Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Snowball fight

Reports have come in that two police officers in Berlin, Germany, were assaulted by twenty-five youths after the cops refused to leave the area per the demands of the children. The wintry battery grew to 40 young people, who pelted the officers...with snowballs.

Fortunately, German police have long been trained in using actual weapons, the boys were scattered thanks to pepper spray. Gee, I wish I could have seen that. Where is a good camera phone when you need one?

Some of the youths were arrested, but it's not clear what charges they will face. Obviously, they won't be executed. On the other side of the Atlantic, even America's death row inmates will not be killed. Prisons simply do not have the money to execute death row inmates, as it is typically more expensive to axe inmates than keep them alive. That's one of the arguments I used to offer when arguing against capital punishment, but fortunately the free market has taken care of things!

Norwegians don't have it so lucky, as they continue to kill 500 reindeer per year with their automobiles. The beasts have been outfitted with reflective collars, allowing them to be more visible. It makes me think everyone in Norway should wear the collars, thus avoiding pedestrian accidents as well.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

ChrisV82mas Day 25

When I was a child, Christmas was my favorite holiday. The myth, the magic, the family (the presents!), it was just such a wonderful time of year. As an adult, I see that the myth was a lie, the magic is gone, and, unfortunately, the family is non-existent. In its place is a grossly commercial, crass spectacle where the emphasis is on spending money, which leads to a wildly diverse mix of disappointment, violence, debt and greed. Oh, and the "reason" for the season, baby Jesus? At best, an afterthought. At worst, an excuse to be miserable towards each other. I think Tankard says it best, "Fuck Christmas."

Friday, December 24, 2010

ChrisV82mas Day 24

There are two Christmas songs that always have amazing and touching vocal performances, "Silent Night" and "Emmanuel." Rob Halford of Judas Priest has one of the best voices in music. So, combine Rob with "Emmanuel" and you get this. I may have slowed it down a bit to allow his vocals a better opportunity to shine, but overall, it's good.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

ChrisV82mas Day 23

Austrian Death Machine is a side project or As I Lay Dying vocalist Tim Lambesis. The Austrian Death Machine in question is, of course, Arnold Schwarzenegger. Here is "Jingle Bells."

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

ChrisV82mas Day 22

The pioneering black metal band, Venom, gave us the greatest gift since the birth of manger baby - "Black XMas." Rock out!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

ChrisV82mas Day 21

I've spoken at length about how I thought the combination of Dio and Iommi created one of my favorite sounds (i.e. Black Sabbath mark II and Heaven & Hell). So when those two teamed up to release "God Rest Ye Merry Gentleman," it sounded just like an original Sabbath composition, with an incredible riff and chilling vocals. They took a hokey song and made it sound absolutely amazing.

Monday, December 20, 2010

ChrisV82mas Day 20

When King Diamond left Mercyful Fate, one of the first singles he released was "No Presents for Christmas." It's easily one of the most, if not THE most, popular metal Christmas song.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

ChrisV82mas Day 19

220 Volt is a Swedish heavy metal band that primarily operated in the 80s, although the group is still active today. The group released one of the earliest metal Christmas songs unique in lyrical content, "Heavy Christmas." I don't know why the Swedes get so into the holiday. Maybe their better health care, vacation time, education system, jobs and crime rates make them happier. Who knows, really?

Saturday, December 18, 2010

ChrisV82mas Day 18

"Christmas With the Devil" is the perfect kind of Spinal Tap song, a heavy metal parody/homage with tongue-in-cheek satanic lyrics about the winter holiday. Originally released as a single in 1984, it was later recorded again and released as part of their album "Break With the Wind."

Friday, December 17, 2010

ChrisV82mas Day 17

MxPx released a compilation album of Christmas songs a few years ago. This one, "Christmas Night of the Living Dead," is easily my favorite. Hey, did you enjoy "The Walking Dead" on AMC? Well, then, this song is also about zombies.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

ChrisV82mas Day 16

Deathrock band Alien Sex Fiend gave us this gothic Christmas carol in 1987. "Let's make this Christmas one to remember. Let's stay drunk from January 'til December." Here's "Stuff the Turkey." Enjoy (this Christmas...it might be your last).

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

ChrisV82mas Day 15

Weezer is a well known alternative rock band. This song, "Christmas Celebration," is catchy. That's about all I have to say.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

ChrisV82mas Day 14

I said earlier that The Yobs are the best band for Christmas. A close second is The Vandals, who released a great yuletide record in 1996 entitled Oi to the World, which contained such great tracks as "Grandpa's Last Xmas," "Christmas Time for My Penis," "Thanx for Nothing," and the above, "My First Xmas (As a Woman)" The whole album is fantastic.

Monday, December 13, 2010

ChrisV82mas Day 13

A snowman will make me happy. You, too. Here's "Snowman" by The Anti-Nowhere League, which originally appeared on their 1980 debut record.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

ChrisV82mas Day 12

When I first hear this song by Billy Idol, it kind of sounds a bit commercial, a bit corporate. It doesn't have the same soul and grit as most of the other tracks I've shared thus far, but give it enough time and "Yellin' at the Christmas Tree" really grows on you. Fun lyrics, catchy music, and better than your usual holiday schlock on the radio.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

ChrisV82mas Day 11

Unfortunately, this next song is not available for streaming on the Internet. However, if you think you'd enjoy a song called "Daddy Drank Our Christmas Money," then you may want to take a leap of faith and download this tune by TVTV$.

Friday, December 10, 2010

ChrisV82mas Day 10

The Damned were one of the earliest punk bands to break onto the music scene, releasing their debut album in 1977. Along the way of a lengthy career, they found the time to release this little ditty, the title of which is a nod to The Marx Brothers.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

ChrisV82mas Day 9

No band has done more for Christmas, as far as I'm concerned, then the Yobs, the holiday alter ego of the early punk band The Boys. They released a series of singles, finally an album, and then a second album of holiday tunes. They included bizarre covers of traditional songs, such as a Silent Night and Jingle Bells, as well as originals such as this one, "Another Christmas." An absolute delight!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

ChrisV82mas Day 8

The Indy punk band Sloppy Seconds released a Christmas EP in 1992, which included a cover of the theme song for "Santa Claus Versus the Martians," which is called "Hooray for Santa Claus." Hooray!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

ChrisV82mas Day 7

One Christmas I received a Weird Al Yankovic album which contained "Christmas at Ground Zero." I listened to that song with immense pleasure. I was such a huge Weird Al fan, his sense of humor suited me quite well. Even with time passed, I think this track stands up quite well. Rumor has it Weird Al wrote this song when his record company asked him to create a Christmas tune. I'm not sure what they were expecting, but they got SOMETHING all right.

Monday, December 6, 2010

ChrisV82mas Day 6

The terribly named The Canadian Dollars released a song on one of Suburban Sprawl Music's annual Christmas anthologies. There's no video for it, but you can stream (or download) the song if you want to hear it. I would recommend the listen, even though I'm not in love with the sound, it's still a nice counter to the usual holiday pop drivel.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

ChrisV82mas Day 5

Calibretto (13) was an acoustic punk band that graced us with this nice holiday ditty about a boy finding out that "Santa Claus is just a man." Here's "Merry Freakin' Christmas" by Calibretto.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

ChrisV82mas Day 4

"You'll probably get sweaters, underwear and socks, but what you'd really like for Christmas is a nice hard cock." And that's how Pansy Division's "Homo Christmas" begins. What else do you need?

Friday, December 3, 2010

ChrisV82mas Day 3

The Sonics released a Christmas album in 1966 which featured songs by them (see one posted yesterday), the Wailers and the Galaxies, all garage rock bands out of Seattle in the mid-60s. This one by the Wailers, "Christmas Spirit," kind of has a Bob Dylan feel to it, which works.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

ChrisV82mas Day 2

The Sonics' "Don't Believe In Christmas" may be the perfect holiday song. The music itself is impressive, a blue structure with a driving rhythm section and classic organ music. Add to that non-traditional lyrics that pierce the veil of Christmas without getting too malicious or spiritual, and you have a fine tune that can be enjoyed by all.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

ChrisV82mas Day 1

Let's start it off right, "Please Daddy (Don't Get Drunk This Christmas)" by John Denver, a classic melody by a classic country songsmith. It's a tune that's supposed to be sad, but it's played upbeat, yet still a perfect counterpoint to all the holiday schmaltz we normally hear. Denver played it with sincerity, but I can't help but chuckle when I give it a spin.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Drumline: What a Feeling!

On a whim, I decided to see if I could find any videos of marching bands playing the Irene Cara song "Flashdance (What a Feeling)."

Everything about this video is absurd.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

ChrisV82mas: A Prequel

Every day beginning on December 1st and running through December 25th, I will be posting one video of a song about Christmas. These are all non-traditional, i.e. things you will not hear on the radio, satellite or otherwise. As such, I've skipped some good ones by the Ramones and Run DMC just because there's a fair chance you will hear these driving in your car or see them on VH1. Not often, but enough. Plus, people already know those.

So, stay tuned, enjoy the holiday season (whatever you celebrate), and I hope the stores you shop in aren't cranking out the syrup from the speakers.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Pope-a, he's-a so nice-a

His Holiness, The Pope(TM), has recently decided that condom use is less evil than spreading AIDS.
Using a condom is a lesser evil than transmitting HIV to a sexual partner—even if that means a woman will avert a possible pregnancy, the Vatican said Tuesday.

In a book released Tuesday, Benedict said condom use by prostitutes is a lesser evil because the prostitute would be aiming to protect a partner from a deadly infection. Benedict received a copy of the book Light of the World during an audience Tuesday with its author, Peter Seewald.
Some Catholics are beginning to backpedal, while others are upset over the declaration.

I do find it funny that there are Catholics who feel the need to clarify the Pope, and also Catholics who feel the need to question the Pope. There is no one more powerful in the Church on Earth for Catholics than The Pope. To be Catholic is to believe in the power of the Pope. Otherwise, you could be, I dunno, Methodist. It's not like one is Catholic for the exorcisms and literal blood drinking.

So, if Catholics believe the Pope is the final authority on all things religious, why are they either questioning or interpreting him? That's muddying the message. Leave it be, and let the Holy Spirit reveal the truth of his words to you.

I'm just kidding, of course. The Pope is merely a shield for people to hide behind, a constitution to justify their already cemented beliefs, and a canvas to spray with grape juice.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Across the Universe

Days after popular website The Huffington Post announced it was creating a new section to provide dating info, parenting tips, financial guidance, legal advice, et al for people who check "Divorced" on their official forms, NBA athlete Steve Nash announced he and his wife, Alejandro, were splitting. The news came the day after their son was born, so I'm wondering when he served her with the papers. I presume she wasn't using the Divorce Complaint to wipe the sweat from her brow during the delivery, but even if he gave it to her a few weeks before childbirth, that still stinks like an infant's bowel movement.

As I am in the business of divorce, I am sensitive to relationships, what keeps them healthy and what causes them to end. I believe that just because a relationship ends does not mean the time when it worked wasn't great. Yes, some marriages suck, but sometimes people drift apart. In fact, I think given enough time, all relationships would end. Maybe not friendships, although they would probably become distant. If we lived to be 1,000 years old, I don't think any of us would stay married for 500 years, except for those few miserable people who stay together because they have no other options.

I think this because no two people are perfectly alike or compatible. Imagine two lines that look parallel, but one is 1/1,000,000th of a percentage off. While those two lines will ride together for a long time, eventually they will be distant enough from each other that it will be quite noticeable.

This brings me back to my original point. If you've been together for 25 years and you wake up one day and realize the person you fell in love with all those decades ago just seems like a different person, it may be because they are. And so may you. Our life experiences guide us and change us, and we don't always go in the same direction. That doesn't mean the years prior weren't wonderful. Just because something ends doesn't take away from the quality of when it was around, if in fact it was good. Nothing lasts; we just try to get the most out of things when we have them.

This also doesn't mean everyone has to separate. I said earlier that all people will eventually grow apart given time. That time may not be in our lifetimes. For those people who die still in love with their partners, they are fortunate. That may be one of the gifts of our brief existences.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Burning a sinner

Today is election day in the United States of Amurkuh, and in my district, there is a tight race between a conservative Democrat, a conservative Republican (and former professional athlete!), a conservative Libertarian (doesn't think gays should be allowed to marry, how very libertarian), and two conservative independent candidates. As someone that is fairly liberal, I may end up voting for myself.

The liberal position on the death penalty is that it should be abolished, and that is a position I've held for a long time. People like comedian David Cross, the NWOBHM band Witchfinder General, and my friend Maria, all basically share the same thought, that if you skullfuck a child and burn it alive afterward, you should be killed. I mean, that's a reasonable position.

My stance on the death penalty has actually begun to shift, but not because I think these psychopaths (the murderers, not the people mentioned above) should be removed from society. No, it's because I think if you kill someone when you're 22, keeping you in prison until you're 85 is almost more inhumane than just executing them. It's practically a form of torture, which I know the U.S. endorses. That actually creates a conflict between America's love of blood and America's love of torture.

The problem is that many innocent people are executed by our justice system. It's not so much that the guilty have to pay but that someone needs to pay. Also, they're still bad guys, or at least poor people, right? So who cares?

I don't have a solution for that, but I do have a half-formed proposal. Have a trial with a jury of old people and the functionally literate, and then allow the inmate to go through the entire spectrum of his appeals process before a the decision of whether to execute is decided. Once that is finished, only a higher court can issue a decision on whether to convert the sentence to death. I would only feel comfortable with at least a three judge appellate court making a decision, rather than a dopey jury (or some secret panel).

Is that an ideal solution? Who knows? Ideally, we should correct the social and economic problems that lead people to murder, but that's really hard and takes time, money and effort, which is lame. Perhaps we should just let death row inmates fight to the death in gladiator like competitions. It would give the networks another reality show to promote.

Monday, November 1, 2010

This makes me happy

Saturday, October 9, 2010

We respect the keyboards

Every so often there is a rock song with prominent keyboards that hits big on the charts. Today, I share with you some lesser known acts who know (or knew) how to make the keyboard a "key" part of the rock and roll experience. See what I did? With the "key" reference? I know you're on board.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

I share some crap with you

If you have the time, I suggest you watch it. Is has been my favorite documentary of the year, although I admit to not seeing many feature length documentaries. Of course, in the good old days, a documentary could be 45 minutes long. Why the hell do they need to be two hours? If I wanted to learn, I'd go to school! Well, actually, that's not a good place to learn, either.

Don't get me wrong, length isn't indicative of quality...a 2 1/2 hour documentary can certainly be engaging. In the same respect, just because this one falls short of an hour doesn't mean it isn't quality enjoyment.

And just like taking a dump outside, it doesn't miss its mark.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Cop dramas for the modern era

Castle (2009 - )

The Unusuals (2009)

The Glades (2010)

What do Nathon Fillion, Jeremy Renner, and Matt Passmore have in common? Well, they've all appeared on hour long television police mystery series.

What, you think they look alike? Pish posh. Passmore doesn't have blue eyes like the others.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

But...I like this book

Newsweek recently released a list of the best countries to live in (I would say "in the world," but that's redundant, isn't it?...not to Newsweek). Your Scandinavian countries rank highly, probably because of pristine environs and great health care. Not surprisingly, the United States didn't rank in the top ten, but surprisingly, Australia did.

It came in fourth.

Now, I don't want to say Australia is a shithole, but fourth best? That's almost bronze medal territory. What did they do to deserve that honor?

Well, anyway, good for them. I won't be going there anytime soon, but I'm sure it's a lovely country. However, that isn't good enough for them. Australia also wants to shit all over Everything is Illuminated, the first novel by Jonathan Safran Foer. It was later turned into a movie by Liev Schreiber. I enjoy both of the products, but the book is more quirky.

Well, Honda of Australia says that the novel is hipster. Wha? This is news to me. I don't claim to have my finger on the pulse of hispterism, but usually hipsters and I have as much in common as Gordon Gecko and Janis Joplin. I know the novel is quirky, but how could something turned into a major motion picture be an icon of the hipster movement? It just doesn't make sense.

In conclusion, fuck you, Australia, for bringing this to my attention.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Choose your mosques

The controversy surrounding the "Ground Zero Mosque" is deeply depressing. President Obama gave a reasonable explanation of why the community and religious center should be allowed to be built, but the vitriol directed at both Obama and the building is shocking.

Ignoring the actual Constitutional text ("Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof"), I was under the impression that the new wave of Conservatives wanted smaller government, i.e. less government interference. Why, then, demand the government stop the construction of this project? It calls to mind other small government conservatives, such as New Jersey governor Chris Christie, who recently took over control of Atlantic City, or on a lesser scale, the tea party members who deride other people's handouts while continuing to take for themselves.

I don't mind people holding opposing views to my own. I mean, certainly I disagree with the views themselves, but there is a certain level of respect for people who live by their beliefs. The phonies, the hypocrites, the connivers - I don't care for them. If you're a small government conservative, then be that way. Keep the government out of our religion, out of our marriage, out of our reproduction. Be consistent. Don't use government only when it is suitable to oneself, and don't use government to oppress others.

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, for whatever faults he may have, illustrated the point perfectly:
“The simple fact is, this building is private property, and the owners have a right to use the building as a house of worship, and the government has no right whatsoever to deny that right. And if it were tried, the courts would almost certainly strike it down as a violation of the U.S. Constitution.

“Whatever you may think of the proposed mosque and community center, lost in the heat of the debate has been a basic question: Should government attempt to deny private citizens the right to build a house of worship on private property based on their particular religion? That may happen in other countries, but we should never allow it to happen here.
Otherwise, just drop the pretense and be like me. If I was ruler, I would be a terrible fascist, and all would be crushed under my relentless heel. The country would quiver and shake at my cold, calculating callousness! I would bathe in the blood of my enemies, and then I would bathe in something else to get the sticky blood off of me. And then I would laugh!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

The cleanest drug

In the good old days, people used to smoke a joint to get high, or if they were particularly 80s, do a line of coke. Maybe drop some acid, maybe shoot some heroin with a dirty, HIV laden needle. Safe, fun stuff. Kids these days, though, they do all kinds of weird shit. They suffocate themselves, they take their parents' prescription pills, they huff propane(?!).

I understand that it's a lot cheaper to inhale whippets (not the dog), but that can't be good for you. Last year I read about this great new drug, and it is full of amazing things. Are you sitting down?

It's called tap water. And it's hot.
Around the world, scientists are finding trace amounts of substances—from sugar and spice to heroine, rocket fuel, and birth control—that might be having unintended consequences for humans and wildlife alike.
* * *
After a person has taken drugs such as cocaine, heroin, marijuana, and ecstasy, active byproducts of these substances are released into the sewage stream through that person's urine and feces.

These byproducts, or metabolites, are often not completely removed during the sewage-treatment process, at least in Europe, said Sara Castiglioni of the Mario Negri Institute for Pharmacological Research in Milan, Italy.

That means the drug-tainted wastewater can enter groundwater and surface water, which are collectively the major sources of drinking water for most people.
I know what you're thinking. "Europe? That's a whole 'nother world. How am I supposed to get access to that?" Don't worry, my friends, it is now available Stateside.
In Philadelphia, the water department has not informed its 1.5 million users that traces of 56 pharmaceuticals or their byproducts — like the active ingredients in drugs to treat depression, anxiety, high cholesterol, fever and pain — have been detected in the drinking water, and that 63 pharmaceuticals or byproducts had been found in the city's source watersheds.
Enjoy the rest of your summer by putting away the bong or the rubber cement, and instead enjoy some fresh, poorly processed water straight from the best drug dealer in town, the kitchen sink.

Monday, August 9, 2010

News you can use

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Baby batter makes bitter cake

The magazine New York (without the "er" at the end) recently published an article dispelling the myth that children make you happy.
Most people assume that having children will make them happier. Yet a wide variety of academic research shows that parents are not happier than their childless peers, and in many cases are less so. This finding is surprisingly consistent, showing up across a range of disciplines. Perhaps the most oft-cited datum comes from a 2004 study by Daniel Kahneman, a Nobel Prize–winning behavioral economist, who surveyed 909 working Texas women and found that child care ranked sixteenth in pleasurability out of nineteen activities. (Among the endeavors they preferred: preparing food, watching TV, exercising, talking on the phone, napping, shopping, housework.) This result also shows up regularly in relationship research, with children invariably reducing marital satisfaction. The economist Andrew Oswald, who’s compared tens of thousands of Britons with children to those without, is at least inclined to view his data in a more positive light: “The broad message is not that children make you less happy; it’s just that children don’t make you more happy.” That is, he tells me, unless you have more than one. “Then the studies show a more negative impact.” As a rule, most studies show that mothers are less happy than fathers, that single parents are less happy still, that babies and toddlers are the hardest, and that each successive child produces diminishing returns. But some of the studies are grimmer than others. Robin Simon, a sociologist at Wake Forest University, says parents are more depressed than nonparents no matter what their circumstances—whether they’re single or married, whether they have one child or four. As a rule, most studies show that mothers are less happy than fathers, that single parents are less happy still, that babies and toddlers are the hardest, and that each successive child produces diminishing returns. But some of the studies are grimmer than others. Robin Simon, a sociologist at Wake Forest University, says parents are more depressed than nonparents no matter what their circumstances—whether they’re single or married, whether they have one child or four.
I recommend reading the entire article. However, if that article makes you as unhappy as parenthood does, I suggest some Eddie Murphy to cheer you up.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

God bless this mess

Times are tough, my friends. The economy is stagnant, the unemployment rate rises, people have to sacrifice. What can be done? In New Jersey, where I live, we might be able to share the burden proportionately so that we can all soldier through this.
The Legislature will soon act on the emaciated $28.3 billion FY2011 budget proposal submitted in March by Gov. Christie, who told lawmakers in his budget address that the state's dire economic situation necessitated deep cuts to every corner of state government and demanded shared sacrifice by all New Jerseyans.
Seems reasonable. Everyone has to take a hit.
There are "winners" in this budget: corporations and the wealthiest individuals whose tax obligations will be lower this year. Those who stand to lose the most are disproportionately poorer, older and at greater risk of economic catastrophe than the rest of New Jersey. The sacrifice that the governor demanded in his budget address appears to fall almost entirely on middle and working class families, the disabled and seniors.
Ah, fuck it. I hate this country's bullshit Christian charity.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Some Sunday reading and light musical fare

-> Top Ten Myths About the Israeli Palestinian Conflict
-> Attack on climate scientist just latest in a long line
-> Sustainability vs. The Invisible Hand
-> Tabata: Wife claimed baby was his own

Oh, that last one is just for giggles.
According to [Pittsburg] Pirates general manager Neal Huntington, [21 year old Jose] Tabata's [43 year old] wife showed off pictures of an infant and told the [baseball] player that the baby was his, only to have Tabata learn hours after seeing the baby that the girl had been taken from her parents in Plant City, about 60 miles from Bradenton, where the Pirates train.
That's right. A 21 year old baseball player was unaware that his 43 year old wife was not pregnant, and when she presented him with a two month old infant, he did not see anything suspicious. Now that is a boy who keeps his head firmly in the clouds.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

A fish story

When I was but a young lad many seasons ago, I won a large number of goldfish at the New York state fair. This did not involve card games or dart throwing, but instead a large table filled with your vintage style fish bowls. Some of the bowls had goldfish, and if the lucky contestant could land a ball in the bowl with a fish, then he won that fish. Well, lady luck had her hand on my shoulder that day, because I won 40 goldfish (and my luck as deteriorated ever since).

Needing somewhere to store all of these fish, I obtained a tropical fish tank and some tropical fish to go with it. I am no scientist or biologist, but the goldfish were kept in warm, tropical water, and I am not sure this is the natural environment for a goldfish. Well, one of my goldfish flourished in this environ, and he grew very large. One by one, he began to eat ate all of the other fish, including my beautiful angelfish. He ate everything except for the catfish and the algae eaters, probably because even the great conquerers respect the maintenance people that keep everything clean. Still, I lost many fish to that beast of fin and war, and it taught me a lesson.

Don't take carp from anyone.

Thursday, May 20, 2010


People will ask me what I like to do for fun, and I feel awkward. I think people expect me to say something like, "I am a student of Jeet Kune Do" or "I go hang gliding on weekends with troubled youth." Maybe they want me to say I have a tomato garden or I go bicycle racing in cities. I don't know. I don't do any of that. What do I do? I go to concerts about once a month. I read books, and occasionally write for fun. Drinking is about as close to a hobby as I have.

What the fuck do you want from me? You want to dabble in ceramics, be my guest. Me, I look at pornography.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Lord of Pants

I am the reigning lord of pants
My trousers are a new romance
Of slacks I am a Viscount
My outerwear you shan't discount
Below the belt, kneel to Marquess
My pleats or cuffs cause no distress

Monday, May 10, 2010

A Sabbathless Sabbath

When people talk about the origins of heavy metal, they rattle off the obvious picks like Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin, Judas Priest, and Alice Cooper. They might dig back into the 60s with groups like Cream, the Jimi Hendrix Experience, Blue Cheer, and Iron Butterfly. They may even go into groups like Budgie, UFO, Uriah Heep and Thin Lizzy. However, besides the popular aforementioned acts, and before the modern day explosion out of the UK in the late 70s and early 80s, there were a number of heavy albums released by hard rock or proto metal acts, taking psychedelic blues and mixing it with sludgy guitars and a pounding rhythm. Following are a number of bands that laid the groundwork for the heavy metal explosion which followed, along with the year of their first album. Enjoy your taste of early heavy metal.

Warpig (1970)

Bloodrock (1970)

Lucifer's Friend (1971)

Dust (1971)

Leaf Hound (1971)

Captain Beyond (1972)

Hard Stuff (1972)

Mahogany Rush (1972)

Buffalo (1972)

Night Sun (1972)

And here's a couple of tracks from bands that toured but did not release their recordings until a few decades after the fact.

Iron Claw


Saturday, May 8, 2010

Hello, it's me

Today marks the anniversary of my birth. I am 28 years old (interesting note - my age is the mirror of the year I was born, '82). Many people tell me how much more put together I am than they were at my age. It's true. I'm smarter, sharper, and swifter than many from my generation. From where I began to where I ended up, it was a long journey. I should be proud of all I have accomplished.

And yet, I'm still not completely happy. There are times when I'm happy and times when I'm not, and the times when I'm not are as frequent and as severe as the times when I am. I know exactly what makes me unhappy, and I either lack the ability to change those things or am unwilling to sacrifice what makes me happy to remove the things that make me unhappy.

For with much wisdom comes much sorrow; the more knowledge, the more grief.
- Ecclesiastes 1:18

I feel I am a good judge of people, and I've noticed I am not alone in this regard, generally speaking. I see many, many citizens who should be happy and aren't. I see the things that bring them down. People's relationships, jobs, friends, and lives are unsatisfactory. On paper, you can find someone who should be floating above the clouds, and as you dig deeper, you see their misery. It could be one thing or many things, but there is always something that acts as an anchor to elation, chains which hold them down.

There are those who say that people have no right to be unhappy in our society of satellite television, portable mp3 players and internet capable cellular phones. There are people living in huts who are starving and dying of disease. Surely someone sitting on a leather chair in air conditioning digesting a moist piece of cake cannot complain? Well, comparatively speaking, the hut people are worse off. There is no argument against that. Nevertheless, there is no benefit to be made from that line of reasoning. It is intellectually misleading. The hut people are better off than someone being tortured in a North Korean prison camp, so should the hut people be happy with their lot? If they live in a situation that makes them unhappy, then they are unhappy, and that should be respected or recognized.

The technological wonders and modern comforts available to us should also not be used to disguise society's distress. That is a shallow, vapid, disaffected way to think. Granted, I am happy to have a roof over my head. I'm not stupid. I'm glad I don't have rats biting my feet and sewer leaking into my kitchen. But there has to be more than that. Once the basic needs are met, there are issues of the mind and the heart. We have to be fulfilled.

Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done
and what I had toiled to achieve,
everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind;
nothing was gained under the sun.

- Ecclesiastes 2:11

Let us then find the fortunate man who has enough wealth to live comfortably for the remainder of his life, and who has known the rarest of gifts, love that is meaningful and warm and pure. His life should be perfect, yet how can anyone live in peace with the suffering of those around them? Agony. Misery. Depression. Famine. Starvation. Poverty. Disease. War.

I wish I had millions of dollars. Not for myself. I could live off of $500,000 easily for the rest of my days. I don't need a yacht the size of an apartment building. I don't need a private jet. But if I was a millionaire, I would pour the money into projects and programs that help the needy. Not out of guilt, but out of conscience. And it would still never be enough. It is never enough.

Again I looked and saw all the oppression that was taking place under the sun:
I saw the tears of the oppressed—
and they have no comforter;
power was on the side of their oppressors—
and they have no comforter.

And I declared that the dead,
who had already died,
are happier than the living,
who are still alive.

But better than both
is he who has not yet been,
who has not seen the evil
that is done under the sun.

- Ecclesiastes 3:1-3

Will I ever rid myself of my little sessions of depression? I doubt it. It's not caused by any chemical imbalance. It's not like I can take a pill and erase reality. I see the world as it is and I am disheartened. I look at myself and see all I could be but am not, all I should have been and had not, and all I should be but will not, and it does not lift my spirits.

Of course, it is my birthday, so I'm not going to wallow in melancholy today. I'm going to go out and have some fun. If I don't at least find the good things in life, then I'm truly fucked.

Sorrow is better than laughter, because a sad face is good for the heart. - Ecclesiastes 7:3

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Kingston Calling

Sometimes when white people get involved with music that originated with black people, you get sloppy results. Pat Boone is the most popular example of this, but he was not anywhere near the worst. Nevertheless, I love what England did with reggae and its related spin-offs from the 60s through the 80s. You could make the argument that the UK was a more exciting place for reggae music than even Jamaica. Not only that, but the majority of your mixed race musical groups during that time were playing a style of Jamaican-originating music. Not since big band jazz was there such diversity sharing one stage. It's a hard style of music to dislike, because even when it's soft or easy going, it's still got a slick groove or a solid rhythm. Reggae, ska, et al are truly a fascinating family of genres.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Unbridled exercise outburst

Look at you, lady. Look at you with your power walk. I see you all jazzed up in your hooded sweatshirt and track pants, white tennis shoes pounding the pavement as white ear bud wires dangle, nay, dance to the rhythm of your feet. You must feel the warmth of what may be the early forming of what could eventually become a burn, as your forehead tingles...at some point, sweat may glisten there.

That twenty minute power walk around the neighborhood easily burned off half the calories of that low fat yogurt you ate for breakfast. You go, girl. You did it.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Funny things

Happy Sunday morning to you. As your molars grind eggs and bacon in your mouth, I invite you to watch a compilation of 5 second short films, along with an historical artifact - a short clip from the Quality Value & Convenience network, circa 1992.

via Mike Rowe on QVC

Monday, March 22, 2010

Ruminations on literature

I like to have a girl stand over me, naked as the day she came into the world. The anticipation builds as I stare up and see her fingers, tips painted red, reach down and part two lips of pink, sometimes with hints of brown. Eyes closed, I wait for the sound, like eggs on a frying pan or a snake testing the air. Then it hits me, that warm spray, splashing all over my face. The dank scent fills my nostrils. Oh God, piss on me.

And that is why I prefer Othello to MacBeth, although I've never read King Lear.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Individual Musical Notes

I am still buzzing about some musical acts I have seen this past week. The Russian band Mumiy Troll performed on Craig Ferguson's show on CBS, which is far and away the best American talk show ("chat show" to those abroad). They are performing a very brief tour here in the States, with dates in Manhattan on March 10th, Saratoga Springs, NY on the 11th, L.A. on the 14th, and Austin, TX on the 19th.

On the spur of the moment (for me, deciding to see a show three days ahead of time is spur of the moment), I went to see a concert in Philadelphia's Trocadero Theatre, a former vaudeville and burlesque hot spot that originally opened as the Arch Street Opera House in 1870. The headlining act was Kreator, a German extreme thrash band that put on a very energetic, frenetic show. However, the highlight of the evening for me was the "main" opening act, Voivod, a French-Canadian progressive thrash band that had not toured the U.S. in seven years. Here is the band performing from that very night a cover of Pink Floyd's 60s acid tune, Astronomy Domine.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

The Worst Song of the 80s?

This is truly awful. Say what you will about your least favorite pop acts, metal bands, or new wave artists, but this is what is described in the vernacular as "a steaming shitpile."

Sunday, February 28, 2010

A look at the good old days, part 1

America in the 18th Century:
Holy Ground was a violent, murky place where one might easily find, as Bangs wrote, two soldiers "inhumanly murdered & concealed, besides one who was castrated in a barbarous manner." (Their mates returned the next day to the brothels where the men were rolled and "leveled them to the ground.") Another time, "an old whore who had been so long dead that she was rotten was this day found concealed in an outhouse."

Killing "cracks," the slang for nymphs du pave, was rarely punished by either army, partly because it was so difficult to catch the murderer. So it was that a naval officer thought he could get away with stabbing a madame after one of her employees cheated him, and how in the local taverns, "fireships" - prostitutes known to have venereal disease - were set alight as punishment.

The rest of the Holy Ground slum as a nest of rotgut joints, pawnshops, and questionable taverns, with a sprinkling of molly-houses (gay brothels) and astrologers' stands, and populated by assorted swindlers, hoods, and tallymen - loan sharks who could harry you into prison (or an early grave) if you didn't pay on the nose. Abortionists, unsurprisingly given the number of prostitutes, set up shop there, as well. These were mainly midwives and nurses, often German, working for extra pin money, but some men, usually failed doctors, were known to provide "cures for ladies." Abortion rates were high at the time: One in four children was born either dead or prematurely, both euphemisms for the practice. If a woman hadn't the desire to abort, she could leave her child somewhere - a church usually - as a foundling and hope he was adopted, hand him over to the almshouse (effectively a death sentence, as few infants survived a year there), strangle him, or rent him out to beggars for use as a prop. And in the gloomier recesses of New York's underworld there were always the baby farmers, who bought attractive babies and discreetly sold them to barren couples. It was a cash business and babies that the farmer overstocked and weren't adopted were terminated to keep down expenses.

That excerpt comes from pages 144-145 of Washington's Spies, The Story of America's First Spy Ring by Alexander Rose, published in 2006 by Bantam Books. It is one of my favorite non-fiction books, providing not only a captivating history of our country's first attempts at espionage, but also showcasing an interesting look at life in revolutionary America.

I hope you enjoyed that little taste of the time of America's birth, full of wholesome people going to church, praying to God, and selling babies.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Ayons une partie

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Wikipedia Chain: Jesus Edition

Today, I learned more meaningful information about the Christian religion than I did during all those years in CCD, as an altar boy (never got fucked by a priest, which made me self-conscious about my looks), or daydreaming about Spider-Man swinging from the rafters every Sunday during mass.

While reading about Pontius Pilate, I learned he was married to a woman named Claudia. From there, I learned there is an apocryphal book called the Acts of Pilate, which is a religious text not officially endorsed by the church (but probably God's favorite, so we're all going to hell).

In that article, I read about "Leucius and Charinus, the two souls raised from the dead after the Crucifixion," although the article about L&C takes me here:
The fullest account of Leucius is that given by Photius (Codex 114), who describes a book, called The Circuits of the Apostles, which contained the Acts of Peter, John, Andrew, Thomas, and Paul, that was purported to have been written by "Leucius Charinus" which he judged full of folly, self-contradiction, falsehood, and impiety
I find it hard to believe a religious text was full of folly, self-contradiction, falsehood or impiety, but there you have it. Even in this day and age, one can still be shocked.

I was curious what these "Acts" were, though, so I decided to read about The Acts of John, which had
"docetic imagery and overt gnostic teachings." Gnosticism is a fascinating subject that I am still trying to digest (for example, what is up with the Aeons?). I further learned that some Orthodox faiths believe Jesus was ethereally shagging Sophia, the Greek goddess of Wisdom. Others refer to Jesus as wisdom incarnate. That is just some heavy shit right there.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Super Dish

There's a big game this Sunday, in case you hadn't heard. It's going to be huge. The Bruins are in Montreal for a match-up against the Canadiens with implications for the playoff race.

There's also a football game. Colts versus Saints. Two powerhouse offenses led by two elite quarterbacks, Peyton Manning for Indianapolis and Dree Brees for New Orleans. Hanging in the balance is so fancy jewelery and something about Hurricane Katrina. People watch the Super Bowl for three reasons:

1) They like to eat and drink and possibly hang out with other people doing the same
2) No, DON'T speed through the commercials, this is a larger topic of conversation the next day
3) Betting cold, hard cash

As of Friday, the Colts are favored at -5, and the over/under is set at 57. My advice to all gambling degenerates is to take the Saints at +5 and to take the over. It seems fair to say the Colts will win 35-31, which would make YOU the winner (unless you like the Saints personally). That's a solid investment for your child's college tuition.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Adaptation of Martians

Turning books into movies is the most popular form of switching mediums, although you see the same with plays, comic books, television shows, etc. Adapting the work of a single writer (or sometimes a writer plus illustrator, inker, colorist, et al) into the work of many (screenplay writers, actors, director, producers, film editors, special effects gurus, et al) oftentimes means that nuance is lost. Probably fairly often you also lose the original motivation of the creator.

Perhaps the more interesting analysis is taking something in one medium and keeping it in the same medium. For example, you have the remake of "The Prisoner" that was running on AMC. You could also look at the new "Doctor Who" series, which is more of a generational reboot than a remake. There are also cultural remakes, such as "The Office," which was successful in the UK but exploded in popularity in its new American version.

This leads us all to this very interesting Slate article from a few weeks ago which discusses one of my favorite television programs of all time, "Life on Mars," and why the American version was so poorly received.

Britain is different in that they are content, in theory, to have a television program run less than five "series" (seasons for you and I). In contrast, with rare exception ("F-Troop," "Star Trek," etc.), American programs are deemed failures if they cannot go five seasons, the so-called bare necessary needed for syndication (this gives you roughly 100 episodes for the syndicated subscribers to cycle through). So while both "Life on Mars" programs actually had nearly the same number of episodes (16 for the original, 17 for the Yankee production), they had radically different resolutions, with the American counterpart scrambling towards the end to come up with a finale once the axe fell.

The U.S. "LOM" wasn't a bad show, but it wasn't on the same level of the U.K. version, and ultimately was lost with some other interesting ABC dramas like "Kings" and "The Unusuals," with solid concepts that apparently lacked mass appeal.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Monday, January 25, 2010

I see the moon

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Where in the fuck is Oscar Goldman?

It has been somewhat amazing to watch the Democratic Party fall apart. The Republicans had a solid six years to shit up the country by running the House, Senate and White House; the Dems could barely squeeze out a year of tri-fecal control. The Donkey Party ran a candidate no one liked to replace one of the most beloved, and entrenched, public figures. One of the most heavily blue states voted in a Republican as a result. However, I don't particularly trust people that vote for the other party. Republicans vote Republican; fine. Democrats shouldn't vote Republican. I may not always vote Democratic but I won't vote Republican. That's like saying I don't like the way you prepared dinner, so I'm going to swallow glass.

The party of hand-wringers have already started collapsing like a Brand X paper towel/diaper/tampon under the pour of blue liquid. Senator Webb of Virginia delivered this beautiful gem:
In many ways the campaign in Massachusetts became a referendum not only on health care reform but also on the openness and integrity of our government process. [...] I believe it would only be fair and prudent that we suspend further votes on health care legislation until Senator-elect Brown is seated.
Breathtaking. The Republicans would have never conceded so easily. Slap the Democrats a little bit and the tears start flowing. They're scattering like insects under a falling boot. Only losers panic when they still hold the lead.

If you're a conservative; congratulations. You won't be raped by roving armies of liberals who steal your money to give heroin to Mexican children. If you're a liberal, well, in times like these it's good to laugh. Enjoy one of Canada's finest TV shows:

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Read this

From a news story:
In the text, [Starry] Sprenkle, 28, said she was her way to Port-au-Prince with her toddler daughter to meet her husband, Erlantz Hyppolite. Hyppolite, a doctor Sprenkle met in Haiti, was taking care of his dying mother, according to Wright.
Ignore, for a moment, the stripper/cartoon name. Who wrote that paragraph? Is it some kind of journalist? The person is someone named C. Johnson. Does he/she/it have an editor? Maybe it's just some college intern that had to write up a few notes. If you can tie your own shoelaces, that's good enough to get into a university.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

He's worked hard for the money

Nevada Democratic Senator Harry Reid had to apologize after it was revealed that back in 2008, he described President Obama as speaking "with no Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one." I don't see what the big deal is. I don't speak with an Oriental accent, unless I choose to. So solly, folgive-a me.

However, to me the money quote is from Reid's apology. He goes through the usual bullshit like "some of my best friends are black" and "Tyler Perry is really funny." Here's my favorite, though:
Moreover, throughout my career, from efforts to integrate the Las Vegas strip and the gaming industry to opposing radical judges and promoting diversity in the Senate, I have worked hard to advance issues.
What does that mean? What issues? What kind of radical judges? Radical in what way? What kind of integration? Are there more black girls walking around with quarters? Maybe more hispanics changing the bed linens? Also, the two most famous strip clubs in Las Vegas - Palomino and Girls of Glitter Gulch - are not located on The Strip. Food for thought?

Anyway, back on topic - Harry Reid is the epitome of uselessness the Democratic Party has come to represent in the 21st Century.