Friday, November 28, 2008

Picture of contentedness

Big TV, little boy.

We made it to my parents in Louisiana on Tuesday. I don't know what the weather's like around y'all, but we haven't had to wear jackets this entire vacation. With temps in the 60s and 70s, it's been quite nice.

Hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving and are enjoying your leftovers.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Urine trouble

We're currently in Biloxi visiting family for a few days. One of the stops we always make is to the outlet mall in Gulfport. At this mall there is a small playground for the kids. It's a sandpit with one big jungle gym.

So, we stopped there and the kids and I hung out at the playground while J-Mom went to the kitchen store. The kids took their time climbing on stuff and playing in the sand. While I was busy with Bo on one side of the gym, Daughter Number 1 was trying to climb down a rock wall on the other side. I went over and watch her and then she slips and some of the hand/footholds catch one of her legs. She was in a lot of pain and was just crying like mad. She sat for a moment and then gets up and starts climbing again. "I guess you're not that hurt," I said.

Then I went and started playing with Bo again. I helped him climb up a couple of times and he went down the slide a couple of times. Then I helped him again and he started climbing up to the top slide and just stopped on the stairs. Next thing I know there's a stream of fluid falling from him.


We had just gone to the bathroom. The kid had just peed a huge amount. Yet here, in front of God and everyone, he decides is a good place to have an accident. It was frustrating. But we recovered.

One of the most annoying things he's picked up on is something that makes you feel real bad. As soon as he's done something wrong he backs away from me, looking up with puppy dog eyes and says, "You gonna 'pank me?" It is a heartcrack moment. But he's learned what it does and plays it to his advantage now.

We picked him up a new pair of pants and socks at the Children's Place and put him in a pull-up. Later we went and saw Bolt in Disney 3-D and it was great. It was made all the better by the 3-D. Looks like they're coming out with a bunch of movies in this new digital 3-D format and that's going to be great.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Going to Mississippi and Louisana with an achin' ... in my heart

We're on our way for a week-long trip to visit family. I am not saying that I won't be posting anything, I might, but I will be scarce. I also have school work to take care of so that's a sapper as well.

So, if I don't get to say it again, Happy Thanksgiving to you all!

Genius 8

The wild Reeves Gabrels:

I have not kept up with Gabrels over the past 8 years or so. I first became aware of him when he started playing with Bowie in the (some say ill-advised) Tin Machine. However, it appears that he's gone underground and has moved down the road from me to Nashville. Looks like he plays a local restaurant/club there pretty often. Looks like I'll be going to Nashville sometime soon.

Here he his today playing The Family Wash in Nashville.

This is Gabrels at his best in the '90s. Earthling was a great Bowie album and this is my favorite track from it. In fact, it's one of my favorite Bowie songs ever.

Tin Machine got a bad rap. I think the heavier rock was such a change from what Bowie had been doing, he disappointed a lot of fans. But it was really good stuff. After Tin Machine broke up and the Sales brothers went their own way, Bowie and Gabrels maintained their collaboration for the remainder of the '90s. This track was one of the better from Tin Machine:

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Maybe a hero, probably not

I seldom remember my dreams. When I do, they're usually pretty lucid. Often, they make some kind of weird sense, but last night was not the case. In this dream, I was supposed to meet up with Hiro and Ando from the show Heroes. I was meeting them on Okinawa, but I was driving from my house outside of Memphis. I remember driving down familiar roads and taking some exit off the road and suddenly ... POOF!, I'm in Okinawa.

However, I was supposed to meet Hiro and Ando at a landmark near my house, so I totally blew them off. I got to the meeting point -- a military get-together at Naha Military Port -- and tried to call them, but couldn't get through. Maybe I'm trying to write myself in to the new season. My super power would be creating teleportation portals off of highways for the vehicle in which I'm driving. Or not.

What was weird was that Okinawa was both a mixture of what I remember from there and like some world map from a Final Fantasy game -- oversaturated, fantastical scenery.

My brain is odd.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Genius 7

The original - Link Wray:

Guitarists today owe a lot to Link Wray. He innovated the use of power chords and other techniques most rock and metal guitarists use today. What I think is sad is that many people recognize his most popular work, Rumble, but few recognize the name Link Wray. Considering the impact he's had on guitarists, that's pretty sad.

Here he is in 1978 performing Rumble:

The '70s were experiencing a '50s revival during this time, I gotta believe that the punk movement had something to do with that. This raw '50s music was a far more socially acceptable version of the punk music that guys like the Ramones were playing.

Monday, November 17, 2008

OK, I'm no enviro-weenie

I do understand the concept of being a responsible steward of things. I mean, recycling's generally a good idea and trying to enforce cleaner standards for industry is not a bad thing -- when done responsibly. Everything done responsibly.

However, when I hear the increasing incense about some perceived threat to the environment from the EnviroNazis, it warms my heart when the Bush administration tries to screw them in the waning days of his administration.

Genius 6

The amazing Robert Fripp:

Best known for his work with King Crimson, Robert Fripp is one of the guitarists who revolutionized guitar playing in the late '60s/early '70s. He's one of those guys always attempting to push limits with what can be done with sound and technology. In the above video he's using a tape delay technique he called "Frippertronics." While this doesn't sound at all odd to our ears now, at the time what he was doing was unheard of. Now days he just uses digital delay to achieve the same effects. Lately he's done the boot music for Windows OS.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Genius 5

And speaking of Greg Ginn ...

What can be added to the things that have already been said about Greg Ginn? I find that you either love or hate his stuff. There's really no in between. Some of his earlier work with Black Flag in more conventional, but his later stuff really showed what he wanted to be doing. It's definitely avant garde playing, and that's not for everyone.

The thing that strikes me, and what took me a while to get into Ginn's work, is that it's not pleasant to listen to. It doesn't follow traditional rhythms. It doesn't follow traditional melody patterns. It's abrasive. But that's exactly what Ginn and Black Flag were doing with their music -- being abrasive to the world.

Now, if you go to Youtube and search for Ginn, you'll find a lot of his Texas Corrugators stuff and I find that to be far more listenable, from a jazz perspective. But I think that's just his own maturity as a person coming through. His earlier work was his emotional soundtrack.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Genius 4

The great Wayne Kramer

Yeah, so it sounds kind of like derivative '90s alt rock. Well, guess what? Kramer is the guy that all those '90s alt rockers were ripping off in the first place. In the mid-60s to about 1970, Kramer was the guitarist and driving force behind the powerhouse, protopunk band, The MC5. You can hear Kramer's influence in a lot of guitarists, but it is perhaps nowhere more pronounced than in guitarist Greg Ginn, founder of Blag Flag.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008


If you're not reading Michele's new blog This is Not Pitchfork, go now.

Genius 3

Alex Skolnick was the lead guitarist in the '80s metal band Testament. Unfortunately the band ripped off a bit too much from other popular bands of the time. I remember saving money to buy their third album, Practice What You Preach, and being thoroughly disappointed that so much of it sounded like Metallica. Except, that is, the solo work. Even though it fit well within the framework of the music, there was something different going on there. Something no quite, well, metal.

Flash forward a few years after Skolnick left Testament and I found out he'd left to pursue a jazz guitar career. Nowadays, with his band the Alex Skolnick trio, he can be found taking classic hard rock and metal songs and redoing them in a jazz/bebop style as well as making original tunes.

Oh yeah, you might also catch him on tour with the Trans Siberian Orchestra. He's one of the bands many tour/studio guitarists.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Veterans Day

I usually try and do something interesting on Veterans Day. Last year we did a hike in a nearby nature park. This year, we're having some missionaries from the church over for lunch.

It's a pretty moving day for me. There are a lot of veterans in my family, including myself. And, while this is day for thanking those who gave, I still think of those who gave it all and paid with their lives to ensure that we can live the lives that we do. But more than that, we also try and spread democracy and hope to the world. That's not a very popular notion today, but I think it's more important now than ever. If we don't try and get the world to think like us, it's likely that they'll think against us. It's happening. I fear for the future. However, as long as there are brave men and women and we don't undermine the armed forces, we'll be secure.

Here's a little Veterans Day history:

The Uniforms Holiday Bill (Public Law 90-363 (82 Stat. 250)) was signed on June 28, 1968, and was intended to insure three-day weekends for Federal employees by celebrating four national holidays on Mondays: Washington's Birthday, Memorial Day, Veterans Day, and Columbus Day. It was thought that these extended weekends would encourage travel, recreational and cultural activities and stimulate greater industrial and commercial production. Many states did not agree with this decision and continued to celebrate the holidays on their original dates.

The first Veterans Day under the new law was observed with much confusion on October 25, 1971. It was quite apparent that the commemoration of this day was a matter of historic and patriotic significance to a great number of our citizens, and so on September 20th, 1975, President Gerald R. Ford signed Public Law 94-97 (89 Stat. 479), which returned the annual observance of Veterans Day to its original date of November 11, beginning in 1978. This action supported the desires of the overwhelming majority of state legislatures, all major veterans service organizations and the American people.

Veterans Day continues to be observed on November 11, regardless of what day of the week on which it falls. The restoration of the observance of Veterans Day to November 11 not only preserves the historical significance of the date, but helps focus attention on the important purpose of Veterans Day: A celebration to honor America's veterans for their patriotism, love of country, and willingness to serve and sacrifice for the common good.

So, when Veterans Day falls on a Tuesday, many of us get four-day weekends! Hooray!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Thank you again Great Britain

'Cause this quote is fantastic:

I really don’t see how the Obama devotees can ever in future mock the Moonies, the Scientologists or people who claim to have been abducted in flying saucers. This is a cult like the one which grew up around Princess Diana, bereft of reason and hostile to facts.

Here's the entire op-ed piece.

Genius Pt. 2

Charlie Christian was a guitarist with the Benny Goodman Orchestra, but, like here, did a lot of jam sessions on the side where he would show his prowess at long, improvised jazz guitar solos.

As much of a fan as I am of the guitar and can listen to solo artists play for hours, sometimes the instrument is best in the context of a larger band. I think Christian was at his best within the larger Goodman picture. Pay attention to the music in this next clip (which I think is from Ken Burns' Jazz) and you can here a lot of complex things going on in Christian's playing. As for the rest of the story, I'll let the clip do the talking:

Sunday, November 09, 2008

You can say that again

Thanks to Boomerang, my children get exposed to a lot of cartoons that they would not have otherwise. For instance, this one -- Josie and the Pussycats in Outer Space.

So, Boomerang's got a marathon on and my boy wants to watch it. During the first episode we're watching the crew are fighting bad guy robots. Of course, near the end, there's the obligatory Josie and the Pussycats musical number that they do to beat the bad guys.

In the scene, the main bad guy robot goes: "Stop. Stop! You don't know what you're doing!"

Truer words robot. Truer words.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Is there Life on Mars?

Thank you, thank you, thank you Great Britain for ensuring that the answer to this post's question is, "Yes." Thank you for a wonderful show.

I can't remember which season of Doctor Who it was, but one of the episodes I downloaded included a commercial for the premiere of this show on BBC. I remember thinking that it looked like a wonderful idea, but I never went out to find any episodes. Like so many shows before it, Life on Mars has found its way onto American shore, remade, recast, recycled (perhaps), but done with care.

For those who aren't watching this show or don't know about it (shame on you!), it involves a New York police detective from 2008 getting into an accident and waking up in 1973. In 1973, he's got a job waiting for him at another precinct and he begins his life there. But is he dead? Was 2008 a dream? What's going on? You get the science fiction and fantasy mixed in the a '70s-era cop drama with one character who has 2008 sensibilities. There's a lot going on here and everything is done well.

This show is absorbing. The acting is brilliant and the storyline is fantastic. Since I missed the original BBC series, I have resisted going out and getting them or reading about plotlines or other discoveries because I don't want to ruin anything. I want to continue to be dazzled by our version's mystique.

The lead character of Sam Tyler is wonderfully portrayed by Jason O'Mara who has been in a lot of stuff that I've never seen. The fact that I don't know him helps me think of him only as the main character, a plus that is not shared by Harvey Kietel's portrayal of his boss, Lt. Gene Hunt. It's very hard for me to see Harvey Keitel and not think of him as the actor (or, rather, the past roles he's played), instead of his character. But, in the context of this show, that's a good thing. He's Bad Lieutenant and here he's a bad ass lieutenant. Keitel, while probably too identifiable to pull off something like this in more nuanced work, is fantastic in the larger-than-life role of Gene Hunt. His reputation just adds to the myth behind the guy.

Back to O'Mara though ... the role of Sam requires the ability to be both the hero and the watcher. You know, he's a man out of his own time so he, at times has to sit back and let everything happen around him. Yet he's also the star of this show so he has to step up and keep everything moving. O'Mara pulls this off effortlessly. This could have easily not have been the case. I am reminded of a particular author who loves her creations too much to ever allow them to come to much harm. This author always has her main character drive the plot. Everything is because of her -- either her doing or because things are being done about her. It works on one level, but after a while you begin to wonder if there's any life outside of this one character. You can see how Life on Mars could be that way, yet here's Sam Tyler, he's a star and a watcher who just happens to be there and there's all this stuff that's going on around him. Sure, there's stuff that's going on because of him also, but that's just part of the bigger picture. Writers, actors, director and producers deserve a lot of credit for pulling this off as well as they have.

And it was a concerted effort on their part to pull this off so well. The U.S. version had cut a pilot and ABC decided to recast all of the roles, save O'Mara as Sam, and rewrite some of the underlying ambiguity out, according to Wikipedia's entry on the show. That they have been able to make such a good show gives me hope that Hollywood's still got some tricks up their sleeves, even if it means adapting British shows for our country.

The show obviously borrows on concepts and shows that have before. Most obviously, I think, is Quantum Leap, heck, the main character's even named Sam. There is somewhat of a "sliding through time" kind of feeling. There’s also the displacement feelings you get with Lost and some of the flashes of things that are out of place or are anachronistic. There is also enough death imagery and other flashes that make you think of Jacob’s Ladder and Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead. But what’s really going on here is unknown, at least to the U.S. audience.

Lastly, the understated performance by Gretchen Mol as Annie “No Nuts” Norris is another thing to add to the list of great things about this show. I’ve been a fan of Mol’s since her performance in The Notorious Bettie Page but hadn’t seen much of her since. It’s great to see her here and to see her display her versatility.

It’s quickly become my favorite thing on TV right now. The only problem is that it’s only an hour long and it only comes on once a week.


Any serious guitar discussion that does not involve Django Reinhart is rendered invalid (Django Reinhart(+/-) x discussion topic = coefficient of awesome).

Thursday, November 06, 2008

A post all conservatives should read

My good netfriend Nightfly has written a wonderful two-part post concerning the election and how conservatives should move forward.

Part 1.
Part 2.

It's weird, because when I talk to fellow conservatives, or write on a conservative blog that we should be careful with our words, I've received some pretty extreme replies. That makes me pretty sad. We should exercise restraint and show patience. Point out wrong when it is wrong and avoid empty rhetoric.

Stuck in something all right

This pretty much sums up how I feel about grad school right now.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

The Sun Also Rises*

Despite all accounts to the contrary, the sun did rise this morning. This is the view from my office window at about 6:15 a.m. A little earlier in the morning and it's even more dramatic.

*Wasn't that the name of the fictional soap opera in the Jonn Candy film, Delirious? What a funny movie. UPDATE: Of course, I totally mixed up the titles. The name in the movie was The Sun Also Sets, I'd like to say I was making an attempt at being clever about them being clever, but I just screwed it up is all.

My only post-election post on the matter


Tuesday, November 04, 2008

For the first time in my life...

I might have voted for a Democrat if I'd known more about this guy.

At least his brand of crazy is easily recognizable.


I predictify that a person will be elected today.

And regardless of who that person may be, a large group of people will feel disenfranchised by the election. A large group of people will feel that the choices this person makes are wrong. There will be much wringing of hands and many predictions of doom.

Talking heads and radio personalities will be every bit as loud in the coming days as they are now.

But we'll still persevere regardless of whether or not we "win" or "lose" because we're Americans. I still believe that means something.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Sometimes it's hard to say no

I hope everyone had a happy and safe Halloween. We trick-or-treated on base using a co-worker's home as a starting point. The kids got loaded up with candy and a good time was had by all.

We went to the mall on Saturday. Didn't really intend to buy anything there (and didn't, outside of some snacks), but the girls wanted to go. We went. The first thing -- have y'all noticed the drop in prices on flat-screen TVs? We enter the mall through Sears and they had knocked $100-$200 off their prices. Pretty darn cool. I'm keeping my eyes peeled. I think another month or so of this economy and we should see even better deals sprouting.

Getting into the mall proper, we had some pretzel snacks and then went into the Disney store. I'm of two minds about this place. One, it's neat to have a little slice of that Disney atmosphere in the mall, but two, that place can be darn annoying.

The first thing my three-year-old noticed in the store was a Wall-E set of figures. So I took him over to the boy's section and there he noticed the Power Rangers stuff. They have this new helmet thing you can wear and it's got a USB cord for computer connectivity for some reason, anyway, it was $90. Of couse, the boy is like, "I want that! I want that!" and I have to say, "No, Bo, I'm sorry, we're not getting that."

He stops, looks at me and says, "Momma say yes!" This is something he's been pulling a lot lately to try and get his way. It was just too funny in this context though and I had to go over to J-Mom and tell her. She tells Bo-bo that she didn't say yes to that and then he asks her, "Daddy say yes?"

Cute kids make it hard sometimes.