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Friday, October 06, 2006
IT'S BACK - The Al Can't Hang / BG Email Thread
Alabaster the Hirsute,
So I was watching the Philly six o'clock news last night, and a story caught my eye. Apparently, on the advice of a Vatican sub-committee, the Pope has decided that Limbo no longer exists.
Forgetting for a moment what this might do to broomstick sales and at least fifteen minutes of every wedding DJ's repertoire, the idea of Limbo is a 1500 year old tenet of Catholic belief in the afterlife and it's interesting that all it takes is bureaucratically-derived advice to fundamentally shift mythology.
Limbo, if I remember my CCD brainwashing from years past, is where unbaptized babies go to live on the fringes of heaven. You can't get in to heaven without getting spritzed by a priest (or at least that's what they tell the altarboys - hey now...), but complaints from the masses centuries ago had Vatican scholars deciding that an unbaptized baby didn't deserve the pit of hellfire like a thirty-year-old Jew or Protestant who should have known better. So the babies almost got to go to heaven.
In their "man on the street" reaction to the Pope's decision, an elderly man said this was a good thing, as "Limbo wasn't fair to all those babies."
Way to go Pope! I'm sure it inspires goodwill and confidence in your brand of Christianity to know that an elected official can change the nature of the afterlife with a simple decree. Now all those little baby souls get to go to heaven. Yay Pope!
Frankly, I can't think of a more absurd thing than a man being able to change what happens after you die based on a committee recommendation. So last night I gathered my top advisors and bid them to put together a Blue Ribbon Commission dedicated to finding an issue on which I can hang my hat in the next Papal election. I narrowly missed landing the coveted Papacy last time, as I think my platform of "Free Pizza Fridays" was an ill-advised plan that was opposed strongly by the powerful seafood lobby whose long-held monopoly on Fridays was impossible to overturn.
So I've got my committee working behind closed doors looking for the appropriate wedge issue for my next shot at the pointy-hatted throne. They're going to need some help though, so let me ask Mr. Al... Any ideas for us? If you could suggest a few core beliefs and truths that I could use my power to simply wave away with my ornate sleeved forearm, my Blue Ribbon Committee would appreciate it.
I eagerly await your response,
My name is Boy Genius, and I approve this message.
What a nice little surprise in my mail this morning. Perfect timing because I've decided to go on strike at work and do nothing but read shitty hand histories and find out what the hell is going on around this little globe of ours. Seems now that I'll be spending some time wiping away my hangover by writing meaningless prose about various and sundry topics.
You realize it's been well over a year since we last did an ACHE/BG email post? August 2005 when I whooped up on your ass in our "Fantasy" hottie draft.
BG's Interjection: February 15, 2006 actually, but it has been awhile.
So you need an issue to help get you the coveted seat and a direct link to the god of your choice...
My knee jerk reaction was elimination of the DH rule in baseball, hockey fights should be best out of 3 falls, random drug tests in the middle of basketball games and other sporting issues. You may have noticed from watching the Philly news that there a bit of a football game supposed to be played here this weekend. I'm not quite sure. But I'm thinking you want something a little more on topic and my other choice, "elimination of all organized religions" kind of defeats the purpose of you trying to get the big
If you want a belief or truth to just simply wave away, how about every religion belief that they are the end all be all and everyone else is wrong. They are right, you are wrong. Get the hell out of my head, my bedroom, my internet connection, and my soul. If I want to believe that I can drink my way into paradise, who are these fucks to tell me any different.
So let's start with that big one. Everyone take one big step back and take a close look at yourself.
More importantly, do you think you could ship some aspirin and Gatorade down here soon? I'm sporting a world class hangover and the usual bacon consumption did nothing to help.
Cheers my friend, hit me back.
Aluminum, My Foil -
I've always found a Wendy's Frosty is the perfect hangover cure, but that's just me. Not that I've been profoundly hung over at any point in the recent or not-too-recent past, and come to think of it? I haven't had Wendy's, Burger King, Taco Bell, McDonald's or Kentucky Fried Chicken but once since landing in the Greater Lehigh Valley. I'm not really sure what to think of the proliferation of mom and pop pizza joints around here, but the fact that they're able to distract me so far from the easy out of chicken nuggets or quesadillas is a positive thing I'd think.
I'm currently quote-working-from-home-quote, and on TV is the Pink Floyd Dark Side of the Moon classic album special. Pretty cool stuff. Despite Roger Waters' often ham-handed attempts to turn social commentary into seventeen-minute epic soundscapes of obtusity and the plodding consistency of their dedication to slow tempo (seriously, find me one Floyd song in their entire post-Saucerful catalog that has an upbeat pace. Just one.), I love the band's sound. David Gilmour's guitar sounds like what a guitar is supposed to sound like.
I'm fairly fatigued by Floyd at this point of my life, having been a huge fan in my teens and avalanched by their hits for two decades on classic rock radio, but it's absolutely undeniable how clean, consistent, well-produced and just plain listenable Dark Side stands. I've got to figure it's a top five album from what I'll call the "Classic Rock Era." Interestingly, while I can (and will) give you a top five list of albums from that era, I don't really know where to draw the lines around this "Classic Rock Era."
If we let what they call "Classic Rock radio" draw the lines, we've got a narrow band between the rise and fall of Zeppelin that encompasses the whole of the arena-rock giants of Boston and Journey, but not much else. I think we can instead look at what spiraled up into a Woodstock-pinnacle, then devolved into the late-70s singer-songwriter Eagles stuff. Naturally, there were plenty of threads that ran paralell and through this fabric, but I want to find the starting and stopping points of this whole idea.
For me, I'll guess it starts with the Stones' "Satisfaction," which took itself more seriously than the Beatles had to that point, and ends with Michael Jackson's Thriller. Not disco, Thriller.
Anyway, top five most important albums of the "Classic Rock Era:"
(in no order)
1. Dark Side of the Moon - Pink Floyd - Brilliantly produced, every note, every idea in the right spot with the right sound. Probably no other album in rock history gets this close to being perfect.
2. Music From Big Pink - The Band - More accessible songwriting than Dylan at the time, was easily the album that ushered in the era of the singer-songwriter aesthetic the Eagles absolutely dominated.
3. Who's Next - The Who - Songs from the failed Lifehouse project spelled out the youthful alienation thematic with crashing sonic soundscapes better than any album had to that point and probably since. It's pre-punk. Moon and Daltrey provide MVP performances.
4. Revolver - The Beatles - Everything great pop music could be, one would only wish more bands aiming for commercial success would use it as a template.
5. Led Zeppelin II - Arguably their signature album, it's really the structure of hard rock and metal to come. I'll let you contest that point if you disagree, but without Zeppelin II, you've got none of that three-chord thrash metal you love so much.
Got any objections here? I've gotta toss this back your way before I go for another 2000 words...
Wednesday, October 04, 2006
Indulge Me For A Couple Minutes
While many of you are having your Howard Beale moment in regard to this online poker legislation, I'm having a difficult time summoning up the same sort of outrage. There's just too much else about which I should be angry.
You should want to grab a Florida Congressman by the scruff of the fucking neck and drag him in front of two hundred microphones, telling him this "alcoholism" and "molestation a million years ago" bullshit is obfuscating the truth we deserve. You should want to point out to the mouthpieces of the right wing that Clinton/Lewinsky was NOT the same, as she was 22 years old (not fucking 19 as Hannity said a couple days ago). You should be up in arms that protecting Republican election interests means deflecting questions about this story with insinuations that this is just partisan politics and a case of selective smearing five weeks out, despite mounting evidence that SOMEONE SHOULD JUST ADMIT IS FUCKING WRONG from that side of the aisle.
I'm having a difficult time summoning up a high level of outrage for that bullshit too. There's just too much else about which I should be angry.
Michigan's Republican gubernatorial candidate stated a couple weeks back that local school boards should have the opportunity to decide whether so-called "intelligent design" should be taught as it would help students "analyze competing theories." Except that in science "theory" doesn't mean "aimless guess," it means "logical conclusion backed up by observable and testable evidence." Besides not being a "very viable alternative theory," as DeVos claimed, it's poisonous to an understanding of science and it becomes a wedge between Christians who have a warped sense of entitlement when it comes to public education and sensible adults who realize there's a time and place to spread the ideas of mythology and philosophy, but science classes on the public dime ain't it.
I'm having a difficult time summoning up a high level of outrage for this stuff as well. There's just too much else about which I should be angry.
President Bush stated in an interview with The Economist that, "It seems to me there's a 'Third Awakening.'" Ignoring for a moment that we can consider pulling the hood of religious ignorance to rationality over our collective conscience and somehow call it an "Awakening," I'm angry our elected leader is creating a divisive culture in this country, drawing lines between right and evil, patriotic and evil, and supportive and evil. Fear is being mongered and he has enabled those with the most extreme fervor of opinions with regards to religious interpretation to be given voice in our government. A proper "Third Awakening," as Christian columnist Eileen Fleming so eloquently put it, "would promote a theology of liberation that puts an end to the hijacking of people's faith by politicians... would unite us in the rejection of all attempts to subvert and fragment the unity of the human family and to oppose every narrow world view and ideology that privilege one people at the expense of another." It'd be a tolerant and beautiful thing, not at all what the Christian right is aiming for.
What gets people to the polls though? Unity or division? I'm still not sure I can get that angry.
The state of our media culture has devolved the discussion of anything important into a challenge to both define your position and denigrate your opponent in one fifteen second (or less) sound bite. Is it any wonder that as we're being spoon-fed rhetoric and talking points that every issue has become devoid of nuance, a simple black/white us/them good/evil patriotic/terrorist sort of thing? I am a baby killer, I want to cut and run, I'm driving God from the public forum, I've bought into the homosexual agenda, I believe in special rights, I'm a communist.
I do not believe in torture.
I do not support our leaders.
I want to let the terrorists win.
I'm not "with us."
I've found my appropriate level of anger.
I'm not doing anything wrong.
I have nothing to worry about.
Nothing at all, except for the neo-fascist agenda. Nothing at all, but the culture of fear devolving into twenty-first century McCarthyism. Nothing at all, until one and two and more are yanked off the street and thrown in secret cells without habeas corpus to protect us. Nothing at all, but a government who has turned our rights into an unsolveable puzzle in which we must prove injury to get redress, but cannot prove injury when "classified information" cannot help us show why our rights have been revoked.
Bush's argument here has been very consistent: I can do anything I feel is necessary even if it violates either statutory or constitutional law, and not only can you not stop me from doing it, you can't even bring a case before the courts because the state secrets privilege denies them the authority to hear it. As I've said before, it's a perfect mobius strip of logic, forming a force field around everything the President does and rendering him immune to constitutional challenge. -- Ed Brayton, Dispatches from the Culture Wars (Which you should be reading every day)Why is there no politician seemingly willing to step up and say, "Life is complicated, and I'm going to need at least a half an hour of your time to tell you why." Why isn't it the least bit troubling to the Neo-Cons and war hawks that an unprecedented consolidation of power is occurring at the top levels? It's your guy now, but it's not going to be your guy later. Why is our government using the media to put fear in the heads of the least of us, but scaring the bejeezus out of anyone attentive enough to be watching our ability to live in freedom slowly eroding?
Is it too much to ask that my government preserve my freedom to be left alone, and at the same time provide protection to the least of us? Strengthening our borders is not the answer to protection. Neither is another metal detector at the airport, shampoo in three ounce portions or a gambling ban or Jesus in the classroom.
The first minute some unfortunate guy named Mohammed spends in an undocumented location getting his ass kicked for information he simply cannot provide is the first minute I feel shame for our country. The first time Mohammed is denied knowledge of the charges against him - if any - and prevented access to legal counsel and judicial review? This is when shame turns into fear.
Everything our founding fathers designed to preserve our access to liberty was put on the line the day after those buildings fell five years ago. If this sort of fear-mongering fascism is allowed to continue, America will be largely unrecognizable in ten years' time.
Give me liberty, or I'm moving to Canada.
Bill Simmons @ ESPN
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