Wednesday, September 30, 2009

On a related note...

Whenever I see debates on YouTube about whose music is the greatest- who's the greatest guitar player, does shredding suck, does the blues rule all, and how much do we hate/worship Hannah Montana- it makes me realize that I'm so much happier than those people, simply because if I summarize my opinion of music, it is this:

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.)

I got da bloooooz...

I think Robert Johnson is considered the greatest blues singer-songwriter of all time because no one bothers to even try and write blues songs as interesting as he does. For a guy who only has three chords at his disposal ("They're Red Hot" being an exception), he sure could do a heck of a lot with them.

Let's (Not) Twist Again

The best part is, I'm almost certain that there's a name for the dance they're actually doing.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Stuff about punk again

Something must be wrong... I listened to samples of the US version of The Clash's debut album, and I found it inoffensive. It didn't really excite me much. And here I am, a big fan of "Should I Stay or Should I Go"! I expected something more like that... Maybe I shouldn't have listened to tough-as-nails Oi! bands beforehand.

Although I'm told that the original UK version is better.

Friday, September 25, 2009


I think the only thing those teeth-whitening ads accomplish is reminding me to brush my teeth.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Musical generalization

Do you know what I think the quintessential sound of the '60s is, spanning all genres?

Double-tracked vocals.

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 Beatles...
The Beach Boys...
The Monkees...
Everybody who worked with Phil Spector...
The Kinks...
Jimi Hendrix...

...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.

What's the deal with neo-paganism?

I keep finding these neo-pagan bits and pieces, often filled with buzzwords like "tuning in" and "connecting" and "becoming one", and it always ends with the word "nature".

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...

Heroes and Villains

Thanks to Dr. Horrible's Sing-A-Long Blog, I understand the motivation behind just about every classic fictional villain ever.

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 "debates"

If there is one thing I can't stand, it's when I start showing my true colors online and some idiot will start attacking me. Sometimes I don't do anything but voice my opinion, and I'll be accused of "fighting", "arguing", or even "attacking" someone. And this is when I know in my heart that I had no such intention, and only I know that for sure. A lot of the time it's their problem, not mine.

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.

Recipe: Quick hot apple cider

  • Apple juice (preferably a brand that says "fresh" on the label)

  • Juice from one half an orange

  • A dash of pumpkin pie spice

Heat it up and bingo.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Artifacts of our Childhood #4: Mad Monster Party

This is an example of something we saw as a kid, but since it only happened once before so many years ago, we wondered if it was all a dream.

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...

The Beatles and musical history- "Baby, Let's Play House"

In addition to "Puttin' on the Style", another song by the Quarrymen was known to be recorded: Elvis Presley's "Baby, Let's Play House".

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

Weasels is teh EVIL!!!1 D:

...and apparently Christians are too.

Same diff.


...No one likes you when you're weird, except when people buy your stuff and make you famous.

Monday, September 14, 2009


I want to say this to the world: I will never in my life surround myself with people I disagree with on moral, religious, or political matters.

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

Questionable Advertising: Jackpot??

Let's just lay aside the fact that this new "stuffed crust" pizza is just regular pan pizza with about an inch between the pepperoni and crust and not really a stuffed crust pizza at all. What the heck is going on here? Are these supposed great things happening to this man a result of eating this pizza? Because usually when commercials say something wonderful (but impossible) will happen when you use the product advertised, they make it way more obvious than this. This just feels like a visual adaptation of the guy's "list of awesome stuff!".

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

It's official...

...I'm alone in the world with no one to support me in my times of need. No one loves me for who I am, and instead everyone loves me for who I'm expected to be. I'm not that person, and as far as I'm concerned, I never will be.

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

HUGE fault with WordPress

I keep getting "Bill Bartmann" spam comments, so I looked to see if I could block the account from commenting. But as it turns out, it's not as simple as you would think. I'm thinking: "I have to download 'plug-ins' and drop it into my 'plug-ins directory' and block IP addresses and be extremely precise or else I might block legitimate accounts?? IP ADDRESSES??? Seriously???"

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

I still want a HOO-LAH HOOOP

Boy, whatever or whoever works the "hot videos" at Google sure is obsessed with that Chipmunks video.

Friday, September 4, 2009


...I'm actually quite terrified by it, especially the uncontrolled variety, to tell you the truth. I can understand desiring sex with another person, but to hunger for it... even if you don't want to... THAT'S a nightmare.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

The Beatles = your musical history education

In continuation of my endless praise for The Beatles, I ask this question: how diverse were The Beatles? Few bands come anywhere close- you'd be best off listening to, say, the works of a studio musician, or The Knickerbockers, or maybe The Lemon Pipers. Even then, the only musician I can think that explored more forms of music than The Beatles is Frank Zappa.

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.