Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Who let the blog(s) out?!?

The tenth anniversary of the Columbine tragedy kinda snuck up on me this week—it just doesn’t seem like it’s been that long.  I visited the Denver area just a couple months after it happened, and drove by the school and it was surreal seeing the yellow police tape blocking access to parts of the campus.  It also struck me how similar Littleton, CO was to suburban Kansas City, especially on the Kansas side in Overland Park where I work, which just goes to show that unthinkable tragedies can occur anywhere, no matter how insulated the area might be from "the Hood".

I read an interesting write-up in last week’s Newsleak, er uh, Newsweek about new book called (cleverly-enough) Columbine by author Dave Cullen, which is apparently a very-detailed play-by-play account of that horrible day.  I thought about picking up a copy of it in hopes of understanding what went on in Kleibold and Harris’s twisted little brains, but my man Leonard Pitts, Jr. made a great point in his column this week, saying "…but as for me, I will give them not an hour of my one and only life trying to comprehend their incomprehensible deed."  To wit, spending hours and hours reading this book only gives those little bastards what they so craved in the first place—attention and fame—so I think I’ll pass on it after all.  It’s a similar dynamic to trying to figure out what possessed that Chapman wanker to kill John Lennon—no matter how hard you try, you’ll never get the answer you’re looking for.  And even if you do, it won’t bring Lennon back anyway, so why waste the time?

Pitts also pointed out all the finger-pointing that went on in the aftermath of Columbine—it was video games or years of being bullied and ostracized or lax gun control or violent movies or bad parenting that drove the two turds to do it.  While I won’t cop out and blame bad parenting or poor gun control totally for this senseless tragedy, you can’t tell me that someone (i.e., their parents, gun shop owners, etc.) wasn’t sleeping at the wheel while Kleibold and Harris were able to amass a weapons arsenal that most third-world countries would be envious of.  Even the most astute NRA members (that’s a contradiction in terms, I know) can’t justify teenage kids packing the kind of heat those two did.

Interesting stuff in this week’s Newsweek too, about an English major from Brown Univ. named Kevin Roose, who infiltrated Liberty Univ. (aka "Jerry Falwell U.") in Lynchburg, VA, posing as a Super-Christian student to see what campus life is like in Moron Majority country.  Evidently, the kids there aren’t quite as anal-retentive as I would imagine, and some of them even do dare to doubt their faith after all and they "aren’t a bunch of Beaver Cleavers", according to Roose.  My older sister lived in Lynchburg for a time back in the late ‘70s, and even though she’s a fairly faithful Presbyterian church-goer, she said she found the place to total squares-ville.  To successfully pull off his ruse, Roose had to re-train his secular self to follow the LU code of conduct, which stipulates things like "no drinking, no cursing, no hugs lasting longer than three seconds."  Okay, I understand the no drinking and cursing stuff, but I find it hard to believe that Jesus himself would’ve put time limits on hugs, if He really existed.  Yet another example of why I have no use for the (very wrong) Religious Right…

Private Gump’s drill sergeant was right—Forrest was indeed "a Goddamn genius" compared to those who partake in this whole Twitter phenomenon.  Apart from maybe Pauly Shore's film career, is there anything on earth more pointless than this self-indulgent folderol?  Why would anyone care what latte you drank at breakfast or what activity you’re currently engaged in at any given moment?  There’s already a communication device in existence if you just have to tell someone what you’re doing—it’s called the telephone!  Then again, you can’t spell Twitter without ‘twit’, can ya?  I realize we’re in a recession and lots of people are out of work, but America has WAY too much time on its collective hands.  And that's all I have to say about that…

I watched Mickey Rourke’s comeback vehicle The Wrestler last night, and the critics were right for once—this wasn’t a bad movie at all.  Darn good, actually.  It’s the story of a small-time has-been pro wrestler who still thinks it’s the ‘80s and has trouble coming to terms with middle age and the facts of life therein.  It also has a couple good subplots involving his estranged lesbian daughter and his pursuit of a local stripper/lap dancer, played by Marisa Tomei in her Supporting Actress Oscar nominated role.  While I loved to see my girl Marisa buck nekkid in this flick, I really coulda done without the nipple piercings and tattoos all over her beautiful body.  PLEASE tell me those were fake—I hate that shit!!  This is one of the rare areas where I’m as conservative as Reagan—"body art" and piercings on women are a major turn-off for me, especially on an attractive woman like Ms. Tomei.  It’s akin to spray-painting a swastika on the Gateway Arch or something.

Rourke, meantime, was quite impressive and believable as Ram the wrestler, and he reminded me of a bulked-up muscle-bound modern-day Jim Dandy of Black Oak Arkansas, who ironically also thinks he’s still living in a bygone era.  My favorite part of the movie was when Ram lamented the downfall of ‘80s Heavy Metal, saying "Then that Cobain pussy had to come around and ruin it all.”  Amen to that!  To which Marisa Tomei concurred, "The ‘90s fuckin’ sucked!"  Truer words have never been spoken.  Apart from the music of John Hiatt and a few others, the ‘90s were a total wasteland for Rock music in my view.  This currently decade hasn’t been any better, either.

Anyway, the film is a bit graphic and gory in places, so I wouldn’t recommend it for the faint of heart, especially those who don’t like the sight of blood, and I give it about a 7.

Looks aren’t everything, I know, and this "Britain’s Got Talent" contestant Susan Boyle may well be a talented singer, but I can’t get past how she looks look like a cross between Julia Child and Benny Hill in drag!  You can gussie her up all you want, and she’ll still make k.d. Lang look downright girlish in comparison.  Then again, she is prettier than Amy Winehouse!  For her next appearance on the show, I dare Boyle to sing Roy Orbison’s "(Oh) Pretty Woman"…

Related question: In legal circles, could crossdressing be considered a form of "male fraud"? [Place rim shot here]
I do hope the Kansas City Royals will soon be Kyle Farnsworth-less, because this douche is Farns-worthless in my book.  The Fredo Corleone of relief pitchers has already blown three games this season that the Royals could’ve/should’ve won, including his latest gem Sunday when he gave up the game-winning HR on the second pitch he threw against the Texas Rangers.  $4 million a year buys this?!?  This so reminds me of the days of the great steroid jockey Jason Grimsley and his nightly blow-jobs with the Royals not so long ago.

I was almost tempted to burn some leaves in my back yard to celebrate the great Earth Day today.  I’ll be brutally honest here—I don’t give a rip about future generations and the planet we leave them with because I ain’t gonna be here anyway.  Did prior generations give a rip about what they left us?  I think not.  I’m pretty cynical about stuff like this, because I know deep-down it’s nothing but media-generated hype with no substance whatsoever.  Do all these dreamy-eyed tree-hugging hippie simpletons truly believe all this "going green" stuff is going to make a lick of difference in the long run?  By the time earth implodes upon itself, humans will be living on other planets anyway…

...would you hear these four songs in succession:
"One Piece At A Time"--JOHNNY CASH
"The Last In Line"--DIO
"Calypso"--JOHN DENVER
I believe the word for this mix is 'eclectic'.  Or 'deranged', I'm not sure which...

We got into a discussion at work recently about the long-gone musical format known as the 8-track tape and it brought back some memories (good and bad) of this ‘70s phenomenon for yours truly, so I thought I’d share a few…

  • Ever notice how your favorite song on the album always seemed to be the one they had to split in two because of the space limitations on each "program"?  For you youngins, think of "programs" as sides on a cassette tape, only there were four instead of two (usually lasting 10-15 minutes and containing three or four songs each), thus some songs were interrupted by the inevitable "clunk" when it switched programs in the middle of them.
  • Unlike cassette tapes, you couldn’t fast-forward or rewind 8-tracks—thus you either had to sit through the shitty songs to get to the good ones, or push the button to move on to the next program, but it always seemed like the good songs were in the latter half of the program, so you still had to wait.
  • Often times, the track sequence of an album would be altered to accommodate the space limitations of the programs, so if you had a vinyl or cassette copy of a particular album, the songs played in a different order.  I remember listening to Elton John’s masterpiece Goodbye Yellow Brick Road on 8-track first, and got quite used to "Saturday Night’s Alright For Fighting" being the last song instead of the "official" closing track "Harmony".
  • When shopping for 8-tracks at the record store, one often had to inspect them in an incubator-like clear plastic display case through these circular holes big enough for your hands, but too small for the tapes to fit through.  When you decided which tapes you wanted, the sales clerk would unlock the case and open it for you to retrieve, or some cases had a conveyor belt you dropped the tape on, which transported it to a little box with a lock on it for retrieval.  Either that, or 8-tracks were sold on racks in those over-sized cardboard cartons or were mounted in plastic security devices to keep folks from shoplifting them.
  • The biggest draw of the 8-track tape (and later the cassette) was they afforded a portability that vinyl records couldn’t match—i.e., you could play them most anywhere, especially in your car. The big drawback was the typical poor sound quality and how quickly they wore out.
  • Another disadvantage of 8-tracks was you lost most, if not all, the album cover artwork (esp. the back covers) and booklets, inner sleeves, lyric sheets, etc., that came with vinyl records.  Sadly, compact discs have diminished the once-proud medium of album cover art as well.
Still and all, the thought of inserting one of those big clunky tape cartridges into a car stereo like in that pic takes me back to a better vanished time.  For even more fun 8-track memories, I highly recommend this here tribute site.


digitaldrummer said...

I hear your frustration over the music of the 90's and today. That being said, there are a wealth of incredible musicians/bands (mainly in Europe)

search on Youtube:

Dream Theater
Porcupine Tree
Symphony X

All progressive! Porcupine Tree's drummer Gavin Harrison has beat out Peart two years in row for best prog drummer! Alex Lifeson and Robert Fripp have all been guests on PT albums.

female fronted metal:

Lacuna Coil
Within Temptation

and an awesome band from the netherlands The Gathering

Amazing music and musicians. The keyboard player for Nightwish is the principle songwriter, he also writes the music for the orchestra to play (yep, I typed the "O" word there!)

RR said...

in high school, i had an 8 track recorder. the quality of the tapes were extraordinary. they would rival reel to reel for quality and clarity. i had quite the business coming out of my bedroom. if you bought me a blank tape (or a joint) and furnished your own tape, i would make you a tape of your favorite two lps. 8 tracks were about 74 minutes long so i could put two of your fave lps on one tape. quite the enterprise i had. quite the stash, too.