Raingod’s Weblog

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Hypocrisy in Action

The King of Pop is dead.

Physically anyway, his mind, talent and sould died a long time ago. I admit, I’ve never been a big MJ fan. I did like the Jackson 5 as I grew up, but always found Jackson, well annoying. I did like the Thriller video a lot, but never managed to like the song. I always found him to be highly overrated, and questioned people’s musical taste.

His death doesn’t change that. Nor does it change the countless surgeries, baby dangling, molestation charges, Bubbles the Chimp, Neverland and every other freakish thing printed about him.

His real legacy isn’t his music, it’s how one person, who apparently was never tightly wrapped to begin with, could be so consumed by delusions and fantasy simply because he had the money to indulge himself. In spite of what he’d done in the past, he hadn’t done much lately, other than make plans to perform with his family. his, is a story of tragedy, a tragedy of his own making. All the masks, surgery, oxygen tanks and money couldn’t save him.  The statues and paintings of nude boys that had been up for auction couldn’t save him. In the end, nothing could, except himself, and he was either too arrogant, or dumb to see that.

And now, he’s finally escaped his demons, family, fame, court cases and money problems.

Which is more than he deserves.

And yet the gnashing of teeth, the wailing wall of pop culture, will forget all the things that made him a staple of jokes for the last 20-30 years.  Today they shed tears for his passing, while yesterday that laughed at him for passing his skin off as white. Hypocrisy knows no bounds, and I’m beginning to think it’s become our nation’s true pasttime.

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June 25, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | 5 Comments

A True Survivor

I made a quick post on this over on Shocklines, but felt the need to elaborate a bit more.  First, a bit of family history. Outside of immediate family, we’re not an especially close family. Years go by sometimes before I talk to a cousin; my Aunts, UNcles and granparents are all deceased. Some cousins are of the born again variety and have no interest in talking unless they can try to convert. One cousin killed himself by throwing himself in front of a train.  So while what happened is old news, it was new to me as I hadn’t known about it until today.

Through my cousin Bobby, he told my sister about his sister, (my other cousin and one I haven’t seen in 20 years or so), had been having an affair with a coworker. Her husband found out, and killed the boyfriend, and shot my cousin Rosanne 9 times, including once in the head, and hacked at her 4 times with the dull edge of a machete.  The fact she survived is amazing, the fact she is functioning is astounding. I’m still not sure when it happened, but it had to be after my Aunt Eileen passed away (about 4 years ago).  Boby is in Florida for some job training and will visit my sister this weekend when hopefully I’ll be able to get more information.

I mention all this due to some twitter feedback I received about it, and wanted to give a more in depth idea of what had happened. I’m still not sure what to think, or feel, as this is something you read about, but never picture ever happening to you.

I’ll update this over the weekend when I find out more information.

June 23, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Of ipods and Boxed sets

Most people know I lost my cat this week, and rather than rehash it right now, and depress myself (just as I’m feeling better), I wanted to talk about a couple of things that helped bring me some respite from the overwhelming loss and grief I’ve felt this week.

The first is a new iPod I received as a gift.  I’d sold my old one on eBay last month, and received a replacement from someone who will remain anonymous. what I got was an iPod Touch  2G.  Now, I’m no Apple fanboy. There are things about ipods I really like, and things I hate. not being able to replace the battery is one thing I hate.  The DMR on my past iTunes purchases is another. And like all Apple products, it’s always a question of price. However, I also love the design and simplicity of the iPod-though iTunes leaves a lot to be desired.

Anyway, I charged it up, loaded my music on it, and realized how much more there is to the Touch than just playing mp3’s.  Near a wifi hotspot? I can jump on the net using a full version of Safari. Need to enlarge a web page to read something? A couple of taps will do that. Have some pictures you want to show someone? Just sync them to your iPod and you’re good to go. You can enlarge the photo with a tap or gesture as well. Want to play games? Not only does it do that, it does it pretty darn well. It will never replace a PSP or DS, but for quick on the go gaming it’s hard to beat.

Oh yeah, it plays music too. Here then, is one of my chief complaints. with my old Nano, pausing was as simple as pressing the single button.  with the touch, I have to press the home button, unlock it (keeping it unlocked poses the risk of pausing, forwarding or going to the last song if you’re not careful), then press pause. not very convenient when you have it in a shirt pocket.  The earbuds that come with it, are the same crappy ones Apple has been foisting on the public since the ipod’s debut. All in all, despite some design flaws, this is an amazing little gadget that I’ve quickly become infatuated with.

So what am I listening to? A boxed set I mentioned back in November, Marillion: The Early Stages, a 6 CD box set containg live performances recorded from 1982-1987.  This is, in my mind a must have for Marillion fans. There are a few songs that get repeated (Garden Party shows up 4 times-which annoys me because it’s not one of my favorite songs), but for many, the arrangements are different enough to keep them from being repetitive. There’s a bit of Fish doing what he does best (aside from singing and songwriting), which is between song banter. Dubbed “The Official Bootlegs”, the sound quality is far better than expected. Is it state of the art? No, but neither was recording back in 1982.

This set shows a band evolving, maturing and ultimately going from small pubs to stadiums. I’m not sure how much non fans, or people not familiar will like it, but for those who know and love Marillion, there’s no excuse for not having this in your collection.

June 20, 2009 Posted by | Reviews | , , | 3 Comments

Skull Fragments – A review

Less is more, is what author Michael Arnzen inscribed in my copy of Bone Fragments. Indeed, it is, and in this case also an understatement.  Originally appearing in 100 Jolts: Shockingly Short Stories, Bone Fragments is divided into 12 micro stories about skulls.  Yet skulls are almost incedental. In 200 words or less for each section, Mike manages to create real characters, real situations and most of all real shock. A very quick read that will haunt long after you put the chapbook down.

June 6, 2009 Posted by | Reviews | 4 Comments

I’m Not Here…oh crap, yes I am

When I was growing up, there were two ways to get a hold of me, knock on my door and see if I was home, or call me.  Oh you could roam my neighborhood and look around the trees or hills for me if you wanted, but that was a lot of leg work.  If my Mom or Dad needed me, all they had to do was stand on the porch and yell for me. If I didn’t hear them someone else did, and tell me breathlessly, “Your Mom’s calling for you!”

That was in the 70’s. In fact, up until 1990, the ony way to get a hold of me was to call, or come over. Once bbs’s hit the ground, and online services like Prodigy, AOL, compuserve, etc proliferated, things began to change. Pagers came into vogue, but fortunately cell phones were years away from mass consumption.  I had an email address now. Oh, and voice mail as well so you can leave me a message. However, very few of my friends were online then, or if they were , still preferred to call on the phone.  Pagers were good for emergencies, in case someone just HAD to talk to me, or if my plan to get weed went through or not.  Generally though, I ignored them.

And then came instant messaging. And say what you will about AOL-no, go ahead, I’ll wait-they perfected IMing like nobody’s business.  I think that was the start. From there it all seems to snowball. Instant messaging, cell phones, webcams, multiple emails, personal web pages, texting, facebook, myspace and now twitter. There’s no place left for me to hide. I’m out there for anyone with net access and my name/nickname.

This was all brough about because of a phone. My cell phone died on Monday. Wouldn’t work, wouldn’t take a charge. Nothing. Dead as the Republican Party. So I called my carrier and they Fed Exed me a replacement. since my previous phone was a discontinued model now, they sent me an upgrade. As I fiddled with it, I found out I can access the net with it, update myspace and facebook with it, as well as send text messages. Okay my old phone could send texts as well, but I don’t do it a lot. I’m just not a texter.

Or wasn’t. Let me backtrack a bit. I was on my way to the post office today, and a woman, obviously under the influence of something, said,”I’ll show ya my titties for a dolla!”

I declined. I made a counter offer instead. “I’ll give you a dollar if you go away.” I gave her a buck and she did, indeed go away.

Once she was out of earshot, I began to laugh. I wanted to tell someone, anyone, but there was no one around. So I upddated my facebook page with this story from my phone.

That’s when it dawned on me, there’s way too much communication. As of today I can be reached the following ways.

email (3 different accounts)

cell phone

text to cell phone

myspace

facebook

twitter

my blog

IMing

Or you can just knock on my door. If I don’t answer, it’s because I’m twittering. From my phone. In the bathroom.

May 28, 2009 Posted by | My Life | Leave a comment

WTF Did You Do to Scotty?

Saw Star Trek this morning, and at any given moment I go from loving it, to really hating it, back to loving it again. For the benefit of those who haven’t seen it yet (and if you haven’t by now-chances are pretty good you won’t until the DVD comes out), I’ll keep any spoliers to a minimum. In fact the only spoilerish thing I’ll say, is that the story involves time travel.

To which I say: Fuck time travel! Fuck alternate universes where Spock and Uhura make out, and various and sundry things happen. Time travel is very tricky to do, and the writers make no attempt to even have any of it make sense. So please, don’t think about it too hard or you might just implode. I hated that aspect of the movie-to the point that it nearly ruined the whole thing for me.

Having said that, what did work in the movie, worked extraordinarily well. The relationship between Kirk and Spock was a joy to watch unfold. Perhaps even more moving was watching the friendship between Kirk and McCoy develop. Having loved Karl Urban in Lord of the Rings as Eomer, I couldn’t imagine him as the feisty doctor; but dammit Jim, he’s an actor, and embodied everything about the character you’d expect. He is one piece of casting that serves as the glue to keep the whole together. When he refers to Spock as a green blooded hobgoblin at one point, it was like seeing DeForest Kelley. Not to say he was aping Kelley’s performance from 40 years ago, but more like channeling him. He steals every scene he’s in, I just wish he was in more.

Chris Pine managed to bring the essence of Kirk to the screen, without making you think of Shatner once. So good is he in the iconic role, I forgot about Bloat Shatner for two hours. His womanizing, arrogant persona is intact-yet he doesn’t come across as unlikable (as the original sometimes did for me); he brings a humanity to the role that simply wasn’t there in the last 4 decades.

Zachary Quinto is a perfect replica of Nimoy’s Spock, bringing everything Nimoy has invested in the Vulcan to the table. My only problem with Quinto is he seemed a bit too, fey is the word I’m looking for, so when he kisses Uhura it certainly doesn’t seem authentic. his nasal delivery doesn’t really help matters much either.  Despite that, he brings a strong counterbalance to Kirk, even though he can be every bit as arrogant-in spite of his logic which compels him to act.

And then there’s Scotty. WTF did they do to Scotty? When did he become the fricking comic relief? If ever there was any miscasting in the movie, it was Simon Pegg as Montgomery Scott. I like Pegg a lot. I loved Shaun of the Dead, and liked Hot fuzz, but in ST, he’s wasted. For this I blame the writers. They did such a good job in capturing the essence of every other character (though like the series, all given short shrift), how did they manage to fuck up Scotty? And that little rock like companion, what the hell was that? I was afraid George Lucas had done some script doctoring.

What works best in ST are the characters, it’s just unfortunate that in a pretty enjoyable franchise reboot, they had such a lame story to tell.

May 26, 2009 Posted by | My Life, Reviews | 4 Comments

Walmart Strikes Again

Many apologies to my friend Rich who works for Walmart, but I’m going to go on a bit of a rant right now. Once again, the bix box retailer has asked someone to “edit” their work in order for them to carry it. The artist in question is Green Day, and the album in particular is the #1 seller “21st Century Breakdown”. Walmart asked them to excise certain words and content. In other words, they want Green Day to compromise their work in order for Walmart to carry their CD.

Green Day appropriately enough said to fuck off. Okay, I’m paraphrasing their more articulate answer, but it amounts to the same thing. Yes, Walmart has done this for years, and many artists have bowed down to their censorial whims, but at what price, and to what reason?

Walmart carries far more objectionable work on their DVD shelves, book shelves and video game shelves. None of those artists were asked to “tone down” their work (in point of fact, they just refuse to carry certain titles), it only seems to be the musicians. Movies have ratings, video games have ratings, and music does have appropriate warning labels for adult material. The only group to not have any type of rating system are books. Most people who pick up a Steve King novel at Walmart know there’s probably going to be some strong language, violence and adult material. Anyone who picks up Grand Theft Auto knows what to expect in the gameplay; and anyone who buys GoodFellas knows the movie is going to have some language issues.

Yet music seems to be the one area that continues to get the least respect. Green Day certainly doesn’t need them to sell their work. Indeed, they sold 217,000 copies the first week of its release; yet I wonder if Walmart someday won’t need groups like Green Day to up their sales. All the music I buy anymore is digital. Whether through itunes or a band’s own website, more and more music is being bought this way.

Walmart is the nation’s largest music seller, but it seems to me, they’re not looking at the whole picture and content to cowtow to middle America and it’s narrow minded value system.

In the meantime I’ll support Green Day and any band who flips the bird to Walmart.

May 24, 2009 Posted by | My Life | , , | Leave a comment

Idol Thoughts

American Idol is one of my guilty pleasures, and this year was certainly no exception. From the beginning I was an Adam Lambert fan, and in fact, he’s been the first contestant of all 8 seasons that I bought singles from itunes. His sexuality played very little into my liking him, I simply like his voice.

Scratch that, I love his voice.  I love his theatricality and the way he changed around songs every single week. He didn’t have one weak performace. Even ring of Fire-love it or hate it-was something you didn’t forget.  

And yet Kris Allen wins. Once again, America goes for the boring, safe, unoriginal singer as opposed to someone with true artistry. And that’s okay. After all, he now has to release that awful song, fourth judge Kara wrote. At least Adam was spared that embarrassment.  Adam is also spared having to go through the mill of AI promotion, and conceding his personality to the machine of corporate greed.

In the end, Adam will ultimately prove himself to be the true winner, while Kris goes the way of Fantasia, Reuben and Taylor, who sunk ever so quickly into obscurity.

May 21, 2009 Posted by | My Life | , , | 2 Comments

Nikita loses his leash…

And boy has he been on a tear the past few days. Obviously those who have been restricting his internet access are away, or maybe he put them all in sleepsacks, who knows. He’s been all over Rusty’s blog, and apparently thinks I’m bullying him. http://therustynail.wordpress.com/2009/05/14/more-comment-lurve/.

As I stated in my comment there, I’ve never threatened to roundhouse kick anyone, beat anyone up, or kill them; three things he’s said to myself and others. Now, that sounds more like bullying to me. Now I’ve tried to ignore the Legion of Nitwits for awhile. It takes time away from my writing, job search and World of Warcraft.  I’m waist deep in research on my novel, working on another couple of interviews, and trying to get a poem put together for an upcoming anthology. I’m busy, and don’t have time for the likes of Pacione, Dagstine and the ominously quiet Philbin. Add in health issues in my family, some high drama as well, and I have a full plate. Yet, I had to at least address La Femme Nikita’s accusation of my being a bully, because frankly, it’s laughable. 

I may be bellicose (look it up Nikita), when it comes to opinions on things, but I’ve never bullied anyone. I’ve never threatened anyone, and certainly never made a rude comment about someone’s mother. Nikita has. 

I’ve never told anyone to drink bleach. Nikita has.

I’ve also never told anyone to masturbate with a harpoon gun. Again, Nikita has.

All I’ve ever done, is point out the sheer awful quality of Nikita’s writing, as have others. When he gets personal (like the time he talked about pissing in my dead ex boyfriend’s urn), I’ve responded.  I don’t go out of my way to do anything, he invites it. 

So Nikita, were you feeling ignored lately? Well, get used to it, as being ignored is something you should be used to by now.

And for the record, if you want to learn something about writing Nikita, I suggest reading my interview with T.M. Wright in Apex Magazinehttp://www.apexbookcompany.com/apex-online/2009/05/apex-interrogation-tm-wright/. That’s right, Apex. A place you’ll never, ever come within a breath of being published.

May 14, 2009 Posted by | Legion of nitwits, My Life | , , , | 1 Comment

Will Writers Get Screwed Again?

This thought came about as I read Dagstine’s post on the new Kindle DX.  I’ve never been a big fan of e-readers. I never really had a concrete reason why, but each time I hear about them, I get this sense of foreboding. In fact, it wasn’t until he posted that, that the dark cloud made itself known.

It’s about the money. Not the cost of the Kindle DX or the lower end Kindles, though I find them too overpriced to justify a purchase-even if money weren’t an issue-it’s the money a writer gets.  Suppose the average royalty is 10%, an average Hardcover is $25.00, that’s 2.50 per book. The average for an e-book via Kindle is 9.99, that’s .99 cents per sale-a full dollar fifty less.  

That’s a huge difference. In small press terms, a 500 print run would gross you 1250 bucks; an e-book, would gross you 495 bucks.  That’s a 755 dollar difference. Now if the publisher offers both, then more power to the writer. But what if they only start offering e-books?

Suddenly you’re looking at a lot less money. With all the hoopla about e-books, and getting your work out to even more people, no one seems to be thinking about the pay. We can all talk about the art, and everything that goes with being creative, but the bottom line is, we also want readers, and that means being compensated.

Will writers revolt? Will they demand higher royalties? Will they get them, if they do? It’s unchartered waters, and I have the sinking feeling writers are destined to get screwed again. 

This time, if they (we) do, it will be our fault. You can’t see a tornado coming and sit on the porch and expect nothing to happen.

May 10, 2009 Posted by | My Life | , , | 1 Comment