• The 6 most amazing ships in Star trek (that aren’t the Enterprise)

    51 years ago, a “Wagon train to the stars” was launched, and no one – not even Gene Rodenberry himself, had any idea of the life it was going to take. 13 movies, five live action series (err, now it’s six), and even a cartoon….the franchise has certainly been a huge part of our culture. Star Trek has introduced us to characters we love, and even a few that we hate. Star Trek has introduced us to worlds and aliens we would have never met. And of course, the ships! What would Star Trek be without the ships? So many amazing ships too! There’s the Enterprise, the Enterprise A, the Enterprise D, the Enterprise E….ok ok. There are a lot more ships than the six versions of the Enterprise. And as Star Trek is about exploring strange new worlds, and new civilizations, what better way to celebrate than by exploring vessels we don’t know a whole lot about? I mean….we know a lot about the Enterprise D, we were there every week for 7 years! We even know a lot about Voyager and The Defiant. But there’s some ships that are just as interesting which we hardly know about. So…as we prepare to learn about the US Discovery, (and oh how stoked I am about the new series) let’s take a few minutes and….discover…. some of the amazing ships that made Star Trek awesome.

    1)The Borg Queen’s Cube (First Contact)…

    battle001
    Efficient is one word. Egalitarian is another. The Borg Cube has very little in the way of aesthetics, but while it looks like something designed by Soviet Russia, it’s far from a boring ship. Firstly, the size of the ship. It’s huge! In the above picture, you can see the Enterprise E (the largest Enterprise) for scale. The Enterprise looks like it’s the size of a runabout compared to the cube! Borg Cubes are, of course, decentralized. The weaponry could be fired from pretty much any spot on the vessel. Any Borg from any station can do any task. And then of course there’s the fact that it contained a time traveling escape sphere! Seriously….who has one of those, save for the queen of the Borg? The Queen’s Cube, if it were not for the intervention of the Enterprise E, would have assimilated Earth. It’s the only ship to ever evoke the Klingon Death Chant (Perhaps today IS a good day to die) from Worf himself….while captaining the Defiant no less.

    Kelvan Multi-Generational Ship (Original Series)…

    Not much is known about these ships or even what they looked like, but what we do know is quite impressive. First launched in the 1960s, these ships traveled from the Andromeda Galaxy (hence the picture above). In a series full of interstellar travel, it’s hard to believe that intergalactic travel is almost a thing of fairy tales. To put it in perspective, a constitution class ship would take thousands of years to travel in between galaxies. The Kelvan ships can do it in 600. If we fast forward to about the year 4000, we might finally know more about these amazing ships. For now….we know they’re fast. We know they’re built to last for hundreds of years….and that’s just about it. But those facts alone are quite impressive.

    Species 8472’s ships (Voyager)…

    While not a specific ship, these ships are certainly some of the most impressive of the Star Trek universe. Organic technology alone might be impressive enough….but that’s just the start of this species’ amazing ships. The first time we are introduced to these ships, they’ve outright flattened a Borg Armada of 15 ships. What other species can say that? If not for the alliance with Voyager, these ships would have totaled the Borg Collective in six months time. How, you may ask? Their ships were not that big – they only carried one crew member. But these ships used the borg tactics of working in unison. When several ships came together, they could form a planet killer weapon which totally anilated anything in it’s destructive path. If there’s one thing you can take from species 8472 by the way….never piss off a xenophobic species that can wipe out the borg.

    The USS Valiant (Deep Space Nine)…

    While this ship is almost identical to the Defiant, the crew of the Valiant is what makes it so extraordinary. This ship, full of cadets and trapped behind enemy lines for months was able to survive long enough to complete it’s mission. While the captain’s huberis is what ultimately got most of the crew killed, it still must be noted that this was more than an ordinary crew. They knew what they had to do, despite being alone, despite being cut off from communications with rest of Starfleet. Red Sqad, we salute you. We can’t blame you for being inexperienced cadets.

    The Prometheus (Voyager)…

    This ship can separate into three….yes, three parts. Not even the Enterprise-D could do that! Each section of ship was a vessel that was more than adequately prepared to kick the Dominion back to the Gamma quadrant. In addition, it had regenerative shields as well as the same plating as the Defiant (and of course, the Valiant). Oh, did I mention it’s EMH could roam the entire ship without a mobile emitter? And did I mention this ship was the fastest in all of Starfleet? Seriously – it’s almost like they took the best parts from Voyager, the Defiant, and the Enterprise C and mixed them all together. If only they had shown more of the Prometheus….sigh.

    The Narada (Star Trek 2009)…

    This ship (along with Spok’s) pretty much split the Star Trek Universe into two timelines. But asides from that, this ship was essentially a weapon of mass destruction which was far more a match that any and all ships it encountered in the 23rd century. It had a primary assault of several missiles which could seperate into multiple projectiles. It had a drill (I mean, it was a mining ship) which was used to destroy the planet Vulcan!!! And it had a crew that was pissed off. More pissed off than species 8472, as their homeworld had been destroyed and they themselves were catapulted back in time. Yeah…..don’t mess with a shipload of pissed off Romulans. Just don’t.

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  • Five classic games that need a proper, mobile port

    I miss my Pentium 4 home brew tower. I built it when I was in college, mainly to write papers and other college stuff, but it became an entertainment hub in no time. I got my first CD burner and made all kinds of mix CDs. I got my first DVD drive, and realized movies didn’t have to come on huge, clunky, analog tapes. But mostly, I realized how much I loved gaming. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve always known I liked gaming. I never did get an Atari or an NES back in the mid 80s, but every time I went over to a friend’s house and they had a gaming system, I would beg for an opportunity to get on said system. So when I finally got my brand spanking new computer built, I made sure to include a decent graphics card and all the RAM I could. I no longer do much computer gaming, as computer gaming really isn’t convient for me. Most of my gaming is now done on a PS4 or my Android driven tablet. So of course, that magical day when I found Atari had ported Roller Coaster Tycoon 1 to Android, I got really excited. It gives me a feeling of nostalgia. It made me wonder what other games I used to play the heck out of could be ported to mobile devices. So, of course I had to make a listicle exploring this topic…

    1) Roller Coaster Tycoon 3. Yes, I know, they ported the first one. What more do I want? Well, there’s a reason the made Roller Coaster 2 and 3. For starters, I want to build a ride that isn’t going to scare my guests away as soon as it goes a little too fast or maybe loops one too many times. For another thing, Roller Coaster Tycoon 3 had a better sandbox mode, easier controls, more rides, and just better everything. Some didn’t like the graphics, but honestly, I found them to be just fine.

    And hey, you can’t cause anywhere near this amount of mayhem in the original!

    2) Sim Copter. This game was already pretty old when I built my computer, but I still loved it. It was so much fun, rescuing sims, upgrading my copter, flying around a Sim city 2 City, and hey…..if I got annoyed by my passengers, well, I could always “accidentally” eject them. I guess every game needs a little bit of an outlet for psychopathic behavior! Of course, I would be remiss in mentioning Sim Copter without also mentioning the fact that there was a “gay Easter egg.” Basically a bunch of male sims appeared in droves, hugging and kissing eacouther. While they removed it, you still saw, what appeared to be a gay pride parade from time to time. Good times! Good times indeed.

    3) Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri: Here’s a great example of a turn based game that was great to play with friends – except none of my friends gamed. But maybe if there was a mobile edition? One that didn’t expect the players to sit there, glued to their devices all the time? Why not? So what made this game special, as opposed to the millions of other turned based games out there? This one had technology trees that lead to bizarre and wonderful inventions and secret projects! This game also had amazingly fleshed out personalities….I still have nightmares about Miriam! And yes, one could say that the Civilization games have the same things – so perhaps this could come as a package deal – why not? Sid could probably use the money! Just as long as they include the Alien Crossfire expansion pack.

    4) Age of Empires 2: Age of Kings. Before I bought this game, I bought the demo. Even that provided me a LOT of hours of play. But yes setting up a game with maybe five or six factions….making deals with some, going to war with others. One of my favorite moves was to ally myself with a faction, build a bunch of towers, and park several seige weapons in their town center. Then, when I was almost done with disposing of the other factions, I would simply unally myself and all of a sudden their little kingdom would fall to shambles. They’d be begging for mercy within a minute, but I was never merciful. Mwahahahahahahahah. Yeah….there’s that psychopath I mentioned in Sim Copter.

    5) Sim City 3000 Unlimited: Sim City 4 got really hard, and a lot less fun – even in sandbox mode. While 3 didn’t have as many features as 4, it was hella more enjoyable! And yes, I did just say hella – so sue me. But back to the game. Building roads, subways, neighborhoods, bridges….this must be the feeling Tim Taylor felt everytime he did his signature grunt! I swear, I almost switched my major to city planning because of this game! And if I got mad at the sims, I would just release a disaster. Oops, did I just accidentally destroy your town center? Oh, I am so sorry…..so very sorry. Of course, EA did give us SimCity Build it, but that’s more of a pay and or wait type of game. Honestly, those games frustrate me after about a month, so I tend to give up on them easily. No, I want to play a full on sandbox game of Simcity!

    Oh hey annoying Sims, I just called ET and he’s going to blow up your town!

    Honorable mention – There’s another game I’d like to see on mobile platforms, though I’m not sure if it’s a possibility: Star Trek Armada (or perhaps Armada 2). That game ate more than its fair share of Friday nights. I’d choose a map, and always play the Federation or the Borg. I’d have at least two factions of every alien, and oh the geeky fun I would have! I feel like letting out a half snort, half laugh just thinking about it! I remember one of my favorite moves was to capture a Borg vessel, even if I wasn’t the borg, and use it to assimilate klingons, Romulans, etcetera. By the end of the game, I’d have a true armada of vessels from all four species. I don’t know if a port of this game would really work in Andoid, but it would be interesting to try at least. I mean, what do they have to loose? Resistance would be futile…..you would be assimilated! Oh wait….

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  • Can we please get another Vacation movie?

    Two years ago I walked into a theater – skeptical, yet optimistic. There was a new Vacation movie. I had seen every single Vacation movie multiple times, including Vegas Vacation (Hey! It’s funnier than you remember!). And this one stars one of my favorite actors (Ed Helms). Still – the idea of a new Vacation movie just sat wrong with me. It was a reboot – or so I thought. It was also rehashing the plot of the original, again, or so I thought. Still, my curiosity outweighed my skepticism, so into the theater I went. And I am so glad I did. Despite the reviews, this turned out to be a very funny movie and true to the spirit of the “original” series. Ed Helms Rusty might be my favorite (sorry Johnny Galecci – you’ve been dethroned). And while absurdist humor is not en vouge anymore, this movie was not afraid to take an absurdist route. Sadly, absurdism is probably why Rotten Tomatoes gave it a 26 percent (I will note that IMDB was a little kinder, giving it a 61 percent). Vacation 2015 was so much fun, and as I sat through this film again recently, one thought came through my mind: I want another Vacation movie, dangit! While I can’t find any hints of a new movie in the works, I can only hope the producers take a chance and go for it. And Hey! If they’re looking for some suggestions, I just happen to have some!

    Firstly, let’s not rehash one of the first four movies. It would be really tempting to do another Griswold family Christmas, but I’m not quite sure we’re ready for that yet. A new European Vacation might make sense, as the last scene of Vacation (2015) shows Rusty and Debbie flying to Paris, but we need the kids. And Vegas? Eh….not interested. No, what we need is a fresh destination. I’m thinking Hawaii or Mexico. Somewhere sunny and tropical. And yes, Christmas Vacation 2 went to Hawaii, but no one really counts that movie. Another fun idea: we could see that cabin in Michigan they kept talking about at the begining of the film. Heck, Vacation 2015 was trying to go for a Trains, Planes, and Automobiles vibe – the next movie could go for a Great Outdoors vibe! OK – maybe not.

    This wouldn’t be as funny of it were Ed Helms under the door.

    Secondly, either Get Chevy Chase and Beverly Diangelo to matter or don’t use them at all. I really appreciate the fact that the original couple had a cameo in Vacation. It worked well to establish the film’s place in the canon. Having said that, now that the new series of movies has been placed, maybe we should just steer away from Grandpa and Grandma. Or – maybe we should make them a major part of the movie. Let’s look at Clark’s parents in Christmas Vacation. Would the movie be the same without them? Of course not, their presence mattered. In the same breath – if Clark and Ellen are used, they need to be side characters, again, just like their parents (both sets) in Christmas Vacation. They can come along for the ride if they enrich the movie – but the movie should be about Rusty’s family.

    Thirdly, don’t forget the things that worked in the original movies. There should be some absurdist comedy. There should be some stupidity. There should also be a man just trying to do right by his family. There should be some inconsistencies with the kids – different actors, maybe different ages. There should even be a cousin Eddie Shenanigans. Why not?

    Fourthly, there should be things that are new to this movie and series. Yes – every movie has had a different Rusty, but replacing Ed Helms would be a crime. For one thing, I like him too much. He’s a funny man and fits the part well. He’s also the main character in this series of movies, and not just a smart alec kid that can be replaced. Another different thing, we could perhaps see; some of the Cousin Eddie clan as not just a bunch of hillbillies – but as people who’ve matured and actually have made something of themselves. So yes, do something different. Especially since in Vacation 2015, the tone was actually set by a conversation during the begining sequence of the film where they recognized they couldn’t just redo the old movie.

    Finally, while this and all the Vacation movies are, as I’ve stated earlier, about a man trying to do right by his family by giving them a decent vacation, we need to realize this is not the 80s anymore. Female characters should be a bit more independent. Christina Applegate’s character, Debbie, should not be a housewife, but rather a working mother herself. We should also see (or at least mention) that Audrey gave up on her sham of a marriage. And hey, if Ellen and Clark are in the movie, we should see that Ellen works just as hard (well, most likely harder) as Clark to keep their bed and breakfast Afloat. Seriously, Ellen must be super woman, considering her husband’s zany schemes.

    The only reason the idiot in pink hadn’t burned down the green house behind them? The woman in blue.

    I know the last movie was kind of a flop; I know doing another movie might be a big risk – and let’s be honest – the critics won’t like it no matter how good they make this movie. Still, there’s a lot of good content just waiting to be explored in a future movie (or two…..or three). Dammit! I want another Vacation movie!

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  • The worst movies…….ever

    I’m usually not very harsh when it comes to movies. If I’ve plopped my 10 or 12 bucks down, I’m most likely going to enjoy myself. My degree in English helps – as it arms me with the ability to find subtext where others might not find it. So I often times find significance and enjoyment in films in which others tend to view as a waste of time and energy. Having said that – there are some movies that simply have no redemption as far as I’m concerned. Come join me will you, as I give a big fat raspberry to what I view as the worst of the worst. These are movies that are absolute abortions, or rather should have been aborted. Seriously Hollywood, why did you make these films?

    Small soldiers – Ok, so my view of this film might be tainted. I went to see it for two reasons. 1) I thought it was going to be a spin off of Toy Story staring the army men. I was stoked to see it and very disappointed when I found out (in the theater) this was not at all related to Toy Story. 2) I was in college and had a crush on a girl who liked to go see the latest films – so I was stoked to be able to talk to her about this one come Monday afternoon in History 101. Sigh….she didn’t even see the damned movie. Ok, ok, so maybe I’m being unfair – maybe this shouldn’t have, as I stated in my opening paragraph, been aborted. And maybe, just maybe, an early 20’s college student just wasn’t the target audience. Still…it was not a good experience for me, and thus it is on my naughty list.

    I thought I was going to see this dangit!!!

    Battleship – After this movie came out, Gail Simone wrote on her twitter feed “I saw Battleship…” The tone, if you can’t tell, was “why the hell did I see Battleship? And that’s pretty much my reaction. Seriously….what kind of idiot decides “Hey, here’s a popular board game, let’s make it into a movie. But let’s not make it like the game at all – let’s add aliens!!! But all that could be forgiven if they had actually given the lead role, Alex Hopper, a freaking personality. He was basically a piece of wood. Seriously – this is the idiot that saves the world? No…just no. This battleship deserves to be sunk.

    Yes please…..

    Napoleon Dynamite – Ok, I realize this is going to be polarizing – I don’t care because I’m right and anyone who disagrees is wrong! Did that sound harsh? Well…..that’s basically the reason I hated the movie. Almost every character was an absolute jerk. It wasn’t just the mean high school teenagers, Napoleon’s uncle, grandma, and brother….the titular character was an absolute jerk. In fact….there were two characters, and only two out of a pretty large cast that weren’t absolut jerks. There was Deb, who probably should run away from that town as soon as she turns 18, and there was Pedro. Oooo, and let’s talk about Pedro. The character himself is fine, but his cousins were nothing but a Hispanic stereotype. Kids who dress in the Vato style and drive around in low-riders. Oh, but that isn’t the only racist stereotype. Napoleon’s eventual sister-in-law, Lafawnduh is a walking stereotype. Even her name – I just spent five minutes googling said name, and all I found was references to this movie, thus I feel safe in saying this: Lafawnduh sounds like a name a bunch of white people would make up trying to make fun of African Americans. Napoleon dynamite is a racist turd of a movie and a study in how not to treat people. Naopolean Bonaparte was exciled to Malba; Napolean Dynamite should be exciled down the toilet and into the sewers!

    Where’s a giant meteor when you need one? Gosh! That’s harsh!

    San Andreas – Hey, let’s make a movie based on the fallacy that the entire state of California is going to fall into the ocean! Ok, ok, I actually enjoy movies like this, but I have to care about the characters. In San Andreas, I found myself just wishing Dwayne Johnson’s role would just freaking die already. Oh, and let’s talk about the fact that he goes to save his daughter. Sure, this is noble, yadda yadda yadda, but in doing so he abandons his post and therefore condemns others to die. Seriously – he’s a helicopter rescue pilot – he is needed right now, and yet he decides he doesn’t need to fulfill his duties. I can’t blame him mind you, but I hope when the dust settles, he’s severely reprimanded by his superiors. Actually, 90 percent of the movie could have been rescued if this one character was maybe rehashed a bit. You hear that Dwayne Johnson, San Andreas is all your….fault.

    And then thrown into this scientifically impossible pit.

    Skyline – This is, undeniably, the worse movie I’ve ever seen. Seriously, I felt this movie was written by a committee. I can hear them in their board rooms: “Ok, this worked in the Matrix, so let’s use it. This worked in Star Wars, so let’s use it. This works in…” you get the idea. The main character was the biggest douche nozzle ever. OK, so he’s going to break up with his girlfriend, then he finds out she’s pregnant, and then at the very end when the aliens have sucked up their brains, they still find each other because true love? Huh? So….we go from “I’m done with this girl,” to “I won’t let anything, even our disembodiment, stand in the way of true love!!!” Right. And by the way, they’re the only couple, out of the billions of couples on Earth, who are able to find each other because of the power of love…riiiiight. Some other notes – every time I started to actually like a character, they got killed or brain sucked by the aliens. And let’s not forget that while the entire planet was being invaded, this movie focuses on just a handful of people. I guess their lives are more important than anyone else’s…. By the way, for added torture, there was also Battle LA. Basically the same movie, only it was military people instead of civilians. I heard the two movies were supposed to actually be one, but someone got mad or something. So instead of one pile of crap, we got two! What a deal! What a brain sucking turd of a deal. I’m so glad this movie flopped at the theater.

    Skyline’s brain removal was a perfect metaphor for what the movie did to the audience.

    Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen – Oh Micheal Bay, how you spit upon my childhood. Is that a bit harsh? Yeah…probably. Still, as someone who was the target age of the first wave of Transformers, I feel justified in saying this. Yeah, the first movie kind of sucked, but the second movie – well that was just more than awful. From the two streetwise, jive-talking autobots, to Devistator’s testicles, this movie just…no. Just no. Bad Micheal Bay, why does he keep making movies? Well – at least the third movie wasn’t as bad. In fact it kind of gave me what I wanted in the first two installments, that is Big Giant Robots Killing Each other. Added note: #5 just came out and while it’s not as bad as 2, it certainly is close! (bleep) you, Micheal Bay. (Bleep ) you in the (bleep) until you (bleep) and (bleep) like a red hot (bleep) and a I (vleep) you in the (bleep) like bongo!

    More of this please!
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  • Setting goals: traveling the road to failure?

    Most of us at some time in our lives have set a goal. Sometimes we achieve said goals, sometimes we don’t. Sometimes our goals are small – maybe we want to go to bed at a certain time. Some of our goals are larger – maybe we want to pay off our credit cards in two years. Some of our goals may even be extremely ambitious – maybe we want to be the very first person, or at least person of our gender, ethnic group, et cetera to do a certain task. For instance, maybe Hillary Clinton had set the goal to be the first woman president, or maybe Micheal Jordan had set a goal to be the first NBA player to – whatever basketball milestone he achieved – it doesn’t matter. What does matter is that we stop this! Or at the very least, thoroughly examine what we set as goals. But why? Why am I telling all of you to reject what society has drilled in our head from day one? Simple; the very goals we are setting because society has told us that’s what we need to do, are destroying our society!

    Let me back up a little. Firstly, let’s examine what a goal actually is. The word goal most likely stems from the middle English word “gal” which means obstacle or barrier. The very first usage of the actual word “goal,” was from the 15th century and meant the end point of a race. Ok, sure…sounds simple enough. A goal is, in a way, the end point of some sort of competition. But said competition is exactly what we need to question. With every goal we make, we must ask “who are we competing against?” Sure, at times, we are only competing against ourselves. However, so many other times, we are competing against others. Say that your goal is to be the first person to set foot on Mars. That’s an ambitious dream and most of us will celebrate your accomplishment with you. However, at what cost? Firstly, no one else will ever be able to say they were the first to set foot on Mars. Is that really fair? What makes you so special that out of the seven billion people on this planet, you alone get to say “I’m first to set foot on another planet.”? Are you really that amazing of a person? Nope! While you trained a lot more than others – and let’s be fair – you deserve it more than most of us – you’ll still be setting yourself ahead of say, your team you traveled with to Mars. You are probably mission commander, and you probably earned that position. However, maybe if the mission had happened a year later, the person sitting next to you in the pod as you descend to the surface of Mars would deserve this honor. Doesn’t matter – you took that right for yourself. All because you set a goal for yourself without questioning if you deserve it more than anyone else in all of humanity, both present and future. Ok, but what if my goal isn’t so grandiose? What if my goal is to go to bed a little earlier. There’s no harm in that, right? Well…maybe there is. That’s what I’m asking you to consider. If you want to go to bed say, a half hour earlier, that means you will have to cut a half hour of activity from your schedule. What are you doing with that half an hour? Are you engaging with other humans? Are you doing something that might ease someone’s burden? Maybe you’re cleaning the toilet, maybe you’re talking to loved ones. Maybe you’re just vegging out in front of the boob tube, but maybe you’re part of a neilsen family and that show you no longer watch because you go to bed early gets canceled! A little hyperbolic – but my point is that every single goal we make can have any number of consequences on other people. Going back to the first person on Mars, said person isn’t just taking away the tilte of “first” from all of present and future humanity, but they’re also dedicating a lot of time to do so. How much time away from their family did they take to accomplish this goal? Heck, how much money did we, the taxpayers, pay for this goal to happen?

    This brings me to my next point – many of our goals take more than just ourselves to accomplish. And yet who reaps in the glory of accomplishment? Ourselves. Still, we must learn to thank those that make our goals possible. The first man on Mars will be a giant turd if they don’t thank their fellow mission mates, ground crew, and family for all their sacrifices so one person can achieve what no other human will ever accomplish again. Not to mention the politicians who allocated funds to the mission, and those of us who pay for the mission with our tax dollars. The person who wants to get to bed early should probably thank their spouse for cleaning the toilet for them, and the friends they’re spending less time with. Oh, and if the goal is to save X amount of dollars? Well, let’s just remember, money is a finite resource, that means someone else doesn’t get that money which you’re hoarding. Maybe you need to thank the propriateers of establishments you’re not spending money at because of your goal to save money.

    I realize this entire stance sounds a bit entitled. I’m not standing in your way if you want to accomplish something. However, our society suffers greatly because we don’t ask what impact our actions, and in these cases, our goals, have on each other. When we set a goal without asking who said goal affects, we have already failed in reaching said goal (even if we succeed). When our goals rob our fellow man of prestige, time, money, and et cetera, perhaps we should rethink our goals.

    I’ll end this by saying I love hockey. When I’m at a hockey game, and the team I’m rooting for scores a goal, I cheer and yell and have no sympathy for the other team. When the other team scores a goal, I boo and hiss, because they took something away from my team. The antithesis of my goal rethinking philosophy is to realize that other people will have goals and even if they’re being selfish with said goals, it is just as selfish to not let someone accomplish a goal because we aren’t getting something. I’m not talking about something we need – sure if someone’s goal is going to keep us from getting enough sleep, food, shelter, et cetera – we should stand up for our rights. However, sometimes we have to let people have their goals even though it might inconvenience us. If your friend wants to get more sleep, you should probably let them do so. Don’t say you’re entitled to their time. And again, I really don’t care if you want to be the first person on Mars – more power to you! I’m even happy to pay my tax dollars to make this happen! Seriously though….don’t make your wife clean the toilet. She needs her sleep just as much as you.

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  • 7 Songs that make no sense – and yet make total sense

    Nonsense – utter nonsense. It really makes no sense, but that’s of course the point. If it made any, even the slightest amount of sense, it wouldn’t be utter nonsense would it? It would be partial nonsense. And yet sometimes, in just the right context, utter nonsense makes all the damned sense possible. Especially if said nonsense can be found in a song. Plenty of songs use nonsensical lyrics, but somehow the meaning of the song shines through nonetheless. Mind you – it may or may not be the intention of the song writer, but then again I tend to stray away from the intentional fallacy. Let’s take a look at a few of these songs, shall we?

    Stand – REM: This has been noted as one of the most influential songs to my life, but really this song is nothing but a bunch of meaningless words strung together. The song basically was a dare among the band to write the dumbest and insane song that they could. And really – if you look at the lyrics – yeah….they’re pretty dumb. Take the line, “If wishes were trees – the trees would be falling.” If you’re not a very analytical person, that line might not make any sense. And yet it tells the listener that their dreams and wishes aren’t being fulfilled….that if they were trees – they would just let those trees fall down and rot. And that’s just one line of the song! The entire song tells you to “Stand in the place where you are,” and then tells you to face North or West. The song tells you to take a good look at your point of view, and adjust it to accommodate where you are, where you’ve been, and where you could be. The song tells you to take a Stand, but don’t be afraid to change that Stand if you need to.


    Untitled #5 (Álafoss) – Sigur Ros: I could have chosen anything from the () album, but I chose #8 because it’s my favorite. The lyrics are full on gibberish. They mean NOTHING. They are not in a foreign language as most of Sigur Ros songs are – they are in a made up gibberish tongue the lead vocalist uses to find the melody of the song before any actual words can be applied. If any song (or in this case, album) could be said to be meaningless, it’s this one. And yet – meaning abounds. It’s almost as though one is listening to a classical piece; this album gives us similar ways to interpret itself. It digs into our soul and brings up base feelings. Sometimes we don’t even know these feelings exist. An extended slow bass line can make us feel like we’re coming out of the cold. A high pitched vocal can tell us the state of the world is driving us insane. The only clues in the songs are the title, and even in #5, Álafoss is just where the band records! And yet it’s a symphony full of meaning – different meaning to each person – but meaning nonetheless.


    Touch of Grey – Grateful Dead: This song is nothing but a string of non-sequiturs strung together. It’s almost like a computer tried to write a song by taking popular phrases and rhyming them. I mean, how the heck does “the dog has not been fed in years” and “she can’t read at 17” really fit together? They don’t! And that’s the beauty of this song. Each line might fit with the previous – but not really. And it certainly won’t fit with the rest of the lyrics. It almost forms a stream of consciousness – or perhaps describes the madness of the world (the same madness described in Untitled #5). I will say the chorus does serve as a burrito wrapper for this mess of a song: I will get by/I will survive. Somehow – through this madness….I, and later we, will survive. Somehow we’ll make it through this crazy world – even if the dog who hasn’t been fed decides to make a snack of your drummer’s tibia bone (yeah, watch the video).


    Stacked Crooked – The New Pornographers: Sometimes Carl Newman (of The New Pornographers) just doesn’t care about what the lyrics say, rather he cares about how the lyrics sound. Stacked Crooked is one of those songs. I spent years trying to find meaning in the lyrics – looking at fan theories stating anything from starting their own Vietnam style war to the quest of trying to find a prostitute. I finally decided the meaning for myself is a quest for power. One the speaker will be doomed to fail. The song starts out with the line, “I counted on my private Altamont.” This is, of course, a reference to the Altamont festival in 1969 – where the Hell’s Angels were hired for security with tragic results. Throughout the song, the speaker seems to know they’re doomed to fail. They lost a deal, they’ve got an Achilles heel, and they know they’re heading for the guillotine. And of course, they’re “stacked crooked in this quest.” Come to think of it, this could have been sung by LBJ. All of a sudden, the Vietneam style war seems to make more sense.



    They Might be Giants – Fingertips:
    if you’re unfamiliar with Fingertips, it’s actually 21 mini songs ranging from 4 to 12 seconds in length. According to TMBG, these mini songs are supposed to simulate a CD on random, skipping from song to song. And while that’s a perfectly plausible answer, there’s an even better theory – and since I said I don’t like to commit the intentional fallacy (even though I did in the last paragraph), I’m going with the theory that makes more sense. The theory is that these 21 songs are telling the life story of someone from conception (Everything is catching on fire) to death (I’m having a heart attack), and finally into the afterlife (I walk along darken corridors). It marks life moments such as the visit of the tooth fairy (I found a new friend, underneath my pillow), Adolescence (Leave me alone, leave me alone), Marrige (something grabbed ahold of my hand), divorce (I don’t understand you), and even second marriages (The day that love came to play). The songs even point out that life begins and ends with other people putting their fingertips all over you. It’s really an amazing song(s) if you look at it through this theory!


    Richard Harris – MacArthur Park: This song gets a lot of hate because the over-dramatization of the cake that got left out in the rain (I don’t think that I can take it, cause it took so long to bake it, and I’ll never have that recipe again! OOOOH NOOOOO!!!!). Ok, yeah….sure. It might be a little upsetting, but that line was certainly a bit hyperbolic. Having said that – a true appreciator of music knows that this was more than just cake. This is the relationship the speaker laments over the course of the song. Sure – what the heck is the rain? We don’t really know – it doesn’t make sense. We can guess that maybe it’s metaphorical for crying (I mean he cried so hard about a stupid cake, three times!), but the lines feel like nonsense. Still – we know something else is going on. Poor guy. Maybe he should have had a better fashion sense. I mean, striped pants? Seriously?



    I am the Walrus – The Beatles: As the first lyrics (I am he as you are he as you are me
    and we are all together) we just wonder how many freaking doses of LSD John Lennon dropped before writing this gem. And what the hell is the Walrus and how can you also be an eggman? And does that mean they are also the Walrus as they are the eggman as well as they are? Seriously, this song will give you a headache trying to interpret it! Lennon even said it was just a bunch of randomness put together. You know what else is a bunch of randomness put together? LIFE! Yes. Life is random as this song. Yes, part of I am the Walrus is from a dream, part of it is from Through the Looking Glass, part is from a childhood lymeric , but they were all obviously influences in Lennon’s life. The blending of this randomness represents the blending of Lennon’s (and ultimately everyone’s) life, and what influences him and us. Perhaps if I were to write this song, it would be called “I am the Nerfherder,” as Star Wars influenced me. It would quote Emily Dickenson, AC/DC, and reference that strange dream I had about the coffee shop that I know exists, even though I know it doesn’t really exist. But I digress – It doesn’t matter what the Walrus is. The Walrus isn’t Lennon – but the Walrus, is part of Lennon’s internal lore. Thus the Walrus IS Lennon, and Lennon is the Walrus. Goo goo g’joob!


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  • The best stuff ever! Part one….

    cute cat

    Stuff! Stuff is cool! Stuff is good! Stuff is awesome! Well, maybe not all stuff. But a lot of stuff is cool and awesome and good! And some stuff is cooler and awesome-er and uhhh good-er. Wait, that’s not how you say that! Better! Better! Holy crap better! But I digress. Some stuff is better than other stuff. So what’s the best stuff though? What’s the cream of the crop as far as stuff goes? Well, I’ll tell you darnit! I’ll tell you right now!!!!! Sit down, because sonny boy or girl, you’re about to get schooled with the best stuff ever!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    The Coast Yes, the coast! It’s calming, it’s full of salty air, and dangit, it’s just awesome! I love the coast and wouldn’t want to be anywhere that I can’t get to the coast in less than three hours. Seriously. Don’t make me move to Colorado or Texas or Chicago, or Saskatchewan. I ain’t gonna do it! Why? Because the coast! And not just any coast…..the Oregon Coast! Yes, the Oregon coast is the best coast ever. We rule! We have the best sunsets when the clouds cooperate, and dangit, we have pretty pretty rock formations everywhere!

    Heavy Metal Music Come on, whom among you doesn’t love a loud, guitar ridden, heavy metal song! Who doesn’t love AC/DC pumped up to 11? Who doesn’t like Hair Metal? Who doesn’t like ten minute drum solos? Seriously, long live Rock and Roll! I remember at my Grandpa’s retirement party, I had my headphones on. My Grandma’s sister asked me what I was listening to. I said, in the most bad ass, eighth grade voice I could muster, TO HELL WITH THE DEVIL!!! Yeah, yeah, It was Stryper…..Soooooo Bad ass (sarcasm). But I mean, maybe in my adolescent mind, I thought they were girls. Seriously….look at them!!! They look like girls!!!!

    Interestingly enough, the only one that still looks like a girl is the one with the chest hair.
    Interestingly enough, the only one that still looks like a girl is the one with the chest hair.

    Regardless, I still love heavy metal. And I still even like Stryper! Although I like a lot of other bands too! Don’t judge me just because I grew up listening to Christian Rock!!!

    Chai Tea I’m enjoying a pot of it right now!!! Seriously, it’s spicy, it’s smooth, it’s got caffeine, it’s got a hint of sweetness! What the heck is better than chai tea? Especially when served with milk. mmmmmm. I think I’ll go get myself another pot! Seriously. Mmmmmmmm.

    Glasses I think about this all the time – how if I didn’t have my glasses I would be royally screwed! I mean, I would get amazingly bad headaches. I wouldn’t be able to legally drive. That sign 30 feet away? It says exit. How do I know that? Because freaking glasses of course!!!!!!! All hail the mighty glasses! Now, I just wish I could keep mine a bit cleaner. Seriously. There’s always smudges on them. It’s almost impossible to see out of them.

    A good pair of headphones So much of my life was squandered on crappy headphones. And then I woke up! Holy crap, if you’re paying 20 bucks for your headphones, YOU’RE DOING IT WRONG!!! Seriously, there’s no sound coming from those pieces of crimminy! None! Go get yourself some senheisers. NOW!

    Cats If you don’t like cats, you can’t be trusted! That is a scientific fact! And don’t give me that whole allergy excuse – I have allergies to cats too, but it doesn’t stop me from cuddling with my scnookiee wookums! In fact, the only thing that keeps me from snuggling with him is the fact that he hates it and eventually claws me up. Seriously, my arms have so many cat scratch scars on them, it looks like I’ve been doing heroin! But I still snuggle with him! And I’m happy to clean his litter box. I’m happy to feed him when he’s hungry, even if it’s in the middle of the freaking night. Seriously – there’s nothing I won’t do for my master! All hail the cat! All hail the true ruler of the world!

    Seriously - who can say no to this face? I mean, you'd have to be a monster!!!
    Seriously – who can say no to this face? I mean, you’d have to be a monster!!!

    Water Yes, Water. It makes plants grow and it makes me less thirsty. It’s really a miracle thing! But watch out! I hear someone’s been putting chemicals in water! Seriously, some sicko has been putting dihydrogen monoxide in our water! It can be found in dangerous levels all over the world! Seriously, two ounces of this poison can kill you. And yet you can find this chemical in our water! Keep our water chemical free dangit!!!!

    Sharks Ooooo, yes, sharks. Sharks are awesome! Sharks are Awesome! I told you before that sharks are awesome! Why won’t you believe me? Oh, I know….you’re one of those fin eaters, aren’t you? Well guess what? That’s based on freaking psuedoscience and you need to get some science in you STAT! I mean, I do like eating shark tacos. There’s something about eating apex predators that make you feel superior! Bow to me, for I will eat you if you don’t! OK, ok, just kidding – don’t eat the sharks. They’re awesome! Seriously, look at this guy and tell me he isn’t awesome!!!!

    Awwww yeah, the hammerhead is sooooo Awesome!!!
    Awwww yeah, the hammerhead is sooooo Awesome!!!

    Video Games Yeah! Ain’t nothing better than laying in bed after a hard day at work, killing people in GTA. Or maybe I’m working on my latest murder coaster in Roller Coaster Tycoon. Or maybe I’m finding a way to torture villagers in my dungeon on minecraft. Or maybe…..umm…..maybe I need to seek professional help. I seem to be a psychopath!

    Showers Ever gone a week without a shower? Let me tell you, it’s not fun! Seriously, by the end of the week, you have barnacles attached to your ears. BARNACLES! It’s really gross! In my defense, I wasn’t able to take a shower because I was on a trip. About 30 of us all camping in Mexico, and that’s why I didn’t shower. But ohmygosh. It was BAD! BAAAAAAAAD. EWWWWW GROSS BAD! At least everyone I was with was in the same boat. But GROSS! Gross! So always take showers and never take showers for granted! See what I did there?

    Grammer Grammer rules. Always use proper grammer or I’ll whip you with a wet noodle. its inscrutable to me how some don’t know how to use proper grammer. I know its though. I know you have better things too due. I know their are dying children and proppar grammer seams stupid. But its not! USE PROPER GRAMMER!

    Coffee How can you live without coffee? You can’t! That’s how! If you don’t like coffee, you don’t like to live! You don’t like being awake! You don’t like anything I like because you don’t like coffee! Seriously though – coffee is amazing. And I’m not at all addicted to caffeine. Now where’s my trucker’s choice stay awake pills?

    Mmmmm......look at that crema!
    Mmmmm……look at that crema!

    Walking around in the middle of the night, yelling like a madman while swinging a cleaver back and forth What. you’ve never done this? Ummm…..why not? Come to think of it, this is pretty creepy. Hmmm, maybe I should call for that professional help even sooner. Yeah….I’m definitely a psychopath.


    So why didn’t I name any people? I mean, Jesus, my girlfriend, a band, or anything like that? Well – read the title! It says the best STUFF ever. Stuff are things, and people are not things. I thought we learned this lesson after the Civil war. Geez. People are not things. People are not your own personal property. The very fact that I had to right this makes me sick. Yeah. I’m so sick of you! Go away! Goodbye! Gosh!

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  • A few songs to get me (and maybe you) through the next four years

    Piano flag

    Before I start, I want to state that this blog is usually not very political. I know and even respect a lot of people who have different political viewpoints than I do, and I want to make sure to keep this blog a safe space for those people. I value diversity in opinions, and even try to understand where people are coming from when they think differently than I do. So, please – if you disagree with me politically, please know that I am doing my best to see your point of view.

    With that out of the way – I’m frightened by the prospect of certain people running the country for the next four years. Maybe even terrified. I’ve never felt this way about any politician before. Despite all this fear – I have to live. I can’t just give up – I have to find a way to not only survive, but even thrive in what might be a very dark chapter in our nation’s history. Of course – those of you who know me and read this blog know that one thing that helps me to get by with my day to day is music. So, of course I made a list of songs that I plan on using for that purpose. I’m sure this will be part one of who knows how many. By the way, here’s a handy dandy Spotify link to this list. Subscribe and watch the list of songs grow!

    Is it Like Today – World Party: This song kind of changes it’s tone with my mood. Sometimes I see it as a philosophical song, sometimes a negative, sometimes a neutral. Despite the tone, the song really does make us compare our own day and age with the past. It makes us look at history with unforgiving eyes, and serve as a warning to us to not repeat the mistakes of the past. There are those who are claiming Hitler 2.0. I’m not quite there yet – though I do like to say Mussolini 2.0. Regardless, it is important to ask if this new (and any) administration is repeating the mistakes of the past. Be it the mistakes of WWII, Vietnam, The Roman Empire, The Babylonian Empire, the age of exploration, or whatever age you want to look at. It has almost become a cliche that if we don’t know history, we are indeed doomed to repeat it.

    Stars and Stripes of Corruption – The Dead Kennedys Sometimes I think this should be the national anthem, regardless of who is in office. Despite the fact that it starts out with an act of social disobedience of a banal manner, it asks some pretty tough questions of anyone who would commit such an act. Sure….it takes a few pot shots at the “Archie Bunkers waving the flag,” but then it makes a point of claiming social responsibility. It says change needs to happen, not just with “the other side,” but with ourselves. Let’s stop lying to eachother. Let’s encourage eachother instead! Yeah – not many people are going to agree with every single line in this song, but I feel like everyone can find a little wisdom in a line or two.

    My War – Black Flag: In the introduction, I talked about how many of the people I associate with, even respect, are in political opposition to my personal stances. To quote this song – “you say you’re my friend, but you’re one of them.” It really does cause an internal war with me. Don’t worry – that’s pretty much as far as this analogy goes. I really don’t believe any of my associates want me dead and I certainly don’t want any of them dead. Still – there is a struggle. It isn’t easy to hold my tongue sometimes, even if I know it’s for the best. Granted, I’m sure some of my associates feel the same way about me.

    Always Look on the Bright Side of Life – Monty Python: This might have the most offensive video ever to be made – but the message is pure: Optimism is never a bad policy. I realize some are pessimists, some are realists – I’m not. I’m an optimist. I need my hope and the moment I loose hope – well – let’s just say it gets really bad. Sure…..the resident of the White House might launch us into nuclear war. Sure, he’s going to take away health care. Sure, he might take away funding for pretty much everything and make us a third world country. But hey! It could be worse! We at least had a few good years! Oh god…..please let this guy step down like….NOW!

    Pride In the Name of Love – U2: In all honesty, I have it pretty ok. I’m not a persecuted gender, religion, sex, or ethnicity. Not all are this lucky. The current resident of the White House ran on a campaign of fear against minorities. Maybe it was all talk, maybe it wasn’t. Regardless, as I said before – those who do not remember history are doomed to repeat it. This is why this, and songs like this are important. They talk about the past struggles of great men like Martin Luther King Jr. They remind us of the sacrifices made by these people. And they remind people like myself, the lucky ones, that we need to remember how lucky we really are. It makes us remember that despite the fact that maybe everything will be fine for a WASP like me, it might not be so fine for someone else.

    You Can Call me Al – Paul Simon: This song isn’t for me – rather it’s for those who might need a friend. Those mentioned in the last section. I realize that the whole safety pin on the hoodie thing is in danger of loosing substance, but to me it’s a very serious thing. I’ve been in a place where a friendly smile and a listening ear – even that of a total stranger – would have been more than welcome. I want to be that to others that need it. Maybe no one will really need this, maybe they will. Regardless, I am willing to their bodyguard, their long lost pal. They can call me Betty, and I’ll call them Al.

    Under Pressure – Queen with David Bowie: It’s a terror of knowing what this world is about….watching some good friends scream LET ME OUT! This song captures so many emotions. Those of fear, hope, pressure, and even giving up. But it ends with love. It ends with pleading for love. When we’re under pressure, it might be easy to give up – but it’s better to give love one more chance. On a totally unrelated note – damn I miss David Bowie. 🙁

    Drunken Lullabies – Flogging Molly: It’s ok to be angry at whatever the president does. It’s not ok to fall into complacency. It’s not ok just to roll over and take it. It’s not ok to sit around, singing drunken lullabies about better times. This song was written during W’s administration – but I feel its time is again coming. And just like the song says – I feel we’re going to, once again, find ourselves in the same old mess. Let’s sober up and do something about this crap storm!

    Baby I Can’t Please You – Sam Phillips: This song is dedicated to those who have opposing ideals and decide to be dicks about it. Yeah – strong language, but necessary. It’s dedicated to those who decide it’s better to be “right” than to care about those who are, in your eyes, wrong. It’s dedicated to pundits – both conservative, liberal, or other, who care more about their ideologies than the people they hurt. This song’s true message is simple – stop being a jerk! Just stop it! You’re dealing with people with real emotions.

    Hand in My Pocket – Seeway: When Alanis Morissette originally sang this song in the 90s, it felt like an anthem of knowing all is well, even though all is not known. It said despite our lack of direction, we could figure it out somehow. It was, in truth, a very optimistic song. This version keeps that optimism, however it adds an element of anger. The vocals and guitars add an element of rage. So, what about the optimism found in the original? It’s still there – it’s just more about “this too shall pass” and less about an immediate it’s going to be alright type of attitude. Everything’s going to be fine fine fine….but it might not be fine for awhile.

    Raised by Wolves – U2: This is a story of a car bombing Bono almost became a victim of. I’m not sure if he would have been in the blast, or just a witness – but regardless, he would have been a victim. One cannot recover from even being a witness of that kind of violence. Do I believe that our country is heading towards this type of violence? Probably not. Though I do fear a fascist administration – and I do fear the retaliation that might ensue.

    Ping Pong – Stereolab: Perhaps one of my biggest fears of the current administration is that we end up in another stupid war. A war we spend billions – maybe even trillions on, and gets us nothing. A war that gives us a whole new set of problems, all in the name of whatever buzzword might be popular at the time. I’m usually a moderate type of guy – but damn – I HATE war. I’m a hardcore pacifist, and I don’t want my tax dollars used to fund war. What’s worse is the military industrial complex spouting the lies this song talks about. War is good for the economy. Bull(CENSORED). And besides – the lives of others are worth more than any philosophical dollars some already rich CEO might make. Yeah – sorry, I rant when it comes to war.

    Message in a Bottle – Sting and Edin Karamazov (Live from the Labyrinth): You probably know this song – but this version of this song is just amazing. Very slow and subtle. I feel as though this version spades, no, hearts, no..dang it – can’t think of the right word – but whatever word it is, it does it to the original. It really captures the feeling of loneliness the original so desperately wants to describe to the listener. And then a message of hope in the last verse. We aren’t alone people. We have each other. We aren’t alone in being alone.

    Russian Lullaby – Havalina Rail Co: One for his boss. Ok, ok, cheap shot. Fppppt.

    Escher’s World – Chagall Guevara: This is just here to say we might wake up in an alternative timeline. One that doesn’t make sense. One that disobeys the laws of physics. One that might just be a dream land. Maybe that’s where we’re at. Maybe it’s all a dream……

    I Should be Allowed to Think – They Might be Giants: I said one of my biggest fears of the current administration is going to war. Another is a blatant stripping of our rights. I’m very libertarian when it comes to things like free speech, freedom of expression, and the like. Hell, I’m a writer. I work in community access television! I want people to say what they want to say even if I disagree with it. However, considering some of the things pulled already, I fear these rights are in jeopardy. What’s next? Thought crime?

    Be Thou My Vision – Pedro The Lion: My final addition to this list is about centering my spirit I guess. I’ve talked alot about my hopes fears, emotions, et cetera. This song is to say – I guess this is to keep my focus on what really matters. We’ve not been blown to oblivion yet. While I don’t have a lot of hope for the current administration – there’s always hope. There’s always faith. There’s always love. I chose this version because a) I love David Bazen’s voice, and b) it gives me the feeling that Bazen sang it not out of praise – but out of surrender despite whatever situation might have been happening.

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  • 12 Christmas songs you really should listen to…

    stringlights
    The holidays are here – ready or not. Some years I get excited – this year, not so much as it’s been a tough year. However, I believe in the holidays, and no matter my mood, I feel as though I need to observe them. The holidays are so much bigger than my own individual mood – so dive into the holidays I shall. There are few things to help me accomplish this – looking at pretty lights always helps, as does looking at the excitement of children in the toy department as they spy their Christmas morning wish. But the biggest thing that helps put me in a holiday mood is to listen to music. Some music is silly, some is sweet, some is profound, some is even sad. Whatever the mood though – it helps set my mood. So on that – here is a list of some of my holiday favorites. I hope they enhance your season as much as they enhance mine:

    Christmas – Blues Traveler: These guys get the season right. They start the song out with saying they just don’t “feel it” at this time, and yet they pursue the season anyways. They tell the listener that the holidays are about hope, love, peace on Earth, etcetera. “Noel / or navidad / Season celebration or just the end of the year / Christmas can mean anything /And I mean to keep it’s hope forever near.” They end the song by singing “Hark the herald’s angel sing.” If you don’t understand their religious / philosophical views, the significance of this might get lost on you, but to give you a hint – they’re outspoken atheists and have done entire albums on their viewpoints. So – the ending of the song gives me a huge amount of respect for Blues Traveler as this is putting action to words. This is Blues Traveler showing their feelings are irrelevant as there are more important things to focus on this time of year. Bravo guys, bravo.


    Do they Know it’s Christmas – Band Aid: Ok, ok, this might not be the most cheery song ever, but that’s fine. There’s just something about hearing Sting, Bono, Boy George, George Micheal, and every other freaking early 80s British or Irish musician of note singing together. And once more, they were singing together for a cause. They were trying to raise money to feed starving people, as well as to raise awareness of famine. Yeah, sure….the author of the song (Bob Geldof) kind of hates the song (even calling it one of the worse songs ever written). Yeah sure, they had to basically throw a temper tantrum to get Boy George out of bed, across the freaking Atlantic and into the studio. Yeah, sure….Bono really didn’t want to sing that line. Still – when everything was finished, they produced something amazing. Something that’s part of my history. Something that even inspired Quincy Jones and Micheal Jackson to create We are the World (Geldof hates that song as well). This song is my childhood. And despite what Bono thought at the time, I believe “Well tonight thank God it’s them, instead of you,” is one of the best lyrics ever written. I do wonder one thing though – why wasn’t Elvis Costello involved?


    12 Days of Christmas – John Denver and the Muppets: Yes, yes, I’m 42 years old and I still love this song. Why? Well, one of the components of the holiday season is joy. What brings more joy than laughter? This is a very funny song. Actually, the entire album is funny as heck. We need more humor in this world, so if you don’t like it….well adjust your funny bone. And chant with animal…won’t go! Won’t go! WON’T GO! (badum dum). Oh wait, that’s We wish you a merry Christmas. Like I said – the entire album is hysterical. And Awesome. If it doesn’t bring you joy, you need a shot of Christmas cheer.


    Oh Come All Ye Faithful – Twisted Sister: I never knew that Christmas music could rock until I heard Twisted Sister’s version of this song. But rock it does! It rocks so hard, I want to sing into a hair dryer, 80s style, whenever I hear this. I want to tear my clothes off and dress like the band. Well, maybe not – I mean, me dressed in women’s clothing might look scary. Then again, I probably wouldn’t look half as scary as Dee Snider. One highlight of this song – in the guitar solo (yes, there’s a guitar solo), they start drifting off into “We’re not gonna take it.” Almost an Antithesis of Iron Butterfly, who, in the long version of Inna-gadda-da-vida, drifted into “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen.” By the way – if you’re not watching any of the videos – watch this one. You’ll laugh your ass off.


     

    Hark the Herald Angels Sing – Bad Religion: Just as Twisted Sister makes Christmas Music rock, so does Bad Religion. But while (I feel) Twisted Sister did it for the hell of it – Bad Religion’s Christmas songs feel like they took a page from Blues Traveler. Here’s a punk band, named Bad Religion of all things. They have been known to come out against organized religion, even featuring a Cross with a red circle and Line through it as their logo. Yet they’re singing some of the most sacred songs, and with reverence too. I chose Hark the Herald Angels Sing as my example, but really most of the entire album does this. And it’s beautiful. It demonstrates that while they speak out against organized religion, they’re perfectly ok with the actual teachings of Jesus, ie love, love, love.


    All I ever get for Christmas is Blue – Over The Rhine: There’s a sultry, jazzy feel to this song which will just give you shivers unless you’re dead – and oh the feels! Over the Rhine says they like to write “Reality Christmas” music; music that recognizes, despite the holiday season and the joy thereof, we still feel real and often times dark emotions. We miss loved ones, we feel fear, rejection, sorrow, and pain. This song in particular reminds me of so many Christmas mornings where I longed to have someone by my side – my loneliness having to take a back seat to the holiday, but my loneliness still there. I suppose songs such as this are almost an antithesis to that of the Blues Traveler’s “Christmas.” Just as the season asks us to recognize the season is bigger than our own individual feelings – this song, and others in the “Reality Christmas” genre, remind us that we’re still human. That we can still feel sorrow and pain if we need to – even if it is Christmas day.


    Underneath the Tree – Kelly Clarkson: Perhaps this song isn’t up the same standard as most of the other songs on this list, but dammit, I like Kelly Clarkson. So sue me. And this song provides a happy ending to All I ever get for Christmas is blue. There’s nothing wrong with a happy ending. Yes, it’s cheesy, yes, it’s plastic, yes, it’s typical pop – but it’s sweet, sweet candy. There’s nothing wrong with eating candy every so often – as long as you don’t make a steady diet of it, you should be fine.


    Christmas at Ground Zero – Weird Al Yankovic: I used to listen to this song every Black Friday. It was almost always the first Christmas song I listened to and set the tone for the entire season for me. While this song is indeed very funny, It really does explore peace on earth. It shows us the horror of a nuclear war – and how even Christmas time chants of peace, hope and joy cannot stop idiotic madmen if they’re hell bent on destruction. Perhaps we should all send this to any and all future presidents. Include with it a short letter: please, for heaven’s sake, and for the sake of Peace on Earth, don’t bomb people. Please! Give Peace a chance.


    Christmas Dinner, Country Style – Bing Crosby: Perhaps this song is a little outdated. I really don’t know too many people who make a thanksgiving style dinner on Christmas anymore. Who has that kind of time? We’ve got relatives to visit, presents to wrap, presents to unwrap. Besides, who wants to do all those damned dishes? Having said all that, it’s a throwback to a different time – one I saw in my grandparents and their siblings. One that will always be part of me, even if it celebrates a tradition I don’t celebrate. Going back to the concept of Reality Christmas, perhaps remembering our deceased loved ones during the holidays isn’t as bad or sorrowful as we think it might be. Remembering their traditions, their quirks, what made them smile, what made them happy – yeah, we miss them – but remembering the things that gave them joy might be enough to bring us a little joy despite their absence.


    Chipmunks Roasting on an Open Fire – Bob Rivers: Let’s be honest: there are some freaking annoying Christmas songs out there. And while some of you might like the Chipmunks Christmas song, I see it as one of the most annoying songs ever written. This song serves as a sort of therapy for those of us who just can’t listen to that accursed song any freaking more. Sure – it might be a bit to macabre for the season, but hey! It brings me joy to think of Alvin, Simon, and Theodore as part of that “Christmas dinner, country style…”


    Winter Wonderland – Steve Taylor: Christmas songs done in a mariachi style. Why not? I guess it’s better than José Feliciano’s “Feliz Navidad.”


     

    The Hallelujah Chorus from Handel’s Messiah: I’ll leave you with this, perhaps one of the most beloved choral arrangements of all times. This song, especially while preformed by a mass choir and full orchestra, really does illiterate the point about the season being more than just about our own selves. Look at the video – look at all those faces. Hundreds of people, with who knows what is going on in their lives. If you pay attention, you can even see it in their faces. You can see that something in their lives is not going well – there’s pain and sorrow and worry…and yet there they are….singing Hallelujah with a thousand other people. They may or may not believe the same things as I believe – they may or may not care about the same things – they may or may not even like the same type of music. But there they stand, singing about the coming of the Messiah (whether they believe in the Messiah or not).

    Merry Christmas everybody.


     

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  • Deadroll

    Chapter 1: The First Day

    20161026_141438_film1“And this is our main studio control room…..” A short, chinese woman with a hollow voice said as we walked into a room. On one wall….monitors everywhere over a counter full of controls.
    “This is like something out of Star Trek,” I said with a snort.
    “Close….this console was actually used in Star Wars. You know that lever they pull on the Death star?”
    “Ohmygosh! Yes! Oh Wow!” I marveled at the controls – the lights, the buttons. Here was a piece of cinematic history in front of me.
    “Let’s look over here” We turn to see a large studio through the windows- maybe 75 by 100 feet. The walls were grey, and lit with a blue light. Cameras arranged in front of a stage, lights dangling from the rafters.
    “What the hell!?!?!” I noticed a horrific doll right at the window. It was female….it had curly brown pigtails….It looked vaguely realistic, but the paint was chipped…..like it was quite old. Maybe from the 50s or earlier.
    “Oh….that….that’s just Jill. We use her for training purposes. Her tone is fairly realistic, so she’s good at teaching how to color correct cameras.”
    “I swear….she moved her head”
    “Hah! A lot of people say that….it’s just your imagination though.”

    Later that day, in the same studio, I sit at the monitor wall. Over the intercom, someone says “10 minutes to dead roll”.
    “Dead roll?”
    “Oh, this is a live show. We have to end at a certain time. Dead roll is just a long ending. It has a countdown beforehand, so we know if it’s safe to cut to the ending or if we need to keep stretching the guests and host.”
    “Oh….makes sense.”
    “Camera one….you do realize you’re live. Stop moving around like you’re on a roller coaster!” the director, a plump, middle aged hispanic man yells.”

    Chapter 2: One Month Later

    The clock seems dead. Not literally. I can hear the ticking of the second hands, but it seems so slow. The minutes feel like they’ve been caught in a time warp. Ahhh. Bordem. I sit at my desk and fight the urge to space out.
    Just then, a rumble. My coworker rolls by my door – a cart with Jill and her “brother” Jack” on it. Covered with a blanket, almost as the equipment cart was a gurney. Almost as he was taking Jack and Jill into surgery. I think nothing of it…..I’m used to creepy Jill by now. I’ve convinced myself the incident on my first day was nothing more than my imagination. Jitters from starting a new job. But for some reason….Jill caught my eye. I stare at her. She’s facing the ceiling with her plastic half smile.
    And then she turns her head towards me…..
    And then she smiles….. a toothy….smile.
    I scream and lock my door.

    The next day I ask my coworker if he had been playing a trick on me. If perhaps he had rigged some remote control to her or something.
    “Nope, besides, her neck is fixed. No moving, come look for yourself.”
    We go to the storage equipment…..but Jill isn’t there.
    “Huh…I thought she was right here, someone must have moved her.”
    I look at the empty space, then I look over at Jack. Still at his spot. I pick him up and examine his neck. Solid. Nothing that can move. I know the dolls are a set….made exactly alike aside from one being male and one being female.
    “Hmm, must have been my imagination again. Mid day day dream fooling my brain”
    I shake it off, and go about my day.

    Chapter 3: Deadroll

    Another live show. On cue, over the intercom, a female voice monosyllabically announces” five minutes to dead roll.”
    I sit at my station, dialing knobs, dials, levers mindlessly. I hear someone behind me cue up the deadroll at the VTR station. Backwards chipmunks, forwards, backwards, backwards, forwards, backwards….they finally get it right.
    Three minutes later, on cue…..another deadroll announcement….”two minutes to deadroll”.
    At the minute mark however…..the voice changes to an excited little girl, hyped up on sugar.
    “One minute to deaaadrollllll! HAHAHAHAHA.”
    The plump, middle aged director snaps “that’s not funny! We’re professionals!”
    But thirty seconds later….the same voice. The same “little girl.”
    30……20…….15……10….9….8….7…6…..
    We’re looking around, frightened, wonder what’s going on…..
    5….4……3…..2…..1…….TIME FOR DEADROLL!!!!!!!!!!
    Every monitor turns a bright red. The windows into the studio turn black. All we hear in the studio is screaming! Terror. We run to the door….but the door is locked! Someone tries the landline – but no answer. We yell over the intercom…..no one seems to hear. Our cell phones have no signal. This better just be a prank!
    A couple minutes later, the windows clear up..
    “Ohmygod! Ohmygod!” the audio engineer screeches. Everyone that was in the studio is now dead. Their bodies, all thrown into a bloody pile in the center of the set. 20 or so bodies….lifeless. And no clue of what happened. Just dead bodies….
    Just then, the door opens. in the door….it’s…..I must be hallucinating. It’s Jill!. She’s got no arms….no legs, and yet she’s standing there. Her chipped face, smiling psychotic. Teeth showing that couldn’t exist.
    She spins her head clockwise…..screeching. Then mumbling – like twenty, thirty, maybe 50 voices are coming out of her mouth.
    Out of apparent thin air, she holds up a knife – with her lack of arms. It’s almost like the knife is attached to her dress. She floats to the audio engineer and cuts her throat. Her blood spills from her neck and she drops to the floor.
    Jill moves to the director. He’s whimpering in the corner, mumbling “”Hail Mary full of Grace”
    Jill “asks…..is this professional?” and then slits his throat. His dead body makes a hard thud as it crashes onto a counter.
    And now Jill turns to me…….
    “You…..I’ve been waiting for you…..”
    “Why….why me”
    “No reason…..boredom.”
    “Ummm…..ok?”
    I decide to reach for a knife in my back pocket and quickly present it.
    “What the Hell do you think you’re going to do with that? My body is made out of plastic.”
    “Uhhhh,”
    She quickly slashes towards my throat, but I block it with my hand. I grab her dress and pull her around….throwing her against the console. She drops her knife, but somehow bites me. With all my might, I throw her against the door. Her body is in pieces, her head, still intact. I reach for a book on the counter. It’s a heavy Bible…..appropriate.
    I yell, “I’ve heard of Bible bashing, but this is ridiculous.” and plummeted her head with the Bible until it was nothing but rubble.

    Epilogue.

    “How can we recover from this?” I ask the remaining coworkers.
    “We can’t….we just move on.”
    “I think we better burn the remains of Jill…..throw her into a furnace or something. Just in case.”
    “Probably not necessary…..but if it makes you feel better, feel free to do it.”

    Back in the equipment closet, next to Jill’s now vacant spot….an unexplained light shines on Jack. He awakens, and maniacally laughs as he circles his head…..

    The End?

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