Tuesday, November 25, 2008

She's My Wifers

Melbo gets interviewed on our efforts to speak German to E.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Chinese Democracy

I figured the long-awaited release of Guns 'N Roses' almost-mythic, seventeen-years-in-the-making, just-about-stopped-believing-we'd-ever-see-it album Chinese Democracy was a worthy note on which to make my less-eagerly-anticipated but still almost-stopped-believing-we'd-ever-see-it return to my personal blog.

For those unaware, I was quite-the-dedicated G'N'R fan back in the day (much to my father's chagrin, who disapprovingly used to try to steal my albums before I finally wore him down). Back when I was a sophmore, I used to hit ski slopes listening to Use Your Illusion II (hearing the song Breakdown still makes me think of getting first tracks on Snowbird's Little Cloud bowl. Driving home from midnight movies, dances, or nights out with friends, I'd often take the long way home just to crank another song like Welcome to the Jungle, Rocket Queen, Freight Train, Civil War or Sweet Child o' Mine (I could do a mean air-guitar on the steering column). And I'd even perfected what I thought at the time was a pretty solid Axl-impression (though I now seriously question how good it ever was).

While clearly not the fan I once was, I have to admit to being excited about the release of Chinese Democracy. Rumors of its pending release have popped up so often over the years that I've long since written them off. But it's here... and despite approaching it with some serious doubts (see, e.g., Rose's disasterous performance at the MTV music awards a couple of years back), the album is actually half decent. It officially drops tomorrow, but has been available on myspace since Thursday. In that time I've managed to give it a couple of whirls and it's grown on me.

Given the album's seventeen-year genesis, it's no surprise that the album sounds a little over-produced, but the songs are also all pretty tight with little to no flab. The ridiculous number of musicians that contributed to the project over the years is apparent and it cuts into the album's consistency at points (and the absence of original bandmates, most notably Slash, is sorely felt), but hearing Axl's scratchy falcetto is oddly refreshing. His lyrics are often pretty incomprehensible, but in truth they're no worse than the lyrics of countless other artists I love (see, e.g., Dave Matthews or Ben Harper). The album is an eclectic mix of sounds, genres, and styles, but, even with its sometimes over-produced feel, you still hear a little of the angry, raw, and scrappy G'N'R of yore. Here are some random somewhat unorganized thoughts I had about Axl's solo effort (while I sit and wonder just what it would have been like had he actually managed to get the band back together to finish this one off):

I love the intro rif on the title track. I think that Better manages to do a good job capturing the old G'N'R sound. Street of Dreams is a solid ballad. There was a Time is extraordinarily rich -- with about a million things going on -- but it just works. Songs like Raid N' The Bedouins and I.R.S. rock pretty hard. There is a me-against-the-world feel to the album, with Axl all-too-conspicuously comparing himself to none-other than famed-recluse and media-phobe J.D. Salinger in Catcher in the Rye. Sorry almost seems like a fitting note to end the whole thing on... with you not quite sure whether he's singing to the women or the bandmates he notoriously battled with over the years.

In sum, I think Chinese Democracy is Rose's answer to the consistent chorus of criticism (much of it not too far off target) that has hounded him since Guns 'N Roses broke up the better part of two decades ago. It's Axl's chance to try and cement his legacy as one of rock's gifted, but tortured-souls and to make all the nay-sayers eat a little crow. And I have to say, I don't mind doing eating it at all.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008


Sick of the never-ending campaign cycle? Take a spin on this and call me in the morning.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Cliched Out

I've held my peace for too long. It's time to speak out against a troubling trend that seems to be gaining momentum.

First it was the Horse Whisperer. The man who understood and had a way with troubled horses. This was fine. It was new and kind of interesting. Next came the Dog Whisperer, who, like the Horse Whisperer, could relate to and correct the behavior of difficult animals. A play off of the original, this too was bearable. Then someone decided the Ghost Whisperer would be cute. A woman with the uncanny ability to reach beyond the veil and communicate with troubled spirits. This is where things really began to veer off-course. Clue #1: Anything involving Jennifer Love Hewitt should probably give you pause.

Now... now apparently there's the Breast Whisperer.

Who seriously thought this was a good idea? I mean, I completely empathize with how frustrating breastfeeding can be. It certainly didn't come naturally to E and Melbo. (After two weeks of trying, I became a huge Similac booster, while Melbo, bless her heart, devotedly carried on the good fight). But come on people, some word-plays just don't work. There has got to be a better name than "Breast Whisperer" (especially at $150 an hour). Lactation Wizard. Breast-Feeding Guru. Master Lactator. Lactating Queen. Pretty much anything strikes me as less cringe-worthy.

On the scale of bad derivatives though... I guess I'd have to concede, if pushed, that it's better than "nipplegate" (slightly).

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Bumped Into The Pope This Morning...

True story. Right outside my office actually. Even got to sing Happy Birthday to him. (FYI: He's the little white splotch on the red dais that's just to the right of the gold dais).

Hold the balding, overweight, middle-age jokes please:

Here's a close up shot:

The President Bush is standing walking right where the blurry, shiny spot is on the red dais and Pope Benedictus is guy with a white head and shirt just up and to the right of him:

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Guest Blogging at Times & Seasons

Hey all... While I haven't been exactly the most prolific blogger of late, I did start guest blogging over at the Mormon blog Times & Seasons this past week. I'll post links here to whatever I throw up over there in case you're interested:

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Word of the Day

Obamacan: A Republican who plans on voting for Barack Obama

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Flip-Floppin' McCain-Style

The straight talk express broke down on the highway of political convenience today:

John McCain on torture on November 28, 2007 (CNN Youtube Debate):
[Waterboarding] is in violation of the Geneva Convention. It's in violation of existing law and... if we're going to get the high ground in this world and we're going to be the America that we have cherished and loved for more than 200 years, we're not going to torture people. We're not going to do what Pol Pot did. We're not going to do what's being done to Burmese monks as we speak. I suggest that you talk to retired military officers and active duty military officers like Colin Powell and others... how in the world anybody could think that that kind of thing could be inflicted by Americans on people who are held in our custody is absolutely beyond me.... Life is not "24" and Jack Bauer. Life is interrogation techniques which are humane and yet effective. I just came back from visiting a prison in Iraq. The Army general there said that techniques under the Army Field Manual are working and working effectively, and he didn't think they need to do anything else. [T]his is what America is all about. This is a defining issue...."
John McCain on torture on February 13, 2008 (Atlantic Monthly):
Votes against a Senate bill that prohibits the CIA from waterboarding by requiring it to abide by the Army Field Manual's limits on interrogation techniques (the same manual that McCain is praising as sufficient for our needs above).
Update: For a good primer on what's at issue with this legislation and what McCain's arguments for voting against it are, see here.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Quote of the Day

Romney, apparently taking cues from Dick Cheney:
If I fight on in my campaign, all the way to the convention, I would forestall the launch of a national campaign and make it more likely that Senator Clinton or Obama would win. And in this time of war, I simply cannot let my campaign, be a part of aiding a surrender to terror.
Mitt Romney - February 7, 2008
Concession Speech at CPAC

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

So I know video-posts are kind of a cop-out... but, regardless of your politics, you have to admit this one's pretty choice:

Monday, January 21, 2008

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Jackie Chan's Brother?

[Setting: Las Vegas. January 2nd. The wife and I on our way into the MGM Grand to celebrate our anniversary at the restaurant I used to work at.]

Me: Wow. That's Johnny Chan.

Melbo: Who?

Me: Here... take the camera. I want to see if I can get a picture with him.

Melbo: Get a picture with who?

Me: Johnny... nevermind. Here. Just follow me.

Me: Excuse me. Mr. Chan, would it be alright if I got a picture with you?

Johnny: Sure, just make it quick.

Me: Thanks so much.

Johnny: No problem.

Melbo: Who was that?

Me: Johnny Chan.

Melbo: Is that like Jackie Chan's brother?

Me: What?! No. Haven't you ever seen the movie Rounders?

Melbo: I think so. Maybe?

Me: Well, he's a poker player. Only guy to ever win the World Series of Poker's Main Event two years in a row. He's won like ten WSOP bracelets.

[Melbo: Completely loses all interest]

[Me: Wonder if I'm the lone soul in Mormondom that's able recognize the former champ]

Friday, January 04, 2008

A Few Thoughts on Romney, McCain, and Huckabee, and the Upcoming New Hampshire Primary

In the wake of yesterday's Iowa caucus results, I posted some of my thoughts on the race for the GOP nomination over at a Romney blog that I occasionally contribute to. Since few of you likely scour the political blogosphere for these sorts of posts, I thought I'd cross-post it here :
With Mitt Romney's surprisingly large defeat in the Iowa Caucus now in the rearview mirror, what lies ahead for him in New Hampshire? I think it's a must win primary for Romney. If he loses to John McCain in four days, he may choose to continue on in the race, but I think any real shot he had at winning disappears. That said, there are some big questions hovering over the New Hampshire primary.

Since Mike Huckabee relied largely on Iowa's significant evangelical base for his caucus victory, I think its impact on his campaign in New Hampshire is unclear. Huckabee doesn't have a realistic shot at taking New Hampshire, so the best case scenario for him is simply a strong showing. Given how weak he's polled here over the past year, the only place he has to go is up. The $64,000 question is how much traction his Iowa win gives him. Does he steal the few evangelical votes that there are to be had in New Hampshire from Romney? Does he win over any fence-sitters?

One thing Huckabee's win almost certainly does is make the recently tightened race between McCain and Romney there even tighter. McCain's fourth place showing in Iowa doesn't really give him the momentum that a strong third-place showing would have, but with Romney losing by so much to Huckabee, I don't think it matters. Romney's loss in Iowa after investing the significant resources he did there has the potential to raise doubts that push wayward Romney supporters to McCain.

To win out New Hampshire, Romney has to find a way to prevent any hemorrhaging from his Iowa defeat. He needs to stop Huckabee from stealing any votes (since Huckabee is more likely to steal votes from Romney supporters than those backing McCain) and he needs to try and stop McCain's surge in New Hampshire by reminding voters there why they've preferred him over McCain for most of this past year. Not an easy task when it appears that the negative advertisements and mailings Romney has employed over the past few weeks seem to have actually hurt him in Iowa and, possibly, New Hampshire. Romney needs to go negative without appearing to attack, a tough balancing act that he's struggled with at times. The good news for Romney is that if he tops McCain, it's likely the death kneel of McCain's candidacy, especially if he tops him by a significant margin.

The big wild card in all of this is McCain's most natural New Hampshire constituency, independents. He can't afford to lose indies who would otherwise vote for him but who choose to vote for Barack Obama in the Democratic Primary. In that sense, McCain and Obama are each other's own worst enemy in New Hampshire. In retrospect, the Iowa caucus results haven't settled much of anything except to underscore the fact that we still have a wide-open GOP race on our hands. With that said, what are everyone's predictions?
[Update: After Sunday night's debate performance by Mitt, I revise my assessment... A decently close New Hampshire loss does not kill Romney's candidacy. I think McCain and Huckabee fell somewhat flat last night and Romney breathed a bit of new life into his campaign by doing well when sparring them... plus, the conservative base really seems wary of McCain and looks almost desperate to coalesce around someone else.]