Crap and shit that I'm not qualified to write about

I am on my fourth cup of coffee. When did I start drinking so much of this stuff? Caffeine used to be my enemy. It’s chief weapon: insomnia. But now that I’ve been on Ambien for the last several months I rarely have any trouble going to sleep, so I don’t worry about how much caffeine I put into my blood. I haven’t been hooked on coffee since about 1984 when I had a day job working in a factory. They had coffee available in the mornings and I must have drank five or six cups a day. Necessary, it was. I like coffee enough and throughout the years since then and now I have enjoyed a cup or two now and then. But for the last several months it has become a ritual to make coffee first thing when I get up and drink about 3 cups. I know what you’re thinking…”you and about 90 % of the American population.” I guess so, a tiny concession to the status quo, that shouldn’t hurt too much.

I have been in an especially bitter mood the last few days. I won’t blame it on my depression , though I guess I could; it may well be that. It doesn’t matter to me WHY I feel this way. And it’s not anythingthat affects me to the point where I think I need to get some kind of help for it. I rein it in pretty good when the wife and son are around.But I just get so angry at little things. I curse like a sailor. “Fuck” (and derivations thereof) seems to be my favorite word and I have begun using the old favorite “goddamn” again after a lengthy break. I had adopted a policy in which I decided the term was blasphemous. Kind of silly, really. I have always maintained that it’s only an expression. It’s not as if I’m invoking God’s name, or that it really has anything to do with God at all.

People who are offended by “goddamn” need to grow thicker skins. That’s all I have to say about that. (Notice that the "g" is NOT capitalized)

If “spiritual life” is a journey, then I have traveled down many paths only to turn around and flee to the place where I started. I suppose that means that I’m truly a “seeker”, that I have an open mind and am willing to investigate all avenes that might lead to the Creator-Sustainer. Maybe it means that I don’t want to get stuck in a rut.

But it seems like most religions and worldviews expect you to bore right into that rut and stay there. It discourages me to find morsels of truth in various religious traditions only to find that they have an “either/or” policy. You either take everything they teach at face value and swallow it whole or “fuck you, you don’t belong here.” I’ve come to the point where I believe that my own faith, Christianity, is one culprit. I KNOW that Islam is. And even Hinduism, which is very likely the most fascinating, thought stimulating religion of them all, has a similar “my way or the highway” mentality.

Whatever happened to REVELATION? Whatever happened to the thought that God uses reason and intelligence as mediums for communication? Why all this bandwagon type shit, just swallowing the party line? It’s not that folks don’t question their belief system, as they well should. But it’s like they’re so desperate for an answer that they take the ones provided to them at face value. Not just answers from clergy or trusted friends, but in holy books as well.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not bashing the Bible, the Bhagavad-Gita or ESPECIALLY not the Koran…(not that I consider it to be on a higher level than the others…I just don’t want to get myself killed…I’ve got enough to worry about with Muhammad, my kitty cat…and before you Islamic militants get pissed off and come looking for me, I named the little bastard after Muhammad Ali, so stay the fuck away)…or ANY “holy book” for that matter. But as I have said before, I do not believe that God can be contained between the pages of ANY book. There is a lot to learn in those texts. But is it wise to exalt any of them to the level of divine infallibility? Why are we any different than the ancient Egyptians, Greeks and Romans whose kingdoms rose and fell, their religions along with them? Were they not sincere? Did their Gods fail them? Are their religions worth resurrecting, and if not, then why not? Were they any more or less rational than the 21st century's version?

Is it unrealistic to dream of a time, thousands of years down the road, when every religious system upheld by man right now will be as meaningless and useless as those of old? We’re talking THOUSANDS of years here. Can a religion survive that long?

No, I don’t think so. It will fracture at points and it will evolve in others, until it is nothing whatsoever like it is now. I’m speaking here of the concept of religion itself, but also from the vantage point of one who calls himself a Christian, even if most other Christians might think I’m full of shit and maybe even guilty of apostasy, though obviously I don’t feel that way. I think Christianity has already begun the slow process of radical evolution…I couldn’t guess whether it’s heading in the right or wrong direction. But if history is to offer a viewpoint, then I think it’s reasonable to believe that it will go the way of the Greek and Nordic gods, the Sun God Ra, etc. etc. etc. Gone. It will leave behind remnants of it’s own mythologies (along with it’s Judaism counterparts) that will serve well, but will be viewed as tools of enlightenment and not some collection of rigid standards all people must adhere to on pain of eternal damnation.

How can I reconcile these thoughts with my own faith in God and Jesus Christ?

I don’t know that I can.

But I do know this…I can’t play the “church game” anymore. I knew a guy back in the early 80’s who was a devoted Christian. He was involved in Bible study groups and even played drums in a Christian rock band. I happened to see him again not too long ago, the first time in at least 20 years. I was pretty zealous at the time and I asked him how he was doing in his “Christian walk”. He said he still believed but that he was through with “playing the church game”. I don’t know if what I’m going through right now is similar to his predicament, but it seems an apt description.

But enough…I’ve already said more than I wanted to and probably will reconsider soon enough…like I said, I trod many paths. It’s just that the one I’m on now has very little tolerance for organized religion and it’s manipulative qualities.


10 Great Movies

In response too a post made on the Castaways movie board, I have made this list, which I now re-post here for your enjoyment and edification:

Here are what I consider to be 10 of the greatest films ever made. They are not meant to be viewed as a "top 10", as there is no chronological order implied. The list is not meant to be definitive, either. These are just the ones I could think of on the spur of the moment. No doubt I have left something out that is every bit as good as the one's I listed, but there you go...I only have so much time to kill.

"The Seventh Seal'...Ingrid Bergman's acknowledged masterpiece is a disturbing meditation on faith and doubt in a world that seems to have been abandoned by God. I don't claim to comprehend all of it's symbolism, but what I DO get is very thought-provoking. There are so many layers in this film that a person could watch it time after time after time again and still not get all it has to offer.

"Once Upon a Time in the West"...forget all of Sergio Leone films with Clint Eastwood. As good as they are, they don't hold a candle to this one. A sprawling tribute to the western film genre and the period in history that inspired them, Leone whips out every cliche in the book and somehow makes them all seem fresh and vital. It is so much more than a "western". Plus, it's downright scary to see Henry Fonda in the role of a bad guy, especially such a heartless bastard as the one in this movie.

"The Deer Hunter"...One of the first movies to realistically and sincerely tackle the Vietnam war and the effects it had on the American soldiers who fought it. Some would likely prefer "Apocalypse Now" or "Platoon", but those films are more about the fighting and the war itself, whereas this one is much more concerned with the people, who they were before going to war and how the experience changed them. DeNiro and Walken shine.

"The Godfather 1 & 2"...It's been too long since I watched these...honestly I have been planning to rent all three of them to refresh my memory. This could be Marlon Brando's best performance in his entire career. A movie about power, family and and the inner workings of organized crime, "The Godfather" will stand the test of time well.

"Star Wars"...I, personally, do not care for the "Star Wars" movies. I've watched them and I can't for the life of me see what the big deal is. But if this list is to be about greatest movies of all time and not "my favorite movies" then I think it would be a crime to leave this one off, because it had such an impact on so many. Joseph Campbell, in his book "The Power of Myth", suggests that "Star Wars" remains so popular because of the ingenious manner in which George Lucas allegorized the mythology that has been fundamental to civilization.

"Dracula" (the Bela Lugosi version)...One of the all-time classic Universal fright films, made around the same time as "Frankenstein" and "The Wolfman". It's hard to pick "Dracula" over "Frankenstein"...they are both have layers of symbolism that make them so much more than just typical horror movies. They both tackle weighty subjects like the after-life and man's limitations (among others). I give "Dracula" the edge because it spawned so many vampire movies, some of them actually quite good ("The Lost Boys", for instance).

"The Maltese Falcon"..Bogart is riveting, Bergman is beautiful. That's enough.

"The Exorcist"...What power this film has. Once again, to view this movie as if it were a "horror film" is to miss the point completely. Yeah, it turns very frightening, but I sincerely doubt that writer William Peter Blatty and director William Friedkin were shooting for that. Faith, the loss of it, the adherence to it and the absence of it are what drives this one. People have such a visceral reaction to "The Exorcist" and part of it, IMO, is because it cuts to the core of what EVERYONE believes, faithful and faithless, and challenges you to examine it for what it is...

"The Wizard of Oz"...As I was growing up it was a yearly ritual with my family to watch "The Wizard of Oz". It was one of those things where you knew they'd show it once a year and I was always excited at the opportunity to see it again. I don't know if they still show it once a year, what with DVDs and all (maybe they do, I don't watch TV enough anymore to know), but it does reward repeated viewings. The Sci-Fi channel's remake of the Wizard, "Tin Man", helped me remember just how cool the concept behind it is.

"2001: A Space Odyssey"...I don't think I'm as crazy about this one as are the millions of critics who make a point of putting it on their lists. But that said, it is a phenomenal movie. The look of the film seems very out-dated, but something about it remains fresh. There are prophetic moments during it's second half, but my favorite part is the whole section at the beginning with evolution of the human in it's infancy and the discovery of weaponry.


Temporary lay-over

I try my best to avoid situations like this, but here I am, stuck in friend's house, the roads too slick and Icy to get home on. I should have known when I set out yesterday. It's not as if the weatherman hadn't said there would be snow. But, in my own defense, it must be said that his forecast led me to believe that all we'd get would be a light dusting of snow. I really wasn't thinking that there could be a possibility of iced roads, and apparently quite hazardous to attempt travelling on.

I'd hoped to leave at 4:00-4:30 yesterday afternoon, and I probably could have made it. But even then this mess was working it's way in...withouth going into detail I'll only say that I was in no condition to drive at that time. I wound up spending the night, with the hopes that the weather situation would clear off early this morning.

Well, it IS early in the morning as I write this. The weather guy in channel 5 talks like it's not a good idea to get out on the roads right now and that it's not looking to get better until close to noon, when temparatures rise above freezing. Even then there could be a smattering of slick spots. I cannot emphasize enough just how much I loathe driving in this kind of weather. If that weren't the case I would have taken off when I woke up this morning (I always wake up early when I stay overnight any place besides my home).

There's nothing left to do, though. It would appear that my weekend trip has been extended. From a planned 5 hour visit to a 24 hour lay-over. What a drag.

But it I take some solace in the fact that there is a computer here that I can kill time with until I get brave enough to flee. Then again, it's on one of those outmoded dial-up connections, so there's not a lot of "web-surfing" going on. Furthermore, it's a MacIntosh. I've never used one of these. Not that I'm loyal to Microsoft...I'm even tempted to trust folks when they swear that these suckers are superior in every way to PCs...but I've just not had the opportunity to sample the wares, as it were. With no one to show me the ropes I feel like a kid whose been given a nice chess board and then left without telling me the rules to the game.

But obviously I have been able to seek and find my way to Blogger.

Why do I hate these unplanned overnight stays? A lot of it is for the same reason I don't really like PLANNED overnight stays anymore. I like my own bed. I like to have access to MY stuff. I can find my way to the bathroom in the dark. I don't have to feel guilty about raiding the refrigerator. And, of course, the main reason---the obvious one---I don't like to be away from the wife and son.

But there's nothing to be done about it. I should feel lucky that the power is on. These guys went through 5 days without electricity when the ice storm was in full swing. I have come to the conclusion that we were very lucky to only be out for two days. It's been almost 2 weeks now and there are still several hundred still without lights. No doubt they are starting to get used to it. All you need to do is pretend that you're one of the early settlers staking out a land claim a couple of centuries before the advent of electricity.

We are, by those standards, spoiled indeed.


Michener's "Chesapeake"

Last night I finished James A. Michener's novel "Chesapeake". All 1083 pages of it. Other than the Bible it is the second longest book I have ever read (the first being "War and Peace" which I tackled for the sake of being able to say that I actually read it). It's not the kind of book I usually read. I would classify it as a "historical saga". Obviously a detailed one. And I loved it.

I first decided to plow through it several years ago. I had an acquaintance, Champ Means, who was, for the entire duration of the time I spent with him, down on his luck. If the name "Champ" was meant to be an abbreviation for "Champion" he didn't exactly fit the description. He lived (albeit for a short time) in a house donated to the Salvation Army, offered to him, on a temporary basis, by the owner. Until the SA came along he was free to use it.

Like I said, he was in fairly dire straits at the time. He had no furniture, no TV, no stereo, I think he may have been using a sleeping bag for a bed. But he did have a copy of "Space" by James A Michener. Concerned about him, I asked if he thought he was going to be alright. He replied something to the effect of "Oh I'll be okay. I've got James A. Michener to keep me company."

Which made perfect sense to me. All of Michener's books are extremely long. If a man has a lot of time to kill he could do a lot worse than immerse himself in one of the man's many books. Champ wasn't being flippant, either. I often saw him with his nose in that book when I would show up unannounced.

I was a fairly avid reader at the time, but I tended to stay away from the extremely long tomes. I don't know why. Maybe I felt that investing such an investment of time in one book would prevent me from reading a couple of less lengthy ones. Plus, I was afraid that my attention span was too relatively short to stay with it long enough to get to the end.

Which proved to be the case when I first tried to read "Chesapeake". Inspired by Champ, I picked it up at a used book store and gave it a go. It was good, but for some inexplicable reason I laid it down and stopped reading it at about the 700 page mark. Now, that is just plumb crazy, isn't it? Getting 3/4 of a book read and then quitting, especially when the portion I completed was as long as at least two more manageable ones. Why didn't I just say "I've come this far, why turn back now?" I have no idea.

But I did remember a lot about it afterwards. The families it's concerned with. Even some of the plot lines. I became determined to read it again, this time all the way to the end. It took a little while for it to rise to the top of "Books I Am Going To Read", but it made it a couple of weeks ago.

"Chesapeake" is far too complex to try and describe it in much detail, and so I have not tried here. Basically it is the story of three familial lines, the Steeds, the Turlocks and the Paxmores, and their place in the progression of time from the 17th century until the late 20th. Book-ended by the subjugation of the Native Americans and the end of slavery (and the continuing struggle for civil rights) it weaves their stories through some of the most important events in the history of our country---the settling of the colonies, the War of Independence, the Civil War, Watergate...

This book has inspired me to read more historical novels, and since Michener has written scores of them I guess I'll primarily read his. He had a great talent for the subject.


M'boy's inner thug

Anyone who knows my son will tell you he's no gangsta. Hell, he's just 13 years old and this ain't South Central we're callin' home here. And yet, his "inner thug" rises to the surface in this recent photo.

My Nags

I couldn't resist posting this resent picture of myself congregated with 3 of my 4 best friends (the other being somewhat detained in Green Valley, Arizona). Taken about 2 months ago at a festive gathering that celebrated a rare visit by Warty to Oklahoma from his new home in east Texas. It was a marvelous evening of remembrance, companionship and brotherly love. It will not soon be forgotten.

Left to right: Mike Hardwick (aka Baldi, Warthog, Warty), Mike Christian (aka Jerry Redd, Redd, Rooster Boy, Rojo Fantastico and a veritable laundry list of other nicknames which would fill the telephone book of a small town), J A Casey (aka Jimbo), Matt Lisle (aka Capital).

2007 Survey

In which I play it pretty straight. Don't expect my typical rapier wit. Sorry.

1) Was 2007 a good year for you?
Yeah, actually it was a pretty good year for the most part.

2) What was your favorite moment of the year?
Finding Aubrey on MySpace

3) What was your least favorite moment of the year?
I guess it was when the power went out for a couple of days last Monday...but I can't complain. We got lucky. There are still homes without electricity a week later.

4) Where were you when 2007 began?
Asleep in my bed...exactly where I wanted to be.

5) Who were you with?
Myself...my wife was up with my son watching that stupid ball drop.

6) Where will you be when 2007 ends?
Asleep in my bed.

7) Who will you be with when 2007 ends?
Myself...I imagine Stacie and Bryan will want to see that infernal ball drop again.

8) What did you do in 2007 that you'd never done before?
Played a show in a casino.

9) Did you keep your new years' resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
I don't make New Year's resolutions. Why set yourself up for a fall?

10) Did anyone close to you give birth?
No. If any of 'em did they didn't want me to know about it.

11) Did anyone close to you die?
My wife's grandfather. He was a good guy.

12) Did you travel outside of the US in 2007?
Not only did I not travel out of the country, I didn't travel out of the state. Hell, I rarely ventured out of town.

13) How many different states did you travel to in 2007?
See above.

14) What would you like to have in 2008 that you lacked in 2007?
A monthly check.

15) What date(s) from 2007 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
October 31, and not because it was Halloween.

16) What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Teaching myself how to type.

17) What was your biggest failure?
Having to retire from performing music, although there were good reasons and I wouldn't exactly call it a "failure" but that's about as close as it came. I told you it was a pretty good year.

18) Did you suffer any illness or injury?
I dropped a bass amplifier on my big toe and it looked pretty bad for several months.

19) What was the best thing you bought?
I would say my copy of the Sigur Ros "Heima" DVD, but I didn't really buy it...my wife bought it for me as an early Christmas gift (thanks, dear).

20) Whose behavior merited celebration?
Docky Pecky

21) Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
The collective news media.

22) Where did most of your money go?
Down the drain.

23) What did you get really, really, really excited about?
The first message I recieved from Aubrey on MySpace.

24) What song will always remind you of 2007?
Any and every song from Sigur Ros' 3rd and 4th albums.

25) Compared to this time last year, are you:
i. happier or sadder? Happier.
ii. thinner or fatter? Maybe just a little thinner.
iii. richer or poorer? Poorer for the time being. Hopefully 2008's survey will have a different answer to this one.

26) What do you wish you'd done more of?
Getting out of the house, visiting friends.

27) What do you wish you'd done less of?
Screwing around on the internet.

28) How will you be spending Christmas?
Alone. Don't feel sorry for me. That's how I like it, although I suppose I would be glad to change that if the right situation presented itself, but I don't see that happening so I'll just rent a few DVDs or finish up a book. Ho ho ho.

29) Did you fall in love in 2007?
I fall in love every day of the week.

30) If yes, with who?
All that is beautiful to my eyes, my mind and my senses

31) If yes, do they know?
They haven't told me whether they do or not

32) Are you still in love with them?
I never fall out of love...it's just hard for most people to tell that I am capable of loving.

33) You regret it?

34) Did you breakup with anyone in 2007?
I deleted a few friends from my MySpace "friends list...does that count?

35) How many one-night stands?

36) How many people did you sleep with in 2007?

37) Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year?

38) Did you make any new friends in 2007?
I met a few nice people this year but I wouldn't say they reached the level of "friend".

39) Who are your favorite new friends?
No new friends...only old ones.

40) What was your favorite month of 2007?

41) Did you miss anybody in the past year?
A couple of friends...Daniel, Warty

42) Did you do anything you are ashamed of this year?
I snapped at our keyboard player when he rightly suggested I remove the earplugs from my ears because they were affecting my performance, causing me to sing at too low a volume.

43) What was the worst lie someone told you in 2007?
I'm pretty gullible. If anyone lied to me I probably still think they were telling the truth.

44) Did you treat somebody badly in 2007?
I'm afraid so.

45) Did somebody treat you badly in 2007?
The manager of Dietrichs Club never gave our band weekend shows, just Wednesday and Thursdays. We got back at him, though, when one of his weekend bands cancelled. He called us at the last minute begging us to fill in. We told him to shove it. HA!

46) What was your proudest moment of 2007?
The point where I was able to type pretty fast without having to hit the backspace key very often.

47) What was your most embarrassing moment of 2007?
I'm sure there were a few but I have successfully managed to block them from my memory.

48) What was your greatest musical discovery?
I wasn't really out to "discover" new music this past year. I was more into re-visiting stuff I'd listened to most of my life. I guess you could say that I "discovered" Modern Jazz, though I've heard some of it over the years, but I was exposed to a lot more of it via XM Satellite radio. Same thing with Death Metal.

49) What did you want and get?
Another year of XM service.

50) What did you want and not get?
That monthly check.

51) What was your favorite new film of this year?
"Heima" and "Reign Over Me"

52) What was your favorite TV program?
All In the Family

53) What was your favorite record from 2007?
Mark Kozelek "Little Drummer Boy Live"

54) How many concerts did you see in 2007?
One. Bryan's Christman concert. It was the only one I wanted to see since Sigur Ros didn't play anywhere close.

55) Did you have a favorite concert in 2007?
See above.

56) Did you drink a lot of alcohol in 2007?
There are people I know who drink more alcohol in one night than I drank all year.

57) Did you do a lot of drugs in 2007?
Not as many as I did the year before. HA!

58) What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I think Stacie may have taken me out to eat. I can't remember where, though. I had reached the ripe old age of 45.

59) What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
I hate to admit it, and I'm sure this is the most popular answer to this question by a huge margin, but it's true: money.

60) How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2007?
Sloth chic.

61) What kept you sane?
The memory of what it's like to be insane and the fear of it ever happening again.

62) Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
You know, I can't think of a single one. I don't care much for the whole concept of "celebrity".

63) How much money did you spend in 2007?
Too much, not enough..

64) Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2007:
Some, maybe even most, of God's greatest gifts are unanswered prayers, but every once in awhile He'll surprise you and give you your heart's desire.

65) What are your plans for 2008?
Move into a new house. Get some nice stuff for myself and my family. Read a few more Charles Dickens novels. Read more of the classics. Learn more about history and Western Civilization. Write a lot of junk on my blog, maybe learn some new HTML tricks. Try to write a few more songs that I'm not emberassed to play for friends. Continue to improve my typing skills to the point where I can type faster than my wife. Listen to lots more music. Get out of the house more.

66) Quote a song lyric that sums up your year:
"I don't give a damn what anybody thinks...what do you think about that?"


Rolling Stones: "Its Only Rock and Roll"

What a fun album. Coming off the heels of the rather serious "Goat's Head Soup", IOR&R is a refreshing injection of the Stones sense of humor (I mean, come on...compare "Coming Down Again" with "Short & Curlies", you'll see what I mean).

Yeah, I'm as sick of the title song as the next guy. Even "Ain't Too Proud To Beg" has been played to death (sidenote - when I first bought this in the early seventies I had no idea that this was a cover song of the Temptations. I thought it was a Jagger-Richard tune).

But there are several other songs here that are just as good."If You Can't Rock Me" is a hilarious parody of rock star ego and lust (looking at the crowd from the stage Jagger sings that there are "a thousand lips I would love to taste"...ha!).

"Time Waits For No One", a wizened contemplation of the carnage wreaked by the years ("Here he comes choppin' and reapin'...").

A lot of critics slammed "Luxury", thinking it was meant to be a straight reggae number". That's not how I hear it. Definately there's that reggae element, but it's too "chunky" and lumbering to have been intended as the real deal. The lyrics are funny, too ("All your rum I want to drink it...all your whiskey, too").

"Til The Next Time We Say Goodbye' and "If You Really Want to Be My Friend" are a couple of the band's better slow tempo songs, the former with a slight country/folk feel and the latter deeply entrenched in the style of seventies soul.

Even my least favorite songs on the album, "Dance Little Sister" and "Short & Curlies", have their charms...mainly the absurd exagerations of what the Stones have always been about. In fact, a lot of this album seems to be a well-constructed parody of the Stones' legend as "The Greatest Rock and Roll Band in the World". It works.

And then there's the album's closer, "Fingerprint File", in which Mick loses his battle with paranoia, aided by sinister governmental agencies and their invasive, "Big Brother" tactics ("They know my moves way ahead of time, listening to me on their satellites")...then again, the paranoia is probably justified, seeing as how it's the FBI and the SIS that are after him.

Like I said...a fun album where the Stones refuses to take themselves seriously. No doubt, on deeper levels, they have done that quite a bit in the years since. But here it's flat out in the open for any Stones fan to hear and enjoy.

Sigur Ros: "Heima"

I recieved my Christmas present early this year. Though I still want that sweet pair of Bose headphones I saw at Target a few months ago, I am more than content to wait for those. For now I am just overjoyed to have gotten the Sigur Ros DVD "Heima". This is something I've wanted BADLY since first learning of it. Just about everything Sigur Ros has ever released is at the top of my list of "greatest music EVER". "Heima" is, for me, a must-have kind of thing.

I got it on Saturday and I haven't even watched the main documentary that gives the film it's title. Why not? Well, I found out when I bought it that there was a second disc included with over 2 hours of performances!!! Some are standard live shows ("Glosoli", "Se Lest", an absolutely stunning version of "Olsen Olsen", etc.) but there are also scenes of the band playing in the studio, in an open field, in an empty auditorium, etc.. All of the songs are interspersed with gorgeous shots of Iceland, it's people, it's locales,, it's uniqueness, it's beauty. It's a good variety.

I would have liked a typical set of on-stage concert performances but in the long run I think I'll come to appreciate what they've done here moreso. It will probably hold up to repeated viewings better than the usual, plus it shows just how "one-of-a-kind" this band is and always has been. There are just enough of the "concert" scenes to satisfy. The version here of "Se Lest" is amazing, with a small marching band showing up toward the end, emerging from behind the stage, marching into the audience and on out of the hall, it's relative cacaphony giving way to the light, airy soundscape of the string quartet, who continue to play the fragile strains the band so brusquely disrupted. I've already mentioned "Olsen Olsen", which is quickly becomming one of my all-time favorite Sigur Ros songs. They play it at an outdoor show with a few hunded in the audience, sitting on the grass. Jonsi handles the vocals very nicely. At the part towards the end when the music changes from mysterious to joyful he launches into some unexpected high notes that send shivers down the spine. You can tell that he's immersed in the music to the point where there is nothing else.

And get this...NO "SVEN-G-ENGLAR"!!!! It's not that I don't like that song enough...I do...but it's just been used too much, in films (it added a nice touch to "VanillaSky") , tv shows (though I don't watch tv enough to give examples of which shows, but seem to recall hearing it as I channel surfed one day) and the like. It suffers from overexposure. It's a damned good song and one that put them on the map stateside, but the group has gone on to make music that it so much better (IMHO).

Today I shall very likely watch the film, "Heima".

There is absolutely no chance that I will be disappointed in it. (Update, 12.19.07...the film "Heima" is incredible. It would be an ideal introduction to the band for anyone who hasn't heard them.)

Call me a hardcore fan, I guess that's what I am. But if a 45 year old man is going to be a fan of any band, I'd say I do well to love Sigur Ros so much. I've always believed that music IS art. Of course I still beleive that. But Sigur Ros are making art on several more levels than most music. Those words coming, admittedly, from a "hardcore fan". And it is very true that Sigur Ros is a "love 'em or hate 'em" musical experience. I have one friend who says "I just can't get into it." "The kind of music you write and play," says another, "I just don't see how you can like them so much." My wife says she thinks Jonsi sounds like a "dog dying" (though I'm pretty sure she likes the band a little bit). I've always told her that the main obstacle people seem to have in enjoying their music is Jonsi's voice. Some people just can't past all the high notes...

That's okay. It doesn't matter to me. I find his voice to have an ethereal quality that cuts straight through to the heart and soul. I don't understand a single word the man is singing, and yet I feel like I comprehend the songs meanings even so. Maybe not intellectually, but emotionally. Spiritually. And I also have friends who feel the same way as I do about the band. I went on a road trip to Colorado with three of them, to see a Sigur Ros concert (and that's a LONG drive to watch a show and then come back early the next morning). Every person in that theatre was enraptured. At one point between songs the crowd was entranced to the point where there was no applause, just a reverent silence. About a minute into it some guy in the front of the room yelled "Fuckin' INCREDIBLE!!!" At that point the audience broke into a nice mix of raucous applause and laughter.

I don't reccomend "Heima" to everyone. But if you already like Sigur Ros you will definately enjoy "Heima" (what am I saying? If you like Sigur Ros there's about a 95% chance you already HAVE "Heima"). If you don't like Sigur Ros, obviously this won't be your cup of tea. Nothing revelatory here. Nothing that's going to change your mind (which is exactly what most critics said about their last couple of albums...they're probably right about that). If you have not heard the band, or maybe have only heard "Sven-G-Englar" in some foreign context somewhere, get on the internet and find some of their music. It's not hard to do - you can go to Pandora, make a "Sigur Ros Radio Station" and surf your way to a few of their songs there. But open your mind and take a listen. You'll know pretty quick if you're gonna fall in the "love 'em" camp or the "hate 'em" camp. And if you do find yourself in that former lot, you would do well to put all of their albums on the top of your list of things to get...

...and "Heima" as well.

Power Rangers

The electricity has been up and running for about 5 days now. We got lucky, as there are still thousands of households across the state with no power.
I've got to hand it to our local electric company. They had a crew out the next day to fix the electric pole that had broken directly behind us (which was, I'm sure, the main reason our neighborhood was in the dark). These guys worked from noon until 8:00 pm putting up a new pole and getting all the lines attached and reconnected. Not only that, they did it in bitterly cold weather with a light rain falling on them intermittently.
The electricity prices in this town have always been too high and that's not likely to change. We still have a right, I believe, to bitch and moan about that. But despite it all, the people on the repair crews definately earned that money this past week.
The guy behind the counter at Burger King told me that he spoke to one electric company worker who'd had 9 hours of sleep in the last 5 days. Now there's a man who deserves a nice LONG paid vacation after this is all over. NINE HOURS SLEEP IN 5 DAYS! Can you imagine that? I'd be bouncing off the walls making life miserable for any and everyone within 50 yards of me.
So here's a toast to these hard working men and women who have restored to us the most taken-for-granted "convenience" this world has ever known.
Bottoms up, fellars.


It's been confirmed...The Time Killer is worth your time

You know, I often question the quality of ye ole Time Killer blog. I write the thing for myself, of course. I'm the one with the excess amounts of time to kill...I don't expect folks to drop what their doing to read my trivialities...after all, there's too much free porn on the internet to bother with these meandering thoughts and convoluted concocted kernels of creativity... but sometimes I wonder just how it stacks up against other blogs that are out there floating along the crowded super-highways of the internet. So I've been doing a little "blog surfing" (clicking the NavBar, checking out other blogs)...and I have come to the conclusion that a.) The Time Killer is a fairly entertaining affair when compared to other personal blogs and b.) with the sheer number of blogs posted in languages other than English I doubt too many bloggers can even read it.

It's good that citizens from all across the globe have access to this service. I'm glad to see them blogging with abandon. But one has to wonder why Google has not found a way to sort out blogs by language as far as the NavBar is concerned. Out of at least 50 blogs I looked at, there were maybe 15 in English. Most of those were veiled advertisements for mortgage companies plus one colorful outing by a guy with the rather dubious name of "hornyXXstud".

Is this all there is?
Dear God, I just swallowed a cough drop.

One of those strong Hall's cherry bastards at that.

I guess I'm lucky it was sucked down to about a third of it's original size, but it's still big enough to elicit a rather strange sensation in a spot which, for lack of the proper anatomical terminology, is directly above my stomach. Really a bad feeling that I hope will not last for very long.

I hope no one was offended by the photographs of Linda Blair that I posted the other day. We're all adults here, right?

It could be worse.


Christmas "List"...another fun time-killer

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags?
Brown paper bags are always the best.

2. Real tree or Artificial?
Artificial, The real ones catch fire too easilly, as my cousin's family found out a few years ago. I guess they deserved it, though, because it's really kind of a stupid idea to chop down a pecan tree and use it for Christmas.

3. When do you put up the tree?
I kinda hate this kind of stuff, so it's not so much WHEN I put up the tree it's HOW do I put up WITH the tree. But I figure, hell, it's just a tree, right?

4. When do you take the tree down?
Whenever I can get Uncle Charlie to loan me his chainsaw.

5. Do you like egg nog?
I'd rather drink raw sewage. And I have, in fact, drank raw sewage, so the comparison is not arbitrary.

6. Favorite gift received as a child?
A kidney donation from a compassionate, selfless individual whose generosity touched the heart of every member of my family. Of course, there was nothing wrong with either of my kidneys, but I had a fun time playing with it.

7. Do you have a nativity scene?
Yes, but it's kind of strange. All the wise men are portrayed by cast members from "The Godfather",

8. Hardest person to buy for?
The Incredible Hulk

9. Easiest person to buy for?
Rosie on the corner of Robinson & 3rd in the Blue Light district.

10. Mail or email Christmas cards?
I make e-mail Christmas cards, print 'em up then send them in the mail.

11. Worst Christmas gift you ever received?
"Turd-in-a-Bucket"...although I hear those things are wildly popular in France.

12. Favorite Christmas Movie?
"Goodfellas". "Bad Lieutenant" is the runner up.

13. When do you start shopping for Christmas?
December 25th, when all the stores are closed. I get 'er wrapped up by the time the stores re-oopen on the 26th.

14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present?
As a matter of fact, I have. I gave the kidney I'd recieved the year before to my Uncle Charlie, who used it as a dog treat. Labrodors just love human organs.

15. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas?
Cranberry sauce. You know, the kind that comes in the can and retains the shape of the inner can? Oh yeah. Just pop that sucker open and plop it on a plate, bite by bite a gelatinous delight.

Just kidding. I hate cranberry sauce. I prefer taco sauce.

16. Clear lights or colored on the tree?
The clear ones are more apt to ignite a fire, while the colored ones have the Good Housekeeping seal of approval and rarely cause fires. So I'd have to choose the clear ones.

17. Favorite Christmas song?
"Iron Man"

18. Travel at Christmas or stay home?
Depends on where the family is going to be. If they're coming to my house then I'm gonna travel. If they're staying put, then so am I. They don't call me "The Family Guy" for nothing, you know.

19. Can you name all of Santa's reindeer?
Sure I can name 'em. I named my son, my daughter and 4 different pets over the course of my life, I think it's safe to say I could name those pesky deer if I got a notion to. I'd start with Klein. Then I'd name the second one Roberta. The third one, of course, would be Captain America. The fourth, Carter the 3rd. The fifth and sixth deer are twins (I bet ya didn't know that, did ya?) so I'd have to give them some silly rhyming name...how about Frank and Hank? That sounds good, even though they are females. And then there's that red-nosed beast that guides the way for the rest. Everyone knows what his name is, as it's etymology has been celebrated in one of the most popular Christmas songs ever...that's right...Santa's Bitch.

20. Angel on the tree top or a star?
You can't expect a heavenly being to remain tethered to a tree top for the duration of the Christmas season. Unless, of course, you're talking about one of the really scary ones from the book of Ezekial, in which case I suppose you could tie one up and let it struggle for freedom in a cage perched at the top of your tree. You'd have to set it free after the Christmas holiday, because they are bestowed with uncanny skills of escape on New Years Eve. On that day they wreak more havoc in a 24 hour period than a mob gang can muster up in two weeks. So string one of 'em up if you get the chance. Otherwise the star is acceptable. Just as long as you understand that in many parts of the world it is considered a strong talisman for use in Satanic rituals.

21. Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning?
I was always told that all kids who could not wait until Christmas morning to open their presents were selfish, impatient bastards who didn't even deserve to get any presents. Of course, I fell into this category. I thought it was all good, but later in my life my mother confessed that she and dad would have bought better toys for me if I had waited until Christmas day. As it was, I had to feign excitement over the third set of Lincoln Logs in as many years.

22. Most annoying thing about this time of year?
Salvation Army beggars with their bells and their cheerful "Merry Christmas" wishes. It's a well-known fact that they silently curse you if you don't put money in their buckets.

23. Favorite ornament theme or color?
I once had an ornament set based on the members of Charles Manson's Family. Oh my God, it was so cool. I had to take it down, though, because my Jewish mother-in-law said she offended by the swastikas carved in their foreheads. I think she was just being a party-pooper.

24. Favorite for Christmas dinner?
With the exception of the canned cranberry sauce I make it a point not to eat on Christmas day. I've always done that, and I don't know why. The only thing I can figure is that grass is green and the sky is blue.

25. What do you want for Christmas this year?
City Hall.



Sorry, Linda Blair fans. You'll have to go back to the search engines.

"Darkest Night"

My son has been wanting the ACID Music Studio 7.0 ever since we saw it at Target several months ago. He was already familiar with the format, as we had the ACID DJ (2.0) program years ago (lost when our computer was wiped following a bad virus).So we got it for him as a birthday present. He was very excited and said, in a MySpace bulletin that it was the best gift he'd ever recieved.

I'm pretty pleased with it myself, as it has helped me wile away the hours of free time I have to fill with something productive. I've done a re-mixing of an old Jimbo & the Festives song ("Sleeping Rose") but I guess I'm most plesed with the song I finished up last night, after 4 days of working on it. It's called "Darkest Night" and can be found on my Soundclick music page.

Check it out and I hope you enjoy it.



A dark inconvenience

Living in Oklahoma has been a real inconvenience the last couple of days, as a serious ice storm has crippled the state and our house has been without power for the most part of two days. This is not so bad in itself...I would like to think that I'm not entirely dependent upon electricity, but it is the little things that you miss when the lights go out.

No computer/internet. As I write I am sitting in the warm comfort of the public library, with it's superior computer and faster connection speed (we have DSL, but obviously a cable connection is superior). Even this is not something I want to be attached to, but I've been working on a song using my son's new Acid Music Studio program, and I'm just nearly ready to wrap it up. No can do without the computer.

No electricity for electric stove, hence no hot meals. Which wouldn't be too bad if it weren't for the fact that everything we have in the refrierator and cupboards right now is stuff that has to be cooked. I am dearly hoping that power will be restored by the time we leave this library because my stomach is growling.

No XM radio. I could live without the television. The cable has been out anyway. But it hurts to do without the XM.

Darkness at night, not enough light in the day with which to read. Misery.

But I must sign off now, as I don't know when I will be kicked off of this library computer.


Docky Pecky

1. What is in the back seat of your car right now?
A dead cat I found on the side of the road...and two severed heads.

2. When was the last time you threw up?
The last time I saw Rosie O'Donell

3. What's your favorite curse word?
I like 'em all. i couldn't pick a favorite if I tried.

4. Name 3 people who made you smile today?
I did not smile today.

5. What were you doing at 8 am this morning?
Dreaming of that bitch.

6. What were you doing 30 minutes ago?
Savoring the taste of a delicious combination of lettuce, Wish Bone Italian salad dressing, parmesian cheese, shredded cheddar cheese and pepperoni. I think I farted a couple of times, too.

8. Have you ever been to a strip club?
I've been to a few, but I stopped going when the bozo I went with, sitting on perverts row, hollered "let's see some TA-TAs!!!". I saw the light at that point, understanding dawned upon me and I never went to another one.

9. What is the last thing you said aloud?
"Get off the computer. I got important surveys to fill out."

10. What is the best ice cream flavor?
The general consensus amongst those with a taste for ice cream is that vanilla is not only the best, but is also one of the few flavors that can be used with ease in the preperation of various ice cream based concoctions. But how would I know? Ice cream gives me the hurty-squirtys.

11. What was the last thing you had to drink?
Docky Peckey.

12. What are you wearing right now?
A gorgeous french brassierre.
...okay, I'm just kidding.
It's just a regular brassierre.

13. What was the last thing you ate?
Docky Pecky. (and see #6)

14. Have you bought any new clothing items this week?
I bought my wife a new brassierre.

15. When was the last time you ran?
I believe it was about 3 years ago when a cop found a crack pipe in my pocket and didn't take my word for it when I told him I had no idea how it got there.

16. What's the last sporting event you watched?
Docky Pecky.

18. Who is the last person you sent a comment/message on myspace?
Tom. I told him to go take a flying leap.

19. Ever go camping?
No. I hate the great outdoors.

24. Do you drink your soda from a straw?
Docky Pecky.

25. What did your last text message say?

26. Are you someone's best friend?
I am the universe's best friend. God likes me a little bit, too.

27. What are you doing tomorrow?
Givin' it another go.

28. Where is your mom right now?
She wouldn't want me telling even if I knew.

29. Look to your left, what do you see?
Docky Pecky.

30. What color is your watch?
I cannot answer this question as my answer could very well jeopardize national security.

31. What do you think of when you think of Australia?
Fosters Lager. Kangaroos. Criminals. That Dundee fool. That ridiculous song "Down Under". And finally, Docky Pecky.

32. Ever ridden on a roller coaster?
You better believe it. I rode one straight into the pits of hell one time and didn't even come close to throwing up. That's a seasoned rider for ya.

33. What is your birthstone?
Gravel Chunk.

34. Do you go in at a fast food place or just hit the drive through?
I've tried hitting the drive through, but to no avail. All I got was a bloodied hand and the guy didn't even get my order right. I always go in because I prefer that my fast food experience be as tedious and long as possible.

35. What is your favorite number?

36. Do you have a dog?
I do until he barks again, at which point I will NOT have a dog.

37. Last person you talked to on the phone?
The local pimp. I had a complaint.

38. Have you met anyone famous?
I met all the members of The Call, though I doubt anyone remembers them. I met Wade Hayes, though I doubt anyone remembers him. I met Fidel Castro, but I'm not supposed to talk about that.

39. Any plans today?
Big plans. Small plans. Docky Pecky plans.

40. How many states have you lived in?

41. Ever go to college?
No, but I went to a university. I graduated summa cum laude with a degree in pimping.

42. Where are you right now?
In a room in a house in a town in a county in a state in a country in a continent in a hemisphere of a planet in the Seventh Superuniverse...and so on...

43. Biggest annoyance in your life right now?
Bugs in my ears.

44. Last song listened to?
"Saturday Night's Alright for Docky Pecky"

46. Are you allergic to anything?
Weed, tree pollen and air.

47. Favorite pair of shoes you wear all the time?
Steel toed boots. They are a formidable weapon and really not all that uncomfortable when you consider all the havoc they are capable of wreaking.

49. Are you jealous of anyone?
The man in the moon.

50. Is anyone jealous of you?
The man in the moon.

51. Do you love anyone?
The man in the mirror.

52. Do any of your friends have children?
Some of my friends have children but none of their children have any friends.

53. Do you eat healthy?
Of course...if one considers fried foods and twinkies healthy.

54. What do you usually do during the day?
Try to repair the damage done by what I usually do during the night.

55. Do you hate anyone right now?
I hate everyone in the town of Meeker. They all piss me off. No particular reason. Not just because their police force is overzealous, though that is a factor. I just can't stand any of 'em.

56. Do you use the word 'hello' daily?
A few times when I look into the mirror.

58. How old will you be turning on your next birthday?
Docky Pecky.

59. Have you ever been to Six Flags?
Twice when the sheer pummeling force of boredom left no alternative.

60. How did you get one of your scars?
I only have one scar, which was a result of a fierce swashbucling bout that I once experienced when I told Humphrey Bogart that Ingrid Bergman was Docky Pecky. He slashed my upper torso and left a gash that sickens even me.



I looked to the western sky at sundown and I saw it as the Canvas of God.

I stared into the deep infinity of the night sky and I imagined every star a pin prick in the black horizon, offering tiny glimpses of the Light on the other side.

I came to realize that heaven was to be found in the moments after sleep consumes the intellect and just before dreams tease the spirit.

I feared inner peace and sought distraction to the point where distraction took the place of inner peace, and I was content with it.

I sought to deny myself thoughts, beliefs, experiences…to sacrifice them to a code that I thought prohibited them.

I tried to do the right thing when most of the time I hadn’t a clue as to what the right thing was. I have learned that “the right thing” has more to do with luck than any result of good motives.

I celebrate diversity and seek to tear down the walls of intolerance. I firmly believe that one should do unto others as you would have them do unto you. And in regards to how others lead their own lives I would also add this amendment” “Mind thy own business”.

I closed my eyes and thought “This is all there will ever be”. And so I taught myself to love darkness.

I opened my eyes and thought “This is all there will ever be”. And so I taught myself to love light.

A guru led me into a place within myself that was neither light nor darkness and he told me “This is all there will ever be”. And he taught me that if I wished to find it again I must empty myself and surrender to the Supersoul. It was then that I realized I knew nothing.

I read the Bible. I read the Bhagavad-Gita I read the Koran. And I read a lot of other stuff, too. It all made sense to me and I thought to myself, “Gee, God is probably the greatest Author of all time!”

I wanted to be a philosopher. I wanted to be a priest. I wanted to be a hero. I wanted to be a famous rock star. I wanted to be a mentor. I wanted to be a scholar. I wanted to be a Marine. I wanted to be a champion. I wanted a lot of things. Too many things.

I listened to a great man’s words….”You can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes you just might find you get what you need.” And so I tried.

I noticed that the numbers at the top of calendars never went backwards.

One morning I saw a storm brewing in the eastern sky and I gave God a high five.

I had friends that stuck with me, I had friends that had to move away, I had friends that never really knew me, I had friends I didn’t even realize were my friends and I had friends who lost the right to call me “friend”. I lost that right as well, with many people.

I was told that “good things come to those who wait”…I’m still waiting to see if that’s true.

I willingly lost myself in the dreams of others, then felt used and manipulated when the credits began to roll.

A strange thing, that the more I really loved someone the less inclined I was to tell them how much I loved them. As if “they should know by now.” Many was the time such logic turned against me and proved me to be a fool.

I proposed that loving someone grants them entrance into your heart where they will dwell until the day you die. I like to think that, of all the foolish notions I’ve entertained, this one is an unshakeable truth.

Science nurtured my intellect. Thoughts nurtured my mind. Imagination nurtured my spirit. Dreams nurtured my soul.

I satisfied my soul with poet’s nonsense.

I was content with someone else’s song.

Memories kept me from believing that all the things I thought werereal were vapors all along.

I spent all my life searching for the meanings of some things I was never meant to know.

I contended that whoever said “Space is the Place” was a moron.

In conclusion, I firmly believe that every one of the hard questions that arise in this brief span of life that we’ve each been given can be answered in two words:




It has been a long, difficult process, but I have finally achieved a milestone in my journalistic career. This is something I’ve dreamed about for a long, long time…a dream that honestly believed would never come true. But thanks to a few friends with connections (and a generous stipend that soared into the higher end of triple digits) it happened…


That’s right, the aging leader of one of the world’s classic bands, the Rolling Stones, sat down with me for a couple of hours and gave me permission to mine the treasures of his mind for tidbits of important recollection, to a degree that no other interviewer has ever dared.

For those of you who don’t know, Jagger, along with close friend Bill Wyman, formed the Rolling Stones in the very early 60’s. Along with Charlie Watts and Brian Jones the band went on to record some of that era’s definitive hit songs. “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction”, “Mother’s Little Helper”, “Get Off Of My Cloud”, “Paint It Black”…a veritable cornucopia of drug influenced music celebrating promiscuity, addiction, nihilism and good old British snobbery and bile.

The Stones were on top by the mid-60’s. American girls couldn’t get enough of the slovenly, unkempt Jagger. Bill Wyman’s innovative bass playing style revolutionized the craft and set a standard for future bassists that has rarely been achieved.

And yet, even though their popularity soared to heights never before dreamed of by pop acts at the time, there was one band who edged them out of the running for “greatest band of all time.”. Keith Richards’ group, the Beatles, had come along at roughly the same time as Jagger & Wyman’s ensemble. Richards’ angelic harmonizing with John Lennon and George Harrison helped propel the Beatles to that plateau of success that no other band has ever been able to repeat. Furthermore, Ginger Baker, though he preferred not to be in the spotlight, practically created the solid backbeat that drove such timeless gems as “I Wanna Hold Your Hand”, “She Loves You”, “A Hard Day's Night” and Baker’s masterwork, “Rain”.

The competition was a healthy one, with both band’s striving to outdo each other. For example, Charlie Watts, the Stones’ chief songwriter, heard “Yellow Submarine” one night at a posh London country club and was so impressed that he wrote “19th Nervous Breakdown” the very next day. He claimed that the catchy riff came to him in a dream, that he had to get out of bed immediately and write it down before he forgot it.

Not a month later, Keith Richards’ wrote “Yesterday”, inspired by a song on the Stone’s “Between The Buttons” album called “Something Happened To Me Yesterday” (George Harrison went on to write “Something” later in the band’s career, inspired by the same song). He also claimed to have received the melody in a dream. It was so good, he said, that he wanted to check with his bandmates to be sure that it was his own and not a fragment of a song he might have heard somewhere, like maybe on “Live at Lincoln Center”. John Lennon laughed in his face and refused to play on the song (the first of many protests he became known for). As a result, the group’s long time producer, George Martin, suggested that a string quartet would serve the song well. Harrison said he had better things to do. He was busy scoring LSD at the time. Lennon, of course, was indifferent. He thought the song had no chance. Later, after the Beatles had broken up, he sang a pointed jab at Richards in his song “How Do You Sleep” (“The only thing you done was “Yesterday”…and ever since you’re just “Another Day”, which cleverly admitted that “Yesterday” may well have been a classic song, but that Richards’ current single, “Another Day” was a pile of shit).

The string quartet idea seemed to be the way to go…until Ginger Baker made his opinion known. Basically he threatened to leave the band if Richards and Martin wouldn’t let him play on the song. Martin was incensed. The concept of a drummer playing with a string quartet was repulsive to him. Keith (also affectionately known as “Keef”) sided with the wizened producer and before Ginger could turn in his walking papers they ganged up on him and stuffed a pink slip into the pocket of his gaudy, psychedelic silk shirt. After a few phone calls they were able to talk Rory Storm & the Hurricanes’ drummer Ringo Starr into joining the Beatles. “Yesterday” had already been recorded and mixed by the time Starr was able to make it into the studio, and though he was a little disappointed that he didn’t get to play on the record, he didn’t really care. He had already done something similar with Rory Storms’ band (a hard rock opera based loosely on Gustav Mahler’s 8th symphony).

Meanwhile the Stones just kept on trying to write a song that would top the Beatles. “Under My Thumb” (a sexist exaltation of male dominance), “Honky Tonk Women” (an almost pornographic diary of Jagger’s on-the-road escapades), “Sympathy For the Devil” (commissioned by Anton LaVey, high priest of the International Church of Satan), “Midnight Rambler” (in which Jagger envisioned himself a homicidal rover)…on and on the parade of tunes rolled, each one just a little more depraved than the last until, finally, they wrote a song that angered the Catholic Church and the whole of Canada. “Ruby Tuesday” contained the bold statement that if you lose your dreams you will lose your mind. Furthermore it contended that life was unkind. Siding with the devil was one thing. This was another thing entirely.

It seemed a miracle at the time, but Jagger, Jones, Watts & Wyman persisted. They were on a roll until Brian Jones was beaten to death in a dark alley just outside of his newly acquired mansion. Tirelessly they re-cooped. Amazingly they walked away from that disaster with a new guitarist, Eric Clapton, and a renewed determination to make their next gig a smashing success (which they felt would be a lot easier to do now that the Beatles had given up doing live performances).

The show, at Altamont Speedway, turned into a monumental disaster as a group of funny car racers, upset at the appropriation of their raceway to a bunch of dirty, stoned hippies, made their displeasure known by staging a cacophonous competition that just nearly drowned out the incredibly huge P.A. system (supplied by a joint effort of the Grateful Dead’s Jerry Garcia and the legendary civic organization, the Hell’s Angels). The event turned tragic as, during the guitar solo in “Sympathy For the Devil”, a young man, curious to find out the source of the revving engines, accidentally stepped onto the track, right in front of a speeding automobile. He died instantly and the word “Altamont” was from that day on used to denote the death of the Woodstock generation.

Most rock group’s would have caved in after such a horrible experience. Many in the hippie community firmly believed that the Rolling Stones were cursed by God for writing “Sympathy For the Devil” and cursed by Satan for writing “Time Is On My Side”. Either way you looked at it, the band’s future was in considerable doubt.

Then an event occurred that re-vitalized Jagger and the other guys. The Beatles broke up. Richards had finally become tired of being a studio hermit and he pressed Lennon, Harrison and Starr to return to the road. None of them were willing, though, and the reason was best stated by Harrison: “I ain’t a-gonna get my ass shot. You do what you want…my conscience is clean and don’t say I didn’t warn you.”

With the Beatles out of the picture, Wyman felt that their success finally had a chance to reach such enormous proportions that even the Pope would be envious. A world tour was proposed. Jagger was easily persuaded, as he was never one to turn down an opportunity to inflate his gargantuan ego. Clapton was also on board. His playing had improved since joining the band and his confidence was high. Only Watts was hesitant, wanting to stay home in England to assemble a big band. Clapton soon enough talked him into going, pointing out that such a road trip would inevitably include several detours to the International House of Pancakes. Charlie had such a soft spot for IHOP that he dropped the whole silly notion of .leading a big band.

The Rolling Stones went through many change in the years between then and now. The most notable event during this time was in the late 80’s when ex-Beatle Keith Richards left a prominent ska band to join the group just in time to play on their ground-breaking LP “Dirty Work”. Since then, with “Keef” firmly entrenched, they have put out what many believe to be their masterpieces, albums that define all that they ever were and all they could ever be in the future. “Voodoo Lounge” and “Bridges to Babylon”, though the critics and the general public hated it, were nevertheless considered by musicians worldwide as the apex of what rock music had evolved into. Bob Dylan was heard to say that both of these albums were to his later career what “She Loves You” was to his early work. More importantly, Brian Wilson eventually confessed that “Love Is Strong” had been the creative impetus for the Beach Boys seminal 2002 release “Pet Sounds”.

The Rolling Stones went on to tour, record and generally cement their reputation as the best rock and roll band of all time. Jagger released a slew of solo records of varying quality but all enjoying mediocre sales. Though he obviously enjoyed recording the solo albums (he has said that he relishes any opportunity to take the reins and tell people what to do), he has always maintained that the Stones will forever be his highest priority. “Someday,” he said, “ they’ll have to push me onto that stage in a wheelchair. When I sing about getting no satisfaction it will be about the way I can never seem to get the attention of the nursing assistants when my Depends need to be changed.”

Impressed by such tenacity, I began my interview with probing questions that I felt would provide insight into the mind of this man who had not only helped shape the landscape of rock music as we know it, but bedded down at least 500 beautiful women in the process. No small feat for such an ugly sod.

JAC: Thank you, Mr. Jagger, for granting this interview. I’ve been a fan for a long, long time and I’m one of many who believe that you’ll go down in history as one of the most influential men in all of music, for all time and eternity.

JAGGER: Why thank you. That’s real swell of ya.

JAC: So, which is it? Pepsi or Coke?

JAGGER: Oh, Coke every time. But Pepsi is good, too. Not much in this world that I like more than a cold can of Pepsi and a long line of Coke.

JAC: That’s cool. McDonalds or Burger King?

JAGGER: I do like the Whopper. You know, it’s odd…they always said I could have it my way, and by God, they’ve made good on that boast.

JAC: So you think it would be fair to say that you’re a BK kind of guy?

JAGGER: Yeah, I guess I don’t mind being considered in such a manner. Then again, when Mickey D’s whips out those McRib sandwiches I’ll forsake the King for awhile.

JAC: Okay, now on to more important matters. What kind of wallpaper is on your cellphone?

JAGGER: Wait, let me see. (***opens a bag filled with pills, hypodermic needles and plastic sandwich bags filled with white powder of some sort, pulls out a nice iPhone, looks at it***)…I’ve got that Panda bear from the front of the Zoo Tycoon 2 video game box.

JAC: Wow, that’s really unique. Which leads me to my next question. Who was the last person you talked to on the phone?

JAGGER: Ummm, well I don’t know that he would want me to disclose his name…

JAC: That’s alright. Who was the last person to call you on the phone?

JAGGER: Rico Janico. He wanted to meet me at some sleezy strip bar, which I normally would not do, but on this occasion I find it prudent to make the journey. Let’s just say he has a little present for my birthday.

JAC: But wasn’t your birthday a couple of months ago?

JAGGER: He’s a little slow in the uptake.

JAC: Say no more. What’s your favorite color?

JAGGER: I’m partial to purple. But I like green a lot, too. I used to be all about yellow but I like to think I’ve grown up a lot since then.

JAC: What’s it like working with Eric Clapton?

JAGGER: It used to be quite invigorating. But ever since he got clean and sober it’s been a drag.

JAC: Is that something that can be construed as an endorsement of drug use?

JAGGER: I wouldn’t say that. It’s just a personal observation. I’ve known Eric for a long time. He used to be incredible, but now he’s just an old fuddy-duddy that won’t join us in the men’s room for a little shot. Que sara sara, you know? I do, however, have something to say that some folks might construe as an endorsement of drug use…

JAC: And what is that?

JAGGER: USE DRUGS! Everybody! Use drugs! Especially you kids. Your daddy’s and mamma’s seem to think you are our bright and shining future. Bah! Let’s all get wasted and watch “Gomer Pyle” re-runs on TV Land. Let’s smoke some crack and discuss Nietzsche, maybe St. Augustine. There’s nothing like philosophical and theological debate when you’re strung out on the horse. I even wrote a song about it.

JAC: Which song was that?

JAGGER: Oh, I forget. I think it was on the “Steel Wheels” album. Then again, it may have been on one of my solo albums. That’s probably the case, because Eric would have never agreed to perform on a song that was so blatantly pro-drug.

JAC: I knew you were pretty heavy into the narcotics, but I had no idea it had progressed to such an alarming level.

JAGGER: Don’t worry, mate. I can afford it.

JAC: Okay, maybe we should move on.

JAGGER: Do you have any crystal meth?

JAC: No.

JAGGER: Okay, then, let’s move on.

JAC: What was the last movie you watched?

JAGGER: “Snow White and the Seven Dwarves”. And I’m not talking about the Disney version. Heh heh.

JAC: May I assume that this particular version is possibly pornographic?

JAGGER: I don’t know that I’d consider it “pornographic”, unless explicit depictions of people having sex is “pornographic”..

JAC: Regardless of whether or not you consider such films in that manner, one has to wonder why a man whose sexual exploits have become legend would need or even want to watch this kind of material.

JAGGER: It’s all about the dwarves, sport. All about the dwarves.

JAC: I suppose that kind of situation probably has not presented itself to you…

JAGGER: Only a couple of times.

JAC: Group dates or single dates?

JAGGER: I used to prefer single dates. But you know how it is. You fall into a rut, things get boring. So I decided to do the group date thing. At this point the groups number between 60-75. I have to rent a ballroom to git-r-done.

JAC: What did you do last night?

JAGGER: I stayed home and made a few phone calls to Rico Janico. God, I was bored.

JAC: Well, Mick, it would seem that my time with you has come to an end. Would you mind answering just one more question before you leave?

JAGGER: Is it important?

JAC: Oh yes, it is extremely important. The future of the entire civilized world hangs upon your answer.

JAGGER: Shoot!

JAC: When was the last time you cried?

JAGGER: I cry just about everyday, old salt. I cry for every single human being I left behind in the path of my destruction. I cry for every rock and roll wanna-be who decided early on that they wanted to be like me and then had their spirits crushed when they realized it was nothing but the old 9 to 5 for the rest of their lives. I cry for the dreams of Britain that I shattered by moving to New York. I cry for the virginity of the universe, forever imperiled by the eventual encounter with my eternal spirit. I cry for each and every puppy dog and kitty cat forced to go hungry because their master decided to spend Gravy Train money on crack. I cry for every slut, every whore that has taken the stage on the Jerry Springer show. I cry for Oprah Winfrey. I cry for Katie Couric. I cry for Stone Cold Steve Austin. I cry for every developmentally delayed individual in the American Midwest. But the last time I cried was this morning when the maid spilled hot coffee all over my crotch.


I would like to thank Mick Jagger for the time he took from his busy schedule to speak with me. In addition I would also like to thank Johnny Cash, the Lovin’ Spoonful, the members of Boston, Chicago & Kansas, Jerry Garcia, Poncho Villa, J.R.R. Tolkien, Bill Clinton, the Marqui de Sade, Dean Koontz, Rachel Ray, Jenna Jameson, Vanilla Ice, the late, great Tammy Faye Messner, Joni Lamb, Stone Cold Steve Austin, Barry Bonds, SuperFly, Les “Survivorman” Stroud, Tony the Tiger, A Flock of Seagulls, Jerry Reed, Tom T. Hall, George Harrison, John Lennon, Ringo Starr, Keith Richards, Eric Clapton, Bill Wyman, Charlie Watts, Helen Reddy, The Doodle-Bops and the guy who invented the wheel. Also a VERY special “Thank You” to Rico Janico.


Time to kill...

What the hell. Might as well clutter this blog up with tons of these MySpace Q&As. God knows I've got nothing better to offer right now...

1. What is your occupation

2. What color are your socks right now?
Oh, I have several pairs of socks. Some are white with grey heels, some are just grey, some are black...then there is that one pair of pink socks that I lost the last time I was at the Habana Inn.

3. What are you listening to right now
The constant ringing in my ears.

4. What was the last thing that you ate?
Spaghetti (Wal-Mart brand with some old Prego sauce I found in the refrigerator that didn't look like it had any mold on it yet). Buttered bread (wheat with I Can't Believe It's Not Butter). Pepsi. (black sugar water)

5. Can you drive a stick shift?
"Stick Shift"...that's kind of funny.

6. If you were a crayon, what color would you be?
If I were a crayon I wouldn't care what color I was. Crayons are inanimate objects, dummy!

7. Last person you spoke to on the phone?
Mr. Wells Fargo.

8. How old are you today?
I am exactly the same age as I was yesterday. I fear I will remain this old until my birthday in April, but I'm trying to find a way to change all that.

9. Favorite drink?
Toilet water's under-rated.

10. What is your favorite sport to watch?
Political debates (especially the ones that end in bloodshed).

11. Have you ever dyed your hair?
Once a month I mix a few grey spots in, just so I'll look my age.

12. Pets?
I've got a dog and he has fleas, so yeah, I've got a lot of them. Not to mention the cooties.
...oh, and the lice.
...oh, and the ringworms.

13. Favorite food?
The edible kind.

14. What was the last movie you watched?
Old Yeller

15. Favorite days of the year?
None. I hate 'em all.

16. What do you do to vent anger?

17. What was your favorite toy as a child?
A dead cat.
Hey, I didn't kill it.
It was like that when I found it.

18. What is your favorite fall or spring?
My favorite fall is the old standard pratfall, you know, like the one Chevy Chase used to get so many laughs with. As for my favorite spring... my box spring mattress.

19. Hugs or kisses?
I don't like either of them. Just spit in my eye and we'll call it even, okay?

20. Cherries or Blueberry?

21. Do you want your friends to resend this?
I don't give a shit what they do with it. I doubt any of them will even READ it, let alone resend it.

22. Who is most likely to respond?
The first responder.

23. Who is least likely to respond?
Everyone who has a MySpace account.

24. When was the last time you cried?
I'm crying right now. Britney Spears just came on the radio (and now I gotta clean it up).

26. Who is the friend you have had the longest?
Rosy Palm

27. What did you do last night?
Stalked a cheerleader, went on a joyride, baked a cake, requested sex from a cheerleader (rejected), watched "E.R.", stalked the same cheerleader again, downloaded some really sick porn off of the Internet (which I e-mailed to my mother), went on another joyride, stalked some more, answered a lot of questions for the police, took one last, long, loving look at my dream girl then spent the rest of it in a holding cell until my wife made bail.

28. Favorite smells?
I have way too many favorite smells to mention. I will say, however, that I don't mind my own smells but I hate others smells.

29. What inspires you?
Brute force, threats and the physical stamina of the one doing the threatening and the wielding of the brute force.
...oh, and God.

30. What are you afraid of?
Turning 44.

31. Plain, cheese or spicy hamburgers?
Hell, I'll take all three! but I swear if you give me onions again after I've told you to hold them I will personally scrape them all off...you got that, Mr. Short Order Cook? Consider yourself warned.

32. Favorite dog breed?
Ball Park. Sometimes I'll get Hebrew Nationals if I'm burned out on the Ball Parks. But they gotta be BUN LENGTH and they damn sure better be BEEF. Don't you go trying to feed me none of these "2 for $1" specials. I don't go for that nasty mechanically separated chicken.

33. How many years at your current job?

34. Favorite days of the week?
Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday , Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday!
...no, wait. Scratch Thursday. I hate Thursday.
...but then again, I guess Thursday's not all that bad. How about we scratch Monday instead? To hell with Monday!

35. How many states have you lived in?
Let's see, there's the catatonic state, the psychotic state, the comatose state...that makes 3.

36. Ever driven a Motorcycle or heavy machinery?
I once got pulled over and busted for speeding while driving some heavy machinery. Those suckers are dangerous toolin' down the interstate at 85 MPH. I tried to drive a motorcycle one time, but I fell off.

37. Who's your favorite NFL team
Los Angeles Rams.

38. Do you have a house phone that is NOT cordless?
My house phones are all cordless. My cell phone, however, does have a cord.

39. Do you like finding out more about people in your life?
A lot of the people in my life lead boring, predictable lives. Finding out more about them would be just about as exciting as watching rain turn into snow. There are, however, a few who are just too interesting for their own good. I know more about these particular people than they know about themselves, so no, I don't care to find out more about them.


XM Complaints

~~~It is an unwelcome surprise when I turn to Deep Tracks and hear Tony Bennett singing. Nothing against Tony...I like him well enough...but if I want to listen to him I'll go to High Standards. Deep Tracks is supposed to be a ROCK channel. And whenever this happens I know it can be only one thing...Bob Dylan's show is on. Don't get me wrong, I love Bob Dylan. I've been a fan ever since I first began to seriously listen to music. But I HATE his radio show. A little bit of that old-timey stuff goes a long, long way with me, and there's just too much of it on the "Theme Time Radio Hour". I was excited that Dylan had been given a show back when I first heard about it...but words cannot adequately describe how disappointed I am with it.

~~~FRED, the classic alternative channel, play Midnight Oil to a degree that is wildly disproportionate to the level of success (or importance) that they ever achieved in their career. During the first couple of years that I had XM the channel did the same thing with Oingo Boingo. No, I don't care for either of those bands, but that makes no difference. It's not about whether I like 'em or not, it's about using that air time wasted on such meaningless rotation to feature other artists who were important to that genre. Not that they don't play a good representation of those bands, but I'm sure I could, if given some time, think of a few others I haven't heard much there (Teardrop Explodes, Cowboys International, Magazine, Pere Ubu). They DO play a lot of good stuff...I could just do without so much Midnight Oil, Echo & the Bunnymen, Siouxsee & the Banshees...

~~~One more complaint about Deep Tracks...you'd think that Eric Clapton held a controlling interest in XM stock as much as they play that guy's music. No one can dispute his greatness, but I'll let the casual fans in on a secret...a lot of the stuff he's done that could be considered "deep tracks" just plain sucks.

~~~This may seem like a trivial complaint, but if you listen to Audio Visions as much as I do you will most likely concur. It's great that there are no commercials...they would ruin whatever atmosphere the channel manages to conjure. But the staton ID tags are stupid and there are only about 7 of them that they rotate. "Audio Visions: a place filled with peace", "Audio Visions: this is the land of the dreams", "Audio Visions: follow me through the looking glass", "Audio Visions: the best way to travel", "Audio Visions: the earth in stereo"...that's 5 of 'em...there are probably a couple more that I'm fortgetting. I've had XM for 3 years now and nothing has changed there. No new slogans, nothing. Oh well, I do like the music a lot. It has it's place. I'll try not to go crazy when these tags are played.

~~~I love Beyond Jazz, but I do have two or three problems. First of all, the term "MoJa" is just plain stupid. I dearly wish they would stop using it. Next, and this is just a personal hang-up, I really wish they wouldn't play so much vocal jazz (and the same goes for the Real Jazz channel). Not that they play an excessive amount of it, but once every few hours is more than sufficient, IMO. And finally, this is another case where the station ID tags get on my nerves. Especially the one with a processed female voice saying, in a sultry voice that echoes from left channel to right, "Beyond Jazz: it's a brave, cool world". Come on, now. Is there ANYONE listening to this channel who doesn't think that's just the dumbest thing in the world? Then there's the tag for Friday's fusion line-up. "Beyond Jazz: listen to the lords of fusion"...LORDS OF FUSION??? Who thinks up this stuff?

~~~They never should have changed "Hank's Place" to "Willie's Place" and every time they play a song that came out after 1975 I get a little miffed. XM10 America should have a lock on that stuff. Furthermore, and this irritates me even more, is when they play a brand new song by a brand new artist just because they think it fits the format of the channel. I want to scream it from the rooftops: IT'S NOT ABOUT FORMAT! It should be about a place to hear all that good old classic country and honky tonk songs from that era, the stuff that you can't hear anywhere else because it's too outdated to be played on the radio. I hate Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys, but I guarantee that if I DID like 'em I'd rather hear their original song and not some version by Asleep at the Wheel. And don't think I can't tell the difference or spot the new crap immediately. Those old songs just didn't have the same sonics, the same fidelity as the new ones, and that, IMO, is one of it's charms.

~~~They pulled the progressive rock & jam band channel from the regular line-up and banished it to XM Online. The XM Music Lab had it's faults (WAY too much Frank Zappa and Primus), but it was one of the few channels in the rock stable that was really interesting. I hope they bring it back. Maybe lose Ethyl or Lucy, give it one of thier slots. Those two channels are, from what I've heard of them, pretty much interchangeable.

~~~3 techno style dance channels and no straight electronic music channel. I know there's enough IDM, drum and bass, other non-dance electronic music out there to justify such a channel. Personally I think they should kill Chrome, the late 70's early 80's dance channel that primarilly focuses on disco. But then again, I can see how Chrome is appealing. Nevertheless, an IDM channel would be nice.

Oh, I'm sure I could come up with a few more complaints, but the truth is that these are actually minor when you take into consideration all the really good stuff that's on XM. It offers too much good stuff to let these relatively minor gripes become anything more than minor inconveniences. It's been one of the best entertainment investments I've ever made...I knew it would be when I first bought it about this time 3 years ago.


I like modern country...WHAT????????

I don’t know if this happens to everyone as they get older, but my music tastes have gone through a metamorphosis. It’s not that they’ve necessarily “changed”. I still love just about everything I’ve ever loved, with only a few minor exceptions. And I’m still open to interesting, challenging new sounds.

But the interesting & challenging new sounds no longer seem, at least to me, to be coming from the pop-rock genre. Every new group I hear these days does absolutely nothing for me (the extremely notable exception to that rule being Sigur Ros). It’s easy for me to detect every influence that these bands are working. Every band has their influences, true, and this has been the case long before I ever started listening to music. But now the influences are all artists/bands that I grew up with and, to be honest, I’d rather listen to the originals than bands that sound like them.

I’ll concede that there are some decent acts working in the indie circuit, but I’m talking about the stuff that gets played on mainstream radio these days. I can’t site any names without looking at the charts, but trust me, I have heard enough to know that I don’t like ‘em.

Which all leads up to this startling confession: I have come to really like country music. Not just the good old stuff, but something I’ve always despised: Modern Country. Dad always said I would come around to a love for this music, but I think he probably thought I would forsake all the loud music I had grown up with (I didn’t forsake it, but I do turn the volume down a lot these days).

Of course I haven’t come to this unexpected proclivity in any sentimental attempt to fulfill any prophecy. I came around to this music for exactly the reason I stated above…because I’m always open to interesting, challenging new sounds.

Okay, I can hear you saying, “What in the world is challenging about modern country music?”

I’m not saying that there’s anything inherently “challenging” about the music itself. In that respect it’s a nice change from the hard work of appreciating other kinds of music that I enjoy (IDM, classical, free jazz, among others). There is a simplicity to country music that makes it easier to take in the lyrics and the vocal stylings (which are the hallmarks of the genre).

What’s challenging, for me, is overcoming the snarky, anti-country bias I’ve always nurtured. Even when I came to appreciate classic country, there was still the whole mind-set that dismissed modern country as nothing more than soft rock with a steel guitar thrown in the mix. Cowboys with a taste for the Eagles or else, at the other end of the spectrum, rowdy rednecks who grew up with Lynyrd Skynyrd, the Allman Brothers Band, the Marshall Tucker Band, et. al. None of that stuff ever meant much to me, the guy who, as a child, prided himself for liking the Stones more than the Beatles. The man whose enthusiasm for punk & new wave culminated in the dark and depressing soundscapes of Joy Division. There were times, later on, when I veered dangerously toward “jazz & classical snob”. The point being that modern country never gave me what I thought I wanted in music.

I don’t know what made me change my mind. I could may well trace it back to Toby Keith’s “Love Me If You Can”. Which was a strange thing in itself, as I always loathed Toby. But the song made me realize that modern country is, just like the classic country I already enjoyed, driven by 3 things, and very likely in this order: lyrics, melody, vocal stylings.

I guess I always loved the good old rock and roll songs because I could identify with what those guys were singing about. A little rebellion, a bit of mischievousness, an exuberant, free-for-all attitude that the kids emulate and the young at heart fondly recall.

And I am young at heart. I do like to kick back and bask in the comfort of cherished nostalgia. I’ve been known to play “Never Mind the Bollocks, Here’s the Sex Pistols” a few times in recent years, and it still sounds good to me. It helps me remember the week it came out in 1977, how I rushed out to buy it (at Wal-Mart of all places) and how I would flip that record over time and time again. I must have played that thing 50 times in the first couple of days I had it. But even more, I remember how the music smashed it’s way into the part of me that was disgusted and fed up with everything I thought was bullshit (and when you’re a teenager, that list is a long one).

But I am an older man now. I’ve seen things, done things, dreamed things, experienced things that cause me to look at life from a different perspective. And the truth is that the majority of modern country, for all it’s attempts to be “hip” to the younger audiences, is very much in touch with this more mature point of view. Maybe it IS music for old folks…well, we all get old. I’m there, if you’re not, well, I’ll keep a light on for you, maybe I’ll see you when you get here.

I’m not saying that everyone is going to like this kind of music when they pass a certain age. I would hope, however, that even those who despise it now would keep an open mind for later, because modern country really does have much to offer.


Update: 11/28/07

Since writing this piece I have posted it on my MySpace blog. I got a comment from a friend and I responded in a couple of comments. I thought I'd post them here as well, as the exchange is mildly amusing.

Justin: So let me get this straight here...

Songwriting by committee, based on results from focus groups to appeal to the broadest (lowest common denominator) cross section of society, featuring jingoistic bumper sticker philosophy is a good thing?

Gross overproduction utilizing Antares Autotune to stamp out all subtle nuances until every record sounds like a robot singer leading a robot band is good?

Payola is alive and rampant, Clear Channel Communications rules the airwaves with an iron fist and (thanks to pro-corporate policies within the current administration) is able to influence legislation to increase their monopoly while decreasing outlets for music fans to encounter anything new or different.

There are a lot of reasons why I stopped listening to the radio years ago. If there's anything worth listening to, it'll eventually find it's way to my ear.

Did you ever listen to the CD I gave you? Neko Case is incredible and very much worth your time and attention. You'll never hear her on the radio because she refuses to play the corporate game. She turned down HUGE recording contracts from Nashville because she didn't want to be the next Shania Twain.

ME: (firtst comment) I did listen to the cd. I guess I'm a corporate robot because I didn't like it.

"Jingoistic bumper sticker philosophy"? You can't be serious. Love songs? Ruminations on life? A sliver of positivity? God help us all from "bumper sticker philosophy", eh? Sorry, but all the nihilism wasn't working out for me. A genuine sense of humor? No doubt such a feat *requires* a "songwriting committee" in this day and age.

It's best just to agree to disagree on this one, but I think it's sad that you would dismiss very good music just because it doesn't fit into some strict set of guidelines you've constructed to reign in your own musical taste. You're entitled. Still I think your words are a little harsh and hardly fair.

It would seem to me that any music that resonates within a person, makes them laugh, makes them cry, moves them, makes them think...I would think that such music has succeded despite how it was made or promoted. Why the hell would I dismiss ANY music that has that power?

So it does nothing for you. That's great. But don't expect me to buy this bullshit about why I SHOULDN'T like it for all these reasons you give that mean absolutely nothing to me. I suppose I could offer up a bevy of reasons why I don't like Neko Case and/or the Handsome Family (though I do appreciate your generosity in giving me the CD), but there is really only ONE reason that seals the deal: it did nothing for me.

"Letter From Me" by Brad Paisley does something for me.

"Don't Blink" by Kenny Chesney does something for me.

Even the songs I'm not crazy about usually have lyrics that I find interesting.

Jingoistic bumper sticker philosophy? Whatever. I guess I've been consumed by "the machine". I'll have to remember that the next time I play one of my Sonic Youth CDs.

ME: (second comment) Furthermore, Clear Channel Communications' "iron fist" pulls no weight at XM Satellite Radio, which is where I listen to about 99% of the country music I like.

You may have a valid point about "overproduction". I don't think of it as "OVERproduction", it's just part of the genre. You could say the same thing about modern jazz...and I'm not talking about "smooth jazz", which I'd say probably IS 'overproduced', but then again, that's part of what it's all about. Surely you'd agree that there are plenty of bands who CONSCIOUSLY shoot for an "UNDERPRODUCED" sound, right? They do so because that manner of production suits their style. By the same token, modern country's style is elaborate production. No one's doing anything here that they don't want to do, country star or indie noisemaker.

I personally find a lot of depth to the production I hear on these songs. Lots of nice stuff going on that reveals itself with repeated listenings. But even so, as I said in my original post, though the music is good, IMO, it's much more about the singer's voice and style. It's obvious you don't even give this music a chance, because no one with an ear to hear would call these guys "robot singers".

As for Neko Case not wanting to be the next Shania Twain...I don't blame her. Shania Twain sucks. There's a fine line between the music that has substance and the commercial swill. I think I've been listening to music long enough to tell the difference between the two, and I assure you that it's not possible to reign in the whole of modern country and categorize it as the latter.