Tuesday, March 30, 2010

A Journey To The Moon... of Motherfucking Saturn

Since I haven't been doing shit on this blarhg recently, I thought I'd post some links to some really cool shit that isn't music or video game related (mainly because I don't feel like researching anything I don't already know a lot about). Anyone like sci-fi novels? Not like turdy little whizbang fests such as "Sphere" or anything. I mean like Asimov or James Blish. If you have no idea what the difference is, do yourself a huuuuge favor, and download these books.

Click to download

There should be four books in this download, and together they make up the Hyperion Cantos Saga. Here is proof that sci-fi isn't all just spaceships and aliens and laser guns. It can be pretty beautiful when it wants to be. For instance, Simmons is a HUGE fan of Keats, and that becomes apparent early in the first novel. So to all those who say that sci-fi novels aren't real literature, I pose the following question: Can your favorite antagonist ride the currents of time and cause people to hallucinate and impale people on his/her spiky tree to suffer for all eternity? Okay... while I may not have made the point I was trying to, I certainly made a pretty awesome one. Read these books, or the Shrike will find you and... well you'll see.

Also: Interesting tidbit... the main antagonist in these novels is named after an unusual bird of prey that doesn't hunt its meals. It straight up MURDERS them. See below for a more thorough explanation.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

This Sounds A Bit Like Goodbye

Alex Chilton died last night. I'm pretty bummed out about it. I sort of don't even really feel like writing this, but it seems like a nice thing to do for the dude that got me back into music again.

So Big Star were my Beatles or Stones. The only other band I've ever liked that much is Bright Eyes, and to be honest, I really don't think I'd care that much if I heard that Conor Oberst died last night. I'd be a little sad, but I'd forget about it within the hour. Definitely not the case here. I'm actually sort of surprised as to how upset about this I am. My whole day has been mopey bum-fuckery since I found out.

For the past couple of years, I've been steadily amassing a collection of records with which Chilton was involved to sort of pay homage to Big Star, and you can bet that's pretty much over. Their records were pricey when Chilton was alive, and the bids are already starting to creep up on eBay. And unlike Michael Jackson's stuff, I'm assuming that these prices will remain firmly parked at the "sky high" level. I'm usually a fan of sniffing out hard-to-find gems for cheap, but with this band, I just wanted as many little pieces as I could get my hands on of the history of what was, in my opinion, the most important pop group of all time.

Tuesday, as I drove home, I was thinking about how great it was that I could see a Big Star show pretty much whenever if I felt like driving far enough. That's over now too. And right now I'm trying to listen to Radio City, and it's just making me sad. Hopefully that goes away soon. God, I feel like I'm a kid and someone just told me there's no such thing as Santa. This is the most affected I've ever been by the death of a (semi) celebrity.

Anyway, enough with the oh-well-Pooh-ing. Here's a video of a senator for whom I now have much more respect, and some downloads in case you don't know Big Star well enough to be sad about this. I WILL NOT MOPE ALONE, MOTHERFUCKERS.

First, the video:
Click Here
(sorry, can't embed)

Now, the music (click the album cover to download a record):

Number One Record: Big Star's first record. A little more mainstream. A probable thumbs-up for lovers of classic rock in general.

Radio City: Big Star's second record, recorded without the help of guitarist Chris Bell, who was institutionalized at the time. First signs of the awesomeness that was to come are shown in this record.

Third (or) Sister Lovers: Same record released under two different titles. This is easily the most beautiful record I've ever heard. I know it's a stupid cliché, but this record was WAY ahead of its time. Kangaroo is one of the prettiest songs I've ever heard.

I really wanted to post their latest album (entitled "In Space", which I think is a reference to a record put out by another one of my favorite bands - The Ventures), but I couldn't find it during a fairly extensive Google search. It's too bad, because nobody ever talks about that record, and it is GREAT. Three times I've listened to features about this band on NPR, and not once did they mention the fact that the band reunited and released a record of entirely new material in 2005. Maybe I'll set up a computer with a sound card and rip my vinyl copy to post on here this weekend.

Alex Chilton, I'm very sad that you died. I'm gonna go get drunk in your honor.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Dear Parking Nazi

I hate parking tickets. I know that most people hate parking tickets, but I hate them A LOT. Anyone living in Chicago knows what assholes the "meter maids" (and I use this term pointedly) can be. They hand tickets and boots out with an unbridled passion that seems not to fit the context. You're not researching genetically modified crops and singlehandedly feeding Africa. You're not painting the fog over London at dusk. You're handing out parking tickets. AND everybody hates you.

Despite the risk of actually egging on the issuance of a parking ticket to my plate number, I decided that I dislike being irritated by the apparent lack of discretion used when charging people what seems to be a standard $50+ for any parking violation, regardless of location or degree of severity. I've recently realized that if I make a situation funny by being an asshole, my anger appears to pretty much disappear. For instance, I temp at a Nestle` plant here in Illinois, and the woman for whom I'm filling in has her walls/desk/everything in her office short of the dust plastered with "inspirational" quotes so sappy that even the cleverest de-motivational calendar couldn't have counteracted their sickening after-school-special grade vapidness. Things like "the only job where you start at the top is digging a hole" and "when someone shares something with you and you benefit from it, you have a moral obligation to share it with others". She even has a bulleted list tacked onto a cork board entitled "12 Proven Ways To Get Along Better With Everyone", and from what I hear, this lady may benefit from reading her own ridiculous list. These types of things burn me up. It may seem like an insignificant thing to get so upset about, but I really think that quotes are detrimental to our culture, especially since they've become so damned popular in offices (where groupthink is mostly what you see from one end of the cubicle rows to the other). They generally offer only a fragment of a much more in-depth story, and it is therefore extremely easy to manipulate the meanings of their words. You can very effortlessly make it look like a famous and/or credible person agrees with you on an issue to which they were actually strongly opposed. "United we stand" is often chanted by politicians and... well, there's no nice way to say this, so... rednecks alike to show their distaste for political dissent directed at the moral majority. That quote (uttered by Abraham Lincoln - see what I mean about attaching a name to an idea to give it credibility?) is in no way relevant to our current situation. It's about civil fucking war. They should be shouting it IN Iraq instead of ABOUT it. Or in any of the other many many places where it's relevant, which does not include our extremely well-off, non-war-torn country. I really think quotes are for idiots most of the time.

So to save my sanity, I discreetly put up a couple of my own quotes, sort of shoved in between the ones that were already there. One was from Tom Cruise, so you probably already have an idea as to what sort of comedic value the posting of these quotes may have. It read as follows:

"You don't know placentas. I do. I've studied placentas. I know dozens of ways to prepare them. I know what wines go with them. What do you know?" -Tom Cruise

The other was from the reigning king of crazy, the great Gary Busey. It read as follows:

"...your shadow, the dark side. C.G. Hume writes about it, in terms of the fact that every one of us has a dark side. And my dark side, my shadow, my lower companion is now in the back room blowing up balloons for kids' parties." -Gary Busey.

To my surprise, my mornings improved drastically.

Now back to the parking issue. In this situation, I applied a tactic similar to the one mentioned above, and I present it to you now so that you too may enjoy in the legible and ineffectual bitch-slappery of one of the least important legal officials in the entire world. I hope reading it is as vindicating for you as writing it was for me.