I’ve been listening a lot to The 2nd Law lately (skipping past the dubstep nonsense, of course). It’s incredible, really. Like Queen on anabolic steroids. Matthew Bellamy’s voice stuns and amazes me.
And I don’t know a lot about his background as a songwriter, but listening to this, it seems pretty clear he was classically trained and is a particular fan of Romantic composers. I hear Rachmaninoff and Liszt. It’s lovely.
Giving mice common intestinal bacteria eliminated peanut allergies
Truth: the next major wave of medical advances will be in understanding the role and workings of the microbiome, and it’s starting now. When we look back in 25 years, it’s going to be every bit as big as the discovery of antibiotics, the development of vaccines, and genetic medicine.
Hey locals, I did a completely shitty job marketing this, but my band The Recliners is playing tomorrow from 3:00-5:00pm at Durty Nellie’s in Palatine. It’s an all-ages show, and proceeds go to the American Cancer Society. Special bonus: we are shooting a video. Yes, you will probably see clips of it here, eventually, but wouldn’t you rather be able to say you were there?
I golfed today. Quite well, actually. But I won’t talk about it at all because I know the only thing people care less about than your dreams is your golf game.
You may be aware that I think a lot. (Way too much, really.) I’ve realized that when I’m thinking while driving alone, and a thought enters my head that is especially negative, I reflexively change the radio station, even if a song I like is playing. It’s like some part my brain is crying out to change the path the other part is on.
I stopped by Mom and Dad’s house on the way home from the golf course to “fix” their TV. I changed the input from “HDMI 2” to “CABLE.” Move it on over, Dumbledore: I am the baddest wizard of all time.
We’ve had a fairly relaxed, stress-free few weeks around here. It’s been nice. But that’s ending; the kids go back to school Monday, including Danny starting at middle school, which is utterly, preposterously too soon for any 10-year-old, never mind those with anxiety issues. Please keep a good thought, if you would.
Last night I was watching Fallon and wondering, “who’s the white guy with the guitar, sitting in with The Roots?” Then going to or coming out of a break, he sang a song I kind of recognized, and another, then another. Dim memories; not clear “oh, yeah, that!” but clearly something that had imprinted on me somewhere in the foggy past.
Later, Jimmy said he is Tom Bailey, lead singer of Thompson Twins. I can be forgiven for not recognizing him. His look has changed a little. And, frankly, I was never a big consumer of his work. I am very much on the record as having a different view of “80s music” than what is modal in popular culture. I have my preferences, and they are not…this.
But god dammit if this guy didn’t plant hooks in my head 30 years ago that, even after zero exposure in the interim, are still rattling around up there somewhere. I have to give credit where it’s due: this is fine pop songcraft, the dude can really sing, and the warmth of those synth tones could cleave glaciers.
And if he’s good enough for the freaking Roots, he has earned another listen from me, for sure.
“School is out for many Ferguson students, but teachers are still holding classes at local public libraries. On Tuesday, teachers stood outside of Ferguson Public Library holding signs that said “here to teach” and “students welcome.” Inside the library, teachers helped students with reading, science, art and math. “We’re trying to provide a positive and productive place for students,” said Ferguson-Florissant art teacher Carrie Pace to local outlet the Riverfront Times. “A place for them to come and do something educational and meet up with other students.” One 16-year-old student, Derrick Washington, came to the library to help tutor students younger than him, like his brother. He spoke with Huffington Post reporter Ryan J. Reilly about the experience. “While they’re not in school, I can help them get ready for school,” said Washington, who is a high school student in the Ferguson-Florissant district. “Keep them in line … keep them from getting in trouble.””—
No one wants to fight with their racist cousin on Facebook. They’d rather poop out their frustration on twitter (like I did). On tumblr, some people just don’t have more than 140 character rants (that’s me again) and feel unable to express themselves
I’m not sure which I like less: the idea that Facebook is censoring us, or that we are self-censoring. And both are probably true. Ugh.
The Ferguson thing—which is ongoing, by the way, as we now fully enter the victim-blaming phase—is among the most depressing things I can ever recall happening in this country. The worst part is that I expect this is the New Normal.
It did have the effect of reminding me that all my problems are relatively stupid. There is no chance whatsoever that a bunch of microdicked cops in tactical gear and tanks (tanks!) are going to treat me like an enemy combatant, or my neighborhood like Hamburger Hill.
Normally, we go to the other side of the lake for a week around this time every summer. It’s a good thing we didn’t this year—the lake is at near-record low temperatures. Not a lot to do there if the beach is unusable. If this weather pattern is another New Normal, I may have to accelerate my plan to get southwest. (Please don’t take this opportunity to tell me how much I suck for liking hot weather.)
If every conversation you have is an argument, consider that the problem might not be that literally everyone else in the world is an asshole.
My body’s bizarre response to exercise continues apace. By induction, the end result of this will be a perfectly spherical torso of 100% fat, four limbs the diameter of matchsticks, and the same big, thick head on top. Great look. I’ll post a whole set of #SST pics.
I feel weird hearting your selfie. I don’t know why. Maybe because I don’t really know you that well and and putting a heart on a photo of person feels like an intimate thing. So I don’t heart many of them. But the thing is, you look happy in that one photo and I love to see people looking happy. So that is why even though we aren’t close friends and are just merely acquaintances I clicked a button that lets me tell you I liked your photo. May you always be as happy as you look there.
I feel exactly the same way about selfies of people I’m not close with. And I’d add this: “Also, if you are female, please do not construe my clicking of this heart-widget as prurient or in any way inappropriate. Furthermore, I value other aspects of you beyond your looks, so please do not take this action as the equivalent of a cat call, though I hope that’s unlikely since it is, after all, a selfie.”
Post-postmodern Internetting is sometimes complicated.
Since everyone is asking: I have the full series on DVD and watched the first season. I found the writing, acting, and design to be exquisite. I developed a powerful man-crush on McNulty. Unfortunately, I found the direction to be a little slow. I liked the show a lot, but for reasons I can’t fully articulate, I didn’t love it. I guess you could say I put it in the friend zone. <ducks>
Because so many people whose opinions on TV matter to me say it’s awesome, I’ll get back to it at some point, swearsies.
Oh, and mathcat345: Buffy would be solidly at #6 on my all-time list.
This concludes my thoughts on a medium which I hardly ever consume.
Another music question: What songs or or lyrics or guitar riffs do you ever so much wish you had written?
So, so many to choose from.
The first single lyric that comes to mind is one we’ve all heard a million times: “I’d trade all of my tomorrows for one single yesterday.” Looks like it was originally written by Jenny Lou Carson in the 40’s before Merle Haggard and then Kris Kristofferson stole it.
Whole song lyrics? Radiohead’s “Fake Plastic Trees” usually makes me stop and reconsider the universe as I know it. “If I could be who you wanted.” Guaranteed shiver.
Guitar riffs: see the entire Led Zeppelin catalog, and AC/DC up to and including Back In Black, and most of Let It Bleed and Sticky Fingers. I honestly don’t know where to start. How about this: I always sound check my amp with the opening riff to “Custard Pie,” and the first thing I thought of when I saw this question was “Whole Lotta Love.”
Men’s T-shirt manufacturers are watching too many superhero movies lately. 99.99% of us don’t have the bodies for the recent trend in tees (super tiny waists and 1” sleeves) and it’s horrible for everyone concerned, including innocent bystanders. Stop.
Memes and ideas blow through here in big, tsunami-like waves. Good or bad, just wait, and it’ll pass. It might even sweep stuff clean on the way through. But every once in a while some piece of years-old, rotted flotsam washes back ashore long after you thought it was gone for good. That usually signals break time.
I am fitnessing more actively than at any point in my life, exercising 5-6 days a week—lifting weights and running, and biking when time permits. I have also modified my diet to be higher in lean protein and less carb-y. And sure enough, my body is changing dramatically! Except it’s in ways almost diametrically opposed to what I expected or wanted. This is beyond stupid, but I am going to keep doing it anyway, if for no other reason than to prove that I am some genetic fluke. Maybe someone will write a paper about me.
Otherwise intelligent, rational people adopting bizarre, New Age-y spiritualities as they approach old age: why is this a thing? This is a bad thing. Ditch the magnets and go read some Kant.
10+ hours per day of digging through the life’s work of a complete fucking moron takes a toll.
So much truth here. A huge, huge part of the problem I have inherited at this job is my predecessor’s complete inability to name stuff. When you’re facing 250KLOC full of things like StrategyContainer vs. ContainerStrategy, and WorkItemExecutor vs. WorkItemExecute, you can expect violent revenge fantasies to enter your day.
There’s a longer dissertation to be written on this, but I believe that the ability to organize one’s thoughts linearly is a necessary (but not sufficient) prerequisite to writing clear code AND to writing clearly in natural languages. It follows, I think, that there is a small, positive, non-causal correlation between the ability to program and to write.
Somebody way smarter than me has probably already covered this.
Serious, serious kudos to the priest who opened with, “There is no answer. There is no ‘why.’”
One of the things that drove me screaming from the church (and don’t worry, I’m not one of those atheists and this won’t be one of those posts) was the “it’s all part of God’s plan, and we just don’t understand it” business when the unthinkable happens. Really? Why should I hang around for that guy, then? Those plans are asshole plans. I’m out.
But—so simply!—today, the man up front dropped that first clause and it went from an angering thing to a (somewhat) comforting thing just like that. I mean, we all like answers and explanations, or I believe most of us do. It’s frustrating when there aren’t any, and to know that sometimes, there will never be reasons. Sometimes there will never be “closure.” Having someone in authority say it out loud helps make it a little more OK.
In the vacuum left behind by unthinkable loss, I believe, is where community kicks in.
And I’ll admit it: sometimes I feel some sadness that I’m not part of any of those communities. What comfort that must give. Don’t get me wrong; I have Team Scholvin and I am fine as wine. Everything is OK, and when it hasn’t been, I have found my way with who and what I have. But I could imagine circumstances, imagine a day, where having more would help.
As the immediate family walked out, the rest of us sang. “Let there be peace on Earth, and let it begin with me.” What a perfect sentiment, stated so simply and beautifully. That’s the whole damned thing, right there. Nothing more is necessary. If I could find the community that operates according to that principle, yet doesn’t require adherence to any unfalsifiable premises, I’d have half a mind (and three-quarters of a heart) to join right up.
Never forget: before he got soggy in the mid-70s, Eric Patrick Clapton was a force to be reckoned with. Taut and purposeful.
Cary’s question about my musical influences the other night—surely unintentionally—triggered a long string of thought about nothing less than my own mortality and what I intend to do with my remaining time, creatively speaking. Could be an hour or could be 50 years. But statistically I’m somewhere on the back nine heading toward the clubhouse, and it feels like it’s time to make something of my own. THANKS, CARY.
To follow up on that post: if I were enough of a singer to claim influences, I’d want to sing like Steve Winwood or Neil Finn. Absolutely effortless, with the sense that they could sing as magically as they do for days on end. Timeless, too. Voices like that don’t get old and burn out. And, you know, gaining about an octave above my own pathetic range would be good, as long as we’re dreaming.
Since coming back from my little tumblr break I’m losing followers faster than I am my own hair. I don’t give two shits about it, but I do wonder what it was they thought they were coming for that they didn’t actually get.
A horrific thing happened this week that impacted my extended family deeply. I don’t mean to vagueblog, but it’s not really my story to tell. Everyone here is fine, as are my immediate relatives, but I have cousins who are suffering the most excruciating pain imaginable right now. If you have good juju to spare, they could use it.
Who are your biggest musical influences? Are any of them female?
I came of age as a guitarist in the late 70s and early 80s, so my biggest influences are the rock gods from that era. Jimmy Page and Neal Schon top the list. Every rock guitarist worth talking about owes something to Hendrix and Van Halen as well, though my style (if I have one) isn’t much like either of theirs. Others have told me I sound something like Gary Richrath (REO) and Michael Schenker (UFO). Not sure if that’s true, but it’s the right era and I’ll take the compliments.
I don’t consider myself enough of a singer, songwriter, or keyboardist to say I have any real influences in those roles. Those aren’t my crafts, and I’m just trying to keep up, there.
While there are many, many women in music whom I utterly adore as artists, there are unfortunately very few female lead guitarists, and none whose style speaks to me.
It was a rough night and a complicated morning, so just now, as I sat down here at my desk, I had my first opportunity to take off my shoe and dump out the three little stones that had found their way in. I have no idea where they came from; these shoes transitioned from house to car to parking lot to store to car to house to car to another parking lot to office, none of it essentially or even casually stony. But there they were, three little stones.
Last night before dinner I discovered three little stones in my shoe, too. The day was long and while most of it was spent in an office, it’s at least conceivable that at some point over the course of the day I walked past some construction site or whatever where I might have acquired them. I dumped them in the wastebasket and am fairly sure today’s stones are not yesterday’s, though I wouldn’t bet a paycheck on it.
Tuesday night I went for a quick run after work/before rehearsal. Same kind of day as yesterday—busy, urban, and well-swept, and while I don’t remember crossing any gravel-covered areas, there they were: three little stones. I had to pause my tracker app, stop running, and dump them.
I don’t specifically recall Monday any longer. I’m sure there were three little stones at some point.
I’m reading Keith Richards’ fascinating autobiography, Life, and as a result I’ve dug back into the Stones catalog over the last few days. I know a lot of these songs are badly overplayed by classic rock radio stations, sports events, whatever, but from 69-72 or so, these guys were making some of the best rock and roll of all time. It stands up to critical listening today. And in their day, they took on real issues in ways which some of their megastar peers didn’t dare to. I love Zeppelin but they didn’t have the balls for this.
Like Vietnam. Listening to this on the El this morning, I got chills at the refrain after the guitar solo, sung so forcefully by Merry Clayton.
Rape, murder—It’s just a shot away.
Her performance is hair-raising. She screams at the top of her lungs with no apparent regard for her own safety. Listen carefully to the third time through, when her voice cracks on “murder.” An iconic moment; historical. Turn it up: in the background, you can hear Mick go “wooo!” just after it happened. (Why he was in the vocal booth with her, I don’t know.)
Clayton was pregnant when she sang this and miscarried not long after. She’s said repeatedly that this performance had nothing to do with that, and I’m sure that’s true, but it’s entered the folklore just the same. It fits, somehow. These guys were all kinds of trouble.