Friday, August 29, 2008

We are Legion!

Okay, I know, enough about Radiohead sucking.  But a quick google of "radiohead sucks" yielded an entire world of people who stand with me in loathing their synth-pop angst-o-moaning.

This site actually sells "Radiohead Sucks" buttons you can wear (hey mom, need a X-mas gift idea?)

Overrated Bands

As a proud "faggot a** retard" (see previous post), I got to thinking about what other bands I always found overrated.  Here's a preliminary list, off the top of my head.

1) Radiohead (not just overrated, they actually suck)
2) Velvet Underground (not really sucky like Radiohead, but still overrated)
3) The Beatles (yes, I said it, and I'm not taking it back. They were very, very good, but John Lennon was not a musical Jesus)
4) The Talking Heads (I really can't get what people see here - the really big shoulders?)
5) The Sex Pistols (Music gets a B-, the names Sid Vicious and Johnny Rotten get an A+)

Radiohead still sucks

I re-iterate my claim despite the commentary of one who calls himself "Gifted in the PANTS".  He (or, I guess, she) let me know that I suck.  He also hypothesized that I enjoyed Motley Crue (and some of their songs are alright) before asserting that I was a "faggot a** retard."

I offer this comment by a Radiohead fan as further proof that Radiohead sucks.


This is what is heading towards Louisiana right now.  We should be okay in Houston, with only the outer rain bands hitting us with some heavy showers.  As long as the storm says east of us the flooding will be limited as well (the rain bends push down from the north-west, driving the water out of Galveston Bay and allowing the storm water to drain into the Bay).  Still, it reminds you of three years ago and how freaked out we all were.  
Stocking up on bottled water just in case.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Books, Books, Books

Vacation was good for ripping through a ton of material.  Here's a quick review, and some recommendations.

1) The Pirate Queen (***): Interesting. This is about Elizabeth I and England's use of state-sanctioned piracy to stay a viable nation in the 1500's.  It gives you a great feeling for how tenuous a grasp England had on their independence from Spain (and France) during this period.  Lop about 100 pages off this thing, and it's four stars.

2) The Scarlet Pimpernel (**): Fun. At the time it came out, this must have been something.  You can almost watch the blockbuster period-piece adventure movie in your mind.  The downfall is the glaringly obvious plot - it's quite obvious who the Pimpernel is about 50 pages in.  Nevertheless, worth reading just to say you've read the original.

3) Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (****): Excellent. Le Carre at the height of his abilities and the book just pulses with tension, despite the fact that almost nothing actually happens. You start to feel paranoid just reading it, and it is one of those few books in which you never notice the page numbers. Definitely worth reading, and I'll be getting the follow up "Karla" novels soon.  Also, it reminded me that the BBC did a great version of this with Alec Guiness - hello Netflix.

4) Ghengis Khan and the Making of the Modern World (**): Intriguing. Relatively recent archaelogical findings allow you to find out more about the youth and rise to prominence of Ol' Ghengy.  The author points out a number of interesting facts about the Mongol Empire, and how civilized it was relative to common perceptions. He goes way over the top in trying to make claims about how important this Empire was for subsequent development, so that loses him some marks.  Another book that could lose about 50 pages and be better for it.

5) A Dangerous Nation (** 1/2): This is the first volume in a proposed two-volume history of American foreign policy.  The first section of the book is excellent.  It dispels much of the myth of isolationism that has surrounded Washington and other founding fathers. The U.S. was from the start concerned with the world, in particular its importance in creating an example of a functioning republic. The isolation, in terms of avoiding big tangles with Europe, was more a consequence of circumstances (Napoleon occupying Europe, the U.S. being small and powerless) than of choice.  Once you reach the second part of the book, though, it becomes a much slower recitation of treaties and incidents. My advice, read up to about page 200 closely, then skim.

6) Balzac and the Little Seamstress (**): Novel by a Chinese man who was "re-educated" in a village during the Cultural Revolution.  He and his friend do lots of manual labor, travel up and down a mountain a lot, find a stash of forbidden Western books, meet a cute girl, and eventually have their hearts broken. The only book on this list that was exactly the right length. Interesting inside look at re-education.

This is so wrong

Bad Muppets.  Bad, bad Muppets.

See more funny videos at Funny or Die

Monday, August 18, 2008

The Command Module

Here's a shot of the back seat of the car from our road trip.  I'm not sure it fully captures the amount of crap that was packed back there with the girls.  The DVD player is just visible at the bottom.  I worship at the feet of our portable DVD player.  The portable DVD player is a wise, benevolent, and powerful lord.  I shall never take the name of the portable DVD player in vain, or create graven images of the portable DVD player, nor shall I covet my neighbors portable DVD player.  I offer sacrifices to the portable DVD player, so that it shall not forsake me or my family, nor cast us from its divine presence. 


Saturday, August 16, 2008

Radiohead Sucks

Let me be the first to say it.  I've been watching them on MHD for the last 45 minutes, and I was trying really hard to get it.  I hated the first song, and I stuck with it for the next 40 minutes just to make sure I didn't catch one bad tune.

Alas, things have devolved into a repetitive drone of reverb and synthesized angst.  If you gave me a mix board and a few hours, I could hammer out a Radiohead tune myself, following this handy reference guide.

1. Begin with muted, simple drum line at a club beat.
2. Have one of the depressed looking B-level Radiohead's introduce an overly modulated "whine line" on the guitar and/or synthesizer (they're so talented, they can play either one!).  This "whine line" is the result of knowing just enough about electric guitars to be dangerous.  "Look Neville, this button makes it sound spooky."
3. A-level Radiohead person (you know, the Clay Aiken look-alike with the bad haircut) now introduces his repetitive rhythm guitar line that will stand in for a melody.
4. A-level Radiohead person now begins to "sing".  A-level Radiohead guy is quite earnest (this band is nothing if not earnest - scratch that, they are nothing but earnest).  Unfortunately, A-level Radiohead guy is a cross between the Coldplay guy and Bob Dylan, only with the worst qualities of both.  So we have a snivelly and unintelligible series of moans emerging from A-level Radiohead guy for the next 2:30 of the song.
5. One of the B-level Radiohead guys (maybe the dark haired mop top, or the brown haired mop-top, or that other guy) now spends some time adjusting knobs on his amp, or perhaps pressing keys on a synthesizer.  From all I can tell, these guys are recording their own farts and playing them back in slow-motion.
6. Repeat step 5, only substitute different B-level Radiohead guy.
7. STOP.  Let whiny A-level guy moan in isolation.
8. Return to techno beat and feedback. 
9. Fade to crap.

These guys have sold a lot of records (or at least a lot of people have downloaded their records).  My guess is that a true survey of Radiohead album owners would reveal that a good 80% of them bought it because "my buddy who's really into music turned me onto them."  And honestly, they don't get it.  Radiohead is the Velvet Underground of the 2000's.  You know you're supposed to like them, but it is frustrating that they persist in sucking so much that this becomes difficult. 

Interestingly, right after Radiohead ran out of konbs to play with, an R.E.M. video came on.  It's a recent song, one I'm not familiar with.  It's good.  My guess is that if  I gave A-level Radiohead guy the next 300 years, he couldn't cough up one song equal to what Michael Stipe shits out the morning after a double-bean burrito.   And I'm not necessarily a big R.E.M. fan - I'm just saying.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Home Again, Home Again

Our great perambulation is over.  We're back to the delightfully high humidity of Houston, and trying to get organized for the imminent arrival of the new school year. 

Overall, the trip was great.  The girls get an A for their efforts at staying sane in the car with us for 3 days on the way up and 4 days on the way back.  Apparently a continual stream of animated movies, a pool, and free breakfast muffins are sufficient to keep them from blowing a gasket. 

Here's the breakdown on our trip.  We were gone for 23 days, 22 nights.  Of those 22 nights, we (Kirstin and I) spent them in:
Plainfield, NJ (7)
Beach Haven, NJ (7)
Providence, RI (3)
Little Rock, AK (1)
Nashville, TN (1)
Salem, VA (1)
Chattanooga, TN (1)
New Orleans, LA (1)

To fully evaluate the trip, I've made a list of pro's and con's.

PRO: Being at the beach in NJ.   7 days of hanging out on the sand, sitting outside on the deck, and bobbing around in the water.

PRO: Wearing a sweatshirt because it was actually cold at night.

CON: The water temperature in NJ was about 60 degrees.  "Bracing" is a kind word.

PRO: Mrs. Rowe's, in Staunton, VA has great pie.

PRO: Eastern Tennessee, northern Alabama, and southwestern Virginia.  In other words, driving through the Appalachian Mountains, which are beautiful.

CON: Western Louisiana.  Possibly the most boring drive I've ever been on.

PRO: Barbie movies.  Yes, I said it.  They are a pro.  Why?  Because Abby and Maddie will absolutely zone out for 90 minutes watching one of these.

CON:  Madeline throwing up all over Kirstin (twice) and me (once) the night in New Orleans.  Once again, a big apology to Uncle Jason for abusing one of his blankets so badly.

PRO: Chattanooga.  We had a good time.  We rode the incline railroad up to the top of Lookout Mountain, and did indeed see 6 different states.  Got some great barbecue at Sticky Fingers.  The hotel had a "hot, bubbly pool" (a whirlpool) and we got free room service breakfast. 

CON:  Bumble-f*$&, Mississippi, where we tried to stop for gas.  We pulled off because there was a BP sign.  Once off the interstate, all we find is a decrepit old shell of a gas station.  Two miles down the road we finally run into some decrepit old dollar store, but at least they are open and can let Kirstin use the bathroom.  Seriously, central Mississippi looks like it is barely part of the same country.

PRO: The Waffle House.  It's greasy, it's not very clean, but those are some good waffles.

PRO: Peanut butter and jelly.  We made a really concious effort to not eat fast food, and so we brought along  our own sandwich materials and did lots of snacks and lunches out of our cooler.  We also stopped and got out of the car each time we ate, which was huge in keeping the car from becoming a cesspit. 

PRO: Providence.  We went there for our anniversary trip, and it was fun to see Rhode Island again.  The people who bought our house painted it pale yellow, but it looks nice.  We got to eat at Al forno, the great Italian place, and found an excellent breakfast spot (The Brickway). 

CON: Aidan's.  This was our weekly Irish bar hangout in Bristol, RI, and we were looking forward to stopping in and sitting ont he porch for a while.  However, it's being rehabbed and was closed.  Damn you Aidan!

Alright, I think that is enough for now.  The trip was great, and the pro's are definintely better than the con's.  I don't want to get back in a car any time soon, but I'd even consider doing this again next year.