Thursday, November 30, 2006

Deltron Zero and Automator

I'll get off my ranty political soapbox for a bit. Sorry. I got to foaming at the mouth. DOWN BOY!

I just learned that Del the Funkee Homosapien is about to have a new album out (11th Hour) - he released a DVD early because production still hasn't wrapped up on the album. Also found out that there's going to be a follow-up album for Deltron 3030, which was sleeper bombshell that snuck into my library and continues to detonate solid beats and rhymes sending waves of audio joyness into my noodlebox. Dan the Automator, which some of you may know, is a SF-based DJ/producer that has masterminded some of the more recognized concept trip-hop space apocalypto rap out there, and was responsible for laying the tracks and production of Deltron 3030.

I was lucky enough to be in Oakland when rap was coming into its own, before the wave of mindless gangsta rap swept over suburbia and provided Dave Chappelle with enough "white boys rollin' thug life" material for years to come. I'm thinking of the skit with the black white supremacist, and Dave's supremacist character calls a group a white kids in car, which is bumping some heavy g-rap thumps, "a bunch of n***as" (I ain't saying the word now, just saw what Michael Richards did...the wound is still fresh), and the kids are like...coool!

Anywho, it was in 89-92 and everyone was rapping. Ice Cube was still putting out solid albums - think "Death Certificate" - and in 91 Del (who is a cousin of Cube) released "I Wish My Brother George Was Here." You may know one of the singles from the album: Mistadobalina. Then there was Hieroglyphics, which was an amalgamation of a hefty crew of Oakland rappers who banded together to save costs on production, in order to launch their solo careers...Del was one. Casual another...Opio, A-Plus, Snupe, Tajai...

In my opinion, Del has had the most staying power, or maybe it's just that I get more from his lyrics. In any case, it's been about 15 years, and Del's still putting out music that continues to stimulate. He's not getting stoopid loot like Will Smith, but then again, he's not dropping "Gettin' Jiggy Wit' It."

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Oakland Online

The Oakland Public Library has put a collection of historical Oakland photos up on the Internet. This is a very cool site. The photo of the Bay and Golden Gate taken from Skyline Boulevard in 1923 is remarkable. Being that I spend a good period of my formative years in Oakland, I feel very close to the city, and these photos show what the city and the surrounding areas looked like over a hundred years ago.

The U.S. Can't Afford To Deal With Its Trash... we'll let our kids deal with it, if they aren't living in a real-life version of Waterworld.

You may have heard about the EPA and its resistance to regulating CO2 emissions. There's currently a case being heard by the Supreme Court about it. Nothing major. Do you know what the EPA mission is? Don't worry, I've got it right here:

EPA's purpose is to ensure that:
  • All Americans are protected from significant risks to human health and the environment where they live, learn and work.
  • National efforts to reduce environmental risk are based on the best available scientific information.
  • Federal laws protecting human health and the environment are enforced fairly and effectively.
  • Environmental protection is an integral consideration in U.S. policies concerning natural resources, human health, economic growth, energy, transportation, agriculture, industry, and international trade, and these factors are similarly considered in establishing environmental policy.
  • All parts of society--communities, individuals, business, state and local governments, tribal governments--have access to accurate information sufficient to effectively participate in managing human health and environmental risks.
  • Environmental protection contributes to making our communities and ecosystems diverse, sustainable and economically productive.
  • The United States plays a leadership role in working with other nations to protect the global environment.

A couple of the EPA's stated goals worth highlighting are:

Pollution prevention and risk management strategies aimed at cost-effectively eliminating, reducing, or minimizing emissions and contamination will result in cleaner and safer environments in which all Americans can reside, work, and enjoy life. EPA will safeguard ecosystems and promote the health of natural communities that are integral to the quality of life in this nation.

The United States will lead other nations in successful, multilateral efforts to reduce significant risks to human health and ecosystems from climate change, stratospheric ozone depletion, and other hazards of international concern.

You can read more about the EPA here.

OK. This being said, why is there so much resistance to 'minimizing emissions and contamination'? The fact that of all the developed nations in the world only we and Australia failed to ratify the Kyoto Treaty, does this speak to the EPA's commitment in leading "...other nations in successful, multilateral efforts to reduce significant risks to human health and ecosystems from climate change, stratospheric ozone depletion, and other hazards of international concern..."? Hmm. I'm confused.

The D.C. Circuit Court ruled in favor the EPA stating that the agency '...lacks the authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions...' It sounds like there's two options here: 1) make the EPA change their BS mission statement and goals, or 2) make it a more robust organization so it can step up to the plate to effectively combat the War on Emissions (I figure we can call it a war - I learned it from Dubya.)

It could be that we could actually create some jobs that would allow people to actually do something that was ethically rewarding: making the world a better place by making it a cleaner and healthier place. Is that more important than stimulating conflict and leveraging profits on the old military-industrial complex model that Eisenhower warned us about? Does this make me a tree-hugging hippie pacifist bed-wetting liberal Commie pinko? Labels...whatever. Say it to my face and I'll bust your grill, though. I've got Charleton Heston and big guns on speed dial. Michael Moore will film it all. Blockbuster won't carry the DVD, but Netflix will.

Your Taxpayer Dollars Telling You Not To Fornicate...Sinner

Just when you thought it was going to be okay...just when we could collectively see the light at the end of the tunnel, and even the lumbering, drooling, mentally challenged Bushco apparatus seemed to be indicating a willingness to move in a less Neanderthal fashion - wait, that's not fair to about Australopithecus afarensis - the jokiest joke that's ever been joked was joking its way across the Internets.

Apparently, our taxpayer dollars are funding useful programs designed to teach people between 12-29 years old to wait until marriage before having sex. Here are the guidelines. Ha. HA! HAHAHAHAAHHAHAHAAA!! Isn't that the most ridiculous thing you've ever heard! It's a good thing that we spent $50 million dollars on that program. Those were your dollars and my dollars. I have no problem with teenagers receiving the message - let's at least let these kids get out of high school first before they start having kids, but 20-30?! There must have been some last ditch effort by the Christian Coalition to pressure Bush by blackmailing him with pictures of him nuzzling with Sen. Clinton.

My favorite legislative priority has got to be letter D. Oh Letter D, you tease me with your hidden agenda.

d) teaches that a mutually faithful monogamous relationship in the context of marriage is the expected standard of human sexual activity;

So, are there any boys and girls who can interpret, priority? It's a loaded statement to be sure, and it could be argued that I'm reading more into it than it deserves, but I hear the message: Christ the Lord ordained the man-boy with penis and the woman-girl with vagina and both shall wait until the 30th summer before engaging in any bumping of the uglies, which of course should only follow after appropriate matrimonial ceremonies, which of course are not available to homersexuals or lebanese people, as they are evil and are choosing to live their life of sin. Tell me if I'm wrong.

I pity the poor troop of souls that sit in their lifeless business environment (read: prairie dog cubedom) and craft and disseminate this tripe for a paycheck. It smacks of fascist propaganda. I'm going to have to side with Jocelyn Elders on this one - she was the Surgeon General in '93, until Clinton had to ask for her resignation because she publicly stated that masturbation should perhaps be taught in order to help prevent STDs in teens. She also said, "As long as I was in Washington I never met anybody that I thought was good enough, who knew enough or who loved enough to make sexual decisions for anybody else." Christlovers/meth-smoking closet-pastors wanted her head. How dare she take the power away from the church and give to humanity!

Big ups to Mark Morford on sfgate for keeping it rizzle. If he were hyphy, he'd no doubt be rolling gas, break, dip with doe's open mang!

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

The Impact Of Good, Sound Reporting

Quite possibly the most insightful poll ever executed. My hat's off to The Onion for another glorious and scholarly study. This American institution really has its finger on the pulse of the country!

Jackson Does Hobbits

What recent film trilogy will be spitting hot celluloid acid into the face of wannabe copycat films for the next 3 decades? The Lord of the Rings trilogy, of course.

You may be aware that there was a novel preceding The Lord of the Rings (which Tolkien didn't actually think of as a trilogy, by the way) called "The Hobbit." This is where we first see the One Ring and meet Bilbo Baggins and Gandalf. Hell, even Balin, Gimli's younger cousin, is represented here. I won't go into the storyline, as you probably already know it. If not, tell me where you live and I will come over and beat you over the head with the book.

Needless to say, based on the enormous success of the Peter Jackson films, which put New Zealand back on the map for most people this side of the international date line, New Line Cinemas has been wanting to do two more Tolkien films with Mr. Jackson at the helm. It seems however, that there was some *gasp* shady back curtain dealings that prevented Mr. Jackson from only reaping $500 million dollars instead of $750 million dollars - these aren't real figures, I can't back this up on paper. Peter was pissed and sued New Line, and New Line told him to suck eggs and said they didn't want to do the next two films. There was a collective shudder for Tolkien fans.

Fast forward to today, and we find that the Saul Zaentz production company will get the rights to film by the end of next year if New Line fails to make the movie. Saul had made the animated versions of these tales back in the 70s. You may also be familiar with the name as it the eponymous studio put out such greats as "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest", "Amadeus", "The Unbearable Lightness of Being", "The Mosquito Coast", and "The English Patient." The studio seems to be a better match all around. It's known for quality films, and was the pioneer in bringing Tolkien's words to the silver screen. Additionally, Zaentz wants Jackson do to the films should the studio get the rights. Sweeeeeet.

What's real cool for me is that when I worked in Emeryville, a bunch of us would eat lunch in the area of the studio. I always knew it for Cuckoo's Nest and Amadeus, and thought it was so cool that this was the house that made them.

Do you care? Is this your cup of tea? Maybe not. I have a very good friend who just doesn't feel these kinds of movies, and in fact made the cardinal sin of walking out on one of the best films to come out in the 80s: David Lynch's "Dune." We still speak. Poor guy...what are you going to do - stop speaking to your friend because he doesn't like sand worms?

Monday, November 27, 2006

The Lack of Daily Postings Did Not Precipitate The Use Of The Term "Civil War"

After all that brouhaha about me making a post a day, and my comment about losing momentum came back to bite me in the delete key. I have to apologize, but my son got sick and my wife and I have been dealing with high fevers, infant Tylenol, and ibuprofen. I had to give my son so many cold baths to bring his temperature down that he developed a Pavlovian response to the sound of running water. Needless to say, he ate some of the gumbo I made, which of course included the use of freshly made turkey stock boiled from several carcasses of this Thanksgiving's feast. I love it how my son likes spicy foods accented with citrus.

Speaking of spicy, the political heat embroiled in the spin of our media has cooked up a new term for our presence in Iraq: civil war. This smacks of Cronkite commenting on the conflict in Vietnam as unwinnable, and no doubt is tied to the current political shift we've seen as a result of the recent election. Once the general perception of our presence in the Middle East, namely Iraq, moves from one of enhancing personal freedoms and potentially establishing a democratic society to the issue of how apropos our presence is in a country that is undergoing power struggles within its own factions, we're going to see more and more people questioning the validity of remaining in the country and putting our sons and daughters in harm's way.

I keep thinking of something interesting I heard on NPR the other day. The announcer was interviewing an official (sorry, I don't have the transcript) who mentioned that in order to cement a democratic foundation in a country, there needs to be an overwhelming desire of the people to have such a government. Now this is just my limited opinion, but Islamic countries are very very different from democratic societies, and there is little or no separation from church and state. Of course, Iraq is a tad more secular, but in the vacuum of power that we helped usher with the removal of Saddam Hussein, we've seen explosions (pardon the pun) of violence erupt across the Shite and Sunni landscape. While there's the beginnings of democracy taking root, we see that decisions made as a result of the new governing body culminating in the assassination of elected public officials. We don't see the populace accepting majority opinion.

Of course, I'm familiar with the phrase " takes a few rotten apples to spoil the barrel", however, given that we've assisted in destabilizing the region it doesn't seem like there's any way we can ethically and immediately extricate ourselves from the country until there's some semblance of normalcy unless we want to let the barrel implode. Sound familiar? Sounds like Vietnam to me.

I'm dying to hear what our politicians will propose for foreign policy in the next Presidential election. What do you think, gentle reader?

Something completely unrelated - are you looking for a new book and want something new, fresh, engaging, brilliant that takes place in a land depicted from the hand of the man that created the Sistine Chapel (ok, I'm stretching that one?) Try China MiƩville's Perdido Street Station. This author introduces a myriad of topics, ideas and characters upon which lesser authors would base an entire novel.

Friday, November 24, 2006

What Roland Emmerich Would Do If He Made a Documentary

It's the day after Thanksgiving, and the stock I'm making with the turkey carcasses is cooling, and I just finished watching "An Inconvenient Truth." If you're thinking about buying a gas-guzzling car, and plan to put on an "I Support the Troops" sticker on the bumper take a second and reconsider that automotive purchase.

If you really want to support our troops, and directly impact keeping our sons and daughters out of harm's way for a war that we can't call a war because we never officially declared it, then don't buy something that's so energy inefficient, and that increases our dependence on foreign-produced fuel.

That's just one thing I walked away with after seeing this film. Regardless of your political stance, whether you be Democrat or anarchist, the stark reality of what's happening on our planet as depicted in this film is frightening. The imagery of the World Trade Center Memorial being flooded as a result of the melting of polar cap ice is a sober reminder that what steps we take, and steps we fail to make, affect us all. It's ironic to see the site of so much horror and bloodshed made a small event on a potential world-wide catastrophe should the United States not restrict our carbon emissions. Also add the tragedies caused from Katrina in New Orleans - the severity of the consequences of our actions (or inactions) within the next few decades could significantly dwarf the loss of life, not to mention property if you need to keep things constructed in a capital-oriented framework.

I'm not one easily swayed, but for the most part the details presented in the film are from documented sources and studies that indicate that in as soon as 10 years, the number of people on the Earth could find themselves displaced in the scope of well over 100 million people.

The U.S. accounts for the vast majority of carbon emissions which help retain infrared energy within our atmosphere, which causes the surface temperature to rise, which will eventually cause the polar ice caps to melt. To hear why this matters, if you don't already know or even if you do, check this flick out. If you have children, you'll want to do something about it for them. If you don't have kids, you'll still want to do something so you can enjoy your time on the planet with your family and friends. If you don't have family or friends, you'll do it because it's the ethical and right thing to do. Only motivated by intellect? Then you'll do it because it's the smartest thing do to.

Take BART and public transportation when/where you can. Walk whenever possible. You'd rather to spin those 24s on your phat ride and floss your discretionary income by paying over $100 a week on gas? Then you should read Galapagos, and pray that your head evolves into something more streamlined and bullet-shaped.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

PS3, Wii, Xbox 360...Hey That Rhymes!

I'm a gamer. I haven't been able to play as many console games since my son came around, and have as of late been playing more PC games. I still follow the gaming industry very closely though (one of my secret dream jobs would be to pen a game story...or at least jump around in a motion capture suit), and in case you've been under a rock on Mars in a cave under an ice glacier where the Martians hatch their clever plans to invade Earth to take it over and make us pets (see Porno for Pyros, "We'll Make Great Pets") you know that there are 3 next-gen console systems vying for ultimate domination over the 13-34 demographic.

These systems are (in order of launch date): the Microsoft Xbox360, Sony PS3, and the Nintendo Wii. Microsoft wanted to get the jump on Sony on the second round, and so far they've been building up their base, but let's face it, Microsoft has tons of money to throw at their gaming division and even though they're in the red they operate by the Gates credo: permeate and saturate the competitive landscape at all costs and you will be victorious. I digress...

All three systems are a huge step up from the previous generation, especially the Xbox360 and the PS3. Let's just face it - these two consoles vomit hot digital acid on the Wii, however, others feel that the Wii is a refreshing and welcomed alternative in the gaming world...I thought this video says it all.

One of the biggest things to consider, as I see it, there's also the new round of format wars associated with the gaming hardware and manifesting in Blu-Ray and HD-DVD. If these terms are foreign to you, that's fine. Don't worry about it. Do you remember Betamax and VHS, well it's basically the same thing. Microsoft and Toshiba are backing HD-DVD and Sony is backing Blu-Ray. Initially, these manufacturers "tried" to agree on one format, but it never panned out. Movie studios are also involved, as these new formats will dictate how production houses put their films on media to sell to you and me. Don't get me wrong, these discs both can store around 15-40GB, based on the number of layers the discs has, and this vast Midwestern plain of storage space allows for lots of high definition content, so both formats will knock your socks off. The systems that play either format are supposed to be backwards compatible with your existing DVD collection. Just as a comparison, the most DVDs can store is around 7.5 GBs - if it's a dual-layer.

PS3s are the most expensive, with the Wii bringing up the rear. Will I be getting one soon?

Nah. This time around the companies are battling to see who will have the biggest presence in your living room, gaming room, and family room. These consoles (primarily the 360 and the Wii) are designed to do more than just play games, and are GUARANTEED to be huge time-suckers on the aforementioned demographic group I mentioned before. I'll be sticking with my PC, which currently competes on equal footing with these consoles, and it allows me to do my blogging, gaming, ripping, media production, and whatever else I want to do.

But if any of you happen to get the PS3 under the tree this year I will be coming over to make sure that I properly spank aliens in Resistance: Fall of Man.

Oh, and my prime rib is in the oven now. It was lumbering out of the fridge this morning...I knelt before its divine presence and humbly seasoned its sublime countenance. It barely fit into the pan, but I lovingly squeezed it in. Wait til I deglaze that pan with the sherry...I weep with anticipation. Enjoy your break, folks.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

OJ - How I Almost Did It But Didn't But Here's How I Would

You've probably heard about OJ's book and TV onslaught that was recently cancelled by FOX because of the backlash think 'everyone' is a word that nicely sums it up. In case you haven't heard about the deal, OJ was releasing a novel that supposedly laid out how he would have done the killings, had he actually committed them. The release was supposed to be followed by plugs on FOX.

When initially hearing about this shocking travesty of anything remotely resembling human goodness and decency, peripherally I couldn't help but wonder what the title would look like. I kept thinking of the memoir, How I Did It, by Frederick Frankenstein's grandfather, in Mel Brooks' "Young Frankenstein" film.

Needless to say, OJ recently commented on the book stating that "...he did the controversial 'If I Did It' book for only one reason — personal profit, acknowledging that any financial gain was 'blood money.'" That's awesome. The blood money was supposed to go to his kids. That's even more awesome - he's such a good dad, aside from the hacking and slashing (for which he was exonerated in a court of law, of course.)

Personally, I think both OJ and MJ have been getting an unfair shake in the media, and I think they should pool their collective resources. OJ can move in with MJ in Bahrain, where scientists are feverishly working on creating a pair of eyeglasses that will allow MJ's sham girlfriends to resemble Emmanuelle Lewis aka Webster, and OJ can parlay his stabby interests into supporting MJ's efforts of assisting the Emir in creating theme parks. I was thinking something similar to a themed region in a Disney park, OJ could have something like "Stabtown" or "Unnecessary Arterial Bleeding-Town." MJ would no doubt have "Bubblesville" and all the beverages would consist of "Jesus-juice" and would be served in phallus-shaped glasses. Awesome.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Martha's Prison Roast and Kramer's Hate

So I'm making a prime rib for the Thanksgiving holiday. There will be a small army of family attending, and I'm doing the prep work early. The rib that I picked up with my Pops-inlaw is ginormous. Seven ribs. 20 pounds. Longer than my child.

It is a cut of beef to respect, and I find that I must remain vigilant when I'm around it, as I fear it's awesome quantity of juicy, artery-clogging, red meat sinful goodness.

I've found a suberb recipe from...Martha Stewart (check it out on Prime Rib 101.) I figure a refined and blueblood tenured socialite who can go to prison and stroll home in a shawl knitted by her cellmate, Chick, is the person I need to confer with in order to produce a quality meal.

This one I'm cooking shortrib side down, and all the wonderful flavor crystals are going to carmelize with the fatty richness reminiscent of Karl Rove's hefty backside, which he keeps hidden in order to hide his forked tail, except when he's home with his evil brood - he wears nothing but a jerkin and clops around his sulpher-incensed abode and tramples little kittens with his cloven hooves.

Needless to say, it's going to be a wonderful roast. I'm accompanying the meat with, per Martha's suggestion, Yorkshire pudding. There will be a cacaphony of suffering arteries on Thanksgiving.

Speaking of which - what am I thankful for? My wife and son, family, friends, the fact that the evil empire in D.C. will shortly be swept away.

Also...what the hell was Kramer doing? Did he spend time getting crowd control lessons from Mel Gibson? What idiot responds to people by launching into a racist tirade? I'm a big fan of raunchy, satirical, offensive, and obscene humor just like any American, however Crazy Mike really went off the deep end here. Check out the video, people. Another thing to be thankful for: the omniscient cameras in today's society will eventually force everyone to become more socially responsible, for the simple fact that someone will be watching your every move...

Monday, November 20, 2006

Lafayette: The New Berkeley

I'm not sure if you've all seen this hillside next to the Lafayette BART station, but I've seen it since it was first erected. The monuments stand on private ground, and are in clear view of the Highway 24.

My favorite part of the story describes how someone knocked down the sign. I'm willing to bet that this person probably drove some kind of SUV, and had one of the fashionable "Support the Troops" sticker on the bumper, and maybe...just maybe...a Calvin prayer sticker in the window.

I wonder what motivated that person? What was so upsetting to that person? Was it the fact that the number on the sign indicates that the number of Americans dead as a result of the Iraq War [...Conflict....what are we calling it now...Crusade?] now out-numbers the loss of lives from the Sept 11 attacks? Was it because the simply ugly fact that we have dead soldiers as a result of an unpopular war, thrust upon the world from a cowboy administration? Was it just upsetting to be so fired up about kicking Taliban, Iraqi insurgent, or otherwise terrorist a$$es, and to have the minor detail of dead Americans expressed through this display be so unpalatable....or if I could borrow the accusatorial tone of a certain former U.S. Senator: un-American?

Is it un-American now to make a public statement that serves to simply quantify the loss of American life on foreign shores for murky or contentious reasons?

I leave that up to you, gentle reader.

But I will give you my response: no it's not un-American. It galls me that the GOP party had used its machinery to support goals that detract from the foundations of the great country. I'm not ashamed to be an American, but I'm ashamed of this current administration. For all the "San Francisco values" that the Democratic party has, I find it terribly ironic that the Republican party and its army of neo-conservative Faith-based zealots has in its ranks meth smoking and juicy gay-love pastors, and senators who IM congressional pages in hopes of scoring. Clinton might've lied about getting a BJ from Miss Lewinsky, but given the current state of affairs: which is a worse lie told to the American people: "I didn't do it with her", or "There are WMDs over there and a bad man in charge of them, and we need to send our boys and girls, and if necessary, to ask them to make the ultimate sacrifice in order to make this world a safer and more democratic place for all our children." What's worse? What would Kenneth Starr do? What would you rather spend your taxpayer dollars on: the investigation of an illegal BJ or lying to the American people, and the mis-appropriation of American funds and lives to support a war campaign to secure an American position in the Middle East ?

Gentle reader, please thrall me with your acumen.