Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Another Day in the Neighborhood

Yesterday I was out working in the garden and I heard in the distance what sounded like two firecrackers going off, pop-pop, but there was a quality to the sound that made me think, "That sounds like a gunshot."

A while later, I noticed a helicopter flying around and at first I thought nothing of it.  I live near several hospitals, as well as in the airspace of Buckley Air Force Base, so helicopters in the sky are not an uncommon sight.  Usually, though, they're hauling ass to some destination, the tiny red ones toward the hospital, the big bulky green ones toward the base.

This one was black.  It was in no hurry to go anywhere.  Indeed, it flew in a lazy circle for a while, not really hovering but also not sticking to any established flight plan.  Sometime between when I saw it circling and when it took off, I thought, "Huh, the police must be looking for someone."

It didn't occur to me to connect the sounds I heard with the helicopter until I read about this:
Aurora police are looking for two teenage boys in connection to a shooting that wounded one person in Aurora Monday afternoon.

The shooting occurred near East 16th Avenue and Lansing Street.
That's one block down and two blocks over from the, appropriately named, Ghetto Garden.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Sleeping Giant

Since my nephew subjects me to his music, I'm subjecting him to mine.  Mastodon is coming to the Ogden on May 5th and I picked up a couple of tickets.  In preparation, I've gone almost all Mastodon all the time.

This was today's fixation.

The Song of the Summer

Since I made my nephew help me clean out the swamp cooler, he made me watch a couple of rap videos.  This one cracked me up.

It would be absurd if I tried to describe it to you.  "He humps the TV, then he does the worm on the coffee table, and then she cocks her butt like a gun and jumps on him." 

It makes sense, and it's a pretty tight beat.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Books You Can Read With Callouses on Your Hands

I have to say, when I surreptitiously came upon this video of Mike Rowe talking about John D. Macdonald I was quite impressed.
He ticks off the titles with such ease that you can tell he's actually read them.  And in order to read John D. Macdonald, who died in the early 80s, you have to a) be a habitual reader, b) be comfortable cracking an old paperback, c) appreciate good literary writing while also appreciating all the action, bravado, and fantasy in a genre story.

It got me thinking about how the publishing industry is underserving an important demographic:  Men.  Not just the bookish academic sort, obsessing over culture and writing Oprah-approved novels for women.

But the guys with dirt under their fingernails.  The guys who make fart jokes and drink beer and ride motorcycles and gut fish.  These guys don't want to read Jonathan Franzen or David Foster Wallace.  Well, some of them do.

And while literature is full of men writing manly stuff --Jack London, Kipling, Melville-- and some of it is semi-recent --the Chandlers, L'Amours, and Macdonalds-- what we're missing today is new literature for men.

It's just not minted in the way it once was.

Which brings me to Nic Pizzolatto's novel Galveston.   It was an Edgar award finalist, but Pizzolatto is better known as the creator of the show True Detective.  That show got a lot of heat for being, ahem, too male-dominated, but now that I think about it, it has a very Macdonald-esque feel.

I'm only about 50 pages into Galveston, so can't critique much, but this could be a contender.  At times, the writing style seems to be a bit above the first person narrator's educational capabilities, which was also true of Macdonald's Travis McGee, but it has a muscular, propulsive force behind it.

One particularly bloody passage stayed with me long after I read it:

The man beside me slapped the side of my head, the he shoved me forward and I acted like I stumbled, fell to one knee.

When he tugged me to my feet I flicked my wrist and whipped the stiletto into his neck.  Blood geysered hot over my face and mouth.

I left the blade in and fell behind him as the other two raised guns.  One shot at me and smacked plaster off a wall as the other fired at Angelo and the top of his pompadour flew off and he fell to his knees.  They both fired at me.  The shots went thwap like pneumatic bolts and all struck the third man.  He spasmed at the bullets, the blade still in his neck.

My gun was right in front of me, stuck in the man's waistband.  I pulled it out and raised it and fired through the blood fountain at the closest one.

I didn't have time to actually aim, and I was half-blind with arterial spray, but I hit him in the throat and he twitched and fired and dropped backward.
It's like Hemingway and Cormac McCarthy had a baby and the kid didn't have any of their annoying ticks.  "Blood geysered."  I don't know, man.  Maybe you have to be a writer to appreciate how perfect that is.

Two words!  Only two words used to create that image.

Friday, March 28, 2014

All This and That Too

I've made known my distaste for feminist critics with their clipboards and checkboxes, performing a census on every film, book, or TV show, rejecting anything with too many men while giving extra credit to anything female-oriented, even if it's not very good.

They even have tests, and it's a pass or fail.

In the latest installment, we have a woman wondering how feminists can gain leverage over Hollywood studios if women are buying half of all movie tickets.  She complains:
They keep buying movie tickets despite the fact that they are less likely to direct, write, edit, or executive produce these films than they were in 1998. They buy tickets even though female characters are less likely to talk and more likely to get naked than male ones are. In the 500 top-grossing films released from 2007 to 2012, male actors outnumbered actresses 2.25 to 1, and yet women keep watching. And we're not just showing up to heralded female-driven stories like The Hunger Games and Frozen: According to PostTrack data, women recently outnumbered men in the audience for the new Liam Neeson thriller, Non-Stop.
If you can listen closely, you'll hear a little voice crying, "How can this be?"

The confusion is not unwarranted.  When the prow of your ideology crashes against the shoals of reality, one should be confused.  The mind should reach out for orientation, ready to throw overboard the dead weight or even abandon ship altogether.

This lady thinks there is an audience out there for "female-driven" stories that is not being satisfied because of a male-dominated patriarchy.  That is clearly not true.

There may be a male-dominated patriarchy --not really going to deny that-- but the audience for "female-driven" stories is being fed, and what's more, they also have an appetite for other things.

They can, despite the feminist patronizing, hold in their minds a desire to see both The Hunger Games and Non-Stop.  It's not that they want to let their sisters down.

It's just that they have more open minds.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

GWAR is No More

If there's a hell, Dave Brockie is surely sitting on one of its beaches, giving himself a fire and brimstone tan and drinking cocktails with Jeffrey Dahmer and Saddam Hussein.

The GWAR frontman, better known as Oderus Urungus, was found dead in his home at age 50.  The cause of death has not been released, but it's suspected that he died of syphilis caught from the retarded midget he kept in basement as a sex slave.

He was a rock god and a homicidal genius, so when you hit your crack pipe today, give a puff for Dave Brockie.

R.I.P. Oderus

Two favorites:

This isn't a music video.  It's just Oderus walking around at SXSW.  And it's hilarious.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Another False Start

Since it's becoming a kind of blog feature, I'm going to try and post some more of my false starts as they come up. These are things that could be stories, if I had a mind to finish them.  Sometimes I want to go in another direction and sometimes I'm just playing around.

Looking through my files, I found this one.  I can't remember where I was going with it, but reading it again several months after writing it, I was semi-impressed.  I was clearly going for a Elmore Leonard/Michael Connelly thing here, and that's probably why I left it.

But, you know, it's worth a read.  Mingle, who's a royal bastard, and Boone, who's a stand-up guy, will be back, I'm sure.  Check it out after the jump and let me know what you think in the comments.


I hate to admit that most of the new music I've heard in the last year or so has come from movies, TV shows, or commercials.  In my old age, I'm just not that concerned about hearing the hot new jams.  I don't care if it's new or popular;  I just care that it's good.

But I heard a song in a commercial last night and it became an earworm today.  I had heard it before, but couldn't have told you what it was called or who did it.

Thinking it might be both popular and new, I checked out the Billboard Top 100.  Surely it had to be on there, and through a process of elimination, I could probably find it.

Bam, it's the number one song in the country.

I wonder why...

(Shoulda known it was Pharrell...  Many a time over the years, he's reached through my metal-soaked resistance to pop music and grabbed me by the ears.  Here's to you, buddy.)

Thursday, March 13, 2014

True Detective

Now that True Detective is over, can the haters please stop griping about it? Watch some other show for Christ's sake. This lady encapsulates all that I can't stand about True Detective griping:
I’m not saying that women can’t or don’t like True Detective. Obviously, I like True Detective. But I think whatever else it is, True Detective is an unfettered celebration of two men, men whose flaws and doubts and mistakes only make them more heroic, and this has been integral to the show becoming a phenomenon. The series has a lady problem, yes, but it is also a bro bonanza. It looks and feels like an all-time great drama, not just because of its production values, performances, and themes. It also looks like an all-time great drama because it’s mostly men on the screen.
I have seen so much commentary in this vein about the show that I can only laugh at it now.  It's as if these women are so used to be catered to on other shows that they cannot accept that there exists a show about men.

And seriously....get over yourselves, ladies.

Take a page out of the Dude Book.   Faced with an overly girly show that has no natural appeal to us, we don't say, "This show would be better if it had more dudes."  No, we shrug our shoulders and say, "Well, I guess I'm not watching that shit."  And we watch something else.

We don't wonder about what we're missing on Grey's Anatomy.  We just don't care.  Try it sometime.
It goes without saying that I'm a huge fan of True Detective.  Mileage obviously varies, but the show was firing on all cylinders with me.  It was strange listening to some of my own thoughts come out of Rust's mouth, and Marty was the kind of complicated, contradictory character that I'm most interested in.  I didn't mind that the "mystery" didn't have some profound explanation, or that loose threads were left to dangle.  The "mystery" is, or should be, the least interesting thing of any mystery story.

I can't wait to buy it on blu ray and watch it again.

Saturday, March 08, 2014

Nirvana Sucks

This made me laugh:
I was listening to some music with the kids the other day and Ollie saw the cover for Nevermind in my iTunes and asked, "hey Daddy, what's that one with the floating baby?" So we played some songs and tried to explain what that album had meant to so many people, but I didn't do it justice. How do you explain culture shifts to kindergarten-age children? "Everything was the same as it was before, except that everything was different. Does that make sense?" In the end, I pulled a power-dad move and said, "I guess you just had to be there."
 Just the other day I was listening to some old Soundgarden tunes, wondering who still listens to Nirvana.  Nirvana always seemed like the most over-rated of the Seattle bands, as much a product of MTV as all the hair metal bands that Nirvana came to slay.  They had one fairly solid album, and a couple more that were comprised mostly of filler.  They changed the scene, no doubt, but not for the better. 

Indeed, if I were to thank someone for five years of crappy indie rock on the radio, for Metallica's "Load" period, for the dearth of screaming girls at rock shows, I'd thank Nirvana. 

Me, being facetious:  Thanks, Nirvana, for taking all the joy out of rock music.

Wednesday, March 05, 2014


This weekend I procured two new chairs from random people on Craigslist.  Plagued with muscle spasms in my back, I was looking for some damn relief.

Bam, I find a leather massage chair for $135.  This thing is like a medical device, weighs a half ton, rumbles quite loudly when it's all going, but it looks good, sits comfortably, and it works great.  The big downside is the recline function only works electronically, and it's comically slow. 

It's a great addition to my living room, but I needed something for the man cave.

Bam, I find a chair they're giving away for free.  All leather, they say it works great.  In the pictures, it's big and overstuffed.  Compared to the massage chair, it's light as a feather.  This one doesn't rub your back, but the recline function is on a lever. 

And it was free.

Two new chairs, $135 and some gas money.

Best part about it, yesterday was the first day in a long time that didn't end with a knot of throbbing pain in my back.

Why Men Should Want "True Detective" to Stay Awesome

I only clicked on her post so I can talk shit about it in an informed way.  The headline reads:  "Why Men Should Want 'True Detective' to Have Great, Nuanced Female Characters."  The implication being that the female characters of True Detective aren't great or nuanced.

I've been watching that show quite faithfully since it began, drinking it up and enjoying it royally, and truth be told, there is only one thing I --as a man-- want from True Detective and that's more episodes.

I have no problem with the show's female characters.  Reading Alyssa's complaint, I don't think she does either.  She does, however, have problems with the male characters.  And hey, no biggie.

It's just that if you're not fully on board with Rust and Cohle, and you're trying to see if the show nails your favored portrayal of feminist womanhood, maybe you shouldn't watch True Detective.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Rage At the Dying of the Light

Now bear with me, gentle reader, as I have some bad news to share.  My Grandpa Espinoza, the last remaining grandparent I had, has died.

I found out about it on Wednesday.  He died on the 12th.

In this age of instantaneous world-wide connections, how I ask can news travel so slowly?  The answer is simple:  It was spite.  Pure, black-hearted spite. 

It was also --and I choose my words carefully-- a conspiracy.  My Aunt Terri conspired with all the other Texas people to keep this information from us, knowing exactly how fucked up that is, and doing it anyway.

There are so many unanswered questions about Grandpa's death, and no one can be trusted to be straight with us.  It's a damn shame.

You can read an obituary here.  Somehow my comment made it, though my Mom's hasn't.  Hmmm...

If a commenter so chooses, the website allows people to send you messages.  I sent this to my Aunt Terri:
I didn't think it is possible but you have reached a new low.  Seeing this obituary made me want to puke.  You write gushingly about the passing of this great man, but couldn't resist being disrespectful to his memory.  He was loved not just by you and Bill, by Sam and Liz, by Emily, but BY US ALL.  He has grandkids and great-grandkids who loved him and will mourn his passing.

Do not expect the same when you're gone.  You will have no kids.  No grandkids.  No great-grandkids.  Your vision of this family will die with you.

And the family will live on without you. 

You can't hurt us anymore.  There are no more graves you can defile, no more legacies you can disrespect.  This is the last gasp of a sad old woman who has already been disowned.  I hope you enjoy it.

Road Rage

The people who designed the T-Rex I-25 expansion were much smarter than the people who drive on them.  The designers generously gave everyone a half-mile to merge on and off the highways...and yet, almost no one takes advantage.

Most people try to merge the second their tires hit the interstate, plugging up two lanes of traffic, creating a gauntlet of brake lights around every overpass.

It's as if they think if they don't merge at the first, inconvenient opportunity they will never merge at all, which is ridiculous.  They literally have a half-mile to stop two lanes of traffic if they want.  No need to do as soon as they get on the highway.

Rock Chalk Jayhawk

On Monday, the Kansas University Jayhawks, one of the most storied teams in basketball history, clinched it's 10th Big 12 title in a row.

I was there.  It was awesome.