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Sunday, September 10, 2006

Broncos v/ Rams: Story of the First Half

The prescription drugs aren’t dulling this pain. The only thing keeping Denver in this game through the first half is defense; the three turnovers--an idiot throw from Plummer resulting in an interception, a soft fumble by Tatum Bell, and a more understandable fumble by Plummer--has resulted in just nine points for the Rams. Shanahan, who hates unforced errors and sloppy performance, must be fuming right now. His team looks in no way prepared for this game.

To the point of this writing, three of the four first half Broncos’ possessions have resulted in turnovers. Even if the Broncos find a way to win the game, that is a big time losing statistic. Losing starting jobs, losing composure, losing most games by far more than nine points. That the Broncos are still “in” this game is a tribute to a defense that has come up big when it needed to and a Rams team that hasn’t executed as well as it should have.

The Broncos could still win this game, but it would be something like a miracle. Not a raising the dead miracle; more like a turning water into wine miracle.

I like Vicodin.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

The Things You Learn

The things I learned about my local hospital after spending 8 hours in the emergency room.

  1. The professional staff at my local hospital are tremendous. They are, almost to a person, thoughtful, polite, informative, and willing to smile and laugh if you give them an excuse. The nurses, technician, and doctor that took care of me last night were great.
  2. The best drugs in the world are in the hospital.
  3. Little “rocks” rattling around in your urinary tract are painful. Really, really painful.
  4. Which is what you learn right before you learn that bit about the drugs.
  5. I suppose I should try to figure out where that Kaiser card is…
  6. When you aren’t sure what the problem is and the doctor gives you a list of the possibilities, the worst of the possibilities is the one you think of most. In this case, it was the thought of cancer, even though the doctor said that it was most likely either little rocks rattling around my urinary tract or an infection around intestines. Given my age and my health history, the doctor said it was highly unlikely that I had cancer and not particularly likely that I had the infection (diverticulitis). Still…
  7. When I lay down to let them do the CAT scan, suddenly it was only the cancer that filled my mind.
  8. It’s common to complain about the American health care system, and I admit that I have only a passing familiarty, but the times that I have been in hospitals I have always been impressed by the knowledge and capabilities of the professionals that take care of me.

So, today I am thankful that the problem is minor, and pissy that the problem is causing me this irritating, dull pain that is happily seeping past the wall of drugs that I took this morning.

Ugh.

Friday, September 08, 2006

The Vorpal Frisbee Went Snicker-Snack!

When speaking of Robotic Frisbees of Death, I have only one question: where’s mine?

That’s so freakin’ cool.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

The UN Sucks at Standup Comedy

UN-screwtheworld.jpg

I can only imagine that the members of the United Nations are joking when they, essentially, say that Iran has violated the international body’s dictates in one of the world’s most pressing security issues, but, gee, they shouldn’t actually be punished or forced into compliance.

“There was a common analysis on where we were. The (IAEA) report made clear that Iran has not met the requirements of the Security Council and the IAEA,” said a senior European Union diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said Iran was still producing uranium fuel up to an August 31 deadline set by Security Council resolution 1696.

“We had a first discussion of next steps in the Security Council following the lines of resolution 1696,” he said.

The resolution said sanctions could follow if Iran failed to meet the deadline, but the diplomat declined to say whether there was any consensus on what next steps should be taken and when. Talks between the powers will continue next week, he said.

The diplomat said all countries hoped Iran would suspend enrichment and begin negotiations on a package of incentives the six powers offered to Iran in June.

“The door remains open to Iran,” he said.

See, this is funny stuff--if by funny you mean not something that’s bound to make me life in this lifetime. And it makes me think that the UN should get entirely out of the stand up comedy business.

On this wildly important issue, the major world powers all agree on two things: first, that Iran should not have access to nuclear weapons, and, second, that Iran is doing everything possible to gain the technology to begin manufacturing of nuclear weapons. Then, after agreeing on these two very important facts, these powers have tacitly agreed to dance around the subject, make all the right diplomatic noises, and accomplish precisely nothing while waiting for what would then seem to be inevitable: a nuclear Iran.

The powers that are stonewalling even basic sanctions against Iran are, in a very real sense, complicit in Iran’s growing nuclear potential.

Why is this a big deal? Consider that the non-nuclear Iran is already funding the insurgency in Iraq. The non-nuclear Iran is funding and supplying terrorists in Lebanon. A non-nuclear Iran is already a force destabilizing the region; now imagine the kinds of acts that their government would carry out if they had nuclear weapons on their side.

A nuclear Iran would accomplish two things: it would make a shooting war more likely by pushing the United States into a war to protect vital national security interests and it would practically guaranty our failure in Iraq. An emboldened nuclear Iran would first strike out at Iraq and, at very least, continue pushing to start a civil war; the efforts would just be more overt and aggressive in nature. It would also be emboldened to provide groups like Hezbollah with even more in the way of aid and equipment. The idea of Iran slipping a little nuclear weapon into a terrorist’s hands in hopes that the weapon would be used against either an Israeli or American target is terrifying.

If you believe the Middle East is a mess right now, imagine what it would look like if a nuclear weapon hit an American Embassy in North Africa or somewhere in Jerusalem. Or London or Madrid or New York, for that matter. The prospect of a broad and bloody war--something that would make Iraq look like a playful romp in the sand by comparison--would grow tremendously with a nuclear Iran. And the further that Iran would push its influence, even without the storm of a nuclear terrorist attack on a major target, the more likely the United States or Israel will find it to react aggressively.

The best way to avoid something truly horrific would be to ensure that Iran doesn’t reach nuclear capability. It’s an unstable country with an irrational government; the idea of a nuclear Iran should make anyone uneasy, especially given the United States’ current commitments in the region.

Read the story.

Speaking of Music (Because We Were You Know)

One of ResurrectionSong’s regular visitors has started a brand new site of her own, Hathor - Sekhmet. You probably won’t recognize her because she’s writing under another name (and, no, I ain’t tellin’wink.

Now, the important bit.

Visit her, dig the drums, and welcome her to her new home. I love drums.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Questionable Taste: A Young Man’s Musical Follies

You now know me as a music snob giant. I have a music collection that humbles all but the most impressive collectors, I look down on lesser mortals in the realization that my taste in music is far better than theirs and probably more obscure, too. I am pretty damned cool.

It was not always so. While I rarely feel the need to apologize in public, I must admit to these musical sins. They have weighed on me for years--indeed, there have been times when I listen to Woven Hand or Belly where I have felt like a fraud. I have worn the mask of music snob, but behind the disguise lurks an uncouth man with a taste for cheese.

This is where I apologize for my errors and where, in the tradition of useless apologies from American public figures, I hope we can just move on.*

  1. Barry Manilow
    It was 1977 and I was just a small boy and through some trick or machination I had earned enough money to buy my very first album. Did I buy AC/DC’s Let There Be Rock, presaging the bulk of my high school musical taste? Of course not. How about David Bowie’s “Heroes", an even better indicator of the directions my musical tastes would lead me? Nope. How about something by The Clash or The Damned--first albums that would have cemented my musical coolness forever.

    No.

    I went for Barry Manilow Live. Instead of howling the lines from “Heroes” or “London’s Burning”, I sang along with “Weekend in New England” and “I Write the Songs”. I’m pretty sure that this lapse in taste went on my permanent record.
  2. Laura Branigan
    I was blinded by her beauty. Or, maybe, it was deafened by her beauty. Because, for one moment in high school I thought that her voice was a beautiful instrument. One taste now of “How Am I Supposed to Live Without You” is enough to set my teeth on edge. The syrupy lyrics, the irritating voice, the bland production.

    I feel guilty singling her out--it feels as if I’m attacking the deceased--but honesty compels me.
  3. Cinderella
    I listened to Ozzy and Sabbath and Priest. I loved Metallica and Megadeth. But then there was that hair metal moment where I thought that maybe Whitesnake wasn’t so bad (I blame Tawny Kitain strategically placed on a Jaguar) and the Cinderella actually had something to offer the music world.

    In fact, this isn’t strictly about Cinderella. It’s about every hair metal band and treakly power ballad that I ever loved. It’s about imagining that “Nobody’s Fool” was actually in some way related to heavy metal and that “Don’t Know What You Got (Til It’s Gone)” really wasn’t anything other than a cliche set to mediocre music. This is for every Ratt song that I tortured my parents with and every Bon Jovi song that wasn’t on the Young Guns soundtrack.
  4. REO Speedwagon
    It hit me when I accidentally listened to “Can’t Fight This Feeling”: holy crap, this band sucks. Then I searched and listened to more from the inexplicably sizable REO catalog, and I realized that they were one of those bands that thrives on mediocrity. They weren’t precisely bad (although a few minutes spent with “Here With Me” might convince you otherwise), they were just not really so good.

    I’ll admit that I can still listen to “Take it on the Run” or  “Time for Me to Fly”, but it’s only with a certain sense of cynical joy, a knowing smile, and a shake of the head. I can’t even work up that much enthusiasm for “Riding the Storm Out.” Like Gilligan’s Island, REO is just another memory betrayed by revisiting the reality.
  5. Genesis
    It wasn’t all bad for Genesis, but after the prog rock sound of “The Chamber of 32 Doors” and “Visions of Angels” came the Phil Collins years. Whatever good will those early years may have called up was destroyed by “There Must be Some Misunderstanding” and “Tonight, Tonight, Tonight”. The transformation of the band from one sound to the other is almost as dramatic as Ministry’s drift from light euro-pop into the world of industrial throb--but not as successful.

    I can still listen to “Abacab” but it is hard to forgive “Follow You, Follow Me.” It was a slow descent from progressive to banal, but they made it so completely that their later work overshadows the earlier stuff in the worst possible way.
  6. Styx
    Aside from “Too Much Time on My Hands”, there is nothing from the Styx catalog that I can still listen to. The thing is, though, that putting them on the list almost feels like a mistake. Sure, “Babe” and “Lady” are ridiculous, “Come Sail Away” and “The Best of Times” suffer from serious over-exposure, and “Mr. Roboto” sounds so dated as to be almost unlistenable; but the band was actually good. Even though I can’t listen to them anymore, I’m not sure they count as embarrassing.
    Update: On the advice of Mr. Lady, I link up someone who might not agree with my thoughts on the subject. It’s a good read.
  7. Kansas
    I don’t ever need to hear “Carry On Wayward Son” again; it’s so burned into my brain that I’ll probably hear it in some hellish medley of overplayed songs when I die. It will have a place by “Smoke on the Water”, “Stairway to Heaven”, and “Dust in the Wind” in tortuously ushering me to my final reward. The people around me will be weeping, somehow imagining that I fear that final step; in reality, the tears will be because those overplayed songs keep going round and round in my head with no sign of stopping.

    The Cosmic DJ has a nasty sense of humor.

    Aside from “Carry On”, Kansas was best known for another (previously mentioned) wildly overplayed song, “Dust in the Wind”. Aside from those tidbits, this pretentious band put out a bunch of laughable, overwrought songs like “Cheyenne Anthem” and the irritating “Point of No Return”. I used to like this band?
  8. John Denver
    Yet again, I find myself speaking ill of the dead. My biggest problem with Denver has nothing to do with his musicianship. Indeed, a listen to “Annie’s Song” proves that he had a beautiful voice and knew how to write songs.

    No, my problem with Denver’s music revolves around that overbearing sense of sincerity that surrounds almost all of his songs. That sort of 70’s era Alan Alda sensitive guy gaze brought laboriously to an album filled with things like the hokey “Leaving on a Jet Plane” and painfully bland “Sunshine on My Shoulders”. It’s only when Denver let loose on “Thank God I’m a Country Boy” where he still sounds good to me. A few notes of “I’m Sorry”, though, and all goodwill is shattered.

    I spent a good portion of my youth with John Denver. My parents listened to Simon & Garfunkel, Neil Diamond, Abba, John Denver, and the Carpenters almost exclusively. In a way, that makes this more about their taste than about mine, but it stayed with me long enough that I feel some of the shame.
  9. Yes
    I still like “Owner of a Lonely Heart”, but that is hardly representative of the bulk of the Yes catalog. I embraced Yes for a few years--a late convert convinced by songs like “Shoot Hight, Aim Low” and “Owner of a Lonely Heart”. It was almost unfair, really, both to me and the band. Because those songs sounded almost nothing like “Starship Trooper” and “I’ve Seen All Good People” (a song that, while I’m listening, I’m pretty sure will never actually end). Prog rock fans will always love Yes, but I’m not really a prog rock fan.

    Mudhoney had a song on the Singles soundtrack whose title pretty much sums up my feelings about Yes. That song was called “Overblown.”
  10. The Doors
    I loved the doors. I really did. Jim Morrison had me convinced that he was a (dead) tragic hero with an artistic vision that towered over pretty much all of his contemporaries. And I can still handle “Roadhouse Blues” and “People are Strange”. The rest of their songs run somewhere between overplayed and overdone.

    On some of their songs, the sense of self-importance and pretentiousness piled up on idiotic lyrics and lounge act keyboards are laughable. “The Changeling” and “L’America” for example. What I thought was meaningful turned out to be an extra-special dose of a junkie’s narcissism; The Doors may well be my nomination for most overrated band of all time, surviving only because they can tap into either nostalgia or that sense of reality distortion that exists in our teenage years--where “The End” has a spoken word interlude that might actually seem meaningful.

    Of course, teen years lead up to, hopefully, adulthood where we can all sit back and giggle at the drama queen that was Jim Morrison.

Dishonorable Almost-Mentions

Metallica and Queensryche

Both bands, on the weakness of their recent albums almost made the list. Only a few albums stand between the Ryche and me being embarrassed to admit that they have a place in my CD collection. Rage for Order and Mindcrime will always hold a place in my heart--even when I’m grimacing over Q2K and Tribe.

For Metallica, it is impossible to ignore their contribution to heavy metal. They were a brilliant, loud, fast, hard band that played some of the catchiest hard core ever; that their later albums can’t even come close to the near-perfection of, say, Master of Puppets, is sad. But re-visiting  “Welcome Home (Sanitarium)” and “Damage, Inc” convinced me that I can still say I love the band. It just comes with an asterisk.


* And if you didn’t notice the sense of self-deprecation in the art snob comments, at least consider that my tongue was at least close to my cheek during the entire writing of this post.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

He Said it Better Than I Did

Earlier today I was talking to co-workers and trying to explain what I like in movies. I told them that movies had to either make me laugh or make me feel, and that all else was a waste of my time. Of course, it’s a little more complex than that, but lunchtime talk only leaves so much time for nuance.

Moving the story along…

This evening I was reading a bit about Noel Coward and came across this quote:

“I will accept anything in the theatre . . . provided it amuses or moves me. But if it does neither, I want to go home.”

Made me feel all warm in side…

YouTube Wonder

This will be the first time (and possibly last time) that I share one of those embedded YouTube videos. Not that I’m opposed to them, I just don’t usually see anything that really catches my eyes. This is different.

Noah Kalina is a photographer who has taken a picture of himself everyday from January 11, 2001. Apparently, on July 31, 2006, he stitched his work in progress together to create one fast-moving view of over five years of his life. The movie creates an odd sense of motion with the changing backgrounds and hair that makes the whole thing compelling to view. It isn’t particularly emotional or funny, but the visual sense of change (maybe even the lack of change) is somehow intriguing.

One of the comments on the video suggested that this might be what it’s like when you’re dying and your life “flashes before your eyes.” Or maybe it’s a testament on the mundane nature of our lives where the years fly by and it’s hard to tell one day from the next. Maybe, for Noah, it’s the ultimate scrapbook of concealed memories that the rest of us can only imagine. Hell, maybe it’s just a narcissistic exercise masquerading as art.

Whatever it is, I know that it caught my attention.

Enjoy.


The Most Important Question of the Day

The most important question of the day is this: why the hell isn’t Idiocracy playing anywhere in the Denver area? Mike Judge has apparently given us another winner and I can’t see the damned thing.

Why?

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Steve “The Crocodile Hunter” Irwin, Deceased

Steve Irwin died of what pretty much anyone who paid attention might have imagined he would die of: an accident involving a wild animal.

CROCODILE Hunter Steve Irwin has died after a stringray barb caught him in the chest.

The 44-year-old international TV star was swimming off the Low Isles at Port Douglas filming an underwater documentary when the incident happened.

Ambulance officers received a call to a reef fatality this morning at Batt Reef.  The Queensland Ambulance Service said the call was received about 11am and an emergency services helicopter was flown to the boat with a doctor and emergency services paramedic on board.

Irwin had a puncture wound to the left side of his chest and he was pronounced dead at the scene.

Irwin leaves his wife Terri and young children Bob and and Bindi.

I liked watching Irwin, although I also thought that he was insane. The effortless way that he handled the most dangerous of animals, the flip manner he displayed, spoke more of derangement than bravery. Which I kind of liked.

He was funny, enthusiastic, and charismatic; the kind of larger-than-life personality that can make television compelling.

What is most tragic is that his wife was on a trip and has yet to be told of her husband’s death; I hope she doesn’t learn it from the headlines of some daily newspaper.

Rest in peace, Steve Irwin, and thanks for the insanity.

Read the story.

Update: Mr. Lady has much the same thoughts (though written in her own special way.)

Another Update: I agree with my friend, Trench, on this: the video of Steve Irwin’s death will be leaked and it will be exploited by people willing to capitalize on someone else’s grief to make an easy buck. And Irwin’s wife and family will be the ones that lose the most.

The man died in a freak accident; we don’t have any need to see the specifics and it will do none of us any good to see the tape released (whether leaked onto the Internet or shown on a local newscast).

Life Lessons from NFL Players

San Diego Chargers linebacker Steve Foley was shot by an off-duty police officer. Luckily, his wounds aren’t life threatening; he should survive the incident just fine.

Sheriff’s officials said the early morning shooting occurred after the off-duty Coronado police officer followed a suspected drunken driver weaving in and out of freeway traffic at speeds up to 90 mph. Authorities said the driver nearly collided with several other vehicles.

Foley stopped three times, sheriff’s officials said. During one of the stops, Lisa Maree Gaut, a passenger in the vehicle, yelled at the officer, authorities said.

The shooting occurred after Foley got out of the vehicle near his home and began walking toward the officer, sheriff’s officials said. Gaut got behind the wheel and drove next to Foley in the direction of the officer, the officials said.

The officer identified himself, authorities said, and warned Foley he was armed. He fired a warning shot, at which point Gaut steered the car at the officer, sheriff’s officials said.

“The officer fired two rounds at the vehicle,” sheriff’s Lt. Dennis Brugos said. “The male then came at the officer and put his right hand by his waistband and the officer fired at him.”

If the official version of events are true, Foley can teach us all a valuable life lesson: the best way to not get shot by police officers is to not do stupid things.

Don’t get me wrong: police make mistakes and the wrong people do get shot. But the best way to minimize your chances of being on the wrong end of a bullet is to not act like a fool when an officer with a gun is pointing it at you.

Just sayin’.

None of which changes the fact that this story makes me want to visit the Hotel Del again. What a beautiful hotel. Had I the wherewithal, it is where I would choose to be married (when, someday, I get married again and stuff).

Read the rest.

Update: And even more, this is just creepy. Which has nothing to do with the NFL or the Hotel Del.

And While We Aren’t Talking About the NFL or the Hotel Del: I think I’m a little cranky with Chris Muir right now. Although, maybe not for the reason that you think after having checked out the link.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Broncos Head Into the Season

This was written Thursday night, but a busy schedule kept me from typing it up and doing the requisite editing.

The Broncos look good. They’ve sorted their problems at wide receiver, the offensive line is will be making big holes for whichever running back ends up in the starting slot of Mike Shanahan’s Great Running Back Machine, and the starting defense has played reasonably well. It all should add up to the Broncos competing for the division championship again. Truly, the Broncos have one of the most consistently good teams in the league, with a few dips into honest-to-God greatness, since Shanahan took the coaching position over a decade ago; there is little reason to imagine that the fans will have to struggle with a sub-par team this year.

But that isn’t to say that the Broncos will be up there with the elite this year. They will be competitive, they will probably make the playoffs, but this is still a team trying to pull together loose ends. They have a series of running backs, none of whom looks to be a future Hall of Fame player, but one of which will rush for over 1,000 yards this season. They have a good starting defense, but I question their depth when the almost-inevitable injuries strike at some point this season. They have a quarterback who had a brilliant season capped off by a really tough day in a disappointing loss in the playoffs.

Are they better than their mediocre pre-season might indicate?

I don’t think so. I think they are one of the better teams in the league and that they will leave fans frustrated through a tough season--never dropping out of contention, but never managing to put much distance between themselves and the mass of teams in the middle. That isn’t bad, it’s just hardly the thing of legends.

Now, for some thoughts about the players. (Remember, written Thursday--so some of this might fall into the “Duh” category.)

Goodbye to Bradlee Van Pelt and Ron Dayne. BVP has a slender chance to stick with the team, but given Dayne’s near-complete shut out in the preseason it would be shocking if he made it to the final roster. I like both players, I’ll miss both players, and I hope they find homes on other teams.

David Kirkus, though, is here to stay. Good moves, good hands, great work ethic--I don’t think anyone will ever mistake him for Rod Smith, but these are the characteristics that Shanahan likes in his wide receivers.

And, no surprise to anyone after watching these early games, Jay Cutler looks like a special player. He’s poised, makes smart decisions, shows a strong arm, and does a good job shrugging off his mistakes (which, for athletes, is an important skill). It’s impossible to tell what a rookie’s career is going to look like, but Cutler has talent and it will be fun to watch him grow into the position.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Oh, Good Lord…

I think we all know who isn’t a rising new media star...

Which doesn’t take away from my native charm or brilliance even one little bit...

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