Saturday, April 30, 2005

The Hits Keep Comin

April was a good month for all of us (me) at Steve's Blog. We (I) obtained almost 25% of all of our (my) hits this month. We (I) should hit 10,000 by the middle of May. We (I) thank you for the support and the links!

Senseless stats due to

40 hits a day from Google or Yahoo. My favorite search words:

"monster park" "stupid name" on Google found me at #2 and found my hilarious story from November about Kim Jong Il. For more monkey business from our favorite North Korean Dictator please visit the North Korean News Site. Stalinist-rhetoric in all it's hilarity. We've been on the brink of war with an imminent attack for months and for once, the main stream media has no idea!!!

A "Sactown Hot Chick" search still finds this blog at #6 on Google. The poor souls looking for love in all the wrong places.

Lastly, I have only used BlogClicker as a promotion tool of forced hits to which I get 25 a day when I have time. I am unsure of these programs like Blog Explosion or Blog Clicker because I don't see them developing consistent readers as much as going out and comment on someone's blog does. Any thoughts?

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Some Favorite Songs of Mine, Part 1

A departure from my last few subjects

A list of some of my favorite songs and why:

1. Baba O'Riley The Who off of Who's Next is probably the best song that has ever opened up an album. Sure U2's Where The Streets Have No Name is second but a very distant second. Probably the first synthesizer ever heard is sequenced throughout the song. What's better Roger Daltrey's anthemic voice or Pete Townshend's soft yet compelling cry of "It's only a teenaged wasteland!" Who's Next is one of the best albums ever but that is for another list.

2. Walk On U2 off of All That You Can't Leave Behind. I was thinking this was my favorite song ever because it was the only one I could put above the others. They have a ton of great songs like Running to Stand Still, One, Pride, Bad, or New Year's Day but I think Walk On rises above the rest. I don't think the band has ever been in more synch than this recording. Everything from the guitars to the drums to the bass to vocals just works. Hard to put that cd away when you know a song like that is on there.

3. Don't Think Twice It's Alright Bob Dylan off of The Freewheelin Bob Dylan album. I never heard a story that sounded like it was being told first person as it happened but it already had happened until I heard this song. The flip flop of what's happening throughout the song really paints the picture. I like in the second verse how Bob says, "It ain't know use in turning on your light, a light I have never known...." And how then it was no use, because "I am on the dark side of the road" Then how he asks later "I wish there was something you can do or say that'll make me wanna change my mind and stay..." And then how there "was know use in calling out my name" after wishing she'd talk to him. An eerie song about lost love and young girl that is still a great song 42 years later!!!

4. Prison Bound Social Distortion off of (you guessed it) Prison Bound. When does an artist transcend what he was, to what he really is. I think this was one of the first songs Mike Ness ever wrote that transformed him from traditional wannabe punk into a folk country song writer? Masked in distortion, self doubt and a whole lot of angst is a very deep songwriter. The song comes from the mind of a guy that understood what going to prison, living in prison and dying in prison was about. I guess burglarizing, hard drugs and hospitalizations from overdoses may make you wake up and "strum that guitar and sing an outlaw love song". I think this was where he became great and has written his best material since.

5. South Central Rain REM off of Reckoning Also known as the song that goes "I'm Sorry" in the chorus. Guitarist Peter Buck claims the song changes key three times... I think maybe, that G Minor Chord always clashes with the E minor one before it but everytime you play the song, it sounds correct. Doesn't follow traditional song writing rules but hey, REM has written some pretty good songs. So. Central Rain is a song about floods, and rain from a freak storm that struck Athens, GA. I have heard many versions of it but the slow acoustic one that was on a B-Side of a single that I cannot recall was the best one. It's the one where they bleed three songs together, REM's Time After Time, Red Rain from Peter Gabriel and then So. Central Rain. Good stuff. The band has not been the same since Bill "Unibrow" Berry left the drum set behind after New Adventures in Hi Fi. Like U2, all 4 members are/were dedicated to the songwriting process.

I will write more later. What are your thoughts?

Monday, April 18, 2005

Observations Part 12: The biggest SCAM on the internet


I was searching through some blogs to see what other people thought about the world. There's some good stuff in the blog-o-sphere and I have learned a lot since I ventured into this at the end of October. I look at other blogs like the news. I sit down and unwind and look at 15 to 20 of them a day and occasionally I come across something great or I come across something like this:

Ok... What hell is this? Some people it looks got together and they are sooooo upset with the leadership of the executive branch of the United States of America because they were re-elected fair and square. I may be wrong, but it looks to me as if they blame the fact that Bush won because of big business? They also don't like Walmart a whole lot. Me neither, I prefer Target for discount shopping. But I am not politically motivated to not shop from some store. And well, after looking at the list of businesses, I shouldn't be shopping at Target either or Home Depot, or Safeway or Raley's or Shell Oil or any other place that is convenient, competitive or deserving of my business because they are "red" which of course is the color of evil or blood or Lindsay Lohan. I question the intent of the "liberals" behind this organization, which is non-profit by the way. (If you get that last sentence, type "I am against Socialism" in my comment section)

I decided to think about this a bit. If you agree with what's going on here, I have a few problems for you that I need help with. First, you can go to Costco because it's a blue company but can you buy anything there? Costco is in the business of selling items made by other companies unless its Kirkland, their brand. So if you are making a beer run for that weekend protest at the Governor's mansion, you can't buy Coors. Not that I would either but Coors is a red company, thus eliminating the choice of Molson beer, you know, the Canadian Beer company that owns Coors which Canadians probably drink a lot of. (Note: I am not even commenting on Canadian politics) Also, for that protest, don't pick up Coca-Cola or any of their products. And dare not pick up the cell phone and call your friends to see what other blue products that are in limited supply at Costco because that phone runs through Verizon, Sprint or AT&T one way or another to get to your friends. And before you load up the Prius to head to that protest, don't buy gas because even though you may stop at a station that may be independent or unbranded but the gas isn't. And one way or another, it comes through Shell or Exxon Mobil, which coincidentally are Red companies.

So what is Buy Blue really about? It's another Socialist mask of the issues put on by some "liberals" to stir the proverbial pot of left wing politics in order to put forth another baby killing or small business debilitating issue, like employer paid health care or unionizing. Way to go "liberals" who started Way to stop the "madness".

Buy Blue makes as much sense as a Buy Red organization which does not exist but you can buy it from Dotster for $14.95 if you want. Of course, that could be a smart business decision that a "liberal" could not go for. (Please note: If you vote liberal and I put "liberal" in quotes I am not talking about you. If you are offended by "liberal" being in quotes, well then... I am known to be a bit brash!)

Let the comments begin, this should be good!

Sunday, April 17, 2005

The softer side of Steve. I made a flower bed and planted an Dwarf Navel Orange Tree.

View this and other photos at my photo blog. (Obligatory Blog Spam) Posted by Hello

Thursday, April 14, 2005

California is screwed!!!: Schwarzenegger vs. Lockyer 2006?


Seriously we are. And despite sudden popular belief in California, it is not because of this man featured here. We're screwed because of State Attorney General Bill Lockyer.

So why is this man so important? He's the attorney general that's why. Oh wait, it's because he has the say so on the language on our State Ballots. Ohhhhh... Why is this important? Well...

I was out eating dinner at a local favorite of mine, Taco Loco. I happened on the usually liberal Sacramento News and Review, a weekly magazine featuring things going on downtown, reviews of movies, music and local arts and entertainment, as well as being usually over the top on liberal subjects like the environment (which is a conservative issue too) , War, or Politics. Usually the magazine leans left on the issues. Usually I call it bull and read on to the more important things in it. It also features great stuff about downtown which is of interest since I live real close.

Today, I happened upon an article called "Governor Pighead" by Jill Stewart. She was quick to point out the arrogance of Schwarzenegger. But then I read a little deeper, into what's really going on, Partisan Politics by our State Attorney General Bill Lockyer. Bill is a "union guy" who as Jill puts it, "wants to be fair in his Ballot wording, but wants to run for Governator in 2006". Way to be fair Bill, by confusing the issues. How so you say? Well, Ms. Stewart here points out how a Republican Assemblymen Keith Richman wrote the legislation for state pension reform that the Terminator endorsed. Yet, Bill, the guy who approves the language on the ballots wasn't quite truthful in his work. It all came down to the issue of death benefits. Basically 10 to 15 state police and firefighters lose there lives in California on average, annually. Richman, the author of the legislation, purposely did not address death benefits for these public safety workers because he did not want them changed in the reform. However Mr. Lockyer went forward to appease his "union backers" by insisting that the "death benefits" were at risk. Way to be fair Billy, good luck in 2006 because you just made Mr. Schwarzenegger look bad because you weren't "fair and honest" which is your obligation as Attorney General. Way to scare the hell out of firefighter and police unions which are traditionally Republican. Stewart then goes on to hammer out that Lockyer confused the state pension system reform by saying the 401k like plan would be "too risky" to the socialism minded state workers. Hold up second, yeah I said socialism because what else is a system that is doomed for failure called? I bet if you asked the average state worker what a 401k plan was, they would not know exactly but I bet they'd think they were evil. After you explained the plan to the same state worker, with the pros and cons included, I'd think they'd think it was a great idea. Lockyer made it sound scary but sort of hid it from public knowledge that current state employees would continue on with their current, state-funded, financially-irresponsible plans and the 401 k program would only effect new employees in 2007.

Stewart then goes on to say how Governor Schwarzenegger basically has denied what Bill Lockyer says but hasn't been great at backing it up with facts. Schwarzenegger is being cocky and arrogant about it. I think the author is right and I agree with her. Schwarzenegger is not doing a good job at defending his reform. However, this thing is not over. Schwarzenegger is going to the polls to clean house. He will get his way. He will look better, I think, in the end. Stewart sites something from where they say that Arnold is creating "insurmountable challenges" to emerge as a big WINNER in the end. Gutsy, if true? Yes!

But Arnold, I got your back and you have my household's support. But remember Cruz Bustamante, the man you beat:

Reporter: Mr. Bustamante, your critics are saying that---

An interrupting Bustamante: Oh what?!? What are they going out and saying now?

Reporter: ...that you are too condescending.

Save us from that Arnold.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Something that disturbs me...

Junk Mail or as I like to call it, "Environmental Spam".

I get home today and my mailbox outside my house is slammed full of crap. I mean the poor mailguy couldn't pack it any tighter with out a shoe horn and I got only one thing I wanted, my new Rolling Stone magazine. The rest of it was a useless pile of dead trees. I got Safeway ads with my address on them. Why does Safeway think I need coupons? I haven't in my life eaten a canned yam. Safeway already has that wonderful club card where if you just buy one more thing you get the next one for half price or like Sunday, they had an 8 pack of Guinness for cheap with the card when all I went in for was cat food and mini carrots. The card freaking works Safeway, don't mail me crap. You too Albertsons... where ever your store is located because it ain't as close as Safeway!! Or how 'bout Pizza coupons from those "off the beaten path", "Never heard of you Pizza" places. FREE DELIVERY!!! (just be careful) Those companies usually have a delivery guy, who also owns the outfit, driving a 1975 primered Datsun B-210 with expired tags. I wonder if the board of health has been to these places?

Then you get that heartfelt guilt mail. The charity stuff. Local Former Teenage Bed Wetters want your junked out car. They got a picture of them with it to. And its not in an envelope. Its a flimsy looking cardboard thing.

Or the other junk I really hate: Refinance Mortgage Ads. I got to hand it to these people who work for these mortgage refinance companies, they are creative. I got a yellow envelope from the "Reprocessing Dept." today. Woo hoo!! It looked so important. Just like the notice from the "Payment Reduction Dept." or the fake handwritten font addressed to me. Or my favorite, the one disguised as a lower than insane credit card rate reduction form. They have this idea that I am interested in their 1% interest, financial suicide loan to pay a third of what I am now for one year. Funny thing is, how would they know what I pay? Second, the amount they want to refinance is nowhere close to what I owe, either higher or lower. And lastly, they make the letters all threatening by saying time is running out, the Fed's only going to DRIVE rates higher!! And they amortize for 40 years? What happens in 1 to 2 years when it goes back to a fixed rate on a 40 year loan? You are screwed!!! Clearly, unless you are an elderly old woman whose house is already paid for, a state worker living in a box, or a homeless person, you know as a homeowner that this is old news. We were lucky to have the rates as low as they were in 40 years and they only could go up. But do they have to mail me these letters 3 or 4 times a day for weeks on end telling me that I am missing out on financial ruin with a interest only, adjustable loan? I am on that do not call list but occasionally those mortgage guys call me. I always say, my wife handles this stuff and set the phone down and tell her. Then I pick up my guitar and start playing. My wife isn't even home when I do this crap. I just wait. I had a guy on for like 7 minutes, it was classic. That will make them stop calling, when the same company has telemarketer that has repeated 5 to 7 minute calls of silence. Only thing missing is a baby crying and a loud tv or something in the background playing a rerun of "COPS".

I didn't even get bill today. I was kinda depressed I didn't get one. I was hoping for three things in the mail, magazines, Netflix "Crack" (we're so addicted to that company) and my water bill and all I got was crap I didn't even ask for or was financially obligated too.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

The Edge, Adam, Larry and the one with the Messiah Complex

Bono, preaching to his disciples at the U2 Vertigo Tour, San Jose, April 9th

I got home at like 2:30am this morning. My wife and I and our friends Scott and Lisa and my brother and his wife went to the U2 show last in San Jose. It was the 5th or 6th time I had seen the band. Concerts are a blur. U2 concerts however are special. I took the photo above from a camera phone. I have a bunch more but they are not transferring well.

They played some old stuff after great renditions of City of Blinding Lights and Vertigo. Electric and An Cat Dubh off of Boy. Then played the usual crowd favorites like New Years Day, Pride, Sunday Bloody Sunday. Suprisingly they played nothing off of Pop or Rattle and Hum and only played Beautiful Day and Elevation off of All That You Can't Leave Behind. They played a fantastic version of Running to Stand Still, still one of my all-time favorite U2 songs. Funny thing about this performance of Running to Stand Still is when the crowd started to clap slowly to the beat and Bono yelled, "Stop clapping and start singing," and the crowd did instaneously. I wonder what would happen if the man said, "Drink the Kool-Aid!"

The best part of the show was Bono's tribute to the Pope before Miracle Drug. Bono claimed he didn't always agree with him but loved him because he believed in something. He talked about meeting him and referred to him as a "great rock star". He told a great story of how he gave the Pope his shades and how he got his crooked cross. The other great part of the show occurred before One. One was a song that U2 basically used to generate support for stopping AIDS globally. The lights went down and Bono exclaimed he needed 1 million more supporters. He asked for no money but just to text your name from your cellphone. Then he asked the crowd to show the cell phones and thousands of cell phones lit up the arena.

The show closed with probably there 3 most blatantly religious songs: All Because of You, Yah Weh and "40". It was the first show where I had seen them play "40". There was no "With or Without You, Walk On or I Still Haven't Found What I am Looking For in this show but did there really need to be with the prior performances of Running to Stand Still or Sunday Bloody Sunday? As a guitarist, I enjoyed watching The Edge's feet. This guy has an amazing set of pedals and sequencers plus techs off stage programming the sounds and landscapes coming out of his guitar. The most unbelievable thing about the Edge is that he still uses his original Vox amp he bought in Dublin when he started out. To build that sound from starting with something that basic is pretty awesome. He still gets a great sound with that angular Gibson Explorer he played on the old stuff and one Beautiful Day. He mostly played Gibsons last night. I saw him grab a Fender Strat for Bullet the Blue Sky and Gretsch hollow body at one point. I also could see some standard effects pedals aside from his sequencer package.

The show was scaled way back from the electronics of the Zoo TV Tour, which I was happy to enjoy back in 1992. There were a couple of video screens and some lights, the music spoke for itself. The amazing thing about this band is their ability to keep pulling it off after 25 years. They're old guys in Rock N Roll standards but still play a very young, very timeless music. They have had a pretty continuous run with no reunion tours or break ups. No drug offenses or news of wild alcohol adventures through 5 star Hotels or scores of illegitiment kids all over the world. These are not only good musicians with a great message, but they are also great people.
Posted by Hello

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Observations Part 11: A week of writer's block, so here is what spews out..

I thought I could say so much this week with Mrs. Schiavo passing and then the Pope's passing. The Schiavo thing is pretty much dead (bad pun). An episode last week of South Park and Kenny dying and going to heaven to do the star master thing with the golden controller for his Sony PSP to fight hell sort of put this issue to rest for me. Kyle is right at the end of the episode. He says the people who wanted Kenny to die with his feeding tube out were right for the wrong reasons. And those who thought he should stay alive were wrong for the right reasons. And Kenny's will saying that he did not want to be displayed on TV in a vegetative state for public debate. I am saddened at the family breakdown in the Schiavo case but I can leave it peacefully witht the lessons I learned. If you saw the episode of South Park, I think the debate was over for you as well. Good job Matt and Trey, keep us guessing with your rank, little, vile, if not morally reprehensable cartoons that we can't stop watching.

This Pope thing and the issue with the country, or as the Liberals put it, Bush's Wingnuts putting the flag at half staff. I was gung ho and ready to write about that and talk about how heartless the liberals like this guy I wrote about are probably taking it, with their argument about the "separation of church and state being in the first amendment of the Constitution" and all. Most intelligent people, including liberals (not quite an oxymoron but close) know that the phrase separation of church and state does not exist in our Constitution. Even though I am a non-religious person, I love blasting people for using that argument as a basis to strike down the Bush Administration. In fact, I search this kind of stuff out on Google because it is comedic entertainment for me. We Republicans I think, can sympathize with Democrats and their issues but when they pull this "separation thing" out to argue, I freaking laugh all day long because some of them are usually so well-read on the Constitution when they argue so eliquently for the rights of free speech or the death penalty. Good job, liberals, keep calling us wingnuts and war-mongers. We'll keep writing blogs like this. (See my blogroll on the side for further education)

Speaking of education, this guy's blog is GREAT!!! Michael the Archangel. I highly recommend it. He gets some great discussions going. I love the debates between both sides of an issue. It's clean and fun so if you go there, keep it that way. (since I am inviting it) I think he appreciates the debates as well. If you are stopping here via some blog traffic thing, go visit. Leave a comment here as well. I look at all blogs that come through my StatCounter. Though lately, it's all Google hits coming in which are up to 75 a day now. Less for some reason on weekends. If your blog is similar to this or related music I could be persuaded to exchange links.

Hey and I also got the guitar featured below in my last post. I had an amusing post in draft about UPS but they're good people, really. The guitar plays well!! It has some interesing overtones on various chords if you sustain them. It was a bitch to tune however. I normally can tune a guitar by ear but I got lost. 12 strings... ugh! Maybe, I am too tired lately or something to be that patient. Thankfully there is a built in tuner onboard with the electric pickups. It also has its own gain control along with its volume and eq controls. This is going to be fun to play with my friends and our newly formed cover band. I also tried to play every REM song I know that a 12 string was used on. South Central Rain... great song.

Last but not least, I am going to see U2 in San Jose on Saturday. We have a tiny camera phone so I will post as many pictures as possible on my photo blog seen here. I also will write a review of the show on Sunday so check back or book mark this site if you are a U2 fan. We've got great seats. In fact, I had the same seats but one section over 3 years ago. I hear they are doing a lot of old stuff. "I will sing, sing a new song"