Saturday, March 31, 2007

Apparently 'hardcore' isn't what I thought it was any more

A while ago I had a few days off from work, so I figured I'd listen to a few shows on XM radio that, because of scheduling, I don't usually get to. One I listened to was SlamALot, the proclaimed hardcore show on Fungus 43.

Apparently 'hardcore' isn't what I thought it was any more.

I'm not talking about other uses of the word. A reasonable person isn't going to mix up what I was thinking of with, say, hardcore dance or hardcore (as opposed to softcore) adult stuff. Although the World Wildlife Fund did win a suit that forced the World Wrestling Federation to change names (who exactly would have trouble differentiating conservationists from a pro wrestling organization?), so maybe I don't understand the word 'reasonable' either.

I am talking about 'hardcore' as a specific musical genre. So what did I hear on SlamALot? To be sure, plenty of stuff I would think of as hardcore. But also a lot of stuff I would classify as metal, or at best crossover.

It's just a label, so why does it matter? Imagine someone pours you a bowl of Froot Loops. When you take a bite, it tastes like Cheerios. Cheerios are good, but you wanted Froot Loops!

I was looking for Froot Loops and got a lot of Cheerios.

As an aside, I've had this conversation before. I was talking with the bassist for a local metal group, and she (yes, she) expressed the opinion that metal and hardcore were the same thing. My counterargument was the band DRI.

DRI championed a genre (and recorded an album) known as crossover. Crossover between what, you may ask. Why, hardcore and metal. If they are the same thing, how can they be crossed?

Labels ultimately are irrelevant. If it sounds good to you, listen to it. Who really cares what a reviewer or marketer calls it.

But then again, Froot Loops ...

[Yes, it does get a little more complicated than that. In reviews Maximum Rock and Roll magazine often dispensed entirely with the idea of genres, saying simply "This sounds a little like the Descendents" or whatever. Unfortunately this only works if you have some background in the type of music being discussed. Saying a band sounds like Dead Silence crossed with Sons of Ishmael isn't going to do most folks any good.]

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Dating advice from Dave

The other day I was wearing one of my t-shirts with a design for the band 7 Seconds. This particular shirt dates from circa 85. That makes it 22-odd years old. And yes, I purchased it new at that time. I'm that old :)

The last woman I asked out was 24.

In general, women you ask out should be older than your t-shirts.

That one was close.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

My underwear was made in Thailand

I'm a bit like Johnny 5 in Short Circuit : NEED INPUT! So I read any words that end up in front of my face. Pretty much. The other day I had cause to read the tag on my underwear.

"All Cotton"

"Tumble Dry - Medium Heat"

"Made in Thailand"

Ah, hell.

Two reasons for that:

1) Although I'm not strongly involved in the issue, I generally prefer to buy items manufactured in the US. I realize it is increasingly a global economy, but I'd rather my money stayed close to home when possible.

2) I've refused to buy Thai products since the mid-90s. Although the formal Don't! Buy! Thai! effort ended in 2000, I hold grudges for a L-O-N-G time. Once I start not doing a thing, I find it difficult to start doing it again. For example, I haven't purchased anything todo with the group Queen since they made a poor choice in ignoring the cultural boycott of South Africa towards the end of the apartheid era.

This is one reason I don't really join boycotts. An important part of the boycott strategy is the carrot - if the boycotters get what they want, they will resume purchasing the product. Odds are, I won't. Therefore, no boycotts.

For example, I doubt Pom Beverage Company will ever get my business again (no matter how tempting the lychee/green tea looks ...) Unsure why? Google it. And, no, I'm not worried about the threats they 'received' (OPINION ... or manufactured ... /OPINION)

So, why did I start NOT buying Thai products? Comic books. Batman specifically.

One specific book, released circa 1995. 'The Ultimate Evil', a 2-issue mini based on the novel by Andrew Vachss. The series is entertaining enough, although it commits the cardinal sin of 'revisioning' long-standing portions of Batman's origin. Specifically, it posits that the murder of the Waynes was not the random event shown in the original origin story.

More important to this entry is where the book succeded: it's depiction of the titular 'ultimate evil' - the forced participation of children in sex tourism in Southeast Asia. This took place in a fictional country clearly based on Thailand. The end of the book urged readers to not buy Thai products (based on the country's nearly nonexistent enforcement of international standards for keeping kids out of the sex trade).

More than any other comic this one demonstrated to me the power and potential of the art form.

So the next time someone tells you comics are for kids, show them The Ultimate Evil.

This is one comic that is, even if it is not.

[I should clarify in case anyone misses what I'm saying and gives this to little Johnny. It is not really FOR kids, but raises issues INVOLVING them.]

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Out of the void

Remember that candle I said to bring?

Well, light it up. We're gonna need the light to get out of this void.

On Battlestar Galactica (the first one, where Starbuck was a guy), the fleet spends several episodes travelling through a void. I never did figure out the physics of it, but it is probably best not to think too hard about television space opera. I violate that all the time. Ah well, it was a story device, and I reference it as such here.

So light up that candle. I'm through being dark for a while.

The first post after this may leave the reader with doubts about whether things are lightening up, but relax. Can a post about my underwear really be considered dark? I mean really?

And comics too?

Confused? You won't be after "My underwear was made in Thailand".

Or if you are, I'm not to blame.

No, Sue's to blame.

Rim shot. 50 points if you know where THAT came from.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Passions (5: Fadeout)

Finally! Phew.

After all the buildup you're probably thinking "why did THAT take so long?' Well, short as each post in this sequence was, I wrote plenty of material that I did not post. I don't usually whine so much, at least not about anything that matters. The topics in Passions were not always easy to write about. That is a big reason that I wrote them. No one likes to confront the dark side of things (Luke didn't really WANT to go into that tree), and having a chronic disease kinda forces that. I just got it in my head I needed to do it in public.

So, there ya go.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Passions (4: Comics)

A day early, but oh well.

A bit abbreviated, but even just this was difficult to write. Lots of unresolved issues. Still feels a bit raw.

Up until recently Wednesday was just about my favorite day. You see, Wednesday is new comic day.

I can't remember the first comic I ever read. I remember issues of Amazing Spider-man, Captain America, and Batman, though. The specific issues were not that memorable, but I must have liked them because I read comics on and off after that.

Until 92.. Then my comic interest switched on in a big way. And by big, I mean BIG. I picked up Sandman Mystery Theatre #1 and was hooked. My collection now runs at 7000+ issues. They range in date from the 30s to a few months ago. So what happened?

Well, first it's a pain to get to the store. Sure, there are plenty of mail order places, but that misses out on some of the social aspects of the weekly journey. Second, I feel guilty buying comics. I've had it pounded into my head that I shouldn't be doing something just for fun (after all, I have a disease) to such an extent that I feel bad, whether I want to (or even think I should) or not.

People doing the pounding have ignored what comics mean to me. I love reading them, reading about them, putting together sequential runs of them (if I have 1-4 of something, I have to make an effort not to buy 5, even if 1-4 weren't so great). I've gone through some bad times where I HAD to keep going, because how else will I find out what is in the next issue?

I guess some don't see that. Apparently they can't distinguish between a little hobby to fill up the hours and a passion.

Monday, March 19, 2007


I had a pattern going with posts to this blog, but this post blows that. I can do that. I'm trained. Kids, don't try this at home.

I don't really have nightmares. Sure, I have the occasional bad dream, but usually it is forgotten shortly after waking. No, I don't really have nightmares. Instead I get to live them.

Everyone knows what nightmares are. Usually they involve worms, the devil, black horses, that kind of thing. Bah. Kids stuff. Want real nightmares?

A nightmare is putting on socks in the morning.

A nightmare is trying to get the cap back on the toothpaste.

A nightmare is a walk in the woods that is just impossible.

A nightmare is something used as a threat for years actually happening.

A nightmmare is your back going out because apparently you didn't have enough troubles.

This is the place in the post where I make some declaration or say something inspirational.

Sorry, I'm just not feeling very damn inspirational today.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

68 Guns/Letters

Originally this entry was going to be about a woman I met a few years back at a conference in New Jersey. Her name was Elisa, and we hit it off well enough to exchange addresses. A few weeks after we met she sent me a letter. The dark part: I never wrote back. Really more dork of me than dark, but I thought posting about it made a nice symmetry with Beginning of the End. Things like that amuse me. But today I got a letter much more keeping with the 'dark' theme of the last few entries.

A little background: about 1 1/2 weeks ago I plowed into another car. I've driven in Minnesota for 20 years, never had that happen before. The day it happened was a major snowstorm and this area saw literally hundreds of accidents. No one was hurt, but I was pretty shook up by it. When I get really emotionally upset my MS symptoms kick into overdrive, so when the cops came to fill out the accident report I was having real mobility problems. Today I get a letter from the DMV that I need to provide something from my doctor stating I can safely operate a motor vehicle.

This may be just a formality and nothing to fret about. One thing MS does to a person mentally is erode ones sense of certainty. So I fret anyway. I just don't know how this will all play out. That is frightening.

So these two items cover partof the title, but you're probably wondering about the "68 Guns" bit. It's a song by The Alarm. The first line keeps going through my head: "And now they're trying to take my life away ..."

I'm probably just overreacting, but that is really how this feels. So many people think MS means STOP or CAN'T. It doesn't. It means CHANGE and ADAPT.

"And now they're trying to take my life away"

Know what? It's not much, but you CAN'T HAVE IT

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Passions (3: Cooking)

I first became intersted in cooking in the late 80s.

At first it was out of a feeling that some day I would need those skills if I wanted to eat anything interesting. I was living on campus, so didn't need to cook right then. I did some, but I wasn't passionate about it really. Not yet.

In 1992 I moved into my own apartment and that changed. Being partial to eating (not in the gourmet sense, more in avoid starvation mode) I began cooking for myself. Being financially challanged helped out as well. I didn't rely on convenience foods and restaraunts because at that time it just wasn't possible. Developing the skill and creativity to whip up a spaghetti dinner for under a buck was a very real alternative to bending over backwards to have it prepared for me.

I had been raised in an environment where food preparation was an expression of affection. I never really had to explore that, though, previously. As I began having to cook I discovered I liked it. A lot.

It also 'put me in touch with my roots' in a way. In addition to the role food played in my family dynamics, I descend from long lines of farmers. I am proud of that fact.

My ancestors would probably shake their heads at my food choices. The idea of living close to the land (favoring minimally intensivly grown local produce) they'd probably understand, but I'd imagine my love of Asian and African cuisines would strike them a bit odd. That and my vegetarianism, but now is not the place to talk about that.

This is the place to discuss what I eat daily now. Unfortunately, I rely fairly heavily on microwavable prepared meals right now. Why am I, an admitted foodie, eating out of my microwave? Two reasons, common cause.

1) Cooking can be pretty time consuming. I find myself needing a lot of downtime, and there often just aren't enough hours in the day to do more than pop something in the nuker.

2) The act of cooking can be physically challenging in itself. Take spaghetti for instance. Getting a pot full of boiling water off the stove and over to the sink for the pasta to drain is difficult, given the problems I have with lifting and balance.

But I still try a little at least. And I still enjoy browsing cookbooks.

Necessity isn't just the mother of invention. It can also be the mother of passion.

And when you have passion, well ... you do what you can. And sometimes, what you can't.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

THUNK: Begining of the end (Caught in a pit)

I discussed 'THUNK' earlier in this blog ...

You may have been expecting an entry for 'Passions 3'. It's coming. I'm feeling less than chipper and missing the 'sweet spot' between too good a mood to write it and too bad a mood. Those entries are tough to write and just not feeling up to it right now.

As often happens, a bad mood gets me reflective. And when I get reflective I often reinterpret things or see them in a new light. So lets go back ... a long while.

At the time we're traveling back to I was dating a woman named Beth. We broke up long ago, and any baggage from that was taken care of not quite that long ago, but long ago still. Whenever a relationship ends it is only natural to work through 'why', and we did that. The reasons were not a mystery, but I never really had a moment in mind that signaled the BEGINING of the end. I have one now.

Humans tend to look for signature moments that define eras. Thus we say the 60s ended at Altamont, or the Bronze Age of comics begins with Giant Size X-Men #1. The story of me and Beth begins to end at a Fugazi show.

We stood fairly close to the stage. I'd been to my share of shows and stood us in a spot I was comfortable with. When a pit started forming around us, I was still well within my comfort zone. Heck, I enjoyed it. I've always been able to hold my own in a pit.

Beth on the other hand ... If you're not familiar with it and not expecting it, I would imagine a pit can be a pretty frightening place. Never would have said it before this afternoon, but I think that experience had a big effect on her image of me.

I'm not saying that show caused our relationship to sour. Heck no. But, reflecting on it (and you know I'm in a bad mood when I'm thinking about stuff that happened over a decade ago) quite surely it is a key moment.

Tomorrow Passions 3. I think.

Monday, March 5, 2007

Passions 2 (Music)

Like many folks, my first experience of music was in the family car. We'd go on 4 hourtrips to visit my grandparents, with an 8 track to pass the time. Lots of early 60s stuff, some 50s, some country. What I heard on those trips - girl group, hot rod, Beach Boys - set the basis for what was to come. Nothing too deep juat yet. Mostly 'greatest hits'. Depth was to come.

When I was 9 or 10 I was encouraged to pick up a 45 RPM single. I think the intent was to move me towards something my peers could relate with. It must have been disappointing when I picked out "Beach Boys Medley". Not really moving in the intended direction.

But once I started buying music for myself ... I consider "Beach Boys Medley" more of a blip than anything (didn't really appreciate them until later.) I *really* started by buying 4 45s - "I Love Rock n Roll", "Centerfold", "Only The Lonely", and one other which I forget. 2 classics out of 4. I had good taste even as a kid.

Of course these 4 don't stand in isolation. I was also listening to the radio, and was the only non-stoner Floyd fan I knew. I dabbled in albums, but mainly stuck with the top 40 for a while. Until 1982. I discovered Prince.

This was a little before EVERYONE discovered Prince. I was one of the few in my town eagerly awaiting Purple Rain. 1999 had just blown me away. Good taste again.

What Prince did for me (in terms of what I looked for) was introduce me to the quest. Some of his best material came out only on B sides. And while I was looking, there were extended remixes to be had! Digging up the rare or obscure is almost as fun as actually owning a copy.

But, all was not sunshine and lollipops. In the mid-80s the top 40 was dominated by material that just didn't move me. I paid attention to what was out there, but hair-metal hell gave me a chance to reaquaint with the 50s/60s sounds I had first been listening to in the car But now I had been introduced to the quest, so dug just that much deeper.

Enter hardcore. Like the punk of the 70s, hardcore provided relief from a stale new music scene. Begining in the mid-80s, I listened to more and more loud, fast music until it pretty much dominated my personal playlist. Of all the flavors of rock, that is the one that speaks to me the most.

Today I listen to a wide variety of pop, rock and R&B. I still keep 'my ear to the wheel' so to speak, but most of what I listen to was recorded 20+ years ago or sounds like it could have been. Part of this is just normal nostalgia (although I seem to be nostalgic for some things before my time!), part it feels good to be reminded of a time 'before'. Before what? Nothing specific really. Before MS, I guess. In part. Back when I could dance like I wanted.

Sunday, March 4, 2007

Passions (1: Intro)

There are many things I have a passion for. I'm not talking things I like a lot - those are just things that uh... I like a lot. Computing, soccer, working with digital media, cinema, TV ... Don't get me wrong, I'd miss those things if they went away. But when I think passions I am thinking of things I have a hard time imagining life without.

Not dark enough yet given the buildup I've given this post (now posts)? Just wait.

Fear of driving

It was just an extreme dislike of driving. But now, thanks to the stupid snow we got in Minnesota (and the consequences) it is full-fledged fear.

So why is the title a takeoff on an early 70s sexual revolution classic? Dunno. Guess it is like the Lois Lane story "Black: I Am Curious". Just like the sound of it. And I am foreshadowing a future post. Nothing more.

I won't actually discuss fear of driving any further. It is just too prominant in my mind right now. This kind of blows this entire post, but oh well.

Short version: fear is a very real emotion for me. Jumping at my own shadow is something I experience a lot.

Oh well. Rise above.I know.

Of course, my already jittery nature is only exacerbated by MS. Think it sounds frightening to wake up and not know if you'll be able to walk to the bathroom to prepare for the day ahead? Try doing it every single day.

Told you it was gonna get dark in here...