Wednesday, December 30, 2009
Sunday, December 27, 2009
No, I think what it was was that with missing strings, what I was capable of playing was decidedly stifled. I play all over the neck (as is best, I think), so I'm acutely aware of the different tones I get according to where on the neck I play the note, and all the different phrasings I can achieve. Losing a string cuts me off from a huge amount of these options, and I love running free with my solos. So I think that had a psychological effect on me, causing the feel of the guitar to change. Restoring the strings restored the feel that allows me to make the guitar sound its best.
Saturday, December 19, 2009
We've all seen the classics, and most people really enjoy them. But being the nerdy completist I am, I always like checking out the lesser known sequels that add so much more to the continuity and the mythology. What? Santa Claus has a mythology? Well, a strangely elven fat jolly old man who lives forever and has roots in Catholic beliefs and a plethora of Christ-like qualities, using powerful magic to judge right from wrong and fly around the world with flying reindeer and make toys with elves sounds pretty mythological already. You just don't think of him as a folkloric figure because he sells Coca-Cola.
Rudolph fans probably all know that he was created as a children's book by Robert L. May to promote Montgomery Ward stores. Not exactly a spontaneous creation from the common folk, sure, but they already had several hundred years for St. Nicholas to turn into the Santa Claus we know today, and the book owes quite a bit to the ever-important poem "A Visit from Saint Nicholas" by Clement Moore (more popularly known as "The Night Before Christmas")- including taking its rhyme scheme and rhythm!
It was about a decade later when the familiar song was written, surpassing the popularity of the original book a millionfold. According to some sources, the Max Fleischer cartoon (which includes the song) is from 1944, but everywhere else says that Johnny Marks wrote the song in 1948. Yeah, I don't get it either. Whatever the case, the Fleischer cartoon is directly based on the book, albeit shortened considerably.
In a case of an adaptation retelling the original story and consequently erasing it from the public mind (much like Disney and Grimm's Fairy Tales), Rankin/Bass released the definitive version of the Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer story in 1964. They completely tossed the original book out the window and based the story entirely on the lyrics of the song- which, of all versions, is the most bare-bones, leaving them a lot of room for invention.
While the original book included your usual talking, bipedal animals, Rankin/Bass' version included sentient toys, an "abominable snow monster", and most unusual of all, a winged lion who reigned over a strange island kingdom where toys who were rejected by children lived- one King Moonracer. Already things are getting more interesting...
The next Rankin/Bass Christmas special to contribute to the continuity was seemingly unrelated at the time of its release- Frosty the Snowman. His character was created in 1950, and both the song and a children's book were released that year. The book followed the song lyrics pretty closely, if I recall. Rankin/Bass had very little to work with, so the 1969 special wasn't much different from the lyrics. The most notable new additions are the murky origins of the magic silk hat, which belonged to a talentless magician, and the fact that Santa Claus takes Frosty to the North Pole where he can stay cold. No explanation is given as to how the magic hat came to be, although it's suggested that the combination of the first snow of the season and the Christmas snow is equally important to bringing Frosty to life.
Next came Santa Claus Is Comin' To Town from 1970, which spins an entirely original tale loosely inspired by the song of the same name. Here we see that Santa Claus was abandoned by an unidentified mother and wound up in the hands of a family of toy-making elves called the Kringles- thus, Kris Kringle. A young, red-haired Santa (voiced by Mickey Rooney) sets out to return the Kringles to their glory days as royal toymakers by giving them away to children in a nearby town, but not without a struggle and some enforced niceness along the way ("Give a little love, get a little love back" versus "Do unto others as you would do unto yourself" and "The love you take is equal to the love you make"). Rankin/Bass tells the origins of Santa's distinctive laughter, his flying reindeer, and his use of stockings and chimneys. We even see him marry Mrs. Claus.
One thing this special fails to explain is how he becomes immortal. Oddly enough, the story is strangely similar to The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus, written by L. Frank Baum, famous for his Oz books- which does explain how he becomes immortal. And Rankin/Bass would adapt that story years later, although unfortunately the similarities are minimal.
Another thing that's remarkable about Comin' To Town is that it's the first time Rankin/Bass would use a malicious creature with magical winter powers as an opponent- the Winter Warlock- although this first example turns over a new leaf almost immediately. Not only that, he gives Santa the ability to spy on children with his magic snow crystal ball.
The lesser known The Year Without A Santa Claus from 1974 is something of a follow-up to Santa Claus Is Comin' To Town, mainly because Mickey Rooney reprises his role as Santa. It's a little unclear what time period it's supposed to take place, but the same goes for Comin' To Town- this one seems to be the turn-of-the-20th-century, but then Vixen is depicted as a baby. "A Visit from Saint Nicholas" was written in 1823, so I'm not sure what the chronology is. (It may be that we must consider it a plain and simple contradiction...)
Whatever the case, this story, based on a children's book from 1956, tells the story of Santa wanting to take a vacation due to his illness and a loss of faith in the world's Christmas spirit. But the most memorable parts of this special are the scenes with the characters Snow Miser and Heat Miser, two deities who control summer and winter weather conditions, respectively, and fight for control of the world's weather. Their mother is Mother Nature. The use of demigods and deities in these specials reflect the secular Christmas' pagan origins, and largely disregard any question of God and Jesus. Who does Mother Nature answer to?
Saturday, December 12, 2009
His comment was deleted. It was just plain embarrassing, is what it was. We don't need any morons tarnishing our reputation...
And yes, we do have egos.
Friday, December 11, 2009
It's all very confusing. And usually vintage effects are so straightforward! Not to say that they have a lot of weird buttons (they seem to all have only one), but they don't seem to do what they say they do so far, and by golly I definitely don't want yet another pedal creating grit on my palette. Three wildly different fuzzes, a clean boost and an overdrive are enough!
I realize that despite everything I love about my guitars and my amp, I haven't been able to achieve that perfect lead tone that I have in my head: equally huge, piercing sound on bass, midrange, and upper range, with crazy chaotic distortion like creamy melted pepperjack cheese, and easy access to versatile feedback. I'm kind of ashamed to admit it, because I had always been adamant about being faithful to the beautifully crummy gear that I already have and so tenderly brought back to life. I feel like I've betrayed them, and that I've become spoiled by playing those high-quality Fender and Vox tube amps and that Gretsch guitar at this store and repair shop I sometimes go to. It's especially frustrating because I had managed to make my guitars sound incredible with just my fingers just a few months ago, and now I seem to be losing it. I wish I knew why.
Maybe it's because I've switched to that coil cable recently... I do have my eye on those Snapjack cables.
Of course, I have somehow managed to break the high-E strings on several of my guitars in just a few weeks. I'm starting to feel withdrawal. God, I miss playing them...
Arrrrrgggghhh- I need my fix of awsm tone!!
Thursday, December 10, 2009
...So yeah. I'll still think of her as a "maybe", but until she realizes that being a evil, undead blood-sucker or a cursed, ravenous monster is, y'know, a bad thing, there's no relationship happening. I guess she still has some maturing to do, which is kind of odd considering she didn't behave at all like the squealing Twilight fangirl I've heard so much about. Maybe I should be thankful I didn't see her transform during class and start giggling uncontrollably or something.
Monday, December 7, 2009
The strange, slightly nauseating bright colors and glossy light and shadow of the illustrations, not to mention it having a baby dressed like a Las Vegas prostitute for a main character kind of creeped me out as a kid. I don't remember ever reading it, nor when we got it. We just kind of gazed at the surreal depictions of kid-friendly trashiness a few times, etching it onto our brains whether we liked it or not, and sort of dismissed it as a mildly disturbing dream printed on paper.
As it turns out, there's a perfectly good reason for the slightly creepy illustrations: they were done by a certain Todd Schorr, known for his paintings that are classified as "pop surrealism"- which, in his case, is a crossover between Dalí-esque surrealism and a plethora of Golden Age cartoons and advertising art.
Now, when a guy doing a children's book also does paintings like this:
...you can kind of see why it would seem creepy to us as kids, despite the dramatically lesser amount of details and the lack of anything blatantly frightening in Baby Divine's illustrations.
Years later- just a few weeks ago, in fact- we finally got around to reading it. The story is fairy tale-like, with some elements of Sleeping Beauty (in the form of three eager has-been divas giving Baby Divine gifts), and an epic journey filled with thinly-veiled metaphors for Bette Midler's philosophy of life.
Now I really wish I HAD read it way back when, because it teaches lessons that took me twenty years to figure out.
Tuesday, December 1, 2009
And another thing- why on earth are so many bass amps so blasted complicated? I honestly don't hear a whole lot of variety when it comes to rock bass tones. You're either louder and bassier, or you're not. You're either rounded or slap-happy (i.e. classic rock versus funk). I prefer rounded myself- which is what all your favorite rock bands actually sound like, despite what your friendly neighborhood bass player thinks when he does a solo that sounds like something straight out of Saturday Night Fever.
I'm not alone in this sentiment- my brother is the one who's truly serious about playing bass, eager to learn from the greats like Paul McCartney, John Entwistle, and John Paul Jones, and he's satisfied with his Hofner violin bass copy and his tiny Behringer amp, which has- you guessed it- 3-band EQ. The only thing it doesn't have is a humbucker, a bright red finish, more than four strings, or a vibrato. I'm amazed at the variety of sounds he can get- he can approximate Hofners, Fenders and Rickenbackers with that thing.
It's like how the Jews are still waiting for the Messiah. (Apologies to any Jews reading.)
A cup of arsenic, a spider, some glue-hoo... a lizard's gizard, an eel's heel or two-hoo...
As heard in Broom-Stick Bunny (1956). Written by Al Dubin & Billy Rose (lyrics), and Joseph Meyer (music) in I believe 1925 for the Broadway show Charlot's Revue of 1926.
Monday, November 23, 2009
"That'll Be the Day" wasn't Buddy Holly's first professional recording by far, nor was it the first released, but it was his first hit, and it made him a huge star on both sides of the Atlantic. Buddy Holly's earliest recordings are pure country, moving on to pure rockabilly, but 1957 seems to be when he found his own unique voice and style, which I personally describe as a crossover from rockabilly to straightforward rock 'n' roll. Buddy Holly's creativity and incredibly diverse use of little more than three chords in the key of A made him an innovator, and likely the first singer-songwriter of rock 'n' roll.
Buddy Holly's music had a tremendous influence on The Beatles, and they would perform and record several more of his songs throughout their careers. John emulated his style in his early days, often wearing glasses like his, and an early version of his song "Hello Little Girl" clearly shows his influence. Heck, Paul even bought his song catalogue not too long ago!
The Quarrymen version of "That'll Be the Day" is pretty much a straight copy of the original, showing that they could learn songs better than they used to. I read once that they once thought that all of his songs were in the key of C, rather than A, and played them like that for a while- but that doesn't seem to be the case here.
Anyway, if "Baby, Let's Play House" wasn't rock 'n' roll enough for you, perhaps this song is. Even so, there are some that are even more rock 'n' roll than this...
So now we've got skiffle, rockabilly, and rock 'n' roll. Obviously, it'll diversify later.
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
...And "Put on Your Old Grey Bonnet", written in 1909 by Percy Wenrich (music) and Stanley Murphy (lyrics):
And here's an old, old sound cartoon from '29 featuring the song:
What a happy ending! :D
Finally, in 1943's Red Hot Riding Hood is the song "Daddy", written by Bobby Troup in 1941:
Obligatory lyric links:
Sunday, November 15, 2009
My mama done told me, when I was in knee-pants...
Featured prominently in 1942's My Favorite Duck and Bugs Bunny Gets the Boid, the song was written for that year's film of the same name by Johnny Mercer (lyrics) and Harold Arlen (music).
Here's a great version by Cab Calloway:
Lyrics (Sinatra version): http://www.sing365.com/music/lyric.nsf/Blues-In-the-Night-lyrics-Frank-Sinatra/F0511F25481FBB924825691F0006C714
Written by Cliff Friend and Dave Oppenheim in (I think) 1931, it was first used by WB in the '32 Merrie Melodie Freddy the Freshman:
I can't find a non-animated vintage recording, so this will have to do for now.
Saturday, November 14, 2009
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
You know how different and dangerous go together.
Anyway... myself, I prefer country music from the '30s to the '50s- and then I go on to the country rock of Buffalo Springfield and The Eagles, and to a certain extent, Creedence Clearwater Revival. I don't think country music with syrupy production, poppy sentimental melodies and chord structures, and an overall lack of rough edges is truly pure country music. Most modern "country" music is pop music with the same old dark tenor vocal with a Texan accent and maybe a Telecaster lead guitar. To me, that's country-inspired music... country pop, you could say. To me, it's only country music if you keep the chords simple.
That said, I'm also interested in alternative country- if most alternative country bands sounded like Danny Hamilton and the Mudslingers, that is.
A lot of my admiration for country music comes from the fact that my maternal grandfather comes from Arkansas, I suspect. That, and my maternal grandparents live out in a small city near So-Cal's mountains, which is locally famous for its cherries, and they not only regularly visit a nearby town famous for its apples (Oak Glen), they have their own garden, which includes fruits, nuts, and vegetables. I visit them several times a year, so I've often been surrounded by a world rooted in the Old West and the Deep South.
My profound interest in music also compels me to understand one of the many roots of rock 'n' roll, so I've done a fair bit of research into older country music. Hank Williams and other country blues yodelers is probably my favorite, while I'm astounded that more of today's guitarists aren't aware of the incredible electric virtuosos of the '50s. I mean, these guys were like the first shredders, a lot of 'em. I can't imagine why no guitar instrumental revivalists or psychobilly nutcases seem to be picking them up...
I wonder if country music haters are only hearing bad country music. It can be awfully corny if poorly performed...
Sunday, November 8, 2009
Okay, I did notice some squeaky rhythmic noises here and there, indicating unusual instrumentation and/or effects, and some shades of garage rock... but I was surprised at how soft and folksy it sounded. After hearing people shout to the heavens about how influential it is on punk, alternative, and indie, I was expecting something a lot freakier and abrasive. Like John Lennon's "Cold Turkey" or something like that.
I can kind of see how it'd influential on some weirder artsy rock bands, but I don't see how it could've influenced punk. Let me tell you, I've listened to some pretty crazy s*** out there, like X (the Australian band) and Crass. That stuff has hard-edged guitar-playing and manic vocals, as does most early punk. I can see somebody like Blues Magoos or even The Ohio Express influencing punk, but not these guys. Even if some of the songs do sound like a garage band that was told to turn down its amps. Maybe they influenced post-punk?
I don't mean to say that I wasn't impressed- not at all! I mean, heck, there was definitely some interesting sounds in those 30-second clips, and since it's called essential listening so often, I'll grab a copy one day. I just don't think I'll be thinking about it if I want to write a song that scares people. But what do I know? I'm a soft-hearted Christian hippie.
I was expecting something more like Iggy and the Stooges, as it turns out.
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
But recently I've come to know some of her interests: Family Guy, which I find completely disgusting and morally repulsive, and at times even frightening in its attempts to consume the entirety of pop culture, Michael Jackson, who despite his talents, is a complete freak, even if he isn't a pedophile, and the Twilight series, which I think sounds idiotic and immature, and is a major threat to the image, reputation and possibly the mythos of vampirism & lycanthropy. Heck, I bet most Twilight fans don't even know the word "lycanthropy".
So what's a guy desperate for a companion to do?
Thursday, October 29, 2009
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
"Hey baby, I'm filled with healthy whole grains!"
"Cars bring people together!"
And also: "Our car is lighter than air and may carry you off into space!"
I'm really disturbed by this trend of ads featuring non-existent social outrage. Remember that "Free Wilbur" (or whatever) campaign for the Charlotte's Web movie? I can't imagine how many darned kids got worked up by that and started protesting some ill-defined injustice towards a fictional pig.
Just think of how many idiots who like eating their meals standing up will start ranting to their friends and family about the so-called prejudice towards "free eaters" in the coming months. A lot of people might get turned off of Hot Pockets...
Sunday, October 25, 2009
Out of all dark chocolates, I like Hershey's Special Dark the best. It has a nice balance.
I like peanuts and chocolate better than almonds and chocolate. Mr. Goodbar is one of my favorites. Normally I don't like chocolates with a lot of nuts, especially not walnuts. I also like chocolate with fruit quite a bit.
Most often, I like chewing my chocolate rather than letting it melt on my tongue. I get the full impact of its flavor that way. I have noticed, though, that because of dark chocolate's richer, earthier flavor, I do tend to eat it a bit more slowly.
That said, while Hershey's had significantly improved in recent years because of its gourmet competitors, I do prefer European chocolates over most commercial American chocolates. See's is the best American brand, I think- the coating of nostalgia adds to it as well.
Then again, what do I know? I'm of the male gender.
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
You see, most modern horror movies I've seen- as well as most elaborate Halloween decorations and haunted house attractions- seem to think that the more screams you get, the scarier it is. Well, I suppose in the broadest sense, that sort of thing IS scary... but some butt-ugly brownish-red heavy metal album rubber mask jumping out at you and making loud noises is about as subtle as saying "Boo!". Also, it seems like your easiest target is teenage girls, who scream at the slightest thing, and your core audience is people who have become numb to the scares and bloodthirsty for a morbid thrill.
What the horror genre today lacks most is subtlety and atmosphere. Fear is a primitive emotion- one that takes control of the simplest of creatures. It's a rather strange formula that I've conjured up, but once you wrap your brain around it, it makes sense: Since fear is primitive, the things that scare you most are primitive. In order to be subtle, you must be minimalist, rather than over-the-top. Think about what scared you as a child: strange, uncertain noises, dark shadows, blood, sharp objects, aggression, isolation... all of these are the forbidden, the primal, the unexplainable, the seemingly impossible, the unknown. What happens nowadays is that people focus on the payoff- the scream- so everyone believes that they must make it louder, crazier, more precarious, more extreme in order to have louder screams in larger quantities.
Therein lies the problem- the scream is the RELEASE. Screaming relieves the tensions built up after waiting for something to happen. This is actually something I figured out after watching The Tingler. Fear is actually an anticipatory feeling, and the scream isn't the fear itself. That, my ghoulish friends, is what I focus on when I work in the horror genre- creating an atmosphere that suggests that something is terribly wrong and is about to jump out and get you. I kind of let my "victims" decide what to scream at.
Since the horror genre tends to be in a visual medium, I've had some difficulty doing it in prose, although I seem to do well in poetry. But I really shine- even if I do say so myself- when I decorate for Halloween and dress up.
Halloween, to me, is a time to indulge your naughty side a little bit. I don't mean sinning, like dressing suggestively or glorifying violence- I mean your inner mischief maker. Making a little bit of harmless trouble- that is, scaring people and delighting in macabre humor- is what Halloween is all about for me. It's all about fun!
As you may have guessed, I'm a traditionalist for the most part when it comes to the horror genre. I like my vampires Bela Lugosi-flavored, and my werewolves beastly. My family takes this approach when we decorate for Halloween- our house is becomes a good old-fashioned haunted house. We've tweaked, developed, and finely-tuned the way we do it over the years, and you know what? It works really darn well. A little too well, in fact.
Thursday, October 8, 2009
A bug? Or something else? I find it highly suspicious.
Wednesday, October 7, 2009
I just find it weird that the smoothness silk has when you touch it with your fingers is supposed to translate to when you touch it with tongue...
Sunday, October 4, 2009
I seem to recall one of the most disturbing ones I found was this ugly obese man whose entire wishlist consisted of sex toys. D:
Thursday, October 1, 2009
So imagine my surprise after not seeing Bambi for many years and seeing Flower fall for a girl who was even more effeminate, which was somehow possible. I honestly thought Flower was a girl, and I didn't remember that scene. The way he shrugs and laughs nervously at the other two makes me think that he's trying to say "Whaddya know! I have testosterone!"
Of course, it also brings up the possibility that he's saying "Whaddya know! I'm straight!"
Wednesday, September 30, 2009
All forms of music are equal. The only real way to judge music is to consider the level of performance quality and the sincerity therein- and even those are matters of opinion, for the most part.
Also, the only quality I really look for in any kind of music is sincerity. Do they mean it when they sing and play, or is it just made on an assembly line? Even when the music is commercial, I like it if they focus on pleasing the customer rather than making money. The only thing that really turns me away from a group or musician- besides being boring, insincere, or poorly played- is if they glorify violence and/or lustful sex, or encourage worshipping Satan, which I object to on principle. I'm not too crazy about bands who're angry all the time either.
Everything else is fair game.
(I do make an exception with The Shaggs, who are notoriously terrible musicians. They're just so... sincere! Yeah, I know, I'm using that word a lot.)
Sunday, September 27, 2009
Although I'm told that the original UK version is better.
Friday, September 25, 2009
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
Just think about it: almost every musician or group you can think of used double-tracked vocals. It was a very new thing, and previously used most famously by Les Paul and Mary Ford and Buddy Holly.
The Beach Boys...
Everybody who worked with Phil Spector...
...And those are only the most famous names I can think of off the top of my head. Well, let's face it- the only musicians or groups I can think of that probably didn't use double-tracking frequently, as far as I know, is Bob Dylan, The Rolling Stones, Janis Joplin, and James Brown. So perhaps the more stripped down music of the time lacked it. And really, would you want your stripped down music to have double-tracked vocals, unless you were anything like The Ramones? Or maybe it's when your singing voice already packs a punch...
I'm excluding instrumental groups, of course.
I love nature. I GET it, okay? It's beautiful, it's God's creation, I love it, and I want to protect it. I want to make friends with animals. I believe that animals have souls and feelings and go to heaven. How can there possibly be more to it?
I keep hearing talk about how most aren't connected or tuned in with nature. I understand that most people are blind to its beauty, and more often than not, carelessly destroy it. But what is this "tuning in" nonsense? What, is nature a radio signal or something? Listen to the flower people! Gimme a break.
I honestly don't believe that nature holds any deep, profound spiritual secrets, as if there was some sort of demigod sealed within a tree who will tell you the meaning of life. Everything I need to know about nature is already in front of my eyes, and I don't need some animal spirit guide to take me on some journey to the center of the mind to see it. I look into an animal's eyes and I see a personality, an emotion, a primitive desire. I look at a flower and I see vibrant colors, an elegant shape, a delicate smell. I was BORN with an appreciation for beauty, so that's all bonehead obvious to me. What more could I possibly need?
What I don't get is why people keep talking as if there's some puzzle to figure out, and that once I start meditating in the middle of a Celtic forest, everything will become clear to me and I will be enlightened. Not only that, nobody explains to me what on earth this "answer" that I'm supposed to get IS... everyone's so vague about it. One person said to me that the wisdom received depended on the person. With that logic, I can conclude that there isn't any actual secret or whatever, and that it's all open to interpretation. This "knowledge" that you speak of is therefore created within, not from the outside. In other words, you can make something up, attach it to a tree or whatever, and decide whether or not it works for you.
Quite honestly, the idea that animals are hiding some sort of hidden knowledge, buried deep underneath their primal, instinctive exteriors that requires some spirit journey to excavate out kind of creeps me out. If some backyard raccoon turned out to actually be some sort of guru covered in fur, everything I hold dear about nature would be shattered. I believe that there are only two layers in a living being: the outside, which is the physical body, and the inside, which is the soul. And the eyes are the window to the soul, darn it. If I don't see a glowing heavenly light in someone's eyes, then it isn't there.
I really don't think that there's anything more to it. It's all in the Book of Genesis: we, mankind, are sent here on earth, among nature, to protect and befriend nature. To make peace with nature. It is God's most beautiful creation, and it is worthy of praise- simply because it's His handiwork, and it's gosh darn pretty. If you want some spiritual guidance, talk to God- He'll answer. Eliminate the middle man.
Becoming one with nature = DUHRRR...
When you're a freak, a weirdo, a nerd, an outcast- like I am- people from either side can potentially reject you. You know how I said before that I was politically, morally, and religiously smack dab in the middle, neither right or left? The left or the culturally hardcore or the morally loose would likely think that I'm too conservative, too cautious, and that I'm setting my bar too high. The right or the uptight or the morally rigid would likely be shocked by my extreme tastes in music, my enjoyment of select comedy with sex jokes and swear words, and my views on natural selection and intelligence.
Or as Treebeard put it, "I'm on nobody's side, because no one is on my side."
Being an outsider, feeling alienated and alone, can make you feel disdain for those who reject you- which ironically makes you reject them back.
If an outsider is pushed too far, it can have dangerous consequences. I should know- the dark brooding and heartbreak I've felt over the years has made me weak to temptation more than once. These are very dark thoughts I'm talking about, people. From what I've seen of villain origin stories, the story often goes like this: the villain, not quite crossed over, is either different from everyone else or is trying to do something different. Everybody around hates him/her for it. When something dear is taken away from them, they swear vengeance on those who took it- and they expand on that by swearing vengeance on the SORT of people who would take it.
I recently came face to face with my dark side. I had seen it before without realizing it. But now that I recognize it, I fear it- and I will do everything I can to keep it from controlling me. I've been teetering over the edge for years now, and only now do I recognize that- so now I'm determined to stay strong and keep a firm grip on the goodness in my heart. Praying that God enter my heart has helped a lot.
Sunday, September 20, 2009
Online communication can really suck. Lucky for me I'm better than most because I'm a writer and I know a thing or two about expressing emotion and subtext using words alone... but obviously that doesn't help when the person reading the words is really thick-headed.
Saturday, September 19, 2009
It was around Halloween time, and for some reason we were in a bookstore, most likely Borders. I'm assuming that it was a special occasion of some sort, since they were playing Mad Monster Party on a TV screen in front of the CD/DVD section. Now that I think about it, I don't think I knew what a DVD was at the time, and Mad Monster Party was probably still only on video.
Anyway, a bunch of kids were sitting around in chairs or maybe on the floor in front of the screen, and we probably went "Oooh, cartoons!" and joined them. What played was this bizarre and kinda creepy stop-motion animated thingy, with a bunch of monsters including Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (whose transformation was particularly memorable to me), a werewolf, a vampire, and many others. The only things I could remember were the opening sequence- and I don't remember any music- the monsters arriving at the party, and a big explosion at the end that the main character compared to the 4th of July, who turned out to be a robot (SPOILERS!!).
My impressionable imagination etched these nightmarish images onto my brain, and I carried them with me for many years, not knowing what on earth they were. As I said, I thought I may have dreamt it after a while...
So imagine my excitement when we figured out what the heck it was a couple years ago. In fact, the images in my heads practically haunted me, so I sort of became obsessed with getting the DVD.
Turns out it's not quite as creepy as I remember- I certainly haven't gotten the same feeling when I watch it yet- but it certainly is even more bizarre and kooky than I ever expected.
Mad Monster Party was made by Rankin-Bass, the same people who brought you Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. Mad Monster Party is probably the most popular of Rankin-Bass' excruciatingly rare Halloween and/or horror-themed works, especially since it influenced Tim Burton's classic Nightmare Before Christmas. It's a horror-comedy, starring Boris Karloff and Phyllis Diller, and some people impersonating Peter Lorre, Sydney Greenstreet, and Jimmy Stewart. It would seem that Rankin-Bass wanted to do something more snappy and hip, so they hired writers and artists who worked for Mad magazine (hence the word "Mad" in the title). The film was released in theaters in 1967.
This sort of macabre movie monster crossover was popular in the '60s, starting with The Addams Family and going on to The Munsters. Dracula, the Wolf Man, Frankenstein's Monster had pretty much become clowns in the eyes of the public, and Mad Monster Party threw in every other iconic monster, including parodies of Igor (which, as far as I can tell, is the first instance of a Peter Lorre impression filling in for that type), the Creature from the Black Lagoon, the Invisible Man, the Mummy, the Hunchback of Notre Dame, and King Kong (called "It" here).
The dialogue is filled with macabre gags and puns, and while they're not quite as subtle as Disney's Haunted Mansion, they're certainly a lot more clever than Scooby-Doo and the Ghoul School.
In the end, watching it sort of feels like a bizarre macabre freakout, and while the jokes are lot of fun, and ending is pretty grim when you think about it, I'm not so sure if it's as sophisticated as more famous horror-comedies. Nevertheless, it feels good to finally see it again after all these years, even though it's not quite how I remember it.
Now if I could only figure out what that dialogue-less stop motion short I saw in elementary school about a couple of guys bringing a tiny Frankenstein monster to life with a drop of blood or potion and gradually growing him into a giant was...
After listening to it more closely, I notice that they don't get the chords or the melody right. If it weren't for the words, you wouldn't be able to tell that it was "Baby, Let's Play House". But you know we ought to give John a break, since he was still playing his guitar tuned like a banjo and was probably only beginning to learn songs by ear...
Elvis Presley recorded and released "Baby, Let's Play House" on Sun Records in 1955. Any decent Elvis fan should know about it, since it was one of his earliest hits, and the first to enter the national charts. Weirdly enough, I'm more familiar with a live version on one of my rockabilly collections.
Elvis is one of the most famous rock stars around the world, and quite possibly the first '50s rocker that anyone gets introduced to. John and Paul took cues from his singing voice, especially Paul, which is particularly apparent in The Beatles' audtion for Decca. Elvis' band was one of the pioneers of rockabilly, and by extension rock 'n' roll, and guitarist Scotty Moore's style likely informed George's playing style. Paul has recorded several versions of "That's All Right, Mama" throughout his career.
In particular, John lifted the line "I'd rather see you dead, little girl" for his song "Run For Your Life", and George pretty much just rewrote the lyrics for his unreleased song "Goin' Down to Golder's Green" in 1970.
Friday, September 18, 2009
Monday, September 14, 2009
I don't mean to say that I outright reject those sort of people. Everybody can believe in whatever the heck they want, because as human beings granted free will, we have a right to do so. I'm not a preacher or a converter. I aim to be more of an encourager than anything else. In other words, I won't stop anyone from doing what they want to do.
My problem is this: modern society, especially the left wing, has confused tolerance with acceptance. I can tolerate Buddhists, pagans, and Muslims living the way they do, and I wish them to have total access to all the rights I have. But let's face it- as a Christian, I don't agree with them. There are many things other people believe and do that I either don't think is the best choice, or I morally object to... for instance, the worship of spirits, or sex before marriage.
Mass media has often bombarded me with the politically correct idea that in order to be an open-minded, enlightened person, I must not let religious or moral differences stop me from being friends with them or even marrying them. This is what we today often call "tolerance". Me, I can tolerate a person of a different religion being in the same classroom as me, but I should NOT be required to figuratively give them a hug, pat them on the back and say "You're special!", thereby giving them a politically correct cookie that subscribes to their dietary beliefs.
I openly admit to not wanting to have anything to do with gay people. As a Christian, I find their behavior morally objectionable. That's it. I don't apologize for that.
Thursday, September 10, 2009
Oh, and apparently we're too stupid to remember Pizza Hut's REAL stuffed crust pizza from a few years ago. Unfortunately this is probably true.
UPDATE: Hey, guess what? It's even older than I previously thought:
This has to date to the mid-'90s at the latest.
Wednesday, September 9, 2009
But why should I bother telling the world about this? There's a million people who would tell me to suck it up, or that I'm being pathetic, or that I'm seeking pity. I suppose in some ways they would be right. In the end, I'm just seeking emotional release. I can't expect someone to provide me an emotional crutch anymore. I don't care if anyone sees me like this. I'm not ashamed.
UPDATE: Some broken bonds have been mended, and some wisdom has been gained. Although I have to only show one side of my personality to be loved, I'm not doing it for my sake.
Monday, September 7, 2009
Really guys, this doesn't have to be so complicated, nor should I rely on "plug-ins" from non-staff to do what is normally a basic function. I should just be able to go *click* and bingo, the account is blocked. Even AOL mail lets me block e-mail addresses by simply adding them to a list.
...I should e-mail this to somebody.
Sunday, September 6, 2009
Friday, September 4, 2009
Tuesday, September 1, 2009
Case in point: there are generally two camps of Beatle-wannabe bands... the kind who loves their recordings from '62-'65, and the kind who loves their recordings from '66-'69. It's usually the hard-rocking pop rock, power pop or even Britpop bands with moptops that like their early stuff, while slightly more sophisticated and experimental psychedelic acts like their later stuff. A good example of the latter is The Apples in Stereo, although bands like them are just as likely to be inspired by The Electric Light Orchestra. There were a lot more of these sort of bands in the 70's, such as Tin Tin, Grapefruit, and Klaatu, and many of them were even mistaken for The Beatles and released on Beatle bootlegs! I notice that the main thing that joins these two camps together is the Revolver album- which makes sense, since it was pretty much a transitional album.
My point here is that these two main periods of their commercial career are so different that fans can be divisive about it.
In many ways I wish The Beatles made more music than they did, which is one of the main reasons why I collect bootlegs. Basically, I want more of the same- so I look for more. This led me to believe something early on in my life: if The Beatles liked it, I like it.
You can pick any song you wish, whether they wrote it or not, learn about the history behind it, and there you have it! Another world opened up to you. I intend to discuss just this very thing throughout the blog, and I shall begin with the very first song performed by The Beatles ever recorded.
Not everyone knows it, but "In Spite of all the Danger" isn't the first song they performed that ever got recorded. Instead, it is truly remarkable to learn that the legendary concert on the day that John first met Paul had been recorded by someone with a portable tape recorder! Remember, the only member we're familiar with that was in the group then was John, and the band was called the Quarrymen.
Thursday, August 27, 2009
I want one for a pet someday. I'll need to learn the ropes, though....
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
Sunday, August 23, 2009
I don't surf, and I no longer swim, but I still romanticize and appreciate the beauty of the beach, especially natural untouched beaches. I have particularly fond memories of Redondo Beach pier. If anything, I'm a rocker. I play mostly electric guitar, mostly in a rock style, and I certainly dig many, many long-haired rock bands of yesteryear. I love surf music as well, like Dick Dale, The Ventures, and The Surfaris. I've seen all of them in concert, which was before The Ventures' lead guitarist Bob Bogle died. Unfortunately, it seems that Dick Dale was having a bad day when I saw him, as I wasn't too impressed with him at the time. It didn't help that the crowd was awful and some lady started shaking her butt in front of my face, blissfully unaware that I was sitting behind her.
There's also The Beach Boys, but they don't have much surfer cred. Not that it matters to me, nor should it to anyone else...
My philosophy is made up of thirds: Christianity, the Founding Fathers, and the hippies. And really, what's so different about them? I mostly believe in the peace, love, freedom and equality side to it. I don't care so much for the drugs, simply because I have enough imagination to see within myself, enjoy myself, and picture all the psychedelia I could ever need. I especially dislike the free love bit, since that's pretty much what caused America's HIV problem and encourages fornication, adultery, and perversity. I'm also anti-war, and generally take a pacifist standing, although I do like action comedy films.
I'm pretty much as big a fan of psychedelic rock as I am of surf music. The garage rock of the Nuggets compilations, the acid rock of Hendrix, the sophisticated avant-garde and neo-classicalism of The Beatles, plus any trippy freak-outs by anyone of a similar vein as these guys. I'm afraid I'm not too familiar with The Grateful Dead, although I'm interested.
There's also the Golden Age of Hollywood in the '30s and '40s, and the cheesy Googie architecture of the '50s and early '60s. The culture that has sprung from San Diego to San Francisco is incredible, and a TON of trends and hipster coolness came from here. I'm very proud of the history that surrounds me, and one day I want to be a part of it by celebrating it all in my art and music.
Friday, August 21, 2009
FACE MY BLADE CLUMP OF GRASS YOU CANNOT HIDE THE TREASURES YOU CONTAIN CHOP CHOP CHOP
Thursday, August 20, 2009
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
Monday, August 17, 2009
Sunday, August 16, 2009
I'm kind of a traditionalist when it comes to horror. I prefer the older black-and-white horror movies- none of that loud, in-your-face guts and gore stuff, which has no subtlety at all. It's all knee-jerk. I much prefer creating an atmosphere. So the old kind of monsters, like ghosts, vampires, werewolves, old Victorian mansions and various other undead and creatures of the night and all the mythology and imagery associated with them, done the old-fashioned way... that's for me. I also like camp and macabre humor, so Halloween cartoons and stuff like The Addams Family, The Munsters, The Haunted Mansion, classic Tim Burton, Mad Monster Party, and Ed Wood films are cool, too.
Halloween is my second favorite holiday, beaten only by Christmas. I love all the horror movie marathons and candy, and all the wicked glee of dressing up. I've always had something of a dark side. I used to go trick-or-treating, but people spoiled it when they said we were too old. We also take great pride in our decorations each year.
Sadly, the loser kids in our neighborhood- who are either too wimpy to come up to our apparently too frightening porch or don't wear costumes and only want candy- have discouraged us from decorating and handing out candy this year. It's not worth it. Hopefully my college will host a costume party this year...
Because I've been a big fan of rockabilly and surf music since I was in middle school, I've taken a great liking to psychobilly, that wonderful mix of rockabilly and punk with horror- and sci-fi-themed lyrics. I think I was always somewhat aware of the concept- perhaps because of stuff like The Munsters theme song and what music played on cable TV each Halloween- but I've only fully embraced the style recently. What's not to like about that gutsy twang and howling at the moon?
We're both likely to discuss our favorite aspects of the horror genre as we get closer to Halloween. And yes, I often start thinking about it in August... because I'm a lunatic, of course.
Saturday, August 15, 2009
In 1948's Long-Haired Hare, Bugs sings this song:
Oh my gal is a high-born stepper
Ginger with salt and pepper
She's a fancy stepper when she dances
Go and see her as she kippers and prances
My gal don't do much talking
Dances even when she's walking
One and two and three and four she dances all day long
Turns out this was originally "My Gal is a High Born Lady", written by Barney Fagan in 1896(?), but with new lyrics in place of the old ones, removing the racist themes.
Here is a performance by Len Spencer, in all its muffled, crackly, politically-incorrect glory: http://www.archive.org/details/MyGalIsAHighBornLadyByLenSpencer1896
Lyrics and sheet music: http://sniff.numachi.com/pages/tiHIGHBORN;ttHIGHBORN.html
Original sheet music cover: http://memory.loc.gov/award/rpbaasm/0400/0443/044301r.jpg
Thursday, August 13, 2009
If I did drugs, I'd have some of what they're smoking.
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
In this case, I remember seeing it, I remember a few moments of it, the general message, and some characters. I'm talking, of course, about a certain anti-drug animated special called Cartoon All-Stars to the Rescue!, which I watched one day in elementary school. My memories of it are slim: I remember that Miss Piggy, Kermit, and maybe Gonzo were in it, in their Muppet Babies forms, traveling through someone's drug-ravaged brain in a mine cart. For some reason I remember the brain being dusty, full of cobwebs and grossness, but it turns out that that wasn't the case. There was also Slimer of Ghostbusters fame, who I recognized from a green-colored variant of the Hi-C juice box drink. I never watched The Real Ghostbusters, although I may have seen some episodes some time afterward- nevertheless, I didn't make the connection between him and the movie. I'm not sure if I had seen it yet at the time.
Most likely, anyone who is unfamiliar with this cartoon and reads this will think: "Wait a minute... The Muppets and The Ghostbusters? What kind of messed up cartoon did you watch?" I tell you what kind: an anti-drug messed up cartoon. Yes folks, somehow or another all these copyright holders agreed to have their cartoon stars used in an anti-drug special, in which they rescue some kid from using drugs- hence the title. Apparently helping kids say no was a just enough cause to have this sort of crossover happen. There was a time when liberals ruled children's entertainment, and fighting against pollution, drug abuse, prejudice and even sexual harassment was the name of the game in most of the brightly-colored and cutesy cartoons of the time. I often look at the sort of cartoons other kids were watching in the late '80s and early '90s, and feel grateful that I was watching Disney and Steven Spielberg productions instead.
Sunday, August 9, 2009
And if you go further back, the earliest garage bands were doing their own hyper-teenager versions of '50s rock 'n' roll. So I guess you can still blame the blues, then.
So what the heck was happening before the blues came along and hit the reset button on popular music? Well, the earliest forms of jazz were also pretty much created by black musicians, so I guess you could say it was folk music. The highbrow crowd was listening to Romantic classical music, and then the experimental music of Stravinsky and Schoenberg. And we all know that when it comes to rock music, that stuff only influenced the weird bands.
And now, I'll wait and see if anybody knows what the heck I'm talking about.
Saturday, August 8, 2009
So don't wag your finger at me, 'cause I openly admit it.
It has often been said that history is made by subjective historians, who pick and choose what's important and what's not. I believe that in most cases there is a justification for that, because we can't really say what it is that's important in an era until after the fact. It's been my observation that a lot of important things happen without the public knowing about it. Case in point: my mother has told me that I know infinitely more about The Beatles than anybody could have possibly known in the Sixties, when they were still together.
It has also been said that people become more famous and/or important after they die. This includes Van Gogh, Galileo, and even Jesus.
So the only real value of knowing what people thought was important THEN is knowing the time period's context and state of mind. But in the end, it is the people that made a real impact on culture that matter, and I couldn't really care less what the squares thought or liked. Name a rock band that takes inspiration from Pat Boone. Instead, you'll find a lot more bands taking inspiration from- who else?- The Beatles.
Wednesday, August 5, 2009
Tuesday, August 4, 2009
God, those kids were disgusting.
I really don't remember this film too well, as I haven't seen it in full in years. But recently one of the characters was reintroduced to me, and the particular scene the character appears in came flooding back to me, and I realized something rather peculiar about the scene that made me rethink the film. I rewatched it online just now to make sure I was remembering it correctly. And sure enough, I came to the same conclusion: the movie didn't end the way it should have.
"But whatsyername," you think, "didn't Arthur pull the sword outta the rock and become king? That's what's supposed to happen!" And you'd be right, that is what's supposed to happen, but Disney somehow made it so that I didn't want it to play out that way.
Think of the film's plot as a figure walking down a path. It walks straight along, never veering, its destination always in mind. It reaches a fork in the road and sees a new, pleasant-looking path heading towards the left. It decides to take a short detour. After all, it's only a little distraction, something entertaining to lighten the mood, how can it hurt? It's sure to turn back to the main road eventually.
It's all fun until the plot realizes that this new path is leading towards something entirely different from its original destination. It looks around and sees the original path to its right and quickly leaps back. But before it continues on its way it stops and turns wistfully back at the alternate path, and wishes it could go back. It would have been better if it had kept going the other direction. But no, it has to stay true to the source material, so it sadly waves the other story goodbye, presses on, and never looks back.
Don't know what I'm going on about? See for yourself:
Saturday, August 1, 2009
Why is this? Well, like anyone who's had more than small talk with me would know, my two seemingly eternal years in middle school were a hellhouse of terrors. I'm sure many of you fellow nerds can relate. I was lucky to escape into Christian homeschool for the third year of middle school and the entirety of high school, and my life has been improving ever since. Nevertheless, those miserable days in middle school had a lasting effect on the both of us- besides the emotional and psychological scarring, I mean. In particular for me, the one known as Typhlosion or Fatal hilarity, all that desperation and gloom and bitterness and most of all my focus on surviving made me forget a lot of things.
What I mainly forgot was the things I liked as a kid- what I watched on TV mostly. I realized what a shame this was soon after graduating high school, because not only did these things make me happy as a kid, they shaped my imagination and therefore my artistic development, and even shaped my worldview and philosophy. It was no accident that my mom had me watch Leave it to Beaver. My memories of these things had become fuzzy, and so I had inadvertently detached myself from what influenced, informed, and practically created my art style. So I'm now determined to restore my memories by seeing these things once more by buying DVDs, whether they were official or not, and watching online videos of them. Luckily most of what I read has remained in our home.
Oddly enough, most of my art from before high school was centered around our obsessions at the time, such as Calvin & Hobbes, Pokémon, and Harry Potter. Most of the time these cartoons and movies didn't directly inspire my art until recently, and it's difficult to infer such things in our early work. Sometimes a cartoon wouldn't influence me at all, and only now do you see it effect my art in any way! Still, what went on in my head was closely tied to it all.
Other memories involved experiences rather than popular media, like restaurants. In fact, most of my happy memories that didn't involve television involved food instead. For instance, out of sheer coincidence, my brother and I just bought some ice cream from an actual slow-moving ice cream truck. I didn't get one of those bubblegum-eyed franchise character bars, but it was still something I don't think I've done since public school.
Now that I've blathered on about what motivates these articles, and I've said pretty much the same thing to many people several times now, I suppose I really should get on with it now. Shall we actually discuss the title subject? What say you?
Friday, July 31, 2009
As far as I can tell, the real message here is that Old Spice will make your armpits more powerful, in which case it still doesn't make any sense.
Thursday, July 30, 2009
I've been told numerous times that I'm extremely creative, talented, smart, and wise beyond my years. At the same time, I try to be a kind, modest, helpful, and moral person. I've been working really hard on the things that need to get done in order to start my professional career in art.
It's day-to-day responsibility and socializing that I need to work on.
So why is it that when I do so much to be kind and helpful to others, believe in the Word of the Bible, and prepare for my art career- work on my art projects daily, upload them online for all to see, buy proper equipment and reference, all to gain publicity and hopefully start getting paychecks and a steady job so I can live on my own, support a wife, finance my future dream projects, live the American dream, make the world a better place, and go to heaven- I STILL GET CHASTISED FOR LEAVING OUT A PLATE OR FORGETTING TO TAKE OUT THE TRASH??
Despite everything I do to become a better person, and despite all my focus on the loftier, more God-oriented, and really important things, the world around me seems to care far more about whether or not I give someone a polite smile, make small talk, and avoid fidgeting- or if I do the laundry regularly and keep everything tidy. I try my best to do these things right so I can teach myself responsibility- which has far more applications than most realize- but my apparent failure to know how to deal with "real life" seems to be a bigger deal than my failures to reach my life goals.
Some reality. That sort of thing isn't reality to me. It's more of a means to appear normal, and therefore "sane" and "socially acceptable", than it is a means to become a better person. It's all about appearances. Hey, look- that guy is making eye contact and not stammering! He MUST be a functional human being!
Feh. If I wasn't so concerned about keeping a good reputation and pleasing others, I'd tell the world to go jump in a very deep lake and drown. MY job is to rescue you people from a watery grave, not give you a polite smile and offer to wash the dishes. YOUR job is to appreciate it.
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
Thursday, July 23, 2009
I'm willing to bet Tim Burton looks at Coraline and wishes it was him who made it. That film is everything Burton once was and more.
One of these days we're going to get a faithful adaptation of both books.
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
Wow, three of those have to do with the Beatles somehow.
This is going to be controversial, but I'm not really saddened by Michael Jackson's passing. As far as I'm concerned, the talented, sane, black Michael Jackson died years ago.
You know whose recent death makes me cry? Wayne Allwine, the then-current voice of Mickey Mouse. He was the Mickey of my generation, and probably the best as far as bringing personality and emotion to the Mouse is concerned. It couldn't have a been a week before his obituary appeared that we had finished watching every episode of House of Mouse. My mind was blown. "Oh my God! Mickey's voice is gone! They must be scrambling to find a replacement now."
I still get misty-eyed by it, even as I'm typing.
Monday, July 20, 2009
Friday, July 17, 2009
Teenager found dead; victim of horrible witchcraft
The culprit then proceeded to replace his sister's blood with Tang and both his parents' lungs with Dubble Bubble. The deadly warlock is still at large.
Saturday, July 4, 2009
Gad, I can almost smell the sulfur already.
Sunday, June 28, 2009
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
Sunday, June 14, 2009
I really don't care for Julie Taymor's work in general, from what I've seen of it.
And Bono, God, why did it have to be Bono??
Friday, June 5, 2009
It would have been nice to go up and tell them that they should call it the "DS", and that "the Nintendo" is really only used to refer to the NES. But of course, you just can't do that sort of thing these days. They probably never heard about the NES. I wonder if they even know what New Super Mario Bros. is inspired by. Did they ever wonder about the "new" in the title? Even then, why not call it the DS anyway? Don't they realize that "Nintendo" is the company that makes it, not the name of the thing?
This is an odd request, but if anyone's reading this, does anyone have a better copy of this image?:
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
I don't care for or even watch/read much anime or manga. Pokémon is probably one of few that I follow fanatically and I've also enjoyed Cardcaptors (the 4Kids dub at least) and Hamtaro. If How Not to Draw Manga is any indication, I probably wouldn't care for anything else.
From what I've seen, Japanese cartoons fall into these categories:
- It doesn't really matter what setting or characters the show or comic has, if it's extremely popular on both sides of the Pacific, it generally involves some sort of quest, episode-long staring contests, ugly character design, superpowers, and lots of screaming complete with oversized mouths.
- Butt-kicking samurai on a journey. Lots of references to traditional Japanese mythology.
- Cyberpunk post-apocalyptic Lovecraftian gorefests, centered around an anti-hero.
- Feature films that make absolutely no sense in any language.
- Mostly nonsensical schoolgirl dramedies.
- Über-kawaii magical animal befriends little kid and has adventures!
- Sexy girls in bikinis being sexy. Who knows what the plot is.
- Collectible monsters/robots/whatever. Endless competition ensues.
- Giant robots.
- Horrible perverted nightmare-inducing porn.