Monday, August 20, 2012

A lost icon

The internet is abuzz with news of the passing of one of the entertainment world's true icons. He was a great maker of works enjoyed by citizens of every corner of the world. He touched so many lives, even though he never met many of those people. R.I.P. Kurt Vonnegut

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Time has healed my wounds

I was supposed to head somewhere today, but by force of habit I ended up driving the wrong direction up the Interstate towards work. Missing where I was supposed to go and feeling a bit pissed, I instead continued to drive and made my way to a place called Bordentown, home of The Record Collector music store. Today was Record Store Day (like Free Comic Book Day without the free part), which involved many exclusive releases to lure people out.

The only one I was interested in, a double live album by DEVO, was sold out, along with many other things. Apparently, the line was around the block.

I don't particularly love record stores. There was once an argument about vinyl sounding better than CD, but that ceased to be valid as digital technology improved in the 1990s. Quite frankly, even though I still buy CDs, mp3s and similar ethereal audio formats are the way to go. Also, record stores are expensive. I don't want to pay $16.95 for a CD. That's basically what killed the physical album industry, so who would a quirk of nostalgia fighting against progress try to encourage one of the worst parts of the past?

However, today was a good day. I found something I had regrets about. Something I once found and passed by. When I was in high school and into college, I used to hit music shops all the time. Before Napster and well before Youtube, the easiest way to sample old music was to buy up old cassettes and LPs. One store I used to frequent, Arboria Records, had a large selection of $1 albums. The cassettes were easier to browse, but the dollar records were along the floor underneath the organized bins. It circled the entire store, but I eventually made my way through the whole selection. It's how I was first introduced to Trouble.

I also found the debut EP of an L.A. band many people have heard of, Ratt. I wasn't that into glam metal (then or now), so I never purchased it. I later learned the EP is fairly rare, and Ratt was one of the better of the pop-leaning metal acts from the Sunset Strip. I kicked myself for not picking up the record, which featured Tawny Kitaen's legs in fishnet stockings poured into red high heels and covered with albino rats.

This was many years ago. We're talking Clinton Administration.

Today, low and behold, I find not one but two copies. I finally corrected my youthful error, and while at it, got Black Sabbath's "Born Again" and "Mob Rules" albums. The woman gave me a free "Record Day" canvas shopping bag, along with a Metal Blade sampler and some other CD because I "like the metal," as she said. Fortune worked in my favor today. It even spurred me to come back and visit the blog, so it seems your fortunate has improved, too.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Hack and roll

I received a letter in the mail from local Philadelphia FM radio station WMMR ("Everything That Rocks!"). They are giving away prizes if you call during certain songs by certain bands, and they conveniently provided the groups that will be playing:

Pearl Jam ~ Pink Floyd ~ Bush ~ Van Halen ~ Shinedown ~ AC/DC ~ Weezer ~ Metallica ~ Foo Fighters ~ U2 ~ Offspring ~ Led Zeppelin ~ Seether ~ Police ~ Soundgarden ~ Linkin Park ~ Guns N Roses ~ Green Day ~ Rolling Stones ~ Nirvana ~ Tom Petty ~ Red Hot Chili Peppers ~ Who ~ Stone Temple Pilots ~ Ozzy Osbourne

Does anyone read that list with excited? Here are some adjectives: tired, repetitive, worn, old, dull. Maybe 15 or 20 years ago that list may have been enticing, but now it further emphasizes why people use satellite radio, Pandora, or their own mp3 players (or CDs, if your vehicle is old like mine).

I have not turned my back completely on FM radio. I still enjoy the college stations and non-profits, who are always willing to play new and different music.

Of course, I'm at an age where I'm starting to resent and mistrust people younger than me, so there may come a time when I can no longer appreciate new music. At that point, there will always be WMMR.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Cold weather blues

Sports have been a major part of most cultures for centuries. Ancient hieroglyphs show stick figures arguing over a penalty call with a ref. There has even been teeth of prehistoric hockey players found in glaciers off the coast of Greenland. Over the past few decades, science and mathematical minded people have begun to come up with better ways to evaluate the athletes that play these sports. In baseball, for example, the term "sabermetrics" refers to the analysis of baseball through objective, observable evidence, including those which take into account park (stadium), teammate, and historical factors. In the 1980s, that was seen as a fringe area. Today, even the most basic of news sites and analysts uses such terms as "On Base + Slugging" percentage, unheard of in the 1990s.

That is why it is humorous when observing the sports journalist. This is a person that takes his (or sometimes her) job with the seriousness of an embedded Middle East reporter, but with the writing skills of an elementary school student and the logic to match. Peyton Manning, one of the top Quarterbacks in the National Football League (both active and all time) was released from the Indianapolis Colts. Understandably, most teams were inquiring about his interest in playing with them. The experts in newspaper, television and radio began weighing in. They cried that Peyton Manning does not want to play in cold weather, having previously spent his time playing in a dome arena. They said that he would not want to play in the AFC East, where he would have to face fellow elite Quarterback Tom Brady twice per year.

As I commented on March 16th, "One of best QBs ever is afraid of adversity? Bullshit!" As it turns out, Manning agreed, and signed with the Denver Broncos. Denver is, of course, one mile above sea level and has average temperatures that would freeze snot. Furthermore, the idea that Manning could not handle cold temperatures or play as well outdoors is absurd, and easily disproved by a cursory glance at simple statistics.

It makes me wonder what these sports commentators are paid to do. It can't be accurate analysis.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Vivid mind script

I had such an intense dream that it woke me out of my sleep. Being unable to recall the complete details of the dream, I can say that the story involved a feisty, sarcastic brunette who was touring an urban high school. Mr. T, for whatever reason, had made a guest appearance, possibly because Mr. T loved children (not in the creepy way).

Cut to the woman in a run down public restroom. She just had sex with another woman, or so we are led to believe (and I will choose to believe that), so she is smoking a cigarette nervously while fumbling with a bill. It appeared to be a morning after bill, and while I am no expert on biology, I am almost certain lesbians cannot make each other pregnant with just their vaginas. Nevertheless, the audience (me) can tell she seesaws on this issue before ultimately deciding not to take the pill. As this has so far been a comedy (really, it was), she goes to through the pill down the sink but then fumbles to catch it because all the problems associated with flushing medication into the sewer system.

The scene cuts to a sunny day. We are outside (clearly), and a metal door creaks open. The woman stumbles out and there is a huge pile of bagged garbage next to the door. She grabs one, stuffs the pill inside, and sets it down. Meanwhile, teenage boys from the school see her. They are behind a fence, approximately eight feet in height, and covered with barbed wire. The boys go into a frenzy, slamming into the fence and snarling. The gate is chained and will not budge. One black boy keeps trying to vault over the fence, but his legs continue to get torn on the barb wire, and he howls in pain. I think it even tore up his track suit, poor lad.

Eventually, a white boy headbutts the fence (in traditional English football fashion) and the gate breaks. A swarm of crazed boys rush both our woman and three other girls who are sunbathing outside the school. They begin to tear at the women's clothing, and one woman is stripped down and raped. While the women scream in terror, none other than Mr. T himself shows up.

Mr. T starts singing. And punching the boys. In the face.

The song is cheerful. I'm not sure I ever caught the words, but I wouldn't be surprised if they went something like, "I love sunshine and gumdrops, I'll kill you if you don't stop."

The action is then interlaced with clips of the other actors from The A-Team, giving the thumbs up and smiling. Dwight Schultz and Dirk Benedict are both older than they were in the TV show, but stock footage is used for George Peppard as he has since passed away. It is then clear to me that this is a pilot to help relaunch The A-Team.

And then I woke up.

And now you just read about my dream.

Of course, Mr. T has moved on to other things.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Monday, February 13, 2012

Spambot5000

A particularly persistent spammer keeps leaving comments on the prior post, causing me to delete them manually every other day. I'm not sure why he/she/it is focused on my blog, as that last post was published nearly a month ago. Clearly a blog that hardly updates and has a handful of readers is the place to spam.

Curiously, a study released recently indicates that Hotmail is better at preventing spam than either Gmail or Yahoo. This is shocking, as I typically equate Hotmail with nothing but spam. Who knew you could get regular email there, too?

Monday, January 16, 2012

The land down under your pants

One of Australia's top ten universities, Macquarie University in Sydney, has determined that it must undergo a campaign to instruct people in the proper way to use a toilet:
Posters put up by the university show a person standing on the toilet seat and squatting over the bowl with a line through it. Another crossed-out image shows a person squatting on the floor.

Students are taught how to use sanitary bins, how to flush the toilet and wash their hands in other parts of the diagram under the heading: Protecting each other, use of female toilets.
It is amazing how, even in the 21st Century, most countries are terribly behind in proper hygiene. Diarrhea kills more children than warfare and disease. Even in allegedly civilized countries like the United States and Great Britain, we suffer from outdated toilets flushing into centuries old sewer systems that routinely discharge untreated waste into freshwater, unintentionally or otherwise.

Last year I purchased The Big Necessity: The Unmentionable World of Human Waste and Why It Matters, and it has quickly become one of my favorite books. The importance involving defecation and how we deal with it is poo-pooed by the powers that be, yet it has a monumental impact on our health and sanitation. Even the most developed parts of the world are living with 19th century toilet standards. As mentioned before, less developed countries are knee deep, figuratively and literally, in shit.

It is important that people begin to realize the importance of dealing with fecal and urinary waste. Defecation is perhaps the last and greatest taboo of the world, even more than sex. And if you ask me, that's a load of crap.



Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Sometimes I just drop in to say hello

Hello.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Ice world

Germans in Mitterfirmiansreut have built a church made out of snow and ice. The holy igloo cost $200,000, which is nothing when you consider the Vatican is made entirely of marble, gold and jewels, but somewhat more galling when you realize Catholic schools, at least in the United States, are closing left and right. I wonder what is more important to the Catholics, a solid education or a gimmicky temple.

No matter what troubles the Catholic Church's various non-profit or charitable organizations go through, always remember that the pope will never live in a modest house or worship in a simple chapel. That humble shit was for Jesus, not the profiteers of the church.