Thursday, April 21, 2016

Electric word “Life”, it means forever and that’s a mighty long time.

Today I heard that my favorite musician of all time, Prince, died at the age of 57.  I’ve never felt the way I feel right now after the loss of someone I didn’t know.  And I don’t know why.  Maybe it’s because Prince, more than any other figure, represents my home state of Minnesota.  Maybe it’s because he is truly larger than life in every way and to associate death with someone like that is difficult to comprehend.  Maybe it is nothing more than the fact that his music is so amazing that I’ve grown a one of a kind emotional connection to it.  Maybe it is something entirely different.  I don’t know.  But, I’m already struggling to envision a world without Prince, and it’s been about 3 hours. 

It would be impossible for me to pinpoint the first time I heard Prince.  I was born in 1981. Controversy came out that year, 1999 a year later, and in 1984 Purple Rain was released.  To say that Prince was everywhere at that time would be an understatement.  So from the ages of about 3 to 7 when a kid is learning what music is, Prince was an ever present figure on the radio and MTV.  So, As far as I’m concerned, Prince was just always there.  There was no first time.

By the time I was old enough to start making my own decisions about what kind of music I like, probably about 9 or 10 years old, the decade of Prince was just wrapping up.  Prince was headed into a different direction with “Diamonds and Pearls” and the ‘Artist formally known as’ era (an era I, admittedly, never liked much).  Meanwhile, my musical tastes were headed down the road of Pearl Jam and My Bloody Valentine.  Over the course of the next decade or so my journey through the world of music was immeasurable. But through that time all those same Prince radio hits of the 80’s like “1999”, “Purple Rain”, and “When Doves Cry” were still the radio hits of the 90’s. Looking back on it, it’s amazing how much I still heard those decade old hits on the radio.  And on every station.  The Classic Rock station, The Pop station, the adult contemporary station.  All the stations.   Prince from the 80’s was still everywhere.  More than a decade later.  Everywhere.  And the thing about it was, I loved it.  I’d hear “1999” or “Let’s Go Crazy” come on in the car, and I’d crank that shit up every time.  But, not just me.  Everyone.  The thing about those songs was, liking them was not a personal preference.  It was Universal.  I simply can’t imagine someone telling me they don’t care for “1999”.  It’s too good.  All those songs are just too good.

It wasn’t until around the end of high school that I began to dig into the music of Prince on more than just the surface level.  Around this time I had purchased three albums – 1999, Purple Rain, and Sign O’ the Times.  It was here where I changed from someone that likes Prince songs when I hear them on the radio to a genuine Prince fan.  I would listen to those albums, specifically Sign O’ the Times, repeatedly.  There was a long stretch where every time I got in the car, one of those albums was in. 
While owning these albums, I began to notice a reoccurring theme in the credits.  “Prince – All Vocals and instruments, except where noted.”  And those notations were few and far between.  Prince wrote everything.  Prince played everything.  All the instruments.  All the time. 

Prince’s multi-instrumental talent, combined with his over the top eccentricities combined to create one of the longest running and hilarious inside jokes of my life.  One Sunday morning my friend John and I were coming back from visiting a high school buddy for the weekend who was going to school at Gustavus.  One of us, in conversation askes the other, “What do you think Prince is doing right now?” The answer, “I don’t know?  Probably in his pajamas, eating breakfast, and sprinting from instrument to instrument” provoked an hour straight of hilarious gut-busting laughter between the two of us for the rest of the ride home.  Now, I get that while reading this, this may not seem like the funniest thing that you’ve ever heard, and the hilarity may only be shared by he and I, but you have to admit that imagining the sight of a tiny five-foot-two-inch man, dressed in eccentric jammies, holding a plate of pancakes, and sprinting around his house to the point of exhaustion playing thirty-seven different instruments is amusing to say the least.  To this day, some ten to fifteen years later, It would be difficult for one of us to ask the other, “What do you think Prince is doing right now?” without cracking up. 

Prince was a lot more than his music, though.  Prince had a style.  Prince had a message.  Prince was cool.  Prince was cooler than anyone before him, and Prince will be cooler than anyone that comes after him.  If there is one thing that you can look back on his life and learn, it’s to be yourself.  You’ll never be as cool trying to be someone one else as you will be by being yourself.  He did not dress, play, act, or think like anyone before him.  He did not want to be the next Jimi Hendrix, he did not want to be the next John Lennon.  Prince wanted to be the next Prince.  You did not get the impression that Prince was looking around the world trying to figure what people thought was cool or hip, and then trying to emulate that.  Prince never wanted or needed to copy anyone else.  He already knew what cool was.  It was the rest of the world that didn’t know.  He just had to show us. 

Throughout Prince’s music, he also had a reoccurring message.  One that today’s untimely passing only accentuates.  Life is short, don’t forget to live it.  Whether it be in the overtly sexual lyrics of songs like “Little Red Corvette”, or the apocalyptic “1999”, or every word in “Let’s go Crazy”.  Do what you want to do, be with whoever you want to be with, live the life that you want to live and don’t let anyone else tell you how to live it. 

I suppose, I never really got around to talking about my favorite music of Prince’s, being everything off of the Controversy and Dirty Mind albums. But, I guess we don’t have time to talk about everything here.  If you wanna talk about those sometime, there’s always a seat for you on our porch and a beer(s) for you in our fridge.  Stereo is always on, come over any time you want. 

So, with that said, I’ll just leave you with the words of the almighty Prince and be on my way. 

We're all excited
But we don't know why
Maybe it's 'cause
We're all gonna die

And when we do
What's it all for?
You better live now
Before the grim reaper come knocking on your door

Saturday, September 15, 2012

The pain of war cannot exceed the woe of aftermath

Sup?  Recently I found myself, as I often find myself, In the middle of a Led Zeppelin binge. This often happens to me because if I make a genius playlist that is based on a classic rock song or a hard rock song a Zeppelin song will inevitably come up.  Once that happens, I usually decide I no longer want to listen to this playlist and I just put on all Zeppelin.  They’re just better than everyone else and their music stands out too much in any playlist, for me anyways.   Don’t worry, though, this isn’t going to be a long article polishing Zeppelin’s knobs.  I’m sure there are plenty of those out there.  I just have a question to ask about whether they are cool or not.

So, anyways, to the point…  I am sitting there listening to Battle of Evermore. For some reason I never really listen to the words of this song, I just try to sing along with the chick parts. No idea why, don’t ask.  But this time I was listening to the words and noticed the line “The pain of war cannot exceed the woe of aftermath” and began thinking about how awesome of a line that is.  About 10 minutes later I am in my car still thinking about this line.  Stairway to heaven had already passed and I was on to Misty Mountain Hop.  Then I realized it; I have just been duped again by another one of their damned Lord of the Rings references.  I went back and listened to Battle of Evermore again and realized that the entire damn song is one big Lord of the Rings reference.[i]  Is this cool or is this the dorkiest thing ever?? A lot of people think that Led Zeppelin is this dark spiritual band.  Many claim that Jimmy Page is some sort of sadist.  That he sold his soul to the devil for his ability to play the guitar and blah, blah, blah.  But then you start to realize that all their dark lyrical references are not references to the devil or anything spiritual.  They are references to Mordor, Sauron, the ringwraiths and the damned Misty Mountain. Now, I am not saying it’s cool to be a Satanist or anything, but it does give the band a certain supernatural feel, an inaccessibleness.  That is just one of many things the keeps them from having any real peers or contemporaries.  There’s no band that is like Led Zeppelin, no band that you compare to Zeppelin.  There is just Zeppelin.  That’s not saying that they are better than everyone else (though I think they are), but it does mean that they are different than everyone else. 

So, the question is this; is Zeppelin really cool because they can draw countless references from a fictional fantasy book and make it sound cool and badass?  Or are they super dorky because they are strangely infatuated with a fictional fantasy book?  I mean, would you think less of Tool’s badassness if you found out down the road that the majority of their songs were references to Lord Voldemort from Harry Potter? What if Black Sabboth’s music was just about Game of Thrones? Or Nine Inch Nails were just constantly referring to stuff they read in 50 Shades of Grey? What if Slipknot was just thrashing riffs to the words of R.L. Stine’s Goosebumbs?

As I was thinking about this for the rest of the day, I continued to listen to Zeppelin. Really paying attention to whether this is just a few songs that reference LOTR or if this is truly an epidemic that has infiltrated their entire catalog.  Again, I’m probably missing some, but I hear references to LOTR in: Ramble On (most prevalent here), Over the Hills and Far Away, Battle of Evermore, Misty Mountain Hop, and possibly Stairway to Heaven (though, indirect).  Additionally, there are references to other mythological figures (Norse, Greek, Celtic, and Roman) in the following songs:  Immigrant Song, Achilles Last Stand, The Song Remains the Same, No Quarter, and Kashmir.

I guess as I delve further and further into this, I am starting to come to the realization that when they wrote words they needed to write about something huge and epic to go along with the music they were writing.  Their goal very clearly was to create a sound that was larger than life and it just wouldn’t have fit so well if they were singing about calling me maybe, backed by the music of Achilles Last Stand.  Led Zeppelin just had this way of being completely over-dramatic and unrealistic to the point of being foolish and still somehow making it outrageously cool.  I don’t think there is a better way to describe this phenomenon than to simply show a picture of Jimmy Page’s crazy dragon jumpsuit.

He likes it so much; he also got one in white. 

Zeppelin is kind of defined as Robert Plant and Jimmy Page; the two musicians that were grandiose enough to play with John Bonham. Some bands don’t need to show off and show their talent subtlety.  This is not one of those bands.

I’m sure that if you took the time to read this far, you’d probably like to hear some Zeppelin now.  Here’s one where all four of them rock way hard.

I couldn’t really decide, so here’s another.  


Have a good one!


[i] I’m pretty sure the Battle of Evermore is all about the last large battle in return of the king.  The one where Aragorn comes to the rescue with the aid of all those ghost pirates. (god, that sounds dorky).  I gather this because of the continuous references to “Ringwraiths ride in black” (Ringwraiths are the black demons that ride on dragons (dorky, again)) as this was the only battle in which they were present.  There are a few other references, but I don’t need to get into them.  My current level of knowledge of this is incriminating enough as it is.  

Friday, August 17, 2012

Dear Olympics, Thanks.

I think, at this point, it’s pretty well known that I am a fan of the Olympics. Duh. There is a distinct possibility that I've spent more time in the past two weeks watching the Olympics than I will spend this fall/winter watching either football or basketball and those sports last for 6+ months rather than the 2 weeks the Olympics lasts. I am acutely aware of how incredibly dorky this is. I, frankly, don’t really care, though.  I loved it.  I loved every minute of it. 4 years from now, I’ll love every minute of it again. By the way, I am just putting it together right now that both the 2014 world cup and the 2016 Olympics are going to be held in Brazil.  I sure hope that country has their shit together. Well, without further ado, on to my final Olympic thoughts.

Because of the fact that every country in the world participates in the Olympics, there is most certainly a probability that there were be a slew of hilarious names.  Guess what?  This one is no different. There are enough hilarious names here to make a 12 year old school boy (or myself) crack up for days on end.  How these stack up against former great athletic names such as God Shammgod, Dick Trickle, and former English soccer player Dean Windass I’m not sure, but here are some good ones.

Dong Dong – China – Trampoline (HA! Double Dong!)
Karen Cockburn – Canada – Trampoline (Dirty)
Destinee Hooker – USA – Volleyball (At one point in the Olympics Bob Costas said “The 6’4” Hooker is taking on the whole team!” (I just made that up, but it certainly could have happened.))
The XXX Olympics – (yep, the 30th Olympiad could easily be mistaken for the porno Olympics)
Fanny Babou – France – Swimming (even more funny when you place the accent on the first syllable of her last name.)
Kelsey Titmarsh – Canada – Rhythmic Gymnastics (hehehe)
Endurance Abinuwa – Nigeria – Athletics (yep, she’s a runner)
Yoshi Takeshita – Japan – Volleyball (poop joke.  His name is a poop joke.)

Hillarious names aside, there was also some great athletic events. Everyone knows that it’s awesome to watch the US hoops squad ball on everybody.  It’s sweet to watch Phelps and the big swimming races.  The gymnastics (especially the women) are rad. Usain Bolt and all the other sprints are great. But what fascinates me is that almost every single event can be extremely exciting to watch.  Even the things you would never expect to hold your attention such as horse jumping, archery, water polo, and handball can be absolutely gripping if you pay enough attention.  Below are a few of the sports that were really came in way above my expectations on the awesomeness scale.

The Decathlon – It’s really hard to put into words just how amazing these athletes are. They compete in 10 different events (100 meter dash, long jump, shot put, high jump, 400 meter, 110 meter hurdles, discus, pole vault, javelin, and 1500 meters). They do all of these events in 2 days and compete in each event at an extremely high level. What’s amazing here is that many of the events are nothing like each other. Obviously, being good at running the 1500 meter (about a mile) race and throwing the shot put takes a completely different type of athlete. These guys do all of them and they do it well. This competition probably would have been a bit more exciting if Ashton Eaton hadn’t beat the snot out everybody and pretty much put it out of reach going into day 2, but, whatever. USA! 
I also find it quite interesting that there is the decathlon, which is 10 sports that anyone could play to test the best physical athlete.  And then there is the modern pentathlon, which is the decathlon for rich people. Pretty much just 5 sports that only rich Brittan and New Englanders play (pistol shooting, show jumping (yes, horses), freestyle swimming, fencing, and a cross country run.) Needless to say, this event is not quite as exciting.

Rhythmic Gymnastics – So, I am watching the 2nd and final day of the decathlon and after a couple of discuss throws they cut over to rhythmic gymnastics.  (if you are unaware, this is the sport where female gymnasts do ballet stuff supported by a giant ribbon, a ball, something that looks like nun-chucks, or a hula hoop).  There I am, pissed that I’m not watching more decathletes throw discuss, and all the sudden it happened; Some Russian chick walks forward throws a ball (the type of ball that could only be described as the same ball you find in a giant bin at Wallgreens and dribble around the store for the next 10 minutes because you are either a 9 year-old kid or you’re trying to piss of your girlfriend so she stops buying shit.) anyways..  where was I? oh yeah, She throws this ball as high as she possibly can in the air, does 3 flips, and catches the ball (hands free) in the small of her back, and then somehow does another flip without the ball moving from the small of her back, then contorts her body somehow so the ball rolls from her back up and over her head and back into her hands. At this point you either don’t believe me or you don’t fully comprehend the series of events I just described.  But, I’m serious. YouTube that shit.  A) I am amazed. B) I now know where all Cirque du Soliel performers come from.

The 4 x 400 relay – It is said that the 400 meters is the toughest race a runner can do.  It is a full out sprint all the way around the track.  You can see that the 400 just kills runners.  After the race, every time, there are multiple runners laying on the ground on their backs trying to catch their wind. So how does this get more exciting? Add a baton and have 4 runners run this grueling race. The best part of it is the rules, though.  They start on the staggered starting blocks like the regular 400. The first runner must stay in his lane for the whole lap. But, once the baton is passed, there are no lane rules anymore. So once the baton is passed the first time it is absolute chaos. 8 runners all trying to receive a baton and all trying to merge to the inside lane all at the same time.  As you can imagine, people fall.  And if you’ve ever seen a track fall, it is not pretty.

There was another sport that caught my attention, and that was the race walk.  Not to say that this was exciting to watch, because it wasn’t, but the endurance it takes for this event is quite impressive.  If there is one sport in the Olympics that is the easiest to make fun of it is some strange event where everyone is walking around like some combination of a turbo-charged duck and a grandma at the mall. Apperently, though, this sport is extremely taxing on the body and takes a serious endurance athlete. See here as some Russian racewalker passes out mid-race and (allegedly) craps himself.

For those of you that have managed to stick with me thus far, here is your reward.  Dutch Heptathelete Nadine Broersen, Paraguayan Javelin thrower Laryn Franco, and Czech volley ball player Marketa Slukova.

You’re welcome.

So there it was.  The 2012 London Olympics came and went. It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.[i] It was something that I thoroughly enjoyed.   More than I’ve ever enjoyed them before.  But, the only thing that was different between this year and years past was that I paid more attention.  I have found that the more that you immerse yourself in the Olympics, the better they are. I love that every single event has its own intrinsic value and yet, they are each a part of the games as a whole. You would never catch me watching a rowing event or weightlifting event on TV in some random occasion, but when those weightlifters and rowers are competing equally to have made a difference in their country’s glory, I’ll tune in all day long.
Speaking of a country’s glory.. 

Final Medal Count: USA – 104, China – 88.  Final Gold count: USA – 46, China – 38.



[i] See what I did there? Quoted an English writer in the recap of a London event..  wordplay is fun, even when obvious. Thanks, Chuck. 

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Olympics and The Bat Man

Hey there..  You seen the new Batman, yet? I have. And I've gotta tell you it was pretty sweet.  Was it as good as The Dark Knight? Of course not, but how could it be? The Dark Knight was basically as good as super hero/villain movies get.  But, when looked at in the context of a trilogy or one long story, this third and final chapter serves as an exceptional ending. I think ultimately, in time, The Dark Knight trilogy will be looked at in the same light as the original Star Wars trilogy which is currently thought of as damn near perfect.  But even looking at those movies, was Return of the Jedi as good as The Empire Strikes Back? Nope. Not even close. But no one thinks of those movies in an individual context. Those movies, retrospectively, are looked as Star Wars and are lumped together as a whole.  I think that, in time, this Batman series will be viewed the same way.  Also, outside of the fact that the mask muffled Bane’s voice and made him sound like Sean Connery drowning in a pool with a megaphone, Bane was a pretty bad ass villain. Anyways, if you feel differently about the Batman, let me know in the comments.  Otherwise, let’s get to this Olympic business.

Bane: “Let the games Begin!”

I don’t know what it is I like so much about the Olympics, but they sure are awesome.  Maybe it is the patriotism. I love the fact that Olympians are out there competing to bring home a medal for the pride of their country. It’s awesome.  Did you know that the rings on the Olympic flag represent each of the five inhabited continents?  And that the colors of the rings (blue, yellow, black, green, red) were chosen because every competing nation has at least one of those colors in their national flag? Pretty cool stuff, if you ask me.  But.. maybe it is the individual excellence, the epitome of mastering your craft. Maybe it is the fact that in one night I can watch swimming, volleyball, badminton, ping pong, and archery and in each of these events, someone is going to win a medal that they train every single day just for the chance to compete for. I love the fact that I can watch these obscure sports and, for today, I care about them like they are the Super Bowl. I didn’t give a damn about women’s balance beam two weeks ago and two weeks from now, I am, again, not going to give a damn.  But today, I know that little wobble after 6 back flips on a 4-inch beam is going cost someone a chance at something they have worked their entire lives to achieve. It’s Epic. It’s Dramatic. It is an event. Like no other, It is an event.

Roland Daggett: “You're pure evil!”
Bane: “I'm necessary evil.”

It seems that for the past three or four Olympics there has been a bit of a lull in enthusiasm for the games (at least, in America).  People get fired up for an event or two, but as a whole it doesn’t seem like people have had that unbridled patriotism that you are looking for.  I think there is a pretty good reason for this, though. Since the fall of the USSR in 1991, the US has had no major rival in the Olympics.  Technically, we lost the medal count in 1992 to something called the Unified Team (Former USSR), but no one really cared.  They weren’t even a country and all that mattered in the Barcelona Olympics was how awesome the Dream Team was.  After 1992, America went on a completely dominant ass-kicking run and everyone just felt like the Olympics were a forgone conclusion (though I think you’d be surprised to look back at the medal count at the 2000 games in Sydney.)

Conversely, let’s look at the 80’s.  In 1980 the Olympics were held in Moscow. An Olympics that many western countries (including the USA) boycotted because we were opposed to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan (world has changed a lot since then, eh?).  Without some of the world powers there, the Soviets displayed unbelievable dominance, hauling in 195 medals.  East Germany was 2nd with 126.

Next up was 1984. Following the previous Olympics, where is the most dramatic place the Olympics could be held? Yep, you got it, right here in the US. But, the US boycotted the ’80 games in Moscow so, intern, the USSR boycotted the ’84 games in Los Angeles. Get a load of this; The USSR announced its intention not to participate on May 8, 1984, citing security concerns and "chauvinistic sentiments and an anti-Soviet hysteria being whipped up in the United States."   Seriously, read that again. Soviets hate Americans, Americans hate the Soviets.  Shit was getting absolutely crazy. Without the Soviet presence, USA absolutely cleaned up, winning 174 medals to 2nd place Romania’s 53. American patriotism was absolutely through the roof and the USA-USSR rivalry was out of control.  Guess when production started on Rocky IV?

[This story becomes even more fascinating when you go back and look at the medal counts over the previous two decades, but we don’t need to get into all that…  I’m not writing a book here.]

So the stage was now set for the 1988 games in Seoul, South Korea. Everyone knew which two countries were going 1-2 in these games, just not which order. The running narrative throughout these Olympics starts off, incredibly enough, as live doves are released at the opening ceremony to symbolize world peace, only to then be burned alive by the lighting of the Olympic cauldron (you can’t make this shit up!). Amid accusations if institutionalized steroid use, the USSR dominated gymnastics, weightlifting, wrestling and an Arvydas Sabonis/ Šarūnas Marčiulionis led hoops team took the gold as the USSR won the medal count with 132 medals.  Fellow communists, East Germany took 2nd with 102 medals and the US came in a disappointing 3rd with 94.  The USSR was certainly not the only country that was marred by steroid allegations in that Olympics, though, as both Carl Lewis and Florence Griffith-Joyner of USA had very similar rumors surrounding them. Also, the Canadian sprinter Ben Johnson, who broke the world record in the 100m, tested positive for steroid use. He claimed it was all a mistake and that he was sabotaged, but he tested positive again in 1993.

In 1991 The USSR dissolved and with it went America’s animosity with the eastern European state both politically and athletically.  The US was left without a major rival in the Olympics until…  

Bane: “I will show you where I have made my home while preparing to bring justice. Then I will break you.”

The 2008 Olympics came up and it seemed that all of the sudden a new age both economically and athletically had been ushered in overnight.  It all started with a bang. In the most amazing Olympic stadium ever built came upon us the most amazing opening ceremony ever displayed. China, meet World. World, this is China. The Chinese didn’t just do it with sight and spectacle; they did it with their performance as well.  Falling just short of America’s 110 total medals, China had 100 of their own including 15 more gold medals than any other country. It’s amazing how these types of events happen to coincide with the location the Olympics take place, isn’t it?

Welcome, America’s new rivals.

The Chinese are dastardly.  The Chinese are deceptive. The Chinese are fighters. The Chinese are winners. The Chinese are Cheaters. From their scheming badminton team to their doping swimmers, this is a country that will stop at nothing to get a medal.  It is wonderful.  It’s brilliant. It is exactly what the Olympics needs. For there to be a hero (Michael Phelps) there must be a villain (Ye Shiwen). Ye Shiwen won her first gold of the Olympics by swimming her closing leg of the 400 IM in 58.23 seconds. How fast is that, you ask? Ask Ryan Lochte and he’ll tell you this, “It was faster than my closing leg. AND I’M A DUDE!, THE DUDE THAT WON THE GOLD MEDAL!!” So how does Shiwen react after blazing through the pool like some freaking robot-shark? She gets out of the pool and stares down the world like Ivan Drago did after he killed Apollo Creed in the ring. It was amazing. That chick is out for blood. Glorious, golden blood. 
Ivan Drago

While we are on the topic of the Chinese’s underhanded tactics, let’s talk about their badminton situation. Badminton is set up where a set of round-robin matches played which determines their seeding for the knock out round. The Chinese have both of the best two parings in the world. Their number 1 pairing advanced to the top of the knockout round, easily. But their number two pairing had a slip up and lost to the Danes.  Coming down to the number 2 pairing’s final match against Indonesia, their possible outcomes stood as follows: Win and they are matched up against the other Chinese team at the top of the bracket.  Lose and they go to the bottom of the bracket and wouldn’t face the other Chinese team until the gold medal game. So, what did they do? They threw their match in epic fashion. They didn’t even attempt to make it look like they were trying. Just hitting serve after serve into the net and watching every birdie that comes their way fall to the ground. These are professional badminton players (the 2nd best pairing in the world, technically), how hard is it for them to make it look like they are trying? Just hit a few shots long. Drill some long spikes into the net. Whatever! But, alas, the Chinese don’t care about sportsmanship or gamesmanship or Olympic integrity. They care about winning. They care about medals. And that is what makes them awesome. No one wants a friendly rival. We want a villain, and the closer they are to Darth Vader on the evil-villain scale, the better.

Bane: “We both know that I now have to kill you. You'll just have to imagine the fire!”

So here we are, it’s 2012 and as I glance at the current medal count it is US 37, China 34, both with 18 gold. It’s a battle, and a battle that has only just begun.  How can you not get fired up about this?!?! 

Note: As I look back at this post, I notice this:  Was this unabashedly American-centric? Yep, sure was.  Did I unfairly villainize our chief rivals? Probably did.    Do I care? Nope, sure don’t.        

The International Olympic Committee states that the Olympics are about individual and team excellence supported by your home country, not about international bragging rights.  Well, IOC, I happen to disagree.



Editor’s note: As usual, all facts were gathered from Wikipedia which, as we all know, is always correct. 


Tuesday, July 17, 2012

5 underrated songs from my generation.. and I miss MTV

It’s interesting to refer to a particular time as my generation.  It is interesting because no one has an exact frame of exactly when that is except for me. Obviously, everyone that is about my age, give or take a couple of years, considers the same period of time our generation, give or take a couple of years.  But what exactly are we talking about when we talk about our generation.  I like to think that it is the period of time when we really became cognizant of our surroundings.  But, at the same time, I think that is different when you are talking about different for different people and referring to different things. For example, when I think of football, I would consider the 1990 Raiders-Bills AFC championship game that the Bills won and subsequently went on to lose the Super Bowl as the beginning of my generation.  I pick this particular game because I can vividly remember this game and everything thereafter, but everything before this game is pretty foggy. I was 9 years and 3 months old when this game took place. Baseball, I took to a bit earlier. I pretty vividly remember the 1989 season that culminated in a devastating earthquake hitting the San Francisco bay just prior to a scheduled World Series game between San Francisco and Oakland. 

Trying to classify my generation in terms of music is a bit tougher, though.  I mean, I vividly remember rocking out to MC Hammer and Boyz II Men as a kid, but everyone did that.  I remember being in the car or on a boat listening to The Boss when I was like 6 years old.  I don’t think that during those times I really had a good grasp on what I liked and what I didn’t like. I just sort of went with the flow and jammed out to whatever everyone else around me liked.  It wasn’t until the Pearl Jam album “Ten” came out that I can really remember liking something because I liked it and not just because everyone else did. That album was released in August of 1991, but Jeremy wasn’t released as a single (and video) until the following summer, 1992.  Don’t get me wrong here, though.  I’m not suggesting that everyone in the world didn’t like Jeremy, Black, and Alive, they did.  Everyone did.  As a matter of fact, that is probably the sole reason why had to bug my mom go out and get this hard rock record by some band called “Pearl Jam.” But, what happened with this record was something that I don’t really remember happening before. I began to explore the record. I found songs on this record that I actually liked because I listened to them.  Songs like Release and Oceans and of course Porch, which opens with the phase “What the fuck is this world coming to”, a phrase (and a particular word) that is sure to catch the attention of any eleven-year old kid. So, I guess when I refer to my generation, in terms of music, it would be everything from the summer of 1992 and on.

Speaking of kids being drawn to things that are a little too grown up for them, this song was on the soundtrack to the 1995 movie Kids, A movie about teen-age sex, drugs and violence which we all saw for the simple reason that it came attached to a notorious NC-17 rating. At a time in life when one of the most fun things to do was sleep over at a buddies house, drink mountain dew until your eyes cross, and watch MTV until the wee morning hours, this song got the very occasional airplay. I think that was one of the main reasons that I liked this song so much when it came out.  It was a time that was very different from now.  This song would play on MTV or I’d hear it on REV105 and it would leave me clamoring for more. Today if that happens, you just hop on the computer and tapitty-tap, clickity-click you can listen to it until you are so sick of it you never want to hear it again.  But, in 1995 you only had a couple of options.  You could head to the record store and buy the CD with what is left of your extremely limited funds or you could just wait until it comes on MTV again.  Well, I never believed the band Folk Implosion had much more to offer than this song, so they just simply weren’t worth spending my last $10 on their CD. So, I heard this song infrequently until, soon enough, MTV and the radio stopped spinning it and it slipped from my mind completely.
Strangely enough, this song made a triumphant return, and one that put it in my music collection for good. I am watching AMC one night and they have this bit going called “long live cool”.  It was basically just a bunch of Steve McQueen and Robert Redford movies playing for a weekend. Reason enough for me to tune in, I suppose.  So I’m watching and at each commercial break there is a promo that shows clips of the movies and Steve McQueen standing by cars and looking awesome showing you what movies are coming up.  Guess what song is used as the promo music?

This song may have been a bit more popular than the last at the time it was making a brief stint on MTV, but, nonetheless, faded into oblivion every bit as quickly and completely. Sucked Out, interestingly, never really faded away for me.  I really have no idea why, because its not that great or anything, but I just always kept it in the back of my mind that I would like to pick up this album some time.  I never got around to it, but it does now have the distinction of being one of the first songs I ever spent like a half hour downloading once I learned about napster.

yeah, yeah, yeah..   no need to judge me.  While this song may not be a cool alternative rock song and would probably be considered something more along the lines of adult contemporary, you gotta admit that it is a pretty good adult contemporary song.  The song itself is really quite catchy and Harriet Wheeler has a pretty awesome voice.  Also, I totally had a big crush on her when I was like 13 years old.  So, there’s that.


Coming off of sixteen stone, an album that pretty much everyone I know either owned or, at least, knew very well, it was really interesting to see how they would follow it up.  In all honesty, I never really got into sixteen stone all that much.  Glycerin and comedown were cool, machinehead rocked and there was other decent stuff, but I never owned the record and just never really felt that burning need for it.  But, I can vividly remember after that album everyone thinking Bush was the next big thing and the release of razorblade suitcase was hotly anticipated.  This song was the first single off that album and was followed up by greedy fly and the insanely disturbing video attached to it.  After these two awesome songs came out, I liked Bush way more than I ever had before and they had some really awesome momentum.  Frustratingly, there was no other single off the album and the rest of the album really wasn’t all that good.  As a matter of fact, I can’t name another song off the album and I own it.  Anyways, it didn’t really matter.  Around the same time some dorky kid from Chicago let us all know that the world is a vampire and completely owned this genre for the next year.  Also, Oasis.

Speaking of Oasis, have you ever noticed that in the video for “Don’t Look Back In Anger” Noel Gallagher plays lead guitar AND sings while Liam just stands around looking like a big douche? I had never noticed that until just this moment.


Meandering a little bit further down this old memory road, I just came a cross another one hit wonder.  This time from that period in time when MTV was really starting to be taken over by shows, but for a brief period VH1 carried the video playing torch for a while. I never really did get this song, but it never really mattered.  It’s still a jam. This song was also one of those interesting songs that finds its way onto more than a couple different radio stations.  -- I remember this summer quite well.  It was the summer that I was 15 years old and I had just gotten my first ever job at the local Taco Johns.  Probably the most fun job I’ve had to this day. I worked there with a couple of buddies and outside of Taco Tuesday (when I’d call in sick) and a couple busy rushes we basically had zero customers. All we did was create our own tacos, eat potato ole’s and jam the radio. Sadly, that Taco J’s no longer exists.  I assume it was because they had, like I had mentioned, zero customers.  Funny, I blew that summer’s savings buying a sweet new bicycle.  The following summer I got my first car and that bike I spent a summer working at Taco John’s for laid dormant and useless.  Welcome to the work world.

anyways...  whether you remember any of those or not, I hope at least one of them is a jam for you. 

Until next time..   Peace Out!


Friday, July 13, 2012

Let me introduce myself to.. uhhh... yourselves

So…   here we are, writing/reading a blog. As I write this, I am already finding myself wondering two things; 1) why do I always over-use commas and already doing it (not to mention the attack of the parenthesis, which is sure to come soon) and 2) why is it called a blog?  Well…   the first part, I really have no answer for.  I guess I’ve never really taken the time to learn how to write conversationally without the use of such crutches.  I am sure some teacher taught me at some point but I was probably too busy trying not to drool on my desk during what I believed to be naptime.  The second question, though, can be answered by the good old dependable Wikipedia, which we all know has the answer to everything and is never wrong. [i] Blog is short for Web Log.  I get the feeling that this is common knowledge to most people, but it is news to me.  Upon learning this, I can’t really decide how I feel about the word.  It’s kind of a clever way to shorten and already short phase and ranks higher on the creativity scale than most professional athlete’s nicknames, but at the same time, blog is kind of a lame word and reminds me more of a shart than a short essay.  What’s a “shart”, you ask?

So what exactly is going on here?  I, apparently, am just blogging about my blog which, up to this moment, seems to be about blogs.  Kinda sounds to me like the worst episode of Seinfield ever.   But, I suppose this serves the purpose of an introduction as well as anything else.  Hey, I’m Chad.  How’s it going?
Now that we’ve gotten our introductions out of the way, I think it’s a good time to lay out the general guidelines of where we might be headed with this this. To find a bit of direction here, I think I need to answer one question:

Chad, why do you care to have a blog?

Well..  this might be an indictment on myself and my conversational abilities, but of all the conversations that I have in my daily life, the percentage that revolve around the weather or my job is increasing at a very alarming rate.  I suppose this is my attempt to flip the script on that a bit and talk about things that are more interesting to me.  Even if it is just a one sided conversation with me talking to a faceless internet. 
Now that we know what not to expect, let’s try to dive in to what we should expect.  I would say that my favorite topics of conversation in no particular order are sports, movies, music, TV, food, the internet, social media, myself and ranking stuff (I assume said rankings will be related to the previous categories).  I could imagine that there will be some reoccurring posts such as me reviewing TV shows, movies or me just dinking around on YouTube and writing about the cool things that I find (it really is an endless vault of cool shit).  I occasionally write for the fantasy baseball website, but that can get a little too dorky for the general audience, so I’ll probably keep that stuff away from here.  I’ll drop a link when I write there if you want to read any of that.   I’ll try to keep the sports stuff limited to slightly more accessible topics. Long-and-short of it, though, is that I’m writing for my own enjoyment, but hope that you enjoy some of the same things I do.  

Well, that’s it for now.  Quick and painless intro and I even managed to get a poop joke in there.. tune in for much more of the same (more or less)..

For your enjoyment, here’s a video of cookie monster singing call me, maybe.  

[i] If at some point you are ever looking for a reference for anything I write, it probably came from Wikipedia.  Deal with it.