Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Don Knotts Fact of the Day

A guy I work with is married to the sister of the wife of the late Don Knotts [so I'm told]. That's, like, three degrees of separation!

Monday, February 27, 2006

"Elizabethtown"? More like "Eliza-wish-for-my-own-death-town"!

"I wanted to gouge my eyes out . . . and my eardrums."

Sunday, February 26, 2006

I like songs.

Song of the day: Belle and Sebastian's "Sukie in the Graveyard" from their latest album, The Life Pursuit.

I bought the new Belle and Sebastian about a week ago [double album on glorious 180g vinyl], and after two complete listens, Sukie is the song that has stuck with me so far. I can't say it's the best song on the record, but the song's relentless pace--propelled by its overdriven bass guitar groove--and quirky organ riff keep playing over in my mind. The lyrics? It's a song about this young, attractive, artistically gifted, goth chick [she liked to hang out in the graveyard, anyway] who ran away from home and took shelter in the basement of an art school in which she couldn't afford to enroll [but she was more talented than the "arseholes" who were enrolled]. She aspired to become, perhaps, a famous photographic artist [her "life pursuit"?]; but as time passed and seasons changed, she began to see the foolishness of her childish dream. Strapped for cash, she ends up posing for life drawing students at the school in order to make ends meet. But that's not really all that important. The bass line is on a continuous loop in my brain along with the lyrics, "Sukie was a kid. She liked to hang out in the graveyard."

Isle of Video: "This is Bombay, my boy!"

And this is Amitabh Bachchan: Baliwood legend and star of the 1978 film "Don"--an excellent Movie Night selection if there ever was one. The Movie Night crew, unfortunately, could not make it all the way through before running out of steam [too much Mexican food and beer before the screening]. The Baliwood musical interludes, though they are the best part of the film, add about 33% more run time than your average Hollywood film. Lessons learned: start early and plan for an intermission. Oh yeah--eat something light beforehand.

In "Don", Bachchan puts in double [or triple] duty playing the title character, smuggler/all-round scoundrel Don, as well as street performer[?]-slash-Don look-alike Vijay [who eventually plays the role of Don] and does so by way of young Al Pacino wearing a splash of Eric Estrada's Old Spice. This film serves a heaping helping of 70's machismo, John Northrop-inspired lapels and collars, hot Indian chicks, and--of course--a boatload of booty-shaking musical interludes. Though it's not exactly a technically redeeming film in any respect, it's surely a blast to watch with friends. Recommended.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

You'd make a great cop, you bet!

What makes a person want to become a cop? What kind of people get hired to be cops?

These are some questions I asked myself after reading this post on The Agitator, yesterday, and watching the video from an undercover investigative report [Police Station Intimidation], which asked a bunch of different Florida police stations how a person can file a complaint against an officer. To quote Radley Balko [The Agitator], some of the officers' responses ranged from "dismissive to rude to confrontational to damn-near criminal." Check out the video, and you'll see what he means.

Local Joke, No Laughing Matter

I grew up in a tiny town in a geographically large county in West Texas. Our "police force" consisted of two or three sheriff's deputies and two state troopers. While the troopers were somewhat respectable fellows, the sherrif's deputies were pretty much the stereotypical small town "county mounties" you see on TV and film. They [all but one] seem relatively harmless in retrospect, but I got the feeling they really enjoyed intimidating us high school kids back in the day. I remember getting a bit nervous anytime one of the deputies would follow me driving down "the drag", or when one would pull into a parking lot where some friends and I had gathered to hang out. And I was a pretty good kid who stayed out of trouble [most of the time], so I really didn't have any reason to worry. But they did a pretty good job of intimidating me, and this apprehension towards cops stuck with me through college. As I grew older, I realized my fear of cops was irrational: if I'm not doing anything illegal, then I have nothing to fear. Well, that rationalization may work better for a clean cut caucasian like me than it does for some of my darker-skinned brethren.

My tiny West Texas town was once also home to the infamous Tom Coleman. Tom was one of the lil' deputies in my town and the most gung ho, for sure. He was a gangly, cockeyed character that was mostly a local joke [everyone called him "Barney Fife"]. Coleman served as a sheriff's deputy in my town throughout my high school years and slightly beyond [c. early-90's]. That is until--so I was told by a hometown friend--he went nuts and skipped town after his son was born with some sort of birth defect. That wasn't all that surprising to me. What was surprising was to, years later, open up an issue of the Austin Chronicle and read about his "crack" undercover drug investigation in Tulia, Texas (population, approx. 5,000). For those not familiar, Coleman was almost single-handedly responsible for indicting 40+ people (mostly black) on drug charges without any corroborating evidence or credible witnesses.

I'm sure a citizen's complaint form wouldn't have done much good in Tulia. But, had standardized complaint procedures and "gypsy cop" legislation been in place back then, Coleman may never have been hired as an undercover agent by the Swisher County sheriff's department, and the mess in Tulia may have never transpired [well, maybe not].

Standardized complaint procedures with anonymous complaint forms and public information regarding law enforcement officer terminations are a good start for after-the-fact accountability. But what standards do we have in place on the front end? How does somebody like Tom Coleman get hired in the first place?

Friday, February 24, 2006

Friday Lunchtime Listening

Robert Pollard - From a Compound Eye. I picked this up a few weeks ago. The initial taste was bitter; but a few days of chewing revealed its sweet candy core. I may comment further on this album, here, if I have time.

The Sword - 3 track demo from their Myspace page. The Sword is a new-to-me metal band of the doom variety who hail from Austin. While they certainly aren't breaking any new ground, the riffs are still earthshaking. I'm currently digging "Barael's Blade" which has that heavy metal triplet swing for which I'm a sucker. FYI- Barael is the "bane of the demon lord/slayer of the spider-priests/spiller of the silver blood" and he wields a badass sword. But the song is still cool, I promise.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Have a Coke and a Smile, or Behead the Infidels?

So, after reading all of this month's essays on Cato Unbound, it appears that the ensuing conversation did not really expound on Old Europe's ideas on social security. Instead, they took a broader look at the culture that allows the welfare state to subsist and [seemingly] hinders economic growth. To summarize, they've got fear of America; fear of capitalism; fear of immigrants (multiculturalism); and fear of losing existing jobs and wealth all at the expense of new job and wealth creation.

Here's an amusing passage from Theodore Dalrymple regarding integration [or assimilation] of immigrant populations in Old Europe vs. the U.S.:

"The idea that the French riots took place because the inhabitants of the banlieues did not speak sufficient French is absurd: they all spoke French. And I fail to see how embracing multiculturalism will do anything to inhibit Muslim extremists. As one Italian put it, multiculturalism is not couscous: it is the stoning of adulterers—and, as we have recently discovered, far worse than that. The United States has an advantage because it has a compelling foundation myth, which Europe does not have, and this helps to integrate new arrivals."

Emphasis mine.

I'm not sure the "compelling foundation myth" did much to grease the wheels of integration for the Chinese immigrants to the U.S. who helped build our railroads in the West or the Irish immigrants who became our cops and firefighters in the East [kidding]. Rather, I think these folks had to really pull themselves up by their own bootstraps. And they, like other successful immigrant populations in the U.S., realized they must adopt--or adapt to--American culture to succeed. Today, I think we are [or recently were?] much more accepting of new immigrants [partly because of our "foundation myth"]; and their barriers to success are more economic than prejudicial in nature. However, some more conservative pundits may argue that the new immigrants have become less willing to assimilate as a result of our growing acceptance of foreign cultures [but I really don't want to touch that issue]. As near as I can tell, the people most likely to get stoned in my neighborhood are the "sandwich artists" at the Subway down the street, and not some Muslim adultress.

Anyway . . . I believe Mr. Dalrymple is implying that, with respect to Muslim immigrants in Europe, there is integration resistance from both sides. What I can't understand is why any person would sacrifice everything to move to a country that offers him scant economic opportunity; and especially to a country in which he is not only particularly unwelcomed, but also toward whose culture he is bitterly resentful. I don't live in Europe, so I can't tell which side bears most of the blame. But lately I've gotten the impression that a portion of the Muslim immigrant population on that continent is not a very flexible or tolerant one.

"They got the metric system. They wouldn't know what the fuck a Quarter Pounder is."

Here's a money quote from one in a series of essays on the decline of "Old Europe" from Cato Unbound.

"The entire European project has become defensive in nature: its key purpose is to serve as a buffer against the apparent American menace. Meanwhile, nuclear weapons proliferate, civil wars smolder in Africa, AIDS marches through Asia… and millions of Europeans are more concerned about the spread of McDonald's and Coca Cola." - Timothy B. Smith in his "Reply to Dalrymple"

Perhaps it's a hasty generalization, but it made me chuckle.

In case you don't know [I didn't], Cato Unbound is a self-described "state-of-the-art virtual trading floor in the intellectual marketplace" where people smarter than me, er...umm...I, essay on various topics and welcome discussion from all over the interweb and from the good ol' paper and inkers. In their own words:

"Cato Unbound readers are encouraged to take up our themes, and enter into the conversation on their own websites, blogs, and even in good old-fashioned bound publications. “Trackbacks” will be enabled. Cato Unbound will scour the web for the best commentary on our monthly topic, and, with permission, publish it alongside our invited contributors."

This month's Unbound posits whether or not "Old" Europe's "progressive" social and economic policies, amidst immigration and changing demography, have sent the continent adrift on a slow boat to Craptopia. This should especially be interesting in light of the somewhat recent/ongoing debate on U.S. Social Security reform.

I have no comments at this time: I'm just relaying the information. If you happen to read this and feel compelled to comment, I - like Cato Unbound - encourage you to do so on your forum of choice [i.e. not here].

I promise - some DIY beer and rock'n'roll blogging is coming soon, but that's currently in the work-in-progress stage.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Here Comes the Overture

To whom it may concern:

This is my foray into the realm of blogging. I know. I'm really getting into this trend on the ground floor, huh? Yeah, well, I've never been a fan of blogging and similar exercises in vanity.

So, then...

Why am I doing this? I've begun to realize blogs do have utility for someone like me. I think I'm doing this to improve my communication [interpersonal rapport] with friends, family, and the world[?]. I'm doing it to let people know I do things and I am interested in stuff [and I'm still alive].

Will it work? I don't know. Hopefully, I will be coming at you with music and fun. And if you're not careful, you might learn something before it's done.

Why "here comes the coda"? I don't know that either. A musician will tell you that a coda is the last passage of a musical movement or composition. The dictionary will tell you it's also the conclusion or closing part of a statement. While I could try to spin up a metaphor to tie the blog title to some deeper meaning [The end is near!], I'll just be honest: "here comes the coda" is a line from a song I like, and it's sung just before the song's coda. Brilliant!

If I can actually stay committed to this blog, I'll be interested to see what direction it takes. I do not intend on using this forum as a personal journal. I would even get bored reading about my life. But I think I [as well as others] might learn something about me through my commentary on the "things and stuff" that I find interesting. For now, I plan to focus on fun stuff and good times. Coming attractions include: new music [some good ol' indie rock and even some METAL!], homebrew, and SXSW. Buckle up, kids.

So, without further ado . . . here comes the coda.