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Archive for August, 2008

poll: deep fried love

one froggy nightNext week, I will be attending the Sacramento State Fair. My sole purpose of going to this fair (ok, besides the opportunity to put my new wide angle lens to good use) is to experience the deep fried goodness of Chicken Charlie.

Now, I am not really big on fried foods, but the novelty of some of these treats makes me want to try them. My first experience with fair fried food was recently, when I tried these Oreos:

deep fried love, come on give me the grease (365-182)

Yes, they were good. But I could only eat one. At a time.

So what does the famous Chicken Charlie have on his plate this year?

Twinkies, Oreos, Pop Tarts, Spam, frog legs, cheese ravioli, avocado, onion strings, zucchini, artichokes and mushrooms. This year, the hot new items are deep-fried White Castle hamburgers and frog legs

I’ve had fried ravioli and oreos before, the vegetables are passe and I had frog legs last weekend. Oh, and I loathe Twinkies. UnAmerican, I know.

That leaves me with the choice of White Castle burgers, Spam or Pop Tarts. Deep fried, all of them.

There is a poll over on the sidebar. Vote for which one I should try, and I will eat, photograph and possibly regurgitate it.

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new PJM article – PETA becomes a parody of itself

Ok, PETA has been considered a parody for a long time.

This one is really about extreme activist groups like PETA, ELF, etc. and how a kinder, gentler message might get more people to listen to their point of view.

Here.

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Art La Flamme put a lot of effort into reviewing all six Star Wars movies. We got to twittering about the Jedi and whatnot, and I told him I would repost my review of Revenge of the Sith, to counter his very creative review.

This was originally written May 20, 2005, about three minutes after returning home from seeing the movie:

dark darthSo. Where to begin. I’m kind of giddy right now and waaay overtired and I’m just going to ramble on, hit save and go to bed without editing or proofreading anything.

First, this: I am not going to sit here and pick out the flaws and bitch about continuity. And yea, the dialogue was mostly horrid, but I knew that going in. I expected no less. The acting? I don’t think Hayden Christensen is going to win any Academy Awards in his lifetime.

I went into this movie expecting several things. Mostly, though, I wanted a line to be drawn from A to B, A being Anakin Skywalker and B being Darth Vader. And I got it.

I loved it. Absolutely loved it. It was everything I expected and more important, everything I wanted. It was exciting and dramatic and emotional and dark.

Do you want to know how much of a geek I am? I can’t believe I am going to admit this here. When the opening scroll started and the music began I actually teared up. I swear to you, there were tears in my eyes and I almost, nearly started crying. And I’m not the only one. There was a palpable sense of relief in the theater when the scroll came up. Like everyone sighed at once. Finally, our questions answered. The closure. The scroll and the music is the beginning of the end, and it’s very bittersweet because you know that once the movie starts, you’re on your way to it being over. Not just the movie being over, but the whole Star Wars saga that you spent 28 years of your life thinking about and talking about is over.

I thought they did an excellent job of explaining the transformation of Anakin to Vader. It made perfect sense to me. Palpatine played on Anakin’s sense of love; his love for Padme and his love for power and Palpatine knew that the love of power would grow and eventually dwarf the love for Padme once Anakin got a taste of it. He knew that Anakin was afraid of Padme dying so he fed him all that bullshit about bringing people back to life to get him interested in what the dark side could do, and when he had his interest, he went for the kill by making him angry with the Jedi Council. Because what feeds the dark side? Anger. That’s why Palpatine told Anakin it was he who killed Padme- he would be consumed with losing the thing he loved the most (a recurring statement of sorts in the movie) and that anger and rage would make him even more powerful and fearsome.

When Anakin finally, really becomes Vader – not in that cheesy naming scene, but in the scene where he’s being fitted with the Vader parts and helmet – when he takes that first breath and you hear James Earl Jones’s voice for the first time, and he takes that stiff step (pure homage to Frankenstein there) – goosebumps. I mean, the whole theater just sucked in their breath and waited for it and when he did the Vader breathing and then the voice, you could just feel it, like tension being let out. A bunch of people even applauded and I know why they did. Because there it was – the culimination of the wait. Go back to what I said in a previous post:

I know what’s going to happen in this movie, I know how things are going to turn, how they are going to go bad, and while I can’t wait for that clank sound in my head, when it will be like two train cars hooking together, when everything makes sense and one film flows into the other, it will be both satisfying and sad.

Exactly. Just like I imagined it. Everything came together. I don’t know how else to describe it and for anyone who is not a huge Star Wars fan, the moment won’t mean nearly as much. But for those of you who, like me, invested 28 years in waiting to have the connection made on film, it’s an amazing, spine tingling moment. But yea, it was sad, too.

The whole movie was beautifully played out – the lightsaber battles (Yoda ROCKS) and the emotional tug of war, and that one scene where the rebellion happens – it was so reminiscent of the Godfather (if you’ve seen both movies you’ll know exactly what I mean) and I thought that whole scenario was very powerful and sad, in many ways. And seeing how Anakin gets so defeated in the lava scene, and Obi-Wan just standing there, watching him suffer like that, that was a really sad and powerful scene, too.

Yes, there were a lot of hokey parts. When she names the babies as they come out, that seemed just weird, and Vader’s cry of NOOOOOO, and “hold me like you held me on Naboo.” Ugh. But those moments were fleeting.

And on that now infamous NOOOOOO scene, I think people are kind of overplaying the gack effect of it, because you have to think – it’s not that he’s just pissed that Padme is dead or even that he killed her, I think the cry is one of anger at himself, at knowing the transformation is really complete and he is now a monster. Which we all realized when he killed the kids in the Jedi temple. My son gasped when that happened. A lot of people did. Sure, he’s Vader, but kids? Younglings, rather. That’s what they called them. Cheesy, I know. Anyhow, I guess it that “noooo” yell was some kind of catharsis, because we all know that after that (in subsequent movies) he seems to rather enjoy being Vader.

I love this movie. I can’t decide if it’s going before or after Episode IV in my rankings of SW films. I’m going to see it again Sunday night and I’ll decide after that. But it definitely goes before Jedi.

I love this movie.

Some day, when this one comes out on DVD, I am going to watch all of them in one sitting, in the proper order. I think a lot of people will. Viewing the story as a a whole piece instead of parts of a whole will be novel. George Lucas may be a lot of things, but he is best at being a storyteller.

Thank you, George Lucas. I hate you, I still do. But thank you.

I love this movie.

——–

My god, I’m a geek.

And just to touch on something I said to Art about the Jedi, I found a post I wrote ten days after I first saw the movie that sort of sums it up:

So after sitting through my third viewing of Revenge of the Sith, I’ve come to the conclusion that the Jedi suck.

Really, they piss me the hell off.

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Art La Flamme put a lot of effort into reviewing all six Star Wars movies. We got to twittering about the Jedi and whatnot, and I told him I would repost my review of Revenge of the Sith, to counter his very creative review.

This was originally written May 20, 2005, about three minutes after returning home from seeing the movie:

dark darthSo. Where to begin. I’m kind of giddy right now and waaay overtired and I’m just going to ramble on, hit save and go to bed without editing or proofreading anything.

First, this: I am not going to sit here and pick out the flaws and bitch about continuity. And yea, the dialogue was mostly horrid, but I knew that going in. I expected no less. The acting? I don’t think Hayden Christensen is going to win any Academy Awards in his lifetime.

I went into this movie expecting several things. Mostly, though, I wanted a line to be drawn from A to B, A being Anakin Skywalker and B being Darth Vader. And I got it.

I loved it. Absolutely loved it. It was everything I expected and more important, everything I wanted. It was exciting and dramatic and emotional and dark.

Do you want to know how much of a geek I am? I can’t believe I am going to admit this here. When the opening scroll started and the music began I actually teared up. I swear to you, there were tears in my eyes and I almost, nearly started crying. And I’m not the only one. There was a palpable sense of relief in the theater when the scroll came up. Like everyone sighed at once. Finally, our questions answered. The closure. The scroll and the music is the beginning of the end, and it’s very bittersweet because you know that once the movie starts, you’re on your way to it being over. Not just the movie being over, but the whole Star Wars saga that you spent 28 years of your life thinking about and talking about is over.

I thought they did an excellent job of explaining the transformation of Anakin to Vader. It made perfect sense to me. Palpatine played on Anakin’s sense of love; his love for Padme and his love for power and Palpatine knew that the love of power would grow and eventually dwarf the love for Padme once Anakin got a taste of it. He knew that Anakin was afraid of Padme dying so he fed him all that bullshit about bringing people back to life to get him interested in what the dark side could do, and when he had his interest, he went for the kill by making him angry with the Jedi Council. Because what feeds the dark side? Anger. That’s why Palpatine told Anakin it was he who killed Padme- he would be consumed with losing the thing he loved the most (a recurring statement of sorts in the movie) and that anger and rage would make him even more powerful and fearsome.

When Anakin finally, really becomes Vader – not in that cheesy naming scene, but in the scene where he’s being fitted with the Vader parts and helmet – when he takes that first breath and you hear James Earl Jones’s voice for the first time, and he takes that stiff step (pure homage to Frankenstein there) – goosebumps. I mean, the whole theater just sucked in their breath and waited for it and when he did the Vader breathing and then the voice, you could just feel it, like tension being let out. A bunch of people even applauded and I know why they did. Because there it was – the culimination of the wait. Go back to what I said in a previous post:

I know what’s going to happen in this movie, I know how things are going to turn, how they are going to go bad, and while I can’t wait for that clank sound in my head, when it will be like two train cars hooking together, when everything makes sense and one film flows into the other, it will be both satisfying and sad.

Exactly. Just like I imagined it. Everything came together. I don’t know how else to describe it and for anyone who is not a huge Star Wars fan, the moment won’t mean nearly as much. But for those of you who, like me, invested 28 years in waiting to have the connection made on film, it’s an amazing, spine tingling moment. But yea, it was sad, too.

The whole movie was beautifully played out – the lightsaber battles (Yoda ROCKS) and the emotional tug of war, and that one scene where the rebellion happens – it was so reminiscent of the Godfather (if you’ve seen both movies you’ll know exactly what I mean) and I thought that whole scenario was very powerful and sad, in many ways. And seeing how Anakin gets so defeated in the lava scene, and Obi-Wan just standing there, watching him suffer like that, that was a really sad and powerful scene, too.

Yes, there were a lot of hokey parts. When she names the babies as they come out, that seemed just weird, and Vader’s cry of NOOOOOO, and “hold me like you held me on Naboo.” Ugh. But those moments were fleeting.

And on that now infamous NOOOOOO scene, I think people are kind of overplaying the gack effect of it, because you have to think – it’s not that he’s just pissed that Padme is dead or even that he killed her, I think the cry is one of anger at himself, at knowing the transformation is really complete and he is now a monster. Which we all realized when he killed the kids in the Jedi temple. My son gasped when that happened. A lot of people did. Sure, he’s Vader, but kids? Younglings, rather. That’s what they called them. Cheesy, I know. Anyhow, I guess it that “noooo” yell was some kind of catharsis, because we all know that after that (in subsequent movies) he seems to rather enjoy being Vader.

I love this movie. I can’t decide if it’s going before or after Episode IV in my rankings of SW films. I’m going to see it again Sunday night and I’ll decide after that. But it definitely goes before Jedi.

I love this movie.

Some day, when this one comes out on DVD, I am going to watch all of them in one sitting, in the proper order. I think a lot of people will. Viewing the story as a a whole piece instead of parts of a whole will be novel. George Lucas may be a lot of things, but he is best at being a storyteller.

Thank you, George Lucas. I hate you, I still do. But thank you.

I love this movie.

——–

My god, I’m a geek.

And just to touch on something I said to Art about the Jedi, I found a post I wrote ten days after I first saw the movie that sort of sums it up:

So after sitting through my third viewing of Revenge of the Sith, I’ve come to the conclusion that the Jedi suck.

Really, they piss me the hell off.

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100 college presidents have gotten together to try to convince the government to lower the drinking age to 18.

They are being opposed, of course, by MADD and what I started to write about the drinking age turned into a little rant against MADD. Which I am saving for later. First, a repost from six years ago, detailing a summer job I had with MADD. This is what started my distrust of the organization which, years later, turned into an outright disdain for them. Below that, some topics for open discussion, if you are so inclined.

shake wellsucky summer jobs: #22 in a series, original publish date, 3/22/2002

I got tired of working at my uncle’s deli and wanted to move on to something more challenging. I needed to do something more worthwhile than slicing salami as a way to pay for my nighclubbing and drinking. Something that wouldn’t leave me smelling like head cheese at the end of the day.

A friend of a friend of a cousin told me about this place that was hiring. It sounded an awful lot like a telemarketer job, which I would never do, but it was for a charity, and therefore didn’t count as telemarketing. Right?

The first day of the training seminar proved that point. Our team leader stood up in front of us and told us we were not to call ourselves telemarketers. We were activists. We were paving the way for change. We were catalysts in the fight against drunk driving. We were the few, the proud, the people begging for money for a cause. I left the seminar feeling like I was doing something useful with my life. My naive ideals were soaring.

The second day, the altruism took a back seat to the sales pitch. Sales? I thought we were activists! Our team leader spoke in basketball metaphors for two hours; driving to the basket, blocking the shots, finally hitting the three-pointer with just seconds to go. When I left the seminar, I felt less like an activist and more like Dr. J.

The third and final day should have clued me in on what I was in for. Our fearless leader drilled us on the fine points of clinching the donation. Cite statistics. Make them feel bad. Tell them stories. She then handed out photocopied news clippings of horrid, tragic car accidents resulting from drunk driving. We were to tell our potential donors some of these stories if all else failed. If we had them in tears by the end of the call, we would be the superstars of the office. My stinging conscience was kicking my naive ideals in the head.

I figured I would give it two days tops. Maybe it wouldn’t be so bad. Maybe, because this was a worthy cause and one people were very concerned about, I wouldn’t have to make the hard sell. Sure! People would just give willingly! I would never have to utter a harsh word or tell a tragic story or make anyone cry. This would be a piece of cake, and my conscience would be left intact.

I was directed to a tiny room in the basement, where the walls were lined with little wooden cubicles. I was directed to my very own cubicle. On the desk was a phone and a kitchen timer. The wall I faced was lined with the same newspaper clippings that were passed out at the seminar. Those people in those stories, I was told, they are counting on you. They are watching you. I was told to set the timer at the beginning of each call, and that I was to keep each caller on the line for a minimum of one minute of soft selling. After one minute, I should start the hard sell. I was given a list of 100 numbers to start out with.

I noticed that the neighborhood I was cold calling was a wealthy one. This made me feel a little better. At least these people had money to spare. Maybe I wouldn’t have to reduce anyone to tears.

After a half hour, I didn’t have any donations. Apparently, all the people on my list had housekeepers. And none of them spoke English. At least not to telemarketers. The team leader came over and looked at my tally sheet. She was not pleased. I explained the situation. I can’t reach anyone who speaks English, I told her. And even if they did speak English, they would say that they are just the housekeepers, that I should call back.

“They’re lying to you,” she said.
“The housekeepers are lying?”
“They’re not really the housekeepers, you idiot!” Her breath stunk like garlic pickles. I tried to move my head back from hers, but she leaned in on me until our foreheads were touching.
“Are you going to believe every inconsiderate person who comes on the line and tells you a reason why they can’t give? Are you a sucker? Are you that naive? Let them know you know they’re lying! These people depend on you!” She pointed to the tragic news stories on the wall.
“But…but….”
“No buts. Tell them. Tell them if they don’t give money, they will feel horrible next time something like this appears on the evening news. They will understand that. They will understand guilt. And trust me, they understand English.”

I weighed my options. What was this job going to pay me anyhow? If I couldn’t make a sale I would be bringing home less than minimum wage. It would barely pay for one night’s admission to the club. I could go back to the deli. It wasn’t so bad. The people were nice. I didn’t have to make anyone cry in order to sell a pound of liverwurst.

I stood up and faced my leader. I told her I was done. This wasn’t the job for me. Told her I’d rather smell like head cheese than spend another day with her poking and prodding my conscience. She didn’t get the part about the head cheese. She probably didn’t get the part about having a conscience, either.

————

So that’s where my disdain for the the zealot organization known as MADD started. I realized soon after that they are really not against drinking and driving, they are against drinking, period.

I will tackle the issue of the drinking age later, but I would love to know what you think about it lowering the age to 18. Or what you think about MADD.

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best concept albums


Over at Dustbury, Charles has listed his favorite concept albums, after seeing Jeffro’s list. Of course, I decided to make my own list.

However.

There is always a “however” with my lists.

If you Google “best concept albums” you generally come away with a whole lot of the same thing. King Crimson, ELP, Alan Parsons, Styx, Bowie…I enjoyed them all during the drug-addled years of my youth, but I just wouldn’t listen to most of that now (save the Bowie, to an extent). There’s no way I could get through even one side of King Crimson disc without the benefit of chemicals.

While my list does have some of the usual suspects, I tried to include lesser known albums, or albums that aren’t the obvious choices.

No particular order, and I didn’t really get into the actual concepts of the albums. It’s 5am. That involves too much thinking.

1. Pink Floyd – Dark Side of the Moon
Let’s get the PF out of the way. Nearly every one of their albums is a concept of sorts, but The Wall and DSotM stand out the most in this category. Over the years, I’ve come to find The Wall to be mostly an exercise in self-indulgence. DSotM has held up through the years, and the simple concept of the experience of living as a human makes for some very complex songs.

Favorite track: Breathe

2. Radiohead, OK Computer
There is some controversy as to whether this a true concept album or not, but as my list is suspect anyhow, I’m going with it. The general theme here seems to be social disconnection and dissatisfaction in a computer run world (I might have just pulled that out of my ass). It’s a stark, bleak sort of album, but incredibly intellectual and musically genius.

Favorite track: No Surprises

3. Nine Inch Nails, The Downward Spiral
It is what it is; a walk through one man’s downward spiral, culminating in his suicide. Normally, an album like this would lose its appeal once you got over that “woe is me, I hate my life” phase you are going through, but the music is so powerful and the lyrics so above what artists in the throes of depression usually write, that you keep coming back to it.

Favorite track: Piggy

4. Life of Agony, River Runs Red
Another walk through someone’s depression, culminating in their suicide. The tracks “Monday”, “Thursday” and “Friday” are snippets of answering machine messages that let you hear the parts of his life that are going to hell; school, job, girlfriend. It’s kind of emo, in a very heavy metal way. The music is hard and relentless, the lyrics are disturbing and powerful, and the ending of the album is one that will stay with you a long time.

Favorite track: Words and Music

5. Frank Zappa, Joe’s Garage
The best diatribe on the music business you will ever listen to. It’s funny, it’s smart, it’s good music, it’s Frank Zappa. There’s nothing more you can say than that.

Favorite track, for purely nostalgic reasons: Catholic Girls

Interesting note from wiki:

Open Fist Theater has been given the full approval and support by the Zappa Family Trust to adapt Joe’s Garage for the stage. The production, adapted by Pat Towne and Michael Franco from Zappa’s original text will be directed by Pat Towne. Musical direction by Ross Wright and choreography by Jennifer Letteleir.

The show will feature a live band playing for a cast of seventeen. Joe’s Garage premieres at the Los Angeles based Open Fist Theater on Friday September 26, 2008 at 8 PM

6. Fear Factory, Obsolete
This band loves the man v. machine theme. They visited it in their first concept album, Demanufacture, and really hammer home the point on Obsolete. Here, the machines have taken over the world and one hero, named Edgecrusher, has set out to destroy the machines and give the world back to man.

The story/lyrics are dark and bleak; the music is mostly pounding and heavy, though there are sweeping melodies on some songs that raise the heavy metal to a more orchestrated sound. The album ends with the hushed Timelessness, a sad and unhappy ending to Edgecrusher’s try at salvation.

Favorite track: Descent

7. My Chemical Romance, The Black Parade
I know what you’re thinking. I’ll wait while you mock me.

Done? Good. If you put aside your pre-conceived disdain for this band and listen to the album, really listen to it, and not just think of MCR as the band who did “I’m Not OK”, then you might see why I think Black Parade is a work of art.

This walk to death is part Queen, part Styx, part Broadway musical. It has to be listened to as a whole in order to appreciate the themes within. As we listen to “the patient’s” story and march with him toward his demise, he shares his memories and walks us through his life. Some of the songs, notably Mama, Teenagers, and the hidden track Blood, definitely sound as if they were written for the stage and you can imagine an army of choreographed dancers acting out the songs.

Despite the mockery I receive from people, I thoroughly enjoy this album. It’s lyrically brilliant and musically divers.

Favorite track: This Is How I Disappear

The rest of the list is going to be quick, no explanations, as I should really be getting ready for work.

8. Coheed and Cambria: Good Apollo, I’m Burning Star IV, Volume One: From Fear Through the Eyes of Madness
Favorite track: Welcome Home
9. Machine Head, The Burning Red
Favorite track: Silver
10. Fantomas – The Director’s Cut (a collection of reworked movie themes)
Favorite track: Rosemary’s Baby
11. Stabbing Westward – Darkest Days (I seem to favor the depressing concepts, don’t I?)
Favorite track: When I’m Dead
12. Marilyn Manson – Mechanical Animals (which I hated when it first came out, but have come to appreciate as Manson’s best work)
Favorite track – Coma White

Last, but definitely not least:

13. The Who, Tommy
My love for this album is describe here.
Excerpt:

For the next few hours, he sat down with me and went over the whole story, one song at a time. I remember him saying “I can’t believe you get this” about ten times. We talked about wicked Uncle Ernie and Cousin Kevin and how I thought in the end Tommy reminded me a lot of Jesus.

It wasn’t until five years later when we went to see Tommy the movie together that we talked about it again, and on a deeper level. Hey, to a 13 year old, a rock opera is about as deep as it gets.

I know I left off a few choice albums and I might revisit this topic again later, but there you have it. The list of concept albums that are not on most people’s list of concept albums (except for the first and last).

(I will add in youtube links and videos after work)

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happy birthday, lili von shtupp!

happy birthday to the cutest puppy ever

today is lili’s first birthday.

happy birthday to the most awesome dog in the world!

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