Thursday, June 25, 2009

This blog has moved

I've moved this blog over to please visit there..... c'mon, you've always wanted to go to clown school!

Monday, May 4, 2009

Wow, Has It Been That Long?

My little unplanned break from active blogging has suddenly turned into close to two months of no posts at all. I'd apologize, but I doubt anyone's really checking this site daily or weekly looking for stuff to read.

And really, if I don't have much worthwhile to write about or share with you (assuming "you" even exist), then why fill the space with posts regurgitating the news of the day followed by my snarky comments and criticisms?

So I just wanted to drop a quick note as a place holder to show I'm still here and the blog is still going. Not sure where or when.... but it's going.

With that, I'll leave you with a Top Ten list of stuff I've really enjoyed listening to recently:

1. John Wesley Harding - Who Was Changed and Who Was Dead
2. Prince - Lotusflow3r and MPLSound
3. Silversun Pickups - Swoon
4. Conor Oberst and the Mystic Valley Band - Outer South
5. Bob Dylan - Together Through Life
6. Otis Taylor - Recapturing the Banjo
7. Allen Toussaint - The Bright Mississippi
8. Jerry Garcia Band - Kean College 1980
9. Tom Petty - Highway Companion
10. My 17-month-old son talking more and more every day

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Incredible Photo Art That Makes You Think

I highly recommend checking out Running The Numbers: An American Self-Portrait by Chris Jordan.

His statement about it:
Running the Numbers looks at contemporary American culture through the austere lens of statistics. Each image portrays a specific quantity of something: fifteen million sheets of office paper (five minutes of paper use); 106,000 aluminum cans (thirty seconds of can consumption) and so on. My hope is that images representing these quantities might have a different effect than the raw numbers alone, such as we find daily in articles and books. Statistics can feel abstract and anesthetizing, making it difficult to connect with and make meaning of 3.6 million SUV sales in one year, for example, or 2.3 million Americans in prison, or 32,000 breast augmentation surgeries in the U.S. every month.

This project visually examines these vast and bizarre measures of our society, in large intricately detailed prints assembled from thousands of smaller photographs. Employing themes such as the near versus the far, and the one versus the many, I hope to raise some questions about the roles and responsibilities we each play as individuals in a society that is increasingly enormous, incomprehensible, and overwhelming.

~chris jordan, Seattle, 2008

Among his fine work you'll see:
  • 410,000 paper cups, equal to the number of disposable hot-beverage paper cups used in the US every fifteen minutes.
  • 28,000 42-gallon barrels, the amount of of oil consumed in the United States every two minutes (equal to the flow of a medium-sized river).
  • 106,000 aluminum cans, the number used in the US every thirty seconds.
  • 125,000 one-hundred dollar bills ($12.5 million), the amount our government spends every hour on the war in Iraq.
  • One hundred million toothpicks, equal to the number of trees cut in the U.S. yearly to make the paper for junk mail.
One of his incredible pieces shows 200,000 cigarette packs to symbolize the number of Americans who die from smoking every six months. So 400,000 Americans DIE every year from cigarette smoking. In the name of national security and keeping us safe..... why are cigarettes still legal? I mean, approximately 3,000 were killed on that Tuesday morning in September and we waged war on terror. Where's the war on tobacco?

Another piece depicts 65,000 cigarettes, equal to the number of American teenagers under age eighteen who become addicted to cigarettes every month.

Man, we are really not keeping Americans safe!!

Anyway, be sure to also poke around the rest of his website to check out his portraits from the wake of Katrina, a global version of Running The Numbers, and other fine stuff.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Slow Blogging

Wow, it's been almost a month between posts. Sorry folks... I'll come back. I promise.

Until then, enjoy this link about Slow Blogging

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Radio Killed Led Zeppelin: The Top 10 Songs That Remain the Same

Today we mourn the death of a great band, Led Zeppelin, at the hands of big bad Classic Rock Radio. Sure, you could look at a couple tracks on the following list like “eh, that's not overplayed; I wish my station would play that one.” And that illustrates the point. The fact that we can all think of more than 10 Led Zeppelin songs that are so overplayed says something about classic rock radio.

  1. Stairway To Heaven
  2. Black Dog
  3. Communication Breakdown
  4. Whole Lotta Love
  5. Immigrant Song
  6. Rock'n'Roll
  7. Fool in the Rain
  8. D'yer Mak'er
  9. All My Love
  10. Dancing Days and Heartbreaker (tie)

  11. Kashmir*

I remember when my brother got In Through The Outdoor on vinyl as a Bar Mitzvah gift. I spent a lot time obsessing on how the front and back covers were related.

I also remember hearing "Kashmir" on classic rock radio a lot when I was little. My dad and brother were musicians (I was just a drummer) and we used to listen and count and try to figure out the deal.... we thought the song was in 7/8 timing, but there was always something weird about it that messed with us. Turns out the guitars were essentially playing a riff in 3/4 while the drums were still in 4/4. Or not. Who knows....

Led Zeppelin had it all. The mystique... the albums named simply with numbers. Till the 4th one, which was so legendary and bad ass that it didn't have a title. Or it was self-titled. It had nicknames. Like Led Zeppelin IV and Zoso. And of course the song “Stairway to Heaven” was on that album. It was never actually officially released as a single and it is among the most played songs in radio history.

Then they started naming their albums and the titles were as killer as the tunes. Houses of the Holy. Physical Graffiti (which contained the song “Houses of the Holy”). Presence, which by the way is a great and vastly underrated album.

Now, thanks to Classic Rock Radio, they've been reduced to a cliché of riffs. How embarrassingly sad it is to see a grown man at a bar turn to his drinking buddy and scream out “Hey hey mamma say the way you move” and “been along time since-a rock'nROLL!” Radio made Led Zeppelin annoying by ramming it down our throats in succession with Boston, Elton John, The Eagles, Billy Joel, Heart, Bob Seger, Steve Miller, and Phil Collins everyday until we took Led Zeppelin’s awesomeness for granted.

So now we don’t think much about Led Zeppelin. We casually toss them aside because we’re “bored” with them. Or because we can only take Robert Plant’s voice in small doses. Or we just dismiss them as blues-ripoff artists… Thanks a lot, Classic Rock Radio. You ruined one of the best fucking bands in the world and you continue to stab its corpse everyday, once an hour, and every night when you “Get the Led Out.”

*Ah... but what about “Kashmir”?? The legendary “KASHMIR,” it should be in caps... with it's promise of “all will be revealed.” Its otherworldly sound. We do owe radio one small thanks: they actually played “Kashmir” for us. It's the kind of long weird cool song that they usually would fail to play. Sure they overplayed it, but we didn't mind. It's the one song on the list that is resistant to being played to death. Of course, some people think “Kashmir” is overrated. Maybe it is. Technically, The Beatles are “overrated” but that doesn’t mean they aren’t any good. But “Kashmir” reminds us that the Mighty Mysterious Led Zeppelin is still great, mighty, and mysterious. “Kashmir” lets us know that there’s more out there beyond “Black Dog” and “Stairway.”

The songs don’t have to remain the same.

With that in mind…. Here’s a bonus:

Top 10 Awesome Zeppelin Things That Cant Be Killed

1. The BBC Sesssions (2-disc live set)
2. How the West Was Won (3-disc live set)
3. 1973 5-18 Dallas, Texas (soundboard recording)
4. 1975 2-12 Madison Square Garden, NY (matrix of soundboard and audience recording)
5. 1977 4-27 Cleveland, OH (soundboard recording)
6. 1977-6-19 San Diego, CA (soundboard recording)
7. JOHN BONHAM (as should be apparent by all the live recordings listed above, the true awesome power of Led Zeppelin is best felt/heard on the live shows, not single songs on the radio. And the genius and raw talent of John Bonham is big reason why. Y'know, we learned that he drank himself to death so you expect him to be sloppy or something but he is an amazing monster and I mean that in the best possible way. So, no, John Bonham can't be killed.)
8. Physical Graffiti
9. Presence
10. The Possibility of a Led Zeppelin reunion tour with Jason Bonham on drums

Friday, January 30, 2009

They Should Make the Monday After the Super Bowl "Presidents Day"

It's so obvious, I'm glad I thought of it. I need to figure out a way to make money off this idea, but I'd settle for just getting the day off.

Here's the deal: they have Washington's Birthday or I guess now they sorta combined him with Lincoln or something and made it "Presidents Day." Third Monday in February I think it is. And the Super Bowl that used to be played in late January, now increasingly falls out on the first few days of February. Not a huge deal, but that puts a bit further from Martin Luther King Day, and it has become a "February" event in our minds. "January football" now means Playoffs and "if you wanna be playing in February" is now a direct reference to making it to the Super Bowl.

So, you see where I'm going with this right? Presidents Day is kinda pointless anyway, right? It's just some random Monday off. It's not like we plan family visits or anything. And it usually isn't really on Washington's actual birthday, so why not move it back couple weeks and make it the first Monday in February? Like it matters. Jesus wasn't born on December 25.

But wait.... that's not all. I'm not proposing the day after Super Bowl be Presidents Day just for the partying factor and being able to stay up late for the game (hey, a new generation of kids/fans/consumers need to be raised, how can they watch the big game if they got school in the morning?). And it's not to avoid calling in sick, AKA hungover.

This is actually an economic stimulus package that I implore President Obama, enthusiastic sports fan that he is, to embrace and pursue. Presidents Day is usually filled with ridiculous sales on cars and mattresses (two items that are ALWAYS on sale). They drum up these silly commercials with cartoons of Lincoln and Washington to tell us to shop for stuff. Why? Most of us just do laundry that day and wonder what might be open or closed, since it's not really a holiday but it is. So no one shops. Wasted holiday.

So, once you move it the day after the Super Bowl, Presidents Day will be right after the day/night famous for not just football, but the fact that 10's of millions of Americans of all demographics gather around their TV's to WATCH THE COMMERCIALS. Personally I'm all about the game. But a LOT of people come right out and say they are "excited" for the "commercials."

What an opportunity! Wouldn't it be awesome if, the day after the Super Bowl, hordes of Americans were off work and school, and heading out to buy the cars and colas and countless other crappy items they saw advertised the night before!

This makes too much sense. And while it might not happen, I think it's more likely than the NFL moving the game to Saturday. But, until then, just keep callin in sick.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Top 10 Best Country Albums Ever

Keep in mind, these are just the ones that I love the best. NOT a list of the Most Important/Influential or what have you. Just my favorites. Some might be considered classic country, folk,, country-rock... doesn't matter. I promise these are all great records. In no particular order, but numbered anyway. Ah screw it, I'll give ya 11:

  1. Whiskeytown - Strangers Almanac
  2. Gram Parsons - G.P./Grievous Angel
  3. Neil Young - Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere
  4. Loretta Lynn - Van Lear Rose
  5. Johnny Cash - The Legend of Johnny Cash
  6. Ryan Adams / Cardinals Jacksonville City Nights
  7. Old Crow Medicine Show - Big Iron World
  8. Old 97's - Too Far To Care
  9. Bob Dylan John Wesley Harding, Nashville Skyline
  10. Drive-By Truckers - Decoration Day
  11. Grateful Dead - Workingman's Dead

How I Became a Steelers Fan

Y'know, it's weird. You're born in a certain geographic area and you are bound to certain sports teams. I guess you're really not, but it feels like you are. Or you should be. And so it was that I was born in Washington, DC, and raised in nearby suburban Maryland. A Redskins fan.

And yet, here I am, Super Bowl week, with my basement covered in black and gold. Getting geared up cuz Pittsburgh's goin to the Super Bowl.

How did I get here?

Well, I lived in northern West Virginia for 10 years and that's Steeler Country. Of course there were plenty of times that I resisted and hated the Steelers, if only because The League forced me to watch them because of where I lived at the time. But I noticed something. They were a tough, resilient bunch. On and off the field. The fans endured and the team pressed on under solid ownership and very few coaching changes.

I didn't live through it, but I lived near the Mike Tomszak and Neil O'Donnell and Bubby Brister and Kordell Stewart and Tommy Maddux eras. The Chin. The Bus. Hines Ward. I remember when they lost to San Diego in the AFC Championship in the mid-90s. Sure at the time I probably laughed and mocked them for not making it to the big game. Just as I did when they lost that Super Bowl to the Cowboys on those O'Donnell interceptions. But I wasn't a Steeler fan then. Not yet.

So after all those years of living nearby, I moved away to Baltimore, only to do so with and then marry a crazy Steeler fan. So the Steelers became my Team-inlaw. We grew close. They drafted Ben Roethlisberger. They somehow won that crazy playoff game against the Colts. The Chin. The Bus. Hines Ward. And that season, during that playoff run, I could feel it. I felt it.

The next season I went to three games, two on the road in my black and gold. We lost all three.

Then we had a son. We decided to raise him a Steeler fan. Even though he's living in Ravensville, not far from Redskins country. But... and you'll roll your eyes and think this is just politically correct, but the Washington pro football franchise has a racist nickname and have a turned a culture into a mascot. So all those lamps and hampers and onesies and kids replica jerseys we're gonna buy for our kid? They wont be supporting the racist Washington football franchise.

One of my best friends is a Cowboys fan. We have some fun Dallas-Washington banter and wagers. Some solid sports-rivalry-style hatred there. But much like me, he's starting to feel like his team represents everything that he hates about modern professional sports. So since he lives in Baltimore, and was a Colts fan as a little kid, he's pledging his allegiance to the purple of the Ravens. And much like I accept my Washington football franchise blood, he's still a Dallas Cowboys fan...

And as the Washington-Dallas games have lost the luster they had in the 70s and 80s, the Steelers-Ravens rivalry has snuck up to become the best and hardest hitting in the league. Right up to this year's game with a Super Bowl berth on the line.

So this Super Sunday I'll be cheering in hopes for a 2nd ring since I've been a Steeler fan. Tomlin. Big Ben. Hines Ward. So call me a bandwagoneer if you must. But so far Steeler Nation has welcomed me aboard that bandwagon. This is how I became a Steeler fan.

Oh yea, and Troy Polamalu.