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Friday, May 20, 2011

Medical Update (Possibly The Last Post For A While)

The last two weeks have seen much of the same.  I'm starting to lose the ability to walk again.  As of last night, I'm lurching when I walk, and am losing bowel control off and on.

If there is any good news to take away from these last two to three weeks, I am officially disabled.  I received notification from Social Security on the day that I came home from the hospital a couple of weeks ago, that my latest appeal was approved.  Medicare goes into effect in October.  My first Social Security check should be in the mail next month.  This is from my initial claim regarding my Tourette's Syndrome and PTSD.  I'm approved through May of 2015.  Once I get this current situation figured out, I should be golden for the rest of my life.

Speaking of my current condition, I saw a spinal surgeon on Wednesday.  He first read the reports from my spinal MRIs and said that I should be helped with pain medication and therapy.  Then he pulled up the images.  The first word out of his mouth was "Jesus".  He said the report was "highly underestimated".  There is a disc herniation near my tail bone that is almost pressing on my spinal cord.  He immediately ordered an epidural for the pain to be administered at a local hospital. (It has to be approved by insurance first, so I probably won't have it until mid next week.)  He also ordered a standing MRI.  There is a possibility that the disc is pushing out further while I am sitting or standing than when I am laying down.  If so, it could be pinching my spinal cord or a nerve that controls my leg or bowel functions.

About 3 weeks ago, I had an SSEP.  It's a test to measure how quickly your nerves pass a signal from a point in your body to your brain and back.  When you have it done on your legs, an electrode is placed on your knee.  When the shock goes to your knee, your big toe is supposed to twitch.

The first test I had, they couldn't get the big toe on my right foot to twitch.  My neurologist ordered a second test, thinking the technician did it incorrectly.  They didn't.

I had it done a second time last week.  This time around, not only did the big toe on EITHER toe not twitch, but I couldn't feel the shock at all in either of my knees.  My neurologist called me Wednesday night to go over the results of the second test.  He said that I had some "latency issues".  When I pressed him for some additional details, he said, "In simple terms, your brain never got the signal.  It reached your back and stopped.  Basically, your brain doesn't know that your legs exist."  Two weeks prior, I had normal readings on my left leg.  Now, they can't get a reading at all from my left leg.

He was going to call my new spinal doctor at home and recommend spinal surgery.  As far as a time frame goes...I don't know.  Hopefully, the MRI will provide some answers.  If not, he may need to open me up, and just start looking around.  Needless to say at this point, I have some serious neurological shit going on.

I am stressed out beyond imagination.  At the moment, I am visiting friends in Tucson.  I don't want to deal with this.  I don't know how to deal with this.

Right now, I don't want to write anymore.  Not for a while, at least.  I just don't have the energy for it.  Seems more and more like there are 19 things I want to write about, but I only have it in me to do one or two quick little blurbs.  It does nothing but frustrate me, and that's the last thing I need right now.

Friday, May 13, 2011

For Lennon

Coldplay's 'Fix You' - Or as she calls it:  "It's your song for me, Daddy."  Happy Birthday, baby girl.  Daddy loves you.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

My Baby Is Turning Three Today

I can't believe that it has been three years already.  When my wife was pregnant, I was so worried that I wasn't spending enough "tummy time" with my daughter to be.  I had the best of intentions as an expectant father.  I pictured myself putting headphones against my wife's belly every evening and playing classical music each night before bedtime.  Or, playing my favorite Beatles songs and Bob Marley tunes so that she would be humming 'Strawberry Fields Forever' or 'Three Little Birds' shortly after birth.  Sadly, life got in the way, and boy did I ever feel guilty about it.

Up until the birth, I kept asking my wife, "What if she doesn't recognize my voice".  "What if she doesn't know who I am?"  I'm sure I was a huge pain in the ass toward the end.

Lennon was born at 4:35AM on May 11th, 2008.  My wife had some complications with the birth, so she wasn't able to spend much time with my daughter right after the delivery.  I accompanied one of the nurses to the NICU with my daughter to have her weighed and measured.  All the way down the elevator and down the hall, my little girl was quiet.  When we entered the NICU, she started crying.

I leaned down next to her and whispered, "It's OK honey.  Daddy's here."  She immediately stopped crying and turned to look for me.  She recognized my voice!  It was the greatest moment of my life.

The next morning when my wife got the OK from her doctor to go downstairs to visit the NICU for the first time, we were scrubbing in.  Before you could enter the room, there was a 10 minute scrub in procedure that you had to follow every time, as if you were about to begin an open heart surgery.  In the NICU, there were 24 babies at the time, and it seemed like all of them were crying.  There was one cry in particular that stood out.  "You hear that baby?" I said, "That one's Lennon."  Sure enough, out of all of the infants in the room, I picked out my daughter's cry.  It's not that I had remembered it, but that I had instinctually recognized my child out of the group.

Years later, I still feel like the daddy lion sometimes, although, more often than not, it seems like I'm grabbing my cub by the scruff of the neck more than anything else.

Today, we spent the day running around town, having the "Happy 3rd Birthdayorama!"  We went to her favorite restaurant for lunch.  Saw three quarters of 'Rango' at the dollar theater. (That's right, I said three quarters.)  Went to Nana and Buppa's to visit.  I must say though, when she doesn't have her nap, she can get like an abusive drunk midget carny at certain times of the day.  She'll test your patience, and your ability to drive while having shoes thrown at the back of your head.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Oh, How The Mighty Oak Has Fallen

A matter of days ago, Donald Trump was the front runner amongst the Republican candidates for President of the United States.  According to a poll released, not so much anymore.

Public Policy Polling is a Democratic polling company that often polls Republican voters, to get a feel on how they're voting on conservative issues.  In this poll, they surveyed 610 registered Republican primary voters.  In April, Trump led the field in the same poll with 26% of the overall vote.  This month was a much different story.

Trump came in fifth with 8%, behind Huckabee, Romney, Gingrich, and Palin.  He was only one percentage point ahead of wingnut Tea Party conspiracy theorist Michelle Bachmann.  Some of the other results were also stunning.

53% of those surveyed said that they had an "unfavorable opinion" of Donald Trump.  Keep in mind, in the same poll, 61% of those polled said that they had a "favorable opinion" of Sarah Palin.  It appears that "birtherism" is on the decline. (I would think so after the President presents his long form birth certificate.)  The poll was conducted May 5th through May 8th, more than a week after the President released his birth certificate.  Still, 34% say that they believe that Obama was not born in the United States.  18% "aren't sure". Two weeks ago, 72% of Republican primary voters either said "no" or that they "weren't sure".  Going from 72% to 52% is a considerable improvement, but really?!  Still?!

To make matters worse for Trump, ratings have hit a downward spiral for 'The Celebrity Apprentice'.  For the episode that aired on April 24th, ratings were down 17% from the previous week's episode.  Then, on Trump's May 1st episode, his boardroom decision was interrupted by President Obama's announcement that Osama bin Laden had been killed in Pakistan.

That brings us to the May 8th episode, or as I like to call it, "Clusterfuckorama".  This was the episode in which not one, but three, yes count them, three "celebrities" left the show.  You would think that this would be a high ratings episode, right?  Think again.  Ratings for the episode were down 23% from the week before.  In fact, it was the lowest rated Spring telecast episode in the history of the 'Apprentice' franchise.

I have a feeling that NBC will soon be saying "You're fired" to "The Donald", just like the Republican party did last week.

It's Like An Enigma, Wrapped In A Riddle, Shrouded In A Mystery

For you 'Battlestar Galactica' fans out there, I present:  Starbuck sitting next to Starbuck, sitting inside a Starbucks.

Isn't this a sign of the end of the world?

A Fascinating Conversation With A Hospital Chaplain

As many of you know, I was in the hospital again last week.  It was my third hospital stay since the second week of March. As has been my experience, on the first morning of my stay, the hospital chaplain usually visits.  In the past, I've told them that I'm atheist, and they tell me to have a nice day and walk out of the room.  This time was remarkably different.

It was 9:30AM Monday morning.  Roughly 13 hours earlier, I had seen President Obama announce that Osama bin Laden had been killed in Pakistan.  I fell asleep the night before watching New Yorkers sing the National Anthem at Ground Zero from my hospital bed.  Monday, May 2, 2011, was the dawn of a new era for the United States and for the world.

The chaplain was a dead give away.  The nurses all wore soft soled shoes.  None of the patients on my floor walked past my room (I was at the end of the floor).  And, all of the visitors either wore tennis shoes or sandals.  I could hear his wooden heals on approach 45 seconds before he got to my room.  He walked at a very calm and even pace.

He entered my room and sheepishly peeked his head around the curtain to see if I was awake.  When seeing that I had already eaten my breakfast, he walked up to my bed and introduced himself.  His name was Ahmed.  He explained that he was Muslim.  Upon seeing my beard (albeit unruly and unkempt at the time), he asked if I was Islam as well.  Honestly, I probably could have entered a bin Laden lookalike contest at the time.  I told him I wasn't.  I explained to him that I was an atheist.

I could only imagine the type of conversations he was having that morning, with bin Laden being shot the night before.  Immediately, without even hesitating, he started defending his religion.  You know, he started going into the "Islam is a peaceful religion" bit.  I had to interrupt him.

I explained that I knew that the Prophet Muhammad was a messenger of peace, and that Allah is a peaceful god.  I told him that for centuries, people have killed others in the name of their prophet or their god.  Sometimes that prophet's name is Jesus.  Sometimes, that's their god's name.  Sometimes, they don't even know the name of their god.

"There is fanaticism in every religion", I said.I explained to him that I used to be an "ordained minister" (what a joke).  I told him that the reason why I am atheist now, is because I saw the fanaticism in the church I was in as well.  Religion attracts crazy people.  There are crazy Muslims, just as there are crazy Baptists, Pentecostals, Methodists, Lutherans, Catholics, and Jehovah's Witnesses.

Then I dropped a bomb on him.  I told him I owned a Koran.  I purchased one last September 11th on International Buy A Koran Day.  He was surprised that 1.) a "non believer" would own a Koran, and 2.) that there was actually an international show of support for the Muslim community in which people would go to a bookstore and purchase one of their holy books.  He was almost moved to tears.  He asked me if I had read any of it, which I said that I did.  The copy that I have is in both Arabic and English.

He asked me if I was married.  I told him I was.  He asked if I had a "good wife".  I told him that I had a wonderful, supportive wife.  I said that with the health problems that I have been dealing with recently, if it weren't for her taking care of my daughter and myself in and out of the hospital, I don't know how I would have made it.   Ahmed extolled the virtues of a good wife, though the way he did so was somewhat antiquated.

"A good wife will take care of your children.  She won't spend all of your money.  She'll make sure you have a clean house to come to when you get home from work."

I found it to be a bit laughable, but I got his point.  I have a wonderful partner.  I have spent most of the last six weeks on my back.  Not only has my wife taken care of our two year old single handedly, but she has also waited on me hand and foot.  She has cooked my meals, refilled my drinks, and brought me my medication.  She has picked up my share of the household chores. She has also driven me to and from appointments for the last few weeks.  I really am lucky to have her.

My conversation with Ahmed lasted the better part of an hour.  It was the most pleasant conversation I have had regarding religion in recent memory.  Considering what had happened the previous day, I'm sure Ahmed had thought the conversation was going to go into a different direction.  It's a rare and wonderful thing when two individuals with such varying concepts on religion can come together, have an educated conversation about their beliefs, walk away feeling respected, and have an untold respect for the other in return.

Church Sign Of The Day

Also courtesy of Jesus Needs New PR:

Astroglide works well too.

Free Tires, Courtesy Of Jesus

Minneapolis Cat Adoption PSA Goes Viral

Late last year, the Minneapolis based Animal Humane Society printed an article in their newsletter, 'Animal Tracks', about the local cat adoption crisis.  Their local facilities were over capacity with stray and surrendered felines.  Luckily, the right people were reading.

MAKE is a design studio that has done commercials for Nike, Target, Best Buy, and Burger King.  They are also located out of Minneapolis.  A number of staff members from MAKE have adopted cats in the past from the Animal Humane Society.  When they read the story, they were motivated to help promote adoptions the best way they knew how:  by filming a commercial at no charge.  Production started last November, and it aired for the first time about three weeks ago.  It's called 'I Want...'

So far, the commercial has been viewed nearly a half of a million times on Youtube.  A representative for AHS said that if the ad results in just one adoption, it's a job well done.

A Truly Original Anniversary Gift

Sean Ohlenkamp created a "Happy Anniversary" card of sorts for his wife of three years, Lisa.  Originating from a single desktop folder on her computer, it led to a maze of dozens of folders within folders, each containing another line of his anniversary message.  Both very sweet and funny, it has to be seen to be believed.

I have neither the creativity, the ability to think backwards like that....or for that matter the patience, to accomplish such a feat.

Sean works for Lowe Roche, an advertising firm.  Take a look at his personal website if you get a chance.  He has two commercials in particular that are hilarious.  One is for the Nissan Quest minivan, in which 'Sesame Street's' Grover is doing his "Near/Far" bit to show how roomy it is inside the vehicle.

The other one is a commercial for Coinstar where Mario from 'Super Mario Bros.' uses a Coinstar machine at the end of the level to get rid of all of the coins that he picked up.  Very clever advertising.  This guy is good at what he does.  He also has some work that he has done for the San Diego Zoo's new Elephant Odyssey which is pretty impressive.

I guess when you perform on that level for a living, a card from Hallmark just won't do for your anniversary.

Google Strikes Gold With 'Dear Sophie' Commercial

You may have read my post last week about Google's 'It Gets Better' commercial that aired during 'Glee'.  Google hit it out of the park again last week with 'Dear Sophie'.  According to Google, the message behind these commercials is "the web is what you make of it".  Quoting Google:
"More and more, the web is simply just part of your life and helps you get things done. See how people are using the web to do amazing things. The web is what you make of it."
A perfect example is what Daniel Lee, a new father, did for his daughter using only an email account and a series of pictures videos.  The results are incredibly touching and inspiring.  Grab a tissue.

Bill Maher: 'What Does Obama Have To Do To Get The GOP Off Of His Back?'

During George W. Bush's presidency, Republicans proved that they were neither fiscally responsible or "tough on terror".  Obama comes into office in January 2009, having to clean up the mess left by his predecessor.  Last week, Osama bin Laden is killed by a Navy Seal strike team.  Still, Obama can't seem to catch a break from the GOP.

On last Friday's 'Real Time', Bill Maher calls the Republican party out on the carpet.

Monday, May 9, 2011

NPR Offering Exclusive Sneak Peak Of 'Book Of Mormon' Soundtrack

The only new musical I have even heard of this year has been 'The Book of Mormon'.  It's not that there hasn't been anything else that has come out.  It's just that 'The Book of Mormon' is so good (from what I've read), that nothing else has come close to being on the critic's radar.

A collaboration between 'South Park's' Trey Parker and Matt Stone, along with 'Avenue Q's' Robert Lopez, 'Mormon' garnered 14 Tony nominations last week.  That's one short of the record 15 nominations 'The Producers' received in 2001.  'The Daily Show's' Jon Stewart called 'Mormon', "so good it makes me fucking angry".

The story revolves around a pair of Mormon missionaries that are sent to Uganda to convert the villagers.  One becomes overwhelmed, while the other attempts to teach the natives about god in a way in which they can relate to.

The cast recording becomes available on ITunes and in other digital formats next Tuesday, May 17.  It's available in stores on June 7.  For a limited time, NPR is streaming the album in full on their website.  You can also purchase the MP3s directly from the NPR site, before it's available anywhere else.  Keep in mind, if you purchase the tracks from NPR, a portion of the purchase price goes to help fund National Public Radio.

I've had a chance to listen to a majority of the soundtrack, and let me just say, I want to fly to New York, just so I can see this musical.  'I Believe' is heartfelt, yet hilarious.  It's akin to the old 'South Park' "This is what Mormons/Scientologists actually believe" gags, but sung by a Mormon missionary.

The best track of the musical is 'Hasa Diga Eebowai'  Jon Stewart said of it, "When the aliens come thousands of years from now, it may exist as the only memory of Earth, and I gotta say, I’m happy to go down with it.”  'Hasa Diga Eebowai' is a spoof of the 'Lion King's' 'Hakuna Matata', except that it translates to "Fuck you, God".  YOU MUST LISTEN TO IT!  But, not at work, and not with little kids around.  It's the first Tony nominated song I can think of that has the "C word" in it multiple times.

Take some time in the next day or two and check out the soundtrack.  For those of you that like musicals, or like laughing at oddball religions, it will definitely be worth your time.

Mash Up Monday - And Now For Something Completely Different

Today's Mashup Monday post is unlike any other mashup post I've done.  This post isn't from a DJ, and it doesn't have any songs in it.

Kutiman is a 29 year old Youtube user from Israel.  On March 19th, he or she uploaded a video in which they pieced together a number of random Youtube videos of people singing and playing various instruments, to create a song.  There is a time or two where it seemed like things just didn't jell, but all in all, it's quite impressive.

This is 'My Favorite Color',

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Stefon Suggests A Place To Take Mom For Brunch

From last night's SNL.

Bill Hader has created, hands down, the funniest gay character in the history of television.

The First Mother's Day I Celebrated

Jehovah's Witnesses do not celebrate Mother's Day.  Don't ask me why.  Some believe it has it's roots in "Pagan" rituals.  Others believe that setting aside a day to thank your mother for everything that she does takes away time that should be for thanking god, thus making it "idol worship".  I know.  Pretty ridiculous, right?  So, my entire life, I have never celebrated Mother's Day.  I've never given my mom a card or flowers.  I have never taken her out for breakfast on the second Sunday in May.

All of that changed for me three years ago.  As 12:00AM Mother's Day, 2008, approached, my wife was approximately a little over 50 hours into labor.  We had checked into the Women's Hospital in Albuquerque just before 10:00PM on Thursday night, and, between the two of us, had gotten maybe an hour of sleep between then and now.  We had seen probably 20 episodes of 'The X-Files' by then.  We really weren't fans of the show, but overnight, that, and 'The Chronicles of Riddick' were the only two things that were on TV.

At about 1:00AM, my wife's heartbeat started to flutter.  They sent in a tech to compete an EKG.  At this point, she already had probably a dozen wires and tubes hooked up to her.  The tech had a difficult time trying to figure out how to get around everything and get to her chest with her hospital gown tied up the way that it was.  He was a little inexperienced, to say the least.  Finally, he realized that the arm holes unsnapped and pulled away, so he unsnapped the three buttons on the arm and pulled the right side of the gown away to expose my wife's cleavage.


He then demonstrated how the word "dude" can be a stand alone sentence, yet mean a number of different things.

"Dude!" (You misunderstood me.  I was not saying, "Nice cleavage."  I was saying, "It's nice that I found a way to access the area for the procedure.")

"Dude." (I am so sorry, sir.  I was not making a pass at your wife.)

"Dude." (Please do not kick my ass.)

"Dude?" (Are we cool?)

Three hours later, at 4:35AM, our daughter was born.  It was the best Mother's Day present my wife could have.  It sure beat any Hallmark card or any bouquet of flowers I could have given her.  In case you were wondering, I still gave her a card.  

My wife had a rough delivery.  I couldn't have been more proud of her.  She was stronger than I ever would have imagined.  Since her water broke almost 48 hours earlier, she had developed an infection.  Our daughter was also born with pneumonia.  My little girl was in the NICU for 8 days, while my wife was hospitalized for 3 days following the delivery.  Unfortunately, she was not able to see Lennon until the following day.  The nurses in the NICU took Lennon's picture and had it framed as a Mother's Day present for my wife.  Looking back at the photo today, it's hard to imagine that our little girl is the same one that was hooked up to the monitors under the blue lamps.  That today, she's walking up to everyone in the house, hugging them, and saying, "Happy Mother's Day".  Wow.  Has it been three years already?

Mother's Day will always hold a special place in my heart.  Oddly enough, for the rest of my life, when I think of that day, my own mother will likely be the last woman I think of...if I even think of her at all.

World Net Daily Asks: Are Christians Being Picked On?

World Net Daily, the ultra conservative, evangelical, Christian right news site has a history of pandering to a targeted demographic of reader.  Even after President Obama furnished his long form birth certificate, the site continued to suggest the "birther" conspiracy theory.

Previous articles on the website have reported such nonsense as that a new trend is that gay parents are selectively aborting heterosexual fetuses, and that gays and Muslims are trying to infiltrate the Republican party.  Let's just say, the website is an acquired taste.  According to their site, they receive 40 million views and 5 million unique visitors per month, so somebody out there is reading what they're saying.

This morning, they printed an online survey asking, "Do you believe U.S. Christians are being persecuted?".  So far, 94% say YES.  3% say MAYBE.

According to Wikipedia, 76% of the American population is Christian.  How can the overwhelming majority of a country's residents feel threatened or terrorized by the minority.  Doesn't it work the other way around?

Mother's Day Love...Literally

Justin Timberlake and Andy Samberg remind us what Mother's day is all about:  loving your mother.  Or, in their case, loving their best friend's mother.

**Video contains adult language and is NSFW**

My Favorite Mother's Day Song

Well, OK.  Maybe it's not a Mother's Day song per se.  But, it is the only song that I've thought of on Mother's Day since 1988.

Happy Mothers' Day From The Daily Twitch

She knows what I'm talking about...

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Smells Like Miley Cyrus

I am a child of the 80s, but I grew up in the 90s.  That being said, Nirvana had a huge influence on my life in my late teens and early twenties.

I guess Kurt Cobain had an influence on Miley Cyrus' life too.  At least, that's what she told a crowd in Quito, Ecuador, last week.  She starts to speaks to the screaming crowd.  Interesting fact about Ecuador:  the official language is Spanish.  There are actually 22 languages spoken within the country itself, none of which are English. Anyway, she's blathering on, in English, about how she's become such an inspiration to so many girls around the world, so it's only fitting that she sings a song that inspired her to get into music.

Oh, and she used to sing this song to her brother when he was a baby.

~cue 'Smells Like Teen Spirit'

I'm not expecting you to watch the whole video.  Hell, I'm not expecting you to watch it at all.  But, if you watch any of it, I'm begging you, watch between :45 and :55.  Miley does "The Elaine Dance".  If you're not familiar with the Elaine Dance, let me give you a sample.

You know, they say that when you die, you empty your bowels and shit yourself.  Last Thursday night, after being gone for 17 years, Kurt Cobain shit himself again.


Billy Ray Cyrus' daughter, the one who grew up to pole dance on the Nickelodeon Kid's Choice Awards to 'Party in the U.S.A.', was influenced by Nirvana?  Doubtful.  Could it be that she heard the title 'Smells Like Teen Spirit', thought the title sounded neat, and decided to sing it, having no clue what the song is actually about?  Absofuckinglutely.

I'm just thankful that Kurt's dead.  Otherwise, I'd be posting a blog about how the lead singer of Nirvana put a shotgun in his mouth over the weekend.

George W. Bush Finally Responds To Bin Laden Death

As expected, he completely fucks it up.

New Thor Trailers Debut

'Thor' is scheduled to premiere in theaters this Friday.  Conan O'Brien showed two new trailers on his show earlier this week.  I'm not so sure that I want to see the movie now.  I don't think Chris Hemsworth  was the right casting choice for Thor.

Jesus Christ!  I laughed so hard when I saw this.  "Hiya!  I'm Thor!"  Ha Ha Ha.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Google Airs "It Gets Better" Commercial During 'Glee'

During the first commercial break of tonight's 'Glee', Google aired the following commercial.  You might want to grab a tissue.

I was fine, until Woody said, "You'll be fine, partner."  Then I lost it.  What a wonderful way of sending a message to a demographic that you know is watching the program.

Thank you Google, for realizing that sometimes there are things worth advertising that are more important than your product.

Please Help, The Stupid Hurts

I just read an article on Boing Boing, stating that the fifth most popular Osama bin Laden related search on Yahoo on May first was, "Who is Osama bin Laden?".

Oh my fucking god!  Really?!?!?  Are you kidding me?!?!?!?  According to Yahoo 66% of the searches came from people between the ages of 13 and 17.  Two things about this statistic disturb me.  One, why haven't any of these kids been taught about bin Laden?  Second, I'm assuming that the other 33% of these people that are searching Yahoo are stupid fucking adults.

Here is a snapshot of Twitter that was taken yesterday.  Interesting side note:  on Sunday night, at the time that President Obama was making his announcement,  Twitter reported that their website was receiving 5116 Tweets a second.

Americans are getting dumber by the day.  I shudder to think of our Presidential options for 2024.  

Monday, May 2, 2011

Mash Up Monday - Girl Talk's 'All Day'

With everything going on, I haven't had a chance to listen to a full CD in months.  I finally got smart, and burned a few albums of MP3s onto a disc to take along with us in the car this last week.  One of those albums was Girl Talk's November release, 'All Day'.

For those of you that aren't familiar with Girl Talk, he has become the godfather of mashups.  His first album, 'Secret Diary', came out all the way back in 2002.  It's hard to describe his style.  It's unlike anyone else that I have featured on my blog.  He's like a mashup DJ on meth.  I usually tell people, "If you don't like what you're listening to, wait 20 seconds".  His latest album only has 12 tracks, but has samples from 373 songs.  That is an average of 31 samples per track, or a new sample every 11.42 seconds.

I featured the first track on the album, 'Oh No', back in January.  Now that I've had a chance to listen to the rest of the album, let me play a couple more tracks that I really enjoy.

Track three, entitled 'That's Right', contains at least 15 samples, from what I can count.  It includes everything from Peter Gabriel's 'In Your Eyes', to Nine Inch Nails' 'Closer', to, believe it or not, Miley Cyrus' 'Party in the U.S.A.'.

**It does contain adult language, and is NSFW**

Track four on the album, called 'Jump On Stage', has samples from more than 18 or 19 songs.  On this one, it  carries three main background tracks, Portishead's 'Sour Times', Radiohead's 'Creep', and T'Pau's 'Heart And Soul'.  It flows seamlessly.  It's flawless.

**This contains adult language too, and is NSFW**

The New York Times once called Girl Talk "a lawsuit waiting to happen".  Seeing as he has nearly 400 samples on this album that he has not been granted permission to use, he is not legally allowed to sell this album.  He is, however, allowed to give it away for free under the "fair use" clause of copyright law.

You can go to Girl Talk's website, and download 'All Day', either as a 12 track album, or as one continuous track.  It is easily the most impressive piece of work I have heard in quite a long time.  So impressive, in fact, that on Friday, I listened to it four times in a row.  Back to back.

I haven't done that to ANY CD in probably a decade or more.

Soundtrack Of My Life - 05/02/2011 'Everyday'

Last night, with the news that Osama bin Laden had been killed, it was near impossible for many of us not to think of September 2001.  If anything positive was gleamed from the events that tragic day, it was that people became more neighborly.  For a short time following 9/11, though the vast majority of people were severely depressed, they were friendlier than what they were on September 10, 2001.

I found that people would say hi more often, when passing them on the street.  Someone would hold the door for you, or would hold an elevator, when before they wouldn't take the time to.  The nation, for lack of a better term, was polite.  In time, the civility went away, and everything went back to normal.

It was an atmosphere that I hoped to see return last night.  Instead, the scene outside the White House looked more like a Grateful Dead concert.  People were throwing beach balls and climbing light poles at two in the morning, chanting "Na na na na.  Hey hey hey. Good bye."  To the rest of the world, especially the Middle East, the citizens of the United States looked like jagoffs.

On September 11, 2001, the Dave Matthews Band was coincidentally scheduled to release the song 'When the World Ends' as their third single, off of their album 'Everyday'.  Based on what happened that morning, the single was pulled, and the video was scrapped.  The band and studio decided to release the album's title track, 'Everyday', instead.

The video featured (then unknown) '30 Rock's' Judah Friedlander, walking through the streets of New York's Greenwich Village asking random people for a hug.  It was filmed shortly after 9/11, and features a few cameos from some New York celebrities, such as Conan O'Brien, Blue Man Group, and Tiki Barber.  At the time, it was very touching and heartwarming to watch.  Even with his relative television fame, I don't think Judah Friedlander would be able to get enough hugs to fill three minutes of video in 2011.  It's sad how people have grown colder in the last 10 years.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Bin Laden Dead: A Look At How 9/11 Changed Me

I am sitting in a bed on the third floor of a Mesa, Arizona, hospital tonight, and watching thousands of people cheering outside the gates of the White House.  An hour ago, the President announced to the nation that Osama bin Laden was found and killed in Pakistan earlier today.  The man hated more than anyone in American history, second only to Hitler, is finally dead.

As the crowd of hundreds at Ground Zero at 1AM, stand together in celebration and sing 'The Star Spangled Banner', my eyes well up with tears.  I am proud of my country.  I am proud of the Navy Seals that entered the compound and shot bin Laden.  I am proud of my government and of my President.  Today, I am a patriot.  Looking back upon my life, I never would have pictured myself as a "patriotic" individual.  After all, I was never raised to be one.

In fact, it wasn't until September 11, 2001, that something within me changed.

The following is from a post originally dated September 11, 2009.  It was the first post written on this blog.
Growing up as a Jehovah's Witness, I was always told that it was wrong to salute the flag. I wasn't allowed to say the Pledge of Allegiance. I had to remain seated for the National Anthem. It's not that I had been intentionally disrespecting or desecrating the flag as a child. My parents never instilled in me the reasons why the symbols of our country, and the flag in particular, should be respected.

You can imagine the uncomfortable situations I had found myself in growing up. In the classroom everyday for years. At school assemblies. At sporting events. Countless dirty looks. People making comments under their breath. Even the occasional thwack to the back of the head with the words, "What's wrong with you? You a Commie or somethin? Stand up boy".

In my younger days, I saw it as an opportunity to "witness". To share my beliefs with others.  I would tell them that I wasn't standing because my religion wouldn't permit me to. Usually, that would be as far as I got. The offended spectator would turn a more enraged shade of red and that would be my que to face forward for the rest of the event and not make eye contact with anyone for the next 3 hours.

As I got older, I got wiser. I realized that by being in my seats during the National Anthem, I was only asking for trouble. So, I would generally take that time of the pre-game to go to the bathroom or grab a drink or a souvenir. Most times, I would just intentionally show up late to a game - skip the first 2 minutes of the period or the top half of the first inning altogether.

So how does this tie in to 9/11? I'll get to that in a second. But first: February 13, 1983. The Forum, Irvine, California. It was the NBA All Star Game. For some reason my dad was watching it on TV. I never remember him being much of a basketball fan. I've never been much of one either. But something special happened that night. The time came for the National Anthem. This is what we saw:

It gave me chills. As a 7 year old, I didn't know why. I had a feeling then that I couldn't put into words, that I wouldn't feel again until 18 years later. I left the church in 1996, but, out of habit I guess, continued my "tradition" of not standing for the National Anthem.

Then came September 11th, 2001. It's a day that, 8 years later, I still think about on a daily basis. We all tend to re-live the shots of the people running in the streets, the towers falling, and the planes hitting the towers. Today though, I had a different memory for the first time. I remembered the firefighters going into Ground Zero to tie an American Flag onto a beam of the World Trade Center. This was still while the area was unsafe. There was still a possibility of the surrounding buildings collapsing. It was their way of saying "We're still here. We're still standing".

When I saw that flag amongst the rubble, that feeling I first felt as a 7 year old had returned. It was pride. The flag reminded me of the anthem's lyrics itself: "Gave proof through the night, That our flag was still there, O say does that Star Spangled Banner yet wave, O'er the land of the free, And the home of the brave". It waved over many a brave volunteer in the days and weeks following the attacks.

September 10, 2001, was the last day I refused to sit for the National Anthem. Since the events of 9/11, not only do I show my respect to my nation and its flag, but I sing along with the Star Spangled Banner, and get choked up at the end. Every time.