Wednesday, December 9, 2009

A Personal Story

I don't share the following story because I want to make you laugh, or because I have delusions of inter-fame. I don't share it because I want you to like me more, or for the ad-revenue your page view elicits (well, that's not entirely true, it turns out all of the poor college student stories I had heard weren't exaggerations; on an unrelated note, check out the various fine products offered by local merchants to the left!).

The reason that I share the story is because it truly has had a profound effect upon me. I'm not proud of everything I did, and you might not be either. Please, though, keep in mind that I was a very socially-frightened seventh grader.


Sunday, October 11, 2009

Ganked: A Tale of Two Teens and an Unexpected Visitor

So, a while back, when I was 17, a friend of mine and I drove over to Milwaukee to see a show. We got there, enjoyed the show immensely, and left. We decided that, since it was fairly late, we'd drive halfway back to Madison, stop for some food and a chance to relieve our bladders, and then go the rest of the way home. Unfortunately, my dolt of a friend went the wrong way out of Milwaukee. We got off the highway and found ourselves fortuitously at a Wendy's. We got out to go inside for food and a bathroom but found it closed. We got back into the car and were about to turn around when, a bit down the road, I sighted a McDonald's. I should mention here that we are not in a good part of town. We're in the part of town where you keep your hand in your pocket, clutching your phone in case someone holds a knife to your back. And it's late. About 11. And so we naively drive over to this McDonald's. Pulling into the parking lot, we see that the lights are still on inside. Excellent. My friend parks his parent's car and we get out and start walking towards the building when, lo and behold, a large black woman approaches us. She wears clothes that have a two-day build-up of grime and when I say large, I mean large. Huge. Obese. And so it begins.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Zak and Sara with an Orchestra

Back in early 2005, Ben Folds did a concert in Perth, backed by the Western Australia Symphony Orchestra. He played versions of his songs that had been arranged by Australian composers and it is probably the best live DVD I've ever seen. Case in point: Zak and Sara, the very first song performed:


This just illustrates how totally awesome Ben Folds is. For those of you that want more (the smart folk), you can buy the DVD here. Seriously, just twelve bucks. I've listened to it innumerable times and it never gets old. Track list:

Zak and Sara
Smoke
Fred Jones Part 2
Steven's Last Night In Town
Boxing
Annie Waits
Brick
Evaporated
Not the Same
The Ascent of Stan
Lullaby
Narcolepsy
Rock This Bitch
The Luckiest

So... yeah. Pretty awesome.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Video Dating



I can't decide if this is funny or sad. Probably sad. Some of the best phrases:

"I'm an executive by day and a wildman by night."
"Perhaps a nice bath with some champagne and candles."
"What I'm not looking for is some big, overgrown monster that's always thinking about food."
"I'm looking for the goddess. Are you the goddess?"
"No fatties, no hamsters, no dopers, no smokers, no alcoholics, no Donna Juanitas, no poseurs, no crazies."
"Life is a playground and I want someone to play with."
"I'm interested in most phases of data processing."

Friday, August 21, 2009

Song of the Week

If you haven't heard of Sly and the Family Stone, you've been missing out. The epitome of the '60's funk/soul movement, they had big music and bigger hair.

'If You Want Me to Stay' comes from their 1973 release 'Fresh,' around the time the band started to get heavily into cocaine, but before it could too heavily affect their music as it did later. The leadman, Sly Stone, was the primary contributor, leaving out his 'family' for much of the album; in 'If You Want Me to Stay,' he did the vocals, guitar, bass, and keyboards.

Enjoy.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

How People Spend their Time

The New York Times has put together a very nice graph that shows how different groups spend their time throughout the day. It lets you view the graphs of 18 different categories that include sex, employment status, race, and more. I could try to explain it all in great detail, but it's much better to just experience it.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Song of the Week #???

Quiet, you.

I have lately gotten really into Icelandic music (partially due to a documentary I highly recommend entitled 'Screaming Masterpiece') so you can expect to see several Icelandic songs in the next few weeks.

This week's song is 'Romantica,' by The Apparat Organ Quartet. This Icelandic band is comprised of four people playing on various electric organs (and occasionally a vocoder) and a drummer. Their album can be bought here.






"One by one, million by million, in the prescience of dawn, every leaf in that part of the world was moved." --James Agee

Monday, August 3, 2009

The Irony of Religion

The irony of religion is that because of its power to divert man to destructive courses, the world could actually come to an end. The plain fact is, religion must die for mankind to live. The hour is getting very late to be able to indulge having in key decisions made by religious people. By irrationalists, by those who would steer the ship of state not by a compass, but by the equivalent of reading the entrails of a chicken. George Bush prayed a lot about Iraq, but he didn't learn a lot about it. Faith means making a virtue out of not thinking. It's nothing to brag about. And those who preach faith, and enable and elevate it are intellectual slaveholders, keeping mankind in a bondage to fantasy and nonsense that has spawned and justified so much lunacy and destruction. Religion is dangerous because it allows human beings who don't have all the answers to think that they do. Most people would think it's wonderful when someone says, "I'm willing, Lord! I'll do whatever you want me to do!" Except that since there are no gods actually talking to us, that void is filled in by people with their own corruptions and limitations and agendas. And anyone who tells you they know, they just know what happens when you die, I promise you, you don't. How can I be so sure? Because I don't know, and you do not possess mental powers that I do not. The only appropriate attitude for man to have about the big questions is not the arrogant certitude that is the hallmark of religion, but doubt. Doubt is humble, and that's what man needs to be, considering that human history is just a litany of getting shit dead wrong. This is why rational people, anti-religionists, must end their timidity and come out of the closet and assert themselves. And those who consider themselves only moderately religious really need to look in the mirror and realize that the solace and comfort that religion brings you comes at a horrible price. If you belonged to a political party or a social club that was tied to as much bigotry, misogyny, homophobia, violence, and sheer ignorance as religion is, you'd resign in protest. To do otherwise is to be an enabler, a mafia wife, for the true devils of extremism that draw their legitimacy from the billions of their fellow travelers. If the world does come to an end here, or wherever, or if it limps into the future, decimated by the effects of religion-inspired nuclear terrorism, let's remember what the real problem was. We learned how to precipitate mass death before we got past the neurological disorder of wishing for it. That's it. Grow up or die.

[disclaimer: I didn't write this monologue. It was written by Bill Maher for his documentary 'Religulous,' which I very highly recommend if you aren't a closed-minded prick. The simple fact that you've made it this far indicates you probably aren't. So congratulations. I've embedded the original clip below if you'd rather hear it narrated by Mr. Maher himself.]

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Indisputably Epic

Alright, so I am a longtime fan of epic music. The time has now come for me to share the cream of the crop. The Epic-est of the Epic. Now, I realize that there are many 'epic' songs that I omitted, and much of this was intentional. I wanted to stick primarily to heart-racing percussive brassy music, so you won't find any Adagio for Strings on here. In fact, I don't think there's anything adagio at all!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Song of the Week #4 -- Plea from a Cat Named Virtue by The Weakerthans

The Weakerthans are one of the bands that everybody should know about, but no one does. It's supremely disappointing, that. There's really nothing dislikable about them, and everything likable. Their light but powerful guitar with nice, not overpowering drums are fantastic, but the vocals..

See, I usually don't pay much attention to the vocals of a song. And you will know that right away when I try to sing along to one. I get the overall message, but don't really listen to the little words. That's because I see the lyrics as secondary to the music. Far secondary. In fact, I don't much care about lyrics; one thing that I love so much about Sigur Ros is the fact that they sometimes sing in a completely made-up language (Hopelandic).

With The Weakerthans, though, the lyrics are reason enough to listen, and the great music behind the lyrics is just further reason. They're true poetry, and not any of that e.e. cummings crap: this is the real thing.

Normally, I'd provide a 'case in point,' but any of their songs could serve as a case in point. So, without further ado, Plea from a Cat Named Virtue:


Plea from a Cat Named Virtue


This was my first Weakerthans experience (it was on Punkorama 9). If you didn't realize, it's from the perspective of a cat whose owner has gotten lethargic.

Pretty awesome, isn't it?

And for those of you that want more, here's another track of theirs. This is maybe my favorite of theirs; it's got that awesome repetitive guitar and some of the most beautiful lyrics I've ever heard:

My Favorite Chords


I super super hope that you have enjoyed these as much as I have. Over and over. And if you like it, go buy it!

"Thousands of candles can be lighted from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared."
--Buddha

Thursday, January 15, 2009

*GHASP* The Meaning of Life!

I don't know how many of you are familiar with Yahoo! Answers, but if you're not, you probably should be. It really is a pretty good tool for getting a question answered, and quickly, though it certainly has its fair share of weird questions (Should I be letting my child play with asbestos? Why cant i get boners? Men what would you do if you went to get your hair cut and the man doing it has his dick hanging out?) that make for good entertainment.

Lots of questions are posed over and over again (What's the best band/movie/book? How can I get rid of my acne?) but the one that I have seen nearly ever time I've voyaged to Yahoo! Answers is "What's the meaning of Life?"

Now, I don't mean to sound crass, but how in the hell do you plan on getting a good answer to that question by posing it on an online community!? I mean, you'd find not only a better answer but a faster one by Googling it!

That's not to say, though, that there aren't people that put a good amount of thought into answering the question. In fact, some of the replies are actually quite interesting to read:
"planting things, watching them grow"
"The meaning of life is to chase after the assumption that there is a meaning of life that can be found."
"I think we are here in earth as a learning experience for our soul's." (I apologize for the grammar)
""To be" is temporary and "not to be" is inevitable""

Others, though are not:
"Catholics believe the meaning of human life is to know and love God."
"I have no idea. We are all confused."
"live life to da fullest"

That last one hurts me the most. I know math isn't my strong point, but I can't count the number of times I've heard that phrase. "Life life to the fullest." What's the fullest? You're not defining anything, you're skirting the question. Let's look at a translation of how it might go:

"So, what do you think is the meaning of life?"

= "We've run out of relevant topics to talk about, so I'll pose a mock-philosophical question to demonstrate to you how smart I am."

"Umm. Y'know, to live life to the fullest."

= "Well, I don't really think deeply enough to come up with anything new or meaningful, so I'll regurgitate the phrase that I've heard used over and over again and makes me look optimistic and like a fun-loving person. They'll be sure to like that."

I mean, at least have the balls to say "I don't really know."

So, that brings us to a new question: what's the right answer? In my [right] opinion, it's simply to pursue your motivation, whatever that may be. Here's a list of common motivators, with accompanying brief descriptions:

Achievement -- To overcome obstacles and succeed; to become the best
Acquisition -- To obtain possessions/wealth
Balance/Peace -- To bring all things into harmony and equilibrium
Beneficence -- To protect the helpless, heal the sick, feed the hungry, etc
Chaos -- To disrupt, rebel, and to cause confusion and discord
Creation -- To build or make new, such as art, culture, invention, design, etc
Destruction -- To annihilate, exterminate, unmake, and bring to ruin
Discovery/Adventure -- To explore, uncover mysteries, and pioneer
Education -- To provide information, teach, enlighten, or train
Enslavement -- To force others into servitude
Hedonism -- To enjoy all things sensuous
Liberation -- To free self and/or others from perceived captivity or enslavement
Nobility/Honor -- TO exalt ideas such as generosity, honesty, bravery, and courtliness
Order -- To arrange, organize, and reduce chaos
Play -- To have fun, to enjoy life
Power -- To control and lead others
Recognition -- To gain approval, social status, or fame
Service -- To follow a person, government, order, religion, etc
Torment -- To inflict pain and suffering, on others and/or the self
Understanding -- To seek knowledge or wisdom (spiritual, scientific, etc)

(note-- I stole this list from here)

Also, for all those romantics out there, I would add the pursuit of love to that otherwise comprehensive list.

I think that it is too easy--too tempting--to throw a blanket statement as an answer for the 'meaning of life.' One could argue for any of these. But that also, in my opinion, would be wrong. All of us work in different ways,

As for me? It's understanding. Go figure.

Any motivators that aren't on there that should be? What do you think is the meaning of life? What's your motivator? Leave me a comment. Please. I'm begging you. I yearn it. I need it. Please.

"Take away love and our earth is a tomb."
-Robert Browning

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Song of the Week #4 -- 'Comme Des Enfants' by Coeur de Pirate



I realize that it's been more than a week. But bite me. This is hard work, listening to music and all.

This week we're moving out of the US of A into Canada. Quebec, to be specific. But before I talk about the song, lemme just say, French singing blows American singing out of the water. The language is eight-hundred times more awesome. It'd be a lie to say that I don't miss speaking it. But, then it would also be a lie to say I miss the class.

So the band in question is Coeur de Pirate. Now, don't go running off to Wikipedia, because it doesn't have a page. It's really quite a new band, so even the Myspace at this point is in French.

Beatrice Martin is the heart and soul of the band, providing light piano and beautiful vocals (as well as, according to the myspace, other instruments that are 'easy to play.')

The song I wanna show you guys is called 'Comme des Enfants.' Now, I really don't wanna read too deeply into the song because I don't think that's how it should be listened to. Y'know what? Just take a listen:

Discover Simple, Private Sharing at Drop.io

Heheh. So, Drop.io removed their hosting service, so my audio files no longer work. Whoops.

Hope you liked it as much as I did.

"Worlds may freeze and suns may perish, but there stirs something within us now that can never die again."
--H.G. Wells