Saturday, June 6, 2020

Songs For Saturday: Jonathan Coulton, Warren Zevon, Blur and David Bowie

OK, kids! Put on the Bat Head Phones! 

Crank up the jam! 

Time for Songs For Saturday! 

Just for the record, I am still unemployed. Sometimes I miss the regular routine of having a job. 

Then I listen to Jonathan Coulton's "Code Monkey" and remember it wasn't always all good.  

Warren Zevon's album "Sentimental Hygeine" is one my of all time favorite albums with every track being simply awesome.
(OK, a couple of track such as "The Factory" and "Leave My Monkey Alone" are slightly less awesome.)  

One of the most awesome of those awesome tracks is Warren's story in song about a prize fighter who won a lot of fights, got the hell beat out of him in the process and had an opponent die in the ring. Here is Warren Zevon's "Boom Boom Mancini".

Boom Boom Mancini was a real person, a prize fighter named Ray Mancini. For more on this story (as related in Warren's song, click here.  

Blur's  "Song 2" (or you might know it better as "WOO-HOO!") is a short burst of high octane energy.  Below is a live performance I stumbled across recently.    

This next track seems to be apropos for recent times with the protests against police brutality and the authoritarian crack downs in response, a lot of people are in a mind set to be a rebel. 

Here's a live set of David Bowie with "Rebel Rebel".  

That is that for today's Songs For Saturday! I hope you enjoyed today's selection of music.  
Remember to be good to one another and to always keep the music alive. 

Friday, June 5, 2020

Blonde Ambition

Here's another picture of our dog, Rosie.  

And yes, our daughter Randie is blonde now.  

My wife Andrea and I have gotten kind of used to it now. But Randie insists the blonde hair is a mere transition. 

When she is done, Randie will have blue hair. 

Randie says she wants to look more gay. 

Apparently rainbow tees and flannel shirts are not quite doing the job. 

OK, fine. As long as Rosie doesn't wind up getting a dye job too. 

Thursday, June 4, 2020

This Blog Has a Bad Case Of Updog

This blog has a bad case of updog.

What's updog? 

Why, this dog! 

Rosie continues to be a part of life here at the Fortress Of Ineptitude.  

We took Rosie to her first vet visit this week for a check up where she was pronounced to be in very good health.  Thankfully, the SPCA had checked off a lot of boxes in her care before we adopted her.  

Because of social distancing efforts because of the coronavirus pandemic, neither Randie nor I could follow her into her check up. We were worried about her. Rosie has not had a lot of interaction with humanoids other than myself, my daughter Randie and my wife Andrea.  Rosie was a tad reluctant to go in without Randie but the vet tech was able to gently convince Rosie to accompany her to the exam room.  Where, the tech later told us, Rosie was a cutie pie.  

After her vet visit, Rosie got to go out for frozen yogurt. With some restrictions loosened up a bit in North Carolina, a local froyo place called Feenneys was open once more. Beside being Randie's favorite frozen yogurt place, they also have small containers of vanilla yogurt for dogs.  While Randie and I enjoyed our froyo outside, Rosie was not inclined to acknowledge her frozen treat. She still has some issues with anxiety in strange places.  Once we were back in the car, however, Rosie lapped up her yogurt snack like it was her job. 

The photo above of Randie and Rosie may be my last photo of my daughter as a brunette.

As I write this, she is blonde. 

It is an intermediate step. 

She's aiming for blue hair.  

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

No Loyalty and the Root of Anger

Let's talk about anger.

Everybody's angry about something these days. 

People are angry that they're forced to not get haircuts and drink at their favorite bar or work out at the gym. Fuck this pandemic bullshit! It's all hyped by a bunch of scared lib-tards anyway! 

Other people are angry at the people who are angry at being unable to get haircuts and drink at their favorite bar or work out at the gym. There's a god damn fucking pandemic where people are getting sick with a god damn fucking fatal disease and god damn this to fucking hell, I can't believe we have to argue about this. 

People are angry at protesters in the street, creating chaos and upheaval and threatening peace, law and order. 

Other people are angry that they have to fucking protest at all (because remember there's a god damn fucking pandemic going on) because being quiet and calm isn't stopping black people in this country from being singled out for murder at the hands of the police.

We're all angry about something. Everyone looks at the same footage and hears the same story yet find different things to be angry about. 

I think there is so much anger for everyone because loyalty is demanded of us from our politicians and our employers and our faith leaders but no one is loyal to us. Our needs and desires matter not one damn bit if it is not expedient to our politicians and our employers and our faith leaders. They get what they want out of us; we should not expect that to be reciprocated.  

I understand that kind of anger. 

For 16 years, I was loyal to an employer where I thought I could spend the rest of my working life. I had hoped to retire from there or at least die at my desk like a good worker drone.  

My employer had other plans. Yes, I am angry about that.  

For nearly 3 decades, I was a registered Republican because I held certain views on limited government and fiscal responsibility. I have watched as the Republican party shred the foundation of the party in the naked pursuit of power at the expense of the American people.

I changed my voter registration away from Republican because the Republican party had other plans and moved away from me. I didn't change, the party changed and yes, I am angry about that.  

From my childhood, I was a believer in the Christian faith. I have not been a good Christian but I never lost sight that the basic message of Jesus Christ was a fundamentally good one, one worthy of emulation. Why don't we just be good to one another?

Instead I've watched the Christian church fracture itself, lost in anger, rage and petty grievances in a pursuit of political power that is antithetical to the life and teachings of Jesus Christ.  Even if I've not always been a good Christian, I have recognized that the Christian church does so much good in helping people in need.  But that church is slipping away, down a slope towards Earthly political power. And it makes me angry that those who profess to be Christians are so determined destroy something that could be doing so much good and they refuse to see it.

We're all angry because we have no common frame of reference. There is no loyalty from the institutions that demand loyalty from us. 

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Tuesday TV Touchbase: Killing Eve and Snowpiercer

Hi there! Welcome to my weekly post about what I'm watching on TV.  

Killing Eve
Season 3 may be remembered as "the season that was really a season". 

Eve is a bystander to her own life until Kenny gets killed. Even so, in the episodes that followed, Eve seems to make very little headway on cracking the mystery of why Kenny was killed.  

Villanelle is just not into being the psycho killer for hire, looking for a promotion within the Twelve or an escape from it.  

Except for a brief encounter on a London bus where Eve and Villanelle fight (Eve gets the upper hand when she kisses Villanelle), the paths of these two do no sinc up until this Sunday's season finale. 

For a "season that was really a season", there are a lot of balls in the air to keep track of.

Who killed Kenny? Carolyn is shown a video from just before Kenny died. He's with Konstantin. I had guessed early on that Konstantin was involved in Kenny's death. Konstantin denies killing Kenny. He claims a frightened Kenny fell off the roof before Konstantin could save him. This is a weak apple sauce of a story and no one believes it. 

Why was Flo killed? We know 12 back up assassin Rhiann did the deed because it turns out Flo had confirmed what Carolyn suspected: Paul, her boss at MI6, is part of the Twelve.  Rhiann is dead now after having Villanelle beat the shit out of her and kick her in front of an oncoming train. And Paul is dead now after Carolyn lodges a bullet in his brain. 

The highlights of the episode are when Eve and Villanelle share screen time together. Eve actually invites Villannelle onto a dance floor to dance. They sway together, holding each other close. It's heartbreakingly sweet.

There's more heart break at the end as Eve and Villanelle share some quality time on a London bridge overlooking the Thames River while discussing who they are and their relationship.  The last scene is the two turning their backs to one another and walking away in opposite directions.  Last season, Eve turning her back on Villanelle did not turn out so good when Villanelle shot her. No such drama this time as the two walk away from each other. Several yards apart, the two stop to turn back to see the other looking back. 

I'm not sure where Season 4 is going to go. I doubt it will involve Eve and Villanelle sharing a country cottage together living a live of peaceful tranquility.   

For what seemed like forever, any time anyone watched anything on TBS, one would encounter this: 

"Snowpiercer is all that is left of the world." 

Wanna catch a mid morning episode of "Everybody Loves Raymond":  "Snowpiercer is all that is left of the world." 

Mid afternoon visit with "Friends": "Snowpiercer is all that is left of the world." 

A night time encounter with "Big Bang Theory": "Snowpiercer is all that is left of the world." 

The constant bombardment of promos for TNT's "Snowpiercer" was enough to make me pledge to NOT watch the damn thing. 

But as various TV shows fell into reruns with seasons truncated by the coronavirus pandemic quarantine, it almost seem like this sentence was literally true: "Snowpiercer is all that is left of the world." 

And curiousity got the better of me. Why, pray tell, is "Snowpiercer is all that is left of the world"

So I'm watching Snowpiercer. 

Disclosure: I have not seen the original movie on which this series is based. I've seen reviews and analysis online that suggests the movie is superior to the series. Without that comparison, I'm judging Snowpiercer the series on its own merits.

I find this series intriguing.  

Snowpiercer is a set on Earth in the not too distant future where the perils of climate change were ignored by the rich and powerful elite until a misguided effort at a quick fix through science winds up freezing the world.  The rich and powerful elite buy there way on to the Snowpiercer, a train over a thousand cars long, driven by a perpetual motion engine as it circumnavigates the globe. Just before the Snowpiercer begins its journey, a desperate band of humans who are not the rich and powerful elite, find shelter on the last cars of the train.   

The series picks up several years into Snowpiercer's journey.   The rich and powerful elite continue to their lives in stylish comfort with only a few minor complaints. Like how the Swedes like to use the sauna in the nude. Dealing with such minor inconveniences is the job of Melanie Cavill (Jennifer Connelly), front person for Mr. Wilford, the mysterious unseen creator of the train. Except Melanie has a bigger problem to contend with: someone at the front of the train has been murdered.  

This will require the skills of a trained and experienced homicide detective.  

Fortunately for Melanie Cavill, there is a trained and experienced homicide detective on the train.  

Unfortunately for Melanie Cavill, that trained and experienced homicide detective is Andre Layton (Daveed Diggs) who resides at the back of the train.  

Having known nothing of the train for years except the back car, Layton serves as our point of view character as the wonders and the secret underbelly of the front of the train are pealed back as part of Layton's investigation into the murder.  Layton hasn't given up finding someway to facilitate the fomenting revolution in the rear of the train. 

There is quite the tangled web of mystery and intrigue driving this Snowpiercer train and it appears I am on board for at least this season. 

Side note: Snowpiercer is NOT all that is left of the world on TV as ABC launches new seasons of prime time games shows with Celebrity Family Feud (the current Queer Eye cast vs. the original line up) and Press Your Luck

Andrea and I watched the original Press Your Luck back in the day and this new version is still very stressful to watch. This is the show that introduced "Big bucks! Big bucks! No whammies!" in the lexicon.  Players follow flashing lights on a big game board to land on cash and prizes or the dread Whammy which comes out as a cartoon effect to erase all of a player's winnings.  Elizabeth Banks hosts this new version of Press Your Luck with humor, energy and empathy. But damn if Press Your Luck isn't a very stress inducing game show.  

A Nation On Fire

Confronting a nation on fire, Donald Trump brought along gasoline.  

Donald Trump used a Bible and a church as props for a photo op in a bid to ratchet up tension and fear in a nation already ravaged by tension and fear.

Li'l Donnie posed with a Bible in his hand in front of St. John’s Episcopal Church. To get to this photo op, a peaceful group of protesters against police brutality at the church were dispersed with policy brutality in the form of tear gas and rubber bullets.  

Trump vogued with the Bible, striking various poses with the book while standing alongside members of his administration. 

“Greatest country in the world. And we’re going to keep it safe,” Trump declared, waving his prop Bible.  

Keeping it safe? From whom? 

Before the church photo op (which the leadership of St. John’s Episcopal Church had no fore knowledge or disapproved of), Trump spoke in the White House Rose Garden, promising to would mobilize “all available federal resources, civilian and military, to stop the rioting and looting, to end the destruction and arson, and to protect the rights of law-abiding Americans, including your Second Amendment rights.”

"Including your Second Amendment rights"? What the hell? Where did that come from?

Yes, there is bad shit going down during these protests with looting, vandalism and arson. Yes, we need to get a handle on that. 

But that is only one part of the problem. But it's the only part Trump wants to focus on because he wants to look tough.  

And if the looting, vandalism and arson stuff ain't happening, don't let that get in the way of a good crackdown. 

While Li'l Donnie was chatting in the Rose Garden, protesters gathered outside the White House (who were NOT rioting and looting) were dispersed with tear gas and flash-bang grenades before Trump's address began.

No statement towards the grievances that have sparked the protests.  There was no call for national unity.

Why would one expect such a statement from Donald Trump? Everything he did and said was a pitch to his base. If you didn't vote for Donald Trump, Trump doesn't give a fuck about you.  The only unity that this fat fuck gives a damn about is keeping his base of supporters united behind him.  

As he stands there in front a church he doesn't attend and waving a Bible he hasn't read and doesn't believe in with a nation on fire, Trump's overriding purpose remains his own hold on power. 

Monday, June 1, 2020

The Fire This Time (Again) (Once More) (Without End?)

As the long days of the coronavirus pandemic wound into long weeks into long months, I'm sure someone somewhere said "Can't we have something to talk about other than coronavirus? Can't we divert our attention elsewhere from the mounting death toll (102,000 and rising in the United States) from COVID-19?"   

Well, we got something else to talk about. 

God help us all, we got something else to talk about.

George Floyd, a 46 year old African American man in Minneapolis, died after police Officer Derek Chauvin kneeled on his neck for several minutes. Floyd was restrained and unarmed. His last words before he died: "I can't breathe." 

We've been here before. The disparity of the use of police force against black men is a too often sad fact of life in America.  It is, as Michelle Obama described it, "a heartbreak that never seems to stop."   

The repeating nature of this problem goes a long way towards the response to Floyd's death. An enraged howl of frustration that this keeps happening is a completely expected response.  There's only so many times the same damned bad thing that happen over and over until there comes a collective cry for justice, for attention to be paid, expressed in hot anger and blistering rage. 

Enough is enough. 

But much like the coronavirus pandemic story, the problems spinning out of the killing of George Floyd are compounded by ineffectual leadership at the top of our government. Trump, playing true to form with his racist dog whistles to his base, is more concerned with issuing threats to "thugs" than to understand the reason for the anger. Displaying his usual lack of nuance, Li'l Donnie can only try to play tough guy in response to protesters.  Of course, Trump has no incentive to do anything different.  Those protesters did not vote for him; the white under-educated racists who did vote for him like the tough talk.   

The brother of George Floyd received a condolence call from Donald Trump. Well, the call was described as hurried with Trump saying stuff really quickly and giving George's brother no chance to say anything. Once again, Li'l Donnie is not capable of even faking empathy.   His only concern is the narrative that will help with his re-election. That narrative is come down hard on those who protest as "thugs".

There is no question that looting is bad. Vandalism and theft are wrong, no matter the incitement.  But looting and protests should not be conflated. The protests extend from a rage and a frustration that is real. The inequalities that exists between law enforcement and the citizens they are charged to serve can be addressed but only if we have the will to pay attention and the will to act. After suffering these inequities time and time and time again, it is any surprise that people might turn to fire to get that attention, to demand that action. 

It's in these times fraught with tension and rage, I think about my favorite poem by Robert Frost, "Once By the Pacific". 

The shattered water made a misty din. 
Great waves looked over others coming in, 
And thought of doing something to the shore 
That water never did to land before. 
The clouds were low and hairy in the skies, 
Like locks blown forward in the gleam of eyes. 
You could not tell, and yet it looked as if 
The shore was lucky in being backed by cliff, 
The cliff in being backed by continent; 
It looked as if a night of dark intent 
Was coming, and not only a night, an age. 
Someone had better be prepared for rage. 
There would be more than ocean-water broken 
Before God's last Put out the light was spoken. 

When people have been hurt badly time and time and time again, we should not be surprised by the reaction. 

When people have been hurt badly time and time and time again,"someone had better be prepared for rage".  

Songs For Saturday: Jonathan Coulton, Warren Zevon, Blur and David Bowie

OK, kids! Put on the Bat Head Phones!  Crank up the jam!  Time for Songs For Saturday!  Just for the record, I am still unemploy...