Category: rants

U Didn’t Build That


It’s election season for all its warts. For the past two days, “U Didn’t Build That” by MCBAMA has been a really popular song in our house, getting lots of spins. “The guinea pigs love it.” “Well, the one who’s not afraid of life. She’s a Romney girl.” Thanks to Know Your Meme for the background on this.

Maybe it’s because I’m more liberal than not, or because I like old school Oaktown rap (I had Hammer pants when I was 7, don’t hate), or because I am just sick of politicians lying to the public and find the current state of the GOP especially galling, but I am more worried about Romney winning in November than Bush in 2000 or 2004. Think about that… Bush was pretty incompetent and disgusting, but I could sort of resign myself to his inevitable victory. Now though, it’s so clear how dogmatic the Republicans are in a way that really has nothing to do with small governments and fiscal responsibility. Romney’s 47% gaffe shows this disconnect from Bush’s agenda, and also show the malice they have for the poor. I’m fortunate to have a job with health insurance and be pretty OK, but I still feel we have a social obligation to the most vulnerable in society. I also feel that investing in our nation’s infrastructure is good for all. (Yeah…. that also pays my bills. I get it.) So really, while I don’t like a lot of what Obama has done (or hasn’t), I don’t think he’s going to govern like Montgomery Burns.

Yummy, Yummy, Yummy, taste is irrelevant.

It’s a well known fact that I own a lot of records, and that when I say records I mean vinyl. Not CDs, not mp3s, but good old records. Some of my records are really good, like Tiger Trap, The Milkshakes, and of course my whole Hi-Fives collection, but I also have some crap. I love the crap, but I don’t expect others to. I’m talking about Heino (who’s birthday is this week!), Heintje, and Heinz.

This week I bought the 7″ of Ohio Express’ “Yummy Yummy Yummy” for a $1. It was a deal (and featured in one of my favourite Monty Python skits, seen above). Listening to it at volumes loud enough to annoy the neighbours is a joy. Well, I was hanging out with some soccer mates after our game on Saturday and one of them was talking about what he was listening to expecting me to scoff at his selection. I’m sorry, but the Pogues are respectable. Ohio Express is only respectable in certain, smaller circles.

Then today some people on the internet were talking about what albums mean Christmas to them. Of course, most of this group had parents that were square and white, so it was a lot of Johnny Mathis, Bing Crosby, Burl Ives, and the like. I’ve never really been a fan of Christmas music, so I couldn’t be in the fight. Other than to be a brat and point out how dull it all was. So bland, like the Beach Boys. (For the record, I was raised on The Kinks’ “Father Christmas“, Live Aid, David Bowie and Bing Crosby doing “Drummer Boy“, and Spike Jones’ “Barnyard Christmas“. That probably explains a lot.) (For the record, my new favourite Christmas song is “I Wanna Kiss You This Christmas” by Dave ‘n’ Megan on It’s A Team Mint Xmas vol. 1.)

The only thing that kills me in these conversations is the value judgement. It’s human and we all do it, but some keep it under wraps. Why is it OK to proclaim others’ taste to be crap when we can’t proclaim your taste to me crap? Well, we can but then there’s probably going to be an argument as pointless as a trip to the argument clinic.

I think it boils down to people want validation. It’s another human trait. It’s why we like to be a part of something. You like a record that other people like, that reaffirms that you like something good. Even if it’s just a few people, there’s some validation. Some need this, some don’t. Negotiating that can be tricky. I’ve never really had many people who really liked the same things I did. Nobody else liked David Bowie in Kindergarten. It wasn’t until high school when I found people in the scene (Alex and Fran, I’m looking at you!), that I understood what it was like to have common interests musically.

I don’t expect people to like what I listen to or even want to listen to it. (It makes being a DJ weird.) I do welcome argument and discussion, but most people take it as an attack on their taste. It isn’t but I can see their point. People like what they like. Some people are always hunting for deeper and weirder, and some are just happy. The problem is when the content give vibes that they are more adventurous and then there’s the assumptions and we have a problem.

Also remember, I am a sarcastic ass.

they do what with a ball?

there’s something that totally makes me roll my eyes to the point that they fall out of my head – the “sports? what’s that?” thing people do when they are compelled to watch a sporting event against their will. it always smacks of some smug “aren’t i cute/special because i’m too good to care or understand what adults do with a ball,” sort of thing. it probably doesn’t help that i’m a librarian, and therefore work with a lot of people who are very proud to express their disdain for sport because it’s defiance against pop culture. (i think this is a corollary to the “i don’t own a t.v.” argument.

the thing is i don’t really care if people don’t like sport. i can understand the eye rolling and the moaning to a point during the superbowl/nba playoffs/whatever (though i will be as obnoxious as i can be about the world cup). i know that it’s just letting off some steam and making one feel good about themselves. we all want to feel good.

so now i need to find something equally obnoxious to me to moan about. it might be dr. who. or these new super hero movies that are made just to make supposed geeks feel supposedly geeky. (since when did being a geek/nerd become something desirable? i think people need to belong and feel extreme in some way.) any suggestions? i would say those crappy new crime shows that are really just another ploy to make people feel clever, but i’m too upset about them cancelling law & order to go there. let’s say sci-fi/fantasy stuff which is just really dolled up romance? i’ll start with that.

china, the ioc, the olympics, and the world- a total farce.

“think of the athletes.” people keep telling me this when i tell them i don’t plan on watching the olympics- somewhat out of apathy for most of the sports, but largely out of protest.

“it’s not fair for the athletes. they have nothing to do with politics.” this ignores the obvious question- who wants to be an olympic athlete and what good is that for the world? (especially if they’re the sort that keep quiet, train, and rake in the bucks through endorsements. for them, the olympics are about money.) it’s not to say that i don’t think people should train to be olympians, but that alone doesn’t really make them heroic or noble. it’s not to say it’s their responsibility to take a stand, but it’d be nice.

it’s nice to see there are some stands being taken- the u.s. olympic team elected lopez lomong to carry the flag during opening the ceremony. lomong is one of the lost boys of sudan who became an american citizen last year. he is also a member of team darfur, which was founded by joey cheek and brad greiner. cheek made the news this week when china revoked his visa, no doubt because of his vocal criticism about china’s involvement with sudan. cheek was interviewed by the huffington post, encouraging the team darfur athletes who made it inside china. when asked about his feelings about his visa being revoked, cheek said:

They gave me a visa, let me have it for a month, and then, 24 hours before my flight, they yanked it from me. It was kind of ridiculous and petty. And it speaks to a broader problem. They’re so desperate to have the Games look like their version of a success that they would threaten anyone who says something they don’t like. This is the story in general. It’s not just about my visa. We’ve heard tales from other members of Team Darfur whose embassies have been approached by the Chinese. If they stay a part of the team, they’ll be treated as suspect individuals, scrutinized, receive extra security, be threatened with heavy handed tactics. And this is all over. It’s not just the Beijing officials, but the IOC [International Olympics Committee] and sponsors are being complicit in this. That’s something that needs to be responded to.

there’s a lot of money at stake for china, the IOC, the sponsors, and so on. they don’t want anything to spoil the party.

“but this is for the chinese people to be proud as a nation.” the whole, theme of china’s coming out into the modern era like it’s some sort of right. this argument does stick with me somewhat- because i know the average chinese citizen has every right to be proud that their nation is hosting the olympics, and that the world is looking at them in a somewhat positive light. the chinese government, however, has done nothing they promised and instead of truly modernising china to the benefit of its citizens, they have spent lots of money to put a nice shine on the event, though the infrastructure may be rotten. the birds nest stadium is stunning, but why didn’t they actually try to tackle the pollution problem earnestly, rather than performing some superficial changes weeks before the games which don’t solve anything, other than hurting beijing residents? the new subway system was a great start, but they could have really done some great things to tackle congestion but dropped the ball. (i’ve had to read a lot about china’s transportation issues in regards to the olympics, that’s a whole other monster.) when china was first awarded the olympics, they promised they would work to improve human rights issues. instead amnesty international reported that human rights have gotten worse as a result. the country has become more severe and paranoid, and the world let’s it behave as such.

it’s sad because normal spectators are unable to watch at the games, making it unlike any olympics in recent years. maybe it’s a sign that the ioc and china deserve each other for being so unconcerned with humanity. the chinese government, i would expect this from. the ioc is supposed to be better than that though.

of course all of this ignores what’s going on in south ossetia.

Gay marriage and my rights to a civil union

California Attorney General Jerry Brown created a good stir this week when he changed the wording of Proposition 8. Previously it “had been described as a measure to limit marriage between a man and a woman.” Now, it states “the initiative as a constitutional change to eliminate the right of same sex couples to marry.”

Prop. 8 backers are now going to sue over the change. Am I surprised? No. Am I annoyed? Deeply. I really want to see Prop. 8 fail. I applaud Brown for making the issue explicitly about civil rights- it’s not about protecting straight marriages, it’s about denying people the right to marry. Fundamentally that is wrong, and I would hate to see the state constitution explicitly diminish any groups civil rights. It also upsets me because it would retain a largely religious definition of marriage that isn’t entirely based on reason. Not exactly separation of church and state. So the will of the majority (and their beliefs) get to impinge on a minority. Fantastic. On the flip side, I know people who will claim their beliefs against gay marriage have nothing to do with religion, rather they’re “not natural” and ignore “procreation”. Hmm, so does that mean only people willing to have kids can be married? And what about gay couples who adopt or have a child? Really a marriage is just a contract between two people and society. This idea of a contract was central to women’s liberation in Victorian Britain, and it’s something that I think people can’t ignore. Why do gays want to be married? They want all the security provided through the marriage contract. How is that going to harm heterosexual marriage?

If there was a true state contract, removed from any cultural or religious values, allowing couples to enter a strictly civil union, then I would be for it. California has the Domestic Partnership law, which grants same sex couples and straight couples where one member is over the age of 62 a contract that allows them to most of the rights of marriage. What about straight couples where both members are under the age of 62? Oh, we can get married. What if we’re opposed to marriage because it’s definitions are bigoted and tied to religious beliefs? Then you’re screwed.

I’ve been entertaining the idea of a civil union for years now, and I can’t do it. Of course I’m too stubborn to cave in to the terrible definition of marriage we have today- I’d rather not compromise my values. (This might not be fair to my other half.) Will the world end because of this? No. Is it silly? Yes. I’m starting to feel that I might have to fight for my right to domestic partnership if Prop. 8 passes, because then I surely wouldn’t want to be married in the state of California.

500 starbucks to close? big deal.

it’s been amusing to me how many people are talking about the starbucks slated to be closed in this country. you’d think the sky was falling. i suppose it’s because starbucks brought a sense of quality to the masses, but seriously- i’d be surprised if there weren’t small, local coffee joints that are comparable (if not better) around. one of the starbucks on the list is my local one in berkeley, that i think i might have been to a couple of times. i can think of three other local coffee shops within two blocks of it, all of which i visit semi-regularly. i know in the bay area this is easy, but it’s sticking to some sort of principle. hell, i try to avoid peets because even though they are local, i can tell they have starbucks-like aspirations and their coffee’s just not that good.

for coffee, my favourite beans still come from boulevard coffee in carmichael. (95608!) my parents only drank boulevard coffee at home for good reason- it’s great. i know the roaster is obsessed with quality and freshness and it translates into what he sells. (i also worked there before going to berkeley.) when i buy boulevard coffee for people, they’re always surprised with how good it is. i know there are some other local roasters who care just as much, and they aren’t peets. blue bottle’s a little insane though.

the real thing bugging me about the starbucks people, is that these are the same folks who like shopping/eating locally. starbucks is anything but that. stop talking about sustainability and helping the local economy, and actually find the local roaster and support them. starbucks is really not that good.

the real american hero


yesterday the u.s. men’s national team held argentina to a 0-0 draw. who was the man of the day? not landon donovan, who earned his 100th cap in the match. tim howard. who? the u.s. goal keeper who also plays for everton. of course i’m biased, but he’s my favourite player on the american team. of course it’s annoying that donovan’s mere act of showing up to play is making more news than howard’s performance, but it shouldn’t surprise anybody. oh well.

a woman’s work…

so clinton finally dropped out and endorsed obama. good. now the real campaign can begin. on wednesday, after it was clear she was going to drop out, one of my students was pretty bummed out by clinton leaving the race. she was a passionate clinton supporter, and was a bit confused why i didn’t support her. i remember talking about it in february before the primary here. she wanted to know who i planned on voting for, and i told her it would probably be obama since edwards dropped out.

“why not hillary?”
“i don’t really like her.”
“why not? you’re a woman.”
“yeah, but i don’t trust her.”

and it’s true- i still don’t really trust her. one thing that really boils my blood is when people assume we should support somebody for their gender alone. it’s pretty amazing that a woman made it this far in the primary, just as amazing as a black man becoming a presidential candidate. but should somebody be elected purely on their gender or the colour of their skin? no. ideally, it would be on shared values and principals. now, clinton wasn’t a devil or anything like that, but she seemed hell bent on being elected and seemed to lose connection with the people. she doesn’t haven the charm or charisma of her husband, but who does, but the way they ran their campaign was sort of the nail in the coffin for me. was i swept up with obamania? maybe, but he definitely seems more in line with my philosophies. the whole gas tax thing sort of sealed the deal for me- clinton’s, and mccain’s, proposal is totally irresponsible and will only worsen the situation. of course obama’s answer wasn’t comforting, but it’s the truth. i’d rather suffer in the short term and work towards a better future than bury our heads in the sand and hope everything is ok.

all right. i need a brownie.

always in love with the big four

AJ calls it!
i’m not talking about that big four, but rather this big four. this morning on espn first take they had america’s leading football commentator, tommy smyth, on to discuss the premier league and how it’s different than american sports. first of all- smyth is an idiot and despised by most football/soccer fans. the segment only discussed the big four since they all met up this weekend. the only highlights they showed where from this weekends match ups between arsenal and chelsea and manchester utd. and liverpool. (it’s always nice to liverpool play terribly.) then they just showed the standing of the top four teams without points, which makes it look like liverpool’s hanging with the other three. of course, being a pseudo-toffee, i was miffed because looking at the standings, the kopshite are 8 points behind arsenal and only 2 points ahead everton- their place at fourth is less than assured. (it’s also remarkable how arsenal has tumbled.) did smyth say anything about that? no. he made it seem like liverpool were on par with chelsea and arsenal and that manchester utd. was just like the yankees- better than god and no pitch outside of old trafford is worthy of them. it’s crap, really.

he also tried to explain the concept of promotion and relegation, which mystified jay crawford. if american sports had that system, the kansas city royals would be gone, and probably the knicks as well. relegation is nasty- just look at sheffield wednesday.

moral of the story- tommy smyth is an big fat moron, and everton are better than liverpool.

[tags]english premiers league, tommy smyth, espn first take, liverpool, everton[/tags]

stuff white people like

here’s a blog linked on metafilter that made me chuckle many time- stuff white people like. the funny thing is- i don’t think the items listed are exclusively for white people, rather indie hipster, yuppies, and anybody who listens to npr could be on this list. it just so happens that that demographic is mostly white people. (though in the bay area, there are lots of other people included as well.)

what do white people like? they like driving the prius, owning lots of kitchen gadgets, sarah silverman, irony, owning as manyapple computer products as they can, eating at breakfast places, watching the daily show/colbert report (only if they have a tv), smoking marijuana, dancing at 80s nights, reading david sedaris, drinking wine or microbrews, working for non-profits, watching wes anderson films, shopping at farmers markets, and going to film festivals.

wow. i know so many people who fit that description, it’s scary.

of course, i shop at wholefoods, listen to public radio (though i hate ira glass and terry gross), listen to some indie music, own the arrested development dvds, am vegan, and drink too much coffee. i’m so white! anyhow… i’m going to go watch a netflix.

hot sauce hogs – perhaps a deeper meaning

ok, so my issues with people who hoarde the hot sauce has already been documented, but it’s really been nagging me recently. here’s my conclusion: people who take the communal bottle of hot sauce back to their table and leave it there are inherent solipsists and ass holes, perhaps with republican or big-l libertarian leanings.

are you a hot sauce hog? do you steal away the tabasco sauce because you’re too inconsiderate to let other diners partake in the spicy goodness? if you are, then you seriously suck. i mean, really, it’s like not tipping your delivery man after he carries your fancy hd tv to your upstairs apartment. (ok, that’s a poor allusion, but you get the gist.) essentially, my issue is that people who do take the hot sauce (or ketchup/mustard/some other condiment) back to their table for their sole enjoyment are placing their needs above the needs of the community. do they have a responsibility to the other diners of the establishment? i would say yes, insofar as they expect the right to use the sauce when they see fit- others should also be afforded the right. if you are somebody so concerned about not having enough hot sauce every instance you need it, don’t hog the bottle- carry your own around! clearly your needs are so special that normal access will not be sufficient.

or screw over everybody else. i seriously think that if you are a hot sauce hog (especially a smug, liberal one), you have a major mark against your character and it will be hard for me to regard you as anything more than a scoundrel and a jerk. dramatic? sure. but i have my principles.

top bassist? my ass!!!

when i was just a kid, i had two main idols for bass playing- john entwistle and jack bruce. i would add in john paul jones, but i really have a thing against jimmy page and robert plant, so i couldn’t give zepplin the credit. i understood why people liked jaco, victor wooten, or les claypool, though i personally thought their styles were a little wanky and the music sucked. i did have aspirations to play like bootsy collins, james jamerson, or duck dunn, but their music wasn’t loud enough.

i’m watching vh1 classic’s rock band countdown of top bassists. here’s the list:

10. steve harris from iron maiden.
9. geezer butler from black sabbath.
8. les claypool of primus.
7. john paul jones of led zepplin.
6. flea from red hot chili peppers.
4. paul mccartney.
3. geddy lee from rush. (robojoe’s favourite band.)
2. chris squire from yes.
1. john entwistle from the who.

.

i know you expect a rant, so here it is:

paul mccartney at no. 4? are they smoking crack? i understand vh1 is extremely deferential to sir paul (as is the world), but i wouldn’t count him as one of the best bass players in rock music. his bass lines were rarely adventurous or revolutionary. it seems to be more of the same old beatle ass kissing, though you would never see ringo on a list of the best rock drummers (except for maybe a filling out no. 10), nor would you see george harrison on the best rock guitarists, even though he was great. no, it’s got to be hammy mcham, “pull me-cock-off”, the biggest sap in the music industry- paul fucking mccartney. i was ready to call his placement the biggest blight on the list until squire was named no. 2 and panicked that enwistle might be left off, but it was for naught. so i can save all my indignation for that gormless tit from merseyside. ugh!!!

i don’t really like most of the people on the list, but paul mccartney is just bang out of order. i don’t necessarily think entwistle deserves to be no. 1, but he definitely should be above sir paul, so that’s something.

[tags]bassists, paul mccartney, john entwistle, vh1classic[/tags]

grade dullard

i just got my grades for the quarter- they were completely respectable and not as bad i thought they would be. one of my graduating classmates just posted her grades from her entire transcript at drexel on her blog, and it struck me as odd. her blog is a quasi-professional blog in that she focuses on aspects of the library profession, not her personal life. i suppose library school grades fall under that scope, but it also seems tacky to me. i have complained about grade greedy people in the past, but i think i should add grade dullards to the list of annoyances as well. i feel sort of grinch like for saying that, because grade dullards are usually benign and just giving you an update and not trying to boast too much. but it also seems like posting your income or waving your dick out in public- too much information only done by arrogant people.

it’s like that for people who want to tell you about their school in too much detail. not just the relatable items- my group sucks, my professor did this, and so on- but going into detail about the material. i feel bad when i think i’m treading into that territory. i wouldn’t talk about networking with people who didn’t know anything about it, nor have i graced non-library folk with my deep thoughts about controlled vocabularies and taxonomies. (i love you all too much.) the people who would do those things are the same people who would be grade dullards. i’d like to say to them, “your enthusiasm is great, but you sound like a dullard and most people don’t care.” that’s not very nice, i suppose. (if i’m being a dull arse about library stuff, tell me to knock it off.)

i know my dad still wants to know my transcript from cal, but that won’t happen. i hate telling people my grades. i hate people telling me their grades, unless i ask.

[tags]grades, students, arrogance, narcissism[/tags]

you think i’m jaded?

for some reason, people have been calling me jaded a lot recently. robojoe was the most recent person to say that when i didn’t seem enthusiastic enough about the american experience about the first transatlantic telegraph cable. i really enjoyed the program and was quite eager to talk about victorian innovation, but apparently it wasn’t enough.

usually when people call me jaded it’s in regards to music or politics. i will concede that i might be more weary and less optimistic than lots of people when it comes to politics- i can’t feign enthusiasm for anybody (but gordon brown) when no politician (but gordon brown) seems to actually care about helping their constituents.  (i’m not entirely serious about gordon brown, but you get the point.) when people accuse me of being jaded with music… well…

that’s more outrageous to me. am i well versed in lots of different genres? i work on it. am i overly cranky about the flavour-of-the-month? only when that flavour is all style and little to no substance. i think a lot of this crankiness stems from having seen it all before (ok, that sounds jaded). i know the what’s hot changes from season to season, but after a few years you can see the trends of what people flock to. you shouldn’t hate a band because it’s hot in brooklyn and on pitchfork, but that also doesn’t mean you should blindly like it. whatever. i’ve whined about all this crap before. the point is- if people like music, they like music. it shouldn’t be a big deal if somebody else doesn’t like that music. robojoe doesn’t like sido at all, but that’s ok. i don’t love tupac. i can’t get overly happy about operation ivy, but i also can’t too angry at the ignorant masses who refuse to admit that sweet baby is the best band ever.

opinions are like assholes- everybody has one. what sparked this new version of the same old rant? andrew balazs of backseat driver just discovered my rant about the 40th anniversary of sgt. peppers and decided to “school” me. he didn’t appreciate my opinion that pete townshend was a better song writer than lennon or mccartney. i guess he couldn’t argue with ray davies, so we’ll just take it as fact that the kinks were better than the beatles. so, mr. balazs, let me thank you for leaving such a colourful comment. it’s clear to me that you like the beatles, a lot.
i was like that when i was 13. i’d listen to revolver (yeah, i’ve heard it and own it) and rubber soul ad nauseum. i remember when my bff jill and i would have monthly viewings of help! and a hard day’s night, complete with voodoo burnings of paul mccartney’s picture. (sounds immature, doesn’t it?) one great thing about the beatles’ catalog only being recorded in 8 years, is that you can really listen to every song. i did. some were good, many were ok, and some where terrible. i know i’m not the only person to think that, but i also know lots of people will want to tar and feather me. isn’t that right, mr. balazs? of the songs you suggest i listen to, here’s what i think:

  • Blue Jay Way – a good attempt for psychedelia, but overall the song is rather self indulgent and extremely dated in a bad way.
  • I’m Only Sleeping – not terrible, but certainly not the best song on revolver. i’d much prefer “and your bird can sing”.
  • Don’t Let Me Down – terrible. not a gem of a b-side at all.
  • Michelle – one of the most boring pop songs in the history of the world. another snoozer.  slow and dull. i really hate this song. if i’m listening to rubber soul, i’d rather head “wait” or  actually any other song on that album (save for “drive my car”).
  • Tomorrow Never Knows – another terribly dated song. not completely horrible, but not worth listening to a bunch. good thing it’s at the end of a side.
  • Your Mother Should Know – another example of pure mccartney cack. thinking about it now, there’s not much redeemable about magicla mystery tour, is there? maybe the bonzo dog band?
  • A Day in the Life – i like this song every so often, and it’s one of the better songs on sgt. pepper, but it’s also complete nonsense. don’t act like it isn’t.
  • The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill – meh. it’s ok. it’s one of the more forgettable songs on the white album. i mean, it’s not as good as “while my guitar gently weeps” or “don’t pass me by”.

so there you have it. i might be jaded, but it’s not because i don’t like the beatles. the beatles were an important gateway into british invasion music for me. they just got dull, but so did most things after 1966. so i don’t have a problem with people still worshiping the beatles. i have a problem with people blindly worshiping the beatles, ignoring other bands from the era. the who were doing pretty revolutionary stuff with their arrangements, but i’m not sure mr. balazs has actually heard all their songs. and as far as musical arranging and rhythm goes, pete townshend was much more interesting/compelling than lennon mccartney. (i say this as somebody who like to rock.) blah. i need my shot.

in closing- the beatles aren’t pure crap, but they still aren’t as good as people make them out to be, in my opinion. the kinks are now officially the best band from britain. these are my opinions, and if you’re too insecure for that, go ahead and moan about me being jaded. sweet baby may not actually be the best band ever, but neither is operation ivy. (it’s probably actually the hi-fives.)

[tags]opinions, music, the beatles, rants[/tags]