Monday, November 24, 2008

Believing is seeing

Well, I said I'd believe it when I saw it, and now I've seen it, and heard it, and since this blog has featured several different posts about the eventuality, I would be remiss if the arrival of the long-awaited, oft-postponed Chinese Democracy went unregarded in this space.

So here we have it: the Guns 'N Roses album a ridiculous 17 years in the making finally arrives, and the first two things to bear in mind when listening to it are, a) it's not Guns 'N Roses (Slash, Izzy, Duff, and Adler are nowhere to be found), and b) no music released at this point could have possibly lived up to a 17 year wait. When Appetite for Destruction originally dropped, it shattered previous notions about popular music, paving the way for just about everything that followed in the hard rock milieu. (I was, of course, six, so that's just what I've been told. Still, GNR's sweeping follow-up, Use Your Illusion, served, along with Metallica's Black Album, as my first exposure to hard rock.) In the 20+ years since, of course, it's all been assimilated by music fans and music makers, such that GNR is now an important part of the past, but unlikely to have much influence on the future beyond what has already been contributed. Chinese Democracy bears this out.

At this point, I've only listened once, but I'll offer some rudimentary, probably trite, impressions. The album comes off more or less as Use Your Illusion III, with songs like "Better" and the title track recalling I and II's heavier moments such as "You Could Be Mine", while others such as "Street of Dreams" and "Prostitute" suggest the more epic feel of "November Rain" (if they don't exactly contain the same punch). My favorite song on the first listen was "Catcher in the Rye", probably because I seem to love just about any song that contains a "na-na". I also liked "Scraped" and "There Was a Time" (the latter of which begs the question of whether the oft-pointed-out acronym was intentional).

In the end, I found it to be a solid rock album but little else. It wasn't groundbreaking, but hopefully no one will be expecting that. If nothing else, the yoke of Democracy is at long last off Axl's shoulders. We'll see what he chooses to do now thus unencumbered.

"If I thought that I was crazy
Well, I guess I'd have more fun"
- Guns 'N Roses, Catcher in the Rye

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Um, bipartisanship anyone?

So thus far we've got ousted former Senate majority leader Tom Daschle as Secretary of Health and Human Services and Arizona governor Janet Napolitano as head of Homeland Security. Supposedly former presidential hopefuls Hillary Clinton and John Kerry have been floated as potential candidates for Secretary of State.

When exactly do we get this vaunted bipartisan cabinet that Obama promised?

"We learn together over time
That tolerance is more appealing in theory than in practice"
- Los Campesinos!, Ways to Make It Through the Wall

Monday, November 10, 2008

Mad Props

There has been so much written about the passage of Proposition 8 in the state of California (or "Cahl-ee-foah-nee-ya", as its awesome governor who should be allowed to run for president would say) that I have absolutely nothing to add. If my position on the issue of gay marriage is seriously unclear by now, allow me to sum it up, yet again, by pointing out that government, be it local, state, or federal, simply has absolutely positively no place defining marriage at all. Period.

That having been said, regardless of how you feel about the issue, if this article doesn't make you laugh, you are seriously devoid of anything remotely resembling a sense of humor. (Hat tip:

"Been around the world and found
That only stupid people are breeding"
- Harvey Danger, Flagpole Sitta

Friday, November 07, 2008

So...why is this an issue again?

Radley Balko over at The Agitator has what may be the best blog post yet regarding marijuana legalization.

As for me, I'm at a loss as to why we're still even discussing this. It is so abundantly clear that marijuana should be legalized, at this point it's hard to believe it even requires political courage to propose legislation and be done with it. But what do I know?

"Who are you to wave your finger?
You must have been out of your head"
- Tool, The Pot

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

And out of cynicism, hope

The forty-fourth President of the United States will be named Barack Hussein Obama. Namewise, that will rank right alongside Millard Warren Fillmore and Rutherford Birchard Hayes in our nation's history. Administration-wise, let's hope it fares significantly better.

I just finished watching Obama's first address to a nation now certain that he will be its next President, and my vast differences with many of his policy ideas melted away. He reminded me again why I had responded to him so positively initially. He spoke of bipartisanship and a desire to earn the support or at least the trust even of those who did not vote for him (a glorious contrast to George W. Bush's "mandate" of four years ago). That line in particular worked to allay my fears of single party rule.

Of course, I do not envy President-elect Obama. He inherits two wars, a struggling economy, and a nation whose ideals have been shaken in recent years. Still, in light of the cynicism of my last post, I wanted to offer now a sincere hope for the future of our country. Less than half a century after segregation was ended, America just elected an African-American president and for the most part didn't bat an eye. That's proof that in the little 220-year social experiment we call the United States of America, anything is possible. Dum spiro, spero: while we breathe, we hope. I'll be cynical tomorrow.

(I still wish the Redskins didn't have to lose last night though.)

Sunday, November 02, 2008

I stood in line for two hours to vote and all I got was this lousy president

If you are in want of any proof of a higher power, look no further than this fact: in less than 72 hours, this blasted election will be over.

Barack Obama announced his candidacy for President on February 10, 2007. Two and a half months later, John McCain, to the surprise of absolutely no one, announced his own candidacy. And since then, we've been deluged past the limits of endurance with news coverage of both, their life stories, questionable associations, variances in policy, and ideas about America's future.

(Incidentally, about a year later, Bob Barr, erstwhile president of the "Massive Hard-Ons for Ronald Reagan" club, announced he was seeking the nomination of the Libertarian Party. Crickets chirped. But I paid attention.)

With all the news media coverage and clear distinctions between the two main candidates, it should have been simple to decide who to vote for. But it wasn't, because though I have agreements with each candidate on some of the issues, I have extreme disagreements on others. (Then of course there are the issues I am passionate about that they don't even begin to address, but that's not a surprise.)

I don't want to discuss who I voted for because anybody who reads this blog can probably guess. I will say that, regardless of who I voted for, it was destined to be a drastic compromise on certain issues, be they foreign policy, economic, or social. I made my choice, but like 2004, I'm not particularly happy with it. I voted based on a perceived mentality rather than any concrete proposal and I don't apologize for that, even if I acknowledge it's pretty silly. That ultimately my vote was an expression of optimism makes it all the more striking that this is an extremely cynical post. I don't mean it to be that way, really. The title is intended as a joke; I believe both Obama and McCain have the capacity to be very good presidents. Whether they achieve that potential remains to be seen.

In conclusion, here is likely the most outlandish prediction of how the Electoral College will play out that you will see in the run-up to Tuesday:

Obviously, the most striking thing here is my prediction that Obama will win Nebraska's District 2, dividing the state electorally for the first time. Haha, just kidding. Clearly, my prediction that McCain will mount a comeback of 2004 Red Sox in the ALCS proportions to win the White House puts me pretty much alone outside of the Arizona Senator's campaign. I make this prediction for three reasons: 1) McCain's got some serious survival skills; 2) Pennsylvania and Ohio are ridiculously volatile and the fact that Reverend Wright is resurfacing in ads playing there may have some influence; and 3) nobody else seems to have the balls.

But don't worry. Based on the way I'm performing in my NFL Pick 'Em league this year, Obama supporters have absolutely nothing to worry about.

"Take a look around
All of those we crown seem duty-bound to let us down
I guess we'll never learn
It's someone else's turn to sit and watch our country burn"
- Unexpectedly Sober, Nothing But Neros (tentative title, unfinished song)