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Monday, December 31, 2012

Last Call for 2012

Welp, it's been a wild and woolly year, and I just wanted to take a moment and thank everyone who's dropped by, made a comment, spread the word, or otherwise just taken the time to swing through here. Here's hoping 2013 is a good one for all of us.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Adventures In E-Publishing

So far, this dip of the toe into the proverbial e-publishing waters has gone better than expected. It's the holiday season, I'm learning as I go along, and it is a compilation book, comprised of posts that regular readers will already have seen. So I was not expecting to set the internets on fire in a matter of a few days; this is not warmed-over Twilight slashfic repurposed for horny housewives. (Don't get me wrong -- it certainly can be that, if the market is there. I know what I am, all else is mere haggling.)

Still, it's gratifying to see Mockalypse get any response at all. And I'd like to send a shout-out to the friendly folks at Balloon Juice for coming by and checking it out, in larger numbers than I had anticipated. I don't have a lot of time to check out many blogs these days, pretty much what you see on the sidebar and a few others (who will be on the sidebar as well at some point when I do some housekeeping), are on the regular to-read list. So I read and sometimes lurk at the Juice, but am not a regular (or even irregular) commenter there. I appreciate the fact that they responded to my open-thread spamming by coming through here and hitting the links.

There is a more comprehensive post on the subject of e-publishing in the works, but right now this is just a quick check-in and follow-up from the initial post for the book. Again, any and all comments, favorable or not, are welcome. As the saying goes, as long as the name is spelled right. Just check it out, give me some feedback, and spread the word.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas


If there's a better Christmas song than The Pogues' Fairytale of New York, I haven't heard it. Here's Oirish folkster Christy Moore with a great rendition. Have a great Christmas!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Steal This Book!


Okay, folks, here's one (and in fact, by far the smallest) of several projects I've been working on over the last few months. What you see is the cover to an e-book I was hoping to wind up (given its title and cover imagery) yesterday, but as I am not a graphic designer by training, and am still learning how to use GIMP, it's a day late and a dollar short.

(By the way, if you're just starting out with designing graphics for your own stuff, don't know where to turn, and can't afford -- or don't even know how to choose -- commercial software, I can't recommend GIMP highly enough. Such a cool program. There is a learning curve, but a ton of tutorials out there. Did I mention it's free? Awesome. The internets are a wonderful place. Go check it out now, and block out a few hours just to mess with the many cool features it comes loaded with. Disclaimer:  I have had zero contact with anyone from GIMP, nor am I being compensated in any way to talk about it. I just think it's really cool.)

Anyhoo, although Blogger has made the attempt to bump up its features, it still apparently does not allow you to upload PDF files. Weird, right? No worries, friends 'n' neighbors, Uncle Heywood found a workaround. You can go here to download your very own copy of this fine retrospective of the year that just transpired. Wasn't it just terrific? Yes it was, and you can relive it right now, by electronically thumbing through a couple dozen posts handpicked by yours truly as best representative of the year, and of my jabbering about it.

Now, I know you're all chomping at the bit to swipe your Visa cards and punch in some phat numbers, you just want to know what I'm demanding for such a hot commodity. I decided to try out the model used by Radiohead for their In Rainbows album from a few years ago -- I'll let you, Tonstant Weader, determine what this hot mess is worth to you. Go ahead and download it, give it a spin, and it's up to you whether it's worth five bucks or five cents. Or nothing at all. There's a PayPal link at the upper right of this page, as well as at the download page.

There are a couple things I do ask of you, and they are free, and will take only a modest amount of your sweet time:  One is that, whether you love it, hate it, or couldn't give two lonesome shits about it, you drop by and share some feedback in the comments thread. (Or email me your comments or suggestions; I do actually check the GMail account pretty regularly these days, and I will respond.) Love one of the selected posts? Awesome. Hate the cover art? That's fine too.

The second thing is that you tell a few people (I'm hoping at least two or three for each of you) about it. A comment on a site you frequent, where you think like-minded folks might be interested. That sort of thing. Just spread the word here and there in your daily rounds. It's not that I don't want your money, but right now I'd like to see how much interest can be generated. If that E.L. Fudge broad can turn Twilight fanfic into a kajillionty-pound cottage e-income, this should hopefully generate a ripple somewhere.

Just to be clear about what this book is, it's a compendium of posts from this glorious year. There is some new material, in the form of an introduction, as well as introductory material for each post. Collectively, I think (and hope) that it stands as a representative sample of what this blog has attempted to cover, and what hopefully makes it a bit different from other blogs. I dunno, you tell me.

Couple of final points:
  • This project is what I would term a "first-final" draft, meaning that there may be a few minor, cosmetic changes forthcoming over the next week or so. Again, due to the self-imposed deadline, and the fact that I am something of a control freak on creative projects, I may revise the cover art a bit, reformat the main text slightly, create a back cover page, screw around with headers or footers, things like that. But the content itself is absolutely final as is right now, set in stone, will not be changed unless I spot a typo (after reviewing the whole thing at least five times in the past two weeks).
  • I want to apologize in advance to any of my fellow bloggers, because while I will try to keep it to a bare minimum, I may occasionally barge into their open threads and pimp this thing. Again, my goal here is pure notoriety; I want as many people as possible to check it out -- and if they've never been here before and don't know what to expect, so much the better.

So that's about it for now. Please check it out, grab a copy, give me your feedback, tell at least a few other people about it. I have some more thoughts and concepts about self-publishing, which I plan to discuss in one or several upcoming posts, but this is a start.

In Bloggy News

Hope everyone out there is having a safe and sane Christmas weekend with the people they care about the most. I've been winding up a project that I hope to get posted here tonight or tomorrow. Details to come shortly, please stay tuned.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

There Is No Why

Even after giving it a couple days to sink in, words fail when it comes to last Friday's shooting. It's hard (for me, at least) to construct a coherent narrative that doesn't feel incomplete or even a bit opportunistic.

Mass murder and serial killing in particular tend to inspire questions of "why" and "how", and those pursuits always seem inadequate and pointless to me. As always, your mileage may vary. People process these things in their own way, whether with candlelight vigils, makeshift shrines, or attempts to comprehend the actions of incomprehensible people.

A few thoughts, many of them open-ended, keep cropping up throughout this national weekend of grief, take them for what you will:

  • When we talk about "gun control" after these tragic events, we should not only be careful, but also precise about what that would and should look like, and what effect it would have had on the event in question. The guns Adam Lanza used were legally owned by his mother, and as she had no criminal history nor issues that would have come up in a background check, no proposed stricture or regulation would have prevented her from anything.

    Now, if you're talking a ban on "assault weapons", that too needs to be written with precision and common sense, so we're on the same page as far as weapons that can fire dozens of rounds per minute, and not bickering over bayonet lugs and collapsible stocks, pretending that Something Is Being Done.

    Doesn't mean it can't or shouldn't be done, just with the understanding that there are 320 million people in the US, and probably just as many guns, and punishing the 99% of responsible gun owners for the actions of a deranged, infinitesimal slice is not only unfair, but may not even work.

  • Gun-rights advocates, some bordering on the fanatical, have reflexively (as they always do after these events) suggested that if everyone were armed, these events would never occur, or at least be neutralized well before the body counts registered by "soft targets" such as schools. This is utterly ludicrous. Consider just two examples of countries where everyone is armed to the teeth:  Somalia. Afghanistan. How's that been going?

  • It is easier in the US to acquire, own, and operate a gun than an automobile. Is that a good thing, or a bad thing, and why or why not?

  • You can believe in the Second Amendment, and still believe that we need to find a way to prevent -- or at least reduce -- the ease with which deranged individuals can possess weapons of slaughter, and put them to use.

  • The Founding Fathers could not have conceived of handguns with 30-round magazines, or fully automatic assault rifles with 90-round (or more) clips. Had they been able to envision such an enormous technological leap, might they have written the Second Amendment any differently?

  • We grieve after every one of these tragedies, even as we lose count of them, they are so commonplace. Is it the cost of doing business? Is it the notion that they can all be prevented by arming (or disarming) everyone? Does anyone else find this cycle of public grief binging, purging, and forgetting even a little bit odd, and a lot useless, if nothing ultimately gets done about it?

  • It's interesting, to say the least, that calls for arming teachers in classrooms are now coming from the same corners who routinely demonize any and all facets of said profession. Really, Mister Random Conservative, are you sure you want lazy pothead librul indoctrinators packing heat? Maybe a couple Paul Blart types at each school, patrolling the perimeter with a Segway and a Sig Sauer? At least it'll create some jobs, right?

  • Before using Japan, Britain, and Switzerland as arguments for or against gun control, do keep in mind the significant cultural and geographic differences between those countries and America. And I do not mean "they're cultured and we're boors". It's a hell of a lot easier to enact control mechanisms on small island nations under constant surveillance, than a sprawling, teeming landmass. And Switzerland's vaunted mandatory militia, in which each household is required to keep an assault rifle, also has a proviso that ammunition is tightly regulated, registered in fact. Don't be surprised if any gun control proposals here lean in that direction. Or even simpler, mandating a limit on clip capacities. There is absolutely no logical reason you should be able to load a 30-round clip into a Glock handgun.

  • Opportunism comes in many forms after these things. It can be anything from sanctimonious assholes suggesting that we're just not godly enough, to intrepid journamalists pulling up their grief-pimping slacks and pestering second-graders outside the school where their playmates just got mowed down. Honestly, I don't know how either of those two very real examples of humans can look at themselves in the mirror when they get home at night. Probably through the bottom of a vodka bottle.

It would be nice if there were easy proposals or solutions. There aren't. Having a more comprehensive mental health care system would be a great place to start, but committing people against their will who haven't actually done anything presents another set of challenges. I dunno what to do, and I'm not going to pretend I do know. The easy answer is to point out that, again, there are 320 million people, and by the law of averages, some of them are crazy to some degree.

Hopefully the rest of us can figure out a way to prevent those folks from accessing weapons of a level of destruction that would have been unimaginable a hundred or even fifty years ago.

Also, too.

Saturday, December 08, 2012

Royal Flush

Okay, this is another one of those things you can just go ahead and file under "I don't get the outrage". A person taking their own life is always tragic, don't get me wrong. Permanent solution to a temporary problem, as they say.

But does anyone seriously believe that anyone would hurt or kill themselves over being pranked by a morning zoo radio show, or even that the DJs should have taken such an outcome into consideration before making the call? Really? Because honestly, it's barely conceivable to me that Jacintha Saldanhas would have even been fired from her job, unless she had willfully committed a huge violation of well-known hospital policy. Something else was clearly going on with her; this was at most a last-straw kind of thing.

Maybe this affords the media an opportunity to step back for a second, take a deep breath, and ponder the logical outcomes -- none of them possibly good, at best merely neutral and inert -- to spending the next six months swamping morons with meaningless "preggers" nonsense, acting like one of the most routine human activities is somehow special and unique this time around.

Seriously, from of the weirdos the mediots have whipped up on this, you'd think no one had ever fucking gotten pregnant before, like evar.

Saturday, December 01, 2012

The Fiscal Cliff Scam

Check this out, not really anything to add to it. Every element in the discussion of this "fiscal cliff" is explicitly designed to preserve and perpetuate wealth inequality, period.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Smite the Hand That Feeds You

I have never made but one prayer to God, a very short one: "O Lord make my enemies ridiculous." And God granted it -- Voltaire

Continuing his uphill struggle against sanity and encroaching irrelevance, legacy evangetollah Franklin Graham has a message for all you disobedient kids out there:
Graham equated the Obama years with a national rejection of God. "In the last four years, we have begun to turn our backs on God," he said. "We have taken God out of our education system. We have taken him out of government. You have lawyers that sue you every time you mention the name of Jesus Christ in any kind of a public forum." Oddly, Graham ignored the fact that he and other shepherds of the Christian right have griped about such matters for much longer than four years. It didn't start with Obama.

As Graham denounced the Obama years, Newsmax's Kathleen Walter asked, "So we've become too secular a nation? How do we bring God back into government?" Graham replied:

Maybe God will have to bring our nation down to our knees—to where you just have a complete economic collapse. And maybe at that point, maybe people will again begin to call upon the name of almighty God.

Economic calamity was the one option Graham mentioned—as if only such a disaster could move the United States in the right direction.

It's almost sad to watch; first Graham's old man removed Mormonism from his website's list of cults just a couple weeks before the election -- at best a cynical, opportunistic, nakedly political move by an organization undoubtedly taking advantage of its non-profit status to advocate politically; at worst a revealing look at the transparent intellectual dishonesty of these people.

So it goes. As the mossbacks continue to die off, and more and more sentient beings grow up to realize that they don't need hucksters like the Grahams for much of anything, the televangelist breed will continue to fade into irrelevance. Which is great for the ideal of intellectual probity, but the world of comedy and satire will sorely miss that breed, until the next incarnation of P.T. Barnums come along.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Raiders Fading

After a decade of utter futility, the Raiders seem to be determined to continue down that hole. Despite having a top-10 offense last season, even with Darren McFadden out the last ten games, the new management/coaching regime decide to overhaul the offense by installing a zone-blocking scheme (ZBS), even though key players on the o-line are better suited for power blocking. The defense, especially the secondary, was completely blown up, thanks to outgoing DC Chuck Bresnahan's inability to finish a game.

To say the least, this has made watching this team a frustrating opportunity at best. The defensive secondary is woeful, the running game non-existent, and even special teams are largely inept; the season-ending injury to kickoff returner Jacoby Ford, at the beginning of the season, has left them unable even to get decent field position, in the instances when the defense is actually able to force opponents to punt.

The Raiders have been beset by a multitude of woes for quite some time, as any football fan knows, and one of the biggest problems has been a lack of continuity. Since their Super Bowl fiasco after the 2002 season, they have gone through 6 head coaches and 9 starting quarterbacks (including Dennis Allen and Carson Palmer, respectively). By way of comparison, in the 32 seasons (1963-94) between the tenures of Al Davis and Art Shell, the team had six head coaches and eight starting QBs, including short-timers such as Mike Shanahan and Cotton Davidson.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Twinkie Defense

Here's another fine example of media misfocus (in the aggregate; as we'll see, some of 'em got it right), in the coverage of Hostess shutting its doors. From the morning chat shows to the local "news" tonight, all the coverage I've seen has focused with a childlike obsessiveness on how not having Twinkies and Wonder "Bread" will leave a gaping hole in America's fat-encased heart. (In fact, the local news here actually went down to the nearest Hostess outlet and interviewed several customers -- not a one of 'em under three bills, and most looking like they might have a side job as Hoarders extras -- waddling around and grabbing whatever they could from the shelf. Because the impending scarcity of Ding Dongs is apparently a harbinger of Zombie Apocalypse or something.)

Sure enough, our vaunted entrepreneurial class have already taken it upon themselves to try to wrangle bizarrely, hysterically extortionate prices out of morons. Folks, I don't think I've had a Twinkie or Ding Dong since I was, like, 17 or so, and I'm not exactly a health-food fanatic. But I don't remember them being anything special, and if I'm paying ten grand for something, I better be able to either drive it, stick my cock in it, or go on a nice vacation.

Anyhoo, obviously what really truly sucks here is that 18,500 people are going to lose their jobs. And as the NY Times mentions, after the brief obligatory intro on the wonders of sponge cake filled with sugared lard, there were multiple factors in play here:
As the national appetite for junk food waned, the company fell on hard times, struggling against rising labor and commodity costs. In 2004, it filed for bankruptcy for the first time.

Five years later, the company emerged from Chapter 11 as Hostess Brands, so named after its most prominent division. With America’s new health-conscious attitude, it sought to reshape the business to changing times, introducing new products like 100-calorie Twinkie Bites.

But the new private equity backers loaded the company with debt, making it difficult to invest in new equipment. Earlier this year, Hostess had more than $860 million of debt.

The labor costs, too, proved insurmountable, a situation that has been complicated by years of deal-making. The bulk of the work force belongs to 12 unions, including the International Brotherhood of Teamsters and the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union.
The combination of debt and labor costs has hurt profits. The company posted revenue of $2.5 billion in the fiscal year 2011, the last available data. But it reported a net loss of $341 million.

With profits eroding, the company filed for Chapter 11 in January. It originally hoped to reorganize its finances, seeking lower labor costs, including an immediate 8 percent pay cut.

....

While highly critical of management missteps, the Teamsters agreed in September to major concessions, including cuts in wages and company contributions to health care. As part of the deal, the union was to receive a 25 percent share of the company’s stock and a $100 million claim in bankruptcy.
Hunh. So private equity weasels and health-care costs (and yes, unions factor into this as well; while I'm pro-union, anyone should be able to see that negotiating with 12 unions is going to be an extremely cumbersome process at best, but more likely to be hopeless in most circumstances) are major factors here. Imagine that. Well, maybe we'll just have our Twinkies made in Mexico or Canada, like our American automobiles.

The plaintive paeans to lost childhood "icons" aren't annoying, just meaningless. It's a fuckin' snack cake ai'aight? People should be up in arms at the way the facacta health-care racket doesn't just screw them out of money and sanity, but jobs as well. They should be wondering why and how a company with $2.5bn in revenue still finds iself face-down and ass-up, while you know goddamned well that the private equity boyz that stuck them with all that debt made out just fine.

Just something to keep in mind next time this story crosses your radar -- are they talking about the jobs, and how they were lost in all this scavenging and negotiating, or are they fixating on Ding Dongs?

Friday, November 16, 2012

Legacy Pledge



It's easy (and fun) to pick on budding media legacy Luke Russert and his frequently inelegant ways of approaching the important issues of the day, or even getting the wrong end of the stick on some things. But he did try his artless "when you gonna retire already, Grandma?" schtick on Hoyer and Clybourn as well, so not completely sexist.

A better tack to take, perhaps, might have been to find a way to point out the more generally obvious -- that Congress, especially the Senate but certainly many House reps as well, has more than its share of fogies, that with virtually guaranteed incumbency in most districts and states, one can very easily grow old and die in office, and get used to the prospect of doing so as time goes on.

But that's what the media does best -- fixating on the superficial, ignoring the deeper and more important story right in front of them. Instead of correctly noting that the average age in the House is 58, and in the Senate is 63, that there are legitimate questions about what in many cases turns into a more-or-less lifetime incumbency, and a working age decades beyond that of average 'murkins, they turn it into a sexist, ageist blurt. Instead of pointing out that everyone in the Petraeus "scandal" is a Republican, and thus has no interest in covering anything up for the Obama administration, it's allowed to linger and become an insinuated factoid in cahoots with the Great Benghazi/Reichstag Coverup.

Incidentally, how many folks who are outraged, just apoplectic over this manifest American tragedy, how many of them are bent that Condi Rice, the National Security Advisor on the day that 3,000 Americans were murdered on their home soil, not only was promoted to Secretary of State, but still appears regularly to shill for her party, is considered a "serious" Republican, and was even considered a possible veep contender for Money Boo Boo's ticket? None, that's how many, because these sorts of "serious" questions always and only apply in one direction.

And it starts, of course, with a media that is complaisant to power, which of course is what Tim Russert specialized in. Just the nature of the niche he was in; the Sunday chat shows are meant to smooth the rough edges of actual discourse, to give shithouse-rat goofy people a seat at the adults' table and confer the sheen of legitimacy.

Moocher Petitions

So the red-state butthurt parade is flaring up in the fine art of petitions for secession. I completely agree with Digby on this:  let them go. The chart at the link says it all -- Texas is the only "red" state that pulls its own weight; 17 of the 18 states that contribute more than they receive are "blue"; 21 of the other 32 states -- including 9 of the bottom 11 -- take more than they make.

So go already, you goddamned crybabies, please. The rest of us would like to keep our money, the way Jesus and Ayn Rand intended it. I'm sure Texas won't mind supporting you. Buh-bye.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Insanity Workout

Ed ably defenestrates yet another deserving moron, but to really appreciate the full measure of crazy, read the original post, and then, for an extra side order of crazy with extra crazy sauce and crazy bread, read the comments, as well as this profile, bearing in mind that this guy used to work for Ron Paul.

Of course, even the most Paultarded things I've seen since Gandalf the Cracker cast his weird isolationist spell over our nation's befuddled masses never quite approached this intellectual loogie:
Seccession of [sic; obviously he means "Secession or"] leave. I say we've got two to three years left before they start rounding up dissenters and sending us off to Nazi-style concentration camps. I've got a little more time, cause I live in Texas.

Arizona is a good place to be for now. But New York, Iowa, Michigan, Massachusetts, PA beware. You're vastly on the road to complete authoritarianism and statism. Grab your guns, protect what few things you have left. You're living in Nazi Germany circa 1933-34.

It goes on like that; Dondero later talks about "disowning" his brother and one of his sisters, "....the fucked up brother in Delaware, piece of shit, scumbag mother fucker who is a Democrat, and another sister in Philly who won't tell me, but I'm almost certain voted for Obama....They are dead to me now. And I will not under any circumstances attend their funerals in 30 or 40 years."

One can only assume that those hapless siblings are well relieved to be rid of this thing, instead of having to help change his poopy diaper every time an election doesn't go his way. Seriously, I think we can all recall the vicious, hyperbolic nature of the 2004 "election", culminating in election fraud normally observed by Jimmy Carter in, say, Guatemala.

Plenty of butthurt liberals were threatening to move to Canada (perhaps until they realized that it's harder than you think; there's more to it than packing a U-Haul and professing loyalty to William Shatner and Geddy Lee when you hit the border). Maybe a few got weird with their friends and family, exploiting rifts along pre-existing fault lines that all families have. Hell, maybe even a few of the more vituperative may have seriously prophesied that the Cheney regime would round them up and stick them in "Nazi-style concentration camps".

But I don't think any of those extreme butthurters were former staffers for a presidential primary candidate. Nor did they go into the extensive laundry list of "activist" ideas that Dondero claims, such as loudly berating EBT card users at the Wal-Mart check stand, just in case any are within earshot and are suitably shamed by his dissatisfaction.

There's No "U" In "Team", Either

You know, the extended scholarship Tim Tebow has gotten in the NFL rankles me as a football fan, rather than as a non-believer. But this sort of grousing to the media by his "teammates" is pretty cheap shit. Sure, every time the guy cocks back to throw for more than fifteen yards, he looks like he's heaving a canned ham over a brick wall. And his occasionally impressive rushing stats fail to account for the ten times as many east-west yards he scrambled like a doomed chicken.

But the Jets, true to their East Coast Raiders M.O., are in full free-fall at this point. And it's actually not Tebow's fault, at least not on the field, since he's hardly played, and the team in the largest media market should know how to handle distractions -- we are, after all, referring to the same team who, when signing jism-spraying asshole Antonio Cromartie, had to front him his signing bonus so he could catch up on child support payments. (To give you a clearer idea of what a turd Cromartie is, all twelve of his kids are seven-years-old or younger. Four of them, by four different women, are five-years-old. And that's not even taking into account that at least one other was "taken care of".)

Even in NYC, when a team airs its dirty laundry this much, it's imploding. Forget Tebow, either Sanchez or Ryan will be gone next season, probably Mike Tannenbaum as well. Just like with the Raiders, too many injuries, not enough playmakers, half-assed coaching. All those things add up, long before the Wildcat package guy sets foot on the field.

Not that I feel sorry for any of the characters in this play, really; as shitty as it is of Tebow's fellow Jets to hang him out like this, at least he knows where he stands with them. And when he washes out of the league in another year or two, maybe after a stint with the hapless Jaguars (so long as they remain in Jacksonville and Shahid Khan doesn't move them to LA), there'll be a nice House seat somewhere in the Florida panhandle waiting for him, just like there would have been in Colorado Springs if he'd remained with the Donkeys.

The Groupie Routine


I guess since there aren't any princess boobies or self-immolating celebritards this week to gawk, we have to contrive an opinion on the sudden surge (in my pants) of milfhunting generals and their power groupies. Obviously it's all about someone at State or CIA fucking the dog on that Benghazi thing, and the ensuing coverup, or something. The beauty of a really good conspiracy theory is that you can make things up as you go along.

Of course, it doesn't help things that apparently classified information has been found on Paula Broadwell's computer. D'oh! Or, as another theory has it, this is a way (however inelegant) of pushing off one of the last remaining neocon foreign policy holdovers.

Either way, when Kissinger stated the obvious by identifying power as the ultimate aphrodisiac, he was wildly understating the case.

Five-Minute Music Reviews

Couple of newer releases, and a few from earlier in the year:

Aerosmith - Music From Another Dimension!  Aerosmith is one of the truly great American hard rock bands. Whatever else they've done over their extensive history, the early trifecta of Get Your Wings / Toys in the Attic / Rocks took the Stones' energy and angst and brought it home in spades. Of course, since that time, their track record has varied some. Most notably, since their resurgence in the late '80s with Permanent Vacation and Pump, the band has shamelessly incorporated a level of song-doctoring and outside songwriting that would put a slew of hacky pop bands to shame. The saving grace is that they still have Joe Perry, and really the entire band is effective at putting their own stamp on pretty much anything (as anyone who's ever heard the old Live Bootleg version of James Brown's Mother Popcorn can attest).

The problem here is twofold:   one is that rock has been pretty much pushed out of the mainstream of what passes for pop culture these days, making any album an uphill struggle even for well-established acts; and two, while Steven Tyler may have parlayed his American Idol stint into a prime pop presence, with that comes the burden of maintaining that profile for that particular audience, most of whom probably had to consult Wikipedia to figure out who Tyler was in the first place.

It's not that Dimension! is terrible; it does serve as a document of the band's evolution, and there are plenty of catchy tunes in a variety of styles. But aside from Perry's reliably raunchy lead work, it's mostly polished, pretty, and predictable. There are some nice old-school moments in Out Go the Lights, Freedom Fighter, and Street Jesus,. And hell, it's Aerosmith. But by the time you get to the obligatory duet with, um, Carrie Underwood (she's 29, Tyler is 64, just sayin'), you almost expect a cameo from J-Lo.

Like their heroes the Stones, Aerosmith have by and large joined up with the establishment they avoided in their misspent youth. That's okay; probably the only person on the planet in their mid-sixties who can convincingly flip off The Man without looking like a schmuck is Lemmy. But one is reminded of Wayne Campbell's poetic admonition to Garth Elgar:  "Led Zeppelin didn't write songs that everyone liked. They left that to the Bee Gees."




Black Country Communion - Afterglow  For those not familiar, Black Country Communion (BCC) are one o' them dreaded "supergroups", the term generally associated with those plodding entities from the '70s, that seemed to begin with Emerson, Lake, and Palmer, and end with, well, Asia, which boasted Palmer as a member.

But BCC, comprised of Deep Purple Mark 3 bassist/singer Glenn Hughes, hard-blues shredder Joe Bonamassa, keyboard virtuoso Derek Sherinian, and drum legacy Jason Bonham, won't be mistaken for ELP or Asia anytime soon. Sixties and Seventies style "retro rock" is bouncing back big, mostly with bands like the Black Keys, but also with lesser-known bands such as Rival Sons and The Answer, both of whom feature classic Robert Plant/Stevie Marriott-type blues belters.

BCC are very much in that mold, pushing their Purple/Zeppelin roots for all they're worth, cranking out riffs by the truckload. Hughes, at age 61, sings balls-out like someone half his age, as if still doing tracks for Burn. Sherinian is in full Jon Lord mode, in the best sense of the word -- he combines the late great Lord's impeccable Hammond B3 chops with a sense of restraint, as much or more of an accompanist than a pure soloist. Bonham lives up to the family name and does his old man proud.

Bonamassa may have the toughest line to tread here, to not come off sounding too much like either Jimmy Page or Ritchie Blackmore, and in this he succeeds admirably, by finding the English guitar icon that fits both sensibilities perfectly -- Jeff Beck. The mercurial Beck was always far and away the most imaginative and technically accomplished of any of the British guitarists of that era, and even his more recent work sounds fresh and current. Bonamassa shows that kind of fire and spirit in his playing, with some sweet cascading runs in the romping Confessor, some great Beck-type whammy-bar fluttering in the title track, and ripping blues bursts throughout. The Zeppelin-esque stomp Crawl is nice closer to a solid, tight, old-school effort.




22 - Flux/The Pool Sessions  This one came out during the summer, and it's too bad it didn't get more attention. The easy genre description would be something along the lines of "pop-mathcore", but those sorts of hybrid generalizations tend to shortchange the parts they attempt to cobble together. 22, hailing from Norway, have recognizable elements, but combine them well in their own way. Certainly the busy mathcore/djent components are there throughout, especially on tracks such as Gotodo and Disconnected from the Grid, and there's even some (almost) metallic atonal rhythmic chugging kicking off Oxygen.

But what separates these guys from the trap of easy categorization is how melodic and catchy the choruses are, no matter how busy the verses tend to be. It's as if Animals as Leaders or Scale the Summit borrowed Matthew Bellamy for vocal work, with Muse's more Queen-style melodies anchoring the songs, with a little Mars Volta thrown in for good measure. Indeed, songs such as Kneel Estate and Susurrus sound straight out of the Muse hymnal, more Absolution or Black Holes and Revelations than their last two more orchestrated efforts.

This is one of the coolest things I've heard all year -- weird, catchy, dense, virtuosic, interesting, unabashedly both poppy and nerdy. One of those albums that gets better with each listen.


Internet Business Questions

Couple questions for any of you kids out there who may have an interest or experience in these things:  the site I'm working on is going to be about guitar and guitar technique, theory, that sort of thing. Lot of "shred"-type stuff, but not exclusively; in fact it will probably cover more technique and theory.
So basically what I'm wondering is if any of you folks have any particular knowledge or experience to share in building and promoting an internet business of any sort, or in writing and promoting e-books (site-based PDF, Amazon, Smashwords, etc.). I've spent a great deal of time over the past year, familiarizing myself with the usual internet marketing ideas, Warrior Forum, etc., and found that while there are definitely some things in that area to try, I'm more interested in a content-based business model than in relentlessly marketing, trying to cast an insanely wide net on a fairly modest niche. But I'm interested in any experiences any of you may have had in those areas as well, good, bad, or indifferent.
Again, any observations or thoughts, however large or small, are most welcome. If you'd rather not post in the comments thread, feel free to drop me a line at heywoodj.dan@gmail.com, I actually do check it pretty frequently these days. Thanks.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Sore Loserman

Speaking of pedophiles, noted draft-dodging scumbag and all-around gaping asshole Ted Nugent has a love poem fer all you Obamatons out there:
"Pimps whores & welfare brats & their soulless supporters hav a president to destroy America," Nugent wrote in the first of a storm tweets. "So Obama still demands the hardest workers provide for the nonwotkers. Shared opportunities my ass," he followed, before tweeting, "What subhuman varmint believes others must pay for their obesity booze cellphones birthcontrol abortions & lives."

Indeed. If Tom Paine were alive in our age of modern wonders, I'm sure he would have tweeted much the same missive, and then banged a 17-year-old groupie. Hey, the heart wants what it wants, amirite? Christ, it's like Nugent has some kind of weird bet going with Donald Trump, to see who can be the biggest fucking bozo on the planet.

Then there's this guy, who expends several thousand more words, couched in apocrypha, class-envy tropes, and allusions to classical Greek philosophers so's you know he reads something besides Fifty Shades of Grey, saying much the same thing. The takers voted to hold down the poor misbegotten makers and cornhole 'em, as portrayed in Atlas Smugged. Why, it's a miracle the producers haven't gone ahead and gone Galt on us thieving parasites already. And sweet jebus, but the comments make you long for the poetry of the article itself. Every commenter a bigger producer than the one before him, one must assume, none of them ever having taken so much as a sweet dime from the eeevil gubmint, even when hard times came a-knockin'.

Really, it's a right fuckin' miracle they've suffered those indignities for so long. It's as if Wall Street never lawn-darted the economy, and forced us not only to pay for the rebuild, but to give them bonuses for all their hard work. It's as if a wave of foreclosures and concomitant family murder-suicides all across the land never occurred. It's like the "job creators" didn't take their tax cuts and either sit on them in the Caymans, or invest them in Asia, and not create a damned thing in the good ol' U.S.A.

Penn State Wants You

You know, as creepy as it is that this jerkoff was messing with a teenager (whether or not the kid was actually underage), I really just want to take the opportunity to point out that, as the father of an 11-year-old, and as someone who has seen a great deal of children's teevee over those eleven years, and not minded most of it, Elmo was the one who far and away drove me up the fucking wall every goddamned time. And I like the Muppets, but could not stand to be in the same room as that minion-of-Satan, rusty-nail-on-a chalkboard, roomful-of-screeching-babies-and-yammering-Palins voice. And yes, Elmo fans should feel free to wonder if Clash used that voice in more, um, private moments. At least he's not Jerry Sandusky, but jeez, not by much.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Everybody Hurts

This is awesome. This is my favorite thing for the weekend so far (especially since the Raiders failed to show up yet again today). I could watch 20 minutes of this with nothing but a wah-wahhh muted trumpet noise every few seconds. Extra props to the glassy-eyed blonde dingbat at 1:27, "ROMNEY" written across her forehead. She looks like her cult just told her to start crushing pills in the applesauce, so they can catch the comet coming around the dark side of the moon, mind processing the command as pure gabble, but still not bridging the synaptic divide caused by weeks of barinwashing and protein-free porridge.

Seriously, you wonder about folks like that. Did she scrawl across her forehead bu herself, getting in front of a mirror to get the lettering just so, or does the poor thing actually know someone who's enough of a friend to do the writing for her, yet not enough of a friend to talk her out of it in the first place? (And yes, anyone who wrote "OBAMA", or "PELOSI", or "SPRINGSTEEN" across their forehead like that deserves an equal measure of ridicule. People who pretend to hold deeply-conceived political philosophies, and then dress up like they're going to a Florida State-LSU matchup need to get a damned grip.)

Anyway, so long as we're clear -- the core of the schadenfreude (or as TBogg is calling it, Mittenfreude, nicely done there) is not that these poor souls dared to disagree with "us", as if Obama voters were and are monolithic. It's that they failed to explain their discontent sufficiently, it's that both they and their candidates failed utterly to clarify their positions, what they'd change, what effects those changes would entail, how those changes might help the economy.

It's pretty simple, folks -- when plutocrats wreck the economy to their own advantage, and your party then has the balls to put one of 'em up as a nominee before the wreckage has even been cleared from the playing field, you need to explain yourself. And if you can't, it's your own damned fault.

Thursday, November 08, 2012

Mantra

Let's keep it short and sweet -- if you are not a member of the investor/donor/owner class,  Wall Street hates you; best-case scenario is that they view you in roughly the same manner as a corporate factory farm views its hogs or chickens, merely a commodity to be exploited, basic humanity and decency be damned. Barry O keeps saying to remain engaged and active beyond the quadrennial ritual, I say take him up on that, as far down the food chain as you can go. Unless you enjoy living in a refrigerator box in an overcrowded favela, that is. But these animals and their media minions will gut you and rob you blind as surely as any random crackhead, the fact that they wear a suit and tie while doing it makes you not a bit safer.

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Electile Dysfunction: After the Laughter


So many cool things to take away from the big day yesterday, not the least of which was how Nate Silver (pictured at right) totally pwned the conservatard punditocracy -- who, if they really believed in the accountability and personal responsibility they espouse for the peons, would scrape up some dignity, resign their positions due to gross incompetence, and go out and get real goddamned jobs.

Also heartening is the fact that the Koch Brothers wasted their money on a guy they probably didn't even want in the first place; that wrasslin' wife Linda McMahon has now wasted around $100 million losing two runs for the Senate; that Sheldon Adelson blew a metric fuckton on not one but two guys he didn't want in the first place (unless, you know, he wants to admit that he wanted Newt Gingrich as preznit, which even the current future former Mrs. Gingrich isn't guaranteed to do).

Until actual conservatives rip off the blinders and relearn the basics of intellectual honesty, they're going to be stuck with these jackasses that just tell them what they want to hear:
In conservative fantasy-land, Richard Nixon was a champion of ideological conservatism, tax cuts are the only way to raise revenue, adding neoconservatives to a foreign-policy team reassures American voters, Benghazi was a winning campaign issue, Clint Eastwood's convention speech was a brilliant triumph, and Obama's America is a place where black kids can beat up white kids with impunity. Most conservative pundits know better than this nonsense -- not that they speak up against it. They see criticizing their own side as a sign of disloyalty. I see a coalition that has lost all perspective, partly because there's no cost to broadcasting or publishing inane bullshit. In fact, it's often very profitable. A lot of cynical people have gotten rich broadcasting and publishing red meat for movement conservative consumption.

Uh, yeah, and the careful observer -- oh hell, who are we kidding here? a casual observer -- can see that the lack of accountability alone proves that the entire political commentary industry is just a carny sideshow designed to reel in the goobers. As always, they deserve such treatment for as long as they're willing to put up with it. If they demanded one-tenth of the integrity and accountability from their news readers as they do from their caricatured preznit, they might notspend most of their waking hours in a haze of smoke and bullshit.

It'll be a matter of hours, if it hasn't happened already, before the conservabot failures will start gravely intoning that Rmoney lost because he wasn't conservative enough, and by implication, other folks in the clown-car primary would have won. Obviously, this is true only in the fantasyland they inhabit, with one important exception -- Jon Huntsman, who I still believe firmly would have pulled more than enough Democrats and independents to beat Obama.

Whoever's really running the GOP these days -- one assumes it's still well-heeled, cynical business douches using hypocritical fambly-valyews sociopaths and say-anything-for-a-buck media monkeys to do their bidding -- needs to sit down and really decide where they want to go from here. For reasons I've stated here ad nauseam, as well it just being human nature that some people just don't learn, I still think they will double down on their bullshit, find someone even more craven, but more provocative, stir up the rube vote.

But maybe not; the rubes are a fading, dying demographic, and what the blue-island-in-a-sea-of-red electoral maps don't readily point out is that it's those blue islands where all the people are, that vast swathes of broke, undereducated goons outnumbered by livestock and inoperable vehicles are not going to effectively serve their corporate interest going forward.

And shit, maybe if these tightwad motherfuckers -- who seriously must have to spray WD40 on their ankles in the morning so they can screw their socks on, they're so goddamned tight -- decided that, instead of spending their pelf to paint the 99% as greedy, grasping moochers, simply granted the peons even one-tenth the median wage gains that they've given themselves for thirty years running now, might convince more people, more cheaply, and with no animosity.

Of course, that won't happen -- these are people for whom money is no longer a means of subsistence or support, but merely a game, a way of keeping score. They think they'll take it with them, and proceed accordingly. But eventually you hit that point of equilibrium where there's just not enough lucky-spermers or hyper-successful bidness innovators to keep that machine going. But Flying Spaghetti Monster bless 'em, they'll always try.

Really, it'd just be better if they'd make good on that longstanding threat to go Galt on us already, makers thwarting takers, producers combating the teeming class of parasites seeking to rob and expropriate them of their precious pelf. They'll never do it, of course -- it would be like a fattened tick leaving his dog. But it's always interesting to ponder the shared dreams of diametrically opposed groups of people.

Sunday, November 04, 2012

The Lyin' King

It's rare that I'll link to (or even read) MoDo, but she is absolutely on the money (Boo Boo) with this:
Even some of Romney’s own campaign advisers confess they don’t really know who he is. Is he the pragmatist who would curb Grover Norquist, John Bolton and Dan Senor, or the severe conservative who would let them run wild? It’s sad when you are hoping someone is an opportunist and a liar.

Exactly. With Obama, the disappointment has a far different quality, because Obama seemed in 2008 to have the talent and desire to be a genuinely transformative figure. (Although he did say, over and over again, that "we are the change we've been waiting for"; implicit in that statement/slogan is that he couldn't and wouldn't do it himself, that an engaged (and given the circumstances, enraged) electorate would do some share of the heavy lifting, instead of losing interest and waddling off to watch the 200th season of Survivor.)

But Rmoney is, in many respects, a WYSIWYG candidate; if he appears to be a political lycanthrope, a smarmy shape-shifter ready and willing to be everything to everyone, it's because that's exactly what he is. The only rule in effect for him and his team, to determine how he would govern, is simply to follow the money, look at what Sheldon Adelson and the Koch Bros. want and plan accordingly.

To the extent that, per the N8r b8rs' masturbatory fantasies, there is actually a statistically significant number of third-party defectors throwing it to Rmoney (highly unlikely that he'll win, or that there's enough third-partiers to make a difference), those folks certainly need to keep in mind that, whatever their misgivings about Obama, Rmoney would be an order of magnitude worse on every single one of them.

But where this is really decided at, as we'll see in a couple of days, is if the horse-race coverage is true, if there really are a sufficient number of low-info women voters anxious to vote so directly against their own rational self-interest. Every time I hear or read a woman complaining about the oppression of the male hierarchy, I instantly respond that we can't do it without your help, ladies. I assume they'll keep that in mind when Preznit Money Boo Boo finds another Combover Tony or Strip-Search Sammy or Long Dong Thomas to replace Ruth Bader Ginsburg to get a SCOTUS that will not only overturn Roe v. Wade and Obamacare, but find new and creative ways to damage families and children.

Friday, November 02, 2012

Just Say Mo' to Drugs

Whatever Bobo's smokin' these days, maybe we could all use a hit. Vote for the Republican, because he'll actually have to compromise. Hilarious. Any more prescriptions, Doctor?
The bottom line is this: If Obama wins, we’ll probably get small-bore stasis; if Romney wins, we’re more likely to get bipartisan reform. Romney is more of a flexible flip-flopper than Obama. He has more influence over the most intransigent element in the Washington equation House Republicans. He’s more likely to get big stuff done.

If there were ever any merit or upside for vindication, I might actually bother to dig through the archive and see if this was also Bobo's guiding "logic" for Jorge Arbusto back in the glory days of 2000 and/or 2004. But there are rarely any surprises to be found in reading Bobo's gnomic droppings, and so I punt. We are where we are, Tonstant Weader, knowing what we know about the players in this here game.

Really, if there's any greater argument against the welfare state than the continued sinecures of overpaid token media contrarians, I'll be goddamned if I have any clue as to what it might be. One of these days, someone should have Bobo and his ilk blind-taste-test competing policy initiatives from each candidate, see if they can actually differentiate. Ten bucks ('cause that's all I gots after The Man has taken his 93% cut) says they cannot.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

This Day In Stupid

It's an embarrassment of riches (or maybe the other way around), folks, but it really comes down to two worthy entries for the coveted title of "Okay, I Still Don't Get It -- Tell Me Why Again Is This A Story?":

  1. Apparently former famous FEMA failure Mike "Dookie" Brown, now an enormously successful nobody out in radio palookaville, has decided that Obama responded too quickly to Hurricane Sandy. Sure, and while we're at it, why don't we take hair-care advice from Donald Trump? I thought this growler had been flushed half a decade ago. Do your duty, America -- flush twice.
  2. I honestly don't even understand this one. Not even a little bit. Hopefully someone out there can explain it to me. Why are the friendly folks at Nice Polite Republicans taking a break from their usual Morris the Cat voiceovers to apologize to a four-year-old? Why is said four-year-old so overexposed to political campaign coverage, do her parents belong to some weird politicult (see what I did there?), or worse -- are they part of the Rmoney ground game? Is this bawling kid supposed to personify a nation's frustration at having its "choices" so tightly circumscribed, they're almost frustrated enough to put down the deep-fried Twinkies and do something about it? Could this whole thing be a contrivance to distract morons from what the actual choice, such as it is, is really between:  A) a wholly-owned subsidiary of an ineffably corrupt financial system; and B) a completely demented Republican party?

    I guess we're all just supposed to commiserate at the wretched burden of being forced at gunpoint to decide whether or not we want affordable health care, whether or not we believe women are breeding units to be used at Richard Mourdock's discretion, whether or not we want to bomb Iran, whether or not we want Wall Street to gobble up what's left of the crumbs we're still allowed, whether or not we think a soulless corporate gazillionaire job-harvester is the right person to bring back the jobs he sent to China, whether we want numberless galoots and snake-handlers calling in their chits when their man weasels his way in. It's just so unfair, when all we really want to do is lay in bed with a tub of Nutella and watch people open storage sheds. Boo-hoo.
Now then, from the other end of the spectrum, I always like to see jackasses get a come-to-Jebus moment and actually make some use of it. Such is the case of Chris Christie, who mere days after lampooning Obama's supposed lack of leadership skills, managed to swallow his pride (along with the rest of that baked ziti -- you knew we were going there) and be a good governor and advocate for his state. Christie deserves a lot of credit for that, enough to damn near make up for the other two sacks of nothing, Brown and that kid (actually her parents).

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

October Surprise

Not to be opportunistic in a time of extreme weather and no small amount of damage and tragedy, but....is Hurricane Sandy a sign from an eternally vengeful deity, a fountain of wrath signifying that we need to stop treating homosexuals and libertines like, well, human beings? Is it a demonstration that maybe there are things for which the big bad evil gubmint serves a clear, tangible purpose, that maybe we don't really want to have our disaster-recovery services administered by Halliburton or some such? Is it a harbinger of future extreme weather events, consequences of a planet abused beyond its capacity to recuperate and refresh itself quickly, something we'll just get used to, the way we've become accustomed to weekly incidents of armed lunatics snapping and taking out everyone within firing distance?

Perhaps it's all of those things, perhaps none, or some. But all three of those ideas contain factors that we can actually affect to some extent. Having control of even some of the decisions we all face is a great thing (especially if, like me, you tend to be a bit of a control freak about certain things).

But certainly we can all decide whether to endorse or to actively repudiate groups that peddle hate and nonsense under the guise of arcane religimous interpretations, instead of just ignoring the loudmouths until they infest the school boards with their bullshit. We can all soberly assess the things government does and doesn't do effectively, and what the private sector does and doesn't do effectively, and plan accordingly, rather than just assume that Big Capitalism always and only knows best. Bottom line here is that almost all 50 states are terminally debt-ridden and understaffed in response to Wall Street's shenanigans, and if there's one thing capitalism sucks balls at, it's appropriately addressing the needs of a captive market in an emergency. So yeah, if you enjoy profiteering in the wake of the next hurricane, tornado, flood, whatever, then go for it.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Obsession

So much for "It's the economy, stupid": (video at link is very NSFW):
Hundreds of outraged South Florida TV viewers have called or emailed network affiliates to complain about anti-abortion ads that have flooded the airwaves this week.

The ads, paid for by U.S. Congress hopeful and anti-abortion rabble-rouser Randall Terry, show scenes better suited for the grossest Halloween horror movies. They have aired in the middle of the night in most cases, but also at family-dinner time.

The images in four promos include what appear to be mangled human fetuses, tiny body parts and even a lifeless infant stuffed in a bloody plastic bucket.

Awesome. I suppose that when they get around to the requisite "gay marriage is shocking the kids and spooking the horses" jabber, they'll run a commercial with a gay-porn sex scene, something subtle like that. That's America's Wang for ya.

Make no mistake, assuming Obama squeaks through for a second term, he's got his work cut out for him. But scumbags like Terry show very clearly an important dimension in this ongoing "culture" war -- namely that the crazy-aunt wing of the party rides on Rmoney's coattails in this, and they will expect a lot in return. I hope the dingbats going Vulture/Voucher feel good about their choice, because it's their pooters that get wanded, their decisions that will get made for them by obsessive loons like Randall Terry.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Wasted Motion

Again, just an observation on who's throwing the election and whom to blame:  Jill Stein is polling at a statistically insignificant rate, even more so in swing states, whilst spoiled dingbats and butthurt crackers are apparently going for Rmoney en masse. I am willing to bet my next paycheck that, should Vulture/Voucher manage to squeeze this one out of their poopchutes, not one of the swing state losses will be able to be blamed on the DFHs, and all of them will be because of the party jumpers. Bet your last dollar on that, friends 'n' neighbors.

As I've pointed out too many times in the past with the N8r b8rs (now in their second decade!), the problem here is not so much who gets stuck with the blame, it's the inevitable practical ramifications of the scapegoating. American political parties these days move to the right when they lose the presidential election, that is the intent and design of the ratchet/pawl system we have. Scapegoating the DFHs simply gives automatic cover to ratcheting the Democrats, whether that takes the form of further capitulation to extreme-right jabber, or putting up "more electable" candidates in the snake-handler states.

Moreover, it absolves them from having to look at the real reason why they lost in the first place. With Gore in 2000, there were so many factors, only the most unself-aware partisan could have singled out Nader not just as the proximal cause, but as the only cause. With Obama, the cause for the supposed mass defection is said to be that Rmoney will be better on jobs, even though he has yet to say exactly how he'll create decent jobs here, even though he made his fortune creating jobs overseas.

So are DFHs also responsible for that much greater degree of mass cognitive dissonance, of collective stupidity? Of course not. But until we either make voting mandatory and on Saturday, like in Australia, and mandate a short, publicly-financed campaign to take all the pelf out of the perpetual-campaign system, they'll keep getting scapegoated. Failing that, we need to start finding ways, individually and collectively, to start divesting ourselves from this system that shackles us to lifetimes of wage slavery and debt peonage.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Ladies' Night

Not sure exactly how many of these insane pigfuckers have to fly the same party banner for some of the dingbats out there to realize that the Republican Party is not your friend. This has very little to do with whether individual women happen to be personally pro-life or pro-choice, and everything to do with how accepting they are of the idea that assholes like Mourdock or Akin should be making that choice for them regardless, and sticking them with the consequences. (And don't get me started on the pretzel logic Akin's angels deploy in the Guardian write-up; so pathetic it's not even worth parsing and clarifying, just the burbling of addled, self-hating morons.)

We are no longer postulating the shopworn conservatard bugaboo of the airhead trollop strutting down to the nearest strip mall for a quick D&C, followed by a trip to the food court and thence to a club for more meaningless slut sex. We are talking about people who are on record as saying that women's bodies are able to secrete mystical chemicals that prevent them from being impregnated by rape -- or worse, that if somehow they are impregnated by rape, it's God's will. Worse yet, these are people who are vying for the United States Senate, when they should be practicing safe sex by going out and tagging all the livestock that kick.

At this point, I'm really not sure which is more conclusive proof that God is a total dick -- that He would actually will that a woman be impregnated by a violent, awful, dehumanizing crime, or that He still hasn't dropped these bastards with bolts of lightning and flaming pools of carbolic acid. Seriously, what the fuck is wrong with these people, not just Mourdock and Akin, but the women who would actually vote for them? How do you get to a point where you hate and devalue yourself to that extent?

Freudian Slip

Oh, this is charming. Yet another interchangeable Foxface shoots from the hip with some baldfaced nonsense pulled so freshly out of his ass he had to brush the peanut and corn chunks off it first. The difference here is that he actually admitted that he had no evidence for what he was about to drop, which makes him a perfect surrogate for the Republican Party and all of its candidates and voters. Hell, they're not even pretending to try anymore.

Maybe someone should remind them of that time when 241 Marines were blown up by a suicide bomber in Lebanon, and Saint Reagan's swift and mighty response was to get the fuck out of there. But hoo boy, four people die in mob violence under Obammy's watch in some country most of 'em couldn't find on a map if their lives depended on it, and their media provocateur surrogates come unglued.

These are the jerkoffs fabricating your news analysis, America. How do you like it?

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Five-Minute Music Reviews


Muse - The 2nd Law  Muse's trajectory has been one that any band would envy, with sales and rep growing practically by an order of magnitude with each subsequent release. With the success has come a bit of mainstreaming; the Queen allusions more and more overt, the conspiracy theory lyrics moving on to more universal concerns of love and revolution. The kids are alright, even if they are a bit more comfortable.
That's not a slam at all, by the way -- every band that makes it big has to handle the twin challenges of massive commercial success and continued artistic development, and Muse has certainly handled it better than most. The 2nd Law picks up where The Resistance left off, in many respects, brimming with social consciousness, danceable hooks, and epic choruses, it tries to have it every which way, and does so with a pretty solid slugging percentage. Matt Bellamy's falsetto vocals are as plaintive as ever, as are his bristling, angry leads, though the latter are fewer and farther between.
 
The production, as on The Resistance, is spectacular, immaculate throughout, but here and there one wishes just for a moment for the tortured squall of Citizen Erased, or the Cure-tinged electro-funk of Map of the Problematique, or even the space opera of Knights of Cydonia. But songs such as Supremacy, Panic Station, and Big Freeze have bite, the closing two-part title suite is innovative, and bassist Chris Wolstenholme provides some nice vocal contrast with his two songs, particularly Liquid State.
 
You can't really say that Muse have "sold out"; they are so unabashedly commercial it would be practically impossible for them to do so. But they do what they do with great ambition and panache, and continue to till some fertile ground.
 

 
 
The Sword - Apocryphon  This one just dropped Monday, so I've only listened to it twice so far, not enough to break it down comprehensively. But it's enough to tell that the biggest little band from Austin is still kicking retro ass and taking names with their comic-book tales of doom, destruction, and adventure. If listening to classic Sabbath while reading old Robert Howard Conan books in a room with a giant Frank Frazetta poster and the whiff of stale bongwater sounds like your idea of good times, then The Sword are waaay up in your wheelhouse.
This is no mean feat, not at all, to take time-worn classic riffage, peg it to lyrics that are unapologetically cheesy, and make it really work. This is what playing it with conviction and passion are all about, kids -- these guys are clearly having fun with it, and it's infectious. Apocryphon is the band's fourth album, and as such, given the simplicity of the genre and the well-worn path it resides on, one might anticipate some cracks at some point, the need to change tack somehow. But aside from being apparently slightly less conceptually oriented than the last epic outing, Warp Riders, they are sticking to their guns, no doubt because they're pretty good guns.
 
The band was recently on an episode of Anthony Bourdain's No Reservations farewell tour, which should up their hipness quotient even further, perhaps depending on how much of an insufferable prick you fell Bourdain is. (Personally I enjoy him, his show, and his books a great deal; Bourdain is much more self-aware and candid than just about anyone in the public eye right now. He is very much a WYSIWYG personality, which is generally a good thing, Donald Trump notwithstanding.) So far, I would pick The Veil of Isis, The Hidden Masters, and Seven Sisters as standout tracks, but in general, like The Sword's past efforts, Apocryphon is a solid stack of all-killer-no-filler riffs. These guys are poised to make the big jump, the way Mastodon finally did with The Hunter.
 

 

Devin Townsend Project - Epicloud  It is not an exaggeration to posit that former Strapping Young Lad mastermind Devin Townsend is this generation's Frank Zappa. A gifted, idiosyncratic guitarist who seems to live in the studio, Townsend is one of the most prolific, stylistically diverse producers out there right now. After putting out one of the best albums of the last decade with Synchestra in 2006, Townsend went into rehab -- and came out with 60 songs written and ready to record, which turned into the four-album Ki/Addicted!/Deconstruction/Ghost multi-opus, released over the next several years (the last two as a double set last year), each album completely different in musical style and focus.
So after all that, Townsend went back into the studio intending to record a sequel to his earlier Ziltoid the Omniscient space opera, and by his own reckoning, found himself writing more poppy, happy material. Not necessarily a bad thing, that -- that was the territory Addicted! traveled, and that one is a terrific, sorely underrated (if a bit short) collection. Epicloud is indeed very positive in outlook, obviously anomalous to most metal out there these days, which is at best nihilistic in most cases. But thanks to Townsend's rather angular sense of melody, peppered with his quirky humor (another similarity to FZ), and set in a lush choral wall-of-sound production, it works on a lot of levels. If the programming pinheads at Z-Rock could hear Townsend's stuff (or hell, The Sword, for that matter), maybe they wouldn't feel so compelled to dump the same fifteen-year-old Rob Zombie and Red Hot Chili Peppers tracks on their hapless listeners every fucking hour.
 
From the gospel-tinged choir bookending the album, to the ongoing collaboration with vocalist Anneke van Giersbergen on most of the songs, to the anthemic romp of Liberation and More!, to the sappy but heartfelt balladry of Where We Belong and Divine, there's a sweeping array of pop-metal stylings here, all of them more commercial than just about anything Townsend has done previously. But in a good way; again, between the glowing production and van Giersbergen's terrific vocals throughout, Townsend has earned the right to have a fat hit or two from this one.
 


Monuments - Gnosis  For better or worse, bands like Monuments probably represent the near future of technical metal. Combining Dream Theater-level chops with gutbusting Meshuggah-style vocals (frequently alternating with cleaner vocals in the choruses, similar to what bands like Scar Symmetry do), there's definitely a lot going on here. Great musicianship, good production, solid grooves -- musically it's all good. It's the vocals that throw me on stuff like this, and that's really just a matter of personal taste, but the pulsating neck-vein screaming is exhausting to listen to after a while.

Still, there are some really tight musical moments all throughout, particularly on Admit Defeat and Regenerate. If you like this type of music, with a lot of elements of bands such as Periphery and (again) Meshuggah, this is really well done. But you probably won't crank it up at your next party.
 

 
 

The Melvins - Freak Puke  I'm not as familiar with The Melvins' work as I should be, especially since there are plenty of bands I like who cite them as an influence. But it's never too late to get schooled, and as an album like Freak Puke is likely to get pegged as "experimental" or some such, it's not exactly a prime opportunity to bandwagon-jump a band that has never exactly been a household name in the first place.

 
From the opening cello(!) strains and brushed drums of Mr. Rip-Off, you know you're in for something odd and unpredictable. The lead track sounds like a sinister psychedelic '60s pastiche, between the arcane instrumentation and the atmospheric vocals.
 
And that's really the beauty of this album throughout -- no two songs sound alike (or, at times, even by the same band), and you just never know what's coming next. Stand-up bass and bowed chamber-music instruments figure in every song, right alongside fuzz-tone guitars and the spacey vocals. Unusual arrangements and interspersed sound effects just add to the chaotic proceedings. The closest thing to a conventional "song" is probably A Growing Disgust, or perhaps the cover of the Wings chestnut Let Me Roll It.
 
And again, it's precisely the unconventionality and weirdness of Baby Won't You Weird Me Out or Leon Versus the Revolution or the title track that make the whole thing so much fun to listen to. By the time you hit the meandering nine-and-a-half-minute capper Tommy Goes Berserk, you just want to hear what they're going to do next, which is about all you can of any album.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Trump: The Art of the Douche

Gosh, do you think Captain Combforward's big scoop is that his turd-in-a-punch-bowl teevee show is about to pull-start yet another wretched, interminable season? Experts' opinions vary! Some say that two plus two equals four, some say that it equals six. I say we can all get along, and agree to disagree that it's five, just for the sake of comity, if not reality.

Also, too, this toxic peckerhead's entertainment value has long outlived its shelf life, can we agree on that as well? Exactly how many times does The Greatest Country In The History Of Evah need to watch some variation on "Meat Loaf goes apeshit on Gary Busey"? Perhaps once we've lived the cycle of watching Honey Boo Boo auction her storage shed and spend her duck-call millions on a cee-ment pond, we'll achieve dipshit nirvana.

The ability of animals like Trump to not only survive but continue to thrive was certainly a factor in my deciding that there simply could not be a just and gracious god, when I was, like, ten years old. But really and come on, the fact that this gaping asshole still gets away with it, rubs your nose in it, sucka -- well, that proves not only that there is no god, but that there isn't even karma. I mean, sweet Jebus, can we not fire this jackass already?

Update [10/24/12 9:00 PDT]:  Ahahahahaha. These stupid publicity stunts of Drumpf's are like a nasty car wreck you pass by -- you really know you shouldn't slow down and look, but you just can't help it. And sure enough, it's always nastier than you thought, and lamer, and you end up walking away feeling worse about yourself and humanity. I actually hope Obama takes him up on it, just to watch Chump squirm and weasel out of his bluster.

Failing that, maybe we can all chip in a buck apiece, and bribe this dime-store asshole to go away already.

They Might Be Giants

Congrats to the local baseball heroes, the SF Giants, who became just the third team to come back from a 3-1 deficit in a league championship series to thump the Cardinals and pitcher Kyle Lohse, who grew up and went to high school up here near Chico. Should be a good matchup between the Giants and the well-rested Tigers, who dispatched noted assclown Donald Trump's pet Yankees.

So here's to what should be a good Series. The Giants have the upper hand on classic goofball personalities, with Posey, Panda, Pagan, Romo, and the rest of the weirdbeards. The Tigers are peaking at just the right time, and Verlander is the proverbial fireballer of the moment, with a 7-game playoff wininng streak going right now.

Either way, of the final four teams, this was the matchup that America wanted, whether they knew it or not. The last thing you needed was to watch the Steinbrenners bully, borrow, and derp their way to yet another store-bought champeenship. Buckle up and watch people actually have fun playing a kids' game, rather than some button-down pseudo-corporate dress-code bullshit.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Master Debaters Part 2: Binders Full of Women

So the Obama shows up last night to better expose Mittens for what he is --  a smug, pompous jackass who needs to kindly go away and hug his precious hectomillions already, leave us peons to what's left of our scraps for the next four years. Extra super bonus points for the faces of death Mrs. "You People" Rmoney and son Tagg "Tagg" projecting at the stage, apparently hoping for some effect on Obama. Not only that, Tagg was so darn angry, he was like totally gonna get up all in Obama's face and throw a punch at him, because he's a tough guychickenhawk just like dear ol' Dad.

Lest anyone out there on the intartubez might think this is schtick here, it isn't. If we talk about "character" mattering, then what sort of "character" does it take for someone to lead pro-Vietnam War counter-demonstrations at Stanford, while getting four deferments and then heading off for France? For a nation that refuses to forget the most marginal slight, it's something that this barely merits mention. It seems to me to be about the most chickenshit thing a man can do, to protest loudly and vociferously for poorer, less-connected kids to go fight and die, and turn tail yourself every bloody chance you get.

Anyhoo, the narrative is back on track, Obama will have just enough momentum to push him back over the top, but not enough to actually change anything, and in four years we'll be switching between the Andrew Cuomo-Todd Akin debates and Honey Boo Boo's Celebrity Rehab show, while holding on for dear life as Our Betters continue to skim 90% of what economic gains there are to be had.

Hair Today, Gall Tomorrow

Renaissance man and serial monogamist Donald Trump's twitter-twatting is the stuff of legend. Near as I can tell, this is not a parody. He coins amazing, memorable turns of phrase:
Boy howdy, if this century gets its own Algonquin Round Table going, the Trumpster's got a seat right next to Kanye West, ya heard? Jesus, I hope someone remembered to chronicle that timeless nugget o' wisdom.

But wait, there's more. He's not just the Samuel Johnson of the new millennium, you miserable peons. He's also a formidable baseball prognosticator:
Bang zoom, chumps! Forget that Verlander gave up three hits and one run (and that to start to ninth inning) in leading the Tigers to a 3-games-to-none leg up on the Yanks in the ALCS. The Donald has spoken.