October 28, 2009

Why I Left Heavy Metal: Halloween Edition

With All Hallows Eve just around the corner, I felt it was a good time to speak on this matter.

You see, years and years ago, I was a dedicated disciple of all things heavy. In those days, I felt that anything musical that could be defined as pure and honest was required to have high decibels of distorted guitar angst. Primal fury, encapsulated by tormented words screamed at the edge of a singer's limitations, it was the only way to be a sincere artist in my mind. The enemy was easy to see. Acoustic strumming pretty boys who sung of girlfriends and happy meetings in coffee shops,totally glazing over the problems that the world wears. We knew them well and despised them better. We rock guys knew the score, if it wasn't loud and tormented, then it wasn't the real deal.

Then, one day, I simply stopped. Burned out and frustrated with what heavy music had turned into, I walked away. I had lost all interest in distorted guitar fury, and those savage rhythms that were requisite in such music. It had become commercial to me, easily crafted routine that no longer captured my imagination and spoke of the pain in my heart.

Aside from the occassional visit while the MP3 player is on shuffle, I have never gone back. I play in a mellower side of the spectrum, and am pretty happy with it. And I sleep soundly at night knowing that any contributions I might have made in what is rock and/or heavy metal would've only further dilluted down an already bland stew. Occassionally, I get a doubt or two about the path I chose. Understandable really, after near a decade of dedication, It's easy to look at what was and what might have been. But for the most part, ce la vie

Every once in a while, time and nature conspire to remind me of why I left that scene in the first place. Today was one of those days, as a catalog arrived at the homestead. Halloween is close, and as such, there's a lot of pressure out there to invest in costumes. Classic and new, treading new ground or simply modernizing a traditional theme. Vampires and fairies, witches and Spider Man. Power Rangers are still on the scene, and it looks as if the hippies and disco-lytes are now fare for kiddies. As if a failed counter culture movement and Studio 54 weren't depressing enough.

Of course, none of this is as bad as what I was about to encounter.

In the small handful of pages dedicated to the young men, I stumbled across a costume that at once angered and frightened me.

The costume was called "Headbanger." It was an all black number with fingerless driving gloves and an industrial grade mechanic's overalls. A studded neckline and wrist guards let the average observer know this this kid knew nothing about oil changes. The cherry atop this monstrosity was a pale white mask with long, shoulder length horse hair sewn atop it in a stringy, slightly balding fashion. The face was adorned with blood red coloring around the eyes and along the chin, forming a paganistic goatee of sorts. It was disgusting, abhorrent, and very very embarrassing.

Costume makers, traditionally, have been a few step behind the times. The market is flooded with Pirate garb years after Johnny Depp made pirates cool. Halloween is fed by fads, and rubber can only be molded so quickly. So, it surprises me very little when costumes turn up to in this day and age a bit overdue for when people actually would've worn the stuff.

Not so in this case. I need only flip through any heavy metal publication to see that my once proud musical genre still looks like this costume I see before me. This outfit is the direct descendant of bands like Slipknot and Dimmu Borgir, both still very functional entities in the brotherhood of metal. Bands galore, donned in pointy guitars and mad makeup, still look like this. What's worse, is that they look like this without shame. These misguided idiots are still under the impression they cut a terrifying figure on society. That they still put fear and nightmares into the hearts of yuppies everywhere. Never stopping to realize that the kids of those they are trying to frighten, will be dressing up just like them for cheap candy and gum.

I am ashamed for what once were my brothers. Ashamed that what once took nothing more than long hair, black T shirts, and true grit has slowly dissolved into this. An outfit adorned with copious quantities of makeup, excessive jewelery,and enough studded leather to make even Rob Halford question your manhood.

And for all the physical enhancements and theatrics, the music hasn't spun any more a convincing tale. Overly dissonant, relying more on random noise and hoarse frog croaks, the music has lost it's magic. It takes concentration to decipher the message, and having to concentrate while being pummeled with excessive volumes has simply become too trying for an old timer like myself.

So metalheads and rockers alike, take note: The tricks you've been relying on will no longer work. Weird outfits and distortion are simply not enough in this day and age. Things need to grow, expand, get pissed, and all in new and exciting ways. What those ways are, I can't tell you. I've defected from the cause, so it's now all on you. All I can say is, do something new, and do it fast. Before the epitome of your legacy is being glossed on the pages between a ninja and dinosaur.

October 17, 2009

The Knife Thing

I present to you my knife.

This here is a Wusthof Classic 10-inch chef's knife. Standard CrMoV german steel straight outta the heart of Soligen. I found it in a pawn shop several months back along with a knife roll and a few other tools for sixty smackers. Since it's used, I know very little about it's history, other than it's somewhat old (how old I don't know, but the blade says Dreizack, which means it's older since the newer ones say Trident.) She was beaten pretty badly, with scratches up and down the blade, and a big worn out section of the edge where it's last owner had sliced repeatedly. Not pretty, but functional as can be.

Those who have some love for cutlery, or spend above average time in Bed, Bath, & Beyond, know this to be a knife of reasonable quality. At the very least, it's pricey and rolls off the tongue real nice. However, I'm not showing it to you fine people because of the name on the blade. I'm showing it to you because of the story that came with it.

You see, I had finally convinced myself to enroll in culinary school. For good or ill, I had decided this was something I had to do. So, I had taken the tours, gotten a feel for the programs, and started getting things together. Part of the culinary school wrap is the acquisition of a knife kit. Knowing this, I had spent a great deal of time researching equipment, hitting countless websites to dig up deals, reading reviews on the benefit of one knife over another, and so on and so on. I assure you, that nowhere in this fact-finding mission, did the name Wusthof even become a consideration to me. That stuff was too rich for my blood.

Then, one cloudy Saturday, I waltzed into a pawn shop looking for treasures, and I found a knife roll in a glass case. I was pretty excited about this, since I needed one for class, and because my obsession with cutlery was starting to build up steam. But, buying a new one is a pricey proposition. One of subpar quality was 25 bucks, a bit more than I wanted to drop. And this one looked better than any of those cheap ass rigs. So I figured, "Hey. Empty knife bag in a pawn shop. I might be able to pick this thing up for 15-16 bucks." So I asked the kid up front go grab it for me, which he promptly did. But when I opened the thing, I was in for quite a shock. Since this was no mere knife case, but a complete kit, loaded with tools, including the aforementioned Wusthof. This was everything I would need for school, at less than half the cost I would have spent had I bought everything new. While poking around the kit, I got my knuckle too close to the edge of that Wusthof, and it slashed it open on contact. I took this as a good sign (yes you read that right, me getting cut by my cutlery is considered a good sign in my sad little world.) So I grabbed the thing as soon as I could, and drove home figuring I had gotten pretty lucky in finding the thing.

I used the thing, finding it to be a well balanced, and competent performer. But the damn thing was big. Big enough to make using it a pain, so for months she sat in the kit while I relied on the knives I was more "comfortable" with. And in the meantime, I kept reading and learning about knives, and I had found out that the longstanding name of Wusthof had fallen out of favor amongst the cutlery minded. Reports of being "too heavy" and "too soft" filled my head, as I became less and less enamored with it. In many ways I began to disdain this knife, figuring that as soon as it got me through school, I'd dump it and move on to bigger and better things.

And then I had a conversation with a friend who changed my perspective on everything. She was telling me about her father's knife kit, which she had left unopened since his passing. And she spoke to me about the sadness she felt using the tools for which she had attached so many great memories to her dad.

It was the first time I had ever considered the notion, that a simple tool like a knife could be an heirloom. It wasn't just a bag devices used to chop through onions, it was a memory. And a cherished one at that. You never think that something as common as a knife in the kitchen could provide the kind of history until it's too late. At least I never did. Wow, if I ever get crazy enough to have children, my knives will probably be that for them as well. In a time where every death I've seen has lead to squables over who gets this amount of money and who gets this property, I hadn't considered that someone might want "dad's ol' cuttin' knife" when I'm gone.

And it made me wonder about the poor soul who had to give up this kit at a pawn shop. Were they a chef somewhere? Or was the person a student just like me? I wondered if they finished the program, and what situation would drive them to get rid of a good quality knife, something you can always use wherever you are. I spent a lot of time staring at that knife, studying the scratches and scrapes that covered it. This knife had scars, a history of being beaten and rough-housed. It had seen some shit before falling into my hands.

Then a realization hit me. I had always counted myself as lucky for finding that knife, but not once did I ever consider that maybe it was the knife who found me. It was only chance that I had walked into that pawn shop with cutlery on my mind. And being fortunate only goes so far when you find a kit that has exactly everything that I would need in this new venture. A venture which I still felt uneasy about. Now I had a kit that not only took care of my worries, but also secured the idea in my thick head that I would be doing this. I had something that clearly knew how to survive. Maybe, just maybe, me and this knife need each other.

Perhaps I'm romanticizing this all too much, but I don't care. It just feels right. I have everything I need to get through school, including the answer to the question, "Should I really be doing this?"

So now, I use this knife every time I set foot in the kitchen. I'm careful to listen to it, and adapting my hands to better work with it. The results have been pretty great. And I reckon the knife's pretty happy with the arrangement too. After a great deal of sharpenings at my unskilled hands, we finally found an edge we can agree on. It's been leveled and buffed, and while I can never get rid of all those scratches and imperfections (not that I'd ever want to,) I think the thing looks better than ever. Any time I use it, it gets washed and dried immediately afterward. And it gets wrapped in a silk handkerchief when I put it away, which I imagine is something it's last owner or owners ever did.

I still wonder what story this knife had before finding me, and will probably never find out. But I figure at the very least, while it's in my hands, it has a story that can now be heard.

October 15, 2009

Boy In The Balloon

Let's play a bit of reality math shall we? The treasured game where we add up real life situations, and calculate the results. Are you ready? Alright then, here we go....

  • Take one 6 year old boy,
  • add in a very big, very dangerous balloon capable of carrying a person,
  • factor in one parent who's apparently far too busy to pay attention to either
What does that equal?

If you responded with, "Stupid stupid, dipshit fucking dumbasses" Then you are clearly a well rounded denizen with some common fucking sense.

I mean seriously, it's strange enough to spend a great deal of time and money to develop a balloon that can carry a person's body weight. That takes a level of commitment to insanity that I can't even begin to fathom. But then to be too cheap to build a garage for the damn thing, and too lazy to deflate it? Holy shit people! Who the fuck says "I just built a big ass balloon, but now I'm tired so I'm just going to lash it to my roof?" It almost seems kind of illegal in general to leave something big and capable of flight unattended. It may well be extremely illegal but I can't verify it (and am too lazy to try.)

And so daddy dearest leaves this big fucking thing on the house, with a curious 6 year old boy. And I guess never once did it cross his mind, to CHECK ON THEM! Holy fuck people, he has been a father for at least 6 years, and I'm almost positive a bit more, does he not know of the child-like tendency to explore shit? Especially when that shit is a big silver globe that glows in the sunlight and moves enticingly in the wind? Why not just lock the kid in a shed with fireworks and give him a lighter?

I feel safe asking these questions because it all turned out for the best. The kid was safe, nobody got hurt, all ended well. But frankly, it shouldn't have even been an issue. This kid shouldn't have even been put in a situation where that could've happened. And a capable fucking parent should have done everything in their power to insure that their child would be safe.

But what do I know? The whole thing might just be a hoax anyways.

October 9, 2009

Billy Ray Urges Miley To Return To Twitter

Ye freaking gods!

There is a bit on my news feed about how Billy Ray Cyrus has made a public appeal to his daughter Miley, to resume updating her fans via Twitter. Apparently, sometime in the last month (I don't care when) She made one final post (tweet? twit?) stating that her costar in an upcoming film suggested she quit using the service for what apparently is "good reason." This has left many fans in disarray, and has caused her father to use the service to plea for her return.

Okay, there is so much wrong with this, that I can't even sum it up in a single point. Let's start with the most obvious.

If Billy Ray Cyrus is urging his daughter to reactivate her Twitter account, and using Twitter to do it, how the fuck is she going to know about it? That's like sending me an email telling me that I need to check my email! It's dumb!

But assuming that word will get around to Miley about this (and with the power of the Associated Press behind it, how could it not?) We really need to ask ourselves on fundamental question: Why the hell didn't Billy ask Miley directly? I mean, it's not like they're RELATED or anything! He could have made a phone call, or said "Hey, what say we have dinner tonight? I need to talk to you about something." Perhaps I'm flawed in my knowledge here, but it seems like he'd have an easier time of having a sit-down conversation with her than most any of us, so why not do it? It's easier, less time consuming, and has the virtue of actual human contact!

But, let's assume that the point was to cause abject humiliation. By making a public statement for all to read, he's sort of "calling his daughter out" and trying to get her back into the game. Fair enough, I can understand that. It's a shitty thing to do, but I can understand it. So, assuming that was the point, my next question is this: Why does it fucking matter? So what if she doesn't use Twitter, she's a celebrity! I can't walk into any store without having that buck-toothed grin stare me in the face. Everyone knows who she is, so why is this so important?
Are you telling me that Miley's fans are falling by the wayside by her unwillingness to tweet (toot? twat?), and rushing to pledge their loyalty to other pre-adolescent celebrities? Has the market share of other Disney acolytes gone up because Miley has better things to do than fire off a 140-word limit thought every little while? Unless someone show's me some solid statistics, I'm going to guess that the answer is no.

And you know why? Because the fans of Miley Cyrus have other avenues to explore. I'm going to guess that she has a Myspace page, and a Facebook page (I'm only guessing because I refuse to confirm this.) And I'm going to guess those still get updated on a regular basis (again, I refuse to confirm this, but big daddy Bill isn't making a fuss about those, so my reasoning has to be sound.) And if not, I can almost guarantee that she has a website. There are plenty of venues for Miley Cyrus fans to ladle praise upon their hero. And people can have as many of these goddamn accounts that they want! If they can't find Miley on twitter, than I guarantee they'll find her someplace else.

This girl is going to be seriously fucked up by the time she hits adulthood. If I read in a few years that she was arrested sucker-punching midgets in the nude, it would not even remotely surprise me. We're talking a build up of psychological issues that make Britney Spears look like Julie Andrews. I certainly don't wish it upon her, but with nonsense like this going on, I don't know how you could avoid it.

Marge Bares All (No Seriously She Does.)

Playboy magazine, source of much palm-based material for many an underage boy, is about to make history by placing Marge Simpson of the animated series "The Simpsons" on the November cover of the magazine. Details about this can be found at this website.

So, assuming you went to the link (which really, how could you not?) were you as confused as I was upon learning that the new CEO of Playboy just happens to be named "Flanders?"

October 6, 2009

Jon Gosselin On The Insider

Much as I absolutely hate devoting time and space on my precious blog to the likes of Jon and Kate, I just had to throw one more thing in the pile. Is it wrong that I found this absolutely hilarious?

Oh man, it's like someone turned me into a feisty older white woman who looks smashing in yellow! Mad kudos to the staff at the Insider for making my day.

October 5, 2009

University Of Utah Researchers See Through Walls

Just once people, just once I would like to write about my beloved state of Utah on this blog, and not have it be about a bunch of weird bastards doing abnormally weird things. It's not too much to ask to have at least one bit of news on Utah that isn't strange or creepy, and I swear one of these days, something will turn up that I can actually write about.

Today however, is not that day. Observe.

For those fearful of the link, I'll sum it up for you: Researchers at my alma mater have devised a way to detect movement through solid objects using wireless internet signals. In a nutshell, relying on the signal strength of the wireless network, one is able to detect motion as a result of interference with the signal.

Sounds harmless? Consider that any person can now get your basic pattern while you sit in your room changing your underwear. And while the technology can't do much more than show a pattern, and not do the x-ray vision thing at this juncture, it's still creepy. Damned creepy. And it comes out of my fucking state no less.

October 1, 2009

Jon And Kate Plus Eight Minus One Multiplied By Nonsense

Alas, over yonder appears to be more Jon and Kate bullshit to fuck with my news feeds.

First there was the announcement that TLC was giving ol' Jon Gosselin the boot, creating a program entitled "Kate Plus 8" focusing solely on Ms. Kate doing the whole single mother rap with a buttload of kids. And now, there's Jon's response to this news. Apparently, he isn't happy.

Aside from talking his usual nonsense, he's also brought a lawyer into the picture. The claim is that part of the conditions of the divorce is that he has joint custody over the children, thus has a voice in what decisions are made regarding their welfare. He's gone so far as to post signs on his home forbidding TLC camera crews from entering the premises, or risk having the authorities notified.

You know, despite seriously disliking both of them, I can't dispute that this is a smart move on TLC's part. Kate, while a dramatic control-happy bitch, still seems like the lesser of two evils. And she has managed to keep her hormones (assuming of course that she has hormones, I personally have my doubts) in check, which is more then we can say for Jon. Besides, America loves the story of a scrappy woman picking herself up after the love of her life dumps her. And while she's a snotty, whiny, hose-beast, I think scrappy applies quite well to Kate Gosselin.

Of course, I'm not going to watch this shit! Frankly, nothing would make me happier than to log onto my browser and find nary a trace of these stupid people. Just because I understand the marketing logistics doesn't mean I hold any love for either of these people. It's just I smell the funk of stupidity, and I had to comment.

And the funk of the matter is this: If Jon Gosselin was so concerned with the welfare of his kids, then why the hell did he subject them to numerous seasons of this goddamned television show? Reality TV is notoriously the most invasive thing since proctology, and he sure didn't seem to mind airing every last shred of dirty laundry on the tube back then. All of a sudden now that he's no longer welcome, suddenly this is an unfit situation for the kids? Bullshit man!

You good people can already see how this is going to play out right? TLC will probably spring for a new pad for Kate that will be joyously free of legal detritus, and the brunt of this legal claim will dissolve into thin air. Anywhere between three to six months from now, Jon will appear on a new TV network (my money is either on Spike or MTV) with a problem detailing the woes of his life. It'll be dubbed Jon plus several unnamed girls too young for his dumb-ass, and will feature the douche who owns the Girls Gone Wild franchise as his wingman. Every show will be a contest between the two, trying to determine who can say "ummm" the most, and will feature a plethora of attention-starved barely legals to embarrass themselves on camera with some of the most disgusting sugar-daddies ever to occupy my cable.

I weep for us all.