right now - he looks every bit like Rusty Greer with better speed. For Murphy to be a fourth OF, his play has to go backwards.

Last - the bad(horrid): Rangers defense cost them both last night and tonight. Michael Young and Ian Kinsler have 5 errors between them in the two games. Gerald Laird has been a passed ball machine on both nights. I do not expect the horrible defense to continue.

Josh "Superman" Hamilton, the effing reincarnation of Mickey Mantle, the most fun baseball player to watch since Ozzie Smith retired, hit a 2 run homer in the 9th. C.J. Wilson got the save(Key #4: check!), getting Ichiro to ground out with the tying run on second base. Rangers win 5-4. The Rangers are the dark horse American League team of 2008. Shhh. Don't tell anyone.

Update II:
Superman Hamilton in the post game interview:

Interviewer: Josh, take us through the at bat.
Hamilton: The first pitch, I have no idea what it was: I swung and hit it.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

O'Keeffe "Dark Iris I"

Been watching lots of female music performances on You Tube. This means, of course:
more Brandi Carlile blogging!

First: I've You Tubed Brandi singing "Folsom Prison Blues" at several venues. She revs up her audience every time. A fun performance at House of Blues, in Dallas. Brandi's got her Boy Scout shirt on; her hair hangin down in her face; and she's workin those lyrics up, down, and around. What I appreciate about Brandi, more than anything: SHE JUST LIKES PLAYING THE MUSIC. Watch her. She genuinely just likes playing the music. It's performance and it's fun.

Second: Brandi and the twins are off to tour through Australia and England. They are becoming more known, as several venues in England are sold out in advance.

Third: After England, Brandi and the boys are taking three months off for rest, and they need it. They've been touring really heavily for over a year. On You Tube, you can literally track them becoming more and more worn down by life on the road. In spring and summer of 2007, Brandi looks fresh. By fall and winter of '07, playing what looks like 4 and 5 nights a week - a different town every night - you see her starting to look more wan and worn down. By spring 2008, she is soldiering forward, yet telltale signs of the physical toll are obvious.

In Feb '08, Brandi performed with Shawn Colvin, Lyle Lovett, Emmylou Harris, and other musicians on "Cayamo Cruise", which was a cruise for music fans. The musicians performed in multiple venues on the ship. Everything was very relaxed, and I noticed both Brandi and Shawn Colvin seemed a bit tipsy during a performance. I figure Brandi had a little Keith Richards life on the road I'm so weary thing going on. Here's Cayamo Brandi singing "The Weight"(and missing her cue, though not due to alcohol consumption). Brandi has a small part about 30 seconds in. When she can sing low, her voice has heart. It hints at something true, and it draws you in.

Fourth: Brandi's biggest hit so far is "The Story". It starts acoustic, and slowish, then goes electric and fastish. When recording it, Brandi's record company producer would not let her play guitar on her very own song on her very own CD. As she began recording the vocals, she was frustrated and incensed. She sang a note in an angry way, as she was being pouty and giving attitude to the jerks who wouldn't let her play her guitar. She accidentally cracked the note, and everyone really liked it, and that's the version they put out on the album. Now, in every concert, everyone waits for her to sing that cracked note. K.D. Lang was worried about Brandi's voice, and told her if the cracked note hurt she should just stop singing it.

Note also, in this performance - which is also at House of Blues in Dallas - Brandi is developing real fans. Everyone in the audience knows the proper lyrics, and Brandi seems delighted by that.

Notice what a natural performer she is. She is completely confident in her musicianship. She doesn't have to worry and overconcentrate on playing and singing proper notes, and this frees her up to flirt with the audience, and to have fun playing the music.

The Story Lyrics; Year: 2007

All of these lines across my face
Tell you the story of who I am
So many stories of where I've been
And how I got to where I am
But these stories don't mean anything
When you've got no one to tell them to
It's true...I was made for you
I climbed across the mountain tops
Swam all across the ocean blue
I crossed all the lines and I broke all the rules
But baby I broke them all for you
Because even when I was flat broke
You made me feel like a million bucks
You do
I was made for you
You see the smile that's on my mouth
It's hiding the words that don't come out
And all of my friends who think that I'm blessed
They don't know my head is a mess
No, they don't know who I really am
And they don't know what
I've been through like you do
And I was made for you...
All of these lines across my face
Tell you the story of who I am
So many stories of where I've been
And how I got to where I am
But these stories don't mean anything
When you've got no one to tell them to
It's true...I was made for you.

The Story Lyrics on