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Friday, July 21, 2006

Guitar World's Top 100 Greatest Guitar Album

Got the new Guitar World today. The Greatest 100 Guitar Albums of All Time!

I agree with the top ten, but I'd change the order around a little.

1. Led Zeppelin IV
2. Apettite for Destruction - Guns N Roses
3. Are You Experienced? - Hendrix, of course.
4. Master of Puppets - Metallica
5. Dark Side of the Moon - Pink Floyd
6. Paranoid - Black Sabbath
7. Van Halen - Van Halen
8. Nirvana - Nevermind
9. Physical Graffiti - Led Zeppelin
10. Revolver - The Beatles

I might even take Revolver down a notch and install number 11 (Pantera's Cowboys From Hell) in the top 10. The Beatles are good and great, but I like Pantera better.

Lady in the Water

The reviews are in. The critics hate Lady in the Water. Poor Night.

M. Night, that is. Not really sure how to pronounce his last name. Shamalayan.

I'll agree that his movies have been getting progressively worse. The Village was about as bad as can be. It really jumped the shark when M. Night showed up on screen, with his "Yeah, I heard that guy paid to have all the flights diverted from my lame-ass trick ending."

So what does he do?

He gives himself a starring role. I guess he's got a new book out too.

And another thing, can Bryce Dallas Howard get any roles besides those that M. Night Shamalayan gives her? If she shows up in one of her dad's movies, you know something's really wrong.

On the Jews

With all this "Crisis in the Middle East" crap, (10 DAYS OF WAR, the CNN crawl anounced) I've been thinking about something Dan Simmons, a fellow Coloradan, wrote in one of the monthly "messages" on his website. The one I'm talking about is here, and fair warning, it's long.

If you can't get through it, don't fret. Simmons never makes things easy for you.

One of the ideas he discusses, and expands on in his novella The Ninth of Av from the collection Worlds Enough and Time is the endurance of a particularly nasty trend throughout human history: anti-semitism.

Simmons figured that a thousand years from now little about the future would be recognizable to someone living today, but there would still be one thing familiar to us all: Kill the Jews!

I have no doubt the Jews will survive another thousand years. Genetics alone will ensure that. As a culture they have proven themselves to be quite hardy, facing extermination in one form or another for thousands of years already. What's another thousand, right?

But this idea, this anti-semitic kill-the-Jews idea has got to be destroyed now. That's something that has no right to exist a thousand years from now.

But you know, I don't think this war is going to help them out in that regard.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

CNN Sucks The Big One

Fucking CNN.  I tell you, it’s crap.  I’m sitting at work today, trying to learn all this new stuff, and I look over at the CNN screen and see a bad cell phone camera picture of a dude in Lebanon.  My first thought was, man, that’s worse than internet video.  Why would they broadcast that?  

Sometime during the day, they did a self-congratulating segment about war reporting.  They showed Morley Safer hunkering down in some Vietnamese jungle.  Then some guy reporting via satellite phone with a little headshot from Baghdad.  Then I see fucking camera phone pictures from people in Lebanon, recording the damage in real time.

Then later, I look over and see Anderson Cooper in a little box next to Wolf Blitzer.  Next to that is a bigger box with Anderson Cooper flying into Lebanon or Syria or wherever the fuck he is now.  He’s on the military plane, with his helmet on, strapped in, talking to the camera, brave Anderson Cooper going to war.  It’s then that I realize, since the sound is turned down, that it’s Wolf Blitzer talking to about Anderson Cooper’s harrowing descent into the war zone.  A reporter reporting on the reporter.

Another story that came up was a CNN reporter’s family being stuck in Lebanon.  I didn’t hear any details, just saw the crawl, but I wondered why the hell this was a story.  I’m sure there are a lot of people’s families stuck in Lebanon.  But this is an inside look into what it’s like.  The reporter, reporting on her own family tragedy.

It’s fucking ridiculous.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Adventures in Googleland

I've been trying to figure out if sunflower seed husks are a good addition to a compost pile. Being a flaky organic material that's been partially digested by the time they're used, I'm assuming so, but then the high salt content gives me pause. I don't want to "salt the earth."


So in my Googling, I found this funny post. The choice nugget:
And if you think squirrels are tough to baffle, just try to keep those hippies off your feeder.

Cheap Trick, but not a Cheap Guitar

Funny how posts float around sometimes before you post them, then something sparks your lazy ass into action and you put it up. In my Guitar World for August, they had an article about Cheap Trick and a picture of their guitarist, Rick Neilson, with his five-neck Hamer guitar. I thought, hmm, I'll have to scan this picture in and write a post about it. Of course, I never did.

Until now. See Gizmorox mentioned Cheap Trick, and let's just say that got the wheels turning. I scanned the pic and here's the post.

I love guitars, and this one looks like a beast to play, but also kind of fun.
At the top, there's the 12 string for Stairway To Heaven like effects. Below that you have your regular six string guitar. Below that there's a six string with a whammy bar. Then there's the six string with the funky humbucker set-up; it's quite possible this one is tuned down a notch. Then finally, at the bottom is what looks like a baritone guitar. (It has really thick strings, but no frets and six strings, so probably not a bass.)

Playing that thing is a performance in more ways than one.

Stem Cellpalooza

I saw on the CNN crawl at work today that President Bush vetoed (the first veto he’s ever used) the stem cell bill pushed forth by Colorado’s own Diana Degette. The funny thing isn’t that this bill was vetoed--that had been all but promised--the funny thing is that this is Bush’s first veto ever. Over stem cells.

Stem cells!

Now, I’m aware that stem cells are a big cause celebre for some folks. They think it has the potential to be a huge boon for medical science, providing cures for diseases we know little about. That’s all good and great, but let’s be honest here: stem cells is not something universal to the American experience. There are those who have staked out a position on either side of the aisle, either for (because you’re Michael J Fox and have an incurable disease) or against (because you’re a mindless holy roller who believes pastor when he says an embryo is a “life”), but I would say that most Americans worry a lot more about gas prices, crime, and terrorism than stem cells.

Me, I say give the scientists more money. Yeah, it may be wasted if nothing comes out of the research, but that could be said of any research project. It doesn’t necessarily have to be federal money though, and that’s what this is about. It could come from somewhere else, I suppose, but I don’t trust private interests to spring up miraculously. I mean, if we left getting to the moon to private money, it would have been dismissed as too expensive and too risky. But government money? Man, that stuff is infinite!

And it’s not like Bush has a reputation for being a spendthrift. The guy spends like a rich man (perhaps because he is in real life), and it’s our money that he’s spending. Keep in mind this is Bush’s first veto ever. All those big spending bills, the Bridge to Nowhere and what not, they’ve got his signature on them.

Bush vetoed the bill because he thinks stem-cell research is morally wrong. It’s an extreme position predicated on certain fantastical beliefs, but religion is only part of it. It may dress itself up in crosses and WWJD bracelets, but its concerns are things never discussed by Jesus himself.

Stem cells? If Jesus knew about those two thousand years ago, he never told anybody about it. Homosexuality? A close reading of Jesus’s words will give you his true feelings about that. Abortion? Um, don’t think Jesus talked about that one either. Creationism? Psah. A lot of dumb Christians don’t know that the New Testament provides a new and improved creation story that supplants the old Hebrew idea of the seven days thing.

Yeah, it’s true. I know it’s hard to believe, but John 1:1 says “In the beginning there was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning.”

No creating the heavens and the earth. No seven days and seven nights. Evolution need not be dismissed for biblical reasons. Nope, in the beginning was the Word, which is really just a bad translation of the Greek word Logos. It’s not a word at all. Doesn’t even refer to a word. It refers, to be quite simple about it, to the strange entity that defines all being, the one who sets the rules. You could call it the Force, or the Tao, or Mother Nature, or you could just call it God. It doesn’t matter really. That is just a word. The word the Greeks used was Logos.

Fucking idiots is the word I use for right-to-lifers who think the bumper sticker on their car that says “In case of rapture, this car will be driverless” is an accurate prediction of their future.

Okay, that’s two words, but it still holds true. They're fucking idiots.

Here’s my advice for George W. Bush and likeminded “believers:” Skip church, just like Jesus said, read a book. And no, not one of those inspirational crap ones. A real book, a scholarly book, a book about the history of the religion and the region it came from. Read about other ideas that seem just as valid if taken on faith, and then see how well faith guides you without reason to back it up.

Basically what I’m saying is exercise your atrophied brain. Think for yourself. Stop letting some crackpot ideas from weird people control your life. It doesn’t make you moral. It doesn’t make you righteous.

It makes you stupid.

(Funny how I broached the subject only to link to this great article from Newsweek, and yet I went off on a tangent and didn’t even mention the article. Uncle Jim, you need to read this one.)

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Notes on the Job

First day of the new job.  I didn’t really do much, just watched the other guys work, tried to pick up on the lingo.  It’s a given that any technical job (perhaps any job, really) has a love for acronyms.  In my previous incarnation as a telecom guy, I was more worried about VPNs and DIA circuits, and before that it was all about ANIs and LATAs.  (Back in my Qwest days, the old joke was “It’s an IYS alarm on the DAU,” which in English means, “It’s an It’s Your Shit alarm on the Dumb Ass User.”

But this job is a whole new language.  And it’s a whole new world.  It’s not just about the various network elements, you know, stuff I’m familiar with like patch panels and switches.  This shit interacts with movie projectors and satellite receivers, stuff I have no experience on.  

Today I was quiet, asking questions but not too many, and just kind of absorbed all I could with this wild eyed stare.  Tomorrow we’re going to a movie theater so I can see up close and personal the set-up they use, and then once I get a computer I’ll be able to get my hands dirty by messing around in the system.  (Those guys fly right through that stuff, which I suppose is what I did a few months back at the old job.)  I’m a little worried about getting up to speed, but I’m a smart guy and I could figure it out.  

Plus, the guys seem to be pretty ready to help, and from what I’ve seen they have a good team.  It’s not like my old team, which was half crap and half bad attitude (the attitude being provided by me, no doubt inspired by the proximity of the crap) and might even be a cool place for me.  It’s a boys club, half ex-military, so there’s definitely a frat house feel.  Today I heard enough F-bombs and references to several porn stars, so I doubt I’ll have to worry about “office politics” as its known.  

Another cool thing (and I mean that sincerely) is that my office, if you could call it that, is really in a control room, ala Nasa’s Houston control center.  We’ve got the big panel screens with maps of the network, the Weather Channel and CNN, the different tiers.  (Looks like I’ll have to watch cable news now, which of course was all about Lebanon today.)  It’s also serves as the “equipment” room, where we have all our stuff.  The bad part about that is that it all needs to be extremely climate controlled and so it was downright frigid in there.  I guess I’ll have to wear layers, because I froze my ass off.

See, if it’s not one thing, it’s another.  Too hot this weekend, too cold at work.  So hard to please.

Another funny thing is that I saw some notification e-mails from Qwest today in a co-workers inbox, the same e-mails I used to send out, from people I know and love.  (Hey, Mikey and Brando!  Think of me when you do a Regal ticket.  Apparently I’ll be on the receiving end of whatever you send out.)

More Avenged Sevenfold

Three posts in a row featuring the goth-emo-metal band Avenged Sevenfold. What am I thinking? I'm thinking they're an awesome band.

Today's episode features songs from their 2003 release, Waking the Fallen, which makes me wonder where the hell I've been the last three years. I got into inaccessible extreme bands like Shadowsfall, Killswitch Engage, and Lamb of God during that time frame, so how come Avenged Sevenfold didn't even register? Perhaps my open mind wasn't as open as I thought it was.

First up, the first full number from Waking the Fallen, Unholy Confessions. Amidst all the thrash metal riffage, this song boasts a catchy Weezer-like chorus. Listen to this track five times and you'll hear it in your head for hours afterwards. Guar-on-teed.

But don't let the Weezer comparison scare you off. (Unless, that is, you're a Weezer fan.) They also don't shy away from straight ahead eye-gouging teeth-gnashing thrash, like a track called Eternal Rest, which calls to mind the lyrical abstractions of Pantera. (Also notice how the drummer keeps the beat even when he's pounding on both bass drums during the "Woah" vocal part. I love that shit.)

I can think of a few words to describe a song like Radiant Eclipse, but words like epic, theatrical, transcendant come to mind. If it sounds classic, that's because it is.

They also have a bit of a symphony on their hands with the I Won't See You Tonight suite, which employs symphonic string arrangements and a dramatic flair rarely seen in rock music. Part One has a melancholy operatic quality to it that really comes out with the strings, while Part Two is more of a straight forward metal track. The drama is still there, but so is the angry groove you expect from a band who dresses in black.

Take a listen, and if you don't like, well, that's alright. I do and that's good enough for me.

And now I must go to work.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Last Day of Vacation

It’s with the utmost sadness that I proclaim that today is the last day of my “summer vacation.”  I’m starting the job tomorrow and presumably after that, I’ll have to, you know, actually work at least five days a week.  I’ve been trying to assuage my grief by being as busy as possible, but yesterday, yesterday just came down on me like a ton of bricks.

See, Saturday morning I helped my friend Bridget move.  She just bought a place down by C-470 and needed to vacate her Capitol Hill digs.  I, of course, wondered why anyone would want to move out of Capitol Hill, but then again, I have fond memories of the place.  Her new place was nice, and thankfully her possessions only took one trip to move, but immediately after that I went to an extreme sports extravaganza at the Pepsi Center with my friend Genisi, her Dad, and her son.

I’m not really an extreme sports enthusiast, but it sounded fun.  And it should have been.

But it was a living hell.  Little did I know it was outside, on the hottest day of the year, and I wore long pants and a black polyester shirt.  (Also known as a mini-solar generator;  you could power a small water heater with one of those things, I swear.)  

I saw some killer motorcross moves, a few pretty girls, and then that was pretty much it after the sweat got into my eyes.  

After that, I went to my friend Ian’s 35th birthday dinner at an Italian place called Carmine’s.  It was one of those fancy places that thinks too much of itself, but it was good.  I made a modern art masterpiece on the paper spread on the table, a poor substitute for fondling a cigarette, but easier than leaving the party and slipping outside for a puff.  That’s what these places need to do to accommodate smokers.  

Give us crayons, or sunflower seeds, a deck of cards, something.  Sheesh.

I’m still rocking out to Avenged Sevenfold.  I saw a kid wearing an AS t-shirt at the event the other day and resisted my urge to go slap him on the back in musical brotherhood.  I tell you this:  Avenged Sevenfold rock true.  

And finally, a humorous pet story.

The other day as I was bringing stuff in from my car, my dog Jack, a corgi-terrier mix, wandered out the front door and started wandering down the street.  He made it two houses down and was sniffing at some bushes when the kids across the street spotted him.  

“Look!  A pig!”
“Where?”
“Across the street!”

It must have been the curly tail.