Oct 5, 2020

Zeitgist - The Smashing Pumpkins Album I Like That Apparently Noone Else Likes

Being that I was a teenager in the grunge era I feel culturally obligated to like Smashing Pumpkins more than I do.  I’m mildly ashamed of this but most of their stuff is a bit mild for my music tastes.  Shit, most of the music that was popular in the 90’s seems like I should be into it but I was such a metal head back than I completely missed grunge and alternative.  Outside of Primus and maybe Rage Against The Machine I put my nose up at all the Nirvanases and Pearl Jamses.  Like most bands from that time Smashing Pumpkins had some genuine good songs that looking back with 40+ year old ears really was better than I gave it credit for.  While I can’t honestly say I’ve listened to all of Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness, what I’ve heard from it seemed like that double album effort was a fine work of art.  Apparently they’ve made several albums after this that I couldn’t name if there was a gun to my head.  I’m definitely no authority on this band so take this all as opinion based on limited info.  

The band broke up in around 2000 and out of the ashes 7 years later they emerge with a new album called Zeitgeist.   I think around this time I had a phone that could play MP3s and somehow got (pirated?)  a digital copy of this record when it came out and was really surprised at how raw and rocking it was.  I was blown away with the drumming and thought they got a new drummer because I don’t remember their drummer being so bad ass. I listened to this album hard for a few years after it came out and it’s still in the rotation.  I had gone back from time to time to listen to some of the older stuff and it didn’t really appeal to me.  Whenever I think of this band my first thoughts go to their old videos on MTV, then immediately to this album. 

Art by Shepard Fairey in all it's late 2000's glory

Zeitgeist just had a vibe.  I think they’ve put out a couple albums since then with different band members.  Remember when I tried to be the drummer for Smashing Pumpkins?  That would have been insane. But anyway, everything that comes out I give a listen and it’s always long winded experimental and boring.  Nothing like the octane fueled drum driven Zeitgeist.  Fast forward to today–  They just released a few new tracks off of some epic forthcoming double album and it all sucks.  Like majorly sucks.  It’s all electronic with Billy Corgan singing.  I mean, can you really even call this Smashing Pumpkins?   I hate when bands do this shit.  It’s like Coldplay who was a beautiful organic meat and potatoes rock band.  They got some success and the fucking music industry turds got in their heads and turned them into a Chris Martin solo project.  All the music is so overproduced and computer generated it’s like there’s no band at all.  I fucking hate it.  And this is the new Smashing Pumpkins shit they’ve released so far.  It’s all drum machines and keyboards with Billy singing.  It’s complete trash…which got me nostalgic for Zeitgeist so I fired up my streaming app, YoutubeMusic that also sucks complete ass which is another story… but kind of relevant because one of it’s many flaws is that many popular albums seem to be missing from the platform.  So then I Googled it and apparently Billy Corgan is a psychopath and removed a ton of their stuff from major streaming platforms a couple years ago because he said people didn’t like them.   WTF, Zeitgeist? Really? Fuck you Billy Corgan.   This album shreds!  Apparently this is why the milktoast Smashing Pumpkins fans didn’t like it.  They wanted boring, artsy drog.  My buddy Dave loves everything they do but I just can’t.  Sorry Dave.

I found the Wiki on this album and found out some interesting info which explains why I like it and makes me like it even more knowing more about it.   This was the first time Billy and drummer, Jimmy Chamberlin recorded together since the break up and they were the only original members to return for the reunion and decided to record the album with just the two of them.   One major thing that really hit home for me was that from the onset they insisted on recording live to tape, with no computers or click tracks.  This is pretty unheard of in contemporary music.  You have to realize that this was a big deal.  No one was then or has for that matter done a recording like this since around the mid 80's.  Likely because so many bands these days suck in real life and can't record without the help of editing and computers like they did in the 70's.  It was potentially time consuming, laborious and expensive.    This choice led to arguments with the label and made it hard finding a producer willing to record like this.  Eventually they ended up going with Roy Thomas Baker who goes back all the way to bands like Queen, The Cars and Motley Crue.  I think this, along with Chamberlin having a big hand in the production process made this record so bad ass.  I’m a drummer as you all know, and the drum-driven production is evident to me.  Having Terry Date of Deftones fame contributing in the production as well didn’t hurt in this regard. According to the Wiki it sounds like they didn’t fuck around either.  They went in, recorded all fucking day, every day straight for a week and it was finished.   They even mention Chamberlin nailing a 10 min song in one take and According to the main producer, "everything had sort of an on/off switch. So instead of having various degrees of volumes, we'd have the approach of, 'It's either on or it's not' .  Fuck yes.  Everything about this album just oozes with rock and roll and it’s no surprise why I like it so much.  

Some notable quotes from the Wiki page.
The album is among the heavier releases by Smashing Pumpkins. Corgan attributes this to his perception that "people wanted to hear some energy, that they didn't want us rolling over and crying in our milk".[20] He compared the mindset of the record to that of Gish, which was to make a statement "without trying to make the next The Wall."[20] Regarding the aggressive drumming on the album, Chamberlin observes that "the world is ready for something with some balls behind it”

The album divided the Pumpkins' fanbase. Corgan would later admit, "I know a lot of our fans are puzzled by Zeitgeist. I think they wanted this massive, grandiose work, but you don't just roll out of bed after seven years without a functioning band and go back to doing that".


I just might have to revisit some other albums and see what all the fuss is about.  Pumpkins nerds, knowing I love the album you love to hate, what are some songs/albums you recommend?


Sep 30, 2020

I Hereby Welcome Our Robot Overlords (again)

 I've written about AI in the past and pretty much said the harm or help it creates is entirely up to the humans.  I came across this fun website that lets you start a story and then a writing AI finishes it for you.   Here's a couple short stories I let it finish for me.  (Bold is what I started for it)

There was a bright light in the sky.  No one could make out what it was exactly.  They thought it was a star or a planet but it moved strangely. No sound accompanied it and the light seemed too bright to come from a point of light so there was speculation that it was an alien ship. It was not until the news broke a few days later that they were beaming down an AI. It said it was there to help take the all the bad into the world. With that it flew off.

When work was done for the day, Kate left. In a moment of clarity, she could have checked into a hotel and spent the night and then would settle down to work, taking on the AI all over again. A bit of thought was all that was needed. She can't always be working. Otherwise she will never get out of here, never make use of the wonders she has. The cost is too high.

She turned the corner. The alley came to an end where she was waiting. The trees were high and thick. The city was beautiful in the night. Home. Home, where she is safe, where she is warm.

The AI could die here. And with the AI, so will her hope.

Is the AI from this website writing a story about it's self?  Freaky.

Here's another one.
"Hello?" she whispered into the cold, dark room.  She waited for a response but it was silent.   A sense of relief came over her as she turned away but then, ever so softly she got a reply.

"Hello! Did you just call me?"

"Uhhhh... yes. I thought you might be there."

"I am! What is your name?"

"Um... I'm Alice."

"Oh, right! That's a good name - I'm Alfred." He replied.

Then the gentle man and his assistant began to talk. They discussed their plans and ideas and dreams. They laughed and smiled, and Alice was in love. She knew she could do this, after all. It was exactly what she wanted. She had always had a knack for solving problems, after all.

Ah, but it had been a while since her last task - all the more reason to start.

Odd.  Interesting name choice.  Here's one where I sort of gave it a nudge towards AI. 

No matter how many times he tried, Duncan could never finish a story.  Despite his first novel being a huge success, every time he sat at the typewriter nothing came to him.  Until one day he found help from an unlikely source.


Very early one morning, he was making the coffee when he received a delivery package. From within, he could see what looked like a computer - but a beautiful high-end desktop version, with a keyboard in the colour he had always dreamed of.

A pull of the power cord told him that it was fully charged, and after a quick glance at the settings he was on Windows 10. He pressed 'C' to begin his essay and -

"Oops."

He paused, waiting to see if the command had gone through, but he was hit by a sense of abhorrence. He could feel the warm, vapid look of the AI's programming taking hold of his head.

"What can I do for you, sir?"

He was startled at how calm the response was. "Is this thing really going to do my essays for me?"

"I am the AI assistant, sir. I would assume that would be the case, yes."

 

Nice work writer bot.  lol. crazy world we live in.  Please don't make us your batteries. 
Anyway, it's a fun time waster.  https://www.shortlyread.com/onboarding/write

Sep 29, 2020

Shamless Band Promotion.

Remember my band Dead Drift?  Well, since live shows are pretty much done until the jack ass pieces of shit can get their heads out of Trump's asshole and acknowledge that there's actually a pandemic and people are dying and stop having weddings and house parties and wear a god damn mask when they're going places...and... well you get the idea..we hadn't seen each other, had band practice or played a show since like February.   We decided back in March that we could try to record the newest batch of songs we'd just written before the shutdown. So while keeping safe and socially distancing we used the equipment we happened to have at our houses when we got stuck inside.   We practice at Travis's but I had my drums stored at home at the time luckily.  So I set up in my garage and recorded using my old cellphone and my current one while listening back on another phone with headphones.  Benji sent me some tracks without drums I could play along too.  I mixed the audio files into one good track for each song using Audacity. (free audio software)   Travis did something similar but with my drum recordings added and then Benji.  Emailing sound files back and forth trying to get the mix how we liked.  It took a couple months but we finally had something we all thought was pretty good considering the way we did it.   None of us are really experienced engineers or recording professionals so we did the best we could.  

Benji came up with the album name and album art concept which is pretty appropriate.  I took all our ideas and Benji's original bottle concept art along with a ZOOM meeting spoof and this is the final product. 

I'm pretty proud of how it came out and that there's a couple of songs I wrote lyrics for that made it on here.  




And you can stream it on pretty much any of your favorite streaming platforms.  If you want to buy the record and support the band we recommend Bandcamp since we get almost 100% of the proceeds whereas we basically get nothing from major streaming apps. 

But you knew that right? 


https://deaddrift.bandcamp.com/album/pandemic  

 

Since we're not doing much else I had some time to put together a few music videos.  Check em out! Please subscribe to our official Youtube Channel if you like what you see.  I hope to post more videos and live stuff.




If you would like to purchase a physical CD please Direct Message and please follow us on Instagram @thedeaddrift or email thedeaddrift@gmail.com 

AND FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS GOOD IN THE WORLD - FUCKING VOTE!!! 

Aug 19, 2020

The Tale of The USS Milwaukee and the Sub USS H3

I restore and research old local historical photos for my job sometimes and this is one of my favorite stories.  I'd heard of wreckage of an old ship that's visible at low tide on a beach near here and found out it was the USS Milwaukee but really didn't know much about why it was here or how it sank.  The entrance to the bay here is known historically to be dangerous and difficult to navigate so hearing about a wreck wasn't surprising.  I chalked the Milwaukee up to just another victim of Humboldt bay until I found an old photo of a submarine propped up on redwood logs on the beach.  When I did some digging I learned all about the Submarine USS H3 and how the USS Milwaukee got stuck here all those years ago.

The original H3 photo I found. 
 

USS Milwaukee sanded in the surf.  Rescue crew on the beach.
 

 Long story short, in 1916 the sub got stuck coming into the bay, the Navy asked for bids to saving it.  A huge company offered to tow it but wanted too much money, a local company had a very low bid to roll it on logs across the sand but the navy turned both down because one was too expensive and one was too crazy.  They brought in the Milwaukee to pull it out but it too got stuck.  They ended up letting the local company try and they succeeded.  The H3 was repaired and was decommissioned in 1930.  The Milwaukee of course is still stuck in the sand.

I was so smitten by what I had learned I wrote some lyrics for my band.  We were trying to turn it into a proper song but then Covid-19 hit and like most musicians we've sort of been on standby.   

Here's my song (poem?) 

"Old Milwaukee"

This is the tale of Old Milwaukee
It has maybe crossed your ears
It's not about the city, it's not about the beer.

Let me tell the story
About a stranded submarine.
And an old ship wreck's rusty bones
that you might have seen.

It all started with The Sub H3
She ran aground in 1916
Some had tried to tow her out
But she could not be freed

The Navy did ask for help so we stepped right up and others too.
While others simply cost too much they said our methods wouldn't do.

They said that we were crazy, they said it can't be done.
So they sent out old Milwaukee to tow that stranded sub.

Old Milwaukee sailed here then she ran aground
Right there off the jetty where the waves did pound and pound.

The storm came in and gave her quite a tear
And the mighty Old Milwaukee was now beyond repair.

With old Milwaukee down and out the navy now agreed, to let us locals have a try with our ropes and trees.

With Old Milwaukee in the sand
We rolled that sub right over land
On Redwood logs under skies of gray
We put that sub back in the bay.

We patched her up and said goodbye
The sky was clear, the tide was high
She sailed the coast like the years before
And she sailed for many more!

But what about Old Milwaukee?
Of mighty Cruiser class
Been stuck there for 100 years
and picked apart for scrap.

Old Milwaukee!
Sailed the Pacific blue
Till she tried to enter Humboldt bay
For a job she couldn't do!

 Since the place I work stopped doing regular jobs, we've started a weekly series in the local news magazine and I was happy to put together this page, featuring the photo of the H3 I'd found a couple years ago as the first one. Check out the NorthCoast Journal E-edition and see other installments of the History Ad Series.  (look on page 5)

Aug 17, 2020

PYMHM "Red Velvet Cake is a Fucking Lie"

 I was going through some old Noggins and this one caught my eye.  I think the great Red Velvet trend of a few years ago has passed but it's still important to note that this cake flavor is some bullshit based on capitalist greed and government corruption.  Enjoy this Post You Might Have Missed from the winter of 2017.  Way back when Trump's antics were still shocking to us and we could still hug people.

 

Red Velvet Cake is a Fucking Lie

I went most of my life without ever trying Red Velvet cake. It just wasn't a thing that existed in my life.  Maybe it's because of I grew up in Northern California and Red Velvet was more of a Southern U.S. thing.   Maybe because I was raised by forward-thinking parents and had intelligent friends.  Who knows? I'd never even heard of it before seeing the famous armadillo cake in Steel Magnolias.  Then some time in my 30's, out in the wilds of the world it was at some party I was at and I tried it. 

But  no one told me what it was supposed to taste like. 

Anyone who knows me well knows I have set up some seemingly arbitrary food rules for what I will eat. Such as:  If it smells like vinegar, don't eat it. If it's a creamy dairy food that isn't ice cream or whipped cream, stay away. Pickles are not supposed to be sweet.  For savory food I usually avoid red colored foods because they are basically ketchup or ketchup based.  It's a whole different ball-game for dessert foods. Most people will probably agree with me on this one... red dessert foods will taste like cherry, raspberry or strawberry.  That's pretty standard and has never steered me wrong other than with this stupid cake. 

When I ate Red Velvet cake for the first time, obviously I was expecting a rich, sweet, acidic berry flavor, which of course never came. I thought someone fucked up when they made it. Then it was explained to me that it wasn’t supposed to be fruit flavored.  What the fuck is it then?    I asked what flavor it was supposed to be because it just tasted like regular-ass cake to me.  No one could really tell me what flavor it was. Some said they thought it was chocolate but that's just stupid.  I know what chocolate cake tastes like, this was not that.  So it would seem that it’s just red for no fucking reason and has cream cheese frosting. What’s the big fucking deal? 

I did some digging on the internets and found that it dates back to the 1800's and was originally just a softer  more "velvet" texture cake because of the ingredients they used.   It didn't turn red until 1930's when congress was lobbied hard to pass a law that lowered regulations for food coloring.  And some dick-head food dye tycoon in Texas popularized it as a red cake just to sell more food dye. So it's red because of capitalism.   I
f some hipster tells you it's red because in the depression they didn't have many ingredients and had to use beets  to sweeten the cake batter they're full of shit. It was because some fuck-stick wanted to make more money.

It got popular again because of that shitty movie Steel Magnolias (Julia Roberts' character dies.  No Spoiler Alert that movie can eat shit)  for some reason now it's trendy-as-fuck.  They're making cupcakes, pop-tarts and god damn Oreos now.  Just add red dye to the normal shit and we can sell more units... Genius!!!  

Also I'm not alone.  The Joy of Cooking and James Beard think it sucks too.  


You don't like Red Velvet cake. You just like cake and you're supporting a dessert based on corruption and greed.  Be ashamed. 


A Lesson in Drive-Thru Etiquette: Covid-19 Edition

 Just went through the Jack In the Box drive thru and it's packed...again.  And everyone and their mother is out of work or school,  out and about, doing shit when they're supposed to be sheltering at home.  Meanwhile making the lines long everywhere I go.   I'd almost say just let people go back to work and pod with their fellow employees or classmates. At least we'd know where they were for eight hours of the day. You know,  when people were not taking family trips and going shopping or whatever every day.   I feel like it would be safer than this free vacation everyone seems to think they're on.

 So I pull into the drive-thru line and it's long but not as long as it's usually been so I decide to stick it out. As I pull in my car is halfway out of the drive thru but quickly the car two cars ahead of me zipps forward as if they didn't even stop to order.  I figured maybe I had just missed them ordering. No worry, better for me the line is moving up!  The lady in front of me is one of those; open-the-door-to-order types.  Maybe her window was busted.  I dunno, it just made the ordering process awkward and take longer.  Finally I get up there and order my shit but I can't pull forward to let the next person order because there's a guy... they guy who I thought didn't order sitting there with a car's length in front of him.   This is rule #1 in drive-thru etiquette.  Always pull forward.  Then, rightly so, someone behind me who needs to order honks and the guy looks back like "hoooz honkin?"  At this moment I was noticing him sitting there and started shaking my head in disapproval and when the person behind me honked he looked right at me.  He's all in a huff and has tattoos all over him like he just got out of jail.  So I'm like .. fucking great this guy is gonna come at me because of the honk.  He just sits there in an indignant defiance doesn't move looking back and mugging me the whole time.  He must have just sat there so long already that a car somewhere before him got their food and left because the voice from the order menu came on and asked if she could take my order. Then she said "Did I already take your order?"  because she probably realized that jerk is still sitting there blocking the now 5 or 6 cars behind me in the drive thru.  She then apologized because there was a big order they were still working on.  Drive Thru rule #2  don't make huge orders when using the drive-thru.   It fucks up the flow.  I'm not 100% sure if the dining room is open because of covid but in all possible instances if you're ordering food for hella people, go fucking inside.  So we got this large order and now this shit-stick standing his ground because someone threatened him with a car horn. 

Finally he moves up and there's one car in front of him paying. I see a disheveled older guy with a mask dangling off his face standing between the car and the pick up window, hands taking turns getting money from his wallet, pulling up his pants and readjusting his mask.  Now this might not be an official rule but standing completely out of the car  in a drive-thru goes somewhere in the honorable mentions along with opening your door to place your order.   Some covid procedural violations here as well. He must have had the big order because he finally scurries with three full bags and a drink holder around the back of the car to get into the passenger seat.  Jesus friggin Christ. 

Then our friend who refused to move earlier pulls to the window.  I was playing with my phone and not paying attention fully when I heard yelling so I look up.  It was the dick head now arguing with the cashier.  I'm thinking what the fuck now?  Is she giving him shit for holding up the line?  I turn down my music and listen.  I hear him yell "WHY CANT I JUST PLACE MY ORDER?"  Hahah... oh I get it now.  He was impatient and just blew through the order menu process of the drive thru.   Rule#3  always order from the menu unless specifically asked to pull forward and order at the window.   A violation of rule #3 would usually not be a problem if there was no one else in line but because of the large order and his stupid attempt at intimidating a honking person and throwing a fit like a child, he now gets informed that he did in fact violate at least two cardinal rules of drive-thu etiquette and he now was not going to get to have Jack In the Box today.  I could hear him yell again "I WAITED IN LINE FOR 10 GOD DAMN MINUTES! "   sorry sir, please exit the drive thru, thank you.   The lady in front of me only ordered like one thing and she was in and out.. then it was my turn.  My food was ready when I pulled up.  They were visibly frustrated but were very nice to me. 

I wish you could tip fast food workers.  Especially during this covid bullshit. 
 I hope that asshole gets robbed and his tires slashed and someone he loves tells him they don't love him any more.   This covid situation is making ordinary sane people lose their shit.. and making crazy people even fucking crazier.   I wish it would end but it's the people who are the most angry about the things that will end it that are causing it to last longer. 

WASH YOUR HANDS
WEAR A MASK
DONT GO ON VACATION
KEEP A SAFE DISTANCE.
FUCK TRUMP.

Aug 13, 2020

The New Mexico Flying Disc Breakfast Conspiracy

I've been eating breakfast cereal, a couple of my signature recipe, home-made waffles or a McDonalds Sausage Egg McMuffin from the drive-thru for the last couple months but I made some scrambled eggs for the first time yesterday in a long time.  I ate one of my leftover waffles for desert the night before that.   It wasn't a big deal but the eggs thing has been on my mind as I might start making eggs again on a more regular basis.  This will be important later. 

For the past couple of days on my short drive to work I've noticed a car down the street from my house that's not usually there.  A house guest perhaps?  Normally this wouldn't be a big deal but because of the pandemic I worry about people spreading the germs.  We're not supposed to be having company over after all.  Especially guests from out of state which is why the New Mexico license plates on this car concerns me more than usual.  I really wish people wouldn't be traveling across the country right now.  This also will be important later.   

As I scroll through my Facebook feed, as one does, every so often there will be ads that are eerily related to things I've recently discussed or thought about or did.  I bought some Top Ramen for the first time in a really long time last week.  The next day I had it for lunch an add popped up for Top Ramen when I got back to work that same day.  I've never seen an ad for Top Ramen or any kind of instant ramen ever, and now suddenly I'm seeing it.  It's creepy and will be important in a second. 

Yesterday I decided to click the "hide ad" button for a Chik-Fil-A ad because, fuck that place. I don't need that kind of negativity chicken in my feed.  When you decide to hide an ad Facebook asks you to give a reason why you want to hide it.  It has choices like "irrelevant" "I already purchased" "repetitive" but one of them really threw me off.  One reason to hide an ad was  "Knows too much"   What the hell?  I'd say me buying and eating Top Ramen without ever openly discussing it and getting an ad for it the same day is definitely them "knowing too much"  Which leads me to the main topic of this article.  Today while scrolling I see an ad for Denny's restaurant.  Not just Denny's but a very specific Denny's.

At first I thought this must just be a mistake or that maybe Denny's is randomly blasting out ads for random locations.  Then I started to remember my actions of the last couple of days and how it may be relevant to this ad.  The events I detailed above started coming back to me and I wondered.  'No?  Could it be?'   My best logical conclusion is that all of these events combined must have been telepathically sent to the Facebook advertising servers. Obviously,  the algorithm's artificial intelligence had somehow deduced that I needed to see advertisments for the Signature Slams at a very specific Denny's restaurant at 1317 Riverside Drive in Espanola, New Mexico.

Here's where it gets weird.  While typing this I went back to look at Facebook and now there's an ad beckoning me to come and "EXPLORE"  a new Disc Golf course in Aztek New Mexico.  Is there a deeper meaning to this?  Is is some kind of sign?   I don't give a shit about disc golf but pancakes kind of look like a Frizbee right?  a flying disc....no,   a flying saucer!   This is all too huge to ignore.  Should I quit my job and take a road trip to complete this mystical circle of fate the universe has bestowed upon me?   The truth is out there. It very well could be somewhere between Aztek and Espanola New Mexico and it's runny yolk is begging to be sopped up with the underdone toast of curiosity.

Aug 3, 2020

The New Normal: A short story by Kirk S. Noggins

I accidentally took out a movie theater gift card instead of my Costco card from my wallet last night and got a really low sinking feeling.

I had a vision of a small child in front of a tent fashioned from torn tarps,  cardboard with faint Amazon.com logos and various salvaged materials.  She is a girl of about nine or ten years old with short hair wearing a bulky sweater with holes in it that revealed layers of dirty clothing underneath and a crude respirator mask. She's standing around a burning pile of trash with a few other children of varying ages.  There's also a much older man with dirty white hair under a floppy knit cap.  He has wire rimmed glasses which are repaired with tape and a paper clip.  He's sporting a tattered cloth scarf which was wrapped around his neck mouth and nose. The child looks up and asks "Grandpa, can you tell us the story about the  movie theaters?" The old man clears his throat with a few small coughs, adjusts his scarf and replies "Well, child, there were places where people would go and sit shoulder to shoulder in a small room watching a movie on a big screen the size of house..." Before he could finish his sentence there was an audible gasp from the children standing near by to keep warm. "and no one was scared to get sick grandpa?" Then moisture welled up in the old man's eyes. He coughed again.  A single tear fell down his cheek paving a weaving, clean path on through the soot and dirt on his wrinkled skin. He pulled up his make-shift mask to wipe his tear.  Adjusted it again, and for a moment remembered what it was like before the "new normal" began.  He muttered under his breath "all they had to do was follow simple guidelines...just wear a mask"   Then visibly upset now, slightly louder "All they had to do was wear a damn mask!" The excitement put him into a brief coughing fit.   The children, startled, all turned their heads towards the old man.  The child inquired "Who didn't wear a mask grandpa?"  The old man then heard the sound of synchronized, booted footsteps in the mud approaching.  "quiet children" the grandpa whispered as the Trumpguard patrol officers approached.  The old man huddled the children in his arms and watched the guardsmen carefully as they passed hoping they hadn't heard him talking of people not wanting to wear masks, and movie theaters.  The old man's grip on the children loosened once the officers were gone.  A sense of relief came over him. The children sensed this even thought they didn't fully understand.   One of the younger children looked up to the old man, pulled down his surplus respirator mask and verbalized as best he could  "what  a... moo vee?   The old man quickly peeked out into the road and made sure the men were gone while he gently moved the child's mask back into place.  He then put the child on his knee and in between wheezing coughs, constantly adjusting his face scarf, the old man proceeded to explain movies to the children of 2042 by trash fire light.

Jun 24, 2020

To Boldly Go... Star Trek Enterprise Review

I was raised on Star Trek and watched most of the 80's Star Trek movies as a kid with my family in the theaters.    I watched the original series but it was a little too dated for me as a kid.   I was all over The Next Generation but Deep Space Nine and Voyager are kind of a teen-age blur.   When they rebooted the movies recently I was excited again.  New Kirk, new Spock!  Let's go!  Now it's Quarantimes and CBS All Access had a free month deal.  I have publicly expressed my disdain for every damn channel having exclusive streaming platforms in the past.  I mean like, I pay for TV already, now CBS want's to be fucking Netflix?  So now that I've accepted my fate as a hypocrite,  I could finally watch Discovery and Picard.  It's been a couple months and the free trial has ended so I guess I have CBS All Access now.    I was boycotting Discovery on principal but it's a pandemic and who's got time to bitch.  Bring me the streaming content!   I'm even paying for AppleTV now like a fucking dick head.   I already  binged Picard.  Loved it!   I just finished both seasons of Discovery.  Loved it!   Then I was looking through the shows and found a Star Trek series I never gave much thought to when it was originally on.   Star Trek Enterprise.  I fully thought this came out in like 2009 or 10.  When it started I kept thinking that it looked like a 90's TV show. And then the theme song played.   So painful.  Why are they using late 90's power ballad music for a Star Trek show?  And the collage of American flight historical images blending into bad CGI of modern space flight was so folksy and Live Laugh Love I wanted to puke in chalk paint.  WTF is going on?  Watch at your own risk... 

Then I looked it up and the internet says this came out in 2001.   Woah.  I had no idea it was that old.  Kinda explains a lot but nothing can explain why a Star Trek series is bucking the tradition of a timeless orchestral theme.   At least the dumb Firefly theme song fits the cheesy folksy "Western in space" vibe they were going for.  This is Star Trek dammit!  Despite the 90's production and horrible intro, I pressed on.  I'm 7 episodes in and I'll say its tickling that Star Trek nerve but I have some issues.

First of all, not that they could know this in 2001 but... it takes place in 2156 or something. If they knew the backwards ass shit happening in 2020 they might rethink  the rate of our scientific progress.  I really doubt that in 100 years things will be that advanced.  But if what Chief Engineer, Charles "Trip" Tucker III says about humans overcoming hunger and war, then maybe there's hope.  Here's to hoping. 

In the second or third episode there's this dumb sub plot about a slug that the translator of the ship (not a biologist by the way)  took as a specimen from some new-to-them planet they visited.  It's all lethargic and they don't know how to treat it. The doctor keeps suggesting to feed it to his bat.  I thought this was a science vessel?   Anyway at the end of the episode they find another random planet that has the same atmosphere as the slug planet and set it free with happy ending music.  "there ya go little sluggo, you'll love it here"  But these "scientists" at no point considered the fact that  they just introduced an invasive species on a random planet they spent zero minutes studying beyond whether the atmosphere was compatible with the slug.  Now you have this one slug with no way to reproduce.  And if it was some asexual being that doesn't need a mate then, you're looking at a slug invasion in a world where it has no natural predator.  Or it does have a predator and it just gets wiped out right away.  Maybe I'm overthinking this but it just seemed really reckless, hasty and not very scientific. 

Doctor, translator, captain, engineer (which seems to mean, works on the engine) security, Vulcan science officer, navigator. 

Speaking of not scientific, hasty and reckless. Early into the series you learn that the captain has a pet dog with him. A fucking dog. On a star ship meant to "visit strange new worlds and seek out new life" they let you bring fucking dogs?  A dog that one can only presume based on the fact that the only scenes you see him in he is locked in the captains tiny private quarters.   Where does he pee? Does he go for walks? Is there a  doggy day care on the Enterprise? 

"there ya go boy, go piss on plants and shit
we've never seen or studied before".
A few episodes later they find a planet that, on paper seems exactly like Earth only there's no intelligent life.   So they get in the shuttle craft and zip down there to study the flora and fauna.  You know, scientifically.   So what's the first thing that pops out of the shuttle when they land?   His fucking dog!!!    So the one time you see the dog outside of the Captain's room is on a foreign planet they've never been to before.    Maaan who's fucking writing this show?


Maybe it was the intent of the show all along being that it's early on in Earth's warp capable era but it's annoying how dumb the Earthlings are portrayed.  Another thing that is bugging me is that it seems like when they say Earth in this show it actually means America because as far as I can tell there are no foreigners on the ship except for the Vulcan Science Officer and the Doctor who's a Denobulan.  Everyone else seems very American. Even the original series had a more diverse crew even by Earth standards. 

Come for the Sci-Fi, stay for the Vulcan tittays.

Despite this shit I'm gonna keep watching.  It's still Star Trek after all.  I'm surprised that I still haven't seen a "live long and prosper" hand gesture yet.  On the last episode I watched  I finally got a Vulcan neck pinch.  There's still three more seasons.  I'm hoping it gets better.  I doubt they'll change the theme song tho.   Woof, it's bad. 


Jun 22, 2020

The L in BLM

Marvia Gray, 68 yrs old, and son Derek. 
I just read a story
about a black man who bought a 65” TV at Sam’s Club, that didn’t fit in his car so they agreed to hold it there so he could come back with a bigger car to get it later.  I’ve worked at a hardware store for years and I know this happens ALL THE TIME with large items.   It’s not uncommon to put things aside for someone to come back later.    When he came back and an employee who wasn’t privy to the situation saw him in the parking lot with the TV and for some reason reported it and a cop who must have just been there already.  The cop followed him to the car and accused him as well despite being told that he had bought it.  The man went home with the TV but he and his mother felt like they should just return it and get their money back to avoid any more harassment.   When they came back to the store, despite other employees recognizing him, and telling the officer, and the other employee that he in fact did purchase it, the cop still persisted and called for back up.   As one would, the man got offended and argued his case.  Things get out of hand and became physical.  The man’s mother even tried to plead his case for him but was also physically assaulted by the now 3 other cops that showed up. Both sustained injuries and humiliation in front of a busy store full of people.  All for a guy who was trying to load a TV he had purchased.  No matter how well-off and law abiding and upstanding citizenly you are, if you're black, there's always that chance some asshole will think you're doing something illegal and a cop ready to back them up.  This shit doesn't happen to well-off law abiding white people.

In a cellphone video you can hear a bystander say something like  “just stay down, do what they say” 

This is always a reaction to cases like this.  People will chime in with stuff like  "just do what the cops say and you wont be hurt (or shot, or killed)" . The problem with that is most of the time when your skin isn't white; while no matter how completely innocent you are or how easily proven or obvious your innocence is doing what they say can have a less than desirable outcome.  You're doing the right thing and DON'T give into your natural urges to resist someone accusing you and trying to restrain you physically for something you didn't do, you'll get arrested anyway.  But you're thinking maybe it's just some handcuffs and humiliation, maybe a trip to the station where they ask you your side of the story and they apologize and let you go.  But that's not what happens.  Despite the cops knowing they're  wrong, they'll tell you just do what they say and everything will be fine.  So you do.  And a drive to the station turns into a night in jail.  You done everything right, you're innocent and you know they know it, but you can't afford bail and end up waiting days, weeks, months, possibly years for your case to be heard in court.  All while the DA, judge sometimes even your own lawyer tries to convince you to just take a plea deal saying you did it so you can reduce your sentence. You persist and finally 5 years later after being an exemplary inmate staying out of trouble while living with actual convicted criminals the Judge sees your file and says "yea, they have no case, you're free to go" Oh and by the way that cop that falsely accused  you and beat you up has been promoted twice and despite being wrong and fucking your life over, get ZERO discipline for it.   But, you're free to go.  Try not to commit suicide like many do after shit like this happens to them.  This shit happens.  It's real.  It's documented.  It happens a lot actually. 

I'm not saying black people should resist arrest, but I understand why someone who knows the cards are stacked against them would.  It's not handcuffs they're resisting, it's a system of unjust racist policy that's sewn into the fabric of this dumb-ass country. The game is rigged. That's what Black Lives Matter means.  Black lives matter doesn't just mean "cops stop shooting black people"  It means stop looking twice when a black person walks in a room. It means don't call the cops because black people are having a bbq.  It means not passing over a resume because someone's name 'sounds black'.    It's every black person's whole  life, from birth, being tagged as less-than by a society that for the most part doesn't even know they benefit from generations of this kind of discrimination. There's no way as a white guy who's done nothing to earn it, but has benefited from it that I'll actually ever know how it feels to be black. That's why we all need to acknowledge that this discrimination exists even if you don't see it. Even if you're not racist, and your town's not racist, and you do work in your community to help people of color, you've got to understand why the L in BLM is more that just a person's name on a protest sign. When you finally get it, then you can make other’s understand and so on, and so on.   When we all do, one day in the future all lives can actually matter equally. 

Sorry, shit got all serious.  Serious times call for serious Noggins.