Monday, September 17, 2007

"...the audio equivalent of seeing a circus on meth"

God, I wish I'd been able to see these guys when they were still around...

(it's Mr. Bungle playing "My Ass is on Fire")

There are no limits to the gloriosity of YouTube.

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Tuesday, September 11, 2007


Burning saltwater could mean new fuel source

Okay. Now the apocalypse is upon us.


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Saturday, September 08, 2007

my friends kick ass

This is only a small example of the inumerable ways in which my friend Wendy is so awesome...

Striking UMM workers prepared for second week of pay protest

University of Minnesota, Morris clerical and t
echnical workers will “recharge our batteries” over the weekend and be back on picket lines Monday if necessary, said a campus union leader on Friday.

The UMM workers were on strike for a third day Friday, and will take the weekend off with plans to return Monday in their protest for higher pay from the University of Minnesota, said Laura Thielke, lead steward of the UMM clerical workers’ union.

(That's my girl, front and center, in her red ballcap.)

The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees workers began striking

At UMM, strikers
rallied briefly on the campus mall late Thursday morning to hear several speakers and listen to music by AFSCME member Tim Ray, a UMM employee, before returning to picket at campus entry points.

“We really think we’re doing the right thing,” Thielke said Thursday. “We know a lot of people in Morris think we have really great jobs and that we shouldn’t complain. But we want to really keep great wages in this town for people who come after us.”

The AFSCME union, which represents about 74 UMM employees, filed an intent to strike notice on behalf of its workers on four University of Minnesota campuses in late August after an overwhelming vote to reject the university’s latest offer.

(Here she is again. She looks bored, but trust me...she's fired up. She's actually just a bit beaten down by spending ten hours picketing in 95-degree heat.)

The university’s offer of pay raises of 2.25 percent for clerical and technical employees, and 2.5 percent for health care employees was rejected by what the union said was a 72 percent no vote.

Negotiations broke off about 11 p.m. Tuesday after a marathon day of bargaining. The union represents about 3,500 workers — about 17 percent of the employees in the University of Minnesota system statewide.

Thielke said the disparity between the salaries of administration and workers is a key element to the strike.

Ray, who befriended Minnesota legislator Tom Rukavina when Ray lived and taught in northern Minnesota, said he had a phone conversation with the lawmaker about the situation.

Ray reported that Rukavina said, “let there be no doubt” that the Legislature appropriated a 3.25 percent pay increase “across the board” when it passed the U of M’s appropriation.

Wendy Hyatt, a UMM employee, invoked the name of human rights activist Cesar Chavez at the rally. She noted that Chavez, who has a UMM street named for him, promoted the importance of unions and the importance of working people throughout his adult life.

“We’re not doing this for ourselves,” Hyatt said, “we’re doing this for all workers.”

UMM employee Darla Hennen said a strike is a stressful event in her life,
especially financially. But it’s a way for her to show her children what is of true value.

“I thought long and hard,” Hennen said. “I can’t afford this (a strike). But I was hired as a union employee and I have to support that because that’s who’ll support me down the road.”

(And here we have the back of her head...kicking ass and standing up to The Man as only backs of heads can do.)

Striking AFSCME workers set up pickets at each of the entrances to UMM on Wednesday morning and were back at them on Thursday.

On Wednesday, Guyotte released a memo from Johnson, which stated that each AFSCME member will make the decision to strike based on their particular situation, and she asked the campus community to “respect each person’s decision and treat each other in a cordial manner as we navigate through this difficult time.”

No talks between the union and administration are pending, Thielke said.

Hang in there, my dear. Your friends are with you in spirit and we're proud of you.

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Friday, September 07, 2007

Bullshit. Offensive bullshit.

This is a corporate blog.

Any claims he (or she) makes to the contrary are baloney. (Actually, I should clarify in that "corporate blog" may not be the best choice of words. What it really is is an infomercial in blog format. Though, that may just be an issue of semantics because it is certainly corporate-driven and is absolutely insidious.)

And it's not that I think blogs are particularly sacred...far from it. I just do not like being fed a bunch of bullshit. And I think blogs like these - and you know damn well Texaco and Wal-Mart and Home Depot have them scattered all over the place as well - ought to be illegal...somehow...if they're not clearly identified for what they are: marketing fronts for corporations trying to either promote or defend their products.

I am so, so thoroughly sick of the dishonesty that predatory capitalism has bred in this country. And as for "John Smith"...I'm glad you don't have to worry about those pesky Chantix dreams anymore. It's got to be plenty hard to go to sleep with yourself every night as it is...

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Wednesday, September 05, 2007

I was born on this mountain...this mountain's my home

It isn't the mountain ahead that wears you out--it's the grain of sand in your shoe. - Robert Service

Well, sometimes it's the mountain. But it is a point well taken and worth pondering from time to time...


Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Nokia hates us all

You know, I wince when I hear myself described as being "more into metal" than...well, anyone else. Which is not to say it isn't true...just that it gives me the heebies. The onset of the hair metal era is what drove me screaming from most music that even faintly resembled it. It wasn't intentional or all that conscious, but I do remember noticing how vacuous, stupid and superficial it was becoming all of a sudden. And by the time speed/thrash/death/whatever metal started to emerge as a reaction to all the silliness and disposability, I was long gone. It took years before I would even consider listening to any music that could be classified into any sub-genre with the word "metal" in the description. I remember engaging in more than a few drunken conversations in my early twenties with John and Mike and the guys in their bands about how I thought speed-metal bands like Slayer, Metallica, Venom and Anthrax were nothing more than Black Sabbath riffs on crank. Which isn't that far from the truth, really. But the album that made me reconsider my intolerance was Metallica's Garage Days Re-revisited (an EP, actually). All it was was a collection of punkish, hardcoreish cover songs, but it pointed out to me how closely related punk and metal could be. (One of the best Slayer records, FYI, is their own covers album, Undisputed Attitude. Just forty or so minutes of treating your face like a punching bag, it is beautifully brutal.) And I didn't really even like Slayer until maybe a decade or so ago when I saw their "Seasons in the Abyss" video. I was instantly hooked because I loved how dark the chorus sounded...and just the sound in general - there's a weird tension in Slayer's sound that nobody else can duplicate. A lot of it is the result of Rick Rubin's productions - you can hear it in System of a Down and the Red Hot Chili Peppers and every other hard rock band he produces. But it's also just this weirdly unnerving vibe the band generates. I can't quite put my finger on it, but you know it the second you hear it.

So if you followed the first link, you got to read Val's review of the show. Turns out, she wasn't at all alone in her assessment. And while I agree with her for the most part, I have to admit being a tad disappointed in Slayer's show. I get the feeling the band wasn't completely committed to the notion of playing an hour-long set before that numbnuts followed them and were perhaps running a bit on auto-pilot. Then again, maybe I'd just waited so long to see them live that I built them up a little too much. But even if they were on partial auto-pilot, they were still better than a lot of bands on their best nights. (Please enjoy my kick-ass camera-phone photography. Makes you feel like you were there, huh...?) And while I did think the visual setup with priddy friggin nifty - what with the light show and the speakers arranged in upside-down cross fashion just above the amps and the strobe-speed video behind them - the sound of that place last night was just for shit. The guitars were muddy, Tom Araya's voice was inaudible at times. I told Val if I didn't already know the songs, I wouldn't know what the fuck they were would have sounded just like an hour-long, super-fast thrash song to me. For a facility whose sole existence was supposed to have been predicated on state-of-the-art was just fucking dreadful. The whole thing was a dull roar. And you had to pay fifteen bucks to park before listening to said dull roar. That ain't right.

And the silly double-bill setup just meant, I'm assuming, a shorter-than-usual set from the band. There were a ton of songs I'd have loved to see them perform (and, yeah, I know that's a bitch everyone has about every show). I'd have been a mighty happy dude if Slayer had played another hour or so. Though, that might also be proof that they weren't playing at one hundred percent; if they had been, it would have been pretty difficult to take that kind of pounding - as an audience member - for two-plus hours.

I will say I enjoyed being reminded of the more amusing aspects of going to metal shows. Whether you're at the Enormodome or the National Guard Armory, you can always expect certain elements and events to take place at any metal show. Walking through the lobby area, you will always hear one guy who's just drunk enough bellow the next band's name for no particular reason..."Ssllaaayyerr!"...which, in turn, elicits a response in the form of a wave-like crescendo from other folks who happen to be in similar stages of inebriation...only much, much louder - "SSSLLAAAAYYERRRR!!!" Never fails to happen and it never fails to amuse me. And confound me, for that matter. Another equally reliable and equally confounding inevitability is the collective viewing pleasure one gets from observing The Metal Chick. Now, while Slayer draws a predominantly male audience, Manson brought in the chicks. So god bless him for that, I suppose. What clothing wasn't tight was at least revealing (or vice versa). I don't remember the last time I saw so much cleavage in one night. Interestingly, though, I also never once saw the on-her-boyfriend's-shoulders-peek-a-boo flash that usually starts occurring a few beers into the evening. Maybe I was asleep if it did happen.

And then there was Manson. And, yes, I did take a brief nap during his set. Frankly, I don't understand what kept everyone else awake. It was everything I feared it would be, only worse. I was expecting to at least be treated to some kind of visual extravaganza, even while the music sucked. Instead, he just kinda slithered around basking in his own self-adulation. Val's comment that he amounts to a second-rate Alice Cooper was on the mark...most of the stage props - from the "knife" microphone to the enormous, Lewis Carroll-inspired chair (which reminded me of Spinal Tap's infamous "Stonehenge" moment somehow), to the top-hat he threw on from time to time...the only things missing were a guillotine and boa constrictor. And maybe, I was hearing things, but I'm pretty certain there was some serious prerecorded "assistance" going on in Manson's set. Unfortunately, we were seated where I couldn't quite watch the one good thing about Manson's band - his fantastic drummer, Ginger Fish. Now if only Ginger would wise up, bail out, and find a real band to play with...because he is outstanding.

So, anyway...that was the Val and Danny Metal Show Experience. I owe Valerie many thanks because I'm pretty sure my ticket was a birffday gift. So thank you again, Val.


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Monday, September 03, 2007

fractured and crapped on

I don't know what it means either.

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children of the grave

I usually stick something that Chris Floyd has written on this site at least a couple times a month. As much as I love him - what he stands for, what he does and how he does it - his only flaw is that he can, on occasion, throw out a few adjectives here and there that are a bit...strong, over the top, shrill. Every once in a while, one of his statements can get derailed by the fact that it sounds like something Kim Jong Il - or Saddam in his heyday - would release to the press.

But, with that in mind, I invite you all to read the following. And I challenge you all to find something - anything - worthy of dispute...

Post-Mortem America: Bush's Year of Triumph and the Hard Way Ahead

Tomorrow is here. The game is over. The crisis has passed -- and the patient is dead. Whatever dream you had about what America is, it isn't that anymore. It's gone.

So now what...?

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Saturday, September 01, 2007

two years