Friday, September 30, 2011

Anwar Al-Awlaki dead--Molly Norris to re-emerge?

First thing I did when I heard the news was to click over and congratulate the fine folks at The Jawa Report, for staying on this creep's case.

Maybe now Molly Norris can come out of hiding. Remember her? Molly Norris, a freeborn American cartoonist, practicing her lawful trade in the heart of her native land, had to go into hiding because of a death threat from al-Awlaki. I had a hard time believing that pre-Californicated Seattle would have stood for this. Would none of you hippies stand up for her, I wondered? Protect her, roar defiance at The Jihad, dare them to come through you to get to her? Or were they too busy laughing at misspelled Tea Party signs?

The fact that a harmless cartoonist at a run-of-the-mill altie rag had to hide for her life because of a fatwa from the late imam should demonstrate both the international and the Islamic nature of the The Jihad against our liberty and our lives.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Random Rock Bloggage: Farewell to REM

I never did see REM in concert, but I did play their music on college radio in the early days. How early? So early, that they were still a college band, and Michael Stipe was still a longhair. The radio station I was on was tiny, couldn't be heard off campus, and the preppie student body was deaf to our offerings (though I'm sure many came around years later). Pretty much no one listened except the staff. Now, of course, the music we played is on the nostalgia stations, or filling out endless re-packagings of that era's songs. Of all those bands, U2 and REM are the only ones I can think of offhand who have endured and had their greatness affirmed by both the critics and the buying public.

I liked what Mike Mills said one time: "We're the acceptable edge of the unacceptable stuff". I didn't like what Michael Stipe said, though: "I've always referred to the Beatles as elevator music because that's exactly what they were. I've never sat down and listened to a Beatles record from beginning to end. Those guys didn't mean a (expletive deleted) thing to me." It isn't because it offends me, but because the influence is screamingly obvious. All of REM's music sounds like it's descended from, an exfoliation of a single Beatles song, "Rain". Come on, now: you can easily hear REM covering it in your mind, can't you? Just goes to show how fecund The Beatles music was.

I enjoyed their early albums up to and including Lifes Rich Pageant, still do. "The Flowers of Guatemala" is probably my favorite song of theirs. I enjoyed many of the singles that appeared on the radio once they hit the top, too, but by that time I was beyond getting emotionally involved with bands. Had they continued releasing Fables Of The Reconstruction II, III, IV, V, etc., I probably would have never even known they were still together, when they announced their breakup. So congratulations to them for starting out edgy and literate, and bringing those same qualities along to mainstream success, and happy retirement to them.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

My 9/11 Story

I was driving to work, listening to the radio and waiting for the replay of David Letterman's Top Ten List to come on. The breaking news "swoosh* came on, and Tom Hughes on WGST announced that a small plane had hit the World Trade Center. Now, just a few weeks before that, someone in a parasail had fouled his rig on the Statue of Liberty. So, I thought that this was some brainwipe in a Cessna whose stunt had gone awry. Only when I got in to work did I hear that both had been hit. I tried to connect to various news websites, but the national ones were all jammed. So I hit upon the idea of connecting to some West Coast newspapers' websites before their patrons woke up, because I knew they would be running wire photos and reports. I finally got through to the website of the Sacramento Bee. (I later sent their webmaster a thank-you for his hard work.) I was so stunned that it wasn't until after lunch that it occurred to me to turn on the radio.

At one point I went down to the Publix to give a check for the Red Cross. A young man at the counter, whom I later figured out was an Arab, kept trying to make small talk with me, about how terrible the events were. I guess he, acutely aware of his nationality that day, thought I had been glaring at him. But in truth, I was lost in my own thoughts.

I got home and ate dinner in front of the TV. It was a cacophany of video loops, guest experts, officials, and reporters doing stand-ups at or near various newsworthy locations. The horrible news came cascading down all day and night. It was towards bedtime that I realized that I had been standing, not sitting, in front of the TV all evening. I woke up the next morning, from a pretty pleasant dream, only to have the awful new reality come crashing in as I woke. A few weeks later it felt as if this had been going on for months. And now, ten years later, I remember it as vividly as if it had happened last week.

Monday, September 05, 2011

CDC: Half of Americans will suffer from mental health woes

Wow. Half. Is there anyone in the country who doesn't suffer from some disorder or inadequacy? Just think: One day, with enough counseling, enough psycho-therapy, enough medication, enough self-help books, we'll be able to avoid life altogether.