Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Peace on Earth.

In World War Z, Israel and Palestine finally set aside their differences and united. All it took was an undead outbreak that wiped out most of life on earth. Hopefully it won't take an event of that magnitude in real life.

I had real hopes for a fairly peaceful resolution when Yasser Arafat died. I thought that his inflexibility was holding back the peace process, and with fresh leadership, significant steps forward could be taken. Then Hamas got elected... Well... shit. Add in the attacks by Hezbollah on Israel, and a chance at a cessation of hostilities suddenly seemed as far away as ever.

I think a lot of the issues that divide the people in that region are overstated and manipulated by a few influential people who want the conflict to drag on until one side or both has been annihilated. It's a real shame.

However, I find my perspective limited to analysis. Unlike Afghanistan and Iraq, I don't know anyone in Palestine or Israel. As such, I have a very limited idea of the perspective on the ground. That's changed a little thanks to this blog. Life Must Go On In Gaza and Sderot.

This blog is written jointly between two people. One lives in Sderot, an Israeli city that is frequently the target of missile strikes from the Gaza Coast. The other lives in a refugee camp outside Gaza. Together they share one common hope, for an end to the conflict that defines existence in the Holy Land.

Please visit their blog, and get a feel for their life. While there, please sign the petition asking for a one month cease fire, to allow civilians an opportunity to get out of the line of fire.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

The Exception to the Rule...

The rule is that I don't like country music. It wasn't always so, but between the time I spent living in Alabama, Louisiana, and Georgia, I just got sick of it. I just grates my ears now.

The exception is Johnny Cash. I think a large portion of my affinity for the Man in Black comes from the fact that he seems so much more real than anyone else in country music. He sings with the feel of a man at the poker table, making his bets, and counting his demons. In particular, his American Series of records, are just amazing.

One of the things that Cash did so well was to take a song that's been played out by other people, and remake it into something that's completely his. Danny Boy, Hurt, Personal Jesus, Rowboat, Rusty Cage, One, Bridge Over Troubled Waters, Desperado, and many other songs, were all initially performed by other artists. However, Cash made them his. His style. His voice. His soul.

The song that I think most illustrates this is his treatment of the traditional gospel song "Run On". Here is the song being sung in the traditional manner, by none other than Elvis Presley.

It's a fairly upbeat, evangelical song. Note the emphasis is on the "Go Tell". It's a song from righteous people, for righteous people. Well in line with Presley's Pentecostal upbringing.

Here's Cash's take.

Completely different. It's a clap-stomp rhythm that speaks of a darker place. The emphasis shifts from "Go Tell" to "God's gonna cut you down". Far from the Pentecostal evangelism of the original, Cash brings out something more puritanical. Simply put, Cash puts the brimstone back into the song. The song is no longer about the righteous exhorting each other towards evangelism. It cuts out the middle man, it goes from a song about evangelism, to an evangelistic song, warning the sinners of the vengeance of an implacable God. He even changes the name from "Run On" to "God's Gonna Cut You Down".

It's that kind of power that allows me to enjoy Cash's work, despite being sick to death of the genre.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Zombies among us?

In a comment on a previous post, Cara asked if I thought that JLo's husband, Mark Anthony, might potentially be among the ranks of the living dead. I really don't keep tabs on celebrities, so I did a quick google image search, and this is what I found. wow.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Caña Son

Salsa music has undergone many evolutions over the years. One of the incarnations that's with stood the test of time is Son Cubano. It dates all the way back to the 16th century, but really came into it's prime at the turn of the 20th century, and was a major mover and shaker up until the 1950s. Since then it's still been performed, but other forms of salsa have become popular. However, the influence of Son music is still seen in modern salsa with the 3-2 Son clave which forms the backbone of most modern salsa music.

Oregon has a very active Salsa scene. Among them is a band called Caña Son . Specializing in Son Cubano, the band released their eponymous debut album a few months ago. I bought it at a performance they had at Platinum during early November. While I was retagging my iTunes library, I decided to review the album.

Caña Son is a 10 track album that checks in at just under a hour of the best Son Cubano you can get without violating the embargo. The production value is phenomenal. The vocals are varied, and clear, and the clave is easy to pick up. It's great to dance to or just to listen to.

As I mentioned earlier, I saw them live a few months ago, and they were one of the best Salsa acts I've ever seen. Only Conjunto Alegre came close. They have samples of their music up on their Myspace page. If you like Salsa, Ethnic Music in general, or just want something new and upbeat to listen to, check them out. You can get their album, and general information at their website. You can also find their album at the iTunes Store.

Interesting Weekend.

Well, as usual, my Friday night was occupied at Latin X Night, at Platinum, the best Cuban Salsa party on the West Coast. Another habit of mine, is getting together with some of my fellow Salsa dancers and having a fun dinner before we hit the club. This time, our delicatessen was Block 15, a new pub and brewery that had opened recently.

We got thrown into the game room, because the place was crowded enough that we weren't going to get a table for a group our size for a ridiculously long time. But it was fine, we got to watch AFV on the boob tube, and there weren't a bunch of people shuffling around our tables. We were also gifted with an inexplicable visit from the "Birthday Fairies." Even though it wasn't any of our birthdays.

One by one, we shuffled over to the bar, and placed our orders. I bought a pint of their Nebula Oatmeal Stout, and ordered a Barbecue Burger, which they said would be brought to me in the game room. I got back to the game room, and my friend Rob saw me fumbling with my debit card, beer, and receipt, trying to cram it back into my wallet. Rob was amazed that I somehow had gotten my card back. Apparently, he was somehow conned into opening a tab. Despite the fact that he doesn't drink. Here's where the meal got real entertaining.

The waitress comes in with a Barbecue burger, and asks who ordered it. Rob, Tristan, and myself all simultaneously say "I did!". Eyeing each other warily, we wrapped our mind around this oddity. But to be fair, it was a really good burger. It sounded much better than the "hand spanked" turkey burger. We gave Rob the first burger, because he ordered first, and the rest of the food came in one quick burst, so other moments of weirdness were averted.

After we finished eating, we went over to Platinum. As usual, we got there a little early, and I helped set up. Simona was having some trouble formatting the projector that splashes giant pictures of previous parties on a wall. Being as it hangs from the ceiling, I can work with it easier than others can.

Afterwords, Rob and I played a game of pool. I'm not a great pool player. Rob's easily better than me, but he was a little off his game, so I managed to take him down to the 8 ball. To be honest, I'm just glad I didn't wind up bleeding during this game again. I guess I'm getting better. I went over to the bar and got myself a rum and coke, and Mike challenged Bill and me to a game of Cutthroat.

For those of you who don't know the rules to cutthroat, the idea is you get three players. You divy up the balls between the three players, high, middle, and low. The goal is to knock every one else's balls in. Whoever has the last ball on the table is victorious.

I was high, Mike was Middle, and Bill was Low. Mike's a pretty good player. I sank one ball and Mike sank three. Then Bill ran the table on us. Turns out Bill helped pay his way through college playing pool. I never had a chance.

I drank some more, talked some more, and generally just waited for the night to ramp up. About 9:30, I get a call from Mercer. He wants me to come over and hang out before the NFL Draft. I love football, and the draft is practically a holiday for me. But I was already entrenched here. So I passed on the offer, I was going to hang out with them during the draft, so it's no big deal.

Tori showed up, and tried to get me to play another game of pool. No thanks, I'm putting my masochistic side away for the night. So we talked a little, and drank a little. Then there was a real surprise. Mercer's girlfriend, who I never had pegged as a salsa dancer showed up with some friends. I waved her over, and introductions were made and pleasantries exchanged. So she introduced me to her friends, Chelsea, Ashley, and Kira. Apparently they were taking Mike and Simona's class at OSU, and dragged Shevelle along for the ride. It's great that she was willing to get out and try something new. So I got her started, and taught her the bare bones of how to dance salsa.

One by one, I danced with each of them. They each had their strong points, but I enjoyed dancing with Kira the most. She was tall, had good rhythm and experience, and was insatiable when it comes to dancing. Even when I was tired, she was ready to go. I was impressed.

Mike was DJing the night, so that meant a lot of meringue, timba, and reggeton. Shevelle was real meek. She spent most of the night sitting at her table. So I started setting her up with some of my friends who I know are skilled, yet understanding leads. I hope she had fun and comes back next time.
We danced into the wee hours of the morning, until Platinum decided to kick us out so they could go home.
The next day rolled around, and so did my hangover. But I pay it no mind, for Saturday was the first day of the NFL Draft! That magical day that sees every football team born anew, in preparation of the rapidly approaching football season. I had my hopes that the Eagles would revitalize their red zone offense through a big bodied WR. With that dream fluttering in my head, I called up Mercer, and caught a ride over to Jon's apartment to watch the magic unfold.

Jon, Mercer, and Brian are all Cowboys fans, so there's some bad blood between us when it comes to football. There was also a Seahawks fan, a Raiders fan, and a Randy Moss fan.

Things got more interesting the closer the draft got to our teams. The Raiders pick at 4 was a foregone conclusion, it was also fantastically stupid. The Eagles came up at 19, and following a report from Sal Palantonio that the Eagles were going to make a catastrophically stupid move, trading up to take tackle Jeff Otah, we prepped the room so that I could safely vent. Opened the door, and moved all breakable objects from my path. Thankfully, the trade never happened. In fact, Otah was still on the board at 19, and we traded down in order to not draft him. Which just goes to show that the media will never know what the Eagles are going to do. I was happy.

That brought up the Cowboys, picking at 22. My Cowboy fan friends wanted their team to draft a corner from the University of South Florida named Mike Jenkins. What they got however, was hilarious. Roger Goodell walked up to the podium, and announced "With the 22nd pick in the NFL Draft, the Dallas Cowboys select... Felix Jones, Running Back, University of Arkansas."

Before he could even say the kid's name, the room I was sitting in exploded into a burst of noise, movement, and anguish. A beanbag chair went flying and another chair got flipped. Mercer ran out the door that I was expected to use when the Eagles picked, Jon sprinted upstairs, and I'm not really sure where Brian went. Understanding their pain, I went to go pick up the pieces. I found Jon in the hall, with his shirt pulled over his eyes, as if not looking at the broadcast could convince him that what he had seen had not actually occurred. Brian found his way back on his own, but Mercer was still outside. So I went to go get Mercer. He was muttering to himself about how Marion Barber's gonna want 60 mil now, and he's probably right. But with Mercer, I couldn't help myself from toying with him a little. So I brightened his day a little by reminding him that the Cowboys still had the 28th pick. Then I taunted him a little, "And DeSean Jackson's still on the board...".

The Cowboys wound up trading the 28th pick to move up to take Mike Jenkins. And the Eagles, using the pick they got in the trade with Carolina, took DeSean Jackson. Well, that came back to bite me in the ass. Oh well.

I'm not a fan of the Eagles draft this season, but I trust the front office to make the right decisions. It's been a long weekend, and I have a long week up ahead, so I can't dwell on the draft too much.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Zombie Apocalypse!

I've always had a soft spot for zombies in the modern monster pantheon. They're unnervingly rellentless. They're highly contagious. Pure unleaded nightmare fuel, straight from the depths of the uncanny valley. But in the end, they can be outrun at a brisk walking pace. Well, most of them, anyways. So there's always hope.

George Romero has long been the standard to which all zombie stories have been held. His Living Dead series is masterful. However, There is a new master of the reanimated corpse tale setting his eyes on the throne.

Max Brooks, son of Mel Brooks, has thrown his hat into the ring. In 2003, Brooks wrote the Zombie Survival Guide. A deadpan humor book, that detailed how to overcome a potential outbreak of the undead in a normal town, like, say... YOURS.

The book covered everything from explaining the difference between "real" zombies and hollywood zombies, what weapons to use, how to fortify various buildings, how to travel during an outbreak, how not to attract them, how to go on the offensive, and a history of previous outbreaks. Adding to the realism are "real life" examples of the skills at work, and even the formatting for you to keep an "outbreak journal" of your own.

Brooks' zombies are created by a virus, called Solanum. This virus works by converting the brain into an anearobic organ. It no longer needs oxygen, and as such, no longer needs the body to sustain it. The zombie is driven solely by it's desire to devour flesh, preferably yours. The virus is only communicable by direct fluid transfer. It needs a bite. However, Solanum is 100% communicable, and 100% fatal. Get bit, and you're toast.

Brooks' zombies lack the coordination or visciousness of Garland's rage zombies from the 28 series. Nor do they retain their memories, like Russo's zombies. They only reanimate if they were infected with Solanum, unlike Romero's undead. They are however, singularly relentless. Brooks' zombies walk across ocean floors to reach humans on other continents. They freeze in the winter, only to thaw in the spring and continue their assault. They dig holes, up to fifty feet deep, just to consume a mole whose scent they caught. They will never stop, until they've rotted away to nothing.

The book boiled down ten "commandments" for surviving a zombie outbreak.
1) Organize before they rise!
2) They feel no fear, why should you?
3) Use your head: Cut off theirs
4) Blades don't need reloading
5) Ideal Protection = Tight Clothes, Short Hair
6) Get up the staircase, then detroy it
7) Get out of the car, get onto the bike
8) Keep moving, keep low, keep quiet, keep alert!
9) No place is safe, only safer
10) The zombie may be gone, but the threat lives on.

The book was extremely well written, and instantly flew up the New York Times bestseller list. However, it was only setting the table for Brooks' Apocalyptic Magnum Opus...

World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War was published in 2006. It's a fictional epistolary novel, written from the perspective of a freelance journalist who interviews people who witnessed, and survived various stages of the Zombie War. World War Z, aka the Zombie War, was a pandemic outbreak of the Solanum virus, originating among the peasant of rural China. The exact time is never mentioned, but through textual hints, you can easily determine that the War broke out around 2010, and the interviews are taking place around 10 years later. The war is seperated into several stages, and the book's chapters are written along the same lines. It started with the initial isolated outbreaks, then the governmental response to those initial problems, followed by the major public outbreaks, then humanity's turning the tide on the zombie hordes, the retooling of society, and finally the drive to victory. Brooks predicts major economic shifts, and governmental shifts in the wake of the Zombie War.

Brooks is a skilled writer, and he does a good job of painting a vivid picture of humanity, and our society, without having to explicitly name people. When he speaks of the elder statesman of South Africa, you instantly envision Nelson Mandela. When people complain about the last American administration, you hear echos of gripes about George Bush. When the "little rich, spoiled, tired looking whore, who's famous just for being a little rich, spoiled, tired looking whore" gets eaten... Do I need to explain that one? It's well researched too, aside from one instance, which most people won't notice. What really gets me, is the way that he can paint such a masterpiece on an incomplete canvas. Things that are mentioned only in passing in the book are still among the most moving parts of the book, simply because of how he portrays the gravity those events held for the characters.

This book is incredible. I started reading it last night. I normally read one chapter of a book before I go to bed, it's the only time I really have to read for myself. I went to bed at one, then after several aborted attempts to put the book down, I realized it was 7 AM, and I was 320 pages into the book. I don't know what happened.

The movie rights to World War Z have already been purchased by Plan B entertainment, owned by Brad Pitt. I'm stoked for this, because I feel the book has so much potential in the film medium. If they manage to transfer half of the sheer brilliance of the book onto the silver screen, the world as we know it will end. And it will be AWESOME!

For those of you who are going to be reading the book, you should stop now. But for those of you who prefer a greater idea of what the book is about, I'm going to lay out the general story. So there's going to be some spoilers up ahead.

1) Warnings: This is the initial stages of the outbreak.
a) Kwang Jingshu, a doctor in China, sees the first outbreak of the war. A small boy in a village on the outskirt of the Three Gorges Resevoir was bitten while diving, and sets off the initial outbreak.
b) Nury Televaldi, explains his experiences of smuggling chinese citizens out of the path of the outbreak, into Tibet. He sheds light into how the infection spread beyond China.
c) Stanley McDonald, a Canadian Mountie, shares his encounter with the living dead found during a drug raid in Afghanistan.
d) Fernando Oliveira was a doctor in Brasil, gets a shock when he transplants a heart from an infected chinese man into one of his patients.
e) Jacob Nyanthi went back to his native South Africa, and is caught in the middle of the first major public outbreak of the war, in Cape Town.
f) Jurgen Warmbrunn was an Israeli spy, who was among the first to put together the scattered hints, and see the coming storm.
g) Saladin Kander was a palestinian expatriate living in Kuwait. Israel locked down its borders, offering asylum to all palestinians and jews throughout the world. Kander's father, working at a hospital, sees the dangers of infection, and takes Israel up on it's offer. Kander, being a teenage Palestinian, disagrees vehemently.

2) Blame: major political players are interviewed, to account for their lack of action during the initial outbreaks.
a) Bob Archer, now the director of the CIA, explains the gap between the CIA's percieved power, and it's actual power.
b)Travis D'Ambrosia was a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff during the initial outbreaks. He explained the plans put forward by the military, and their rejection by the politicians.
c) Breckenridge Scott was a businessman who made millions during the initial outbreaks, selling placebo vaccines, and other false alarm protective measures.
d) Grover Carlson used to be the White House Chief of Staff, he tried to explain the marginalization of the zombie problems by the government.
e) Mary Jo Miller was a wife, and mother of two kids. She recounted the local outbreak that set her fleeing with her children and took the life of her husband.

3) The Great Panic: Major outbreaks become public, creating widespread panic, and poorly planed actions to attempt to regain control.
a) Gavin Blaire was a blimp pilot when the war broke out in earnest. He recounts watching people attempting to flee cities along I-80, and their horrific fate at the hands of the undead horde.
b) Ajay Shah attempted to escape from India from the port of Alang by attempting to swim out to the ships. He survived, but thousands were not so lucky.
c) Sharon is a feral child. She was four years old when her parents were killed, and yet she somehow escaped and survived the war on her own. Physically, she's an adult, but with the mind of a child.
d) Maria Zhuganova was a soldier in the Russian Army. Given strange orders, they discovered the nature of the town they were quarentining. This revelation drives them to mutiny. The Political Officer orders her unit decimated. Set into groups of ten, the soldiers had to vote which one would be killed, and the other nine stoned the one to death.
e) T. Sean Collins was a Private Military Contractor, hired to guard a compound containing many celebrities, detirmined to ride out the apocalypse in comfort. The New York compound is overun, not by zombies, but by desperate refugees, seeking safety. Tinkerbell makes a cameo here.
f) Ahmed Farahnakian was a pilot for the Iranian Air Force. As Pakistan does nothing to stem the tide of refugees flowing into Iran, he is ordered to bomb a bridge to stop it for them. This escalates into a nuclear exchange between the two nations.
g) Todd Waino was a Infantryman in the US Army. The military sought to stop the zombie horde before it could spread from the overun ruins of New York City. Making their stand at Yonkers, the battle is a disaster. Gutting the US ground forces, and essentially losing the entire East Coast. (This is the part where Brooks' inexperience with the military shows. He mentions the troops wearing MOPP gear, we've switched to JLIST. His soldiers wore BDUs, we've worn ACUs since 05. They flew Comanchees, the Comanchee project got scrapped in 04. But it was a riviting scene)

4) Turning the Tide: The harsh measures man must turn to to ensure survival.
a)Xolelwa Azania worked in the South African government. He saw Paul Reddicker come up with the Reddicker Plan, the brutal method by which humanity sheltered itself from the zombie hordes.
b) Philip Addler tells of his time as an officer in the German Army, and that fateful day when he was ordered to pull back to reconsolidate, and leave the citizens under his protection to their own devices.
c) Bohdan Taras Kondratiuk was a mechanized commander in the Russian Army. He was ordered to set up a screening point on a bridge in Kiev to separate the refugees from those who were infected. The russians figured out how to sort the refugees quickly, efficiently, and inhumanely.
d) Jesika Hendricks was a young girl when the outbreak began. Her family decided to head north, into the Canadian wilderness, along with millions of other people. Hoping the cold would afford them protection from the zombie outbreak, they eventually had to resort to canibalism in order to feed themselves.
e) Sardar Khan was a civil engineer who was pressed into military service in India. Guarding a treacherous mountain road through the Himalayas, leading into the safe zone India had set up. Refugees crowded the road by the thousands, with the living dead on their heels. Khan gets the order to blow the road, refugees and all, in order to keep the undead from reaching the safe zone.

5)Home Front USA: Retooling society to go on the offensive.
a) Arthur Sinclair was the Director of the Department of Strategic Resources. Now that the US had retreated, and abandoned everything east of the Rockies to the ghouls. He was tasked with converting the workforce once geared towards hollywood entertainment to sustaining a war time economy.
b) The Vice President during World War Z insists on being called "The Whacko". He shared some of the trials facing the president during the retooling.
c) Joe Muhammed was a crippled man who fought to join the Neighborhood Security Teams. The NST was essentially a neighborhood watch on steroids.
d) The next interview was with Ray Elliott, a filmmaker who began making movies again as a way to entertain the masses who were losing the will to live.
e) Christina Eliopolis was a pilot who flew C-130s over zombie territory in order to ressuply issolated bastions of humanity left in the abandoned zone. Her plane crashed, leaving her alone in the land of the dead. She's guided to safety by an unknown voice on the radio, a voice that knows a little too much about being a pilot, on a radio that she later finds was broken upon her landing.

6) Around the World, Above and Beyond: The effort to stabilize life was not imited to the US.
a) David Allen Forbes is an author. He wrote a book after the war about the people in Europe who had tried to create a secure position within the walls of the ancient castles that dotted the landscape. He explained who succeded, and who failed, and why.
b) Barati Palshigar was a radio broadcaster for Free Earth Radio, a radio station dedicated to providing information to the people scattered throughout the rest of the world. Broadcasting from the UNS Ural, she discusses her trials in dealing with her duties. However, the part of this story that cuaght my attention was the people who worked in information reception. These men and women had to sift through all the cries for help, and panic on the radio, in order to find the information that needed to be sent out. None of them survived a year after the war, after having listened to the voices of the doomed. Particularly poignaint was the fall of Buenos Aires, the last man alive was a famous latin singer, as the zombies were about to break through his barricade, he sang a spanish lullaby over the radio. Eventually, the broadcast ceased, and no one heard another broadcast from the city.
c) Hyngchol Choi worked in the Korean CIA, he explained that the entire population of North Korea had dissapeared.
d) Kondo Tatsumi was a japanese kid living in Kokura. He was an Okatu. To get the picture, take the nerdiest guy you know, and multiply that times ten. This kid ailienated his material existence in favor of a life lived on the internet. That is, until the Zombies broke into his apartment complex, and he was forced to escape from the 19th floor.
e) Tomonaga Ijiro was blinded on August 9th, 1945. A Hibakusha, survivor of the nuclear attacks, Ijiro toiled as a gardener for the majority of his life. When he learned of the outbreak, he saw it as a chance to die honorably, and wandered off into the woods.
f) Seryosha Alvarez is a cuban business man, who recounted the flood of refugees from the US who fled to the island nation to escape the zombies. Their influence on Cuban culture lead to a subtle revolution that led to Cuba becoming the pre-eminent post war economy, and a succesfu democracy.
g) Xu Zhicai was a Chinise Naval officer, he recounts the story of his Captain, who had the forsight to see that China could not procecute the war any further in the manner they were. As such, he took his nuclear SLBM submarine and gathered the crews families, and fled. This later put them in a prime postion to make a deciding strike in the errupting Chinese Civil War.
h) Terry Knox was an australian astronaut. During the war, he spent 3 years alone in the International Space Station ensuring that needed military satelites were refuled and kept in orbit. Hacking into the survellance sattelites, he became a silent witness to nearly every major event of the war.
i) Ernesto Olguin was a Naval consultant with the Chilean government. He was there for the makeshift UN council meeting, at which the President of the United States announces his ambitious plan to go on the offensive and reclaim the planet from the dead.

7) Total War: Humanity goes back on the offensive.
a) Back with General D'Ambrosia, he explains the difference between the military mechanism of human society, versus the unrelenting hunger of the zombie horde.
b) Another interview with Todd Wainio, covering the first major engagement between the revamped US forces and Zombies since the disastrous stand at Yonkers.
c) Darnell Hackworth was a member of the Army K-9 units, that were instrumental in anti zombie tactics.
d) Father Sergei Ryzhkov was an Orthodox priest attached to a russian military unit. His decision to euthanize infected soldiers himself, rather than forcing them to commit suicide, sparked a religious fervor that transformed Russia, similar to the Iranian revolution of the 1980s.
e) Master Chief Petty Officer Michael Choi worked in the deepwater diving unit, which hunted zombies who had escaped to the ocean floor.
f) Andre Renard was a french soldier who fought in the catacombs underneath Paris, where 250,000 citizens had fled to their deaths during the great panic. Fighting in a toxic, pitch black atmosphere, he recounts his time in a unit where only 1 out of every 20 soldiers survived.
g) Wainio recounts the slow march of the Army from the Rockies to New York, purifying the zombies, and reclaiming America.

Buy this Book.

Friday, April 18, 2008

The Worst Song Ever.

A survey conducted in the 1990's about the least enjoyable aspects of music have driven Kolmar and Melamid to enlist the assistance of composer Dave Soldier to create what they have titled "The Most Unwanted Song". Brought to my attention by the Wired Blog, it is estimated that less than 200 people in the entire world would find this song enjoyable.

Unlike Lou Reed's Metal Machine Music, The Most Unwanted Song is not just dissonant noise. It's just that annoying. Among the elements Incorporated into the song were accordions, bagpipes, banjos, flutes, tubas, harps, organs, and synthesizers. It involves operatic rap, and atonal singing, advertising jingles, political slogans, and Muzak. It has a children's choir singing holiday songs. The most annoying subject? Cowboys and holidays.

When you combine all these ingredients, you get a 25 minute abomination that is scientifically the most annoying song ever. Having listened to it, I can attest to that fact.

You can download the Most Unwanted Song here.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

21, 22

Well, I've had one of the more extreme middles of the week. A friend of mine turned 21 on Tuesday, and another friend turned 22 on Wednesday. I got invited to a house party tonight, and another friend is turning 22 on Friday. I don't know if I'm going to be drinking much for a while.

Anyhow, Chantay's 21er kicked off at Clodfelter's, which is Oregon State's mascot pub, more or less. We were gifted with a free pitcher of Broken Halo IPA, which is a great beer. I love a good IPA, but only if I have something to eat along with it. Therein lies the problem. I can't eat food from a place I think of as a bar. I've heard nothing but good things about the food at Clod's, but I always think of it as a bar. Don't ask me why, it's just how I work. So we hung out at Clod's for about an hour. After about 30 minutes, someone dumber an absurd amount of money into the jukebox, and an evil amount of country onto the play list. I've lived in Alabama, Louisiana, and Georgia. I've done my tour of duty in the land of country music. It just irks me now. So, I began lobbying the birthday girl for the party to make an exodus to McMenamin's.

I have a real soft spot for McMenamin's. I love the atmosphere, their beer is like ambrosia, and the music is much, much better. We occupied a table upstairs, and placed a few orders. I ordered a pint of Porter, and an order of tots. I think of McMenamin's as an eatery with good drinks, so I can have food there. While we were waiting, Jimmy and I went downstairs to get a set of pool balls. We got down to the bar, and the bartender informed me that the pool balls were all being used, and all she had left were snooker balls. Whatever, we took the snooker balls, and made some bastardized game of pool. They had the rules of snooker posted on the wall by the table, but it looked like one of my textbooks. Maybe someday I'll learn to play, and them me and the other 2 people who know the rules in the western hemisphere can get together and have a game.

Anyways, as we got the game going, Sara, Ariel, and Marcus showed up. They weren't here for Chantay's party, they just felt like coming for happy hour. But it was nice to see them. The snooker game was an unmitigated disaster. There's just enough of a difference between snooker balls and pool balls that it fucks up all your shot. I couldn't sink a ball to save my life, and Jimmy was scratching left and right. The server finally showed up with our food and drinks. But my porter wasn't there. I thought he just had his hands full, and was going to bring it out in the second run. I thought wrong. I played for another few minutes, and forgot about the beer. Until I saw the server bring Sara and Ariel their beers. So I checked back at the table if he had left it with the party. Nope. So I pulled him aside when he walked by the pool table and asked him where it was. He stammered out something about not being able to get it because the bartender was busy. I just stared at him incredulously. I couldn't believe that he had just tried to blame a pint of beer on the bartender. He brought the beer quickly thereafter, but the damage had been done. I finished the Porter, and snaked a pint of Hef from Chuck's pitcher.

The night went on, and we finished off the game. After listening to Kristen complain about how the server wouldn't let her buy another drink until she had finished he cosmo, I decided to buy the birthday girl a shot, So I flag down the server and order a Caipirinha and a chocolate cake shot. The server got a glassy look in his eyes as I tried to explain how to make a caipirinha. Fuck it, I decided, and changed the order to a Vodka Martini. While the server wandered off, I went back downstairs, and returned the snooker balls. While I was down at the bar, I chatted with the bartender for a sec, and saw a nice fresh lime sitting in a bowl on the bar. That's one of the reasons why I love McMenamen's, they've got the freshest ingredients for their drinks. So I ordered a Caipirinha, and walked the bartender through how to make the drink. I took my drink back up to the table, right as the server brought me my martini. I set it down next to my Caipirinha and my pint of Hef. Kristen stared for a sec, then applauded me for "working the system". I had just become a hero of alcoholism in her eyes, and from Kristen, that's a big compliment.

I handed Chantay her Chocolate Cake shot. It came in one of McMenamin's double shot glasses, which are almost an old fashioned glasses, and Chantay immediately insisted that she couldn't drink that, and made me pare it down halfway. The thing about the chocolate cake shot is that with the lemon wedge, it's probably the tastiest thing ever, but without the lemon, it tastes like ass. But it's her birthday, so I choked it down, and immediately chased it with my hef. Chantay knocked back her shot, Bit into her lemon, and declared it delicious. Mission Accomplished! Chantay, and most of the rest of the group decided to migrate back to Clod's. However, Alexa was still waiting on a pizza, and I had a martini and caipirinha still sitting in front of me. So Kristen, Alexa, and I stayed behind for a little while.

True to form, our server had somehow lost Alexa's pizza in the ether somewhere between our table and the kitchen, 200 ft away. So we would up waiting for that order for about 40 minutes. I took a sip of my martini. ugh. Apparently our server cooked up a martini with well vodka, HRD or some other terrible shit. I gulped it down, and immediately proceeded to my caipirinha, which, on the other hand, was amazing. The fresh lime really set it off. While waiting for the pizza, Alexa and I discussed our travels. She's very well traveled, having gone throughout Europe and North Africa. She is also about to get her Light Aircraft licence. She also eventually got her pizza. But it took entirely too long. So we divided up the bill, somehow Jimmy had left the 7 dollar Apple Breeze he had bought Chantay on the bill. So I covered that, I'll make him pay for it later. As we walked back to Clod's to link up with the main body of the group, we discussed the harshest ways to tip bad service. I prefer simply not leaving a tip, rather than spitefully leaving a penny. The server really fucked up. Our group spent about $250, and he earned about $4 in tips. He was that bad.

Back in Clod's Alexa and Chantay successfully lobbied for us to relocate to Tailgater's. Over there, I ran into my friend Steffan, who I hadn't seen in a while, and who was thoroughly trashed. His friend, whom I've never met before, was similarly sloshed, and a little belligerent. He demanded that I slap Steffan. I demurred, but he pressed the issue, and I was pretty drunk at this point, so I hauled off and pimp slapped Steffan's friend. He froze up for a second, then something really weird happened. "Do you want a beer?" he offered. Meh, I'm never one to turn down a free drink. so we went over to the bar. "How about a shot, you drink Jaeger?". What the fuck? Not the reaction I was expecting. I never thought that striking someone would get me two free drinks. Meh, it takes all kinds.

At about 1 AM, the group all drifted home, so I walked back to my apartment. On my way, I passed the outdoor basketball courts by Wilson Hall. There was some guy shooting hoops, on a dark court, in the cold, at 1:15. Odd. I walked over and talked with him a little, he didn't seem crazy. But there's just something about shooting hoops in the dark that just seems so... unwholesome. I picked up the ball from one of his errant shots, dunked it, and went home to sleep.

The next night, Laurel had invited me to her 22nd birthday party. I ran up a pretty big tab at Chantay's party, and I was feeling a little nostalgic, so I made some Leite de Onça, botted it up, and went off to Clod's. Laurel's party was much less extreme that Chantay's. Incidently, Chantay was there, and drinking. I was amazed, after my 21st birthday, I didn't want to drink for a week. Chantay was back on the horse in 18 hours. The girl's a trooper. I bought Laurel a choclate cake shot at Chantay's recomendation, and Laurel wimped out of half the shot in the same way, except she made someone else drink it. Thank God. I had made 650 cc of Leite de Onça, and had forgotten how strong that stuff is. I really don't remember a whole lot of the specifics of the night, and staggered home at midnight. But it was a lot of fun.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Hello, Computer!

Well, I just got a new dell inspiron 1420. a nice little upgrade. Now comes the long and arduous process of retagging my iTunes Library. :(