Friday, January 30, 2009

Friday Random 11

It’s one more random than 10!

I was talking to one of my friends about politics this weekend, and I got on the subject of why I went from being conservative to a liberal. It boiled down to two things: the anti-intellectualism of the post-Gingrich GOP, with its emphasis on faith over reason; and the policing of personal behavior, instead of letting people manage their morality themselves.

Part of that policing involves the annoying overhyping of how depraved American culture has become, that we’re a “culture of anything goes.” Nothing exposes that myth more than Super Bowl week. It’s the biggest game of the year, and nothing adds to the excitement of sport like a little wagering on the side. Yet I can’t make a bet on the game because it’s against the law. I have to jump through a bunch of hoops and send my money to offshore agencies which may or may not be run by drug cartels or Al Qaeda or Danny Gans. I don’t find the effort worth it, especially since I am terrible at betting on sports anyway, so I don’t bother. But it’s such a crock of shit that our society is “out of control” when I can’t put $20 on Baby Jesus giving Kurt Warner another Super Bowl.

However, I am also a big believer in questioning your own beliefs, especially when confronted by evidence that suggests the other side may be on to something.

While I have given up on online sports wagering, I play poker online regularly, as does The Lovely Becky. A couple years ago, we did jump through the hoops of getting our money into an account at a poker site that rhymes with Bull Shilt, because the only thing worse than listening to a sermon about the evils of gambling is playing poker for fake money.

Since then, we’ve managed to win enough that we didn’t need to deposit additional money. In fact, at one point, we went on a pair of tears. We managed to go from $5 tournaments to $10 ones to $24 ones. We had enough money that we actually talked about cashing some of it out.

Of course, the poker gods taketh more than they giveth, and we went on a reverse tear that was like watching the Cubs collapse in the playoffs. It was hard to go back to the cheaper games, in part because the more expensive ones featured better players, and we both damaged our bankrolls by lingering longer in expensive waters than we should have. However, when it became clear that we either had to go cheap or go through the hoops of depositing more real money in our accounts, we grudgingly went back to the $5 games.

I mentioned this the other night when I was talking to TLB about how much we had in our accounts: would we have taken this more thrifty approach if it was really easy to deposit our money? I’m sure the answer is no, and it was in fact the efforts of the American Purity Police that kept me from dumping more into my account and probably losing more money. They may not have saved my soul, but they certainly saved me some money.

It sucks to realize that.

1) “Going Mobile,” The Who. Speaking of going mobile, how about Governor Blago getting kicked to the curb? That’s a man who needs a reality show. We could see him jogging, shoplifting from the store, getting his hair done and asking what the stylist is going to do for him if he leaves her a tip. It takes a lot to get the good people of Illinois, who anticipate corruption like they anticipate snow every winter, to sit up and say, “wow, that’s pretty corrupt.”

2) “I’ll Feel a Whole Lot Better,” The Byrds. I do feel better now that the waste of our 43rd president has been flushed back to Texas, but the aftermath is certainly depressing. It’s going to be a long time before we right the ship.

3) “Green Arrow,” Yo Lo Tengo. This song certainly helps, though. A quiet, beautiful instrumental track that feels like dusk descending on my ears.

4) “Run to the Hills,” Iron Maiden. I have to give them credit for writing a song sympathetic to plight of American Indians, but it makes me laugh because I watched “The Cigar Store Indian” episode of Seinfeld last night. The scene where Jerry is going out with the Native American woman and tries to avoid saying words like “reservation” and “scalper” is both funny and a biting comment about how much we’ve demonized and stereotyped the original Americans. BTW, this video has got some amazing pants in it.

5) “Everybody’s Got Something to Hide Except Me and My Monkey,” The Beatles. Their greatest song title. I also see that the creationists were at it in Texas again, losing their bid to expose the “weaknesses” of evolution. In an earlier article about this, the New York Times mentioned that the head of the Texas State Board of Education, Dr. Don McLeroy, is not just a creationist. Oh no, he’s a Young Earth Creationist, who thinks the earth is a few thousand years old, because dag gummit, that’s what the Bible says. Like I said to Michael Baines earlier, how do you become the head of a state educational board when you clearly hate education?

6) “Ride,” Joe Satriani. One of the best Guitar Heroes, who manages to be flashy without wanking like this Swedish meatball.

I am facing a bit of a fake music game dilemma. Both of my fake plastic toy guitar game controllers are dying. My old Guitar Hero one won’t strum, and the Rock Band one has always been a little wonky and imprecise. I told this to The Lovely Becky last night while I was playing (and she was playing poker), after my own ham-fisted strumming coupled with the controller’s malfunctioning made one guitar solo sound like a coked-up Neil Young playing in a clothes dryer. “Just get another one,” she said. She really is quite lovely.

The problem is I feel like a fool. I have already gone through TWO fake guitars, and now I need another one because I can’t quite play my fake music game at the level of expertise I would like. A normal person would either say enough is enough, or realize that, fake or no, said game provides hours of real pleasure and another guitar is no big deal. Instead I have to spend too much time analyzing this before eventually succumbing and buying the goddamned thing anyway. This is how I make myself nuts.

Of course, I have the money to buy a new controller because I haven’t been spending all of it on poker.

7) “No More My Lawd,” Ollabelle. This is how you can make Christian music that doesn’t sound like Tiffany singing about holding hands with Jesus. TLB and I are friends with Ollabelle’s bass player, and we got a big thrill when we saw them play on Conan O’Brien a few years ago. Why is that? We were of course happy for him and the band’s success (he may be the nicest person in the music business), but why do we take such pride in “Hey, I know that guy”?

8) “Suffer,” Bad Religion. Their songs are like lectures set to punk rock. I liked going to class in college (usually) and I like punk, so they don’t bug me the way they bug some people.

9) “The Fox in the Snow,” Belle & Sebastian. That might be what’s leaving tracks outside my back door. By the way, we’ve hit nearly 160 inches of snow for the winter. And only two more months to go!


11) “The Boy With the Thorn in His Side,” The Smiths. OH FACK, I’M SO FACKING MISERABLE BECAUSE NO ONE LOVES ME….*cough*, ahem, sorry. Hard to turn that off. Here’s my imitation of every Smiths song: I cried and I cried and I cried, oh did I tell you how I cried?

Enjoy yourselves this weekend.


Churlita said...

Too bad baby Jesus doesn't like Kurt Warner enough to let him actually WIN the Superbowl.

I'm sorry to hear about your fake guitar dilemma.I'm sure my Rock Band drums will go first, since my daughter always gets on me about how hard I pound on them.

Jennifer said...

I think the former G-Rod needs to start a band... perhaps, "Big Hair Rod and the Mobsters".

fish said...

Put me in the "Bad Religion bugs me" category. For example:
And you sit there adn watch the world go around
From your pseudo-benevolent vantage point
While we who've been left to pick up after you
Try our best to make some sense for those who
Come next
Now what have you done to foster the truth
Besides just hide hide the lies?
Besides just hide hide the lies?
A selfish campaign never justifies the gain
But the means are verified
Yeah the means are verified
And you sit there and insist you are right
From your popular psychological podium
While those who rely and depend on you
They wilt because you don't accept we need
Each other
While sowing the seeds of Utopia,
You invoked a convenient amnesia
You forgot how to care, you forgot how to provide,
You forgot how to work toward a meaningful life.

Just has me reaching for a gun to end my misery. Although it does take some balls to write a song with the line "From your pseudo-benevolent vantage point"

Kathleen said...

wow fish. those lyrics are something.

And you sit there and insist you are right
From your popular psychological podium

is quite the line.

Brando said...

Well sure, it sounds bad and pretentious without the guitars....

fish said...

Kathleen, it gets worse.

Digging through Bad Religion lyrics is almost as amusing as reading Yelp reviews.

Brando said...

Fish, you're such a 20th Century Analog Boy.