Monthly Archives: June 2012

Songs classic rock radio needs to forget, No. 1

1. Anything by Eddie Money. I’m cheating a bit, but it’s my damn list. Let me ask you this: Have you ever heard these words: “Up next, Eddie Money, by request”? No, you haven’t. Here’s why: Baby Hold On, Two Tickets To Paradise, Take Me Home Tonight, Shakin’, etc. The only people requesting these songs are A) on Money’s payroll and want to keep cashing checks, and B) Money’s family, who are afraid if the classic rock royalties dry up, Eddie will want to sleep on their couch. No big-time rock star is ever going to say, “I was really inspired by Think I’m In Love.” No one’s conceiving their children to I Wanna Go Back. No one wants to hear this guy anymore. And if they do, they’re paying the $5 entrance fee at the Jay County Fair and checking out the horror live. Cut him off. Make the world a better place … of course, radio programmers would probably just play more Foreigner in his place, so I’m not sure why I’m even trying.

Why you’d want to, I have no idea: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NbhXmSBlS_U

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Songs class rock radio needs to forget, No. 2

2. Don Henley, Dirty Laundry. Much like the Dude, I hate the fuckin’ Eagles, man. OK … hate’s a strong word. Overrated and overplayed? That’s what’s happening here, particularly when it comes to the post-Iggles solo careers of the band’s members. This track, an indictment of the fluff that passes for television news, is soooo dated. First of all, no one younger than Henley watches the evening news anymore. Second, that “Kick ’em when they’re up, kick ’em when they’re down” break was a bad idea in 1982, and 30 years later it sounds just as bad, as well as dated. Third, it’s not much of a rock song; it’s really a pretty pedestrian pop track that doesn’t hold up against most of Henley’s other hits, let alone The Eagles’ catalogue. So next time, radio programmer, the next time you’re preparing to insert this track, stop. Try Seven Bridges Road. Try Boys of Summer. Try something not by any member of The Eagles at all. Please. Pretty, pretty please.

I can’t image anyone wants to hear this, but here it is: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=46bBWBG9r2o

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Songs classic rock radio needs to forget, No. 3

No. 3. Rush, Tom Sawyer. Fermat’s Last Theorem took 357 years to solve. Andrew Wiles managed to do it in 1995. It takes a special brain and unique drive to be able to work through problems at such a high mathematical level. I think we can all agree it’s impressive and not the sort of task most of us are capable of accomplishing.

I think we can also agree the solving of a mathematical theorem doesn’t offer much in the entertainment department. No shoestring tackles, no guitar solos, no giant robots crashing into each other. Just a person, a stack of paper and a bunch of sharpened pencils. Maybe a little sweat on the brow. Seriously lacking in excitement.

And that’s the way I feel about Rush. You have a bunch of impressive musicians making music that is technically proficient but doesn’t have much soul. Tom Sawyer is a hit by default for a band that has sold albums over its career really has no singles. It’s time for classic rock radio to find a new Rush song to play. Enough. It’s clunky, dated (that sweet synth is carbon dated) and a song no one but the cultist Rush fans would miss if it disappeared from the airwaves.

If you can’t control yourself: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JsKBIBJj-4M

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Songs classic rock radio needs to forget, No. 4

4. Foreigner, Double Vision. I really could have chosen Feels Like the First Time, Hot Blooded, Head Games, Dirty White Boy … you get the point. These pedestrian pop stars have been masquerading as above-average rock stars for far too long (call it the “Nickelback Syndrome”). Double Vision in particular is lame lyrically, uninspired musically. The fact that this mildly catchy piece of milquetoast that has hung around for 30+ years is a blemish on classic rock radio’s permanent record. I don’t care if you sold 30 million albums in the 1970s. People thought Agent Orange, Richard Nixon and Ford Pintos were a good idea during that decade, too. We didn’t hang on to those dated, unhealthy, self-destructive proper nouns. Foreigner shouldn’t get a break, either.

If you must: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BC0GXFNKw_I

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Songs class rock radio needs to forget, No. 5

Are you tired of hearing Magic Carpet Ride? Centerfold? Jumpin’ Jack Flash? If you’re like me, someone who loves music and isn’t hestitant about wandering off the beaten path to find it, you’re often offended by classic rock radio. Stations have the entire history of rock and roll to choose from, yet every afternoon during drive time you’ll likely hear I Can’t Drive 55. Every Friday afternoon Working for the Weekend will be spun. And some reason, despite the fact that he was once part of the greatest rock and roll bands to every walk the face of the earth, I continue to hear Robert Plant’s voice singing the same underwhelming Honeydrippers’ songs over and over and over again. Radio programmers ignore the vast palate from which they have to choose only to keep painting the airwaves beige, day after day. Here in East Central Indiana, you pretty much only have oldies, pop, classic rock, country and the usual right-wing gasbags on AM to choose from. Options are limited. And when classic rock stations lazily funnel those choices even more, it’s frustrating, agonizing and boring. And there is only one sin in rock and roll: Never, ever be boring.

So with this post I start my run of 5 Songs That Classic Rock Radio Needs To Forget.

#5. Lynyrd Skynyrd, That Smell. That smell of death around you? That’s backstage at a Lynyrd Skynyrd show, the rotting corpse of a once great band. Yes, we get it, these poor Southern boys, their friends, family and associates, have pretty much been cursed. Apparently, they wanted to share that curse with the rest of us. Because now, if you manage to listen to classic rock radio for about 15 minutes, you’ll likely hear this tired, dusty tune with its uninspired lyrics and awkward transitions into to the chorus. Freebird tends to be mocked, at least by people of my generation, but at least it’s a pleasure to listen to, even if – for some – it’s a guilty one. Sweet Home Alabama, Saturday Night Special, Simple Man, etc. There’s plenty of quality Skynyrd to choose from. Unfortunately, That Smell continues its stale run. it’s time to get the aural Febreeze and knock That Smell out of here.

Check out That Smell here, if you must: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WjAPoN8qs0Q

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Endorsing hatred on Father’s Day

This is the kind of wonderful, caring, straight dad that The Star Press supports.

When my wife and I moved near my mother-in-law after a few years away from the area, we decided that for Mother’s Day we would attend church with Pamela as part of our present to her. We were treated to a sermon that may have covered a lot of things; I don’t really recall. I only remember how the preacher used his Mother’s Day sermon to condemn women who had abortions. I thought that was odd, particularly in a church that had about two women in prime, child-bearing years, but it wasn’t our church, so I didn’t worry about it.

We returned the next year on Mother’s Day. A new preacher was in the pulpit, but the message was the same: Condemn the abortion seekers, not celebrate moms. Needless to say, that was the last of our Mother’s Day visits to the church … or any visit, for that matter, as the only time either of us has set foot in that church again was once, for a wedding (thankfully, the pastor did manage to avoid the subject of abortion).

I grew up in tiny, redneck, rural town in the Midwest, so this desecration of a day that is intended to celebrate mothers, to instead use it as a fist to attack those who don’t line up with the right-wing, head-in-the-sand view of far too many white, small-town Christians, didn’t surprise me. I don’t endorse it, I don’t support it, but I am not surprised by it.

However, I was surprised today when The Star Press chose to use Father’s Day as a time to bash homosexuality. Not only that, they chose to use the words Robert Morrison of the Family Research Council, a hate group as designated by some people who know about that sort of thing, the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Here’s what the SPLC has to say about the Family Research Council on its website:

The Family Research Council (FRC) bills itself as “the leading voice for the family in our nation’s halls of power,” but its real specialty is defaming gays and lesbians. The FRC often makes false claims about the LGBT community based on discredited research and junk science. The intention is to denigrate LGBT people in its battles against same-sex marriage, hate crimes laws, anti-bullying programs and the repeal of the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy.

Why would The Star Press choose as their only opinion-related piece about Father’s Day a column of right-wing hate propaganda condemning homosexuals instead of something that celebrates those of us from the male half of humanity who have children? Why, when on their front page The Star Press does a wonderful job of celebrating single dads involved in their kids lives, would they attack families where children are lucky enough to have two parents, be they a mom and dad, two moms or two dads?

I can only think of two reasons:

1) The Star Press editorial board is a bunch of cowardly bigots. The editorial board sets the opinion page’s agenda. Therefore, if any content not generated by readers is a treatise on the evils of homosexuality, that is clearly the view of the editorial board as well. Where do I get my “cowardly” part? I spent the better part of a half hour searching The Star Press website to see who the editorial board is. I can find that listed nowhere on the site. I know it used to be listed in the actual newspaper. But since I’m not 85 years old or some sort of mental defective who enjoys wasting money, I don’t subscribe to that birdcage liner.

2) Those responsible for actually producing or corralling content for The Star Press opinion page are bigots. The two people I’d hold responsible are community conversations editor Jeff Ward and executive editor Lisa Lara-Nellessen. I think you can also throw general manager Cheryl Lindus in here, too, although it’s hard to know with a title like “general manager” just how much she’s involved in the daily content. However, she is the big boss. This is Ms. Lindus’s newspaper. The decision to promote bigotry on the opinion page also rests with her. So to all of you I say this: Fucking pathetic. You are dinosaurs, and your hatred is not appreciated by those of us in the community smart enough to tie our own shoes. You should be ashamed.

Of course, since Ms. Lara-Nellessen has commented at this blog before, I know what to expect as far as a reaction from The Star Press, if they bother to defend their bigotry at all. One of my initial posts, Really, Star Press … Really?, attacked The Star Press for wasting valuable journalistic resources and an increasingly diminished news hole on cold-case stories. I argued that The Star Press barely covers what’s going on in the city now, that going back 20 years or so to look for news was pointless and a foolish allocation of resources. Ms. Lara-Nellessen’s defense: We gots us lots of web hits, yuck yuck. No defense of the substance of my attack, just pointing out that the lowest common denominator loves it, and that drives Web traffic, and that’s all that matters. Which, to be fair to The Star Press’s executive editor, may be all that matters to her … because it involves increased ad revenue, and Gannett has proved again and again its only concern is money.

If this – and not the bigoted attitudes at The Star Press – ends up being the driving reason why Robert Morrison’s hate screed was printed, I would in no way be surprised. Why bother using your power to advocate for openness and tolerance, why use your resources to report on important things happening in our community, why do anything a responsible journalist would do when you can go the sensationalistic, hate-filled Faux News route and ring up some more $?

That’s a question The Star Press will have to answer, because I don’t know.

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Like it … but don’t love it

There’s plenty about “Prometheus” to like, but the talents of Charlize Theron and Idris Elba were wasted.

Ridley Scott’s Prometheus is two movies: A very good horror flick, and a less-than-stellar sci-fi film.

The very good horror film is the origin story of the alien we know and love from Scott’s original. The story of the Engineers, the alien creator of men, is one of typical human hubris. They develop some sort of biological weapon that they, at the very least, intend to use to wipe out Earth’s human population, a vicious cleaning of the evolutionary slate. Unfortunately for the Engineers, the black goo also affects them, which caused them to abandon the cleansing project. Until a bunch of humans show up and wake up the last living Engineer on the planet, who immediately attempts to put the plan into action.

When the adrenaline is pumping and the sweat is flying, Prometheus is a helluva lot of fun. Noomi Rapace’s alien abortion scene had my heart pounding in my chest. The last 30 or so minutes blast by, a lot of screaming, running and acts of bravery on an awesome looking set (3D is worth it, trust me).

I have heard complaints about the idea that the goo and the worms affect humans and Engineers differently. I had less of a problem with that. The idea that some sort of biological agent might affect different people and species differently is intriguing. And the idea that the original acid-blooded alien is some sort of perverse offspring of super humans and a purely predatory species works with a little explanation.

Explanation comes from the science end of the spectrum, though, and there Mr. Scott falls short. Let me explain why:

* If I see another frigging movie where scientists show up in an alien world and immediately take of their protective helmets, exposing themselves to an unknown environment that could be full of any kind of pathogens or viruses, I’m going to scream. It’s stupid. It’s wrong. And it’s so, so easy to get it right. Yet so often this very basic idea is violated. ENOUGH!

* When, for example, a military unit arrives in a new area, do they just say “Hey, let’s throw up camp right here!” and be done with it? Um, no. There’s scouting, satellite mapping, setting up of a perimeter, etc. Then why, when you’ve spent more than two years in cryogenic sleep, traveled millions of miles across the universe on the hope that what you are expecting to be there will be there but with no actual evidence that anything is there, would you just set the multi-billion dollar ship down as soon as possible without using any of that high-tech equipment to map and/or scan the planet? The answer: You wouldn’t. I wouldn’t, and I never, ever got into science growing up. But I’m smart enough to know how stupid that is. Don’t you think professional pilots, soldiers and technicians would think of that sort of thing? I believe so.

* Nothing was answered. For all the talk and hubbub surrounding this movie and its approach to the big questions about life, creation and evolution, Prometheus really only skims the big questions. We get no answers about humanity, merely a few vague hints and plenty of confusion. A lot of talented actors – Charlize Theron, Idris Elba, Michael Fassbender, Rapace, etc. – do a lot of scene chewing but are given little to work with and some, particularly Theron, are completely wasted. Sci-fi is big questions, big answers. The questions are there. The answers, not so much. If we get more in a sequel or extended DVD version of Prometheus that helps fill those gaps, then my opinion could change. But this movie fails based on its inability to do anything but dance around depth, but never really approaching it. I was expecting something a bit more … Kubrikian? And what I got was much more pedestrian.

If you’re a fan of the Alien franchise, don’t miss this. It’s worth seeing, despite its shortcomings. But if you’re searching for something broader than an extremely well-constructed horror flick, you’ll likely be disappointed.

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The heat is on in Miami

Whew. Got a little serious there. Back to some fun stuff: NBA playoffs and music. I’ll be writing some about music in the upcoming weeks. Now, the focus is the NBA finals.

If you’d told me two weeks ago it was going to be Thunder-Heat in the Finals, I’d have laughed in your face. I don’t think I’d seen a team look as strong as San Antonio since the Michael Jordan/Bulls championship era. Their Big Three – Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobli and Tony Parker – were rested and rolling. The team was completely in synch, both offensively and defensively. As a lifelong hoops fan, it was fun to watch. They were using the fundamentals – stay between your man and the hoop, funnel driving quicksters to waiting big men, make the extra pass, keep your spacing, etc. – to absolutely demolish some quality teams. OKC’s young guns looked confused and frustrated. Scott Brooks and his squad deserve a lot of credit for coming back from those early beatings to upset San Antonio. In the East, the Celtics looked good, until Ray Allen’s ankle got ugly and Avery Bradley disappeared. Plus, LeBron James play elevated into the rarefied air occupied only by guys named Jordan, Johnson, Abdul-Jabbar, Bird, Reed, Russell, etc. It’s hard to stop a 6’8″ bull that runs like an antelope, especially when he’s got game oozing out every poor. Can’t blame Boston for coming up short … Sure, I’m a lifer Lakers fan, so I can always blame Danny Ainge, any day of the week and twice on Tuesday. But you can’t blame the players or Doc Rivers. They showed up at the OK Corral with their six guns, and the Heat showed up with AK-47’s.

The Thunder-Heat matchup is going to be fun. Here’s my take:

X-FACTORS

Thunder: Kendrick Perkins. What’s Scott Brooks going to do with him? Sure, he’s enormous, loves to bang, has six fouls and possesses the greatest scowl in the history of the NBA. But the Heat have nothing in the way of a traditional center. Perk isn’t fast enough to defend Bosh. Udonis Haslem, although smaller, is more of a quickness, energy guy, which could make it rough on Kendrick. And since Perkins isn’t a factor when it comes to scoring, you can’t take advantage of Haslem’s lack of height on the offensive end. The Heat are a poor matchup for Perkins. If he can clog the lane without fouling extensively, that would put pressure on LeBron and Dwyane Wade to hit jump shots. And if Perkins can use his size and toughness as an advantage on the boards, his impact would be important. But those are if’s. I’m not saying more Nick Collison is the answer, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see Brooks go small for extensive stretches to keep more shooters on the floor.

Heat: Chris Bosh. How healthy is he? That’s the real question. He played well in the final two games against Boston and didn’t act like he was favoring the injury. That said, if he take a few rough box outs or elbows from Kendrick Perkins, will his core take that? The Heat must have Bosh to win this. He’s their only frontcourt scoring threat. Without him, Serge Ibaka roams free on defense, leaving James and Wade in constant fear of having their shots blocked. Bosh doesn’t even need to have a great series. His presence is enough. But he has to be healthy.

THE PRESSURE IS ON …

Miami. All that title talk is haunting them. They were close last year, but it wasn’t meant to be. Now, the core of the team has played together for two seasons. They know each other. Offensively, there’s no awkward deferring on the part of Wade or James. Defensively, the entire unit fully understands its responsibilities and rotations. There’s no excuses. This is it.

PREDICTION

Oklahoma in seven. Don’t get me wrong; I can see Miami winning this. It’s a good matchup, and it wouldn’t take much to bend it just a bit in one direction or another. Plus LeBron has been lights out lately. But Miami has no interior threat defensively to contain the penetration of Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and James Harden. LeBron helps fill that gap some, but his responsibility is not to roam the lane. Plus, Serge Ibaka picked it up offensively against a tough Spurs defense. Chris Bosh isn’t a great individual defender, so Ibaka will be in play on that end of the floor. Thabo Sefalosha can defend LeBron, and a combination of Russell Westbrook, James Harden and Derrick Fisher can be thrown at Wade. The lack of quality big men on the Heat even puts guys like Cole Aldrich and Lazar Hayward into play, if foul trouble or injury force Brooks deep on the bench. The Thunder are hungry and deadly, and after it took seven for Miami to upend an aging, injured Boston squad, OKC may be smelling blood in the water.

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Am I missing something?

How did Emperor Palpatine end up in charge of the Catholic Church? It’s a match made somewhere, but not likely in heaven …

 

Let me see if I have this straight …

If you do the good work of Christ, if you get down in the mud and filth in corners of this world most of us don’t know exist (let alone visit), if you care for the sick, feed the hungry, educate children, care for the sinners while condemning the sins, then you aren’t a good Catholic and you are to be condemned by the Church hierarchy. Bad nuns.

If you participate in the largest, most successful child-rape ring in the history of the world, if you obfuscate, lie and cover-up for the abusers, if you mock the pain of the abused by shipping their abusers elsewhere to abuse even more, then you are perfect children of God. Go priests.

And if you’re the guy who spends his entire career covering this up, making sure the abusers continue to abuse, making sure the abused receive no justice or retribution and generally do everything you can to make sure the cycle of abuse never ends while offering half-assed, insincere apologies once this all comes to light, then you get made the pope.

I guess my failure to understand this is why I have no regard for “organized” religion. Once we get around to “logical, compassionate, merciful” religion, though, I’ll be ready.

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