Monday, May 30, 2005

Observations Part 16: Merlot Sucks...

I finally saw "Sideways" last night. I kept looking at Paul Giamatti's character and thinking that was me, but I am happily married, somewhat successful and well, not so flawed. Not flawed? What denial, I am totally flawed... but not so you'd notice. I'm cool for a 30-something by average standards. I mean, I listen to good music, love cool cars, play golf with the guys, love fine wine and Knob Creek whiskey, and well, everything is as it should be. You'd think.

I think where I see the resemblance in a character like Paul Giamatti's in Sideways is in the instance of improbability. (I'd also see myself as Luke Wilson in Old School but...) There are a lot of things in life you want and well, sort of need, kind of equally. Life puts great challenges before you like marriage or your job or making sure you take the trash out on Wednesday mornings. Yet, around all that you hope and dream between every necessary moment. For example, on the way to work you see a Porsche you'd love to have or a guy playing with his kid in a park. Two improbabilties really. One's monetary or more of a possessive need. You gotta save and earn money and maybe with some luck and work hard you'd get that Porsche. The other, is not monetary, but equally a challenge because you've got to meet the right person or be in the right situation or have some luck. In both cases, I feel fortunate and I see both situations more probable for my life yet, still improbabilites at this point. The other improbability in life I think is a challenge is instant success like winning the lottery or hitting that hole and one or getting a record deal. All of use strive for something like that or we wouldn't be creative or live in excess to achieve a goal like instant success. You can have all the right tools and for that matter, the right luck, yet still come up short in life. Funny, as I wrote the last sentence the song "Wishlist" by Pearl Jam came on my XM Radio. The fact remains, no matter who you are, just like the song playing now, you always wish for something more or to be someone your not.

In Sideways, Paul never gets what he really wants or is never perceived as how he wants to be. He's got his plan for a good week's vacation full of good eats, good wine and golf. Yet, nothing goes as planned no matter how well scripted he had it. He has to fend off a lie by his friend on his book publishing deal. He's insecure because of his past life experiences being married and then being rejected. He's uncomfortable with his friend's life of debauchery and deceit of his own fiance. He's also got to tell the truth no matter how much it's going to hurt. What a quagmire, yet a unique set of real life experiences most people face everyday. (Yes, I have hit a golf ball back at someone, twice!) So I guess what I am saying here is, we all have flaws and we all fear rejection, deceit and lies. Some more than others... Some of us can accept rejection, deceit and lies. But we can all have dreams, one and a million chances, even if they are only fun moments of imagination we can only just think of.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

System of a Down: A Right Winger's Review...

Hey, you can vote Republican and listen to cool stuff. There is no crime. No real contradiction. And no real hypocrisy. Well two of three ain't bad... Two of Three gets a judge appointed? Right?

I like to rock out. I gobble all popular music up like an XBOX playing kid eats Doritos.
I have touted bands like U2 and Social Distortion here on my blog for the last 6 months while slamming the myths of Liberalism with every political post. So am I entirely off base for loving the new System of a Down album: Mezmerize even with the obligatory Tipper Sticker informing all of us that the album contains bad words.

This thing is a two parter with a second disk due in 6 months. Just before Christmas. Smart marketing.

There are many genres of popular music. There's your sappy power pop of Green Day and Blink182, your soaring song writing of U2 and REM, your speed metal from old Metallica, Pantera and Anthrax and your punk attitude of Suicidal Tendencies and NOFX. So what happens when wrap all this up with some heavy Eastern Europe classical music influence? You get this band.

Whatever political message they are carrying, it is lost on me. I am not into it, nor do I advocate for it. So far left I couldn't fathom it. What will I say is that Mezmerize is fantastic. I loved the last album Toxicity.
Mezmerize opens somber with Soldier Side and then hammers into BYOB. I think I am more into the complexity of the syllables singer Serj Tankian can sandwich into a few bars of music at around 200 beats per minute. This band grabs you throughout the album and shakes you around like a rabid dog, then gives you a sweet melody like "Everybody's going to the party have a real good time". BYOB doesn't let up until your cd player changes tracks to Revenga and later into Cigaro. Cigaro's got your first glance of that Slavic-type melody with its runs on the guitar and massive interval jumps in the vocal line.

System of a Down later on seems to make fun of popular music and celebrity, while being the most popular metal band of the moment with Radio/Video with it's repeating line " hey man, look at me I'm on the radio". In this song, I wonder what happens if this band wanted to slow down and write something acoustic. They tease you very well with the song Question. However in Radio/Video the song breaks down into some very unique moments with great harmonies. Daron and Serj do some great tracking of their voices to make the harmonies flow all while carrying on with their Armenian synchopated rhythms.

Through out the album, there is shear sonic energy laced with turbo charged angst. And then these moments happen that break out into incredible melodies. It makes me wonder how long it takes to make all this happen in the studio. Overall a great album, a lot of great moments like Violent Pornography, Old School Hollywood and Revenga that will definately remind you of the great songs on their last album Toxicity.

Good Stuff! I look forward to seeing them live again. There'll be a Republican in the pit!!! Look Out!!

Thursday, May 19, 2005

The Statement of the Week: Barbara Kerr, California Teachers Association on Gov. Schwarzenegger

Oh boy! I was listening to local TV personality, Tom Sullivan and he was chatting live with Arnold.

Those of you out of California may have heard of Tom when he subs for Rush Limbaugh. The guy is great, honest and really gets the news out like it should be.

I almost crashed my truck when I heard this statement on the radio that the CTA posted from Barbara Kerr, the President of the California Teacher's Association this week on their website:

"He broke his promise to our kids and now he has resorted to name-calling. That's the way bullies act, not Governors of California. We had an agreement with this governor. He knows it and we know it. No amount of name-calling can change that," Kerr said (see full story here)

Hmmm.... Name-calling? Bullies? Ok Barbara...

A few observations about the Budget in California. Currently, there are mechanisms to increase public funding for certain things. These increases happen automatically with no measure of what money is coming in. Secondly, the students were supposed to get $2 billion extra for this years budget, IF IT WAS AVAILABLE. Unfortunately, the Democrats that run the state don't seem to know how much money we have before they spend it, running up deficit after deficit. Also note, California budgets 3 billion for stem cell research that the Governor can't touch and Bush also has banned the creation of new stem cells by destroying embryos, for now. So hey, anyone want to know where the kids could get their money? Oh no, that would be a "political issue". Freaking quagmire, eh?

The statement from the CTA President also mentions about the state having a number 43 rank for funding students. Great... Of all illegal immigrants in the US, 21% live in California. Uh... Just how many of those people have kids in our schools and don't pay property taxes because they do not own property for obvious reasons. I mean, schooling is a one of the top reasons illegals come to the US right?

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Retraction: Make Believe is actually pretty good.

My wife and I own at last tally like 1,500 cds. There all over the place. I feel we're good critics as well and are well knowledged about music. I left, Make Believe the new album by Weezer in the CD player, and the thing grew on me. I don't know what happened. I agreed fully with this guy and now I no longer do. It's catchy, you can humm along to it.

So what happened here. Beverly Hills gave us a whole lot of hope on how good the album could be and it first listen it wasn't. When I first heard Coldplay's A Rush of Blood to the Head album, I didn't get it. but then I couldn't and well still can't, get it out of my system how good that thing is. Sure, Weezer don't come close but it's worth a listen while you are working.

The second track, Perfect Situation is fantastic. Rivers Cuomo wrote songs like the Sweater Song, Say it Ain't So and that great album no one bought called Pinkerton. Why is it great though? The way I think he uses his nonsense lyrics to channel his emotions and ideas while sticking to a melody. I think there have been very few guys in Rock that can write to a melody. Paul McCartney in his Beatle days for one, Elvis Costello on a good day, Buddy Holly, David Byrne, Billie Joe Armstrong and of course Rivers. If you are not one of those people that just wants to hear words, listen to this song. The dude's singing along in the verses with a simple piano plunking some notes to the chords and then he use the "oh" through out his chorus here as a flat out sing along. The dude's got it. The critics of this album need to get bent. There is good stuff here. Is it their best? No. But what else is out there. We've all worn out American Idiot, Interpol's album and the Killers album.

The third track could have been ripped off from Duran Duran, who knows. I feel like I am in a dance club in the 80's but it kind of uses that Animals "Don't let me be Misunderstood" chord progression. The sixth track We're all on Drugs is kind of interesting. The 4th and 10th track, "Hold me" and "The Other Way" use some acoustic guitars. Weezer should do more acoustic. Butterfly on the end of Pinkerton is great. The acoustic version of Jamie is awesome too. These guys could really make some of their better songs more well known if they went that route.

It's not their best album, but its a good one and you can get through the album without skipping.

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Observations Part 15: The Crazy Economics of a Smoker


I don't smoke. Cigarettes are not appealling to me. This post is not about the health risks of smoking or tobacco addiction. More though about the economics surrounding individuals that smoke that I find quite perplexing.

This morning I wasted more money on golf clubs. I am terrible at golf as my score card resembles a good day bowling. I was downtown at the K Street Mall in Sacramento, and I had some time to kill before the mall opened. If you have ever been downtown to this mall, you'd remember the "colorful" people walking around. I saw skinheads, vagrants, Jehovah's Witnesses, handicapped people all waiting for the train. I stopped in a Rite Aid for some sun block for today's golf excursion and while I was waiting in line, it dawned on me: Lot's of poor people smoke. Holy Crap! That is totally not right, especially at 5 bucks or so a pack.

I thought about this a little further later while walking through the mall back to the car. I see a guy my age, driving a car like me and my wife's, smoking. His mortgage is like mine. He's driving a late model BMW and so his payment is like mine. He probably has an income like me. He's probably married like me. He's me, but smokes. Granted I have a Starbucks habit and he probably does to, and smokes! Does he play golf too?


Let's do the math. According to Oprah the average smoker, smokes 20 cigarettes a day. That's what, a pack? So that's five bucks a day. 30 days a month so $150. Times 12? $1,800 a year? Where does this equal me? Cost of everything you buy is going up, gas, milk, Starbucks, and movie tickets. Our belts tighten when this happens, but smokers get around it. Wake up everyday, head to the gas station or liquor store, buy a pack of cigarettes, plunk down 5 bucks. The smoker does everything I do, go to restaurants, buy clothes, and everything yet spends 5 bucks a day. Where does this 5 bucks a day come from if everything is the same economically for me?

So you smoker's out there, how do you do it? Because if I could save or waste 5 bucks a day and not suffer somewhere else, I would.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Yeah, I am a copycat: My liberal/conservative test

I copied Michael the Archangel at his blog with this. I could not resist though. I think this is going to shock my friends on what I think:

Your Political Profile

Overall: 70% Conservative, 30% Liberal

Social Issues: 75% Conservative, 25% Liberal

Personal Responsibility: 50% Conservative, 50% Liberal

Fiscal Issues: 100% Conservative, 0% Liberal

Ethics: 50% Conservative, 50% Liberal

Defense and Crime: 75% Conservative, 25% Liberal

Sweet!!! What a quagmire on ethics and personal responsibility eh?

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Stand Up and Make Believe: Don't Bother Unless you are a Fan.

I bought the new Weezer Album and the new Dave Matthews Band Album.

I went to the store to buy Weezer expecting to be impressed like I have been the last 3 albums, Pinkerton, being of the best rock albums of the 90's. If you don't have a copy, buy one here, seriously, its good stuff. Weezer is flat. Beverly Hills, great song there, but where are the rest?? There is nothing to go back to after that. Probably have to spin it a few times before you really get it. But, where is it Rivers, ya psychotic genius?

I bought Dave Matthews at Starbucks while getting Green Tea. This band knows marketing. I mean, you'd think they were gone and needed a release to keep fans interested so they drop a load on that New York bridge. The singles Dream Girl and American Baby are just ok. I can see how American Baby works and will get nice play. But where is the stadium anthem? The pothead grooves of Two Step, Grey Street or Don't Drink the Water. Looking closer, I see the why... no Lillywhite producing again. Steve Lillywhite is a great producer. You may have heard of another band he worked with, U2. The whole album is disjointed funk grooves. I am sure as concert season goes on, you'll hear different versions of the songs and they'll get the usual radio play. Hmmm...

I got Green Day tickets for the Sactown show, yesterday. Looking forward to that. I didn't get caught in the McCartney or Springsteen craze yet but if I ticket lands I am sure I'll go.


Saturday, May 07, 2005

Hiding from the Truth

I noticed on quite a few weblogs like, there is a tag that goes to Kerry's appearance on NBC's "Meet The Press" where Kerry stated, "Yes I will" when Tim Russert asked if he'd sign SF-180 releasing his military records to the public so we can all see what a Great American War Hero he was. As of the time of this post it has been 97 days and he has not signed it.


I decided I'd email him. What the heck right? It's a free country right? I just wanted to know where he is at with this and if he signed it. A harmless question asked by an inquiring, curious American Citizen. I mean, what's wrong with that right?

Here is what I wrote:


Hey, I was wondering... I noticed quite a few weblogs have this tag that links to a transcript from NBC's "Meet The Press". On that transcript, it states the following:

MR. RUSSERT: Many people who’ve been criticizing you have said: Senator, if you would just do one thing and that is sign Form 180, which would allow historians and journalists complete access to all your military records. Thus far, you have gotten the records, released them through your campaign. They say you should not be the filter. Sign Form 180 and let the historians…

SEN. KERRY: I’d be happy to put the records out. We put all the records out that I had been sent by the military. Then at the last moment, they sent some more stuff, which had some things that weren’t even relevant to the record. So when we get–I’m going to sit down with them and make sure that they are clear and I am clear as to what is in the record and what isn’t in the record and we’ll put it out. I have no problem with that.

MR. RUSSERT: Would you sign Form 180?

SEN. KERRY: But everything, Tim…

MR. RUSSERT: Would you sign Form 180?

SEN. KERRY: Yes, I will.

So John, where are you at with this?

Thanks a bunch,


You can send John an email with your concern here.

In my favorite movie, Dirty Harry, there is a scene where Harry is getting a hot dog and these dudes are robbing a bank. So Harry asks the guy behind the counter if there is exhaust coming from the tailpipe of the white Ford across the street. The guy says yes and Harry asked the guy to call the police and say there is a bank robbery in progress. Harry goes out and blows some dudes away, the white Ford accelerates toward Harry, a fire hydrant is ran over and the white car flies in the air. Harry is out, with the Magnum blazin' all blowing people away. He finally corners one guy, who is in arm's reach for a gun and gives the famous "I know what your thinking, Did he fire 5 shots or 6? Seeing this here is a 44 Magnum the most powerful hand gun that can blow your head clean off, you gotta ask yourself one question... Do I feel lucky? Well, do ya punk?"

Personally, when I read John Kerry's statements on "Meet The Press" I feel like the guy on the ground in the movie cornered by Dirty Harry. Because the guy totally gives into Harry, a smart move, for sure. But then the guy ask's Harry a question with this statement: "Hey man, I got's to know"

Senator Kerry: Hey man, I got's to know.

Anyone else got's to know???

Friday, May 06, 2005

A winner was chosen...

A winner was chosen in the ACLU acronym contest held of at A Tic In The Mind's Eye blog.

I was an honorable mention with All Crap, Lies and Uselessness. Go check it out, its scary but really funny what some people came up with. There were a hundred or so entries.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Observations Part 14: You'd think they'd get it

Quickly, I live on a semi-busy street in the evenings. Really its quiet most of the day but from 5 to 7:30pm my corner is busy with traffic and people getting home...

A kid, crashes his car into a guard rail across the street scaring the hell out of the people that live there. He was driving too fast for the rainy conditions and only a nimrod would go more than 15 miles an hour around this corner. He smashes his bumper and blows his tires while running up the curb that is clearly market, labelled and what not. The house behind the guard rail is bright yellow for Christ's sake. My wife and I sat and watched it. My wife actually saw the whole thing happen while she was practicing her bass for tonights show. Crazy seeing an accident.

What's the kid do? While waiting for a tow truck, he decides to play soccer in the street with his friend, while traffic is trying to dodge him. Still not comprehending its rainy, a busy street and getting dark and wearing dark clothing while chasing a stupid ball around.

Ughhh... People never learn.

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Observations Part 13: North Korean Cuisine

North Korean's Waiting for rice (read more)

No sooner than I give my favorite oppressive dictator, Kim Jong Il some love in my last post, linking his Stalinist News Media to my wildly popular and successful blog(not!), he posts on his media's blog this story(and I normally would supply the link or address but I think they made their site with a Commodore 64 or Dos-based computer with 512k RAM):

Courtesy of Kim Jung Il

Health Food Made in DPRK

Pyongyang, April 29 (KCNA) -- Compound nutrient powder and jelly have been made in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea to improve people's health. Contained in them are 17 kinds of amino acids and natural ferments, various vitamins, 7 sorts of microelements, etc.
They are popular among miners and coal-miners and those with other labor-consuming jobs.
They are also efficacious for preventing and curing digestive disorder, tuberculosis in early stage, arteriosclerosis and aging.
They, made in consideration of the daily average amount of vitamins, salt, microelements and dextrose needed for recovery from physical and mental fatigue, were registered as state inventions in the 7th national exhibition of inventions and new technologies.

Efficacious?? (I had to look it up, too!) People are freaking lining up for rice and now they're serving paste? What the hell is that? And it prevents you from aging. Man, I'll tell you if I lived in North Korea, I'd wanna die as soon as possible because starvation, malnutrition and that pesky bloated stomach looks like it would be a quite unpleasurable experience. "...for recovery from physical and mental fatigue..." Uh, steroids .

So what have we learned here? Some liberals are recognizing on their blogs the anniversary of George W. Bush's landing on an aircraft carrier and announcing "the end of MAJOR combat operations in Iraq" with their usual cynicism and "Bush-bashing". The keyword in that famous landing was "MAJOR". I'd classify "end of Major" as being end of launching cruise missles 24/7 or stealth bombing raids. What'd you think he sat there end said it was over? The more you continue to bash Bush about, the more out of touch to helping solve the problem you will be come.

This anniversary does relate to North Korean's state of nutrition. How? Very simple. You have an un-Democratically elected imbecile leading North Korea, Kim Jong Il, (featured here, sort of) using his absolute authoritative control to run his country into the ground. The dude's paranoid and is using everything in his power to gain control of a nuclear weapon so he can use it possibly on a neighbor, Japan or South Korea. Sound familiar to anyone? "Liberals" are all bent on Bush and the war yet clearly cannot comprehend life and the right to live free and prosper and the sacrfices needed to say: Mission Accomplished. Note their stance on abortion.... (did I go to far?)