Monday, August 30, 2010

Retro Haiku

I'm catching up...

Tuesdays are my days
Well, from nine to ten P.M.
Break out the gee-tars!

It’s high time I write
A song for my oldest son
But the well is dry.

Her mind is focused
It’s all labor, all the time
Need to distract her

Only two weeks past,
Andrew is finally born!
He was worth the wait!

The house is quiet
The kids are away with friends
Peaceful, resting days

The woman is SORE
But that’s to be expected
A twelve pound baby.

Happy birthday, late
Andrew is the best gift but
I got this for you.

I got a birth gift!
One gallon of New Castle,
Thank you, John Hrehov!

Lyndi went to camp
Had lots of fun and bug bites
Glad to have her back.

Wine gladdens the heart
But doesn’t remove ink stains.
So says the Psalmist

Oh, where is that rain
To give relief to dry ground
UPS is late.

Monday, August 23, 2010


The 4th- Almost here
We can only think about
That boy being born.

I am being told
That I really, truly must
Reboot my PC.

Irony, it is
To purchase all our fireworks
From Commie China.

Today is the day.
Where are you? We’ll just wait here.
The boy is tardy.

A busy summer.
At long last, a break at work
A deep breath is good.

While we are waiting
At least we had a great date
I sure love my wife!

Brooke had surgery
One week ago – She had some
Body parts removed.

Crappy dumb data
That I doubt they really use
You go, Plan Member!

The haiku format
Is perfect for expressing
A single idea.

I think she will wait
Until the boys week is done
Though I don’t know why.

My car makes a clunk
When the thingy is engaged
Then it goes ker-plunk.

Tired of waiting
And waiting a little more:
Tempers are stretched thin.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

More Wacky Thoughts

Yeah... I'm that crazy Uncle with his weird conspiracy theories that if you listen long enough start to make sense.

Since you mentioned Lincoln being against secession, and actually illegally starting a war because he was sooo opposed to states succeeding (and not at all starting the war because of a brazen power grab) it should be of interest to know that "honest" Abe was all for secession when it was in his interests. This is why he helped "West Virginia" from Virginia and become it's own state. Lincoln's own attorney general, Edward Bates, believed it was unconstitutional for state to split in the manner that it did, being helped out by the Federal government instead of forming grass-roots-like. And get this, this Great Emancipator in favor of this split had nothing bad to say about their legislation which allowed for the people of this new state to vote on a gradual emancipation policy, the very position Stephen Douglas held and defended in the famous Lincoln-Douglas debates.

One other juicy tidbit of lucid mania: an Ohio congressman by the name of Clement Vallandigham had the audacity to publicly state that Lincoln's dictatorial acts were not to free the slaves or even to save the Union but "national banks, bankrupt laws, a vast and permanent public debt, high tariffs, heavy direct taxation, enormous expenditure... strong government... no more State lines, no more State governments, and a consolidated monarchy." For this, merely expressing his First Amendment rights, he was arrested without a civil warrant, thrown into a military prison and then deported by Lincoln to the Southern states. Read those things that Lincoln is being accused of and just try not to think about Obama's actions. I double dog dare ya!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Lincoln Was The First Obama

It's been nearly a decade in my coming around in my thoughts on Lincoln, so bear with me as I try to cram all that into one blog entry.

Most of us grew up with Lincoln being highly revered as a President. There's Washington, and Lincoln, and um, all those other guys who weren't as great, right? This has been beaten into our heads in public schools from the time we start there, plus I worked at Lincoln National, a place that also holds the man in near-religious esteem. However I've always been one that is willing to change my mind IF adequate facts can be provided. And there are facts. LOADS of facts!

So my premise, that Lincoln was the first Obama, is that Lincoln was 100% for building a bigger, stronger centralized Federal government, even at the expense of ignoring the Constitution. It's a way of thinking that says, "Hey, this government is do great that I'm going to ignore the very rules that make it great so that I can make it greater!" It makes no sense, but then again, Lincoln was a lawyer. In the same vein, Obama is pulling all kinds of crap that isn't allowed for the Executive Branch by the Constitution (and often not allowed for any of the branches).

Lincoln was the first Republican president but before there were Republicans there were Whigs. Remember those Whigs from U.S. History back in the day? Whigs were for making the federal government bigger and reducing the rights of the individual states as well as having a federal bank. Hold that thought.

When our Founding Fathers wrote the framework of our government they had fresh in their minds an all-controlling centralized government, that being of course England. The states were operating much like the individual countries of Europe (Virginia, South Carolina, New England vs. France, Germany, and Denmark, if you will). Each state had it's own constitution and pretty much operated independently, though in cooperation, with the other states. None of these states were going to willingly give up their sovereignty to a centralized government... what sovereign government would? So inherent in each state's willingness to voluntarily allow this new Federal government to provide certain limited* functions was the ability to withdraw their membership at any time, provided this withdrawal received the proper okee-dokee from their state legislatures. This was the ultimate check on the Federal government to keep it from being too bossy. It was a way for each state, if they didn't like the rules, to take their ball and go home. In school I was never told that this threat to succeed was invoked more than once, most notably New England who threatened to succeed in the early 1800s because they believed that the policies of the Jefferson and Madison administrations (especially the Louisiana Purchase, the national trade embargo of 1807 and the war of 1812) were disproportionally harmful to New Englanders. Debate raged on this issue but one item that was never debated was their right to succeed.

* footnote to above - If you take the time to actually read the Constitution, which should take an average reader much less than an hour (AND it should be pointed out that it is a very readable, understandable read - not the legal twistings of todays governmental documents) you will find that what little the federal government is given much to do is explicitly spelled out and that (GASP) any task not explicitly spelled out as belonging to the federal government is given to the individual states.

Let's fast forward to the 1850s. There is, and has been, a lot of policies in place that disproportionally harm the southern nations. The north had lots of manufacturing while the south imported most of their goods. High tarriffs were in place that pretty much fleeced the southern states and sent their money to the pockets of the big corporations of the northern states. Enter Lincoln, who had a history being very friendly to his corporate pals (there's a great story of Leaping Lincoln, if you want to look that up) AND was strongly in favor of adding power to the Federal government. When he got elected with no votes by the southern states they felt even more greatly disenfranchised and that their interested were not being represented. They ultimately decided to succeed from the union.

At this time most of the newspapers and populace felt that they should be allowed to peacefully succeed. Indeed, Confederate President Jefferson Davis even offered to pay or give back to the Northern union any of it's property which remained on southern soil. Lincoln needed a way to change public opinion and did so with the attack on Fort Sumter. Here was a Northern fort on Southern land. The south would no more allow a northern military fort on southern land than the Americans would have allowed a British military fort. So here was Fort Sumter, running out of food. They could have peacefully left at any time and Lincoln had been notified of such by Jefferson Davis. However Lincoln forced Davis to fire first by sending a heavily armed battleship with supplies. Here was the South, not attacking Fort Sumter and just waiting for them to leave and suddenly here's this armed battleship with more food and ammo to help Fort Sumter last even longer. So the south fired first. Lincoln turned this event into the South firing on ships that were only attempting to provide food for hungry men, and the tide of public opinion began to turn.

Now that Lincoln had his war he ran all over the Constitution. Even scholars favorable to Lincoln call him a dictator, but a friendly one, as if such a thing can exist. For one thing, he suspended habeas corpus. Imagine in Obama suddenly said that anyone can be arrested at any time, not be told why they were being arrested, not be given a trial, and held indefinitely. We treat our illegal aliens better than Lincoln treated U.S. citizens! And who did he have arrested? Anyone who disagreed with him - newspaper owners, state legislators, joe citizens and even clergy! During elections they would post people inside the polls and have people cast their votes using different colors of paper. Cast a green ballot and they would toss you in jail! At one point there were thousands of citizens under arrest without ever being charged. Oh, and the different colored ballot trick is equal to free elections being suppressed. He also suppressed the free press by putting editors and reporters in jail, making many afraid to speak out publicly against Lincoln's policies.

Lincoln also launched an invasion of the South without the approval of Congress, something required in the Constitution, declared martial law, blockaded Southern ports, censored all Internet, er, telegraph communication, nationalized the car companies, I mean railroads, created several new states without the consent of the citizens in those states, ordered Federal troops to interfere with elections in the North by intimidating opponents to his policies, confiscated firearms and private property in direct violation of the Second Amendment, and pretty much was a rats patooty!

But didn't he do this to free the slaves? Wasn't the end justification of the means? HORSE-PUCKY! Lincoln's well known position was that the slaves should be sent back to Africa and even helped found an organization to do so. The Emancipation Proclamation was an act of war, and a weak, symbolic one at that! It only freed slaves in the places the north didn't have a right to (the south) but actually KEPT PEOPLE SLAVES IN THE NORTH (and north-friendly southern areas under the control of the Northern armies). That doesn't sound very liberating to me!

A direct result of this is the 14th amendment, which states that you are automatically a U.S. citizen if you are born on U.S. soil. This was put in because some were fearful that the children of freed slaved would be deported. Today it's used for illegal aliens to have children here, illegally and on the taxpayer dime, and have them be legal. Or even better, did you know that some countries actually have "vacation" packages designed so that pregnant women come here and give birth, making their children U.S. citizens and eventually able to bring over their families? HARUMPH!

And that Federal bank? The one that issues all the dollar bills you hold? Privately held. No accountability. No audits of their activities.

So now when I see a Confederate flag I understand. They aren't saying "We hate black people!" It would be safe to say that Lincoln liked the African Americans less than most Confederate flag fliers. No, these people are expressing their belief that the Southern states were fully within their rights in peacefully succeeding and then fighting against an aggressive Northern army that was attempting to force them to remain part of the North just so they could continue to be financially fleeced to enrich Northern corporations. Countless lives, North and South, just so some can get rich in money and power... it's an old story.

That's all for now... I may gush out more later. Suffice it to say that the demi-god known as Lincoln was a scoundrel who worked to enrich the bank accounts of his corporate buddies at the expense, of lives and dollars, of the general population he supposedly represented.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

CD Review - The Lost Dogs - Old Angel

I'm still not 100% sure of where this album lands in my personal collection. I like it more every time I hear it, which makes it a grower. But it's a slow grower. I definitely appreciate that all the members are writing the songs instead of just Terry. Nothing against Mr. Taylor but The Lost Dogs was conceived as a collaborative effort and in the past its fallen away from this ideal.

Two years ago The Lost Dogs piled into a van and drove the length of Route 66, starting in Chicago and ending up at the Santa Monica Pier. Along the way, they stopped at failing diners, truck stops and mom-and-pop stores, setting up and giving free concerts. Joining them on this trip was a newfangled GPS system that allowed fans to track their progress online and in real time, giving those fans an inside glimpse at the band and each wrong turn and lead-footed move. It was a great (vicarious) ride. Too bad you missed it.

Having logged all those hours behind the wheel, the band wrote scads of songs about the journey. Real songs about real people and real places. Places from the glory days of Route 66 that you can find on Google Earth, but you’d best be quick because these non-corporate businesses tend to become ghosts overnight. Presented in the form of Old Angel, The Dogs’ ninth release, these songs capture the tone of this trip, ranging from “it seemed like a good idea at the time” silly (“American Main Street”) to somber moments of longing for times past (“Desert Flowers”). They pay tribute to Wild Bill Hickok in the rocking “Wicked Guns” and humbly ask for safety while on the road with the gentle “Traveling Mercies.”

Throughout the album, the boys couch these Americana songs in a subdued rock vibe and assorted countrified instruments such as fiddles, mandolins and pedal steel. This approach ensures that these songs won’t fit into the preset playlist of any local radio station, though, like the ghost of a road they traveled upon, the tunes would have been gobbled up by the long-gone album format of decades past.

The album highlights are legion. “Dancin’ on the Devil’s Elbow” opens with rhythmic sawing (not one of those newfangled musical saws but a real saw creatively working its way through a piece of real wood) before becoming a joyous remembrance of friends meeting in a restaurant in Missouri. “Pearl Moon” opens with quiet acoustic guitars, recalling Hooverville camps with lyrics like “Does hunger have a lesson to teach?”

Then come the stark realities of life when one of the vocalists passionately sings “And our babies died” while trying to cross the desert. I mention “one of the vocalists” because three of the members sing, often joining their voices for rich vocal harmonies but nowhere as effectively as they do in “The World is Against Us,” a track in which they combine to create a sound worthy of the best of Crosby, Stills and Nash. “Dead End Diner” tells the story of a dying diner through the eyes of a waitress who, despite cutbacks in hours and reduced benefits, finds hope in both a regular who she’s “almost sure that he ain’t gay” and Obama making promises on the radio.

The best track is perhaps their remake of Daniel Amos’ “Glory Road,” a tune that originally appeared on an album chronicling the journey of a fictitious older couple as they took their final vacation on, yep, Route 66. The original song, though charming, was all elbows. This time out the Dogs ironed out the kinks while retaining the charm, forming an absolute masterpiece of a rocker in the process.

As much as I like it now, Old Angel continues to grow on me with each listen. The songs speak of dusty roads and deep friendships that have weathered the years, of lonely times and intoxicating celebrations. The Lost Dogs are four stellar songwriters and lyricists, packing in well over 100 years of experience, and these are some of the best songs you may never hear. Route 66 may have become neglected. It would be a pity to neglect Old Angel as well.

CD Review - Nod Arvefel - Can I Get A Witness?

Every nine months or so this guy puts out a new album of original songs. The style isn't exactly my cup of tea but I admire his sense of humor and passion for his faith. It's been nice to listen to him improve as a songwriter and in the studio.

Can I Get A Witness? is Nod Arvefel’s 142nd album in the past eight months. Okay, maybe he hasn’t released quite that many, but it seems like every time I turn around this guy’s waving a new album in my face. If the music wasn’t so thoroughly enjoyable I might find his prolific output annoying, especially in light of my own current dry spell.

This time around, Nod, who is the alter ego someone better left unmasked (though I’ll give you a tnih), decided to put together an album about death. No, not a death metal album with growly vocals, though he’s included some of his rockiest songs to date. Rather, many of these songs are stories about people meeting their maker as they pass on to the other side, all told with Nod’s usual blend of compassion, humor and keyboard-centric compositions. For instance, “I Saw Elvis Leavin’ the Buildin’” is about hearing the fat lady sing “Amazing Grace’” with egg all over one’s face. “Howlin’ Wind” combines a Steve Wonder “Sunshine of My Life” Wurlitzer sound with a Western feel, tossing in jangling spurs and jazzy horns to tell a tale of a sharpshooter who comes face to face with death. Rounding out the death cycle are “Silver and Gold,” an invigorating track about an unfortunate fellow who finds you can’t earn or buy your way to Heaven, and the twangy, soothing “Keep the Light On” which begins with “As I stood as the bedside of a dying brother” against a fluffy backing of strings and gentle guitars.

As on past albums, Nod throws the listener a few curve balls. While traditional songs like “Take a Ride on the Carousel” and “My Child, There’s No Goodbyes” (another death song I overlooked earlier) could easily be enjoyed in any church without causing the blue-haired ladies to blink an eye, Nod’s mischievous nature cannot be restrained. The rocky “Comfort One Another” will never have anyone crying out “More cowbell!” because cowbell is all over this thing. Seriously, one listen to this lounge song will fulfill your cowbell quota for the rest of 2010. The instrumental “Star Spangled Rock” is impressive in its mastery of synth-guitar soloing, tossing in a Kink’s reference and heavy drums for credibility. Likewise, the final track, “You Still Here?” is an amazing instrumental formed of jazz piano, bass and drums that will get your feet moving right about the time it abruptly ends, leaving you wanting more. Nod even uses vocoders on two songs: the unnerving “I Am That I Am” which tells the listener of God’s love in the first Person (I kill myself with these thinly veiled theological jokes), and “Jesus, You Are the Glory” tempers the ballad with an angelic choir and (gasp) real guitars playing off impressively emotive vocals for an album highlight. And then there’s a song like the title track which makes you wonder if Nod mistakenly brought home a Kraftwerk CD from the library, filled as it is with a techno beat, squishy synth sounds, a very fat bass and clever lyrics like “Don’t care how much you know / I want to know how much you care.”

Overall, Can I Get A Witness? is a remarkably adventurous collection of songs. One moment you’ll hear a dramatic arrangement of strings and piano, the next a soothing hymn appropriate for church and then an offbeat quasi-techno 50s rocker. Arvefel is as genuine in his faith as he is talented in his songwriting, honestly expressing God’s love for humanity through tears and laughter.

CD Review - The Candles - Between the Sounds

I just realized that I'm way behind on posting CD reviews as they are published... BAAAAD ME! This first one is a great album. I suspect I'll be dragging this one out for years to get a fresh listen.

Multi-instrumentalist Josh Lattanzi has spent the better part of his life recording and touring with blokes like Ben Kweller, The Lemonheads, and Albert Hammond Jr. of The Strokes. Fortunately for fans of quality music Josh spent that time carefully observing the fine art of songwriting instead of rolling dice with the roadies. When he finally had a decent-sized break in his touring schedule Josh enlisted a few friends and headed to the studio to make a permanent record of his songs under the project name The Candles.

Between the Sounds springs to life with “Waiting For The Truth,” a song which personifies the adjective “jaunty” with a spritely beat driving pleasingly warm organs, slightly countryish guitars, retro synth tones, and a bouncy bridge. Dour lyrics of “By the sound / I know you’ve found / Another reason to give up” are offset by the elfish melody for an endearing contrast. “Here or Gone” sports more of a Meat Puppets influence with close two-part vocal harmonies throughout, easily gliding along on punkish pop melodies backed by rootsy chiming guitars. The theme continues in “Let Me Down Easy” where piano and steel guitar add their spice to spine-chilling vocal harmonies and melancholy melodies. The rocking title track is an ode to being on the road while “Not Enough” invokes the spirit of the early 70s when bands were free to cross musical genres at will, pitting a mellotron against rich vocals that beg you to pick a part and sing along. “Road Song” is marked by sizzling lead guitars, jangly rhythm guitars and a sorrowful sense that “Days are getting farther away / I’m getting further behind” even though the hyper-sweetened melody leads one to believe otherwise.

Each of the ten songs on Between The Sounds is crammed full of country-tinged pop goodness. Its Meat Puppets, Ryan Adams, Jackson Browne, Gin Blossoms, Eagles, acoustic Foo Fighters (sans screaming), and Tom Petty all rolled into one infectious gob of fantastic music. There are no sonic gimmicks here, just beautifully crafted songs artfully and tastefully recorded, allowing them to stand on their impressive strength.

Sausage Machine

Muggy and humid
Are the days of this summer.
Every day August.

Second ultrasound
Checking on his position
That durn boy is breech!

Decades since the last
So forgive me – I forgot
Bug spray to drive in.

Working from home still
Pushing to meet a deadline
Weeks since I rested.

Sunday E.R. trip
Glad my heart is in good shape.
“Too much stress,” they said.

I met the deadline
But I seriously doubt
It was worth the costs.

A free lunch at work
Doesn’t make up for low pay
A nice gesture, though.

Friday, August 6, 2010

More Ketchup

What was I doing
Nearly two whole months ago?
I haven’t a clue.

Brown County State Park
Humidity off the charts
Hiking on the trails.

Tessa just turned two
Big curls and a bigger smile
Character in spades.

That little red car
Was fun. Even better was
The walk back with Brooke.

A birthday party
In advance came too quickly.
Good thing he cared not.

Another Friday
Let your hair down and relax
Time spent with my wife.

Fifteen years go fast
When your son is nifty-keen
Happy Birthday Josh!

I could fix the car
And spend all of my Sunday
Or spend phantom cash.

My right palm is numb
Torque problem. Tight bolt. Break bar.
Now I take it in.

It’s either a lot
Or I could consider it
Eight months of payments.

It’s the new Lost Dogs!
Could I be souring on them?
Maybe it will grow.