Wednesday, August 31, 2005
"Where You At?"
For the love of God check out The Onion!
After getting an apartment in Long Beach, my commute increased quite a bit, though it was an easy one by southern California standards. It was 7 miles door to door and though it took me closer to 20 minutes to complete, I typically gave myself 30 minutes. I had to do that because a major part of my commute was on the 710 freeway, a freeway that ran down to the harbor and was jammed with trucks hauling containers off of ships to rail yards further north.
I currently live on the east side of Rapid City and there's not too much to the east of me. A lot of the stuff I do takes me to the west side of town. Rapid City has its own set of traffic challenges, most notably tourists who don't know how to get to Mt. Rushmore and "The Gap,"but I can honestly say that there is no destination in Rapid City that is further than 7 miles away or that will take me more than 30 minutes to get to.
So what's with all the cell phones? What's with the DVD players in cars? Remember when your car used to be a device to get you from point A to point B and not a mobile office or rolling movie theater? There is no place you could possibly be going in this town where that phone call couldn't wait until you arrive at your destination. I'm not talking about people from out of town, if you're on your way Mt. Rushmore from the UP of Michigan you've gotta have something to keep the kids happy or you'll most surely go insane.
Admittedly I'm in a different situation than most people with cell phones. When you get right down to it, nobody really has to get in touch with me for anything. The last time I lived in Rapid City, I supervised master control for a local TV station, I had two and a half people working under me running a 24 hour a day operation (no, that's not possible and that's why I quit working there), people who occasinally needed to get in touch with me. I had a cell phone. I paid for it myself because the company I worked for was second rate and was run by cheap assholes. My point, and I do have one, is that I needed a cell phone or, at the very least had a good use for one.
I saw a commerical on TV last night for cell phones, I think it was Motorola, and their tag line was "Where You At?" I'll leave the grammar alone and focus on my point. I was at the fair last week waiting for family members to arrive so we could go to a demolition derby (yes, a demolition derby, I enjoy all of the meats of our varied cultural stew). In fifteen minutes I saw about 50 people walking by while talking on their cell phones. Almost without exception the end of the conversation I could hear included the lines "Where are you?" or "I'm at the fair." I suppose when people call me at home they ask me what I'm doing, it's sort of the way to start a phone conversation. "Where are you?" is probably the cell phone equivalent.
If you think I'm trying to be all superior here, remember that cell phone that I had because I needed it for work? Every other night I would call my friend Dave from my car on my way to the gym. A typical conversation?
Me: "Hey man, where are you?"
Dave: "I'm at Jackson and Sheridan Lake. Where are you?"
Me: "I'm probably a couple blocks ahead of you. See you there."
Calling Dave wasn't going to get him to the gym any faster, for that matter, we weren't doing anything that required split-second timing. He'd get there when he got there. I guess having a cell phone just sort of does that to you.
I remember when plans used to be made. It was agreed to meet at a certain place at a certain time. It seemed to work pretty well. And it very rarely caused car accidents.
Tuesday, August 30, 2005
Political Blogs and Photo Manipulation
There was one glaring (too me anyway) error in the photo. I could tell that the site on the mini-gun had been screwed with. John told me that yes, he had to do something with the site because my face was behind it so he had to mess with it. This was my first exposure to the critical thinking that you have to engage in to do photo manipulation.
As John brought in more photos I'd ask him how he did different things in each photo. I didn't have Photoshop on my computer at the time or even a digital camera. I found the process fascinating though and I learned a lot about how to acheive certain effects without being bogged down with the nuts and bolts of "push this button to do this."
I bought a ditgital camera in 2000 and it came with Photoshop LE. LE stands for "limited edition" meaning that it doesn't have all of the features of a full version of Photoshop. Hell, it was free. It sat on my computer for a while before I tried anything with it. The first manipulation I did was a photo of me near the Belmont Pier in Long Beach, CA. I was standing next to my bike with the pier and the ocean in the background. It was a nice photo but there was a very distracting metal hand rail behind me that was higher than my head. As I looked at the photo I thought of all of the things i had learned from John. Most of the area occupied by the hand rail had sky behind it. I simply matched the color of the sky and pained over the hand rail. The hand rail disappeared. Most of the manipulation was pretty straightforward. Today, that same job would take my about 15 minutes, but I poured over it for hours, figuring out how to make it look natural, I removed the shadows of the hand rail from the sidewalk, I cut and pasted a section of the ocean over a vertical section of the hand rail. I think I was proudedest of was the street light on the pier that was behind a portion of the hand rail. I painted sky over it, but realized that if you looked at the whole picture you could see that the lights on the pier were at regular intervals, removing one light detracted from the reality of the photo. Solution? I grabbed one of the other lights, pasted it into the proper position and resized it so it would look natural.
I learned a lot making that photo. My skills developed pretty rapidly after that, soon I started getting more adventurous. I started trying to make things that couldn't possibly be real, but tried to make them look real. My roommate at the time had three cats, so they became my subjects in a lot of cases. A photo of my neice riding a horse led to putting her on one of the cats. I added shadows to complete the illusion. There is a photo of me juggling the three cats, something I'd never be able to get away with in real life. It was a lot of fun.
I kept doing things like that for a long time, eventually moved back to South Dakota and got involved in music. I did some promotional stuff for the band I was in, did some images for the band's web site. I've told people that I enjoyed band promotion more than being in a band. Whle that's not entirely true, I really did like making flyers and table tents. I actually spent more on promotion for one gig than I got paid for playing.
Before the elections in 2004, the Rapid City Journal started Mt. Blogmore. Blogmore was designed to discuss things before the election. I chimed in from time to time. Before John Thune debated Tom Daschle on Meet the Press, Blogmore moderator Bill Harlan jokingly asked who was going to host the debate party. I used to get fights quite often on pay-per-view, it's always more fun if you invite lots of people. It's even better if you get them to chip in to defray the cost of the PPV purchase. It got me to thinking how a televised debate is a little like a boxing match. I thought it would be interesting to create "an old timey" boxing poster promoting the debate. It wasn't my best work ever, but I was just making it as a joke to send to Harlan. He posted it on Blogmore, he may have even asked my permission first....... Actually that's OK, as it started a side line.
I started submitting more and more stuff. Harlan posted a goodly amount of it, not all of it as not all of it was really that good. I had a couple of things rejected or changes were requested because of 'questionable' content. I can completely understand that as the Journal is a business. They can't go about just patently offending people since it could adversly effect business.
"Blind Orange" Julius is not a business. While I do care if I offend people, there is no ill financial result if I do. I started BOJ News Service a few months ago so I could have complete editorial control of what I do. I invited friend and fellow 'musician' "Twelve String" Andy along for the ride. If we offend someone, it's all on us, I'm a little more comfortable with that arrangement.
This move shouldn't be viewed as my dissatisfaction with the situation at Mt. Blogmore. I really like what they do there and still post there and send off the occasional image, particularly if they inspire me to do an image based on a topic. But most of my Photoshop work now is for BOJ News Service.
BOJ News Service topped 5000 hits late yesterday. I know that's not a huge number, but I'm a guy who does this kind of stuff because he likes doing it. I'd be doing it if nobody was able to see it, I have tons of stuff that only family and friends have seen. Most of my hits come from the state's fine political blogs. Yeah, most of the ones linking to me are left of center. That's the way it goes, I guess. I'd like to give special thanks to the following:
SD War College
These three sites in particular have sent lots of traffic to BOJ News Service. There are plenty of other fine political blogs listed at BOJ News Service, check them out for a more free wheeling view on politics. And while I link them here already, Mt. Blogmore is still my favorite political blog, primarily because it's completely interactive. Oh yeah, they gave me my start.
Monday, August 29, 2005
Oh Yeah, Viacom
I have to admit that I haven't seen a rock music video in years. My current cable package doesn't include MTV2. Anytime I flip by MTV or VH1, its some sort of show. Hey, I could live with that, but it's very rarely a show about music. On MTV it's generally a show about youth culture of some sort. I don't have a problem with that type of show, but there's an 'M' in the name of the network, not a 'YC.' VH1 is no better, Remember the '80's/'90's seems to run constantly. I can stomach that type of stuff better, but it's a little more culturally relevant to me. Still, the 'VH' in VH1 stands for 'Video Hits.' Admittedly, I have less of a leg to stand on here as VH1 is not just an audio service, video is provided as well. 'Video Hits' does seem to imply music videos though.
Oddly, the videos I've seen lately are country music videos. The country music video channels on my cable system actually play music videos. I was flipping through the channels the other day and saw a music video. Frankly it was stupid. I don't say that because it was a country music video, I say that because it was a music video in general. I guess I had forgotten how stupid music videos are. So I've spent the last couple of years lamenting the fact that MTV doesn't play something I think is stupid (music videos) and instead is playing something I think is stupid (reality shows, youth culture programs, etc.).
I want to apologize for all of the bitching I've done on this matter. I want to apologize, especially after seeing a little tiny bit of some dumb-ass music video awards show last night on MTV while sitting in a bar listening to real music. I realized that when they were listing the videos nominated for "Best Pop Video of the Year" that I had't seen a one of them. As it turns out, I'm glad I hadn't. Lyndsey Lohan was one of the nominees, for Christ's sake, Lyndsey Lohan! At least the sound was off. As near as I could tell (and I wasn't paying that close of attention) Ashlee Simpson won. Ashlee Simpson! Well, I'm sure Milli Vanilli won these kinds of shitty awards and they couldn't sing either.
So again, I want to apologize to my friends who've had to hear me bitch about no music on MTV. I'm no fan of the crap that they're running, but at least it takes some creativity to "pimp" my ride.
Accidntal Hooks and Cool Rumors
Saturday was OK. A little snafu with my phone number meant that Mike, Joe and I each drove seperately to the Hot Springs gig. With the price of gasoline right now that probably wasn't the smartest way of doing things, but we're Americans, damn it, and we have rights. Like rights to our cars. It's in the constitution, people! OK, it isn't, but it should be. Maybe our national symbol shouldn't be the bald eagle, but the SUV. Nothing would represent the excesses of our society better, and we won't stop driving them even though we need to take out a loan to fill them with gas.
But enough ranting (even if it is what I do best). The Flatiron Coffee Bar is a really cool venue, and the weather was nice enough for us to play outdoors. It was really cool to play outdoors and we apparently sounded pretty good to the audience even though the stage set up made it difficult to hear ourselves. The other strange thing about the set up was that the audience tended to be a long way from us. It made subtle interaction tough, and after the sun went down, it was impossible for us to see the audience from the stage.
A little bit of SD trivia, President Bush's head of security is a Hot Springs native. He was in attendence at the show. Mike's politics tend toward the left, and one of his songs in particular has a line that isn't flattering to the sitting President. It was noticed by the head of security. I'm sure Mike now has a file in Washington. Welcome to the club, Joe was saying that as an Ordinance Disposal Specialist that he automatically has an FBI file, and with the US Senate Sergeant at Arms a frequent visitor to BOJ News Service, I'm sure I have one as well.
Once again, the pay at the Flatiron wasn't the best and tips were paltry at best, but we did get dinner out of the deal (.....mmm.... Buffalo Burger, baked beans, chips and a lemonade....), and a stay in a guest suite. This is not a complaint, but the suite we had last time we stayed at the Flatiron was much cooler than this time. The suite we had last time was a two bedroom with a huge living room. This time it was a one bedroom and I ended up on a cot in the living room. But, I woke up without any back pain, so it wasn't any hardship for me. Sleeping three people in that suite could have been a little more difficult, but luckily for him, Joe found somewhere else in Hot Springs to sleep......
We went to see a local band play at a bar down the street after our performance. I thought they were pretty good, a three piece that played your standard bar band cover tunes along with a few pretty good originals. It was when they played John Coltrane's Syeeda's Song Flute that I was really impressed. I had never heard a rock and roll type band cover 'Trane before and it was really cool. It reminded me of last time Mike and I played in Hot Springs, me taking a leisurely drive back to RC through Wind Cave National Park, listening to Coltrane on the stereo. It was circular, now my experiences with Hot Springs will all involve Coltrane in some way.
I took another leisurely drive home on Sunday morning after a pretty intense morning teaching Gloria a few things on Photoshop. She has a really cool art idea for a show, something that's pretty involved Photoshop-wise. It seemed simple to me, but upon jumping into it, it turned out to be be pretty complicated. I left a little flustered, but with a couple of idea of how to get to what she's trying to do. I'll jump into it again after I'm through with this post.
Had a waffle dinner out at the parents' house Sunday evening. My waffle iron is aparently useless, but with three irons running we were able to get everybody fed. The chokecherry syrup was excellent and was plenty of pay off for a day spent picking a few weeks ago. TSA joined us for dinner and we got in a little practice before heading out for Cheers.
There was a decent amount of musicians and 'musicians' last night, Brian being the first thrown to the wolves. Aparently TSA and I sold him out somehow, causing him to be first. He exacted his revenge, though by making us go second. Brian's set was really cool, and Staring at the Ceiling is truely a great tune. It being a well written tune is one thing, but it has a quality to it that makes you want to sing along, and last night people (not just me) were. Conservative Man has a similar thing, but with a catchy hook to boot. He admitted later that he actually wanted another line in the verse, but couldn't think of one and started singing "Doo-doo-doo-doo" etc., (typing does it absolutely no justice - it's really cool if you hear it) instead. An accidental hook? Could anything be any cooler?
I think Andy and I were calling ourselves "454198" last night because we figured it was a ticket number that nobody would have, but maybe they'd cheer when it was said anyway. Since Brian made us go second, we made him pick the first song. He chose Two Condoms which was quite alright with me. Actually, I'm a little more comfortable with him requesting it than with a 16 year old girl requesting it, which is what happened on Wednesday. Yikes! Anyway, we followed that up with Vibrator Dpendent, Wyle E. Coyote Blues and Mojo/Magic Bus.
Heard some cool rumors about Willy Grigg last night from none other than Willy Grigg. Spreading rumors about yourself, that's almost as cool as wrting an accidntal hook. At some point I'll embelish some of the rumors about Willy, but I have to figure out the proper forum to do so. Also I have to make them outlandish enough to top the stuff that's already out there. I've got my work cut out for me....
Saturday, August 27, 2005
Baby, If You've Ever Wondered.....
Les Nessman was the less than sensational News Director at WKRP. In one episode, Program Director Andy Travis was lamenting his fate and some of the people he had to work with, "Remember Watergate? Les missed it!" Les Nessman had failed to report on anything as the Watergate story broke. Definitely not the sharpest tool in the shed.
I felt a lot like Les Nessman yesterday. Actually, the story starts on Thursday, I had showered and was drinking my coffee, checking some of the SD political blogs before heading over to Mike's for some practice when the phone rang. It was Robin at the school asking if I could sub in math on Friday. I said yes particularly because it was for a teacher I have quite a bit of respect for, I knew I'd have well behaved kids for my first day of the school year. Five minutes later, the phone rang again, Mike wanted to know if I could play a gig on Friday night in Keystone. I agreed, but it would pretty much mean that I would go straight from school to Mike's for the drive to Keystone.
First of all it must be pointed out that I'm not a "morning person." It takes a while for me to adjust my internal clock to where it needs to be for teaching, and it ain't there yet. Still, I got myself going in plenty of time, popped the Steve James cassette out of the car stereo and listened to some news on my drive in to school. BRAC's vote on Ellsworth was on so I listened intently, having a bit of an interest in the outcome of the vote - it's my hometown after all. The vote to strike passed 8-1 as I made the loop on I-90 East exit 67B. I was a happy guy, but I couldn't help thinking that I was going to be unable to blog something about the event. Photo stuff was definitely out of the question as that can be pretty time consuming and time is the one thing I didn't have enough of on Friday. So like Les Nessman, the biggest news story in the recent history of the Rapid City area broke and BOJ completely missed it.
In the aftermath, I've conisdered some things I could have done. I could have made two Ear-O-Matic photos, posted them to my photo site and madea quick post from any internet terminal, something I could have gotten away with at school - no, wait, that may have revealed my "secret identity" to folks at the school. I could have run home and done it at my folks, I routinely walk into their house and head straight for the computer, so it wouldn't have been that out of character for me. I'll have to be sure to be better at looking ahead than I was yesterday. Sadly, it was a pretty good day for hits at BOJ News Service and I feel like I let people down. I'm sure they were looking for BRAC/Ellsworth news and I didn't give it to them.
On a BRAC related family matter, I need to point out that the Superintendent of the Douglas School District, the district that serves Ellsworth AFB (no, not a DoD school, a regular school district), is a complete asshole. He coerced the school board into slashing the budget of the district because he assured them that there was no way the base would survive this round of closings. Oops, he's not only an asshole, but an idiot as well, no personel would have moved from Ellsworth until 2008 or 2009 had it closed, there really wasn't any reason to drastically cut the budget. My sister was working as an In School Suspension aide, a program she had whipped back into shape after the person who replaced my mother in that position after her retirement let the program fall into a shambles. My sisters position was cut, her duties given to a man who couldn't handle the minimal duties he already had. The program will go to hell again and that is completely the fault of Superintendent Shits. My sister was given a position in Special Ed which she had had before taking the ISS position, but as the SPED aide with the least seniority, the woman who replaced her a rung up on the ladder from my sister. Fair, huh?
Dr. Shits sent out a memo to staff yesterday saying that things won't change now that Ellworth is a huge step closer to being saved. All cuts will remain in effect. This from a man who retired from his position as superintendent of the district, draws a large SD retirement check monthly and was hired back as a "consultant" at nearly double his previous salary. He's double dipping but cutting staff right and left. Nice guy.
I've stated my views on blogging anonymity before, but if anyone from the district reads this now (a longshot, I know) it's pretty clear who I am. The person who is in charge of calling substitutes is married to the guy who took over my sister's duties. Guess I won't get called very much if she ever reads this. I didn't use the superintendent's name, though it will be pretty obvious to him who I'm refering to if he reads this as his name rhymes with Shits. I've typically gotten myself in trouble with crap I say, but I've never felt it was wrong to say something I believe is right. I just have to live with the consequences.
.....so, the Rib Shack gig went pretty well even if we were asked to pack it up after two sets instead of three. They weren't doing a brisk business when that order was handed down, though it picked up after that. We gave the folks a little extra anyway. The crowd was quite receptive after they finally arrived, mostly tourists. I've always noticed that tourists are so appreciative of our little music scene here. Even at an open mic at Cheers, a motel bar, I've had numerous tourists come up to me and tell how much they enjoyed our little open mic there. Christ, we aren't even getting paid there. It was the same last night, tourists commenting on how good we sounded and how much they were enjoying themselves.
During the first set, a man came from the upstairs bar and put a piece of paper on a table in front of the stage. It said "Please play Van Morrison's Brown-Eyed Girl or Don McLean's American Pie." I love the music of Don McLean, particularly American Pie, but it's a long song, is very wordy and the chords don't progress in a regulary manner, it has lots of subtle changes, it isn't simply repeating the chord progression over and over until the song is done. Brown-Eyed Girl, on the other hand, is everything that American Pie isn't, making it easy to remember even if you don't play it often. As a bonus, it had been requested last week at Knight's Cellar and Mike decided it would be good to at least have the lyrics in his book. I pretty much know the lyrics, but couldn't come up with them completely last week, even trying to write them down wasn't bringing them back. Last night Mike just flipped to the appropriate page asked me if I wanted to sing it and we were off.
I have to admit I sounded pretty good, which was later confirmed by the guy and his wife who requested it. I stopped by their table to say hi to them at the set break. They had dropped their kids off in Wyoming with family a few weeks earlier and were on their way back to the Twin Cities with their kids. Kids in the hotel, they decided to stop of for a few drinks , having been to the Rib Shack on their way to Wyoming. They were impressed with the music and decided to stop into the same place. Like I said, tourists love our music scene. Brown-Eyed Girl, as it turns out, was their wedding song, just beating out Love the One Your With (no, I'm not kidding that's what he told me, she agreed). We did well in tips last night, made a little bit of money from the establishment and got a nice meal out of them (...mmmm....BBQ Brisket Sandwhich....), but the food is digested and the money will be spent all too soon. I'll remember the appreciation of a couple from Lakewood Minnesota for a whole lot longer.
The nice thing about an early gig like the one at the Rib Shack (6pm to 9pm) is that I can stop off and see someone else play. I dropped by Philly's on the way back to my place to catch Abby SomeOne. When I refer to myself as a "musician" (quoty - fingers required), it's because of folks like ASO. God bless SMB and his musical endeavors, the man has been through plenty with this band and every time it looks like they're about to burst onto the national scene, something happens to screw things up. This time it was father and son Wallers leaving the band. The one thing I'll say is that Shawn never let's it get him down, or at least, never let's us see it get him down. When I think of all the crap that's gone on with him and music and then read his blog (and screw everyone else's, mine included, his is the best blog out there), he somehow manages to seem upbeat about everything. There's a lesson there for me, I just wish I was well-adjusted enough to accept it.
Josh Marquis is filling in abley for the departed Chambers Wallers and while I really loved Chambers' stinging single-note blues-tinged solo style, Josh's sound (at least last night, it's the only time I've seen Josh with ASO) seems to fit better with the band. I'm not sure where Josh sits with the band (and try not to ask too many questions as I know all parties ivolved) but ASO could do a lot worse than the "twisted genius" of Josh Marquis on guitar.
Sometime early Saturday morning I got back to bed, a place I spent way too little time in on Friday morning. Seems like I crammed a week's worth of activity into one day, but I loved every minute of the day, most days aren't like that for me and truthfully I can't expect them to be. I didn't even mention running into Steve Thorpe at the Rib Shack and getting to share the stage with him for a ripping kazoo solo on San Francisco Bay Blues. Yep, a good day.
Friday, August 26, 2005
A Public Service to the RC Journal and Associated Press
The headline reads:
Ashlee Simpson to Perform on 'Oprah'
It should read:
Ashlee Simpson to 'Perform' on 'Oprah'
Now get on with your day.
Thursday, August 25, 2005
Good Thing It's Not 1983.....
If it were 1983, I don't think
anybody would have showed for our
little open mic or Abby SomeOne's
show at Philly's. Good thing time
travel is impossible.....
Skynard has cancelled a bunch of dates this month due to an illness in the band and this week it was announced that they were canceling their Central States Fair show as well, but the replacement lined up was a double bill of Loverboy and Foreigner.
If this were 1983 a Loverboy/Foreigner would have destroyed our little open mic at Dunn Bros. last night. Luckily, it's whatever year this is and it seemed to have no effect. Good show last night, a full slate of performers with a couple of newbies, most notably Jody who I've seen at Cheers quite a few times. Amanda put on a wonderful show again, her voice gets stronger everytime I hear it. She's playing at the fair today and tomorrow, shows that I'll have to miss because of other stuff going on in my meaningless life.
TSA showed up at the appointed time, but I could tell he'd had trouble at work. When he has trouble at work, it's a little more intense when you or I have trouble at work and it effects him quite a bit. He played through it though. We lead off with Two Condoms, by request and approval of Mike (no one's parents were in the shop anymore), then did a little Me and Julio by request (no approval needed) and finished up with Got My Mojo Workin', we comboed the middle part playing Who Do You Love, Loser and Magic Bus in the breakdown. Cool! Now the goal is to turn Mojo into a 20 minute song with all of the stuff we throw into it. We can pretty easily do it, too. Our performance of it at the Heritage Festival was over 9 minutes with the addition of The Story of One Chord, so an extra 10 minutes or so wouldn't be too difficult, we're full of stupid ideas.
Dropped by Philly's after the open mic to catch an ASO set. They were a three piece last night with Chambers in Alabama visiting family. I hadn't seen them since Doc left the band, but was quite pleased with the full sound they produced as a three piece, much more layed back then other times I've seen them. I really like that kind of sound and it fits them well.
It's off to Mike's this morning for some work on harmonies (and I need lots of work). We're getting together with Joe tonight for some more practice for the show at The Flatiron in Hot Springs on Saturday. Just found out from Mike that we're playing Uncle Tom's in Keystone tomorrow night. For me that will be a full day as I'm subbing a full day tomorrow at the high school. At least there's nearly 3 hours between the two events so I can decompress a little before trying to play music. I hope the kids take it easy on me......
Wednesday, August 24, 2005
Robertson: "I Was Misinterpreted"
Screwball Evangalist Pat Robertson
thinks you and I are stupid. If
we were as stupid as he thinks
we are, he'd have been Preisdent
"If he thinks we're trying to assassinate him, I think that we really ought to go ahead and do it......We have the ability to take him out, and I think the time has come that we exercise that ability......"
That's the quote that millions of people heard on Monday, it's what he said on Monday. There is nothing to be interpreted about the statement made on Monday. Speaking of assassination he said, "I think we really ought to go ahead and do it." That leaves no room for misinterpretation.
The fact of the matter is that Robertson is feeling the heat for his statements and is trying to back off from them. He could have admitted that he was wrong, he could have blamed his irrational outburst on the "heat of the moment." He chose none of those. What Pat Robertson chose to do was to blame you and I for what he said, claiming that we misinterpreted an unbelievably clear statement. Apparently we're to blame for the idiotic things that come out of Pat Robertson's mouth.
Unlike John Thune, this is a man with the ear of the President, a man who delivered a good number of votes to the President. The President has been silent on this matter. I am not saying that the President is seriously considering Pat Robertson's advice in the matter of Hugo Chavez, but the President should condem the rantings of this lunatic. I am no fan of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, but he at least dismissed Robertson's statement, the White House has been silent.
Pat Robertson needs to admit he was wrong (Sixth Commandment, Executive Order 12333, etc.) and stop blaming you and I for what he said. The President needs to come out and condem him for his statements. If the President wants to forgive Pat Robertson after he admits that he was wrong, that's up to the President.
-Author's Note - Pat Robertson has now apologized. His statement: "Is it right to call for assassination? No, and I apologize for that statement. I spoke in frustration that we should accommodate the man who thinks the U.S. is out to kill him." That's exactly the way his outburst should have been handled from the beginning. Congratulations to us as a society for not letting him get away with such an outburst, and not letting him get away with blaming it on us. President Bush, do you have anything you'd like to say?
-Additional Note - Pat Robertson's apology has, to this point, only appeared on his CBN web site, and not on his more widely seen 700 Club television show. It seems to me that his "apology" was meant for those of us who are keeping tabs on him and not for his regular audience. Shame!
Tuesday, August 23, 2005
Executive Order 12333
Screwball Evangalist Pat Robertson
would like to dictate Foreign Policy
to the US Government. How'd that
run for President go in 1988, Pat?
In case you missed it, here's the actual quote:
....without question, this is a dangerous enemy to our south, controlling a huge pool of oil, that could hurt us very badly. We have the ability to take him (Hugo Chavez) out, and I think the time has come that we exercise that ability. We don’t need another $200 billion war to get rid of one, you know, strong-arm dictator. It’s a whole lot easier to have some of the covert operatives do the job and then get it over with.
I'm going to put aside the sixth commandment right now, and go to the legality of kiling a foreign head of state. Simply put, the government can't do it. President Reagan made that very clear when he signed executive order 12333 on 4 December 1981. Pat Robertson would like his Governemnt to do something that his God made it very clear he doesn't want done - remember the scene from The Ten Commandments? He wrote that order with his own hand, Thou Shalt Not Kill. And if God isn't a high enough authority for Pat Robertson, then how about the President of the United States, and not some liberal president whose eroding the "Christian ideals this country was built on" but the god of the conservative movement in America, Ronald Wilson Reagan.
It never fails to amaze me how those who claim to have such great respect for life could so brazenly advocate killing those who don't agree with them. Eric Rudolph is in prison for bombing abortion clinics, bombings that killed people. Why? Because it's wrong to kill unborn fetuses. I guess the only life that is sacred are those lives which agree with you. Those who don't agree with you, even those who are interpreting the laws of the United States should die, if not by our own hand, then by the hand of God.
Pat Robertson broke no laws by suggesting that the US Government assassinate Hugo Chavez, Thomas Beaverson broke no laws expressing his wishes that God would strike Judge George Greer dead. That doesn't make either man right in his particular case. The problem is that both men were speaking to groups of people, representing themselves as men of God. The problem is that once you spew hatred like that, you don't know what the people you were speaking to are going to do.
I Before E Except After P Diddy
That's my view on most entertainment news. When I watched my first newscasts after moving to LA, I noticed that everyone had an "entertainment reporter." Hey whatever, but they were announced at the beginnng of the show. ".....with your Action 7 News Team: Rod Pompus and Cindy Turkle; Josh Wakefield with weather, Susan Anderson with entertainment and Skip Feegles with sports...." Every newscast devoted time to who Colin Ferrel was doing or some other such silliness. A newscast is only about 22 minutes of content, wasting 3 or 4 minutes of it on Hollywood crap is a waste of my time. If you want that crap watch Access Hollywood or The Insider or other similar pap. I've got an idea, try giving us the news.
I realize that the world can be a pretty depressing place, and I see the value of the escapism of entertainment reporting. I see the value of a single entertainment type story in a serious newscast, but one, just one. And since I have now deemed that only one will be allowed (and all of you media outlets had best fall in line or penalties will be thought up and enforced on your asses - Globex Corporation is a powerful outfit!) let's make it something a little more substantial than dropping a consonant from in front of a fake name.
Monday, August 22, 2005
Anonymity in Blogging and Other Pointless Subjects
One of the topics that came up was anonymity of the posters at Blogmore, and a discussion thread was started on the blog. I sat there, wrestling with my own anonymity and whether I should chime in. In the end I decided not to, but I did introduce myself to Harlan by my given name. Harlan knows my name (and address and even phone number) because I'm not able to actually post my "blogtoons" at Blogmore, I have to email them to Harlan who then decides whether to use them or not. He recognized my name and we talked about things (primarily photo manipulation) for a little bit before he had to get back to work. Even though he knew who I was before I introduced myself, I had, in effect, "outed" myself. Anyone at the library that day will have a pretty good idea who "Blind Orange" Julius is as well.
Which is absolutely fine with me. Another blogger did some digging amongst the links on the Globex Corporation Newsletter and discovered by true identity. He posted that he had "figured out" who I was and jokingly threatened to "out" me. While I'm happy he didn't print my name, I wouldn't have had any huge problem if he had. For me, anonymity is more fun than necessary. I understand why other bloggers are anonymous, I understand why some bloggers have a problem with anonymity. I have a problem with most of the bloggers who despise anonymity not allowing comments on their blogs. So goes the blogospere.
If I wanted anonymity, I could probably do a better job of acheiving it on this blog, I could take down a couple of the links that make it pretty obvious who I am. Then again, I got some hits onBOJ News Service from an unexpected source, a "hole" in my "anonymity security" that I hadn't thought of. I'm certain other "holes" exist.
A few bloggers in the SD blogosphere have been outed in recent months. Two of them had what they considered to be legitimate reasons for keeping their identities secret. One was outed accidentally the other was outed by bloggers who don't allow comments on their blogs, it's easy to let people know who you are while you look down on them from a tower, you preach to them and don't allow them to respond. One of those bloggers just let the outing roll off his back, the other quit blogging, which was probably the aim of those outed him anyway.
I'm in my own little anonymity thing right now with That 1 Gal who has been commenting here a bit lately. I thought I had figured out who she was, thought better of it as she revealed some things about a time we had met. I assumed I hadn't met the person I first suspected but now am beginning to realize that I could have met her, in fact, the circumstances of the meeting we've had (if I'm remembering the same meeting) make that pretty plausible. I wonder if she might possibly have a t-shirt that I once signed....
In truth, this is a fun exercise, but that's all it is, fun. If That 1 Gal didn't want me to know who she was, she wouldn't have supplied me with clues, so I think she's looking at it as a fun exercise as well. I'm not going to beat myself up if I'm terribly off base with my suspiscions, but it is good mental exercise, unfortunately I'm exerciesing what was most likely an alochol effected brain at the time of the meeting. I suppose that makes it something like running while wearing ankle weights.
Speaking of Cheers (and I'm pretty sure - not 100% sure that I was), it was a pretty slow open mic last night. When I walked in it was SMB, GF1, TSA and the wait staff. OK, there were a couple of folks around, but no other musicians or even "musician" (which is how I tend to refer to myself, but I have to use "quotie fingers" when I say it). Jodie (sp?) and Brian showed up a little later as well as the Ghost of John Lennon (it's a nickname, not an appartition) and Terry. TSA and I played pretty early which was fine. We hadn't played together in about two weeks so a lot of last night was just knocking the rust off. Started off with The Brian Wilson which we hadn't played in a month or so, no particular reason we haven't, just kind of worked out that way. Followed that up with Vibrator Dependent andTwo Condoms both of which I played solo last week, both of which sounded remarkably better with a real guitar player. Did the most controversial song from our Heritage Festival performance after that. That TSA is as proud as me that playing Are You Drinkig With Me Jesus at the Heritage Festival garnered an email complaint tells me that I'm playing music, or in my case "music," with the right guy. Finished up with Mojo and even tried the new thing. We probably shouldn't try new stuff when we haven't played together in about two weeks, it didn't work, I could tell because TSA turned to me and said "It won't work." We recovered and put Who Do You Love and Magic Bus in there. That was better but still not up to SIJ (or whatever we're calling ourselves these days) standards. Good thing nobody there to see us....
Sunday, August 21, 2005
That One Guy - That One Gal
Heavy water is not radioactively hot, by the way. The hydrogen in heavy water is an isotope known as deuterium (sp?), an isotope that contains an extra neutron, therby providing more mass for a fission reaction. My physics is a little rusty, so don't use any of my info to start your own fission reaction at home. I never imagined that a post about The Battle of the Network Reality Stars would provide such debate on nuclear physics, but what the heck. I giggled.
With the physics discussion out of the way, I'm proud to announce that I attended a demolition derby at the fair this afternoon and rooted for someone who was going by the name of "Big Bad Bubba." Though I'm tempted to start a discussion of The Law of Conservation of Mass/Matter, I'll leave that for another time. It's hard to beat cars smashing into each other on a Sunday afternoon, particularly when none of them are mine.
It's off to the open mic in a little while. Have a new idea for Mojo that I've worked out the lyrics on, hopefully it will fit the discussed guitar (and bass?) part.
Saturday, August 20, 2005
CKassie: The Two-Headed Drink Serving Song Singing Machine
Delicious beverages were served last night by Cassie and Kassie, and I'd make a joke about two bartenders having the same name, but both couldn't have been cuter and they could both really sing, there's no joke about that. Having the bartenders sing with you is always a good move unless you're the patron who just ordered a beer. We had them sing with us a number of times, had other bar batrons join us as well, the lovely Krystal who had just passed her nursing boards can sing with me any time, and have your friends take more pictures of us, there aren't nearly enough photos of me being hung on by fabulous babes.
The music, well, the music seemed secondary at times. We tried really hard to please the crowd, dropping all of the originals but one in an attempt to get them involved. Some things worked really well, the crowd was the right generation for Coldplay's Yellow. but for the most part they were content to have fun with their friends. Everyone seemed to have a good time last night, so I guess you could call the night a success. It would have been cool if Mike and I had been a bigger part of everyone's good time, but I think we added to the overall fun vibe of the place, so that will have to be good enough.
I played Knight's Cellar a little over a year ago with Patient 957. One of the songs we did that night (as almost always) was Gloria Gaynor's disco-era hit I Will Survive. Did I Will Survive a few months ago sitting in with Mike there along with TSA. Last night no I Will Survive. There's a disco ball hanging above the stage for a reason. Knight's Cellar begs, just begs for us to play that song. Next time. We'll play it. We'll be huge!
Thursday, August 18, 2005
Incridible New Study Proves...
GALS WHO GO TOPLESS LIVE LONGER!
New job option for Globex
Corporation's "Blind Orange"
Once again, "The Paper" comes through with journalistic dynamite! GALS WHO GO TOPLESS LIVE LONGER!!! You know it's real because they refer to women as "gals." In my experience, chicks really like that. OK, this is a compelling read, but my main point for posting this is the study was done by the Breast Research Institute of America, the BRIA. I can't seem to find a web site for the BRIA, but, damn it, this is a cause I can get behind. I'm offerening my services to the BRIA as their communications director. Selflessly, I want women to know that they have an option to extend their life expectancies, a simple option at that. I'm doing it for the gals.....
BRIA, get in touch with me.....
I Think I'll Just Change the Channel
What the hell is the
world coming to?
I was just flipping through the channels and I saw something called Battle of the Network Reality Stars, which begs the question: Is it sadder that there is a show called Battle of the Network Reality Stars or that there have been enough reality TV shows to have a Battle of the Network Reality Stars. One can only hope that this "battle" is to the death.
I was a fan of the original Battle of the Network Stars, but, then again, I was 10 years old. I appreciate those old shows for their camp value, but otherwise, it was a pointless exercise. Perhaps some ringers would have made it worth while, like ABC signing "Mean Joe" Greene to a multi show run on Barney Miller so he could represent the network in the flag football competition. Alas, nobody really gave a damn, not the networks, not the public, not anybody.
So in a summer of remakes at the box office, TV also reamkes something that wasn't really that big a deal to begin with. Worse, I'm not sure that it is possible to be a "reality star." Isn't that the drawing point of these reality shows, that these are real people? It's probably pretty obvious that I'm not a fan of so-called reality TV. I can argue that entire genre' is a joke, and do so using the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle. More to the point, these people have already had their shot on TV, why the hell or we giving them more time on TV? I doubt that anyone was clambering to see the guy who was voted off the island third on the original Survivor again. But here it is. At least most of the people on the original Battle of the Network Stars were somewhat deserving of the title. No one from Big Brother III could be described as a "star" by any stretch of the term.
So what's next, Battle of the High Speed Chase Stars? Battle of the Police Stand-Off Stars? I'd kind of like to see the Battle of the Cable Public Access Stars, but we probably won't see that happen. It's every bit as compelling as the crap that's running on Bravo right now.....
Wednesday, August 17, 2005
Gravity vs. Intelligent Falling
Above: Rev. Gabriel Burdett (left) explains
"Things fall not because they are acted upon by some gravitational force, but because a higher intelligence, 'God' if you will, is pushing them down," said Gabriel Burdett, who holds degrees in education, applied Scripture, and physics from Oral Roberts University.
By Sibby's logic, I've just proven that gravity doesn't exist. Actually I don't want to get down on my favorite hillbilly, we hold different political views and have completely different ways of expressing them. Mine, BOJ News Service, is, to my way of thinking, just a little more creative than cutting and pasting Limbaugh. Hey, different strokes for different folks.
I'm actually doing this post for a number of reasons besides having a little fun with Sibby. First, I occasionally make posts based on another favorite news source of mine, a publication TSA and I lovingly refer to as "The Paper" (Look! Hookers are selling Gift Certificates!). Another weekly read that gives me a good number of chuckles is The Onion. I love The Onion, it was the inspiration for BOJ News Service. Granted I haven't done much of the full blown story type of thing, though I tried some of that early on. That's hard stuff, though and what I really like doing is just making the silly photos. So now I've posted something based on The Onion. Goal one acheived.
Another aim of this post is a discussion of Evolution vs. Intelligent Design. I love a sales pitch, I watch infomercials because I like to see the logic an advertiser will use to try to sell me something. This morning I watched parts of infomercials for the Magic Bullet one seving food blender dealie and the Little Giant complete ladder system. After a few minutes of watching each, I'm not quite sure how I've lived my life to this point without either of these fine products.
On a releated subject I was flipping around the channels late one night last week and came upon a discussion of Evolution vs. Intelligent Design on one of the religious channels. Actually the production values were pretty high and most of the logical arguments were pretty reasonable. They presented both sides of the agrument pretty fairly though it was quite clear which side they came down on. That's fine considering the source.
There were a few logical falacies in their argument, one that concerend me quite a bit. They started showing results of some opinion polls, one in particular showed that somewhere around 40% of people polled were in favor of teaching Intelligent Design along with Evolution in schools. That number seemed a little high to me and I didn't catch the source, but if that's their number, that's their number. The statement that followed is what I had a problem with, I'm paraphrasing, but it was along the lines of, "So, see, most people are in favor of teaching Intelligent Design in our schools....." I'm not sure when 40% of people became most of the people, I guess it's a majority when you need it to be for your arguement.
The other interesting thing they said on the program is that Evolution is the only scientific theory that requires legal protection. Gravity, for instance, is also a scientific theory and doesn't require legal protection. I suppose that's why the ariticle in The Onion struck me as so funny. I like to think that the author of the article saw the same program I did. The point ofThe Onion's article is just how silly it is to have a differeng viewpoint to the theory of gravity, how silly it would be to attempt to refute it on religious grounds:
...there are many phenomena that cannot be explained by secular gravity alone, including such mysteries as how angels fly, how Jesus ascended into Heaven, and how Satan fell when cast out of Paradise.....
Gravity doesn't require legal protetion because there aren't people out there wanting to teach their religion in public schools through the guise of quasi-science. Most people know that.....
Labels: Stuff From The Onion
Monday, August 15, 2005
My Right Hand - A World Premiere
Open mic was interesting tonight. I got a call from TSA just before I was about to leave saying that he and Dave were working on a poker table and he might be late to the open mic or maybe not make it at all. I was hoping he'd make it since we didn't get the chance to play on Wednesday due to some difficulties at his work. As it turned out he was unable to make it tonight either. Wednesday, man, Wednesday.
A little after I arrived at Cheers I saw my mom walk in with a friend of ours, my dad followed soon after, then my sister came in a little after that. Now they were in three seperate cars, but all ended up at the same place. Funny how that stuff works out. I won a T-shirt, but gave it to Sandy because it was exactly like one I already have and she had commented that she wanted one. Shawn tried to make me take a keychain, but I told him I had a plan for the shirt.
As it started to look more and more like TSA wasn't going to show, I started thinking about what I could play by myself. Shawn offered the use of his guitar, I had a capo in my oversized novelty harmonica case, so I could do anything I could play well enough to do in front of people. My folks left early as they're old and have to go to bed about the time the sun goes down, that made things a little easier as far as choosing what to play. I started off with I Know All The Presidents in Order. It was the first time I'd played it in a bar which was a little strange, but the people who were paying attention seemed to enjoy it. I followed that up with Two Condoms which I haven't played solo in a really long time. Geez I miss having a good guitar player carrying me. It went over well as usual and I was particularly pleased that I remembered how the bridge goes. I know that seems odd for something that I wrote, but I play it so seldom that I forget how to do it on guitar sometimes. My Right Hand (a Love Story) was after that, the premiere of my newest song. I probably wouldn't have tried that if my mom was still in the place, but she was gone, I only had to deal with my sister and Sandy, I can deal with that. I really shouldn't do that one by myself as it has the barre chords in it which I don't play all that well. Something I didn't forsee was that the I couldn't see my hand well enough to to get down to the Em7 chord while wearing the neck rack. I got it every time but it was sloppy. Again, those paying attention seemed to enjoy themselves, which in a perverted way is kind of the point of the song. I did Vibrator Dependent as a finale. After I was done playing I thought of lots of nice songs I could have played, but I guess I just wasn't in the mood to do that.
Had a discussion with Mike last week about novelty songs. I realize that I'm turning into a novelty songwriter which I don't have a problem with, but I realize the danger of that, novelty songs seem to have a pretty short shelf life. A Martha Stewart Christmas was a pretty cute little song, for example, but I can't really do it anymore. One it's a Christmas song, two it was specific to a certain year, but most importantly since it's really just a joke, once you hear it that's sort of it. I can see that happening to Two Condoms, it's a cute song, but people will only let you tell them the same joke so many times before they grow tired of it. The same thing will happen to My Right Hand. If this is the direction I'm going to take in my songwriting, I have to really write songs at a much quicker pace. I've gotta have lots of fresh material. The good thing about the novelty songs, though, is that they work on new audiences. There were a few new faces in Cheers tonight, so Two Condoms worked on them like it did on the regulars the first couple of times. I guess I can write lots of novelty songs or just write a few and find lots and lots of places to play. Either way, I guess I found what I write best, it's just a matter of volume.
Saturday, August 13, 2005
What Am I Doing Here?
I've more than likely seen Russell Jackson play before as well since he played with B.B. King around the time that I first saw the king of the blues while I was a college sophomore. If I somehow have my years wrong and I didn't see him live, I know I've heard him since I have a couple of albums by B.B. and another by blues pianist Katie Webster that he played on.
Mike and I played at Dunn Bros. in Keystone last night, less than 100 yards from Uncle Tom's Rib Shack where Brandon and Russell where playing. Mike had a dead mic cable and we walked over to Uncle Tom's to see if they had one we could borrow. Brandon and Russell had gotten a little bit of an early start and were absolutely tearing through their first set when we arrived. Between songs, Mike approached the stage. He'd played with both of them before so it wasn't like two strangers were asking to borrow equipment. Still, I thought it was pretty neighborly of them to lend us what we needed.
As we walked back to Dunn Bros. I began to figure that the only way anyone was going to come over to see us with a hot blues band playing 100 yards away was if Uncle Tom's filled to capacity and the overflow crowd, absolutely desperate for music, accidentally stumbled into Dunn Bros. It wasn't quite that bad. Eric showed and played with us, his parents in tow, they were our only audience for most of the night. Some people came in to use the free internet. Being a rainy night, some folks came in for coffee. A foursome stumbled in and sat for a while, enjoyed some brew and told us we were awesome when we left. The compliment was appreciated, but I couldn't help but think that they either hadn't been next door or had an intense hatred for the blues. But I'll take a compliment anywhere I can. They tossed a few bucks in Mike's guitar case as they left so no complaints here.
Tear down was pretty quick as we're playing the same location tonight, we were just able to pack some stuff away and leave it on the stage. We took the guitars and harps out to the car and headed over to Uncle Tom's to hear a little more of Russell and Brandon. They were just finishing up a set as we arrived and we took their chord back to them. We talked a little while, Mike introducting me around. Russell asked me what I played, I told him harp and he asked me if I had one with me. I always carry a "walking around" harp with me so I told him, yeah, I had a C on me. He said they did a lot of stuff in C (long discussion followed about cross keys and what key they would have to play in, my explanation that I played 'straight' as crossing requires me to use my brain - I won't go into it, whoops, I already have.....). He asked if Mike wanted to play as well and we decided to do two tunes in their final set.
I finished my beer and contemplated what was happening. I had just finished playing with Mike, mostly sort of folky stuff, some mellower classic rock, the most challenging harp work, some Bob Dylan, and I always put down Dylan's harp playing. Blues is a different animal. Now I love blues, I don't listen to it exclusively any more, but it's still the majority of my music collection. I started playing harmonica because of my love for the blues. I've never tried to sound like anyone else though and my harmonica style developed completely independently of my love of the blues. I love Little Walter, but to paraphrase Willy Grigg, I'm not Little Walter and I'm never gonna be Little Walter. Plus, he's dead, has been for 40 years, he and I only sharing a couple of months on this planet. Now I was going to have to play in this style, admittedly a style that I love but don't have a lot of experience improvising in. The blues that Andy and I do are great songs, but what I do on them is completely pat, I'm not making anything up.
Russell invited us to the stage, introduced us (passed on my last name - good choice) and launched into Bo Diddley's Before You Accuse Me, yeah, you'll know it from that Eric Clapton album of about 10 years ago. That's the way Mike plays it as well. I found my groove and jumped in. Mike sang, I played, Brandon soloed magnificently. I offered fills, took my turn at an unimagnative solo,though I offered a lot of bends and hand effects, the packed house seemed to enjoy it though I felt terribly out of place.
Mike played electric on the next song, Russell sang. I didn't know the song, can't even remember what it was now. All I remember is that it was in the key of C. Just tell the harp player the key, don't change keys and something good (or at least acceptable) will happen. Mike took a solo, but Russell is a very full bass player, providing a lot of sound and Mike was able to lay out for extended periods. I was awfully happy with my fills and a lot happier with my second solo, playing much more of the harp then I normally do. Again the crowd seemed pretty pleased. Actually I've never played in front of a crowd that looked so pleased, I take very little credit for that, but it was awfully fun to be a part of.
The club owner actually came up to me and thanked me afterward. OK, that's a first, but I'm getting better at taking compliments but heaped as much praise on the band as possible, it wasn't tough to do either, they had laid down a groove that was easy for me to fall into, providing just enough space for me to do what I do, but ready to jump in if I started to fall. That they let me, a completely unknow quantity play with them is amazing to me. Yeah they know Mike and figured Mike wouldn't play with someone with no talent, but still....
I thanked them a lot, probably too much, but I was that kind of appreciative. I played with two guys who have played with B.B. King, for Christ's sake. I don't know if it can get much better than that for a guy of my ability. While I know their praise of my play was a bit overblown, I was aparently acceptable to them. They'll be playing at the Rib Shack again tonight, Mike and I will be a Dunn Bros. again just hoping for some of their overflow crowd. They asked us to drop by again tonight, I know I'll be there.
Friday, August 12, 2005
Rally Misconceptions (or More Idiots)
This guy doesn't realize the danger he's in, but Harley-Davidson
has realeased this photo perpetuating the myth that anything
goes during the Sturgis Rally
The rally is winding down and while we all enjoy the boost to the economy the bikers bring (and as a Black Hills resident, I am required to say that), I'll be glad to have our sleepy little tourist destination back.
The problem with the rally as I see it is paradox of image. For the rally to be successful, you have to foster an image of a wild lawless region. That is an image, not a reality. Let's face it, 500,000 people would not converge in Sturgis, SD if it truely was wild and lawless, but people like the idea of being an outlaw. When ESPN's SportsCenter was in Sturgis for the rally, anchor Kenny Mayne remarked that it seemed pretty tame. Why did he think that? Because the hype is such that "anything goes" in Sturgis. That simply isn't the reality, no matter how much the hype would have you believe it.
Five hundred thousand people are going to have a huge effect any place they converge, but the fact is that there is more law enforcement per capita in Sturgis right now than in any other area of our state. If a hot chick wants to walk topless down Main in Sturgis, she's going to be arrested. If you ride you motorcycle 100 mph on I-90, you're going to get arrested. If you walk out of a bar with a beer in your hand, you're going ot get arrested. Like any festival type setting, it's impossible to enforce every law (like ridiculously loud pipes), but if you do the same things over and over again, you're going to get arrested. It's not lawless here, but since that's a big drawing point to the rally, the misconception will be allowed to live on.
Another apparent misconception, buffalo are docile animals. That big bull in the photo is simply being polite like the rest of your rally hosts, but you're riding right up to him, totally unprotected, on a bike with illegally loud pipes. When he's finally had enough, every biker in that photo is in life threatening danger. Can a Harley outrun a buffalo? You bet, but it can't accelerate or corner like a buffalo. Those bikes are stopped, that buffalo will be at full speed in a couple of strides and one biker will be dead, his attempts to accelerate and get away causing his pipes to roar louder simply enraging the beast more. Any biker buddies who attempt to intervene will meet the same fate. My advice, get out while the gettin's good. There's a story of a buffalo in Wind Cave National Park that got pissed and rammed a Volkswagen. The VW was knocked off of the road and rolled 3 times, what chance do you have on a bike. But hey, good luck with that.
Thursday, August 11, 2005
"Hey, look at that guy!"
The idiot's name is Scott Harper, he's 18 years old and apparently the excitement of a major league baseball game with playoff implications wasn't enough excitement for him. Oh no, Scott Harper wondered if the backstop screen would suport his weight and lept from the upper deck to the screen, a fall of about 40 feet. His stunt did garner him the attention of the entire Yankee Stadium crowd as the game, remember the game, it's the reason everyone but Scott Harper was there, the game was halted for four minutes as police took the young attention starved idiot into custody. The shame of this is, of course, that I now know Scott Harper's name. I can't for the life of me understand why I need to have that information in my brain, but now it is.
It's all about attention, you don't really leap 40 feet down into a backstop screen because you seriously wonder if it will support your weight, you do it so that everyone in Yankee Stadium will say' "Hey, look at that guy!" And that would all be well and good except that there were a lot of people on the field of play who have pursued a baseball career, who spent years practicing in their youths, spent seasons in little leagues, the minor leagues, playing winter baseball, spent countless hours practicing their craft, sacrificing, working toward the goal of playing in the major leagues only to have some idiot get just as much attention, if only briefly, by pulling a mindless stunt.
The really sad part is that I'm writing this, giving this jerk even more, though unbelievably small amount of attention. I just don't get it. Who is he to think that he should do something that takes attention away from professional athletes? The problem is, of course, that this sort of thing is even reported. The problem is that anyone with no talent can go on a lame-ass TV show and sing like an idiot. The problem is that anyone can get to live in a house with a number of other people and have everything recorded so that we can find out what happens when people stop being nice and start being real.
I just don't get it, I suppose part of that is me. I try to avoid being noticed. That may sound odd coming from a guy who plays music in front of people, but it's honestly the truth. I don't play music to be noticed, I play music because I like playing music. I do it in front of people because I worked hard, learned some songs and think other people might enjoy what I do. Compare that to the person you will see anytime karaoke is set up at your favorite watering whole. Some idiot with no preparation will get up and scream Billy Idol's Rebel Yell at the top of his lungs, off key, off tempo and not really knowing when the song is finished. Why did he do it? Did he want to 'share his gift' with the other folks in the bar or did he just want everyone to say "Hey, look at that guy!"?
Don't get me wrong, I'm not vehemently anti-karaoke, I did a couple of songs a week ago at a local bar (SRV's Cold Shot and the Supreme's Baby Love, that's right, Baby Love). There was a woman there who could really sing and really seemed to take pride in what she was doing. Maybe she doesn't know any musicians, more likely she doesn't like dealing with musicians, in any case, she exibited some talent, had obviously sung quite a bit in her life. She put on a good show. Compare that to Mr. Rebel Yell. That took no talent other than the courage to do it. Normally I'd admire the courage a bit, but karoke courage usually comes in a pop-top can.
Back to School
There were surprises, as always, like Billy who didn't even know there was an open mic going on, so he ran home and got a guitar so he could play. Good stuff and I hope he remembers us next week. Same time, same place. Arnie did a couple of songs, good to see him back in action after an accident that curtailed his ability to play for a while. He played a little bit of Neil Young's Heart of Gold which Mike and I have been playing for a while now. OK, Arnie and I now have one tune in common, hopefully we can share the stage sometime in the future.
Aaron was in for the first time in quite a while. For me his music takes a little getting used to, very busy rhythmicaly but stunning when he's on. Found out I missed his playing when he's not around much. Good that he made it back, and he said he'd been down at Cheers on Sunday hope to see him there.
Amanda was fantastic again. While her playing and singing was great as always, her biggest contribution may have been her sound hole pickup which she allowed numerous other musicians to use. You gotta love folks who loan out their gear without a second thought, which reminds me, haven't seen Uncle Bill on a Wednesday night in a while.
Tyler put in one final performance before heading back to school in Montana. I was sure glad to have him around for the summer. He put on another fine show as always. While our little open mic scene may have lost one fine voice, I'm sure someone I've never heard before will simply show up somewhere and completely awe me like Tyler did. That's just the way it seems to work around here, there's more talent than places to play it seems.
Tuesday, August 09, 2005
Open Mic and Rally Assholes
We were followed by Amanda (pictured) who is quickly turning into one of my favorite performers. I didn't start writing "music" until my late twenties, a reaction to my divorce. While I suppose all songwriting is some sort of reaction to some outside stimulus, I hope Amanda's songs come from a happier place than my first songs did. Amanda is in her teens and writes thoughtful and meaningful songs. Frankly I'm jealous of her talent. We all do what we do, but I wish I could write stuff that matters like she does.
If she were just a great songwriter that would be one thing, but she has a beautiful voice that has a surprising amount of power behind that she only unleashes at appropriate times. A real treat every time I see her, she'll be playing at the fair in a couple of weeks and I hope a wider audience appreciates her as much as we in the open mic crowd do.
As much of a treat as Amanda is, Tyler is even more so. Tyler will be moving on at the end of the summer and I'll miss his music. Another fine songwriter, but it's his voice that really stands out. He plays in this mellow conversational style. He can effortlessly monologue in the middle of one of his songs which is about the coolest thing I've ever heard. Last night he played Lightning Crash by Live and after the first verse while still playing he just talked about his drive up to Keystone and how seeing the lightning over the hills he felt inspired to play the song. It was so effortless. I've tried to do similar things in Plastic Jesus and have never been able to pull it off. It's a really tough thing to do. Tyler makes it sound so easy that I'll probably try it again, and once more fall flat on my face.
Lynn Boyle from Chicago followed Tyler. Lynn will only be with us a couple more weeks as well, leaving the comfort of Carol's cabin in Hisega for the big city life of Chicago. Besides being from a ways away, Lynn also brings an international flair to our little open mic scene. She's done songs in spanish before, last night I joined her on a Jobim song which she sang in portugeese. Simply amazing. Having worked in a facility that sent pay-per-view movies to Brazil and knowing quite a few Brazilians because of that, I can honestly say that her version of the Jobim classic was true to style. It was also true to Lynn Boyle. Fun stuff.
Lynn went on to a couple of blues tunes. Now I love the blues and the reason I got into playing harmonica was because of the recordings of guys like Little Walter Jacobs and Junior Wells. That said, I've never been able to pull off that sound. People see a harmonica and immediately think blues. For what ever reason I tend to play in more of a folk or country style, probably because that fit more with what we did in Patient 957 (which was neither a folk or country band). Lynn has asked me to play blues with her a couple of times, but last night was the first time I was ever really happy with what I was doing. At least toward the end, I was doing things that made me think, for the smalles incriment of time imaginable, that given the chance, I could have been Little Walter. Or Blind Orange Julius.
A word to our visitors to the region this week. Damn, we appreciate the positive impact you have on our economy and I think 90% of you are good folks who want to just enjoy the slower lifestyle and beautiful scenery that our area offers. The other 10% though, well, you're assholes. Yeah I'm talking to you, the idiot on the BMW (nice bike, by the way), don't park in front of the fucking gas pump. You do understand why the gas pump is there, don't you? It's so Gil Moyle can gouge you by raising the price of gas the week of the rally. He can't gouge you if you simply park in front of the pump. Hell, he can't gouge me either. I worked for the man, that'll really piss him off, you don't want to do that.
A few of you are going to die this week. A few have already. I'm sincerely sorry for the guy who was hit by the drunk near Hill City. The drunk will spend a good amount of time in jail, particulary because he wasn't a former Governor or current Representative. His family will even be able to get money from him in a civil suit and it won't have to come out of the state's funds since this drunk wasn't in the line of duty when he killed your family member. Hell, sue away, get that bastard. The other deaths, the guy from Nebraska who missed a curve and drove flew off the side of the road? That's why we have speed limits. You flatlanders need to learn that we have hills and curves on our roads here. The rally isn't an invitation to ride that new bike as fast as you want. Chances are you haven't hardly ridden it at all. It's logged many more miles on the back of your trailer on the way out here than it will during your stay at the rally.
And while we truly appreciate your money, you don't own the place. We live here, you are our guests, act like it. You are getting ammenites that we don't have, like the Hooters that sets up in Sturgis during the rally. We don't have one of those normally. That's just for you. We treat our guest good, most of us our good hosts. Try being good guests. Like I said, 90% of your are, that other 10% needs to find their manners.
Sunday, August 07, 2005
A Love Song
Today its off to Canyon Lake Park with TSA for a little informal open mic thingy hosted by Just Cal. After that it's over to Mike's to practice for upcoming shows then off to Cheers for open mic. It's rally time here in the RC and Cheers will undoubtedly be full of revelers looking for a little more fun before they head off to bed. The Cheers open mic is a good place to find it! I'm looking forward to playing for a lot of people who've never heard us beofre.
Maybe we'll be playing this tonight. I finished up the song I wrote and posted earlier. I changed the title and everything. The guitar part is pretty basic (G-C-D-Em), but there's a lot of inciental picking up of fingers that gives it a kind of cool sound. When I wrote the whole thing out with chords and emailed it to TSA I put the actual names off all those incidental chords. Now I can say I've written a song with Cmaj7, Dsus and Am11 in it. Damn! I'm a real songwriter....
Champagne by the fireplace
I've got the music on real low
Shadows dancing 'cross the living room
In a warm hypnotic glow
I've set it up so perfectly
I hope this isn't where it ends
But I think tonight's gonna be the night
I just with I could tell my friends
And I've been playin' it all out in my mind for so long
And I 've considered every little thing that could go wrong
But tonight's the night I think I'll finally give it a whirl
And someday I hope to try this with a real girl
I've got no luck with women
I think that's pretty plain to see
So a romantic evening is home all alone
It's only my right hand and me
But I always try to do it up right
Any time I have the notion
And my right hand never fails to please
At least 'til I run out of lotion
And I've been playin' it all out in my mind for so long
And I 've considered every little thing that could go wrong
But tonight's the night I think I'll finally give it a whirl
And someday I hope to try this with a real girl
(Unimaginateve Harmonica Solo)
The scene is just so perfect
I'm getting tipsy from champagne
Say what you want about my right hand
It never fails to entertain
It never lies it never cheats
It never leaves me in my sorrow
And if I play my chards right tonight
My arm will be real sore tomorrow
Don't think I'm silly I know that it's not love
But if I'm in the mood fro dress-up it'll wear a glove
Yeah my right hand gives my dirty mind real leeway
And some day we'll invite my left hand for a three-way
That's what it's come down to, writing songs about my love of masturbation. I guess you have to write what you know.....
Thursday, August 04, 2005
"Does My Tea Smell Like the Stock Show?"
Slappy is Jebus gets some press!
Check toward the end of Joe's
Arts Anchor article....
Said open mic was a blast last night. A small early turn out gave us a little extra time and we played a couple of things we hadn't played in a while, notably Who's Been Talkin' which is a great song, we just don't do it as often as we used to. We also did Me & Julio, Wyle E. Coyote Blues and the Mojo/Magic Bus thing. It was a lot of fun, Andy's vacation is really spoiling me, we've been able to play a lot of shows that we don't usually get to.
Practiced with Mike a little today. We started work on some of his originals for shows next week. I tend to do mostly background vocals with Mike, something I've always enjoyed but have never had any schooling in. Mike is exceptionally good at the schooling part, I have learned so much about harmonies from our work together. Playing harmonica has given me a really good ear for harmonies, but Mike is good at explaining what I'm doing and why. Having never had any vocal training and very little music theory, they're good things to know. I've also got some harp stuff to work out on some of the tunes. Playing harp to stuff I've written and to stuff Mike's written are two entirely different animals. Any harmonica is in a particular key. The great thing about that is that if a song is in the key of C, a C harmonica will work. While every note on that harmonica may not be completely "right" at a particular point in that song, no note will be particularly "wrong." That works well with stuff I write since I pick a key and stuck with it, it's very straight forward. Mike will shift keys around a lot in a song. That means I have to think, usually my down fall when it comes to music. But it makes me be a lot more deliberate with every note I play. I pick a note and play it. When I improvise on things I've written, I almost randomly pick a note and move on however I feel. It's free and I'm thinking, but I know I'm not going to screw up, at worst my improvosation won't be outstanding. Things to learn, I guess, and I find myself learning all the time. That's good. I'm a long way from knowing everything which is also good, it motivates me to try to learn more.
Slappy is Jebus got mention in the Black Hills Arts Anchor. The breakup of SIJ was noted due to "artistic differences." Posters for Mike and I list me as "formerly of Slappy is Jebus." I can't wait to see the rumors start flying!