Saturday, January 31, 2009

Follow up - WBM and LP

Damn. The shit with WBM has taken down all of LP and FM's stuff from YouTube. SUCH a bummer for all the fans. I can't even begin to explain how much this turns me off of major corporate labels.

Here's a new link to another post of the FM video for "cigarette" that was refereced in this post.

WBM = Fail.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Another blast from the past


They're so good. I haven't listened to them in ages, and I don't have the last two or so albums, but I adore the older stuff. You can see in this picture that the drummer plays bongos and everything, and if you listen to their stuff, you can hear that they're a very drum-centric band, and he has a HUGE kit of drums, all of which he plays with his hands. Every time I've seen them live, I tend to just stare in awe at his taped up hands making magic on the drums. They're a pretty mellow band; great driving music, great work music too, it turns out. Check 'em out: I added a couple of songs to my playlist on the right, too.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

I don't believe in coddling

Has everyone heard about the girls' high school basketball team in TX that just won a 100-0 victory over some rival school? The story is here. The coach was fired after he made a statement about how he didn't support the apology issued by the winning school to the community and the losing school (an apology which, by the way, offered instead of the 100-0 win, to forfeit the game!?!? WTF?!). I raise my glass to that coach. Good for him. What was he supposed to do, tell his girls to start losing because they were winning by too much? They were supposed to quit playing? That's absurd. Is that what we want to teach our kids now - that you should go easy when you feel bad for someone - that winning is a bad thing? No, because it's not. They're playing a team sport. The point of playing sports games is to win, not to hold hands and sing cum-ba-yah. I think it would have been degrading to the losing team if the winning team had just given up on playing. It's wrong to let someone win because you feel bad for them, and it's equally wrong to play down to them for the same reason.

Kids are coddled now a days, and I hate it with a passion. When we were kids, someone won and someone lost; someone got picked last in gym class; some kids had no stickers next to their name on the multiplication tables leader board; some kids didn't make the team; some kids made the team and rode the bench; the monkey bars were 10 feet high over concrete, and we played king of the mountain on them - and someone always got to be king, while some never got to be because they just weren't tough enough. That's the way it went back then, and the way it should still go now. You're teaching your kids to be wusses by treating them this way. These kids were all respectable kids, and none of them needed the parental intervention that led to this coach being fired. The winners didn't gloat, and were completely upstanding about the fact that they kicked some ass. The losers were equally gracious, I think I read a quote somewhere from one of the players to the effect of "you win some, you lose some, and then you move on." Their coach said something similar, about how the girls that lost just picked up and moved on to the next game. Good for them, and I hereby issue a smack in the head to their parents, who whined and cried about the win being "shameful." Maybe if your kid (or maybe it's you) can't handle a good old fashioned ass-whooping on the basketball court, they shouldn't be involved in organized sports. Sign them up for piano lessons. Or art classes. But only if they're wicked good at it, and they are assured not to fail, because God forbid they learn something about life in the real world.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Social Vibe - Music for Relief

Okay, I figured out how to get the charitable ads posted into my side bar. There's a Billabong ad and an Ed Hardy ad in the side bar on the right now. When you click on them, the sponsors will make a donation to Music for Relief. Music for Relief is a grassroots organization made up of musicians, music industry professionals, and fans. It's purposes are to aid victims of natural disasters and raise social awareness about global warming and its effects. From the MFR website:

OUR MISSION: To respond to natural disasters and help victims recover and rebuild with an emphasis on housing, education programs and resources. MUSIC FOR RELIEF also recognizes the environmental consequences of global warming, which has demonstrated the capability to accelerate and strengthen certain types of natural disasters. Therefore the second goal of MUSIC FOR RELIEF is to prevent and decrease future natural disasters by reducing greenhouse gasses, seeking renewable forms of energy and educating the public about climate change.

Just by clicking on one of my links, a donation will be made. No actual money donation required on your part, just a little clicky. As I write this, the current drive is to raise funds to help with Haitian hurricane relief.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Social Vibe - Music for Relief

This is meant to be a widget in my sidebar. Clearly my blogging skills have just taken a step backwards because I'm having such issues with getting it in there. Anyway, Just by clicking the link, you can support Music for Relief. Just your click will help a good cause.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Life in New England

I received this as an email forward, and couldn't resist posting it. It's so true! There's so many things I could add to this, too! Post comments adding your favorite New England-isms!

Forget Rednecks, here is what Jeff Foxworthy has to say about
New Englanders...

If your local Dairy Queen is closed from October through April, you live in New England.

If someone in a Home Depot store offers you assistance and they don't work there, you live in New England.

If you've worn shorts and a parka at the same time, you live in New England.

If you've had a lengthy telephone conversation with someone who dialed a wrong number, you live in New England.

If 'Vacation' means going anywhere south of New York City for the weekend, you live in New England.

If you measure distance in hours, you live in New England.

If you know several people who have hit a deer more than once, you live in New England.

If you have switched from 'heat ' to 'A/C' in the same day and back again, you live in New England.

If you can drive 65 mph through 2 feet of snow during a raging blizzard without flinching, you live in New England.

If you install security lights on your house and garage, but leave both unlocked, you live in New England.

If you carry jumpers in your car and your wife knows how to use them, you live in New England.

If you design your kid's Halloween costume to fit over a snowsuit, you live in New England.

If the speed limit on the highway is 55 mph -- you're going 70 and everybody is passing you, you live in New England.

If driving is better in the winter because the potholes are filled with snow, you live in New England.

If you know all 4 seasons: almost winter, winter, still winter and road construction, you live in New England.

If you have more miles on your snow blower than your car, you live in New England.

If you find 20 degrees 'a little chilly', you live in New England.

If there's a Dunkin Donuts on every corner, you live in New England.

The House of God

I just finished reading this, and I will never think of hospitals or doctors the same again. It was excellent. This is billed as a novel, but really it's a memoir about the training of doctors in the United States. Specifically, it centers around the author's internship year at Beth-Israel Medical Center (the "House of God" referred to in the title) in the early 1970's. It's riveting. It's eye-opening to read about what these people are put through in the name of medicine and the "delivery of medical care." At times it's really pretty depressing, but that takes nothing away from the quality of the writing, which is excellent, or from the story, which is both compelling and shocking. Half way through, as the narrator is starting to become a machine during his MICU rotation, I found myself not seeing what was so bad or wrong with his behavior - I was sympathetic. This book really got to me. I highly recommend it.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Two cool takes on rap/hip-hop

These two songs have grabbed my attention recently for the way that they look at the rap/hip-hop industry. Follow the text links for YouTube "videos" of Fort Minor's "Cigarette" and Asher Roth's "The Lounge." Asher Roth is pretty damn cool, by the way - while you're over on YouTube, check out his "I Love College," which is just a little more insight on what this dude is about.

Sox Tickets!

It's the most wonderful time of the year!

That's right, folks, tickets for the majority of the Red Sox regular season games go on sale this Saturday, January 24, at 10 am. Don't get too drunk on Friday night and sleep right through, okay?

However, for those in the know - this past holiday weekend was Red Sox Road Trip weekend. This is when the Sox brass send the trophies on the road with Wally for a mall tour of New England, passing out vouchers for pre-sale tickets along the way. Fortunately, I am in the know, and procured myself two such vouchers while on a road trip of my own, at the Mall of NH on Sunday afternoon. Today I purchased tickets for two games, both on weekends, in July and August. As those who know me know well, I like to attend a minimum of one game a month for the whole season, so I still have at least 4 games to buy tickets for, and will therefore be right there with you in the virtual waiting rooms from hell on Saturday morning.
Good luck to everyone hoping to buy tickets - may your waiting room visits be short and your views unobstructed.

The end of a bad era

It's Inauguration Day at last! The day has finally come to say a big "don't let the door hit you in the ass on your way out" to George W. Bush! I lost some faith in our country when he got elected the second time, and it has been a rough, rough eight years, but hopefully that's going to all turn around in the coming months and years. I truly, truly hope that President Obama is able to affect the change that he has preached about throughout his campaign. It probably can't get too much worse than where we are now, right?

Today is also the day that the US is inaugurating it's first black president, which is obviously a huge step in the right direction for our country. I voted for Obama, and I have confidence that, despite his age and experience level, he can get the job done right. I think that he will make me and the millions of other Americans who voted for him proud.

Friday, January 16, 2009

4 more years with Youuuuuuuk!

The Red Sox just announced that they have inked a deal to keep Kevin Youkilis for four more years (to the tune of just over $41 million). Read the full article here. Here's how I feel about this deal:

Still waiting to hear on a few other key players, but for now I'm pretty excited about at least Youk and Pedroia signing multiple year deals.

New Crank 2 Trailer

To follow up on the old post about the Crank 2 trailer, here's the new one, just released yeaterday, I guess. I just hope this is a real one, and it's not going to get pulled too.

I don't think the "choke a bitch" line is in this one, though, sadly.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Rattle and Hum

I've been a U2 fan for as long as I can remember. Literally, I can not remember a single point in my life, including my early childhood when I didn't know who they were or that I loved them. I can't remember the first time I heard their music, or how I felt about it. They have been a part of my life for my whole life, and I will always return to them as an old standby. It's nostalgic, really. The last few years as a U2 fan have been rather difficult for me, as I haven't loved their last few albums, and I've honestly gotten a little tired of Bono's "other life" as a political activist and all of that. I'm generally not a fan of musicians and actors who are so politically involved as that. Just my opinion. Anyway, after I wrote that last post and referenced how I've always thought of Joshua Tree as a single work, and not just a collection of songs, I realized how long it had been since I'd actually listened to that album, and I threw it in last night.

And so has begun a new phase of music obsession for me, I think. Damn, that is an unbelievable album, and classic U2 is good, good shit. Listening to the album reminded me of how much I love the last few songs on Rattle and Hum. The last half hour or so of that film is amazing (I mean, I think the whole thing is amazing, but more on that below); from the Star Spangled Banner through Pride is by far the best part of the film. I just bought the album last night from iTunes, because I remembered that my old CD was among those stolen out of my car years ago (along with War, which was the first CD I ever owned - bummer). While it was downloading, I read some of the reviews on iTunes, and was really surprised by what I saw. I just read a few similar reviews on Amazon today, and I'm truly surprised. Did you know there are people out there who are not completely enamored with Rattle and Hum? I was amazed to learn this.

Below is a video of the opening of the film, wherein U2 plays "Helter Skelter," introducing it with the powerful "This is a song that Charles Manson stole from the Beatles, and we're stealing it back."

You can't deny the brilliance.

I guess a lot of people simply didn't get it. It wasn't designed to be just a live concert; it's a "rockumentary," if you'll indulge the use of that weird term. It's a journal. It's a behind the scenes of U2's life in America touring the Joshua Tree album. It's live and studio tracks, from various shows and studios. It's a bunch of really great versions of some of these songs! The complaint I saw in reviews seemed to be disappointment. And I think a lot of that stemmed from the fact that Joshua Tree was a big as it was. People were expecting to see Joshua Tree played out live on stage, but what they got was so much more, and they just weren't prepared. I saw a few reviews to the effect of how it needed a few listens before it really occurred to them just how good it was, and I applaud these people, for at least they took the time to realize the magic of what they were hearing. "Bullet the Blue Sky" and "Running to Stand Still" are so much deeper and darker than the studio versions, and take on so much more meaning for it; "Sunday Bloody Sunday" is amazing on Rattle and Hum for the intro and the emotion and background that is poured into it; "Pride" is almost breathtaking for the feeling and love and happiness in it. I could go on all day. Some of the amazing songs in the film somehow didn't make it onto the accompanying CD "soundtrack," which is truly disappointing. You need to see the movie to get the true experience.

Joshua Tree was an album written in America, about America. With Rattle and Hum, the band really just dumped all of themselves "into the arms of America," of an America that they love and embrace wholeheartedly. If you're seen Rattle and Hum before, and weren't completely impressed, give it another watch.

EDIT: 1/15/09: I just need to point out three more tracks on Rattle & Hum: 1) Van Diemen's Land - Soulfully and beautifully sung by The Edge - when else are you going to hear something like this?; 2) When Love Comes to Town, w/ BB King - This was written for a duet with BB, and it just brilliant. These's a scene on the film where BB says something to Bono about him being too young to have such deep lyrics or something like that, and that kind of speaks to the band as a whole. Insightful.; 3) All I Want is You is a beautiful song, and this version is so emotional, it can make you want to cry.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Musings on LP

I'm trying to do this new creative writing project right now involving LP's latest album, Minutes to Midnight. I'm completely blocked as far as finishing my own novel goes, so I'm trying to work out some creativity. This is strictly for my own purposes, to challenge myself into being more creative and thinking outside the proverbial box, but that's a whole other post. Anyway, the point of this post was that I want to talk about Minutes to Midnight. My project involves the order of the songs on the CD and the general themes running through the album, so I've been paying more attention to those things the last week or so since I started this and I've been thinking of the album as a whole on a different level, and I appreciate it so much more for it. I feel like I appreciate the work as a whole so much more now that I'm thinking of the album as a single work, rather than 12 individual works. I have a whole new appreciation. Don't get me wrong, There's certain albums that I think of this way, and U2's Joshua Tree as a prime example, but generally, I just listen to albums for the songs, not for the album as a work. I'm psyched.

I've read a lot of fan reviews for Minutes to Midnight, like, by hard-core, from-the-beginning kind of fans, saying they felt like this album was kind of a sell-out, it was too commercial, it was made for radio and selling to the masses. I completely disagree. I also read one review, I think on iTunes somewhere, a while ago, saying that the band was trying to grow with their original audience, who have graduated college since the first album came out, and are out acting like grown-ups now (my words, not the reviewer's), and the album has a whole new depth not present on their previous two studio albums. This seems more accurate to me. I have yet to listen to either Hybrid Theory or Meteora on this level, but I would still venture to guess that neither of those albums works the way that Minutes to Midnight does.

Some of the themes that seem to flow through the album, though, are feelings like regret and anger and loss, which is kind of a bummer, but it works, and it works well. LP is one of my favorite bands because of the complexity of their music, and I feel like Minutes to Midnight adds a new level of complexity to their repertoire. Bravo.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Is it wrong?

that I get such a kick out of these pictures? I have no idea what the words say, nor did I bother trying to figure it out, I just find the photos to be really amusing.


I recently put some of my old CDs into my iPod, and as I'm sitting here listening to it on shuffle, I'm really glad that I did. The old James song "Sit Down" just came on, followed immediately by "How Was It For You," and I remember now how happy this band makes me feel. I used to have 2 or 3 of their albums, along with a cassette of a live show, and I used to listen to this stuff all the time. Unfortunately, the only CD I seem to still have is the self-titled James, from 1991 (cover pictured above). If you think you don't know who they are, I refer you to the 1993 song "Laid" off the album by the same name. Listen and read a review here.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Into The Wild - the movie

Spoilers ahead.
I read this book years and years ago, and I recall really enjoying it and actually getting something out of Chris McCandless's story. For those who haven't read it or seen the film, here's a quick summary. The book leaves you with a feeling of longing, almost. Everyone at some point, wants to reject the day to day drudgery of daily life and the obnoxious commercialism that is the world that we live in, to just give it all up and run away. We've all felt it at some point or another, and that's exactly what Chris did. And you're left with a feeling that he did some noble thing by going to commune with nature in the Alaskan wilderness, and was unlucky enough to eat the wrong berries and die there. Bummer. Poor Chris. I felt this after reading the book, like a lot of people did. I read the book shortly after it came out, back in 1997. I was 17 or 18 years old, just graduating high school, and holding onto the same sorts of ideals that Chris McCandless lived - and ultimately died - for.

I watched the movie the other night, and I hated it. I hated Chris McCandless for his naivete and stupidity in doing what he did. It prompted me to do more research on the whole story behind Chris's travels and his untimely death in the wilderness. Let me give a disclaimer before I get into this: I mean no disrespect, to anyone involved, to Chris, or his family, or friends, or John Krakauer, or Sean Penn, or anyone else with any kind of stake or interest in Chris's story. It's a heartbreaking story, it truly is, and my heart goes out to all of these individuals. I just feel like maybe there's more to it than was presented in either the book or the film, and some of those conveniently omitted facts are pretty important to the way that the story is viewed by the general public, and the general spin that has been put on the way that Chris lived and died.

So, the little bit of research I did the other night resulted in two really intriguing finds. I came across this website, which provides a pretty convincing alternate view to the one presented by Krakauer in his book and Sean Penn in his movie. I also found this website, which provides a really humorous view on the whole story. Maybe the Terra Incognita site can be seen as sour grapes because Sean Penn made the big Chris McCandless movie before this guy had the chance, but it seems to me that some of the facts presented by these two sites are just that, and you really can't spin them: he had a map and he either ignored it or didn't know how to read it, he didn't seem to know what he was doing in terms of hunting/fishing/gathering food (and this was apparent from his journals, the book and the movie, too), he didn't bring proper supplies, and no one knew where he was. It was just pretty dumb of him to think he could do this just because he was pissed at the world or his parents.

I don't know. Develop your own opinions based on what's out there, this is just mine. I felt something after I read this book, and maybe that was because of my age or level of impressionability when I read it so many years ago, but I held on to that feeling until I just saw the movie, and it sparked me to think about the story again, and to look into it a little more. I'm pretty confident that if I read the book now, knowing nothing about the story, I would've been left with the same feeling that the movie has now left me with. Ultimately, I'm glad I saw the movie and it led me to change the opinion that I had after reading the book; though I'm not sure Sean Penn or John Krakauer would be.

While we're on the topic

Just one more quick link to something pretty funny. This is Patton Oswalt's recent post about Jason Statham, entitled Gay-tham for Statham. Patton Oswalt is funny shit.

Wicked Funny

I just came across this excerpt from a police log while I was blog surfing. Thanks to Robot Bites Man for posting it earlier today. I couldn't resist snagging it and posting it here, it's just too funny.

In other news, I'm trying again, as I'm wasting time this afternoon, to watch this ridiculous Dungeon Siege movie. I just turned it on about halfway through, and I'm still only really able to handle about 10 minutes of it. Ugh. I just don't get what went wrong. Additionally, I've decided that I hate this Helen Hunt look-alike girl - LeeLee Sobieski. She annoys me even more than the movie as a whole. Ick.

PS - My blogging skills are improving - did you notice I learned how to link text in this post? I've impressed myself again. Yay me!