Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Rush and Shellac

Today after a much frenzied facebook discussion of Rush, spurred only by the fact that I knew they were Canadian, I treated myself to a bit of the Gods of Prog on my way home from school. I totally understand why people don't like them, but I also believe that most of these people have not truly "listened" to Rush. You know, the way you can argue with your significant other without "hearing" them. I cannot imagine a world where someone who likes rock music can put on headphones, turn up the volume as loud as is comfortable, and listen to "Cygnus X-1" with their eyes closed, lying on the floor, and does not walk away having their mind blown down the black hole.

As I drove down Sunset past the dinosaurs of rock n roll days past, windows down and screaming along with Geddy, I felt pumped and turned to the only other band that I could think of that would foster the same feeling, Shellac. I made a playlist and only got through two songs before getting home, but they were:

1. My Black Ass (At Action Park)
This song is simply incredible and probably the best example of who Shellac is. Every single whamp of the drums is a living entity, which explains to me why I can listen to Todd Trainer play a monotonous drum beat for 11 minutes and feel completely inspired and engaged by it.

2. Prayer to God (1000 Hurts)
Not only is this song angry as can be (probably why it is one of their most popular), but it speaks to me for two distinct reasons beyond this. First, it is the most personally engaging song Shellac has ever written, lyrically. Coming from a band who seems to write most of their music as a way to say "Hey, see what we can do? And see how we do it better than anyone else?", this track about infidelity and the anger caused by it is unabashedly frank. Second, for such a harsh, angular and powerful song, it's one of the more vocally diverse of Shellac recordings, with quite a nice melodic quality to the vocals. Of course, really, the idea behind a song praying to God to kill someone is also just kind of fantastic.

To the one true God above:
here is my prayer -
not the first you've heard, but the first I wrote.
(not the first, but the others were a long time ago).
There are two people here, and I want you to kill them.
Her - she can go quietly, by disease or a blow
to the base of her neck,
where her necklaces close,
where her garments come together,
where I used to lay my face...
That's where you oughta kill her,
in that particular place.
Him - just fucking kill him, I don't care if it hurts.
Yes I do, I want it to,
fucking kill him but first
make him cry like a woman,
(no particular woman),
let him hold out hope that someone or other might come
then fucking kill him
Fucking kill him.
Kill him already, kill him.
Fucking kill him, fucking kill him,
Kill him already, kill him.
Fucking kill him, fucking kill him,
Kill him already, kill him.
Just fucking kill him! Fucking kill him,
Fucking kill him already, kill him.
Ah Fucking kill him, fucking kill him,
Kill him already, kill him.
Kill him already, kill him already
Kill him, fucking kill him.
Just fucking kill him, fuckin kill him,
Kill him already, kill him.
Fuckin kill him, kill him,
Fucking kill him already, kill him.

Kill him, fucking kill him,
Kill him, just fucking kill him.
Kill them already, kill them already,
Kill him.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Beef Dip Win

Sometimes I get confused when I look in the fridge and I can't understand what sort of a whole I can make of the parts inside. Tonight, no confusion.

Trader Joes Nitrate Free Roast Beef
Leftover Hamburger Buns
1/4 cup of chicken stock
Block of Cheddar
(look in the freezer)
French Fries


I put oil in the cast iron, got the fries going. The buns got buttered and thrown into the non-stick, and the stainless steel received the slices of beef. I heated up the beef slice by slice, and set it in a bowl. I deglazed the beef bits in the bottom of the pan with some bourbon, chicken stock and whisked briskly. To the Au Jus I added some freshly ground black pepper and a little bit of Worcestershire Sauce and then poured that over the beef in the bowl, and stuck it in the oven.

I fished the fries out of the oil, grabbed the toasted buns and sliced some of the cheddar.

The assembled product was delicious, if not dangerously unhealthy when washed down with a bottle of Mexican Coke.

Monday, February 16, 2009

How do we achieve balance?

Today I got an email from the AFA (American Family Association, which I have no idea how I wound up on their mailing list) that was about the "Silencing" of Christians in America, politically and socially. It's odd how this comes at a time when Christians seem to have an overwhelming amount of political and social power in America, with it being reported this week that only 4 out of every 10 Americans accept the Theory of Evolution, and with the creation and flourishing business done by the Creationism Museum in Kentucky. But let's assume that this phenomenon is as they say it is, that Christians are being silenced, and their interests are not being represented. My intial response is GREAT! I think that it is ridiculous that Christians would be crying foul after having this country cater to their political and religious whims for over 200 years, but still this is going to be latched onto for what it mist certainly is, a politicized martyrdom. It's an extension of the Conservatives crying out about the "liberal" media (I dare you to find a corporate mainstream news channel that has a liberal bias), now it is going to be the Christians, who are still dictating through legal means who can and cannot get married, what women can do as far as access to health care in regards to their reproductive systems, which drugs that have been cleared by the FDA can be sold through pharmacies, etc etc etc, these are the people who are now crying that they aren't beng heard. It's absolute bullshit, but it's going to work. Christians are more organized than Atheist Americans, and they are fully versed in the tactics and practices of making a large stink. Now we are going to see this trickle down to every church in America beginning to work in the message of thier silencing into sermons. Public Consciousness is going have this notion that Christians have no power, are being discriminated against, when in reality Christians have all the power, and are using it to discriminate against others. So where does the notion of balance come in? It comes in like this, if I had a magic wand, or maybe a prayer that really worked, I would use it to just wish away the power that Christians hold in America, but the only ways in which this can actually be achieved, through legal processes based on common sense, are going to be met with harsher and harsher cries of martyrdom, just making the Christians power stronger. So much for balance, cause the Christians are going to win as long as they play up the idea of the American Dream, where no one has to be self-aware, and as long as you buy into it, you fuel the problem. Way to go for being ignorant America.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

I watched two movies about dogs today

The first was when I snuck off after school via bike to the theater down the street. It was about 3pm, and I was able to catch a showing of Bolt. I knew very little about it, other than it was Disney and it was about a dog. I had the entire theater to myself, and a small coke and popcorn put me a better mood than I have seen in a while. I was quite enjoying myself until the theme turned being abandoned and the only song in the movie sings of having lost the only home you have ever known. All of a sudden, the little animated dog world and the real world of therapy smash together and I am bawling in a dark movie theater. I came away thinking that the movie was great, and that my wounds are still so fresh that cartoons can make themes bubble to the surface.

I rode home and had waiting for me, this movie. "Wendy and Lucy" was going to be a tough one for me. About a young girl, who might as well have been several people I have known and loved in my life, was on her way to Alaska to get a summertime job, along with her dog Lucy. The entire film essentially is about this young woman getting one streak of bad luck after another, and if Bolt had made me weepy, Wendy and Lucy crushed me. I knew it would, and therefore I just let it. This is the first time that I have seen art imitate life that speaks to the life experiences of, if not me, than through me via the collective consciousness of so many people I have known.

For much of my life, these are the people I have known, and I wonder now is this film trying to capture that by looking at it from the outside? Certainly the film-makers must be near my age, and have lived this experience as well. Are these kinds of people going to survive in the new age of text abbreviations and rock band? Sure, the quirky, arty girl who wears boys clothes is a cliche, but it's also where some people go when they have nowhere else to go, and I can definetely identify with that.

You through a dog in the mix, and themes of loss and sacrifice, and I'm pretty much going to cry my eyes out. Sure, I may be touchy right now, but I don't think that takes away from how much this movie has meant to me.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

The last day of winter break

I spent the majority of my winter break from school being miserably sick with a head/chest cold. I did not get to execute the slurry of bad decisions that I had anticipated, yet somehow being forced to sleep as much as humanly possible for three weeks probably did me some good that I cannot even begin to imagine.

Last night came to a close this afternoon with a marathon 14 hour sleeping session that began at 10 pm on a Saturday night. Yeehaw. No time to mourn that now, as this is my last full day of freedom, so I set about to do the one thing I had been promising myself I would do all break; go for a bike ride.

I set out at about 4 pm, as the sun was beginning to pack it in for the day. My bike is in every way an example of function. It's a road bike, and it's a single speed (NOT a fixed gear), as I fancy things that have as few moving parts as possible. I had the traditional sloped down handlebars replaced with a shaved down straight bar, mostly because it is much more comfortable to ride, but also because the bike gets stored alongside my truck in a ridiculously small garage. The two inches that I gain from having these handlebars actually makes the situation much more manageable. So setting out down the street, I am instantly transported back to 12 years old where every waking moment was spent on a bike, the wind caressing every part of your exposed skin. It's a fantastic feeling, and this is the first bike that I have owned as an adult that I feel belongs to me for the sheer enjoyment of riding it (as opposed to the mountain bike, and the bmx bike that were admittedly for show).

Before I know it I am at the harbor. The sun is 20 minutes from setting, and I notice a ship with several tall masted sails directly to my right. As I look, I first see a young woman, a hippy, hanging from the bow of the ship in some sort of harness, and she appears to be banging on an iron chain with a small pick-like hammer. I am completely intrigued. I sat down and as I watched her my eyes soon wandered up and down the breadth of the ship. Everywhere I looked I found some young, hippy looking kid working on the ship. They were high up in the sails, sanding down the deck railings, working on the ropes, countless small jobs that were interlaced with rotating smoke breaks down on the docks. Who were these people? Did this happen every Sunday at the harbor?

I stood back and noticed a sandwich board sign that stated that this was the Hawaiian Chieftan, a replica of a 18th century ship that was built in the 1980's. Then I saw that the ship had just come into port from Aberdeen Washington, which explained why everyone was a hippy. I sat back down and tried to imagine my life were I to undergo such an adventure. Alan Sparhawk sings into my ear "Well I could'a been a sailor, but I lost my brother to the sea". I smile and try to think of all the fucking that must go on with this mixed crew late at sea.

I begin to head back, eager to come back the following day with my Holga and take some pictures. The ship sets sail again the day after tomorrow. I wonder, can I engage the crew and go out for drinks with them in such a short amount of time?

There were several reasons that I spent so much in my apartment over the break, and I have let go of feeling guilty about any of them. What I do know is that things like this, being involved in things outside of my own experience, like volunteering on a sailing ship is what has been missing from my life since the move to the new place, and it's time that I got back on track with expanding myself beyond myself.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

It's been almost a year

Since Dan Fogelberg died. Today at work, while the sky gets blotted out by the ashes of wildfires, I stumble upon web pages about Dan Fogelberg. I am reading posts from his website, announcing that he has cancer, thanking fans for their support, up to the posting from his wife that he has died. In February of 2008, Jean Fogelberg arranged to have the last song that he recorded, a love song from him to her as a Valentine's Day gift that arrived at her door via FedEx while Dan was out of state, to be available via itunes. I don't necessarily enjoy anything after the very early 80's that he recorded, but I certainly enjoyed the story behind this one. The transparency that existed in his life toward the end, and after his death, is a stark contrast to what a private person he had been. I can only assume that when dealing with an imminent death, having a large outpouring of support from fans must be a wonderful thing. Unfortunately most of us will never know, as the majority of people slip into death without so much as a murmur. Don't know what I'm going for here exactly, other than it's still hard for me to hear his music without getting teary, which is very odd because I have never thought that celebrity was worth anything, and it's not like I especially idolize Dan Fogelberg. I guess his music was just really important to me growing up, and that includes going through my 20's, and well it makes me sad. To see that the words spoken in his songs, at least as far as an outsider could tell, appear to reflect the man that he was. For whatever reason, this stands out as being very special to me.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Since we made History on Tuesday

I suppose I should talk about it.

Having had little or no opinion of Barrack Obama until very late in his campaign, I cannot be accused of one of his "supporters", but I quickly came to appreciate his public person. He appears witty, warm, and gracious. This is a huge step up from the Bush Presidency, and is even miles away from the McCain campaign. During debates, Obama and Biden would look their competitors in the eyes, while in return they were largely ignored.

Policy issues aside, (for I cannot imagine being represented by a US President that was in line with policy I would like to see), this man who was elected on Tuesday, appears to be a man of character. Not the bulllshit kind of bought and paid for by daddy character, humility and politeness are vanishing values, that were once considered to be fundamental to America, but have been lost along the way.

In short, I neglected my homework Tuesday night as I compulsively hit the refresh button on my internet browser to see the latest updates. A day that began with me feeling small hope for change in our country, ended with me at the Mexican Restaurant across the street, drinking a beer and watching the first black President of the United States give an acceptance speech. I don't claim that Obama will fix everything, in fact the country has been so effectively run into the ground over the past few administrations that most likely no one could fix things, but at least we have something different.

And after eight years of constant anger, frustration, sadness and disappointment, I will gladly take something different.