28 August 2008

Bad Scooter Searching for his Groove

Walking through Whole Foods today, a song comes on over the sound system.  A familiar intro, and that memorable horn part, and then "Tear drops on the city..."  

For the longest time, I not only didn't like Springsteen, I actively disliked his music.  It seemed cheesey, like something out of a bad '80's police movie, and "10th Avenue Freeze-Out" (the song mentioned above, for those not familiar) was no exception, although I think you could probably say that it also had a hand in changing that.  

In college, I took a course in the History of Rock and Roll as part of my music minor.  One of the optional proects was to audition for and play in one of the three bands formed from the class, playing a mix of music written by our classmates, and covers.  Myself and a two other gentlemen (one of whom is likely reading this) formed the horn section for one of the bands (well, horn/viola section.  "Let's Get It On" has a violin part.  Who knew?)  (What?)  Anyway, these covers proved to be a bone of contention.  We, the horn section, wanted to play something with an interesting part, like a ska cover.  Something fun.  The hipsters who comprised the rest of the band, formed before we were added, had already decided on a shortlist of covers to choose from.  Guess what, no ska.  What do we (they) end up choosing?  The aforementioned "Let's Get it On"*, and "10th avenue".  We didn't quite revolt, but let's just say things were a little testy for a while.  Funny thing, though:  I think it ended up being our most successful song.**  It sounded good, it ended up being decently fun to play, and the audience really seemed to enjoy it.  

The point that I'm getting at is that my dislike for Bruce Springsteen began to erode during that experience.  It took a couple years before he made it on to my playlist, but it was that experience that got me to stop rolling my eyes whenever I heard one of his songs.  

*Which we decided upon after our guitar player reproduced that crazy guitar effect perfectly while fuckin' around before practice.

**Ok, "Let's Get It On" was our most successful song, but that's just because the crowd (well, the guys at least) really enjoyed hearing our two female lead singers sing it together.

ps.  For some very interesting and over the top (way way WAY over the top) covers of Springsteen songs, check out an album called Darkness On The Edge of Your Town by Paul Baribeau and Ginger Alford.  

26 August 2008

Good Eats, and Good Philosophy as Well!

Alton Brown has been my favorite TV chef since I first saw his show.  He blends science with cooking in a very entertaining way, and makes the food accessable to your average home chef.  On top of that, he (despite being from the south -- sorry, was that uncalled for?) seems to be a very intelligent and rational person.  My new favorite AB quote?
"We've got science, and science kicks voodoo's butt, any old day"
Now, sure, he was talking about how serious bbq'ers are overly protective of their "dry-rub voodoo", but I think this is a philosophy that applies well to plenty of things (evolution, perhaps?).

24 August 2008

The Newest (and Best) Holiday!

One of my favorite bloggers, Jeffrey Morgenthaler, has created a new holiday: Repeal Day!  Why celebrate?  He lists some compelling reasons:

1.  It's the perfect time of year.  Conveniently located halfway between Thanksgiving and Christmas -- at a time when most Americans are probably not spending time with family -- Repeal Day presents a wonderful occasion to get together with friends and pay tribute to our constitutional rights.

2.  We have the constitutional ability to do so.  Unlike St. Patrick's Day or Cinco de Mayo, Repeal Day is a day that all Americans have a part in observing, because it's written in our Constitution.  No other holiday celebrates the laws that guarantee our rights, and Repeal Day has everything to do with our personal pleasures.

3.  It's Easy!  There are no outfits to buy, costumes to rent, rivers to dye green.  Simply celebrate the day by stopping by your local bar, tavern, saloon, winery, distillery, or brewhouse and having a drink.  Pick up a six-pack on your way home from work.  Split a bottle of wine with a loved one.  Buy a shot for a stranger.  Just do it because you can.
So remember, when December 5th rolls around hoist one to the sky and toast to your rights (the ones we have left).

23 August 2008

A knife in the back

From a post over at Pharyngula, talking about the Interfaith Gathering planned for the DNC:
"Democrats have been, are and will continue to be people of faith - and this Convention will demonstrate that in an unprecedented way," said Leah D. Daughtry, CEO of the Democratic National Convention Committee.

I'm starting to have more sympathy for the socially-liberal fiscal-conservatives out there. It's a bad feeling when your party abandons you. Democrats are supposed to be the secular party. The progressive party. The party to fight AGAINST the religious right, not become the religious not-quite-so-right. Oof. This one hurts. The sad thing is, they know that I'm still going to vote for their candidate, because he's way better than this guy. I wish there were a viable party out there that would LEAVE RELIGION THE HELL OUT OF IT!

22 August 2008

Beer Review -- Firestone Union Jack IPA

So here's a new feature, I thought I might try out: beer reviews (hey, the title of the blog lists beer, you should have been expecting this...). Up first? Firestone Union Jack IPA.

Firestone Walker Brewing Company (motto: Passion for the Pale) makes pale ales. They only make pale ales. That's all. You know what? There's something to be said for the idea of doing one thing, and doing it damn well. Based out of Paso Robles, California, they are best known for their British-style, oak-barrel-fermented flagship, DBA Double Barrel Ale, which has wide distribution (and is worthy of it). They also make Pale 31 California-Style Pale Ale, and at least one specialty brew that I've seen (Walker's Reserve).

What's really got me excited, though, is their newest offering, Union Jack IPA. Those who know me know that I'm a hop fiend. Can't get enough of the good stuff. Well, Union Jack certainly delivers the hops: a whopping 70 IBU's. Couple this with 7.5% ABV, and this one is not for the faint of heart. Definitely one for the hop-heads, although I will say that while Firestone's website claims both pineapple and citrus notes, I didn't pick up much in the way of subtle flavors from this one (probably due to the overwhelming bite from the hops/alcohol).

Grade: A very solid B+. This is one of the better IPAs I've tried in the last year. It falls a little short of the top tier (Lagunitas, Deschutes Inversion, Stone Ruination, etc.), mainly due to how much the hops/alcohol wash out any flavor depth, but a quality offering, and something that should move Firestone Walker up the west coast brewery food chain a couple notches. One to try for the IPA lovers out there.

20 August 2008

Vaccines save lives.

Want to know just how dumb the anti-vaccine crowd is?  Read.

(Thanks to Brillo for posting this last week)

18 August 2008

The worst Prop. 8 argument ever. Ever.

From the LA Times:
In any case, one Prop. 8 supporter said, gay rights are not as important as children's rights, and it's obvious that same-sex couples who married would "recruit" their children toward homosexuality because otherwise, unable to procreate themselves, they would have no way to replenish their numbers. Even editorial writers can be left momentarily speechless, and this was one of those moments.

I have to believe that anyone who's reading this doesn't need me to explain to them the insanity of this statement*. The gays are going to "recruit" their children? Yes, because everyone who is homosexual right now was stolen away by the evil gays of yesteryear....

I'm still amazed by how ridiculously stupid the fundies in this country are.

*if you don't see what's wrong with this statement, who the fuck are you? Why are you reading my blog?

17 August 2008

Cody Ransom. Really?

It's always funny to me when a baseball player pops back into the spotlight after his career seemed to be over.  Usually these are guys who bounced up and down from the bigs for a season or two, had a few pinch-hit appearances, and then were released/traded/sent down, seemingly never to be seen again.  For some reason, some of these guys have been among my favorite Giants in the last decade.  They always seem to be a little closer to your average fan than to their superstar teemmates.  Guys like Damon "Tiny" Minor, Calvin Murray, Justin Knoedler, Edwards Guzman, and Tony Torcato.  The kind of players where you don't really realize they're gone for a few years, until you suddenly say "huh, whatever happened to Tony Tocato?"  Guys like Cody Ransom.

From 2001-2003 Cody Ransom got into 36 games with the Giants, usually as a middle infield defensive replacement.  He went 8-37 (.216) with 2 XBH and 1 RBI.  In 2004 he got into 78 games with the Giants, hit .250/.320/.382 and was gone after the season.  From 2005-2006 he didn't appear in a major league game.  He seemed to be the perfect example of this type of player.  So you can understand how surprised I was when leading off SportsCenter today was a shot of Ransom hitting a two-run homer out to left in Yankee Stadium.  I thought, "where the hell did he come from?  What's he doing in the bigs, I thought he was done years ago!  And what the hell are the Yankees doing with him?"  So here's to you, Cody Ransom, for reminding me of one of the small pleasures of being a baseball fan.

12 August 2008


Over at Pharyngula, a commentor named Mothra posted this great poem, in response to a story about a court tossing charges that the UC descriminated against some christian schools by not accepting their crazy fake-science classes for the a-g requirements. Enjoy:

A Christian and a Golden Bear,
A Lamp of learning shown the pair.
Said Bear to Christian, 'would you care,
explain to me why I'm a bear,
and live in California fair.'

The Christian smiled and made reply,
'what need of yours' to wonder why?
Your far parents in the Ark did lie,
in waters adrift under rainy sky.'
You were born a bear and a bear you'll die.'

This answer did the bear resent.
Devoid it was of true content.
'You have failed to address the why,
I am a bear, not fish nor fly
and why I live under Californian sky.

'The Ark aground on Arrarat,
Your parent's cubs they did begat.
and traveled way across the earth,
to California, land of your birth.'

'But lands are separated by sea,
To cross by water, too far for me.
Your explanation falls a wee,
bit short of known reality.'

The Lamp of knowledge chose to speak,
of Beringia and sundered peaks.
Of ice and time, progenitors,
The bear with a smile, let out a roar!

The Christian looked a bit bemused,
at length perplexed and more confused.
said a bear is but of animal kind,
only as different as he defined.

Dandelion, thought bear, with eyes aglow,
this Christianity's a show.
a sham, concocted as you go,
and what if I choose to define,
what kind of being that is mine?

The Golden bear became a lion,
A Christian soul still bliethley lying.
Then, one bear, golden, in light divine,
The lamp of knowledge on did shine.