Thoughts, Philosophy, Life and Love

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Amy Winehouse – RIP

Being that I wrote a piece about Amy some time ago, I feel I need to comment on the news of her recent passing.

While it is sad that she passed away, it should be remembered that she did lead rough life.  Her use of drugs and her lifestyle, in general, as was laid before us all on the national news for some time, was not conducive of that of a person that desired to live a long, full life.

I would never hope for a person’s passing, nor do I ever celebrate the death of anyone.  I strongly believe in the idea of Karma, so I make every effort to accept that the decisions of others are their own and that they create their own path.

I think that people, especially the youth, that followed Amy, should take this as a life lesson.  That they should see what the the substance abuse and lifestyle did to Amy and maybe learn from that.   I would hope that were Amy still with us today, she would agree with that and encourage the same of anyone that admired her.

She was a very creative woman, and I enjoyed listening to her music.  For the music, she will be missed.

Moby – Great thinking music

What can I say about Moby…

As long as I do not think about his politics or his social choices and concentrate on the music, then I am fine.  It is really hard for me to do that with most performers.  This is partially why I can not stand people like Pernell Roberts or Mike Ferrell.  They let their politics destroy what I thought was their best attribute… acting.

Moby, also known as Richard Melville Hall, I can deal with, though.  His music is very hard for me to explain to someone that might never have heard it, or at least did not know they were hearing it.  You see, most of his music he puts together, he lets go with no royalties on it.  That is to say if you use it for your non-commercial , endeavour he will not go hunting you down and pelting you with his Vegan Hummus.  If you do decide that you want to use it for some commercial effort, then you have to give any income generated by it to the Human Society.  I guess I can agree with that… at least is it not going to some program to save some endangered slug in Jacutan.

Back to the music.

In a nutshell, the music is progressive, with a little electronica and a little rap here and there.  Like I said, you really have to listen to it to appreciate it.  I will include some clips at the end of this article.

Personally, I use his music to think to.  It inspires creative thought for me and relaxes me.  Not the kind of relaxation that makes me want to go to sleep, but the kind that lets me feel laid back.  I guess you could say it is like psychological pot.  Then, once I have become mellow from the tunes, the thoughts begin to flow.

Many of his songs use sampling from other songs or other people’s spoken words.  But they are then put to music in such a way where I think that it actually is complementary to the original artist.  But I felt I needed to share that with you up front, in the event you are one of those people that flat out will not listen to a piece of music because they sampled from someone else.  Trust me, I know people like that.

If you are interested, then I would suggest getting started with his CD titled “18”.  It has a lot of good stuff on it that will determine right away if you are going to like his work of not.  If you decide that this type of music is in your style, then the next I would suggest is “Play”.

What you may find in listening to these is that you will have heard many of the songs before.  In movies, in commercials… who knows.

Overall I would have to say that Moby is one of those artists that transcends his politics by putting out great music.

Rick Springfield

This article may not be what you are expecting for a piece written about Rick Springfield.  No mushy talk about how he was considered an 80s heartthrob or the fact that he played Noah Drake in a soap opera.  All of this is true and I am sure that there are many woman… and possibly a few guys out there… that would throw their underwear at him, even to this day.

My like for Rick was based on the story many of his lesser known songs conveyed to me, the songs that never gained the popularity of “Don’t talk to strangers” or “Jesse’s Girl”, which were good, fun songs.  As anyone who really knows me already understands, I have always been the one that looks for the deeper meaning in music and the songs that are sung.  I have always felt that singing was both for entertainment and to tell a story that you might otherwise not be able to tell through just talking.  You just have to take the time to listen to the words.

Many of Rick’s songs that were mainstream became so because they were easy to dance to or easy to sing along with, but not all of them really had a back-story.  They were auditory bubble-gum for the kids to listen to and play to.  Songs that were more for the ratings and sales than for the intrinsic meaning there.  I am sure that Rick will disagree with me on some those points, but they are my opinions.

When you listen to the whole album (or CD), though, you see something that people who just go for the popular songs miss.  Hidden in the music is a story in some of the songs.  Those are the ones that have always had a meaning for me.  A story to tell that I would listen to and that I could find some connection with him through.  But in order to understand what is being said, you have to listen past the beat and the music, to the words and what they mean.  Listen to the voice and the emotion that it is carrying.  Here is a list of some of the songs I am talking about:

Album: Success hasn’t spoiled me yet   Song: April 24, 1981

Album: Beautiful Feelings  Song: Guenevere

The Entire “Tao” and “Rock of Life” Albums. – Both of these albums feel like a defining moment in Rick’s carreer.  Sort of a spiritual transition.  You hear a more contemplative sound in the music and you feel like he is telling you something about himself.

Listening to his music over the years, and having a chance to listen to it in chronological order, or as the albums were released, you get a sense of his developing spiritualism and hear his style maturing as he grows with his music.  As time goes on, you get a feel for understanding how his faith works and, in turn, start to feel it yourself.

I have been accused of reading too much into music and you will never hear me deny it.  But I think that when a person puts as much into the song as people like Rick, among others, do, they WANT you to understand what they are saying.  It is easy to just listen to the tunes and dance to the beat, but I do not think that is what it is all about.  There is a story to songs like “Like Father Like Son”, off his “Living in Oz” album.  If he took the time to write the piece and put it out there, then he wanted to share it with us.

I have not had a chance to listen to his newer works, but I will be making an effort to get them shortly.  I have heard nothing bad about them and, in fact, I see very good reviews of his newer work.  He has even released an album of lullabies.

So… it looks like Rick is going to be around for quite a while longer, entertaining those of us who were around when he was building up his steam and now a new, younger fan base.  If you listen to the stories, he can still pack in an audience and even holds a cruise on a regular basis that is almost always sold out.

Meat Loaf and Commercialism

I like Meat Loaf… both the dinner kind and the musician, but for the sake of this I am speaking of the musician, Marvin Lee Aday… aka Meat Loaf, for the topic at hand.

As I said, I really like his, Meat Loaf’s, music.  I have been listening to his work for about as long as I can remember and the first Album I owned by him was, of course, Bat Out of Hell.

So tell me, please.  Who in the world told him to do the “A1” steak sauce commercial that I just had to misfortune of seeing for the first time?  It was bad enough that someone told him he could act, but that was excusable since it was done at a time when it seemed that everyone wanted to get into acting.  Thank god that never spread to Ozzy Osbourne.  Could you imagine him trying to play the part of say an action hero?  Some Rambo type character?

But going back to Meat Loaf, He has proven himself at a very capable and versatile musician.  For his music, there is actually little I can say bad about it.  The only song that I do not really care for is “Anything for love”, but my reason for not liking it is not his fault… it is the fact that the radio stations played the crap out of it and it seemed like almost every television program, commercial and movie decided to use that particular song.

So… I see this commercial with Meat Loaf, eating meatloaf and then pouring A1 on it and singing “Anything for love.”  So not only did this commercial have to have Meat Loaf eating meatloaf… read into that anything you want, but then it had the single song that he released that I cannot stand.  Now, however I have a new reason to not like it and this time it IS his fault.

*  Thank you Sara for pointing out my error in the difference between Meatloaf and Meat Loaf as opposed to referring to both as Meatloaf.  Therefore I have edited the above article to differentiate the Meat Loaf and the Meatloaf.

The Jackson Legacy…

Since I am keeping the topics for this month music, I figure I would get a quick slam in on the Jackson family.

Is it just me, or is that family whoring out the death of MJ in order to gain attention?  The other day I watched  hook on TV (these are the little things they show you in the hopes of keeping you from changing the channel… it did not work for me) where they were discussing the fact that Joe Jackson was hyping his own business in the wake of his son’s death.

Then I am hearing all this BS about the “Reverend” Jesse Jackson and that hack, Al Sharpton, consoling the family.  These are nothing more than two more people sucking on the teats of Michael Jackson’s demise for their own personal gain.

You know that there will be some massive tribute and they, Joe, Jess and Al, will all be part of it.  They will probably charge huge sums of money for people to get in, under that guise that it will all go to some charity somewhere… probably the “Get Joe Jackson another face lift”, you can already tell that he and Michael were going to the same doctor.

This whole things stings with the makings of some conspiracy story, to me.  I see a made for TV movie in the near future.  I see that this is going to be built up into some twist plot by a subversive group that wanted to take Michael out because he “escaped justice”, as two people I talk to on a regular basis have already told me they believe.

It just amazes me that people cannot let the dead rest.  On that note, I will cease to discuss MJ any further…

My obligatory Michael Jackson piece…

Yes… it is sad that Michael Jackson died.  Yes… he was a legend in the music industry.  Yes… the image that he held (please note the past tense) will be missed.

The fact is that the Michael Jackson that died is not the same person that I used to listen to when I was growing up.  In fact, in the last several years what has MJ really done or accomplished except become some kind of circus display or curiosity for the media to chase around.  I have to think that even though his family still loved him because he was a part of the family, he was probably not high on their invite list for birthday parties and social gatherings.

When you look at his career, however, his success does overshadow his flakiness, but only just barely and then only if you took the time to see everything he did.  There is an entire generation of people now that will only know him at the reclusive nutcase with the masked children, freakish face and a long drawn out court case involving pedophilia.  Whether the allegations in that case were true or not is for the historians and the lawyers to figure out.  But when a charge like that is leveled at a person, even if it is false, it is hard to get away from.

His Death…

I have no remorse for MJ and how he died.  You see… when you do as many things to your body, even if you think it is for the better, you are weakening it.  When you look at all the work he had done to his face and all the treatments he was having done to try and live longer and stay younger looking, you have to understand that it is hard on the system.  I see no difference in what Michael did to himself than that of what a drug addict or a person who has to keep getting piercings and tattoos… then eventually dies of a drug overdoes or septicemia.  MJ wore his body out and it failed him.  While we will have to see what the coroner says about this, I have to think that I am not too far of f the mark.

I do hope that he rests in peace, but I have no doubt that he had a hand in putting himself there.  So you will find no remorse, pity or tears for his loss from me.

If I have offended anyone with this, then I do hope you get over it.  These are my opinions and I will not apologise for them.

Maybe Salvidore Dali was right!

This world really is a strange place.  It seems like everything that we do and see does nothing more than prove this point these days.  In fact, I have to stop and wonder if maybe the ones that can truly see things as they are, are not the ones that are usually cast aside as being crazy or eccentric.  Those that see what, to many, appear to not be there.

So the question arises…  did people like Salvadore Dali or Pablo Picaso see things as they might really be, and you and I are the ones seeing things the way we would like them to appear for the sake of keeping ourselves sane?

Don’t get excited, these are not serious questions, they are just observations from a person who has always felt that there is more than one correct answer to the questions in life, the universe and everything… and no, one of those answers is not “42”.

It seems that when ever we think that we are figuring things out and getting the gist of life, there is always something that comes along and proves that we are either wrong, or right, but on the wrong path.  You win the lotto one month after you declare bankruptcy, you wreck your car on the way to get your “Safe Driver” award from your company.  You fail a sobriety test on your way to your AA meeting, you find out you are pregnant a three months after you are told you are sterile and decide to quit the pill and have fun.  Things like that.

There are also those people that seem to hide in the pathway of your life just to jump out and give you a wedgie when you least expect it.  The silly friend that you did not expect to meet you at a lunch appointment.  The crazy aunt(s) that you just recently realized really are the spawn of Satan incarnate (can you say Avis and Marlene?.)

If I have learned any one thing in my forty years of living, it is that the world is a crazy place.  Full of things that are either there to help you or hinder you.  Fortunately the ones that are there to hinder you are mostly innocuous.  Things that catch you off guard and cause you to take a step back and collect your thoughts, then move forward.  Usually this last area is caused by family.  Love them though you might, they are usually the first in line with the monkey wrenches of good intent and well being.

When you look at nature, there are also things there that were meant to throw us for a loop.  Things that just seem odd or not quite right.  Beautiful flowers that are deadly poison, ugly ones that smell heavenly, pristine rivers that hide certain death, grand landscape that will invite you, then, years later when they find your body, prove that nature is still in charge.

Personally I like the way life is.  The adventure is there to keep us guessing.  The random events that we all seem to dread are just another way for nature to see if we are paying attention.  Life and the universe are full of examples of these grand and humorous contradictions…  so maybe it is the crazy that see the universe as it truly is…  the rest of us are blinded by our own idealism.

You see… I think that God… whatever god you might believe in, has a sense of humor and loves to practice it on you and I.  With this in mind, if there is a heaven… I am sure that comedians and philosophers all have the best seats and the rest of us will be the performers.

Love of letters

When was the last time you wrote a letter?

No… not an email.  Not typing a letter in a word processor and printing it out.  I mean really WRITE a letter.

I think that it is a dying art, these days.  Something that many of us see as some anachronistic part of a past that we do not look to these days.

There once was a time when writing was an art in and of itself.  You went to school and one of your classes was a penmanship class.  When you wrote an essay, you were not only graded on the paper itself, but on the legibility and the clarity of the writing.

Today when you see people write, it is usualy short, terse notes to each other, and rarely anthing of substance.  You even see people writing in “TXT” format as well…  a practice that I abhore.  It is a sign of laziness and borders on illiteracy.

People just do not write that much any more, then do not seem to understand that putting pen or pencil to paper is something that lets them express while also creating.  You are not just pounding out the letters onto the screen or a piece of paper, you are physically creating each letter and forming them into words.  You are doing something that not only requires thought, but also requires a physical act to carry out the process.

Think back aways… it was not even twenty-five years ago that more people were writing, than there are today.  Now think back to a time when that was the only way people had to communicate.  They had to write letters to convey their thoughts or to share a message with others.  If you look at those old documents, you will see that because they had to use that media to create their message, they did so with style, and most documents were almost works for art in themselves.

Next time you are getting ready to write a letter to your Aunt Bob or Uncle Jeanne, think of doing it long hand.  Get out the lined paper and a pen (I would prefer it be a Pencil), and write the letter longhand.  You will do two things… you will put more feeling into what you are writing and the people that get your letter will think more of it.  Anyone can pound out a letter in a few minutes, but when you take the time to really write, you are creating more than a letter, you are truely creating.

The Typecasting of Men…

In the event that I have been asleep for some length of time and just not noticed… in some comatose state that has kept me from noticing this pre-Huxlian world we seem to be moving towards in which men are subservient and docile, I need to ask an important question.  At least it seems important to me at the moment that I am writing this.

Why are men cast, in much of the media today, as idiots, morons or just plain stupid?  I will be the first to point out that there are many out there that are, and the rest of us just have our moments from time to time.  But then again, name ANY woman that can not also fit into that description.

The point that I REALLY started noticing these things was when Carl’s Jr. started on what I can only call their “Moron Men” commercials.  You have seen them… they are the ones that usually portray the man standing in the meat section with that “deer-in-the-headlights” look, staring at the meat like someone saved up a week and took a dump in the refrigerated section.  The latest one in this assault on intelligence is the one with the “Pretty-boy” standing in the kitchen trying to make guacamole by putting a whole avocado in the blender and setting in on the lowest setting possible.  The resulting effect is a guy standing there with a dumb look on his face while the avocado bounces around inside the blender… then closes with him trying to bite into the avocado.  Unless he is a refugee from the short bus, and I think even they are smarter than that, no one would try and eat an avocado like that.

OK…  To be fair, this is not the first time that I commercial campaign has gone after people by exploiting the intelligence factor.  Mostly, in the past, it was aimed towards women, and I did not care for it then either.  Granted… now and again… it is funny.  The current trend is at the point where the joke is getting old already.

Unfortunately it does not stop with just the commercials, it has also spread to other media as well.  It seems like comic strips, TV shows and other media, even Radio commercials, have gotten on the bashing bandwagon.

OK… The ranting aside, some of them were kinda funny… the first few times.  But come on people.  Find something new to beat on.

I do understand, though… seriously.  We live in an age where the only people that you really CAN pick on, without fear of a law suit or an attack from some special interest group, is the white male between the ages of 15 and 65.   If you go after a man or woman of any non-white race, then you are being racist.  If you pick on women, then Gloria and the NOW gang of feminazis come out of the woodwork to take you to task.  If you pick on the Homeless, then Jimmy Carter puts on his cape and flies in with his Nobel Prize of power to lay you to rest.  If you pick on the handicapped… well…  I am not sure who their spokes person is, but they will come out and attack.  Somehow, I think it would be neat to see Stephen Hawking fly in with a cape and protect them all… but that is a story for another time.

If you are sitting there, thinking that I am writing this out of hate… I am not.  I understand very well how the marketing system works.  I know that commercials are geared towards certain niche crowds that the writers know will probably bring in the most traffic, and that these commercials cater to the people that live in that region that they are shown.  I have to think that Carl’s Jr. probably used the Paris Hilton commercial out here in California, but in Pennsylvania they probably had a gal dressed in full smock and hair in a bun, “getting dirty” washing the family horse and buggy with the tag line… “You English will certainly like our fresh Amish beef steaks.”   This probably would not work in someplace like Utah…  in some cases one family would fill an entire Carl’s Jr… and that is just with the wives.

Marketing gone too far…

There is this show that I like on the Sci Fi channel called Eureka. It is about a little town that is peopled by only genius’.  This town is supposedly in a classified location and built to house the best minds in the country in a place where they can work with relative safety.  All this while the town’s main law figure in the town is the only one without a high IQ.

OK…  My sales pitch completed, I do have to say that I really like the program, in spite of the fact that the characters are stereotypical of most show of this type.  I will discuss my analysis of TV shows in a later post. But the point of this post is that this series has taken the whole marketing and sponsorship thing a little too far… ok… a LOT too far.

You see… one of their sponsors is “Degree for men.”  While most of the time you are only forced to deal with the horror of being accosted by the commercials during the COMMERCIALS, in the last season they have taken to incorporating the commercialism right into the series itself… by making it seem like “Degree for men” is something that the scientists at Eureka are working on for the government.

The show itself is still a good show, but the whole commercialism part is something that kinda wears on me.  I understand that you need to have a sponsor for everything these days and most importantly for a program like this.  But at this rate, I cannot help but wonder what is next.

Will Adrian Monk start making it a common practice to tell his assistant, whatever her name is, that he needs to go take his, “ACME brand Lithium”, because it give him that warm and happy feeling.

Can we expect to see Rodney McKay take a moment to talk about the benefits of his HP scientific calculator or his Panasonic Tough-book?

How about Dr. Cox taking a moment to talk about why he should have used Trojan brand ribbed condoms before fooling around and getting his ex-wife pregnant?

Where does it end?  Will we, one day, see the Presidential State of the Union address start, and the pres will walk out with a jacket like the race car drivers wear, with logo’s for his sponsors on it?

How about laws?  Is there a potential for something like this:  You get pulled over.  The cop walks over to you and says… “I would like to let you that your left tail light is out, and your ticket is brought to you today by the fine folks over at ACME tail lights and electrical repair.”

Oh well… I am going off on a tangent here… If you get a chance, watch Eureka… it is a good show, but just be ready for the commercialism.

For a taste of what I am talking about, click here.

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