December 31, 2010

Auld Lang Syne.


I came across a moderately entertaining article about the song “Auld Lang Syne”, which, when translated, means “long, long ago” or “old times past”.  I’ve never known most of the lyrics to that song, but the few lines I did know never made sense to me.  Especially without the full context of the song, which I never bothered to look into because I’m lazy like that when it’s something I ponder only one day a year.  Well, now I know.  And you’re about to know if you don’t already.

The song’s origin goes back to 1788.  Some Scottish lyric poet basically stole the phrase “auld lang syne” from some unknown, old man and used it as the centerpiece of a song/poem he wrote and later sent to a musical museum.  It spread throughout Scotland, sung to mark the end of the year, and the rest is history.

Based on the few lyrics I knew, it always seemed like the song was saying we should forget and let go of the past.  Specifically, people of the past.  That always felt weird to me and I didn’t agree with it, but I went with it because it’s NYE and that’s what social conditioning taught me.  Actually, my pals and I don’t typically have a rousing chorus of Auld Lang Syne on NYE, but it has happened.  Anyhoo, the article clarifies that the song actually poses the question of whether old times past should be forgotten.  Then, later, it answers that question for us with a boisterous NO.  There were slightly varied interpretations of the lyrics in the article, but all agreed the song’s answer to the question is that the past has something important to offer us and should never be forgotten.  That goes for all people too, including friends, family, heroes, mere acquaintances, one night stands, whomever.  Everyone who comes into our lives affects us somehow, to some extent.  Also agreed upon is that the song emphasizes the importance of the present as well.  Bottom line:  We can take something from every experience, every person, in our past, and in real-time we should slow down, absorb, enjoy, and revel in what/who we have in our lives.  As one of the contributors said, "I think it's a description of the things we lose in our hurry to do things. We forget to be a friend. We have to take the time to make friends and be friends, to sit and tell stories and listen to those of others." As the last line says, “And there’s a hand, my trusty friend, and give a hand of thine.  We’ll take a right good-will draught for auld lang syne”. 

This NYE, take a hand, extend a hand, have cocktails with your peeps, be fully present (as much as you can half-crocked) and appreciate what they bring to your life and what you might bring to theirs.  That is the lesson for today.

So, there you have it folks.  Now tonight, when you sorta-halfway-mumble-sing this song at midnight through your whiskey breath, you will do so with relief and comfort because you’ll know what it all really means.  I don’t know about you, but I already feel good about 2011 just by starting it on that note.  One less stressor in my life. 

Happy celebrating to all of you.  Be careful out there (*said in Hill Street Blues voice*).  And may you not have a New Year’s Evil.


December 24, 2010

Random Xmas Shit.

·        According to this article from Pharmaceutical Journal, researchers studying mind-altering drugs found that reindeer purposefully seek out and consume hallucinogenic plants to amuse themselves during the long winters.  "They have a desire to experience altered states of consciousness”, says the article’s author.  In particular, reindeer seem to be fond of the hallucinogenic fly agaric mushroom.  “Eating the toadstool makes reindeer behave in a drunken fashion, running about aimlessly and making strange noises. Head-twitching is also common”.  So, now we know how reindeer are able to fly.  Don’t we all prefer an altered state of consciousness on major holidays?  I wanna party with you, Rudolph.
·        As a kid I was raised Catholic (thanks for your sympathy) and was forced to go to weekly religion class for years (thanks again).  It sucked royal ass.  But hey, it gave me the foundation I needed in order to eventually shun it in favor of being a non-believer. Anyway, I remember one year around Christmas the whole class revolved around the use of the abbreviation “Xmas”, and how using an “X” is disrespectful to Christ.  They literally tried to start a movement to get people to use a cross in place of the “X” and say  tmas” instead, deeming it “more appropriate”.  I was just a kid, but I recall saying out loud to my pals, who also hated religion class and are also now non-believers, “This is stupid”.  I can recall thinking, Why are they offended, it’s just a shorter way to write/say it? and, Do they really think they can get the entire world to quit using“Xmas"?  It just seemed like a ridiculous waste of time and effort to me for something that was and is completely insignificant and harmless.  Not to mention that using “tmas” actually would be offensive and excluding to some, where as the generic “Xmas” can be shared by all.  Bottom line:  my cohorts and I laughed and ridiculed the idea, noting that if they changed it we’d have to stop pronouncing it out as “ex-mas” and start saying “plus-mas” (obviously we were already rejecting Catholicism at that point.  Not a one of us thought to says “cross-mas”).  To this day, every year when this time rolls around, at least a handful of times the words “Merry PlusMas” will come out of my mouth.  The end.
·        I shall leave you with tidings of joy, in the form of my all-time favorite PlusMas song.  When’s the last time you saw this video?  A total classic.  May all of you find the altered state of consciousness you desire this holiday season.

December 18, 2010

No Surprise Here.


study conducted by the University of Maryland judged how likely consumers of various news outlets and publications were to believe misinformation about a wide range of political issues.  Overall, consumers of nearly every news outlet believed they had received some false information, and 90% of participants felt they were given false information specifically during the 2010 election campaign.  The latter is a very sad fact, albeit no shocker.  The best part is that the study found viewers of Fox News in particular to be "significantly more likely" than those who never watched it to believe the following:

  • that the economy is getting worse (26 points more likely)
  • that most economists believe the health care law will worsen the deficit (31 points)
  • that most economists estimate the stimulus caused job losses (12 points)
  • that most scientists do not agree that climate change is occurring (30 points)
  • that the stimulus legislation did not include any tax cuts (14 points)
  • that their own income taxes have gone up (14 points)
  • that the auto bailout only occurred under Obama (13 points)
  • that when TARP came up for a vote most Republicans opposed it (12 points)
  • that it is not clear that Obama was born in the United States (31 points) 
That last one is the kicker.  Notice it is tied for the highest number of points.  WTF, people?  The study also showed a correlation between increased Fox viewership and increased belief in this false information.  So, basically they are saying that Fox is brainwashing people with their spewed lies.

Since this study was released, Fox news has responded to this claim.  Michael Clemente, Fox News senior vice president for news, maturely countered the study's findings by stomping his feet and yelling "U of M sucks!".  More specifically, he said, "The latest Princeton Review ranked the University of Maryland among the top schools for having ‘Students Who Study The Least’ and being the ‘Best Party School’ – given these fine academic distinctions, we’ll regard the study with the same level of veracity it was ‘researched’ with."   Not only was that the best argument this guy could come up with, but the reporter who took the quote responded with, "For the record, the Princeton Review says the University of Maryland ranks among the 'Best Northeastern Colleges'. It was No. 19 on the Review’s list of 'Best Party Schools.'" Try again, Clemente.

December 14, 2010

Stuff Potpourri

·        I don't know if this is new news or if I somehow got behind on the times, but apparently there is a major medical breakthrough going on, folks.  In 2007 an HIV-positive Berlin man underwent a stem cell transplant as part of his treatment for leukemia, and it seems he has been cured of his HIV as a result.  His doctors say that extensive testing "strongly suggest that cure of HIV infection has been achieved".  This is incredible!  Why the hell isn't this front page news?  Instead, we get Miley Cyrus' bong-gate.  Anyway, in my opinion this is more proof of the importance of stem cell research!  Suck it, Catholic Church!

·        My new job is going great, thanks for asking!  I'm a few weeks into it and I feel very "at home".  My coworkers are great, and I am enjoying what I'm doing.  It's all good.  So far. 

·        I'm still dating the metalhead biker guy.  I'm still interested after a month, so that's already somewhat of a milestone.  He's been really sick as of late though, and you'd think the goddamn world was coming to an end by his tone. I'm not talking about the actual sickness voice.  I'm talking about the tone/voice/demeanor nearly all guys I know seem to get when they get sick and act like GIGANTIC BABIES.  Like Santa just left them a lump of coal.  Like there's no more tomorrow.  Like life isn't worth living.  I get it.  It rather sucks being sick and I, too, like receiving sympathy from people when I feel like crap.  But it's a whole other ball of wax with guys.  Not all guys, of course, but a lot of guys.  It's a phenomenon us women just don't fully understand, despite the countless conversations we have about it over the course of our lives trying to.  The good thing is that we understand just enough to have some empathy and suck it up and humor you, but the entire time we are wondering who this strange, helpless, negative being is that we are coddling.  Anyway, if any of you men out there would like to share some insight, it would be much appreciated.

·        I will wrap up by sharing some music with you.  It probably won't surprise you that I'm a big fan of glam rock, hair metal, etc.  There's a band called The Last Vegas who I happened to see live at a tiny venue when they were opening for the Supersuckers about 1 ½-2 years ago.  It was one of those times when a lot of people were left wowed by the unknown opener, which is always a nice surprise.  These guys ROCKED my face off.  They put on a great show, sounded great, and were glamorous to boot.  Big hair, sparkles, tight clothes, the works.  In the moment, I told my friend they reminded me of old, original Mötley Crüe (I'm talking first album, when they still had a punkish edge to their sound).  In talking to a band member after the show I mentioned this, and he told me they were discovered and had their new album produced by Nikki Sixx (be still my heart).  So, there you have it. 

December 11, 2010

Santa in Space.


I just recently became privy to this Christmas delicacy.  I have not seen it in its entirety yet, but it looks so deliciously bad I can barely stand it.  If you are a fan of the original Star Trek, then this is for you.  About as low-tech and low-quality as you can go.  Bad props.  Bad acting.  Awesomely bad plot.  Badass standard early 60's narration voice.  This movie appears to have it all, including Santa and martians.  There's no way it could be wrong. 

December 7, 2010

A Fire in My Belly.

No, this post does not involve Fat Bastard.

One week ago House GOP Leader John Boehner forced the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery to remove a piece of video art called "A Fire in My Belly" from late artist David Wojnarowicz's exhibit.  Boehner along with Representative Eric Cantor, who will be the second-ranking member of House GOP leadership, are now taking it one step further by encouraging the museum to remove the entire exhibit altogether.  Why, you ask?  Because they claim it's offensive to Christians.  According to the museum's website, "The film, A Fire in My Belly, A Work in Progress (1986-87) is a poetic meditation on man, life, death, faith, and suffering made in part as a response to the AIDS-related death of his close friend, artist Peter Hujar."

Knowing the Religion Card probably wouldn't stand a chance by itself, they are trying to back their argument by reminding everyone that the Smithsonian receives some federal funding.  This really isn't an argument at all, considering there is freedom of speech, freedom of religion and all that good stuff going on in this country.  Last time I checked, artists don't have to clear their ideas with anyone, nor do museums have to run potential exhibits by the White House for approval.  Basically what they meant to say is that the exhibit was offensive to THEM, and perhaps also other religious persons and groups as they claim, and they are grasping for straws trying to find a reason to outrage the rest of the world along with them by suggesting that government money funded this objectionable art.  In direct response to this, a spokeswoman for the Smithsonian noted that federal funding is not used to pay for exhibits, only infrastructure, curating, and staff.  So, there goes that argument.

I'm really, really tired of the Religion Card.  Message to you Christian conservatives:  You are not the center of the universe.  Everything does not revolve around you, nor do they revolve around trying to persecute you for your chosen beliefs.  Quit assuming that everything is about you, and you will stop taking every fucking little thing personally as some sort of slam against your religion and your character.  Quit worrying that things such as artistic expression might cause us to question religion, because that's already been going on for a long time by a shit ton of people anyway.  You are threatened by and afraid of beliefs different from your own, therefore, you try to eliminate that which you assume is slanderous and might cause people to think outside of your box.  Stop it.  Now.  I thank you.

Anyway, below is the piece of video art that was removed from the exhibit.  The piece has since been picked up by several other museums who are now showing it in its entirety.  I don't know if words can describe this thing.  It's weird, freaky, awesome, intriguing, brilliant, disturbing, and FUCKING SCARY all at once.  Watch it.

December 3, 2010

Lemmy.


A documentary about Lemmy has been in the works forever, and it finally premiered this past spring at the SXSW music festival.  Since then I've been waiting and waiting, wondering when the hell the rest of us are going to have a chance to see it.  The movie has continued to make the rounds at various film and music festivals since then, but still no national release.  Until now.  The word on the street is that the film will hit theaters in select major U.S. markets in mid-January, to be followed up by the DVD release on February 15th.  The DVD will include 2 discs and 4 hours of bonus coverage.  That sounds superb. 

Unfortunately I'm not quite sure if my town will be included in the "major U.S. market" category, but I waited this long so an extra month won't kill me at this point.  Lemmy is most definitely a legend, but he's quite an interesting character to boot, and I'm assuming this documentary will not disappoint in the slightest.  I once had a brush with Lemmy's rock 'n' roll greatness when I was at the Best Bar in the Entire World- the Rainbow Bar and Grill in Hollywood.  I have long been well aware that Lemmy frequents the Rainbow and lives right down the street.  When I visit L.A., which I do 1-2 times a year, I ALWAYS go to the Rainbow at least once.  I love this place for a multitude of reasons, but amongst other things, it is the best people watching you will ever find.  Anyway, a few years ago I paid my annual visit to the bar and while having a smoke out on the patio I see that dork from Sum 41 that was married to Avril Lavigne.  I said to my friends, "There's Deryck Whibley!", and in unison they all replied, "Who?".  Which was totally classic.  After that non-excitement died down and he walked into the bar, I turned my head back towards the entrance and see LEMMY pull up in a very shiny big-ass truck.  He got out with his cowboy hat, handed the keys to a valet and strutted into the bar, walking so close to me I could've touched his mole (except it was on the other side of his face, which would've made it more difficult).  Long story short, I was star-struck.  I don't get star struck to the point of fear and anxiety except for a rare few people, none of which I've ever actually seen in person besides Lemmy, but I can only assume how idiotic I'd act.  So, in one of my biggest regrets ever, I  freaked out because Lemmy was in my presence, clammed up, got all nervous, scared, and didn't even come close to approaching him, much less ask to get a picture.  I still kick myself for that one.  Why be nervous?  But I was.  I couldn't help it.  Every trip to L.A. is now a mission to recreate that scenario with an outcome that includes sitting at the bar and having a whiskey with Lemmy along with photo proof, as opposed to me cursing myself for the next 3 years. 

Here's the trailer for the movie.