Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Let's get unpopular

Music for the moment: "White People For Peace" by Against Me!

"The people sang protest songs to try and stop the soldier's gun"

Let's say some things to make me unpopular today.

Let's get political.

This won't sit well for those of you with children, or those of you who are a few years younger than me...

but I really think we need to reinstate the draft.

Because the youth of today doesn't feel threatened enough to make a difference.

We were at the Warped Tour a little bit ago. Against Me! played this song there, and the kids sang along. "The people sang protest songs to try and stop the soldier's gun." After the show, they went home and played video games or whatever the kids are doing these days.

They played video games while other kids the same age or just a little older than them are fighting in a war that they don't want to be in. A lot of them have been "stop-lossed" and are fighting over there for their second or third time.

A lot of these kids signed up for the army because it was a ticket out of poverty, to get an education. A lot of them were simply duped by recruiters. Some of them are there out of duty, too, feeling like they are doing the right thing. I'm in no position to tell them otherwise, sitting at a computer thousands of miles away, blogging out of self-righteous indignation.

But I can chastise the lily white suburban kids, playing video games and talking about how the war is bad.

This war is vastly unpopular, but where are the gatherings in the streets? Where are the peaceful marches on the mall in Washington?

In the '60s, not that I was there, bands played protest songs and the people responded. Where is the response today? Where are our John Sinclairs and Pun Plamundons?

(Side note - I met Sinclair and Plamundon at a reading last year. Both are still charismatic powerful speakers, and they're still speaking out.)

Bands like Anti-Flag, Against Me! and Valientt Thorr are playing songs that should have the kids united and charging into the streets, demanding an end to what's going on in Iraq, an unjust war being perpetrated by a bunch of old suits who are making a lot of money.

They won't. They're too complacent.

If we had a draft, maybe they'd get off their asses (speaking of which, at the Warped Tour, the child obesity problem was also very evident; there were large numbers of teens who are in really rough shape) and get into the streets and protest. Maybe they'd be burning their draft cards and heading to Canada rather than being shipped off to fight and possibly be killed in war they didn't agree with.

Right now, there's no risk of that, so it's easier to do nothing.

I think the government knows this, and finds it easier to repeatedly risk the lives of the troops they already have, rather than face the wrath of hoards of angry teens, backed up by their angry soccer moms, holding signs that declaring that "war is for the poor," that their kids shouldn't be called from West Bloomfield to go fight, because they're needed to take over the family banking business.

Then again, what do I know? I'm as guilty as they are. I'm not out there either. I'm just blogging about it. How's that for complacency?

Moving on... but staying political... let's talk about Critical Mass.

Critical Mass is another group I strongly believe in, and I get some flack from other cyclists who disagree with them. Granted, their methods may not be always sound, but their motives are pure.

Critical Mass is a cycling group, built around two ideas:

1. Cyclists don't impede traffic - they ARE traffic.
2. For a cyclist, there is safety in numbers.

With this in mind, they meet monthly in cities all over the world, in groups as large as 1,000, to ride.

In some places, this has lead to clashes with the authorities, like in this case that happened in NYC last Friday:

The cop singled the guy out, and bam!

That's assault.

The cyclist is a 29-year-old activist and an army veteran. The cop is a 22-year-old who's been on the force for all of three weeks, and made an official statement that the cyclist rode his bike straight into him, knocking them both down and causing a “laceration” on his arm.

I'm guessing he didn't know there was video.

Originally, the cyclist was charged with a few things and held for 24 hours. The video was posted anonymously on Youtube. There is now an internal investigation going.

This is part of the reason police kind of scare me. Granted, I've known a lot of cool cops, but it only takes one cop who wants to be a prick, and your life could be over. This cop could have made this guy's life hell by lying and filing assault charges, if we didn't live in the Internet age, anyway.

Friday, July 25, 2008

News of my departure is premature...

Actually, we are headed to the beach first thing tomorrow in the AM, because tonight we just found out that Scott H. Biram, the dirty old one-man band, is in town.

Scott is a native of Austin, Texas and an incredible performer. We see him at least once when we're at SXSW, and usually more. He also falls under the category of great musicians who are also really great people.

Seeing this guy on stage is absolutely insane. Here's what I wrote about him on my other Web site after seeing him for the first time:

Scott H. Biram is a character. Or should I say he's a caricature? Either way, he's interesting, both in person, and on stage.

He's probably the toughest guy I've ever met. In 2003, he was hit head-on by an 18-wheeler at 75 MPH and still played a month later - in a wheelchair, with an I.V. dangling from his arm, two broken legs, a broken foot, a broken arm and a foot less of his lower intestine - and he still managed to tear the club apart.

The guy also exudes coolness, in a backwater sort of way. He's friendly and personable but you always are pretty sure you don't want to cross him. We met him backstage, where he was quite mellow and friendly. He chatted with us briefly and introduced us to his dad, who was there for the show and was just as personable.

When he took the stage, it was quite obvious from note one that he had taken ownership of the club, and wouldn't tolerate any lip. He seemed to channel a host of old blues musicians, honky-tonkers and punk rock legends all at the same time, and the crowd took notice. He played a set that was heavily charged and full of nervous energy, despite the fact that he remained seated the entire time, and while you were seeing this guy crank out these sounds with your own two eyes, you couldn't escape the feeling that you were simultaneously listening to them played on some old 78 records you found in your grandfather's attic - after his house had been possessed by an evil spirit.

Seriously, he's great, and we're going to see him tonight. I'm stoked.

Then... THEN... it's off to the beach. I swear.

For the record...

Let me relate a bit of personal experience in order to save you some embarrassment for displaying a less than adequate amount of public decorum.

Upon entering the office, should someone ask, "How are you doing?", it's considered a faux pas to reply with the response:

"I'm feeling a little stabby today."

Just thought you'd all want to know.

Have a good weekend... I'm off to the beach for a few days.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

It's all about putting bodies in the seats...

Music for the moment - "Bodies" by the Sex Pistols

Z did this post where she mentioned the searches that brought visitors to her site. It's a pretty enlightening thought, wondering what people are looking for on the Interwebs that inadvertently bring them to where you post your thoughts.

You'd hope it would be wonderful uplifting keyword searches - people looking for inspiration by way of well thought out keywords. In the end, you'd have a boon of wonderful visitors as well as inspirational words to offer them. It would be a wonderful world for all, the lion would lie down with the lamb, and chimps would get the full rights they deserve as citizens - the chimps that wear pants anyway - because monkeys in people clothes are people too.

So, with all this hope in mind, I checked my search strings - the keywords that bring folks to my site.

Guess what the two most popular searches that bring folks to my site are?

"Corpse disposal" and "Proper corpse disposal"

They both point them to this post, which comes in rather high on Google when one searches those words.

Great. Who are you people?

Never mind, don't answer that.

Another popular search is for the words "official end of summer," where I come in at #1 on Google. That is a much tamer post, and indeed one which marks Z's first visit to this space.

Two other popular searches that lead to my visitors are:
Boobstock - that one surprised me a bit, but apparently people are looking for it
On this day I will marry my friend - that's a sweet thing to search for, but I have a feeling you kids may be a bit outnumbered and overwhelmed by the corpse disposal folks

Additionally, I get a wide range of people looking for cyst-related medical advice that leads them here, as well as ton of people looking in various ways for photos of the woman who allegedly posed nude on the Dodge Challenger at the 2006 Auto Show, which points them here.

Hey, however you end up here, I hope you stay. Even you corpse disposal people are welcome - mainly because you scare me too much to say anything.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Safe Haircare

Safe Haircare
Originally uploaded by alpharat
I’m picturing the Mother/Son conversation that precipitated this.

“I know you’re growing up, and you’re starting to make big decisions. While I wish you would just abstain, I know that may not be realistic.

So I want you to be careful, and if you decide that you’re ready to rock a ‘hawk, use protection.”

That’s a sign of good parenting.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Living in Fear

Music for the moment: "Heatseeker" by Valient Thorr

I have to say I absolutely love this band. Their music rocks in a hardcore meets Lynyrd Skynyrd sort of way, and they have one of the most energetic and entertaining live shows ever. The frontman, Valient Himself, is so charismatic that his only choices in life would have been to either front a rock band or to become a cult leader. I think he made the right choice.

On top of it all, he's a really cool guy. He always takes time to talk with his fans (we are called "Thorriers" by the way, and TFN and I are members of the Great Lakes Thorriers chapter). He's a genuinely good guy.

Oh, and the band is from Venus, by way of NC. They are here to spread a message of positive thinking and brotherhood through the power of rock. I hope they succeed.

The reason I bring them up is that I've seen them four times, including a show in Austin with Wayne Kramer of the MC5. Tonight will be the fifth time I see them, and I'm stoked.

If you weren't too grossed out by the injury photos I posted yesterday, then I have an even more gruesome tale to relate... and it's about living in fear in one's own house.

The day TFN returned from Oregon, I got home from work and we left to go out with a bunch of friends at the aforementioned nice place that had the poor judgment of allowing us free access to the jukebox. After we had our fun, we went home.

Upon arrival at the house, things seemed normal. We went through the various rituals of getting ready for bed, not noting anything out of the ordinary. Shane was lying on his dog bed, happily chewing on one of his toys... no he wasn't.

What was the dog chewing on so happily? I got closer to him, but couldn't tell, so I took it away to investigate.

It was a crusty chunk of material.

After we left, Shane had opened up TFN's luggage, gotten into her dirty laundry, and found one of her socks. It happened to be the sock that she had been wearing when she fell through the cattle grate and sliced her leg to the bone. It was the sock that became soaked with blood in the ensuing ride down the mountain in search of medical attention.

It was a sock that had been soaked in blood.

Human blood.

Now I don't know what to do. I don't feel like I can trust this dog anymore. He's tasted human blood. Can I safely turn my back on him now? Can I sleep safely knowing he's lying on the floor next to the bed, possibly dreaming about that taste that he'll never forget?

Could you trust this beast?

Monday, July 21, 2008

But does it taste anything like chicken?

Z wrote a post recently about rumors that the Chinese practiced fetal cannibalism. I won’t really recap what she had to say, as you can read it here, but it made me want to talk about a book I read recently – Dinner With A Cannibal, by Carole A. Travis-Henikoff (Yeah, that's the kind of stuff I read for fun...).

Travis-Henikoff has researched the cannibalistic traditions of various cultures throughout the world, with some fascinating discoveries.

For one, and accept this as the truth, odds are that cannibalism has happened in your bloodline. It has been practiced by so many different cultures for so many different reasons that you probably have a level of flesh eating in your genes.

But getting back to the actual meat of the book (pun intended), when you look at the legends and histories, so many cultures viewed the “taboo” in so many different ways. In some, it was the way to assure loved ones a peaceful rest and allow them to remain with the family at the same time; in others it was considered a way to vanquish and insult enemies as well as to absorb their strength. In some, it was even an honor to be chosen for sacrifice and consumption for one’s religion.

But to back up Z’s post, simply based on this book, there is no mention of the Chinese indulging in fetal remains or serving them at restaurants. There is a history of cannibalism in Chinese culture, but not in this way. The Chinese have a long history, and therefore have been recorded to practice almost every form of cannibalism known, but they also practice one that has never been recorded elsewhere.

It’s called ko ku, or gegu, and it involves a family member cutting off a piece of one’s own flesh, usually from the thigh, and boiling it into a broth to be served to a dying family member.

I don't think it's practiced any more, though; maybe it tasted just like chicken soup, and they later discovered that chicken soup did the same thing?

As much as that may skeeve you out, the symbolism is heavy and kind of beautiful. I have to ask, if it were either part of your religion where you believed it to be 100%, or if science were to prove it to be true, would you cut off a piece of your flesh to save a sibling, child or parent? I think most of us would. And really, I think my parents have sacrificed much more than a hunk of flesh over the years for me my brother and sister.

It’s just what you do when called upon.

At any rate, this is just a theory, but I have a definite idea that once lab-grown cruelty-free meat becomes a reality (and it really is in the works), you’re going to at least find some cutting-edge trendy places serving lab-grown people meat on the menu, and maybe it will spread to all forms of dining. Family dining? Eating at a mom and pop? Kind of creepy.

She was asking for it.

While I can't really condone the criminal actions that took place recently, you do really have to consider the way she was dressed.

Pink Hummer If you're going to try to cutesify the fact that you're driving a massive gas-guzzling beast by putting her in a little sexy outfit...

You've got to accept the fact that we're going to take advantage of her when nobody's looking. Look at the way she was all gussied up! She was practically begging for it.

To the person who drives this pink beast...

I humped your hummer

We humped your Hummer.

Scarred for Life

Music for the moment - "Bandages" by Hot Hot Heat

Because some of you (Z) have asked, I do have a photo of the damage on TFN's leg in all its grisly glory. For the squeamish, I'll just post a link to the laceration. You can see it in all its majesty here.

Good weekend. Saturday we went to see my niece in a summer theater play. She's only 10, and had a bit part with a handful of lines, but I was really impressed. She didn't seem at all nervous, and I could clearly understand all of her lines. She spoke clearly and enunciated, not mumbling at all, which is more than I can say for some of the older kids. The girl has a career ahead of her in acting, advertising, PR or politics for sure, you know, should she want to sacrifice her soul for one of those careers.

The only problem was that the playhouse is OLD, and it was packed to the brim with a couple hundred people, and was sans AC. Brutal, and not in a sweet death metal brutal way. Baby No Name was stripped down to a t-shirt and skivvies, and I was quite jealous of his ability to do so and avoid arrest in that heat.

Last night, we saw the latest Batman flick. Without giving anything away, it was great, easily the darkest yet. It's not a feelgood film, and Ledger's Joker is one of the darkest yet. It was thoroughly twisted, but we really dug it.

Also, if you're looking for more gruesome grisliness, check out this photo of Coder's contusion, incurred in a bicycle incident.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Path of Destruction

Music for the moment - "Angel of Death" by Slayer

When it was announced that TFN was leaving town, Z had made a comment that at least she knew she'd not be on call to bail us out of jail for a while. For the most part that was true. When TFN was gone, I maintained a relatively subdued existence. Granted, I was out nearly every single night because A.) I hate cooking for one and B.) I get cabin fever very quickly without any human interaction, but my hijinks were minor if not nonexistent.

When TFN got back into town, I remembered one of the best/worst qualities of our relationship - aside from all of the great qualities that we exhibit; best friends, in love and all that, we are also perfectly attuned partners in crime.

Within a few hours of being back together, we found ourselves in a minorly upscale cocktail lounge with friends. Being a Thursday, the special at this particular place was free Internet jukebox after 9 PM.

Right at 9 PM, we stormed the box and loaded it with the aforementioned Slayer, Public Enemy, and indeed any punk, thrash or speed metal song we could find that was fast, loud and preferably over-loaded with f-bombs and patently offensive.

Much headbanging ensued. But only at our table.

Within an hour, we had mostly emptied the lounge, aside from our party of eight.

It was humorous, and no guilt was felt as the waitress knew some of our party and seemed rather entertained as well. We tipped well as well.

So everyone, take note - TFN is back, and we are now intent on ruining your evening. Thank you, we'll be here all week. Try the veal.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

It's like waking up...

Music for the moment: "First Day of my Life" by Bright Eyes

It's really one of the most perfectly written love songs - the sort that sums it all up perfectly. And I've been listening to it nonstop today.

TFN is coming home today.

It's a few weeks early, but she's home for good now, if a little worse for wear.

She got into a confrontation with a cattle grate, and the grate won.

The result was 20 stitches.

She'll be OK, but while I've yet to see the damage firsthand, from what I understand her career has been effectively ended. Her career as a shin model, anyway. She's still going to do the other stuff she does, just no shin modeling. Shin modeling never paid well anyway.

I think she'll adjust OK, though. It's not the first time she's run into this sort of setback. A few years ago a surgery ended her career as an ankle model.

She's still got a perfect pair of elbows, though. Anybody know a good agent who handles elbow models?

So, yeah, I of course didn't get any of all of my projects done, but I missed her and she's coming home today.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Wishing you smooth sailing

ghost pirates
Originally uploaded by alpharat
Mike and Paprika moved away a few days ago.

They just arrived in Austin a few hours ago.

I don't know why they'd pick Austin, as it's nowhere near the water, but here's to the two kids on their new adventure!

Something to believe in...

With all of the messages being shoved at you all the time, it's nice to hear a message that is pure, positive and inspirational to me.

I miss my bike, and going for rides. On a positive note, I have been sans crutch since yesterday afternoon, and while it's still wrapped in a bandage and a little sore, recovery seems to be coming along nicely. Maybe next week I'll go for a bike ride.

TFN is doing very well on her extended voyage. She had a verified encounter with a rattlesnake yesterday, and everyone walked/slithered away with no serious confrontation.

The world keeps turning.

Dogs and cats continue their strained alliance.

C'est la vie.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

The Honey Do List

Music of the moment - "Such Great Heights" by the Postal Service

"And when you scan the radio, I hope this song will guide you home."

That song is for TFN, who I dropped off at the airport this morning as she heads off for a 24-day business trip.

We've never been apart for that long before, but in preparation of this trip, I made a list of items that I wanted to accomplish, including, but not limited to:

1. Cleaning my office
2. Putting trim around the front door
3. Cleaning the basement
4. Staining the deck
5. Writing a story I've had in mind
6. Cleaning the basement
7. A lot of biking

And several other things, too. A lot of stuff, but not too much to accomplish in a month.

Instead, while helping TFN pack last night, I slipped carrying some clothes down the stairs. Sprained ankle. Now, in a house all by myself, all I can do is read and watch movies with my foot propped up.

Hopefully I won't be laid up for too long.

And hopefully I'll be able to bike soon.

For now, I'm just happy that TFN has safely reached her destination, and that I have wine in the house.