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Patriside



A Single Full-Time Dad Sorts It Out.



Updated: 2015-10-03T17:04:13.569-07:00

 



Now blogging at...

2012-08-08T12:03:22.316-07:00

In case you stumbled across this for... well, there's not much to see here and there hasn't been for quite awhile. I'm now at www.jimmcquiggin.com which, for better or worse, gets updated a few times a day. Go on over there, poke around and say hello!



Fuck ABC News... don't watch on Tuesday night...

2010-10-30T12:00:38.641-07:00

Digby says it so much better than I could...

I can't believe those pandering sacks of shit could flush their souls down the toilet with such ease by hiring a child molester like Andrew Breitbart to cover the elections.

Then again, I can't think of ANY reason I'd watch ANYTHING on ABC, anyway.



Toast

2010-10-13T21:04:43.185-07:00

That's what I am.
Slather me up with butter and then rub jelly all over me.
Then take a bite. I assure,I won't mind.
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The soccer diaries

2010-10-12T22:09:51.326-07:00

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My, we live in interesting times.

Goddamn it was cold.
We have been lucky this year, weather-wise. Last season, storms came up daily every game during the last two weeks of the season as winter edged its way over summer remainders of the season, as a test of parental endurance, hoods pulled tight, backs to the wind, stomping on decaying turf to our keep limbs alive, each of us wishing the ref would just call the game and let us get back into our warm vehicles. While children practiced their practiced chaos, chasing and kicking the parquet ball and sideliners showered each other with blades of grass, oblivious to the mayhem on the field.
Until today, the weather held and we've been blessed with frabjous skies, a blessing for the parent out on the soccer fields four days a week.
Three kids, three different age groups -- you do the math. Between conflicting games and gratuitous practices, I got much more fresh air than I require to pass the centurion mark. My curse, I suppose.
After we move into the house (the "special surprise" Jonboy asked about), we can return to some semblance of normality, even if I'm moving some 10 miles out of town. I'll get dinner on the table at a reasonable hour, we'll have time to interact before bed and everything will return to a regular schedule.
Until basketball season starts.



Day sumpin' sumpin'

2010-10-11T22:16:28.224-07:00

Only one day left of soccer -- thank God. With three kids, three different age groups, games four days a week and often not getting back to the house until well after 7... and then making dinner, organizing homework, doing dishes, coordinating baths and bedtimes...Christ, I'm exhausted.
Maybe I'll finally get some time to write now that the season is almost over.
Good night.
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Sunday night, nothing to say

2010-10-10T22:02:54.940-07:00

Actually, working on this week's column (about The Yardbirds) and "nothing to say" actually means, "no time to say it here," since I'm busy buttering my bread. But, to give you an idea of where that's going, I give you this...
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I'm sure that fine video gives you an idea of where my column will go -- certainly, you'll read it here, in due time.



Nikey turkey, what?

2010-10-09T01:48:49.397-07:00

No need to travel over the river and through the woods to get your obligatory Thanksgiving column, my friends; your heaping plateful of turkey is right here. No room for seconds, for which we’re all thankful, I assure you.There’s scant music for a Thanksgiving mix, barely a handful of tunes even remotely associated with the holiday. In fact, I can think of only three songs directly related to Thanksgiving, only two of which are worth a serious listen. Adam Sandler’s “The Thanksgiving Song,” doesn’t warrant discussion here: The lyrics are infantile (much like Sandler) and his singing is cloying, annoying and mind-destroying. Not that I’d give Sandler the benefit of the doubt — I’d rather inhale a bucket of candied yams than sit through any of his movies. Adam Sandler has all the appeal of a head cold, massive amounts of mucus and the rest.Much more appealing is Arlo Guthrie’s “Alice’s Restaurant Massacree,” an 18-minute plus monologue”telling the story of Guthrie’s arrest — for littering — on a Thanksgiving Day in 1965, a song that became a classic of anti-war protest songs. “Alice’s Restaurant” is a Thanksgiving Day tradition in my household (and really, the only time I listen to the song). But the song is hilarious, almost a Guthrie stand-up routine.Not associated with Thanksgiving in any way, I usually follow up the song with Jamie Brockett’s “The Legend of the U.S.S. Titanic” only because it is folky, long and very funny (and likewise gets heard but once a year).It is the last song of the three that is the most powerful in its evocation of the holiday — and, by far, the most beautiful.The final movement of “A Symphony: New England Holidays” by American composer Charles Ives, “Thanksgiving” captures not only the Puritan roots of the holiday but the sweetness arising from Thanksgiving’s place as a quasi-family reunion, its power residing in the ability to capture the emotional and psychological contradictions of the holiday — why bringing a family together for a feast can be joyous ... or tragic.Not so much a symphony as a song cycle, the “Holiday Symphony” is probably Ives’s best known work (though, arguably, not his best work); it also shows Ives to be one of the most original and most challenging composers of the 20th century (at least, to my untutored ears). “Thanksgiving” is more conservative than the previous three movements of the symphony, more subdued, less dissonant. While the movement begins ominously, portentously suggesting the anxiety of being thrust into a situation where scabs are torn from old wounds, it eventually softens its tone, taking bits of inspirational and traditional music (Ives quotes liberally from American standards and hymns) in most of his music to weave in moments of joy and tenderness.Like most music that matters to me, I recall the exact moment when “Thanksgiving” made it into my holiday repertoire. At the time, I was working towards an honors distinction in an undergraduate neuropsychology program, spending several hours every day administering stress hormones in rats and running them through several behavioral tasks. Since research doesn’t take the day off, I was in the lab on Thanksgiving, focused on the task while resentful that I had to be there.I’d tuned the radio to the local classical music station for background noise, when Ives came on. I stopped everything that I was doing. Sitting down and listening, it occurred to me that it was like nothing I’d heard before. More than that, when the announcer said that the song was “Thanksgiving” from the “Holiday Symphony” by Charles Ives, it was as if the entire piece was perfect for that moment in time.Those of you who have read this column from time-to-time will know that the ability of music to lock a moment in time is a common theme with me. Indeed, it is how I define most great music.[...]



Day two

2010-10-09T02:17:11.054-07:00

Heh...
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Day one or something

2010-10-07T21:43:27.441-07:00

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Obviously, I picked the wrong day to begin fulfilling a challenge (blogging daily for the next two months). Enjoy the tune, so you can share my pain -- our pain.



Something old, new, belated and true

2010-10-06T21:54:38.776-07:00

No one's telling me what the fuck to doThis was published here a couple weeks back and I'm just now getting around to posting it. Sue me.----------------------While the calendar claims that summer has crawled off into memory, I’m not convinced nor am I letting go gladly, clawing desperately to warm, long days and frost-free mornings.I can be stubborn that way.The ostensible change of season brought a busy week for me: six soccer games, preparation for parent-teacher conferences and, two days after the autumnal equinox, the twelfth birthday of Eldest Daughter. And like my refusal to let go of summer, I cling to my daughter’s childhood like a dear plushy, cradling that idealized vision of her nine years ago, bare feet beneath her nightgown and tussled, golden hair falling over her eyes, her soft hands holding a stuffed Simba close to her chin.There are a few things I own and cherish but their value is meaningless compared to the significance of those memories. Although all I have is today, ultimately, the here and now is never a clean slate and possessing the memories of my children makes my being in the moment all the more sweeter. It is the treasure of those memories that remind me how important it is to hold fast to present.Eldest Daughter is my Golden Child, the one consumed with doing the right thing, devastated when she disappoints daddy. She’s been like that ever since she was born. Whereas her siblings cavil and cry at the injustice of me telling them there’s something they can’t do, willful and obstinate imps they are, Eldest Daughter cries because her deep, inbred sense of shame tortures her with the idea that she has not done the right thing. It troubles her to the core, knowing she has displeased me in some way.Although twelve and at the threshold of adolescence, she retains the innocence of her earlier years as she explores (treading lightly) more adult themes and concerns. Last year, she replaced her tween obsessions (Hannah Montana, the Jonas Brothers, High School Musical, etc.) with everything “Twilight” — books, movies, soundtracks and merchandise.I confess I haven’t read the books nor have I seen the movies. I’ve heard the books are innocuous, if inferior to the “Harry Potter” series and that the movies are definitely geared to specific, inchoate tastes. Nonetheless, she adores “Twilight” and I have no inclination to subvert her affection.After all, my parents had no compunction against dropping me off in front of McNichols Arena, when I was about Eldest Daughter’s age, to watch Alice Cooper (my own preteen obsession) cause my ears to ring with his brand of nascent heavy metal and entertain his audience with mock executions and buckets of blood.Indeed, if there is anything about the “Twilight Saga” that excites me, it’s the quality of the movie soundtracks. Populated with big names of the Indie Rock scene, it is not without undue alacrity that I’ve greeted her own pre-teen obsession given that she has been exposed to, and embraced, an entirely new brand of music in her preteen world.To the credit of the movie’s producers, the soundtracks have included terrific cuts by some really exciting bands: Muse (providing songs on all three soundtracks), Perry Farrell, Iron & Wine, Death Cab for Cutie, Thom Yorke (wow), The Killers, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Sea Wolf, OK Go, Grizzly Bear, The Black Keys, Vampire Weekend (but, of course!), Unkle, The Dead Weather, Band of Horses — a veritable Who’s Who of College/Indie Rock.Despite my desire to keep Eldest Daughter locked into the precious years of her childhood, I’ve learned to embrace the fact that she slowly, steadily marches towards adulthood, with baby steps (thankfully). Rocking all the way with a new found sophistication.Thinking ahead to Eldest Daughter’s birthday and[...]



CNN: the most trusted name in Teh Suck

2010-09-26T19:50:17.216-07:00

Yeah, but when do I get the REAL drugs?Ah, Sunday morning for the un-churched (as the local fundie fusspots like to call us), us great unwashed, unshaven, uninterested in anything other than a lazy bacon and egg breakfast, copious amounts of coffee and political blather on the box. Every Sunday, watching the babbling rabble opine and pretty much get everything impeccably wrong and wondering why I allow those those fluffheads, zippernits and thimbledicks to chew up a few of my weekend hours, a testament to my ability to suffer fools gladly and spill a few drams of Bloody Mary. Inside the Beltway, incompetence and a complete lack of perspicuity are rewarded with keys to lobbyist's security boxes and the Cadillac Escalade that broadcasts its OnStar like a CB radio, wheels in the ditch, forehead full on in an air bag. In the midst of cleaning up kid detritus, Fareed Zakaria (the least odious and best informed of the Sunday chatter-monkeys) finished up his show, followed by the grinning boobs who spew the news. I usually allow the shining teeth crew about 15 minutes of mindless reporting (just in case an asteroid is heading straight for us and I have to pack an overnight bag) then crank up some tunes over a muted football game. Today's leading (and incessant) story was some homophobic preacher from a Wal-Mart church denying he'd plied teenage boys with sports cars for some of the fun that turned Sodom and Gomorrah into sand and stone -- just like the surrounding landscape.Normally, when some shitbag religious hypocrite/bigot gets caught with his pump still workin' cuz' the vandals still have their hands on the handle, I get the kind of hard on that would have have made Ted Haggard seek out man hands for his back -- and front.However, CNN has been raping the corpse of this story as if it was still lactating. For fuck's sake, it's been a week and yes, homophobic preacher, boys with toys due to preacher's largess, doo-dah. Barely a footnote much less four days worth of reporting. CNN, however, made fag-hating fag preacher yet another top story and half hour of mindless Just before I almost shut down the jabbering idiots, "Dad bloggers are increasing in popularity," teased me past the commercial break. CNN acting like Dad bloggers had just landed on the planet and asked for infants stuffed with kittens, then slow roasted with a red wine sauce.I've been doing this "dad blogger" thing (off and on) for about five years and I've come to know several "dad bloggers" that warrant recognition; of course, none of them were mentioned in CNN's report. Instead, the focus was on several SAHDs (Stay at Home Dads), one who's wife was "A high powered attorney" and several others with way too much time on their hands (I assumed the wife cooks and does the laundry, despite their sad SAHD status, the bozos looked like pantie wastes). Whoop-dee-fucking-doo. The dad blogger has been around for years and suddenly see, see, CNN walks in on the party with their borderline retardation and Pabst Blue Ribbon and grinning cluelessness to celebrate a few fat fucks with about as much parenting savvy as an Inernet connection and a nubile, nympho nanny.Fuck those idiots and the whores they rode in on. If I was living at home while my "high powered attorney" spouse was bringing home the scratch, at the very least, I'd work on being a better writer, engineering a better site at best. I await CNN to talk to a dad who raises his kids on his own but I assume they're working on the next story, a dog with two heads or the snake in John Boehner's pants.[...]



3000 miles of delicious

2010-09-14T22:09:45.047-07:00

First of all, go check out this site:
http://hobagsdoesamerica.tumblr.com/
I met these hotties while covering a chi-chi soirée on Friday night (a post on that, later. Their site is fun, an ultimate kick-ass road trip. Give em' a visit and say hello.
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The Pied (or Pie-eyed) pipers of happy drunks...



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2 out of 3 hotties agree: Karen is the rockinest bartender in all of Pagosaland.


Happy travels, my dears... it was a distinct pleasure crossing your path!



Q: It is to be handled with special care! Bond: Everything you give me... Q: ...is treated with equal contempt. Yes, I know.

2010-09-14T02:37:29.822-07:00

My girls came along first.Initially, a whiny, crying difficult child who maintained her distance from the beginning but, through the years, became mellow and laid back, a jeans and t-shirt girl who skis like a fiend, flies down the mountain with aplomb, turns her skis into a stop and asks, “Are you planning on making your way down the hill?” A girl who has realized the role of leader of my brood and wrapped her younger siblings beneath her wings, chucked her beak skyward to accept what sunlight offered to warm her dark, amber eyes.My Golden Girl, the one so invested in being “good” that, when things turn against her, she cries at the thought of being “bad,” puts down what I don’t want her to do and fills up her eyes with tears with shame, stricken by the sense that she has, in some way, done wrong.The second was, from almost day one, scooting across the floor to greet me after work, standing up in her crib, arms wide open, to send me off to work, the Daddy’s Girl. Unlike her sister, she became, through the years, the “girly girl,” playing soccer only because she could shine (yet, shining brightly) and, in her own way, attempting to usurp her sister’s “Golden Girl” status despite no investment in being “good” — she cried not because she was ashamed at being wrong, but because she wanted to continue whatever it was that I’d decided was not what she wanted to do.Raising two girls, very different, I was convinced I was prepared to raise a son; I learned I, um, had a lot to learn.Once, I read a feminist author who, under my same delusion, assumed that raising a child was a matter of socialization, that gender would not matter to any great degree. In her essay, she identified the “Q” gene — the sound a little boy makes when he points his finger at someone else and spouts out, “cue, cue, cue,” to sound like a gun firing — surmising that the Q gene was inborn and a boy would, lacking a toy gun, create his own.Little girls don’t make those sounds, point their fingers thusly. Little girls rarely pretend they’re shooting anyone.Little boys do.I was unprepared for the “boy” energy – girls crying because a HotWheels car had been bounced off of someone’s head, a little girl had been rolled on the floor and rubbed down with Play-Dough, Barbies desecrated and tossed to the Lego fire that I was supposed to tamp or raise — I was used to little ladies who held a pinky out as they held their tea cup, not a monster chewing at the sides of the saucer and grinning like a fiend as he destroyed whatever stood as “sister” stuff.Yet, my Little Man is hugely protective of his sisters and indeed, anyone female. He once took on three boys, all two years older, to protect the younger girl those boys picked on. He brought home a “pink slip” for punching, kicking, biting and spitting, earning a lecture from me — and silent approval.He will be ten times the man I wanted to be; putting his coat down for his queen, taking up a challenge for a woman scorned. Converse to Stone Temple Pilots, not “half the man I used to be,” but so much more than I ever will be.Given that, am compelled to make a mix for my little boy – and all little boys.Of course, I used to be a little boy as well; not your typical little boy, but I think what it’s like to be young and wanting to be a hero. After all, there is nothing else a little boy aspires to be other than a hero, a hero to his mom, dad, siblings, society and everything else. So, here is my little boy mix, standing outside myself and wondering where our next generation will go. Given the example of my son, we’re going to do pretty damned well.Lyle Lovett — If I Had a Boat; probably the best song about being a little b[...]



Happy "Even though I didn't die and didn't know anyone who did on 9/11, it's my day to hate," day

2010-09-12T12:23:33.350-07:00

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While the kids and I roasted wienies on a few blazing copies of the Koran ("Quran" if you're not wearing some fruity biker mustache and flimsy comb-over in a failed attempt to deny your parents weren't related, in any way, before they begot another Elmer Gantry), chatting about killing moozlim babies and merkin baby killers, it was remarked how all brown people are really the enemy. "Agreed," I said, looking for another Koran to stoke the fire and, not finding one, grabbed a Torah scroll (they make great Yule logs, BTW).
Wienies consumed and brown people hiding out and calling the cops (apparently I have a constitutional right to own a gun but not to actually point it at people and fire it. What fun is that?), we strapped bibles on the bottoms of our feet and stomped out the fire, singing "My god is an awesome god; your god is substandard, at best."
Swaying back and forth, with our arms in the air and our eyes closed, we stomped those cinders dead.
Unstrapping the bibles from our feet, my son asked why 9/11 was such an important day.
"Why did they fly planes into buildings?" he asked, "and isn't a few more than three thousand dead kind of, um, small potatoes?
"You mean like a few million dead in Sudan?"
“Yeah, that, but why fly airliners into skyscrapers? And why those buildings?”
Chickens coming home to roost, I told him.
Watching the metaphor in his mind (he’d just “metaphor” in school), his eyes tracked a chicken screaming across the sky to topple a tall building, while soldiers torched families in mud huts.
“2 million in Sudan?”
“Two, three, who’s counting? At least ten times that many die in Africa every year due to famine, disease and thug governments.”
“So when is Africa Day?”
Too many brown people, I told him. Not gonna’ happen.
His mind again tracked metaphors and seeking out chickens, counted the eggs, knowing that more than just a few would hatch.
“So what am I going to do with these?” he asked, waving the bibles from his feet, pages still smoking and stinking of burnt Koran and Torah.
“Toss em’ up in the air.”
And, as soon as he had done that, I peppered it with a burst of my AR-15, bits of paper and shards of leather sprayed across the horizon, shrapnel taking to the air like cabbage moths.
Blasting the next one similarly, we watched bits of Luke and Deuteronomy drift down on pine needles and leaves of scrub oak, snow in September so to speak.



A little post for my little man

2010-09-10T15:21:17.058-07:00

He turns eight today. Seems like just yesterday when he was like this.
So, I have a party to plan and Tacos to make; no time for blogging.
Mister would like to pass on this party favor, though:
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We didn't need dialogue. We had faces!

2010-09-09T06:08:08.127-07:00

"Popcorn?"Apologies for having delved into the cream of the crop as far as Rock and Roll cinema — an admittedly mundane exercise in which my poison pen was set on “dull” and aimed in the worst fanboy direction. A nominally interesting column meant to steer the untutored towards some truly great movies but ultimately, my self-indulgence got the best of me; mea culpa.This week, I steer my craft to the galaxy of stupid and, adjusting my poison pen to “obliterate,” I set my sights on the worst Rock and Roll movies, the ultimate losers, those films that aspired to nothing and inspired even less. The most worthless and meretricious pieces of trash exhibiting a feckless disregard for the music and the viewer, lame ideas germinated in the well-fertilized fields of corporate greedheads and then cultivated for no other reason to feed the fatted, golden calf. Films that didn’t just fall flat, but sagged so low their bellies displaced the detritus, taking their dubious position at the bottom of the barrel.What binds these turkeys together is their unabashed cynicism; all over-preening big studio releases basted in bombast and barfed upon the movie-going public with no other reach than to the bottom line. More than that, the music — Rock and Roll — takes a back seat to the sludge that the studios, producers, director and everyone else involved dumped on our doorstep like a flaming sack of dog crap.Last week, I mentioned the gawdawful schmaltz from the late ’50s/early ’60s, a class of dreck unto itself. Doubtlessly, the studio heads responsible for those abortions were due the bad acid trips they inevitably suffered (a twisted karmic retribution where the infantile were reduced to wearing diapers ala David Vitter) but they achieved a level of Technicolor camp, harmless (and mindless) B-movies meant as nothing more than 90 minutes of cotton-candy piffle. They can only be viewed as quaint, in retrospect, like walking down into your grandmother’s basement and finding a washboard and an old ringer dryer — with sufficient imagination and psychotropic adjuncts, the entertainment value is immeasurable (if not perverse).Conversely, nothing redeems the mangy curs on this list and the only a masochist, strapped down and forced to watch a few minutes of these, would appreciate a single frame of these monstrosities.Working backwards, from the least worst to the absolute wretched, behold the power of Hollywood to walk the strip in fishnet stockings, stiletto heels and a faux latex miniskirt and ask, “Wanna’ suck on a sewage pipe?”It has always been my considered opinion that Karaoke is one of the signs of the Apocalypse and “The Rose” (bound to be sung several thousand times a night across the country by tipsy account executives) arose from one of the most overwrought and maudlin cinematic murder scenes ever produced. Why, in 1979, Hollywood felt we needed an extended allegory on the life of Janis Joplin is beyond me; it reminded me of the Monty Python sketch where a slimy movie producer promises Marilyn Monroe to star (her corpse falling out of cupboards or standing in as a footrest).Bette Midler’s histrionic performance as the drugged-out Rose (“Pearl” — get it?) is all emoting and no emotion, endowing her character with all the psychological depth of a junebug banging against a light bulb. Worse yet, Middler and the music make a travesty of Joplin’s legacy. Whereas Joplin could command her corner of the universe with her boozy, bluesy ferocity and move mountains, the performances in “The Rose” are flat and flatulent, moving little more than my feet to the exit.The fact that the Academy granted t[...]



Good movies, Pt. I

2010-07-31T02:08:00.597-07:00

While movies embraced rock and roll a little late in the game, they did so with the same cynical precision that has tainted the studio system since celluloid itself became more than just a fad.Hollywood, an industry run by pseudo-puritanical suits possessing a tin ear (like almost all businesses) has never been very kind to rock and roll. Most of what passes for rock and roll in cinema is, and has always been, innocuous schmaltz presented with the sole purpose of making a quick buck (not unlike much of the music industry).Yet, when the movie industry managed to look at rock and roll off the ledger and acknowledge it as something more than the silly music of adolescent angst, the results have been sublime. Unfortunately, it took some time to rise above the sludge.One of the great unanswerable questions of the universe is when rock and roll began. Certainly, some of the blues, R&B and jump jazz of the late ’40s and early ’50s qualified as rock and roll but the success of the sound on those sides was confined to a handful of white teenagers (with whom “race music” was rising in popularity, in every sense as an underground movement) and African-Americans — something that hardly mattered in the Jim Crow America of the time.It’s the Sun Records session of July 1954 that is largely agreed upon as the point where rock and roll found its voice, when Elvis Presley cut Arthur Crudup’s “That’s All Right” and Bill Monroe’s “Blue Moon of Kentucky” for Sam Phillips. Within a few months from the record’s debut on a Memphis radio station, DJs across the country were spinning records similar to Presley’s sound. Chuck Berry, Little Richard and various Rockabilly bands had been recording for years but it took Elvis to ignite the fuse on the underground and make it a movement.Hollywood, like the rest of the establishment, refused to accept that America’s youth had fallen under the spell of the new sound. Convinced that teenagers across the country had succumbed to mass psychosis, the establishment negated rock and roll as nothing more than a moment of pubescent hysteria.The first rock and roll movie was the 1956 comedy “The Girl Can’t Help It” and was produced merely as a vehicle for propelling its star, Jayne Mansfield, to prominence. The opening sequence, a none-too-sly innuendo of Mansfield walking down the street clutching two bottles of milk against her prodigious breasts (with Little Richard’s title tune pounding out on the soundtrack), the tone was set for a satire of the silly fad that was sweeping the nation — rock and roll.Yet, despite its sneering disregard of the music, the movie sabotaged its own intent, convincing American teenagers that their new music had at last achieved affirmation.What followed was, in Hollywood’s cynically greedy tradition, was a slew of rapacious rubbish that was both sophomoric and soporific. Almost all rock and roll movies amounted to nothing more than a musical revue (with current hot acts) tied together with the thinnest of plots, all meant to cash in on the budding baby boomer’s taste for The Rock and Roll.By the early ’60s, those movies had largely devolved into Beach Party movies (riding the wave of surf music’s popularity), almost all of which involved a plot in which some middle-aged villain was determined to squelch the kid’s desire to just dance and make-out. In the end, the bad guy was vanquished, either locked in a closet or found redemption in that, well, the kids were all right and that music was actually kind of catchy.On the flip side, while Elvis made a few movies that rose above the standard Hollywood [...]



A 1974 Ford Pinto

2010-07-17T00:06:36.094-07:00

In less than four months, our country is having an election and, frankly, I’m depressed.

Not in a partisan, us-against-them kind of way; I’m far too realistic and jaded to concern myself with party politics. Ideas excite me, political parties both amuse me and bore me.

No, I’m depressed because I fear our system is so broken that a fix only distracts the voters from the real condition. Politicians and a complicit, duplicitous media (more interested in the stench of celebrity than in honoring the spirit of the First Amendment) are merely morticians applying makeup to a corpse.

There’s a lot that needs to be done in this country but we won’t get there under the current system. Short of creating a Parliamentary system (my preferred solution, giving rise to a multi-party system, one among many advantages), the House and Senate need to :

  • Restrict races to six weeks; if a candidate can’t articulate a clear vision in that amount of time, they’re just more muddle for the game. The endless media circus we call political campaigns is an essentially endless process. Allow the electorate catch its collective breath and force the media to pursue real news.

  • Pass The Fair Elections Now Act to get the mega-rich and large corporations out of the business of buying politicians. Influence peddling has become the primary purpose of politicians and our representatives too often side with paid interests rather than voting in the interests of their constituents. Legislators are so busy rounding up favors to fund their next campaign that they forget why they’re in office.

  • Pass filibuster reform. It’s silly that the Senate requires 60 votes to pass critical legislation and the only argument in favor of the filibuster is that it protects the rights of the minority party. What drivel. The only purpose of the filibuster is to create gridlock, preventing the Senate from getting any work done, and creating a tyranny of the minority.

  • Enact Legislative reform. Rules for legislation in the House demand that amendments are germane to a bill and no riders are allowed. Unfortunately, the same doesn’t apply to the Senate and too often, good bills are killed by bad amendments or riders. Conversely, bad legislation often gets passed riding on the coat tails of a good bill.

Look, if your pet legislation is so crappy that no one will vote for it, get a clue. And if you oppose a bill, be honest and lobby against it, round up votes or get over the fact that things don’t always go your way. Defeating a bill with a poison pill amendment or grabbing some pork through the use of a rider is puerile.

Call me a dangerous radical (or depressed idealist) but until our government can pass the four reforms above, we have a 1974 Ford Pinto of a government.




The worst of the Best Of

2010-07-14T23:03:54.830-07:00

Too often, so many “Best Of” CDs contain what amounts to a collection of cuts from albums that, on their own terms, weren’t worth buying — a single cut and a dozen songs of absolute crap.Or so we think.As conscientious music buyers, we buy the “Best Of” CD in an attempt to avoid buying an entire collection, assuming we’re getting the “Best Of” as determined by the artist’s record company or some other dimwit who has decided they’ve decided what you’ll consider what’s best by the band, disregarding the gems by the band. Worse yet, some worthless weasel has decided that a band deserves a “Best Of” designation due to their years of assaulting our ears and our spare moments of avoiding that band’s crap.As a service to my readers (or as a way to irritate a lot of people), I present you with the Worst Of the Best Of: Those collections of hits and knock-offs that should be avoided at all costs, to avoid embarrassment (and someone like me identifying the worthless cur in your collection, in an announcement as welcome as genital warts on a wedding night) or save you precious coinage when you could have purchased something worthwhile.You’ll thank the IMS in the end, I assure you.Strictly Commercial: The Best of Frank Zappa. Yes, commercial, but hardly the best and barely anything I’d want to hear as far as Zappa’s output. Indeed, a Zappa “Best Of” release is about as much as an oxymoron as “Pagosa night life,” Chimera, like the Black-Winged Snipe or the left-handed Skyhook. “Best Of” Zappa barely scratches the surface and the cuts on this disk, while “Strictly Commercial,” are hardly the songs that matter to anyone looking for an introduction to the man’s genius. Skip this and purchase a score of Zappa (and Mothers) disks.The Best of Billy Joel: Really? Was there anything he did that resembles real Rock and Roll? If there was anything Joel produced that didn’t elicit at least a slight gag reflex, please alert me and we can listen to that cut over a slice of white bread slathered with Ragu. Until then, send this disk flying towards the back 40 and fill it full of buckshot; spare the clay pigeon.Ultimate Yes: Ultimate migraine. Between Jon Anderson’s hideous screech, Rick Wakeman’s onanistic manipulation of the keyboards and the rest of the band’s plodding, prog-rock pretensions, a minute of this tripe is like an evening trapped between two stoners discussing theories of The Pyramids, aliens and Eleanor Roosevelt’s breasts. If you’re intent on playing this disk, do so with the engine running and the garage door closed; we’ll figure out why it was important to you at the inquiry.Legend — The Best of Bob Marley and the Wailers. A disk for people who don’t really like reggae but believe they need a Marley disk to impress their friends. Sure, all the Marley songs you’ve ever heard are here, all overplayed and redundant in their own way, with the collection a complete disservice to arguably the most influential musician in the world (even more than Elvis or the Beatles). A true “Best Of” Marley collection would include at least a half dozen disks and even those would be impoverished and not worth owning with the availability of his individual albums.Light & Heavy: Best of Iron Butterfly. Owning this disk is like framing and displaying that freshman year report card for the semester you pulled a .25 GPA. This disk is a testament to the fortitude of the sound engineer who, apparently, enough drugs in his system to tranquilize a herd of elephants, still managed to stay vertic[...]



Happy non-snark day

2010-06-20T14:50:46.049-07:00

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A lachrymose start to my day. Was just getting out of the shower this morning when I heard a tiny knock at my door. Throwing on my bathrobe, I ran to answer, discovering my nine year old neighbor (a friend of my daughters), holding out a little envelope to me.
"This is for you, for Father's Day," she said, pedaling off on her bike after I took it from her.
"Ohhhh... thank you so much, sweetie!" I called out to her as she rode away, looking back to make sure I had the gift in my hand.
After closing the door, I looked at the envelope, "from Dani" and "To: Jim" written on the back in a tenuous, second-grader scrawl. Opening it, a carefully folded sheet of stationery, the same scrawl reading:
"To: Jim From: Dani," underlined and then, printed below, "happy Father Day I wish you have a fun Father Day Jim your nice and funny." Beneath it all, a smiley face drawn, speaking of the breadth and width of a nine year old's heart.
I cried. Not in that in neurotic, maudlin Glenn Beck way but with a genuine flood of emotion. Missing my children, of course, but mostly touched by the fact that my little neighbor remembered that my kids were 200 miles away and that I was alone today.
It's just after 3 P.M. and it's already beer-thirty for me. Hammering out this week's column, a piece on building a house and a Lego-like approach to my novel, I am incapable of drawing upon even a scintilla of snark or cynicism -- it escapes me.
The bittersweet atmosphere made sweeter and less bitter by the light tap at my door this morning.
Thank you, Dani, more than you know.



No particular place to go...

2010-03-28T11:50:38.858-07:00

Kids are gone for Spring Break and I'm about to head out to a friend's for a day of food and frolic... Bad blogger me, I've been terrible about reading other's blogs, much less posting anything here. And as mean-spirited as my last post was, it was a true tale and little there that was strictly bilious. Anyway, thanks anonymous and Johnboy, I do appreciate the support.I'll again cheat and post last week's column but I have HUGE news to post here (probably in the next day or so) but, until then, I hope you enjoy this:The lamb laid down this past weekend, after the lion took a somewhat vicious nip on Friday. A nice slice of springtime on Saturday and Sunday, following a blast from the past the day before; as if March is a spoilt child — adorable one moment, a candidate for the river-bound gunny sack the next.For more than a month, I’ve heard locals grumble at the hint of snow, “I’m done with it, already.” No argument from me but I also know that, if this spring is anything like the previous two I’ve experienced in Pagosa Country, the massive mounds of snow will disappear quicker than we could imagine, the afternoon sun will warm our shoulders, with more hope than despair and more green than white, brown or gray, but the lion will continue to return.Readers here will have noticed that I keep bringing up springtime in my columns and for that, I won’t apologize; spring is, for me, air. Arising from the dark cave of my despondency, the winter of my discontent, I embrace every ray of sunshine and bask in the warmth, breathe deeply, savoring the aroma of new life, celebrating the numerous moments of my own rebirth.Yet, the season does not come without some regrets; some bittersweet some need to seriously reflect on the march of time (as Pink Floyd said, “Shorter or breath and one day closer to death”).This spring is no exception. During the past week, the passing of one Rock God occurred in tandem with the resurrection of another Rock God.Close as we are to Easter, I’ll begin with the resurrection: the release of “Valleys of Neptune” by Jimi Hendrix, a compilation of previously unreleased material that, apparently, hasn’t pissed off Hendrix fans in the way that previous posthumously released albums have.And, considering the album shot to number one on the album charts the day it was released, I figure the rest of the world was, like me, waiting for another Hendrix album.Considering my first guitar came with a “Hendrix note-for-note” tablature book, I have to admit to a certain bias and affection for Jimi, “Purple Haze” being the first proper song I learned how to play on guitar (my band would eventually arrange the tune of “Purple Haze” to feature the lyrics to the “Green Acres” theme). Everything Hendrix played was my standard as a lead-guitar player. I knew I’d never come close to the bar but we all need something to shoot for, no matter how impossible to reach.So, to see some dead Hendrix stuff released had my chain yanked — and I was not disappointed. While the previously recorded songs on the album — “Stone Free,” “Fire” and “Red House”— all involve much more production than the originals, yet not substantially different, we hear those cuts as if experiencing them for the first time.Of course, Jimi’s playing is sublime … who the hell else plays like him?No one. Hendrix stands head and shoulders above anyone else, not just as a guitarist but as an arranger and “Valleys of Neptune” shows him as both, miles above Count Ba[...]



OH! To be her!

2010-03-14T12:15:57.050-07:00

In better times, seeing what a phony tastes likeSo, last year we filed taxes together, 'married, filing jointly' because the IRS likes everything on the up and up, supposedly.However, this year we're no longer married and I need copies of those taxes. Nope, she says, you can't have them.What? I mean, I signed my name to that shit and everything, I should have them. Already one agency has asked for my taxes from the last three years and I have this big blank from last year, because she... well, she just doesn't want to give them to me. God knows why she just doesn't want to, maybe she has her reasons, but it seems fucked up.Supposedly she's all spiritual and shit, moaning at the moon every other week with her supposedly-spiritual friends, burning incense and chanting in their made up moon people babble but, hey, isn't spirituality about treating people right?Right. All you have to do is look at all the Christian assholes and Muslim assholes and Jewish Assholes and Hindu Assholes and on and on, with their guns and fire and bombs and frothing-at-the-mouth zealotry and you'll see that "spirituality" gets you a hole in the head when you're standing on the wrong end of dogma.OK, not getting my taxes from last year is not the same as a hot poker down my gullet but stay with me, in some circles, it's just as good.Per my last post, I live marginally -- hell, I wouldn't pay for internet except that sometimes I have to work from home when my kids are sick (I swear, that's the only reason... well, you got me there but it is handy) but we're frugal. No vacations here, no nights out. I'm no welfare mom.So, as my last car was on its last legs, I decided to buy a truck from a co-worker, a big truck, a pig on gas but relatively new and reliable. What I didn't know (nor he) was that I'd have to pay nearly $500 to get plates on it. I'm not shitting you, $500 for plates on a 12 year old truck.Tax refund, I figure, is the best way to get out of this conundrum, I can keep my trips to a minimum and keep the cops ignorant until I get my plates. Going on Turbo Tax, I find I get about $2000 more than I can figure out on paper -- cool. All I need to do is efile and all I need to do that is get a PIN from the IRS based on information from last year's filing.Uh-huh. Except, she's not going to give me that even though, um, it's kind of mine, also?This is a woman living off her dead dad's money, doesn't work at all, doesn't volunteer in the community, kind of squirrels up in the family's 200-acre compound and pretends she's head Hecuba for a handful of other aimless women, all going up to the Big House to bow down at the Goddess's feet. Big time spirituality and watch where you walk, motherfucker; bombs and all that shit.Thing is, if I want to get my own copy of the tax forms, I have to ask the IRS to fax it to the nearest office (in Farmington, NM, a five hour round trip). On my expired tags (she doesn't have to purchase tags, dead daddy's company pays for those), in my vehicle (again, dead daddy's company pays for that), with my gas (ibid), taking a day of from my job (she doesn't need one, dead daddy, yadda)... yeah, there's your spirituality! It's always amazed me how socialism is considered obscene in his country except how it applies to the rich (the hand outs go to them) and how "a sense of entitlement" gets bandied about for those of us struggling but those at the top -- again, they're immune, it means nothing.Don't get me started on her lawyers insisting on me filing on 'married [...]



Weasels tore my flesh

2010-03-14T03:44:18.388-07:00

Thank you, you unfortunates who've read me and keep checking in -- I deserve much better (and you deserve much better than the likes of me) -- you keep me humble. No, OK, nothing keeps me humble, I'm a prick like that.
As some of you know, I'm writing for a small town paper, kind of picking cotton and putting ink down on it. Living in a HUD house, collecting Food Stamps, CHP for my kids and working just enough hours so they don't have to provide me benefits.
Yeah, I'm livin' the life. Just like 27 million other Americans. Because, as they told us, oh, 30 some years ago that, if we cut taxes, and it will all just trickle down.
I have to say, I'm wanting a little more than the trickle and I'd venture a guess that some Americans less fortunate than me, would be happy to share the trickle I'm getting.
Still, I love what I do and I'm apparently willing to do whatever it takes to make that dream work.
In my next post, I'll discuss the life and times of the idle rich... should be fun!




Voodoo Chile (Slight Return)

2010-02-13T15:11:35.991-07:00

(Quietly trying to slip the key into the door, one-eyed, then, finally hitting my mark, unlock the door and slowly open it, cringing as it creaks; gently, closing it, softly resetting the lock. Pause. Take off my shoes and tip-toe across the floor, stopping with a mouthful of my own heart at every soft announcement of my presence).

Like a running sore, I return at the most inopportune moment. Fortunately, many of you scrubbed me away, so you'll be unaware of my return. Hopefully, you made your partner aware that I once infected your blogroll (you were younger then, somewhat promiscuous about who you listed, you were really drunk when you added me...) and those days are over.

Things are much different here as well and over the following days and weeks and months I'll explain that in great detail.

For me, it means the world and, no matter how hackneyed it may read, it will truly be a single, full-time dad figuring it out.



Sometimes, ice cream dribbling off my chin is just... ice cream

2009-12-03T22:29:12.280-07:00

"On top of that," she said, "your blog is a piece of crap!"The blogger people (who have one eye and horns and teeth like those rubber erasers you used to stab with a pencil in first grade), told me that, if I was committed to writing a blog, I'd better do it, goddammit.At least that's what the email said. It had a link to a site for a bank that I don't use that asked for my personal information, so it must have been legit. Figured I'd better get a'bloggin'. Don't want THOSE people crawling up my drain pipes.Unfortunately, since all my writing mojo goes into tweeting ("Car won't start no jumper cables and I didnt shave - ur prayers appreciated"), there's little left to do but steal from my column. Once those run out, I suppose I'm back to blogging about psycho ex-girlfriends and my bosses breath.Until then, another blast from the recent past: As Steely Dan sang, “When Black Friday comes/I’m gonna’ dig myself a hole.” That sentiment seems to have been shared, if initial reports are to believed. But not by me. And while I confess the temptation was there for me, I did not go over to the Dark Side. Not a cent was spent, not here in Pagosa Country, not in Durango, nor anywhere, not even online. I boycotted the day and I was glad for it. Besides, I believe the real bargains will be just at the last moment when merchants are truly desperate because, I think, well … they’ll be truly desperate. My holiday version of Game Theory. If there was indeed an inclination to dig a hole, it would have been something around six feet deep, in a remote location, and furnished with ample amounts of lime. The brain trust that determined a week off from school during Thanksgiving break was a nifty idea would now be facing charges as accessories to murder. With them having the whole week off, I was at my wit’s end. Literally. By Sunday, I was lip diddling, drooling, der der derrrrring. Back when Wooly Mammoth was served during the big day and the Macy’s parade was comprised of a dozen or so Native Americans toting a pilgrim effigy, we might have had, at the most, Black Friday (known then as the-day-after-Thanksgiving) off from school; maybe Wednesday if we were travelling to be with distant relatives. Times were hard back then and it used to snow a lot more. Thus, it was my three, cold weather, a feast and scant reason to travel beyond the tribe. If you’re not afraid, yet, get afraid. With no shopping, no sanity and no motivation to do much of anything (including, digging deep holes — I was wearing the stretchy pants, yo), I was further left with no decent programming on the tube, unless endless holiday movies or Deadliest Catch marathons is your thing. Not mine. Click, Monk. Click, Law and Order. Click, Mythbusters. Yawn. Rinse, repeat. Late one night, however, scrolling past the standard dross on HBO, I came across “Control,” a biopic based on the life of Joy Division’s lead singer, Ian Curtis. And it occurred to me, as I watched it, that I had stumbled across the final part of an unintentional triptych of movies: the aforementioned “Control” (2007), “Velvet Goldmine[...]