Thursday, August 31, 2006

An Un-Civil War: Marvel's Half-Ass Indictment of the War on Terror Pt. 2

A civil liberty or civil liability?

(Ed.: Okay, when I said conclude … um, I lied.)

We don't need your Civil Wa-aw-awr! What the hell's up with Spiderman's neck?Before I get to the meat of this second installment, I should probably say that I deliberated for some time before I decided to write anything about the Civil War series. That is, I really pondered as I read and re-read sections of the books whether or not the Marvel writers and editors really seemed to have a between-the-lines agenda or if I was reading into something that just wasn't really there.

Well, I certainly think those who don't agree with me could make a good argument. The government in the Marvel universe is notoriously corrupt. Think of all the conspiracy theories about our government throughout history – Marvel incorporates most of it. Corporations are criminally led and have a tremendous amount of influence and control over the government. In some comics, there's the implication that there is a shadow government run by corporations, criminals and super-secret organizations. That's the world in which they operate.

So, the argument could be made that rejecting this evil government is more patriotic and true to the intention of the founding fathers. And that, given the well-documented history of corruption, the Marvel universe is too different from ours to be any kind of commentary -- overt or covert -- on current day goings on. And they might be right.

But there were subtle underpinnings here and there. Supporting characters making comments here and there about fascism, comparing activities to those of the Nazis, and would generally talk about the steady decay of people's civil liberties.

Then something clenched it for me. One of the characters who was supposed to have died the horrible explosion that set all of this off, survived. He was apprehended and taken to a SECRET GOVERNMENT CONTAINMENT FACILITY. He was given simple choices, but all his rights were trampled all over. He was considered an "enemy superhero combatant." And it suddenly came into focus – this series is, at least in part, an underhanded way of bashing the Bush administration's social policies regarding the War on Terror.

And Civil Liberties seems to be the big problem that most of these heroes seem to have with the registration. They have powers, they want to use them to fight crime, but they have to register with the government. They fear what would happen if their names were made public – if some criminal or villain got a hold of that list – what could happen to the people they love.

The assumption on their part is that because they have the powers, they have an obligation (and in some cases, a holy mission) to use it for good. And that by requiring licensing, the government is trampling on their rights to use these powers.

Now, all this is quickly glossed over because, to me, it seems like a ridiculous argument. You may have been born with the natural ability to kick someone in the head faster than anyone in the history of the planet. But that doesn't give you the right to go around kicking people in the head.

Drivers have to get licenses to drive. Hunters to hunt, fishermen to fish … man, Marvel really went off the deep end here, I think. Just because you are good at doing something, doesn't give you the right to act on the behalf of your fellow man doing it. We require some oversight, buddy.

And instead of dealing with this issue simply, the character get hot, bothered and fight. Which happens all the time in the Marvel universe. But this time it's really a war. It's going to have long-lasting implications on the cannon, and it's dumb.

More than just having weak reasons to get so upset, many of the Marvel characters are acting quite out of character. Reader Mr. Black and White noted in the comments section of the last post the disparity between how you would expect certain heroes to react to the situation. And that, gentle readers, is the subject of the next, and last (promise!) post.

Will Cullen make a salient point? Will there be vindication? Will Thor make an appearance? Find out the answers to these questions and more tomorrow – same pica time, same pica channel!

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Changes, they are a comin'

I think that a good many of my visitors here are also visitors to Faster Than The World. For those of you who don't spend much/any time there -- you should.

Especially in the upcoming weeks. Turtle and Michele are modifying the site into more of an online magazine format. With that they are bringing on external writers to produce daily, weekly, bimonthly and monthly content.

Yours truly will be writing a weekly column on, what else, guitars. I've been thinking that I would kill the Because I'm All About the Guitar columns here and just cross post my columns there here (if that made any sense). But what I think I'm going to do is focus my technical and essay writing over there and the BIAAtG posts here will be video or music posts that will support the subject I will have written about at FTTW.

I look forward to some exciting times. I think we're on the cusp of something big here. There's a lot of talent putting a lot of effort into this. I hope everyone stops by to check it out.

An Un-Civil War: Marvel's Half-Ass Indictment of the War on Terror Pt. 1

Capt. America's shield dipped in blood ... Oooooh!I am a comic-book geek. When I was a kid, I had a weekly list. Most of my allowance went to four-color newsprint. I kind of set aside the habit, but because of the digital age I can once again indulge in this guilty pleasure.

Recently I acquired Marvel's Civil War series and tie-in book, to date.

The series, for those non-comic followers and those who don't know, is creating a complete upheaval in the Marvel universe (the comic company that's given us Spider Man, the X-Men, the Hulk, Capt. America and many, many more). Basically, the plot revolves around the concepts of superhero registration and civil liberties.

In the comic, a group of super heroes are on a reality TV show reminiscent of the real show Dog The Bounty Hunter. They are hunting a crew of what they think are "B" grade super villains. They catch them somewhat unaware and storm the villains at home. All caught on live TV.

As they're fighting, one of the villains, Nitro - who has the power to create huge explosions around him (without hurting himself, of course), flees the scene. He's tracked down by one of the superheroes who is about to attempt to catch him when he uses to power to set off a huge explosion. Unfortunately, they're in the middle of suburbia, he's standing right next to a school and the blast radius is huge. He winds up killing all of the superheroes, his fellow supervillains and hundreds of people in the town including many schoolchildren.

This action spurs the public outcry against all super-powered persons. The government creates and quickly passes a Superhero Registration Act that requires any super-powered person, who wants to continue fighting crime, to sign the registration and become an agent of the government. Otherwise, they must retire from active crime fighting or they'll become a fugitive.

Of course, there are those who support the registration – Iron Man, surprisingly Spider Man and Mr. Fantastic, She-Hulk and many others – just as there are many who do not (Capt. America being the primary non-registration leader). This sparks a war between the superheroes which is all part of the Mighty Marvel Manner honestly, because they have a habit of having good guys fight. In fact, good guys probably fight more than they fight bad guys. Crap half the stories are good guys mistakenly fighting each other or good guys trying to decide how good they really are or if they're just some kind of anti-hero or something. But I digress.

On the one hand, this is a very natural step for Marvel Comics to have taken. Since the early days of the X-Men back in the '70s, they've pushed the concept of the Mutant Registration Act. Which required mutants with powers to register their name and power with the government. Not if they wanted to fight crime or anything, just because they exist. It's obvious to see the evil and racism going on there. Which was kind of the writer's intent.

Superhero registration growing out of this pre-existing environment – in this fictional world, only makes sense. However, the two concepts diverge in intent. The mutant registration act was born out of irrational fear and drew parallels to the Nazi registration of the European Jewish population. The comics that dealt with these issues were as dark and foreboding as the real-world issues they were mimicking.

This modern concept, in Marvel reality, is born out of very rational fear. Here you have a world infested with being of immense power, who take it on themselves to police society, without any oversight. Honestly, I'm surprised it's taken Marvel's writers this long to come to this conclusion. I really think that most people would want their crime fighters to be licensed. It only makes sense.

There is a scene in one of the books that – to me – is the be all, end all argument. Reed Richards, Mr. Fantastic, is speaking with a reporter of the Daily Bugle (Spider Man's newspaper – well former newspaper, he wound up unmasking himself and getting fired). It boils down to this:

Anyone can make a citizen arrest. You can detain, but you must stick around and wait for the cops to show up. That is legal and is the foundation of most bounty hunter's way of life. However, if you just whomp up on someone and leave them for the police – while it might have been an ethically good thing – you are guilty of assault and are just as much in the wrong as the criminal.

Superheroes, while fun to read about, are essentially vigilantes. Even in the context of their own mythical universe, they are breaking the law by beating up on people and just leaving it to the law enforcement agencies to clean up. They are not officially sanctioned by anyone and, given the history of every comic Marvel has ever put out, are just about as dangerous as many of the supervillains. Scarier in some ways because all their damage is collateral.

These superheroes are, in their mind, exercising their God given, or God granted, gifts for the betterment of humanity. Which brings me to the main counter-argument: Civil Liberties. Which I will cover and conclude in Part 2.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Feel good juice

Naw. Got nothing. Just a funny headline and no exposition. It happens.

Fire it up...

We had some friends over for dinner last night. They are moving soon and we're trying to see them as much as possible without taking time away from their moving preparations. Dinner is good because not only do we get to spend time together, but we take the burden of making a meal off of them. Good times.

Any time I get to fire up the grill is a good time. It's been a few weeks. Just haven't felt moved. Which is weird, 'cause normally I grill, on average, once a week. Maybe it's been too darn hot this summer, but I just haven't kept up with that average.

I'm not sure if I've really talked about grilling too much here. I know I've brought it up in the comment sections of other blogs. I am a grilling fanatic, normally.

I am a charcoal man. I like to build the fire against one side of my Weber and not spread it out. This gives me a hot side and a "cool" side of the grill for searing and cooking. I like to use hickory and, since I have so much in my yard, pecan woods for smoke. I used to soak the wood and sprinkle it right on the coals, but my dad bought me a cast iron smoke box that is just too cool for school.

So what're your grilling techniques?

Monday, August 28, 2006

Time keeps on ticking ...

You know that thing where you look at the clock and are surprised at the time? I mean, it's later than you think it is. But then, if this happens relatively early in the day, you're pissed off because then you're acutely aware of what time it is for the rest of the day.

This was me a few minutes ago: "Wow, it's already 10 a.m. Awwww, damn!"

The 3998?

Of course, they've lost more than just two, but that was last night's episode.

Anyone else watch the season finale of The 4400? I felt is was disappointingly good. If that makes any sense.

See, I really enjoy the series. But I've often felt that the writing is too cheesy sometimes. But just when I feel that way, they put out an episode or introduce a twist and some good writing that sucks me right back in.

Last night was that kind of episode. It didn't deliver on some of the build-up the previews promised, but it did offer some really good twists.

Next summer's a long way away for the next season.

The IHOP that’s no longer there

When I first got out of high school, I didn’t want to go to college. I didn’t know what I wanted to do (and in many ways, I still don’t), but I knew that I wasn’t ready for more school. So, I entered the work force.

I had a crappy job. I worked for a newspaper (Gulfport’s The Sun Herald) in the back room. We were the last stop before the news papers went to the drivers. We put the advertising inserts into the papers (using giant machines called, oddly enough, inserters) and divvied up the bundles.

I worked nights. I could get time off to see shows. It was a life.

Before I started working there, my friends and I would hang out at the local IHOP to all hours of the morning drinking coffee. When I got the job, just around the corner from this IHOP, I would pop in before my shift and pop in afterwards. Without fail, someone I knew would be there – regardless of the time.

I had a large crew of friends and acquaintances and IHOP, along with a couple of other places, was our meeting place. It was the common denominator in our lives. Some of us listened to the same music. Some of us read the same books. Some of us went to the same schools. Few of us shared many traits. All of us shared IHOP.

Good eats inside.What’s weird within any large group of friends that exists in a relatively small area (at the time, as the casinos were just getting started, Biloxi and Gulfport together had, maybe, a total population of 300,000 – 350,000 people), is when someone enters the group, who everyone else seems to know, but you’ve never met.

It happened. Not too often, but it did. One night I popped in after a particularly short shift at work and found someone new at our regular table. I didn’t know her, but several of my friends obviously did.

I’m not sure what attracted me to her at first. We started talking and just hit it off. She had lived in the area before – graduated from Biloxi High with some of the crew and moved out to Arizona with her mom to go to school. Things didn’t pan out there and she moved back to the Coast.

We talked more and made plans to see each other again.

We got married about a year and a half later.

Every time we went to the coast, we made a habit of stopping into the IHOP, at the very least buzzing the parking lot just to reminisce. Unfortunately, a very large storm hit the coast almost exactly one year ago. The IHOP no longer stands.

It’s sad that we no longer have that building as a physical reminder of our early days. But it’s refreshing in that while a building fell to a monstrous storm, our relationship has endured through its own turbulence. I mean, the flotsam and jetsam of life’s storms is a necessary evil and it’s refreshing that our port in these storms is the relationships we hold dear. Not something as fleeting as a coffee shop.

Oh, the storm took out the Denny’s too.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Because I’m All About the Guitar: Intonation

It’s been a while since I’ve done one of my micro-clinics, so I decided to dust off the ol’ brain and get a substantive entry out there.

Back in January, I wrote an entry about the vibrato tremolo. One of the things many guitarists overlook when they purchase a guitar, is how easy it is to adjust the intonation. In fact, in my experience, I have found that many guitarists don’t even know what those adjustment screws are for on the bridge.

What I hope to do here, is explain what intonation is and why it’s important to guitarists. At the end, I’ll have some links to some sites that provide really good information on how to set your intonation.

Setting intonation on a tune-o-matic style bridge.One of the first things you should look at on the bridge of any guitar you may want to buy – regardless of whether or not it’s a stop tail or tremolo bridge – is how easy it is to adjust the intonation. If you can adjust it at all.

There are bridges out there that don’t allow for any change in intonation. It’s common on the wrap-around style stop-tail bridge. Some string-through-body electrics fail to use a bridge with a adjustable saddles.

Adjustments in the bridge cause the saddles, the point where the string passes over a tension point, to move forward or back. This raises or lowers the string slightly causing minor changes in pitch. The more the saddle can be moved forward or back, the greater control you have over the pitch.

A standard Telecaster style bridge allows a great degree of change in intonation.In my experience, on the most adjustable bridges, in terms of intonation, is the Fender Telecaster style bridge. Those long screws have a very good range. This is one of the reasons the Telecaster has been one of the most sought after electric guitars in history. It’s unique sound is due, in part, to it’s bridge.

Arguably the most famous guitar in history, the Fender Stratocaster is another guitar with easily adjustable intonation.The Telecaster’s sister guitar, The Stratocaster, is another guitar with a good degree of intonation adjustment and easy access. The Stratocaster’s floating tremolo was the first of its kind and exists today almost exactly as it was first introduced. The ease with which one can set up, modify and use the bridge is a testament to Leo Fender’s genius.

Again, many people seek out the Stratocaster (or Strat copies) for their sound. A combination of pickups and the bridge produce that thick, buzzy tone common on a huge chunk of Rock and Roll.

So, the question you’re probably asking yourself, if you’ve read this far, is, “Why the heck is this so important?”

Have you ever picked up a nice looking guitar, tuned it up, strummed a nice big G chord and it sounded awful? Even though you just tuned it? You might even go back and double check your tuning. It’s still on, but the strings just don’t seem to sound right when played together.

How about when you’re playing notes on a string and it sound great open, it sounds great for the first five frets, but suddenly it starts going sharp or flat the further you go up the fret board?

These are both issues with intonation. Your guitar can be in tune but the intonation ensures that it keeps its tuning as you fret the strings. Now, most of the time, if you use the same gauge strings all the time, and your guitar was set up when you bought it, your intonation stays set. Any changes tend to be so slight that you really can’t hear them. But I know you and you know me and guitarist like to mess with crap. We’re not content to just play our guitars and occasionally change strings. We have to mess with the bridge and get inside and see the guts of the thing. Well, somewhere along this road, you probably screwed up your intonation.

The good news is that if you have a good bridge, it’s pretty doggone easy to readjust. The bad news is that it usually takes a lot of time. To check and adjust your intonation, you’ll need a tuner, a tool to make the adjustments and one-and-a-half cups of patience.

First, tune your guitar. I’m going to assume that you tune standard so when I say “open low E string” or “open high E string,” I’ll be talking about the string and the key. If you use non-standard tuning, just convert the key as necessary.

Once you’re in tune, you can begin checking your strings’ intonation. I start at the high E string. Pluck it open and make sure it’s still in tune. Then fret the string at the 12th fret and make sure the tuner reads it as E and is not sharp or flat. If it’s sharp or flat, you need to adjust the intonation. To fix a flat, you have to increase the string tension. You do this by moving the saddle further away from the neck. To fix sharp, move the saddle closer to the neck.

When making adjustments, it’s important to make very small turns of the screw. Quarter turns are what I use. Then you must retune the string and then check the intonation again.

After you get your open string key intoned with the octave (12th fret) I also suggest you check the intonation of the natural harmonic at the 12th fret and the fretted note. They should be identical. If the harmonic is sharp or flat to the fretted note, then your intonation is still off.

You can see how this is a time-consuming process. But, if you want the best sound you can get, it really should be done. And, once you get it set, if you use the same string gauge, your intonation will most likely stay set between string changes.

Good tunin’ axe grinders!

Resources:
Project Guitar’s article on setting intonation. This is also a good resource for a lot of guitar-related information.

Fret Not Guitar Repair: A very good article about intonation that makes my layman’s term article look like a fifth grader’s paper.

Access Rock: A very basic guide to stringing and setting guitar intonation.

I am guesting

I have a guest post up over at Faster Than The World. Make sure to go by and check 'em out.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Who Wants a Show that Sucks?

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingI fell for it. I mean, Who Wants to be a Superhero sucked me in. I have been held rapt. It's been right up my alley, comic book geek that I am.

But tonight, the second to the last show, they committed suicide. They kicked off the best character, the odds on favorite to win -- Major Victory aka Chris Watters. I am surprisingly upset. As though I knew the dude personally, that's how much I've grown to like his persona.

And now, the show is hollow. The two remaining "contestants" are jokes. One is far too serious and the other, while I support her in her message, is just not right for this competition. Everyone watching this program knows that Fat Momma should have gone home tonight for a variety of reasons.

ARGH! I cannot believe I'm this upset over a freaking TV show!

Damn you Stan Lee! I am now your nemesis!

Drown my sorrows in your luscious chords

I live across town from where I work, so I don’t often get to go home for lunch. And buying lunch gets too expensive over time. Most of the time, I bring lunch from home to save money.

We don’t have a lunch room, cafeteria or official eatery in our building. There is a restaurant on base, but getting in my car to go somewhere kind of defeats the purpose of bringing my own lunch. So almost every work day, I wind up eating lunch at my desk. And I have a co-worker who does the same.

And I have a problem with it.

I take care, when eating around others, to be as considerate with my noise as possible. I don’t slurp. I don’t chew with my mouth open. And I really do try not to scrape my teeth on my fork. My coworkers, one in particular, does not show this same respect.

He smacks, chews, bites, swallows, crunches slurps and scrapes without regard to anyone around him. It bugs the effin hell out of me. I mean, this is a pet peeve I’ve had as long as I can remember. And I don’t know how to tell the dude.

So, I cover up the noise as best I can with music. Working in the kind of office I do, I can’t listen to headphones, or else I would most definitely own a pair of those Bose noise cancelling muthas. But playing music aloud is fine. So that’s what I do.

There is a fine line you have to draw. You have to be picky about what kind of music you play and how loud you play it. At what level is the music loud enough to be enjoyable and still be in the background? At what level can I play the music to cover up my inconsiderate co-worker’s apple chomping?

A funny aside: As I type this he is right now opening a pack of snack crackers and smacking away to his delight.

There’s a balance. I tend to play progressive rock. Not just because I like it, but because the songs are really long, you can play them pretty loud because they’re mostly instrumental and even if other coworkers aren’t fond of the style of music, it’s not too offensive to their sensibilities.

Anyone else ever dealt with this or something like it? Do you use music to cover anything up? Let me know.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

I kid because I love

I have already shared this video with my linkees, but in light of certain developments within the Marine Corps I felt I had to share this view into Marine Corps life with the rest of you:

Of Heartstrings and Hula Hoops

Amazing how some things are forever (relatively, anyway) -- diamonds, heroes, and having fun with one of the simplest inventions ever: the hula hoop.

Recently, we picked up a pair of the plastic hoops and my kids have been in hula heaven. My five-year-old girl especially loves them. She will stand in the living room, hoops at the ready and demand attention: "Daddy! Watch me do hula!" "Daddy, watch me dance and hula!" "Daddy, watch me jump and hula!"

I don't know where all this enthusiasm came from. But it's cool.

What I do know is that there are few moments in life clearer than this: "Daddy! Daddy! Doing two hula hoops is like doing one except you use two."

Bleorg

Look, dudes. I really want to give you guys a reason to stop by here every day. And, I have, like, nothing. So here's a list of the 10 most common causes of accidental death.

Look to the side bar for other interesting top ten lists.

Doomsday

So, did I miss the nuclear assault, or what?

Monday, August 21, 2006

Lightheaded ... in a good way

My ear is better. So I no longer have a swollen head. Well, literally anyway.

So how's everyone else doing?

School's going pretty well. I had my other two classes Thursday evenining and Friday evening/Saturday morning. They are Physical Science and History/Philosophy of Adult Edcuation. Both have fantastic instructors which will help the course content go down much easier. It's pretty weird though. I'm taking three classes through one university, but they don't run concurrently. Each class runs for three weekends with a weekend off between each class meeting. So the classes wind up running the entire semester, but each class is very compressed. Additionally, I'm taking an online English through Georgia's online core class curriculum. I am taking the Physical Science at a local college as a transient student.

The college I'm attending, that is, the one that's going to be giving me my degree is an hour down the road. We have satellite classes at yet another local university. So, when all is said and done, I'm attending three schools and having classes at a fourth. Odd, no?

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Fast cars. Fast songs. Speeding tickets.

Stolen, ripped off, completely and shamelessly adapted to my site from my buddy Alex:

The concept is simple: List 10 songs that make you want to push down the gas pedal. Make sure to go visit Alex, who also blogs at Autoblog, and see his list.

Here is my list:

Jesus Built My Hotrod - Ministry
Motorbreath - Metallica
Stream of Consciousness - Dream Theater
United Forces - SOD
Blitzkrieg Bop - The Ramones
I Am the Law - Anthrax
Surf Nicaragua - Sacred Reich
Suicide Doors - Reverend Horton Heat
Are You Gonna Go My Way? - Lenny Kravitz
When World's Collide - Powerman 5000

And man, I could continue. What're yours?

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Insulting my intelligence in the name of education

Most of you know that I work for the military for a base newspaper. I know that may be hard to believe by virtue of my comments at your blogs and some of my posts here. I actually do know what I'm doing with this here writing stuff. I just don't self-edit very well on this here bloggy thingy.

Anyway, some time ago, eight years or so, I CLEP'd out of English 101 and 102. It's never been a problem. Until now.

Apparently my college doesn't like those CLEPs, so I'm having to take those English classes. And it's painful. And funny. What's funny about it is that the class is geared toward essay writing with an emphasis on passing the Regents exam -- a required test that everyone in the University System of Georgia has to pass. I've already taken and passed the test.

So, easy A, huh? Well, not necessarily. I've already effed up. You see, I've already let the cat out of the bag that I'm a journalist. So my stuff's going to get graded rather harshly, methinks.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

When it rains, it pours ...

And apparently, you get ear aches.

Yesterday, my ears felt like they were stoped up, like when you can't equalize the pressure. By the time I got home, there was a pain in my left ear. I took some home remedy measures to try and nip things in the bud. Didn't seem to work. This morning the area around the ear is slightly swollen and tender. Dammit.

I have plenty of amoxicillin and I have some ear drop stuff. It'll go away eventually. But, I haven't had an effin ear ache since I was twelve. What's up with this?

What's worse is that I can barely hear anything out of it so when someone speaks quietly (like my middle child), I have to lean closer with my right ear dominant. I should start saying stuff like, "Eh? What was that, sonny?" and get a cane.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Slang load operations

Got crunk?Slang. We all use it. New words, re-purposed words, phrases that take on new meanings. Whether you use a dismissive "whatevs," get "crunk," or attend an event that’s "off the chain" we’re surrounded by colloquialisms.

What’s funny to me, is not how jargon differs from culture to culture, that’s pretty obvious, and not even how it differs from subculture to subculture. But what’s interesting is how different slang is employed differently within the same subcultures.

Working for the military, we are all about slang. From FUBAR to SNAFU and pogey bait to geedunk, from latrine to head and headgear to cover – we know how our slang. And there are, of course, certain phrases that are pretty service specific.

The Army has a term: hoo-ah or hu-ah (depending on who’s talking). It’s a multi-faceted term that has many meanings. To the newbie, it’s usually an affirmative response to a drill sergeant’s question. To a slightly more seasoned troop, it means, "Yes, I’m listening. Please continue." To a very seasoned troop it means, "Eff you, but by saying this you think I’m making an affirmative reply." And, by varying the emphasis on the first or second syllable, you can subtly change its meaning. Generally spoken with the emphasis on the first syllable gives the meanings stated above. If you yell it, it’s almost a battle cry. But if you put the emphasis on the second syllable, it becomes sarcastic and is generally used to make fun of someone who says "hoo-ah" seriously a bit too much.

Now, the Marine Corps has a phrase that is almost exactly the same and can be used in many of the same ways. The devil dogs say: "Ooh Rah!" It’s almost always used as an affirmative reply to some question or as an ecstatic cry. However, they will shorten the phrase down to an "Err" witch comes across kind of like a growl. When employed in this manner, it’s far closer to "hoo-ah." You have your affirmative "err," your sarcastic "err," and your dismissive "err."

I’m not sure what the flyboys and squids do, but I’m sure they have something similar.

What I’d like to know is what kind of slang do you use in your career fields? I’m sure engineers have specific terminology that has become slang for something. Educators? Chemists? City employees?

And, what is the funniest instance you’ve ever encountered of someone employing slang -- used correctly or incorrectly? We had this noncommissioned officer in my shop at Fort Huachuca who was very disconnected with the times. Which wouldn’t have been quite so bad, had he been aware of his disconnection. Once, we were having a discussion and one of the new privates in the office made some fun at the staff sergeant’s expense to which the SSG replied, "Are you dishing me?" I’m still laughing.

So, what’re yours?

Nothing to report

Nothing new yet, my fellow interweb rangers. However, make sure you go by Tracey's today where she's serving up healthy slices of pie.

Monday, August 14, 2006

He'p me update

So, Friday, I was moaning like a parapalegic in an ant bed about a GI Bill problem I was having with my school. I asked for advice about how I should handle it.

After I got home Friday, I talked it over with the wife. She, like some of you, thought I should contact the VA advisor's supervisor. Well, I decided to split the difference and find out who was responsible for communicating the information to the VA. I was determined to let someone feel my pain.

But, in a fit of lucidity I seldom possess, I decided to first contact the VA office at my school to see if there was any change in the status of the problem. To my surprise, the VA advisor worked on the problem Friday and set it up for my information to be certified even though the Atlanta VA office is still working on certifying the other school.

So, kudos to my VA dude. Am I ever glad that I chilled out Friday rather than flying off the handle. Thanks for the advice from everybody.

I am comitted to kicking my own ass

I can't seem to go any length of time without some part of my body failing. And, shit, it's not that I'm that old. I guess I was harder on my body in the past than I thought.

Anyway, my knees (which I have reoccuring problems with also) decided to go out this weekend. They didn't take me with them.

I am aware of how much my weight and my current fitness level (read: anti-fitness) have to do with this. I'm just wondering what's going to have to happen before I decide that enough's enough. And all those other cliches.

Hopefully not much more.

/Pitiful complaining.

There can be only one ...

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingNow hold still while I chop off your head with this steak knife.

Those crazy Scots have gone and banned swords to combat "violent crimes." Next thing you know they'll be banning kilts to combat lewd behavior, or ban Mr. Summers to combat disappearing livestock.

Friday, August 11, 2006

He'p me, he'p me

Know what this would do to a VA advisor's head?Okay, I had a very bad conversation with my Veteran's Affairs financial advisor this morning. I have been ignoring it as much as possible because immediately following the conversation, I wanted to punch someone in the neck.

They are screwing up my GI Bill. And it's entirely their fault.

For those of you who don't know, when you are going to school, and you have the GI Bill, you receive a monthly stipend. It's a considerable sum of money and is meant to help defray the cost of living while attending school. Regardless of intent, it is a right of every service member who elected to buy into the program.

This is only my third semester at this school, but so far their VA dept. has left a lot to be desired. The first semester getting information from them was about as difficult as retrieving a club sandwich from a great white. The second semester I was late in getting information to them, so my payments were delayed (this was my fault, but I was used to my old VA advisor at another school who did automatic updates within the same school year). This semester I took great pains to get all my information to them early.

I hadn't heard anything from the VA (I usually get at least an e-mail confirming their receipt of my critical information for the semester), so I called them this morning. Yes, they had received my information. Everything was good on my end.

HOWEVER, they had some problems. See, back two semesters ago, the satellite training facility moved from classrooms here on the Marine base to classrooms downtown at a local college. The main campus of my school is located an hour down the road and these classes are offered at several satellite campuses throughout the region.

It appears that no one told the VA about this move. 'Cause, see, they gotta inform the Main VA office in Atlanta of any changes to the training/education facility. Annually, they have to recertify their VA program through the state. As they were going through this process, they ran across this irregularity and are just now getting around to submitting the information to the Atlanta VA office. It could take as long as a month and a half just for the Atlanta office to do its certification. My information cannot even be sent in for processing until they complete this certification. Once my information is sent, it takes up to six weeks for Atlanta to process it. Which is why I was so keen on getting my information early this time around. I didn't want to have to wait an extra month to get my money from the VA like I did last semester.

Basically, this means that it will probably be December before I can get my GI Bill funds. That is, when this semester is over, I'll get paid for this semester.

The upside is that I'm not losing any money. I'm just not getting it when I'm supposed to be. Which is hard when you have planned on having it and it's completely out of your hands and not your fault that you're not getting it.

Normally, I would just troop on, suck it up, and let the situation fix itself. But I've had repeatedly bad service from this school's VA office. This latest problem is completely unacceptable. I just don't know what to do about it. The VA advisor says that no one told them about the change until just a few days ago so it's not their fault. I'm not sure I buy that.

I was ready to write a nasty gram to everybody and their brother at the school and perhaps the Atlanta VA office as well. I need to calm down considerably before I do that, though.

What do you think I should do innerwebs?

The grossest candy

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingOkay, so sour gummi worms and spiders were moderately gross. Not all that bad really. Though I think, psychologically, jelly babies were pretty nasty.

These candies, by far, take the cake, as it were, for the grossest candies ever.

That's what I call inspiration

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Star Trek inspirational posters. I can't hear you over the sound of their awesome.

Pimp my child

Police said the three signed an agreement specifying the sexual services the girl would perform and the compensation she would receive, including clothing and body piercings.

WTF?

Because I'm All About the Guitar: Because of guys like this

Mr. Guitar, 'nuff said:





Thursday, August 10, 2006

So, yeah ...

I hope none of y'all had/have any flight plans in the near future.

An update, vapid and empty, but still an update

So, last night was the finale of Last Comic Standing. I was happy that Josh Blue won the thing, but I was very upset that Chris Porter wasn't one of the final two. I thought Ty Barnett got far further along than his talent should have carried him.

Oh well. It was funny while it lasted.

Otherwise, things click along as normal. I'm getting ready for school. The registration is done. Financial aid is taken care of. Book are on the way. One week left to steel myself mentally -- which, to me, is the hardest part of this. The teaching adult education classes I take for my major are a joke. I get pissed because I feel like I'm wasting my time when we go over the same subject matter again and again. Additionally, this semester I have to take some core classes that I negelected and some I cleped but this university won't accept. Bastards.

Lastly, I would like to thank everyone who gave me advice regarding buying a domain and hosting, both here and via e-mail. It's probably still months away, but I found several hosting packages in the $4 to $6-a-month price range that I think would suit my needs. The majority of those are 5 GB packages that allow up to 250GB transfers per month. I would like to pick y'all's brains one more time -- for those of you who operate blogs where you're hosting/posting a lot of graphics and music: What's your average uploads per month? Feel free to e-mail me if you'd rather not post here.

I have decided what the site is going to be. I'm going to host a blog (I'm probably going to forward this one, but will wind up renaming it) and also have a page for orginal music that I will produce. I'm coming up with a generic band name under which I can produce this stuff in my head and I think I have a good one (name, that is). I will probably be looking to make a lot of the tunes a collaborative effort, so, my musically inclined friends, don't be surprised if I contact you asking if you'd like to participate.

I'm thinking about doing rockabilly/country-fried rock in the vein of The Reverend Horton Heat, Mojo Nixon, Chet Atkins, as well as other punk stuff. Given that info, tell me what you think of my proposed name: Powerstroke Poppa and the Lonely Highway Players.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

A domain

I'm thinking about buying a domain. I would move the blog. Owning my own domain would allow me to do some more creative things with music that I've been wanting to get back into.

Anyone got any advice or opinions?

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

There once was a post ...

... On my blog.

Quitter!

Faster Than The World is discussing quitting smoking. I have done it twice. The first time, I lasted for six months. I was doing fine, but during preparation for deployment to Afghanistan, I slipped off the wagon. Probably a good thing given the environment there.

But I quit again in Dec. 2004, kind of as a birthday present to my wife; mostly because I needed to do so. Over a year and a half later and I occasionally get a craving but I don't feel like I need one.

Quitting addictive substances is hard. But do you think it's harder to be moderate? I do.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Monday's statement of the obvious

Dave Mustaine, in terms of guitar playing and song-writing, is a god among men.





Friday, August 04, 2006

7 years ... ?

I'm too sexy for this mirror.Have you ever wondered how easy it is to break one of those cheap, full-length mirrors you can get at Wal-Mart? Apparently my children and their friends did.

I heard my middle child screaming that she'd stepped on something and I ran back to my girl's room to see what was the matter.

Their mirror -- which had only gone up yesterday, by the way -- had come off the back of their door, and was leaning against their wall. One of their friends didn't realize how fragile it was, leaned against it and "crack!" I certainly hope her parents already have decent life and health insurance. Seven years, chica.

Through the looking glass.So, I carefully took it out of their room and cleaned up the mess. The piece of glass in my daughter's foot either fell out or her sister got it. They were all getting ready to go see Barnyard, so I think she could have severed her foot at the ankle and still have been fine with going out.

As they were getting ready to leave, I was taking the mirror out to the dump and looked down into the cracked surface, dusted with glass fragments. "That's an awfully cool photo waiting for you there, bud," I thought to myself. See, I don't generally do this self-portrait kind of thing, but Raymi does it often and I felt inspired.

I surrender to the power of the mirror!So, that's how it happened. At first I figured, "Nah. I'll just go ahead and toss it." But I rethought, set the mirror down gently and quickly ran inside and got my camera.

Let me tell you, self portrating, in a mirror, to get the desired effect, on the fly, ain't too easy. I wish I'd had a little bit more time to compose. I wish I had my D-1 from work with the polarizing filter so I could have killed some of the excessive glare. But, anywho, my little Kodak Easyshare did the job admirably.

I can now crack all kinds of expressions.

Force a mood

I am trying to stay happy today. There is amazingly little to do at work today, so I have to stay out of that apathy/boredom feeling that creeps in about this time.

No shuffle today, I'm having to be very selective about the music. One song shuffle did select, that makes me happy, is Pink Floyd's Summer '68. Which is funny, because it's really not a happy song. But the music is happy ... makes me happy anyway. Guess that's one of Floyd's musical ironies.

Anywho, Summer '68 rocks:

Would you like to something before you leave?
Perhaps you'd care to state exactly how you feel.
We say goodbye before we've said hello.
I hardly even like you.
I shouldn't care at all.
We met just six hours ago.
The music was too loud.
From your bed I came today and lost a bloody year.
And I would like to know, how do you feel?
How do you feel?
Not a single word was said.
They lied still without fears.
Occasionally you showed a smile, but what was the need?
I felt the cold far too soon in a wind of ninetyfive.
My friends are lying in the sun, I wish I was there.
Tomorrow brings another town, another girl like you.
Have you time before you leave to greet another man
Just to let me know, how do you feel?
How do you feel?
Goodbye to you.
Childish bangles too.
I've had enough for one day.

Because I'm All About the Guitar: The ultimate distortion?

Minus many brain cells, but still kicking ass.Sound. Pitch. Tone. A unique quality that announces your playing style. It's something that every guitarist is after, at least every guitarist seeking a career.

But you can only get so many different kinds of sound withing your genre. Take heavy metal for example. What I had long considered an ever-evolving sound is actually minor variations on a theme.

I have long held Pantera as my ideal for heavy metal distortion. It's rough, a slap in the face, but their sound also has a lot of clarity. Those chords are crisp and don't bleed together like some metal bands.

After some recent critical listening, I was shocked to discover some amazing similarities between Dimebag and Toni Iomi's (Black Sabbath) sound. That chainsaw buzz guitar distortion is present in both guitarist's work.

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingOf couse, Dime's stuff is better produced. Bands of the last two decades had the benefits of better equipment and technologies to put out and album with much better clarity. However, Sabbath had some of the greatest technicians of their era and their stuff really transcends the tests of time.

Compare these two clips and tell me what you think.
Black Sabbath's Into the Void
Pantera's Walk

Interesting similarties, no?

Thursday, August 03, 2006

I got nothing, pt. ad infinitum

Why haven't I posted anything yet today? Because I don't have anything to say, honestly.

The kids started school yesterday -- yes, I know, early as hell -- and all is well with that. The daily grind continues.

But I gotta get something up here daily. 'Cause that's how I roll, internets. I mope about, do very little, and can roll pretty easily if you were to put me on the ground and give a good push. I do not, however, go "Ooh hoo" if you poke my belly ... yet.

In the interest of putting something interesting on here, this is one of the coolest guitars I've seen in some time. It's just like a Jackson Rhodes-style V except it has a small cutaway down near the upper frets. What a simple freaking genius idea!

Also, I have not mentioned it in a while, and you know it bears repeating: The banjo sucks. You should take today as an opportunity to visit your local banjo player/dealership with a pair of wire cutters. Please. Do everyone a favor.

UPDATE: Every pluck of a banjo string adds a second to Castro's life. Do your part!

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Sometimes it's cool...

Where you find discussions that involve your blog.

I am by no means a high traffic site. My highest weekly average was about 250 unique hits a day. Right now I'm averaging about 85-100 and that's up from an average of about 75-90 a couple of weeks ago.

That said, it's interesting sometimes to see where links to your posts wind up. Today I found that a heavy metal music message board from The Netherlands was having a discussion about wood and guitars and referenced this post of mine.

From what I can make out (thanks to Babel Fish) is they're discussing the difference between Ibanez S and RG type guitars and that spawned a discussion about how wood effects guitar sound.

Man. Guitar. The great unifier.

To my guests from The Netherlands: Dank voor langs het ophouden. (Which is "Thanks for stopping by," probably poorly translated.)

105 days

If you're a 9 to 5 schmoe like me, this is how many work days are left in the year. Yay.

Eureka!

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingAnyone else enamored with this show? And if you are, are you also upset that the writing isn't as good as it should be?

The premise of the show is fantastic. The storylines okay. Character development is nominal and the dialogue is pretty cheesy. You can tell what the creators wanted to do with the show. They wanted to give us the X-Files and Twin Peaks meets Desperate Housewives. The problem is that the writing is on par with Men in Black. Instead of giving us a fresh imagining of this cool idea, we get rehashed cheese packaged in this neat setting.

I'm still addicted, and I hope the writing gets better (it is only the third episode). If you haven't seen it, click on the link above to get to the Sci Fi Channel Eureka page. They have the two-hour premiere episode on web cast.

Because I can't think up my own stuff today

Ask a male porn star.

Excerpt:
Perhaps you could accentuate this point with a reacharound and a "rusty trombone."

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Happy Birthday MTV

Don't you wish we still played music videos?It's been an eventful twenty-five years. I think I speak for everyone when I say PLAY MUSIC VIDEOS AGAIN DAMMIT!

Love tunnel

Why does this line:
The house is also filled with so much junk surveyors are worried about the pressure on the floors.

Not surprise me in the least in this story?