December 31, 2008

I'm Going To Disneyland!

And wrecking some shit....because I can.

Yeah, this is old stuff and has been done before, but damnit, I think it still has flair. Especially with my fine name attached to it.

Special thanks to Cuppy for sending this my way.

December 20, 2008

One Year Anniversary of TBMS

Boogie doesn't do weekends. Never has, and barring some huge degree of profit from writing this shit, probably never will. However, I decided to "come into the office" today, because today happens to be a little bit special.

Today marks the one year anniversary of The Boogie Man Speaks. That's right, one year ago today, this humble little page went online and began the slow gradual destruction of the internet as we know it today.

Seriously, who would have ever thought that a failed musician/raving psychotic would have so much to say? Not me, that's for sure. What started as a background page for the occasional goofy thought has morphed into a regularly updated, issue themed...... something. Not quite sure what it is, but it's definitely something.

Clearly, I have no signs of stopping. Even duct taped to a water heater in a basement, I don't know how to shut up. So, if you're actually excited to know that more of this sort of thing is going to be happening, (and if you are, what the hell is wrong with you?) then your prayers have been answered. They may even be expanded upon at some point.

What does the future hold? At this point in the game, it's safe to say that the sky is indeed the limit. Chances are good that people will continue to be dumb, celebrities will continue to be childish, music that sells will still suck, and the government will continue to jerk people off. Having this arsenal at my disposal means I can pretty much do this forever.

Still, I am on the hunt for innovation. Clearly there are many more ways to be snarky and cynical. And it is my job to exploit the living hell out of them.

One thing that has seriously crossed my noodle is a podcast. I mean hell, one of my best attributes is the deep, sex-inducing voice I happen to be stuck with, so I might as well use it. While I have finalized nothing, the basic idea I'm rolling with is to bring up regular news, bitching, and the occasional song from artists I dig upon, just to fill up space. I'd be down for doing readings of any post I've thrown up here, depending on interest. Interviews would, of course be very cool, but there are no guarantees that anyone would actually talk with a beast like me. So, we won't get our hopes up there. There's also the possibility of doing a few skits and/or segments, like I used to do over at Cinema Sound Lounge, or with my regular "Talks With Boogie Man" series on the BGO sites that have become so popular. But again, I haven't settled on anything. It's all just speculation at this point. And it's speculation that I'm gonna leave in your hands.

So tell me loyal readers, what do you think? Would you even be remotely interested in an audio version of your favorite freak? Or is that just pushing the comfort level too much? I've thrown one of them nifty Blogger makeshift polls in the sidebar, so vote at your discretion. Let me know if it is, or isn't, worth the time.

Well, that's that. Thanks to you chosen few who keep coming back to this deathtrap and giving ol 'Boogie a read. Now, I don't know about you, but I've got an anniversary on my hands here. I should probably go make something special out of it. Some cake, flatulence, hooch, gratuitous violence.......should be fun.

December 19, 2008

Rambling From Olive Garden

I am currently typing this in a highly inebriated state in the southwest corner if the local Olive Garden. Outside, a fair strong snow falls across my fair bastard state, creating the perennial "White Christmas." The booze is slowly insuring that it's a happy one. I am in a desperate attempt to try and keep my neck still, because anytime the muscles flex, my brain functions go haywire. I'm fighting with every weakened fiber of my being to try and maintain some degree of composure here. People in this "America's excuse for Italian" are routinely squeezed into the building like sardines. And on a holiday during lunchtime, it only makes this fact more apparent. Being this close to perfectly sensible strangers makes one's descent into drunkenness much harder to disguise. Of course, since we were the only two lunatics in this place to order pomegranate flavored margaritas at one in the afternoon, we had already started this little trip into madness at
a disadvantage. Any second now, these people are going to see the obvious signs, the gradual slur of the voice, the glazed over staring into space, the desperate need to point aimlessly while talking, and when they do, all hell will break loose.

I'm glancing around nervously, trying to get a feel of the room. Trying to figure out which of these overpriced furry boot wearing white collars is going to rush me first. This is Olive Garden for fucks sake, during lunch time no less. Seating in here at this time is quite the hot ticket. Many folks were being turned away with hour long waits in uncomfortable waiting rooms, just to have a taste of safe elegance. There's no limit what they could have done just to get my seat. It matters not that I paid for soup, breadsticks, and stucco atmospherics just like everyone else. This is the place to be.

Soup's good today. Of course, the soup is always good. Breadsticks too. This is truly miracle bread we're dealing with. Always hot and perfect. We are dealing guaranteed satisfaction here. The fact is, walk into any Olive Garden, and you'll be eating pretty much the same degree of well. This is the stuff people eat when they want to feel like they're eating gourmet, but not take any actual risks. Independent resteraunts try new things with varied ingredients, done in different fashions. It can be touch or go for any person who wants to appear wealthy, since they may pay top dollar and look reputable for food that tastes funny. Not the O.G. There's an Olive Guarden in just about every city nowadays. They're not gonna risk the chain by serving crap. I vaguely remeber that this is what McDonalds used to be before everyone realized they were trying to kill us.

The vibe in Olive Garden is definitely changing. Men and women with dirt on their clothes and the sweat of hard work occupy much of this space. Tattoed and fuzzy faced patrons fill the seats to my north, looking nothing like the happy faced middle-classmen in all those commercials. Olive Garden's changed man. What used to be the height of commercialized snobbery has slowly been taken over by the everyman. Normally, I consider these my people. Brothers in arms with strong alliances. But I am in no condition to wage war today. I'm not even sure I can stand up at this point.

Frank Sinatra's voice keeps coming over the speakers.....or at least I think it does. After all, it's not like I haven't channelled Ol' Blue Eyes in altered states before. The Chairman and I are old friends when it comes to staggering craziness. Something I find myself in a lot of. The waitress is looking at us funny now. it's clear we're past any capacity for appearing rational. I let my thoughts drift to the snow falling outside. Damn, it's coming down. But, 'tis the season I suppose. As I suckle on my cheap chocolate after dinner mints that are apparently wishing me a "Happy Holidays," one thought crosses my mind:

How in the hell am I going to get home?

December 17, 2008

Dear Utah Board Of Education: WTF?

The state of Utah's Board of Education has unanimously decided to put $20 million in merit pay for Utah teachers, on hold. Citing economic downturn, the teachers would be denied merit pay for the last year, money that was supposed to be distributed on December 1st. One board member mentioned her concerns that the school districts and teachers will be upset if they don't get the bonus.

Gee, you think?

For those of you who don't live in my fair bastard state, let me inform you of something I've come to know: Teachers in Utah are treated like one-eyed stepchildren by local government. Walking into the education field here in Utah is a complete and total act of love, because you are not getting compensated for shit. Pay levels are abysmal, benefits packages are minute, and as for public appreciation? Well let's face it, teachers don't get appreciated in any state.

And our legislature has made it near impossible for any educator to get any degree of fair compensation. I have routinely made bigger paychecks than most teachers, who happen to possess a Bachelor's, a Master's, and several years of experience. However, the legislature has had no problem forking out thousands of buckaroos to build new school buildings. Not that there were anything wrong with the old facilities, but the new buildings look so much cooler, or something to that effect.

And now, after a year of very hard work, they don't even get a bonus.

Explain this logic to me people. They are, for the most part, government employees. They need special licenses and years of study just to do what they do. Day in and day out, they do a very difficult job for very little pay. But somehow, the economic downturn means that money should have gone justifiably, to the teachers, is being saved?

Saved for what? Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't having teachers in the classroom what makes a school? Oh sure, you can have a nice building, maybe even a playground in back. Hell, you can have school books, but it's not technically a school until there is someone in every classroom doing actual teaching. You can't have a restaurant without cooks, so how are you going to have a school without teachers? So, if they're not getting compensated, then what is this money going to exactly?

More prepackaged food items that are slowly converting our children into corn syrup junkies? Maintenance on outdated school buses that are falling apart at the seams? Shinier and prettier buildings that have no effect on what a child learns? Tell me oh great Board of Education, because I am damned curious.

Hitler's Birthday

Stumbled across this on the interweb, and felt compelled to say a few things.

So, here's the scoop: Heath and Deborah Campbell, a couple from New Jersey, saw fit to name their little boy Adolf Hitler Campbell who just turned three this week. And apparently, in the process of trying to order a birthday cake for their little son through a local baker, were flat out denied. The bakers refused to put the child's name on the cake, citing that they, "reserve the right to refuse printing anything on a cake they deem inappropriate."

Both parents are of course, outraged, commenting that the toddler has friends who are black. Heath was reported to have said, "If we’re so racist, then why would I have them come into my home?"

These are the facts, now here's my take on the matter:


You've got people who willingly, and without contrived force, name their child after one of the most infamous people in history, and then expect the world to be cool about it? I don't care what side of the fence you sit on, you can't argue that Adolf Hitler (the first one) killed a whole lot of people. That's not rumor or perspective, that's good old fashioned fact. And it's a pretty safe bet that the world at large feels a mite uncomfortable with ol' Adolf (again, the first one.) The man built up a hell of a bad reputation after all. Now you've got some crazy family who sees no problem in naming their child after the man, and then is surprised when people get squeamish? Ye gods, how does that work?

And let's face it, naming their child after Hitler was a choice. It's not like the kids last name was Hitler, and that the family was stuck with the stigma of having a name that transcended time. Kid's last name is Campbell. Lots of names could be applied to Campbell and still not carry any bad history with it. No, the fact is that this family CHOSE to name their son Adolf Hitler Campbell. It means that after lil' Adolf (the second one) was born, the two parents sat down, thought long and hard, and under no duress or pressure from anyone, decided to name their child this.

And bear in mind Adolf isn't the lone child in this equation. He has two younger sisters named Honszlynn Hinler Jeannie (which may be a tribute to Heinrich Himmler) and JoyceLynn Aryan Nation Campbell. Apparently, the family is trying to build a little theme here.

So, it's pretty darn clear that I have a different personal politic than the Campbells. I'm pretty sure that if I were to sit down and talk with these folks, I wouldn't be much of a fan of who they are or what they believe. But, I'm not going to argue their right to do what they're doing. Mr. and Mrs Campbell, if you really wanna name your kid Adolf Hitler, well that is your right and I cannot stop you.


Did you really think that the world at large wouldn't freak out by this? That the idea of willfully naming children after murderers and extremists wouldn't go unnoticed? In what part of your brain did you really figure that a cake baking company would be okay with this? Hell, according to the article, you tried this very same thing two years ago. Apparently, they weren't willing to draw swastikas on a cake for some family function of yours. You'd figure by this point in the game, you'd take the hint. They're not down with your sense of style, or your ironic means of naming children.

And if I were you, Mr. and Mrs. Campbell, I'd start getting used to this. If you think getting a goddamn cake is hard, imagine the cold shock and discomfort of this kid going to school. You don't think there aren't going to be a few black eyes? Or how about when he's old enough to get a job? You think those employers are really gonna pounce on a kid named after Adolf Hitler? You have just made this poor kid's life real goddamn hard. And I'm not even sure why. Either you are real impressed and proud with Adolf Hitler's "achievements" or you just wanted to shock the world with your knowledge of sick history. Regardless, it's a little fucked up to use your kids as your own personal social statement.

I could go on for great lengths on this tangent, but I'm not going to. Instead, I'm going to offer one solid suggestion to help smooth the friction:

Go to the fucking store, buy a fucking cookbook, and learn how to bake your own fucking cakes!

December 15, 2008

Tom Cruise Apologizes For Being A Douche

Well, it took a few years, and the development of a reputation as a mister crazy pants, but Tom Cruise has finally acknowledged that he may have overreacted during his 2005 interview with Matt Lauer. While doing the rounds for his latest pile of steaming crap "Valkyrie," Cruise admitted that he was regretful of his behavior during that interview, where a confrontation erupted between Cruise and Lauer over Brook Shield's use of antidpressants for post-partum depression. Cruise believes he appears arrogant and that "he did not communicate it in the way he wanted to communicate it."

Well shiver me timbers, I never thought I'd see the day. Granted, this isn't really much of an apology, but it's more than I ever expected to see. A stubborn idiot with too much glory tied to his name, admitting to the world that he may not have handled a situation well. And all it took was a few years, and the constant disgust and mocking from the world at large to make him see the light.

Now if only we could get these sorts of feel goods from the government, well then life would be pretty darn sweet my friends.

Hardcore Eats

I'm a fan of the hardcore. Those tough and dedicated individuals who bust serious ass at the threat of life and limb to do what they do. I never cease to be impressed by these near-mystical, stone faced people who are committed to their craft and tend to it unflinching. This is my personal notion of superhuman. You can have your big breasted, steroid freaks who stand around in spandex and baby oil if you like, I'll stick to the heavily calloused, sleepless masses who do their thing rough, gritty, and well.

I drove into the heart of downtown SLC this past weekend, while on a mission for high-grade comfort food. It had been a long day, and long days always call for decadent flavorings that remind one of home. It was around 25 degrees outside, and a substantial amount of snow had just graced my fair bastard city. This was, for all intensive purposes, a miserable fucking day. The kind of day where mortals lock themselves up in their houses, homes, apartments, and scullery basements and spend their day watching bad TV and eating easily accessible crap. And I don't fault them for it. When I stepped outside and found snow on my street, snow on my vehicle, and the bite of cold making my cheeks hurt, suddenly eating potato chips and watching Sex In The City reruns didn't seem like such a bad idea. And it took and extreme amount of effort and dedication just to get me out the door, and into a cold truck just to get some decent vittles. Still, I prevailed. And after five minutes of waiting for things to warm up enough in the vehicle, I was happy to be doing it.

And as I pulled off the interstate and into the heart of downtown SLC, I saw some of the roughest and toughest people I have ever seen in my life. Through the glaze of unmelted ice on a slightly foggy windshield, there they were. Their shops set up in the parking lot of a department store, the traces of steam coming off their carts as they stood in bitter fucking cold making tacos for seventy five cents a pop. On one of the coldest days of the year, the people manning the taco stands were standing there, stoic as ever, flipping corn tortillas and chopping vegetables.

Now I'm a big fan of my local taco stands. Some of the best food I've ever stuffed into my face has come from these arenas of culinary utopia. This is food done simple, and done right. And while the taco stands have had many detractors over the years, dropping nonsense of everything from lack of cleanliness to secretly serving you dog, I for one could die a happy man having nothing but a plate of street tacos before I go into the light.

The taco stand experience is not just about the excellent food, but also the people making it. Every stand I've been to has always had very warm and welcoming individuals, who have their own little stockpile of regular visitors coming for their own private taste of perfection. A good taco stand brings in people from a variety of races, creeds, and classes to sample the wares. It makes for a very social experience. But, for eyes like mine, looking past the succulence and courtesy, reveals a layer of true grit unheard of.

Taco stand cooks always seem to have grizzled, weather-beaten hands, awash with multitudes of cuts, scrapes, and burns. These hands have been serving tacos for so long, that they can take your order, plate, and serve you in under a minute flat. All without their eyes leaving the grill. The faces, although kind and friendly, have a worn quality to them. As though they've been tired for so long, they don't even feel it anymore. And I can imagine that exhaustion is a requisite for the job. Most taco stands keep near ridiculous hours. Ranging anywhere from 7am to midnight and beyond. All the while, searing the same cuts of meat over high heat while standing on hard concrete. There should be no question in anyone's mind that these people can outlast any of us in an endurance match.

And apparently, they can withstand sub 30 degree weather as well.

On a day when most normal rational mortals barricade themselves in their homes underneath blankets and a thin veil of burnt propane, these people were out there. Standing in bitter cold in someone else's parking lot. Parking lots with no trees, no way to retain heat, and no way to keep the cold breeze from sneaking into your nether regions and playing with your unmentionables. And they weren't there in hefty parkas and thick coats, oh no. From the road, you can see them in the white, stained uniform of a cook. No gloves and no hats either. They have the same dedicated look and drive to them on this cold ass day that they would on any other. And I have no doubt that when I got home, and slapped on warm snuggly comfort clothes and cranked up the heat, they were still out there selling tacos.

It doesn't get much tougher than this people.

December 11, 2008

Burger King Feeds The World

Burger King has launched a multi-million dollar ad campaign that has brought their signature burger, The Whopper, into the hands of people who have never had the opportunity to try one. The company is traveling to all corners of the world, stopping in foreign lands and third world nations, bringing the sandwich to "Whopper Virgins" to perform a taste test between the Whopper and McDonald's Big Mac, in an effort to prove that the Whopper is a superior burger.

Let me see if I have the mentality right here. You're going to go to foreign lands, where people who don't make a lot of money and basically survive on subsistence and agriculture, and feed them Whoppers? People who pretty much live off of things like rice, potatoes, and other starches, you're going to stick a ridiculously fatty, over processed and preserved piece of once-meat in their hands? And all because you want to prove to someone that your burger tastes a little better?

How fucking ridiculous can you get?

You do realize, that despite working hard in farm fields and hunting/gathering, these people are probably ten times healthier than us right? Every day of their lives, they spend eating natural ingredients that haven't been dipped in high quantities of burning peanut oil, then stuck in a freezer for two years. Food that is joyfully lacking in bad chemistry. And while they may not have a lot of eats to go around, clearly they've managed to make it work for them. So what does BK do? Well it hands them a sandwich that is notoriously deadly on arteries and heart functions, and says, "Here, chow down!" There's a reason people in these parts of the world don't look like overstuffed cows in tight jeans, like they tend to do in these parts. They've got a good thing going for them, don't mess with it.

And, if you are going to get involved and meddle in these people's lives, why don't you.....gee, I don't know......GIVE THEM SOME REAL FUCKING FOOD DAMNIT! You do realize that the millions you spent to get a few commercials out of innocent people, could have probably been made into a nice healthy donation to charities? People who actually want to feed these people healthy shit? Hell, you could even get in on the act yourself. Leave the Whoppers at home, and buy a few bags of rice for these folks. Hell, just hand them some local currency so they could go to their local market and let them buy some fish or swine for a change. Goddamn, that seems like a way better idea than handing them a fucking Whopper, making them smile in front of a camera, and then leaving them with two days worth of diarrhea because you made them eat some shit their body wasn't used to. Have some common sense BK!

I'm at a complete and total loss here people.

December 10, 2008

Blackbird Web Browser: Ambassador For Race Relations

40A, a software development company, released a new browser called Blackbird into beta on Sunday. Blackbird is a web browser that is designed to better fit the needs of the African American Community. While the program is just a customized version of Firefox, Blackbird brings a unique black theme that changes the appearance of the browser, and integrates a series of bookmarks, links, news feeds, and social networking applications that are custom tailored for African Americans. Ed Young, CEO of 40A believes that Blackbird will, "broaden the Internet experience for African Americans. We want to offer a tool that makes it easier for this community to find resources that are geared more towards them."

Is it just me, or does this seem a tad bit racist?

I've been using the interweb for quite some time now, and in my searches for hilarity on Youtube, business on Myspace, and randomness everywhere else, I have bumped shoulders with people from a variety of backgrounds, races, and belief systems. And I couldn'be be happier. Getting to interact with unique folks, even if it is just through text and pixilated pictures, is pretty darn cool. In fact, I think that was the whole point of the net, wasn't it? To meet folks, learn things, and be better, if not slightly more pudgy, people.

And I know there is software out there that only caters to a small amount of the population, but Blackbird seems to be a bit more so. And it's not because of technological restrictions, or based on the limits of accessiblity, but more on some social border that appears to state, "This is african american, and that is not."

And I know that the African American community does and has things that only cater to them. Seriously, what community doesn't? Musical styles, language, traditions, these are all things that make up a population, and I wouldn't expect them to become universal. In fact, in the case of things like the word "shizzle," I think that should've probably stayed with them instead of becoming utilized by the world at large. People living in the suburbs should not be allowed to use the word "shizzle" damnit! So if the African American community wants a series of resources to help them navigate the interweb better, so be it.

However, this is not just a resource for african americans, it's a statement. Look at the deep black theme of Blackbird. The color is so dark, that it actually makes things kind of hard to read. But that's not the point is it? No, the point is to tell people who look at your computer that you are a proud African American individual who is using a proud web broswer. What if you are someone who is not African American? Does that mean you shouldn't use Blackbird? Or does that mean if you do decide to use it, that you need to do it secretly like something out of Office Space?

And what about those fabled resources? Are these things that the African American community at large uses on a regular basis, or is this also a statement about what it is to fit in this culture? I noticed BET was on the bookmarks list. And I know first hand that there are plenty of members of the African American community who absolutely cannot stand BET. People who pillars of the community, and are proud of their culture and heritage, and tend to get a little queasy at the thought of an overcommercialized television station. Would their disapproval of this make these people less of an African American? I should hope not.

And I admit that, perhaps I'm looking a little too much into this. Clearly this is designed to be a positive resource, enabling a group to have access to a variety of things from one convenient place. I know the purpose as a whole, was designed to be a good thing. But it just feels a little dirty, that's all. In darker times, many communities of various ethnic ilk set up socio-cultural borders that clearly defined what the community was, and what it wasn't. I'm a dark skinned man who, despite my upbringing and heritage, was not welcome in his socio-cultural community because I "didn't meet the qualifications." My inability to speak Spanish and dance with any degree of compentency was something that kept me out of certain social circles. And while I'm not bitter or angry, it is something that I have walked away from and left behind.

If Blackbird turns out to be a positive thing, getting more people on the net and interacting with the world, then cool. I'll withdraw my concerns and return my attention back to making fun of celebrities. In fact, I would welcome it if Blackbird ended up doing this. Just don't let it become another border. Another open device that is accessible to all, but guarded by the few. In this day and age, the last thing we need are more lines.

The Golden Sound

Musical instruments are fickle business. The baggage that can come attached to the bits of magnet, copper wire and sub-par wood are astronomical. Musical types gotta have a voice, and that voice must be distinctive from every other voice out there. We need to sound different, sonic independence is thick in our DNA. And if we wake up one morning and find that our cultivated tone, spawned from thousands of dollars worth if equipment and hours spent bending our spines tweaking dials, sounds too much or not nearly enough (depending on what side of the fence you sit on,) like the tone of our musical heroes, well things turn to suck quicker than Britney trying to restart her career. Otherwise rational musicians become paranoid, obsessive beings, who are quick to spend even more time and money to get back the "Golden Sound."
The mark of tone excellence that we believe instantly qualifies us to do this stuff. At least half of a musician's career is spent trying to attain the Golden Sound. And one's instrument plays a pivotal role in the journey. Talk to any musical type, and you are bound to hear them stress the importance of the minute details. The advantages of one wood over another, why one company's electronics are vastly superior, why certain metals from certain places help define "their sound." We've all done it, and many will continue to do it until the end of time.

This mentality gets particularly interesting when you're absolutely committed to sounding original. If you are like me, and are genetically required to having a musical style and tone that sounds like nothing that came before, then be prepared to lose some sleep. Because every element in your arsenal has to be entirely unique from the musical status quo. Fenders, Marshalls, and Ampegs are just not gonna cut it for us visionaries. Nope, we're gonna need stranger stuff.

And I was no exception. I was thoroughly convinced that if I did not have a bass equipped with a swamp ash body, slim rosewood neck, big 'buckler in the bridge position, and passive electronics, that I could not be the great and legendary artist I was destined to be. It was just not possible without this instrument, this Excalibur of wood and string. And the longer I went without this instrument in my possession, the longer the world would be denied my visionary greatness.

Needless to say, finding such an instrument is difficult. Wait........scratch that. Finding such an instrument.......within the budget of a pauper, is difficult. There were a handful of girls that fit the bill, but well out of range for someone pulling piss-ass, part time pay while going to college. And finally, after a couple years of trying and failing, I ended up with my current main squeeze. A pretty, but predictable jazz bass clone, that managed to deliver the sonic feel goods I was looking for.

Flash forward to today......a day that I will remember as being one of the most infuriating days of my life. A day where, years after giving up the quest of finding that perfect instrument, I found no less than three of them on the racks at my local Guitar Center.

Today, Guitar Center employee and shopper alike were present to hear a loud and robust "FUCK!!" from the hallowed halls of the bass room. I couldn't believe it. I had been longing for instruments just like these, and couldn't get my hands on a single one. These were the instruments I needed for success. And now, years later when I have no interest in adding to my collection of oversized instruments, they magically turn up.

And what's worse, is that these things are useless to me now. Oh I tried them, believe me I did. I plugged them into a variety of amps and had my way with the things. And while they were all fine sounding beasts, none of them had the spark. Apparently, in all my time with the main squeeze, my ideal tone had changed. And none of the instruments that I had spent so much time lusting after could do the job anymore. The sauce had gone weak my friends. And now, an instrument that I had purchased because it was ultra cheap, on sale, and easily customizable, had managed to make the Golden Sound, than the very instrument I had researched, studied, and assembled from my soul.

The moral of the story? I guess keep dreaming. But remember not to dream so big, that you forget to adapt. And if you can't make the shit you own sound good, well that dream instrument won't do jack for you. Remember to play people, make some noise and make some mistakes. And hopefully, that dream rig will do more for you than it will ever do for me.

December 9, 2008

Satraini vs. Coldplay

Tonight, I've had to defend the enemy.

While sitting in the re-beautified Mello-Drama studios, I was informed via the interweb about a recent controversy between Joe Satriani and the band Coldplay. Apparently, Joe feels that the ridiculously popular Coldplay song, "Viva La Vida" from the album of the same name, is strikingly similar to his 2004 track "If I Could Fly." After numerous attempts to get in contact with the members of Coldplay, with no success, Mr. Satriani has filed a copyright infringement suit against the band.

Sadly, I had been out of the loop lately, and was just barely made aware of this controversy. So, I read up on the facts, gave both pieces of music a few hard, repeated listens, and thought a great deal about this grievous matter.

Bear in mind, I am no fan of Coldplay. From the day they set foot on my music television, I have dispised the band. The whiny, generic song progressions sung in the flimsiest voice imaginable just drives me up the wall. Chris Martin has made a trademark sound out of weak, squeaky singing. A type of vocalization that is remarkably similar to a drunk person trying to sound passionate while taking a piss in a back alley. Admit it, if the man went accapella, you'd be handing him spare change and the address to the nearest homeless shelter. This is crap music, done crapfully. And the only reason I am convinced that it has had any success whatsoever, is because it is boring enough to not be offensive when played in elevators.

And also bear in mind that as a burgeoning young guitarist, Joe Satriani was someone I looked up to. I owned a couple of the man's albums and considered him an integral part of my training . I had no aspirations to play like Joe, but I respected the man's abilities and learned what I could from him. And while he is no longer an artist I turn to for inspiration, he is a dedicated disciple of six strings, and has earned my respect.

So knowing this information, you can see where my bias lies. And you can probably imagine how hard it is for me to look at the facts, hear both pieces of music, and have to grudgingly admit that..........I have to give it to Coldplay on this one.

Yeah yeah yeah, I'm a traitor. A Benedict Arnold, a smelly stinky pants, call it what you will. I still have to hold on to what little integrity I have left people. And I don't think Coldplay is in the wrong on this one. Sorry Satriani worshipers, musicians worldwide, and dedicated readers of this blog, I just don't see any way around it.

And believe me, I tried. I fought desperately while listening to both songs, trying to find a way where Chris Martin and his boys could have pulled some backhanded shit. I wanted them to be wrong, I swear I did. I was even preparing a warcry to rally all you reader and Satriani devout to arms. I hadn't finished it, but it went something along the lines of:

Coldplay has stolen our radios! They've stolen our music television! They've even stolen the few minutes of peace we find in the public restrooms of malls and shopping centers! But never, never could I have imagined, that they would steal legitamate art. The work of a soilder, a man of great dedication. They have lifted his body of work, and ruined it for us. Taken impassioned notes played across a fretboard, and reduced it to dribble! Well no more! We will rise against Coldplay, charge against them with the speed of sound. We will break down their doors in a righteous mob, violating each of the band members with Ibanez guitars until things do indeed turn Yellow! Who is with me?!!!

Alas, it was not to be. Fact of the matter is, while both tunes have some similar qualities to them, I can't in good conscious say that Coldplay plucked this song from the bosom of Satriani's soul, and threw it upon an unsuspecting world.

Before we break out the tar and feathers, let me drop a little musician's perspective on the matter. I will admit, the chord progressions are similar. Not exact, but similar. If you want to get technical, Joe's up a whole step and a half at E, while Coldplay is digging around D flat. And on the second chord of the chorus, when Joe stretches up a 5th, Coldplay moves up a step to E flat. Different, if you care about musician math.....which most of the population regrettably doesn't. For the average ear unconcerned about nuance, they sound damned close. Almost uncomfortably close. Especially when you get into that main melody. Coldplay fucking beats the chord progression into the ground while Satch uses it for a chorus. In fact, Satch only uses it for about 10 seconds out of the whole song. But, whatever right? They both do something damned similar in a progression that's equally similar, shit should rightfully hit the fan.

Bear in mind that musicians are a group of creative individuals who have a very limited palette to work with. Music only has twelve keys. Twelve people! The rest are just octaves. This means that no matter how many chords you use in a song, once you've reached twelve, that's it. There will be no more. And considering how long we've had composed music around, you can imagine that we're pushing the limits of versatility with those twelve keys. There are very few things out there that haven't been done before. And unless you're a musician heavy into jazz or one of those morbid looking indie musicians, you're really not looking for new ways to make chords sound different. Let's face it, most of the old tricks still sound pretty damn good. And though Ozzy's used the same progressions in several different songs with several different hairstyles, and Nickelback seems to have made a career out of using the same stuff over and over again, we're all pretty accepting of it (probably a little too much so in the instance of Nickelback if you ask me.) So, I'm not too surprised when two different musicians occupying two different genres happen to make some shit that sounds similar.

And if I recommend we lock up Coldplay, well I'm going to have to go right into the cell with them. Because the sad fact is that in all my compositions over thirteen years of writing goofy tunes, I have used ideas that I know I have heard somewhere else. Yep, ol' Boogie's dabbled in someone else's pot. Sometimes, a single tune of mine will have ideas from three or four other artists in it. And I have finished a body of work and submitted it for copyright as my own. Frankly, some days I'm amazed I didn't have my stuff rejected and have people laughing in my face for even trying. A lot of the stuff I borrowed is subtle, but some of that shit was downright blatant.

So I've done it, and I know a lot of other artists have done it too. On a day to day basis, we can all hear songs that we know are in some bastard form, related to the songs of others. Be it a drum beat here, or a vocal medley there, it's all connected. And that's kind of what makes music what it is, isn't it? I know that, at least for myself, I wasn't doing it to try and purposely tarnish someone else's musical vision. It's just that they did something that sounded pretty good, and it was something I needed to use to make my vision sound complete. There's not much ground to tread that hasn't been dug in before, I know it and make the best with what I have available. And my instinct tells me that Coldplay, while generic, misery-inducing, and having a body of work that is the peak of annoyance, did not purposely swipe something from the great Joe Satriani.

But don't think this gets you off the hook Coldplay. You're on thin ice here, and at it won't take much more to get me lubing up guitar necks and contemplating some real sick shit. I'll be watching.

December 1, 2008

Twilight: Boogie's Take



Twilight is not a film I've been exactly looking forward to. And this may surprise several of you, since it's a well established fact that Stephanie Meyer, the author of Twilight, is an alumni of Utah. Well, I've never been one to support the hometown heroes, and less so when it comes to my favorite supernatural escapes.

I like vampires, I admit it. Granted, I don't invest a lot my time dressing up in frilly garb, painting my face white, and shucking around folks with fake, oversized incisors, but as a form of entertainment, vampires are great. The Lost Boys was practically life changing when I was a kid, and Bram Stoker's Dracula probably forever screwed my noodle by the time pre-adolescence came around. I cannot even begin to express the amount of joy the series True Blood has given me these past few months. So yeah, Boogie likes him some vampires.

That said, I was fully prepared to be disappointed by Twilight. Now, I have never read the series, nor had I taken much time to find out what the whole thing was really about. My first real glimpse into the film was from the numerous posters that were being sold at bookstores and Wal Marts across the globe. Just seeing these things made me uncomfortable.

All the male vampires were too pretty. And I know, vampires are supposed to be all gorgeous and androgynous, pushing the limits of man-pretty, but this was too much. These posters were uncomfortably pretty, cringe-worthy even. It was like every teenage girl's hot, but slightly affeminate dream guy, painted up in glitter. Not really how I take my vampires.

So, I was already grouchy when I got to the theater. Overly pretty men creatures, all created in the mind of someone who practices a religion I'm not super fond of. And add to this bitter stew the fact that the first season of True Blood had just ended, which set the bar high for any vampire entertainment that was coming down the road. My expectations were rock-bottom by the time I took my seat and watched previews.

So, now with the film behind me, I can finally think about it and the mild phenomenon that it has caused. And there's one thought that keeps coming back to me. One element of this whole storyline that I can't seem to get past, no matter how hard I try:

Damn, Bella's a complete and total bitch!

Seriously, is there anyone in that goddamn movie she's nice to? She pisses on her mom and step-boyfriend guy to run away to daddy's house. She walks all over daddy like he's nothing, simply because the man is too hurt and fragile to talk. And as for all those high school buddies of hers? Despite the fact that they were nice, kind, and overly (in my opinion) enthusiastic about the stupidest shit, she still paraded this whole "you're too dumb for me" attitude for the duration of the film. I mean seriously who in the hell would want to be immortal with that shallow piece of crap? I sure as hell wouldn't.

And once that became my focal point, the rest of the film went straight downhill. Edward goes on talking about how he can read every one's mind except hers, and I'm sitting here thinking, "Well gee, maybe that's because too goddamn shallow to have actual comprehensible thoughts?" And then there was Edward going back and forth between wanting to be with her, and needing to be away with her. How does she react? Mostly, by looking dumbfounded no matter what happens. In fact, the whole film is her looking varying degrees of dumbfounded.

I think the true stupidity of this film came right around midpoint, when Edward finally revealed that he was among the undead. They were standing on a well lit mountaintop, and Ed was telling her all his baggage. The boy was literally confessing all his vulnerabilities to her, openly admitting that she was the most tasty-looking, desirable human he had ever encountered, and that he was having a hard time controlling himself from digging teeth into neck and ravaging her dry. And what does she do? She continually walks up right into his face, and tells him, "It's okay you feel that way, I trust you."

What the hell? Normal people don't do this shit. We don't jump into lion cages and tell the zookeepers, "No no no, don't feed the lions today. I trust them not to eat me." I don't care how man-pretty the predator is, this just goes against common-fucking-sense. I mean, at the very least we process the information handed to us, we take a few minutes to contemplate our options, but we don't just run willy nilly into something so left field like that. Well, normal people don't I guess. Bella the dipshit does.

And the whole time I'm watching this scene, I could literally see Bella dancing in front of vampire Edward and singing in a operatic soprano voice, "I'm a steak, I'm a steak. I'm a tasty tasty steak. Eat me, I'm a steak, There's no witnesseses, have a steak......" So much so, that I'm literally singing this in the theater, ruining the movie for a bunch of people who are actually impassioned by this whole bit of nonsense.

So, Bella pretty much sunk a barely passable vampire flick. The vamps weren't any cooler than they've been in past incarnations. In fact every vamp had this uppity, wheatgrass drinking, tennis playing elitest thing about them. And it's hard to be intrigued by that. These are people you hate in the modern day world, it seems like making them immortal would only make you hate them worse. As for the bad guy vamps, they all looked like has been celebrities from the 80's that were on some VH1 "Where Are They Now?" marathon. Try looking at them and not seeing Axl Rose, Vernon Reid, and Molly Ringwald respectively. You can't do it can you? The one saving grace from the whole mess was this: Alice Cullen was pretty hot.

So if you are readers of this blog, or fans of the vampire genre, I cannot recommend this movie to you. It's bad, and not even laughably bad. This is no horror film that is so cheesy, that you can't help but laugh at it. No, this a test of one's frustration levels. Love and lust between a mortal and an immortal has been done tons of times before, but the level of chaste and boredom that accompanies this is enough to make you want to hit the person sitting next to you repeatedly. So for your own sake, and the sake of those you share your theaters with, walk away from the ticket booth, go home, put some popcorn in the microwave, and put the Lost Boys in your DVD player. You'll thank me for it later.