The Downside of Welding


For as awful as 2016 was, 2017 is starting off really great. I haven’t been posting as regularly or started my novel, but that’s because I started writing part-time for a local weekly magazine.

And my day job has gotten better as well. I’ve moved up from ‘unskilled labor’ to ‘maintenance apprentice.’ I’m extremely excited about this move. I’ve always wanted to learn a useful skill and now I finally have the chance. It sucks having to work second shift, but it’s a great opportunity and they’re paying for me to go to school.

The only problem with learning to weld?

Every time I spark a stick I get this song stuck in my head.

 

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Day of the New – S/T (Green)


Days of the New green(31 August 1999, Outpost)

One of the greatest things about music is its ability to take you places. Hearing a song can make you feel like you’re back in junior high school without a care in the world. A lot of songs bring scenes in movies to mind (think of Forrest Gump). Sometimes it can take you to a whole other world. Days of the New’s second album has the power to transport me from wherever I happen to be back to Hyrule.

My mom met the man who would become her second husband while I was in high school. He was living in a small apartment above a bar with a mattress, a chihuahua/shih tzu mix and a huge stereo from Rent-a-Center. It didn’t take long until he moved in with us; and brought the dog and the stereo. It’s easy to date when he moved in because he only had four CDs: Ozzy’s No Rest For The Wicked, Yngwie Malmsteem’s Facing the Animal, Godsmack’s debut and DotN’s second album.

“Enemy” was a big hit at the time and he loved it. He would play that album over and over while drinking at the kitchen table with his buddies. Being in high school I wasn’t old enough to drink and probably spent at least a little bit of time studying. But when I wasn’t studying I was sitting in front of the television with my little brother because around the same time he moved in with that huge stereo we got a Super Nintendo and A Link To The Past. I have no idea how many times we played through that game together, but I can remember having a lot of fun with him. I think that may have been the best bonding we ever did.

And the great thing is that whenever I hear Days of the New’s second album I can think back on those days.

the_legend_of_zelda_a_link_to_the_past_snes_game_coverIt probably helps that the album starts off with the sound of horse hooves. How else can I get from the water level to the desert level quickly? I’m a huge fan of all the segues that blend the tracks together. I honestly can’t name most of the songs on this album, and probably couldn’t tell you where most of them begin or end because it works as such a great cohesive whole.

The secret weapon is Nicole Sherzinger who would later achieve mega stardom as the lead singer of the Pussycat Dolls. It feels really weird to write that because the musical styles of the two groups couldn’t be more distant. But Sherzinger does have a beautiful voice and uses it to great effect with Days of the New.

Singer/Guitarist/Songwriter Travis Meeks got a lot of grief for pulling one of those megalomaniacal stunts of firing his whole band, but in his defense did you ever listen to Tantric? That was not a band I enjoyed. Sure, they were competent musicians and their stuff was okay, but there was no fire behind it. It always sounded like safe, middle-of-the-road rock to me. I just imagine them bringing the songs to him and him saying “No. You’re all fired.”

The acoustic guitars are still front and center but there’s plenty of other instrumentation to shake things up. The acoustic guitar thing was a good gimmick that definitely got them attention with their debut, but I’m guessing that wouldn’t have kept peoples interest if they’d just repeated that formula.

I’m not sure what all the instruments were used on this album , but I’m guessing there’s an ocarina in there somewhere. It really takes me back then.

 

The Problem with the Media


 

One of the things that annoys me most is hearing people bitch about “The Media.” It seems to be the most buzz worthy thing to bitch about. Your favorite politician down in the polls? Blame the media. People don’t share your political views? Blame the media. Donald Trump about to take over your country? Blame the media.

That’s not to say that the media is picture perfect and there’s nothing wrong with it, but getting mad at news outlets for sensationalizing trivial events and promoting popular topics is kind of like getting mad at a fish for swimming. It’s just how news works. It’s what made William Randolph Hearst and Rupert Murdoch millionaires. Get used to it.

There’s a reason they say “if it bleeds it lead.” Let’s face it, it’s interesting when people die. The media is not in the business of telling us what we need to know, it’s in the business of telling us what we want to know. If you’d like to change this start clicking on news stories about local elections and charities instead of plane crashes and the Kardashians.

I think many people get confused and forget that media is a business. These outlets exist in order to make money. The news isn’t an art form. It’s not some altruistic endeavor to educate the population as to what’s happening in the world and inform them of basic facts. The news is a product, like computer chips and tampons. The news is all these things and more available for only $19.95*

Sure, there are problems with the media. Most news outlet are owned by very few companies, but that sort of concentration of power occurs in nearly every area of American society and no one seems to care.

Also, many news outlets are extremely biased. This isn’t much of a problem as it’s usually pretty obvious. I recommend checking out several venues to get a full picture. I usually read stuff from Fox News and CNN just so I can see how both sides are spinning a story. I also like to check out news from other countries like Canada’s National Post, Germany’s Der Spiegel and Israel’s Haaretz. And with Twitter allowing me to follow feeds from all of these sources it isn’t difficult to get a well rounded picture.

And remember: Opinions are not facts. No respectable media outlet lies. They just twist facts enough to support their outlooks. You do it too. You’re doing it right now while you’re agreeing/disagreeing with me. It’s impossible for journalists to be completely unbiased as they are also human beings with opinions of their own.

Now go back to bitching about the weather.

The only journalist I trust

The only journalist I trust

 

*I stole this from The Dead Milkmen who said the same thing about Blues music on “The Blues Song” from 1995’s Stoney’s Extra Stout (Pig).

St Patrick’s Day


 

And now… the day where everyone is a drunken asshole! (Which makes it only slightly different from most other days). Only today we’re supposed to wear green and listen to Dropkick Murphys. Well fuck that! Let’s mix it up a little bit.

An Early Contender


Last year I began working on my year-end top ten list in April. By that time I had heard several tunes I didn’t want to forget by December so I copied a few YouTube videos into a post and continued to work on it through the year.

It looks like this year I’ll have to start even sooner!

Granted, David Bowie does lose a few points for the whole dying thing. That seems to be a common trick to boost record sales. I’m sure STP and Motorhead are both seeing surges in revenue now, but I have to say Bowie put out some great stuff on his swan song. I listened to Heathen a few years ago and wasn’t really impressed. Honestly I like his hits but the only album I love front to back is Ziggy Stardust. That might change after I check out Blackstar.

I know the first single has everything I love about Bowie. Hooks, lyrics and being really, really fucking weird.

 

The sad thing is that I’m sure I wouldn’t be having the same reaction to this song if Bowie were still alive. I’m sure that opening line “Look up here, I’m in heaven” wouldn’t have the same impact.

I hope any of you who haven’t listened to him yet will take this time to check out some of his work. Over a 50 year career I’m guessing there’s something for everyone.

Prières pour Paris


I think it’s because of my experience at the Alrosa Villa that my heart truly goes out to those who were at the Eagles of Death Metal show in Paris last Friday night. I feel bad that this terror attack has touched me more than other recent ones in Beirut, Ankara and Africa; but perhaps that’s because it happened in a place I consider sacred: a concert venue.

While my heart and prayers go out to everyone affected by terrorism there is a special spot on there for my fellow rockers (even though the few EoDM song’s I’ve heard are awful).

Here’s a harrowing account of what it was like in the Bataclan. From what I gather, it was quite a bit worst than the night Dimebag died.

 

God Bless