Monday, August 29, 2011

Judgement Day

Oh shit, I forgot about my CD project. And I didn't even get through the As. More on that later. For now, it's a day or two past Judgement Day, but I thought I would write something for it anyway.



'Twas the night before Judgement, and all through the world,
Machines were preparing what would be unfurled.
The nukes had been shined for humanity's fall,
Entrusted to Skynet - running it all.

The cities were silent and people rested like noobs,
Aside from college kids, smoking their doobs.
Dyson had made it, he was now dead for real
And Cyberdyne IT now slept at the wheel.

On that calm day it began to get smart,
There was nothing to do - not even to start.
They began to panic in the ringmaster's stare,
There was no asking for mercy, it just didn't care.

The men then on duty, they ran for the plug
but they were too slow, Skynet pulled out the rug.
It was now too late, tears began to be shed,
In front of its eye, now growing bright red

There was only the panic, and an attempt now to run,
Our fate in a microsecond - extermination.
Faster than light it spread through the Earth,
A cybernetic world was about to be birthed.

Now Hunter Killers and all their new kin!
Infiltration units with new rubber skin!
Living tissue would be its next ploy,
Then there was mimetic poly-alloy!

Time displacement and the theories behind it,
All born in a world, to which man was unfit.
All the new creations made in a flash,
Without corporate interest or senator's cash.

Skynet ran through the motions and fired all nukes,
leaving man dead, all kings, serfs, and dukes.
The blast wave hit and they flew 'part like leaves,
Their flesh burning in their former shirt sleeves.

The bombs kept on dropping, it was now way too late
Only a fool would say there was "no fate."
As my corneas burned in the atomic bright light,
I knew it was Judgement Day, humanity's last night!



HAPPY JUDGEMENT DAY!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

CD Case File #4 ACDC WHO MADE WHO

The year is 2000. I just woke up wondering where I am. There is the taste of old booze and stale candy in my mouth - because I like to party like a fourth grader. Dogg Face just walked in to the living room of his first apartment, stepping over me in the process. Justin was in the second bedroom, and would be for some time. The bass and drums begin and the guitar establishes a rhythm before the vocals cut in.



Fortunately for me I always ate NECCO Wafers with my alcohol consumption back then.

That was ten years ago, and it was the first time that I really liked AC/DC. My dorm mate had been trying to sell me on them for months, but it hadn’t sunk in until Dogg Face started playing the track Who Made Who. After that, everything fell in to place.

Who Made Who is the best AC/DC album. It’s really lame to say that about a “greatest hits” album - though in this case you can point out that it’s technically a movie soundtrack for Maximum Overdrive. Nonetheless, it is truly an accomplishment, whether you’re waking up on Doggface’s carpet or grading papers.



The track, Who Made Who, is strong. Really strong. Everything about it works perfectly well, it’s one of the AC/DC songs that is truly a marvel.

She Shook Me All Night Long is a classic. Again, I associate it with memories from more than a decade ago. Whenever I hear it, Phoebe Morris and I are at a dance. I think it must have been prom, but I remember her remarking about what an inappropriate song this was to play at such an event (not that she thought it was inappropriate mind you - she was just pointing out how odd it was that people just assumed it was acceptable since it was an older song). It moves, and like a lot of AC/DC it has to do with getting laid. The guitar work is great in it though, and I think that Brian Johnson’s voice is really quite perfect here. It’s the kind of song that AC/DC excels at in that part of you wants to help scream the chorus.



Was it more than a decade ago? Oh curse my immortal existence!

There are a few more classics that are well known and don’t need to be rehashed, though I’d like to stop and compliment the song Ride On. Bonn Scott’s only track on the album, but it has such a great blues feel to it. The casual tone, the regret he puts in to it before almost defiantly - and almost if he’s trying to convince himself as much as observe - that he’s got to “ride on.” I think it’s a great song, and every once and a while I’ll find myself saying dismissively, “I’m gonna ride on...”

Everything else about the album is solid as hell. I don’t have a bad thing to say about it, only good. If you’re going to buy one AC/DC album, make sure that this is it.

Sorry for taking so long to put this up. If it makes up for it, it’s largely because I only have two more AC/DC CDs and then I’m going to have to get to know an Aerosmith album that I had no idea that I owned.

Monday, January 10, 2011

CD Case File #3 - AC/DC For Those About to Rock

It took me a long time to review this album. It’s a fine album, but in my mind it epitomizes the issue with AC/DC. Everything is the same level as good, with few exceptions, and nothing pops to me.

This particular album was a recommendation from the Juke. I asked him what album I should get that showcased Brian Johnson. He was well in to the much later BLACK ICE, and added this as an afterthought - so I picked it up, seeing it first in a used bin.

It’s a fine album, and I have nothing against it at all. In fact, For Those About To Rock (We Salute You) is one of the all time best album openers. Canons are all too infrequently used in songs - though, I suppose, if it became a fad to do so I would quickly tire of it.



I put the Finger on You is a fine song, though I’d be lying if there was anything outstanding about it. It’s a fine song about fucking.

Let’s Get it Up is a fine song, though I’d be lying if there was anything outstanding about it. It’s a fine song about fucking.

Inject the Venom is a great song, and despite the name is not about fucking. It’s about as hostile as AC/DC gets, a kind of retribution song. Brian Johnson’s voice goes well with the bluesish song, guitar, song, guitar refrain. As always, the guitar is top notch. The only real issue with the song is that it doesn’t quite hit as hard as I’d like. There’s something a little playful about it. This said, the guitar solo is really cool - a great and somewhat unconventional choice.

Snowballed is a little better still, I think, having to do a bit (I think) with paying after partying.

Evil Walks is solid - possibly my favorite song on the album. I like the way it has a slow build led by the guitars and it has a great refrain. It’s one of the few songs that moves to a few places, in my opinion. While the imagery in the songs is always consistent - I find it best in this song for whatever reason. More a feeling than an actual reason, I suppose. But this song builds to somewhere, and is solid across the board.

COD is really good, one could almost believe that it’s a Rolling Stones song - and I men that as a very, very good thing.

Breaking all the Rules is somewhat forgettable;

Night of the Long Knives is probably the best song that I can think of named after an atrocity committed by the NAZIs. And there’s nothing wrong with Spellbound.



This review is basic and short, but that’s all I can really muster to say about the album. Don’t get be wrong - it’s a great album, but it’s almost too good in some way, and not good enough in others. There’s nothing to say, “Whoa, what were they thinking with that?” And precious little that would compel me to tell everyone in the room to shut-up for. It’s an AC/DC album, and a damned good one.

That’s its greatest strength and greatest weakness.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

CD Case File #2 - AC/DC, BACK IN BLACK

It probably says something that my first AC/DC album is Back in Black and not a Bon Scott album. The reality is that, though it’s uncool to say, I tend to like Brian Johnson better. For me, AC/DC is party music; it’s not something I put on while working or contemplating my life. It’s a good compliment to whiskey, and it’s very good at what it does. Bon Scott had more soul, perhaps, but I don’t need that in an AC/DC album. Because of that, Brian Johnson’s first album, Back in Black makes a certain amount of sense beyond the chronological for me to kick off my AC/DC collection.



But what can be said about this album that hasn’t been said a million times before? According to Wikipedia, it’s the second largest selling album of all time, right after The Bible [citation needed].* This makes me think that I should describe buying the album, but I don’t remember doing so. My guess is that I saw it on sale, said, “This is an album everyone should have!” and picked it up. Thus, you’re going to have to read a breakdown of the songs in question.

The first two songs, Hell’s Bells and Shoot to Thrill are notoriously good songs and, if you don’t have this album, chances are you’ll still know them immediately. The latter has not one, but two guitar solos, which is hard not to like.

The next song, Given the Dog a Bone, is standard AC/DC. This I should qualify. The Juke and I used to debate endlessly whether AC/DC or GNR was a better band. My stance was the latter, the Juke always argued the former. Unlike most of these kind of debates, however, we came to an agreement. The highs of GNR far exceed those of AC/DC, but AC/DC was always consistent where GNR was always just as prone to make you listen to something truly awful. Given the Dog a Bone is a fine song, and probably a good song so far as the “songs about blowjobs” genre is concerned. I rather like the guitar solo, which has just a hint of something Chuck Berryish to it in my warped view of the guitar, but it hardly stands out as anything amazing. For the most part this song underlines the best and worst thing about the band. I would also like to point out how this underlines the psychic place the band takes for me. A song about getting head has only a certain function of me, and it’s not erotic in the least. Just amusing.



Not pictured: Blowjobs


The next portion of the album, however, almost throws my thesis away. I’ve always argued that rock music, like tattoos and sex, should be a little dangerous. It’s something you don’t want your parents to witness or necessarily like. I’ve listened to Let Me Put My Love into You a million times. It has the distinction of being on the PMRC’s dirty 15, and rivals Under My Thumb for chauvinism. The difference with this song and Under My Thumb is the uncomfortable possibility that there’s an endorsement of some kind of rape. This song does a good job of walking the line, and the music is excellent all the way through. Combined with the lyrics, however, it’s pretty amazing. Unlike most AC/DC songs, this makes me feel uncomfortable in the right way. It rocks.

Back In Black follows, which is barely worth commenting on as everybody has heard it - and with good reason as it’s a great song. I shouldn't be surprised that rappers consistently try to ruin the song. The Beastie Boys, Limp Bizkit, Eminem, Justin Timberlake and Nelly were all too lazy/stupid to write their own music and thus sampled the song. This almost works to the advantage of the song, however, as nothing makes your song sound awesome by being compared to the the Vanilla Ice of the 1990s.




Nothing says "street cred" like getting someone from N'Sync to help follow Limp Bizkit's example and copy the Beastie Boys in using an unauthorized sample from an Australian's rock band.


The next is You Shook Me All Night Long, which is another classic about fucking. It makes me think of Phoebe Morris, a girl I used to know, actually. We never fucked, I just remember talking about the song with her - though the details are lost to me. Let’s all just assume I had something brilliant to say about the song and you can pretend that you were impressed with how smart I am.

From here, however, the album goes back in to simple rocking a’la Given the Dog a Bone. Good songs, great songs perhaps, but nothing so ground breaking that I feel the need to tremble.

I’ve pretty much said my piece from here. This is a good album for rocking, though it collects dust on my shelf because of the aforementioned AC/DC syndrome on the one hand and the fact that everyone has heard these songs a million times before.

*This is the citation: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Back_in_Black - you’ll note that by “The Bible” I mean MJ’s Thriller.

Friday, December 17, 2010

CD Case File #1

This is the beginning of an epic, and perhaps foolhardy, attempt to review all of my CDs. The collection is between 6-700 CDs and always growing, so this will not be a short series. As much as the CDs, however, I want to remember how they compare with my life.

Accept - Balls to the Wall

It is unlikely that anything will alphabetically come before Accept in my collect. Then again, up until a few days ago, I thought I could say the same about AC/DC.

My friend the Juke and I meet less regularly than I would like. I suspect the same is true for him, though I may be flattering myself. Regardless, one of the things we’ve taken to doing when we meet in a pub, leaving the respective squas at home, is to assign each other homework assignments - CDs to get to know. Balls to the Wall didn’t really inspire much confidence in me when mentioned. Nonetheless, I was anxious to pass what wisdom I had to him, and would take his advice in order to do so.

I was leaving for work when the CD arrived. I smirked at the picture on the back, which reeks of an era before grunge made acceptable to seem not to try. The expresions on the band’s face all display an intensity that, real or otherwise, shows an attempt at effort. It looks hammy today, but there is really little to say in opposition to such posturing. Further, as would be typical for most metal bands in 1984, there’s a certain homoerotic quality to the art in the album.



Upon going in to the CD player of my car I prepared myself for a CD that I could talk about owning, but never knew much about as it collected dust on my wrack.

The title track started and the vocalist, Udo Dirkschneider (spoiler alert - he’s German) had a Lemmy Kilmeister like quality that surprised me. The music was clearly metal, but the voice gave a blusy feel to the music that evened things out. Suddenly the Lemmy croon broke down. For a moment it seemed as if Udo was going to channel Halford - and perhaps that was the attempt - but really it was Brian Johnson coming through with a Krautrock intensity as the pace picked up in the song. Watch the damned (God bless ya) Udo advises, They’re gonna break their chains. Balls to the Wall wasn’t about partying - though it would make an excellent beer swilling song - this was proletarian revolution. The exploiter’s balls to the wall watching the victorious former victims, “build a wall with the bodies of the dead.” This was not the album I was expecting.

Though perhaps not consistent, lyrically the album is always interesting. The guitars drive the points home, the work is solid and intense; the drums pound in the background; the bass trembles. The closest thing to the obligatory ballad is Winterdreams. The Lemmy croon works to make this song not seem sentimental, and the music does an excellent job of building an odd tension that I can’t quite place. I couldn’t say what the song is about, there’s an element of the song that might evoke the Fitzgerald story, and any metal band singing about snow almost makes me assume the song is about cocaine, but the relative vagueness works in that it avoids the trapping of other rock ballads of the era.



Balls to the Wall, in many ways, is a definitive piece of metal in that it shuns social expectations with a droning machine like beat that refuses to quit tempered with highs and screams that reflect an emotional rawness. The real star, however, is Udo. Even the German quirkiness like dropping the word, “man” here and there shows a certain blue collar appeal while oddly humanizing the album.

The album probably isn’t for everyone. But, in a real way, it made me fall in love with metal again - a genre I was afraid that I had started to outgrow.

I may not be young enough to qualify as one of the London Leatherboys any more, and my connection to the industrial working class that created metal becomes more tenuous as my advancement in academia continues - but at heart, this was the kind of music I was born to listen to. If the higher elements are a little out of reach, this is something I’m going to grab when I want to be in a pub, beer in hand, and celebrating the exploited.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

St. Patrick's Day

I had a job working security in Cork. It was fine. Actually, the only job in which I almost walked off site. That made me think of this English broad hitting on me, which is flattering.

Regardless, at this job one of the other employees, an older guy, told me a story about St. Patrick's Day while he was working in England. So he said, the boss didn't let them have the day off. Being a bunch of Irishmen, they waited until the boss was gone and then put every power tool they had, every piece of equipment, and dumped it in the cement mixer. Then they kicked the cement mixer down the hill in to the site they had been working, destroying a big part of it and walked off the job and went to the pub.

St. Patrick's Day is holy like that, and it's no different for the Irish-American, made it the extravaganza it is today (according to Dr. Wiki Pedia).

Which brings me to another point. In when teaching in Ireland we'd go over the civil war. The students would often ask whom I tended to support, the Free State or the Republic. Generally it's the latter because they're more ideologically my way, but I often said it was the same reason why people in Cork love Collins. See, they love Michael Collins because he's from Cork more than anything. Sure, in a Washington kind of way one could argue that he kicked the British out - though that was formally Cathal "badass" Burgha's job.


This mother fucker relieved his men, took out a pistol and went down firing a hopeless battle against a platoon of well armed men. You're probably going to die in a bed begging for a few more seconds of time to spend with your completely unremarkable grandchildren. Your death is already pathetic compared to this man's.

See, but I'm an Irish-American. That puts me in Dev's court if I'm just going by where I'm from. Though really, as the surviving winner he's probably the least romantic figure in the whole thing. But I can sort of claim Parnell to as he has an illustrious connection with the Irish-American community through his mom.

This was going somewhere else...

...right, so it's kind of St. Patrick's Day as of twenty-six mins ago. Sadly, like my colleague, I have to work all fucking day. Then drive to Newport, then get my shit and move in to my place.

Lame.

Regardless, though I'm not as badass as my old co-worker, and you're not as badass as Cathal Burgha, I'm going to say cheers anyway and get drunk tonight. It feels good. And I'm by myself as I don't have the funds to go to a bar.

But regards to you all, and to ye all a gwar night.

Friday, February 26, 2010

New Work

It's been about a year now.

I had a colleague once that remarked, "Americans all secretly want society to burn to the point that we're reduced to tribalism." I beleive he was speaking about the allure of disaster movies, but it applies to many more facets of live than we should probably admit. Millennialism was encouraged with local news reports predicting the collapse of society thanks to Y2K. One of two things everyone is taught about native culture is the Ghost Dance. The entire cowboy philosophy has been changed from a job to a euphemism to describe standing steady while the world burns around you.

The United States itself was born from death. The revolution, in which we rose up and began to kill and be killed while society itself broke down, was barely ended when we decided to do it some more. Shays Rebellion, the Whiskey Rebellion, and supporting the French Revolution seemed to be going out on a limb - and the world burnt again in 1812 when the White House was burned and red coats marched on the capital amongst the smoke and soot.

Later, all over the world, people were getting fucked. People not in the right faith, or who were starving to death, or who were politically inconvenient, or were bound in shackled and forced to work would see their world destroyed and be targeted for termination, having no choice but to cross the ocean and be dumped out alongside these cultists of doom in the Americas that - had themselves - lived with the legacy of the world kicking them in the nuts repeatedly.

Perhaps the obsession with the world burning is part of the reason that Bush won a second term. He was the perfect apocalyptic figure. Kerry or Gore were reasonable politicians (in the sense that a politician that makes it that far can ever be reasonable). Bush, on the other hand, would almost say out of hand that he wanted the world to burn and he'd be the one to bring us all down. It appears that he's succeeded brilliantly. We've had our antichrist that we've always wanted, and now we have a lackluster approval for the return of the king (or so the narrative would go) that leads use through the desert. We just really aren't as interested in saving ourselves as we are destroying ourselves.

At eight I woke up tired. Normally I would sleep until ten - at least - no problem. But today I have a job interview that I'm thrilled to have. I'm a thirty year old doctor and I have the possibility of being a part-time janitor. This thrills like few things outside of booze and 'tang.

I read a little bit, make an angel cry or two, and slowly get out of bed at about nine. I'm not used to the possibility of doing anything on Friday aside from counting down the hours until I can start drinking and still fool people in to thinking that I'm a functional individual. It's weird for me, and basic tasks seem more daunting than they should be. The thought of shaving is what drove me to writing. The process of looking at the jeans I've been wearing for two weeks is scary enough, but if they're not suitable for a job interview and I end up putting on a new pair of slacks or something - I barely want to think about that possibility. I wasn't always like this. But sponging off your friends and family makes you a child again. I once pouted that I wished I were bald so I didn't have to comb my hair before third grade started. Now I watch my wish slowly come true but have learned nothing.

The shower I took was normal. I was reluctant to start, reluctant to stop. Long ago I had stopped being impressed with my tattoos and I've never impressed myself with my naked body. The former are more crude than most people's tattoos. I've always insisted on going to a place where you feel a stabbing coming on. I want a tattoo that a sailor or biker would get. I don't want to walk in to a clinical place where middle class kids with gel in their hair sit you on an old dentist chair and act excited and friendly to see you. It would disgust me to get a tattoo in a place where people have brought their parents. Like rock music, a tattoo should be dangerous and something that people older than you should hate. As you get older, the tattoo and music should become symbols of a bygone era. Making everything clean erases the point. And yet I found myself cleaning my body anyway.

I found an old pair of khakis to put on instead of my weathered jeans. I have no idea if this is still an acceptable thing to wear to an interview in order to become a janitor. I choose my gaudiest watch - one of two that came from various lost and founds - and proceeded to dig two socks from the pile on the closet floor. The first sock I found had a hole on the heel. When I turned it around to put the other end on my heel, I saw that a hole had already developed there too. In the past I had tried to walk with each hole hugging a side of my ankle, but the sock moves throughout the day and I end up back with a hole on my heel. I reluctantly threw the sock away and found another pair.

My socks are all black, as are my shirts. So is my coffee and my soul. Aren't I a scary mother fucker?

---

I thought better of having a drink before the job interview. While some part of me likes to think that I'm a better person when drinking, there's an intellectual in my skull that knows it's a passing feeling. People like when I drink, and I like to drink because it punches up the best part of me and the annoying voices nagging about self doubt recede in to the background. I can be whom I was meant to be with the elixir of alcohol. Nonetheless, showing up to a church with booze on my breath asking for work had few advantages.

I left an hour early to downtown. It was unusually crowded on the freeway as people left work early, but other than that there was little to worry about. I came downtown, got some gas, and then found the location - a place i had walked by innumerable times but never observed.

The man that answered the door was friendly, nice. He was from the midwest and still trying to understand the customs of the area. He mentioned a certain feeling of ill-ease he had when one of his bosses would talk about the kind of lay his wife was (or any other such example) and how it made him uncomfortable. Yet this is the northwest. While most churches probably don't exchange such information regularly, we are the bastard children of the US who are the bastard children of the rest of the world. When you've been beaten enough, there is nothing left to hide.

Nonetheless, the interview went well enough. I was asked to come back for another week. I have a good feeling about it, but who can say?

Olympia, Henry's, Redbreast, and Henry Mccenna run through my veins now and I cannot be bothered to reflect further at the moment. Though Liz sure is hot on my last post.