Saturday, November 28, 2015

Video Of The Week: Adele

Half a billion views in a month - that's Adele's Hello's statistics on YouTube, directed by French-Canadian filmmaker Xavier Dolan. Her album, 25, came out last year and will be #1 on the charts, probably well into the next year. It's already beaten Oasis' record for most sales in a week in England, and in the U.S. stands as the fastest selling in the new millennium.

She still has the voice that will shatter a million hearts and the face of an angel who's suffered too much, but is less surprised by what the world will bring; there's a certain weariness in both her tone of voice and in her eyes that adds depth to the intangibles she already had.

In short, she was always good - but she might be better now.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Video Of The Week: Queens Of The Stone Age

Because of last week's featuring of Eagles Of Death Metal, I've also been listening to a lot of Queens Of The Stone Age this week, as well as some Desert Sessions and Kyuss - all Josh Homme projects.

Here's a track that encompasses many of these projects, as it was first released on Desert Sessions, Vol. 9 featuring PJ Harvey on backing vocals and a ton of other musicians, and was eventually re-recorded by QOTSA for their 2007 release Era Vulgaris - the stoner-rock love song Make It Wit Chu. The video was directed by Rio Hackford and shows the band getting to and performing at the Desert Sessions bunker (a.k.a. Rancho De La Luna, situated in Joshua Tree, California), essentially for a bunch of couples making out:

The New Colossus

The world is still a shitstorm of awful humans who have the means to fuck it up not just for the rest of us of the same race (the Human Race, by the way, the only not one decided by religion or skin colour or language), but for every other living organism on the planet.

On this side of the Pond, the Right and the Left argue about petty stuff and both sides use the weakest possible arguments to get their points across; the Left has the added bonus of never being able to forgive past mistakes regardless of context (Thomas Jefferson owned slaves when it was legal! Paul Reubens is a sex offender!) and any good from anyone who's done something bad previously is wiped off the table - which is one context where the Right's obsession with religion should come in handy: let he who has never committed a bad action cast the first stone, where no one over the age of 3 would be able to do so.

The Big Topic of the day is that of Refugees.

There needs to be a debate, and each country has to decide whether to take them in or not, and how many, and how. NOT ALL COUNTRIES NEED TO OPERATE THE SAME WAY. Honestly, we really need to start accepting other cultures' differences more, whether we agree with them or not, whether we think their practices are humane or not, whether they go against our values and/or common sense and/or our conception of rights or not.

This will be the subject of a much longer exposé eventually, one that encompasses a worldwide minimum wage, universal dual citizenship, a complete repeal of the death penalty, and the ability to exclude or deport citizens who do not conform to one place's chosen way of life. Not everyone wants the same life or lifestyle, and freedom includes letting others live their lives the way they want to.

But I digress.

Here is the text that lies at the bottom of the Statue Of Liberty:

The New Colossus

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door
Ideally, these are values I would like to strive for. But it's hard. Even Americans can't do it all the time. And I live in a country that I, myself, do not feel a part of, among people who refuse to stand up for themselves and declare their independence, their Humanity, and choose their own paths, despite all the old ones having failed.

I want to live in a place where people's differences are appreciated and encouraged. Where the only place religion has is as an equal to sports, meals or TV shows - as something you share with people close to you, people like you, that you can talk about in public but has no incidence on how the State operates. Three main rules: don't kill, don't steal, and don't fuck it up for everyone else. Where health and education are priorities and are NEVER cut in government spending. Where people don't get offended over the smallest fucking detail (or worse, WORDS!) because in this place, ALL PEOPLE ARE EQUAL, ALL THE TIME.

It's not about the past and all about the future, because this place hasn't existed yet.

Those who do not like it do not have to live there; they can go anywhere where their values are best reflected, because every place should have differences - we were not all meant to evolve at the same pace, nor should we force anyone to follow any rules they do not agree with when they can go to places where people think like they do, the same way we wouldn't like being forced to abide by shit that goes against the very fiber of our beings.

It's 2015, people. There are 8 billion of us. Either kill us all, or let's start tolerating our differences a little better, eh? And that includes intolerance as well, by the way. If, as a whole Russia seriously wants nothing to do with gay people, just make it clear to their President that jailing/killing suspected homosexuals before they become adults is wrong and punishable, and when those people turn 18 (or 21), help them to new lives in places where they'll be accepted better.

Intellectuals? Prague.
Speak French with a tendency to root for the underdog? Anywhere in Québec.
Big dreams? New York.

Same goes for people with all sorts of problems.

Which brings us back to refugees. And today's special, Syrians. Not every country can afford to take in huge masses of people - perhaps international aid would help, not just to pay for the refugees themselves, but also with a slight incentive, a bonus, to help the country itself and those already residing there who could use the pick-me-up (Greece, Spain, Québec) - that type of incentive would also invalidate any false sense of racism that refugees cost money, because they would actually bring in money.

We might also need to start planning long-term a little better: there are always a dozen wars raging, and there are always mass exoduses, and we need to start thinking about a permanent physical location where we can take care of their basic needs while they wait to be processed and sent to the best place for their needs, be it short or long term, depending on how badly they want to return home upon conflict resolution.

This is but mere reflection, possibly just the first step of a larger scale. But we do need to start thinking outside the box, because our old ways have always ended with the same old problems, and they have yet to adapt to this New World.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Video Of The Week: Eagles Of Death Metal

Yes, because of Paris. But also because they're a force of rock and roll, almost on par in my heart with Josh Homme's other projects, namely Queens Of The Stone Age. Because I've been to Eagles Of Death Metal shows.

Because rock and roll is freedom. Because music is a source of inspiration and good. Because.

Whatever you do today, this week, next year... from here on out, love. That's all that matters. Stop forgetting it. At the end of the day, be yourself, stay true to yourself, love who you love, find a way to be happy, be well.

Picture your last five minutes on earth - try to be where you want to be, and with whom you want to be. Nothing else matters. Ever.

EODM's sound technician and merchandise salesman were killed in the Paris attacks, as well as over 100 spectators and Bataclan patrons; they died in terror, many probably weren't watching their favourite band ever, but they had gathered there, congregated to this event, to feel good. I hope that as long as they could, before the unthinkable happened, they did.

The survivors will forever be changed.

I hope they still keep some love in their hearts, and I hope they have it in themselves to plow on.

That is all there is to life for most of us who won't impact the world on a larger scale, to impact it on a smaller one. We're here for 10, 25, 40, 100 years at the most; we were born from goo and will turn to dust - in the middle, there are thoughts and feelings, pain and pleasure. We won't get along with everyone, but it won't matter when we're gone.

All that matters is now - every now, every moment we have, and to make the best of it.

Wealth, privilege, health, education, work - they only matter when factored in groups in terms of living conditions - and as a group we need to do our best to level the playing field, for the greater good; at the end of the day, though, individually, by doing our best and trying to remain in the types of surroundings where we can at worse be well and at best thrive, should be the lone objective.

I would name everyone I love, right now, but the list is too long - longer than my readership thus far. But they generally know how I feel; to reiterate, I'm still throwing it out there, in the ethers: I love you.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Speech Of The Day: Chris Christie

The cynic in me wants to say that Conservatives only get involved in social issues when it affects them personally, when the issue hits home. And, well, I guess I just went out and said it.

Still, a lot of these politicians - in part through training sessions and in part because their former jobs as lawyers demanded it - have the speech aspect of being a leader down. And hate him or love him, I believe one thing that can be said about New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is that he isn't the type of schizophrenic liar Ben Carson can be - when Christie lies, it's because telling the truth will hurt him, but he doesn't make facts up, let alone two-thirds of his own autobiography.

Here he is delivering a moving speech about addiction:

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Video Of The Week: Rush

When I shared Chops playing over Rush's Tom Sawyer earlier this week, I kind of made my bed as to what band I'd be featuring later, though I opted for the title track from their 1991 album Roll The Bones, the first song of theirs that I was truly acquainted with:

It has a lot of what made the 1990s cheesy, from the fast rock intro-slow chorus mix to the ''rap'' near the end, but done early enough in the decade that it still comes off as genuine and experimental. Kind of.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Today's Tom Sawyer

Tom Sawyer: either a Mark Twain character, or a Rush song.

Both are difficult to digest in this day and age, the character because of the way he acts and talks about people of other races (''Indians'' and Nigger Jim in particular), the latter because the keyboard-heavy prog rock song doesn't lend itself well to the ears of people who are used to the empty lyrics and one-hook choruses of today's pop and rap songs.

One way to make Tom Sawyer more palatable is by having a puppet play along to Neil Peart's ever-masterful drumming - and thus, RicKy Syers' creation ''Chops'' (or ''Chopsy'') becomes an internet star (it gets really fucking impressive between the 2- and 3-minute marks):