Sunday, July 27, 2008

Tough decisions

I really can't decide which photo of John McCain from last week I enjoy more.

The Zach Morris phone moment...

or his major speech in the, um, dairy aisle? Why the dairy aisle? Maybe the cheese lobby is more powerful than I thought.

CHEESE!

It's been a tough week for McCain. He was scheduled to give a speech from an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico but had to reschedule at the last minute because of a hurricane and an oil spill in the Mississippi. Whoops. Nothing to see here, folks. Drill, drill, drill.

So, he decided to counter Obama's speech to 200,000 in Berlin with a trip to Schmidt's Fudge Haus. Pathetic. Hilarious, but pathetic.

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Saturday, July 26, 2008

You know what really grinds my gears?

I'm not sure there's a more annoying trend in advertising than the hidden camera ones. It seems like everyone's doing them now. Burger King has that guy ready to commit homicide so he can get his Whopper, Coke has those two morons acting like they want to sue their own company, Hardees has the supposed fancy restaurant where they bring in the bags in front of the customers, Pizza Hut has the jackasses attending a "pasta tasting", and Miller Lite set up a fake bar. Even car companies are starting in with both Mazda and VW jumping on this dumb trend. There's probably more but my brain cries when I try to think about it.

I guess I just don't get why these are made at all. Am I supposed to believe that Pizza Hut pasta is so good that it fools the pasta connoisseurs? Really all I think is that they found dumb people that don't really care what their food tastes like.

It also pisses me off how completely unrealistic they are. The Miller Lite commercial is ridiculous because who would go to a bar that apparently only serves Miller Lite? Every single person in the bar is drinking Miller Lite and there are no bottle except Miller Lite behind the bar. That really would be the worst bar ever. Worse than Sips even.

Things like this convince me that I could be an ad guy. Pretty much anybody can recycle crappy 80's commercials, right? I mean, I watch Mad Men so I know that you have to drink and smoke a lot and be an asshole. The rest is just coming up with stuff like "let's remake that commercial with that Mikey kid" or "How about blind taste tests?"

And you kids get off my damn lawn!

Oh...my....goot

Don't click on this link unless you want to see a really disturbing picture of a pig born with a monkey face. Seriously, don't click on it. I'm only putting this up there because, like the video from The Ring, I have to show it to somebody else to get rid of it.

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Thursday, July 24, 2008

Chimps revolting? Nah, still subhuman

Check out this awesome video of an escaped chimp in Japan who managed to steal the tranquilizer gun away from the zookeeper. Sounds like they may be catching on to our human tricks? Ha, of course not. He gave up when they offered him a banana. A freaking banana.

Oh, chimps. You'll always be subhuman due to your obsession with the banana...and Bud Light, I guess.

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Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Bush Unplugged

There's a new video of Bush speaking off the cuff at a fundraiser when he thought that all of the cameras were turned off. Nothing too inflammatory but there was this rambling, mostly incoherent speech:
It is uncertain, there’s no question about it.
Wall Street got drunk, it got drunk, (it’s one of the reasons I asked you to turn off your tv cameras.) It got drunk and now it’s got a hangover. The question is how long will it sober up, and not try to do all these fancy financial instruments.
And now we got a housing issue, not in Houston, and evidently, not in Dallas, because Laura was over there trying to buy a house today. (laugher.. Crawford!)
I like Crawford, unfortunately after eight years of asking her to sacrifice, I’m now no longer the decision maker. She’ll be deciding, thanks for the suggestion! I suggest you don’t yell it out when she’s here. Later, telling her “Hey honey, we’ve been on government pay now for 14 years... so go slow!"
It’s uh.. caused me to lose my train of thought. Anyway.

Yeah, those bastards trying all those "fancy financial instruments." I can't figure out why his daddy's rich friends had to bail him out of every single business investment he ever made...

I also am shocked...SHOCKED! that he's not going back to his "ranch." I mean, I thought this guy was pure country, right? What says "rancher" more than buying an old pig farm right before you run for president, adding five cattle, and being completely petrified of horses?

I just hope that whomever buys it is aware of exactly how much brush Bush had to clear off there. I mean, unless those were just photo ops...

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Paging Dr. Freud...

This quote from Senator Larry "Wide Stance" Craig is a few days old but I just found it today:
"We won't let the Venezuelas or the Nigerias or the Saudi Arabias or the Irans jerk us around by the gas nozzle."
The senator then added, "as much as I would like them to do just that."

Come on

I wish this guy would make up his mind. First, he's all like "we gotta save the chimps" but then he's like "but, don't give them jobs in your commercials." How are the chimps going to support their family if you don't give them any work? I mean, think about it. It doesn't make any sense. We all have special talents and chimps are good at acting like humans but in completely exaggerated manners.

I used to be somewhat involved in the movie business (as in I was part of team that came up great ideas for movies). Unfortunately most (all) of these never got off the ground due to political concerns ("Jihad!") or lack of interest (the untitled one about the chimp that becomes president and gets into several hilarious situations). Perhaps we should look into making that second one just to help the endangered chimps? I'd hate to see them blackballed like the suspected communists were.

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Sunday, July 20, 2008

New Radiohead Video

Here's a link to the new video for "House of Cards" by Radiohead. They made it using no cameras and only scanning lasers that create 3D models. Very cool and the "making of" video was very interesting as well.
No cameras or lights were used. Instead two technologies were used to capture 3D images: Geometric Informatics and Velodyne LIDAR. Geometric Informatics scanning systems produce structured light to capture 3D images at close proximity, while a Velodyne Lidar system that uses multiple lasers is used to capture large environments such as landscapes. In this video, 64 lasers rotating and shooting in a 360 degree radius 900 times per minute produced all the exterior scenes.

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Saturday, July 19, 2008

Burnt cheese

I pretty much disagree with 95% of what comes out of Ted Nugent's mouth but he is pretty entertaining as evidenced by this interview with lawrence.com.
You’re touring Europe at the moment. Maybe this is just my cultural ignorance, but it seems like the Netherlands wouldn’t necessarily be a natural fit for your particular brand of balls-out rock and kill-’em-all-and-let-Ronald-Reagan-sort-them-out politics. Does “Wang Dang Sweet Poontang” translate to Dutch?

“God indeed created all men equal. Sadly, certain governments deny the exercise of such autonomy and defiance. Therefore, Europeans are driven beyond their wildest dreams to witness an ultimately free man remind them of what freedom looks and sounds like and can do for a ruggedly individual human being, especially with a roaring Gibson guitar and a totally unleashed irreverent piss and vinegar band at his side. They can dream through my music and attitude. It is a beautiful thing.”


A guy from Olathe is running a unique campaign for State Representative. The guy he's running against is the typical regressive and repressive Kansas Republican who wants the Jesus taught in science classes. In order to fund his campaign he set a goal to get 3000 people to donate $8 and put together this somewhat amusing comic called "Running for Office: It's Like A Flamewar with a Forum Troll, but with an Eventual Winner" to draw attention to it. He got a link on boingboing and is currently at 5000+ donors. Anybody that makes a reference to a "verbal Rick Roll" is deserving of a place in government, in my opinion.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

The shatter of the bat

So, people have been requesting more blog posts for some reason. I had no idea the level of boredom that exists among the faithful ten or so readers of this blog but apparently the only thing more boring than actually working is not having a job. I'm guessing a baseball post is not what most people had in mind but pleasing myself is the primary objective here in the Basement (as it probably is in most basements).

The dangers of foul balls and maple bats at baseball games have been in the news lately and here is a somewhat amusing slideshow of stuff flying into the stands. The first one is definitely my favorite just because of the hilarious reactions of everyone. Oh, Twins fans... Of course, if I was facing the possibility of having a maple bat impale my heart I'd probably freak out a bit too. Especially, if I were a vampire.

A couple of weeks ago I was at a KC T-Bones game when former Royals All-Star (really) Ken Harvey came to bat. He was really swinging for the fences since that's pretty much all that fatty can do anymore and his bat slipped out of his hands and into the crowd. The usher checked on the person and they were ok and going to keep the bat until the batboy ran up to get it. The usher had to go back up and get the bat as everyone started booing. By that point Harvey was stepping back into the box and he looks up and waves the bat back up to the woman. Everyone cheers and the next pitch he jacks for a homerun. The stuff legends are made of...

Ken Harvey was probably one of the worst all-stars of the last decade. He actually started off the year really hot but went cold about a month before the game. That was a pretty brutal Royals team so they stuck him on there and he pretty much sucked the rest of the year. I read that the last Royal to get a hit in the All-Star game was Bo Freaking Jackson. Yikes, not even starter Jermaine Dye or Mike Sweeney pre-injury could get a hit? They've had some pretty questionable all-stars but this year's Joakim Soria is legit. 1.47 ERA, 25 saves on a horrible team, 46 Ks, 9 BBs. Plus he has a ridiculous curve. If you stayed up late you may have seen it buckle Dan Uggla's knees. Of course, you might also remember Uggla's record breaking three errors or grounding into a double play in extra innings. Great game. They kept talking about how it was his dad's dream to see him play in Yankee Stadium and it finally came true. Umm, hope it was worth it.

Anyway, so "The Mexicutioner" as Soria is known has some pretty sick stuff and great numbers but that didn't stop Chicago's favorite columnist Jay Marriotti from saying this on ATH, "How about waiving the rule that every team has to be represented? You've got these relievers from Kansas City, from Baltimore because of that rule."

Douche. Do you even watch baseball at all? Will we not rest until every single all-star comes from the same three teams? What reliever do you think deserved to be there over Soria?

I guess I'll finish up with a final story about foul balls nearly killing people. It was Closing Day (does the last game have a name like Opening Day? In KC it's usually Run Through the Motions to Try to Avoid the 100th Loss and Get the Hell Out of Town Day) and we were there to catch one more game. We ended up showing up a little late and were getting a little rowdy in showing out love for Emil Brown in right field. "Emiiiiiiiil! Emiiiiiiiil! We love you, Emiiiiiiil!"

Well, late in the someone hits a screamer into the first base side and some girl goes down. The ushers are checking on her and I see one of them run back up the stairs. I assume that's the all clear sign and say something like, "she's ok!" Unfortunately, they were bringing down the stretcher and some girl behind me called me an asshole. Well, maybe, but, I mean, it's not like I would have said anything if I thought she wasn't ok. But, I learned my lesson and now I wait until I'm sure the person isn't really dead before making cracks like that.

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Friday, July 11, 2008

All Aboard the Straight Talk Express!

Whoo whoo!

"I certainly don't want to talk about that."

It's a simple question, do you have an opinion about that?

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Thursday, July 10, 2008

193 days...

It just wouldn't be a G8 summit without Bush forgetting that he's not at some frat retreat and humiliating himself.

We all remember him deciding it would be a good idea to massage Angela Merkel last year and his embarrassing open mic conversation with Tony Blair. Well, he really went all out this year. First, his weird thing with Merkel continued as he caressed her hair this year. The look of contempt on her face is priceless which makes it a little strange that apparently she is publicly coming out against Obama making a speech in front of the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, supposedly at Bush's request.

Then there was this from the Canadians.
A televised feed of the event showed Bush casually wrapping an arm around Nigerian President Umaru Yar'Adua and calling for Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper's attention.

"Yo, Harper. The president of Nigeria."

"Heh heh heh, can ya believe it? Yo, Harper! Check it out. Preznit of Nigeria right here."

But, the most embarrassing moment probably came as he was leaving the conference.
The American leader, who has been condemned throughout his presidency for failing to tackle climate change, ended a private meeting with the words: "Goodbye from the world's biggest polluter."

He then punched the air while grinning widely, as the rest of those present including Gordon Brown and Nicolas Sarkozy looked on in shock.

Oh my. It's like it could only be a parody of something he would do except he actually did it. I mean, I can just picture him "yeah, bra! World's largest polluter!" while punching the air with a big smirk on his face. I'm somewhat shocked he didn't make some sort of emissions control/fart joke just to really leave on a high note. "Heh heh heh...yo, Silvio! Pull my finger. Now I'm the world's biggest polluter. Heh heh heh."

I'm also curious about the punching of the fist in the air. Was this like the end of the Breakfast Club? His big triumphant moment where he gets to walk off into the sunset after finally showing them damn furriners what's what?

I honestly think being around all of these smart, capable leaders intimidates him and he responds by acting like the spoiled jackass he is. It's just so humiliating that this guy is our president and I'm embarrassed that the other leaders have to kiss his ass or even treat him as an equal.

Of course this is the same group who had an 18-course banquet to discuss the world food crisis so maybe they don't notice so much.

So, 193 days of this shit left. I'm convinced that it's only going to get worse. He's only got a few more months of being the most powerful asshole in the world and he's going to take full advantage to stick it in the eye of everyone he possibly can. I can only hope he keeps it to embarrassing exchanges like this and not, say, bombing Iran.

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Why you owe your existance to beer

Hey, George Will wrote a column I agree with!

Basically he examines the theory that we owe the very existence of our civilization to alcohol because it allowed us to take in fluids that weren't crawling with dysentery and cholera and other things that like to live in water and kill city dwellers by the boatload. Pretty interesting read but here's a sample if you're too lazy to read the whole thing. Which you should because who doesn't love to know a little more about why things thousands of years ago cause things today to be the way they are?
Johnson notes that historians interested in genetics believe that the roughly simultaneous emergence of urban living and the manufacturing of alcohol set the stage for a survival-of-the-fittest sorting-out among the people who abandoned the hunter-gatherer lifestyle and, literally and figuratively speaking, went to town.

To avoid dangerous water, people had to drink large quantities of, say, beer. But to digest that beer, individuals needed a genetic advantage that not everyone had – what Johnson describes as the body's ability to respond to the intake of alcohol by increasing the production of particular enzymes called alcohol dehydrogenases. This ability is controlled by certain genes on chromosome 4 in human DNA, genes not evenly distributed to everyone. Those who lacked this trait could not, as the saying is, "hold their liquor." So, many died early and childless, either of alcohol's toxicity or from waterborne diseases.

The gene pools of human settlements became progressively dominated by the survivors – by those genetically disposed to, well, drink beer. "Most of the world's population today," Johnson writes, "is made up of descendants of those early beer drinkers, and we have largely inherited their genetic tolerance for alcohol."

So, I think the lesson is that if you don't like to drink beer get out of our gene pool or something. And always drink the beer and not the water in Mexico.

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Summer Book Review Fail

Last Books Finished: "The Deep Dark" by Gregg Olsen and "Our Man in Havana" by Graham Greene
Last Book Failed: "The Sound and the Fury" by William Faulkner
Pages: 397, 247, and 52
Total Pages: 1616
Time it took me to read: Umm, too lazy to figure it out
Next Book: "The Botany of Desire" by Michael Pollan, a "Kron Klassic"

Well, since I last left you I got some good reading done before grinding to a massive halt over the last few days. We started out with "The Deep Dark" which was a book about a silver mine fire in Idaho that my grandparents gave me. I was a little skeptical at first but it turned out to be really good. It turns out that I'm way to big of a wuss to ever be a silver miner and the author really seemed to enjoy making that point. Anyway, these guys basically destroy their bodies mining this stuff for a decent wage and then die young. Some of them died really young when a massive fire broke out and burned the foam that was supposed to prevent fires. Irony alert!

At the time they didn't know that and most of the guys succumbed to the ridiculous amounts of carbon monoxide in the mine as they waited for help. However, two of the guys managed to survive 4000 feet below ground for several days with only a moldy tuna sandwich and a cupcake to eat. Pretty brutal. As their reward they got to feel guilty for the rest of their lives because the families of everyone that died wondered why they got out and their family member didn't. Hooray.

It was an entertaining read and I learned a lot about mining and it was a good example that ignoring or weakening safety regulations and training actually has consequences in lives. Something Bush's cronies don't give a shit about since they've rolled back many of the regulations put in during the last 20 years.

After that I had a terrible time finding a book I wanted to read that wasn't already checked out. I'm so sick of living in a town where people actually read. Can't you assholes just watch TV or something or maybe the library could buy more books? I don't understand how I can have a list of books or authors and every one of them is checked out every single time. And I'm also really sick of everyone parking in the library's parking lot and walking to the pool. I'm really shaking my fist about that one.

So, I had to go to plan B which was try to remember authors I wanted to read. Unfortunately most of those were checked out too so I ended up with "The Sound and the Fury" because I feel like at some point I need to read Faulkner and grabbed "Our Man in Havana" on the way out just because I enjoyed Greene's "The Quiet American" when I read it a few years back and this one looked entertaining.

It was what you might call a farce about a vacuum cleaner salesman in pre-Castro Cuba who gets sucked into spying for the British government to pay for his daughter's horse. He knows nothing and has no contacts so he makes up people and information that gets everyone worked up. Very funny and like a lot of Greene's work contains some political allegory, in this case regarding governments and their paranoid spying in the run up to the Cold War and who people actually have loyalty to.

So, after that I tried to start "The Sound and Fury." I was pretty sure I had tried to read it before and failed so I thought I'd give it another shot now that I was older. Unfortunately the result was the same and I really feel terrible about it. What's wrong with me that I can't get into this book that's widely viewed as one of the greatest novels of all-time?

The problem is that I start reading but he doesn't tell you anything about who the characters are. It's just a bunch of dialogue and I'm left to pick up pieces about names and context or whatever. Unfortunately it's summer and I don't have the concentration to figure all of it out. So, I'm 50 pages in and nothing has happened that makes any sense and I still don't know who any of the people are or what their relationship is and I just decided to say "screw it" because there are other things that I might enjoy reading more. So, yeah, I'm totally full of shit because I can't read Faulkner. It's straight to the Oprah book club for me. Hell, even that might be too hard for me....does US Weekly count as a book?

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Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Lalalalala, I can't hear you!

If they weren't so damn evil there are times that I would feel embarrassed for the Bush administration. It was revealed that the White House refused to open an email from the Environmental Protection Agency that detailed the effects that greenhouse gases were having on the environment and what could be done to reverse them. The report was ordered by the Supreme Court to determine if the gases represented a risk to health or the environment. Apparently their tactic worked because the EPA will now be coming out with a watered-down version of the report without any of the suggestions to actually, you know, do something about it.
The White House in December refused to accept the Environmental Protection Agency’s conclusion that greenhouse gases are pollutants that must be controlled, telling agency officials that an e-mail message containing the document would not be opened, senior E.P.A. officials said last week.

The document, which ended up in e-mail limbo, without official status, was the E.P.A.’s answer to a 2007 Supreme Court ruling that required it to determine whether greenhouse gases represent a danger to health or the environment, the officials said.

This week, more than six months later, the E.P.A. is set to respond to that order by releasing a watered-down version of the original proposal that offers no conclusion. Instead, the document reviews the legal and economic issues presented by declaring greenhouse gases a pollutant.

Over the past five days, the officials said, the White House successfully put pressure on the E.P.A. to eliminate large sections of the original analysis that supported regulation, including a finding that tough regulation of motor vehicle emissions could produce $500 billion to $2 trillion in economic benefits over the next 32 years. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter.

Hey, if we don't open the email greenhouse gases are still harmless, right? I mean, what's wrong with that plan? I assume they also refuse to go to the doctor because then nothing will ever be wrong with them.

Sigh, only 195 more days...

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Monday, July 07, 2008

McCain's brilliant plan to pay down the deficit

This should work:
“The McCain administration would reserve all savings from victory in the Iraq and Afghanistan operations in the fight against Islamic extremists for reducing the deficit. Since all their costs were financed with deficit spending, all their savings must go to deficit reduction.”

So, we're borrowing money now to pay for the wars but when the wars are over we're going to borrow money that we would have borrowed to pay for the war to use that to pay off the money we borrowed before.

1. Win wars in Iraq and Afghanistan
2. ?????
3. Profit

Things more unerotic than Nazi role-playing

There's been a pretty bizarre story coming out of the UK over the last few months. Max Mosley, essentially the man in charge of the Formula 1 racing league, was secretly taped having a five hour sex session with five prostitues that included Nazi role-playing. Apparently they took turns wearing German military uniforms and abusing each other in some sort of prison camp fetish.

It's especially odd considering that Mosley's dad was the leader of Britain's Fascist party and was a personal friend of Hitler himself. Mosley sued to tabloid and defended himself saying, "All my life, I have had hanging over me my antecedents, my parents, and the last thing I want to do in some sexual context is be reminded of it" and that he could "think of few things more unerotic than Nazi role-play."

Hmm, I'm curious what those few things he considers more unerotic than Nazi role-play might be. I mean, say what you like about the eroticism of National Socialism, Dude, at least it's a fetish.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Fourth of Jugoddamnly

Whoo! Feeling patriotic? I sure am as I love me some 4th of July. Not so much in a throw on my American flag jacket and belt out some Lee Greenwood songs type of way but a hang out with friends and watch shit blow up type of way.

Unfortunately most of my friends around here were in Indiana while I was stuck here but I still managed to make the most of it. The early part of the evening revolved around mooching off other people's ridiculously good barbequed brisket and fireworks out in the hills outside of Lawrence. It was pretty cool because they had a great view of KU and the town on one side plus a view of a lot of the Wakarusa valley below us. We got to see parts of a couple different towns shooting their stuff as well as everyone doing their own thing which is just about as good these days.

After that I headed into town to do a little celebrating with my buddy, Graham. It was getting close to midnight by the time we got into downtown so I wasn't totally on board when Graham suggested we go to the Gaslight which is over the river and at least an extra mile and a half walk from the bar we originally planned to go to, but I agreed anyway and it was the best decision I made all night.

Turns out Graham knew some of the guys in the band that were playing at the Gaslight. If you've never seen this bar it looks like a tiny (really tiny) cottage of some sort. Inside there is basically room for the bar and a row of people to stand around it. Outside is covered with tarps and plastic siding they've cobbled together from various places. They've got a lot of beers I've never even heard of and $2 PBRs so it's a pretty popular place for the hippies and punks and hipsters of the town to hang out.

The door guy (who has dreadlocks down to his ass) took my money for the cover, stared at me for a second, and squinted. After a pause he kind of looked around over his shoulder and said, "there's a cop floating around somewhere so I'll have to check your ID since I don't know you" like he was apologizing to me. "FUCKING SELLOUT NARC!" I yelled and obeyed his request. Will this oppression never end?

So, I head inside and begin to take note of some of the various characters that were in there. The first one that I noticed was a slightly overweight hippie wearing a shirt/halter top thing that was basically more like a hankerchief tied across the front of her. She was standing over an overhead projector like we used to have in grade school playing in a bowl of water covered with a sheet of wax paper and food coloring(?) on top. This was then projected onto the tent roof over our heads and she would play around with it making the colors dance along with the music. I couldn't ever decide whether it was extremely lame or not a bad effect. She stopped after a while and later some guy started doing it better than she did. "Yeah, get that hippie light shit back up there" said one of the band members.

The next guy I noticed was also an overweight hippie who was drunkenly dancing towards the front of the stage. He wasn't wearing a shirt and his shorts were riding low enough that you got a nice view of his asscrack. He also had a 5 or so inch scar running from the top of the crack straight up his spine which was kind of an unusual effect. I later noticed that he only had one leg.

Finally there was a character that has always gotten on my nerves. I'll call this type of person "Hippie Dog Person." They're typically seen lounging on Mass Street getting in my way and asking me for money. In this case the dog was just running around sniffing around everybody and knocking shit over. The Hippie Dog Person is usually either oblivious to this behavior or acts exasperated that their dog is being so uncool but not actually doing anything about it. Yes, bringing your dog everywhere you go so it can annoy people makes you such a free spirit. I don't want to make it sound like it was all hippies because it wasn't but they were definitely well represented.

The band was called Deadman Flats and they basically play a type of hyped up bluegrass. It's like bluegrass trumped up to be played at punk speed. They had the usual mandolin, banjo, upright bass, and guitar setup and basically rocked my face off. They had the perfect blend of good musicianship, great stage presence, and hilarious songs. Most of the songs were of the outlaw variety and had some great lines in them that really made me laugh. It's tough to remember all of them now but the songs were called things like "Whiskey and LSD (Is All I Need)" and "PBR" (you can hear a few of their songs here or at the MySpace page but really it can't come close to the show they put on last night). Plus, it turns out they originally formed like 15 minutes away from where I grew up.

The bass player would randomly yell "Fourth of Ju-goddamn-ly" and they said they were going to do a patriotic song that every good American should know and if you didn't you were a dirty terrorist. I was all warming up for "God Bless America" but turns out it was actually the theme song from "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air." Fortunately, I know that one by heart.

So, it ended up being a pretty good 4th. Got some food, fireworks, drank a few beers, heard a good band. You're alright, America.

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Brilliant plot goes awry

WAUKESHA, Wisconsin (AP) -- A 52-year-old Milwaukee-area man has been accused of faking heart attacks to avoid paying restaurant bills and cab fares.

Police say the Waukesha man took a cab to a mall Monday and pretended to have a heart attack. The cabdriver left unpaid.

Authorities say the man then ran up a $23 bill when he had a steak dinner at Applebee's. He again pretended to have a heart attack.

This time the fire department took him to a hospital. A doctor there recognized the man as having pulled the same stunt in the past few weeks.

He was charged Thursday with defrauding a restaurant as a habitual criminal. He could get up to nine months in prison and a $10,000 fine.

Applebee's? Really? This is another of those moments when you need to seriously evaluate the state of your life. You're faking a heart attack to get out of paying for a meal at Applebee's....and it's not even the first time you've done it!

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Extreme Timewaster, 90's music edition

Nostalgia can be one of those funny things. I can look back at something I enjoyed in my younger days fondly while still realizing that the same thing was completely ridiculous. A great example of that would be the music of the late 90's. I'm going to try to pull two different points into this post and we'll see if it works at all (no).

I got to thinking about this after reading this piece from the Onion AV Club entitled "Where have you gone, Eagle-Eye Cherry?: A tribute to terrible late 90's hits." It's basically what it says. The author comes up with a list of terrible songs he had to listen to while he worked in college. I definitely consider myself a cultural product of the 90's moreso than the 80's so a lot of these reminded me of my high school days. Here is the list he came up with:
Spectator Songs: Your Favorite Terrible Late ’90s Radio Hitz!

Disc One

"Semi-Charmed Life," Third Eye Blind

"Push," Matchbox 20

"Walking on the Sun," Smashmouth

"All For You," Sister Hazel

"Save Tonight," Eagle-Eye Cherry

"Sweat," Inner Circle

"Angel," Sarah McLachlan

"Rhythm is a Dancer," Snap

"Meet Virginia," Train

"Flag Pole Sitta," Harvey Danger*

"Fly," Sugar Ray

"Hook," Blues Traveler

"Dammit," Blink-182

"You Get What You Give," The New Radicals*

"We Like to Party," The Vengaboys

"Ready to Go," Republica*

"Torn," Natalie Imbruglia

Disc Two

“Everybody’s Free (To Wear Sunscreen),” Baz Luhrmann

"Tubthumping," Chumbawumba

"The Freshmen," The Verve Pipe

"Blue," Eiffel 65

"Kiss Me," Sixpence None the Richer

"How Bizarre," OMC

"One Week," Barenaked Ladies

“Sex and Candy," Marcy Playground*

“Standing Outside a Broken Phone Booth With Money in My Hands,” Primitive Radio Gods

"She's So High," Tal Bachman

"Missing," Everything But the Girl

"Take a Picture," Filter*

"I Need to Know," Marc Anthony*

"Livin' La Vida Loca," Ricky Martin

"Steal My Sunshine," Len

"Mambo No. 5," Lou Bega

"Summer Girls," LFO

*Actually not that terrible

Wow. Those really are some terrible songs. But at the time I really didn't realize some of them were because I was young and had so much less exposure to good music than I do now. I lived outside a tiny central Kansas town without cable TV and a dialup modem. That didn't exactly lend itself to music exploration but, I tried. I was pretty much limited to the record reviews in the back of the Rolling Stone magazine that would come every two weeks. If I read a good review of something that sounded interesting I might take a chance and buy it and if I didn't at least I had heard of the band.

One thing I noticed from that list is the presence of Sugar Ray, Smashmouth, and Marcy Playground. The local alternative/rock station had a music festival every year called OzFest (not to be confused with OzzFest). Since I was overprotected by my parents I was (probably rightly) never allowed to go but they started hyping those three bands that were going to play there. Unfortunately no one had ever heard of them so the station just played those songs and they immediately became hits around there. It wasn't until after everyone had already seen the show and gotten sick of those songs that I saw that all of the sudden they were climbing up the national charts so we got another dose of them on all of the other stations. I'm pretty sure that remains the only time in the history of the world that Wichita got into music before the rest of the country did. Something to be proud of, right? Uhh, guess not.

Sometimes I really wonder what the legacy of the music of the 90's will be. It's tough for me to pick a defining sound. You could certainly consider grunge/post-grunge as a big part of it but then there's also a lot of the sort of rock/pop crossover acts like Sugar Ray, New Radicals, Verve Pipe, most of the bands on that list... The author mentions that the decade produced some great music but it really, really brought the corporate Clear Channel homogenization of music to the forefront.

All of that brings me to my next point. Many months ago I stumbled upon the Wikipedia list of Billboard Magazines list of number one hits on the Modern Rock Tracks list. Wikipedia explains all of what that means but basically it's what we called alternative and started in 1988 continuing through today. As I followed it through every year I noticed how it really was the best of what I remembered from those days so we'll take a little tour. And I'm aware that this is one of the most masturbatory posts I've done in a while (and that's saying something) so feel free to mock me if you want. Just know that I know where I'm going with it even if it takes me half a page to get there.
1988-1989-1990
You've got some I've never heard of (Hoodoo Gurus), some fairly obscure alternative acts that I discovered years later (The Jesus and Mary Chain, Love and Rockets), and some huge ones (U2 "Desire", REM "Orange Crush", "Stand").

1991
More of the same but it ends with some bands that would have major impacts on the rest of the decade. Red Hot Chili Peppers "Give it Away", U2 had "The Fly" and "Mysterious Ways", and Nirvana snuck in for one week with "Smells Like Teen Spirit."

Then they disappear from the list (along with pretty much anyone else that wasn't an 80's alternative icon. I'm serious: Depeche Mode, Morrissey, New Order, Peter Gabriel...) until 1993 when the Chili Pepper, Blind Melon, and Nirvana make another impact.

1994 is a good example of what I consider some of the better years for this list (at least from my perspective). If you look at the list there are something like 15 different bands with 17 or 18 different songs and nobody has a longer run than Morrissey at 7 weeks. Nirvana, Green Day, Beck, Pearl Jam, Offspring, REM, Cranberries...some names that I can still enjoy from time to time.

Unfortunately we start to see some problems in 1995. "Lightning Crashes" is on the list for 9 straight weeks only to be replaced by Better Than Ezra (uuuh-uh huh it was goooooooood a-livin with you uh-huhhhhhhh it was go-od...I actually own this CD and listened to it like twice before giving up on it for some reason) and later we get Goo Goo Dolls with "Name." I liked Live a lot but really got tired of that song when it would never go away and any song that has the line "the placenta falls to the floor" just doesn't do it for me anymore. Really liked that BTE song but, meh. HATED that Goo Goo Dolls song and it was everywhere for like 2 years.

1996 just bothers me that Oasis dominated that whole thing while "1979" by the Pumpkins only got 1 week and that was the only song from the album to make the list. Was it classified as something else?

Fortunately that year also had some bands I really like such as the eels and Sublime along with some other memorable songs for me like "Pepper" by the Butthole Surfers. We've still got a pretty good variety but there are some songs that don't stand the test of time like Dishwalla and Primitive Radio Gods and 311. Wow, 311 seemed kinda cool at the time because I was a 15-year old guy but then I realized that even though they combined all these different genres their music still sounded the same.

1997 As you can see we have OzFest that summer, Sugar Ray hits #1 in August, Smashmouth after that, and Marcy Playground owns the first 14(!) weeks of 1998. Seriously, Marcy Playground for a total of 15 weeks at #1?

There are some real turds here. "Freshman" by the Verve Pipe? I don't remember really hating that song at first but hearing it now just makes me wonder how that song could possibly be that popular? Were we just looking for these kinda crappy emotional ballads like that and "One Headlight" What was going on in our lives? Were we just sucking any emotion out of grunge and putting into the rock ballads of the 90's?

We picked it up a little bit in the summer with "Semi-Charmed Life" and the Mighty Mighty Bosstones before somehow allowing Matchbox 20 into the list. It would only get worse in 1998. I mentioned Marcy Playground but then we get Fastball "The Way" (I have mixed feelings on it), "Closing Time" (a song of the times that looks more and more like a novelty song the further away I get), and two fucking Goo Goo Dolls songs. Not to mention Lenny Kravitz and one of Cake's crappier songs (IMO) "Never There."

Oh no, 1999. Senior year of high school, first year at ISU, and the year I began to completely lose touch with this stuff. You all remember Everlast (oh man, he's rapping the truth about how you really don't know what it's like...to have to choose), Lit's "My Own Worst Enemy" and Sugar Ray's brutal "Every Morning." RCHP owned all of summer and before the epic crapstorm that was Bush's "Chemicals Between Us" and Creed's "Higher" duking it out and going back and forth. I'm actually kind of shocked that Creed could only manage three non-consecutive weeks with that song because I feel like the station I grew up on played it every other song for a long, long time. The year ends with two bands, for better or worse, I strongly associate with my early days in college, Limp Bizkit and Blink 182.

2000
Six bands. That's it. Blink 182, RCHP, 3 Doors Down, Papa Roach, Green Day, and Fuel.

If you think that's bad wait until I give you the list for 2001.
Fuel, Lifehouse, Crazy Town, Incubus, Staind, Sum 41, Alien Ant Farm, Nickelback, Linkin Park. Turds. All of them.

2002
Two things you need to know. Puddle of Mudd was #1 for 9 weeks and Nirvana made a comeback!

The next couple of years are more of the same crappy bands dominating the charts with only a few bands I like (White Stripes and...Modest Mouse...and, damn, I thought there were more. The Beastie Boys with their worst song in a long time, Green Day with a decent one and then "Boulevard of Broken Dreams").

Fortunately things do get a little better in 2005 and beyond with Nine Inch Nails, Beck, Gorillaz but overall I barely recognize most of the songs, if at all. To many bands still monopolize 3 months at a time with crappy, formulaic songs. I wonder what this has in common with the interesting, quality music this chart had in its earlier days. Using the latest in graphing technology and statistical analysis I made up a graph to demonstrate the probability of finding a good song on the list. It started out as a sigmoidal curve until I realized that 2001 was so brutal so I had to adjust for that. Notice there's a glimmer of hope at the end though.


Oh, and for good measure here is a picture of me attempting to listen to that crap circa 2001 or so. Notice the icepicks jammed into my eardrums. I appear to have some slight bleeding.


So, in the end, it really bothers me that music has gotten this way. I think the consolidations of radio stations by companies like Clear Channel really did hurt the diversity of music. I don't think it's a coincidence that as people are exposed to music through the internet and their iPods that you see a greater diversity on the list in the last 2-3 years. It's really nice to think that even if these stations don't do a better job that there are so many more ways for someone growing up in my position to find what they really like.

And in case you're wondering it took me about 2 hours to do all of this while I listened to the Royals and my local college radio station.

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PSYCH!

I'm sure you've all carefully been following the leadup and announcement to the winner of the Wales Book of the Year competition but, in case you haven't, here is the video of the presentation.

Here's what happened:
The minister was presenting the award for literature promotion agency Academi at the Hilton Hotel, Cardiff, on Tuesday, when he announced Bullough's name.

The young novelist had almost reached the stage to collect the cheque amid the applause of the audience when it was announced that a mistake had been made, and that the actual winner was the veteran poet.

Hey, you spent years of your life living in poverty and slaving away on this book and it's finally paying off in recognition as your country's best book and £10,000 too! Psych!

Fortunately the author took it in stride calling it "amateur" and "a national embarrassment." Ouch.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

McHulk

"Don't make me angry. You wouldn't like me when I'm angry."

I always love it when a new story about McCain's temper comes out. Whether it's blowing up at his wife's good-natured ribbing about his baldness by saying, "At least I don't plaster on the makeup like a trollop, you cunt" or continually dropping f-bombs on his fellow senators and their staffers he's always good for a blowup.

The latest is a story about McCain showing his diplomatic skills in a meeting in Nicaragua a few decades ago set up by Bob Dole.
"McCain was down at the end of the table and we were talking to the head of the guerilla group here at this end of the table and I don't know what attracted my attention," Cochran said. "But I saw some kind of quick movement at the bottom of the table and I looked down there and John had reached over and grabbed this guy by the shirt collar and had snatched him up like he was throwing him up out of the chair to tell him what he thought about him or whatever. I don't know what he was telling him but I thought, 'Good grief, everybody around here has got guns,' and we were there on a diplomatic mission. I don't know what had happened to provoke John but he obviously got mad at the guy and he just reached over there and snatched him."

Nice, can't wait to see this guy in charge of US diplomacy.

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Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Update on Obama-Clark (Updated again)

Good to see:
The Senator says his comments Monday about his opponent were not a reference to Wesley Clark’s comment about McCain.

“I think in at least one publication it was reported that my comments yesterday about Senator McCain were in a response to General Clark. I think my staff will confirm that was in a draft of that speech that I had written two months ago.”

Also says Clark does not owe McCain an apology.


This is an even better response to this latest "nontroversy":
"I guess my question is why, given all the vast numbers of things that we’ve got to work on, that that would be a top priority of mine?" Obama said, responding to a reporter who asked the candidate why he hadn’t called on Wesley Clark to apologize for his remarks yesterday. "I’m happy to have all sorts of conversations about how we deal with Iraq and what happens with Iran, but the fact that somebody on a cable show or on a news show like Gen. Clark said something that was inartful about Sen. McCain I don’t think is probably the thing that is keeping Ohioans up at night."

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