Thursday, June 26, 2014

Triumph the Insult Comic Dog Sums Up My Thoughts On Soccer Perfectly

I truly hate soccer. Aside from golf, it is the most boring sport imaginable. I am upset it is beginning to catch on in the US. American football is far more exciting and competitive. Conan O'Brien sent out Robert Smigel and Triumph the Insult Comic Dog to talk to some soccer fans. Hilarity ensues. Here is part one and two:

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Harry Reid: 'Being On The Wrong Side Of Dick Cheney Is Being On The Right Side Of History'

"If there's one thing this country does not need, is that we should be taking advice from Dick Cheney on wars. Being on the wrong side of Dick Cheney is being on the right side of history. To the architects of the Iraq War who are now so eager to offer their expert analysis, I say, Mr. President, thanks, but no thanks. Unfortunately, we have already tried it your way and it was the biggest foreign policy blunder in the history of the country." - Harry Reid.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Orange Is the New Black Season Two Wrap-Up

I just burned through season two of Orange Is the New Black in record time. Initially, I believed the new season was not as good as the first. Now that I have finished it, I take that back. To those who believed (as I did) that OITNB is the Piper Chapman story, you may find yourself disappointed to discover entire episodes in which she does not appear. Though Chapman is still a major character, the second season gave a number of her fellow prisoners a greater time in the spotlight.

To me, the drama between Piper and Alex is pretty old and boring. How many times can someone burn you and fuck up your life before you swear them off forever? In the season two opener, Alex does it again. When both Alex and Piper find themselves in Chicago waiting to testify against the drug dealer that employed them, Alex convinces Piper to lie on the stand and say she didn't know who he was. She convinced Piper that it was for her safety. Despite that old adage about not believing liars, Piper did as she was told and committed perjury. Naturally, Alex didn't, and she was released from jail immediately. Piper gets burned again.

Back at her "normal" prison, Piper is fuming about being burned by Alex once again. But she hardly has time to vent about it before being thrown into a whole bunch of new drama. I won't go point-by-point throughout the whole season, but I will share some of my favorite highlights from the season.

At the end of the first season, Piper had her big fight with Pennsatucky, and it looked like Penn might be dead. She wasn't. But due to a lucky twist of fate, when Crazy Eyes saw what was happening and popped Piper right in the face, this actually saved Piper. Because Piper, too, was knocked out and showed signs of being in a fight, the administration at the prison held that the conflict was mutual and neither girl was given additional discipline. Oh, and Pennsatucky got new teeth out of the deal!

As far as new characters go in season two, there are only a handful. The first one is Soso: a young, naive college girl who was arrested for unlawful political protests. She was kind of funny, and seemed a little bit like Piper did when she first got to the prison. By mid-season, though, I stopped giving a shit. The other newbie is Vee: a tough as nails drug dealer who has been to prison before and has long standing relationships with both Taystee and Red. Vee becomes a major character in season two.

Morello, the seemingly sweet romantic who is constantly planning her wedding, turns out to be a lot more dangerous than anyone might have thought. We learn that she is not in jail for mail fraud, but for criminal stalking. Her "fiancee" is a man she went out with once and became obsessed with. In one episode, Morello abuses the trust placed in her and steals the van she uses to transport a sick prisoner to get cancer treatments. She drives to her victim's home, breaks in, and does some generally creepy shit. She gets away with it in the sense that she is not caught by the prison; but the "fiancee" knows she was there and confronts her at the prison in a very loud scene which exposes her true crime to the other prisoners.

In the backstory segment on Taystee, we see that she was a child of the foster system. The aforementioned Vee takes her in and turns her into a drug dealer. This seems to be something Vee does often. She is the master manipulator, especially when dealing with vulnerable children. In prison, Vee and Taystee reunite, and after some initial drama, the two are back in business together. In short order, Vee becomes the queen of the black women in the prison, and uses "divide and conquer" tactics to crush anyone who challenges her position. 
"Crazy Eyes"
Taystee and Crazy Eyes are especially susceptible to Vee's manipulation. While everyone else slowly catches on to Vee's game, Crazy Eyes falls deeper under her control. In an especially sad scene, Vee convinces Crazy Eyes that it was her - and not Vee - who delivered a brutal beatdown on Red. Vee is so cold that she had no issue letting Crazy Eyes take the fall.

Spoiler alert: Vee eventually escapes from prison, but is killed by Miss Rosa, who herself escaped - with the help of Morello's van.

Speaking of Miss Rosa, her backstory was a little more interesting than I had assumed. In her flashback, we see a young and very attractive Rosa in her life as a bank robber. Her real crime was being too greedy. She got caught by trying to rob a second bank just minutes after robbing her initial target. Silly criminal.

Somehow, Piper is given a 48 hour furlow at one point in the season, and we get caught up with her ex-fiancee, Larry, and her "best friend," Polly. Despite her chronic cheating, Piper finds herself quite furious to discover that Larry and Polly are now a couple. Hopefully, this means we'll never have to see the two again, as I dislike both characters.

Unfortunately, season two does not have any major storylines with Nichols. She's in the show a lot; but besides her contest with Big Boo over who could get more prison pussy, and the challenge to her sobriety when she is handed a bag of heroin, she's just sort of there. I like her character and would like to see more stories with her next season.

There are some other reveals and backstories, but none that I really cared about except for the Caputo vs. Figueroa battles. Fig suffers some major setbacks this season by discovering her husband is gay, and for getting dangerously close to being arrested for embezzlement from the prison. Ultimately, she skates on the criminal charges by resigning, but Caputo gets to deliver the fatal blow by tricking Figueroa into blowing him in exchange for his silence on her criminal activity. After finishing, Caputo reveals that he has already turned her in to the warden. Oops.

Overall, this season was better than the first one. The deeper exploration into more of the prisoners added to the appeal of the show rather than distracting from the Piper focus of the first season. Piper is great, and I like her story lines (for the most part), but learning more about Diaz, Sophia, and Crazy Eyes, for example, gives a more complete picture of what life is like in this fictional prison.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Tea Party Dilemma: Bergdahl Was One of Them

According to a new article at Wonkette, recently freed P.O.W., Bo Bergdahl, was not some America-hating, jihadist. In fact, he was something of an Ayn Rand devotee.
He also was a big fan of Ayn Rand, and on June 27, 2009, emailed friends a message titled “Who is John Galt,” which included this passage: “I will serve no bandit, nor lair, for i know John Galt, and understand . . .” Bergdahl wrote. “This life is too short to serve those who compromise value, and its ethics. i am done compromising.” Three days later, Bergdahl walked off his post.
Hmmm. The article also points out that Bergdahl may have had some issues with mental illness, and probably should not have been allowed to join the Army in the first place. Either way, it seems highly unlikely that he was some terrorist wannabe. He was a confused and disturbed young person who found himself in a war he was conflicted about (as most of the country is).

Regardless, arguing that he should have been left behind in Afghanistan - as the right has argued - is inappropriate and un-American.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Sharon Van Etten Favorited My Tweet

Sharon Van Etten's newest album is called Are We There. Buy it.

I totally forgot about this, but wanted to post. Ana Marie Cox, a writer for the Guardian, tweeted about the song, "Your Love Is Killing Me" by Sharon Van Etten. I responded by simply expressing how much I like Sharon's music. I got favorited by her. Yay me.

Monday, April 7, 2014

The Return of The Dark Stuff Podcast?

Annie Clark (aka St. Vincent) signed my LP
Ever since I ended my podcast, The Dark Stuff, a few years back, I have been plotting its return. Initially, the idea was to make it similar to my weekly radio show. I would play music and offer commentary or insights about said music. That worked for a little while until I realized how non-unique the format was. There were a million podcasts just like it. 

So, I decided to change it a little bit by bringing in a co-host who had different musical taste than I do. That worked okay for a little while, but still left me unsatisfied. Next, I decided to add a new wrinkle to the show by focusing on obscure or under-appreciated bands from 1990s. I would interview someone from the band; and through their storytelling and my observations (as well as the music), these bands would be introduced to a whole new audience. It worked pretty well. I interviewed members of Swervedriver, Madder Rose, The Meices, Overwhelming Colorfast, and some others. The format worked well until my computer crashed and I lost the software I was using at the time.

The Dark Stuff podcast ceased to exist at that point.

Now, years later, I am in the early stages of bringing it back. I don't want to just repeat what I did in the past. That would be boring. Furthermore, it is very difficult nowadays to play music on a podcast without going through official channels and paying tens of thousands of dollars. So, I want to do an interview show.

I know what you're thinking....there are a million interview podcasts! That's practically all there is. Yes. This is true. But, in my mind, the key to hosting a successful interview show comes down to two things: the interviewer and the guests.

I think I am good interviewer. And I recently had this confirmed when I did an interview last week with Annie Clark (who records and performs under the name St. Vincent). I was supposed to get 5-10 minutes with her, but the interview ended up going on over 20. That is always a good sign. Later on that evening, I was told that Annie was pleased with the interview and had a good time with me. Great. This is someone who is interviewed multiple times a day and has a very low tolerance for stupid/boring questions. If I passed her test, maybe that is a sign that this whole concept is a solid one for me.

To keep the show fresh and to have a wider audience, I am planning on interviewing people from a number of professions and walks of life: entertainers, business people, religious people, restaurateurs, political figures, bands, whatever. I know all sorts of people, and most would be comfortable being interviewed by someone they know. Having a mix of "celebrities" and "regular" people would be unique, I think. Kickstarting the show with someone as high profile as St. Vincent would really get the name out there.

Anyway, this has been my long-winded of telling you keep on the lookout for the return of the Dark Stuff Podcast.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Bob Mould "See A Little Light" on Letterman

Bob Mould performed on Late Night with David Letterman last night as part of his promotional tour in support of the 25th Anniversary re-release of Mould's solo debut, Workbook. He performed that record's first single, "See A Little Light." Enjoy. 

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Making Some Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes

It's a pretty basic concept among businesses to have annual or bi-annual reviews of their employees to determine what if/any raise may be due to that person or if they are not due anything. We've probably all been there. Where I work, a policy was made to review everyone in January, because it was too time consuming to do it on the anniversary of an employee being hired. Okay. Makes sense.

This year, January came and went and I had not heard anything. I started to ask what was going on, and why this had not happened yet. Without getting too deep into the details, it basically came down to the bosses being forgetful -- there was no intent to avoid this process. By the end of February, I was beginning to get a little bothered since I had reminded those responsible for the reviews that they hadn't happened yet.

I started thinking that maybe this wasn't mere forgetfulness, but something of an ominous sign for my future with the company. In all honesty, I have wanted to leave for quite a while. But with the economy where it has been, and the fact that I just bought a new house a few months ago, I just didn't want to shake anything up financially. 

So, I decided to preempt a formal review and just ask - straight up - if the lack of review for me meant I was going to get bad news. I was prepared for it. If I had been told that no raise was forthcoming - not even a cost of living increase - than I would announce that I was leaving. I accepted not getting a raise during the height of the recession; but with the economy in recovery, this was not going to work.

Turns out, my current position is being phased out, and won't exist at the end of the year. I was told that I could remain throughout the year - with a modest raise, paid retroactively - but after that...done. Even before hearing this, I made the decision that I was going to tell my bosses that I would like to openly search for another job, while remaining employed with them. I didn't want to have to be secretive. I'd like to be able to post to friends on Facebook that I am looking, or maybe that an interview went well, or something like that. Though many do it, it is very difficult to look for a job while you still have one. The sneaking around is not something I'm comfortable with.

This worked. It is now known that I intend to leave by the end of the year, but it could be much sooner if I find something I like earlier than that. So, I guess it has all worked out. Now comes the truly scary part.

I don't have a fucking clue where to start in my job search. It has been eight years since I was out in the job market, and it is an entirely new world out there. The whole idea of going back out there to do interviews or blindly sending my resume to companies via some job website is a daunting one. Fortunately, I can ease into it since I have a few months to find a new job, rather than a few days or weeks. I'm only 43, but I feel really nervous about the whole thing.

Wish me luck.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

My Pavement Mini-Reunion (Omaha Edition)

I witnessed a very rare occurrence last Sunday night (Feb 16, 2014) while seeing Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks in concert at Waiting Room Lounge in Omaha. Towards the end of the show, Malkmus welcomed to the stage his former Pavement bandmate, Bob Nastanovich

Nastanovich supposedly lives in Des Moines, IA (apprx. 2 hours away from Omaha), and occasionally visits Omaha to see shows. When I arrived at the venue for the concert, I was told he was on the guest list. No more than two minutes later, I saw him and Malkmus walk right by me and head outside. I immediately started thinking, "Pavement reunion!"

Well, not exactly. I did, however, get to see 2/5 of Pavement reunite and perform the song, "Unfair" from the band's celebrated album, 'Wowee Zowee.' The track was perfect for this situation as it features Nastanovich on lead yelling. The raucous track got the crowd super excited, and once everyone figured out what was happening, there was a mad rush from the back of the club to the front of the stage. 

The "reunion" lasted for only one song, unfortunately. Still, it was a pretty great couple of minutes.