Monday, July 27, 2009

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Lonesome George: bangin' around

A couple years ago I talked here about Lonesome George, the last of the Galápagos Pinta tortoises. Well, it turns out he might be a daddy! Let's hope that these eggs give birth to adorable little turtles and that ol' George is progressive enough not to hold the fact that they're half Espanola. He's an old guy, after all. It's be nice to see him with the times.

It's been a long time coming...

...but the day has finally arrived.


That's right, perennial HDF favorite Henderson is getting inducted into the MLB Hall of Fame today, so take a moment and thank your local batshit professional athlete for all the good times. It's their day!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

My stomach actually hurts from laughing at the Best Show this week. I still have 45 minutes left to listen to it, but listening to Tom and Paul F. Tompkins talk about the Gathering of the Juggaloes had my unable to breathe for a while. Unfortunately, it's slowing my work down, but it's a small price to pay...

Monday, July 20, 2009

Dear Hansen Beverage Company,

I would like to say that this is a fictional letter congratulating you on the quality of your product, or the business practices you've taken on out of concern for your customers. That's all well and good, and I say keep up the good work there. No, I've got a larger concern. Namely, your products -all of them, from your ginger ale to the radioactive sludge known as Monster energy drink, are fucking gross.
I've tried so hard to find a product of yours I like. You see, I used to drink soda all the time. You know those kids that aren't allowed to have sugar? I was like the opposite of that. I drank at least 3-4 of them a day, and loved it. Then, sometime in college, I really just started hating the taste of it. I tried all sorts of replacements, but in the end I had to go with sparkling water because there was nothing else.
When I found your products, I was ecstatic because I thought I might be able to enjoy some ort of soda again. Alas, it was not to be. For you see, unlike your regular customers, I don't like the taste of carbonated tree bark and squirrel farts. Strange, I know, but what can you do? I've tried no less than 5 different types of your soda, and all of them have this unpleasantness. The other night, I saw that you're making a Cranberry/Grapefruit soda. I thought to myself "alright, this is for me. There's no way I can not like this". Four minutes later, I was spitting it out into the sink and wondering how the hell you could've dropped the ball on that. It might've been the Splenda. Listen, I'm okay with sugar. If I was eating grapefruits and cranberries, there'd be sugar in them. All part of the... fruit game. So there's no reason to dump that lousy fake-ass sugar in there.
So Hansen's you just made the list. That's right, the brands-that-are-dead-to-me list. It's a short one, inhabited mostly by companies with nutjob lunatic fringe owners or ones that are Colorado-based beer companies. and you.
So sod off, Hansen. I've given you too many shots and I got boned by every one of them. NO MORE.

Friday, July 17, 2009


Family Guy is nominated for an Emmy (Family Guy!??!??)

Weeds is a comedy? United States of Tara? How do you nominate one guy over the other from Flight of the Conchords?


Monday, July 13, 2009

However, after the Prego commercial aired on television in 1985, Wendy's mananagement decided to terminate her contract, contending that the Prego commercial "infers that Clara found the beef at somewhere other than Wendy's restaurants".
Just reading Clara Peller's wikipedia page (don't ask) and thought this line was too good to ignore.
Not much going on today; I'm in the middle of a quiz, but if you're sitting around and want something to listen to, go here and check out the second part of J-Rocc's (of the World Famous Beat Junkies) series of James Brown cuts. It's making my late afternoon and maybe it'll help brighten your day a little.

Stop and think for second how awesome Maceo Parker is. Because the dude can play.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

So yesterday, while on my way to lunch, I couldn't help but notice a booth set up across the street which had a prominent poster showing Obama with a Hitler mustache. It was the sort of thing I caught out of the corner of my eye but then kept walking because I was already late. Of course, as soon as lunch was over, I had to approach them. Turns out it was a LaRouche PAC table. There was a small crowd there and I just sorta stood in the back, looking bored. This is the best way to get these people to approach you, if you're wondering. Just stand there and look impressionable.

A girl behind the booth sidestepped the crowd and approached me:
girl: how are you today?
me: I'm fine, thanks. I can't help but notice you got the uh, the little mustache on Obama, there
girl: yes
me: and why is that?
girl: are you familiar with Hitler's healthcare policy?
me: nope

Then the girl starts telling me about said health care, which seemed to revolve principally around the euthanasing of old people. After about twenty seconds, I cut her off.

me: I'm sorry, but how are you tying this together? I mean, is Obama euthanizing people?
girl: Well, the health plan that-
me: I strongly oppose Obama's healthcare plan.
girl: Will you sign our petition?
me: absolutely not. Not while that's here[I point to the poster. Next to it, there's another one of Obama photoshopped into a brownshirt uniform. Classy-like].
girl: Well, they have the same health plan that-
me: So did Ross Perot. Why don't you give Obama bigger ears or... something.
girl: Well, because nobody would recognize that. But the important part is that these men have the same plan.
me: Is that what you think of when Hitler comes up? His health care plan?
At this point bystanders are agreeing with me, and I'm getting a little cocky
me: Do you know why I stopped paying attention to the extreme right?
girl: Oh, we're not on the right.
me: I know you're not. I don't care. Do you know why I stopped listening to them?
girl: why is that?
me: because they started making comparisons to Hitler when it was completely inappropriate. You're doing the same thing here, and I think it's cheap and I think it's lazy.
girl: But don't you think that the people should know what's going on?
me: I do, but I don't think that adding Hitler into this conversation is going to help anyone. I mean, what if I started a campaign against vegetarianism using Hitler as an example?

At this point, everyone behind the booth looked genuinely insulted and told me that that would be crazy. Things devolved quite a bit after that and I ended up arguing some more, taking a pamphlet, returning said pamphlet before reading it, and then leaving.

Things were polite, I never yelled or cursed. Actually, I think that girl yelled more than I did. When I left, I even wished them luck in a backhanded way. It was nice to have the discussion, but I still had to go home and feel sick to my stomach afterwards. I hate that Hitler shit. you could be arguing for not bludgeoning puppies to death, and as soon as that picture gets brought out in an irresponsible way, I'm fucking done listening. It's a lot harder to tell who the real monsters are when you've become as desensitized as we are to the ones we've had. That comparison is juvenile and irresponsible, and I'm happy I got the chance to tell them so. Still, it was a pity. I'd had such a nice lunch...

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Just got in an old-fashioned street argument. More to come later tonight when I've finished my homework.

Monday, July 06, 2009

There is an amazing (if not somewhat depressing) article in the new issue of Harper's by Kevin Baker in which he does a great job of pointing out that as much as we want to compare Obama to FDR, as much as we want to say he's the solution to this nightmare our country has plunged into, every decision he's made thus far really matches the other president that tackled the Great Depression: Hoover.
Now, the important thing to note here is that when Hoover wasn't elected, he wasn't known for the homeless veterans that built their shacks on his lawn, but he was a dynamic and energizing leader who looked like he could turn everything around. He attacked the crises he was dealt with aplomb and gritty determination. But in the end, he ended up capitulating most of the ideals that he had believed in. FDR, on the other hand, didn't care what anyone thought and pushed his legislation through. FDR had lofty ideals when he entered office, but in the end just said fuck it, if I gotta make enemies in order to get this done, so be it"*"

Anyway, read the whole article here. and try to read it without being defensive of Obama. We have to look at him the same way we look at every other president: objectively. Bush did some things right, did he not? Why would we assume that Obama might not be doing some things wrong? I enjoy hearing the guy speak more than anyone. I think he's a standup guy and I want him to succeed in a way that we cannot comprehend as a voting public. But as with every president, there are lessons from history just being ignored while we go through this.

*not verbatim

Your morning terror: "Vampire Squid from Hell"

I've mentioned my utter fear of marine biology here before, and at 2 AM this morning, after trying to dose myself with some Tylenol PM, I still sat there in shock watching the Blue Planet episode "The Deep". Some people can't watch horror movies before going to bed, I simply cannot watch stuff like this. It's really an unsettling feeling, to be frozen in terror in a dark room watching deep sea biology at work while drowsy and sleep-deprived.

Of course, most of this is beautiful. A major theme of this episode is bioluminescence, and it's amazing to see what goes on that deep. That said, you start seeing footage of the Gulper Eel, the Viperfish, and of course, the Vampire Squid from Hell:

I don't know what asshole named this thing, but I came away from that video admiring it more than fearing it. Sure, if I saw a dead one washed up on a beach, I'd still hit it with a stick and run away peeing, but it's still a pretty impressive cephalopod, no?

But yeah, if you get the chance, watch this video (you can watch it on Netflix RIGHT NOW) because it's insanely entertaining. and because David Attenborough's voice might just help you sleep more than it helps me...

Saturday, July 04, 2009

So, after spending the bulk of my day reading texts on cataloging (i promise you right here and now that is the least boring description I can possible give of this text), it is now early in the morning on the 4th of July. I'm sitting on my porch, enjoying a drink, and trying to think about what I can type about how I feel about this country of ours (if there is by any chance that there's a reader of this in another country, I'll crap my pants. leave a message and you'll make my year). And so I've been thinking about this harder than usual. Part of me wants to link to a shitload of sites (and to be fair, I sort of will), but this should be more than that. I'm trying to keep this thing going while I am REQUIRED by my studies to create 2 blogs* in addition to this one, so I am extra guilt-ridden about the state of HDF at the moment. In a lazy moment, I would just link (again) to the Born in the U.S.A. video, which after the 3 minute mark remains one of my favorite documents of 1980s America of all time. But unfortunately for you, the reader, I'm not feeling lazy just yet.
This story begins in of all places, a church: The church I was christened in, I taught in (!), and that I was confirmed and married in. I only mention this portion of this story because it still impresses me, because it is neither a religious diatribe nor a commentary on ethics. This is just a simple story on something that had great impact on my life, which I like to think most of these posts are about. Alright, we all know that's not true.
Anyway, this is about an event this church holds every year called the Fall Fair. It's usually a smorgasbord of cheap, decent furniture, but this goes back further than that. Because there is always a book sale there. and anyone with the patience to sort through hundreds of books will know the sort, as I did when I had such patience. I found all sorts of things there that would impact my reading life over the years: Bradbury, Lewis...even the Fletch series. But this is about something much bigger than bruised paperbacks.
It was when I was 16 or 17, and I found a book called American Pictures. It is the essentially the photodiary of a Danish man bound for the priesthood who instead for a few reasons ended up hitchhiking across the United States from 1970 to 1975. His view wasn't even something that unique (I would later discover Larry Clark's Tulsa, among others), but to me -a high school student- it was like having someone beat me and leaving me for dead in the shadow of my national pride (or lack thereof) at the time.
It's a concept that is almost impossible to grasp now, at least for the people savy enough to abuse the internet at work for something like this nowadays, but I digress. This guy was given access to every part of the country, from the sharecropper shacks to the millionaires at the time. If somebody can tell me how a homeless Dane can grant me access to Jay Rockafeller these days, I'm all ears, but I think I think it's part of a bygone era. Anyway, this book remains to me a look at America that only could provide that a de Tocqueville could provide. Especially when considering this country at the time. I mean the best and the worst presented to you in a neat little package that you'd rather not see. There is young love, there is high society. There is heroin addicts shooting up and there are fresh murder victims a la Weegee. And whot's more impressive is that these shots never seem posed or staged. These are people living on whatever side of the law that actually trusted this foreigner to tell their story. Can you imagine taking a picture of Jay Rockafeller and some pimps nowadays? You might, but I can't.
But I'm getting off track. It's just that... think of the sixties. Think of the civil rights movement (should that be capitalized?) and the atmosphere of the early seventies. Think about the fact that while we were patting ourselves on the back for our progress for the efforts of a distinct minority, while we know what the cities were up to, nobody was paying attention to to everywhere else but this Dane who was selling blood plasma for film.
These are shots that illustrate how for we are from utopia (again, capitalized?), how much more progress there is to make. It means a lot to me when I view these pictures that I can still view them with a sense of pride. We are America. We for better or worse, are the beacons of freedom and democacy. But when you're looking at a murder victim in New York or gang activity in Richmond, Virginia, it's not like you can cling to bragging rights. and these pictures aren't diplomatically contained to the mid-Atlantic. There are things that we've probably all seen to some degree, however scary that might sound.
and the weirdest part is that I don't look at these pictures with shame. I really don't. and nor should you. This is America at its baldest truth. Obviously, things are different now, but can you really tell me that you would want to see the update? I won't lie, I did, and I saw a dead man on the streets of New York in 1994, after the city was cleaned up and presentable. But I saw this naked love in the city, and I saw hope in the places I would never have expected to see it.
I was stupid at that young age, as we all are, and I sliced up that book to make interesting collages for my dorm room door in college or whatever, and it's haunted me.
Years later, my wife looked at this book and found herself as enamored with it as I once was. and I had to explain where some of those pictures went. It was not pleasant. But as a shitty make-up (I am filled with these), I tracked down Jacob Holdt's books and hoped for the best. It turns out that he's still there, and presenting the America that I want to ignore but can't. The America that's under our noses but that even our new president won't see. and I wouln't, either. Sure, he's got several girlfriends in the states (and a wife and children at home), but you still have to wonder what this bearded foreigner sees that we don't. So in honor of this holiday, I'm not going to give you Chinese-made fireworks (although they are awesome) to celebrate this country of ours, but instead a real depiction of what we all want to defend. We are the greatest nation on this planet. But We've a ways to go.

See Jacob Holdt's website here.

As a side note, I meant to start this post about the Haden triplets, but this is better, trust me. I'll update this soon, I promise.

in the meantime, I beg that you explore Mr. Holdt's pictures and take the pride and shame for our fantastic country that I hold.

I recently found out that he's been trying to bring to light the humanity of white power groups, which surprised me as much as you, but sorta delivered.

*It's been like 3 years and I still cringe when using this term

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

The tests I gave him shows no sense at all

I think it was my tenth birthday, I think, when I got my first cassettes. It wasn't that I had no access to music before that, but before that I learned everything I could about music by pilfering through the collections of my parents and siblings late at night and then stay up listening to them on the little clock radio I kept next to my bed*. I'd listen to whatever I could find: the very personal romantic mixes of my siblings, the battered Springsteen tapes that had wound their way through everyone in my family, the CSNY tape that had a wad of gum stuck and hardened over the track listing on the side... everything.
It was still a little while before I'd start buying my own music (U2's The Unforgettable Fire, later that summer), but a family friend always got a kick out of the fact that this little blond kid would be singing along with a bunch of teenagers when they'd sneak out to drink at night. This family friend put together one of the most thoughtful gifts I ever received. I unwrapped it and found three cassettes, the first I could ever claim were my own with impunity. They were all of historical significance, he told me. There was Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon, which had spend some 15 consecutive weeks in the Billboard 200***. There was The Who's Tommy, which was the world's first rock opera. and there was The Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Heart's Club Band. I have no idea what distinction the last one held in this context, but think it had something to do with the production. or something.
Anyway, I loved all of these gifts, and I think I wore two of them out (my history of Beatles ointerest will have to come at another time, but I know I still had that tape when I went off to college). But far and away, Tommy just blew me away. It was this wild epic story that went all over the place, and had these interesting characters, and musically it had everything from overtures to ballads to stones-our rock songs. I know that I had the story very basically told to me around then, though I obviously didn't know all of it. I think I knew tht "The Acid Queen" was about drugs, but I think I was under the impression that "Fiddle About" was about child abuse more then pedophilia. I seriously hope so, anyway. Obviously, I wasn't paying that close attention to the lyrics of these parts.
Anyway, it was an album that just consumed everything I did for like a year. I loved that album and would find new things about it every time I listened to it. While most people I knew had aligned themselves with either the Beatles or the Rolling Stones, I decided that the Who would be my favorite band of all time. It's weird, because while I love all of these groups now, I really hated the Beatles and was impassive at best about the Stones. I think that it's because those two bands I only knew their earliest songs as a kid, where with the Who I knew Tommy and Face Dances, for some reason and worked my way backwards. If doesn't make sense to me, but there you have it.
Anyway, like I said, I loved Tommy. But about after a year or so, it came to me rather suddenly that the whole thing was pretty over the top****. The story was ridiculous (pinball?) and there were a lot of weird, sudden turns in the middle of the story. I soon realized that this wasn't the best Who album. Hell, this wasn't even the best rock opera that the Who did. I should also mention that in this period there were like 5 live Who albums released and most of them playing Tommy in full. It's no secret that the band played this for like 5 years straight and grew to hate it, and I soon understood why.
So one day I put it on a sheld or something and stopped thinking about it. I explored other albums and other bands and other whole genres. and aside from occasionally hearing "Pinball Wizard", I really didn't get that much of it. Until recently, when I was thinking of it and downloaded it on a whim in the middle of my midterms a few weeks ago. And to be honest, it fucking made my week. I gave it a fresh listen or ten, and I really got into all of these things I forgot about ages ago. The little feedback things at the beginning of "Amazing Journey" just run up my spine. Pete Townsend's unbridled sincerity in his vocals of "1921"****. There's the "See me, feel me" callback running throughout the album, just shy of annoying the hell out of you. There's "We're Not gonna Take It", which I've been playing twice a day as loud as I possible can for the past few weeks and going crazy for (that little whisper!).
Tommy is also Keith Moon at the top of his game. It's funny, because everyone else is somewhat subdued on this record. Daltrey is almost sing-talking through most of the record, and never lets his voice off its leash the way he sometimes did. Townsend's guitar is almost subtle, with the exceptions of a few power chords here and there (and surely some windmilling), it's like he's painfully aware that this is going to be a legacy and he can't have fun with it. Entwistle's bass is nonexistent. I think you can here his horn work more than his bass. Entwistly, who was arguably the greatest bassist of his era, is almost absent from this album (he did, however write both "Cousin Kevin" and "Fiddle About", which is appropriately and astoundingly fucked up). Moon, though. His drums are reigned in just enough to let one know what the hell he's doing. If I had a complaint about Keith Moon it's that he seemed to have thousands of distinct rhythms going on in his head at once, and while they lined up, the way he would alternate between them on the drums was confusing to the listener. Here, though, his work is practically cogent. Instead of air-drumming with abandon, I can listen to this and kinda figure out what he's going. It's really kind of a beautiful submission.
So how is it that the band's most well-known and possibly well-regarded album is a duff-job performance-wise for almost the entire band? I don't know. I also don't know how it works, but then here I am writing about it.

I fompletely forgot what I was trying to write about when I started this. I actually wanted to write about the Haden triplets today, but that'll come later. In any case, I guess what I'm trying to do is make a plea for you to go find a record that you were in love with. Maybe, like me, it can be the first record you were in love with. If your'e like me, you probably ran it into the ground and haven't picked it up in ages. It doesn't have to be anything profound or something that even aged well. It can be something that embarrasses the shit out of you. But go get it. download it. Just find it, dust it off, and listen to it. Remind yourself what you loved about it. There are times when I am so sick of rock music that I just don't care about it anymore. This happens more often than ever nowadays. This might be my growing intolerance, but it also might be that sometimes my bearings are off and I fail to remember what it was that made me love this crap to begin with. so go dust off an album that you loved once and give it another shot. Even if you hate it now, I'm sure there's something in it that'll bring a smile to your face.

*While I haven't seen it in a decade, I'm still pretty sure there exists a picture of me asleep and using this clock radio as a pillow, my ear crunched into the speakers. Smart.
**Thinking back on it, my interest in music might well have been an effort to be able to hang out with my siblings and not feel like such a baby of the group. This might explain my continuing interest in music as well..
***According to Wikipedia: "As of 2008, Pink Floyd's The Dark Side of the Moon has been on the charts for over 1,630 weeks, or approximately thirty-one years. Consecutively, the album spent a record 741 weeks on the Billboard 200".
**** Much more of this probably has to do with my watching the movie. I remember being so excited to watch that, and then even then knowing that there was never a bigger pile of shit.
***** For some reason I've never really liked Roger Daltrey. It only got worse when I realized he didn't really write any of the songs, or found out that he more or less threatened his way into the band...

wow. sorry for rambling as much as did right ther...