Friday, November 30, 2007

Goddamn motherfucking #$%Q&*#(^$#&*^&*^#&*$*

Thanks to the fucking Packers not holding up their end of the fucking bargain - leave another receiver wide open, you fucks - I have lost a wager with one of the fans of the Nearly-Evil-As-Cheney Dallas Cowboys and thus must display the wretch-inducing logo of those vile bastards prominently on my blog for a fucking week.

As I am a man of my word, true believers, be prepared to see this fucking thing in the upper right corner every time you saunter on over. Therefore, I humbly propose, in my overwhelming rage and despair, to not blog for said week so as to not inflict such blasphemy on my 1.3 beloved readers.


Thursday, November 29, 2007

Sing, motherfucker, sing!

Can you spot what's wrong with this album cover? No, aside from the fact that this group is way too chipper in the face of the impending Rapture.

Thanks to the sharp eye and keen detection skills of the lovely and talented Beth, and the superior technological wizardry of the not-lovely-yet-still talented Anthony Cartouche, I bring you the first of many - well, a handful, but many sounds so goddamn impressive, doesn't it? It awakens curiosity. It's nebulous, awe-inspiring, cosmic - um, what? Oh yeah - crazy album covers. But please, save your overzealous clapping and childlike giddiness for something truly groundbreaking. I'm merely following in the footsteps of the good Dr. Monkey and his legendary collection, and wish to humbly contribute to the elegant, refined discourse that one can only read in the blogosphere.

I'm beginning the series with this particular album because it holds a special place in my heart. The tyrannical overlord gentle producer, the Malcolm McLaren of this sonorous troupe is the one and only Rev. Ernest Angley, a staple in my beloved Northeast Ohio for many a year, who can still be seen on his revolutionary televised program, The Ninety and Nine Club, dispensing the good news in the only way the Reverend can. Inspirational is a word that simply does not do it justice. I dare say his sweet words of Jesus-ery warm even the icy heart of this old atheist. Sniff.

Or maybe it's the toupee. Shatner himself weeps before its grandeur.

But once upon a time, back in the 70s, those heady days of free love, weed, Foghat and bralessness, the right Rev. was quite the chick magnet. Look at that lush head of hair. Look! Someone has truly been blessed by the Lord! Although, if I'm a member of The Musical Five, I'm likely a shade to the left of upset. Where is my fucking picture, Mr. Angley? You heard me, Ernest! We do all the work, write all the fucking songs, then you hire some telegenic fucks (that chick is complete babe, no? The coming of something draweth nigh, I can tell you!) that get all the fucking credit in the eyes of your million-strong audience! Well, I've fucking had it! The NLRB is gonna hear about this, you walking hairpiece!

I was going to suggest a kissing booth...

...but fucking is a fine idea, too.

A Chilean prostitute has auctioned 27 hours of sex to raise money for the country's largest charity during an annual fund-raising campaign.
Love, Chilean Style.
"I've already auctioned off the 27 hours of love," Maria Carolina told Reuters on Wednesday, saying she had raised about $4,000. "One of my clients already paid. It seemed like a good deed to him."
Seems like a good deed to me, as well!
"Everyone can do what they want, but if someone tells me that they'll do something immoral ... I'm not going to encourage it," Kreutzberger, who as "Don Francisco" hosts the long-running "Sabado Gigante" program on the U.S. Spanish-language Univision network, told local media.
Super Mario, have you ever sat down and watched tapes of your program, or some of the other shows broadcast on Univision? As someone who has been stopped in his surfing tracks to ogle many of the fine Latin ladies on your network, you and I both know that your channel is often about as racy as it gets lest one enter the hallowed halls of Skinemax.
But Maria Carolina, who advertises her services on the Internet, defended her money-raising scheme.

"There are people who are going to be donating money that's a lot more questionable than mine," she said. "The only thing I did was publicize it."
Questionable, like when a corporate Republican here in the states buys Girl Scout Cookies from his niece? Who knows where that Andrew Jackson came from. No-bid defense contract, the Saudis, a laundered Dubai stash, the taxpayers...

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

It's always funny until someone gets hurt

And then it's just hilarious!

For the second day in a row, U.S. soldiers on Tuesday killed Iraqi civilians when they fired on a vehicle that they thought was a threat, the U.S. military said.
I can't wait to read the papers tomorrow, oh boy! Come on, three!
The back-to-back incidents come as U.S. and Iraqi officials prepare to negotiate a treaty that will set new rules to govern U.S. military activities in Iraq. The announcement of the negotiations was part of a "declaration of principles" that Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki and President Bush signed on Monday.
Hey, Al - can I call you Al? Well, I'm gonna - puppets can't speak unless spoken for, and the strings are around our fingers, not yours. Don't forget that.
Under the agreement, the U.N. authorization that permits U.S. troops to operate in the country will be extended for one final year. After that extension expires in December 2008, a U.S.-Iraq treaty will set the terms for continued U.S. operations.

Those terms are to be negotiated by July 31 and are likely to be influenced by growing Iraqi impatience with the deaths of civilians during U.S. military operations.
Democracy is messy, Al.
"There were big mistakes committed in these operations," Maliki said then. "The terrorist himself should be targeted, not his family."
This is a global war against Islamojihadfascistocaliphatepinkoism. Everyone is a terrorist, especially those guys, if you catch my drift. Rest easy, Al, I didn't mean you personally. Remember, you're one of us. Right? Right? Good.
Wahid said that the woman told him that the minibus stopped because the driver was injured. An American soldier ran over and quickly realized what had happened.

"We are sorry; we are so sorry," the soldier said.
Cheetohs guy: "Dude, remember when our fuckin' army shot that fuckin' bus and it fuckin' crashed and those ungrateful Iraqi fuckers burned up just like a fuckin' video game 'cause that's what happens when you fuckin' shoot shit?!?!"

Parents' basement guy: "Heh, heh, yeah, it's fuckin' cool to be put in a high-stress situation away from your family and friends for months or years on end with neither reasonable direction nor material help from the civilian politicians running the thing into the ground in the service of their unquenchable desire for blood and oil, heh heh."

Cheetohs guy: "Yeah, man, Semper fuckin' Fi!"

Parents' basement guy: "Yeah, we're Army strong! Dude, let's play some Halo."

Can they come home now?

The Gentle Art of Making Enemies

What we do better than anyone else. At home. And abroad.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Nyuk! Nyuk! Nyuk!

"Guten tag, you're it. Wait, wrong line, heh, heh."

With a handshake, leaders of the United States, Israel and the Palestinians agreed on Tuesday to immediately launch peace talks with the goal of reaching a final accord by the end of 2008.
Just in time for the final stages of our permanent presence in the region bringing the troops back home! Yeah! USA! USA! USA!
Bush, making his deepest foray into Middle East peacemaking with only 14 months left in office, held talks with Olmert and Abbas before addressing the high-stakes conference, which included diplomats from Syria and Saudi Arabia and 12 other Arab states.

Bush said the purpose at the waterfront campus of the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis was not to conclude an accord, but instead to launch negotiations between the Israelis and Palestinians.
That's deep? Linda Lovelace would be so disappointed in you, Mr. President.
In his speech, he argued now is the time to pursue an agreement because Palestinians and Israelis have leaders determined to achieve peace and because "we must not cede victory to the extremists" in the Middle East.

Yes. We must not.

Oops. Too late.

The newmeXico-Files

What Would Jesus Mulder and Scully Do?

Instead of highlighting New Mexico's picturesque desert landscapes, art galleries or centuries-old culture, a new tourism campaign features drooling, grotesque office workers from outer space chatting about their personal lives.
They're featuring RNC staffers?
But to increasingly vocal critics, the state-financed ad campaign is a possible threat to the well-being of the state's $5.1 billion tourism industry. In other words, while the ads may yield a chuckle or two, the joke is on New Mexico.
Because using images associated with the second-most famous event in New Mexico's history to lure the average American who's all-but-overdosing in the gooey soup of pop culture is a horrible idea, beneath the likes of, you know, marketers. My state helped deliver George Bush to the world in grand fashion, so lighten up, E.T..
"New Mexico has a lot to offer — we don't need to bring our standards down," said Ken Mompellier, head of the convention and visitors bureau in Las Cruces, the state's fast-growing second-largest city, which has refused to use the alien ads to bolster local tourism pitches, as it normally would.
Okay, try pitching your state solely on the likes of Native American history, the Mexican-American War or the stunning scenery. Or better yet, how about Los Alamos, one of those black sites where humanity decided to shirk its soul into the dirt? Gotta use all the available resources, sir. "Here's where Ken Blackwell had his minions reprogram the Diebold machines!"
"My first question would be: What does this campaign show of the things that we are known for?" Mompellier asked. "I look at this campaign and I don't see the fit. And the things I'm hearing from people, some of it is very negative."
Perhaps you're right. "Come for the tinfoil hattery and cheap alien trinkets, stay for the pueblos and Four Corners" is just immoral. Let's get our favorite FBI agents on the job.
*knock knock*
"Agent Scully, it's me, Randal. We need your help!"
"Come in."

Oh, Dana, how could you.

New Mexico, you're on your own. I have to go cry in my booze.

Monday, November 26, 2007

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly 11

The Good: Our first complete team game! Woo! Sipe The Tall really threaded the ball, The Edwards/Winslow Show caught all the tough tosses, Jamal Lewis ran like a crazy mofo, but perhaps the brightest spot was rookie corner Brandon McDonald, he of the stature not much higher than mine, turning Pro Bowler Andre Johnson into chopped solid waste. Or was it the defense, that hit hard...

The Bad: ...and didn't suck? Quoi ? DA's first and only pick was a stupid throw, but the bad was few and far betw - oh, yeah, STOP with the fucking penalties, dammit!

The Ugly: Eli Manning's performance - oops, I was scouring the brain for anything extraordinarily grotesque in our game, and there really wasn't.

Up next: in sunny Arizona, where it'll probably still be near 80 degrees. I hate these games. We're good enough to win, but also bad enough to lose. I don't know if I buy the whole 'cross-country roadtrips tire you out,' though. They fly on fucking chartered jets and eat steak. Suck up and get the win against an inferior opponent. The p-word is nearer with each victory!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Vomitorium of blasphemy

Liked the phrase, needed a post for NaBloPoMo, hence, the above.
Appropriate, no? Feel free to caption with the actual humor I so deftly avoided.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

"Don't be so dark."

Impartial - and I use this adjective loosely - judgment is easily clouded by memory. Take a musical composition - for example, the new album of any artist you enjoy. Is it as good as previous releases? Is it as enduring, as unforgettable? Simply apply your particular subjective criteria and voilà, x is sublime, y is mediocre and z is putrescent. Easy as pie, no? But if one associates memories, good, bad and every degree between - and honestly, how can one not do such a thing? - with an individual piece of music or any creative endeavor, is it even possible for that work to be judged solely on artistic merit? Is part of that merit an inherent ability rooted in the structure of notes and chords, the patterns of words and verse, the imagery of brushstrokes and hues, to coil around those memories, cling to them as vine to old stone, changing the biochemistry of both so that something new is created? Does a remembrance force its will upon art? Or do they share a symbiotic relationship? Is the settlement of a piece of art deep within our psyche due to the skill of the creator or through the work of a memory we first - or, more often, at a later date - link with it?

A painting, and a memory or two inside.

Art isn't created in a vacuum, nor is the appreciation of it. No matter what visual, aural or tactile expression lay before our senses, its fabrication was affected by the emotions and experiences of its creator and our enjoyment or disdain of said creation can only be affected by ours. Here, Proust uses the Vinteuil sonata to demonstrate how one comes to truly understand great art:

Listening for the first time to music that is even a little complicated, one can often hear nothing in it. And yet, later in life, when I had heard the whole piece two or three times, I found I was thoroughly familiar with it. So the expression "hearing something for the first time" is not inaccurate. If one had distinguished nothing in it on the real first occasion, as one thought, then the second or the third would also be first times; and there would be no reason to understand it any better on the tenth occasion. What is missing the first time is probably not understanding but memory. Our memory span, relative to the complexity of the impressions that assail it as we listen, is infinitesimal, as short-lived as the memory of a sleeping man who has a thousand thoughts which he instantly forgets, or the memory of a man in his dotage, who cannot retain for more than a minute anything he has been told. Our memory is incapable of supplying us with an instantaneous recollection of this multiplicity of impressions. Even so, a recollection does gradually gather in the mind; and with pieces of music heard only two or three times, one is like the schoolboy who, though he has read over his lesson a few times before falling asleep, is convinced that he still does not know it, but can then recite it word for word when he wakes up the following morning.
I wholeheartedly concur, but what if we move beyond mere rote learning and the gradual application of the process of memory? As we graft a single remembrance - ancient or freshly born, but nevertheless powerful - upon art and watch ce mélange become as complex as our life, we notice new details we might otherwise have missed in such a short span of time. Our subconscious intelligence, always out of reach as it wanders the landscape of our daydreams, finds points on the topology the waking mind never could, despite those repeated listenings or viewings. The bonds shared by the elements making up the work itself are broken down by this memory infusing its own nature within. Thus, we now have a connection to the creation. Enfin, the art, invariably returning the gift, strengthens our own, already existing, memory of a great victory, a tragic loss, a shared moment, a kiss. Rejoining Marcel talking about the complexity of a great work, he declares that the time required to comprehend is long, thus:
[t]herein lies the source of the melancholy that accompanies our discovery of such works, as of all things which can come to fruition only through time.
The motifs we initially loved the most recede into the dark recesses as we plumb the depths and discover heretofore unknown secrets. Is the usage of memory to achieve this end therefore cheating? Is it a false process whereby we don't legitimately understand the nuances of the work, inventing only what we wish to see or hear or feel, having used the applied memory as an aide-mémoire, a crutch?

Does it matter?

The memory we placed becomes as equally important as the art. They share the same hierarchy, reinforce each other. Two have become one. One cannot exist without the other. We come to understand not merely new notes or sonic passages, colors and shades too subtle to discern on previous passes, or figments of our overactive imagination, but our memories themselves and their place within our head and our heart. Their power is increased, the initial impression isn't lost after all, and that can be overwhelming.

People comment in passing about how a piece of music or a particular album “was the soundtrack to my life.” For me, that’s beyond true. Music is as essential as - wait. Didn't I already say this? Oh well. I never claimed to be a paragon of original thought. There are many witty and entertaining blogs to the lower right that'll help you avoid the boredom you'd otherwise be struck with if you were to be brave enough to read on.

Thank you, Lone Reader. And we continue.

Sight may prove to have more practical value in the long run, but I’m deathly afraid of ever going deaf. At least I don’t have the soul-crushing pressure of genius weighing down on me like a Beethoven. The dude wrote the fucking 9th symphony while stone deaf. Think about that. Or not. But if you hate the 9th, or don’t care, just turn off your computer right now and go stab yourself in the eye with a hot poker or something equally ridiculous and painful. The power of music, kiddies. Very personal memories are forever entwined with the notes on the album being spoken about here today. Some good, some bad, some loving, some hurtful, some far too fleeting, others still lingering longer than I might like.

So, instead of merely critiquing an album as I did last time out, think of this as a review of the sounds one would hear upon entering my internal dystopia. How's that for fucking pretentiousness? My original premise was to do a series of short, simple reviews of albums that are, for particular reasons, aesthetic and/or otherwise, close to my heart. Instead, I find myself geometrically expanding the word count and going off on related tangents on only the second time around. Not sure about the future, but in the meantime...

After the stunning, multi-platinum success of the near-perfect Tonight‘s Decision - I'm kidding about the sales figures - the band prepared their next opus and Last Fair Deal Gone Down, named after a Robert Johnson song, blew in like a stark, bitter wind anno 2001. Oh, that’s not a bad thing, mind you, despite the expected impression of such a phrase. Depression, darkness, that’s the name of their game and nothing gives me greater pleasure than wallowing in misery. If the shoe fits, I'm doing something seriously wrong.

The first thing we hear is a quiet line of notes, a ripple in the calm water before a rock is dropped, an insistent beat that cracks the tranquility. The drums are crisper this time around, and there's a veneer of keys everywhere. But make no mistake, the guitar has kick. The new rhythm section of bassist Mattias Norrman and drummer Daniel Liljekvist makes their presence felt almost immediately with a new energy before the calm returns. "It is so sad to see/Dispossession/it has become my obsession." Next, a bedrock of chords. "Here in this dead hour/seconds with you are worthless." And back to the assertive rhythm. Subtle electronics enmesh with simple notes before a final replay of the chorus, the coda of the song, the end of the bond, the deal broken.

After a short, yet mesmerizing guitar intro, a pungent rhythm assaults the ears before moving into an unsettling serenity. "My eyes are of Chrome/it is television." The emptiness of a vapid existence, "layer by layer/I'm peeling away." A dynamic, Who-esque hyperkinetic drum riff swings back before quickly shifting into the steady, imperative march of the chorus, "burn down my house/and make something happen." Not a plea, but a demand. An unsettled heart is easily cast adrift and a stimulus is needed to jumpstart dead emotions.

A vaguely post-rock pop hook contrasts with violence: "we had you down on your knees/we were kicking you in the head/we tried to hang you from the trees/we didn't stop until you were dead." A layer of cosmic static and keyboard work, both the voices and I, proclaim that "We Must Bury You." An alliance split, a murderous fantasy. "Forgive me for not saving you." Was it even worth saving?

Despondent measures and a propulsive rhythm not far behind carry the painful shards of remembrance: "why have you put so many things into my eyes?" The high volume is quickly given a soft coat, les tristesses du coeur. The noise won't let you ever forget "what is it in my eyes/a piece of broken glass/is this your way of telling/another has been found/now I know it's Teargas in my eyes." The conviction with which such simple words are sung lends credence to the sentiment. The lover may remain in body, but not, sadly, in heart. Or vice versa.

The wall of sound returns, thick, instruments so close, the guitar and drums in single rhythm before splitting, a broken rapport, each clearly audible before dissipating into the ether, the spaces filling with ghosts. "I can't say that I am free/as long as they return." I Transpire - am I even here or merely an apparition? I walk over a slow-burning bridge. "There is no way I am going to be free/because their hearts are similar to mine." We are trapped inside the fear we cultivate, our daydream nation. The keys ascend half an octave - a glimpse of joy? No, the getting used to. We must now redefine the world.

The painful tone of a slow ballad, arguably the saddest song in the band's oeuvre. Tonight’s Music vacillates not between light and dark, but between dark and pitch black. "How could this go so very wrong/that I must depend on darkness," the only place of refuge. Irretrievably shattered, where can we go but the most tenebrous place we know? "Tonight my head is full of wishes/and everything I drink is full of her." Preach on, brother Jonas. You can - well, me, anyway - can literally feel the resignation drip off of each syllable. "How could this go so very far/that I need someone to say what is wrong/not with the world but me." If Teargas is the antecedent, the event, and I Transpire the internal struggle to cope, then Tonight's Music is the painful aftermath. Problem is, there's no end in sight.

Pressure builds underneath a single power chord before exploding into a crushing riff, the day to day weight of maintaining oneself in the face of omnipresent temptation. The guitars thunder louder, the speeding heartbeat of falling down. "Am I transparent when I'm clean?"
Am I Clean Today? "I lower myself now/it is a way to forget/about last year's failure." So close to breaking the treaty with ourselves. "Will the darkness around me be so strong/that there is no way I can be seen?" Might as well go all out. Sever.

A peaceful wash of keys, a palliative before the rhythm of the verse and the shadowed shine of the chorus, "I have no lies or truth in what I say/there is no meaning." This is The Future of Speech when talking to you. Arriving at the cliffs, shouting from the rooftop, no one hears because we're saying nothing of consequence to the one who left us behind. A harsh riff is quickly grafted on to push the point home that "it can't get worse."

Alone we are, strolling through the carefully constructed avenues of memory, despondent, aloof. We look upon the facades, those of light crumbling, those of darkness reaching out to caress with a cold touch that is becoming comfortable with frightening ease. We see shadows rush past, faint imprints of past words now humbled. Give to us the honorific of flâneur, and thus, we turn to Walter Benjamin:
In times of terror, when everyone is something of a conspirator, everybody will be in the position of having to play detective. Flânerie gives the individual the best prospects of doing so. Baudelaire wrote: "An observer is a prince who is everywhere in possession of his incognito." If the flâneur is thus turned into an unwilling detective, it does him a lot of good socially, for it justifies his idleness. His indolence is only apparent, for behind this indolence there is the watchfulness of the observer who does not take his eyes off a miscreant.
We observe ourselves and the consequence of crimes committed with the one who has vanished, and those we're now forced to commit alone. Are we incognito precisely because of our current state in this deserted place, or because we are simply invisible to those who remain? Were the bonds broken because of circumstances beyond our control, or something beyond the pale, something unspeakable? Which combination of these is the worst, I cannot
say. And despite our detective work, the question remains unanswered: which one of us was the miscreant?

I'm sure there's a flâneur practicing the art of invisibility in there somewhere.

Dour, streetwise guitar and a syncopated rhythm, the jagged footfalls of the flâneur - yet this time, the observer becomes a participant, latching onto a
Passing Bird. "She's got black hair and she has got a black dress." Sounds great, no? "I hope I can change today/she would never think of changing/too much fucking emo/it's false, I know." At a certain point, we emotionally shut down, and feel that those of everyone else are but a tormenting din. Another deal falls into the rain-soaked gutter, her fault and mine, but "I can't lie down and say I am done." It's never done. We keep looking, fools that we are. I'm sure there's a feminist interpretation that would have a different take on this song than I did, but since I'm a shallow bundle of testosterone that enjoys ogling pretty girls, you can't honestly expect me to know any better.

Electronic rhythms echo into the swirling chorus of guitar, ephemeral like the joyful dream quickly proven false. "Then like a ghost at night/you come around all dressed in white/talking to me/and so I have to drink the water with your poison spilled/for no more will." According to Rimbaud, we have to drink:
The poet makes himself a visionary through a long, immense and calculated disordering of the senses. Every form of love, suffering, madness; he searches for and consumes all the poisons, keeping only their quintessences.
Sweet Nurse, it "seems you have so little time/that you rather put me to sleep/than sit by my side." The heart is malleable and, after being weakened, is stretched and torn. So, was the pain a worthy price for the experience?

A subdued, slinky guitar, the surprising sound of a soothing flute laid above is smashed by a tenacious, chromatic riff. The album's final track, the thematic counterbalance to the rest. The relationships we have with others, with ourselves, are as fragile as the finest crystal. Their repair or, as is sometimes required, their complete reconstruction from the rubble itself, is nigh impossible. The solution? This secret: "when you have no one, no one can hurt you." Just Don't Tell A Soul.

As a bonus, I'm going to add the four non-album tracks recorded during these sessions that later appeared as extra songs on a couple of Europe-only CD-singles. For some reason, Katatonia loves to record tunes that are just as good, sometimes better, than some of the mini-masterpieces that are released with the album proper. Why? Fuck if I know.

Help Me Disappear, help me expropriate an escape from "the nightmares that burn/into my head at night/make them disappear/so i can breathe." Loud/soft dynamics on dazzling display, a revolving riff, the flux of a guitar army and moody solo strings. "Isolated myself/for the sake of freedom." Sometimes we're not the ones who choose isolation.

A tough, sinewy bassline and a folky, erratic guitar oscillation begins this Will Oldham original. Accept the non-fiction of never reciprocating a touch, a dissolved breath, now gone. "And would her loins/would yield a yelp/a beating purr to steal the time with/here's where we walk, hand in hand/O how I despise it/O How I Enjoy The Light."

A methodical, serpentine riff and the sharp crack of skins, we are "left with spring alone/I withdraw from this/I lived so differently/it wasn't good enough." So often lost in thought, a mode that's never good enough. "But everything now is a film on rewind." Back to square zero. "Things once blurred are twice sharpened/when I think of what I could have." We tasted, and what was sweet is now acrid, ashes in the proverbial mouth. Something happened on March 4, and it wasn't pretty. We all have those days.

A soft, haunting incantation, barely audible, "I'm drawing back time to feel things once again/as when I had found them." That initial moment of bliss, when dream was made flesh. The vocal climbs upon the dulcet tones of a flute, soon a wordless choir - and the crush of a heavy, depressing hook.

If I could wish for anything, I would wish for disorientation. Instead I hold clarity within my hands. It is palpable, real. I feel everything is a reminder.
"I had Sulfur in my heart/but not enough strength to give it a spark." The amps shut down to reveal a distant echo, the words bouncing off the vacant caverns of emotion growing deeper, more distant, "I held my head down I know/and you walked around in circles/I'm sure you already knew/if I only knew it too." The fire is on life support; see only embers lying about my feet. The amps come back on, the riff ascends, as does hope, "so much I want to ask you/you have no time to let me do so/there is no light in my pathway/you must tell me where to go."

A shame there's no one around.

For me, the band’s most haunting track and, for certain, carefully locked-away reasons, 6+ minutes that I’ll always cherish. How this got left off the album, I haven't the foggiest.
Henley: So, what should we do with Hotel California?
Frey: I don’t know. B-side?
Henley: Sure, why not.

Katatonia's greatest strength is their masterful manipulation of pace, tempo, volume, all within a simple 3-6 minute structure. Aural poets. Those of the writing variety have a Petrarchan sonnet to work with, a series of alexandrines, some blank verse - now go pen some prose, you lovelorn bastard. It takes a certain skill, cultivated and honed, to compose a lasting piece of literature, and it certainly does with the sculpting of sound, even within a genre as disdained by some as rock and/or roll.

Sure, there are still two years left in this decade - yes, technically three, but Trent Reznor wrote an entire album all about Year Zero, and he’s always real angry and might put a hole in my head something fierce if I don’t go along. The point is thus: barring a major miracle - and some albums have come very close - nothing will top Last Fair Deal Gone Down as the album of la décennie du buisson, and one of the handful that I’ll never, ever get tired of. It’s not a soundtrack to anything. It’s an integral part of my alternately joyful and hollow existence on this inconsequential planet. And when the latter sentiments take charge, I sometimes wonder if I should have joined the famed Delta Blues guitarist and sold my soul, too.

A slice of exaggerated melodrama? Lest anyone cast aspersions my way, I leave you with the words spoken by the late, great Charles Nelson Reilly in one of his finest roles, writer Jose Chung, as he confronts the Selfosophy Psycho:

"That's very downbeat." "Life is downbeat, Monsieur Noir."

"So feel free to use your Onan-O-Graph and your therapies, if that's what it takes to make you happy, and I truly mean that. Good luck to you, buddy.

But please, allow me to wallow in my own misery, in peace, and if I should look up from my downbeat abyss, and find you to be a fool, that's no right for you to commit upon me a foolish act."

Yes, Mr. Chung was indeed killed - not by the Selfosophy Psycho, but by the Nostradamus Nutball. One never knows from whence death, emotional or otherwise, will come.


You really can get away with, well, torture, at least.

The Paris prosecutors' office has dismissed a suit against Donald Rumsfeld accusing the former U.S. defense secretary of torture, human rights groups who brought the case said on Friday.
Oh come on, it's not like Rummy himself did the torturing. That's what low-level flunkies are for. Sheesh. The Donald was somewhere east, west, north and south of Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib to be engaging in such inhuman, nefarious activities necessary actions for the protection of freedom. As for those candy-ass, peace-loving pansies:
The FIDH said it had received a letter from the prosecutors' office ruling that Rumsfeld benefited from a "customary" immunity from prosecution granted to heads of state and government and foreign ministers, even after they left office.
Bet Saddam wishes he had just quit.

Friday, November 23, 2007

The Last Stand of The Dial-Up Boys

"You need a connection this big, Randal. Eight inches, cut. Heh, heh."

When it takes 15 minutes to upload a post as inconsequential as this - I'm surprised I didn't get a plague of locusts among the disconnects and slowdowns - it's time for high-speed, don't you think? Well played, ISPs in cahoots with the neocon police state.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Eat Yourself Into A Coma Day

"Why yes, private, the glaze is extra shiny 'cause of all the lead, heh, heh."

Sorry, dCap, I had to use it, too, since it fit my lame joke.

Well, time to haul the kids all over the goddamn place. At least there's football on the teevee. Happy Thanksgiving to everyone. Except wingnuts. Get indigestion. No, that's not very nice. Go choke on a bone.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Now you're REALLY voting for Mike Huckabee

Yes, Mr. Norris, I am. No, seriously, I am! Please don't kill me. Yes, I know each of your manly chest hairs is an extra fist, which means you have about 75,000 of them with which to pummel me. What do you say about my extreme, unbending support for Mr. Huckabee, Mr. Flair?


At least Mike isn't attracting soulless, Jesus- hating, pot-smoking, baby-aborting entertainers like the Democrats. That would just be crass, don't you think?

Okay, where did you guys bury the bodies?

Of satire and irony, that is.

President Bush yesterday offered his strongest support of embattled Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf, saying the general "hasn't crossed the line" and "truly is somebody who believes in democracy."
I know, I know. You harbor suspicions that don't exactly jibe with the supposed cognitive dissonance of Mr. Bush. So, in the interest of fairness, which is what we're all about on this blog, let's take a look at the film:
Bush spoke nearly three weeks after Musharraf declared emergency rule, sacked members of the Supreme Court and began a roundup of journalists, lawyers and human rights activists. Musharraf's government yesterday released about 3,000 political prisoners, although 2,000 remain in custody, according to the Interior Ministry.
How does it feel to be so wrong, you commie pinko homosexual potsmoking moonbats? There's no disconnect here whatsoever! Musharraf obviously shares the exact same democratic ideals as our President. And before you get your g-string in a wad - wait, that's not even possible, is it - over this paragraph -
The comments, delivered in an interview with ABC News anchor Charles Gibson, contrasted with previous administration statements -- including by Bush himself -- expressing grave concern over Musharraf's actions. In his first public comments on the crisis two weeks ago, Bush said his aides bluntly warned Musharraf that his emergency measures "would undermine democracy."
- just remember that it's now okay to be As Inconsistent As I Wanna Be. I flip flop, you flip flop, we all flip flop! Just be careful so you don't bump your skull on the pavement or a low ceiling. But, mes amis, let us close out on a happy note, because nothing makes me happier than being happy and sharing that happiness with other happy people. Though resurrecting the decayed and rotted corpses of satire and irony will no doubt take awhile, in the meantime, let us bask in laughter's warm glowing warming glow by reading the verbal wizardry of, ostensibly, one of our own:
"What exactly would it take for the president to conclude Musharraf has crossed the line? Suspend the constitution? Impose emergency law? Beat and jail his political opponents and human rights activists?" asked Joseph R. Biden Jr. (D-Del.), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and a presidential candidate. "He's already done all that. If the president sees Musharraf as a democrat, he must be wearing the same glasses he had on when he looked in Vladimir Putin's soul."
Senator MBNA certainly isn't my first choice to be the 2008 Democratic nominee, but the man loves his snark, and you have to give him that much.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

The Purloined Photograph

Cette photo, je l'ai volé ! - er, with permission - from Betty C.
at La France Profonde.

Pourquoi ? C'est évident, non ? It's beautiful, tenebrous. The dominance of shadow over the benighted stone of age, the haunting silhouette of the photographer peering through the obscurity, making its presence felt in the darkness. I wish I had taken it.

Monday, November 19, 2007

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly 10

Dear Browns,

Before I begin my personalized wrapup of yet another exciting victory, I would humbly ask that you stop sticking your hands in our collective chest, bursting through our ribcage, grasping our heart, ripping it out through the carnage, throwing it on the filthy, chewed-up turf, stomping on it, putting it back together like it was a Lego set made of flesh and sticking it back in so that we have enough time to watch yet another white-knuckle nailbiter. And please, don’t ever pull that fucking field goal-as-pinball wizardry again.

- with all sincerity, Randal

The Good: remember Brian Sipe? Many years ago, back in the heyday of pot and Blue Oyster Cult-fueled UFO sightings, his taller sibling got abducted by aliens, was kept in statis thereby preventing ageing, and was returned to us in 2006 to be our quarterback. Eat your heart out, Devin Hester. Joshua Cribbs is the baddest return man in the NFL. That man runs with authority. Over 300 return yards? Phil Dawson, I will toast you this evening as I did last night. Drunken Randal sang his praises.

The Bad: sweet Beelzebub, that pass defense. Kyle Boller looked like vintage Steve McNair. And, guess what? He’s not. We’re that bad, true believers. In addition, when the other team, who has arguably the shittiest offense in the league by the way, gives you superior field position through the gift of multiple turnovers, score touchdowns, not field goals.

The Ugly: stop with the fucking penalties! How many false starts were there? 752? And Commish, when your vaunted replay system - which obviously runs on a Microsoft product - craps out, use a television. I’m sure you could find one or two in a half-a-billion dollar stadium.

Up next: on the rainy, windswept shores of Lake Erie against the most nondescript team in the league, Houston. We're not good enough to assume a freebie - did you see that fucking defense? - but dammit, this is certainly winnable.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Proust is dead

Long live Proust.

"You really should read my stuff. It's quite good."

"No time for blogging, Dr. Graves!"
Unfortunately, I have a plethora of non-internets activity today - believe me, I'm well aware that I'm engaging in blasphemy - so, hey, don't everyone post too much. I have bad eyesight. Be good, kids!

Saturday, November 17, 2007


Look what the slimy Democrats are up to again!

Rose Kramer was at her Dubuque, Iowa, home, waiting for the TV show "House" to start at 8 p.m. Tuesday when a pollster called and started asking her about John McCain. After a few polite questions, the caller started saying unflattering things about Mitt Romney.
Gasp! No! Not Willard! I loved him in that killer rat movie!
In another part of Iowa, Ralph Watts got a similar call the next day. Are you aware, the caller asked, that Mormons consider the Book of Mormon superior to the Bible? Would that make you more or less likely to vote for Romney?
Oh. Your. God. Did you know that Christians consider the Bible superior to the Book of Mormon? And that Muslims consider the Qur’ān superior to both? Please, discuss amongst yourselves. I have to sit down for a moment. The vapors, oh, the vapors. I'm so weak. Would you kindly pass me that handkerchief?

I'm better now. Could you be a dear and wring the sweat out of this? Merci, honey. Apparently, be still my heart, this diabolical deception played out in the great state of New Hampshire as well. The disease of intolerance spreads so quickly! Now, what I want to know is what does The Maverick himself think of such chicanery?
McCain strongly denied having anything to do with the calls, saying "it is disgraceful, it is outrageous and it is a violation, we believe, of New Hampshire law."
If this had happened to you, or *sniff* someone you loved - hold on, can I have my handkerchief back, please - I'm sorry, just read for yourself *sob*
"They started by asking about 15 or 20 questions about different candidates," recalled Sabrina Matteson, a New Hampshire Farm Bureau editor who got a call Wednesday evening.

Soon, the undecided Republican said, the caller noted that Romney's five sons had never served in the military and asked if that gave her a more or less favorable view of him.

"What kind of question is that?" Matteson said she responded. After another question or two she got increasingly angry, finally telling the caller, "You should be ashamed of yourself. How do you look at yourself in the mirror?"
You just take a deep breath, sweet, sweet Sabrina, I'll answer that for you! The same way Democrats always look at themselves in the mirror after having dumped their aborted fetus into the imported crystal garbage can, washing the stain of precious human blood away in their polished, stainless steel sink that sits seamlessly within a swanky, porphyry-hued marble counter top that they probably - compose yourself, Randal - fornicate on daily, with a devilish smile at having done the work of Old Scratch once more! What does the Romney camp itself think about such dastardly doings?
"Whichever campaign is engaging in this type of awful religious bigotry as a line of political attack, it is repulsive and, to put it bluntly, un-American," said Romney communications director Matt Rhoades.
Amen, brother. Do you guys say 'amen?' I don't want to be engaging in awful religious bigotry so early in the morning. Anyway, nothing is as unfamiliar to an American as, oh, what do they call those things - it's on the tip of my tongue - dirty campaign tricks! In fact, we couldn't possibly fit them into our already-packed schedules:
"There is no room for this kind of smut in a Republican primary election," said Todd Harris, former Tennessee Sen. Fred Thompson's communications director.
No there isn't. That's why they invented bathroom stalls.

Friday, November 16, 2007


Everyone has their favorite bands. I'm no different. For me, music cannot be relegated to mere background noise duty or simply be a stimulus to toe tapping. Each new release is more than a collection of individual songs, whether built within a simple pop framework or the opposite extreme of being a multi-part progressive epic that would put an old Yes album to shame. Music is woven into the fabric of existence itself, as much a part of my life as the elements; it is the food and drink of the soul. It can be an inspiration for thought, or, more accurately, flights of naive, childlike fancy which often - hopefully - will lead to putting the pen to the paper and writing something worthwhile; a weapon against the nefarious blocking of the pen itself; a balm for a wound that persists in never healing. It has inflamed the passions, been the perfect caretaker for memory.

So, still suffering from Bush Bashing Burnout Syndrome, I figured I'd ramble on about one of the bands I dig the most, a virtually daily play in my headphones at home, work or traveling to and from both, Katatonia.

Let us skip ahead a few years, past the early works of doom: the extended suites of Dance of December Souls, the tortured, screeching, emotional vocals that bared pain both there and on the follow-up EP, For Funerals To Come; through the monumentally classic Brave Murder Day/Sounds of Decay LP/EP double shot of doom/death with Opeth’s Mikael Akerfeldt handling all - save one - of the vocal duties, and arrive to that moment where the band - or more specifically, vocalist/then-drummer Jonas Renkse, tired of the wear and tear on the vocal cords - decided to discard the cookie monster stylings and go clean full time.

The first fruit of this decision was 1998’s Discouraged Ones. An excellent record to be sure, but upon repeated spins, it became obvious that it was full of the difficulty inevitably experienced with change. The heaviness remained, but the hammer earlier used to subtly inflict blunt aural trauma was smaller this time around and the vocals had yet to carry the confidence so prevalent in later efforts; the bile bubbling deep underneath the hurt had yet to rise to the surface. The album’s title was certainly apt: a happy, joyful record it is not, and much more worthy of the short-shrift that it's getting here, as are the releases mentioned in the preceding paragraph. Perhaps another post in the future. But on we must march with our tale. Mr. Renkse along with guitarists Anders Nyström and Fredrik Norrman carefully learned their lessons and, enlisting the help of session drummer and Edge of Sanity mastermind Dan Swanö for the 1999 follow-up, Tonight’s Decision, unleashed a moody masterpiece that saw the band hitting their bleak stride.

There are legions of goth bands who bark. This rock band, as dark as any goth, also bites, and we hear this almost immediately. A cycle of single notes, quiet, melancholy, flows until the descending riff crunch of For My Demons pummels the ears with chord after chord until mercifully returning to the softer parade, declaring amidst the otherworldly sound emanating from the keys that "I'm here, and summer's gone I hear," the narrator leaving town, professing to an unnamed malevolence that he'd never claimed a desire to stay. The wall of sound returns, reverberating with cascading chords and a warning that "you would never sleep at night/ if you know what I've been through."

An insistent unison of guitar and bass deftly advances, and if you "listen close at night/there's something coming my way." The chorus pleads, the voice and harmony guitars nearly shifting up an octave over the dark rumble of I Am Nothing. "A decision for tonight," a change; then a low melody, the steps of the unsure, the afraid. Coming back "to a place without sun," one would find In Death, A Song. The riff stops as seamlessly as it starts, mirroring the departure and subsequent return, again with a change of season and a choice hanging like a funereal pall, the last note of the main riff ringing out before returning to echoing heaviness.

A barely audible static and a low, doomy hypnosis conjures our attention, now they're gone, forever. They Had To (Leave). An error, a dissonant guitar line, vanishes, as does "the feeling I had for you." The price for this loss? This Punishment, arriving along a sparse guitar stripped of raw power over jangly drumwork. "When I come in/from where I've been" again proffers the suggestion of journeying there and back, of shifting place, both within and without. A meek vocal would also suggest that everything was deserved, the sound fading into nothingness.

A strangely hopeful, yet minor key riff takes "a black road," where we try and forget as we head Right Into the Bliss. Despite being railroaded by bad decisions relentlessly accumulating, "someday we'll go," but like the static of the old 45 during the bridge, this declaration of intent is already broken before it's been said. Hope clings with naivety.

A monochrome riff and shifting dynamics sees that "this is no good way out/afield lies nothing but disorder." Again, a path with obstacles, movement prevented, so why even make an attempt to change? Yet, if we stay, No Good Can Come of This. The circular guitar hums as "I read a letter I never sent/and saw me smiling on a picture" - even a mundane and presumably safe mode of communication is taken away by our indecision. An end and a start, where the undulating crunch is Strained and doesn't "know the word 'beginning.'" Above a midtempo hook, a loss of control stalks, a loss of any awareness of time before the notes shift down in pitch once more.

The plaintive, desperate introduction of a single acoustic becomes harmonized by another and the voice that is "the only one that can see/there is A Darkness Coming." The notes are transitory as heavy chords crash, the oncoming train that we can't get out of the way of, the descent encapsulated in one of the album's few extended solos, the inevitability of our end that manifests in the return of that single acoustic dissipating into the ether.

A cover that fits with stylistic perfection, Jeff Buckley's Nightmares By The Sea shares imagery with "the water on every side" in track two, and with decision nearly everywhere else. An incredible hook lures you in, a fuzzed out guitar riff, a broken love that's repeated over and over, the haunting bones of the past, young lovers dead. "Stay with me out on these waves tonight/be free, for once in your life tonight." A fleeting freedom that's all too unreal.

And at last, the album's magnum opus and thematic centerpiece opens with a dark, propulsive melody. Soon the grind of metallic, monolithic power chords enters, both sounds audible, distinct, intertwining, omnipresent, as are all the choices that have, are, and will lay before us. Here, they are in mechanical stasis. Our mind is not. "I sense infliction in the air/it's only me." Are we the sole cause of our misfortune? "I keep on living in this my only wish/that life will be good someday/I keep on losing my sleep because of this/seems so hard just to stay." It seems that we may indeed be. A plea heard over an agitated sea of guitar for "you to come by just this last time," a final instance of movement, one last, desperate chance at breaking the liminal, this Black Session. "Oh, the black." Indeed.

All eleven tracks share a unity of theme, a collection of musical short stories not about the ephemeral aspects of life, but of the ever-present shadow of change and our oft-wavering acceptance thereof. The stunning, blue-black artwork and imagery of Travis Smith perfectly accompanies the darkly crisp atmosphere of the album, a narrative of the desire to disinherit these disdained feelings. And the inevitable failure. Each song shares words and concepts throughout: routes, movement, departures and arrivals, the cycle of the seasons, death. Encapsulated within the chambers of the soul exist these doors - these alternatives - of comfort and discomfort of place, personified in a physical location, but always involving the heart - an emotion, a relation, a love - all birthed in a decision of our own or one made by another and thrust upon us. The selections we make and the ones that are out of our hands, the ones we desperately want only to find that our reach exceeds our grasp; everything overwhelms regardless of our best efforts. It is time to live with the consequences. Decide.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

The _______ I love

"Buy my CD!"

"Fuck you, crossover bastard!"

Suffering from Bush Bashing Burnout Syndrome, and without the Divine Miss M(+E) regaling us internets sexaholics with any Naughty Nunnery Stories - put the Excommunicate-O-Matic® away, Ratzinger, I'm kidding! - I was at a loss. Distraught. Directionless. What to pointlessly prattle on about? Come on, Randal, think. What's the one thing that you're actually quite skilled at?


Having listened to rock and metal for nearly a quarter of a century, being an acquaintance with enough guitar players and personally knowing enough chords - you know, two or three - I think I'm well within my musical bounds to offer informed and expert criticisms of said musical genres, although I try my damnedest to refrain from discussing such critiques in the style of a linguistic Varangian Guardsman. I want others to dig this stuff. Just go listen to it far away from me. Farther. No, keep walking.

Thus, would it not also be bad form to be a classical music snob - or a snob of any variety even if you do indeed know your shit, because then you're just an asshole - when you don't know thing one about theory and structure? On the flip side, George W. Bush is president while having no interest in reality and no apparent knowledge of the difference between right and wrong, so my decades-long amateur classical music affliction certainly passes muster, no? Which brings me to my ethical dilemma. But first, fuck you Bush for finding a way into a post that's not even remotely about you. Words in any language cannot express the pure, distilled hatred I have for you and your neocon handlers. Je vous déteste tellement !

Okay, I'm better now. A swig sip of wine always does the trick.

Sweet Jesus Sandra Lou, I loathe crossover shit. Find some reasonably talented individual or individuals, preferably those of the comely lass variety - I'm looking at you, Bond - have them record Danny Boy or some Viennese waltzes or Für Elise - which is very pretty, so fuck off, said snobs - in an appropriately schmaltzy way et voilà, instant Xmas gift for your friendly neighborhood soccer mom. And then there is the sickening commercial skirmishing by record label compilations: The Most Beautiful Classical Piano Pieces In The World For An Exquisitely Lovely Brunch! The Most Romantic Adagios For A Very Special Evening! The Greatest Baroque Album Ever, Volume 9! Quoi ? And don't forget - wait, here's the booming voice of the announcer now - Massive Classics! with the Schwarzeneggerian arm wrestling cover. Shudder. Look, true believers, there are brilliant and complete works out there written by geniuses and those who reside in the compositional neighborhood, recreated by hardworking orchestras, ensembles, individuals, engineers and producers that are dying to be heard.

Now, don't completely misjudge me, for I too have my favorite pieces and movements within particular works. But come on. Instead of buying Grandma or Cousin Johnny a disc with the largo from a Vivaldi violin concerto coupled with the 'Coffee' Cantata, or Creation O. Marketing - or an apparently all-rocked-out Rod Stewart - crooning some American standards, why not buy them the complete Brandenburgs? Or the Mass in B Minor? Or a disc of Mahler? Or some Alkan wizardry on the ivories? And to wax idiotic even further, why must these companies always utilize the same works? The first movement of Beethoven's fifth is required by law to be on any compilation - you've honestly never heard even a whisper of the shadowy, iron-clad manifesto written by Thomas Edison himself at his Menlo Park desk back in 1878? While it has certainly earned its place on the short list of the finest that music has to offer - despite it's imprisonment in cellphone ringtones and Muzak, it remains the Mount Everest of all motifs - what about the symphony's fourth movement, for example?

Nearly five minutes in - 30 seconds, if Toscanini is conducting - is arguably the most sublime musical moment that I have yet to hear created by anyone born on this planet. The strings shift up what seems like uncounted octaves, an aural expression of the purest joy; the triumph of having overcome pain, loss, the shackles of remorse; the stubborn defiance present within each of us shielding our unlocked potential from the battering winds of fate. For the briefest of moments, someone as dour and as cynical as myself feels that humanity can surpass its natural flaws and live in boundless peace and art and creativity and happiness. What a soulless hack you must be if, upon hearing those notes, you aren't moved!

Anyway, go on and buy that crap if you feel it'll help the economy. And I do admit to a tinge of remorse as I rag on the classical labels because they're simply trying to make a buck just like the rest and since more people listen to cheapass pop songs about lip gloss and bling and angsty angst, I suppose they have to resort to such prestidigitation in order to pay the bills. Sigh. Just give the Große Fuge a try for your old pal Randal, okay? And spin the Für Elise again, too. Inconsequential in the grand scheme of things I suppose, but since we're all going to die in a fiery, nuclear conflagration caused by the diabolical machinations of Chimpy McBushitler or President Rudy! soon enough, I wanted to get this irrational pet peeve off my chest. Anyway, here's some stuff that I love, none of which is actually about love. How ironic.

For, as we all know, love sucks.

I love that it's now dark going to work and near twilight coming from, the evening edging ever closer. There's something magical, primordial about the movement from light to darkness. Certainly a natural yet perhaps unreasonable holdover from the earliest days of man when superstition and a fascination with the unknown was de rigueur, but there is a poetry in watching the sunlight fade into a thick mist, almost sublimated, the emerging shadows playing with the colors, everything a soft cool, a companion to the November wind soaring off the lake and onto your skin.

I love that my cable company - finally! - seems to have come to their senses and added the NHL Network, and that I'll be able to see teams besides Columbus. Sure, I'll continue to root for them - hey, Pascal Leclaire might be legit after all! - but it's the same feeling as rooting for the Buckeyes. They're not Cleveland's teams, which means I have none. Sniff. Plus, variety is the spice of the ice.

I love the fact that the French can sometimes be as bizarre as the Americans. Although in this case we must certainly blame the nefarious influence of the Japanese. It's obvious that one of the marketing types employed by Orangina is a big hentai/tentacle porn fan:

Le poulpe boit la pulpe ?

If I had Photoshop skills - or Photoshop - there'd be something clever


Since I don't, and there isn't, just go watch that wacky-ass commercial.
Oh, vous Français, vous êtes si fou !

I love when this very attractive woman, always impeccably - but never over - dressed, a regular on my bus trips to and from work, curls a lock of her hair around her finger. I have the distinct impression that it's not from vanity, nor does it appear to be a conscious affectation, but a genuine, subconsciously-directed physical action, perhaps some OCD-fueled gesture. And I want nothing more than to keep the mystery intact. I don't want to know her personally nor engage in conversation. She might be a Republican for all I know. Plus, I've got that whole angry jeans n' sneakers man ensemble working for me, and why mess with a good thing? Oh, there's that gold band on my finger, too. Almost forgot. But the way she curls those dark strands into something wonderful, a stunning bloom birthed from the union of natural physical beauty and the erratic human condition, a lovely mix of the innocent and the alluring in such a simple thing, is a sight to behold. Of course, being a male, I'm a sexist pig by default so perhaps I'm only looking at it from the latter angle. In any case, it's as inevitable as the sun rising and setting each day, and this, I love.

New boss, same as the old boss

Will get fooled again!

In his second day on the job, Attorney General Michael Mukasey leaped into the political fray, telling a key Democratic senator he opposes his electronic surveillance plan and would recommend the president veto it if it is passed.

In a letter to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., on the eve of crucial committee votes to update the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), Mukasey was adamant in opposing Leahy's plan for changing the law.
Wow. Mukasey waited until his second day on the job to flaunt his wingnut bonafides. I knew if we kept hammering at them that they'd start to buckle, that their resolve would start to crumble! Good job, Harry!
Mukasey and McConnell listed nearly a dozen other provisions or omissions in the Leahy plan which they said "would not provide the intelligence community with the tools it needs effectively to collect foreign intelligence information vital for the security of the nation."
Vital tools, national security, kill your children, food on your family, turrists, hate our freedom, blah diddy blah diddy blah. You can shut off the recording anytime, guys. The Democrats won't.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Mo' murda?

No problemz!

Federal agents investigating the Sept. 16 episode in which Blackwater security personnel shot and killed 17 Iraqi civilians have found that at least 14 of the shootings were unjustified and violated deadly-force rules in effect for security contractors in Iraq, according to civilian and military officials briefed on the case.
Not surprising.
Prosecutors have yet to decide whether to seek indictments, and some officials have expressed pessimism that adequate criminal laws exist to enable them to charge any Blackwater employee with criminal wrongdoing. Spokesmen for the Justice Department and the F.B.I. declined to discuss the matter.
Also not surprising. Once more, some low-level flunky will be the fall guy. It was Lynndie England and other peons who, without any direction from above, were on a fucking-shit-up-and-snapping-photos bender in Tortureville. And it was Happy B. Triggerfinger who shot up some assuredly not-so-innocent Iraqis here. Bush, Rummy, Neidermeyer, honorable men, etc etc. Now, let us gaze into our Nostradamus-y ball of faux crystal - you ever price the real stuff? - and, defying the laws of the gods, written in the stars and seen by those who longingly look up at the eternal cosmos, peer with wizard-like hubris into....the future!
The case could be one of the first thorny issues to be decided by Michael B. Mukasey, who was sworn in as attorney general last week. He may be faced with a decision to turn down a prosecution on legal grounds at a time when a furor has erupted in Congress about the administration’s failure to hold security contractors accountable for their misdeeds.
Wow! I certainly didn't see that coming! Nor did I see even a hint of the shocking naivety displayed by Democratic Representative David E. Price of North Carolina:
Representative Price’s bill would extend the MEJA legislation to all contractors operating in war zones. The bill passed the house 389 to 30 last month and is now before the Senate.

He said it cannot be applied retroactively to the Sept. 16 case, but he said that the guards who killed the Iraqis must be brought to justice, under the War Crimes Act or some other law.
Psst, Dave, c'mere. There are no war crimes anymore.

You know, unless the other guy does it.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Double your pleasure

No, not with that you perverts, but with this:

A new study by congressional Democrats says "hidden costs" have driven the price of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to about $1.5 trillion, The Washington Post reported on Tuesday.

That figure is nearly double the $804 billion the White House has spent or requested, according to the report by the Democratic staff of Congress's Joint Economic Committee, which examines the hidden costs of the wars, the Post said.

According to the panel, the hidden costs include higher oil prices, the expense of treating wounded veterans and interest payments on money borrowed to pay for the wars, the newspaper said.
The party of chicken littles once more crying about the falling heavens. Waaaah. Let's look at this rationally, shall we? First, higher oil prices means that oil is a very valuable commodity, and that the freedom of America is worth fighting for against the Islamojihad Caliphate that single-handedly controls the price of crude in the marketplace. Secondly, like we'd ever waste valuable warbucks on treating, rehabilitating and/or retraining those expendable fucks True American Heroes so they could become productive and valuable members of society once again - thank you for your service! There's a swanky gutter calling your name - and lastly, don't sweat that very complicated money thing. You didn't think we were taking in gobs of lead-laced Chinese goods simply out of the vileness of our hearts, did you? You're as naive as the soldiers we use as cannon fodder and political backdrops - thank you for your service once more!

And to show that I'm not being completely clothed in partisanship, let us ask these impartial observers who remain, along with yours truly, skeptical of yet another instance of crying wolf:
The experts said it is difficult to calculate the precise impact of the Iraq war on global oil prices. They also said it was speculative to estimate how much the war will cost over time because situations change daily on the battlefield, the Post reported.
Exactly. On Monday, Americans get blown up by IEDs, their bloody limbs, along with searing bits of white-hot metal, scattered far and wide throughout the oppressive sands; on Tuesday, Iraqis get slaughtered by helicopter machine gun fire, their bullet-riddled bodies to lie rotting in the overwhelming heat until found by a squadron on patrol; on Wednesday, Sunnis and/or Shiites get brutally assassinated by the other, stolen from their homes as their wives get raped and their children beaten, shot in cold blood, a warning to the rest of a village.

Yes, situations change daily on the battlefield. You remember Mad Libs, don't you? Just search the news to fill in the rest of the week!

Monday, November 12, 2007

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly 9

The Good: It began so beautifully. An uncharacteristically fast start: 3-and-out for Pittsburgh, and a methodical TD march for us. Joshua Cribbs - again - had another ridiculous game on special teams. There’s your AFC Pro Bowler, kids. An actual defensive lineman got a sack! The first-half defense bent but never broke. A 21-6 lead at one point. But the second half...

The Bad: ...was a completely different story. The pure, unadulterated contents of a septic tank. Ben Roethlisberger, limping around like the oldest invalid in America, made play after play. With his fucking legs.

The Ugly: I think Pittsburgh just converted another 3rd-and-18. Hey Phil, if you draft anything but defense next April, go jump in the Cuyahoga. After it's been set on fire. I'll bring the matches. Disgraceful. Depressing. The blood is angry today.

Bonus Ugly: My fucking internet connection. Four separate attempts to post this? Methinks it's time for an upgrade.

Up next: at the fucking ex-Browns who once won a fucking Super Bowl with players drafted by a fucking legendary ex-Brown. Fuck you Art Modell wherever you and your coked-up son are holed up. Asshole. And fuck you Ray Lewis and your tiresome Gladiator schtick. We get it. You're a bad mofo. Now, stop living off past glories. You're not even the best fucking linebacker on your team anymore. Fucker.

I can at least respect the Steelers, even if I fucking loathe their continued success against us. The Rooneys voted against the move. But Baltimore? Fuck you.

In case it wasn't clear, we're playing the Ravens.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

I drink alone, with nobody else.

Wanna join me?

Why mess with a good thing? Figuring I might as well maintain the theme of drunkenness and sobriety - although after reading this, you might want to reach for the nearest bottle of something to help you induce even more vomiting - I present you with a veritable smorgasbord of bad news. The Cleveland Plain Dealer recently commissioned a poll in my not-so-great state on the 2008 election, the economy, Iraq, the standard fare. So step on up to the buffet and sample some of the choicest cuts.


The results merely offer further proof that I’m not insane - shut up - when I say I don’t like the Democrats chances next fall. And this is a state that swept the likes of the Evil Ken Doll - "Sure Whitey, I'll gladly help sell out my own race for some of those juicy cracker bucks!" - and other assorted vermin out last year while still approving of our Democratic governor. For example:

Do you approve or disapprove of the way George W. Bush is handling his job as president?
40% approve, 54% disapprove.

Do you approve or disapprove of President Bush’s handling of the situation in Iraq?
36% approve, 62% disapprove.

A little bit less vitriol than the national average, but that’s to be expected in this state where a majority outside the major metropolitan areas tends to embrace wingnuttery. However, the following questions and answers show what a hard-to-kill behemoth cognitive dissonance truly is:

Which of the following positions comes closer to your view on Iraq?
We need to leave Iraq as quickly as possible and let the chips fall where they may, 32%
We need to maintain a military presence in Iraq until there is a stable political situation, 60%

Granted, like most questions in nearly every poll, these are poorly worded, and offer the usual black vs. white, Manichean worldview held by simpletons and Republicans - wait, I repeat myself - but there it is. And to show what a tolerant, forward-thinking people we are in the Buckeye state, there‘s this. All standard disclaimers apply:

Which one of the following comes closer to your view on the issue of immigration?
The U.S. should welcome immigrants no matter how they got there and offer them a way to become citizens, 14%
The U.S. needs to strictly control who enters the country and deport people who come here illegally, 81%

Try these choice issues where Democrats have traditionally been stronger. They're very tasty. ‘Not sure’ answers were omitted:

Which of the two major parties do you trust more to handle the following issues?
Social Security, Medicare - Democrats 41%, Republicans 36%
Health care - Democrats 45%, Republicans 38%
Improving the economy - Democrats 43%, Republicans 39%
Education - Democrats 45%, Republicans 39%

Notice anything odd?

And now for some areas where Republicans have, as the Beltway-approved CW goes, been the stronger party since before Saint Ronnie defeated communism all by himself. Unarmed. With one hand tied behind his back. Blindfolded. Let’s see how successful the Democrats have been at breaking that narrative of flaming dog shit:

Immigration - Democrats 35%, Republicans 40%
Federal Spending - Democrats 42%, Republicans 38%
Taxes - Democrats 40%, Republicans 42%
War in Iraq - Democrats 41%, Republicans 43%
Preventing terrorism - Democrats 30%, Republicans 50%


And now, in lieu of completely drowning you in abject misery, I offer this glimmer of hope:

Would you consider voting for....?
Dennis Kucinich 32%
Hillary Clinton 45%
Mitt Romney 51%
John Edwards 52%
Fred Thompson 54%
John McCain 56%
Barack Obama 56%
Rudy! Giuliani 57%

Sorry America - and the world - my state still matters and it remains fucking stupid.

Hamburger Hangover Helper®

"Blah, blah, blah."

["Hmm. Maybe Jimmy Jeff is onto something. No, I'm strictly a brush-cuttin' man, heh, heh."]

Heh. Ow. That didn't help.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

One bourbon, one scotch and one beer

I didn't think I'd post anymore today because I'm fucking tired and the fucking Blue Jackets are losing, but I figured how often will I have the opportunity to post while stumbly drunk? For you see, my home connection is a prime example of suckitude, so sober posting is fucking hard enough. And you fuckes (that's the Middle English spelling, I think) should be appreciative, because I've fixed about 752 typos already and it's hard when you have the monster buzz going on dudes and dudesses. Ugh. I'm fucking sorry for that. Anyway, Candace was wondering the other day what the fuck happened to National Drunk Writing Day or whatever it's called and here it is, a week late. At least according to the fucking banner on her site. Which she could've easily photoshopped, and I'm beginning to fucking wonder!

Fuck, I swear a lot when buzzing. See, when the kids aren't around, one must take advantage and drink. Usually, I just dig a casual buzz for when I'm writing. There's that perfect place beteween sobriety and out-of-it-ness that's warm and seems to push the pen better. Well, normally. You should see what I just wrote. Ha! It's abysmal! Um, I think this is some $10 wine I picked up at Giant Eagle. It's a dry white, from France, OF COURSE. J'adore le vin français et j'adore tous mes amis. Okay, fuckers, I'm going to bed because my wife says I have to. That usually means lots of [redacted] and multiple instances of [redacted]. Oh. Yeah. Well, I'll probably just fall asleep.

Man, is this fucking post going to look fucking stupid and embarrassing tomorrow morning. But that's okay, we all do dumb shit and at least my shit didn't get anyone killed, I'm looking at you BUSH! YOU FUCKING WAR CRIMINAL! GOD I FUCKING HATE YOU FUCKING FUCKERS! I'm a happy drunk. Seriously, I'll even sing for you. But not now because I think I'm supposed to go and do some naughty things.

People, fuck Republicans, be groovy to each othre. Fuck I ain't fixing that typo! Good night!

Ten random things about me

I got tagged by the flip-flopping FranIAm. If I may be permitted to quote the esteemed Xander, "I'm not gonna waste the perfect comeback on you now. But don't think I don't have it. Oh, yes! Its time will come!" Anyway, onto the Randomness of Randal. Alliteration Really Rules, Rutabagas!

1. I actually can speak French. Barely. And the b is always capitalized. No, scratch all that. I can barely write French. Let us not speak of the speaking.

2. Despite my angry, confrontational atheism, I was raised Roman Catholic. Wait. It all makes sense now!

3. Despite my angry, confrontational atheism, I dig a lot of religious classical music. Some of it is quite dark. Hmm, maybe I'm not as angry as I thought. [Bush!] Ah, there it is.

4. I am the least traveled guy on planet Earth. Well, except for that one guy in the mountains of Kazakhstan. You remember Larry, don't you? I've been near the environs of Toledo once. Toledo, Ohio. Surely you weren't thinking of the one in Spain. And that was only because we had to pass it while on a sixth-grade field trip to Greenfield Village in Michigan. My family and I went to Disneyworld way back in the 70s when I was a wee lad, and we drove to Williamsburg, Va. and Washington, D.C. during that glorious summer of 1984 when America was deciding that another four years of one of the worst presidents in history was a groovy idea. It ain't morning anymore, motherfuckers, but I digress. Oh, I've also been to the Pro Football Hall of Fame a few times, but since that's merely an hour from my house, I cannot in good conscience count it as a notch on my World Traveler belt Tactical Pants Retaining System. Someday I'll get to France. Sigh.

5. The year of Orwell - 1984, not all the ones since 2000 - also sucked for another reason. My parents dragged my sister and I to a Huey Lewis and the News concert after I had already discovered the joys of loud riffing and angry air guitaring through Metallica tapes. Needless to say, I didn't want to go, and apparently my dad had forgotten that he once used to rock while listening to the Stones and Zeppelin as a college dude. But he's a Republican, so his decisions must be taken with a heaping bowl of sodium chloride. Just don't tell anyone that I went, okay? Thanks.

6. I have no fashion sense. None. My wife can vouch for this, as can anyone who knows me in the realm of the non-internets. I own a suit, but given that it's pretty hard to fuck that up, there ya go. But I sure do look real spiffy when I go to the orchestra. Sorry ladies, this sharp-dressed man is spoken for. And despite the photograph of me in the corner of my blog, I don't wear a baseball cap. In fact, I don't even own one. And young people, unless you're a catcher, stop wearing them backwards. You look like a fucking idiot. That was my Curmudgeonly Old Bastard moment of the day. Thanks for indulging me.

7. Shit, this is hard. The most famous person I've ever met is Eddie Van Halen. The second most famous person I've ever met is Ozzie Newsome. The third most famous person I've ever met (or the most famous, in metal circles) is Celtic Frost's Thomas Fischer. I have not met very many famous people. Once upon a time, I had the opportunity to meet Ian Hunter, but like a corporate dumbass, I didn't abandon my post while everyone else was at lunch. Could've had him sign my copy of Brain Capers. Fuck the customer. Kids, always pick rock and/or roll over work. Always. Or you'll regret it for the rest of your days.

8. Back when we used to play Strat-O-Matic baseball - this was in the Dark Ages before internet porn consumed all of my everyone else's time - I would egregiously violate the spirit of the rules by inserting into my lineup the .346 hitter who in reality only had about 75 ABs that season. Take that, Brett Butler, you're not leading off anymore! Go, Donell, go! I also used to crush - I'm talking 1985 Bears spine-into-powder crush - at Tecmo Bowl. I took on all comers and didn't taste defeat for years and years. Despite this, I still managed to find a living, breathing human female who would willingly marry me. Must've been all that love poetry. Or my amazing ability to hypnotize. Or a rip in the space-time continuum.

9. I lost my virginity to Elle Macpherson. No, that was just a recurring adolescent dream fueled by a Sports Illustrated subscription. My favorite meal is beef stew and I make it myself and it's actually quite delicious. Also, no one has recently gotten sick after eating it because I've since stopped adding a pinch of lead - I'm not passing on good money from the Chinese! - so that's another plus in my favor.

10. Yes, I am this boring. That doesn't count, you say? Fine. I like onion rings a whole lot. Happy?

Bonus eleventh random thing in lieu of getting naked outside:
I can't think of anything.
But it's too cold to skip around outdoors in my birthday suit.

Okay, this is a mind-numbingly banal story, but too fucking bad. Back in the sixth-grade, I had a monstrous infatuation with one of my classmates. Unlike many of the other kids, I always looked forward to gym class. Why? This was the 1980s so the gym shorts were still short. Oh, those thighs, sweet lordy Mephistopheles, those thighs. Hey, I'm not being a dirty old man, these were the thoughts I had back then!

Anyway, for my older readers, think the ABA. For my younger ones, think John Stockton. But my classmate didn't look like John Stockton, no sir. She was beautiful in that girl-next-door kind of way. Cliché? Absolutely, but I don't know how else to describe her and that long, flowing brown hair. Like a lovesick fool, I decided, since it was obvious I didn't appear on her radar or any of the other unknown-to-man tracking systems that the mysterious gender obviously possessed, to look her up in the phone book. Ingenious! Her Eastern European last name being the only one listed, I, surprising even myself, decided to write her a letter - or more accurately, write a letter to this address with her name on it - awkwardly professing all of my profound feelings.

A ream of loose-leaf paper soon became discarded draft after discarded draft. Was it too sappy? Too macho? Was I trying too hard to sound cool? How could I even know what suave was? What the hell I was saying? The fairer sex was something otherworldly, far beyond the understanding of a simple adolescent male. Yet, there indeed came a day when I had put all of my deepest thoughts and emotions as best as I could, in the most poetic way possible, on a single sheet, carefully folded it and slipped it into a plain, white envelope without a return address, affixing a 22 cent stamp. Sending it the day before school let out that June, I waited.

And waited.

And waited.

The humid summer days rolled on, empty, like the mailbox. Even now I wonder if that was the subconscious root cause of my intense dislike of warm weather. My stomach was constantly knotted, and only became worse as September, and seventh grade, fast approached.

The first day of school. I saw her, she saw me. Nothing. No angry words, no venomous looks, no laughing at my childish audacity. Nothing. The pain was all too real. Physical. And self-inflicted. I wandered in a daze for nearly the next two school years. Determined to follow her, I, with all the skill of a CIA sleeper, found out what high school she was attending. Despite being sick of donning Catholic school uniforms every day, I was hellbent on going to that Franciscan-run high school. I told my parents, who, simply assuming I would've fought for our district's public school, happily agreed to send me there instead.

Freshman lockers were assigned to a particular hallway, which boded well for my unrequited lust. But the nothing remained. I was at a loss, and it affected my grades and my demeanor. Naturally an introvert, it became more pronounced. Sophomore year was more of the same, a generic routine of school, soccer or track practice and half-hearted homework attempts drowned out by hour after hour of thrash metal, while junior year gleefully compounded the pain as she had found a steady boyfriend, some brainless hockey schmuck who seemed to be permanently attached to her arm. It's a good thing I didn't have access to any smack.

Then senior year rolled around, and, after having chosen my locker first thing in the morning, turned around late in the afternoon that first day of the last year of one's youth to see her long, flowing brown hair nearly directly across from me.

"Hi. Hope we have a good year."

I sleepwalked through soccer practice, letting forward after midfielder notch goal after goal with such incompetence that our mild-mannered coach started chewing me out in the loudest possible way. And I didn't care one fucking bit.

September became October and I joined the afterschool bowling league simply because she had joined it too. She was even worse of a bowler than I was, not that anyone has stolen another's heart through an abundance of strikes. Cruising around on Halloween - 'cause that's what us hip suburban kids did back in the day, yo - we even stopped by her house - yes, that was the correct address - and she was very cordial to her classmates. All of us. Equally. Yet, I remained adamant in my view that she had singled me out.

November, December, the longest Xmas break in American history, January, February. A daily dose of mind-numbing gentility that I slowly realized meant nothing. Resignation was becoming an option. So was celibacy, I supposed. So, in March, the day before St. Patrick's Day to be exact, instead of going to drink and play cards at [redacted] house, my best friend was successful in convincing me to go on a double date with his girlfriend and one of her friends who also drank from the cup of the downtrodden. I hemmed and hawed, caving in at the last minute.

We're still married to this day.

What's the moral of that story? I don't know. It pays to be a fucking sap. Or goddamn lucky. Or a stalker. Actually, this is probably the best summary:

"Perhaps there is no moral to this story."
"Exactly! Just a bunch of stuff that happened."

Tag, you're it: Candace, Mary Ellen, Evil Mommy, Freida Bee (nevermind, someone beat me to it!), La Belette Rouge, My Inner French Girl. As always, if you don't want to play, you won't hurt my feelings.