Friday, December 26, 2008

Two films, two agendas, two samples.

There comes a time in every man's life, when he has to make a decision. He's got to decide to be a man, as society sees him in that role: work all day, demand dinner, wear a tie, read Tom Clancy, watch syndicated television. You know this man. He sits at the next table in the restaurant, and rubs his eyes. He exclaims how tired he is or how big that game was last night. He has a car seat or Armani sunglasses. He watches Bloodsport or Babel. Once he's made that decision, he's lost, and can't redeem himself. He should have taken, as Frost would say, the road less traveled, because now he's more a man, than a human being. But if he decides to be a human being, and not just a man, he might appear, to the casual observer, to just be a man; he likes, or at least respects, Evil Dead, he probably doesn't shave on the weekends, he goes to see important movies, and most importantly, he doesn't care if you think he's effeminate.

Why, you might ask yourself, am I giving such a magnanimous treatment to a movie review? Well, I'm not quite sure, but I know that the last two movies that I saw in the theater were made by human beings for human beings, and had they been made for men, they might have been a lot more entertaining.

Ron Howard's latest attempt to escape from the shadow of his previous career as an actor, has once again come up just slightly short of the mark of magnificence. I have nothing but respect for Ron Howard, a lot of his films I would consider to be good bordering great, but he hasn't done anything that would take me to the razors edge of any specific emotion (except for his campaign add for Obama, I was nearly crying with laughter). This movie had it all going for it; it was paced well, written well, the acting was well above average, with extra credit going to Sam Rockwell, who's character displayed the best dispassionate devotion to a cause than anyone since Ed Wood made Plan 9 From Outer Space, but what it lacked was conceptual oversight.

The downfall of Frost/Nixon was the characters themselves, moderately augmented by the amount of time passed since Watergate, and the interviews, themselves. Every high school graduate who paid attention in US History II knows that Nixon was, in fact, a crook. This film used some backwards attempt at pathos to make the viewer feel as if there was an actual power struggle going on, that some type of conflict was in jeopardy of not being resolved, but once again, the age of the internet doesn't care about journalistic endeavors. Everyone knows, now, that JFK was a philanderer, everyone knows about the genocide in Darfur, and every knows that Nixon practically dialed up his own execution. The failure came, when after watching the film, you realize that everything that happened in this film failed to eclipse what actually happened in real life.

Hey, but at least now you can get from Zooey Deschanel to Kevin Bacon in one degree.

If you're interested in this movie, do yourself a favor and just go out and buy the interviews on DVD. That way, you'll know what was actually said, and not what Ron Howard thought was important.

So now it's on to number two: Valkyrie. Now this film was realized by the mind behind Superman Returns, X-Men and X2; Brian Singer. I'm not going to flat out say that Singer has a long history of hiding behind budget and star power, but I will say this: when Stanley Kubrick made a movie, it didn't matter who was in it or what the budget was, it was going to be a great film.

This movie, on the other hand, was at it's best moments, thought provoking, and in it's darkest moments, a drolling listless sea of bureaucratic jargon that would have even a savvy Nazi historian's head spinning. Now this film did succeed in a way that Frost/Nixon didn't. My disbelief was suspended. I found myself, midway through the film, actually wondering if Hitler had died and there was a massive cover up that was finally being exposed in the frame of a movie. Then I remembered that Tom Cruise was in this film, and promptly went back to finding myself flabbergasted at how good a Nazi Eddie Izzard made. But in the end, Valkyrie fell short, and it wasn't for lack of beautiful imagery, great cinematography and fair to moderately good dialog. No, this movie failed because Tom Cruise is not a good actor, anymore. He played, essentially, an anti-fuhrer. Dedicated, motivational, clean cut, but tragically flawed. Had he gone over his notes from his time on the set of Magnolia, he probably could have made this a great movie, but unfortunately the man just can't get out of his own ego for long enough to make an entire film anymore.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Monday, October 13, 2008

Ghosts


Ghosts I
Originally uploaded by alexszeliga
Born from a need to do more with my photography than bullshit (sorry George) architectural, and a realization that my original idea was a bit too large of a bite for my current workflow process, I decided to buy another digital SLR. I could have saved up some money, copped out completely, and bought a Rebel, Sony Alpha or a D40, and probably would never have touched my film cameras again, but I decided against that. I went and got a Canon D30 (note: not a 30D, but a 3.2mp D30), and besides getting a 2gb CF card, a fresh battery and charger, and perhaps in the future a decent 50mm lens, I'm done.

Being that I still know so little about exposure and how it really works, and I've got some pretty forgiving room mates, I mean models, it just makes it easier to get a good rough image to start from.

Also, now that I've got identical software suites at work and at home, it makes it very easy to work fluidly.

By the way, I recommend gIMP and UFRaw. Totally open source, totally free, and has all of the bells and whistles that you'd want. Granted it's not as pretty as Photoshop, but it's getting there.

Did I mention they're faster, free and totally integrated with each other? Fantastic. I think I'm going back to Linux.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Palinocracy

A scene by Alex:

CURTAIN RISES on a happy home's happy family room.  Well appointed couches adorned with animal furs are being arranged by SARAH PALIN.  She's clad in a red white and blue bikini with a thirty-ought-six strapped around her back.  She's humming Hail to the Chief almost inaudibly.

ENTER BRISTOL PALIN from STAGE RIGHT, a fresh looking young lady, dressed in high fashion for a high school girl.

BRISTOL is noticeably hesitant and takes a few pauses and false starts at her mothers turned back before blurting...

BRISTOL: Mom, I think we need to have a talk.

SARAH startled: Oh, Bristol, honey, your frightened me. Sure, what is it?

BRISTOL sits down on a couch adorned by a bear's skin and head. The skin retains the bite marks left by her mother when she ruthlessly mauled the bear as it riffled through the family trash a year ago. She fold her hands in her lap and takes a deep breath.

SARAH notices the hesitation and sits down, a look of confusion wiggles it's way across her flawless face.  She's got hot legs too...

BRISTOL:  Mom...geez this is hard...well Mom, I know that you're a big proponent for abstinence only sex-ed. 

SARAH looks more confused, and hot 

BRISTOL: I know it's the only moral issue you didn't abandon in your meteoric rise to political stardom...in Alaska...in order to appear more moderate and appeal to independent and Democratic voters.  And it means a lot to me too.  I think it's great.  I mean, that's how Christ would have wanted us to be...blissfully unaware of our bodies, our desires and our physiological prerogative to procreate...

SARAH shifts her weight, and unburdens her back of the 30-0-6 and lays in in her lap idly fingering the safety switch.

BRISTOL quickening: I know that you have a moral resume a mile long but you've been able to gain much political acclaim by simply not being the incumbent, and that you hope that that same sentiment will carry on to the national stage so that you can use your noncommittal style to balance out John McCain's ever sharpening Rove-Bot status... [pauses, takes a deep breath and continues] ...I think I might be digressing...

BRISTOL becomes noticeably more nervous and eeks out one final sentence to her mother...

BRISTOL: Well Mom, I am pregnant...

BRISTOL squints awaiting a hail of high powered lead redemption but none comes.

TIGHT SPOT LIGHT on SARAH PALIN She slowly stands, rifle at her side, bikini in full glory. She takes a few methodical steps towards the audience as BRISTOL stands into another TIGHT SPOT LIGHT and takes a few cautious steps toward her mother.  SARAH shoots a devastating stare toward her approaching daughter as the back light fades.

SARAH: et tu, Brute?

LOWER CURTAIN

END SCENE

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The Bridge


The Bridge
Originally uploaded by alexszeliga
I want to be George Tice.

If anyone can do that for me, just give me a call.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Let's Print Some Motherfuckin' Photos


Double Sided
Originally uploaded by alexszeliga
I promised, and I came through. I feel like I am developing. My strategy of watching movies with good cinematography seems to be working. This week it was American History X. I developed two rolls from Hobotopia, that I shot with Kevin this week and I ended up with about 10 shots that I actually like. That means I am almost up to a 1:4 ratio of good to bad shots.

I learned an important lesson this week: One Hour Photo prints look terrible. They look terrible enough to make a shot that I would like, had it been printed well, appear indistinguishable from a terrible photograph with no redeemable qualities.

I made a couple of prints this Sunday under the careful guidance of Kevin Convery. While doing so, I've decided that I never want to go back to digital photography. Ever. I'm starting to understand how much digital photography stunted me creatively. I had no boundaries, no rules and nothing pushing me to advance. Shooting film, until this weekend just felt like the right thing to do, now I know it's the right thing to do. As with every other other comparison I've ever been faced with, be it music, movies, or photographs, analog is still miles above digital in quality. I actually kind of feel sorry for people who aren't refined enough to understand the difference.

When I look at my prints, no matter how close I get to them, I never see a pixel, I never see an artifact and, most importantly, I never feel like the medium has diminished the initial concept. Now whether my ability has done so, is another story, but again, in limiting my excuses, I have less choices beyond becoming better.

So please, check out my Flickr page, and If you know me, ask me to see my prints. I want to show them to you.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

New Lease on Photography


Sun Visor
Originally uploaded by alexszeliga
So I've started shooting a whole lot more. I feel like I have a few new reasons to shoot, I feel better about my work and I am progressing as a photographer.

I'd like to just put down on paper, or the internet, what I want to to with my art, so that I can systematically make it happen.

My foremost goal is to continue my mastery of the technical act of photography, which includes, but is not limited to; mastering the use of my camera, mastering the concepts of film, take advantage of what I have learned about exposure and light, and develop skills to use in post processing of my photographs.

I'd also like to develop the emotional concepts that I want to capture with my art. In music, this comes very naturally to me, because it is a bit more prosaic; almost mathematical, but in photography it's way more organic and complex. I've gotten to the point where I know what I want to say, I just have to figure out how to focus on the concept and clarify it so that the image correlates as universally as possible to the concepts. On this, I feel I am getting very close.

I am in dire need of developing my composition. I don't really have a discerning eye for composition, and every time I find a good one, it's usually by luck. I've been attempting to train myself by watching movies. There are a few movies in my collection that stick out, not because of stellar acting, fantastic direction or great plots, but because of great photography. So I've spent a bunch of my time watching these movies and trying to pick out the frames in each shot that are best composed, and when I see a a scene that has great composition, I try to tell myself, audibly usually, why it feels good to look at. early results are interesting. It's results can be seen in the shot above.

So that's what I want. Criticism is welcome and any other tips as well.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Kennedy's Tumor

So our second eldest statesman, the forty year veteran from Massachusetts, has an 8cm long malignant brain tumor.

I feel for the man, I really do. I am infuriated that the mainstream media are talking this up as the final cap on the Kennedy curse. For fuck's sake, the man is 76 years old and has been in the Senate for four decades, and on top of that, he killed a woman (should have bought a Volkswagen, Ted).

Kennedy or not, he's old, he should have retired years ago, and it's got to say something when the only person in the Senate who's been around longer than you has completely lost his mind.

Senator Robert Byrd was quoted as saying "Ted, Ted, my dear friend, I love you and miss you." Hold on Bob, he's not dead yet, and he, unlike you, still has a functioning rational mind, albeit one racked with an enormous tumor.

Now I can't truly claim to to really understand the pathos our nation is undergoing at the loss of another Kennedy, because I don't really get how a string of unfortunate events happening to people in high profile positions can be considered a curse...I also don't really believe in voodoo, but what I do know, is that if I had a brain tumor, I'd prefer to know that it was caused by the high tension wires going over my house, or the high level of carcinogens that can be attributed to the line of work I perform rather than bad fucking luck or my last name.

And by the way. From now on, since my name is Alex, I want you all to start calling me Jim.

He's not dead yet, I can still talk shit.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Photography


Been shooting again. Kevin taught me how to develop my own film for real. Here's some of what I came up with. Once I get a negative scanner, everything will be different.




Monday, March 24, 2008

Zen and the Mixtape

If there is one totally lost art that can be attributed to the home CD burner and the rife availability of free/illegal music on The Internet, it's got to be the mix tape. It seems to me that now there are mix tapes being made, but not good ones. It seems as if the idea of just making a mix tape to entertain someone has gone totally out the window.

On the one hand, you've got your John-Cusack-Inner-Monologue-High-Fidelity mix tape maker who's putting together a mix tape because he or she feels that they aren't articulate enough to make a strong case as for why the mix tape reciever should sleep with them. This, I find, is laughable. If you can't talk your way into those pants, how is a mix of songs going to do that? I mean, it's really rare to find someone who cares about music just as much as you do, which is the only way that I could see that working. If they weren't into music the way you are, you'd spend the whole mix tape explaining artist and songs and why they are important, and if they are way more into music, you're just exposing to them how boring you are.

On the other hand, you've got your Hipster-Indie-Look-At-How-Many-Bands-I-Know-That-You-Don't mix tape maker. This person drives me up a wall. I can understand where this idea comes from, but I don't condone this kind of behavior. I mean, we all want to expose our friends and relations to cool shit that we know and they don't, but a mix-tape is not where this should happen. Especially in the modern era, where music is pretty much free to everyone, and it becomes harder and harder to find new music, you end up reaching into the corners of your library and pulling out shit that you don't actually listen to just to be impressive. These mixes tend to jump all over the spectrum, from hip-hop, classic rock, R&B, to metal and the rest, and they are usually unlistenable.

And the last sect of shitty mix makers can't even really be called mix makers. I've been given shitty mix tapes that are nothing more than playlists. Now, playlists are cool, like the, "hey man, you're going to the beach? Righteous, pop this mix in, bra, and it will be all good," playlist, and the, "you trying to get laid tonight? Totally put this on man, she'll be down on ya before track three," playlist; those are both great things to have on hand, but a playlist is not a mix-tape.

So I've put together a list of rules for making a good mix tape, and hopefully, it will help you.

1. Make sure the songs flow together and have a nice pacing to them. A disjointed mix will seem tossed together.

2. Consider your audience. If your intended mixee is a casual listener, stick with singles and songs that they may have heard before. Take into account music that they like and introduce some stuff they may not have heard, but don't go crazy.

3. Watch out for incredibly long songs. You want your intended to listen to every song all the way through, and they aren't going to like every song on the mix. A skipped track is a missed opportunity.

4. If you have romantic motives, avoid the all love songs mix. Love songs are great, but if you want your mix to get listened to more than once, you've got to consider how boring love songs can get one after another.

5. Time travel helps. Sample music from different temporal areas, unless you want your mix to sound like one hours worth of a 80s radio station, but avoid the mix that samples one style of music through a long period of time. Too many times the "Metal, 1975-2005" retrospective has ruined a friendship.

6. If you want to go really obscure, but don't want to alienate your listeners, try using a a cover song, or a popular band covering them.

7. If you reason for putting a song on a mix would take longer than the intro of the song to explain, then it doesn't belong. Every song on the mix should be obvious, after listening.

8. Don't put music you don't listen to on it. Sure, tossing in some classical music makes you seem sophisticated, but when you say, "Gee, I sure love Brahms," and they say, "Actually, it's Stravinsky," you definately won't get laid.

9. Be careful with instrumentals. Some people don't take the music part of music very seriously, and are only listening for lyrical content. A quick test can help you decide whether or not a instrumental will work. Does this person like to have music on in the background while doing other things? If so, an instrumental will be in good taste.

10. Just because CD-R's can hold a lot of music, doesn't mean you have to use it all. 30-45 minutes is a good length to shoot for. That's long enough to put a wide variety in, but not so long that it will be a chore to get all the way through.

10.1. Pick out more songs than you plan to use, put them all together, listen to them all and pick your order. The listen to the mix all the way through to make sure you haven't got any skips or mislabled songs. Pear it down to your final length and then listen again. If you can get through without skipping, then you're golden.

11. Hand write the play list along with artist name and the record it came from. This will make it easier for the listener to download or buy more music by the artist, if you succeed in amusing them. A printed track list, while more legible, is less personal. The disc should also have a date on it.

12. Be careful with cover art. If you want to decorate the case, make it something cool, but not over involved. You're trying to showcase the music, and glitter will just draw away from it. I personally like to have the play list right on the front of the jewel case. That being said, ALWAYS use a jewel case. A blank CD without a case will be lost or destroyed long before it's full effect can be felt by the recipient.

So there you have it. A mix-tape in 12 easy steps. Now go get your CD wallet, your vinyl collection, your iPod together and make some tasteful mixes.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Dr. Strangecrude or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Barrel

I find myself here often. I almost promised myself that I'd stop, but I feel it's necessary. Every time I see gas prices rising, I cringe. I cringe because I know in my heart of hearts that, in short order, I will soon start receiving forwarded e-mails and MySpace bulletins promising to put my father's company out of business and to, once again, make the world safe for SUVs. [Look at me and my split infinitives!]

I just had a customer pick up some tune-up parts for an older Ford escort. I was in the back of the store pulling his parts, when I overheard him making an aside to my worthy constituent in regards to the fuel efficiency of his car and how it saves him from giving, and I quote, 'another gah'damn dime to those bastard oil companies.' Yes it is true that ExxonMobil increased their profits by about 8% last year. Sure, you're right in thinking that that's about $40.6 billion dollars. Sounds like the Devil to me...how dare they make money in a capitalist society. How dare they provide secure jobs for hundreds of thousands of people, domestically. How dare they turn a profit that is securely in the middle of the national corporate average! How dare they make drastically lower profits, percentage-wise, than banks, insurance companies, and pharmaceutical operations, who turn an average 22% profit...wait, what? So can we suffice to say that companies who have the most revenue deserve to make the most profit? The way I feel, and this is just rational-old-me talking, is that as long as the profit margins stay the same, it seems to me that, it just means they are doing more business than most companies. [src]

So let's now take a look at why the price of gas at the pump is what it is. When I was a kid, way before I was driving, but after I was old enough to care, I remember seeing signs that read $0.99/gal. Now according to actual data that I can get my hands on, gas, when I was about 10 years old, was going for $1.337/gal. [How leet is that?] Then, closer to my 20th birthday it was about $2.080/gal. So when you look at that, you can see that the price of gas increased about $0.75 cents in 10 years. Then, between 2004 and today, average price $3.272 as of February 15th, it's increased about $1.20. That looks like damning evidence of price gouging. If I were ignorant to the economy, I'd tend to agree, but, unfortunately for my reader(s), I am not. Using the Bureau of Labor Statistics own Inflation Calculator, one can easily see that something that cost $1.337 in 1994; say, one gallon of gasoline, would cost, adjusted for inflation, $1.70 in 2004. So the price, in unchanging cents went up about $0.38/gal.

At this point, you're probably asking, 'Well who gives a flying Dutchman about the price of gas in 2004? This is 2008! What does 2004 have to do with the price of tea in China?!' If I had to respond to a question like that, I'd probably start by commenting on your over use of idiomatic expressions, and then I'd say, 'I'm gonna get to it, keep your panties on. Yeesh, I was just trying to give a frame of reference.' Now that you know my techniques, I'll just say that, adjusted for inflation, the price of gas increased about $0.94/gal in those four years. So what does that mean? That means that if our currency stopped inflating domestically in 2004, gas would cost about $2.33/gal today, but that doesn't really explain why ExxonMobil has maintained a consistent ~8% profit throughout the 90's up to the current day. Are you wondering, then, why the price has increased so abruptly? I will do my best to explain.

If you take into consideration, what happened to gasoline and our country in those fourteen years; the vogue of Global Warming culture, the international political climate, and the concept of supply and demand as it applies to finite resources, not to mention new refining processes that are more expensive, but yield higher amounts of the petroleum distillates that we use the most, i.e. gasoline, kerosene, lubricant base stock, diesel, you'd be saying that we were lucky that the price of gas hasn't hit $9.999/gal.

Now if all of this wasn't enough to justify a measly $0.94 increase, there's also the little issue of our currency. Now inflation and currency value are correlated, but are two totally different concepts. The value of our currency on the international market is based largely on confidence and speculation. Upon the introduction of the Euro, it was trading at about e0.80 to the dollar. Today it's trading ~e1.60 to the dollar. We are trillions of deflated American dollars in debt to the Chinese, we're extending ourselves into war after war, our housing and employment numbers are spiraling clockwise, and we've got a guy in the Oval Office who couldn't impress a deaf/mute convention with his eloquent speaking. On top of that, we're exploring and touting conservation methods (e85 ethanol) that would make us less dependant on our foreign oil suppliers, without taking into consideration the logistical impossibility it would be to implement that system on a large scale.

So I guess what I am trying to get at is that since 1994, the only thing discussed above that has remained constant is ExxonMobil's profit margin, and it was all no thanks to our government, OPEC, and Al Gore.

As for why boycotting a specific brand does nothing to change the way that company does business, it's much simpler. When you go to a Mobil station, you're may not actually be buying gas from a ExxonMobil refinery, you're buying gasoline from the nearest refinery. Gasoline is delivered on trucks, which are expensive to run, so the local Getty station buys gas from the local Valero refinery, which keeps a tank of Getty's additive package on hand, mixes raw gasoline with the additive into a truck, drives to the Getty and you're none the wiser. So when you boycott ExxonMobil, the only person who is harmed by it is the guy working 90hrs/wk on the pump, the franchise owner, and their families. At one point, I'd even seen chain-mail that suggested boycotting gasoline all together on a certain day. This is just ridiculous considering that if the entire population of the US bought half as much gas on Monday, they'd just buy twice as much on Tuesday.

So spread THIS around. Let this little blog post spread viral across the land. Then I might be able to sell some adspace on this blog.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Don't Tread on Me.

As of recent, I've been privy to a cavalcade of blogs and blog comments that are attempting to marginalize the youth vote in America. There are a few lines of reasoning. The Hillary supporters tend are trying to say that Barack leads with his heart and not his head, and that's why he picks up a larger margin of the youth vote. They say things like "...Then there are the Liberal Utopian youth who are still living at home, going to college on mommy and daddy's dime, and who never knew the concept of having to fight for something. Cause[sic] everything was handed to them..." [source]

There's just a few issues with this line of reasoning.

One of which being, unless you live in New Jersey, Chicago, or Louisiana, everyone gets one vote, regardless of thier parents wealth. So the winner of that vote is going to be the person who can best motivate this group of unmotivatable people. The reason why Hillary can't do it is because she is a manager, and this group doesn't, obviously, respond well to authoritarians. The reason why McCain can't get these kids to vote is because he is old and stodgy. The reason why Obama is litterally swimming in this vote is because he's a leader. Imagine that? A leader running for President. I mean, can't we all revel in the fact that we finally have a candidate running who isn't a glorified swing shift manager from a fast food restaurant? We don't need another bureaucratic conduit who's just going to be a path for money to leave the government and inneficiently enter the hands of the already rich.

Another issue that keeps being neglected is the very definition of youth. We all know that teens and twenty somethings like to rebel. Why has only one candidate taken that into account? Because he's smarter? No probably not. Is it because he's manipulative by nature and knows how to speak? Partially. Mainly it's because he is a natural leader who knows how to motivate everyone, not just his base. Barack has a sensability that everyone can approach.

Now, the above commenter offended me a bit more than my flaming repsonse lets on. He so closely associates military service with moral intuition. I am easily offended when people challenge the youth in this way. The 'kids these days' mentality drives me up a fucking wall. I know just as many 'adults' who could care less for politics as I know 'youth voters' of the same ilk. The only major difference I see in the cross section of voters I know personally is the level of informedness. I know many more single issue, race, gender, or ill-informed adult voters than youth. As far as the race vote is concerned, closed-minded racism is a trait that is fortunately on it's way out, as far as my constituents are concerned. Thankfully, the bastions of racism in the country are balanced by the trodden-upon, for the most part.

And I'd just like to finish up this little threadless rant with a message to my readers about Geraldine Ferraro and the Clinton campaigns total ineptitude. Geraldine Ferraro has been a card-carrying racist for years. That's not my issue. I don't mind racists. I know that a lot of people, due to poor upbringings, can't help but hold stereotypes. What does bother me is that some people can make it so far in life without ever getting checked. Did no one ever tell Mrs. Ferraro to just shut the fuck up? Has no one ever considered slapping her wrist? Her face? In a life without discipline, in a candidacy without candor, what else can we expect? I am worried, more now than ever, about a Hillary presidency. If Slaughterama-worthy gutter trash can that easily hold a lofty position in Mrs. Clinton's campaign, what could we expect find hanging out in the War Room?

And if Hillary wins, does that mean that Bill get's to redecorate the White House? That's an exciting prospect, and possibly the only benefit of a Clinton Presidency. The world's largest flatscreen? Full service 24hrs Wendy's window? Perhaps a round spinning bed and velvet wall treatments in the Lincoln Bedroom..."Yeah, but...Did you DO IT?!?"

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

They Might Be Dead

If there was a time in my life when I was more suseptible to the wiley charms of music, it would have during the time that my parents were divorcing, and I was moving around inbetween them. No, this isn't a broken home sob story, it's a story about maturity and rationale. When I lived with my mother, in New Jersey, after my father moved away to Illinois, I had no positive musical influences. All I knew, I learned from my brother, who was having a crisis of his own. I am not saying that good things didn't come out of this time in my life. I was over the top obsessed with bands like Tool and The Deftones. I was also listening to a lot of Sublime and Smashing Pumpkins.

But then, something happened. I moved to my father's house in Illinois. Now mind you, where we lived in Illinois was culturally devoid. It wasn't happening in any way, but there was a small thriving community of cool bands and musicians. We also found ourselves, my brothers and I, in constant interface with 20-something college students who, for the most part, tend to find the boundaries of art and look out into the smokey darkness.

For the first time in my life, I heard bands like Jeff Buckley, Iron and Wine, and of course, They Might Be Giants. This was a watershed moment in my life. My father had, since I was around anyway, always been in what I, up 'till then, referred to as a novelty band. After really listening to They Might Be Giants, and looking past the obvious laughs, I was faced with a terrible realization: Music can be funny, entertaining, and well crafted. I was forced to look at The Spuds, my father's band, from a different light.

But this blog's not about The Spuds. No, no, no. This blog is about They Might Be Giants, and what I consider to be their best album; Apollo 18.


I learned a lot listening to this record. I learned that dorky kids can make dance music. I learned that all mammals have four chambered hearts. But most importantly, I learned that you can write a lyric that is devestatingly depressing, with macabre and disgusting concepts and imagery, wrap it up in a poppy melody and add in a pleasing rhythm, and you still get entertained. My experience with what would eventually become emo dictated that if you were going to use a lyric like...


And his face which was a paper-white mask of evil, sang us this song

Turn around, turn around / There's a thing there that can be found / Turn around, turn around / It's a human skull on the ground / Human skull on the ground, Turn around!



...then you'd have to couple it with dissonant chords, angry distortion and loud drums. Instead, it's paired up with a chug-a-lug drum beat, an accordian, a male and female chorus out of a childrens television program, and probably one of the snappiest bass line's I've ever heard, bar-none. The song, Turn Around is just one of many exceptional songs on this album.


My Evil Twin is probably the nicest way I've ever heard anyone say, "You know, I can be a real dick sometimes, but I'll never accept blame for it."


But what most TMBG fans will remember from this record is the last 'track' which is actually a collection of, I think, 21 seemingly unrelated short bits of ideas for songs. As an audio engineer, I find the idea of recording 21 different track for 21 totally differnt sounding song daunting at the least. It must have been ridiculous to record it, but the over all affect of the songs are hilarious. The last track, which has been titled "Space Suit" by fans, I truly believe to be an homage to the music of Bomberman 64. It's an instrumental, about a minute and a half long, and well, it's my favorite part of the record.


If you're a casual TMBG fan, you've got to buy this record. If you aren't a They Might Be Giants fan, then shame the fuck on you.

Friday, March 7, 2008

It's fucking MARCH!

So in order to keep up my blistering pace of three blogs per month, I've got to get on the hump. It's not that I feel the need to propagate, but I kind of feel like if I ever register at Digg, I'm going to need to have some kind of a back log of matierial for people to read.


I guess I used to be a photographer. I used to have a nice digital SLR, a Canon 10D that took some pretty nice pictures. I got into it because my friend, Kevin, who's a great photographer, made photography seem like lots of fun, and I came to find that it really is. So I did shit like this:



...and sometimes like this...

So I wasn't the most creative and innovative photographer, but I enjoyed doing it, and the digital format was very beneficial in teaching me the basics in an environment where I didn't have to worry about buying film or processing film, and I didn't have to worry about messing a shot up because if I blew out the exposure or used to low a film speed and blurred a shot into indescribable abstract shapes, i could just hit the delete key.

That ended pretty damn quickly one night in New York City. Shortly after all that sassafrass happened, I realized that I had left my camera in the van. Suffice to say, the camera is probably sitting on a pawn shop shelf collecting dust.

So I went a long while without taking any pictures, and until recently, wasn't really pushing to hard to get back into it. It's kind of hard to justify a $500-$1000 purchase when you work part time at a job that net's negative amounts of money. So I was out of it for a while.

Then last Saturday, Kevin invited me to a photoshoot he was doing at his new place of emplyoment, Project Basho. He's always amazed me with his goofy collection of medium and large format film cameras, ancient garage sale/flea market Polaroids and big bellows cameras. My feelings on film, out loud at least, were nasty and vile. "Why would you want to shoot with film, it's like old. I think my grand father had a film camera once. Ew." But internally I was thinking more along the lines of I wish I were talented enough to shoot with film. I suck so bad. So I've made a jump, based on a couple of factors.

  1. I bought a cheap 35mm SLR on eBay. It barely hit my purse-strings
  2. I've got access to a dark room through Kevin, and he's excited to teach me how to process and develop film
  3. Film, typically, looks a thousand times better than digital, IMO
  4. I will be forced to develop my technique and mastery of the technical aspect of shooting, because film cost money, which is something I don't have a whole lot of, right now.

So I guess what I am getting at is I need some models. Right now, I am looking for a male and female.

  • Male: mildly androgenous, preferably tall. your face may or may not be shown. Willing to do tasteful artistic nudity.
  • Female: Either considerably smaller or a little bit larger than 'average.' above the waste nudity with possible full very tasteful nudity.

I really can't compensate you, but I would be willing to do a free photo shoot for you if that's what you're into.

Please. Help...the...photographer.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

It's only schmear if you're a Jew.

I am disheartened. I am disheartened because I have enough on this particular subject to say to facilitate an entire blog.

Taking mudslinging out of politics would be like taking fighting out of hockey, or even like taking mainstream media out of politics; the process would be much less entertaining, but wholly more efficient.

The particular talking point I am addressing is the picture that is being passed around of Barack Obama in a turban and traditional North African garb. I am not outraged by the photo, I am not outraged by the fact that Clinton's team passed it around so quickly. I am enraged by the media and it's biased approach to the situation. The Clinton/McCain media outlets, who I fear share a hive mind, have spun as such; "How could you elect a black dude who's middle name is Hussein and has, at one point in his life worn a turban? We may as well vote for Joker/Penguin in '08!"

...and then the Obama supporters, instead of standing tall and appearing mature, respond with a stack of photos of Hillary in a head scarf, and George W. Bush in what appears to be an Asian woman's dress. We all know that politicians will do some pretty crazy stuff to garner support from other countries and different cultural groups. One case in point would be Bush and Condi's fantastic dancing, another one would be Bush Sr. flipping the 'V For Victory' to some British folk taking photos of his caravan, shortly after the end of the first Iraq war. On a slight side note, I've had dreams of Margaret Thatcher coming to America and smilingly flipping me off for years and I can't wait for that one to come true.

But, in seriousness, I love it. I love that Clinton is using what her team calls a kitchen sink approach to, what appears to be, the last ditch of her campaign. The trend that I notice about her staff, is that the higher up you get, the more childish and underhanded the people seem to be. The upper echelons of her staff are guerillas, and Clinton herself has the beret most populously festooned with medals and pins. It's too easy for her to sling mud...

"We've seen the tragic result of having a president who had neither the
experience nor the wisdom to manage our foreign policy and safeguard our
national security, we can't let that happen again."

Wait, didn't you vote for the war, Hil? Let's see how David Plouffe, Obama's campaign manager, words it, I'll bet he's slightly more eloquent and less inflammatory.

"On the very day that Senator Clinton is giving a speech about restoring respect
for America in the world, her campaign has engaged in the most shameful,
offensive fear-mongering we've seen from either party in the election,"

Ok, so he's not really taking the high road, but from what I remember of being a youth, the guilt trip was always a highly effective way to chastise.

And then to top it all off, Maggie Williams, Clinton's new top aide, had this to say:
"If Barack Obama's campaign wants to suggest that a photo of him wearing
traditional Somali clothing is divisive, they should be ashamed. This is nothing
more than an obvious and transparent attempt to distract from the serious issues
confronting our country today and to attempt to create the very divisions they
claim they decry."

Wait, who released the photo? If it wasn't meant to be divisive, then what were you trying to accomplish? Were you trying to show the country how bad he looked in Somali clothing? Or was it an attempt to make him look foolish? Were you trying to show how photogenic Obama is? Because we all know he's a handsome dude. Every other angle you can take on that photo, that I can see anyway, would be positive.

So yeah, you all got me now. I support Barack Hussein Obama. I support him because he's the closest thing to a conservative in the race, but beyond that, he's the only one who's policy will once again make a conservative, a TRUE conservative, candidate possible again anytime in the near future. Also, Barack wants change. Yes I know that Hillary wants change too. The major difference between the two is that the things Obama has proposed make sense and could possibly be accomplished in two terms. He's not an idealist, he's a realist, and I am smart enough to understand that I don't know enough about politics to know what is right for the country. What I do know is that in order to really influence and change a large system, like our political system, you must be willing to take one thousand small steps without getting overwhelmed or flustered by the amount of work it might take.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Moment? Minute? Millenium? Stevie's all of 'em.

I've been playing with the idea of starting a bit of a serial post here on this blog. I've gone as far as designing a logo for it, but not much further. The logo is a man with a mullet, and instead of a face the letters CotM are stylistically implanted. Since I had a hard time moving this logo from paper to gIMP [open source is awesome] I kind of scrapped the whole idea, but something happened to me today that totally changed my mind.

CotM was supposed to stand for Customer of the Month, but when I realized that I have way too many crazy customers, I decided it should stand for Customer of the Moment. Well, today I really had to consider exchaning Minute for Millenium, because today, Stevie came into my life.

Stevie is a discheveled looking young woman. She swears like a sailor, her hair is falling out in clumps and she hasn't yet been able to get her herpes in check. She's wearing a dingy scarf, a fake fur-lined buck skin jacket and distressed blue jeans. She's a closet ginger, with freckles covered up by cakey make-up and a piss poor auburn dye-job on hair that looks more translucent than red. She's what I'd call your typicall hot mess.

She wanders around the store for a bit, before coming up to the counter with a small list written on a sheet of three-hole loose-leaf paper.

"I need everything on this list," she blurts.

So I scan the list in my usually haphazard style. I see some tune up parts; spark plugs, ignition wires, air and fuel filter. The list is topped by two items that require further inspection. The messy blue ink seems to say 'stamps', succeeded by the cryptic 'mail p. papers'.

I quip with a smile, "uh...we don't sell stamps," choosing, for purposes of disclosure, not to mention her legal woes. I try to shoot from the hip, as far as humor is concerned at work. Well, her humor comes down the barrel of a .357 aimed right at the back of my head.

"Yeah, I bet you won't mail my parole papers either, huh?"

No smile. No giggle. Bam. I didn't even see it coming.

So I take a few deep panting breaths to regain my composure, and start to look up her parts. All the while, I am having flashbulb memories of the night that Jim Carrey hosted Saturday Night Live. If you remember that episode, you'll surely remember Jimmy Tango's Fat Busters. The premise is pretty simple; Jimmy Tango's Fat Busters is Crystal Meth. One of the female cast members is giving a testimony on how effective the program is and it's rolling through my conscious though. My hair falls out in clumps, I sleep in the oven and when I wear black, I look like a closed umbrella but thanks to Jimmy, last weekend at a party I made out with Scott Baio! And all the while I am looking up her parts, she is monologuing at me.

"I don't understand why I should pay for all of this from a mechanic. The last time I had my car tuned up, it cost me $500.00. Now that I can do all of this myself, because now I know how to do it myself, I can do it myself and save a couple hundred dollars!"

I then explain to her that some of the parts she needs, I have to order, and that they need to be paid for in advance [read: I don't want to get screwed].

"That's not a problem." The word 'problem' causes a problem. She spits on my hand. I withdrawn and she dives into her purse, presumably for a tissue, and I respectfully decline. I've got my own.

"I'll come and pick the stuff up tomorrow around nine. I have to do all this work myself, because now I know how to do it myself. I guess I'll save a few hundred dollars that way. Oh, you know what? I better get an oil drain pan as well, I don't want to have to spill my used oil all over the mall parking lot."

Double take.

She then presumes to stand around and make idle chit chat with me, boredering on flirtation, as I carry on with my regularly scheduled tasks of the afternoon.

At some point, seemingly hours later, I muster up the courage to say, "well, you're all set, have a nice day."

The response? "Ok, well I'll see you tomorrow..." are we friends now? "...You'll be here, right?"

I nod sheepishly.

"What's your name?"

At this point, the very end of the Fats Waller song This Joint Is Jumping is playing at one million dB in my head: Don't give your right name, no, no, no..., but I can't stop, I'm out of energy to think up anything on the fly. "I'm Alex," and I am totally fucked.

"Oh, I'm Stevie, see you tomorrow, Alex."

I'll probably file and update tomorrow, and if she doesn't show up, I'll be cruising the blotters.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

A Story of Levon Helm, Howard Johnson and others.

Last night was a surprising night, and today is one fucked up morning. My original plan for last night was a pretty simple pattern...

Leave work

Pay my father

Play World of Warcraft

Sleep

...but shortly after completing my first two objectives, things went awry, and my night ended up looking something more like this...

Leave work

Pay Dad

Go to The Electric Factory

Watch Dr. Dog Ollabell and the Levon Helm Band

Drink five beers and a fistfull of Gin

Note the total lack of relaxation in that night, yet all in all it was a fantastic night. I, in all honesty, had no idea who Levon Helm was. My father asked me if I wanted to go, and I said yes. I wasn't aware that this was going to be a DadRock concert. I don't think I've ever seen more salt and pepper goatees in my life. I guess I just don't get the whole goatee thing. I mean, what's the concept? "You know, I'd like some facial hair, but only in a place where it can be really inconvenient." Further convincing me that I was out of place, was the venue. The Electric Factory, in my mind, is a place to see Gwar; a place to see loud acts with rowy fans that spit on stage and leave drenched in a mix of sweat and somebody else's blood, but when Levon Helm comes to town for his fortieth year of performance, The Factory changes completely. The bouncers don't stick their hands between your ass cheeks, they say things like, "please," and, "thank you," and they don't even card you to go up to the beer balcony!



The show was fantastic. I was easily able to look past my company and really enjoy the show. Levon is up there, as far as I am concerned, with Ringo. He's one of the few drummers who's really able to find the right beat for a song and be happy not playing anything more or less. I don't know The Band beyond 'Weight,' and I know even less Levon Helm band music, but I must say I was impressed.



His lead guitarist, Larry Campbell, whom my father pointed out as Emmylou Harris' band leader, made me lose my mind after playing his first guitar solo. The guy could obviously make the guitar do what ever he wanted, and what he ended up asking it to do was quite pleasing and interesting. Then the man picked up a mandolin, and I think I came in my pants a little bit. At this point, I passed this comment to my father; "He's got more country in his right hand than all of [pop country radio station] 92.5 XTU!" So, yeah...the guy's got skill, and he's got my respect, then he picks up a fiddle, and I totally lose controll. I'd fuck him.



The other guitarist was non other than Jimmy Vivino of the Max Weinberg Seven. He was good too, but he didn't kill the fiddle like Larry Campbell.



I guess all I can say about this whole experience is that it's not wonder why Levon won a Grammy.



Levon Helm

Jimmy Vivino

Larry Campbell

Dirt Farmer (Levon's new record)

Monday, February 11, 2008

...no, this is me in a nutshell.

I am, eventually, going to start this entry. At some point, it will expand on my actual political standpoint in relation to the current election. You will consider it a definition of my platform and it will be as close as I can get to one, but first, I am going to have to dive into the past. My previous entry, in regards to primaries, was a complete and total awkward mess. Now, keep in mind, I am taking full responsibility here even though, at first, I might be looking like I am assigning blame on someone else.

When I was a boy, I felt as if my parents were smart, hip, and had the answers to everything. I am sure everyone else, who had a childhood in any way mirroring mine, held the same belief. Before I was old enough to have my own opinions, I held my parent's as my own. When I was starting to come into social awareness, for this instance let's place it in and around the '96 presidential election, I was attempting to build a vast base of knowledge in a short period of time by reading and asking questions.

I had a vague and fuzzy memory of talking to my mother about primaries and her telling me why she didn't vote in them, and I will assume that she explained to me a true and meaningful reason to avoid voting in primaries. I, in turn, forgot or , what's more likely, associated it with something else and scrambled the two up in my young impressionable mind. I would like to point out that, even though voting in a primary doesn't lock your vote for your party in the general election, it would be a point of contention if you did vote against party lines if you ever planned on running for office in the future, and even considering that, my position on voting in primaries doesn't change. So I apologize. I am no republican pundit, I can admit wrongdoing.

Ok, so it was a bit of a jab, but my intentions were in the right place.

Now on to bigger things;

I don't keep to many issues on my radar, but the one's that I do, I am pretty adamant about. For the most part, in order to get my vote, you've got to take care of a controlling percentage of these items, in order of importance: general fiscal policy, the war in Iraq, environmental issues, social policy.

Fiscally, I am a conservative. I mean a real live actual conservative. I believe in a small, efficient centralized government, I know, not your typical libertarian, but follow my path here. I feel the elimination of most of the bureaucracy in this country will lead to a huge deficit in government. In the implementation of a true conservative government, the states will have to become more self sufficient. I do feel that over time, having more self sufficient states will lead to an overall smaller government. I feel like right now, the federal government has a square hole, and the states all have round pegs, and they are fighting to be the first to make the interface work. The gap between the hole and peg is hemorrhaging money like nobody's business. I work in a business, where the word 'universal' generally means it requires a blow torch and a hacksaw to make it work, and while this works in the auto parts field, what's right for California isn't right for Missouri.

My position on the war in Iraq has changed a little bit over time. I was adamantly against when this whole thing started, and I slowly started to understand why we were there, but then I hit my head and regained sense. I support the troops, for the most part. I, as a matter of principle, I don't support people who tie yellow ribbons and have bumper stickers. Generally, those people piss me off. I feel that the war is at a point now that the only real way we have to get out will look more like the road to Saigon than the road to a Republic. My vote goes to the guy or gal who can get us out of Iraq and allow them to start their hundred years of civil war as soon as possible, so that that conflict can be over as soon as possible.

I love the environment. I love it so much; I choose to live inside of it. I have come to terms with the fact that the path we are on right now has us using fossil fuels until they run out, at which point, we will calmly look around and realize how fucked we are. If for no other reason than the fact that fossil fuels are a non-renewable resource, we should be seriously looking into alternative fuel sources. We should be more heavily subsidizing research on alternative fuels than research on finding new ways to further our petroleum habit. We should be preserving the environment in a way that doesn't affect the natural growth of society, but still leaving enough open space so that I can still go camping and shit. Farms are good too, but I don't believe our agricultural subsidy system is working.

Socially, I am what you would call a God Damned Hippy Liberal. I am pro-choice, anti-capital punishment, I love arts in the schools, and I feel like church and state should only ever come in contact when they are streets.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Youth of America: Rock the Don't!

I am, according to my drivers license, twenty-three years old, so the upcoming general election will not be my first. I was unable to vote in the last one, but I had a good reason; I planned to vote Democratic, and I lived in New Jersey.

Well, I still live in New Jersey, and I am, indeed going to vote this year. More so because I no longer live two hours from my designated polling place, but because I am a little bit worried. As I am watching the coverage on the news and on the web, I am starting to see a strange and discomforting trend. I am seeing a lot of Dark Horses in the primary run, back out after they've splashed the pot. The list is staggering, when you think about the large amount of press and money raised by candidates who've just recently dropped out before Super Duper Pooper Tuesday.

So here's my plan: get as many people to not vote in the primary as I possibly can. I bet you're wondering why, right? Well this wouldn't be a blog if I didn't have an opinion.

The parties are using long standing, but wholly incorrect, perceptions to draw young voters to register for a party, thereby locking in a vote not only in the primary, but the general election as well. Dems are trying to say 'if you're a liberal, line up, sign up and re-enlist,' when in reality the Dems haven't been very liberal as of late, they've been fiscally liberal, but are tending to be more and more morally conservative to sway the fringe vote. The Big R hasn't been fiscally conservative for years (more than I have under my belt at least) and tend to be zealots when it comes to moral policy.

The reason why the phrase 'young republican' is an oxymoron is because of the fact that, in our parents time, republicans were straight laced rich white guys who sought to implement a trickle down economy with a rain gutter draining back into the pockets of the rich, and the Democrats sought to explode the size of the government exponentially.

Now-a-days, it doesn't matter what party you are from. The parties don't care about your platform, they only care about whether or not they think you can win an election.

So why should you avoid the primary? Because it lends credence to the general election, which is the one the candidates should be worried about. Let the party's core's pick the candidate. Let's keep people like me and you, who may not stand one hundred percent on top of one candidates platform, regardless of which side of the isle it's on. Say you support Hillary, and, oh shit, Barack wins the bid. You're voting for Barack, because you voted in the primary, bun in reality, after looking at the competition, you find that you more identify with John McCain. Then, holy living fuck, you're screwed.

Well, you're kind of screwed either way.

Friday, January 18, 2008

A mystical sea creature you never knew about.


For someone who is, for all intents and purposes, unemployed, a blog is a wonderful idea. It's a great way to spend emotional energy that gets pent up from lack of repetition. Well, that's not me anymore.

But, I am not going to quit. No no. I will do my best to maintain the already low standards I set way back when a day couldn't start before noon.

I am once again gainfully employed at a retail auto parts store. I get up before the sun rises and as I drive home on the hard and plaqued arteries of Southern New Jersey, I am again without natural light. This morning, I found myself in my car du jour, a Mazda Miata with no radio, fanning through the cover flow of my iPod. I stopped on a record that I'd discovered for myself a few years ago, and ranted and raved about until all those around me were sick of hearing the name, Swordfishtrombones. Of course, Tom Waits is not lost on the hipster generation. His ability to write a record that could slap pop in the face a full twenty years before pop was a dirty word speaks a volume about the man who wrote it.

The way I was thinking about it today, precoffee, felt just about right. Tom Waits writes music for Americans. Dylan wrote for the Liberals, Springsteen wrote for the Conservatives, and Tom Waits writes for the mechanics and the fishermen, and the middle class men who leave their blue collar jobs to go home and read a chapter or two from Chrome Yellow, watch Un chien Andalou and go to sleep.

The opening track Underground, which is featured in the movie Robots, is a terse percussive song that is shouted at you rather than sung, an effect that only Waits can pull off, and still sound like he loves you. The song isn't just written, it's crafted. It sets a mood and tells a story that would sound cliche and overworked in any other wrapper.

The pinacle song for me on this record is 16 Shells from a Thirty-Ought-Six. It very quickly conjures up images of a transient hobo with a gun, and sounds like it very well could have been performed on instruments found in a frieght car and performed by a group of rag-tag, down-on-their-luck ne're-do-wells who would think nothing of killing you in your sleep to steal your boots so they can boil them into soup.

The Neigborhood, track seven, is a loping eulogy for downtown America. It transports you to the places and things you knew as a child, and reminds you of how the America we once knew, with it's fond and care free memories, is gone and probably won't be coming back.

The ninth track of the record, Frank's Wild Years tell the story that we dread to empathize with, but openly sympathize with. Who hasn't thought of burning down the house you and your boring wife share to start a fresh life in Northern California? And Waits' musical style, a mix of industrial staccato blended with rhythm and blues and a taste of the avante garde, is a perfect match for his authentically American lyrics.

The title track is brings you into a dingy lounge where a washed out slodier suffering from post traumatic stress disorder drinks away his nightmare of a life. Lyrically, this song draws a vivd picture of a person who has had his fill of fitting in. And in Waits' credit, not a single stuffy literary music snob would properly know how to pronounce the word Brougham, let alone recognize one when it rolls past them.

The rest of the album is rhythmic and very approachable to even the most casual listener and nuanced enough to be enjoyable even now about twenty-five years after it's release.

And not for nothing, and not that I trust Spin as a reputable source for music information, but they did name it the second best record of all time, in 1989.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

The next Kennedy to run for president.

I'm no politician, but I am really glad that I started this blog during an election race. It provides a constant stream of blog-able topics. In trolling the net as of late, I've come across a few things I'd like to discuss about politics.

Number one on that list is Ted. He's like the antithesis of Ron Paul. I see him as a kind of dark horse meant to take votes away from Bill the Cat. It's kind of hard to tell what his platform consists of, but I know it's probably made of the ends of stud lumber left over in the garage and clad in 5/4 ply, because this guy needs one hell of a platform to hold all the bullshit he's been surrounding himself with. I don't know where some people get off in lampooning the democratic process, that, as of yet, has rarely let us down, but I am glad that there's a guy like me to expose him. I think he might be missing out on some the essentials for candidacy. He also obviously spent too much time contemplating Mr. I's chemistry lessons to put serious thought into Mrs. Benson's English class. Also, it seems as if his record has been meticulously wiped clean. Nothing is known about his record, prior office, business relations, or agenda.

Some have even postulated that Ted isn't even his real name. So what am I saying? Well, I am calling out Ted for a battle of the wits and the whits. I challenge Ted to a duel in the patented Blog-O-Sphere Death-matic Arena of Doom. [surprisingly Death-matic is not recognized by spell check]

So, for the foreseeable future, or until Rambo comes out, I will be on a tirade to have Ted's name banned from any and all ballots and any supporters of his shuffled from the mortal coil.

Ted for President

And what kind of presidential candidate doesn't have a real fucking website? God damn, 9.99 a year from Yahoo and you can get your own .com. Fucking amateur.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

South of the Rump House

About six months ago, I heard Les Claypool had written a book. At the time, I was excited, because I'd always been a bastion of Claypool's songwriting, because I'd always loved the story telling aspect.

I pulled up to Barnes and Noble, knowing full well that a new book was not at all in my budget, so I decided to do what I usually do: ask the clerk for obscure books by obscure authors that make me sound cool. An in a strike of obscurity, I remember that Les had written this book, called South of the Pumphouse. I asked the clerk if they had it in stock and he gave me that, Les Claypool, totally awesome dude, kind of look. He pointed out the book to me, and after I grabbed one copy, he grabbed the other, confirming his douchebaggery.

The back of the book was a little bit disconcerting. It's quoted as stating it's not only like The Old Man and the Sea but also stated that Claypool invokes Hunter S. Thompson. Anyone can write like Hunter S. Thompson, but very rare is it that someone writes as well as him. I personally wouldn't mind if no one ever wrote like Thompson, Thompson included

The book itself was not bad by any stretch. Not much of a novel, more of a novella, it stands up well against the average short story but falls short of my standards for a novella. The story moved along very quickly, and the plot built into a pretty obvious conclusion. The hick-speak was very distracting, but kind of natural. When writing in colloquialisms I usually have a hard time picking it up but the drawl was easy for a Midwestern transplant like me to pick up. The characters were believable for someone who has known people on amphetamines, but if you've never met someone on meth, you'd probably find it hard to believe.

As an author, I think Claypool ought to just stick with songs. Long story short, the man can't go longer than four minutes with out a bass solo and Tim Alexander.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Libertarians

I didn't want to write a political blog, but I guess, taking into account the election year, everyone is going to have to address it eventually. Now, not to go too deep into it, I mainly support a libertarian perspective on federal politics. I think our federal government needs to be streamlined and economized. Well, today I actually looked into the candidates running on the libertarian platform today and I almost shit myself. The 'front runner', as far as donations is concerned is a man named Wayne Allyn Root. He's so far amassed a small fortune of a campaign fund, topping out around $14,000.00. I know. And his platform is something along the lines of creating 50 independent countries with a small office building being used as the federal government. I mean, I understand that our government is bloated, but I think it's reasonable to say that a large organization serving an entire population is more efficient than fifty small organizations running fifty separate fractions of a population.

And the next guy in line for the LP nod is a guy, Michael Jingozian, who for the most part comes out and asks you not to vote for him. Think I am being crazy?
Admittedly, Jingozian is a candidate for President. However, if you do not agree with his specific platform or ideas, we strongly recommend, no...we urge you, to support and vote for the other candidates who commit to these values.
Okay, it's great to support the democratic process, but still, I mean, the internet is not a place for blatant honesty, it's a place for slander and self-esteem building.


The Libertarian Party Website



So who am I voting for? That's confidential, and I don't have to tell you, but I can tell you this much for sure, it's probably not going to be a woman or an African American.