Saturday, October 23, 2010

predictions for the near future

So, it's no big secret to folks that I'm a talk radio junkie.  My personal fave is Bryan Suits on KVI 570AM here in Seattle, but I listen to a bunch of others - Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham, etc.  (If you've never heard Bryan Suits, you're really missing out.  Get his podcast and see what I mean.)

Notice a theme?  Yeah- they're all conservatives.  So am I.  Ok, now that that cat's out of that particular bag, I wanted to get a couple of things off my chest. 

First off, I'm pretty sick and tired of all these folks (with the exception of Suits) going on and on about how the liberals are all finished as of November 3, 2010.

Second- and, here's the prediction part- I predict a sound defeat for the conservatives on November 2.  I say that there is no chance for the Dems to lose their majority in the Senate or the House.  Maybe it's my native Nihilistic tendencies, but when you look at the how the libbies are running their show, it's clear to me that they really aren't all that rattled- nor should they be.  Yeah, there will probably be a few that get moved on- perhaps quite a few- but it just feels to me like a lot of my friends have already written this off and we've already won.  It just hasn't happened yet, and what's worse is that when the conservatives lose the libbies are gonna be even more re-energized and more damage will ensue.

I'll admit that I'm not watching all of the candidates, but there's a couple that have peaked my interest, as well as a couple of Washington State items that have my attention.  So, here's the specific predictions on the items that I've really been paying attention to:

Washington State
  • Patty Murray will be re-elected.  (Dino Rossi will lose by at a least 5% margin)
  • Prop. 1100 and 1105 will be defeated.  (Washington State will retain the right to sell liquor)
  • Prop. 960 will not be overturned. (Our incredibly written taxation of food items will stand)
  • Prop. 1098 will fail.   (Washington State will not have an income tax- yet.)

Couple of hotly watched State Senate Races:
  • Ken Buck will lose Colorado.
  • Christine O'Donnell will SOUNDLY lose Delaware.  (That poor woman doesn't have a chance in hell)
  • Lisa Murkowski will lose in Alaska, but will make a stronger showing than anyone thought she would.  Joe Miller will win.
  • Barbara Boxer will win in California.  Handily.
  • Harry Reid will win in Nevada, but just barely.

The Upshot:
  • The Senate will remain Democrat controlled.

  • The House will remain Democrat controlled.

  • Nancy Pelosi will retain her job.

On a lot of these, I'm really hoping to be wrong.

But- and here's another not-so-fun thought- if the conservatives do take the House (or even more miraculously, the Senate) what does that really get us?  It was the Bush "conservative" ideals that got us a lot of the way to where we are now (and, Barry has just made a bad thing much, much worse) and I just can't believe that the Tea Party movement candidates have enough political judgement to see their way clear of even more weird practices.  And, that's going to add fuel to the fire of the libbies, who's pet projects would get stalled and the conservatives will get blamed even more. which will make 2012 even harder to overcome the liberal agenda on.........yeeesh.

It took us 4 full years of Jimmy Carter and his bunch to get us Ronald Reagan.  I think it's almost better for things to get worse before it gets better.  I know that sounds weird, but think about it- if the conservative movement does get into power again and they don't turn it around, in 2012 we're definitely going to get 4 more years of Barry.  If the Dems continue to drive things for the next 2 years, they absolutely will screw it all up, and Barry will get his well-deserved pink slip and we can get on with things. 

And, yeah- that's quite a price to pay, but we've done it to ourselves.  We've allowed these scumbags in power to remain that way through indifference, not voting and most importantly by watching "Jersey Shore", Lindsey Lohan, Octo-Mom and other mind numbing dreck instead of paying to attention to things that matter.  This entire country has become nothing but slack-jawed, mouth-breathing, media believers who care more about Mel Gibson's antics than they do the fact that our government is now controlling huge, tremendous chunks of our lives.  It's going to take some real suffering to change that, I'm afraid.

I say that the real suffering begins 11/2/2010. 

Friday, May 28, 2010

the state of "metal"

My wife and kids will tell you that I'm rather opinionated about the state of music today- and, strangely enough, even more so on the topic of heavy metal.   And, yes, I said heavy metal.  Yes, I am somewhat of a "jazzer", but I listen to everything, or at least try to.

First, let's say what heavy metal is: Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, Iron
Maiden, Judas Priest, Motorhead, early Metallica, Dokken, Living Color,
Pantera, early Slayer, Megadeth, Dio, Ozzy, Rainbow, Sevendust and
anything with Tony Iommi, Richie Blackmoor, Randy Rhoads, Dimebag
Darrell, KK Downing, Steve Harris, Paul D'Anno, or Rob Halford in it.  I
will go as far as to say that bands like AC/DC, Kiss and a few others
that skirt the edge of classic rock, as well as things like Dream
Theater and Tool also fall into this category.  (And, no- I'm not
interested in what you call heavy metal.)

Second- let's say what heavy metal is not: Darned near anything else that calls itself metal- especially these days.  Specifically, I'll state that bands like Mudvayne, Cannibal Corpse, Napalm Death, new Metallica, Mastodon, Killswitch Engage, Into The Moat, Korn, Limp Bizkit, Bring Me The Horizon, As I Lay Dying, Gwar and, yeah- even Opeth (my apologies to the Swedes) are no more metal than say, Abba.  I dare you headbang to "Dancing Queen".  Go ahead.  I'll wait

(And, before I go too much further, let me again state- I am not interested in what you call "metal".  This is my blog.  Get your own.)

Now, let's get specific.  Both my son and my wife are what I like to call "rivet heads"- they enjoy a bunch of different bands, and make regular trips to various concert venues around Seattle to see some bands that tout themselves as metal, but I can't stand them.  It's not the cookie monster vocals that bother me.  It's not the "black magic", death images or even the satan worship stuff that bothers me.  (The satan worship cracks me up, actually)  It's not the screaming, unintelligible lyrics; the crunching guitars; the swearing; the constant barrage of sexual and dismemberment images; the darkness- none of that bothers me.  It's just schtick.

What bothers me is the kick drum.  What????!???

It used to be that heavy metal had some lyrically social relevance and actually required a certain amount of ability for all the players to pull it off.  Now, all it requires is a drummer with a double-kick pedal that functions like a pneumatic jack-hammer and at least 2 guitar players who do nothing but play dropped D5 chords that sit on top of the kick drum firings, and you have what people call "heavy metal".  There's no concept of major, minor, diminished, half-diminished chords, no semblance of melody and certainly no semblance of style - and all the tunes are the same thing, regurgitated, straight from whoever can tune down the lowest.  Even a lot of the theatrics are gone.  Heavy metal is now nothing more than a shriek and a kick drum, and all the "new metal" - all of it - is completely and totally irrelevant.  No one tries anything new anymore. 

The other evening, as I was driving home from a jazz gig, I was trying like mad get "All The Things You Are" out of my head, so I flipped on Sirius Radio and tuned into one of the metal stations, and I was immediately struck by the fact that every, single, solitary band sounded exactly alike.  I thought, "ok, Marc- you've turned into your dad" and felt sick to my stomach at the very thought of it.  (My dad considers Supertramp to be "hard rock"........yeesh.)  Then I flipped to one station who was playing "Wishing Well" from Sabbath's "Heaven And Hell" as a tribute to Ronnie James Dio (someone who is TRULY deserving of many, many tributes) and I was equally struck by the absolute genius of it all.  It's dark.  It's stylized.  It's got intelligence.  It's got balls.  Dio sings like his head is about to come off and fly through the speakers.  I turned it up to about the highest the radio could go, and reveled in its dark glory.

Last night, while on (yet another jazz) gig, I found myself talking to one of my guitarist's students, who was obviously another rivet head.  We got to talking about what his band does, and he proceeded to tell me that they all "tune down to B!"  (like that's impressive) and that most of their songs are centered around "the B note", and once again, I was saddened to hear this.

Why has this happened?  What took guys like Yngwie Malmsteen and Rising Force and made them into The Jonas Brothers with Cookie Monster from Sesame Street on vocals?  Doesn't anyone care anymore?  I miss the days of Maiden and Priest- bands who had something to say and a way to say it that was original - and I desperately now believe that all double kick pedals should be removed from all but Dennis Chambers' feet.  How about you metal-heads- you know who you are- learn a couple of actual chords - not barre chords, by the way- and learn to write a song rather than a kick pedal ornamentation?  What you're doing isn't heavy- it's just crap.

Friday, May 7, 2010

misguided

Lots and lots of stuff going on here- family stuff, music stuff, work stuff.....just lots of stuff.  Since, apparently in the blogsphere I'm something of a malcontent, I have to share one thing- but I think that this topic transcends more than just the obvious.

Lately, I've been working on a side project- I can't go into too many details about it, but it's an online music education system that, if it's done right, will be a total game changer.  The concept is something I've never seen before, and it's truly revolutionary.  It's been dreamed up by two players who are in that strata that can only be described as "the best of the best" (and, no, I hardly qualify in this company) and will be something that will be emulated- I guarantee it.  If it's done right.

If.

The problem is that in the "inner circle" of this project is one person who I'm not sure really understands what is being attempted.  He has a modicum of technical knowledge, but that knowledge is really limited to his skillset (he's a marketing dude) and how to hook this piece of barely functioning software to that other piece of barely functioning software in kind of a "cobbling" methodology.  And, the gameplan seems to change day to day, minute to minute, and I'm partially convinced that this happens for his own amusement- but, I'm more convinced it's because his knowledge of what's being attempted is at such a high level that he can't get down into the weeds (where I am) and worse than that- he doesn't want to, nor does he see any value in it.

We've all experienced people like this in our personal and professional travels.  They've experienced a small amount of success in doing something a certain way, and that certain way becomes their hammer.  The trouble with always wielding a hammer is that everything else begins to look like a nail.  Pretty soon, all the identity of what you're trying to do -be it a web site, band, widget - goes out the window and what you're left with is something that is far, far less than what you started out envisioning. 

Why am I telling you, my gentle readers, about this?

In this day of microwave society, everything anyone does has just become mediocre.  It only has to be good enough, and no one expects or wants craftsmanship.  They don't see the value in deferring to people who have been doing things for years and years at a level that they don't understand.  Some of that mindset is actually good and warranted- it keeps things simple- but when the person who is directing your efforts has no interest in the value that you are providing, you're faced with only two options: Educate or Eradicate.

I like to err on the side of Educate first.  That's where I am right now with this thing.  I'm extremely passionate about how this thing is supposed to work, and I'm passionate about working with the two owners of the project.  The marketing guy seems to see our passion as unnecessary- and we're having a devil of time convincing him otherwise.  If we can't convince him that the passion is an absolute requirement in order to do this correctly, we'll have to move to Eradicate.  Hopefully it won't come to that- unlike him, I see the value that he is providing in his misguided way.

The next time you're faced with someone who's "know-it-all" attitude just doesn't have the juice to back up what's trying to be attempted, my fondest hope is that you'll remember this and identify it for what it is.  Misguided.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

speechless in seattle

I had my mind made up on a blog entry for today, but then I heard a story on the radio on the way home that really has my head spinning.  I'm as prone as anyone to hyperbole, but I honestly think that this is the worst thing I've ever heard in my life.  Read on- and know that I fully intend to find out much, much more about this and post what I find.  Here's the story as I heard it on the radio, and I'm going to parrot everything I heard without histrionics.  This is how KVI reported it:

There is a 15 year old girl who goes to Ballard High School in Seattle.  Somehow, her mother finds out that she is on birth control.  Trouble is, mom had nothing to do with the girl's obtaining said birth control.  The girl tells her mom that the clinic at her school (which is run by Swedish Medical Center in Seattle) gave it to her.  Mom was not notified.  She had engaged the clinic because she had become sexually active with her boyfriend of 6 months.  Mom confronts the school (from the sound of it, she was a tad angry) and was told to leave the premises.  OK.  Daughter is sexually active, but she is on birth control.  Things could be worse.

Fast forward to October.  Girl becomes pregnant.  Instead of telling her parents, she goes to the school and tells them that she's pregnant and doesn't know what to do.  The school then schedules a taxi cab ride for the girl to a clinic in downtown Seattle (for those that don't know the area, this is about 8 miles away) to get an abortion.  Once at the clinic, she is told by the clinic that if she tells her parents about this, they (the parents) will be liable for the cost of the procedure.  If she doesn't tell them, the procedure is free of charge.  She has the abortion, takes another (school paid for) cab ride back to school, goes back to class and then rides the bus home from school as if nothing has happened.  Parents were not notified of her being off campus for some 4 hours, and apparently the school also arranged for her attendance records to be falsified so that the parents would not know.

Fast forward a bit.  Girl has to be taken to the emergency room 3 times for a racing heartbeat.  The doctors at the hospital ask the girl's parents if she's under any kind of stress.  They answer "no".

Fast forward a bit.  Boyfriend is so distraught over what has happened that he "ends up in the hospital".  When pressed for why he is distraught, all this comes out. 

Mom calls the school and is told that she has no right to her daughter's medical records, and they will not comment or tell her anything.  And, apparently they have been doing this FOR YEARS.  They (the school) apparently feels that they can do this, and the clinic does not have to notify parents of abortions, reproductive rights or even mental health counseling where children are concerned.

OK- now the histrionics.

ARE YOU %$#*$%)(* KIDDING ME?  OK- I'm a hard right conservative, and yeah- a pro-life one at that.  Let's leave that out of the equation.  Let's leave pro-choice out of it, too.  Our schools are not allowed to give out an aspirin, have any kind of religious affiliation or observance- but they can do this?  I'm beyond shocked.  What if there were complications- and clearly there were.  The school's hue and cry is that the parents need to work these kind of things out as a family, and yet they cut the very legs out from under these parents.  They endangered this girl's life, and have scarred her (her mother says that the girl is absolutely wrecked as a result of this) - and they stand on some made up moral ground that they were looking out for the welfare of this very, very confused 15 year old.  And, we, as tax payers, fit the bill for this.

I honestly don't think I've ever been so sickened in my entire life.  I absolutely will post more on this when I found it out- I promise.

like the boston song....

.....it's been such a long time.......

Somehow, some way, despite my best efforts to the contrary, I lost my keys to my blog.  Now, I confess- I haven't been terribly diligent about recovering them- until now.

All this to say- look for a long overdue update soon.  I promise.