Sunday, December 31, 2006


On The Hanging In Iraq

I've written before that I oppose the death penalty for religious reasons. That doesn't always go over well with my fellow conservatives or many of my fellow Christians, and I'm sympathetic. My fellow conservatives who support the death penalty argue their case with logic and reason, and their positions are … well, logical and reasonable. Many Christians find support for capital punishment in the book of Romans and in the Old Testament. Their arguments are clear and rational, and yet I don't share them.

Then, something happens like the apparently justifiable and necessary execution of Saddam Hussein, and I feel compelled to examine my position.

(By the way, you can see a fairly upsetting cellphone video of the execution here. HT: LGF.)

My opposition to the death penalty has been a major factor in my personal religious journey. I used to support capital punishment adamantly. For me, the acid test was the horrific murder of Polly Klass by a vile career criminal named Richard Allen Davis. On October 1, 1993, Davis abducted 12 year old Polly Klass from her home in Petaluma, California. By morning Davis had molested and murdered Polly and left her body in the woods. When convicted of his crimes, Davis made obscene gestures at the jury. At his sentencing, Davis found one last way to inflict pain on Polly's family; he claimed that the young girl had indicated that she'd been molested by her father before he murdered her. If ever anyone deserved to be killed, It is Richard Allen Davis. For years, this piece of subhuman fecal matter was my lodestar for supporting capital punishment.

About five years ago (not long after 9/11), while I still supported the death penalty, I had a conversation with a good friend about the subject of state-sponsored execution. (I won't identify him, but he comments here and may chose to identify himself.) My friend opposed the death penalty on the grounds that people simply don't have the authority to execute it. He believed that only God could create life and that only God had the right to end it. I recognized that argument. I'd used it for years to explain my opposition to abortion on demand.

Although everything in me recoiled, I ended up having to admit that my friend's argument was logical. All my attempts to attack his point of view were really attacks on men of straw. He wasn't saying that the lives of unborn children were of equal merit to the lives of murderers, he was just saying that we don't have the authority to take any life. He wasn't arguing that people like Richard Allen Davis didn't deserve to die, he was just saying that it wasn't our job to kill him. He wasn't even arguing that my rage against Davis was unjustifiable. He was simply, tacitly saying that none of us have the authority to take any human life. No, not one.

I couldn't find anything in the Bible that backed up my point of view or refuted my friend's position. In the New Testament, as opposed to the Old, forgiveness and submission are the orders of the day, not revenge. Jesus spoke plainly against seeking revenge in the gospels, and in his letters Paul cried out for mercy, charity and compassion that exceeds what our enemies deserve. Even Saint Paul's instruction to follow the laws of the land (Romans 13) is not instruction to silently obey the law at the expense of the Christian model. We are called to be Stephens, not Samsons. Undue, unchristian laws must be identified and called to account. That's obvious to Christians when it comes to abortion on demand. For me, it became just as obvious (though not as easy, certainly) when it comes to the death penalty.

I realized that I could no longer support the death penalty and claim that I was following Christ in the way that I believed that the Holy Spirit was leading me. The religion I'd been practicing was Lewis's infamous "Christianity and water", and it wasn't going to be good enough. I'd been trying to change Jesus to fit me. I was supposed to do the opposite.

I began listening more closely to the still small voice, and eventually I concluded that it was leading me to Rome. It might lead others to other churches. It's almost inconsequential. No Earthly local is the ultimate destination, and I can't imagine that we'll find denominational segregation when we get there. I hope to make it there myself and find myself in communion with a myriad of the faithful, including those who have been "a law for themselves" (Romans 2:13-16).

So, what of Saddam Hussein?

When Saddam was executed this weekend, I remembered the slow and lonely death of Pol Pot, a dictator responsible for tremendous genocide. For his crimes, Pol Pot was apparently given something he'd denied to well over a million Cambodians: a prolonged and painful death due to old age. After years of despotism, Pol Pot died in a mud hut under house arrest in 1997. His death wasn't as galvanizing as a public execution would have been, but it was just as final.

There was, of course, an element of temporal satisfaction in the hanging of Saddam Hussein. I won't argue that he didn't deserve execution. By any Earthly standard, he did. Still, I believe that we Christians will be judged by another standard, and we must try, even in our frailty, to live up to that standard. Arguing to spare the life of a genocidal murderer is distasteful, but I can't find anything that indicates that Christianity is supposed to be tasteful. Quite the opposite. From what I can tell, the Christian life is often divisive (Matthew 10:34-36) and involves tremendous self denial (Mark 8:34), and sometimes requires us to advance unpopular truths at terrible personal risk (Acts 7:51-60). Clearly it involves the sacrifice of our individual will for the will of Another.

The fact that Saddam Hussein was executed by Muslims and not Christians isn't relevant from my point of view. Even removing religious considerations, I still believe that other options might have been better. Had Saddam's life been spared, had he been allowed to grow old in prison, the new Iraqi government might have set a brave and merciful new precedent. I'm naïve enough to believe that it might have been a good thing in a region desperate for bravery and mercy.

Labels: , ,


2006 In Review

I thought about coming up with a whole "Year In Review" post, but

So enjoy Jib Jab's look back in disgust at 2006:

I will say, too, that the year ended on a funny note for me when I found out how the troops stuck it to John Kerry during his Iraq visit.


Friday, December 29, 2006


Wii Journal, Entry 07

Well, it was Christmas at our house this morning. The Wii was a big hit:

Hailey and I tried Wii Sports boxing a little bit ago and I'm actually tired. It's actual exercise!

I think this thing is going to be a lot of fun for our family.

Wii Journal, Entry 6

Wii Journal, Entry 5

Wii Journal, Entry 4

Wii Journal, Entry 3

Wii Journal, Entry 2

Wii Journal, Entry 1

Labels: , ,

Wednesday, December 27, 2006


RIP Gerald Ford

The former President died at his home tuesday night. I'm sorry he died, but there were a number of worse ways he might have went:



Perilous! Three!

The third edition of MCF's Perilous! is up. Here are his answers, along with the questions I imagine they might complete.

1. Cosmos.
What's your favorite Carl Sagan book?

Who directed such iconic American movies as the Lethal Weapon series, the first two Superman films, and the original Omen?

3. Blixem.
If Hans Blix were a a super hero, what word might he say to activate his super powers?

4. Donna Dixon.
What former Miss Virginia and hot actress from the 80's (and still a pretty lady) has been inexplicably married to Fred Flintstone-look-alike Dan Aykroyd for 23 years?

5. Sleepy
How do you feel while watching any Robert Altman film?

6. Doc
Which of the two (so far) cinematic Spider-Man villains has been the best?

7. That was how he got to Luchow's.
Has Jerry ever ridden an ostrich?

8. “COLOSSUS!!!”
Who was the ruler of Russia and controller of the world's grain supplies in Marvel's Earth X story line?

9. “Did they teach you that fancy psychology in college?”
How might Clint Eastwood respond to my overwrought analysis of Unforgiven?

10. Haim Saban; Paul Dini; Bruce Timm
Which three animated television behind-the-scenesters are all mentioned at least once at this MySpace page?

11. Alfred E. Neuman.
Who makes a better Green Lantern than Hal Jordan or Guy Gardner?

12. Because I threw his leather coat out of the car when he dared me not to.
Why was Jerry riding that ostrich, anyway?

13. Rey.
Which blogger provided him with the ostrich?

14. They make saliva.
And how do ostriches defend themselves?

15. “Freedom is the right of all sentient beings.”
What line has been added to the end of the Transformers trailer because it was selected as the winning entry in a contest for fans?

16. Hyperballistic.
What's better than ballistic?

17. A single, thick eyebrow.
What would it take to make Salma Hayek seem unattractive?

18. It could summon help, warn of danger, grow in size, cast energy blasts, act as a shield, and unlock an ancient tome.
Why did Flava Flav decide to start wearing that clock around his neck?

19. Eye contact.
What should one avoid making with Flava Flav while he's eating?

20. Lettuce, Flan, and genuine Chinese food.
And especially while he's eating what?


Tuesday, December 26, 2006


Blogroll Additions

I've finally gotten around to adding to the blogroll some blogs I've been reading of late. I encourage you to check them out and enjoy.


Monday, December 25, 2006


Ho. Ho. Hum.

Wendy and I don't have the kids for Christmas this year. Hailey is with his mom, Willow and Liam are with their dad. We'll be having our family Christmas on the 29th.

The up side is that Wendy and I were able to go to Midnight Mass last night. With everything that's been going on, I've just not been in the Christmas mood at all this year. Midnight Mass changed that last night, and had me all yuletided up. Briefly.

Is there anything that sucks the joy out of Christmas more thoroughly and irretrievably than spending it … any of it … with your extended family?

We went to my sister's house today, and I should have known better. My sister and her husband really are good people, and I'm crazy about their son, my nephew. My mom and my step-dad were there, too, and they're good people, too … but …

Well, I didn't expect to have time to post anything today, but here I sit.

Here's the thing. I've written before about my mistrust of the union where I work; how I differ with them on philosophical issues and on specific local issues as well, and how I finally got fed up and got out of the union. Well, see, my brother-in-law works at the same mill where I work, and my step-dad is a retiree from that mill, and both of them are fairly staunch unionists.

I'm always the weirdo in my family. I'm a fiscal conservative, they probably don't spend much time thinking about it (and embrace a mixture of pro-entitlement beliefs and support for lower taxes). I'm a Catholic, they all go to the same Baptist church. I'm a hard-core music geek, they're "whatever's on the radio" people. I'm fat, they're skinny. I say toe-MAY-to, they say toe-MAH-toe. Let's call the whole thing off.

Of course, I had no intentions of bringing up the pending strike at my workplace … but somebody (I think my step-dad) decided that the subject just had to be broached, of course.

So there I sat, the one steadfast capitalist in the group, arguing with my sister, my mother and both of their husbands about labor issues on Christmas morning. I swear to Heaven I didn't want to talk about these issues today. I just hoped for a nice, light Christmas visit with my extended family. All I really wanted was to spend some time watching my three year old nephew playing with his toys, to be honest. That's the one thing I was looking forward to. Instead, I find myself fending off attacks from all sides because I refuse to blindly believe everything that the local labor union preaches as gospel.

I am so damn sick of being told how we'd have nothing if it weren't for the union. It's just BS. For one thing, all I've heard for the past five years from the union people at work is how much they hate the contract we've been working under. They hate the current contract and they want me to thank them for a contract that they tell me is awful? WTF? I can't define "double standard," but I know it when I see it.

Beyond that, my grandfather worked at the same damn mill that all of us work at and he worked twice as hard for half the money. Why does my generation think that they deserve to have so much more simply handed to them? Where did this entitlement attitude come from? What the hell? Why does damn near everyone under the age of 70 seem to want the world handed to them on a silver platter?

I take some comfort in the fact that one of the last things my grandfather ever told me about our common workplace was that he'd never had any trouble out of the company … but that he didn't think the union could be trusted. If he were here, I'm sure he'd at least understand my point of view.

It comes down to this: I have a business relationship with my employer and, until I got out of the union, I had a business relationship with the union, as well. My employer has never encouraged me to see our relationship as anything more than a business relationship. The union, on the other hand, wanted me to see them as a family, wanted me to blindly follow everything they said like a religion, and wanted me to think of the company as my enemy. The company is just that, a company. The union is a cult.

The only two things in the world that I believe in are Jesus Christ and the free market system. The union wants to replace both of them in my life. I ain't havin' it.

Look, the only reason that I work where I work is so I can support my family. It's not a personal thing, it's a simple business relationship. If I couldn't support my family with my current job, I'd look for another one. I don't see my job as an entitlement, I don't think that the company owes me anything more than what I earn, and I'm not interested in a fabricated family with people who I have nothing in common with other than a shared employer.

That makes me the odd ball at work, and that made me the odd ball at my sister's house today.

Wendy and I ended up leaving early and coming home … and I still have to go in and work the second shift today.

Man, I'm really looking forward to this family's "Christmas" on the 29th … because with the exception of Midnight Mass, this year's "Calendar Christmas" has really sucked.

By the way, everything is still up in the air as far as the pending strike at my workplace. I still hope that something will be agreed on, but the first contract offer was voted down and the strike vote was a landslide sweep ... so I honestly expect to have a strike called at any minute.


Saturday, December 23, 2006


Rob Paravonian

This guy's stuff really made me laugh. He won me over by starting out with a Creed joke. His website is here.

More stuff here.

Labels: ,

Friday, December 22, 2006


Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas, everyone. I hope you all have a wonderful Holiday weekend. I'll get back to blogging sometime next week ... meantime, I decided that my holiday message to all my readers could best be expressed through interpretive dance. Click the pic below and ... uh, enjoy.


Thursday, December 21, 2006


Lost In Translation II

A while back I wrote about the fun that can be had by putting the words of your favorite bloggers through Babelfish and then back again. It's an easy way to get a few laughs. Here's what to do:

I got some positive feedback from other bloggers who thought the concept was funny … so in an effort to keep my mind off of other things that I can't do anything about, here we go again.

In no particular order:

The Burr in the Burgh goes to Germany, round trip:
Not before long time, I watched out Sophie Scholl - the locking days. I would read much over it, when it was short in the theatres. Then received I, it by Netflix however held to sit down away from watching out it. I must be in the right tendency to watch out to a film with sub-titles. Which for terrific film! It is based on an applicable account of a young German woman and its family, who resisted the Nazin during WWII. Naturally I was particularly fallen with the sympatischen way, in which Scholls Christian faith was described.

Otis + Spanish = The Cabritos?
A by-product to be around cabritos is that you occasionaly that you are able to watch films of the cabrito. The best known license of the film of the cabrito in which I can think is the series of potter of Harry. I have seen all the films of potter of Harry to date, sometimes watching them me. It is yes truth, I really has I please of the series. It can be for the cabritos but the writing is very good and all the cabritos in the series look like to be fine agents.

The Cubicle Reverend writes about Peter Boyle, in English, then Greek, then English again:
Peter Boyle was catholic brother, but left in order to it is followed it acts. In my brain this and Doris Roberts they made each one the loves Raymond. It had a gift for the timing and a ship of line that a lot of persons very insufficiently try they copy. A lot few persons can leading this. Even when it did not have a lot few or no line turned on above the screen. Be careful a scene from new Frankenstein and him you see in certain from better his.

Jerry has a slow day in Portugal:
I want to know who I have the imperfection that he is that the 8 last hours had felt as 50 hours? Without some ruptures for sleep. Or Tevê. Or any thing uniform remotely above of the mind-mind-numbing level. Who frelling around with continuum of the space-time? Jamb just it already. Freeling around with continuum of the space-time, I mean. Not time. Not it jamb time. Jamb just that it is late for low.

German Cube, English Cube:
I do not know in you out, but I cannot wait to hide in order to hear that the explanation the Clintonistas comes above with, the fact that the Clintons used the full range of a presidency for Perversion and strong poor tactics for further their search for energy.

Kristine goes Italian:
I do not understand why they are called constantly on the moquette for preoccuparsi for the language. I have spoild ten years like a producer, a producing professional and editor. It is my JOB to make sure that the things are corrected. Therefore, if nitpick of it elsewhere, that he is only natural. Someone protest when the type that plans a ponticello is too much of one stickler? Which thing approximately your surgeon?

Dymphna's Well in Spain and then back home:
The time chose "you"/us like people of the year not (simply) because we are a generation centered one same in a centered society one same one, but due to the explosion of the communication technology that has happened by right half a course of the life or less. And, for now, each one of us, we are in charge of him. We conserved to each one we have blog. We can do and fix our own films, design and share to our own programs of computer, all without a mediator or an average man of the class.

Unseen enjoys some French cheesecake:
I was affected to bring the cake to cheese to the dinner of Christmas. Somebody mentioned that they liked the cakes with cheese of the factory of cake to cheese. However, in order to buy enough for each one (2 large), I should spend more than $85. Useless to say, it of Denny is. Sure the factory of cake to cheese makes of the 10 on the cake with cheese 10, but for 8 out of 10, I can leave with spending MUCH less! Particularly considering I will not eat myself of it.

Lorna's trip through Greece:
I did not make nothing but I read while Dave me it made the eggs and the rusk, because hardly begun, I could not bear to know what was to happen then, and because Mark Haddon wrote with such beginning for the work of one of autistic a brain - region I did not know nothing for but found I fascinate and strangely I am addressed.

Strange Culture? Portuguese culture, then English again:
Today to the night my wife and I ate the supper, and I asked to me if he had some type of pie that I would like it supper it Christmas. It said that Apple, or cherry was thinking of a pie of the fruit, perhaps, or what it wants that... wanted to make what it wants that I would like.

MCF is briefly a mysterious German figure:
Before approximately eight years, took I mean friend at the time to the Nassau county museum of the art, around an exhibition on Surrealism, discussable my favourite form to see of the fine art. These were the days before the InterNet, at least before I had InterNet entrance, when I had to look by the newspaper, in order to see, what was loose and illustration from something to do on a date. I remember that it rained, when we terminated our route and I had its waiting period, while I ran for the car.

Rey's Italian tale of "sheaf fluctuation:"
The pagans they fluctuate their sheaf of cereal that hopes for a good collection the next year, but the Hebrew fluctuate their sheaf because they have said themselves to in order making them and enjoying them. He gives the thankses to the God that is not sure to be ondeggiamento of the estate only to the part of the generated system but of what overarching being over over and beyond all the things and therefore not specific a way of thanksgiving-that can be similar to pagans but them they introduce all in the cutting fire.

Kelly reviews Goodfellas by way of Greece:
This was a cinema of amusement. It was moved at length fast and it is precisely explicit amusement in order to it sees Liotta, Pesci, and DeNerio striking the persons outta crap. I still think that the gangsters are lamé and puncturing in order to they are careful -- i mj'sisan the godfather -- but the fast rythm and the big leads they rendered this worthy.

Ms. Elenaeous's rice pudding recipe, now with German flavor:
Put all components into a large pot. If you get to cook, then more simmer on a low flame approximately 1 hour long and frequently agitate. It should be strong, but you remove and pour not drying you in cash role, spray cinammon on the top side. Alternatively released, which I do not do, but my Mamma, which is used - to add you 2 egg yoks, five minutes before rice is terminated.

Did Nehring enjoy The Lady In The Water any more in Portuguese? You are cacoando me?
When sixth felt it beat in 1999, M. Noite Shamalamadingdong cited quickly as being the following Spielberg. Gratefulness to self indulgent, pompous, fests of the snore like this outing, those proclamations breathless had been silenced. Honest, who thought that this age a good idea? Loner finds a nymph of the water in one pool of swimming? You are caçoando me? This thing is as respingo! in barbiturates.

And, lastly, my wife talks about her German art class:
This last term took I a drawing category. I explained that she would relax and it could be fun. I was wrong. I was a terrible the matter work. It met 3 hours twice one week. It was really more, which I had over negotiated, but I had never dropped a category forwards, therefore I clung her out.

Labels: , ,


I'm Dreaming Of al Qaeda Christmas

When I found out that Ayman al-Zawahiri, who is al Qaeda's second in command, had produced a video message for Americans to see at Christmas-time, I expected the worst. So I was pleasantly surprised once I saw the final product:

Thanks to Scrappleface.

Labels: , ,

Wednesday, December 20, 2006


"Whars Mah Bibby??!?"

This is just classic:
A 3-month-old baby was left unattended in a shopping cart for about an hour Sunday...

The family members, who were traveling in different cars, didn't realize what happened until they all got home and nobody had the baby, he said.

"We don't think it was really a child abandonment issue. It was just a misunderstanding," Grimaldo said.

Police spokeswoman Tina Jauz said Child Protective Services is looking into the case.

Through her representative, the relieved Ms. Spears said "I'm just, like, sooo relieved to have back little Jayden or Sean or which ever one it is, I done been soooo worried, ya'll."

(OK, no, it wasn't really Britney ... but I bet you thought the same thing.)


Monday, December 18, 2006


Laser Cat

A while back, Unseen mentioned the fun that can be had with a cheap laser pointer. I've seen cats lose their minds chasing little red dots before, but I've never seen a cat ... or any animal, for that matter ... go this nuts before.

By the way, I think that "Crack Head Cat" is an awful name for a cat ... but a great name for a crack head.

Labels: ,

Saturday, December 16, 2006


Charcoal Toilets

Blogger REALLY wants me to switch. I'm afraid it's only a matter of time.

Meanwhile, go look at Wendy's commodes.


Thursday, December 14, 2006


What Could Go Wrong?

This is cross posted at the new, experimental blog ... you guys let me know if that thing is working out at all.

What Could Go Wrong?

School was canceled in our area today because of fog.

Because of FOG.

And I'm not talking about zombies -crawling -out -of -the -ocean -to -take -revenge -on -the -residents -of -an -idealic -bayside -town kind of fog. I'm talking about a little bit of mist near the ground.

The thing is, in this area, there've usually been a couple of schooldays missed because of snow by this time of year. But this December has been warm, and I guess the school district has some snow days that they have to burn through or lose them next year. So they canceled school today because of fog.

I'm working graveyard shift and Wendy (who is blogging again, by the way) had to leave for finals this morning at 7:30 … which meant I had to forego some sleep today and stay up with the kids. Wendy expected to be home around 2, so about 10:00 AM I decided that I was going to lay down and try to sleep for a while.

I'd be in my bedroom, 30 feet down the hall from the living room, where the kids would be watching TV. What could go wrong?

With three kids under the age of ten, I should have known better than to ask myself such a stupid, stupid, stupid question.

Now, since my son lives with his mom during the week, there were only two kids here today. That's still two too many for me to think I could get away with actually sleeping. But I tried. I set the kids up with an early lunch at 10, and I put snacks on the table and water bottles were in the fridge. The TV was tuned to Cartoon Network. Normal people should have been able to function without BREAKING EACH OTHER'S FEET for three hours under those circumstances, right?

Well, no, nobody actually broke anybody's feet, but when Wendy woke me up this afternoon, this is the story she had to tell:

So I got home about 12:45 and both kids were sitting on the couch screaming at me as I was trying to open the door. Liam was screaming "Willow keeps hitting me!" and Willow was screaming "Liam broke my feet!" Both kids were sitting on the couch WAILING with rage at one another … and Willow, who insisted that both of her feet were, in fact, BROKEN, was sitting with both feet contorted and twisted into the most godawful shapes imaginable. If her feet were hurting it was because of the way she was holding them.

Turns out that the kids had started fighting about something (God knows what) and Willow's plan of attack had been to punch her brother randomly and Liam's plan of attack had been to make more of a surgical strike: he singled out his sister's feet for an intense bombardment of punches and kicks.

You might need to know Liam to appreciate this. 'Round these parts he's known as "fists of pudding."

And Willow (known locally as "THE drama queen") was more than willing to accommodate. Liam's plan had been to win by isolation-and-immobilization, and it had worked. Willow couldn't walk, and she was happy to demonstrate this by getting up and walking all over the house in an exaggerated wobble, feet twisted into knotty little fists. And, for good measure, back stooped and bent and both arms flailing about. Oh, yes, the drama queen was fatally wounded and would never recover.

Willow brought her mother up to date: "Darrell told us when he went to bed not to answer the phone, not to open the door, and not to wake him unless there was an emergency… and Liam has been screaming for Darrell but he hasn't woke up!"

(I thought I'd made it clear to them that if they needed to wake me they should actually WALK INTO THE BEDROOM AND WAKE ME, not sit on the couch and scream. However, with Willow's recently crippled feet and Liam's concentrated barrage of pudding fists, neither of them were willing to leave the couch… so apparently Liam had started screaming for me while all this was going on and I'd somehow slept through it.)

Wendy wanted details. "You tried to wake Darrell? Why? Was there an emergency?"



"We were hitting and kicking each other."


So Willow (as I write this she's running up and down the hall and singing … apparently the Lord has taken pity on her and healed not only her mangled feet but also her deeply scared psyche, since she seems to have forgotten the whole thing) explained to her mother that yes, it was an emergency since they were both the victims of horrible acts of violence.

These are the people I live with.

Wendy and I decided to send the kids to bed early tonight for the crimes of

Which should work out so that I can watch the hour-long episode of The Office before I have to leave for work tonight…

And, hopefully, drive home tomorrow morning through a fogless sunrise to a childless house.


Wednesday, December 13, 2006


Blogger Beta?

Blogger is hounding me to switch to Blogger Beta and making all kinds of nifty promises about how swell it is.

We'll see.

I do like the nifty new "labels" function.

They say that hangs and lock-ups are "a think of the past" and that they have this neat bridge in Brooklyn that they want to sell me.

Anyway, for a week or two I'm going to skip posting at SouthCon and post at this test blog and see if Blogger Beta is worth a crud.

You guys stop by and see what you think, and please leave me a comment or two so I can see if things are working like they're supposed to.

Consider me temporarily relocated.


Wii Journal, Entry 06

Look, Wii guts!

Most of this stuff was too technical for me, but I nodded and said "Mmmm-hmm," just like I understood it all.

Wii Journal, Entry 5

Wii Journal, Entry 4

Wii Journal, Entry 3

Wii Journal, Entry 2

Wii Journal, Entry 1

Labels: ,


A Late Night, "You Look So Precious"


I'm staying up extra late tonight. I start nightshift tomorrow night.

I've been flipping around at YouTube, watching music videos and the like. I've watched a few fan-made music videos for songs from the new Tool album (the band hasn't done any official videos for the new songs), and I've been surprised at how good some of these fan-directed clips are.

Of course, none of them are as good as this, a video for a song from the second Tool album. I consider this to be the best music video ever made and a good argument for those who consider music videos to be a legit art form...

Warning, the video above is upsetting to watch, even though it involves nothing more than puppets. It's done very artfully, though, and it's amazing how long these images stay in my head after I see the video. The message and the story are clear, the symbols are anything but vague, and to my way of thinking, this justifies the whole concept of the "music video."

If you enjoyed that... well, you're weird. At least as weird as I am, and that ain't good. But you might enjoy this, too:

I think that one is just OK in terms of the video ... but I can't help but get a huge kick out of the lyrics. Yeah, their vulgar, but who hasn't felt this at one time or another?

F--- L. Ron Hubbard and
F--- all his clones.
F--- all those gun-toting
Hip gangster wannabes.
F--- retro anything.
F--- your tattoos.
F--- all you junkies and
F--- your short memory.
F--- smiling glad-hands
With hidden agendas.
F--- these dysfunctional,
Insecure actresses.

Heh heh.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006


Guess Who's Back

Man lives in the sunlit world of what he believes to be reality. But... there is, unseen by most, an underworld, a place that is just as real, but not as brightly lit... a Dorkside.


More Perilous!

The latest installment of MCF's Perilous! is a tough one ... but I might have come up with the right answers. Which is to say, the right questions.

1. Darrell

Who will be the first blogger to throw together a submission for Perilous! II?

2. Wendy

What is his spouse named?

3. Lorna

Which of the bloggers that he frequently reads is the furthest from him, geographically?

4. Joseph

What is his son's first name?

5. Kevin

Which of his uncles is a Baptist minister?

6. Michael

Uh, no. He doesn't have an uncle Kevin. Let's try again. Which of his uncles is a Baptist minister?

7. Kelly

Which blogger seems to be winning her movie-watching contest with MCF?

8. Dave

And what is her spouse's name?

9. Hal

The hilarious Canadian comedy troop featuring Dave Foley, Bruce McCulloch, Kevin McDonald, Mark McKinney and Scott Thompson is called the Kids in the What?

10. Nicholas

Alright, well, since we don't deduct points for spelling, we'll accept that. If you had ten cents represented by six coins and you lost every one of those coins that wasn't a penny, what would you be?

11. Matthew

Well, again, you're lucky that we don't count spelling. Alright, have you named the toilet in your home … and, if so, what's the name?

12. Clint

If you had a terrible speech defect, what might you tell us you've found in your belly button?

13. Jesse

Continuing with the speech defect theme, how might you describe a really good apple?

14. Sean

Can you give us a word that rhymes with Bean?

15. Cristina

Well, no, not really. But that's OK. If you could be a famous pop star for a day, which one would you want to be?

16. Arthur

Alright. In the last Perilous! installment you named a dead British actor in question nine. This time, can you name one of his films?

17. Whorenelli

What is the last name of the most dangerous and feared mob-tied family on the East Coast?

18. Ray

If you didn't know any better, how might you misspell Rey's name?

19. Kurt

And how might you misspell The Happy Husband's name?

20. Jury

And, if you were from the Alabama, how might you pronounce J-No's first name?


Monday, December 11, 2006


Black Days

You can offer to the righteous
The good that you have won,
But down here among the unclean
Your good work just comes undone."

-Lyle Lovett

I guess I should go ahead and write a bit about the reasons I didn't blog much for a while … for the approximately 1.4 people who'll give a crud. This also ties into my recent spell of depression.

There's a lot going on at work. Long story short, there's a very real chance that the hourly workforce at my workplace (and I'm a part of it) is about to strike. I've been down about that, and you can stop reading now and know all you really need to know. If you're so inclined, however, you can read the gory details…

I recently got out of the union at work for personal, political, and religious reasons. I won't go into all of that now, this really isn't the forum for it, but I'll say that I'm confident that getting out of the union was the right thing for me to do, and it's been coming for a while. It was the right thing, but it's been difficult. It's often difficult to do the right thing.

If there is a strike (and, right now, I'm slightly betting that there will be), I'll have to decide if I'm going to cross the picket line. Honestly, though, I'm certain that I won't. I have at least 50 good reason why I should cross the picket line, and only one reason why I won't: I'm afraid to cross it. I'm afraid of what might be done to me and/or my family if I cross the picket line. That's cowardice, and it's no excuse to miss out on the wages that support my family, but it is the truth. I won't cross the picket line simply because I'm afraid of the basest elements of the labor union. I lack the courage of my convictions. I could come up with other reasons for not crossing the picket line that might sound better, but they wouldn't be true. I won't cross the line because I'm a coward … but at least I'm not a liar, too.

I guess I'll wait out the strike with whatever job I can find.

Although the industry in which I'm employed has nothing to do with steel work, the local I recently left was absorbed by the United Steel Workers last year. In '04 and '05, the USW absorbed a number of seemingly unrelated labor unions in a successful bid to become the biggest industrial labor union in North America. And, well, you know what they say about absolute power.

The USW is the union responsible for the debacle that is the Goodyear strike. I feel awful for the Goodyear workers and I see them as the victims of a purely political process. As labor unions become more and more of an anachronism, they become less and less politically viable. Goodyear's hourly employees are pawns in a game that the USW is playing in an attempt to remain relevant. Some reports indicate that the Goodyear locals are starting to realize that the USW isn't really looking out for their best interests. For it's part, Goodyear has handled the strike as well as a corporation can. Goodyear has held out, the unions will soon have no choice but to cave in.

When the USW comes out of this looking bad, I'm afraid that they'll be ready to back up and punt. They might call for more strikes and try some new techniques and see if they've learned anything from Goodyear. I worry that my workforce will suffer from one of those "guinea pig strikes."

I'm part of a small but growing number of hourly employees at my workplace who've been "mugged by reality" and put away our idealized notions about labor unions. A few, like me, have actually left the union. Others do what I used to do, simply stay in the union, keep their mouths shut and try not to make waves. Those of us who've come to see through the union tend to stay mum and simply exchange our shared views with knowing glances and quietly rolled eyes.

Then, there's another minority in the union … the opposite number of the minority I'm part of. These other people are "unionists." For them, "union" is their only real religion. They might claim Christianity as their faith, but it's a nominal label at best. If you listen to them talk for five minutes, it's clear that "unionism" is their real religion. And oh-boy do they ever talk. They're constantly prostylizing for their faith. The union hall is their only real church and the only god they have any allegiance to is an imaginary divinity called "solidarity." They drag this false idol out of storage every time a contract is up for debate and they shout his name with constant, vain repetitions. What's more, these "unionists" are fundamentalists. You simply can't talk to them. These are the kinds of people who Bob Ulrich was talking about in a recent editorial:

I want to be upfront about this: In my experience, unions are narrow-minded. Like any of the companies with which they negotiate, they have strong viewpoints about right and wrong. However, if you don’t follow their viewpoint, you are not only wrong, but also undeserving of respect…

I have talked with union members, union executives and Goodyear representatives. I have read editorials in the local newspaper from both sides. I have visited YouTube to see a very dramatic and pointed ad posted by the union, and been privy to correspondence between Goodyear and its employees. Ultimately, I can only go by what I see and hear.

Based on all my experience, the union has a black-and-white view of things -- it is always right, and anyone who disagrees is wrong. Offer a differing opinion and the USW will take its ball and go home.

I feel certain that the vast majority of the hourly people at work fit into a different category than either of these minorities. The people in this third, largest group are simply good, honest, hard-working people who've found themselves in the terrible position of trying to sort out the truth from the lies being distributed by both the union and the company. They count on the union and our employer for a fair shake, and they just want to keep working and keep making their house payments. I hope they can. I hope we all can.

There is a contingent among the "unionists" which can not be satisfied, no matter what the company does. The company could give us the moon and stars and some of these people would still want to strike because they hold ancient grudges against the company over long-forgotten slights, both real and imagined. These are the people who represent the real threat to our livelihoods. They want to sink the company and they're more than happy to sink with it. Unfortunately, this small group of people makes up a very vocal minority and they keep contentions stirred up as much as possible.

So I've been depressed about all of this, and for other reasons, too. I've written here about the unrest caused in my family by my conversion to Catholicism. Things are getting harder there, as well. One person in my family, one of the most important people in my life, played an early and enthusiastic role in my conversion. However, this person's sensibilities are mercurial and they've since soured on Catholicism. This person has, in fact, become rather hateful about the Catholic church. This hurts my feelings a lot. It's especially troubling to me since it indicates that I might not really have what it takes to be a decent Christian. After all, Christ plainly told his followers that we should expect this. From Matthew 10:

"Do not think that I have come to bring peace upon the earth. I have come to bring not peace but the sword. For I have come to set a man 'against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and 'one's enemies will be those of his household.' Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever does not take up his cross and follow after me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it."

Translation: Grace ain't cheap.

It's a tall order, and I often wonder if I can fill it. My charge is to continue loving the Lord and continue trying, in my pitiful way, to live as a Christian … and to continue loving the person in my family who's hurt my feelings. In fact, I have to love this person more, not less, and if I truly love Christ then my love for this person will manifest itself without me even trying. It's hard. I'm weak.

This blog is a good creative outlet and a good distraction from those problems. When that Britney Spears parody popped into my head the other day I felt myself really wanting to blog for the first time in what seemed like a long while.

And reading the blogs in my blogroll is good for me, too. You guys are a great bunch of writers and people, and I'm happy to "know" you.

So that's what's up with me. If you don't mind, I'm going to ask that my Christian and Jewish blog pals remember me in their prayers. The Christians are a no-brainer, of course, since I'm Christian. As far as Jewish people go … well, after all, Yahweh was your God first. I hope it doesn't seem vain of me to ask for your prayers, but I'm of the belief that God's chosen people have a very important "inside track," if you will.

Sunday, December 10, 2006


Assorted Whatever

Just a few things relative to nothing.

The Burr in the Burgh posted this nativity quiz. There's no cut-n-paste results, but I missed two of the questions, Q1 and Q4.

I came across these two quizzes myself. How well do you know 80's albums? Part one is here, part two is there. Not to brag, but, uh...

Ms. Elenaeous was on the subject of Christmas music. Reminded me that my all time favorite Christmas song is the unconventional, moving, sad, funny, touching Tom Waits classic, "A Christmas Card From A Hooker In Minneapolis." You really have to hear the song to appreciate it. I don't expect to hear it from carolers this year.

I found this quiz at Rey's ... here's my sense of humor in a nutshell, at least according to this quiz:

the Wit

(61% dark, 38% spontaneous, 21% vulgar)

your humor style:

You like things edgy, subtle, and smart. I guess that means you're probably an intellectual, but don't take that to mean pretentious. You realize 'dumb' can be witty--after all isn't that the Simpsons' philosophy?--but rudeness for its own sake, 'gross-out' humor and most other things found in a fraternity leave you totally flat.

I guess you just have a more cerebral approach than most. You have the perfect mindset for a joke writer or staff writer.

Your sense of humor takes the most thought to appreciate, but it's also the best, in my opinion.

You probably loved the Office. If you don't know what I'm
talking about, check it out here:

PEOPLE LIKE YOU: Jon Stewart - Woody Allen - Ricky Gervais

The 3-Variable Funny Test!

- it rules -

If you're interested, try my best friend's best test:
The Genghis Khan Genetic Fitness Masterpiece

My test tracked 3 variables How you compared to other people your age and gender:
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 99% on darkness
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 99% on spontaneity
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 99% on vulgarity

Link: The 3 Variable Funny Test written by jason_bateman on OkCupid, home of the The Dating Persona Test



What I Are

Inspired by MCF, I went to Google to find out what the rest of the net is saying about me.

My search was aided by Googlism, which made this fairly quick and easy. I'm glad to see that my reputation precedes me:

I checked Googlism for info on my wife, and found undeniable truth:

Since Googlism's data about Wendy and me turned out to be so accurate, I figured I'd look up a few other bloggers. It's no surprise that the info I found about them is amazingly on-target. For instance:

  • "Otis is a magical turtle."

    Well, duh. Just look at the guy."

  • "MCF is one of the leading infectious diseases of bison."

    You don't want to know how the bison contract the disease.

  • "Pastor Scott is willing to conduct clinics for your city."

    Just don't tell him that I volunteered him.

  • "Cube is as mysterious as its power to awaken truth."

    Mysterious is right. Some of us didn't even know she was a lady until recently!

  • "Lorna is a keen cellist and alto saxophonist."

    And you haven't lived until you've seen her play both at the same time. We've begged her to join Midnight Zamboni.

  • "Kelly is wanted for going to see the Harlem Globetrotters."

    Dammit, she KNEW about that restraining order.

  • "Unseen is so heady you'll want to lose yourself right alongside him."

    I think we've all experiened that for ourselves.

  • "Rey is trying to cripple the national forest management act."

    I pity the fool who steps in his way.

  • "Jerry is a heroic yet goofy gourd."

    We've all seen a million goofy gourds, and several heroic ones. Only Jerry is a goofy AND heroic gourd.

  • "Kristine is in awe of how the lord used her music to touch the lives of many people."

    Well, I, for one, can't get the song out of my head now. Only electro-shock therapy was able to remove the images.

  • Some of you have names like Ms. Elenaeous and 4HisChurch, and Googlism didn't know what to make of you. For the rest, though, I don't think there's any denying that Googlism hit the nails on the heads.

    Saturday, December 09, 2006


    Too Much Britney

    There really is a lot going on, and I've been kinda absorbed by a number of distractions (mostly at work) for a week or two now. So imagine my surprise the other day when, out of the blue, Wendy says "So, have you seen Britney Spears' genitals yet?"

    Turns out that, unbeknownst to me, Britney Spears has lost her mind, started hanging out with Paris Hilton, stopped wearing underwear, and generally been behaving like a nutcase. Apparently, Britney has been going out of her way to make sure that everyone gets a good long look, too.

    So what's up with this?

    I looked into it and found out that it's all a publicity stunt to promote Britney's new single. I was able to track down the lyrics, too:

    Britney Spears' New Single:
    "My Vagina"
    (To The Tune Of
    The Knack's "My Sharona")

    Ooh, my itty bitty one, my pretty one,
    Pretty little dress reveals
    My vagina!
    Everybody gets to see
    The rest of me.
    It's as hard to hide as an
    Ocean linah!

    Where've my panties gone? Where's my thong?
    Where's my Hanes-Her-Way?
    Every time I sneeze, or there's a breeze
    It's as plain as day.
    My my my my my, whoo!
    M-m-m-my vagina!
    M-m-m-my vagina!

    You might not know what to say, but that's OK.
    If you try to speak, you know
    Words'll fail ya!
    Even Justin Timberlake, for goodness sake,
    Never saw this much of my

    First I lost my class, lost my charm,
    Now I've lost my mind.
    Next I'll lose my sons to that bum
    Kevin Federline.
    My my my my my, whoo!
    (Etc, etc)

    OK, lame, I know … but it popped into my head and demanded it's day.

    Wednesday, December 06, 2006


    A Long December

    There's a lot going on right now, and a lot of it is stuff that I just don't care to talk about. I just don't have the time or energy to do much blogging right now. Maybe, once all is said and done, I'll write a little about the aftermath. In the meantime, it'll probably be a while before I post again. I hope everyone is doing well.

    Saturday, December 02, 2006


    Wii Journal, Entry 05

    Oh, yeah... I'm sooooo sorry we went for the Wii instead of the PS3:

    Wii Journal, Entry 04

    Wii Journal, Entry 03

    Wii Journal, Entry 02

    Wii Journal, Entry 01

    Labels: ,

    Friday, December 01, 2006


    Music To Mope By

    Indulge me.

    Everybody is entitled to mope now and then, right? Maybe a little moping, on occasion, is good for you. Maybe. I mean, how do you know you're happy except by comparing your happiness to the times when you're unhappy?

    I turned 38 yesterday. There is absolutely nothing special about turning 38.


    One more year is over. Big deal.

    I was feeling that way already, even before my son called to tell me that he now has a new baby sister. My ex-wife has been pregnant and "due any minute now" for the past couple of weeks. God, who's sense of humor is boundless, chose to give my son's new sister the same Birthday as me.

    This basically means that I'll never have my son on my Birthday again.

    By the way, my son's new sister also shares a Birthday with Mark Twain, Billy Idol, Winston Churchill … and such famous nutcases as G. Gordon Liddy, Abbie Hoffman, and Clay Aiken.

    I like my ex-wife's husband and I'm genuinely happy for their family, but the main thing that I feel is jealousy of their new daughter.

    I'm jealous because all of her good birthdays are ahead of her and all of mine are behind me. When you're young, every birthday is increasingly important. Each passing year represents new potential. With each year you put behind you, your abilities increase and your opportunities develop and your potential just goes through the roof.

    Then, at some point between 20 and 30, personal potential reaches critical mass and it's "use it or lose it" time. If you do well, if you maximize your potential, you end up with a list of victories. If you don't, at some point you turn around and examine your life and realize that your potential is part of your past.

    Then, each Birthday becomes sort of a macabre anniversary. Just one more yearly reminder that you're a little further from the cradle and a little closer to the grave. You're not yet dead, but you're no longer really alive in the ways that matter … you're just metabolizing food and oxygen and waiting for the day you stop doing that.

    Yeah, I got my mope on, alright.

    Of course, moping (like everything in life) is made better by music. Every element of life needs a soundtrack, even the downtimes.

    When I was a teenager, with all the desire to mope in the world (but with no real reason to mope, ironically), my mope music was goth rock and metal. Bands like The Cure, Black Sabbath, Nine Inch Nails … songs like Metallica's "Fade To Black" or "Coma" by Guns N' Roses.

    When you're young and congratulating yourself on how seriously you take the dim perspective of life, you can convince yourself that there's actual depth in lyrics such as these, from The Cure:

    I crouch in fear and wait
    I'll never feel again
    If only I could remember
    Anything at all

    Then, you get older and have some real problems … maybe go through a real crisis or two … and you realize that Robert Smith of The Cure, whatever his legitimate charms may be, is nothing more than a fat British crybaby when it comes to lyrics.

    A few of the bands I listened to in those days managed to write some meaningful lyrics … and Johnny Cash's stiring cover of the Nine Inch Nails song "Hurt" (with it's remarkable video) absolutely legitimizes the lyrics of that particular track. But, if you want real mope music, you have to look for songs with lyrics that actually deal in a real way with life's constant stream of mundane catastrophes.

    With that in mind, I'm appropriately ambivalent about presenting

    The SouthCon Top Ten
    Mope Songs Of All Time

    Song: "And All That Could Have Been"
    Artist: Nine Inch Nails
    Album: Still

    When Nine Inch Nails released their 2001 live album, initial copies came with a bonus disc called Still. The bonus disc was a set of re-recorded versions of older NIN songs, performed acoustically (or, at least, in a toned-down arrangement). Some of the songs were new, and best of all was the album's centerpiece, a desolate and cold piano and vocal piece called "And All That Could Have Been." Trent Reznor (who, basically, is Nine Inch Nails) writes songs about depression and despair quite frequently. It's rare, though, when he manages to avoid melodrama and come up with something honest and raw, a real expression of painful regret.

    Sample lyrics:

    I know you tried to rescue me
    Didn't let anyone get in
    Left with a trace of all that was
    And all that could have been…

    Please, take this and run far away
    Far away from me
    I am tainted
    The two of us were never meant to be

    Song: "Don't Follow"
    Artist: Alice In Chains
    Album: Jar Of Flies

    Layne Staley of Alice In Chains was always very open about the heroine addiction that eventually killed him, and many of the bands fans (including this one) got tired of the songs about smack. Now and then we'd hear that Layne was in rehab, that he was trying to get clean and sober. It was always to no avail. Sometimes, I suppose before a rehab stay, Staley would write honestly and openly about the mess he was making of his life with his addiction. This song is the best track on the band's 1994 EP.

    Sample lyrics:

    Hey, I aint never coming home
    Hey, I'll just wander my own road
    Hey, I cant meet you here tomorrow
    Say goodbye, don't follow

    Song: "Evaporated"
    Artist: Ben Folds Five
    Album: Whatever And Ever Amen

    This is just one perfect little album. Recorded live in the studio, Whatever… features some rollicking good piano from Ben Folds and outstanding support from his guitarist and drummer. This is the kind of album that my generation may have needed in order to realize what was so special about those first few Elton John albums in the early 70's.

    Ben Folds is known for smart, funny, acerbic lyrics … and that's the kind of content that dominates the album. So it's something of a surprise that the album's closer is so stark.

    Sample lyrics:

    Don't you know I'm numb, man.
    I cant feel a thing at all.
    'Cause its all smiles and business these days
    And I'm indifferent to what I've lost.

    Song: "My Curse"
    Artist: Afghan Whigs
    Album: Gentleman

    Afghan Whigs made a name for themselves by combining soulful arrangements, jangling rock guitars, and lyrics that were often shocking and blunt. They didn't stray from that formula on their 1993 release, which ended up being the band's strongest set.

    One track in particular, "My Curse," was really very confessional on the part of lyricist and singer Greg Dulli. In fact, he found the song too painful to sing. A guest female vocalist was brought in to sing the lead vocal for that track on the album, changing the perspective enough that Dulli could bear to record it.

    Sample lyrics:

    Hurt me, baby.
    I flinch so when you do.
    Your kisses scourge me.
    Hyssop in your perfume.
    Oh I do not fear you.
    And slave I only use as a word to describe
    The way I feel when I'm with you.

    Song: "Christmas Morning"
    Artist: Lyle Lovett
    Album: The Road To Ensenada

    This was the album that Lyle released after his highly publicized break-up with his former wife, Julia Roberts. I think that we fans knew to expect some painful songs. I don't think, though, that anyone was prepared for the frank and often brutal sting that many of these songs conveyed, especially the darkest track of Lovett's career (so far).

    Sample lyrics:

    The girl at the grocery, she's pretty. Seems nice.
    She looks right through me with eyes cold as ice.
    She never answers when I ask her name.
    She only says I should have a great day.
    But, hey, what could she mean by that?
    Perhaps I'm the fool she takes me for.
    Not anything more.

    Song: "Perfect Blue Buildings"
    Artist: Counting Crows
    Album: August And Everything After

    On paper, the album should be unlistenable. On paper, it's one depressing dirge after another, with two upbeat rock songs ("Mr. Jones" and "Rain King") sticking out like a pair of sore thumbs. If it weren't for the striking and memorable arrangements, and if it weren't for the best set of lyrics of Adam Duritz's career, this album surely wouldn't have succeeded. For my money, the best track on the album is "Perfect Blue Buildings," as honest an expression of weariness as has ever been recorded.

    Sample lyrics:

    Its 4:30 a.m. on a Tuesday.
    It doesn't get much worse than this.
    In beds
    In little rooms
    In buildings
    In the middle of these lives which are completely meaningless.

    Song: "Dirty Day"
    Artist: U2
    Album: Zooropa

    It does take a certain courage to write honestly about your life when things are going well. Especially if you're a rock star. Imagine the dilemma U2's Bono faced while recording the band's 1993 follow-up to the highly successful Achtung Baby. Write about the joys of being a rock-star and you might seem cocky, only a notch above David Lee Roth at best. But, if you complain about being a rock-star, you're just another Eddie Vedder-style whiner. What do you do?

    Thankfully, Bono is a skilled lyricist. Yes, rich and successful people have their downtimes, too. Apparently, Bono knows something about a life lived in the shadow of an abusive father. Nobody, rich or poor, ever quite gets over that. As always, Bono expressed himself with aplomb and universal appeal.

    Sample lyrics:

    You're looking for explanations.
    I don't even understand.
    If you need someone to blame
    Throw a rock in the air
    You'll hit someone guilty…

    Wake up. Some things you can't get around.
    I'm in you. More so when they put me in the ground.

    Song: "Why"
    Artist: Annie Lennox
    Album: "Diva"

    Did anyone really expect Annie Lennox to have such an amazing career after the Eurythmics broke up? I didn't. I really didn't give her much of a second thought, so I was amazed when I actually paid attention to her first solo album and realized that it was outstanding.

    What's more, the first single from that debut album was a masterpiece of regret and candor. As the song builds, Annie's crescendo ends with heartbreaking vocals and deeply resonate message about the regret that plagues many of us in our later years.

    Sample lyrics:

    This is the book I never read.
    These are the words I never said.
    This is the path I'll never tread.
    These are the dreams I dream instead…

    And these are the years that we have spent.
    And this is what they represent.
    And this is how I feel.
    Do you know how I feel?
    'Cause I don't think you know how I feel.
    I don't think you know what I feel.
    I don't think you know what I feel.
    You don't know what I feel.

    Song: "Sunday Morning Coming Down"
    Artist: Johnny Cash
    Album: Sunday Morning Coming Down

    Part of the reason that so many of Layne Staley's (mentioned above) lyrics about addiction and substance abuse never resonated with me (with the noteworthy exception of the song listed above) was that he flatly glamorized drug use. Oh, yes, he presented his addiction as a sad and troubling thing … but he also seemed to see himself as somehow romantic and admirable; sort of a Jack Kerouac for the grunge generation. Layne Staley might have had the experience necessary to sing about addiction, but he didn't have the authority to make the songs speak to everyone.

    Johnny Cash had that authority. Partly because his big, booming voice just commanded any listener's attention … but also because Cash had cleaned up and stayed clean. Unlike Staley, Johnny Cash's regret about his drug-addled past was real, lasting, and life-changing. So when Johnny Cash released a song about the hopelessness of addiction, you knew that you were hearing truth. Of all of Cash's songs from that well-remembered perspective, my favorite is the title track from his 1972 album.

    Sample lyrics:

    Well, I woke up Sunday morning
    With no way to hold my head that didn't hurt.
    And the beer I had for breakfast wasn't bad,
    So I had one more for dessert.
    Then I fumbled in my closet through my clothes
    And found my cleanest dirty shirt.
    Then I washed my face and combed my hair
    And stumbled down the stairs to meet the day …

    In the park I saw a daddy
    With a laughing little girl that he was swinging.
    And I stopped beside a Sunday school
    And listened to the songs they were singing.
    Then I headed down the street,
    And somewhere far away a lonely bell was ringing,
    And it echoed through the canyon
    Like the disappearing dreams of yesterday.

    On a Sunday morning sidewalk,
    I'm wishing, Lord, that I was stoned.
    'Cause there's something in a Sunday
    That makes a body feel alone.
    And there's nothing short of dying
    That's half as lonesome as the sound
    Of the sleeping city sidewalk
    And Sunday morning coming down.

    Song: "That Lucky Old Sun"
    Artist: Ray Charles
    Album: Modern Sounds In Country And Western Music

    Nobody else could have gotten away with it. When Ray Charles announced to his record company that he planed to follow up a string of successful pop and soul recordings with a country and western album, people were stumped. Why? Why on earth?

    Well, because Ray grew up in the American south and loved the music he'd grown up with. And, because Ray recognized something in that music that he wanted to convey to his audience. There was a pain in many of the best of those songs, and he knew and loved the people who'd felt it. He wanted to tell their stories.

    Ray Charles sings this song with a genuine, emotional weight. Listen to it and it's easy to forget that he went blind as a child. I've heard nothing, nor have I ever read anything, that so clearly conveys what it's like to work a difficult and unrewarding job, feel unappreciated, and see no end in sight. Ray's eyes might have been blind, but his remarkable performance of this song makes it obvious that he had seen into the abyss.

    The lyrics, in their entirety:

    Up in the morning.
    Out on the job.
    I work like the devil for my pay.
    But that lucky old sun's got nothing to do
    But roll around heaven all day.

    I fuss with my woman. I toil for my kids.
    Sweat 'til I'm wrinkled and gray.
    While that lucky old sun's got nothing to do
    But roll around heaven all day.

    Dear Lord above, don't you see I'm pining?
    Tears all in my eyes.
    Send down that cloud with a silver lining
    And lift me up to Paradise.

    Show me that river, take me across.
    Wash all my troubles away.
    Like that lucky old sun, with nothing to do
    But roll around heaven all day.


    Ray Charles. Johnny Cash. Annie Lennox and U2 and Afghan Whigs and Alice In Chains, etc. If you'll excuse me, I have a CD to burn.

    And thank you for indulging a fat ol' redneck who's had a rough week.

    Labels: , ,

    This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

    Subscribe to Posts [Atom]