Wednesday, September 30, 2020

September Words of Wisdom

I was happy anywhere I could see the ocean. --Ai Yazawa

Politicians should wear sponsor jackets like Nascar drivers, then we know who owns them. --Robin Williams

The best revenge is not to be like your enemy. --Marcus Aurelius

The percentage of good police is much higher than the percentage of good politicians...So what should we really be defunding? --Burgess Owens

If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world. --C.S. Lewis

If you're depressed you're living in the past. If you're anxious you're living in the future. If you're at peace you're living in the present. --Tzu Lao

Common people will believe anything if frightened. But critically thinking people will find the truth through the smokescreen of fear. Listen to critical thinkers, not fearful reactors. --Dr. Suzanne Humphries

Tolerance and apathy are the last virtues of a dying society. --Aristotle

In Los Angeles we actually had a curfew for law abiding citizens, so that looters could have free reign. --Peter Copses

Often it is those who live quietly, modestly, and contentedly with a simple life who are the happiest. --Joshua Becker

People will come to adore the technologies that undo their capacities to think.
--Neil Postman

Be soft. Do not let the world make you hard. Do not let pain make you hate. Do not let the bitterness steal your sweetness. --Iain Thomas (has also been attributed to Kurt Vonnegut)

Serious writers write, inspired or not. Over time they discover that routine is a better friend than inspiration. --Ralph Keyes

If you are humble nothing will touch you, neither praise nor disgrace, because you know what you are. --Mother Teresa

There is no person so severely punished as those who subject themselves to the whip of their own remorse. --Seneca

The man who lives in a small community lives in a much larger world. --G.K. Chesterton

The issue today is the same as it has been throughout all history. Whether man shall be allowed to govern himself or be ruled by a small elite. --Thomas Jefferson

Strive to preserve your heart in peace; let no event of this world disturb it. 
--St. John of the Cross

True ignorance is not the absence of knowledge, but the refusal to acquire it. 
--Karl Popper

Life is short, but there is always enough time for courtesy. --Ralph Waldo Emerson

You are far too smart to be the only thing standing in your way. --Jennifer J. Freeman

Political correctness is America's newest form of intolerance, and it is especially pernicious because it comes disguised as tolerance. It presents itself as fairness, yet attempts to restrict and control people's language with strict codes and rigid rules. I'm not sure that's the way to fight discrimination. I'm not sure silencing people or forcing them to alter their speech is the best method for solving problems that go much deeper than speech. --George Carlin

I've never lost a game. I just ran out of time. --Michael Jordan

It is no bad thing to celebrate a simple life. --J.R.R. Tolkien

In any compromise between good and evil, it is only evil that can profit. --Ayn Rand

Is there an idea more radical in the history of the human race than turning your children over to total strangers whom you know nothing about, and having those strangers work on your child's mind, out of your sight, for a period of twelve years? --John Taylor Gatto

I've had a sign over my typewriter for over 25 years now, which reads 'Don't think!' You must never think at the typewriter - you must feel. Your intellect is always buried in that feeling anyway. --Ray Bradbury

Rudeness is the weak man's imitation of strength. --Eric Hoffer

Don't seek for everything to happen as you wish it would, but rather wish that everything happens as it actually will - then your life will flow well. --Epictetus

Even the darkest night will end and the sun will rise. --Victor Hugo

Sunday, September 27, 2020

Recent reading: "All I Ever Wanted: A Rock 'n' Roll Memoir"


All I Ever Wanted: A Rock 'n' Roll Memoir by Kathy Valentine

The recent Go-Go's documentary on Showtime sent me on a big fat nostalgia-fest about 1980's Los Angeles and the 80's in general, plus I was a big fan of the band back in the day. One of the many things I took away from the doc was that among all the Go-Go's, bassist Kathy Valentine was the one who really seemed to understand what they had, how amazing it was, and how lucky they were to have it. As the band crumbled around her Valentine tried desperately - and unsuccessfully - to keep them together. It made me want to read her memoir, released earlier this year.

Growing up in Texas, Valentine was "raised" by a single mother who was more interested in having a good time than in parenting. As a result Valentine grew up without a lot of supervision and she grew up fast. She lost her virginity before she even entered her teens, requiring an abortion at age twelve. Her mother turned it into a fun trip to California, abortions not being available in Texas at the time. 

During a trip to her mother's native England, Valentine saw Suzi Quatro perform on Top of the Pops and was riveted by the idea that a woman could be more than an ornamental lead singer backed by men, or part of a girl group programmed by men. Upon returning home she began learning to play the guitar and became obsessed with being in a rock band. She attended countless shows and became a student of music and musicians. And she eventually started playing in bands. 

At nineteen Valentine decided to try her luck in Los Angeles. There, in late 1980 she met Charlotte Caffey, a member of the Go-Go's, who although not yet signed to a label were enormously popular in the L.A. music scene. The Go-Go's had a problem: they were scheduled to play a series of shows over New Year's but their bass player, Margot Olavarria, was ill. Caffey asked Valentine if she could play bass. Valentine, a guitarist, said yes, then spent three cocaine-fueled days and nights learning to play a borrowed bass and the Go-Go's songs. 

By the time the shows were over and the new year had been rung in, Valentine was in love with the band and they seemed to return the sentiment. Margot, who had been with the band through much of their growing popularity was unceremoniously dumped, although there was more to it according to the documentary: she had been voicing dissatisfaction with the band's changing sound. The Go-Go's had begun as part of the 1970's L.A. punk scene, but by 1980 they had drifted toward a decidedly non-punk girl-pop sound and image that would soon take the world by storm. Valentine was deemed a better fit and the invitation to join the Go-Go's gave her not only the band, but also the family she had always craved. It also gave her a Go-Go's dependent identity that would make it difficult to function when the band imploded a few years later.

The Go-Go's were finally signed by I.R.S. Records and proceeded to make history when their debut album Beauty and the Beat became the first album by an all-female band who wrote their own songs and played their own instruments to top the charts. Suddenly, they were stars.

One thing I noticed from both the doc and Valentine's book is that for as hard as the Go-Go's worked to become successful, once they achieved success and stardom they often didn't seem to want to work to keep it, nor did they seem at times to appreciate it. They complained about the production on the album that would make them world-famous. They complained about having to make the "Our Lips Are Sealed" video that put them in heavy rotation on MTV and boosted their visibility. I can remember a clip from back in the Go-Go's heyday of Belinda Carlisle being interviewed while she signed some albums or posters (I can't remember which) and she complained about having to be in an office signing autographs instead of being at the beach. I remember wondering what the hell she was complaining about. She was in such an enviable position, and one she'd worked hard for. I couldn't figure out what her problem was.

Another thing I thought was odd was that despite their hard-partying ways, no one in the band seemed to realize that Caffey had a serious, years-long heroin addiction. When Paula Jean Brown joined the band after Jane Weidlin's departure, she picked up on it right away. In fact it was Brown who flat-out asked what they were going to do about it. And it was Brown, who had experience dealing with addicts and interventions, who helped Caffey into rehab, probably saving her life. 

The Go-Go's achieved overwhelming fame and success at relatively young ages - they were in their early-mid twenties, and as Valentine describes herself, seemingly with the maturity of teenagers. Despite the fun they had together, they could also be insensitive to each other at times. Weidlin's departure was partially fueled by the band's refusal of her request to sing one single song on their third album, Talk Show. It wasn't even one of the singles and she made the request because the song was important to her. Being turned down was the beginning of the end of her Go-Go's days.

There were also hard feelings about the discrepancy in their paychecks - as the primary songwriters, Caffey and Weidlin out-earned the others to a point where it festered. Never mind that it required them to do a lot of work the others weren't doing. 

But the cruelest act of all was when Carlisle and Caffey decided to end the band without including Valentine or drummer Gina Schock (much less newbie Brown) in the decision. Kathy and Gina were suddenly summoned to the band's manager's office where they were blindsided by the news that the Go-Go's were no more, news that was delivered coldly by Belinda and Charlotte. Valentine's dreams and the only real family she'd ever been a part of were over and there wasn't a thing she could do about it, and it left her floundering. Her heavy drinking and cocaine use didn't help.

Valentine spent several years attempting to recreate the magic of being part of a successful band, but was never able to duplicate the experience of the Go-Go's. When she finally got sober she also seems to have grown up and gotten not just older, but wiser. If I have a complaint about the memoir, it's that she rushes through the years following her sobriety and the first Go-Go's reunion. 

And even after that first triumphant reunion, there are issues. Valentine makes a barely passing reference to being "fired" by the band in 2012 but doesn't elaborate beyond that; her wikipedia page indicates that she had to drop out of a Go-Go's tour due to a broken wrist, but also filed suit against her former bandmates in 2013. Ever the dysfunctional family that can't quite seem to go their separate ways, Valentine has toured with the band since then. Ever the peacemaker, Kathy doesn't seem to be able to ever completely quit this group of women, no matter what they put her through. I don't think it's insignificant in the documentary (which I thought was excellent) that each Go-Go was interviewed separately. We only see them come together again as a band for yet another reunion at the very end of the film. I came away from both the documentary and the book feeling like Kathy deserved better.

I'm glad that Valentine seems to have made peace with the demons of her earlier years, but I wish she had spent more time in the book on her later years and the Go-Go's on again/off again relationship, plus it also left me wanting to know more about her post-non-Go-Go's life. But All I Ever Wanted is still an impressive memoir of rock & roll, bygone eras, the sheer love of music, and a really admirable woman and musician. 

Gina spoke up: "It's our band, too; you can't just decide it's over." Belinda looked Gina dead in the eye and told her, "Yes, we can."

Suddenly Charlotte proclaimed, "I write the hits and she is the voice." It enraged me. How dare she? After everything, after the tours and radio visits and shows and interviews that gave us our careers, all of it done together, Miss Hits and Miss Voice were tossing us aside with less emotion than getting rid of old clothes.

Friday, September 18, 2020

Customer service fail: Blogger edition

So Blogger has come up with a "new interface" that everyone seems to hate but they have decided to force on users. This is my first post under the new version and like many other users, I hate it. I'm a big fan of if it ain't broke, don't fix it. And it wasn't broke. So for some reason they decided to not just break it, but fuck it up.

Another thing I noticed, as I searched "Help" is that they have locked and disabled commenting on almost EVERY SINGLE THREAD that criticizes the new version. REALLY???

Here are just a few examples:

I could go on and on, but you get the idea. And even what I'm seeing on the screen typing this is clunky as fuck. God knows what it will look like when I post it.

For years I've been hearing about how WordPress is the go-to platform for blogs. I tried it out at one point and did not find it anywhere as user friendly as Blogger. I don't want to switch. But if Blogger doesn't get its shit together and actually listen to its users, I may have to become part of an exodus. I don't want to, but this new version just sucks. I am literally looking at the images on my screen and can't read them. 

Whoever came up with this "upgrade" should never again be allowed anywhere near a job that even remotely involves computers, blogging, and/or web design. And locking damn near every conversation in Help that complains about how awful the new version is...well let's just say we've reached a new level of customer service fail. Not a good look, Blogger.

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

The return of South Park

Recently I've been thinking about South Park and how - when it eventually returned - they would handle this year's events. Specifically, I wondered how they would parody a world that has become beyond parody.

Turns out they're already back in production and return on September 30. And they're coming back in style - with a 1-hour season premiere. From South Park's Instagram:

There's even a preview clip!

Please note that this episode airs at 8pm, not their usual 10pm, although according to the press release they're going to show it three consecutive times so you have no excuse to miss it.

I hadn't even heard about the show returning, and suddenly all this! Sweet!

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

He's not wrong

Bonkers. We've gone beyond The Twilight Zone. I'm not sure even Rod Serling would know what to make of this crazy world today.

Sunday, September 13, 2020

No joke, this exists: You can get married at a Taco Bell

And yes, of course, it's in Las Vegas.

For $600 you get:

Includes, among other things, a sauce packet garter and bow-tie,
sauce packet bouquet (which is a loaner, in case you need something
borrowed), t-shirts, a 12-pack of tacos, and a Cinnabon cake.

Taco Bell Chihuahua not included.
Look, I love their greasy food as much as the next person. I'm not even going to try and be a food snob about this - there's something in their meat sauce and mild sauce that is like crack to me. But I don't think even I could get drunk enough to get married in a Taco Bell, even if it's legit. Not to mention for $600 I'm going to want a lot more than 12 measly tacos, and I'll be taking that sauce packet bouquet home with me, thank you very much.

This almost makes getting hitched by an Elvis impersonator look like a legit decision made by sober adults serious about the sanctity of marriage.

And don't think I won't use this in a story someday, because I totally will.

However, to each his own, live and let live, yadda yadda yadda. So if you would actually like to get married in a Taco Bell (which no one will ever judge you for) you can check out the deets at Taco Bell Wedding.

Friday, September 11, 2020

19 years...

Hard to believe it was so long ago. I'm not sure we've learned from it.

As always, this ad featuring the Budweiser Clydesdales brings it all back. The ad was aired only once, as Budweiser did not want to give impression of exploiting the 9/11 attacks for advertising purposes. It lives forever on the internet.


Sunday, September 6, 2020

Well, this sucks

What I want:

What I've got:

What I feel like doing: